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When Celem had departed, he crept out of the sand nest. Moving was harder than it had ever been. Lachai dragged himself along despite the heaviness, hoping to find the coast. 

That night was dark. Lachai could not see a thing except what was near his feet as he stumbled along. 

In his pain, Lachai felt the darkness would never end. But soon, Celem’s heralds spread across the sky—revealing a lone promontory on the horizon, not a thousand paces from him. 

However, the rock jutted up like an island surrounded by sandy dunes. 

Celem rose ever higher in the sky, revealing more details. At the base of the rock Lachai could see some of the plants Celeans eat growing. Where such things could exist in the land of Fire meant there was drink.  Lachai’s head pounded at the thought. 

Lachai stumbled forward and picked up a rock the size of his head, breathed a great breath and began his trek out onto the dunes towards the promontory. 

He went 100 paces, 200 paces, 300 paces without any signs of a vrahadith. 

At 400 paces, the ground began trembling. Lachai willed his legs to move faster. 

At 450 paces the sand exploded. The slime ridden creature emerged not a breath away from Lachai. 

Lachai grasped his rock and broke into a run. 

The horizon bounced and turned white. 

That was when the creature struck. 

Lachai felt it first in his leg, a searing heat that brought color back into his vision. His leg was deep inside the Vrahadith’s gaping mouth, its tentacles writhed as it chewed. 

With a mighty cry, Lachai launched the rock at the creature. 

The rock bounced off the edge of the Vrahadith’s mouth, but it was enough to momentarily stun the creature. 

Lachai pulled his leg and launched himself towards the rock. The creature reared back, poised over Lachai to pounce and swallow him whole. 

Lachai’s hand gripped the rock, slime sizzling on its surface. 

With the motion Celean dancers use to launch one into the air, Lachai heaved the rock just as the creature sprang towards him. 

The rock cleared the creatures mouth. With a screech never before heard, the Vrahadith, in mid leap, shuddered and collapsed to Lachai’s side. It jerked up and down, side to side trying to spit the rock out of its torpedo like back side. 

But the rock would not be so easily dislodged. Finally in its desperation, the creature dove deep into the dunes. 

The ground trembled and the grew quiet. Lachai looked at his leg—now a bloody stump that ended at his knee. 

Silence descended upon the place, until a rumbling began again. Lachai scrambled, digging at the sand, trying to crawl towards the towering rock. 

He had not made it one pace till again the sand exploded next to him. The Vrahadith launched high into the air, followed by a violent stream of fluid. It landed in a heap next to Lachai, dead. 

But the fluid continued, gushing and pressing sand in all directions until it washed over Lachai. 

It was sweet drink, the kind Celeans need to live. 

As it washed over Lachai, he opened his mouth and gulped it in. 

Lachai passed out then, not caring if he lived one breath longer. 

+++

When he again awoke, Lachai found himself at the foot of the promontory. The water, unabated, had filled the sandy dunes around the rock and carried Lachai in its path. 

Lachai grasped a plant next to him, tearing its long shoots into strips and tied them around his stump of a leg. Again he fell asleep. 

It was several days before Lachai had strength enough to move. He ate what he could find around the rock and drank until his belly felt too heavy to lift. Each pass of Celem saw him a little stronger. 

Lachai soon moved again freely. He broke off a branch and used it to stand. He hunted the creatures that came attracted to the sweet drink, and he ate from the plants that began to grow quickly. 

Lachai had a found a new paradise. He soon decided to go tell his village of it. 

After a tortuous journey, in which Lachai nearly lost his way many times, he arrived. 

The Celeans in the village were shocked to see Celem had not killed him, and were even more shocked by his story of the rock and the sweet drink flowing out of the sand. 

A group agreed to journey with him. Seeing it was true, they founded a new village at its banks. That village is now the greatest city of our people Tu’vrahadith—“gift of the Vrahadith”.

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