[WP] A planet rotates once every 1,000 years so that each side is either tundra or desert; the poles are also frozen wastes, but there is a small area of ever moving habitable land. Two nomadic tribes isolated on each side of the planet begin to find the 500 year old relics of the other.

When I turned 15, I was sent to the Sun Edge. I had grown up on the streets of Harka, learning no skill or no trade. We couldn't afford the apprenticeship fees. My father had no lands to pass on to me, and all other good farms between there and the Star Edge had been claimed. There was nowhere else to go.

I was given a plot of land to work, only about two meters wide at the beginning. "It'll grow as the Edge advances," they said. The soldiers dropped me at the property line with a gaunt horse and some meager tools. They told me that I could have as much land as I could plow in the North-South direction by the time they returned to the Edge with another resettled orphan. At which point he would start plowing where I'd reached, and the cycle would begin all over again.

I'm a city boy. I grew up amongst the trader's tents and the craftsmen's workshops. They'd hired me for every type of menial seasonal job: splitting wood, working bellows, carving out rotted parts of vegetables to make them look fresh... I even helped with the Migration once when the Star Edge got too close to the settlement. We'd loaded up carts with all of the shops and dragged them across the plains until we could see the Sun Edge, and then plopped it all down and set it up again. All of these jobs for a few coins, and the only one I'd never actually done was plow anything. Needless to say, I wasn't making very good headway.

The metal plow fought me every step of the way, snagging on stubborn roots and buried rocks. And when I could find some clear ground, then the damned horse would decide that it didn't want to move!

CLUNK. The plow ran into something again. But it wasn't the normal dull thud that the rocks made. It was a sharp clang, like the sound of a blacksmith's hammering on stout armor. Maybe another tool? I had been in the marketplace long enough to know that even salvaged instruments could fetch a hefty price, maybe even more than whatever pitiful crop I could scrape from the land. Had some other poor settler been here before me and died with his plow in hand?

I dug it out. A long, thin tube made of pure metal, but rusted and caked in dirt. Skeletal hands clutched the grooved grip, and I soon uncovered the rest of the body. The skull had been caved in, but it didn't look like the wound from an ax or a hammer. Around the body, I found unusual metal pellets and a strange sulferous powder. Where had it come from? I was only a meter away from the Sun Edge, and anything out there would be fried to a crisp after only a minute or two. No way that someone could have gone out long enough. And I'd never seen anything like this, so it certainly couldn't be from the last Rotation. Back then we had barely mastered metalworking!

From a distance, I heard a horse's whinny. The soldiers were returning with the next orphan to be resettled. I'd made barely any progress on the field; definitely not enough to support a family. I quickly covered up the body and the metal tube and went back to my work. The horse was finally willing to cooperate, and we managed to plow another hundred meters or so before the soldiers arrived with the next settler. I greeted them calmly, and they spit back in my face. Such chivalrous gentlemen. My new neighbor introduced himself: Gerome, another city boy like myself. "Watch for stones," I warned him, wishing him luck in his plowing. The soldiers laughed at our shared misfortune and headed back to the city for the next boy.

I watched them leave, then returned to that spot. There was something important about this device, and I didn't want the soldiers to know about it. I had to resolve this mystery for myself.

/r/WritingPrompts Thread