The sky blackened as the nearing clouds of a sandstorm gathered above the vast plains of the desert. Kansas stood straight, arms erect as if to embrace the coming disaster. His long black hair was waving in the starting wind. His pale skin was already a bit red from standing in the hot desert sun without protection. His eyes were closed. But beneath their protective eyelids they were blue.
Five minutes Kansas managed to keep this pose. But then curiosity got the better of him and he opened one eye. The sandstorm on the horizon seemingly hadn't moved. Kansas sighed. He really didn't have time for this. He sat down and waited another five minutes. 
Kansas got up again, took the same pose as before and trembled as the beautiful orange-brown scenery faded. He wondered if he would still able to see after the transformation...

Brewing Storms
As the end draws near
Raging Sand
Where the skies were once clear

Kansas hesitated for a moment. Was he really going through with this? What if it didn't work? Kansas stood for a time, the sand raging around him. He was going to die anyway, he thought. What would it matter if his last days were spent in slightly more agony?

Take my offering
The life I no longer wish
And give me the power
I so sorely miss

Desert of the Ages
Wait no longer
Take me into your arms
Make me stronger!

Kansas opened his eyes. Nothing felt different. The sand storm had moved on and he was standing alone again. feeling foolish. Maybe this had just been a waste of time. But Kansas had to live. Dieing wasn't an option. He was only 23! And he had hardly lived. He had spent his life in Cairo studying archaeology... and to think he himself would soon belong to the past. No-one knew about the cancer that was infesting his body. Not even his sister who was the only person who truly knew everything about him. She was a teacher, and a great listener, patient and compassionate. He would miss her.
He couldn't go. It didn't feel right for his life to end already. That's why he had paid the old witch to teach him the incantation that would make him stronger. 
"Careful, " she had said, "The desert takes only the ones it has a use for. It will want something in return."
"I have nothing left to offer." Kansas had replied.
"Oh, you have, you just don't know it yet."
That had ended their first conversation. Kansas had returned a second time for the incantation and then he had driven out into the desert and preformed the silly ritual. He should have stayed at home.
A sudden blast of wind rushed sand around him. Kansas covered his face with his sleeves. When he looked up again he was back in the city. The soft yellow houses baking in the sun. It was a small city, North of Cairo. A small figure left one of the houses and waved when she saw him.
"Kansas!" his sister Rebecca called.
Kansas waved back. He couldn't tell any of this to his sister. She shouldn't worry about him. When he got closer though she gave him a weird look.
"I know it's been a while, but you've changed... Why did you ever dye your hair?"
"Uhm... I didn't dye my hair." Kansas answered her.
"Well, you did something with it..."
"Must be the light." he mumbled.
"Where's the car? I don't see it?"
"I parked it outside the village. I only stopped for a quick visit. You know how much they like my company in Cairo." Kansas managed to smile.
In real life he had quit his job. Well, he had taken up all the vacation days he had still pending. He had told his mates he was going on a Nile cruise and left it at that. He hadn't gone to work in a week now.
"Good to see you...Want to come in for a drink?"
"Nah, I really don't have time. I'll talk to you some other day."
"Yeah, we have lots of time left." Rebecca said and smiled broadly.
Kansas turned and left her, running for the desert. In the town Rebecca stood silent, wondering what she had said wrong... 
Outside the village Kansas grabbed his hair and tried to see what the colour was. But it still looked black to him. Probably because he couldn't look at it properly. Kansas turned around. Desperately seeking something. What? His car. How had he gotten here? Had he lost his mind? Did he have blackouts from the tumour? The doctors had told him that was a possibility. Kansas relaxed. The tumour yes.
His car would be around here somewhere, maybe even smashed into some rocks. No, he was too good a driver to do that. If he had gotten here in a blackout his car would be parked neatly behind a dune. But no matter where Kansas looked, he just couldn't find his car.
He was nearly panicking when he had searched the entire strip of desert around the city. He couldn't go back, Rebecca would know something was wrong... but he couldn't leave without his car. Cairo was too far away.
"If I could only see the damn thing..." Kansas said out loud, giving up hope of finding his car.
Kansas turned around and looked straight at his car. How had it gotten here? It hadn't been there a minute before. Kansas was sure of that... or wasn't he. The tumour was in his frontal cortex, the doctors had told him he might have problems seeing because it obstructed the optic nerve. But this was hallucinating! Wasn't that something totally different?
No, Kansas thought, hallucinating also had to do with the eyes, it was his tumour, nothing more.
"It hasn't worked!" he told himself.
