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Invisible Lines

Discussion in 'Mixed-genre & Uncategorized' started by aryamajor, Aug 2, 2018.

  1. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    @Silence

    Sweat beaded over her forehead and dripped down her temple as she stepped over a moss eaten log and glanced upward. Her eyes only met a thick canopy of lush green leaves, twisted with vines and sunshine filtering through to the misty forest floor. Despite the sun, she could hear thunder rolling in the distance. Another rain shower? As much as the cool rain would be welcomed again for a short while the increase in the heat would only make her more miserable, trapping all the steam under the impossible shade of the trees. The thought or more heat made her miss the cooler pine forests of home slightly, but she had a task and she would complete it.
    Wiping at her brow, she bit her lip and began to consider climbing up one of the trees to get her bearings again, perhaps even catch a glimpse of her quarry before the rain came. Then sooner she had it, the sooner she could go home and present it to the Chief. As she considered which tree would be the easier to start climbing a rustle to her East pricked her ears. It was the brushing of leaves across something, followed by the crack of a twig breaking under what sounded like a heavy foot. Whatever beast was moving around it was large and she wasn’t as familiar with the creatures in this far flung area.

    Her eyes darted to a nearby tree with a hearty host of vines wrapping around the trunk making it easy to climb. It wouldn’t be hard to disappear into the branches of that one. With careful, silent steps she scuttled over and began climbing upward until she found a sufficiently sturdy branch to perch on, allowing her to see the area below. What sort of animal would be crunching through the undergrowth? Whatever it was, the thing wasn’t exactly stealthy but that probably meant it didn’t need stealth to catch its prey if it ate meat at all. With sharp, golden eyes and a patient hand wrapped around her scythe, she waited for whatever prize would come.
     
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  2. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Benefactor Staff Member on Hiatus Warden

    Arames shifted the pack on his back and kept on walking. He was almost home after a long trip outside the desert. Every now and then he'd go to the main port and sell some of his wares. It was relieving to be by himself now. So many people in the big city. So many of them and they were loud, they all wanted to talk at the same time and instead of waiting for it to get quiet they'd simply yell louder to be heard over the crowd. Now, he could enjoy the quiet walk and just be by himself.

    There was a large desert to traverse in the next few days after he got out of the forest. First it would fall into a dry steppe sort of land. It was flat and the trees became more sparse until it would turn into nothing, but the welcoming and rolling red sands of the Quoti desert. He'd heard plenty of outsiders make their rumors of the homeland he was from. They would talk about the impossible trek. Some would stare at him like he was some sort of strange being. A few had myths that the Chippequoti were mystical sorts and it didn't seem to help that nobody knew their language and there hadn't been any successful attempts by explorers at finding the Chip home deep in the desert. Most of the stories seemed to revolve around the fact that the Chippequoti lived in a burning desert hell of sorts. It was actually quite nice. Arames thought the oasis was the most beautiful place he'd ever seen.

    Some of the rumors about Chippequoti living in the burning sands were right, but those were the outside tribes. His tribe had held the oasis for centuries and he would help defend it if the time came. As it was, he'd have to take the sacred road guarded by the treaty. First, he had to get through the forest to start on the road of the Four Winds. There was an odd sound in the trees. Not one that he'd ever heard before. Arames was no hunter, but he was quiet and he knew the sounds of the forest and all his surroundings. Part way along the trail he stopped and tilted his head to listen a little more closely. Was it an animal of sorts stalking him? Carefully he took his pack off and started to dig into it before he produced a long pincer. It was about the best he was going to have for a weapon. Nobody typically bothered the Chippequoti and he hadn't ever been attacked by a wild beast before. Perhaps it was better not to sell all his wares. Next time he'd have to refuse to sell his own small sword. He didn't much care for the large swords that the warriors carried, but he did like the little ones. The little one he sold to a man that it looked massive next to, but he'd got a good price for it.

    Wielding the pincers from his tool bag Arames shouldered his pack again and resumed his careful walk through the forest. Every now and then he'd look over his shoulder to see if the stalking critter would show itself.
     
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  3. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Her eyes narrowed, waiting for the beast to work its way through the foliage and into view, one loud step at a time until a large figure came into view. It wasn't just a large figure and it wasn't a beast, however. The biggest human she'd ever laid eyes on was loping through, his head passing not but 3 feet under the branch where she was perched. She sucked in a breath and held it as she inspected the man carefully. Not only was he tall but he was well-built, particularly in the arms. Some sort of workman maybe and not in tribe, she had ever seen before. Were they natives to the forest here, or were they poachers come to steal her prize too?

    When he pulled the pliers from his pack, her curiosity and caution piqued further. The stranger clearly had good instincts and knew something was around, but who traveled without some sort of weapon? As he started to move onward, she made sure her scythe was secure at her back before following along from above, climbing just a little higher in the trees so she could track him out of reach if he decided to attack. Really, she should have been looking for the Cyrn falcon, but she couldn't resist scoping the massive human out for a bit.

    For more than a mile she followed him in near perfect silence through the treetops until he another sound alerted her to something far more serious. A low growling from somewhere in the canopy greeted them. It was a sound no human she knew of could produce and she drew her scythe slowly from her back as she scanned the trees looking for the source. This wasn't a matter of what was the creature at this point it was an issue of where was the creature. Which way would it strike from?

    Its attack was heralded only by the rustle of leaves and a screaming cry. A large feline creature bigger than a nyte beast leaped down from her west side, but its target wasn't her at all. The razor-sharp canine teeth were bared at the tall man, ready to shred him for the intrusion into its territory.
     
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  4. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Benefactor Staff Member on Hiatus Warden

    Somehow Arames couldn't shake the uneasy feeling that still crept right along with him. His knuckles turned a pale tan as he gripped the pincers hard. They were the closest thing he had to a weapon. Mentally he was starting to scold himself for selling the weapon he'd carried with himself. He made the trip several times and he'd never had a problem. Naturally it was going to be the time that he'd sold his weapon and he didn't have one that a problem would arise.

