Northern Louisiana, March, the forty-third year of the Kurian Order: The green expanse once known as
theKisatchieForest slowly digests the works of man. A forest in name only, it is a jungle of wet heat and
dead air, a fetid overflowing of swamps, bayous, and backwaters. The canopy of interwoven cypress
branches shrouded in Spanish moss creates a gloom so thick that twilight rules even at midday. In the
muted light, collapsing houses subside every which way as roadside stops decay in vine-choked isolation,
waiting for traffic that will not return.