On the border of Varstulla Minor and Draephedusa there is a stretch of gray earth (mined infrequently for clay) that lacks the natural wonders of either province. At the first light of March 3, 188x, when this tract lay in the shadow of a ruined wall from Late Antiquity, two women traversed that shadow, huddled together, advancing slowly.

One wore a hooded mantle that obscured, with her features, the reasons why she could not walk on her own. Underneath was a garment made of what could only be leaves — dried, bejeweled and stitched together.

The veiled woman guiding her wore a sort of diadem with a design corresponding to nothing from recent fashion or local culture. In the manner of a messenger boy, she carried her large purse on a strap around one shoulder. It held something round, shiny and wholly mysterious.

They were an unusual pair, and easily remembered. But in this drab, unpopulated place, and at this hour, it was likely no one ever saw them.