Harshness surrounds us. Maddening winds never cease to blow. They carry bitter pollen in the spring, caustic sand in the summer, fungal spores in the autumn and glacial snowflakes in the winter. Eldritch shadows and mouldering spectres lurk in the darkness of a moonless night. Gelatinous sunlight oozes through your eyelids and chars your retinas, it pours through your optic nerves into your brain and fills it with a lambent brightness that suffocates your tranquility. But there are places where thick, overgrown walls keep out the asperity of this world and where you can frolic in sweetly blossoming gardens, recline in sumptuous canopy beds, stumble upon spices from undiscovered continents in the cellar, thumb through forbidden tomes and drink nectar from ghost orchids hidden in the gaps between sunset and nightfall. These places are called the demeures lointaines: