Deep in to the abandoned night, the silence dwells through the wind. Sand dunes look like waves of an uplifted ocean. The stars almost cover the immense dark sky completely. It was quiet but noisy, empty but so full. Amalya stares up at it, lost to its grandness through her golden hued eyes. Her dark red hair was drawn back in its usual braid, which draped across her back and down her shoulder. She sits quietly, cradling her large pregnant belly against the cold sand of the dunes.
A light flickers in the distance and the faint sound of mens voices travel through the still air. Amalya loosens her muscles and casually takes hold of her bow. She stares down towards the direction of the light, waiting. From the corner of her eye Talon, who seems hundreds of miles away, makes his way towards the light. He is clad in leatherskin armor, his brown hair pulled back from his bearded face.
She watches him intently as he begins to make his way up to far sloping dune with very little difficulty. He stops right before reaching the top and turns his head to her. They each watch the other, as if something important was meant to pass between them. Amalya straightens up as she sets a arrow against the bowstring. When her gaze draws back towards him, he is gone. She waits as seconds draw by like grains of sand in an hourglass.
The faint sounds of language begin to escalate to shouts of warning. Fire reaches into the air sending a rain of embers into the night. Echoes of metal breaking against metal. This did not go as planned. Amalya slides down her dune of safety and makes her way towards the chaos. She holds her bow ready and armed at her side. Her feet sink into the soft sand as she tries to move as quickly as she can up the overlooking dune. She leans against the cold sand and digs her feet in to try and gain some leverage. The sounds of combat begin to fade as she can hear bodies being cut down one by one. She finally reaches the top and looks down carefully.
There are maybe a handful of fighting men left standing. Talon swiftly takes them on, not missing a step in outmaneuvering his enemies. Amalya aims with her bow and sends an arrow flying into one of the shoulder of one of them. He reels back, grabbing the arrow that was not embedded in his shoulder and promptly pulls it out. His dark decorated face turns in her direction. With a harrowing roar he hurtles towards her. Amalya quickly draws her hand back to set another arrow. When she looks up again, the man is almost on her. She would not be quick enough. She drops her bow and reaches to her side, drawing out a curved dagger. Before she could brandish it, the man’s body recoils and falls backwards. His body slides down to where Talon now stands, a dagger planted in his back. Talon pulls the weapon from the now lifeless body and looks up at her, "I told you to say put."
He wipes the blood from the dagger blade and turns back towards the now defeated camp. Bodies of men lie clustered in all directions. The fire was the only sign of life amongst the carnage. Amalya slides carefully down to meet him, "I had him." She looks down at the body, "They are all dead."
"Not all dead." Talon walks over to one of the lifeforms in the sand. The man was lying face down. Talon rolls him over with his heavy booted foot. Blood poured from his mouth and his arm was appears shattered in several places. Talon grabs him by the throat and pulls him up into a seated position, "Where is he?"
The captive spits blood from his mouth and words Amalya cannot plainly understand. She approaches them, "What is he saying?"
Talon punches him across the face, "Speak in the common tongue if you value your life."
He releases a tooth into the sand and smiles. Amalya watches him as he slowly turns his gaze towards her, looking both hungry and in awe, "He will come. He will take what power awaits him. The God’s have returned to the Sea of Sands bearing the gift of power, the Power of the Gods..."
Talon grabs the prisoners hair and pulls him upwards, " Where is your lord?"
" Once he takes what is his, the land will rejoice in a reign of blood and be born anew!"
"Where is he?"
"He is everywhere, eyes always watching. You will never be safe. The sands do not hide secrets from him."
Amalya can feel her blood rising. He hastily brandishes her dagger and points it at his throat, "What do you fear?"
He smiles at her, "I fear nothing."
"You should." Without warning, she drives the blade through his neck, touching the hilt to his skin. He gags as she pulls away from him, drowning in his own blood. Talon release him and lets him drop to the ground as the now dying man tries to hold on to his last breath. He looks at her angrily, "Was that necessary?"
"He would not have told us anything we do not already know." Amalya wipes the blood from her blade before sliding it back to her side.
"You do not know that."
"I do and so do you." She looks over the abandoned camp, "We should collect what we need and move on."
"And where do you plan on going?"
"To find him, cut the head off the snake before he can find us."
"Did you listen to anything that was said? He already knows where we are."
"I don’t believe him."
"Why do you think these men were stationed here? They were waiting for us."
Amalya turns to him, "What would you have us do? We need to kill him Talon before he kills us."
"He doesn’t want us..."
"I know what he wants and I will stop at nothing to prevent him from taking it from me." She begins to rummage through what was left behind. She was tired of this. They left Joro to avoid any more conflict but it seems to follow them where ever they go. There was no running from it. The only way to rid herself of it was to face it.
"You think I want him to? You think everything I do is not to keep you safe? To keep your child safe?"
"I never asked you to come with me."
"You are impossible."
She turns around angrily, "What do you want from me? What reward do you think will befall you from this?"
"You cannot succeed on your own, not in your condition."
"My condition should be no concern of yours. I cannot give you what you want, Talon."
He hesitates, " I do not want anything from you."
"Do not lie to me! I see it in your face everyday. It tortures me and I don’t want to see it anymore! I do not need you! Leave, leave me alone!"
They stand within feet from each other in silence. Amalya looks down and places a hand over her unborn child. She can feel him stirring inside her. She takes a deep breath and closes her eyes. What good was it to be this way. He was right, she could not do this on her own but she did not want him to dwell on whatever dreams he was hoping for. There was nothing left of her, not since the day it was all taken away.
"Forgive me," she utters, " I did not mean..."
"You meant every word," She looks up at him, "Do not apologize for the truth." He brushes past her with nothing more then a glance. Amalya should just learn when to keep her mouth shut. It was hard when there was so much at stake. Things have not been easy since leaving home. With no direction except knowing she wanted to escape, they blindly walked into danger. Rumors travel fast across the kingdoms, even ones that she thought words could not reach. This land was strange to her but Talon knew it, he had been here before.
"What do we do now?" She turns around to face him. Talon wanders into the middle of the camp, searching for something. Perhaps a possible clue to where they should take their next step. He looks up to the star studded sky, his face contorted deep in thought.
"If you want to find this warlord," he looks back at her, "We must find others with the same goal."
"Do you have someone in mind?"
He stands silently as if afraid to mention what he will say, "I do." He takes a deep breath and scours the rest of the camp, "Let’s take what we can. We’re heading south."