Sand Daughter: Part Five
Also by smurfafied1800
They walked on for several minutes, Rehkek wiping his
brow occasionally; the combination of the heat and Immi's weight wasn't a pleasant
thing. He was also getting somewhat perturbed by Khirelle. The skittish Aisha
would scurry along a few paces ahead of him, nervously leading the way, glancing
back over her shoulder from time to time as though she expected him to deal
her a blow across her head simply for being there. As the time wore on, Rehkek
found himself struggling against the desire to do just what he suspected his
Finally, they arrived at the gates of Khirelle's
city, Ku-Nur. To Rehkek's surprise, it appeared to be a fairly wealthy-looking
place, unlike the drab village he had imagined. They passed a pair of sentries
at the entrance, both of which were clad in expensive-looking armour and carried
staves with steel ends, covered in ornate designs. They showed mild curiosity
at the sight of one of their civilians in the company of a pair of outlandish
visitors, but remained still and stoic looking, allowing the trio to pass.
"Where's the doctor or whatever in this place?"
demanded Rehkek, somewhat rudely. Khirelle timidly pointed down a nearby alleyway
and the young Kacheek impatiently followed.
Ku-Nur was typical as desert cities went; high
walls, houses stacked upon each other so the dwellings took the form of primitive
apartments. Several residences had small balconies protruding from their windows,
and as Rehkek looked above him he noticed old housewives shaking out beautiful
tapestries and children calling across the distance to their friends who inhabited
the next sandstone building.
They soon arrived at the doorway of the doctor's
quarters, Khirelle pulling aside a woven curtain that served as a doorway, allowing
Rehkek to enter first.
Rehkek, Khirelle, and the unconscious Immi were
shrouded in darkness as the curtain closed behind them. Sunlight was barely
visible through the windows, which were also covered in drapes. Barely visible
in the corner of the room, with herbs, a pedestal, and an orb perched atop it
surrounding her, sat a Usul. One thing Rehkek noticed quickly about her - and
frankly, it freaked him out - was her grin and continuous giggling.
"Uh, hullo, Doc," he muttered, raising an eyebrow
in confusion. Khirelle leaned close to his ear and whispered, "She just came
in a day or two ago. She's a little... odd." Rehkek glared back at her, causing
her to flinch. "I noticed that."
"Greetings, stranger," the Usul said through
her grin. "The sands have anticipated your arrival." At the same time, the Kacheek
was thinking, Great, an insane doctor. Just what I need. The Usul waved
her paws around her orb, humming in a crowing voice.
"I am Sand," she said. "The sands have united
you with the daughter of the sands, yes?" All the while, Rehkek stared at her
"As I, Sand, have anticipated, the daughter
of the sands has become like the lion and the lamb with the sands, who swept
her away into the sands, am I correct?"
"Uh," Rehkek began, but he couldn't think of
anything else. On his shoulder, still waiting, Immi groaned in her sleep. The
Usul and the Kacheek stared at each other for an awkward moment. "THE SA-" the
Usul suddenly began to scream, but was cut off.
"Look, lady," Rehkek snapped impatiently. "Immi
needs medicine for her fever. Work the stupid medicine and stop babbling about
SAND!" Sand stared at him, perplexed, and muttered, "The sand is quite impatient..."
The Kacheek waited, fidgeting, while Immi was treated by the ironic Usul.
It was strange, as he waited Rehkek found himself
pondering more on Immi's well-being than the fact that his charge had to be
in good health in order to be delivered to his master. Shaking his head, he
tried to clear the thought from his mind. "Why should I care?" he muttered,
"Just a stupid girl with a weird life. Sooner I get her to Seht the better…"
"Um, excuse me?"
Rehkek jumped slightly, startled out of his
reverie by Khirelle, who was holding out a Puntec fruit to him. "I, um… bought
these from a fruit vendor down the alley - seemed like you haven't eaten in
a while." She set down another of the fruits next to her companion. "You can
give that to Immi when the doctor's finished with her."
