Desert Thirst Ch.10

  • The first days of the trek passed almost too quickly to be difficult. The Dominion had given chase, but Cyrus and his men knew that the elves would only risk venturing so far into the desert. In another circumstance it might have been the perfect time for an ambush, having strung the elves out across the dunes. But that was no longer a possibility. Scouts soon confirmed that the Dominion now moved entire battalions, bunched together in close formation and supported by a supply line that stretched all the way out of the desert. The Redguard camp, which had been formed as a warband of fifty men, now numbered less than half, and counted many wounded among their number. Their only hope for aid was weeks away to the north, and only if they could outlast the pursuing Dominion army.

    Alazir was surprised when, within hours of beginning their march one morning, Kotara appeared beside him, fresh ropes in hand.

    "You must be joking."

    "Would that I had such spirits, Alazir. The Dominion has never been this close to catching us. Cyrus errs on the side of caution. One wrong move on your part could be the death of us all, must be bound," Kotara replied, trying to let some empathy rise above the grim exhaustion in his voice.

    "According to Cyrus?" Alazir pressed, though he let Kotara tie the rope around his wrists. He wasn't sure what he would have done if he still had his axes, but he suspected that every other member of their camp, including Kotara, had equally little faith in him. Kotara did not try to hide it, either.

    "Tell me, Alazir," he said, tightening the knot of a loop around the beserker's chest and upper arms, "were it not for these cords, where would you go when night falls, with the elves in such close pursuit?"

    Alazir grunted as if the tug of the ropes bothered him.

    "You are predictable, Ugatka," Kotara finished, handing the trailing ends of the rope to one warrior each behind and in front of Alazir, "Just like the Rage you are named for, and I will tell you this: at the first sign that you will be a burden on our supplies, Cyrus will kill you."

    Alazir was puzzled only for a moment as he watched Kotara walk away. It was clear that Cyrus already believed he was a burden. It would have been simple to kill him and have done with it. Why not then? It dawned on him as an unusual gait in front of him caught his eye. It was the scout who had been wounded bringing them news of the Dominion expansion. And he wasn't the only one with a limp, or a sling, or a bloody bandage.

    Cyrus meant to triage the wounded. He would call upon their honor, to die so that their brethren could live, and abandon them in the desert. Alazir was more valuable, if the elves ever managed to catch up, and he knew that must have only made Cyrus hate him more. He knew that as the death-toll rose, Cyrus' hate would only grow. For Alazir, that was every bit as dangerous as the desert.

    For the rest of that day, as he trudged over the dunes and barren rocks he stared at Cyrus' back, half expecting that any moment he would turn around charge down the column to run him through. But he never so much as looked back except to see how the wounded were faring. When he did, Alazir would follow his gaze, assessing them himself. Much to his own disgust, he found himself gauging their chances of survival. This man, perhaps a week. That one, only a few days more.

    Their company walked on a knife's edge. It was a tension worse than sitting on the edge of battle. They had joined a new war, against an enemy that didn't need sleep or supplies to fight, nor blade or bow to kill. 


    .: Table of Contents :.


  • Borommakot
    Borommakot   ·  November 21, 2014
    Thanks for the support, Okan! To answer your questions, yeah, "have done with" is just an alternate form of "be done with", though a bit old fashioned. I can see what you mean with Kotara walking away. It does get rather choppy, I'll fix that. Hopefully t...  more
  • Okan-Zeeus
    Okan-Zeeus   ·  November 21, 2014
    Well written as always! I imagine by now that Alazir is pretty used to getting tied up, but nonetheless... It's an interesting repetition. That last sentence you ended the chapter on was brilliant, too. You're a genuine word-smith, Boro. 
    A few quic...  more