Posts Tagged ‘Horu the Horseface’

In the Shanti Desert

August 11, 2018

Saara thought that the camel smelled absolutely foul but she was sitting on it anyway. It was her first time on a camel and she did not see the appeal. Her people had horses but she had been told that camels were better for traversing long distances across the desert. Amil would have said she was pouting but he was nowhere in sight so he was in no position to criticize anything she did. She reveled in the pout, letting the dark cloud hang over her as if it could block the harsh sun of the desert and scare away everybody around her. For a moment, she could see the cloud hanging there, dark as the smoke from alchemist’s fire.

It had been that sort of fire that had gotten her in this mess and that thought made her face grow darker and her gaze more distant. They had been on a heist and the boss had insisted on alchemist’s fire while Saara promised she could safely cause the blaze with magic. In the end, something had gone wrong with the magic and she and Amil had been spotted. She had not been prepared and she tripped over her own feet and she was arrested. If she had not screwed up the fire, Amil would not have fled and she would not have been caught. She wished she knew where he was.

“If you’re going to have a bad attitude, I’ll just leave you right here and let you walk back,” Arana said.

“Is that a promise?” Saara asked.

“This is the Shanti Desert,” Arana said. “You’d dry up and blow away so fast that you would barely have the time to know what happened. But I’d know.” There was a smug satisfaction those last three words.

“Why do you dislike me so much?” Saara asked. The thought of dying of thirst in the middle of the desert had dissipated the dark clouds above her head for the moment.

“I studied for years for an opportunity like this and you got here by getting caught committing a crime,” Arana said. “Besides, your magic comes from you with but a thought while mine requires careful thought through study and ritual, sorceress.” She spat that last word out like it was an insult.

Saara knew that those who possessed wild, inborn magic were often distrusted. Wizards studied and planned their magic and Warlocks were gifted reliable magic. There was something about a sorcerer’s magic that made people feel like it was more unpredictable and therefore more dangerous. Saara’s friends had never felt that way while they were working together as a crew. They had trusted her and she was not used to having her magic thrown in her face like this. She never chose to be born with magical blood, she just was. She huffed and was about to say something contrary but she thought better. She was in enough trouble already.

“Hey,” Saara said. “It’s not like I even wanted to be here.”

Arana sighed and adjusted her spectacles and sighed again. “That’s exactly the problem and it sums up my entire explanation for why I dislike you.”

“Oh,” Saara said and closed her mouth.

Arana let the silence fill the small space between them. “At least look at it this way,” she said. “Most people who did what you did get locked up or executed. You get to be a treasure hunter.”

“I guess that does have a more romantic air than ‘prisoner’,” Saara said.

“You’re still a prisoner,” Horu said, suddenly riding close on their right. The sudden sound startled her and she nearly jumped off of the camel. Horu was called Horseface Horu for a reason and now that her heartbeat was returning to normal, Saara had to fight not to giggle at that. She was also grateful that she had not used any magic in her surprise. She could have really done some damage.

“I know,” Saara said. “I couldn’t possibly forget.”

“Good,” Horu said. “You’d do best by keeping your thieving hands to yourself. I can’t believe we have to bring two thieves with us.” His voice then dissolved into unintelligible grumbling.

“Two thieves?” Saara asked. “I’m the only thief on this trip.”

“We’ve also got the infamous Ba’as Nimble Fingers with us,” Arana said. She looked pleased to once again know something that Saara did not.

Meanwhile, Saara’s jaw had dropped. “No way. He isn’t even real. He is a myth.” She would have folded her arms for emphasis but she did not want to let go of the camel’s saddle.

“That lie smells worse than the camels,” Horu said. “He’s probably your uncle or something.”

“Do you think all thieves are related?” Saara asked.

“Not exactly,” Horu said. “I figure you are like rabbits and you all come from the same warren.”

“Wow,” Saara said. “Not exactly.”

Suddenly, the wind started to pick up and Saara saw everybody start to get down from their mounts as the sand started to sting her skin. Arana scrambled down and held onto the camel’s reins and gave Saara a worried look.

“Do something!” Arana yelled. “I don’t have a spell prepared for this.”

Saara started climbing down and then fell to the ground face first. Thankfully, the sand was somewhat soft. She got up and started putting the spell together in her mind. She had used the spell once accidentally to lose some guards and she was fairly sure it would work. She pictured a wall of wind shaped like a wedge and thrust out her hands to form it. The sandstorm slammed into the wind wall but it held with some considerable effort from Saara. Everybody, including the camels, got close to the ground while they waited out the sudden storm. As the storm stopped, Arana shook Saara to get her to shut off the spell.

“Saara!” She yelled. “You can stop. You saved us. Thank you.”

Saara would later joke that it was the shock of Arana actually thanking her but it was actually the strain of the spell that caused her to pass out.


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