302 The Devils in the Dunes I
*Eldovian Era 1713, 10th day of the 4th month*
Rima looked out over the sand dunes beyond the border of the Tribe's territory with trepidation. Tigin's hesitation had probably been right. It usually was. It was how the two of them had survived so long in the city. But Aegin and Sevis had been so sure.
Still, as she looked across at the two of them, one on a horse and other standing beside him, she couldn't help but think that they should have at least left a note.
She gave a heavy sigh to catch the others' attention, "This is a stupid plan".
"It's a good plan, you're just nervous because you're the bait," Aegin stated helpfully.
"Those things, whatever they are, have torn up at least twenty people in the last week, and that's just those you found," said Rima, "I have every right to be nervous". She gave a side glance at Sevis, who, despite his wounds, sat tall on his horse with a relaxed readiness that made her think he was either overly brave, or overly stupid. Probably both considering he was trying to get a second encounter with these Sand Devils out of this plan.
"Alright, I'll be nearby, have fun camping," said Aegin.
Then he vanished in a cloud of dust, and the darkness of the desert night seemed to close in just that tiny bit more with his absence.
Sevis flicked the reins of his horse and horse trotted forward into the sand dunes.
Tigin looked at Rima, "If we die, I'm blaming you. You know that, right?"
Rima frowned, "It's not my stupid plan".
"It was your plan to come here in the first place, granted, it wasn't stupid at the time, but it's got us here, so stupid nonetheless," Tigin argued.
Rima pouted, "That's the first complaint I've heard from you about it, so I guess I can take it as you blaming Aegin and Sevis but not wanting to say it to their faces because they can beat you up?"
Tigin turned away, refusing to say anything. Rima nodded in silent confirmation of her accusations.
They continued into the dunes for about half an hour, until the flatlands were hard to make out in the distance with the moon high above them. With nothing to cast shadows but the dunes, and themselves, it was a lot easier to see at night.
Sevis paused and dismounted, "Here will do".
Rima released a breath of relief. She really didn't want to go any further out of the imaginary safe zone. At least she thought it may be a safe zone. The Sand Devils were only attacking those on the edge of the wastelands, so perhaps it could be them trying to claim territory. If they were intelligent at least, she was sure that was what they would try to do.
Tigin set to work with lying out a couple of sleeping mats and setting out a fire bit, Rima helping him as Sevis dealt with the horses. He seemed quite sad in doing so, but they had expected that the horses would be casualties even if they were spooked and ran.
Aegin's priority would be them after all.
When everything was set, the three of them sat in an awkward silence that was testament to the fact that none of them actually wanted to try and get some sleep lest they be slaughtered before seeing daylight again.
Finally, Sevis broke the silence with a simple question, "So, have you made progress with your throwing knives?"
Tigin looked surprised at moment, then sighed, "A little, Daeton is helping".
Daeton was one of the Warriors at the Tribe. He'd taken one look at Tigin's technique and started making adjustments to help him out. It became clear to both Rima and Tigin after they started getting help from the Tribe that Aegin's style of teaching was…questionable. The Tribesman had admitted that his methods were not wrong, they just relied on those training being highly focused and determined on the goal. And, something which had at first disturbed them, though had not exactly surprised them, Aegin's methods of training were similar to those of young children training to be assassins.
That past that Aegin rarely spoke about suddenly made a whole lot more sense.
Sevis nodded, in acknowledgement, then turned to Rima, "From what I hear, you manage to wield a sword pretty well for your first time the other day. Perhaps the Vampire's methods were not all terrible".
Rima felt just the smallest swell of pride within her thanks to that compliment from one of the Tribe's best Warriors.
"Do you think Aegin is right?" asked Rima in the silence.
The two young men turned to her.
"Do you think it's the work of a Djinn?" asked Rima.
Silence greeted her for a moment before Sevis pulled out a large dagger from his belt and rested it by his head, "If it is, it can't be good".
Tigin and Rima turned to him for further explanation.
"Where there is a Djinn, there is always someone making wishes," said Sevis, "And for someone to wish for this…we won't live in peace for long if that is the case".
"The peace is already gone," said Rima, "It was gone for moment you were attached on your own land, wasn't it?"
Sevis met her gaze a moment, then nodded reluctantly, "Whoever is behind it will pay dearly".
"Does anyone even know how to kill a Djinn?" asked Tigin.
Sevis looked up in surprise, "I…No…we don't kill those on a path of Chaos, it…it throws the world off balance".
"From what Aegin has said, the world is already off balance, it has been for a long time," Rima said, "Maybe by killing one bad Djinn, we'll throw it into balance once more".
"Or it could get worse," said Sevis. He shook his head, "Only those chosen should fight each other. We should not get involved, lest we harm the world, or ourselves".
"Then we either wait for Aegin to kill it, that's assuming he can, or we just have to live with whatever the Djinn throws our way?" asked Tigin.
"The Hava Rastellan is not a place where life can be lived in ease, there are endings and beginnings, cruelty and kindness, such is the life of those who live here. If you are to treat this as your new home, I suggest you get used to that," said Sevis.
Rima frowned, "I thought your Tribesman didn't like us Half-Bloods, even if our Tribesman Half is from a Tribe like the Blue Suns".
Sevis sighed, "What can I say, you've grown on us".
A howl rose up in the distance, and their heads snapped towards the sound.
Sevis clenched his knife, "Get up, they're close".
Rima turned to scan the horizon behind them. Then her eyes landed on the huge, beast-like outlines that seemed to shift in the night, and the glowing blue star eyes.
Aegin, if you're late I'll kill you myself, she thought, balance of the world be damned!