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Prevailing Wind: A Legends of Lasniniar Short

Prevailing Wind: A Legends of Lasniniar Short

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Arinwyn leads the Tribe of Hawk across the vast dunes of the Shifting Sands. A lone elf among humans.

The sun beats down on her head scarf like a hammer while the jingle of harnesses fills the dry air. A single shadow falls across the land from overhead in a ripple of movement.

A dragon.

Arinwyn knows the tribe cannot stand against it. But none of their warriors want to lose status by fleeing.

Arinwyn must rely on her human companion Nasir to convince them otherwise while she tackles a much bigger problem—how to hold off the dragon.

...And what its seemingly chance presence might mean.

A short story adventure from the Legends of Lasniniar fantasy series and a follow-up to “Without Wings.” (Previously published as “Legends of Lasniniar: Prevailing Wind.” This adventure takes place during the latter part of the World of Lasniniar novel Storm Rider.)

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“You had better get ready,” Nasir said in an observational tone. He tilted his head upward to squint at the open sky from beneath the shadow of his head scarf.

Arinwyn followed the line of his gaze and swore fluently in Elvish.

A dragon was flying toward them from the west.

Despite Nasir’s calm demeanor and tone, the rest of the men traveling on horseback behind him also took notice of the dragon’s shadow approaching across the dunes. Mutters of panic quickly spread through the straggling trail of the Tribe of Hawk to reach the women and children who traveled hidden in covered wagons at the rear of the pack. Harnesses jingled and sabers rasped as men pulled them free from their sheaths.

Arinwyn stifled another stream of curses. These men could do nothing against a dragon, and they knew it. But status among the People of the Dunes was largely based on brashness and bravery in the face of danger.

None of them wanted to lose face in front of the other men—or any of the veiled women who were surely peeking out of the wagons at this point.

Arinwyn took a deep breath to steady herself, inhaling the familiar scent of horse on the dry, desert air. The sun beat down on her covered head like a hammer from the cloudless blue sky. A warm trickle of sweat slithered down the back of her neck inside the soft fabric of her head scarf.

It was going to be up to her.

“Tell them to keep riding,” she said to Nasir in a curt voice, switching back to the Common Tongue. “If they are fast enough, they might be able to reach the barrier in time.”

Nasir paused before answering. “They will not like that.”

Arinwyn whirled in her blanket-covered saddle to glare at him, her dark eyes flashing.

“They don’t have to like it. Tell them to flee, unless they want their women and children to die here with them in order to prove their bravery.”

Nasir sketched an ironic bow from his own saddle and turned his mount to address the rest of the human tribe in their own dialect. Arinwyn only managed to make out the odd word. The language was based on Common, but was different enough to be confusing, especially with the Dune People’s lilting accent. Besides, none of the tribe ever dared to speak to her directly. They were much more comfortable with Nasir as their go-between.

She ignored the exchange in favor of keeping an eye on the approaching dragon.

It was hardly the first she had seen. Ever since the mysterious woman who called herself the Khashada had risen to power, the beasts had been seen flying across the land, usually journeying northeast, toward Melaquenya—unless Arinwyn missed her guess. The Quenya—the elves’ source of magic and power—was kept there, and would be a strong lure to someone who had named herself ‘Mistress’ in the Dark Tongue.

Up until now, the dragons had given the desert tribes little notice.

But the barrier had changed everything.

A shimmering, magical wall had sprung up in the distance to the east across the sands several days ago. It appeared to go on for leagues in both directions, dividing Lasniniar in half.

Iadrawyn and the Light Elves must be responsible. No one but the Lady of the Light Elves and her daughters had anywhere near the kind of magic required for such a feat. Arinwyn suspected the barrier was a desperate move to insulate the people to the east and the Quenya from the attacks of the dragons and the blood-drinking drakhalu many of the creatures carried during their nighttime flights.

But there were still people caught on the other side.

Arinwyn knew the Light Elves didn’t mean anything by it. They were likely doing the best they could to protect as many of the Free Races of Lasniniar as possible, as well as the Quenya.

But it wasn’t very helpful at the moment.

The few dragons Arinwyn had seen since the barrier had gone up had thrown themselves at it in frustration without success.

This was usually followed by venting their anger on whatever people happened to be nearby.

Arinwyn had managed to protect the tribe from two attacks already by creating a magical shield of her own and maintaining it until the dragons lost interest and flew away. But if this was a creature they had encountered before…

It’s probably not going to get bored this time.

Her stomach clenched. She was going to have to use her magic offensively this time. While she had become the undisputed master of her powers, the idea of using them against another creature served as an unwelcome reminder of where those powers had come from…

She shook herself. At least there wouldn’t be any drakhalu to contend with. No drakhal would be able to bear the full light of the desert sun and survive.

And with the barrier so close, it made far more sense for the desert people to flee toward potential safety while Arinwyn held off the dragon, instead of relying on her usual, defensive tactics. She could only hold a shield for so long, after all.

There were only two problems with this plan.

First, the tribesmen’s pride had already suffered from the previous attacks, where they had been forced to merely stand fast while Arinwyn kept the dragons at bay.

…And then there was the fact that Arinwyn didn’t know for certain whether they would be able to pass through the barrier.

The Light Elves used a similar shield to protect their own wood where the Quenya was housed. Its shimmering magic allowed elves and allies to pass, but kept dark creatures and intruders at bay. It made sense that the barrier would behave in a similar fashion, but if the Light Elves had been desperate, they might have raised it to keep everyone out of Eastern Lasniniar.

Arinwyn bit her lip as the dragon continued its approach.

The sound of horses snorting and Nasir’s many-times-removed nephew calling out what sounded like an order made her anxious thoughts scatter. She turned her head to see Nasir’s mount approach her once more. She breathed an inward sigh of relief as she saw the rest of the men herding everyone off toward the barrier with shouts of urgency.

Arinwyn gave Nasir a suspicious frown. “What did you tell them?”

She had expected it to take him much longer to convince them—assuming he was successful at all. Nasir might be the immortal brother of the chief’s long-dead, ultimate grandfather, but the tribesmen were known to be stubborn.

Nasir lowered his eyelids and gave her a sideways look. “I told them that the Wise One questioned the manhood of anyone who would not dare to escort the women and children to safety.”

“What?” Arinwyn demanded in a strangled voice.

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