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Iram is one of the first places he finds himself, seventy years into it, while he still considers the whole thing a lark. Such is his confidence in his own cynicism that he smirks knowingly to find that the “City of a Thousand Pillars” has, like, fifty-eight.

Everything smells like frankincense and camel dung. Some of the merchants try to pass off one as the other.

He rushes to help when the first of the sinkholes suddenly gulps down a teahouse. Lugging a sobbing matron out of the sand, Longinus doesn’t even ponder his own wrongness about the cynicism thing.