301 The Wailing in the Wastelands
When Aegin smelled blood, he knew something was wrong. The scent carried on the wind for a great distance, disturbing the otherwise quiet and peaceful night. He had no idea how long it had been since they had been injured, but from the distance the scent had travelled, he had to assume that it had been at least an hour.
He rushed to Sevis and his Tribesman, the dust kicking up as he came to stand by the sight of the attack. Because it had clearly been an attack.
The Horses were dead, claw and tooth marks scattering their bodies, as well as the occasional half dismembered limb. They had died in a truly terrifying way. Sevis, Jahelo and Kaelan were alive, but barely.
They two were riddled with bite marks and great scratches that tore through muscle to bone. Aegin stepped forward to help them when the hunger within him reared up at the shear amount of blood on display.
Red eyes glowing and his fangs extending, Aegin turned his back on the wounded Tribesman.
This was not the time or the place. These people who had let him stay with them and had not condemned him for his nature…they had done nothing to warrant him taking the last of their lives. They'd done the opposite.
The Hunger reared up again at a blast of wind but Aegin shoved it back down. He would hunt later. Probably more than he should. Now he needed to take these men back and get them help.
Red eyes still glowing with his barely contained hunger, Aegin went to Sevis and heaved him up.
It took him only a few minutes to ferry Sevis back, and he made a lot of commotion there when he did, insisting on the healers attending to Sevis and preparing to receive the others.
Each time he carried another with blood dripping from their open wounds, his hunger dulled, and Aegin was able to take in more from the scene of the attack.
Their weapons were drawn, but no blood coated them, with the exceptions of a few spatters of their own. There were no footprints. Not even a scent.
It smelled only of the desert and the blood of the victims. Aegin found himself frustrated, long after he'd left the scene behind for the last time. If he could not determine who had attacked, he could not hunt them down.
"Aegin," Cara pulled him aside in the hour just before dawn as the healers finally stabilised the three warriors. Not all of them were completely out of the woods though, "What happened?"
Aegin turned to the side, noticing that the Chieftain and his two suns stood waiting, along with the large man from the original meeting he had with the Chieftain, no doubt the leader of his warriors.
"I found them out on the North-Western Border, bloody, beaten and their horses already dead," Aegin said, "They had drawn their weapons, but the only blood on those were spatters of their own. There were no tracks, no remnant of a foreign scent…it was like whoever or whatever did it appeared and disappeared just as quickly".
The Chieftain frowned.
"Sounds like Sand Devils," Cara said solemnly.
Aegin frowned, "Sand Devils?"
He'd never heard the term before.
Cara looked at the Chieftain who nodded his permission. She turned back to Aegin to explain, "It's an old story among the Northern Tribes. A tale told to stop young children from wondering out from the village too far. Though, those of us with a bit more experience can claim to have heard word of their real-life horrors. We are not entirely sure what they are, because so few live from the attacks. But those few who do describe creatures who resemble some kind of dog and cat hybrid. A creature made from the sand of the desert with eyes like blue stars. They tend to foreshadow harsh times for a Tribe. The more terrible the attack, the worse the event to come".
Aegin sighed, "No wonder I couldn't smell them. If they were made from sound I wouldn't have been able to track them in a desert".
"Indeed," said the Chieftain, "Though I would not wish even you to meet with one of their number anyway".
Aegin raised an eyebrow.
The Chieftain shrugged, "You cannot fight the Sand Devils. They are made of sand, so being cut with a blade or smashed with a boulder or any attempt to harm their bodies will be futile. The only time they ever seem solid is in the split second they attack, and even then, it is only their teeth and claws".
"So, we can do nothing?" Aegin frowned.
The Chieftain sighed, "We can prepare. Whatever their reason for attacking, it will surely be followed by something worse soon enough".
*Eldovian Era 1713, 7th day of the 4th month*
The following night, Aegin again encountered a group of Tribesman that had been slaughtered. But this group were long dead, their corpses already beginning to rot and dry out in the heat of the days. On the third day he expanded his search, and found two more groups. He returned on the fourth day to find that his absence had cost a group of Red-Eyed Snake Tribesman their lives.
"If this is happening everywhere in the north…" Rima speculated as Aegin told her and Tigin what he had found, "Does that not mean that whatever is being foretold is far worse than the Tribesman are comprehending?"
"They won't be prepared enough," Tigin concluded, "For whatever is coming".
"But what is coming?" asked Aegin, "I can't find any indication of that. It is as if it's just some skilled assassins causing cha-"
Aegin paused, then he frowned. Chaos. It was Chaos.
Rima's eyes bore into him, "What did you just figure out?"
Aegin's frown relaxed, "Nothing, don't know what you're on about".
Rima pointed at him, "Don't lie. And don't go off and try to handle everything on your own".
Aegin sighed, "I really don't-"
There was a knock on the door. Aegin jumped at the opportunity to open it, only to pause upon seeing the wounded Sevis in the doorway, still bandaged.
Rima stood quickly to chastise him, "Sevis! You should be resting!"
"Not you too," Sevis huffed as he came in, "I was hoping outsiders would have less sympathy for me and try to look at the bigger picture".
Sevis turned to look at Aegin, "I heard from Cara, you found more groups".
Aegin nodded, "Six others. Scattered around the edges of the dunes".
Sevis frowned, "That's suspicious".
Aegin awkwardly turned away.
"I've got an idea," said Sevis, "But we can't tell my father".
Tigin sighed, "I'm not sure I'm comfortable with-"
"What's the plan?" asked Aegin.