    As he was slowly making his way through the underbrush he could still hear rustling all around him and it was getting worse. Somehow it felt like everything was getting louder and louder. It was likely that it had more to do with the fact that he could hear his heart beating and it felt like every pump from it made another great rush to his head. Pushing aside the next bit of the underbrush he found there was nothing in his way on the path, but he didn't feel any better when he heard the horrible low growl. That was exactly was he was afraid of. Wherever the thing was he wouldn't have much time. Arames had to concentrate in the few seconds he had. Where was the sound from? Though it was not likely to be recommended he closed his eyes for a brief moment and cleared his head in that split second.

    The sound....the sound......It had come from his left. Turning quickly he found himself staring up into the red eyes of the silver leopard as it lunged for him. The feline had sprung from her position and she was now just a little above his head. Instinctively the Chip dunked and pulled the pincers in, next to his body at the same time. He was far from battle hardened and he certainly didn't hunt things like this. At least not for fun. Any of his instincts and training were strictly for survival. There was only one thing he was certain of. He couldn't turn his back to the feline. As the animal flew over his head he turned around just in time for the animal to slash at his arm.

    A deep stripe of red went across his forearm and Arames' eyes went wide before he started to yell and scream hysterically at the beast. Not one word he said could have been recognized in any language. Swinging the pincer he managed to slap the leopard with it and the cat winced and hissed in return before it started to duck. Arames poked more and screamed louder until the animal began to slink away.

    It was just as likely that the animal was now just as frightened of him as he was of it. The two of them stared at one another for an uncomfortable several minutes. Neither of them sure if they wanted to turn their back on the other. After nearly 3 minutes the leopard and shrunk far enough into the brush that Arames could no longer see it and he poked the pincer into the brush again and shook it around to be sure that the feline wouldn't bat at it. When he got no reaction he turned to continue walking down the path. He wanted to get out the steppes before he stopped to patch his arm. He didn't trust the animals in the forest not to try again. At least on the Steppes he could see what was coming and he was more familiar with the creatures there.
     
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  5. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    She was expecting a gory mess with either of them. The cat was large as he was nearly and he didn't react to take a defensive stance like any real hunter would, but stood there with his eyes closed like a big dope until the thing pounced on him, somehow clearing his head in a last second duck. He still managed to get caught by some claws, resulting in a deep slice into the tanned skin of his forearm and what was the most panicked reaction she'd ever seen. Well, at least the largest hissy fit she'd ever seen in her life. Women in labor made less of a fuss!

    He got lucky and the animal took the ruckus as a sign of dominance, the two entering a stare down before the cat slinked off into the bushes once more. It probably thought the man was too insane and given how he acted, she was in the same camp as the cat. At least she could rule out that he was a poacher, considering his apparent lack of skill for it. Rather than patching up his arm immediately, he kept moving along. That was both good and bad. Getting out of the immediate area was smart, but the longer the wound stayed exposed the worse his chances of an infection were. Both the animal and the exposure could be just as deadly.

    A peal of thunder echoed over the trees, this time stronger and louder than the few minutes before, and it marked the beginnings of a down pour. Rain pummeled the canopy above them before washing down the vines and trunks to the forest floor in the form of spouts and fine mist. The dampness clung to both of them, beading onto her tunic and collecting into her curly black hair. Such miserable weather here. At least she had a comrade on that thought. The man shivered slightly, sending water pattering to the leaf papered ground. He didn't seem to like the rain any more than she did.

    The Cyrn falcon would be hiding from the storm, and that made tracking it nearly impossible, so it was just as well she followed the man to see what he would do. How far was he going? She tracked the man for a good hour, watching him check his arm a few times and debating on what few details she could read from him. His size made her think he was full grown, but his face was smooth as a baby's bottom and unmarked. A young man. Maybe her age? It was hard to tell since half of her view was of the top of his head.

    Another problem was fast approaching, she realized. The trees were beginning to thin, their branches inching further apart and their leaves more sparse. They were coming to the beginning of the end of the jungle as the rain continued to pour. Just as she was stepping on to a long branch to an adjacent tree a resounding crack echoed as soon as her weight transferred. A small dip downward told her it was already too late. She was committed to the move and the branch dropped downward, giving way to rot from the inside out, and taking her with it. With a small yelp she crashed into the branches below and piled into the ferns on the forest floor.
     
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  6. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Benefactor Staff Member on Hiatus Warden

    With time Arames started to feel a little more relaxed. He was getting out toward the edge of the forest. There was nothing quite so comforting as seeing the wide expanse of barren land. It was welcoming and he started to feel homesick already. He'd already determined that he would work on his arm a little and get it wrapped up after he was out in the clear of the steppe land. Carefully picking his way through the brush he almost sighed. The trees were getting thin enough he could see the steppe land just ahead. It was less than half a mile away.

    Walking through the forest was hard enough with all the brush and he couldn't really say that it would be quick, but with the brush thinning it would be faster than he'd been moving in some time. Suddenly a large crack sounded and then the various twigs snapping along with the sound of the initial break of the tree. Arames scrambled away from the sound and he turned sharply with the pincer ready to strike. Someone was following he'd heard their squeak too. Instead of being greeted by a sight of a fierce warrior he saw a small woman with bits of moss, twigs, and leaves stuck in her hair. She looked a bit irritated with him, or herself. It didn't matter which one. She was upset. Lowering the pincer he inched a bit closer and stared deep into her gold colored eyes with his violet ones.

    After he'd decided she wasn't a threat, or injured he simply turned and started walking again. He had seen who was stalking him beside the great cat and he wasn't worried about it. She was probably a silly little girl just getting her kicks out of seeing how long she could follow along. Her game was over now and she could go home and do whatever it was she was going to do. Arames was going home and he was going to get back into his forge and work some more. That sounded good.
     
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  7. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    The branch breaking right across her bum was what hurt the most before she collided with the mossy forest floor, her scythe smacking her on the top of her head as she groaned. Stupid forest of endless rain. Hissing, she rubbed at her hindquarters for a moment before she realized that she had fallen right next to the stranger who was scrambling away and waving around the pincers like a mad man.

    Jumping to her feet, she snatched up her scythe and held it up in both hands ready to defend herself against the massive man. He had build on her for sure, but there were always ways to take down an opponent bigger than yourself.

