“Khur…Why did it have to be Khur?”, whispered a shadowy man, leaning over the deck of the small transport vessel manned primarily by Minotaur sailors. The boat had just docked in the small dessert port town, and already the heat from the sands stung the eyes. The man leaned against the railing, flipping a gold coin, taking in the scene, the smells, and the people. Superstition and curiosity about this passenger had spread along the crew and other passengers throughout the voyage, though until now none had approached him. A crew member stepped nearer the man cloaked in black and mystery, “What’s yer name? What ye doin’ here ‘nyways?” The man’s face shrouded in his cowl seemed nothing but shadow, which perfectly hid the small smirk that now graced it. With one more flip of the coin, the dark stranger snatched the coin out of the air, grabbed the end of his cloak and snapped it as he abruptly turned and exited the vessel.
The dessert was a barren wasteland. To Rashard, it seemed to serve no purpose in living there. How these people could make the choice to stay and live here was beyond him. But, he had a purpose for being there, it had to be retrieved.
The wastes were not as lonely as he had hoped they would be. Thieves, these bottom feeders that eked out a living robbing those foolish or desperate enough to use the dessert as part of their trading route. Three men sat around a small camp roasting their most recent catch, a large sand rat. Large rock walls nearby offered a great deal of shadows with which to ambush the unsuspecting men. Leaning casually against the rock wall, Rashard watch the men as they drank, and sang, and commented on the readiness of the rat as it cooked. The men where only a dozen or so feet from where Rashard stood, quietly drawing an arrow from the quiver, knocking it, and taking aim. The largest, most brutish looking one was the first to fall, an arrow piercing his throat. The second, a stocky long haired man, was grabbed by his pony tail had his throat slit. The third, and seemingly the leader of the group, was on his feet with his weapon drawn. Twirling around to assess the situation, he was shocked to see his two comrades already dead and a man wearing all black, cap and cowl billowing gently in the wind as it swept over the sand, holding a rapier in both of his hands, walking casually towards him. The thief’s scream was dulled by the sound of the heavy winds, his body would never be found under the sand that would soon cover it.
Ogres and Stingers plagued the rest of the journey. The Ogres banded together into large groups, not easily ambushed and the Stingers could detect even the most skilled sneak through the use of magic. These were to be avoided at all costs. There was no need to come into conflict with these creatures. That, and the Ogres smelled something awful. The shifting sands were a perfect place to hide it, Rashard soon realized. Mapping the location in this ever changing environment would be nearly impossible. He nearly missed the mark himself, were it not for a few marks placed on a large standing rock, marks that would not be noticed by the untrained eye. Kneeling, he took out a small spade and began moving the sand aside. A few feet below the sand the spade struck something. Retrieving the small wooden box, Rashard slowly and gently brushed off the sand from the lid and key hole. A small key in the shape of a fox’s head was inserted and the lid gently slid open. Inside rested a mold wrapped in silk; within the mold was a statue of a silver bird roughly the size of a man’s palm. Checking the statue quickly, Rashard quickly closed the lid and tucked away his prize. The dark brooding man was once again seen on the sea vessel as it returned to Floatsom, none would know as they could not witness his face, but under his cowl, Rashard smiled.