Lachai, like most Celean warriors, had seen these from afar. Now they surrounded him in every direction.
Fear wrenched his stomach as the sand beneath him began to collapse into a pit.
Lachai sprang out of the pit as the ground shuddered and burst in all directions.
A great greenish globing mess of a creature with circular, razor sharp jaws and grasping tentacles writhed up into the air seeking Lachai’s flesh.
With the skill of a Celean master-dancer, Lachai bounded through the sand to the flat expanse of the badlands.
Lachai carried with him no salt, the only weapon that could possibly help him against the Vrahadith.
His only hope was that the badlands were composed partly of salt, and would present a barrier to the Vrahadith’s raging hunger.
The creature reared and bucked, pursuing Lachai above ground. Lachai could feel the hot sticky breath of the creature against the back of his ankle just as he leaped across the brackish colored soil of the badlands.
With a triple roll, Lachai collapsed onto the rocks, spent. His eyes closed to avoid witnessing his own gruesome death.
But death did not come. The Vrahadith with a strangely warbled howl had set a tentacle on the badlands and immediately stopped his progress.
The stench of burning flesh filled the air. Lachai, emboldened stood up, picking out a rock to throw at the creature.
With a mighty heave, the rock connected against the side of the creature, causing it to writhe in agony.
Lachai prepared to launch another but the beast dove back into the sand, scattering it in all directions.
Silence resumed across the land. Lachai gazed at the horizon, where the badlands stretched as far as the eye could see.
He realized he had narrowly avoided a death by Vrahadith, only to favor a death by Celem.
Nowhere was there shade. Lachai tried to dig into the ground to cover himself from Celem, but the soil would not budge. The softer sand might have worked, but Lachai knew that was where the creature waited for him.
Lachai’s strength had left him, so he curled up into a ball to protect as much of himself from Celem as he could, and he fell fast asleep.
As Celem departed the sky for his brief rest, Lachai awoke. He decided to try travelling along the edge of the badlands in search of the coast, perhaps losing the vrahadith on the way.
For the time allotted to him, Lachai made some progress. Yet the scenery failed to change. As Celem broke his fierce face over the horizon, Lachai knew another day unprotected would kill him. So he attempted to gather sand from the dunes to build a nest on the hard badland.
Using his tattered cloak, Lachai hauled piles of sand from the dunes across to the badlands.
He had carried several loads in such a manner when with a sudden shudder, the ground began rumbling again.
The creature broke from the surface, but having learnt a lesson about the badlands, stopped short of chasing Lachai onto it.
But Lachai needed more sand. So he waited for the creature to resubmerge before collecting it. In such a manner, he succeeded in collecting three more loads, each load punctuated by an increasingly angrier strike by the hungry Vrahadith.
During Lachai’s last desperate load the creature’s timing had improved so that it swallowed the cloak and the sand whole—straight out of Lachai’s hands.
With desperation and heaviness, Lachai piled the sand over his body, using the scrap of cloak he had left to cover his head and waited.
Lachai did not move for several days. He hoped the creature would sense his death and move away for another kill. He steadied his breath and thought of the dances he had enjoyed in the village.
At the end of his third day, Lachai knew he had to move or die. He had spent eight days with neither drink nor anything to eat.