    Their eyes locked in the age old stare of assessment, his a brilliant violet like she had never seen and hers a light gold framed by long lashes and the left by a scar arching down across her eye to the bottom of her cheek. For half a heart beat she waited to see if he would come at her as they measured each other. Every muscle was poised, ready to take him on, but the battle readiness edged away some when he simply turned and walked away. What was he doing? Why didnt he come forward?

    Frowning, she kept her guard up until he was a few meters ahead then slowly lowered her blade. She knew she should have counted herself lucky he didn't feel like fighting, but it left her without a sense of satisfaction. Her eyes darted to the forest and then to the man's retreating back. Common sense said go back, but the overwhelming urge of curiosity said go to the open plains and follow. After all, maybe Kulytra had a plan for those brave enough to take a chance.

    Putting away her scythe with one hand she ruffled hair short curls to dislodge the debris and began to jog after him.
     
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  8. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Benefactor Staff Member on Hiatus Warden

    Arames set out at a good fast pace. At least as fast as his legs would take him at a walking pace. He didn't much relish the idea of being out in the steppe land after dark. He would rather reach the edge of the desert. Perhaps later he would run across a part of the steppes and then he could get to the desert and lay out his blanket before it got too late. There wasn't much point in having a tent. He could do well enough with just his sack of tools and a blanket. That was all he carried with himself and he didn't need anymore more than that. The less he carried when he traveled the better.

    The one thing he didn't really anticipate was the fact that the girl was following him. A few times he would shift mid step to look behind himself and he could see the girl still trotting along. Her legs were a bit shorter than his by a ways. Turning the face the steppes again he couldn't help the smirk that came to his face. If she was trotting now it would be fun to see if she could keep a jogging pace. After he jogged for a while she could try running if she hadn't already lost him. She wouldn't actually lose him since he would be easy enough to spot, but he could get far enough away that the heat would make him look like nothing more than a speck. It would be interesting to test the endurance of this little woman. Perhaps she thought she could move quickly.

    Before he could run Arames decided to stop and patch up his arm. Glancing behind himself again he saw the girl and he simply stopped and then dropped his pack of tools on the ground before perching himself on top of them. It wasn't a comfy seat, but it worked well enough. Digging into one of his pockets he grabbed the dressings he had ready for such times. It was almost a guarantee that a blacksmith would hurt himself and it was better to be prepared. It had gone well this trip until now.

    Quickly and with experienced hands the Chip started to wrap the dressing over his arm until the whole wound was covered and then he tied it in place. Holding part of the dressing between his teeth and then the other part with right hand he tugged until it was firm. Standing again he picked up the bag of tools and then started jogging. By the time it was nearing dusk he ran for a short distance. Arames hadn't bothered to check behind himself for a while and he didn't think she'd follow him all the way into the desert and back home. It wasn't real common that anyone would brave the desert. Most foreigners died of the heat and those that didn't had strayed away from the path and they were killed. It was only the Chippequoti that knew of the region that was considered safe to travel between the tribes and there were no markings. They all learned from the time they were little and that was the way of their life and it kept them safe. No one dared come after them in their own home.
     
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  9. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Talia followed along picking her way through the slowly thinning jungle floor. Where was this one going? Did he know she was following him? Of course, he did. He kept peering over his broad shoulders with those strange those bright eyes. It could mean he was leading her into a trap or worse, but the Cryn had flown that way so she might as well entertain herself.

    Afterwhile the trees ebbed, becoming thinner and shorter until breaks in the treeline lent to wide open spaces of squat trees dotted between scrubby bushes. This was a land the likes of which she had never seen. It was so...flat. You could see for miles ahead, the line of sight broken only the wayward, gnarled trunks of trees. No mountains? No perch spots? Why would the falcon have been pushing further south when there was nothing here for it?

    It was then that she noticed the man had picked up his pace. He intended to run across this endless sea of deadened grasses? The change in his pace probably meant he knew something she didn't about this land. One thing was for sure, he wouldn't be running if it wasn't to somewhere he considered safe or useful. Talia shook her head, checking behind her, and then picked up her pace behind him into a jog. There was nowhere to hid out there, but a least the open expanse gave the wind a chance to cut across. The breeze kicked up bits of sand which stuck to her sweat slick and slowly drying skin.

    At one point he stopped to finally check on the wound carved into his arm, the blood having dried long ago. She watched from a distance as he bandaged himself up, but didn't dare to use the chance to get closer. Once he was done she set out behind him once more, matching his jog easily even if he was taller.

    The stranger almost seemed to invite her to the challenge of a foot race, and she grinned to herself at the prospect. At home she could run through the forest and up hill for miles at a time. Running across a flat land like this was nothing in comparison. When he launched into a run, she lurched forward to follow with sure-footed strides that left tiny puffs of dust in their wake across the ground like golden smoke in the fading light.

    It wasn't until a shadow stretched across the ground that belonged to neither the stranger or her, that Talia looked up from her goal to see it. The falcon. The bird was massive with bright red plumage and sharp yellow beak pointed to the south as it glided along the eddies high in the sky. South. The same way the stranger was going. Rather than attack them in such an open field however, the bird stayed true to its course above the stranger.

    Was this man a rival? Or was it a sign? Her golden eyes bounced between the man's back and the bird trying to reason out if the shaman would say it was a gift or curse from Kulytra. Then she realized it didn't matter. Both were going the same directions and she wanted the bird. Finally, the man seemed to be tired of his running game and slowed down, making her do the same until she decided she had to know. With a few confident strides, she walked over to the tall stranger, keeping a meter or two between them, and pointed up to the bird. "Cyrn?"
     
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  10. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Benefactor Staff Member on Hiatus Warden

    With the night coming on Arames had thought that the girl would leave. Instead she had decided to stay. When he stopped she actually walked over to him and he looked her over with a frown. His eyes were the color of the desert sky at night and in the last of the light his skin was nearly the red tone of the same sands that they were nearing. It was another four days till he got home after he reached the desert and he was sure she would give up, perhaps she should go home before they got to the desert. Once they started into the desert she couldn't turn back. If she turned away after she was in the desert she would likely die.

