The Sands

The dust and fine sand particles blew off the cliff like a mist. Dry heat, making the inside of the helmet feel like a cast iron pot cooking its last supper. The smell of death, the dead gnolls behind him and the blood boiling on the hard polished rock. Flies. Already feasting on the carcasses with a few buzzards circling high above, waiting for the half orc to move on. Behind him his hired hand shifted nervously. Sighing as the relentless heat baking the rock made the ground in the distance shake like a opaque ocean of liquid dirt.

He knelt. Studying the landscape before him. The formation of ancient final resting places of lords and kings. And where the sun bleached bones of warriors ruled. Where shambling moaning servant, slain to serve their masters in death roamed and where nobles, wrapped in dirty torn rags, trapped in dry and crisp bodies lurked. Across the sands the resting home of the Wizard king stabbed through the sand like a broken block of maleficent brood. A place haunted by the will of the lich, haunted by the tormented servants and the many long dead guardians. Across the sand, still on fire in the merciless sun across a bleak sky without a single cloud in sight. Dunes, leaping across each others like frozen waves on a timeless sea. His hand gripped the handle of the greataxe, ending in a double edged blade with lightning leaping across the green steel. He looked back. His hired hand was blinking away sweat, gazing upward into the inferno above. Fear caked his dirty face. Fear of what lay beyond and fear of dying, serving someone for the pittance of coin.
‘Don’t worry’ grinned the half orc – the sun forming a corona of blazing gold around the top of the black helmet. ‘the dead don’t fret about memories and regret. Once you die what was is forever gone. Don’t fear what can happen, fear instead of coming home empty handed without anything to show for the toil’.

The sun was midway across the sky. The half orc didn’t feel like crossing it during night, when the undead would rise without rest. One of the mortally wounded gnolls, a shaman, glared at him. Unable to utter even one legible word, with his guts spilling out across the rock. He had seared a bolt across the half orcs chest and suffered the consequence. Where the other gnolls had died swiftly and without mercy, the caster who first held him with a cruel laughter and later tried to snuff him out with spells, had suffered from an agonizing but final cut. He was going to die. His broken body half slumped against a caved in tent, across broken barrels.

The half orc knew death. But to wield it with wanton cruelty deserved a faith worse then death. It was not a law. It was justice for cruelty. He spat in its direction. There was no mercy in his look. And the gnoll resigned to die his slow painful death as the hired hand feared his master more then to provide a quick merciful blow. It said nothing. It knew better. The armored beast in front of him had saved him so many times. And in a small way he felt he owed him a certain allegiance, even if it came in the form of platinum. Plus there was also a deep respect, admiration and fear. He’d seen the half orc fight. It was like watching death wielding a lightning scythe. A dance. He’d seen the half orc take on the 6 on the cliff. It was a fearsome display of barely contained rage, skill and finality.

‘Lets not waste daylight’ said the warrior. ‘I don’t want to fight thick up to my hips in undead after dark’ and chuckled when it sent a visible shiver through the hired hand.

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