A robed merchant riding his donkey leads a train of loaded donkeys, guarded by cudgel-wielding toughs, that fills the narrow, twisting street from side to side. The crowd pushes, chaffers and shouts. There is "...a snatch of nasal twanging song..." (On The Oceans Of Eternity, p. 118). A storyteller reciting the deeds of Gilgamesh is paid in metal, beads or dried fruit. A public writer with a stylus and damp clay shouts his skill. A deformed beggar whines for alms. Tiny shops spill into the street and stretch back into gloom. A jeweler works in gold leaf and carnelian. Figurines mark a chapel. Laborers carry heavy burdens. A top-knotted foreign slave asks directions. A drunk reels. Priests chant. Housewives carry shopping or water jugs on their heads. There are no street signs or house numbers.
"An eeriness went beneath everything..." (p. 119)
"To Everard the scene was eerily half-familiar."
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), p. 24.
Everard heard cries for alms in ancient Persia. Flandry recounted the deeds of van Rijn when he went undercover as a storyteller.