The sun was scorching, sand underneath was hot, not shade in sight. Deira looked at the endless expanse of sand in front of her and felt anxious about the trip ahead. It has only been hours after they had descended from the mountain and the heat was becoming a problem. Even after she removed her fur cloak Deira felt overheated. The leather vest soon followed the cloak and ended up in the bag, leaving her only in the white linen shirt and leather pants and boots. It was still too hot. But the heat was not the only thing that bothered her. The distance was far greater than she could have imagined. Looking at a map it didn't seem that far to get to the coast, but now she began having doubts.
Having grown up in the mountains she knew how to survive in the forest and how to climb and hunt. Deserts were a completely unknown thing to her. Before heading out she asked the rangers for advice and what to expect but hearing was different from actually seeing it. She thought she could reach the coast in about two days, but now it seemed like it would a week. She didn't have enough food or water for a week, and now she wasn't alone anymore.
Turning to look at the mysterious man she met just a day ago, he was completely calm. He walked looking forward, black cloak now gone, she didn't see him remove it. The long white robes decorated with silver lotus flowers looked a lot more appropriate for the heat.
"Is something wrong?" he inquired noticing her looking at him
"Aren't you hot?"
"I admit, I prefer the cold but there is no choice in the matter, so no use worrying about it. We were fortunate to miss the first hours of the high sun, when it gets the hottest. It should set after a few hours. The nights are much cooler."
"You been to a desert before?"
"I've traveled though one, yes."
"I haven't "Deira confessed "they told me it was hot, but I didn't think it was this bad."
"It can be a lot worse. Its early spring now, summers are even worse."
"We may have worse problems than heat. When I studied the map it seemed a lot closer but the sand is slowing us down and I don't think we have enough supplies to make it all the way."
"Let's stop for a rest."
"You want to rest now?"
"The nights get colder, it will be easier to move then. As for shelter." He looked at the gauntlet.
Four glowing skeletons appeared, they were produced by the gauntlet, not reanimated skeletons. Kay gave them his cloak and they held it up while extending it to make shade.
"Clever" Deira admitted
"It has come in handy many times."
"Yeah, it's really useful when there are no bodies to reanimate." Deira remembered when she used the Glove of the Conqueror, as the girls had named it.
"I know Gvera said not to, but I'm going to contact Narisa and tell her were are on the way." Deira said.
She had been practicing her necromancy skills. Aleera had trained her in resurrection, but Deira decided to improve her other skills on her own time. It wasn't easy, with the main instrument – the Book of Dead Ways destroyed, and her family being at odds with the Cross clan. Learning new skills was next to impossible, so she focused on improving the ones she had.
Imagining Narisa as she remembered her from three years ago the tried to reach out to her. There was a tug at the top of her head and she felt space spin around her. The room she saw was unfamiliar. It was dimly lit. A woman walked in. She had shoulder length blue hair. Seeing a transparent image of Deira she gasped.
"I'm Deira 's daughter. Gvera's cousin." She tried to assure her.
"Deira? Right I remember. What are you doing here?"
"I'm heading your way with an ally of Gvera's. There have been rumors that Gvera has been executed. She told us to contact you if anything happened. "
"I… I have no news of this. What happened to her?"
"I don't know, there was letter from some Order. I'll tell you more once I'm there."
"How far are you?"
"I can't say. We just got off the mountains."
Narisa seemed to be thinking for a moment.
"Don't come straight here, you'll never make it. Get to the coast, it will take about a day or less depends on where you are. There are towns on the coast. I'm at Khal'Ashen."
"Thank you. I'll be there as soon as I can."
Deira felt herself being pulled back into her body.
"Well at least now I know where to go. I hope it doesn't attract trouble." Deira sighed.
"I think they have their eyes focused elsewhere." Kay said, he was sitting cross-legged with his eyes closed. "There seems to be some sort of unrest in Midland."
