Name: Debra K Turner
Title: The Unshining Stars
The piercing cry of a specterbird roused her from sleep. Reya pushed up on one elbow when it called again. She started to put two fingers to her throat in a warding gesture, but caught herself and clenched her hand into a fist. A specterbird was no more an omen of ill-fortune than any other night hunter. In fact, its voice had shredded her worried dreams.
Reya sat up in bed with her arms around her knees and watched the dark sky outside the arrow slits shade to gray, trying to clear her mind. It didn’t work. A new purple tunic and gray trousers hung next to the water basin. She dressed, then twined her long hair into a single braid. A corner shelf near her bed held a vase of flowers and several small stones. A few petals had dropped from the purple starflowers. The stones looked dull in the growing light. She needed fresh blooms to honor her ancestors, needed an auspicious beginning.
Reya took the stairs down to first floor in a light-footed hurry. At the bottom, she crossed the hall and peered into the great five-sided chamber at the center of Council House. A hint of sunlight slanted in from a glass ceiling dome to outline the edges of tables and chairs. The wall lamps were still dark. She was ahead of the lamplighters.
Vendors were opening their doors up and down the broad hall behind her, one of five halls running along each side of the council chamber.