    This girl was pointing to the sky and asking him about the bird. Arames knew her language well enough from the time spent in the city. He had the opportunity when he traveled to hear all different kinds of languages and he understood most of them. There were a few he was still learning, but no one ever expected a blacksmith to know anything besides his work and Arames didn't much like talking. As long as he didn't speak there were plenty of assumptions about his intelligence, but he didn't care.

    Shrugging in response to her question he turned away and set his pack down. Pulling a blanket out of the pack he wrapped it around his shoulders and nestled into the hard ground as best he could. This part of the travel there wasn't much time to stop and eat. It was always safer to move quickly. He would only sleep a few hours before he got up. Arames had a few small servings of food that would keep for about two days. Then he would go the last two days without food. Going without the food in the heat was alright. When he got up again it was still dark and he took the blanket off. The air was cold on the steppes, but he was going to be moving fast and that would make it better. Stretching a little he limbered himself up, grabbed his pack and then he started to run until he reached the edge of the sand.

    At the edge of the desert he checked to be sure his shoes were on tight and then he started to run through the sand. Running in the sand was a little different. If he made sure to run with his feet hitting the ground flat, rather than on his heels or toes he would move more quickly and without hindrance. Many foreigners couldn't run in sand and he wondered in part if the girl would make it.
     
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  11. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    His response was a shrug. A mere shrug that didn't indicate whether or not he wanted the bird or otherwise. Her eyes rolled at him and she shook her head as he went about setting himself up for rest. His pack seemed to be full of things, which was somewhat funny to her. Such a heavy pack for traveling so far when it in some cases it only slowed him down. "Well, I guess that's a better answer than you gave the jungle cat," she snickered.

    Since it seemed he was bedding down for a bit, she did the same. Her outer most layer of clothes were designed for scouting missions and it didn't take much effort to peel off the garment before loosening the drawstrings to make a blanket. Attached to her belt was a waterskin which was still fairly full from her last fill up in the jungle. Unclipping her water pouch, she took a sip from the lip and licked her lips, savoring the taste on her tongue. A small pouch on her other side held salted and dried nyte beast meat, saved for just such a night too. Most of her food had been in the form of fish and various plants along the way up until this point which left her with a good supply of rations. A good thing considering a glance at their surrounding suggested the flatlands they were headed toward didn't look promising at all. Her golden eyes caught in the last vestiges of daylight, sweeping over the flat expanse in front of them while she tore a piece of the dried meat with her teeth. There could be anything out there, but she needed that bird and to that end, she would do anything she had to in order to get it. Brave anything she had to. When the night set in, she pulled her undrawn shirt higher over her shoulder with one hand and kept her scythe pole in the other by her side. It was always best to be prepared.

    It was the sound of the stranger bumping around in the early hours of the morning that fully woke her. She cracked her eyes open, first the one closest to the stranger and then the other to see what he was up to. By the looks of it, he was set to start moving early. Why? She didn't know. The best she could figure is he wanted a longer day out of the sun and the temperature was a good one to travel by for now, with crisp air sliding along the wind. Whatever the reason, if his intent was to go for the falcon she couldn't let him get it before she did. Rolling to her feet, she dusted off her back and replaced her outer shirt as it had been before. "Early riser," she commented vaguely as she went about fixing her scythe over her back. For a brief moment, she allowed herself to look up at the sky where the stars were still out, the red one to the north being one of the brightest. It wasn't beckoning to her, but pushing her forward.

    The stranger started out at a faster pace through the morning and she kept up easily, having rested and eaten. She jogged along behind him in silence until the ground grew less stable and the air more dry with sand spitting against her skin. What sort of hellish place was this? They had gone from too wet in the forest to entirely too dry in whatever this place was with the sun bearing down on them both. At one point, she stopped and took off her outermost layer again. Letting out the drawstrings, she found the shirt made an excellent head covering that she could tie down over her fly away hair to protect her scalp and neck. The shade was an almost instant relief as she picked up her pace again. He had gotten a little farther ahead, but he was still in sight and if anything she could follow the shadow of the falcon in the distance.

    As the day wore on, she followed looking for any sign of life around them and finding nothing but the stranger among the sand. The hottest part of the day passed, allowing her to pick up speed again until it seemed time for rest. He did the same and for once she was grateful for the chance to take a drink and close her eyes for a moment. "You know, I'd be quiet to if I lived in a hellhole like this," she said, having finally caught up to him, " You don't actually live here...do you? Not a big guy like you." She didn't care if he could understand her or not and she definitely didnt care that she was closer to him than the last time they rested. Taking a measured sip of her water, she plopped down and looked up to the strangely brilliant sky, wondering if his practiced shrug would be the only answer.
     
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  12. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Benefactor Staff Member on Hiatus Warden

    Arames slowed down some as the heat of the day came on. There wasn't going to be many places to hide from the sun and so he simply made a slower pace till mid day. By mid day he found a rock and sat with his back to it. Th limited shade from the rock covered his head and part of his legs. What was left of the shade was eventually taken up by the girl. At this point he figured she was committed to following him, or the bird. Whichever it was that she was following he wasn't sure, but she wasn't going to make it if someone didn't watch out for her. Even the measured little sip of water told him she was going to get sick. If she hadn't been drinking throughout the day she would be feeling it soon enough with headaches, stomach cramps, and other nasty symptoms.

    Checking his water Arames noted he had more than enough the last the afternoon and when the evening hit he would have to stop for more. For now he would rest under the shepherd's rock. Shortly after the sun started to lower in the sky Arames got up and started to walk again. This time he moved slower. The girl couldn't keep up at a running pace in the sand and he glanced behind himself several times. She had started to veer off the path at one point. She was trying to follow the bird? What she obviously didn't know was that while the bird flew a straight path the only safe way to get through the desert was by the path he was taking her through the sand.

