When Hoopla and Skiff came to Albion, magician’s city Albion, by the edge of the winedark sea, it was a wide and sweepy spring day, early in the year, blustery and blue. Hoopla would have continued down the long and narrow road along the cliff face to the queerly-carved gates that opened into the Student’s Quarter, but Skiff had been long from the sea and paused there on the margin between road and empty air and sat watching the waves crashing against the docks so far below.
The approach to the Student’s Quarter is cramped and erratic, being neither as well-traveled as the road to the Silversmith’s Quarter nor as well-maintained as the hidden and treacherous path to the Magician’s. The road that leads to the fourth Quarter is of course the widest and the smoothest, but none travel that immemorial path singly or lightly, for the last Quarter is the Sailor’s Quarter, and the road that leads to it is no less than the wide salt sea, out of which the Shu came in their rage during the War.
Hoopla and Skiff were most of the day descending the cliff-face, and passed between the caryatids in darkness, though the high towers of the city and the sea itself still blazed in sunlight. The high cliffs that guard mazy Albion on the edge of the winedark take the sunlight and spread it over their gardens, and let no wanton afternoon ray down among the alleys and the stairwells.