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Part 3

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In the small apartment above the dingy shop, Kaya was overcome and a numbness replaced the earlier rush of anxiousness mingled with zeal. Through the small, tarnished window that looked over the length of dirt road, which eventually disappeared into a mirage of heat, she saw him. The Druid had left her. Not only had he left her but also done something to her. She could not find the strength nor the will to pursue him. Only when he was a ghost within the mirage, was she able to command her body once more. Her tanned skin reddened at the thought of being duped. She was certain that the charm worked. Well, he was the Esstiiet Oriandus after all. His assessment of her was accurate. She was naïve. The distant horizon continued to hold her gaze, her thoughts a disoriented mix of fury and angst. The secondary storm brewing on the East horizon was moving rapidly. The Druid vanished to the West. She closed her eyes momentarily and drew her will toward that storm. Her skin pricked and her face flushed as she felt the intensity of it. It was turning to the west. Kaya assumed The Druid would be heading to Shaer ousi. He would not make it. She travelled that route many times when visitors to her home town became scarce, normally during this stormy season, to sell her wares. The Druid would be forced into one of the small, hidden caves in the rocky landscape of the desert. If she hurried, she should be able to find him but she must be certain of it. She thought of the tracing spell The Druid forced upon her earlier. The moment that spell was used on her, the ancient knowledge of the druids raced along with it and embedded into her subconscious. She would be able to find him more easily with its help. She filled a worn leather backpack with some essentials and wrapped her threadbare grey cloak around her before hurrying to the door. The wind had picked up again. She grabbed a tattered old breathing mask from amongst the array of items in her shop and stepped into the haze-filled light of day. She glanced up to the skies and to the horizon beyond but beyond the harsh winds, she could not see any sign of the approaching storm. She hoped that there was still time.

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Kaya was on the edge of the dirt road. Sand kicked up and billowed around her, nipping at her exposed cheeks and choking her as it filled her nostrils and encrusted on the corners of her mouth. Its dry, salty taste lingered on her tongue as she licked it away. Awkwardly she secured the old mask on her face. She never liked them. The filtered air smelled fouler than that of the radiated air and her hate of anything suffocating made her avoid the mask as much as possible but the storm was picking up and she knew she would not make it to the Esstiiet Oriandus without one. She stood still, eyes closed, mind clearing. And so the words of the ancients came to her, in that trance state. She rocked on her heels. A chant, shrill and alien, escaped her lips. Louder and louder it rang, howling with the wind that drove fiercely around her. Leaping across desert plains and deep valleys. Penetrating every breathable space, every dark corner, seeking him.

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The Esstiiet Oriandus stumbled once then once more, before falling to his knees. The winds howled furiously around him. The storm would soon be on him. It had turned too fast. Yet the winds were not the cause of his legs failing him. Nor were they cause of the immeasurable throbbing that tore through his skull. He clutched his head. It was as though a worm had wriggled its way into the recesses of his mind before exploding out through his unseeing eyes. This was a replica of the tracing spell he used with Kaya. But it was clumsily executed. A tracing spell should find its source as a mouse would find its cheese: swiftly, stealthily and be gone before the other party would even have time to consider what it was that violated the sanctum of the mind. Kaya was a bull elephant in mating season rampaging through the mind of The Druid, unashamedly searching out its claim. All he was able to do was lie in a stupefied heap upon the harsh desert floor, sand pervading any orifice it was able to, and hope that the girl found him before it was too late.

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