The wicked heroine, p.79
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       The Wicked Heroine, p.79

           Jasmine Giacomo

  Chapter Thirty-five

  Sanych and Runcan exited the gilded elevator into the warmth and light of Upper Salience. A gentle sea breeze blew, teasing Sanych’s multi-braided hair as it spilled from her open-topped turban.

  “Which way?” Sanych asked, looking both directions down the main street from the elevator’s surrounding platform. A massive, ornate building stood at each end of the boulevard. The western one, nearly silhouetted against the late afternoon sun, was several levels high, domed in silver, and had a set of three towers set against one side of the dome. The tallest possessed slender metal arches on its open top that might be used to mark stars’ positions in the sky.

  The eastern structure was built of orange-gold bricks, set afire by the sun. Massive staircases led in series up to the gilded doors, blindingly bright in the sunlight. Arches and decorative crenellations supported small winged statues whose particulars couldn’t be made out at this distance.

  “I believe the orange building is the caliph’s dwelling, Archivist. Let’s try that way first.” Runcan started off the platform, stepping aside for a group of merchants who were heading for the elevator. Sanych stood rooted to the spot, staring at the silver-domed building.

  Runcan paused. “Archivist?”

  Sanych’s head snapped around. “I’m sorry, Count Runcan.” She joined him, and they reached the busy boulevard. Government buildings, tall and ornate, lined the way, and men and women of state strolled in small groups, or exited two-wheeled carriages behind pale horses. All wore turbans; the women’s were open at the top to allow their long, braided hair to cascade down their backs, and Sanych was glad she’d let Anjoya take the extra time to prepare her hair in the same style, so she didn’t stand out.

  She couldn’t quite bring herself to let the hostess dress her in the current midriff-baring style, though. Her hand touched the light cotton of her tunic.

  “Do you believe I am mistaken?” Runcan asked.

  “No…I just…” Sanych’s brow furrowed, and her uncharacteristic hesitance drew Runcan’s full attention.

  “What is it, Sanych?”

  She drew herself up and met his eyes. “I’ve seen that building before. But…I’ve never been to Hynd until now.” Her eyes dropped aside and her brow furrowed in confusion. “Or, so I thought.”

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