From the coast, it had looked like just another stretch of shoreline – unbroken save by the mouth of a minor river, emerging from the dense trees. Follow that “river” inward, though, past the dense undergrowth and vicious thorn bushes, and one came here: to a minor paradise, a sparkling lagoon nestled in a cleft in the hills, screened and half-shaded by the canopy of leaves, with one stretch of white sand laid bare to the noontime sun.

“This is my haven,” said Tasven’s companion. “No other two-legged being has seen it in five years. Do you like it?”