Turning the corner, he was surprised to see the miles of barren wasteland that seemed unending, unrelieved as it was by a single tree. It was difficult to imagine that this land had once been a vibrant and fruitful tropical region with daily, but brief, rainfalls that soaked the soil and dried under a brilliant sun.
Something must have happened, he mused. An exploding volcano or a lengthy drought came to his mind. He'd heard rumours that some had survived. A few hundred had managed to carve out an existence but as he wheeled his craft over the short rise in elevation to the east and south and viewed still more desolation stretching before him, that belief seemed a fantasy. No one could survive here.
And yet, to the west, two pillars were standing, or rather leaning. About two meters high they were, with a gate between them. Fastened to the gate, askew but still legible was a hand lettered sign,