1: Two girls in an orphanage, secretly learning to read

Credit: hdptcar

Witness two little girls in an orphanage in a distant city, a long way from the centre of a great and ancient empire.

They have, against all the odds, taught themselves to read. Every morning, without fail, they wake each other up before anybody else, and practice, using a book filled with mysterious stories of ancient creatures called “gods”.

Their reading, and the gods, are forbidden.

They catch each other’s breath as they read. They are alone in the world, except for each other. They are safe, with each other.

The rest of their day will be filled with scrubbing floors, scrubbing stairwells, and scrubbing walls. But at the end of the day, if the sky is clear – and out here so close to Great Takla Desert, it almost always is – they will read to the light of the moon.

And what they read about, as fantastical and strange as it may well be, could be just about to come true.

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