Walking
She walked, dry shriveled water bag dangling by a cord interwoven between her fingers swung by her legs as she walked.

She ran her tongue over her dry and cracked lips as she stared straight ahead, eyes never leaving the horizon as she walked.

Her clothing was stained with sweat and sand, chafing against her skin as she walked.

Her hair hung limply down her back. Dull and dry, having long since fallen from her tight ponytail, sticking to her sweaty back as she walked.

In her boots her feet were dry, cracked and bloody. Blisters forming, bursting and reforming as she walked

As she walked her mind wandered back to the beginning of her journey. She had been walking for weeks, having started out eagerly, her 2 pack mules laden with supplies and water bags. A day after she was out of site of anything having origins of the coastal lands she had begun calling out for the Maldin. Over and over she called as she walked.

After the first mule died, sucked into a sand trap with her food and extra boots,, she took to calling again, more desperation in her tone to the elusive Maldin desert peoples.

When the second mule died 4 days ago she had collapsed next to the animal. Wailing out in the highest, most vocal voice she could managed she told the sands and any Maldin of her father. How he was a Maldin warrior and, on a raid, had raped her mother, thus begetting her. As she unloaded the dead animal she continued wailing out to the empty sands how her mother had died a month earlier and rather than be forced to marry she had walked.

Shaking her sweat mattened hair, her eyes squinted ahead as she came back to the present. Staring she thought she saw the wavering form in the distance of a Maldin. Lifting her leaden leg she took a step forward and promptly collapsed in the sand. Lifting her sand encrusted face she squinted at the figure. Was it leaving? Getting closer? Was it her father? A Maldin at all? Was it…..

She passed out into the sand, sun beating out the last drops of water in her as the sounds of boots walking over sand crunched closer.

When she awoke it was night, of what day she could not be sure. She bit back a groan as she sat up slowly. Glancing around her eyes locked onto the Maldin crouching behind the fire. His long flowing cream robes were nearly in pristine conditions despite the sand, a long scarf flowed across his mouth, just below his nose and trailed back behind him, hiding all of his face save his striking eyes. These were the keystones of a Maldin native, a quick glance confirmed her suspicions that this was a Maldin Warrior. The long hair, interwoven with braids under his scarf like hat, the curved sword at his belt in its plain but ornate scabbard and the stylized bloody hand over the heart on his cream robe all screamed Maldin Warrior.

Breathing out in shock she whispered “Maldin….”

Chuckling, the Maldin warrior rose to his feet and walked to the small natural spring in the corner, a small clay bowl in his hand, her eyes followed him intently the light skin blanket held close to her. Upon seeing the spring her mind awoke all the way and she heard the other sounds of night. Glancing about she noticed she was in a small cave... more of a lean-too then a cave.

Taking a deep breath she spoke in the most authoritative voice she could manage. “My name is Amiri Tr’letha, daughter of Bejan Tr’letha. I call upon the Curtsey of the Sand.”

Walking back silently the warrior crouched in front of her and proffered the bowl of water silently. Amiri quickly downed the water to ease her parched throat and then spoke again.

“My name is Amiri Tr’letha, daughter of Bejan of the Maldin clan Tr’letha. I call upon the Courtesy of the Sand!”

Slowly, eyes locked with Amiri’s, the Maldin spoke in a cold tone. “And just how do you propose to prove this kinship Amiri Tr’letha?”

Frowning slightly, Amiri thought and then slowly turned around and bared her back, showing off the small birthmark in the shape of a bloody hand. The Maldin hissed between his teeth at the sight. Startled, Amiri turned around quickly doing her best not to pass out.

Slowly, with exaggerated care, the warrior reached up and slipped off his headdress and scarf revealing his features. Trembling, Amiri paled and struggled not to pass out from fright. Holding out a trembling hand she whispered “Mother?”

~~

She walked, leather lead cord interwoven between her fingers leading the pack mule laden with water bags as she walked.

She ran her tongue over her moisture filled lips, her eyes staring off at the horizon as she looked for what new will meet her as she walked.

Her clothing was a cream flowing robe, nearly pristine with only crumbles of sand on it, feeling like silk against her skin as she walked.

Her hair hung down her back, bouncing vibrantly with each step as she walked. Shiny and alive it hung down her back from underneath the scarf like hat on her head as she walked.

In her boots her feet where harden from walking but not bleeding, blisters long since having gone leaving her feet feeling comfortable as she walked.

As she walked she glanced over at her mother and smiled, how was she to know that the Maldin’s warriors were female and occasionally, when pregnant, they stayed in towns that had been destroyed by barbarian raids and raised they’re child in the ways of the Coastal peoples. How was she to know that once the child reached 15 years of age they staged they’re own death and returned to the sands? How was she to know…..?

She gave up wondering, smiling she grabbed her mother’s hand as she walked.
 


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