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Sand Daughter: Part Six


by sara_mossflower

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Also by smurfafied1800

Seht

A tall, sinewy Shadow Krawk tapped a claw impatiently on his desk. A cloak was wrapped securely around himself, concealing daggers and other weapons. A nose ring dangled from his snout. The Krawk hissed angrily, stabbing the map on his desk with a claw.

      "He should be here by now!" he growled angrily. His worker was sent to collect the pet, bring her here, and then he had decided on following out with his own plan. The journey through the desert was a mere four-day walk - why on Neopia was it taking so long? He'd helped them when the bandits had interfered - were they expecting him to carry them through the desert?

      "You'd better not try and betray me, boy," he hissed to himself. "The consequences for that are terrible indeed..."

     *

      "Sand???" Immi immediately began to hack up the grit that came as a result of yelling. Looking around, she noticed that the storm had seemingly abated.

     The Usul leaned over her, grinning wildly as usual. "Yes, it's me! SAND!! My my, I had such a hard time following you through the desert - this marvellous sandstorm started up and I was drenched in sand - I just didn't WANT to leave!"

     Immi just stared at her rescuer, psychotic as ever. "Um… that's great, but do you have any idea where we are? Where're Rehkek and Khirelle?"

     "Guess what?"

     "What?" responded Immi without a speck of enthusiasm.

     "I don't know where we are at all! Or where they are! But do not fear - the sands shall show us the way!" With that, she picked up a handful of sand and tossed it about, dancing a few paces around the girl, showering her with her favourite substance.

     Immi struggled to stand, feeling unsteady as the sand she'd just been buried in shifted under her toes. "Well I'm going to try to find them, whether the sand has any influence on that or not. I'm guessing you want to come?"

     "Indeed! I'm quite eager to witness the fate of the sand-daughter herself, and you seem very promising, living as a lion and lamb before my very eyes!"

     Immi sighed. She thought that the most logical course of action would be to head for their destination, meeting up with the others there. The only problem was that she didn't know where that was. She also realized that wherever Rehkek had planned on heading, it had to be the residence of his boss, and arriving there would no doubt plunge her into very real peril. Even so, Immi yearned to be reunited with those she now saw as her friends, and began walking in a random direction, Sand skipping along in her wake jauntily, hoping that perhaps the sands would, somehow, show them the way.

     *

     Once the sandstorm had ended, Rehkek wasted no time in seeking out the missing Kacheek. If he returned to Seht empty-handed, he knew that he'd pay dearly, and knowing his boss, thinking up punishments worse than death was a pleasurable pastime for him.

      Immi had to have survived, or so he desperately wanted to believe.

      He and Khirelle left the sheltering overhangs of the cliffs they had used as a refuge, trekking out into the wasteland of the scorching desert once more. Shielding his eyes from the sun with a hand, he peered about for any sign of life - perhaps Immi had managed to shelter herself and was now searching for them. But the bounty hunter knew that this was hoping against hope. More likely she had perished, or if she was all right, she was probably heading back for Ku-Nur, if she could locate it. Only a fool wouldn't flee from a bounty hunter, but after their entire journey, Rehkek found himself thinking that Immi would, by her nature, look for himself and Khirelle. He snorted; she was too loyal for her own good, but maybe that wasn't an entirely bad thing.

     Khirelle stumbled again, but when trying to get up, moaned and crumbled. Rehkek turned, watching somewhat lazily, and asked, "What's wrong?" Khirelle panted, holding her ankle. "Twisted... my ankle..."

     Rehkek sighed loudly. "We don't have time for this!" He looked around, seeing only a small tree that would serve as a little shelter from the sun. Rehkek grabbed Khirelle and hauled her over (she put up with this treatment very well) to the tree, setting her down. "Stay here," he ordered firmly. "Are there any villages nearby? I could go get help - maybe some supplies; we're running low." Khirelle rubbed her sore ankle as she pointed, "RoCai is over that way."

     Rehkek nodded. "Don't go anywhere. Here," he tossed a dagger to her feet. "I don't think bandits come this far out, but if there are any, use that." Khirelle nodded, though she knew she could hardly handle a dagger, and watched as the Spotted Kacheek trekked across the sand.

      It had been about an hour when Rehkek began doubting if Khirelle was right about the village. But, of course, they had been very far out when the storm had hit, and who knows, they could've been blown even further out. The Kacheek instantly stiffened, the hairs on his neck bristling. He whirled around, just barely dodging the path of an arrow, and glared at the archer as malicious laughter sounded in his ears.

