Chapter I


Sophia was alone on the beach near Ostend. Not much remained from what she knew. Her parents both vanished two years ago, shattered by poverty.
All she has right now is the pack of roaming hobos traveling by the Northern coast of Europe. They found her wounded, covered in tears during the uprising in Calais. She is ten years old now, and grew up to be a pretty strong little girl, despite all odds.

It was not a good week, her group barely found something to cook. Strong winds were breaking through the city’s remains, carrying rubble and dust. Her long black hair was dirty from the mud and sand, and her eyes were sore from the wind. At one moment she was a girl playing in the sand, and in another – a human looking to survive. Often, memories would tear her apart. But now, you could actually see something resembling a smile on her face.
She was digging with both her hands, throwing sand all around her. In other circumstances, looking from far enough, you would see a happy child on a family vacation. All of a sudden, she stopped digging. Something was there, buried in the sand. Sophia quickly turned around looking for curious eyes, but no one was around. She kept digging and wiping the sand off the box. Once it was dug out, she observed it with curiosity. A loot! Something that could put food on the table for a while.
The box was beautiful and well preserved, made of cherry wood, with some strange symbol carved into it (九). She had never seen anything like it.

She opened it carefully, trying not to break anything inside. She glared at her loot for a while, before carefully examining each item. There were a few things inside, seemingly piled up without any particular order. At first, she was somewhat disappointed, thinking that the box itself is probably the most valuable item in the bunch. She took the items out carefully, with her stronger left hand, wiping each one with the insides of her coat. In no particular order, there were:

  • one handheld mirror, with its front covered in a thick layer of glue-like substance
  • cute silver pendant
  • ceramic dining plate, with a strange symbol carved at the bottom
  • old, handheld lantern

She stared at her loot for a while, put the pendant around her neck, and started walking toward the shelters. The night was falling quickly, and she wanted to stash the box before anyone from the pack noticed it. She was young enough to be naive, but still old enough to be cautious. That group saved her life back in 2046, but you never know. People change.


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