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Sand Creek, or The Inspection of Cracks in the Desert Cecelyne

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Ignorance is bliss when it comes to killing people. Knowing how it's done makes you realize it could be done to you pretty easy. I've got a few more tricks than the average brawler, but many of the people I care about don't. Once you know you can't forget. So I put people under my protection a little more often than I should. That explains how I found myself in this situation.

Jasara had found me drunk as a fish leaning up against a fountain in the middle of some town too small to remember. She said a spirit told her where to find me. I don't know if I want to believe her. It would be pretty creepy if it were true, being watched while you were all alone, but Jasara sounded dead serious when she said it. She had a job for me. It had sounded like a simple enough job when I took it. Stay by her side while she looked over some rocks that interested her for some reason. I don't remember what exactly because she'd started using really big words again. Jasara was pretty practical. I didn't expect her to get in a lot of trouble. And to be honest I was at kind of a low point and appreciated the company.

But I was wrong about Jasara. Probably about a number of things, upon reflection, but for this particular story about her sense of safety. Maybe having me around made her more careless. Typical non-combatant thinking.

These rocks were famous for the silver sand that would flow between them like water from a river. Sand Creek the locals called it. When we got there, looking at the sand move in the moonlight, I could see the resemblance. I couldn't tell where the sand was coming from, the rocks took a curve around a hill and that stream of silver sand with it. Below the end of the spout was an enormous mound of sand covering the muddy ground. As I watched the sand fall the pile never got any higher, but I chalked that up to too little time spent watching.

Jasara stomped right on to the sand and stood with her nose an inch away from the sandfall. I picked up a handful and pinched it. Looked like sand to me, a little more silver than most, but just regular old sand besides that. Then Jasara split into a bunch of birds like I'd seen her do before and appeared up at the source of the sandfall. "Get up here," she told me. Like I was some kind of oaf she could command. It was about that time that I noticed the music. We were miles away from any human habitation, I was sure, so hearing music was pretty eerie. I decided I was some kind of oaf Jasara could command when it came to this otherworldly stuff, so I climbed the rock face and stood next to Jasara after a few minutes.

Up here we had a better look at the length of Sand Creek, but still couldn't see where the sand was coming from. Jasara said "It's flat," or something. I had to admit that sand usually needed some elevation to encourage a fall, but then again the wind could make sand go up if it hit a dune slope just right. I was just about to add that part when I noticed there wasn't a leaf stirring around us.

What she said next I'll never forget. "Demetheus, I want to thank you for taking me this far. I believe this is a portal to Malfeas. I'm going to walk along it to find out. You don't have to come with me... but I would feel much safer if you did."

Now, those of you who have been listening instead of falling asleep in your beer should remember that I didn't know squat about portals or other worlds or anything when compared to Jasara. I should have been dead serious. But no, not me. I thought she was going to walk around in circles in some moving sand like an idiot for days. I was carrying a week's worth of water and food strapped to my back that she had asked me to bring that I doubt she'd have been able to lift. I had a friend who wanted to have company. And I didn't have anywhere to go. So I said, "Sure thing."