The nights in the desert were cold.
A lone figure sailed across the dunes. The sands stretched endlessly below him, like still waves. Dust trailed behind him in a long line, but only the stars in the sky above were close enough to see the path he took.
With both hands Sandhailer held on to the wooden rudder used to steer the triangular sail. He was perched on a simple platform atop two wooden skids. The elevation allowed him to see what laid beyond the next dune, his lichen eyes intently focussed on what came next.
A silver charm around his wrist spun hastily, pulsing with faint magic. Winds stirred up his cloak as he was pushed onto the next dune. He manipulated the sail with a firm tug to adjust to the strong gale.
Despite being cloaked in grey cloth, which covered all of his body except for his eyes, the chill of night set in. A frigid breeze crawled up underneath the fabric and left bitter stings through the sweat on his back. He shuddered.
His gaze flicked to the silver charm. Its magic extinguished now his focus faded. The frantic spinning eased into a gentle swing.
Slowly the sailer came to a halt along the side of a dune.
Sandhailer kicked out the last embers of a small fire. He buried a sealed pot atop the coals, which would slowly cook his breakfast during the night: that way he would get the most use out of his sparse firewood.
Now the light of the flame had dissipated, he cast a glance up to the stars. The Purple Serpent wound through faint nebulous violet, and it’s forked tongue marked Jawhara – the city he was headed for.
He pulled a parchment letter, adorned with the red wax seal and gold-thread ribbon of the Emperor of Yalmae, from one of his pouches. His mission was to cross the desert, and hand over the letter before the next full moon.
But such a journey required rest.
A few meagre hours later, he stirred from dreamless sleep. He pushed the sandy tarp spanned across the curved skids of the sandsailer aside, which sent the fine grains up into the air. The sun had not yet risen, and the heat of the previous day had long since fled from the sands.
On his hands and feet he crawled out, before shaking the dust off of his grey clothes. A pale blue band on the horizon announced dawn, and with it would come raging heat.
He hastily ate breakfast. The simple porridge was warm and filling, and he made sure to eat everything, going so far as to scrape the pot clean. Rather than use precious water, which could save his life in a pinch, he used a spare piece of cloth to clean the pan out.
With nothing left to do, he fastened himself to the mast of the sandsailer and prepared to set out again. He loosened the silver and white crystal pendant. It spun, faster and faster. A pulse of faint magic rose.
The winds stirred, chasing loose granules across the side of the dune. And then the magic hailed strong tempests. The sail bulged. The craft rapidly picked up speed.
He darted through the desert, skipping across the dunes. Sand burst up on every hit; up so high the sun cast mists of gold. With iron focus Sandhailer manipulated the sail. Silently he bore the impacts of eternal waves of sand; and the knowledge that he had an arduous journey through unforgiving solitude ahead of him.