Shalia was growing quite tired of the repetitive desert scenery, the summer sun scorching her skin, the gentle rocking of the barge as it went. Nothing as sickening as the ship once was, but more irritating, and she was growing visibly irritable because of it. An oasis sounded like a pleasant change...but she'd much rather throw herself into a tundra. She'd take anything at this point.

A stir craze was settling in quickly and made the passing days feel slow and lasting for years, the same thing all the time, getting fried relentlessly to the point where she didn't even disrobe in her cabin anymore because the friction of taking her clothes off made her whimper and wince. To cool down, she spent the warmest parts of the day within the four walls of the cabin which was dreadfully boring, and spent more time outside toward sundown and the evening when the others were off to sleep and try to stay warm.

More lonely, yes, but she'd take loneliness over this scorching sunshine hell any day. It helped that she could cast some frost over her body to provide relief, but nothing that really soothed at its core. The potency of her magik was certainly impacted by her exhaustion.

To keep herself entertained, she would occasionally call Islana and Kaithak into the cabin with her for some small talk and to give them some shade. Some relative quiet. A small and intimate moment they hadn't been able to really exchange since setting off for the desert, but nothing like the personal conversations they had prior.
Shalia was more willing to speak now than she had been more recently since setting off-- she had centered herself enough. The brawling of the natives offered a temporary distraction whenever she was there to witness it between the heat stopping their wrestling early or her frequent isolation in the cabin. It was nice to see even some Ozainae join in the fun.

The physical toll was sinking her slowly. Her body was red and sore around the hands, the neck, the eyes where her scarf could not cover fully. Even from a short amount of time without the robe in the sun, her shoulders and legs and everything else had taken a skyward beating. Some parts were blistering and her hands had started to peel.
She felt ill the more time she spent in the sun, and her appetite had shrunken greatly in result, picking her food just enough to keep some energy. She looked somehow thinner than when she had set out and in great need of a bath. Constant downing of water and pouring it over the damaged skin, some bouts of dizziness or her muscles acting sluggishly. She felt bound to the cabin until nightfall. Held in by the heat. Trapped in her own body.

Some of the days she laid on the cot completely still, beginning to cry. Softly. Quietly seething. Almost defeated. Crying at the stinging sensation all across her body. How ugly and pitiful it must have looked. The longing to return home into an icy grasp, her familiar bed, and never step foot in this damned place again. The thought of her shoulders breaking and snapping under the pressure of this meeting and everything else ahead. Everything, period.

~Is this really worth it?~

She found herself thinking angrily the night before when she sat watching the dark world around them, illuminated only by moonlight and stars and reflections in the river. Of course the answer was yes. It had to be worth it. but it did not withhold the feelings boiling like the surface of her skin. Haunting her. Taunting. She pulled her legs to her chest and rested her chin on top of her knees in thought.

She had told Islana once that it would take more than heat to kill her. But now... she was a witch with a mortal body. Still very vulnerable. Ice in her veins under a relentless heat. Sometimes, the way she was feeling seemed to nudge elbows with death on days her stomach felt like it twisted into sharp knots and her head spun so fast she could only lay back on the cot again to not throw up.

But this day was different. They had stopped some ways down the river and suited up for travel once more. She knew that there was no one more trustworthy in navigating this desert than the Ozainae.

They had reached the oasis.
Strange trees with leaves that fanned out like a spider, greenery of little shrubs and soft, swaying grasses, a pond glittering under the sun which the sight of almost brought forth tears of joy.
Maybe this oasis could be the answer to keeping her sanity a little longer, at least enough to make it through to the Holy City. Coming back would be a slightly different story, but if she could make it here once more, then the journey was doable. She'd be more prepared for desert travel then and much less stressed about what was to come. From the look on Islana's face as they set up camp, this would be good for her, too.

< Prev : Lost Next > : The call