Kansas looked at the car again. It was a red pick up truck, old and a bit battered, but in good shape. Kansas had fallen in love with it the first time he had laid eyes on it. It wasn't the model, or even the fact that it was a truck. He wasn't that macho... It was the painting on the sides that had done it. Pyramids in a sandstorm. The sky red with flames and sand.
Kansas rubbed his fingers on the painting. At least that still felt normal. But somehow the sky wasn’t as free as it had seemed before. No, the sky was burning, there wasn’t a sunset going on like he had once believed. It was almost like a preview of the end of time. Doom. Maybe a vision of what hell must be like.
Kansas shuddered. He looked around and sighed. There was no-one here. Nobody was watching him. Kansas got in the car and drove off. Back to Cairo. The road to Cairo was long, dusty and not very visible. But Kansas didn’t have any trouble navigating through the dustclouds. It was almost like he could see right through them. Practice, he told himself. You’ve driven on this road maybe a thousand times, you ought to know it by now!
Finally he admitted to himself that he wasn’t returning to his house. But where else would he go? Kansas slowed down for a moment, letting the car go under the maximum speed. Immediately two cars passed him, honking, people yelling.
The pyramid, Kansas decided. He needed to think and things would be calm there at this hour of the day. Excavating was something you did during the morning; the day was for analyzing your finds. Kansas took a turn and headed out into the desert known as the Valley of the Kings.
Kansas passed the tourist sites and went to a newly discovered site high in the West of the Valley. Ruins of a small city had been found there. It was believed to be a slave-house.
The living serving the dead. Quite ironic. Kansas thought. With a bitter taste in his mouth he wondered where he would be placed right now. Dreaming most likely with a spirit flying between this world and the next.
Finally Kansas reached his destination. The small site almost shied away in the great shadows of the pyramids. Kansas parked his car on the designated spot, got out and jumped in the pit. He took out his sweater and hung it over the wall, the sand was very hot from the sun. This room had been found by a few tourists. They’d probably taken home a few souvenirs too, Kansas thought as he looked at the walls. Small things most likely, but still…
The sun was starting to return to the earth, the light already dimming when Kansas saw the mirror. He remembered that mirror. They had started excavating it when he had left. Good to see some things carried on. Kansas went closer. The frame was beautiful, gold with hieroglyphics. And then there was the mirror itself. Unbelievable that it had survived all these centuries of dust and storm. The guys had done a good job cleaning it up.
Kansas shifted it to stop the sunlight from hitting his eyes. He nearly dropped it. His eyes! They were amber-brown. That wasn’t right. His face was darker too… but the most dramatic change, the change his sister had spotted was his hair. The colour was a very light brown, like sand with a soft yellowish tint.
For several minutes Kansas could only gaze at his reflection, trying to find more changes. Trying to make sense of it.
The only thing that could really explain this was the ritual. Not even a tumour had the power to change someone’s appearance in this fashion. Kansas dropped to the ground. He had to think.
Kansas grabbed his hair again. To him it still looked black, but the mirror told him otherwise. Nothing felt different. He was still the same person. What exactly had the old witch said the spell would do? Make him stronger, not kill him. Did this mean he was on the safe side?
Suddenly he remembered the weird things that had happened to him that day. If he hadn’t had blackouts from the tumour, then what had happened? Kansas tried to remember every little detail. He had wanted to be home… then a sudden flash of sand had obscured his sight… the sand!
Kansas climbed out of the excavation site, in his haste forgetting his sweater. All sorts of thoughts ran through his brain, not all of them were happy thoughts. Kansas was awed by the possibility, but afraid at the same time: What had he done? He stumbled between the excavation sites and suddenly he found himself at the edge of the Valley of the Kings. He looked up. The sun was even farter down, already shedding some golden-red light on the sandstone pyramids. Why had he stopped?
Kansas looked down. Right in front of him ran a line. A line he had never seen before. Kansas took a step closer. He hesitated. Then he took a deep breath and went over the line.
What happened in the next seconds was surreal. A sense of danger caught Kansas and he knew he wasn’t welcome in the middle of the pyramids anymore. But he had passed through them just hours before!
But on new ground, asphalt! A voice inside him replied.
The danger became worse with the millisecond and so did the anger. It hadn’t been there before, but now it was raging all around him. Red-black, like hatred, punching him, forcing him to his knees. A part of him wanted to surrender, but an older, more basic instinct got hold of him. Kansas heard himself blow like an angry cat, then a wave of sand rushed up and relieved him from anger and danger.
