It was the first night of the Sacrificium, a night of sacrifice and death, a night when the black coins tendered in the Lottery would be tendered back. It was also the Hora Mille Semitis, the Hour of a Thousand paths—for that is the day the Sacrificium had fallen on this year—the hour when best friends might become enemies, when lovers of longstanding might betray oaths, the hour in which anything and everything was possible. And the alignment was felt: from the upper echelons of the capitol to the poorest quarters of the downriver provinces. For the message of Valdus’ rebellion had spread—whether it was a tract nailed to a door before quickly being torn down or a blast in the night that caused the power to fail in entire regions. It was a night for dreaming and for huddled collusions, for the breeze to course through rustling leaves, for long dead hearts to awaken and start pumping blood. The Sacrificium had once more come to Ursathrax, but so had the Hour of a Thousand Paths, and Valdus’ Revolution, and something else, something elusive but impossible to ignore, nebulous, but as real as the River Dire, which seemed to have stolen into the world on the wind itself.