The duneship crested gracefully over a bank of fine, golden sand, sending a shimmering spray up from its carefully designed sleds. Its large sails harnessed the waves of hot air rising from the desert below, and funnelled the winds to let it glide across the Torrid Sea under the blazing sun.

Standing on the deck of the ship was a tall, lithe man wrapped in a cloak. Outlines and glimpses of carefully wrought pieces of matt-coloured armour could be seen on his person, and in one hand a smooth, glossy stave was held with one tip planted firmly on the baked wood beneath his feet. The speed they travelled at cooled the air that whipped around him and whipped his long, chestnut brown hair about behind him. Avenar the Erudite, one of the finest wizards in the world, found travelling on duneships exhilarating.

“Hasan, get up here.” He called out, his softly spoken words carried below deck with no effort at all on his part. A few moments later, he caught sight of his apprentice through the tan blindfolds all on the ship were wearing, a means to protect themselves from the light reflected back off the sand.

“What is it, Master?” The young man asked, unsteady on his feet against the winds and the motion of the duneship. He was in his mid-teens, slightly awkward due to a growth spurt that still left him a head and a half shorter than his master, with a short mess of mousy blonde hair almost blazing under the light of the sun and the rush of wind.

“You’ve been looking after Marrick for long enough down there. Raeli took a break earlier. Now it’s your turn.” Avenar’s words were gentle, but years of tutelage had brought some wisdom to Hasan; gentle requests were not to be debated about.

“Yes, Master…” Hasan spoke after a moment, moving to stand besides him. He was just three years old when he began to learn the way of magic under his home city’s premier practitioner. How to speak the Language of Magic, how to think in it. It came to some more naturally than others, and while a lot of people in Skarlshold knew the basics, it was a rare opportunity to learn under someone as legendary as his master.

“There’s a sand ridge ahead we need smoothed. We’re about two minutes away!” The watchman called out from his post.

“Would you care to, my student? I think it is time to see a practical demonstration of your Sandshift call.” Avenar suggested, heading to the bow, stave clicking on the ground with each step.

“I… I’ll give it a try, Master.” Came the reply from only a short way behind, the young man freeing his arm from his robe. His right hand was clad in a gauntlet made from a soft, white material that possessed a slight luminescent quality, with several indentations pulsing with a golden glow. Raising his hand up at the ridge in front, Hasan let the spell play out in his mind.

Magic was a language that when the right words were used in the correct order, and in the presence of a device capable of manipulating the fabric of the world, caused effects from the mundane to the miraculous. In Hasan’s case, his mind worked to assemble the spell as taught to him, before mentally focussing on his hand. The indentations on the gauntlet began to hum with power, the light increasing as it compiled and interpreted the will of its owner.

“Alright…” Avenar said, raising his hand. “Now release it. Keep that ridge in mind. I have the spell ready myself, so do not worry if it does not work.” His stave was indeed glowing, spots of gold energy dotted around the sleek length of it.

“Okay… I can do this. I -can- do this.” He reassured himself, flexing his fingers. The obstacle ahead was suddenly surrounded by a nimbus of light, tiny specks dancing in the aura before pulling the sand away with a rush of air, flattening the path ahead. It didn’t take long for the duneship to race across the now flat patch of desert.

“That’s some mighty fine spell calling there.” The watchman called out. “If you ever need some work, boy…” he trailed off into a laugh.

“Indeed, Hasan. You’ve mastered that particular feat.” Avenar praised him, before a smile crossed his lips. “And as for your reward… well, now you can see our destination.” He gestured out into the distance, tiny pillars rising up from the wavering sands with dancing globes of energy just barely visible against the clear blue sky.

“Are they…” Hasan paused to catch another gulp of air before continuing, “the Panacea Megaliths?” He asked, feeling a little weak at the knees post-spellcalling.

“That they are. The bastion in the Torrid Sea, home of the Panacea Oasis Temple. Merrick is soon to be cured.” Avenar clasped his hand on his student’s shoulder, feeling a lightening of the burden that had been dampening the young man’s spirits. “He will be fine, and you have my word on that.”

Straightening up, Hasan eyed the hatch to below deck. “I… I should really give Raeli the news. And Merrick too… well… you said he can hear things, even though he’s… right?”

Avenar the Erudite gave a slight push towards the hatch with his hands. “Even comatose, the senses can work. Go and tell your friends, my student. I wish to take in the beauty of the Torrid sea some more.”


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