Map of Zoloandra


‘The city was a strange amalgam of the desert and the steppes. Its central core of luxuriant domes, fountains, minarets and spires soon gave way to more utilitarian dwellings of low roofs, thick walls and gated courtyards before finally disintegrating into a ragged tableau of animal paddocks, brightly-colored yurts and insubstantial tents that skirted everything like a protective scab. The broad palm-lined avenues at its heart soon yielded to dwindling dust-laden paths and thence into the trackless steppes of the north or the shifting nightmare that was Perfidy to the south.’


‘Perfidy’s unrelenting sandscape lay before her in all its brutal splendor. In the cold morning light its magenta waves broke against the mountains in silent rolling fury, beneath a spray of tempestuous wind-borne sand.
Green had gone from their world now as they entered a parched realm of remorseless sun and scavenging winds that looked to scour body and soul in equal measure. Scabrous lizards stared forth from somber lairs, hooded eyes glowering askance at these brash invaders. Vultures wheeled and dipped overhead, eager eyes more forgiving, anticipating possible pleasures to come.’


‘There is a sound: it is the sound of water. It is deafening. Cascading, jarring, pounding. She can sense the latent power. She can almost taste the roiling clouds of spray.

There is a sound: it is the sound of silence. It is deafening. She can sense dampness and shadows. A cavern perhaps? Nothing has trespassed here in centuries. There is pain also. A lingering legacy of displacement.

There is a sound: it is the sound of confusion. Nothing here is as it seems. A soothing blanket of calm. Yet it is not soothing. It is disconcerting.

There is a sound: it is the breaking of waves upon a shore. She can hear gulls caterwauling in the distance and wind whipping across the sands. There is an air of desolation to this far-off place; she can sense it. She can almost see it. She can almost touch it. A few more steps? No!

And then there is a coming together; a melding of memories. It is a time long ago, before the clogging spread of humankind. There are a few people, yes, but something else as well; all-powerful, but solicitous, not in any way threatening. It leaves something of itself, in each of these places; just a fleeting shadow of its essence which nurtures and controls all that is about it, so that it can remain hidden, and observe. It witnesses fire and rain, ice and drought; but especially drought, as solar winds pluck off the planet’s atmosphere and radiation bombards its surface. And then, as the millennia progress and the great sands expand, it inevitably begins to fade, and in some places, die. Yet, as humankind begins to exert its insatiable demands upon ever-depleted resources and chaos approaches, it knows its true task is at hand.’