The next morning dawned cold and grey. My body was stiff from sitting on the tree branch all night. Why did I sleep like that? Then I remembered.
"Tas... wake up." I whispered up into the branches, not really wanting her to be awake. Down she came, her eyes red and her fists clenched. We walked over to what was left of the camp, scattered debris in a ring around the fire-gutted wagon. The footprints in the camp were confused and jumbled. Nothing to see here. So I widened my search, and sure enough, there were footprints that might have been eight or ten people, along with cart tracks. The cart looked like it had been carrying a lot of weight. The prints and tracks went across the road and into the desert, following the quickly dwindling stream.
I walked quietly over to Tas, who was crying again, holding a piece of cord with brightly colored beads tied to it.
"This was Tia's bracelet."
"Well then, we had better get it back to her." I said, tying it around her wrist. Then I handed her my dagger."Here, take this, you might need it."
"How will we find them?"
"There are tracks going off into the desert. After that, I don't know."
And so we walked off into the desert, hand in hand. Without a hope or a friend, just an emptiness, and the desperate need to fill that emptiness.