Horim sat with one hand on the woman’s head while the other
was held over a pile of sand that was resting on her stomach. Yara was sitting
beside him humming a little while Magala and Girah were keeping watch. Girah
glanced back at them, seeing Horim gesture gently over the sand and a layer of
it flowed away to some part of the woman that was wounded. He knew that once it
reached the wound, Horim would utilize his gift and the sand would merge in the
woman and become whole flesh again. He had been the subject of Horim’s gift many
times before but it still never failed to awe him at seeing it done. He turned
back to face the desert.
“How long again before we have to move?” Magala asked. He bent to touch his hands to the sand.
“About ten minutes,” he replied getting up and dusting his hands off. Magala turned her head slightly toward Horim who answered without looking back at her.
“I’m am…” he paused for a few seconds, “done.” With that he pulled both hands together palm against palm and then slapped his hands hard down onto the woman’s body; one on her chest and the other on the stomach. The woman let out a long, wheezing gasp, arched high in the air then dropped limply back to the sand. Magala and Girah moved to close in the circle, walking backwards so that they would not take their eyes off the desert. The woman was awake and breathing in short, soft gasps which lengthened out into deep even breaths and then she sat up. She extended her arms, clenching her fists, rotating her shoulders, twisting from side to side and finally got to her feet.
“It’s just like I remember you doing it,” she said in awe, “I had forgotten how good you were at this Horim.” Then she spun to face Magala, who had her arm extended to the side with a sand blade already formed and waiting to be used. “I am not your enemy here, Magala. We are still on the same side.” Magala said nothing. Yara stood up and took Magala’s free hand.
“She speaks the truth,” she said, “She is not our enemy here.” Yara turned to face the woman, “But elsewhere.” She paused, cocked her head as if listening to something very far away, “But elsewhen. Another time. In another place.”
“If you will become our enemy,” Magala said, “Why have you come here? To kill us? And from when have you come?”
The woman swallowed hard and all at once seemed to grow small and frail. “The story is not an easy one to tell…” she began then Girah held a hand up. He dropped to the sand placing both palms flat.
“Something is coming,” he said, looking out into the darkness, “And it isn’t something I know.”
Both Yara and the woman spoke at the same time, “Black Sand.”
Then they all saw it. A shadow running across the sand but the moonlight that fell on it seemed to just sink into it. There was no change in the shadow from the angles of the sand dunes that it flowed over. It was simply an all compassing darkness. It flowed till it was but a few feet away from them and then it began to bubble. The woman hissed and spoke urgently.
“Come closer to me, take hold of each other’s hands. Do it now!” Magala glared at her but nodded to Yara. Yara took hold of Horim who took hold of Girah. The woman stepped to face Magala. “I know you don’t trust me but right now I am the only one that can get us out of here. I promise that I will explain everything once we are safe. Please. If you don’t come with me, everything is lost.” Magala narrowed her eyes and glanced at Yara. The younger girl nodded. The woman held her hand out for Magala to hold.
“If you betray my trust,” Magala said returning the sand blade to a bracelet and taking the woman’s hand, “I will bury you.” The woman shuddered as she took Magala’s hand.
“I know,” she said as she reached into a pouch and pulled out a handful of gold coloured sand, “I’ve seen you do it.” Then she cast one look back at the Black Sand that was now forming into shapes. “We must run,” she said and began running. Magala saw the woman hold her hand in front of her and a fine line of gold sand began to fall. The sand beneath their feet began to shift and swirl, just like before when the woman appeared out of the funnel. Then then the sand began to lift around them, funneling faster and faster, going up into a peak, Magala turned her gaze from the funnel and saw that the fine line of sand was coming to an end. When the last of the sand dropped from the Woman’s hands the funnel bust apart and they were standing in a large stone courtyard.
“Where are we?” Horim asked as the woman collapsed to her knees. Yara was the once who answered.
“No,” she said softly, “When are we?”