Sand Daughter: Part Four
Also by smurfafied1800
A Touch of Spite
When Immi awoke, she was amazed to find herself resting
in the shade of a palm tree, although its fronds were somewhat dry, paling to
a brown hue, parched from the desert's heat. She rubbed her forehead tiredly
- what had happened, how did she get here? She didn't walk with Rehkek, that
she knew for sure. Thinking back, she recalled the pounding of Uni hooves surrounding
her, and the Acara bandit heading straight towards her, swinging his sword at
her unprotected body…
And the voice.
The memory of it triggered a subtle pounding
in Immi's brain - who had been speaking to her? She remembered feeling fouled
by malice, being driven to obey the command to kill. Had she killed? She couldn't
recall. The Kacheek hung her head in confusion. "It was horrible," she murmured.
"That's all I remember."
"Finally awake!" spat a familiar voice. Rehkek
came striding towards her, arms folded. "Always going unconscious, stupid lump."
"You made me go unconscious the first
time, moron," she impudently reminded him. "Where are we anyway? And what happened
with those thieves?"
Rehkek felt his throat tighten. He was reluctant
to tell the girl how she'd suddenly become destructive, slaying the leading
bandit effortlessly. He peered at her intently. Maybe it was part of the reason
his master wanted her, or it could have possibly been the doing of his master
himself. Rehkek realized that he was showing some hesitation and quickly answered
her. "I lugged you around until we got to this spot - it's a little more moist
with an oasis nearby. I took care of the rest of those brigands - you… uh… passed
out. One of them struck you in the head."
"Oh," Immi quietly replied, a little absent-mindedly.
Then why did she remember that voice? She was about to mention it to Rehkek,
but stopped herself. It wasn't like he would listen to her concerns - all he
wanted was to get her to his employer, collect some kind of reward, and see
her murdered. He was the furthest thing she had from a friend right now. "Where's
the oasis?" she asked him instead. "I need a drink, maybe a bath."
"Right over there, but don't take to long - I
don't want to linger out here where even more thieves can have their way with
us." Looking over her shoulder, Immi caught sight of the sparkling water. Lifting
herself up with her aching limbs, she made her way over to the pool that promised
some temporary solace.
Immi slowly poked a toe into the water, drawing
back at the surprising coolness. She then realized that this was a blessing
instead of discomfort - this might be the last bath she would have. She pulled
off her t-shirt, tossing it to the side and discarding her watch. The Kacheek
sighed happily as she lowered herself into the cool water. "I hope animals don't
drink out of this," she mumbled softly, knowing that they did indeed. Immi took
a deep inhale and plunged headfirst into the cool water.
She swam under the surface for a while, contemplating
what had happened. That voice… she remembered it so vividly, the cold harsh
way it spoke, but she couldn't remember the words. She faintly remembered a
veil covering her eyes as the Acara swung his blade at her. Immi looked up and
broke the surface of the oasis. A squeal from the bushes alerted her of another
At first she thought that Rehkek had come to
tell her to hurry up (she would've told him to shut up and probably smack him
at this point), but she doubted that Rehkek would dare let himself squeal. Immi
was greeted with enormous surprise as a desert Aisha poked her head out of the
bushes. Immi breathed a sigh of relief, then jolted. It could be another bandit!
"W-who are you?!" she demanded. "I-if you're
a bandit, my friend is quite strong -" But the Aisha shook her head. She looked
extremely shy and timid, always poking her head out of the bush and yanking
it back in.
"M-my name is Khirelle," she finally whispered.
"From the desert city of Ku-Nur…" Immi's eyes widened. She rushed across the
water, scaring the heck out of the young Aisha, and grabbed her shoulders frantically.
"There's actually civilization around here?!"
"Y-yes," Khirelle stammered. "I came here to
fetch some water, but…um…"
"You're um… bathing in my city's water supply…"
Immi felt a slight flush of embarrassment at
being caught doing something so stupid. She'd probably contaminated the oasis
with sweat and grime. Even though it hadn't been perfectly clean to start with,
she wasn't improving the situation much. "Oh jeez!" she cried, running back
onto the ground and snatching up her shirt, which she pulled over her dripping
head hastily. "Sorry! I didn't know people used this place for stuff like that!"
Khirelle just nodded slightly, not entirely sure
how to answer this strange creature.
Then Immi had a thought: what if she asked Khirelle
to take her back to this Ku-Nur place, without Rehkek knowing! Although she'd
come to see that the other Kacheek wasn't what one would call evil, he still
had malicious intentions, meaning to hand her over to some bloodthirsty maniac
or something. She found herself feeling guilty sneaking away like this, but
she knew that in the long run, it would be for her own safety.
"Look, my name's Immi - I'm a traveller and I
got lost while I was, y'know, travelling, so would you mind taking me to your
city? I'd really appreciate it - I'm in a tight situation here."
The Aisha was too timid to refuse her, and nodded
a second time. "I'll take you there if you wish."
Immi glanced back a second time to where Rehkek
was waiting, feeling a little guilty. He had taken good care of her...
