We all come to a stop. There, on the wall again.

"What do you think it means?"

"Don't know. Let's keep moving."

"Weren't we here like what, ten minutes ago?"

"Yeah, I recognize that fountain."

"It wasn't there then."

"Man. This place is giving me the creeps."

"How much farther do we have to go?"

"I don't know."

"Some navigator you are."

"Well, this map is useless." I crumple it up in frustration.

"Go through the town, they said. It'll be a shortcut, they said."

"We've been walking in circles the entire day."

"Why don't you try reading this thing, then?" I throw it at him.

He catches it and looks at me reproachfully. I sit on the brink of the fountain. Leading from the square, streets in all directions. Everything seems frozen in time, somehow left untouched by the war.

And it's eerily silent.

"Where do you think all the people went?"

"Who cares. At least we don't have to fight them."

"But, I mean, they wouldn't have left for no reason."

He studies the map. "That way," He announces.

"Aw, you just picked that randomly."

"Well, it's not like the other way was working any better."

"We can't just wander around blindly."

"I did look at it. Seriously."

"Here, let me see the map."

I sigh and put my head in my hands. I'll just close my eyes for a moment.

"What was that?"

I jerk awake.

"I thought I saw – "


"Over there. Didn't you – "


"But – "

"Guys." I snap. "Shut up. You're making it worse." They all turn to look at me. I push myself up. "We have to keep moving."

"Here, I have an idea." He pulls out a piece of chalk, and makes a red mark on the wall. "We just have to keep trying these streets. One by one, and we'll get out eventually."

"All of them?" Someone else groans.

"The sooner you stop whining, the sooner we'll get it over with." I push past them, and enter the street first. After a moment, they all follow.

It bends and turns impossibly, opens up to wide expanses, and suddenly narrows down to single file. And the houses, clustered on either side, hunched up watching us. It's insane. Who could possibly live here? We walk through a massive arch.

"What the hell?"

And enter the square again. Undoubtedly, the same one. The two dragons twining around each other, dancing or fighting. I would recognize that fountain anywhere.

I lead the way to the next street, before they can pipe up. "Let's try this again." He makes another mark on the wall. And we enter.

This time, we walk down a street of statues. Of men, and then monsters, and then I can't even tell anymore. We walk through a garden, through a gate in a wall.

And the square again. Another mark. Grimly, I lead the way into the third street.

It slopes slowly downward. And all around us, inexplicably, staircases. Only a few steps at first. As we go lower, they grow higher. Wend up expansively into space, reaching up into nowhere. How can it be so different, so different from the next street over?

"Guys?" Someone says, meekly. "Do you have the feeling? That someone's –"

"Shut up."

The street turns into steps, and we begin ascending. It gets lighter and lighter. An oaken door, that it takes three of us to push open.

"What the hell?"

The square. It's almost unrecognizable. It's been brightly chalked with every color under the sun. Stars, hearts, strange symbols. The dragons, purple and green. And, almost in mockery, beside every streetway – marks of red.

We just stand there, for a long moment.

"What do we do now?" Someone finally breaks the silence.

"We keep trying." I try to sound confident. "We have to." But, I don't think it's working.

I pick a street, and they all follow me. We wander aimlessly, like sleepwalkers. Even without a guide, we never go down the same street twice. Some are long, some are short. Some remind me of home. The others are intangible, incomprehensible, and I try not to look, only focus on moving through as fast as I can.

But, always at the end. The square. The square. The square.

Once, in a street full of shadows. A piercing noise, and we huddle together, automatically.

"What was that?" Someone whispers.

"It sounded like – "

"It was the wind."

None of them contradict me. I sweep my eyes around, but I can't get a count, I can't get a solid count in this light.

"Only the wind." I repeat, hollowly.

Slowly, we start walking again. Picking up speed, we make our way through a district of ruins.

And the square again.

I stop, in pure exhaustion. I can tell, they're all ready to collapse. Like me. But, we can't stop for long. It's starting to get dark, starting to get harder to see. But, at least I can tell in the open light. The right number. A wave of relief sweeps over me.

"Don't worry," I tell them. I pace in front of them, trying to think of something inspirational. But something distracts me.

"What happened to your uniform?"

It's been strangely torn. Gashes in a certain area, over the left side of the coat.

"I don't know." I can't see his face well, in the fading light. "I must have torn it somehow." And is he smiling? "Sir." Faintly.

"Right." I push the thought out of my head. Surely, they would have noticed. "Let's get moving, then."

As a group, we all move. But then come to a halt again, in front of a wall. There it is, again.

"What do you think it means?"

I shudder.

"I don't know."

I lead the way into the next street.