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'Oh, there's no more work for you tonight,' Irit said. 'You've been on the road all this time. We can hand a few things down from a cart.'

'Of course,' Vanjit said. 'You should rest, Eiah-kya. We'll be happy to help.'

Eiah put down her soup and took a pose that offered grat.i.tude. Something in the cant of her wrists caught Maati's attention, but the pose was gone as quickly as it had come and Eiah was sitting back, drinking wine and leaning her still-wet hair toward the fire. Large Kae rejoined them, smelling of wet horse, and Eiah told the whole story again for her benefit and then left for her rooms. Maati felt the impulse to follow her, to speak in private, but Vanjit took him by the hand and led him out to the cart with the others.

The supplies were something less than Maati had expected. Two chests of salted pork, a few jars of lard and flour and sweet oil. Bags of rice. It wasn't inconsiderable - certainly there was enough to keep them all well-fed for weeks, but likely not months. There were few spices, and no wine. Large Kae made a few small remarks about the failures of low-town trade fairs, and the others chuckled their agreement. The rain slackened, and then, as Vanjit balanced the last bag of rice on one hip and Clarity-of-Sight on the other, snow began to fall. Maati went back to his rooms, heated a kettle over his fire, and debated whether to try to boil enough water for a bath. Immersion was the one way he was sure he could chase the cold from his joints, but the effort required seemed worse than enduring the chill. And there was an errand he preferred to complete.

Light glowed through the cracks around Eiah's door. Dim and flickering, it was still more than a single night candle would have made. Maati scratched at the door. For a moment, nothing happened. Perhaps Eiah had taken to her cot. Perhaps she was elsewhere in the school. A soft sound, no more than a whisper, drew him back to the door.

'Eiah-kya?' he said, his voice low. 'It's me.'

Her door opened. Eiah had changed into a simple robe of thick wool, her hair tied back with a length of twine. She looked powerfully like her mother. The room she brought Maati into had once been a storage pantry. Her cot and brazier and a low table were all the furnis.h.i.+ngs. There was no window, and the air was thick with the heat and smoke from the coals.

Papers and scrolls lay on the table beside a wax tablet half-whitened by fresh notes. Medical texts in the languages of the Westlands, Eiah's own earlier drafts of the binding of Wounded. And also, he saw, the completed binding they had all devised for Clarity-of-Sight. Eiah sat on the cot, the frail structure creaking under her. She didn't look up at him.

'Why did she leave?' Maati asked. 'Truth, now.'

'I told her to,' Eiah said. 'She was frightened to come back. I told her that I understood. What happens if two poets come into conflict? If one poet has something like Floats-in-Air and the other has

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