The wooden door swung open and Hasib took a moment to realize where he was entering. He had zoned out for part of the journey while talking to Fariha and only now remembered where he was.
The room was large and spacious, with a large opening cut in the roof, almost making the room into a courtyard. There was a path running through the middle of the room circling a well in the middle of the room. Running along the walls were beds of dark earth, making a stark difference from the sandstone around it. Peeking out from underneath earth were tiny green shoots, a few even had tender leaves sprouting from them.
Hasib crossed to the earth beds and sank his hands into the earth. The earth was moist and but not soggy and he smiled as it stuck to his fingers. Hasib moved to the well in the middle of the room, gazing into the darkened depths. The faint slosh of water reached Hasib’s ears and he didn’t even try to lower his voice as he let out a loud yell.
“Blimey, we’ve done it!” Hasib shouted, doing a jig.
We did exactly what you suggested. We dug five metres deeper and we hit rock. Two metres of rock and we hit the water stream, Hamar told Hasib.
“I wish I could have been here!” Hasib said, running to Hamar and danced her down the path.
You had business, which was important since you were wor-
“We have water, Hamar! We can grow crops, feed our animals without travelling or digging for water every day,” Hasib interrupted. “Fariha you may not realize how-“
“I know Hasib,” Fariha interrupted him with a smile. “While you were gone we had a water crisis ourselves. Father… Malek managed to negotiate with a neighbouring clan, but it was a rough patch for us.”
Hasib scratched his neck and nodded his head slowly.
“Of course, the weather has been harsh on all of Vishen,” Hasib stated apologetically.
Hasib then smiled and peeked into the well again. He removed his shemagh from around his neck and untucked the long sleeved shirt, pulling it off over his head. Underneath the long sleeved shirt he wore a sleeveless light weight tunic which was already damp from sweat. His tanned muscles pulsed as he began pulling a bucket of water from the depths of the well.
Water sloshed from the bucket, as Hasib settled it on the edge of the well. He inspected the water, finding only a small amount of sand contamination floating around. Using his hands, Hasib scooped water to his lips drinking the liquid eagerly. When he finished he smacked his lips and then scooped another handful onto his hair, which was already lying damp against his forehead.
“It’s as if we’ve drawn from the stream of life water,” Hasib said, water dripping down his face and neck. “Fariha, I’ll draw you a bath and then we can eat and drink and celebrate.”
A quiet laughter drifted from a sliver of sand, as Hamar found Hasib’s happiness amusing. The Ramili didn’t need water to survive though their animals certainly did. They still ate like other humanoids but it was less often. They had wanted water for their animals but Hasib’s joy had been what they had most sought after.
As Hasib turned away to study the water once more and draw water for Fariha’s cool bath, Hamar sent several messages to the Ramili beside her.
He’ll make a great leader when I’m no longer here to watch over you all, she said proudly.
An hour later, Fariha had enjoyed a cool bath and changed into a fresh dress she had packed. Hasib met her in the hallway, his own light hair no longer dampened with sweat. He wore a sleeveless pale blue tunic and his boots were polished slightly.
“Put some effort into dressing today?” Fariha teased him as she joined him.
“Hamar insisted I do so, especially since they’ve arranged a celebratory evening for you,” Hasib answered, rolling one of his shoulders. “They seem to have no idea that a young woman may want some rest after her long journey.”
“I’m barely tired and my excitement will keep me awake if I don’t explore!” Fariha answered. “Or are you trying to say that you are tired?”
“Not even a little,” Hasib answered, looking very lively for someone who was running on no sleep.
Hasib led Fariha back through the endless hallways and emerged into a large ballroom. There were stain glass windows running along parallel sides of the room and intricate chandeliers hung from the ceiling. There were three chandeliers in total, the first and third were a flurry of glass birds flying around a budding sapling. The second, placed in the middle of the room, was a scene like a goddess emerging from the ceiling. In the goddesses hand she held two children, their hands linked together.
“Those chandeliers are gorgeous! Who made them?” Fariha asked, her eyes widening.
Hasib didn’t answer instead he turned towards a line of tables. Fariha watched him move away and realized immediately who had made the chandeliers. She craned her neck to look again and watched the light shine through the glass making multicoloured marks on the floor.
