It is early morning in Ferdham, and mists still cling to the ramshackle streets. With its details obscured, the city almost looks like it has proper defensive structures, but the soldiers who have worked and fought here for months – some for years – know that the outer wall is made of at least 27 separate instances of conjured stone and iron, with wooden walkways hastily lashed together and rammed into place. The inner wall and inner city are no better. Hundreds of patch jobs – on the walls, on the roads, on the buildings themselves – give the place an appearance not unlike that of a crazy quilt. Ferdham is a bustling new city, but here in the hours of the morning, without the movement of troops and the sound of hawkers from all over Mori offering their wares, it is possible to see how fragile it is.
At the Feathered Coque Inn, the rooms are spare but clean. A few soldiers gather around a table in a private room, discussing their intentions.