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Loxodopolis started out as a howdah with a sleeping bag in it, but its carrier (then three years old and frisky, a gray African named Tasla) just wouldn’t stop growing. They added more tents, then pannier apartments and the crown’s nest. Rickety walkways spiraled around his shambling mountain-body.

Now it’s a caravan city, following an elephant’s whim but rich from his patronage. Most itinerant peoples wander because of persecution, but nobody mutters the usual imprecations about traders when Loxodopolis rises against the horizon. Tasla’s feet can crush houses, and with ears like that, do you really think he can’t hear you?