Immi shoved any good thoughts about him from her mind. He wasn't good at all!
She glanced back once again, sighing, and followed the Aisha.
"What's taking that moron so long?"
Rehkek waited impatiently in the hot desert sand.
The spotted Kacheek shuffled his feet around, sighing. "Stupid girl!" he hissed.
"Probably doing loads of dumb girly stuff... like fixing her hair or something!"
He stood up, storming towards the oasis.
"Girl!" he thundered, walking in and stopping.
Immi had enough temper to smack him if he interrupted her... the Kacheek grabbed
a large leaf and shielded his eyes.
"Girl?" he asked, stepping into the clearing.
No one answered. "Immi?" he asked, using her name for the first time. "Idiot,
where are you...?"
Rehkek risked being hit and removed the leaf
from in front of his eyes to find... nothing. The oasis was deserted. Cursing
loudly, Rehkek stumbled across the pool to the other side. He stared at the
damp ground, recognizing the footprints of a Kacheek and - he spent a few minutes
staring at the ground - an Aisha.
"Curse you, you idiot girl!" he roared, running
past the foliage. "When I find you, I'm gonna..." He paused for a second, knowing
he wouldn't be allowed to hurt her, "... I'm gonna get really mad!" he finished
rather lamely. "Stupid, stupid, STUPID girl...!"
Khirelle didn't know why Immi was in such a
hurry - the Kacheek was speeding ahead of her, politely urging her on when her
pace became too casually slow. She seemed afraid of something, as though she
was wary of pursuit.
"Come on!" Immi cried for the fourth time, "Can
we move a little quicker, please?"
"I…didn't know you were in…such a hurry," panted
"Sorry," apologized Immi briskly, unable to
come up with some kind of eligible excuse for her speed, "but I am!" The last
thing she wanted was for Rehkek to start tailing them - she'd look so untrustworthy,
giving the bounty hunter reason to not go so easy on her, and she would get
Khirelle in trouble too.
Immi's feet tingled uncomfortably against the
sun-scorched sands as she sped across them, not bothering to look back. Khirelle
was lagging behind, her frail frame less capable of swiftness than Immi's, and
the Kacheek realized that she wasn't going to get to far without her guide leading
the way, but reason was driven from her mind by the thought of being recaptured.
"WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU'RE GOING, GIRL?"
The cry came from behind them, and Immi felt
cold sweat break on her forehead. No! Rehkek had already caught up! She knew
that she'd never be able to outrun an experienced bounty hunter like the Spotted
Kacheek, but nevertheless she urged herself onward, her heart pounding more
with guilt than fear.
"Immi…" whimpered Khirelle from behind her.
"ARE YOU DEAF? STOP RIGHT NOW OR YOU'RE GOING
TO REGRET IT!"
The Cloud Kacheek kept running, but her pace
slowly became uncertain. It was Rehkek calling her, not some thief, or monster,
or some other kind of villain. It made no sense, that she would view a bounty
hunter who had been sent after her as though he was a friend she was frustrated
with. She collapsed onto her knees in the sand, stopping. She felt slight relief,
but wondered if she would live to regret what she had just done.
"YOU IDIOT! YOU THINK YOU CAN RUN OFF JUST 'CUZ
YOU FEEL LIKE IT?! I'D SKEWER YOU IF I DIDN'T HAVE A BOSS!"
Immi sighed; she was beginning to regret it
right now. Rehkek thundered over to her, obviously not winded from his run,
and began screaming more. Immi barely listened to him. The heat and the run
were getting to her...
"YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO RUN OFF, YOU KNOW! I THOUGHT
BANDITS CAME, YOU COULD'VE BEEN KIDNAPPED!" She jolted slightly. "You... were...
worried...?" Everything was getting blurry...
Rehkek caught himself in time to avoid embarrassment.
"Of course not! I have a job, remember?!" He blinked, noticing the girl's lack
of argument. "Girl?" Immi swayed uncertainly on the spot, then noticed something.
The young Kacheek... the assassin who'd assisted in killing her parents so long
ago... reminded... her... of...
Immi blacked out, falling face first into the
sand. Rehkek whirled around and glared at Khirelle, who cowardly backed away
in terror. "What's wrong with her?" he demanded. "The stupid girl's always fainting!"
"M-maybe..." Khirelle whispered, "t-the heat
has g-gotten to her...?"
Rehkek sniffed. "She's suddenly aware of the
heat then?" Khirelle paused at the snap and sarcasm, feeling somewhat flustered.
Rehkek turned, placing a paw at the Cloud Kacheek's head and realizing a fever.
"Feh," he muttered. "Aisha! Carry the girl."
Khirelle stumbled forward, struggling to pick up Immi and flopping down into
the sand. She stumbled back up and tried this multiple times, falling back every
time. Rehkek finally tired of this routine and shoved the Aisha aside roughly.
"Stupid... stupid..." he muttered, shouldering the unconscious Immi.
"C'mon," he snapped. "Let's get to that village
of yours. We need medicine." Khirelle followed hesitantly.
To be continued...