H excerpt

ONE


Many things distinguish a place, its rolling hills or turquoise waters. There are civilisations that wear plates in their ears and others that wear hoops of gold. There are even cultures that kill their old before they become burdens on those that remain. Rituals are carried out all over the world at any given moment; some that everyone can relate to and some as foreign as a fire-walk in lands surrounded by snow. But many things unite people universally: births and deaths, gains and losses, departures and arrivals. If there was one thing Mannobans knew about, it was leaving, and they hadn't arrived at this way of thinking simply. Once upon a time, hundreds of years earlier, there had been much wailing and gnashing of teeth at the exodus of a loved one. Plenty eye-water had spilled into their red clay, contributing to its fertility and binding the people closer to the earth. Gradually, they learned that leaving wasn't always such a bad thing. Leaving engendered possibility, and allowed the growth of another emotion: hope. Hope and faith would always bring about return.

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