The Merchant of Fire

Chapter 1

Mira is called to the town of Djuzira.


Section 1

The clothier had once been a storage house for dates. A grove of date palms still swayed outside the trade post, among thorny acacias and ancient eucalyptus, but the palms outgrew them all.

Even after her mother had changed the storage house into a clothier, they sometimes left their looms, sat in the grove, and ate the dates together.

Mira would take off her shoes and climb up the trunks, and she would look over the length of Calimshan and wonder when she could leave it.

But Calimshan was, and is, desert. Scorched desert, spanning a hundred hot miles into the horizon, where it ascends into valleys of white clay. A man could walk his camel a hundred miles inland from the Shining Sea, and still he would not have pierced the heart of the country; he would see only the distant peaks of the Marching Mountains. So they never left.

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