Dusty Souls

By Ironblue

It would have been easier if they were still alive. LeGion snarled, ducking behind a drift of sand as desiccated claws whistled through the air. One wild flail brought a curse from his lips as it caught on a leather strap near his waist and clenched reflexively, like a blind beggar snatching at gold. One moment stretched into a sickening infinity as LeGion hung over the lip of the dune, scrabbling feverishly at the hungry maw holding him aloft. Tension snapped both the moment and the strap, causing the mirage elf to spill backwards. Sheer panic overtook him as he tumbled down the side of the sand drift. He found himself gasping at the bottom of the hill and rolled back onto his heels to regard the thing at the top of the dune. “What in the thirteen hells…?” He thought.

“They’re dispossessed spirits trapped by the storm!” a thin voice called on the wind, it’s owner unseen in the boiling whirlwind of sand.

“Now that’s not helping…” LeGion growled, scuttling backward as the thing zigzagged down the hill after him in a slow, jerky shamble. The elf’s slanted eyes glinted malevolently, and with a whispered, forgotten word he threw a bolt of coruscating energy at the murky figure, only to watch it pas right through it’s dusty form, leaving it shaken but apparently unscathed. This did not improve the elf’s mood.

“They’re manifestations of sorrow and spite, they can’t help it!” The voice called again from somewhere to LeGion’s right this time.

“Now is NOT the time for sympathy, you long-eared fop!” Another, deeper voice roared. A massive, scaled figure clad in mail struggled up the slope painfully, dragging an iron Morningstar over his head and cleaving the ‘manifestation’ in two. Broken, it cascaded down, a harmless shower of sand.

“That’s the way you get things done!” the armored dragon-man exulted. The maelstrom of biting sand abated for a moment, and LeGion lowered his arms, puzzled.

Then three more appeared, and the storm whipped up with a vengeance.

“Company, Beacon…” LeGion moaned, and the two fell back to eye the incorporeal abominations. The mirage elf blanched with distaste as he watched the things move. Thy shimmered under the beating sun, like a humanoid pile of golden treasure. Though discernable features could be made out, the creatures all held a core of darker sand in their bodies, pulsing and shifting at the wind’s caress…

Suddenly, another shape loomed up behind the two, causing Beacon to twitch violently.

“In Bahamut’s grace, don’t do that, Pan!”, he hissed out of the corner of his snout.

“S-Sorry!” The tall, thin figure replied, weaving daintily around the tense Beacon. As the quirky elf’s long hair and cloak whipped in the wind, he called out in a slightly less hesitant voice.

“I have to disassociate their elementally charged hearts from this sandstorm! It’s like a cage to them…”

He skipped forward cautiously, then leaned down and flung one arm upward in a crescent moon. An unseen hand seemed to scoop up the sand around him, forcefully whipping through the dust and the wind to tear into the creatures. A small boom echoed through the dusty valley.

Dusty Souls

The Age of Ash ironblue