The caravan came through the woods to the tree city and Cedar came with it, hired hands painted yellow with saffron. In the great central clearing she and the other mendicants labored under the stern eye of the quartermaster, unloading, unpacking, displaying, sweating, selling. At the end of the day the caravan master called them together.
“Good luck, good work, thank you.” The bursar gave them their wages, small bills folded around a red good luck charm. “We move on into the mountains in three weeks. If any of you are heading that way, you’re our first hires.” They slipped away in twos and threes, hands clasped, heading toward the long stairs leading to the arcades, those whose plans had extended only so far as the city. “Otherwise, thank you for all your hard work.”
Cedar wandered into the twilight under the giant trees. Miles above the street lights were coming on, architectural galaxies blazing up against the stars.