By Dean Francis Alfar
Tenet paused at the ridge, licked the dry dust from her lips and looked at the small settlement that clung to the side of the mountain in the distance. Behind her, the uneven path was an unending brown, broken only by the heavy footprints of her mule.
“Well, Alister,” she said to her mule, “let’s hope that this one is better than the last.” She tugged at the reins, squinted her eyes, and looked for the best way down. “Though I doubt it.”
As she neared the village, Tenet briefly considered passing it completely. The few houses that she could see looked tired and worn down, as if abandoned by the hope of better days. A few fields were marked by erratic stone fences, with only small clusters of greenery managing to break free from the earth’s embrace.
At a nearby well, a man and a woman watched her approach.
“Stranger,” the wiry man in rough homespun nodded in her direction. “Are you passing through?”