“On a stony bluff looking over the sea.”
I had read great-great-grandfather Irving’s words so many times, I knew them by heart. When I closed my eyes, I could see the ancestral home set up over the crashing waves. I didn’t really expect the house to still be standing after more than a century, but I could dream.
The world had changed with generations of warfare. Great floods had shifted the course of rivers and deep draughts had made once fertile lands barren.
Reading Irving’s diary, trying to retrace his steps in reverse, was not an easy task, particularly at the beginning, but I soon got the knack of it. A silhouette of a hill matched his drawing here, the jagged outcropping of ruins over there matched the location of an old city he had passed through. It got easier and as we approached the sea, the changes grew fewer.
It was about resources, as I’m sure all such things must be. The weather had betrayed us and everything grew scarce. A single person had food for ten thousand while a town of ten thousand starved on the food barely enough for a single person. Ancient animosities rose again. There had been a period of unification, when nations came together as one, but it was followed by a period of division, where splits occurred once again.
And then the wars started.
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