* * * * *


Dey leaned against a giant tree and watched the Beasts ride in. There were six of them this time, and all rode hover sleds shaped like animals. The glowing eyes of their fantastical beast-headed helmets made them look alien and dangerous. Dey was one of those who watched them with suspicion. Allowing the Beasts to come in, even for trading day, was a bad idea.

One Beast turned his head to stare at her. A shiver kissed her spine as he continued to watch her. Unwilling to provoke a scene, Dey turned and walked away.

One month later.

Good. The bad moon was rising.

Dey drew in a deep breath, quelling her adrenaline rush into something more malleable. Legend might have it that the bad moon was the undoing of maidens and favored only wild young men, but tonight this moon was going to open a door to untold treasure.

Sweet, wild night air filled her lungs, laden with the scent of blooming swamp plants. The tree she was perched in swayed gently with a mild spring wind, causing its leaves to rustle and whisper. Below her a river, swollen from the winter storms, had cut a new channel dangerously close to the ziggurat on its banks. One day the rushing waters would engulf the ruins entirely and destroy the prize within.

That was all the more reason for them to steal it first.

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