When they reached the end of the trail into the Ishbalan camp, the sky seemed to be paler here in the desert than in Briggs, though the sun shone down relentlessly, its brilliance managing to tease Miles’s eyes. He blinked behind his tight-fitting sunglasses, shading his face with his forearm. “I didn’t realize it would be so bright,” he said.
“No worse than snow blindness in the mountains,” Dr. Marcoh said, his ruined mouth twisting in a smile. “And a lot warmer.” He sighed, stretching his arms. “And I can’t say how happy I am to get off that horse.”
Miles nodded, searching the faces of the people who watched them. Studied them. He could feel the wariness of those stares and understood it, despite the resemblance he bore to them. He and Marcoh were strangers, and Ishbalans had learned all too well to beware of people they didn’t know.
“Miles. Marcoh.” The familiar, deep voice caught their attention, and they turned to see the scarred Ishbalan walking through the others.
As he drew near, Marcoh teased, “Is that a smile?”
The scarred Ishbalan let out an exhalation that could only be considered a snort. “I hope the two of you are ready to get your hands dirty. There’s a lot of work to be done.”
Miles nodded, taking off his glasses to reveal his ruby gaze. “I think we can handle it,” he said, tucking the glasses into the sleeve of his desert clothing. He wouldn’t need them here, after all. No more hiding from his heritage; now he could learn more about his people from the best source of all: The Ishbalans, themselves.
Maybe this was like to finally come home.