This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
The vast desert region of Mul. A place once blooming with life and culture now reduced to scattered villages, many miles apart and completely out of contact from one another. Clay buildings rarely ever more than one story tall. Countless children left without parents. Barely enough water and food for the people. The Enkidu, the horned beast people of the desert, spend their days toiling away in the sand, looking for lost treasures. Pottery, crumbled walls, old tombs, treasures. Anything at all that proves that they were once an important civilization.
However in one of these villages, one without so much as a name, there were two odd children rushing out of the orphanage. The one taking the lead was a rowdy and energetic girl named Adelia. Her unkempt long hair was bound in a messy ponytail and she wore and ragged blue cloak riddled with patches and holes. Despite this, she was the picture of joy. Perhaps in relation to the poor boy in the white cape she is dragging along to somewhere, seemingly against his will. That young boy being Zaahir, a very introverted and inarticulate child. As such, he has some trouble saying “No” to certain actions. No matter how impulsive and ill-planned they may be. Not that he’d want to speak up or make a scene anyway. He always felt a little self conscious because of his two horns, and being with a bombastic person like Adelia only directs attention towards him even more.
“We have to do it anyway or else, right? So come on! Quit acting like it’s the end of the freakin’ world and just treasure hunt with me! It’ll be fun!” Adelia said as she continued to pull her friend along.
Zaahir huffed in frustration. “But everyone picks on me because you’re always dragging me around every day! ‘Oh what are those two doing again? I think Adelia found mound of sand that she thought was cool!’ The only place you don’t drag me along to is the bathroom but I predict one of these days that will change too”.
Adelia frowns for a moment and sticks her nose up. “Those guys can bite me! You shouldn’t listen to what they say anyway. It ain’t healthy.”
“Why me though!?” He looks back at the orphanage down the street. “Couldn’t you have picked any other kid at the orphanage? Like what about Alim? He’s fun, right?”
Adelia scoffs incredulously at that notion. “Come on, Zaahir. You know all those kids suck! I punch them once and they run away from me. You’re different. We’re like kindred spirits, ya know?”
Zaahir is clearly flustered by the comment. “I know, but you don’t have to treat me like a lost puppy all the time, Addy!” he shouts out a bit too loudly. The other people on the street pause for a moment and stare in their direction. They begin muttering to each other. Zaahir is embarrassed beyond words and shrinks away.
“Hey now! Mind your own business and quit your staring!” Adelia Shakes her fist at the onlookers. “I can give painful charley horses ya know!” she yells with determination. The people just roll their eyes and continue their business once more.
Adelia smiles and holds on her hand to Zaahir. He looks to the side shyly and grabs her hand. He holds on tight and this time follows her lead willingly.
After a few minutes, they arrive at the edge of the village. In front of them is the endless desert they’re surrounded by. Vast and seemingly empty. Zaahir sweats with nervousness. “Looks kinda...vast? And seemingly empty? Are you sure we should do this by ourselves? I’m going to just get Johan-”
Adelia puts on an exaggerated and dumbfounded expression. “Johan? Johan!?” She puts her hands on Zaahir’s shoulders. “What, are you married to Johan? Is he your mom?” She gets even closer. “Are you his conjoined twin now!?”
Zaahir ponders for a moment. “Uh well he IS our guardian so I guess he’s like a mom…”
Adelia rolls her eyes and sighs “We can’t just keep letting Johan do this for us every year. Eventually, he’ll be too old and then what? BAM, down the creek without a paddle! That’s what, buddy!”
“But we live in the desert” Zaahir says naively.
Adelia smacks him in the shoulder. “It’s not a real creek, dummy! It’s a fake one I made up! Like a figment of speech or whatever!”
Zaahir groans in uncertainty but follows her deeper into the desert anyway. After a few minutes of walking, the village is only a blurred distant shape. Adelia stops and takes a look around. She wets her finger in her mouth and sticks it up. Although no wind is currently blowing.
“Hmm, guess this means I’ll go this way and you’ll go that way!” Adelia says with purpose.
Zaahir is slightly confused “Wait, which way do I go?”
Adelia points in a direction “That way, duh.”
“Hold on, we’re gonna split up? I’m not sure how safe this is, Addy.” Zaahir says worriedly.
“Come on, you of all people can handle a sand wolf, heck maybe even a sand BEAR with your cool glowy psychic magic!”
Zaahir frowns and looks down at his hand “It’s not that cool. You could probably do it too if you tried” he mumbles too quietly to be heard.
Adelia pats Zaahir on the shoulder. “Alright, see ya in an hour, buddy!”
She waves and runs off. For a moment, Zaahir stares vacantly at his friend as she scurries away. 20 seconds pass. He shakes his head and runs off as well. An hour passes and Zaahir is just moping around the empty desert, kicking up sand and grumbling to himself.
“Hmph, I knew it. I get bossed around. I come out here and find NOTHING. Now I gotta go home and get picked on again…” Just as he’s about to kick more sand in frustration, he noticed a tiny lizard standing on something.
