Hills of grainy amber rise all around as Kalid strides majestically across the open dune,
hoofs making their way through treacherous sand with ease.
A prouder stallion there never was, brave and proud as the Wandering King, with sand storms causing him only the slightest of hesitations.
I ride easily atop the strong steed, reins of the inane Rafiq close at hand in case he wanders off again, taking the pack upon his hump with him into the sands.
The sun's fire burns from above, scorching and blinding as we crest a ridge, my sword bouncing loosely at my hip, and Kalid snorts approval at the scene below.
We stand proudly before an oasis, towering upon the mighty hill, a fearsome group are we, the rogue warrior three.
Kalid, the brave and magnificent stallion, Rafiq, the childish but loyal and friendly camel, and Akbar, rogue warrior searching for my stolen lover across all the desert.
My love, we are coming, if ever so slowly. The tribes have scattered the trails, leaving little to track you by, but alas, I pursue regardless. I shall slay any who stand between us, even the Yemeni merchants, if they disrupt my pursuit. The sweet embrace, the scented oils on your skin, the warmth of your bed, it is worth the lives of thousands. I grow closer, but never seem to reach you, though fret not my love, I am coming.
Kalid impatiently flicks his head as Rafiq clumsily makes his way down the sands, towards his first water in many moons, though he could last quite a few more.
Tents dot the land nearest the treasured water, square and dark against the light, grainy sand beneath, as camels and horses kick the sand under their hooves.
Bands of travelers, anchorites, and merchants scattered like colocynths after a fierce storm, they run about, filling with water and trading product for cowries.
I feel eyes upon me as Kalid gallantly pushes through towards the water, unafraid of the heavily armed men surrounding our every side.
Rafiq raises his head as we near the water, his shyness evaporating as the sight of water reaches his gleeful eyes, his feet bouncing happily off the sand.
As Rafiq drinks his fill, I look for a suitable place to pitch a tent, surveying the people and their animals as I search the area around the oasis.
Then I see something that sets my innards afire, the sigil of the Tultakar, chieftain of the D'arburak, the tribe who stole from me my love.
Arms blazing with the fury of the daytime sun, my hands draw towards the sword on my hip, ready to draw and fight until death takes the loser.
Then Kalid snorts and nudges with me with his head, bleating and stomping his hoof softly into the sand beneath him, meeting my gaze with serious look.
Shaking his head, Kalid holds his gaze and I feel my rage lessen, no longer threatening to carry me off to battle unprepared, the fury of the sand storm within subsided.
I look closely and see nearly 30 men wearing the D'arburak mark, the scorpion on a desert rock, hot and gleaming beneath the relentless sun.