My eyes burned with the glare of the sun. I looked down at my boots, they were worn, beaten. And simple. I was dressed as a commoner. The voice broke into my skull like a hammer, the unfamiliar voice pounding into my consciousness. It was NOT my Magus.
My hands swept to the side, and I closed my eyes. This stranger had made a fatal mistake. He had left me in an ocean of Sand; my Art. I clenched my fists and focused. My heart beat faster. But nothing else. I opened my eyes in shock. I should have been swept up, riding atop a cresting wave of sand, but my Art seemed to have fled. I attempted to send out a pulse, but to no avail. It was as if i was… A bilge-blood, one without even a scrap of the Art.
“What power could do this?” I hissed softly. “Reduce me to this… lump of worthless, common flesh?”
Hearing no answer, I began to trudge towards the city, a speck in the distance. One step at a time.
It was long work. Hard work. Dune before dune stretched before me. With no food, no water. But finally, after two days of nothing but walking in the sun-scorched sandscape that was Aerhop, I stumbled up to the gate. My skin was blistered. My lips cracked. My legs felt as though they were lead. Another step. Almost to the guards. Help. They could help. I collapsed, face first into the dust. I felt certain I would die here. “W..at…er.” It was all I could muster.
Things were black for a long time in my little Noble puppet’s Elsewhere. My left limb, the one channeling his surroundings, was heavy as stone and difficult to move. It was wise of me to settle in the spotty shade of a fruit tree.
I focused hard on the condition of the Noble. I wanted at the very least to watch him progress, if not pull a few strings here and there.
Miles upon miles of sand dunes stretched through my mind’s eye before honing in on a heap of tattered robes before a manned gate.
The guards rushed to collect his scorched body. It had been decades since the last visitor came to Aerhold from land. Aerhold was a prosperous port city, but it was entirely dependent on its imports and exports: being surrounded by 180 degrees of endless sand dunes had caused that. The city was a young one, founded little under a century ago by the explorer Igual Berthman IV. The mainland was plagued by overpopulation and a declining economy, so an exodus to anywhere was sanctioned. Although within a harsh environment, the plot of land that became Aerhold was rich with natural mineral deposits and exotic flora and fauna. The trade routes established between Aerhold and the mainland generated markets for these new resources and stimulated the naval industry, so because of this it was fairly common for newcomers to arrive by sea. The noble was the second person in nearly one hundred years to arrive by land.
The first to arrive by land was called Arven. Arven emerged from an abandoned mine shaft one day carrying nothing but an empty lantern. It claimed that it found an entrance out in the desert, and entered on necessity of shelter and the chance of finding water. It (as referred to by the cityfolk, Arven didn’t seem human) was in a near state of delirium from lack of food and dehydration, and was nursed to health much like the Noble was now.
It was a few days before the Noble woke again. He had been given water and a place to rest, but could not be fed while unconscious. Food, coincidentally, was the first thing he requested (in an irritable manner) upon waking up. The nurse scurried off to the hospital kitchen to fetch something substantial as a guard slithered over to the Noble’s bedside. This particular guard, for whatever reason, never left the Noble’s side in his unconsciousness. It was of particular relief to him to see the Noble’s eyes flutter open earlier that afternoon.
“What a gift to see you are finally in eyes, wanderer. Are you of sound condition aside from hunger?”
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