The tiny woman was scrambling up the mountainside, her feet tangling with the tiny brushes and shrubs that were covering the steep sides of Mount Vehala before it flattened off. Her breathing was ragged, the bluish threads of her coat so stained and torn that it seemed made of rough, old felt.
A mere four weeks earlier, it had been the softest, smoothest bright blue. Now it looked as wrinkly and scratched as the priestess's ancient face. Again she raised the holy insignia of the goddess towards the sky and called out the sacred words: