Chapter 2

            Zire woke the next day with pain in his stomach and what seemed like dust in his throat. “I am turning into one of them” he said, a false thought that made him shudder. He sat up and examined himself. His long lanky build was becoming gaunter as the days went by. The smooth brown skin that he had once prided himself upon was beginning to feel a bit leathery. His face was a mask of dirt for he dared not spare any water to try and wash it off.

            The sun was shining bright overhead and from his ledge atop the boulder Zire saw only more desert. Not surprised he reached to his side where he had placed his shoulder bag before he fell asleep the night before. In there were the provisions that the Meusal enforcers had provided him or at least what was left of them. His canteen was less then a quarter filled while his food supply was reduced to a few slices of stale bread.

            He wondered how much longer he would last as he took a short sip of water to quench his undying thirst. It was not looking good. The Alreah seemed endless and it was nothing short of discouraging for the starving and thirsty Zire. He knew he had to find more provisions today and fast.

            The descent down the large boulder proved to be much more difficult than the climb up. Zire felt weaker today than he did yesterday, a trend that was growing harder and harder to deal with. He lost his footing a few times going down, opening some scabs on the bottom of his feet that had healed overnight. Somehow he made it to ground level without killing himself. “How unfortunate” he joked, but no one laughed.

            He stood at the base of the boulder for a moment trying to decide what to do next. I should continue toward the Kaus, he guessed. And so Zire limbed on, huffing and puffing with every step, towards the Kaus Mountains in the distance that seemed no closer to him than when he first started. Beads of sweat ran down his face and neck into the rags that had once been decent clothing. His muscles ached and his knees creaked and groaned with every stride he took. He found himself thinking of when he was a child in Meusal, playing in the public fountains with the other children. There were no fountains in the Alreah though and no water for that matter either.

            Around midday he reached the top of a sand dune and stopped. The sun was directly overhead, beating down upon him and his head throbbed in return. He peered down upon the valley below and what he saw made his eyes grow wide. There was a tent of some sort in the distance. “YES!” Zire screamed as he made his way down the dune. He felt a sense of relief for the first time in a long time.

 Reaching the base of the valley he began to limp as quickly as he could toward the tent. A smile gleamed on his dirt-covered face as he hobbled along getting closer and closer passing a large rock covered in sand and salt not ten yards away from his prize. Something was wrong though. Zire felt a presence and heard sand moving behind him. Before he could turn around something batted him across the head, sending him face first into the sand. The last thing he saw before he fell unconscious was the tent that he thought might save his life.

The End

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