We are now in relative safety amongst a large group of travellers. We have shared salt with the apparent leader and now can let our guard down enough to reflect on the events of the desert trek of days past…
I couldn’t seem to think straight. The sun was beating hard against the back of my neck. All of the humans seemed to be able to keep a forced pace that I could never quite keep up with. I thought more than once about how fast they would move with nothing left but scorched bone and twisted limbs.
How can we be so many in this empty landscape of silt and sunset? Why are those black robed wanderers stalking us in reverse: how can they stay so far ahead of us? The Lantern knight was the first to break.
He summoned his celestial steed yelled back some nonsensical jibberish to us and charged the horrizon. He must have been gone over half a day before he gave up his flight. We could all witness the futility. I must begrudge him his stoic acceptance: his pride didn’t colour his language with idiotic boasts of grandure…he simply stepped back in line just before sunset.
That night I awoke to screams. One or two of the mates had there throats cut in the night. The Lantern Knight was enraged. He cried out for the decorum of battle but was only answered with the silence of a carrion eater. We doubled the watch and took measure to avoid anymore nocturnal accidents.
One of the mornings ached pink over the vast stretch of desert and we saw the first hints of the nomadic sillouttes in the distance. There were more. They didn’t expect the resistance they received. They now numbered a warband in strength. My blood boiled with the indignance.
How could these sweatrags think that we would just bleed into the desert for them! How could they dare assume we had no tools of pride, and artifice, and strength? They aren’t the unchallanged heirs of the desert! I couldn’t take it anylonger. I looked at the croud of morning risers ready for another march into the arms of death and fumed “Don’t be alarmed, I’m going to do something strange.”
I then wrapped myself into the folds of light-bending it around me-so that no one could see my small form. I took to the air as a hawk on the hunt and screamed across the cool morning sky intent on destruction.
Four-hundred feet into the desert sky I hovered over the watching nomads. I took pause and aim and then send a beast of flame into thier midst.
The forty foot black char of flesh, glass, and steel cracked the seemlessness of the landscape. All the savages lay dead or dying save for one. I boldly set down not twenty paces from him and was about to call for quarter when I saw the tail end of an evocation searing through the air toward me.
I took a scorching ray of heat directly to my chest. I was a fool to come here alone, to land here unaided, to confront this desert mage by myself. I quickly mimicked his jesture and threw a blacst of energy right back at him. Thankfully, luckily, that was enough. I took stock of the scattered bodies and my companions in the distance. This was going to be difficult.
I cleaned what was left of the life out of the nomads, arranged the valuables and tools, and then gathered the scattered camels. I had hastily managed to cover the bodies with sand by the time my co-survivors arrived at the battlefield.
Little was said. Thier eyes said more than words could. This will be an uncomfortable journey, weeks from civilization, in the company of savages, priests, crusaders, and traders. I must be very careful.