The Dawn came, hot and dry, and with it, the knowledge that Sanja was still missing. It had been a week, and her tracks were fading. She was still far ahead, heading northwards. The news Kjaranna had brought from the Bes visit the previous night was still fresh, but the pack chose to continue the search, under Gangix and Kja’s leadership.
The day grew hotter, and brought a stirring of wind from the south-west. A glance told the Zinka what they needed to do. The dust devils were stirring from the shifting sands of Mehenna, and keen to play. Quickly coming together, they worked to build their low tent, out of woven canvas, hide, ropes and bone, and took refuge, moments before the sandstorm hit them.
As they huddled inside, they heard, faintly at first under the howl of the wind, and then quickly louder and louder, the shrieks of Stirges, horrible ugly things with long hollow beaks, as they flew overhead, searching for stranded victims to drain of their blood. With so many screaming overhead, Kjaranna suggested silence as their best defense, and this seemed to be working, until a particularly fat one accidentally bounced off the roof with a surprised squawk. What followed was a somewhat awkward battle where the pack attempted to kill the Stirges that found them, protect the tent from opening to the storm, and ward off more of the bloodsuckers by imitating their calls.
The storm lasted until the Sun was high in the sky, and so the pack were only able to continue the search in the cooling Dusk. With the tracks lost, it was only luck that led them to a stand of rocks, where they found the remains of a fire. Assuming it was Sanja’s, they decided to continue north, towards the land of the Arota.