Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2034922-Attack
by Smee
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Fantasy · #2034922
Unknown attackers
"Hey, no fair!"

I ignore the protest of my best friend, and continue running across the sun-baked field. With arms upraised I cross over the goal-line drawn in the golden sand; victorious. Slowing to a stop and spinning around to face Sinbe I can't help smiling.

"You're getting slow, my friend."

As he stalks over to me I watch as he tries to maintain his scowl.

"Don't you grin at me like that Targh D'yer. You know that move was against the rules."

"What move?" My smile vanishes as I try to appear innocent and sincere.

"...what move?! Why you... "


Home is a small clay-stone house on the eastern edge of a town called Sandsun. Positioned on the northern border of the Blisterfoot Desert it doesn't quite get the heat of the desert proper, but is still well named all the same. The town survives through a combination of trade from the north, occasional caravans from across the desert. and a network of a dozen wells tapping into a hidden lake beneath the ground.

It is a hard life, but good in its own way. If I were to ever leave I sure miss the sunrises over the Laststep Dunes, a plate of my mother's redback (a kind of lizard) stew, games on the field with Sinbe and Malik.


I was seventeen when they came.


A fine spring morning greets Sinbe and I. The cool crispness of night is still in the air, and the early dew cast diamonds across the sparse grass. We are heading northeast. A lengthy trek of several hours to a small forest, the only source of wood for Sandsun. We make do without wood for many things, using dried animal dung for our cookfires. But at times the town Elders allow limited amounts to be brought back for tools (like the handle on my axe!) and other luxuries.

The journey passes in its usual way when trekking with Sinbe. The dark-haired boy can make a rock laugh once he starts. As the sun rises to its height we each don a kitu to protect our heads, despite it being considerably cooler this far north.

Finally arriving at the forest, we unconsciously stop for lunch before we enter the dark gloom. Neither of us mention it, but to desert-dwellers the closed in trees are uncomfortable even after being trusted to go wood chopping for several years now. Strips of salted goat meat wrapped in Suhm (a local flatbread made from the grain of one of the few grasses we could farm near the town) make a fine meal.

"Best get chopping if we want to be back in time to get ready," Sinbe notes. Tonight there was to be a celebration for the marriage of one of the Elders' daughters. Everyone would be out in their finest for the feast and the dancing would go on all night.

"Why the hurry?" I tease. "Nothing to do with wanting to impress Jadni, I'm sure."

The rough knock to my shoulder shows my accurate assumption, even though the bright blush in Sinbe's cheeks is quite enough.

I laugh. "Worry not. I've seen the looks she sends your way. You could shuffle up with sand in your hair and it'd make no difference."

His blush alters as he accepts the placating complement modestly. "Shuddup."


The sun is almost set as we come within sight of the town again. Behind us the rough sled we pull is laden with fresh cut logs. In the distance we can see the glow of numerous fires, far more than normal. It seems the feasting has begun early.

We hurry on, managing another hundred paces before the first scream floats out of the night. Surely we are mistaking laughter for a scream? Another follows, and another. No, it was no laughter.

Paying more attention to what we could see in the fading light, it shows the fires are all on the far desert side of town. The screams too. From our position up the slope to the north a vast rippling shadow seems to be dancing over the sand toward Sandsun.

"Targh...! Targh, what is it? What's happening!?"

The uncommon terror in Sinbe's voice is enough to send the shivers down my back.

We both dash toward home as the screams continue to echo out, dropping the reins of the sled without a thought. Half a mile away we meet someone running towards us, panic painting his face and clearly visible even in the near dark.

"BEASTS! DEMONS! WE ARE CURSED! Run, must run, coming to get me, run, run, cursed."

Neither of us recognise him, and he ignores us as he runs passed, continuing to mumble to himself, occasionally shouting out.

Out of the dark a large form leaps on to the screaming man, with only a low hiss as forewarning. It seems all legs, and carries on hissing as it tears the man apart.

"ARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH" The battle cry cuts through my shock. It is Sinbe charging toward the creature, woodaxe raised above his head. Instinctively I follow, a similar cry ripping from my own throat. The creature turns towards us, showing it to have a man's body, but below the waist what seemed like a spider's. It didn't matter to either of us. Both our axes descend down. It moves with impossible speed, and what should have had my blade smash into its head instead glances on one of the legs. It screeches and lashes out with two other limbs, hitting me directly in the chest and sending me flying backwards. My head swims as I fight for air, the hiss and scream from the creature and Sinbe filling my ears as they battle for their lives.

Then everything goes black.


I awake to the dawn light. My first sight is the lifeless form of Sinbe, his axe buried in the chest of the creature that holds him in a death grip. I throw up. The stench of burning, and death from the town catches my nostrils and my stomach heaves again.

I stagger over to the pair frozen in their final moment, desperate to free Sinbe from the thing and see him be ok.

The advice of the stranger reverberates around my head. "Run!"
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