Guest post by N. A. Foy
Marcia opened her eyes and looked around. She was surrounded by desert on all sides. The daylight was bright, and the sun was high in the sky. Lucinda was just waking up several feet from Marcia. The only sign of life were the plants sprinkled throughout the desert. All the portals had disappeared, and Marcia stood up, as the heat beat down on her.
Lucinda looked over at her, “Do you have any idea where we are?”
Marcia continued to look around before she finally answered, “By the looks of things, we are probably in the Desert Waste.”
“The Desert Waste? How in the world could we have gotten there? I mean, the village we were in is hundreds of miles away.”
“I’m just as confused as you are. I had no idea where I was going in the first place. If we are in the desert waste, we are in trouble, unless we are near the city of Svareah or near the Mede Territory.”
“Isn’t the United Territories also near the Desert Waste?”
“Kind of, there is a long length of grassland before we would finally reach the United Territories. Mede Territory would be our best bet. The medes are generally friendly toward mankind from what I hear.” Marcia had never personally met a mede, but she knew that they had the face of an eagle and walked upright like a human. They were known for their knowledge and extra long lifespans. They lived isolated from mankind near the east most border of Zalonia.
Svareah wasn’t too far away from the Mede Territory and was found along the Svareah River which trailed into the desert before it ended. However, there were rumors that the inhabitants of Svareah were not friendly toward newcomers. They would have to approach the city very carefully and hope not to be discovered by the guards.
“I don’t even know what direction we should go in,” Lucinda said.
“Well the sun is a little to the south, so if we wait for a few hours, we will be able to tell which direction the sun is heading. If we want to make it to Mede Territory, we head in the opposite direction of the sun. If we hit the ocean, then we will most likely need to travel north to make it to Mede Territory.”
Lucinda nodded her head in approval. Suddenly, it appeared that something formed within the sand and disappeared. “Did you see that?” Lucinda asked.
“No, what did you see?”
“It looked like the sand was trying to form a figure, but then it disappeared.”
Marcia looked in the direction that Lucinda pointed. At first, she didn’t see anything, but after a moment, sand particles came together and formed a figure again. “Do you have an extra weapon?”
Lucinda pulled a knife from her boot and tossed it to Marcia. Marcia took a hold of it and faced the direction of the sand figure. The figured unformed again, but the sand that had formed it blew together in the wind and reformed again. Marcia had never heard of such beings in the desert and had no idea what she was up against. The figure reformed in front of her, and she stabbed it with her knife. The sand scattered into many pieces and flew back several feet before it began to reform again.
“I don’t know how to fight this!” Marcia exclaimed. “It just reforms when I stab it. We may have to run for it.” The thing came at Marcia again, and once again she stabbed it. She made a run for it with Lucinda hot on her trail.
After a while, they slowed down, and the sand figure didn’t seem to be following them. Lucinda asked, “Do you have any idea what that was?”
“Never heard of such a thing. I knew the desert had strange animals in it, but I have never seen anything like that.”
They continued to walk for a while and came to the top of a hill. On the other side of the hill, in the distance, they could see a city. Marcia pondered, “I wonder if that’s Svareah. We need to be careful. Night is almost falling, so we will get closer under the cover of the dark.
The sun fell below the horizon, and the air seemed to quickly cool. Thirst and hunger consumed them both, and they could feel their skin burn from being in the sun earlier. Strangely, it seemed that there were no moons out to light the sky. Marcia was glad however since they could use the shelter of darkness to sneak up on the city.
They quietly approached and Marcia searched for guards on the wall but saw none. The city seems very quiet, and there was no light illuminating from it. They slowly approached what appeared to be the main gate, and still, there didn’t appear to be any guards.
“That’s strange,” Marcia said.
“Maybe they don’t need guards because they are way out in the middle of nowhere.”
“Yes, but I also noticed that there is no river leading to and from the city. Maybe this isn’t Svareah.”
“If it isn’t Svareah, then where are we?”
“I don’t know. This city is large, and I would have thought that I heard of it before.” They got to the gate and peered in. There was no one in sight. “You’d think there would be at least someone roaming around. At least there should be torch light coming from one of the buildings, but I don’t see any.”
They searched around and went into a few buildings. “It appears this city was abandoned, but why?” Lucinda said, her voice grim.
“The only abandoned city I know of is Ruinoneo, and this definitely isn’t Ruinoneo.”
“The magic of Ruinoneo would kill us; however, I don’t feel like I am dying from magic. It’s my hunger and exhaustion that is killing me.”
They continued search around. Behind the corners of buildings and houses, a shadowy figure lurked. He had been watching them since before they were captured in Lamax.