The Desert of Vishen is one of the most desolate areas of Ryllia, with its ever shifting sand dunes and sparse supply of water. The few that do live on the dunes are some of the most resilient inhabitants of Vishen. Vishen is a strong yet hard land to live in and it is the historical home for the half-orcs, given to them at the establishment of Ryllia. Other races rarely bothered to visit the desert area of Vishen and going to the main city was a journey taken only twice a year by the desert dwellers. A huge caravan of horses and wagons travelled together, to gather supplies and livestock. The desert dwellers lived off milk and meat from the animals they kept and bought new stock each year at the city. The dwellers however didn’t enter the city empty handed and brought special glass objects to sell and barter with. The glass was highly sought after, as the sand from the dunes was pure and created only the finest quality glass. The desert dwellers were especial skilled in the art of manipulating glass into sculptures, household objects and jewellery.
One of the caravans were already setting off for the city at this point in time and the sun had begun to set on the dunes. The caravan travelled at night, due to the harsh heat that daytime brought. The dunes didn’t bring much danger at night, especially if you were on the move. So as the group of wagons moved slowly over a large dune, no-one noticed a figure standing watching from a distance.
The figure was that of a male and he looked tiny against the expanse of undulating sand dunes around him. His forearms and fingers were the only parts of his skin that was revealed between a pair of fingerless gloves and his shirt. His skin was a dark tanned colour and his fingers were calloused and rough. A breeze flicked up a flurry of sand around him but a shemagh was wrapped around his head and mouth. The fabric allowed him to still breathe, despite the thick sheet of sand and a pair of goggles protected his eyes. A baggy pair of beige pants fluttered in the breeze, but the lower hem was tucked into brown boots. A backpack hung from one shoulder and a covered bedroll and flask were tied to it tightly. The man was leaning slightly on an engraved staff that was jabbed into the sand.
The night began to cool as the caravan disappeared out of sight and the man looked towards where its journey had begun. He shifted his weight and pulled the staff from the sand, the hole filling even as he removed it. The man then dropped it onto the ground at his feet and kicked it gently with his right foot. The staff became shorter and then began to unroll into a flat board. Two straps formed out of the wood and even as they formed, the man stepped onto the board. He then shuffled the board to the edge of the dune and peered down at the valley below. In the distance a dotting of lights lit up an encampment of tents and several fire pits could be seen in the middle of camp. With a tilt of the board, the man began to glide down the dune and head towards the camp. He lowered his body weight down and snaked his way along the sand, picking up pace as he did so. Several scorpions were closely avoided and it didn’t take long for the board to arrive at the valley. The board slowed, as it skimmed across the flat sand and eventually came to a stop. The man stepped off the board and kicked it, transforming it back into a staff. The breeze didn’t blow as much in the valley and noise was minimal.
As he approached the tents, the man dropped into a crouch and stealthily made his way up to one of the tents. Keeping close to tents and ground, the man skirted the encampment. He paused however at one tent and pressed his ear to the wall. Several women were talking about menial subjects and one of them laughed cheerily.
“Vernan is a handsome lad, you should at least think of dating him,” a mature voice stated.
“Oh yes, I could think about it, but I would be the only thoughtful one between the two of us,” answered a younger voice, laughing.
“What about Bobar? He’s extremely sweet.”
“I don’t know… he likes sweet things however, as you can tell by his protruding belly.”
It was meaningless banter, which was clearly amusing for the ladies in the tent, however the man was obviously bored very quickly. A dagger, which was sheathed at the belt on his tunic, was quickly drawn and then the blade examined. The man ran his thumb along the sharp blade as he took a seat on the sand. Half an hour went by and still the conversation in the tent was going strong. The man was using his backpack as a pillow and was mapping the constellations as it was a clear night. The shuffle of someone approaching the tent, made the man press against the wall of the tent. The man tensed, ready to move if anyone rounded the corner. The footstep ceased however at the tent entrance and a gruff voice said that it was getting late. Several ‘goodnight’s’ were exchanged inside the tent and then three figures started trekking towards another cluster of tents closer to the middle of the encampment. The man stood and peaked around the tent and waited till the party had entered their own tent. He then moved to the entrance of the tent and slid inside.
A young woman stood with her back to the entrance, picking up several cups and placing them in a tub. She had long black hair that fell to her hips and the colour was complimented by the red gown she was wearing. Her skin was smooth and without blemishes, her complexion was a grey colour with a subtle green undertone.
“Did you forget something, Amina?” the woman asked, not turning around.
The man was silent and approached slowly, taking care not to step on anything. The young woman was now standing before a dresser which had a mirror sitting on top and various cosmetics containers were splayed over the surface. The man squatted close to the ground, moving sideways like a crab, to avoid being shown in the mirrors reflection.
“Amina?” the woman spoke again.
She began to turn around to see who had enter, if it wasn’t her friend, and the man pounced. He clamped his hand over her mouth and placed his other hand on her shoulder. The young woman however was not going to be overpowered and lashed out at the man. Her sharp fingernails dug into the exposed skin of his arm and he grunted in pain. She then kicked his legs and pushed him off her with all her might. The man stumbled backwards over a low table and tripped onto the floor. The young woman’s brown eyes flashed and she opened her mouth, revealing that she had long first premolar teeth on her bottom jaw. The yell that was expelled from her lungs sounded loud enough to awaken the entire camp. The man frantically pulled his goggles and head ware from his head, even as the woman continued to kick him.
“Shit, Fariha, stop yelling,” the man cursed, removing the last of his head ware.
He held up his hands in surrender and the woman paused a moment to look over the intruder. He was young but had a sense of maturity about him as he had a shadow of a beard. His features were not one of a half-orc however and a pair of bright blue eyes and light hair finished off his ‘strange’ appearance. Still, with his strong jaw line and ruffled short hair, anyone would still consider him attractive. The woman’s face lit up in recognition and she gave him a broad smile.
A sudden rush of footsteps stopped outside the tent and the drawing of a sword was heard.
“Are you okay, Fariha? I’m coming in!” a male voice called.
Fariha’s eyes widened with shock and glanced down at her intruder.
“No!” Fariha yelled back. “I’m fine it’s just a spider, I’ve already killed it.”
“I’ll still come in and check if there is anymore,” the voice called back, the tent flap being drawn back.
“I’m currently undressed!” Fariha squealed.
The man entering the tent froze and quickly withdrew his foot. Fariha bit her lip and waited for a response from the man outside.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” the man called again.
“Quite well, thank you. It just surprised me. You can go back to bed, Abdar, thank you for your concern,” Fariha said, still standing still.
“Okay, night Fariha.”
Footsteps in the sand indicated that he was leaving and Fariha remained silent until they had gone. She closed her eyes and let out a long sigh. Fariha then looked down at the man at her feet and reached out with her hand. The man got to his feet on his own however and stood around her hight.
“Now, Hasib,” Fariha spoke quietly. “I’m glad to see you, but you didn’t have to scare me half to death. A quiet ‘hello’ from the entrance would have been less shocking.”
The man smiled broadly and shrugged. Fariha shook her head and moved forward to embrace him.
“It’s a pleasant surprise to see you, however,” Fariha whispered. “I’ve missed you…brother.”