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1. Water

Crixus Oraan and his two assistants lounged downhill from the dowser and his entourage. The water shaman chanted, anointed himself with pungent oils, cast wild eyes about the hillock, and in general gave a good show for the nobleman who hired him. Salty wind tickled their hair, relieving the humidity common to Rond in summer.

“The usual wager?” Stamm produced a sestric, its silver plating scratched from decades spent in belt-pouches. Crixus dug out a sestric. They held the coins up between thumb and forefinger.

“Two hundred yards,” Crixus said.

“You’re too gentle,” Stamm said, wagging the coin at him. “Three fifty and not one less. He’s got the sense of an aurochs.”

The hill overlooked Restia, a coastal town beginning to bloat with nobles and their summer households. Since the completion of a paved road between Restia and the capital city of Greater Rond, money and business flowed into the town like wine at a wedding celebration. In the last two months, Crixus had made the day long journey every week to arrange contracts for aqueducts and plumbing to the new estates. It brought him into contact with dowsers far more often than he preferred.

For Kharrina, however, it was worth the headache.

He had been haggling with Councilman Stada over costs for running pipes to the main house, the servants’ quarters, the bathhouse, the fountains, and the surrounding vineyard. Crixus had explained the necessary steps so many times that he grew tired of his own voice. Stada’s gaze would wander off after ten seconds of explanation, until the word “sestrices” came up—then he would snap back in a display of decisiveness.

Crixus found himself talking to the bald patch on the older man’s head. Though just a few inches taller than the average Rondan, he towered over the councilman, who refused to look him in the eye as he spoke; thus, the bald patch took on a life of its own as the councilman’s gaze wandered throughout the imaginary work site Crixus described. It irked Crixus now to watch Stada gaze in awe at the water shaman.

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- Hỗ trợ Dân tộc King -

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