"Gear up, you're shipping out." She stood outside my alcove, looming larger than I had previously thought possible.

"What?" I hadn't been paying attention.

"You're being shipped out," Deep said. "It was finalized this morning."

"Oh," was all I could manage. The floor was falling away from under me.

"You have five minutes," she said. "Cloak, sword, lantern. Nothing else."

My books, my records, my -

"You won't be needing them." She seemed to be following my gaze. "Just your basic gear is all we require."

Deep was new. I was fairly new too, but I thought we had a pretty good relationship up until then. We both knew that would be the last time we saw each other.

"Let me tidy up a bit," I said, trying to get my thoughts together.

"You won't be coming back," she said. "You will be leaving as of now."

I looked around my alcove frantically, as if I could save any part of it if I stared at it long enough. That would be the last time I had that view from the Tower. That would be the last time I saw what I had been treating as my personal effects, but ultimately would probably be disposed of after I left. That would be the last day anyone worked on the unfinished pet projects I had there.

"You are to join the others outside who are leaving within the hour," Deep said.

When I first arrived, I was confused and disoriented. It took months to build some semblance of stability. Just as it seemed my life was about to turn around, the wind was taking it away again.

In the corner was my new lantern, or what I had hoped would be my new lantern, almost finished after months of steady work. I should have devoted more time to it, but I couldn't take a non-functional lantern with me. The planning, the research, the design I had put into making sure it would be a better version, that would come to naught. Because I was too slow to finish. Because I didn't know what was coming.

The potted tree I had moved from the greenhouse, and devoted weeks to feeding, would have to be left for the next occupant. The fruit would be left for them, if they even kept anything I was forced to leave behind. So many things that almost were, but would never be because I wouldn't be there to see them to their conclusion.

Deep ushered me down the hall. The others looked up briefly. I think they could tell by my gear what was happening. I wouldn't be back. A few saluted as we passed. I didn't have the heart to react.

I was thinking of the life I was leaving, the possibilities cut short by strategic change. The small collection of colored balloons I had slowly gathered over the years, all had their strings snapped in the space of one morning. I watched them rise into the sky, still beautiful but now freed from my grasp, dancing for me one last time in the sun. They would promise me new balloons but I had expected my time with these would last a little longer.

"What are you looking at?" Deep asked.

"My balloons drifting away." I was looking at the Tower for the last time, trying to take it all in.

"What balloons?"

I didn't answer.

"Join the others." She motioned to the small gathering outside the entrance. "You'll be reporting to your new lead at the Shores of Renewal by dawn tomorrow."

By evening, the familiar landscape I had been accustomed to, had been replaced by new and strange lands. Our lanterns formed streams of light across the sky. Our cloaks flapped like gray flags behind us in the wind.

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