A piece of stone jutting a foot from the ground. Curious, Zaahir crouches down and examines it more carefully. The lizard jumps away and digs into the sand. Zaahir holds his hand out and it begins to glow a dim pink, as does his horns. He waves his hand and a little bit of the sand around the stone structure is pushed away. He keeps at it until what appears to be the top of a door frame is uncovered. His shadow is stretched across the the entrance as the sun sets behind him. Just then he realizes how late it’s gotten.
“Figures, just when I find something interesting!” he mutters. Nevertheless, he runs back towards the rendezvous point. Zaahir squints as he sees Adelia in the distance. She seems to be carrying a pot half her size. Adelia waves heartily. Zaahir just frowns.
“Zaahir! I got some stuff, look!” She yells incredibly loudly with the clay pot pressed against her face.
Zaahir sighs and looks down. “That’s uh really cool, Addy”.
Adelia giggles and sets the pot down. “I knew you wouldn’t find anything-”
“Gee, thanks for the trust and support.” Zaahir says as he crosses his arms grumpily.
“So I found this thingy!” Adelia holds up a strange prism object floating just above her hand. A beautiful rose colored light emanates from it in the moonlight. Both children are completely covered in the glow. Adelia grins ear to ear. “It’s super neato and it floats AND it’s pink! Go on, it’s yours!”
Zaahir puts his hands around it and it begins spinning. He smiles vividly for a moment, but then quickly shoves it in his cloak and scratches his nose nervously. “Uh yeah that’s pretty neat, I guess” he says trying to be cool.
Adelia elbows Zaahir a few times “I knew it’d tickle your fancy, heehee! Let’s get on home now, whaddya say?” Zaahir nods and the two run back towards their village. The moon is almost full behind them.
Just outside the orphanage, Johan, an older Enkidu wearing stately white robes is impatiently waiting by the door. He worriedly looks left and right. The two kids turn a corner and begin walking toward Johan and he sighs in relief, but is immediately taken aback by the large pottery Adelia seems to be carrying.
“-and I tried tying it back on with twine,” Adelia prattles on to Zaahir “but she started crying even harder and- Oh hey, Johan! We got some stuff!”
“I see that, Adelia. What uh exactly is this you brought here?” Johan says with morbid curiosity.
“Our offering, I think?” Zaahir says while scratching his head.
Adelia puts on a smug grin “Pretty sweet, huh? Now you don’t have to work as hard every solstice!” she says with confidence.
Johan crosses his arms in a fatherly manner. “I suppose I’m proud, but you really shouldn’t head out of the village without permission! It’s close to the solstice so there might be...scouts near the area in preparation.”
Hearing the scolding, a young girl with a scarf poorly wrapped around her face comes up behind Johan and tugs his robes for attention. “Father Johan, those boys over there keep telling scary stories about the Wendigoes. We tried throwing rocks, but Amam just ate them all!”
Johan crouches down and begins gently fixing her scarf. “Taking the Wendigoes so lightly eh? Well, tell those boys that maybe they want to go out and find their offerings themselves!” He chuckles and pats her on the back.
Behind Johan, Adelia is waving frantically with her free hand. “Hey Yasmin! How’s the doll doing?” She drops pot to the ground with a large thud and get’s right in front of Yasmin. “Did the twine work out or nah? I figure it did though.”
Yasmin’s expression goes from worried to frowning immediately. “Oh uh, hey Adelia. My doll is...fine now. Thanks.”
Adelia smacks her on the back “Whew, what a relief!” She puts her arm around Yasmin’s shoulder. “Glad we can still be friends after all is said and done!”
“Oh yay, couldn’t be happier…” Yasmin says as insincere as possible.
Adelia lets go and walks past Johan and Yasmin “Anyway, great chat we have going here,” She yawns and overdramatically stretches “but I need some ol shut eye. Rifling through the sand is exhausting.”
“Wait, Addy-” Zaahir blurts out. “Thank you. For the uh gift I mean. I mean, it’s not really a gift gift but I just- ya know. Thanks a lot.” he sputters awkwardly.
“No problem, and thanks for tagging along with me. You really are a great adventuring partner” Adelia say with a goofy grin.
She runs off to the bedrooms, but before Zaahir can follow he’s stopped by Johan.
“So, what IS this gift your were talking about, Zaahir?” Johan asks sternly.
Zaahir swallows a lump in his throat. “Just this thing, sir” He holds out the pink prism and it glows vibrantly like before. “She got it for me...to use as my offering.”
Johan is captivated “Well, that thing certainly is quite beautiful. Too bad those horrid beasts won’t be able to appreciate it.”
“Yeah, I guess so” Zaahir says dejectedly.
“As long as you remember her act of kindness though, it shouldn’t be too bad giving it up, right? She may be rowdy and doesn’t exactly appreciate personal space, but you got a good friend, Zaahir.” Johan smiles softly and ruffles Zaahir’s hair.
Zaahir smiles as well and heads off to the bedroom. Underneath his covers, he pulls the prism out one last time and holds it to his chest before falling asleep.
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