Story is Desert Sapphire, and with any luck we'll see it in full by the end of the month. Course, I've been saying that for the past two months now, but still~ ^^;;
Go poke xella =P
Oh yeah, and Alu's a camel *nods*
When the sky began to lighten again at dawn, Raqif glanced behind him in the direction of Ni-Mytaa, but could see nothing of the great city. Between him and the horizon that stretched off in every direction, there was nothing but the red desert sands and the shallow footprints left by his steed. Not even a sand dune broke the flat orange horizon, tinted blue by the dawn.
“I’m counting on you, Alu,” he told the camel, rubbing her head again. His voice sounded strange and flat against the unchanging landscape. He’d almost expected an echo, anything to break the pale dawn silence, but none came.
Later on in the morning Raqif felt a change in the wind. The gentle, warm breeze blowing from the northern desert swung around slightly, bringing a hint of grit with it. But that wasn’t all; there was something else in the light gusts, a warning sensation that couldn’t be described. It made Raqif’s eyes widen in alarm. Even a boy from the Hills, where grasses and even a few bushes anchored the sand down, knew how to read the wind for the approach of a sandstorm.
Raqif squeezed his heels against Alu’s sides and tapped the back of her neck once more, alighting rather more cleanly than he had previously, but his mind was focused more on the impending storm than his dismount.
Sheltering his eyes from the flying sand with spread fingers, Raqif glanced out to where the wind was, clearly seeing the brown smudge against the far horizon. Taking a deep breath to calm himself, he lay down on his stomach beside the camel, keeping her between himself and the wind, and lay his hands over his head.
Within seconds, the storm hit, and even sheltered behind the camel, the whirling desert sand stung every square of bare skin. The wind whistled insistently in his ears, heightening in pitch as it whipped the sand around faster. He could feel the sand edging its way into the crevices of his pursed lips and clenched eyes and tightened them further.
For a long hour that seemed to stretch for the remainder of the day, Raqif lay stiffly in the sand, the coarse grains pelting him from every direction and working their way determinedly through his hair and the fibres of his clothes.
As suddenly as it had hit, the sand storm swept away, but Raqif still didn’t move. Often, he had been told, this could just be the eye of the storm, and the strong winds would fling themselves on him once more from the other direction, as though to make certain that any creature which had survived the first dose would succumb to the pelting sands on a second round.
However, as the breeze continued to weaken, until it was nothing more than the niggling gusts that plagued every part of Raykin, he realised with relief that he had only caught the edge of the storm.
Groaning at his stiffened and aching joints, the highlander got to all fours and shook the sand from his hair and spat it from his mouth. When he stood up to brush off the sand that hadn’t already fallen from his clothes and skin like a small landslide, he noticed something even more horrific than the approach of the sandstorm.
He was alone.