Prologue

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Kasia was breathless from hiking up the trail, nervously glancing at her watch every other second. There wasn't much time left and she knew it. Yet she was also miserably aware that if she went any faster now, she would simply pass out and that would do no one any good. As she got closer to the top, the air felt electrically charged, making her skin tingle - a good indication that she had chosen the right place.

The forest around her was thinning, giving way to a gorgeous mountain view she had absolutely no eye for. The stars above illuminated her path as she concentrated on a blurry spot in the middle of a collection of large rocks. It looked like they were placed in specific positions, a stone circle, which even a layman would catch. With relief she threw off her backpack, freeing herself from the heavy weight that had seemed to drag her down for even longer than the duration of the hike. It took all of her remaining energy, but she started sprinting towards the peculiar place. The closer she got, the more obvious it was that something or someone was manifesting in the stone circle.

A grin spread on her face.

"Dyson!"

"Kasia." He breathed her name as if it were life itself. There was nothing she wanted to do more than throw herself at him, shower him with kisses and drown him in hugs, but she stopped abruptly before the invisible border of the circle. She knew the rules, he couldn't get out, just like she couldn't get in. So instead, Kasia took in everything that had changed about Dyson, everything that had stayed exactly the same. She had always been a tall girl, but he still towered over her, his skin as sun kissed as ever. His hair had turned shaggy, his beard scruffy, but it was so like him to look unruly. She'd have recognised him that way any day. There was only one noticeable difference she couldn't ignore.

"You're ..."

"Older?" He said with a sad smile.

"Yes ... how is that possible?" Dyson was only two days older than her, but now it could have just as easily been 10 years.

"Time moves differently where I am."

Kasia nodded as if she knew exactly what that meant. She didn't want to lead on that everything was growing way over her head already.

"Where exactly are you?" But there was only silence in response. "Dyson? I need to know."

"No."

"What do you mean? 'No'?"

"You have to stop this impossible search. You have to let go." He extended a hand as if to comfort her, forgetting all about his invisible restraints. The moment his hand left the circle, he began to fray at the edges. Kasia tried to get a hold of him for just a second, but all she grabbed was thin air. He was gone.

Defeated, she sank to the floor. "But what if I can't?" She whispered to the sky as the first light of dawn slowly reached the mountains. Time was up. Her vision changed, her bones began to creak, her whole body fighting against too many sensations at once - the transformation had begun.

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