The moon had already traversed its zenith, but Kamaria left the passage of time to the whims of others. She had no use for timepieces – grand or otherwise. No one would think to watch for her. After all, the moon lighted the way. When the moon fell into the ocean, she would begin her day. The same day she had lived as long as she could remember. Kamaria smiled. Tomorrow will be different, she thought. Tomorrow I begin my life as an Apothecary. The lessons would come fast and they would be difficult, but Kamaria knew, just as the fish knew they needed water, that she would be an Apothecary.
Kamaria danced, arms outstretched, as her grandmother had taught her. She prayed to the Gods to return the moon the following night. Kamaria, as a modern woman, questioned the need for such ancient superstitions, but she performed the dance not as an appeasement to the Gods, but to honor her grandmother. Kamaria paused, mid-step, and listened to sounds carried on the wind. She knew the sounds of her home and something didn’t belong. A bandit crept slowly toward the girl. He must have thought the moon was low enough to hide in darkness. The great ocean had yet to feed on the moon and Kamaria easily saw the bandit’s advance. In an instant, Kamaria stood with her bow in hand. The graceful dance morphed into a combat stance, the butt of an arrow knocked against the thin cord. She took aim at the space between the bandit’s eyes and smiled. The glint of the moon in his eyes made for an optimal target. She could’ve easily out maneuvered the bandit, but this space was hers alone. Any commotion might have alerted the village guards, and then the endless explaining would begin. As the moon sunk lower, she knew any such investigation would delay her on her first day as an Apothecary.
Only Kamaria heard the whisper of the thin line. She felt the stock vibrate as it loosed its energy. The sound of the arrow was no different than the light breeze. The bandit let out a sound and fell to the ground. Kamaria’s arrow had struck the soft skin between the Bandit’s eyes and the top of his scruffy beard. A miss, Kamaria thought as she padded to the fallen body, her feet barely displacing the sand. She knelt next to the bandit and had to gather herself. Ye Gods, he stinks, she thought as she wrapped her hand around the metallic shaft of her arrow. She pulled with all her strength and the arrow separated from the bandit’s skull. Blood pooled in the sand, and although it was almost morning, the sand drank his blood greedily. She held her arrow aloft looking for imperfections. The metal glinted in the moonlight. The arrow appeared to be perfect – its use unevident, the exception being the red smear that dulled the celestial reflection.
Her arrow retrieved, Kamaria retreated to her sands. The effort had gained her a few beads of sweat and the pinpricks of moisture gathered nodules of grit. She knelt in the sand and because she knew no one was present, she rolled in it as she did when she was a child. Her smile grew and she suppressed a giggle. Even had someone seen her frivolity, no one would have minded, for tonight she was still a child. Tomorrow would bring adulthood and the specter of poise. She smiled at the moon only now being to be devoured by the ocean. She brushed a few stubborn flecks of sand from her legs. Drawing her knees to her chest, Kamaria breathed deep the scents riding the wind. ‘Good’ or ‘bad’ the scents were part of her world, and she wouldn’t change it for anything. Kamaria relished the nights such as these. The feeling of solitude was palatable, she imagined she could bite of a piece of it and chew thoroughly, savoring every moment. The soft caress of the night wind brought with is little drifts of sand. Many said the sand was flat, but Kamaria knew the land more intimately than any one else. The sand was her home, her salvation. She knew she belonged.
The little drifts of sand scattered too and fro and as the wind picked up speed, Kamaria found herself shivering. She scowled, lines breaking her pale features. She pulled her cloak tightly to her breast. The cloak had saved her from a maelstrom more powerful than legend. Well, legend as she saw it – the wind was usually tame on Heaven’s Sight. The cloak was the same color as the sand and she had more than once used it to sneak up on unsuspecting travelers. Tighter she clenched her cloak. The wind has never been this strong, she thought as she peered through the smallest of wrappings. Something’s wrong, a voice intoned in the reaches of her psyche. A voice she had learned to trust almost implicitly.
Next: Stave the Wrath