For all that the coronation ritual took so long, I wished it had not come at the height of summer. The day had to begin before the sun rose, and we all yawned our way through it, but most of the courtiers could conceal it. With my part, I was almost as conspicuous as Belsante herself. And the heat had not slackened over night. With the clear day, it only grew.
A voice carried over the waters. "So he comes, as the day ends, as the sun sets, as the summer heat fades away. Do not think, oh squire, that the long day means a short vigil. The ritual ensures that the vigil is always long, for the length is spiritual, not temporal."
The heat of the day before had faded utterly when he woke in the morning. He cracked his eyes open. He thought that light was the sun. One of the men had gone out, and for a moment, he thought for a ritual, and then told himself not to pry about their lives. He let his breath out slowly. It would be a long day.
"Have you learned anything?" said Halley. "About why me?"
Silence fell for a moment.
"There is this," said one woman, gowned in green. "It is not a summer ritual. It does not depend on the long day, or the heat, or the sun."
"Which means," said Artos, "that winter will not make her safe."