The summer heat was inescapable. Even in the stone depths of the temple, where the acolytes were housed, the muggy air, the harbinger of rain that yet refused to fall, was all around; merely being away from the sun wasn’t enough to give proper relief.

It was high time for summer to wane; and Kallen remembered that from the instant a hand on his shoulder shook him awake.

“It’s time,” murmured the sub-priest who’d woken him. “They’ll be starting the ceremony soon.” And with that, the man moved on to another pallet, another body lying uncomfortably under a thin blanket.

Kallen put aside his own blanket. There would be time to fold it later; for now, he needed to help prepare. He tied his loincloth in place, and over that he drew on a simple brown robe, knotting the belt with care. Once he’d done that and slid his feet into sandals, he hurried out of the quarters and into the temple antechamber.