A swirl of dust in the hot, still air marked the rider’s progress over the badlands.

The sentries roused at their posts, calling warnings and lifting field glasses, but for some time, the dust was all that could be seen. All it told them was that this was not a large force, nor a covert one; this was at most a few people, riding hard. Riding straight for the one patch of vibrant life to be found for miles around.

Archers and a few wizards came up to the wall, bows strung and staves in hand. The sentries kept eyes on the advancing rider as the mounted figure grew more visible in front of its trailing cloud – just one rider on a lightly-built two-legged plains lizard, the sort often favoured by scouts in these warm climes. The rider was small and light in turn, possibly a woman, though distance and riding leathers made it impossible to be sure.

Certainly, it could be one of their own, but the defenders at the wall kept up their vigilance, even when the rider slowed somewhat to lift up a Concord pennant. Enemies had ridden under that banner before, using the false flag to get near the camp, and such vigilance had prevented horrible harm then; they would not relax it now.