Everyone gasps at the sight of the Sankru city. It is vast and spreads out almost as far as the eye can see, becoming more sparsely populated as it reaches the base of a gigantic mountain.
The houses and buildings are like nothing I've seen before. Most of them are built out of a sandy-looking material with red clay tiles for the roofing. The buildings that aren't houses are easy to pick out; they don't have the red clay on their roofs. Some have gray slabs instead, which I think are blacksmiths. There are even some houses made only out of the sandy material, with sloping ceilings at the top.
It's an absolutely amazing sight and I pull out my camera to snap a quick picture, making a mental reminder to paint this view sometime. We stay like this, staring at the city below us on this hill. That is, until Octavia's horse gets impatient and shakes it's head with a snort.
"Babe, your horse is just as impatient as you are." Raven laughs.
Octavia pouts at her girlfriend. "I can be patient!"
"Oh yeah?" Raven raises an eyebrow. "Name one time."
"Well," Octavia begins, smirking. "There was the other night when I-"
"Octavia." I cut her off. "Please don't finish that sentence. Don't scar us."
Octavia nods with a shrug and mutters something about how we "probably heard it anyway, Rae wasn't that quiet."
I ignore her words and turn to Lexa, who's watching us with an amused expression. "Ready to go?"
Lexa nods and clicks her tongue. Our horses start moving automatically, this time with Lexa and I leading the way. We make our way slowly down the path, the steepness causing the horses to be extra careful.
The path leads us up to what must be the main entrance. There's a large arch over the top of the road, with "Monin gon Pheoni kapa" (welcome to Pheoni city) inscribed in it. Someone is waiting beneath it, a large man with skin as dark as Indra's and long, braided hair. Our horses stop in front of him and he silently comes around to helps us down from our horses. We thank him and it's only then that he speaks.
"Welcome to the largest city in all of Sankru, Pheoni." He says, his voice surprisingly timid sounding yet deep. "I am Noran, the leader of this city and of all of Sankru. We are honored to have you here, Heda, Wanheda, and friends."
"Thank you for having us, Noran." Lexa replies.
"Of course." He bows his head with a smile that makes the crinkles around his eyes and mouth much more apparent. "Come with me, please. I will lead you to where you will be staying. Grab what you would like to bring. I will have some of the stable hands take your horses, you can get more of your things later after you have settled in."
We manage to carry most of what we want to bring and follow Noran as he leads us through the streets made of sandstone. Lexa and I even manage to hold hands while carrying our stuff. He spouts off some facts and points out some places he recommends we go as we walk. When he's silent, Lexa tells me random facts as well. My favorite of which is that the Trigedasleng word for lizard is sankrola.
"Like sand crawler?" I gasp out. "That's awesome. Hey Lexa, can we get a pet sankrola?"
Lexa smiles at me, her eyes soft and affectionate. "Sure thing, hodnes (love). But how do you think it will fare during our travels?"
I frown. "Not well. Can we get one when we get back home, then?"
"Perhaps," Lexa relents. "We will see how you feel about it then. And what do you mean by home?"
"Polis, of course." I respond, not really getting what else home could be. So I decide to ask. "What else could it be?"
"Arkadia," Lexa answers. "With your people, with Skaikru."
"Lexa, home is when I'm with you." I murmur.
Lexa ducks her head to avoid having others see the beaming smile on her face (and the tears in her eyes). She brings my hand up to her lips and places a gentle, reverent kiss to the back of my hand.
The moment is broken when I hear a sniffle coming from behind us. I look back to see both Raven and Octavia have glistening eyes.
Raven flops her hand at us. "No, no. Ignore us, continue to have your," she lets out a choked noise, "really cute moment."
"It was so sweet," Octavia whispers. "Home is when I'm with you." She repeats my words and then she and Raven both have a tear streaming down their faces.
Noran, who has been politely ignoring us as Lexa and I talked, lets out a chuckle. He glances over at us.
"Moba (sorry). You just remind me of ai houmon (my partner) and I when we were younger. As do the two of you," he nods to Octavia and Raven. "Except more prone to emotion."
"They're just such goals." Octavia whispers to Raven, loud enough for Lexa and I to hear it.
"We're going to be like that when we're old, O."
"Are you calling us old?" I ask Raven and she pales. "Because Rae, you're older than I am."
"And Lexa's older than me." She retorts. "Oh my god, O. Lexa's the cougar in their relationship."
"Isn't that just if she's much older? And if Clarke were a guy?" Octavia asks. "Because by your logic, you're the cougar in our relationship."
Noran looks lost by our conversation while simultaneously being glad that there is no more crying.
He stops suddenly and gestures to the house. "This is where you will be staying. Would you like me to show you around?"
"No, we can figure it out. Mochof (thank you)." Lexa answers.
"Very well. I must get back to my duties, but let me know if you have any questions or need anything."
He bows to us and hands Lexa some keys before leaving.