"The witch-hunts." Deira sighed." I heard they were doing in the Westland's, for a while they did in the south too, but it had died down. Now it seems Midland got caught up in it.
"It really make me angry." Deira said. "It's like they don't even remember that it was the wizards who fought to save everyone in the siege of Newguard. That it was the necromancers that came to aid them when the gate fell. People are so quick to forget favors and dig up old grudges."
"People often do whatever seems to benefit them the most at the moment. "He said.
"No, not everyone." Kay agreed" there might be more to this than meets the eye."
"You mean the Cross clan might be involved? Somehow it wouldn't surprise me one bit. People uniting seems to be their biggest fear. When Gvera brought everyone together, it must have really gave them a fright. And with her missing they must have figured that if they give them a push her allies will scatter and divide"
"Do you think they will?"
"I'll fight. I know my mom will if she has to. But she's pregnant now, so I'd prefer she stayed out of it. I mean even without Gvera to lead the war, there's no way out for us."
"Why do you think that?"
"My mom, before I was born she had a boy. But the clan interfered, you know how there can't be male necromancers, so they made her kill him. There is a chance that she might have a boy again. We aren't at war with the Cross yet but I know mom would fight them this time." Deira sighed.
"I've been meaning to ask you. How did you survive?"
Kay was silent for a moment.
"Well. I had no say in this. When I was born instead of killing me, mother decided to have me castrated and raise me as girl. I would have preferred to be killed, than being forced to lead that kind of life. But I had no say in it. But I suppose there is no point in resenting a woman who is long dead."
"I'm sorry. I know my mom could never do that. Not that the clan would ever let her keep a boy under any circumstances. I don't want my brother or sister to be born into such a world. And I don't want my own kids to one day be born into such a world. "
"Creating a better world for the future generations, sounds admirable." Kay said.
"Are you really just fighting for Gvera's sake?" Deira questioned.
"Like I said, I owe her a lot. I've been able to travel the world these past few years- a world I never thought I would see. All because I met her."
"I know what you mean. Before the day Gvera showed up in our lives I could have never imagined myself traveling to a desert or fighting demons."
"The sun has set low enough, we should get going."
The air was much colder. Deira put her fur cape back on. The sky was clear and she read stars as William her taught her.
"I think we should head east, the eastern coast should be closer to us." She said checking the stars.
"I think you're right" Kay said looking at the sky.
"You know how to navigate." Deira said impressed.
"Traveling it is an essential skill but I suppose I was always fascinated by the stars. Growing up I was never allowed to go outside in fear that the secret would be found out. So for the longest time, the only stars I knew were from the charts. But I only learned to properly read after I started traveling."
The night got cold indeed. Following the stars they walked mostly in silence. The sand was mostly even, only occasionally coming across a dune. In the star light it looked silvery and almost resembling snow, but still had some warmth from the day lingering inside, so it was a little warm to the touch. Despite the seemingly endless expanse of sand and the monotonous walking Deira felt more alert. Listening to sounds of strange insects, birds and lizards scurrying across the sand. There was a lot more life at night. As the sun began to rise, exhaustion finally took its toll. Watching the sun rise on top a dune was different from any other sunrise she had seen before. There were more dunes and hill now, compared to central part, winds from the cost moved the sands and shaped the dunes. The tops of the hills were the first to change from silvery to golden, while the lower parts remained in black shadow. The golden color expanding with the rise of the sun and slowly pushing out the silver and the black. Deira didn't even realize when she fell asleep. Sounds of fight awoken her from sleep. Kay was still, but awake. It was day and the heat was back.
"It's close." He said pointing southeast
"Should we avoid it? Or go help?" Deira wasn't sure what to do.
"Let's assess the situation first." He said.
People could mean a town, somebody to give them directions but it could also mean trouble. Carefully they made their way towards the sounds. Half buried under the sand were some kind of ruins that could have been part of one building or several. There were bodies all around on the ground, but no blood. Most men were dressed the same, with scarves and bandanas covering their faces, light gray pants and shirts.
