- Story Two -

Elber


During the time I spent traveling, I perchance found myself in the vast sandscape of the desert of Elber, caught in one of the worst sandstorms I have ever seen. I had been stumbling around for what seemed like hours, praying that I was still heading towards the next town. I trudged along, putting all my focus on putting my one foot in front of the other. I thought the tents were a mirage at first. It had to be, right? Tents untouched by the raging sandstorm, hidden in a pocket of air in the middle of a desert? I fell to the sand, and relinquished myself to this tiny pocket of what, at the time, seemed like heaven.

I don’t remember dreaming, but when I finally opened my eyes, I might as well have been. I was greeted by a vast canvas dotted with fiery figures. The figures were dancing, floating around like stars come to life. I think I lay there for days, but I’m not entirely sure.

My limbs eventually creaked into a sitting position. Standing up, I scanned the room, and immediately I was in awe of the tapestries covering the walls of the tent. Richly coloured cloth writhed as horses galloped along the artworks. I stood and watched with a childlike wonder as the room whirled around me.

The sound of the tent flapping open caught me by surprise and the spell was broken. A kindly face peered at me from between a myriad of tattoos. A man stepped in and wordlessly smiled and handed me a cup of water. “Thank you”, I said. He nodded and, once I had quenched my thirst, beckoned for me to follow him. Gingerly I stepped outside, half expecting the sandstorm to still be raging outside.

Instead, the smell of cooking food washed over me and I realised I couldn’t recall the last time I had eaten. The man ushered me forward towards the smell. We weaved in between tents until we reached a clearing. In the middle, sitting on a large red cushion, sat one of the oldest people I have ever seen, surrounded by a myriad of tattooed men and women. He looked right at me, and his eyes twinkled. He lifted his arm and started painting the sky. From his fingertips blue energy seeped out like water from a spring. I watched awestruck as the tendrils took form and weaved themselves around the camp. It now remains only as a vague memory, the stories the nomad elder told, lost in the whirlwind that was that night. I recall glimpses of enormous ruins buried in the sand, guarded by a giant snake, and ancient halls filled with books and tomes and scrolls, deep beneath the dunes…

The other nomads and myself listened to the old man’s chronicles till the sun finally broke the horizon, and I fell into a deep sleep. I figured they had broken camp around me, for when I woke it was to a raftered ceiling and a cushioned bed, not a single tattooed face to be seen

Ever since that day I decided that I am going to confine my travels to the sand sea of Elber, in the singular hope of finding these nomads once more.