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Through the bluffs now, they stow pitons and ropes and bury those bags under a red marker. It doesn’t have to be a big one. There’s no need to change out the rest of their gear: the silver clothes that kept them warm in the shadow passes will cool them on the next leg of the trek.

There is a brief time, in evenings, when the sun shoots red and orange beams up at the soles of their feet. Telemachus holds out his water bottle and thinks of blood. There will be no rain, no oases in this desert of cloud.