"Bandits" Kay said looking around.
"We should leave" Deira said.
She wasn't sure how strong of fighter he was, but even so- taking on a whole camp of bandits didn't seem wise.
"Hold on, there might be horses here. Perhaps we can take some in the commotion. It would speed up the trip."
They went deepen in to the ruins, with more ruined remains of buildings emerging. Some makeshift wooden walls were made to cover some gaps in the walls. People were without a doubt living here. But there were no signs of animals. The fighting was still going on. Kay stopped and stood still for a moment.
"It's nothing" he quickly dismissed it.
The ruins lead in to a closed yard with most of the walls still intact. It was a dead end, and it seemed that it was the source of all fighting. There were many unconscious bandits on the floor and in the middle stood alone figure with a dark blue hood. Kay emerged from the shadows before Deira could say anything. The figure turned around, aiming a fire ball at him.
"I thought it was you." Kay said.
The ball of flames vanished and the figure removed the hood. Revealing a blond young man.
"Kay?" Solean said in disbelief." What are you doing here?"
"Probably the same thing you are."
Deira stepped forward.
"You're one of Gveras comrades, the one from the north. " she recognized him.
"I'm Solean." He said.
"So, is it true then, about Gvera?" he asked
"We don't know. It's like she has vanished from this world. "Deira said.
"That isn't good." He sighed." She said to look for hope in the south, but I don't even know what exactly."
"Hope means Narisa Hope, we're on our way to meet her." Deira said.
"Great. I wasn't sure where I was supposed to go. So I just teleported here and then the bandits attacked me."
"You teleported all the way from Kalmer?"
"No, I took a boat to midland."
"Have you seen any horses around?" Kay asked
"Horses? There were some I think but some of the bandits rode off somewhere during a fight. "
"We should get out of here before they comeback. "Deira said.
Leaving the camp they continued going east. Solean told them about the events in Kalmer, and Deira told of the happenings in the ranger's camp and the witch hunts beginning in Midland.
"It's like the whole worlds has gone insane." The magician complained.
"I know, this is very strange." Deira agreed.
"We need to be careful." Kay said.
"Are you sure this Narisa person is someone we can trust?" Solean questioned.
"I don't know. She didn't know about Gvera, but that might be because they didn't send her a letter, maybe they don't consider that important. Her husband is an elf and he can turn into a dragon. It think we can trust them." Deira said.
"Gvera once mentioned an elf warning her about this whole mess." Solean remembered.
"Yeah, they really save us back at Newguard and they helped fight the demon too. "
"The way Gvera wrote about it, I thought she might have made some kind of deal with them." Kay said." But since she didn't seem to know about it, I guess not."
"Well, it was strange, now that you mention it." Solean admitted.
"What's strange?" Deira looked between the two of them.
"How she wrote that letter as if she had predicted this would happen. In case of something happening to her we should seek hope in the South. That whole line seems like she knew we might need to meet up in secret." Solean said.
"Now that you mentioned it. It does seem a bit suspicious. "Deira said" but maybe she just wrote it as a precaution."
The had been walking through the heat for a while catching up and discussing what to do next. The sun rose to the middle of the sky and the heat became unbearable. The sand had heated up and was scorching. With heat coming from above and below the felt like an oven.
"IS that a mirage?" Solean pointed to a shape in the distance.
"I see it too." Deira said.
The magician felt tired from the fight and the heat was making it worse.
"We could wait out the high heat in there." Kay said.
Approaching the old ruins, they were more intact than the one from before. Half buried in the sand, steps led into dark stone hall of what looked like a temple of some king.
"This place looks ominous." Deira said giving it look over.
"We can't be picky right now. " Kay said.
Feeling the chill of the stones Deira entered inside.
Despite the heat outside it was cool and damp in the tunnel. Solean provided light with his magic. Going deeper into a larger chamber something crunched under their feet. Looking down Deira noticed remains of bones.