In the last age, five generations ago, this desert was traveled by roaming berbers and mystics. Few had come this way since the twin oases of al-Qubba were suddenly swallowed up by the sands, save for the occasional caravan or lost pilgrim. Only Kashim would think of living in a place like this, and even so it had never been willful. No one asks for exile.
Had the boy known Majar’s secrets, he never would have rescued the horse. Beneath the tired whinnies and sighs was a heart of deception. The soul of a jinn. Many men had given their lives to ensure that this horse never be returned to the sands, a legacy all forgotten at the behest of a grinning merchant and the prospect of a good turn.
Even now, a desert spirit was rising up, an afrit with eyes like burning suns and claws of bronze. Too long had it slumbered. Too long had it waited for Majar’s return.
Kashim paused and placed his hand on the horse’s shoulder. “Rest,” he whispered. The sands shifted beneath his feet, and swept into the approaching wind.