Part 1

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The warm breeze wound along the cobbled road, picking up the scraps of white sand that collected in cracks and crevices, carrying them along in mini dust devils to mercilessly blast anyone or anything in their path. But for all the gusting winds, the air was heavy and silent and there wasn't a single soul to be seen, a ghost town. If one were to travel all the lands of all the world, one would happen upon thousands of similar towns scattered around. Entire cities were laid to ruin and left to rot under the harsh elements. This town was small in comparison to some. The long-abandoned church serving as a memorial to what was once a thriving place, with echoes of laughter racing through buildings now hollowed out from years of disuse. Yet, in a place such as this, on the edge of mountains of sand where the relentless sun would beat down even the sturdiest of trees, there was still life, and in that life, there remained hope. It was in this town that Kaya, daughter of Shamiya, granddaughter of the great druid-woman, Reshika, would find the path that was hers to walk.

Kaya sat behind the weather-worn counter of her shop, bare feet resting lazily against the grainy wood, reading some ancient book rescued from the forces of nature, to be lovingly pored over, time and time again. Her shop was a badly lit, grimy place was filled to capacity with an array of items such as the one she now held to her chest. For Kaya was a scavenger. She travelled through many towns, even traversed that small crossing they called a strait, to leave behind her beloved woods and make her way into a world of sand where the sun always rises first and sets last. Music wafted across the shop from some wind-up object. A disc flew round the surface of the object, distorting the name on the front. The label was so badly worn, it was hard to decipher. She could speak the common tongue and, before her disappearance, her mother taught her to read and write. But this was one of the languages of old, which were long forgotten. The only old tongues that remained were the ancient languages of the runes. And the only ones capable of speaking those languages or using those runes were druids, healers, and magi. Although it was rumoured that the great dragons of old were also able to use the old language, which made sense to Kaya, for the dragons lived for many millennia before man and during the early reign of man. Whether they still survived was unknown to Kaya for she never saw one nor heard of one in any of the places she lived. But she imagined that, as possibly the oldest creatures of earth, they would certainly have survived the colliding of dimensions.

Kaya was taught in the ways of the ancient druids, for her grandmother, Reshika, was one of the greatest druids to have ever lived. And, as her grandmother was disappointed in Shamiya's lack of ability, when Kaya exhibited the potential from an early age, so heartened was Reshika, that the girl was immediately put to study the lore. This first part of Kaya's existence was so suffocating that, upon over taking her grandmother's abilities, she did not hesitate to leave the old woman's clutches. She set out immediately to the Land of Endless Sun, Solsunyng Essi in the common tongue, crossed over the vast badlands or paressendes of Erpe Sil to the north and Kidai to the South of Esraxi Chambrilke, the perilous narrow sea crossing that divided the two regions, to reach Solsunyng Essi's northern shore. Then, as soon as she found it, yearned to return to the cool, quiet of her beloved forest. A stubborn, foolish young woman, she pressed on. That angry world greeted her with a baptism of fire. Once she lost all that was precious to her and found herself wondering, battered and bruised through the unforgiving lands, only then did she truly start to live. Only then did she realise the true worth of years spent studying ancient languages and learning secret enchantments. Only then did she discover her inner strength and the strongest of desires to survive.

By the time she happened upon the Ghost town, Fantma Itad, that she now called her home, so skilled was she at scavenging to live, that it was a natural shift to make it her trade. And even ghost towns contained inhabitants that relied on each other to survive. Although coinage did not mean much to such a person, she realised that there were those who could only offer the copper pieces or of the single currency in exchange for her wares. They were mostly travellers as she was once. Anyone else who called on her store traded for items of necessity like an unbroken pot, offering in exchange their more rudimentary items like dry salted wild rock rabbits, cured desert fox steaks, or flat breads cooked in the large, open-air clay ovens that were so prevalent in the outer regions, as the only electricity to be found came from the small generators that traders occasionally acquired. She was lucky to trade one from a caravan of lost travellers in exchange for a map and compass. For Kaya, most of the trade items were mundane things. Occasionally, though, someone would bring an item of personal interest to Kaya, like the record player.

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