    Turning around Arames grabbed her arm and shook his head. She didn't really want to go that way. Grabbing her little water skin she carried on her side he felt it to see how much she had left and then beckoned for her to follow him. There were underground rivers and the trail followed them. It was why the territory was considered sacred, but the rivers changed direction sometimes and when the change was discovered the path changed too. Taking another large swig out of his water skin he held it to his mouth for what seemed a long time before he pulled the skin away from his mouth. Between his teeth he had a silver cast of a reed that he carried in his water skin. Silver cast reeds were something that almost all his people carried. No one on the outside usually knew what they were for, but this outsider was about to discover the reason. Many of the Chippequoti carried longer, skinnier water pouches to fit the silver cast reeds.

    Fixing the cap to the top of his water skin he nodded to the girl and had her come closer as he knelt on the ground. Digging a little in the sand he moved a few inches of it away and then he thrust the reed into the ground and waited for a gurgle to sound. He knew the desert and the rivers like any Chip that traveled. Sucking the water out he spit it off to the side several times because the first few sips were muddy. After he had his silver reed cleared he took a few long drinks for himself and then started to hold the water in his mouth and spit it into his water skin. Once his water skin was full he stepped aside and let the girl fill her own.

    After she was finished he pulled the reed out of the ground and dropped it back into his water skin. Now they were ready to continue the journey. She needed to drink often and he figured if he walked slower they would be about 5 days from the oasis, but she would learn to drink more often instead of letting herself get dehydrated. As long as she stuck with him she would be fine. Otherwise she wouldn't know where the water ran under the ground. The sands looked the same to most outsiders and the landscape had very few telling signs.
     
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  13. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    The second day was more tiresome than the first and she could feel her body dragging behind some, the wear of thirst along with heat exposure sinking in despite having taken rest and being able to shade herself from the heat. How big was this waste land? How far could it go? And what was it the bird could want out here? It's shadow swept over them from time to time, even as the stranger's pace slowed. Apparently, she wasn't the only one affected by it. He had gotten slow enough that she was nearly walking right behind him, her strides taking 2 for every one of his until the bird took a turn to the east side rather than south.

    She had come this was for the bird, not for the man, and there was nothing out here but sane and sun, so she diverged from her path. No sooner had she taken a few steps away did a strong hand lash out, grabbing her. The first instinct was to struggle back, haven't been caught she wasn't about to go down without a fight. "Let go!" Her heels dug into the sand and she struggled as he went for her water skin. He wanted to steal her water? She wouldnt survive without that! Suddenly, he was pulling her over into a sand dune and digging into the dirt like a mad man. Maybe it was the sun that drove him crazy? Then he started fumbling with his water skin, producing a silver sort of stick. A divining rod? Was he a shaman of some kind?

    "You're cra-"

    The sound of water gurgled up from the depths of the sand itself and he spit several times before filling up his water skin using his mouth. A spring! Talia's tongue smacked the roof of her own mouth as he filled up his water skin and then left the reed in there, stepping to the side as if to allow her. A grin crossed her freckle dusted face and she chuckled. "You could have said so you know."

    That first taste of cool ground water was pure heaven and she swallowed the first two gulps before filling up her canteen in the same fashion. When they were done, she pulled the reed from the hole and offered it to him. There wasn't a term for thank you perse but he got a wobbly nod of respect as she gave the reed back, as much as any warrior would show, and then continued on their way, though the bird was gone out of sight.

    When night rolled around it was the same routine, except he pulled what appeared to be a moldy or burnt mash from his satchel and started eating it. Her nose curled at the fare. "That looks awful." In repayment for the water she pulled a strip of her meat from her pouch and offered it. "Here. Probably tastes better than....whatever that was."

    Sitting across from him she knocked the dust from her head scarf and gazed at him. "You must really live out here. Nobody who didn't would know about the water. Are you a traveling tradesman or just a rogue?"
     
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  14. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Benefactor Staff Member on Hiatus Warden

    Once they had water they would be safe to travel for another day. Arames knew that they would have to drink less or move faster if they would reach the next bend in the Red River. She moved too slow in the sand and he didn't like doing with less sleep, but it would be better to do that and perhaps keep hydrated. She was like many other people and she spoke even when there was no reason.

    They were alive, they had water and there was food enough to last till they reached the oasis. At this point he simply stared at her for a long moment and then turned to keep walking. He didn't have to tell her that he knew where the water was. He showed her and now she knew to stay close. It was always helpful to listen to folk talk. When they thought you were mute, dumb, or unable to speak somehow they seemed more open and they would say plenty more as if a person couldn't hear either. Perhaps they thought they were safer saying things because the one listening could never describe to anyone else what they said. In reality, people were quite terrifying when you listened to them. Many of them were harsh, cruel, greedy, vengeful, or any other number of terrible things. So far this girl wasn't much different. She mocked, she was jumping to so many conclusions and she was quite clearly interested in the bird. He didn't like that she was interested in the bird.

    In Arames' mind there was a good reason to like animals better than people. At least the intentions and actions of an animal followed a logical pattern. It was about survival and he could understand that. Animals didn't kill unless it was necessary. People were capable of far more evils and many of them started with the wild wagging of the tongue. He found that it was easier to live at peace if he never spoke. If someone was angry with him they could talk all they wanted, but they eventually grew tired of their bitter words if he didn't say anything in return and they were too unpleasant he could simply refuse service.

    That evening they stopped for some food and Arames fished his mashed bread and meat out of the sack of his tools. He hadn't really meant for it to get so badly mashed, but it wouldn't change the taste. While he was eating the girl offered him some meat and Arames carefully took it from her. No sooner had he taken a bite of the meat and she started to talk. If she thought it was a bribe of sorts to make him talk then she was mistaken. Glancing at her, he shrugged and then finished the food quickly without a single word and wrapped his blanket around his shoulders and went to sleep.

    There were several more days in the desert and then his home came into view. Already the great bird sat in the massive trees around the oasis that he lived in. Arames simply walked past the tree and smiled a little to himself when the bird flew over head and then perched just on top of his smithy. He was home and so was one of his friends. Arames didn't really think of any of the animals that lived near him as pets. They were mostly creatures that had been injured and he took care of them. When they were mended some left and never returned, but many of them would come back and live near him. It was the reason he chose to live near the edge of the oasis. His friends were more free and everyone knew not to touch any of the animals near his smithy.

