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The sun beat down on Ravenwood, turning the red dirt roads into shimmering mirages. Thirteen-year-old Lyra crouched in the shade of a weathered gum tree, her bare feet kicking up puffs of dust. Her ragged, ochre-dyed tunic stuck to her skin, and sweat trickled down her forehead, matting her tangled auburn hair. Hunger gnawed at her belly, a familiar pang she'd learned to ignore.


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