      "Well, well, Rehkek," the archer sneered. He was a brown Kyrii, small and agile. "I always knew you to be quite fast on your feet. But did you really think speed would save you when Seht wanted his prize?"

     Rehkek continued his glare, while spitting in contempt. "I had the girl and was on my way, moron. I was simply delayed."

     The archer laughed, notching his arrow again. "Tell that to Seht - by all means, where is the girl now, then?" Rehkek said nothing, and the Kyrii fired the arrow. The Kacheek jumped out of the way, and the arrow met the sand with a fast whoosh.

      Rehkek had just escaped the first arrow when a second one was unleashed from the Kyrii's bow and hit him in the tail. Rehkek groaned in pain, trying to pull the arrow free from his tail, when his eyes rolled and he fainted. The Kyrii chuckled cruelly as he pulled out a bag and shoved the bounty hunter in. The sleeping potion attached to the arrow would last a few hours - plenty of time to take him back to Seht's camp.

     "I'm really disappointed in you, Rehkek," he sneered as he shouldered the bag. "You of all pets should've recognized that the camp wasn't far from here... have you gotten stupid?" And he lugged the bag back to Seht's camp, gleeful to learn what his master would do to the unlucky Kacheek.

     *

     "...Aw, the sensation of the sand running through my fur was magnificent..."

     Immi barely listened to Sand's parody as the two of them walked through the desert. She wiped sweat from her brow for about the hundredth time when she spotted the familiar silhouette of Khirelle, sitting under the base of a tree.

     "I'm so sorry, sand daughter!" Sand repeated. "I just couldn't leave the marvellous storm to seek you out!"

     Immi shoved past her, screaming, "Khirelle!"

     Khirelle jolted, then gaped at the Kacheek as she ran towards her. "Immi?!"

     The Kacheek reached the base of the tree and collapsed onto her knees. "You survived the storm, then?" She glanced around. "Where's Rehkek?" Despite the blazing, dry heat of the sun, her blood turned to ice at the thought that the young bounty hunter hadn't made it.

     "He's all right," Khirelle assured her, and Immi let out a subtle sigh of relief. "We were trying to find you, but I tripped and hurt my ankle." She shifted her leg to demonstrate and winced at the discomfort. "I should've been more careful, but we had to stop because of me, and he headed off to the nearest village to get some supplies to help me. But now I'm not entirely sure if I pointed him in the right direction…"

     "Then we need to find him," Immi decided promptly. By now she knew how unpredictable the desert could be: bandits, sandstorms… and who knew what else. Rehkek was completely capable of taking care of himself, that was obvious, but it seemed to Immi that she had been trying to find both him and Khirelle for so long. She didn't want to be separate from her friends for much longer, and on top of that, lost in the perilous terrain of the desert wasteland for much longer either.

     "But how are we going to do that?" Khirelle asked quietly. "I know the direction he went in, but I can't come with you…"

     Immi looked up at the small, sparse tree. "Oh yes you can." With a small jump, she began to climb through the flimsy branches, snapping off two of the strongest ones. "We'll use a cloak and those to make a stretcher," she told them as she descended. "Sand and I can carry it until we find Rehkek."

     "But won't you get tired?"

     "It's okay - we'll be fine." Immi didn't see Khirelle's weight as much of a problem - the Aisha was so small and frail, lifting her would be no arduous task.

     After fashioning the stretcher, they set off, Sand barely paying attention to her charge of carrying one end of Khirelle's makeshift bed. She was constantly prancing about as she walked, causing the Aisha's head and shoulders to jiggle awkwardly on the unstable end of the stretcher.

     After several minutes of trekking across the sandy expanse, Immi began to feel uncomfortable - it had become far too quiet to be natural here. She noticed that Sand had suddenly stopped. "The lion and the lamb!" she giggled with her usual lunacy.

     The next second, the three were surrounded by a motley assortment of pets, who seemingly appeared out of thin air, although they had been stealthily concealing themselves behind the dunes and cliffs that littered their barren surroundings.

     "What?" breathed Immi, shocked by how swiftly they'd plunged into trouble once again. "How did they get here?"

     The head of the party, a brown Kyrii, grinned wickedly and signalled to his fellows to draw the bows they carried. Soon about twenty arrows were aimed at the comrades' hearts. "It's called being silent, little girl. Seeing as what you are, I was surprised you weren't aware of our presence. But no matter - you'll come with us now, if you want to leave here in one piece."

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Sand Daughter: Part One
» Sand Daughter: Part Two
» Sand Daughter: Part Three
» Sand Daughter: Part Four
» Sand Daughter: Part Five



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