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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hot and Cold (04/09/09)

TITLE: BARREN NIGHTS
By mick dawson
04/13/09


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BARREN NIGHTS

Moggananji awoke from his make shift tent, to dress and take in the stars.

He brushed off his helmet with the red band; a band signifying that he was a scout in the Nusallean army. He swept the dust from his mail shirt, along with the rest of his uniform he wore so proudly.

A constellation familiar to all Nusalleans pointed to the north, where the land would grow hotter and drier.

Tying his few service belongings within the canvass sheet he used for shade, he bundled them over his shoulder and studied the depressions in the ground.

The half blood “original” as the white races called them, noted that the indentations were getting deeper now and closer together. In the fading light of dusk, the dark man’s flared nostrils quivered. Only the faint scent of his quarry wafted to his senses. Nothing else had thus far crossed the hard baked earth.

The footprints looked smudged; it wouldn’t be long now. His eyes rolled slowly upwards taking in two huge banks of rock in the distance. His expression softened, almost feeling sorry for the criminal he had been commissioned to bring back to justice.

At this pace, he knew that the fugitive had to be there. The last village Moggananji stopped at told him that the man in question had well prepared himself for his escape into Soravia. He had stocked himself with food and water; enough to last for nearly two months.

The half-blood Original pursed his lips, looking at the ground. He had not prepared himself for every eventuality. If he were fortunate enough to cross the Soravian border, the nomadic tribes there would surely torture and kill any outsider and then there was the other matter…

The ground grew colder under his feet as he traversed the hard earth. His feet began to sting from the cold and his shoulders appeared to burn, almost perceptibly feeling the descending dew.

Stopping for a moment at the entry between the rocks, he dug into the canvass bundle. He slipped on a heavy woolen tunic and cloak, before fingering his holstered axe. The hand dropped as he sighed, knowing that there would be no fight to come.

He passed between the rocks, where the land opened up once more. His quarry lay with his back huddled to him, near a black smudge on the earth. He trudged closer to inspect the scene out of mere routine.

The remains of the fire were small, as one would expect with so little to burn.

Rounding the huddled man, he saw him staring ahead with gritted teeth, wearing only a light tunic. A nudge of the scouts foot against the body, revealed that it shifted as if carved from wood. He felt no pang of remorse as his crimes had been so heinous.

Taking up what he could of the fugitive’s food and water, he began the trek back. The cold was already stinging his face and hands which he quickly remedied with the wrapping of rags. His burden was heavier, but he was grateful for the extra items. In his bundle, he had found warm clothing which he knew would have been discarded during the day. They would also be proof that he had found the dead fugitive when he returned to his contingent. His commanding officer would accept the items as evidence as he had lauded that he was the best tracker he had ever known.

It would be a long trek home, but an easy journey.

He snorted contemptuously. The fugitive was just one of many; another one who prepared for the heat of the desert, but not for the cold of its evenings.


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This article has been read 442 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 04/18/09
Very vivid descriptions. You put me right there.
Rachel Stone04/19/09
Excellent. I was left wanting to know more about this man and his country.
Myrna Noyes04/20/09
This was a haunting story with a feeling of emotional as well as physical "chill" to it. Your descriptions were very well-done, and I caught a deeper message at the end.
Lyn Churchyard04/20/09
Excellent story. Well written descriptions that kept my reading to the end. Right on topic too. Well done.
Lollie Hofer 04/21/09
Story-telling at its best. Well done! I appreciate your knowledge of the culture and geography you brought to the story.
Joshua Janoski04/30/09
This was cool. I love hearing about some of the lesser known characters in the world you created. It's amazing how you have crafted this epic world and filled it with so many personalities. I am just amazed at how you keep it all so fresh and exciting. I never get bored reading your stuff, Mick.