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I’m Themba. I was born in 1849, in a village on the coast of Zululand, where the indian ocean rushes ashore in warm rolling waves.

At first my life was like that of all my friends: relaxed, and secure in the care of my family. And from herding my father’s cattle and goats, I would move on to become a respected hunter.

But then one day, I stopped growing. It was hardly noticeable at first, but as my friends became stronger while I stayed lean, it was clear that I would lead no ordinary life.

“My elders questioned me, and pondered my condition, and in the end my sangoma gave me a necklace, crafted with seven Mthombothi beads; they would allow me to travel through time, and stay in touch forever.”

These beads have meanwhile given my life a serious edge: my friends – and Bizza’s my best one – and I use them to travel to far-off places of ancient myths and civilisations, whispering mountains and enchanted shores… and demons and sorcerers.

“It’s been crackling good fun ever since I got these beads over 100 years ago.  I was thirteen then, and I’ve remained 13 ever since.”

You would think we’re inventing all this stuff, and I admit that we give them a little push of the imagination, but some of the things we see are more than just fantasy: they’re the fantastic and exotic realms of our past and future.