Posts Tagged ‘Kofrain’

In the Shanti Desert Pt. 2

September 15, 2018

Saara woke up slowly and she felt a bit like she had when she had fallen off a second story balcony during her second heist. She felt even worse when she contrasted that happy memory of freedom with her current predicament. She was laying on her back and she could see a stone ceiling above her. A young man who had been silent so far knelt down and pressed a hand against her shoulder and the pain lessened a bit and she felt like she could move again. She started to sit up and the young man gently pushed against her shoulder and prevented her from sitting up.

“I think he wants you to take it easy,” Arana said. “I have a feeling that he’s right. You passed out pretty hard.”

“Where are we?” Saara asked.

“After you passed out, I was able to create a magical shelter for us and we dragged you in here,” Arana said. “We’re on another plane. A sort of pocket plane.”

“Wow,” Saara said and she was genuinely impressed. She looked up into the eyes of the young man who was watching her intently. “And who are you?”

“He doesn’t actually talk,” Arana said. “We’re not even sure he can. His name is Adir and we hired him out of the Temple of the Winged Lady. He’s a great healer.” Adir nodded and smiled at that. He took her hands in his and gently helped her to sit up. Her head spun briefly but then she was alright.

“I’m not exactly sure what happened,” Saara said.

“As far as I can tell,” Arana said. “You held that protective spell longer than you should have and it drained a bit of your lifeforce. You have to be more careful.”

“Why are you being so nice?” Saara asked. Adir handed her a small clay cup full of liquid. She sniffed it and concluded that it was water. She took a big sip and she was proven right.

Arana shrugged. “For better or for worse, we’re on the same team now,” she said. “Also, you did kind of save our lives.”

“Where is everybody else?” Saara asked. She looked around and saw some of the group’s supplies but no camels or carts. There were a few boxes stacked near a door. There were rugs layered all over the floor and several bedrolls laid out. It was like a camp but the three of them were alone. She felt a little vulnerable all of a sudden.

“They’re out scouting for possible leads on the treasure,” Arana said. “Don’t worry, we’re safe in here. You have to have permission to enter my mansion. I’m not sure if any power on the material plane could force its way past that rule.”

Almost as if on cue, a large person pushed open the door, accompanied by wind and sand and then firmly shut the door behind themselves. Their face and much of their upper body were wrapped in cloth. Saara instinctively tried to gather her magic but it hurt so badly that her vision went dark for a moment. Adir held onto her hand to calm and steady her.

“Relax,” Arana said. “Like I said, they have to have permission and he has permission.”

“Who?” Saara managed to ask, her everything still hurting.

The man pulled the cloth wrappings away to reveal a simple red face mask. However, this caused Saara to instinctively flinch again. The Red Faces were known throughout Kofrain as the most brutal and efficient of law enforcers. They were rightly feared by the guilty and the innocent alike. The man slipped the mask off, revealing a rugged yet handsome face and a casual smile only partially obscured by facial hair.

“I am Sabri and I am the boss here,” the man said. “I bought your contract and I am sorry that we have not met until now.” He walked over and extended his hand and Saara shook it gently, she could tell he was strong. Instead of watching his face, she found that her gaze was drawn to the red mask hanging from his belt. “Ah, it is a little scary. A relic from a past life. I have changed my ways since then but the mask’s reputation is hard to pass up. It saves me so much time in negotiations especially.”

“It is nice to meet you,” Saara said. “I suppose.”

“How is your patient doing, Adir?” Sabri asked. “The workers in this room are the most versatile and useful that I currently have. We need to protect my investments.”

Adir gave Sabri a thumbs up signal but then qualified it by waving his hand in a ‘so-so’ movement which kind of made Saara nervous. Adir shot her a brief reassuring smile and a calming gesture.

“Let me guess, does she only need rest then?” Sabri asked.

Adir nodded in response.

“How many nights?” Sabri asked, his eyes narrowing.

Adir held up only one finger which made Sabri smile and nod.

“Excellent,” Sabri said. “You saved our lives and you won’t even delay our mission. Soon my men will locate the first marker that will lead us to the ruins that I found the last time I was out here. It can’t be far away now.”

“Then what?” Saara asked and Arana gave her a sharp look. Saara did not really care, she was already an indentured servant, there was not much to lose and Sabri seemed nice enough.

“Then you and my other three acquisitions help me get through the ruins to see if we can’t find any treasure,” Sabri said.

Saara nodded but then paused and counted on her fingers. “There’s only three of us here. Well, unless you’re counting yourself as an ‘acquisition’.

“There are five people in this room,” Sabri said and laughed softly when Saara looked confused. “I suppose it is safe to reveal our final participant.” He walked over to the pile of crates and pulled three keys from around his neck. He unlocked three locks on one of the crates and opened it.

“Oh, is it time for me to come out?” A voice from inside the crate said. “I was just about to fall asleep again, your accommodations were just so thoughtful.”

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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