He wasn’t sure how long he had been walking. He knew the sun had set at least twice, rising just as many times. He knew there had been no signs of life as he continued walking, oblivious to the animals that had stared at his back after he had passed. He saw smoke in the…
It is difficult to sleep without a tent, and yet, I find myself without one. I suppose one does not truly need one in this place. The ground is soft enough, but the endless day interferes with sleep. I am tired, so tired, but I must keep walking until I find something to make a tent out of, or the end of the Long Sands. Some water would be a welcome sight, but it’s been a long time since I saw anything except for what I continue to carry on me. I am beginning to believe that there is no end to the desert; that I will die here before I complete my mission. Even with my equipment, I won’t last long when the water runs out.
Two harvests later…
Rolanda settled into the throne chair, bringing the crystal goblet to her lips. The sharp sting of wine danced on her tongue. The warmth settled into her stomach, relieving the chill from the winter air. Small flurries of snow were falling outside, covering the ocean in a blanket of ice. The doors at the end of the throne room creaked as they swung open.
“We’ll watch the ceremony from the boat while Garreth and Vanar accompany your mother’s guards to keep her and your father safe.”
Miranda’s legs locked as she jerked herself awake from the cloudy dream. Rubbing away the last remnants of sleep from her eyes, she turned her gaze to her bedroom window. Outside the sun still slept somewhere beneath the horizon. Soft moonlight spilled through the window, casting shadows throughout the room. She kicked at the blankets tangled around her legs, swung them off the bed and sat with her face in her hands. Sweat blanketed her brow. She stood and walked over to the basin of water, splashing cold water in her face.
“I know it sounds strange, but even growing up, my favorite places were near water. I love the trees too, but there’s nothing quite like the sound and smell of rain.” Miranda leaned into Brennus’ right side, smiling for what felt like the first time in weeks. The nerves in her stomach quieted when she smelled the musky wood scent coming from his robes.
“Commander Hallon, if you think for one second that I’m just going to let you send over two of your agents to take control of my kingdom, and then on top of that let you use my daughter for bait, you’ve got another thing coming.” The queen had on her evening prayer robes with white satin gloves that covered her scarred arms up to her elbows. Her arms crossed tightly over her chest, the queen did her best to hide the outright contempt from her face.
Miranda’s dark blue skirts fluttered with the soft breeze that blew across the pier. Her head lifted back so she could take in the massive ship. Dark wood with carvings made to look like waves encompassed the hull. Large, white sails were being untied by a dozen or so of the crew while others ran about the deck under the sharp orders of the ship’s captain. A beautiful carving of a mermaid stood at the bow, looking as if she was about to dive away from the ship. The mermaid’s hair flowed seamlessly backwards to meld with the deck.
Naonet slapped a hand across the surface of the water, dispelling the image from its surface. He sat back against the high back of his stone chair, pushed a hand through the few strands of hair he had left and growled when half of those came out in his fingers. Soft giggling echoed from high above. A smile, or what could be halfway considered a smile, twisted the corners of his cracked lips. He shifted his gaze up to the pool of shadow that clung to the ceiling.