There was always something relaxing about the desert. The way the wind droned over the dunes, the emptiness echoing it’s calm energy. From the tower we lived in, we could see it all. The horizon held nothing for us, but we knew if we were to cross the desert in the right direction, we would soon see home, a speck in the distance.
“Rhye?” I asked the sleeping form in the hammock across from mine. “Rhye!”
There was a snort from the blankets and Rhye woke up and rolled over. He stared at me with lazy eyes drooped much like the hammock he lay in.
“Did you know I was sleeping?” Rhye asked.
“Of course I did!” I grunted. “It is your shift today! I was up all night so the least you can do is do your part.”
“I was up all night with you.”
“That means nothing, because you were laying in your hammock eating and singing like an intoxicated grandfather.”
Rhye scowled at me, not because of my insult, but because I was right. He had wasted his time and mine by bothering me all night. Now, it was my turn to get some sleep. Rolling over, facing the desert and letting my eyes droop as my mind faded. I was all to close to the surreal darkness that welcomed me, but then there was a wailing.
My eyes stopped drooping and my ears betrayed me as they allow the noise to enter. I placed my hand over my ears to block our Rhye’s singing. Climbing out of the hammock, I marched towards him. He stood at the edge of the lookout tower, singing into the desert, but the wind carried the voice towards me.
I grabbed him by his shirt and spun him around.
“Do you have any idea how much you test my patience!” I asked him.
“Come on, Huit, you used to enjoy my morning song!” Rhye replied, annoyed and fearful.
“Those were the days I was still drunk from the night before,” I reminded him. “Those days of training have long since passed and now we are in the desert. We have real swords, real threats and no booze to make it tolerable. Please, suffer in silence and I will do the same.”
Releasing Rhye, he wobbled in place and I walked back to my hammock. I looked back to see Rhye was dangerously close to the edge, so I immediately jumped as he turned, his foot hovering over nothing. He only tipped over for a split-second before I grabbed his meaty arm and pulled him back.
Rhye caught his breath and fell to his knees, looking down at the drop he would have encountered.
“These towers need railings,” I muttered, wandering over to my hammock and climbing into the folds of that hung from the ceiling.
It was so easy to fall asleep in the shade, but the sun was beginning to drift high enough above the dunes to hit me in the face. Rolling over only served to bake my back. With frustration building, it wasn’t long before the tossing and turning ended with me screaming in aggravation.
“I’m going to sleep at the bottom of the tower,” I told Rhye. “Try not to let the enemy slip passed us.”
Rhye scowled at me once more, but I was too tired to care now. I marched down the wooden steps and soon was below the tower near the store. Seeing as we a small outpost we didn’t have a building to sleep in, but there were walls around the food supplies. I would sleep with them and with luck I wouldn’t wake up until much later.
Making some room amongst the crates, I stretched the tarp of my hammock over the sand and sat down, falling back into position. It didn’t take long for the slight coolness of the shade to offer me the relaxation I needed. However, it took even less time for me to be prodded awake by Rhye.
“Huit, there is something you should see,” Rhye told me was my eyes tried to escape the double vision. “I believe I see the enemy heading towards us.”
In a minute I was dashing up the tower to get a view of what Rhye was talking about. Indeed, there was some movement in the distance, but it was tiny. I focused on it for a good minute, trying to decipher what I was seeing, but it certainly wasn’t an army. At best, it was a scout or messenger, a single rider on a camel.
I looked at Rhye.
“I think we are safe for now,” I told him. “There is only one camel and there are two of us. However, we should be ready for anything.”
I marched down the tower, taken a moment halfway to the ground to massage a cramp in my leg. By the time the rider could be seen clearly, Rhye and I were armed with swords at our sides and bows in our hands. We ready for anything, but what were not ready for was a man and girl on the camel.
The two leapt from the camel, yelling, scaring the camel as it ran towards us. I raised my arms to calm the camel before it trampled us. I succeeded, but the riders soon followed, striking towards me. I took a powerful punch to the cheek which flattened me. Rhye, not being the best fighter of the two of us, was brought down by the little girl.
The man, dressed in dark robes with the eyes of a killer, drew his sword to finish me off, but the girl stopped him.
“They are no threat to us and even then, not deserving of death,” the girl told the man.
What I thought to be my last moments passed as the man begrudgingly sheathed his sword. However, he didn’t hesitate in tying Rhye and I, dragging us towards the tower.
“Not there, put them in the food store, there is shade,” the girl told the man.
“I am not there mother, girl,” the man told her in a deep voice, but still did as she asked.
The two mantled the camel and were soon riding, but I noted they were not riding towards the city.
“What do we do?” Rhye asked.
“You work on escaping your bonds,” I told Rhye.
“And what will you do?”
I rolled over on my hammock and onto my side.
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