    With the girl still following Arames tensed a little. Why wouldn't she just go somewhere else. The bird got nervous with strangers and it flew off to perch a little further away when the girl got closer to the smithy, however, the smithy was still in view. Stretching its neck out the bird squawked in protest as it watched the unwelcome female follow Arames closer and closer to its refuge.
     
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  15. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    The trek seemed to go on for eternity through the hot wastes of sand. Would it ever end? There was sand in her tunic, her shoes, her hair. It was everywhere and there was nothing to distract her from the discomfort either. Her companion did nothing but shrug at her questions, though she still persisted at night when it was cooler. Who was he? What what was his name? How old was he? How did he get so tall. Was his entire tribe that tall?

    She knew he understood her perfectly fine, but he wouldnt talk or even pretend to want to. Usually, it left her rolling her eyes and kept on walking.

    They created a sand dune and when she peeped over the top tentatively until she saw the view on the other side. Green! Lush green leaves on trees, desert flowers and best of all...water. A glorious pool of sparkling water spread out over the valley floor and surrounded by huts. Even from there she could see tall, tan bodies topped with glossy black heads of hair.

    "So you're not the only one," she grinned. It took her a moment to realize he had kept walking and she tried to run through the sand after him. They came on a hut with a small work shop but it wasn't the hut that caught her attention.

    There were dozens if animals milling about, pack animals brayed and dozens of birds cooed or squawked at their approach. Talia looked at the menagerie, golden eyes wide with wonder until she laid eyes on the brilliant red falcon. It wasn't full grown yet, which was a bit disappointing, but it was strong, beautiful and absolutely unhappy to see her. What was it doing way out here?

    The bird gave her an angry his and she knew better than to look it in the eye. That would be seen as a challenge and she had to be smart if she wanted the bird. Ignoring the man, she paused in front of the cyrn and dug into her pouch for her last strip of meat. "Tch tch..." She called, holding it out. If it let her get close then she could work on getting it home.
     
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  16. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Benefactor Staff Member on Hiatus Warden

    There were ways to make the girl's presence worse and Arames almost immediately discovered one of those ways. She was already trying to entice the bird to get closer. That wasn't at all how the creature was accustomed to receiving a gift. It was just as likely it would rip her hand off in the process. The bird, his friend followed him at a distance when he traveled and it always tried to circle near him, though he moved slower than it could fly across the skies. There was a relationship with animals that this girl didn't understand. An animal wasn't supposed to be treated like it was a pet.

    Arames felt his blood boil a little when she held the treat out for the bird and tried to entice it closer. If the bird wanted to know her it would come closer. He had helped this bird recover from injuries when it was younger and brought it home so that it could survive while he nursed it, but he never assumed it would stay with him. Now that it was here, he didn't want the girl to think she could take it anywhere against its will. The red bird consented to come because it had given up on life and he healed it, now it lived here because it wanted to. Marching over to the girl he snatched the little meat from her hand and scowled at her. Holding the meat up for the bird to see he made sure it noticed and then he tossed it up into the air. In a split second the bird had dove right off its perch, snatched the meat bite and then flew back to its place.

    Shooting the little woman a sharp glance he let out a short huff of breath. That should be enough for her to understand that she was not welcome to taunt the bird and act as though it were a pet of sorts. Turning to walk back toward his smithy again he walked past a little desert dog that didn't seem to mind that he was so close. A little desert gazelle trotted near the forge and watched as the big man began to unpack his things. None of the animals showed a particular fear of him. Instead the little gazelle and a few others inched into the forge and started to collect around him as if they were asking for something. Arames couldn't help, but notice his many companions and they all seemed to want their little treats that he kept for them. They knew that in this friendship, if they got close enough to ask for a treat he would want to pet them. It was a fair exchange and none of them feared the man. All of the animals that considered the smithy their refuge had been mended.

    Opening the door to his little house connected to the smithy he reached inside and pulled out a large bucket filled with little treats. The gazelle was probably the animal closest to him. Often times the gazelle slept inside his house. Its leg had never healed right, but it could still graze and get around with minimal issues. It was the wee hours of the morning and the night time with predators that frightened the creature and so it stayed in the house at night.

    Once all of the animals that asked for a treat had one he resumed setting his tools away and stoking another fire. More than likely someone would need something repaired, or they would need another of the silver reeds made. They were an item that couldn't be lost, but it happened every now and then.
     
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  17. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    She found herself willing the bird just a little closer. It's sharp beak clacked at her as it titled its head to eye the treat with interest. "C'mon..."

    Suddenly, a strong grip wrenched the jerky from her hand sending it sailing around into the air. Once was one thing, but to be grabbed twice was far beyond anything someone would tolerate. Cursing, she pulled away from him and ignored the snort of disaproval. "Don't touch me!" She said shoving him away and breaking into a defensive stance, "If its your bird and if you have a problem with it, then you should have the guts to speak up and say so! I know you can!" He should have gall to stand up for his herd rather than grabbing and walking away. She shot him a look, keeping on guard as he retreated.

    Kicking sand in his direction, sending animals scattering from the sudden movement. The cyrn hissed at her, it's feathers ruffling. It wasn't even big enough to ride yet and now she was stuck in the middle of nowhere. "Thanks alot, Kulytra!" She fumed to no one but herself. Without meat treats to entice the bird and win its favor she was going to have to figure something else out, but for now she was too tired to hunt more. The oasis was practically waving at her to come down and take a drink.

    Licking her lips, she eyed the bird and pointed. "I'll be back for you." Then with confident strides, she started down the Sandy hill toward a vacant side of the oasis, giving the others a wide berth. She didn't want anyone else grabbing her and an excuse to use her knife.

    She knelt at the cool, clear water lapping at the shore and cupped her hands, first taking a small sip to ensure the water was good before starting to drink her fill.
     
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  18. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Benefactor Staff Member on Hiatus Warden

    The Chippequoti watched the girl shove the blacksmith. It wasn't how one got in his good graces. He was the one that brought her here too and that likely meant she'd been injured, or was in danger. One of the women waited till she was drinking water to approach. The Chip woman wasn't fond of having strangers, but apparently this one wasn't fond of being here and that could be something they would agree on.

