They had only halted around noon, avoiding the unforgiving heat of those searing hours in the relative shade of a lone, red rock. The Patriarch was a man of Hammerfell, as Sahar was its daughter, and the three men Tecca had chosen to come with them on this chase were Redguards as well. Even so, certain hours were not for travelling under an open sky. Not in these lands.
Sahar tugged the leather reins slightly, and Dusk came to a stop on top of the massive red dune they had just scaled together. At the bottom, the four other men remained, waiting for her judgement. She tugged the cloth, which covered her mouth to protect her lungs from the fine dust, away from her face. She narrowed her eyes, staring at the miles and miles of sand below and in front of her. In the west, the orange orb of the sun was setting, colouring the sky into a spectrum of rose-tinted colours, shot with gold. She would have loved to stand there and drink it in, like she so often did on her journeys, but now was not the time. She licked her lips, dry as they were, watching the trails. Faint, but noticable. Her honey-coloured pupils followed the ribbon of prints, further and further away from the dune, until it forced her to lift her chin and watch the formation of rocks in the distance. She clenched her jaw, her full lips pursing in dismay. I should have known that... Dusk snorted as she dug her heels into his flanks. The black stallion ran down the dune again, a ship of black velvet in a sea of gold, carrying Sahar and the bad news.
They made camp for the night in a small combe between hills of sand, disturbed by nothing but the occasional hare and the trio of dead cacti in the middle. As the three others fed the horses and started yet another modest fire that would barely warm their bones as soon as the cold of night would set in, the Patriarch walked to the top of the hill. Sahar stood there, looking east. As he joined her, panting slightly, he uncorked his hipflask and poured water into his neck. Sahar did not turn her gaze from the horizon.
“You can tell me now.”
“It's obviously not good, Patriarch.”
“They did what I feared they would do, though I hoped they'd be both stupid and greedy enough to ride for the oasis to the south. They went for the mountains instead.”
She paused, pointing to the red formation ahead of them. “Beyond those mountains there's a small plain. My bet is that their camp is right there. Any further would be idiotic; the wastes go on for miles.”
Tecca groaned. “So we chased them down, finally.”
“We did, and now we have a problem. Those mountains...” Sahar nodded towards the red monsters. “... A beehive of stone, those. Easy to climb and even easier to put an army of lookouts and archers up there. Approach those bloody rocks, and you have a bolt in your throat before you can creak for a parley. We can't go around, either. It would take days.”
She finally pulled her gaze from their shared view and looked at the Patriarch, who stared at the mountains with an agitated expression. Sahar folded her arms across her chest and shifted her weight to the other hip, the slight movement as always accompanied by the faint jingle of her attire. “Time to accept that my way will be better, Patriarch.”
“It's suicidal, Sahar.”
“Perhaps. But less so than attempting to sneak past that wall with the five of us. If you'd go with my suggestion, we stand a chance.”
He didn't look at her, his stern face reserved for what lay ahead. She sighed, lowering her voice.
“Just me, and one other, in the manner we spoke about. The others must wait here, with the horses. It's close enough, if all goes well.”
The Patriarch bristled at those words, snarling like a wolf as he looked over his shoulder before he leaned in and glared at her, his voice huskily low.
“If it all goes well, if! I called your plan suicidal already, Sahar. It's not--” He broke off, shaking his head, and looked away once more. “If they even take the bait, you'll likely have to wait for a bit until the time is right, in whatever hellhole they will dump you. What happens to you in the mean time, hm? What do you think that scum will do to a woman such as y--” Again, he stopped. Just in time, along with an annoyed headshake. Sahar smiled to herself, though she made sure he did not see.
“Those men beyond those mountains, they're tired, Patriarch. Wary and on edge, facing the wastes beyond their camp. Their minds are not set on manly sport, not now.”
“And whilst you're in there, I need to keep them believing I'm good to stay in that wretched camp. It's insane.”
Sahar blinked, caught off guard. She looked at Tecca, tracing him with her eyes and a questioning brow. “You?”
Again, the Patriarch bristled. If it weren't for the fact they had to keep quiet, Sahar was certain he'd have dropped his usual calmth in that moment to raise his voice at her. Instead, he stared her in the eye. “Yes, me. If we are truly doing this, I will do it myself. I'm not letting you go in there by yourself.”
A silence followed. She arched both her eyebrows slightly, one corner of her mouth curling upwards. Tecca looked at her furiously, and then abruptly turned around and walked down the hill again, to the small fire. Sahar slowly turned to follow him with her eyes, her arms still crossed over her chest. Then, she saw how he halted, suddenly pointing back at her.
“You better take off all those baubles you constantly wear, before we go.”
She smirked, surpressing a chuckle. “Of course. I'm not stupid, Patriarch.”
He glared at her, and then walked on.
Tonight, he clearly disagreed.
This post was last modified: September 3rd 2013 04:36 AM by Triskele