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The Shards of Glass

Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 8:17 pm
by Colin Smalls
The glass desert is not the friendliest of places.

In fact, it is a lifeless, barren wasteland populated by its own select brand of strange creatures who have somehow developed an ability to survive there. The local humanoids are no different. You won't find any similar anywhere else. People live off the sparse animal inhabitants and hardy crops which sprout around oasises (of which there are few).

The glass desert is so named (at least as is claimed by those who live there) due to the fact that here the sun is so strong, that walking across it is akin to stepping over shards of glass. Typical footwear will begin to smoke after several hours.

But the traveller doesn't seem to care. He is cloaked in white, his face and head protected and obscured by a sunveil. The only part of him exposed are his feet; bright red and peeling, crusted over with desert grit or muck. Yet he doesn't seem perturbed. It is not his first visit.

The traveller has been walking for two days. He carries nothing but a huge water-skin strapped to his back. He hunts the local wildlife indiscriminately, no matter how weird their appearance. He crafts resting holes within the firmer dunes, meticulously planning out and setting them up, ensuring they are free of predators before closing his eyes. This is clearly home.

On the third day he reaches his destination.

To an outsider, the scattering of animal hide tents and wigwams surrounding a depressed, lonely oasis would barely resemble a village. But in the Glass Desert, this is a bustling town.

The white-clad traveller is greeted by a young girl, dark-skinned and no more than twelve. She is confused at first, but when he removes the veil she squeals in delight and runs to him. They embrace, and the traveller gives her some water.

Once calmed, he asks her a question in her language, to which she nods, leading him to the largest tent in the camp. He smiles, patting her cheek before lifting the flap and disappearing inside.

The girl watches the tent for a few minutes. Her age makes her curious. But it also limits her attention-span, and she is quickly distracted.

The traveller stays in the large tent throughout the night. The locals whisper to each other in their guttural language, but they know better than to ask. And when the long, horrible screams begin, piercing the night, they know that the topic of conversation is well and truly over.

The traveller won't be staying long.