The plain was measureless. Aside from offering the occasional visual cue in the form of a tarweed shrub or boulder, it held no real sense of distance or direction. Further, though Jared felt movement—the rhythmic plodding of his horse sent soft vibrations up through the saddle horn—there seemed a lack of forward inertia. The earth acted as if on a great axle that was slowly spinning in counterbalance to the horse’s hooves. As hooves punched into parched earth, dust gathered around the mount’s hindquarters, and from a distance it appeared as if the animal trod upon a low-flying cloud: the world’s first wingless Pegasus—in flight, yet bound by oppressive heat to the ranks of the lower atmosphere . . .