"Um, yeah, thanks," Rehkek responded gruffly,
taking a small knife from his belt to carve away at the fruit's tough, pronged
skin. The Aisha sat nearby and nibbled at her food silently.
Immi's fingers tightened around her bleeding
arm in numb pain. Blinking through tears, she looked up to behold her attacker
once more, a Kacheek child like herself, whose cruel grin was subtly evident
in the darkness. "S-stop…" pleaded the girl, defenceless. "Leave me alone…"
The other just stood in eerie defiance, silent.
The Cloud Kacheek struggled to back away as the knife glittered again…
"No…get away!" Immi struggled against a firm
grip as she awoke, feeling the floor through the comfortable blanket she lay
on. Looking up, she saw a face, one belonging to the last person she wanted
to deal with.
"Don't move now, daughter of the sands. The
compress on your head will fall off, and we wouldn't want that - it would get
"Not you…" Immi groaned.
Satisfied for a moment that her patient wouldn't
move unnecessarily, Sand stood up again and began to dance about maniacally.
"Cured, cured, I've cured you!" She then headed towards a doorway to another
room. "Friends of the sand-daughter, she is CURED!"
Rehkek looked up from his food, which was now
all over his mouth and chin. "And about time, too!" Immi groaned again, staggering
to her feet. "What a great way to wake up," she mumbled, "Seeing Rehkek the
Slob's face." Rehkek huffed up indignantly.
"Well, you should talk; once again you have
to faint and leave me with the burden of carrying you!" Immi, now cleared of
the fever, glared menacingly at him. "The first time," she snapped, "I was knocked
out, thanks to you."
"My," Sand muttered, looking at the two of them.
"The sands have prophesied correctly - you two are indeed the lion and the lamb
of the sands!" Rehkek whirled on the Usul, furious with all the babbling about
sand. Immi did likewise, and poor Sand flinched as they both screamed, "SHUT
Khirelle sighed at their antics. "Uh, um..."
she stuttered, trying to make her voice heard. "Wh-where are you headed...?"
The two Kacheeks barely heard her over their
argument until she said it a fourth time, then Rehkek snapped, "None o' your
He grabbed Immi by the shoulder. "We're going,
and I don't want any other 'escape attempts' from you." Immi shrugged his paw
off and followed sadly, looking back at Khirelle. The Aisha stood there for
a second, then, scared by being the same room alone with Sand, dashed out.
The Usul called after them, "The sands will
guide you! I'm quite sure of it!"
"Rehkek!" Immi called after the Spotted Kacheek.
He was going at a pace a little too fast for her liking, constantly searching
in another direction. "Rehkek, wait up, will ya?"
The other Kacheek turned, obviously annoyed.
"Shut up and follow me."
"How can I?" Immi retorted. "It's obvious that
Rehkek argued. "I am NOT lost! I just can't
find the right way to go!"
Immi scowled. "Let's just get help from Khirelle
- she knows the desert even better than you."
She felt her companion's hand descend on her
shoulder with an iron grip. "I'm not hiring a guide - I know what I'm doing.
Plus, what were you gonna tell her? 'Help us get to where we're going because
the bounty hunter's gotta carry out his assignment'? I know you're going to
make some stupid attempt to get away again."
She merely smirked at him. "I have a hard time
believing that you're still all determined to get me killed when you just saved
my life by getting me to a doctor, even if it was a crazy one!"
Rehkek stared at Immi, looking for a second
caught off guard. "Why would I want to haul a sickly weakling through the desert
for days? If you think I'm your friend, I'm not. I was hired to get you to my
boss, so he can do what he wants to you. That's all, okay? I'm not letting you
go, and I'm not letting you involve that cowardly Aisha so she can save you!"
