Winter held Abass’s breath in long, icy plumes. Around him, a dozen more men crouched, low enough that they were practically buried in the knee-deep snow. Moonlight limned the white-oaks, the sweet apple trees, and threw silver on the blue-green spruce. These were the trees that would survive the first winter of Nakhacevir—at least, that was what men who had traveled to Istbya and Cenarbasi said. When spring came, their leaves would come again. But the others—the line of orange trees ahead, for example, or the stand of limes that they had passed earlier that evening—they would not live again.
Snow crunched ahead, and Abass crouched lower. Tonight was not a night to worry about dead trees. Tonight was a night to worry about men who were not yet dead, but needed to be.