Far Away

  Last Vat Keela and Chiwan walk with me through the clearing, with the hills of Tshuan high around us. The warm, moist climate nourishes the hills like a caring mother, and fills them with life. Wicol, thick, and deep green, rises along the hills. Later in the year, each plant will blossom with dozens of tiny flowers, and the hills will turn a rich purple and white. The clearing below is covered with tall golden grass that whistles in the light wind. A few red bushes rest, almost hidden in the grass. I’m hunting for one of the bushes, not by sight, but by sound. I hear a low hum all around me, which grows louder as I get closer and closer to what I seek. I stop, push aside the dirt at the base of the red bush, and reveal the way to the caverns below. Hidden among…

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