Immi sighed, and decided to go about getting
what she wanted in another way. The guy was too stubborn to listen to reason,
and too cynical to trust her. "Listen. I know that I won't be able to
escape from you. So I've decided to deal with that and if there's another way
out of this along the way, I'll probably go for it - I'd be stupid not to -
but that chance isn't right now. Right now, you wanna get me to your boss, and
the quickest, most convenient way to do that would be to get Khirelle, tell
her where you're going, and then we'll get there with something of an expert
leading us there. She won't be a problem - you saw how shy she is - and whether
you wanna hand her over to your boss too or leave her to go home, you can! Nothing's
stopping you - we don't even have to tell her that you've captured me! Just…
just…" Immi doubted she was convincing him to get Khirelle to tag along, but
struggled to come up with a decent conclusion to her rant. "Be practical!"
Rehkek cocked an eyebrow at her, mildly awed
by the debate she'd just tackled.
Half an hour later they were back on track,
Khirelle accompanying them.
"This is, um, the stone maiden, marking the
way to, um..."
Khirelle showed them nervously about, stuttering
in most of her sentences and such. Rehkek, though he insisted he knew the way
around, looked around constantly. Immi could easily see that he was trying to
find his own way again.
"Hurry up," Rehkek snapped for the fourteenth
time, causing the Aisha to flinch.
Immi came to her defence, "Jeez, give her time.
If you were leading, we'd be lost already, so shut up."
Before Rehkek could argue, Khirelle pointed.
"That's the Cliff of Aohber. Y-your destination is a few days journey from here..."
The trio walked for about an hour. Immi couldn't
help noticing, but breezes had begun picking up quickly. At first they'd been
relaxing, but the small winds had grown into gales. They were soon grabbing
their supplies that were being blown away from them. Then they were struggling
to keep their footing. Then Khirelle was practically being blown away, save
for Immi insisting that Rehkek save her, and the bounty hunter did so.
"We're stopping!" Rehkek shouted over the gales.
"C'mon, get down!" Immi could hardly hear his voice as more violent gales picked
up, causing sand to fly everywhere. She covered her eyes from the sand, squinting
around. "Where ARE you?!"
The Spotted Kacheek appeared out of nowhere,
Khirelle stumbling next to him. Rehkek grabbed Immi, while with his other paw
undoing the tie to his cloak. Glancing to one side, Immi could see that Khirelle
was shielding herself with her own cloak.
"Wha...?" she barely whispered as the cloak
was tossed over her, protecting her from the sand. From a small tear in the
cloth, the Cloud Kacheek could see Rehkek rubbing his eyes with a paw. She instantly
felt guilty and sorry that he was being battered with sand while she was under
the safety of his cloak.
"Rehkek!" she finally shouted over the wind.
The other Kacheek looked at her expectantly. "Um, urm, uh, there's room..."
she stuttered stupidly. Rehkek nodded, having just barely heard her, and ducked
under the cloth. The two waited for a few awkward moments. Immi looked behind
her every few seconds, hoping that Khirelle hadn't gotten blown away. She then
glanced over to Rehkek, who glanced back, and she hurriedly returned her eyes
to the sand.
"I'm scared," she finally admitted, bending
down low and grabbing some of the cloak.
Rehkek snorted; "You're always scared." Immi
sighed - any attempt to actually talk to Rehkek turned out to be an insult going
back at her.
"Yeah," she muttered, looking down. "I am scared
all the time, aren't I?"
Rehkek looked at her in surprise. "I never thought
you'd admit that," he muttered, looking to one side. Finally, he just muttered,
"Don't be scared. I'll make sure you wind up fine." Immi stared at him, and
he snapped, "BECAUSE, my boss wants you in top condition."
Immi smiled slightly. "Thanks, I guess." Before
they could say anything else, an extra-violent gale hit them, literally throwing
Immi out of the safety of the cloth.
The Kacheek girl flew through the air briefly,
then came down onto the ground, sand whipping past her face once more. She strove
to glance about without being blinded, her heartbeat slowly increasing as she
began to panic; Rehkek and Khirelle were nowhere to be seen. "Rehkek?" she called
out to the assailing winds, but received no reply. She decided that he probably
couldn't hear her, and tried again. "REHKEK?"
