"Bayl went ahead of us, the soft lavender glow of the chunk of quartz Id enchanted spilling out from between the fingers of his upraised left hand. His feet made almost no sound as they compressed the soft, rich loam. His broad back slid to one side, then the other, casting long, monstrous shadows as he ducked and danced around branches strung with rope-like vines and bearded moss."
Enamdis turned out to be right. As evening drew in, the walls of Nibenay were still just a thin, dark line on the western horizon. The Crescent Forest grew closer to the road here, a looming presence off the starboard bow, filled with the mournful calls of the birds and beasts that dwelt within its sheltering gloom.
"Dragons balls, you two, put your backs into it! Were not going to reach Nibenay by nightfall at this rate. Enamdis thumped the skimmers wheel in disgust and frustration.
As I re-entered the receiving chamber, I glanced across the table to where Abhivada sat, talking quietly with Neren. She gave no sign that she was even aware of me. Neren too pretended not to have seen me enter, though he was a far less accomplished actor. I tried not to smile at his well-intentioned but totally unnecessary attempts to avoid drawing Abhivadas attention to me.
After a few terse questions to Neren concerning his cargo and passengers, Abhivada glanced up towards the walls of the fort and I felt a brief psionic pulse as she signalled for the gates to be opened to us. Neren and Enamdis climbed aboard, and the silt skimmer juddered back into motion as Bayl and Chanya bent their backs to the capstan.
As dawn broke over the distant Black Spine Mountains, we stripped the dead sand devils of their weapons and armour their iron blades alone would more than pay for the cargo I had defiled and dragged their corpses out into the desert a couple of hundred yards from the road. Kestrekels already circled overhead, eyeing the gory heap of tangled limbs and spilled guts with their customary hunger. By midmorning, there would be nothing left but a scattering of bones.
The mountains had grown from a blurred, uneven line on the horizon to a recognisable part of the landscape by the time the sun sank beneath the western horizon.
A short alternate history that deals with the War-Bringer, the Pristine Tower and their relationship with Iron.
"The skimmers crew took the news surprisingly well. Neren and Enamdis called a brief halt and gathered them together below the quarterdeck to explain what was likely chasing us and to make preparations for a possible night attack."
We heard the cry of the lookout, perched upon his small platform near the top of the skimmers mainmast, and saw the vessel alter course towards us.