One. A Desert Journey
The young woman stood back to admire her handiwork. She was tired, very tired, but as she gazed upon her project, she knew the energy expenditure was worth it. The enormous lake she created was over two miles wide and had several different temperature biomes in it. Tropical and tundra and swampy and brackish, all in one lake, all separated and maintained with magic. The people of Voltar requested an area for Aquatic life to survive in their baking land. The magi that lived in and around Voltar were not strong enough to take on a task, so they called for a magi from the keep, one skilled in Water magic.
Red placed her hands on her hips and grinned broadly. The creatures of the magi that lived here would most definitely appreciate this oasis of water. The lord-governor of the city of Voltar, the man who had commissioned this project, had just ridden up in his carriage. He stepped out; more like jumped out. He was a large man, both in height and in girth, with a broad, genial face and a bottle-brush mustache. He was a low ranking magi many years older than Red.
"Ah, Lady Red! Finished already? Why, it's only been two days!" he boomed. Red smiled at him, bowing.
"My Lord, I am no Lady, but your humble servant. And yes, all is finished. The lake and the biomes are complete, as you have asked. Would you care for a tour of the lake?" He turned to look out over the lake, being closest to the tropical portion. He patted his stomach as if he had just feasted upon a great meal and sighed just as contentedly.
"No, no. I didn't bring the Misses and her Koi, wouldn't be right." He turned back to Red. "Are you quite sure I couldn't entreat upon you to stay one more night? My daughter would love the company." Red bowed to him again.
"I'm afraid I cannot stay. The Earth Unicorn herds are migrating back to the Keep for the summer months and I'd like to see if I can find my two and journey home with them," she said. It was tempting to stay one more night, for the soft bed and the hot food was welcome. But she did miss her friends..
"Quite understandable, my dear. Now, now, payment." He gestured to the footman of the carriage, who brought over a small chest. Inwardly, Red groaned. She really hoped she wouldn't have to carry a chest with her all the way back to the Keep. The footman padded over to them and lifted the lid. The lord-governor rummaged around inside and procured a scroll and a leather pouch.
"This scroll is for Thane's library at the Keep. It's a detailed report of the flora and fauna of this region, and their breeding patters and migratory paths. And this," he held up the leather pouch and gave it a shake, "is from Voltar to you, with much gratitude." Red could head the jingle of gold coins within. She accepted both with a smile.
"Thank you very much. You've been very hospitable, and your city is lovely. It's been wonderful staying here." A few more departing pleasantries were exchanged, and the lord-governor got back into his carriage and rode back into the city.
Red walked to the water's edge and picked up her traveler's belt. She attached the leather pouch to it after inspecting it (a few hundred gold coins lay within) and fastened it about her waist. She admired her work a few moments longer before turning around to see her Vanil Shaa, Elansa, cantering toward her, tongue lolling. Red dropped to her knees and hugged her companion, fondling her soft ears.
"Hello, beautiful! How was the hunt?" Elansa barked once and wagged her thin tail. Domestication made her almost puppy-like in her affection for her mistress. She swiped her tongue against Red's hand and barked again. Red laughed. "I see you're eager to get back on the road. I can't blame you; I need freedom, too." She stretched her arms above her head and smiled up at the sun. "Do this, move that earth. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the gold, and I'm sure Thane will like the scroll, but it'll be nice to do my own thing, yanno?" She looked down at Elansa, who nodded and barked. Red grinned and wished her companions could answer her; she knew they understood what she was saying, but they were not blessed with the gift of gab.
"Well, let's get going then. We've got a long journey home and I want to put a lot of sand behind us before sundown." Making sure everything was secured, she flipped her light, emerald cloak over her shoulders. It was enchanted so that it would keep the wearer cool beneath the hot rays of the sun.
"Let's head home."
Four hours later, Red walked slumped, her arms hanging dramatically limp. Despite her cloak, it was still hot out. Her boots shuffled through the sand and her tongue hung from her mouth. More than she was hot, she was bored. For a while, she had entertained herself by creating smoke rabbits for Elansa to chase. None of the little bunnies lasted very long, for the Shaa was a fast and clever hunter. She leapt and pounced upon them for some time. However, she grew tired of chasing them after a while, and Red grew bored again.
"I know you're just loving the desert, but I wish I'd brought Pippa. Riding is so much better than walking, and we'd be at the next village by now," she complained. Elansa stopped chasing a fly and stared at her with the most flat expression a Shaa could manage. Red stuck her tongue out at her companion. "I know you like the desert, but I'm out of my element here! All this sand and no water makes Red a sad Xand bear, yanno." Elansa made a little wheezing sound (that Red suspiciously thought was a laugh) and trotted ahead.
"You're so cruel," Red whimpered. As she picked up her pace to catch up with her companion, she heard a pounding behind her; something was running toward her. Just as she began to turn around to defend herself, she heard an excited whinny. Instead of magic crackling on her hands, she spun with a smile on her face.
Two magnificent Earth Unicorns were galloping toward her at full-tilt. As they grew closer, they slowed down and Red approached them. They were much taller than she was, and they bent their heads and shoved their noses into her shoulders, nuzzling her affectionately.
"Hollywood, Lightfoot, it is so wonderful to see you again. I missed you all winter," she murmured, wrapping her arms around their necks. The unicorns whickered their agreement, swishing their tails happily.
Normally, her Earth Unicorns would have headed just south of Synara City for the winter months, but recent climate changes have left Synara and the surrounding lands much cooler than normal - too cool for the unicorns' comfort. So Red had sent them down toward Voltar, where they were sure to find the warmth they so craved.
Elansa trotted up to the female, Hollywood, and placed her paws upon her leg, snuffling at the base of her neck. Hollywood's skin twitched, and she playfully lipped at Elansa's tail, returning the affectionate greeting.
Giving each of her companions a kiss on their necks, she mounted Lightfoot bareback. Her thighs squeezed his sides, and she ran her fingers through his mane of tawny-blond hair.
"Shall we get to the village before sundown? I'd rather not be in this desert after dark, and I'm pining for a bed," she said. Elansa gave that little wheezing bark again and ran off to the north. Red knew that the Shaa had been itching for a good run since she got out into the desert. Hollywood set off at an easy gallop, and Lightfoot was not far behind.
There we go, chapter one. Uneventful, but perhaps it gave you a feel for the main character. I promise, things won't be this boring all the time. Characters will be introduced, and the plot will thicken and thinnen. Comments? What do you think it needs, if anything? Did you like it?
ORR you could just say that you want more. Whatever boats your float. Thanks for reading