    Staring at the girl for a long moment she tried to determine if she was hurt, or what her purpose was being here. There were many others that stared at her with irritation. A stranger, here in their oasis. What was wrong with Arames? It wasn't a question that she, or anyone else had to answer, they all knew there was something wrong with him. After a long time of just staring the woman finally spoke. She didn't assume that the girl would know their language, so she started with the language from the port. It was the trade language. "Why did Arames bring you here?"

    Talia brought another handful of water up to her face, but rather than drink it, she dribbled it down the back of her neck, sighing in relief. It almost felt as if it had taken the sun right off her back...in fact it felt much cooler. Blinking a few times, she realized a shadow had come over her. A quick glance up revealed an impossibly tall woman staring down at her. A challenger? Talia shifted in her crouch, ready to move if she had to, and gazed up at the woman who spoke in a language she had heard only a few times in her life. 'Here' was the only word she really got out of it and she took that to mean she wasnt meant to be here. "All I did was drink," she replied, her fingers twitching, "If thats a problem, talk to your clan mate." Then she pointed up the hill toward the animal filled hut firmly.

    Listening to the girl she was able to gather that she didn't know the trade language. However, she had a friend that would know this language. Waving to one of the other women she stepped aside and whispered a few things in Quoti to the other woman. The next woman narrowed her eyes slightly. "Why did Arames bring you here?" This time she spoke in the girl's language. She often traded in many mountain villages because they liked the cloth she weaved.

    Another came over and Talia started to feel as if she were about to run into trouble. Tribes of another kind werent always friendly and she knew that but out here in the desert she had no choice. Her heart started to pound, as the second woman began to speak a dialect belonging to an enemy tribe. "I came for the bird and nothing else. He brought me because I followed and refused to stop." She gave the woman a daring sort of look as her hand hovered over her knife. If the other associated with the enemy tribe they would try to kill her if they knew.

    The woman that spoke her language raised her eyebrows. "I wouldn't take his bird. Arames doesn't keep company with people as much as he does with all his animals. He might be a mute, but even mutes have their joys." Even if he wasn't a warrior he was a blacksmith and he was stronger than most warriors. Arames had the strength and will of a mule. "You will have to ask him to take you home."

    Mute? She wasn't as sure she hears the correctly given the dialect. Then it dawned on her the man she came with must be named Arames...and his tribe thought he was mute. She stifled a laugh for a moment and looked the two women in the eye, with a golden and glittering gaze as she rose to full height. "Mute? As in you've never heard him talk once?" She asked as she dusted off her hands.

    For whatever reason the girl found humor and she took a deep breath. Arames needed to take this girl back as soon as he could. It would likely be some time, but she was already a problem, a foreigner. "He did not talk since he was boy. One day he had fever and he never talked again. I think you laugh when you don't know." Giving the girl a harsh look she pointed back toward the smithy. "Go ask him to take you home. His ears work just fine."

    Some of the words were muddled in her own tongue but she was sure they didnt mean 'you dance when you dont know'. "Oh, aye," she mused, "Just fine." She adjusted her strap on her shoulder and gave them a small nod, signaling her departure in peace. "He wont need to take me home, because I'm going to fly out of here."

    Raising her brow the woman watched the girl start to walk away. Shaking her head she muttered in Quoti. "I don't think you'll fly anywhere with his bird." Whatever made the girl think she could walk into their village by following Arames and his bird and then take the bird from him was beyond her. Perhaps Arames was odd, but no one liked to see it when one of his animals died, or it disappeared under suspicious circumstances.

    ************

    Arames finished putting his tools away and he went to the front of the smithy to clear the sand and mud off the sign of prices. He had one for almost every language, but this one was in Quoti. It was the only one he needed. The grit of the sand scraped along the board, but he could barely feel it against his calloused hands. After he had the sign cleaned off Arames almost decided to cook some food, but he thought he smelled something terrible.

    At first he looked around the smithy, but the smell seemed to be everywhere and then he noticed after a few moments that it was himself. That many days walking around in the desert without washing was certainly going to have an effect of sorts. Stepping into his house he grabbed his bucket, the wash cloth, oils, and a fresh pair of pants and shirt. He was going to get washed before he did anything further at home, or got into his blankets. Arames walked past the girl and he met her gaze briefly, but he didn't do anything further or attempt to make any kind of gesture. When she wanted to go home she'd let him know.

    A little bit of cool water with some oils on the rag felt good. Even if he was used to the heat Arames enjoyed a little cool water when he bathed. When he was finished he simply put his fresh clothes on. It didn't matter that he didn't dry off. His clothes would dry quickly enough in the sun. From appearances the girl wasn't at the smithy and he frowned some. The bird was still safe from her, but he didn't know where she decided to stay. If she had actually decided to wander off it wasn't his problem. By now she wasn't his responsibility if she wanted to stray. He'd done more than enough to show her that she needed a Chip to survive the desert.
     
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  19. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Talia walked away from the water and the two women, keeping an ear out for anyone following her as she scaled the dunes again toward the Arames' home but not quite returning yet. She had thinking to do before anything else and the bird was still sitting perched on the smithy wall. Judging by the way it stayed around, she figured the big man kept it as a pet or had it trained a certain way to stay around the oasis which was not where it belonged. It was going to take a bit to get the bird to cooperate, weeks maybe of not longer, but if she managed to return to the mountains with it, things would be better. To do that, she needed to set herself up properly first. Shelter and food were priorities now that the water problem was solved. A shelter was the largest task and the most immediate of the two, so she set about looking for materials once she had chosen a spot a little ways from Arames' hut.

    Reeds plucked from the oasis banks made a decent box frame shelter. It took little time to carve out a hole and peg fitting for each pole, making a proper triangular frame which she secured at the major joints with a few leather thongs from her belt. The construct was fairly light-weight which made it mobile, but open to possible failure in a storm. That problem was easily solved by weighing the bottom down with rocks retrieved from the oasis bed. Roofing material was a more difficult challenge. Eventually, she settled on palm leaves scattered around the ground under the tall, weedy look trees dotted around the water edge. She found the leaves were fan-like and made good shade and were weavable.

