“Who goes there?” a male voice rang from a bush at the side of the treaded path they followed alongside the creek. “People who mean no harm.” Lilly replied before Fathala could. The tip.of the arrow emerged first, followed by shaft, bow, hand, arm, bowstring, hand and man. He wore simple leather, no ornaments to hia clothes. “What do a woman and a Naga want in our lands? More importantly, how did you get here?” “The beach.” beaten to an answer by Fathala Lilly simply nodded. “We wandered the wastelands that once were oceans, and came ashore an hour or two ago.” he eyed them carefully before lowering his bow, gently releasing tension from the string. “You natives?” “I came here roughly seven weeks past, whilst she is native to this side.” pointing at Lilly, Fathala felt a strange homely security with someone from her world, even if just a moment earlier he had an arrow pointed at her. Light of the breaking dawn brought more and more detail to the man’s face. Skin nighing on.purple he had features distinct of Albin, but was also of human descent. “I better bring you to the shadowbinders.” he stated, turning on his heels. Not talkingat  all for the rest of tge way he led them towards the village, but took a sharp inland turn less than hundred meters from the village. After a few meters through dense undergrowth another beaten track became visible. Between shrubberies she didn’t know Fathala spotted Pixieberries, a fruit the Albin loved and feared near extinct when magic vanished from the world. After sunrise the woods of Dorei displayed what Fathala had expected, autumn colors, although it should well be winter. “In case you’re marveling at the season,” the stranger had noticed Fathala’s gaze, “somehow Autumn stalled when we arrived, we noticed new leaves growing, others returning to form.” “It is spring here now.” stating that obvious fact Lilly confused both the stranger and Fathala. Please don’t ask me how that can be. From the trail in the forest they entered a less visible trail in a prairieesque field stretching on to some distant  mountains in the one direction and to he horizon in the other. They followed the path heading towards a range of hills, covered with a thorny growth of gnarly bushes about four meters high. Between two hills someone had cut a sort of entrance into the bushwork. Forming a perfectly round arch above them, the thorny bushes closed off most of the sky. Only a few rays of sunlight reached down into the passage, creating an eerie light. Beneath them the ground had a sand like quality, clouds of dust drifted through the rays. Except for their own, there were no other noises. Birds and creatures won’t tread in this thorny forest. That’s bad. Uneased by the lack of life Fathala worked hard not to show her feelings. Judging by Lilly’s expression Fathala assumed that she was at unease as well. “Through here.” their strange companion stopped in front of a small opening. Without noticing it they had went around several hills, stood now on a circular spot. Above the canopy of leaves and thorns couldn’t quite close, thus more light reached the dusty ground. On the other side of the thorn tunnel was a rock of sandy color, with a natural opening. Roots covered the opening on all sides, by the look of them they were as hard as the stems and branches of the thornbushes around. And just as covered in thorns. Fathala observed.”What will we find there?” “Shadowbinders. Might be they can help you.” He departed without further words or greeting, confused they stared after him. On their way they had passed intersections and forks, without a propper guide the way out of the gnarled thorn bushes could take some time. Crisp air breathed out of the cave, as if the land itself was breathing, exhaling the cold of winter that was falling on the world it had come from, inhaling the late spring warmth and life of the world it was in now. Their path lit again by the Naga light, nothing much was revealed. Gnarly roots, sandstone.”I wonder who these shadowbinders are.” Fathala stopped at a fork in the caves. “They’re like the human circle. If what little I know of your world is correct.” the two of them tried to spy down each of the corridors, with little success, other than more sandstone and some nitre they looked the same. No tread marks in the ground of either.Behibd them their own footsteps in the dusty dirt vanished, blown away by the breathing of the caves. Reaching consent without word, they wandered to the right.After another hour they found themselves at an opening that was largely covered by roots. In annoyed silence the two turned around, turned into the other way at the fork. “I sense powers that are native to this world.” a man in robes and hood as violet as his skin rose from his place at a table. An oil lamp flickered on it, throwing dancing shadows on the walls. “But also powers that are from ours.” a woman in similar garments replied from another table.

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