Needing to travel across the desert to the city of Cham as part of their holiday plans, a mismatched group of tourists abandon the straight-line caravan route across the Cham Desert. Instead, they believe the fantastic tales the travel agent spins of what they will discover if they join a longer, but more exciting desert retreat that will be part pilgrimage to honor past heroes, and part self-discovery journey while bringing them to their intended destination.
Every night around the campfire, Rawiya tells the story of the planet Hidaya's history, but it comes alive in her vivid descriptions which are quite different from those dryly told in textbooks. Rawiya's tales make real the unwanted people who are collected by mysterious, heroic Searchers who bring them to places of safety. Refuge cities are established around Hidaya, but their existence remains secret to protect those who struggle to overcome their own personal tragedies and to escape imminent harm. But influential people have begun noticing that when Searchers are in town various children among others disappear. Ire and resentment overflows as the movement to remove oppressed and hopeless persons is discovered.
The evening story telling entertains and enlightens, but during the day the pilgrims' caravan travels from oasis to oasis where odd, surreal, and inexplicable events unfold. Though various activities keep the travelers focused on inner growth, impending danger shadows and threatens this peaceful group of novices in the unexplaining Cham Desert.
Published: 21st January 2014