The Sand Sailer

Part 1

The autumn had been long and dry. The winds had rushed in from the South, parching the only arable land, leaving a scant harvest. But it would do. The food would last until early summer; and, with a little extra work in the spring, they would survive.

Murook glided the sand sailer gracefully over the hot dunes. The furnace- like blast of the cross-wind propelled the sleek hand-hewn craft, mushrooming the large white sails. Murook’s large tanned arms kept the guide wheel steady as he watched the setting sun painted gold on a sea of crimson clouds. Night fell swiftly and soon Murook was navigating by the panoply of lights in the heavens.

As he made his way along the outer reaches of his tribe’s territory, Murook kept his eyes pealed for various wild beasts. This was the job of a sand sailer, to patrol and report possible danger.

A gust grabbed the craft and flung it over a small rise in the drifted sand. To prevent them from tearing, Murook collapsed the sails, braked hard, and halted the sand sailer. Above him a light of the night sky he had not seen before appeared to be growing larger. He stared at it; it was definitely growing larger, resolving into several lights. He could hear the sounds of thunder – nothing unusual, but this was a clear autumn night.

The lights grew larger; there were four, surrounded by countless smaller lights. The thunder grew so loud Murook had to clasp his ears to keep from going deaf. The lights from the sky disappeared into the depression of a dry river bed, behind a large dune a short distance away. The thunder ceased.

Murook shivered. Should he hide? Should he run and warn the tribe? Should he investigate. His curiosity prevailed over any fears – investigate!

The sand sailer moved slowly with its half-sails extended, creeping over several dunes until it reached the place Murook estimated the lights had fallen. No lights… Where had they gone? Had they been extinguished like fire doused with sand. He looked around him; perhaps he hadn’t gone far enough. He extended the half-sails once again. Ahead was a high dune. As he topped the dune he saw one light, then three, then ten, and a multitude. He stopped the craft, collapsed the sails, and dropped the sand anchor. From here he would go on foot.

As he approached the lights, Murook trembled. The lights were uncountable and outlined the largest structure his eyes had beheld since he had visited ruins of Wasc. I was larger than hundreds of dwelling huts and stood on six large legs. Smoke rose from beneath the structure and from the glowing spots in the sand beneath.

Murook’s intelligence spoke – run and warn the tribe. Swiftly he dashed back to the sand sailer, lifted the anchor, and extended full sails. Using all his years of skill he turned the sailer around, risking a shear wind for a second or two. The sailer jerked violently as the wind caught the sails from behind and headed him back the way he had come, toward the tribe. With luck, he would reach them by the rising of the great fire.

Shortly after daybreak, Murook reached his tribe. The great fire had not yet risen high, but activity could already be seen near the huts. He shouted loudly; those who heard him thought he was either mad or had been bitten by a dune viper. “A flying temple! Many lights!” he yelled. Had it not been for the fact that he was a respected guardian in the tribe, he might have been ignored. As it was, many of the other guardians, including the chief guardian, ran toward him to ascertain the reason for his excitement.

An emergency guardian’s counsel was called by the chief guardian and the group moved to the tribe’s main hut. Each guardian took his place around a large oval stone table and waited in silence until the chief guardian rose and address them, “Murook has discovered something of importance – let him speak!”

“Let Him speak!” echoed the other guardians in unison.

Murook stood, collected his thoughts, and began relating the events of the previous night. He watched the eyes and faces of those around him as he described the structure he had seen.

Nevon, another highly respected guardian tapped the table. The chief guardian acknowledged him. He arose and spoke, “Murook, if, as you say, this object you saw was as large as a ruin, perhaps it is just that: a ruin. You have discovered a hidden ruin.”

“No,” responded Murook, “I know the dunes of that region; and, although they change, they remain the same. There are no ruins in that area. Besides, ruins have no lights, nor do they smoke.”

One by one the other guardians questioned Murook, respectfully probing for facts. Then the arguing began. Some guardians felt he had seen an apparition, others that he had discovered a ruin, and few that he had indeed seen something that fell from the sky. Again the chief guardian rose, ” Guardians, what Murook has seen must be investigated further. After the setting of the great fire, Murook will lead us there that we may witness this wonder ourselves. Exlogia forever!”

“Exlogia forever!” replied the guardians.

“Look at this video replay.”

“What about it?”

“See it? There it is – right there.”

“Yeah. I do. What does it mean, Bill?”

“Somebody saw us land, Mio.”

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