This time Kansas could recall more from his short trip back to his car. He could remember the sand and then looking down on the ground, as if he had been flying, but not quite, he had been very close to the ground, like he had been sand himself.
The moment of anxiety was over. Kansas only wanted to know what more he was able to do. He got in his car and drove of into the desert. AT first he just drove randomly around, turning back as often as going further. Finally however Kansas realized he would have to stop somewhere.
Kansas stopped his car. He got out and looked at the night-sky. Some early stars were already showing their light. No-one was around, and why should they? He was in the middle of nowhere. Kansas walked a bit further over the cream-white plains. He stopped and pondered.
Would it be safe to try this? What if he could do it? What if he couldn’t?
Would he be able to create a sandstorm?
Kansas looked up and immediately closed his eyes. It would be now or never, the moment of truth. Kansas raised his hands in the same pose he had used for the silly incantation. He hoped from the bottom of his heart that he wouldn’t need to start chanting stuff for this.
Kansas concentrated, his forehead frowned, his muscles tense. Every part of his brain was focused. He could smell the desert, hear the wind over the plains and taste the sand. He imagined the sand stirring in front of him. Just a tiny whirl was all he wanted. Kansas opened his eyes. Nothing.
He closed his eyes again and tried harder, he envisioned more sand rising up towards him, hitting him in the face. But still he felt nothing happening. Kansas opened his eyes again and cursed. He was making a fool of himself again. Just like before. Maybe he really only was delusional. What proved the mirror, the teleporting? Nothing really, maybe he was strapped down to a bed drugged to oblivion. Maybe he was death…
As Kansas’ irritation, anger and humiliation rose small sand crystals started to stir. They flung up and bounced before they lay still again. But Kansas was too far off to notice it. He was considering all the things that had gone wrong this day and didn’t like what he concluded.
"Lunatic!" he yelled at himself.
"Stupid. Unknowing. Madman!"
He kept this up for a quite a while, walking in small circles while waving his arms.
A sudden thunder in the distance pulled him out of his thoughts. It was too early for a thunderstorm. Kansas looked up and gulped.
The raging sandstorm, forged at his command closed in fast. Kansas started to run, knowing he was too late. The sandstorm would hit him. But would that kill him? Kansas wasn’t really willing to try.
His brain, already overheated, was running overtime to find a solution. Suddenly, in the last possible moment it found one. The car! It had come to him earlier; it would come to him again. Kansas wished for his car to appear in front of him. It did, but to Kansas’ despair too far for him to reach, to close to the sandstorm. Within seconds the car was lost from sight.
"Something faster!" he called out to get his brain going.
He needed something fast and agile. Something that could pick him up and fly him out of danger….
Suddenly a roar sounded from behind him. Kansas turned, only to turn back and run faster. What he had seen surpassed all his imagination. A creature, bigger than a house with glowing eyes and wings as big as the wings on a small plane, came crashing toward him.
Suddenly Kansas realized this was what he had asked for. The creature was fast all right, faster than Kansas, and faster than the sandstorm. Kansas could feel both of their breaths in his neck, the warm moist one of the dragon and the dry hot one from the desert.
Suddenly two claws grabbed hold of him and he was swooped up into the air. The creature waited until the sandstorm had passed and landed, gently putting him on the ground. To Kansas’ surprise the creature hadn’t come alone. A young man, blond with wings slid down from the long neck of the creature.
"Who are you?" Kansas asked.
"I should ask you, ordering Aavaanaath out of between just like that!" the man replied.
"I didn’t order anything." Kansas said, still angry from before.
The blue dragon snorted and twitched it’s tail as more sand started rising.
"Aavaanaath says you better keep your cool if we don’t want another storm."
"Who’s Aavaanaath ?"
"My dragon." The man pointed, "My name is G'vin"
"Well Kansas, I think me and Aavaanaath better get going now. We've wasted enough time here."
"Where to?"
Kansas could almost sink in the ground when he heard the sound of his voice. He was a bit frightened about staying alone in the desert, but he didn’t want the others to know it. A strange pull from below alerted Kansas that he’d have to be very careful about his thoughts in the future.
The dragon uttered a strange kind of sound. It sounded like it was amused.
"Aavaanaath says we better take you with us to get you your own dragon so Aavaanaath doesn’t have to save you every time you get yourself into trouble."
Kansas considered those words a bit. He didn’t like being dependant at all, but in his situation he couldn’t really deny the help he was given.
"Deal." he said.


The Hatching
Kansas is a Candidate at Darkling Dawn Weyr
Music Playing is Dust in the Wind, by Kansas and was found here
Back to Lantessama Isle