Something slid over Fariha’s bare feet and she let out a squeal, jumping out of reflex. Hasib turned to her and chuckled as line of sand continued it slithering path to him. Fariha fidgeted with embarrassment until she noticed that none of the Ramili seemed to take notice of her squeal. Hasib almost greeted the sand, bending to let it snake up his arm and around his neck. He then frowned as a message was related to him and then he stood up.
“It seems we have an intruder,” Hasib said, striding towards the door they had entered.
“I’ll come with you, unless it’s too dangerous,” Fariha asked cautiously.
“It’s fine, Muse has the situation under control,” Hasib answered, nodding his head for her to follow.
They exit the sandstone maze of passages merely minutes late and Fariha followed Hasib quietly. Hasib meanwhile sent messages shooting off to several soldiers and nodded as two joined them. The sun had nearly set behind the sandstone mountains and it’s shadow stretched far into the distance.
Fariha spotted Muse entering the camp his short legs tapping lightly on the sand as he ran. Muse dragged something along the ground behind him, wrapped up in a giant bag made of sand. The bag was squirming, yet no sound was coming from it. Muse seemed to be in control of the bag even with its wriggling occupant and continued to plod towards Hasib. In one of his hands he held the reins of a beautiful mare, which looked a lot like Sheldaz’s breed.
“That’s one of Malek’s horses,” Fariha said in surprise.
Muse dropped the bag of sand in front of Hasib and it immediately fell like normal sand. The figure that was revealed quickly tried to jump up only to find Muse jump to pin them back down. The figure was male and continued to struggle with their face in the sand.
Fariha gasped and ran forward and Hasib clicked his fingers at Muse. Muse immediately jumped off and shuffled to Hasib’s side. Muse kept an eye on the man, his body poised to jump at any moment. Fariha was helping the man up and was brushing the sand off them. As the sand was brushed off, it revealed an extremely unamused half-orc.
“Are you okay, Abdar?” Fariha asked the half-orc.
The only answer she received was Abdar opening his mouth and a stream of moist sand being spat out. He continued to spit out sand and then he glared at Muse. Muse merely tilted his head in response and looked up at Hasib.
“I’m sorry about my pal, Abdar, but he confused you for an intruder,” Hasib said, smiling despite Abdar’s angry countenance.
“Does he always try to suffocate the people who come peacefully onto this land?” Abdar asked, cringing as his teeth crunched on the sand granules.
“Hey, he left your nose completely clear. You wouldn’t have suffocated. Muse is not the sort to kill people, unless he asks and I allow him to,” Hasib replied.
Muse seemed happy that Abdar wasn’t a threat and shifted on Hasib’s shoulder. Hasib moved forward and slapped Abdar on the shoulder. Abdar shook his head and slapped Hasib on the opposite shoulder Muse was sitting on. Hasib then turned to the rest of the Ramili and introduced them to Abdar. To Fariha’s and Hasib’s surprise Abdar didn’t seem too surprised or confused by the Ramili. He just nodded his head to each one and then grinned as he spotted one of the sand warriors.
The young sand warrior walked forward and slapped Abdar’s shoulder in the same way Hasib had just done. Abdar slapped him back and then admired the shell armour, nodding his head again.
“Me and this guy met a while ago when I was visiting my uncle,” Abdar stated, smiling at Fariha and Hasib. “My uncle had discovered a small group of sandmen heading south and introduced them to me.”
“So you conversed via nods?” Hasib asked, looking amused.
“Well, I try to, but it didn’t always work,” Abdar answered. “I once got a face full of sand flung at me, and to this day I still don’t know why.”
Hasib laughed again and turned around only to be faced by Hamar. Hamar crossed her arms and blinked at Hasib. A simple ‘He’s my friend’ wasn’t going to suffice as an explanation for Hamar.
“This is Abdar, he’s my friend and work colleague from the glass fields,” Hasib explained.
Hamar still looked unconvinced. She didn’t have any fond memories of these glass fields and especially didn’t like the owner. As far as Hamar was concerned they were a nasty bunch of half-orcs and Hasib and Fariha were the only good that could come from them.
“He’s also Fariha’s significant other,” Hasib added, in a lowered voice.
Fariha and Abdar both heard him despite his lowered voice and they turned to look at each other. Upon meeting Abdar’s gaze, Fariha looked away with a blush. Abdar grinned and didn’t seem the least bit embarrassed by Hasib’s words.
Hamar watched the two of them and then relaxed, uncrossing her arms. She then turned and sent of hurried messages to several other female Ramili, who hurried away in the direction of the hall. A second half-orc in camp meant that they would need more food.