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“The desert will play tricks on you, it will deceive you, it will kill you,” said the first retainer. “This is the desert of lies. Do not enter, it will be the death of us.”

Nin looked out over the level sands and felt the little truth that beat within his heart. “But I must.”

“It is folly,” said another. “We will not go with you. Let us find a path around the desert, perhaps to the east—”

“But my path lays before me,” reasoned Nin.

“All paths lay before you, my prince. That is what it means to be a prince.”

And so Nin dismissed his retainers, and entered the desert alone.

In the desert Nin saw many things. Some of which were true, and many more that were false. At first he tried to suss the nature out of every one. He saw great pyramids and palaces, shimmering lakes and more; valleys of death. He saw skeletons of huge, unknown beasts. He saw the bones of rabbits. He perceived the bones of his father.

One time he saw before him a spring of pure mana. He did not believe it to be true, for a spring of mana was said to be a very rare sight indeed. So Nin observed the bubbling spring for half a day, observed it from every angle and direction, until he was convinced that it was truth.

But when he went to drink from the fountain, his lips tasted nothing but sand, and when he blinked his eyes, the spring was gone and he knew he had been deceived.

From then on Nin vowed to disbelieve every thing he saw, be it beautiful or profane, simple or divine. He vowed only to believe that which resonated with the little truth within his heart, for he knew now that his eyes could be tricked.

The sun beat down upon his brow, and sweat stung his eyes, and the sun hurt them, too. He walked straight ahead, and disbelieved the things he saw: clear oases, pearl beads gleaming from beneath the pale sands, old friends begging for help.

And he made it out of the desert alive.

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