The morning arrives with a promises of rain. Clouds hang ominously low as your travel companions start to break camp at a brisk pace. Bungisgan seems to be at stupor at first, but catches himself quickly, even as you sneakily observe him. Could it be an act, or is his consciousness so varied, between utter incapability to mastermind executioner of plans.
You execute your plan of occlusion-faking and just sit there watching all around with little effort towards your morning chores. It is a task more testing than you would think, as the breakfast that is warmed quickly on the fires makes your mouth water, yet they make little effort of giving you the food to where you sit. You silence your belly aching and focus on sitting and watching with distorted eyes.
It gets worse still, as Besnik tries to approach you as well and you do not risk it telling him of your plan. So the anguished man is left to his own problems. It colds you to see his eyes, complete surrender mixed to the fanatic. You hope he doesn’t plan on doing anything rash.
It is not long when the men have finished their chores and few come to your aid. They walk you to your steed and, after a watchful eye make you ready to travel. One man is set to guide your horse with a loose rope, while another rides behind you. No problem there, once you get to the road as the horses are so familiar on traveling there they could do it unguided and blindfolded.
During all of this Bungisgan doesn’t approach you, but you can spot him making furtive glances now and then. You make no mistake about it, you are being watched, constantly.
Bungisgan discusses with three men and they set off in a brisk pace, quickly vanishing behind hills and corners of the winding road. The day progresses without great events, the low-hanging clouds decide not to give you water after all, but are pushed towards south driven by a brisk north-wind. You meet few travelers on your way, lone merchants mostly with few sleepy-looking bogatyrs securing their travel. Once though, you meet up with a larger caravan. Normal road-courtesy is given and received and for a moment you figure out whether you should take this opportunity to create something. But as you inspect the stern looks on the Kryfis men and the lesser number of the caravan guards you steer away from that path. You let the moment pass, sliding along the road with your company and as quickly as that the chance is gone.
The day has been long. When the sun starts to approach the ever-present inland sea in the west, the silhouette of Saur Rock appears, glooming out above the lesser peaks and hilltops. You have had plenty of time to think it over. How to get rid of Bungisgan without getting killed yourself or worse? Where are the bogatyrs that were sent to the Rock to search for the Dreamer? Are the four bravos nearby as well, and do they have a part to play in this tragedy before it unfolds? No easy answers emerge, so you do what you must, wait for the situation to change, somehow, to your advantage.
The role of the three men sent forth earlier now comes apparent as they approach you before the main party reaches the Saur. Your group is herded towards the shore, where two large boats await. It is only natural, as Bungisgan would never survive the climb, unless his magical powers include levitation.
The locals that await on the boats are tall men, with calloused hands and wind-worn faces. They greet you with an eagerness that suggests that the men of Kryfis have probably paid them rather than used intimidation. It is indeed wise not to threaten people in whose hands you put your life in, as the reefs and currents around the Saur can be deadly.
Bungisgan makes you hurry as the sun is about to set and a cloudy night will be pitch black. Three men are left on shore to tend the horses and the others are hurriedly pushed to the boats. Men row as the local fishermen stand on the bows as lookouts.
After just an hour of perilous rowing between the twisting currents and submerged rocks you manage to find a spot to harbor at the peninsula and you go ashore as the last rays of the evening sun are washing over the desolate place. Familiarity of your surroundings fill you. So much has changed, since, only few days ago you dreamed your first lucid dreams in this god-forsaken place.
Bungisgan now starts to act with a frenzy, making the men ready torches and lanterns, and others to bring his equipment for him. He now arrives and talks to you for the first time in the whole day.
― Little bird had a rough night and day right, right. But you must brighten now, as you are required, and for you to see little more of magic.
You hold onto your wild-eyed state, which seems to irritate hurrying Bungisgan now extremely. Without a warning he comes close and bites you in the base of your neck. He is relentless and pierces your skin, his rotten teeth hurting like hell. But even more you are taken back of his vulgar barbarism and invasion of personal space.
You let out a sharp yell and step backwards. Instantly he lets you go and watches keenly of your eye for any signs of the movement of your consciousness. He seems to be awarded with something he sees as a pleased grin decorates his face for a moment. Then he drops the issue, like one might drop a used rag. The bite-wound in your neck burns and pulses, but you do not give him the satisfaction of putting your hand to it. You hope it doesn’t bleed too profusely.
― Look at this Martlet. I figure you wouldn’t want to show me where the Dreamer is hidden, but my sands will tell us. They will.
He picks a small sack of sturdy-looking canvas and pushes two eager hands inside. They come out filled with red sand. He proceeds to speak, apparently to the sand in his hands with low, guttural voice. The language seems alien to you, yet you catch some phrases, perhaps from your vast studies. They tell of extreme hate and sand and blood.
Suddenly he tosses the handfuls squarely in the air. Where normal sand would now be scattered in the high north-wind that still blows through the region, this sand forms a tight thread in the air. Like a pet snake would swim in the garden-ponds of Paisvien, the sand-thread slithers through air with an unnatural drive. Bungisgan orders all to follow it and even you do so with eagerness that leaves the man of Kryfis who is supposed to push you around to catch up.
On the way you try for a moment to extract the logic behind Bungisgan’s actions. If you were truly oblivious to this world, biting would not snap you out of your state, yet if the man spoke the truth he needs your presence here and now. His mind games have worked so far, but now you do not see any logic on his behavior here.
Soon you’ll wash that aside though, as the target of the sands is familiar to you. In the southern edge of the plateau, there is a crevice well-surrounded by rocks from all sides. Yet when the sand slithers in like a living thing and your enthustiastic gaze follows, there is again the dark hole that took the fishermen earlier inside the rock. Perfectly camouflaged, perhaps by nature, from every direction, you now see that the hole can be seen only if you walk right next to it.
― Aahhh, red sand, good sand, Bungisgan mumbles and proceeds to collect the now grounded red sand as well as it can be under the circumstances. Kryfis men look one another, yet is it perhaps due to some magic or unspoken agreement that they do not speak or act but rather wait the commands of the eunuch. Surely this kind of open supernatural act would cause great concern over normal men.
― Bring the torches and the lanterns, Bring the ropes and handles. Bring the bag with my notebooks. This will take a while, but we’ll have all the time in the world and nobody is sleeping until its done.
The men do as they are told, rest waiting as comfortably as they can in this windy shoreline.
― Now little bird, we shall see how good you really are. As you might know, the lair of the Dreamer is not easy to penetrate. There must be traps waiting for us down there. So, here are my notes of this area, the ones I made long time ago, before I gave my vessel to our Lord. Many a lifeblood was spent when I collected this knowledge, as it was scattered among the cultists and secret orders and I wasn’t really gentle when extracting them. Some I remember, but some you have to read from the books. No no, little bird, first you read and then you’ll go first, I’ll follow. And if you fail, your soapman here will be the next volunteer.
The men, focusing on this play in front of them in this desolate beach fail to notice a little rustling of the rocks somewhere higher from the plateau. A hawk’s eye could have noticed a well-groomed moustache of Castelmore and a set of keen eyes, watching from a shelter among the rocks.