The shop had all kinds of things. Toys, tools, jugs and mugs. Masks from far away, colourful clothes, gadgets of all sorts.
There, behind a basket full of cones and torches, something caught Ild’s attention. Two strange sticks with a little ball on the end of each one. The little balls emitted a green light.
The shop keeper looked at him with interest him as he walked closer.
-I see they have chosen you,
He had only one eye and a big scar across his face. He lacked several teeth as well, probably for other reasons. He grinned, but it was no friendly grin.
-They’ve found you.
-Wouldn’t that be rather I’ve found them?
-Whatever you say, the shop keeper said. -They’re yours, no charge.
He didn’t look like the kind of man who would give away things for free.
-What are they for? Ild sent him a sceptical glare.
-They summon things, finds things. Leads the way.
There was a long silence. Ild was about to speak to break the tension, when the man continued in a sudden, fierce tone.
-Take them! Get out of here!
Ild grabbed the sticks, looking confused at the man behind the desk. This was all very strange, but he was intrigued by the two sticks, the strange words, even the way the shop keeper acted.
-Er… Thank you.
The shop keeper laughed when he walked out of the alley. He could hear his laughter stronger and stronger as he walked down the road, as if it was following him.
He got home, looking at his new, glowing sticks. He liked them a lot. He waved them around a bit in the semi darkness, making lines and circles.
A greenish cloud appeared, shining, like northern lights, like stars. There was a face, first diffuse, unclear. Then solid, still floating.
-Come with me.
-To the lost city of balloons and wonders.To the city of Tor’ar.
They walked. They walked for a long time, up in the mountains, between high walls. They walked on paths no one had walked in a long time, paths long forgotten.
Balloons could be seen in the skies. A valley appeared, deep like an abyss, rocky, infertile.
-Here we are.
The other side was far away, the abyss was deep and wide. Ild sat down to rest. The hologram kept staring at the other side, waiting. Ild fell asleep.
He woke up by the sound of metal hitting rock. An anchor had touched the ground in front of him.
-Hop on! We don’t have all day!
A balloon was waiting for them. The driver had a vest on, and short pants. His one eye was sparkling a glow Ild knew from before. A scar across his face.