Wandering the western reaches of Zinka territory, gathering Jalamba cactus for its sweet flesh, spicy fruit, and spines, a young Ksushen’ka looked up towards the slowly setting Sun, and caught a glimpse of a circling sand drake, high above. Usually found in small packs, these cowardly scavengers were common sights throughout this area of standing stones and Jalamba, on the edge of Mehenna, which had been encroaching north in recent months. Ignoring the drake at first, Ksushen’ka continued to gather more spicy fruits into her woven bags, hoping to make a rich soup tonight, hot enough to make the Old Mother cry.
Hearing a high-pitched yap, she looked up sharply, to see more sand drakes in the sky, all starting to dive towards the ground. Curious, she pulled her bags closed, and trotted off towards a sandy hill, dropping to all fours when she came close to the ridge. There, in the hollow, was a small Kekuan child, dirty, thin and ragged. He was limping badly, and looking closely, she saw the Jalamba spine sticking straight through his foot. Around him, the sand drakes were beginning to circle, making hungry growling and yapping sounds, while another continued to fly above. Unhooking the gigantic sword from her back, she prepared to intervene, when a flash of sun on metal caught her eye. There, on the opposite ridge, were two armed Kekua, and as she watched, they disappeared. Ksushen’ka immediately tried to make her way towards them without being seen, but, suddenly, she heard a scream, as the last drake swooped down and knocked the child to the ground. The others closed in.
In a desperate bid to save the injured child, Ksushen’ka leaped up and charged towards them. Quick and ferocious, the sand drakes fell, one after another, and soon tried to flee. With a cry, and heavy beating of her wings, she launched up and hacked the last of them from the air. Breathing heavily, she turned to see the child, weak and pale, as the rotten saliva of the drakes began to enter his body. Cleaning the wounds as best she could, she picked him up, and began the long walk home to camp.