Sand flew into her mouth, causing her to cough
and wretch. She wanted to try calling again - she had to be heard, she had to
be found! But the grit had seemingly stuck in her throat, making the task nearly
impossible, or at least highly uncomfortable. Immi took a few steps forward,
but immediately felt disoriented by the swirling gusts. Wasn't she going in
the direction she'd blown in from? She wasn't sure anymore. Immi began to feel
frustrated - she was going to be lost forever in the desert, buried alive by
sands, no doubt!
Inexplicably, she could not even feel the slightest
joy of being separated from the one who had been assigned to bring her to her
doom. No matter how much she tried to look at the reality of her situation,
it was evident that she saw Rehkek as a companion and not as an enemy. But she
had reason to - he'd been taking good care of her, even if it was supposedly
all for the sake of whoever had employed him, and Immi still didn't have the
faintest idea as to why someone would want her dead.
But right now, dead was what she would be if
she didn't find her comrades or some other way out of the sandstorm.
The fact that Immi had just been tossed clear
of his sheltering cloak didn't register with Rehkek right away. One second she'd
been there, and the next, she was…
Simple as that.
Throwing back his garment, sand flying off of
its billowing shape, the young bounty hunter jogged in the direction of the
girl's departure, or at least what he thought was the direction. "Stupid…"
he muttered, "Letting herself get blown away like that - what a featherweight…"
Although Rehkek was voicing carelessness, he knew how dangerous a sandstorm
could be. If a pet was lost in one without shelter, they could possibly be buried
by many feet of sand, something that very few would survive without suffocating.
At this thought, his motions became more frantic. He kept visualizing the Cloud-pelted
girl wandering aimlessly through the gales, being constantly buffeted by the
airborne sand until she couldn't move, helpless. He couldn't let his mission
be in vain. She would be dead, as his master had wanted her, but it wouldn't
have been done properly.
And more importantly, Rehkek's subconscious was
telling him that if she perished in such a way, he'd feel unfathomably guilty,
maybe for a day, maybe for the rest of his life. He just wanted to make sure
Immi made it through this journey alive.
Suddenly, Khirelle's meek tones, raised in order
to combat the noise of the storm, rang out from behind him. "What happened?"
The Aisha hesitated, then replied. "We can't
go looking for her - it's too dangerous!"
Rehkek glared at her icily. "You think I care?"
"Don't be stupid," Khirelle shouted over the
gales, which quite surprised Rehkek. "You KNOW that a sandstorm can kill any
Rehkek whirled upon her, shouting in frustration.
"I've got a job! My boss'll be even more dangerous if I don't get Immi
back to him alive!"
A harsh gust knocked the two over, and Khirelle
stumbled up, pointing to the vague outline of cliffs. "Shelter!" she barely
cried over the noise. "We'll have to wait until the storm passes...!"
Rehkek bit his lip, furious with himself, and
hesitantly followed Khirelle. A reasonable part of himself said that they would
have to wait the storm out and find Immi later, but another part demanded that
they kept looking. He looked one last time behind him, ultimately hating himself,
and followed Khirelle.
Immi moaned out loud, trying to move herself.
Surprisingly, nothing but sand met her every move. She tried to open her eyes,
but grit filled them and she closed them quickly. Immi tried - at least - to
breathe, but when she tried to take in air only sand met her nostrils. She would've
screamed, but her mouth was caved in by sand.
She was buried alive.
Immi panicked and threw herself about, but the
sand prevented too much movement. She thrashed about, digging furiously in an
attempt to save herself. She threw sand everywhere, using up every available
reserve of her energy, just to live...
A paw descended through the sand and gripped
hers. Immi would've sighed in relief if there hadn't been all the sand, and
allowed herself to be limply dragged out. She coughed multiple times as a firm
hand patted her back.
"Th-thanks, Rehkek..." she muttered, coughing.
Her saviour, however, was far from Rehkek. Immi blinked in confusion at the
figure towering above her. The shadowy figure laughed insanely, and Immi gasped
as she realized...
To be continued...