    By the time the sun was touching the horizon, casting long shadows over the houses, Talia sat in the sat weaving the last of the palm leaves together. Her fingers worked with practices efficiency as sweat dripped down her brow, hitting the sand to create dark pockmarks that faded slowly. "And done." Dusting herself off, she stood and arranged the last section of her roof over the frame to weave the stringy leaves to the reed. It wasn't beautiful, but it was neat and functional, which was good enough for her. Tomorrow she would weave a sleeping mat for herself and find a way to hunt, but in the meantime she was in desperate need of a wash. Her clothes were stiff and stained white from the salt of evaporated sweat and she had no desire to sleep like a nasty boy in the field. They would let themselves get ripe and not even notice sometimes.

    Curling her lip at the smell, she saw that there were a few villagers still lingering around the water and she decided it would be best to wait until everyone had gone to bed. An hour passed, then two as she sat on her claimed dune top sharpening her knife along the small pocket stone until finally, it seemed that most of them were in their homes with smoke curling from their chimneys. It was as good a time as any. She slipped down to the oasis and stripped down to nothing, peeling off her sweat-stained layers until she was bare, and dunked into the water.

    The coolness of the oasis spring was a blessing she hardly thought even Kulytra could devise. It sent chills over her baked skin as she scrubbed down using the sand from the bottom to rid herself of the dirt. Her short curls wafted around her ears as she laid back and gazed to the starlit night. She had to admit, that was the only thing she found particularly enjoyable about the bottomless pit of sand she found herself in. The view of the night sky outmatched the one from home easily. Without trees, the view was so expansive, that it was impossible to take in, making her feel small but somehow incredibly fascinated. A red star glimmered, ever-present on the northern skyline and she sighed. Kulytra's eye still watched her with a flame, even in a foreign land. She wouldn't fail to bring the bird back home where it belonged with the warrior goddess watching.

    A rustling sound pricked at her ears, something big moving along the sand and she stayed still. Foot falls. Only when the sound of feet was accented by a voice did she sit up in the water, ready to meet whoever had decided to interrupt her back.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
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  20. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Benefactor Staff Member on Hiatus Warden

    When Arames was back to his forge he checked the fire to be sure it was growing good and hot. They had some good rocks around the mountain to the East that would burn and he still had a good stash of them, but the Thyd rock would have to be replenished before he left for his next round of trade. Taking a few of the rocks he tossed them into the fire and then decided to check and see if he could spot the girl.

    Not far from the stone house and smithy she was busily building a little reed structure with leaves and he couldn't help the broad smirk that came over his face. She would last a few night at most before the reeds blew over. Then he saw the part that was even better. The girl had started to reinforce the reeds with stones and that only meant the reeds would break off and likely fall on her with whatever weight it took from mud and sand that would get caked to them during any kind of storm. Perhaps it wouldn't even take a layer of sand and mud. If the wind was strong enough it would do the job all by itself. Most storms were volatile enough to take anything that small and shred it, as long as it wasn't a stone.

    While he was watching her build one of the other Chippequoti stepped into the smithy. The man glanced to Arames and then gazed out the side of the smithy to see what he was watching. Seemed to be odd that Arames would be watching a woman and smiling like that. He'd always been too shy to even agree with a woman before this. Why would he take interest in a foreigner? "You like her?"

    Hearing the man's voice Arames turned sharply toward him and shook his head. Of course he didn't like the foreigner. However, his vigorous denial must have made it look like a falsehood and the man just grinned in return and then remained silent. This particular Chip was one of the few that made Arames almost want to talk. He wasn't so bad as the rest, but he certainly could get a reaction and he didn't have anyway to know what was really going on. Instead it left him with some strange thoughts. At least he was decent enough not to go telling folks about these strange thoughts he had. Arames often found himself thinking that if there were more who could keep their thoughts about others to themselves life would be more simple. In fact, if there was a woman like that he just might decide to try talking.

    *********************

    It was about 4 days of work and just watching to see what the girl would try to entice the bird with next. The creature was stubborn and if she'd cared for it when it was wounded she would have known that. Arames thought about what he was going to do with her. First he needed to make a few more weapons and some other goods and then he could go back to the small shop he kept at the port. He never liked to leave his tools there, but he did have a little smithy he worked at every so often and he tried to time it to be near the time of ships at port. Traders usually liked to buy his stuff and take it abroad.

    With several more weeks of work he was going to simply relax and let the girl do what she wanted. The bird was free, but he knew it would come back. It always did even when it followed him abroad, it would always return to the desert with him. Arames got nestled into his bed and he glanced over to see the desert gazelle had settled in her usual spot near the fire. She liked to be warm at night.

    Arames didn't wake up again until he heard the gradual roar. It was a storm and it was coming toward them. Opening the door to his house he let the smaller animals and those that wanted to come inside. Most of the bigger animals simply huddled in the smithy. Once he was sure that all the animals that wanted the refuge of his house were inside he worked to be sure that all the window were sealed tight. He would be cleaning his smithy out tomorrow. It would get filled with dirt from the desert and nothing short of a scoop would take care of it. Then a funny thought came to mind. That girl was going to find out her little house of reeds couldn't withstand a storm in the Quoti desert.

    Since he had a window that was somewhat safe to pull the flap of hide aside from he picked up just the corner and squatted down a bit so he could see the little reeds bending and straining against the wind. A few times he thought it looked like the reeds would break, but they held on for a while longer than they would have without the rocks. All it took was a final blast of the harsh sand and wind. The reeds cracked loudly and splintered near the point at which they were forced against the rocks. Arames laughed. She deserved it for being such a snooty girl. Even if it wasn't right to laugh at others misfortunes, it couldn't be wrong when they brought it upon themselves. With a sort of glee he kept the edge of his window covering peeled back so he could see if she tried to keep the other walls from breaking and blowing away against the strain of the wind. If she grabbed one there was a chance he'd have to go out and get her. The reeds would create space for the wind to catch that it would overpower the girl and probably fly her off into the storm and possibly seriously hurt her. He just hoped she was smart enough not to grab one of the walls of her little house to try and keep what remained of it together.
     
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