The Plagued Oasis: Part Thirteen

Nick Martins, Staff Writer

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The sand people started walking Ozier and Tabia to their camp. His mother was speechless on the way there. Ozier didn’t ask any questions but began to conspire with Tabia in secrecy. Some of the sand people started to whisper amongst each other as well. Attempting to legitimize her claim of kinship with Ozier.

Upon arrival, Ozier and Tabia noticed that the architecture of the tents. They were decorated with skulls of various animals, including man. The tents circled around a large ditch. Which was their main means of cooking their food when lit. All of the tents were meant for sleeping expect one. The last tent was meant to butcher beasts to prepare food for the primitive tribe of sand people.

Night had fallen and the ditch was lit with twigs and leaves. They cooked their kill that another group hunted. Every tribesman and tribeswoman had a large piece of leather on their laps. When the butcher came around he placed a piece of cooked meat proportionate to their weight onto the leather.

The tribesmen began eating. A breath wasted was a waste of time for the sand people. Each second was spent chewing and biting their way to the bone. Tabia and Ozier chose not to partake in the feast. Ozier’s mother sat down next to him.

“My name is Anta. You don’t know me because Kha’em wanted me dead. Akela informed me the night before so I fled and met the Sand Beetle tribe,” she said, “that’s the short version, if you want me to tell you the whole story I’ll gladly do so.”

“Yea, I’d like to know some answers,” Ozier said.

“Well it started when I was Kha’em’s wife. I had lost interest in him when the politics he concerned himself with took the attention away from me,” she began smiling slightly, “That’s when I met Akela, a new servant in the court. The time I’d spend with Kha’em I would spend with Akela. Over some time we fell in love,” she sighed heavily, “Then one day, I had an affair with her and Kha’em walked in.”

“And then he sentenced you to death,” Tabia said barging into the conversation.

“Exactly. But before I was killed I was sent to the dungeon for torturing. From there, Akela freed me and escorted me to the ruins you two came from, and there was this priest waiting. We wedded on that wonderful night. But she went back and that dog took her and ‘claimed her as any Aczen claims new territory.”

“And how did you end up here and not Egypt?” Ozier questioned.

“Egypt is not the best place to be at the time. Not to mention it’s across this ocean of sand, which mind you takes an entire season to journey embark across,” Anta said.

“So were we ever going to Egypt?” Tabia asked.

“No. The plan to reunite,” Anta said.

“No after plan?” Ozier said.

“Listen, Nizam. We didn’t know we would make it this far, not to mention we not everyone made it. The other emperors were on our tail.”

“Nizam?” Ozier questioned.

“Your birth name. Did your father ever tell you?” Anta queried.

“I never asked really, but I think I like Ozier better.” he said.

“Where’d you get that name?” she asked.

“Tabia gave it to me,” he said.

“Yea, that was a while back huh, it’s fascinating thinking about time and how it flies at an unimaginable rate,” Tabia said.

“Don’t even remind me. I’ve been waiting here in this hell hole for years just to see Akela and you again, Ozier,” Anta whispered, “I’ve waited years for this, and now that you’re here I still feel empty. Granted Akela is dead, I am okay with that, I just… I don’t know how to explain myself.”

“It’s alright, don’t worry about it,” Ozier said.

The sand people began doing a tribal dance around the fire. Some started playing makeshift instruments. Musical chanting echoed in the night and the fire glowed like the sun. The cold temperatures of the desert were unforgiving to those who chose to sleep instead of participating in the tribal dance around the fire pit. Ozier, Tabia, and Anta danced the night away with the Tribesmen and Tribeswomen. Smiles on Ozier’s and Tabia’s face brought tears of joy to Anta. She snuck away from the dance unnoticed.

After the dance was over, Anta came out of her tent and took Tabia and Ozier in. They tried to sleep,  exhausted, and in an uncomfortable position they complain through the night. The beds were carved out of flat rock formations. Blankets were not offered and headrests weren’t even considered.

“Mother,” Ozier said looking up at the ceiling of the tent.

“Yes?” she said waking up.

“What happens now?” he said.

“Well, I believe you should go to Egypt,” she said, “For the sake my mentality please, please go to Egypt with Tabia.”

“But what will you do?” Ozier asked.

“Die! Grow old!” She chuckled happily.

“But all those years, why can’t we make it up?” Ozier began to cry slightly unnoticed.

“You want me to spend time with you here?” Anta said.

“No, no, no. We go to Egypt,” Ozier said.

“Not going to happen. Nizam, I mean Ozier. Listen I, I just can’t be with you, it wouldn’t feel right,” Anta said, “Seeing that Akela is gone, and you having Tabia. I, I, I don’t know Ozier. I just don’t.”

“You’re not giving me a solid reason as to why you can’t come with us to Egypt,” Ozier said aggressively, wiping the tears from his cheeks.  

“Just leave me be. Right here. In this godforsaken tribe,” Anta said tearing up.

“There’s something you’re not telling me, damn it,” Ozier began to raise his voice.

“Alright, alright. I am kept as a slave to these primitive people. But I don’t want you to kill them,” Anta said sobbing, “There are family to me, you must understand.”

“Family? Are you out of your mind?” Ozier woke up Tabia.

“For seventeen unforgiving years, I’ve been here, earning their respect, and learning their culture,” Anta said, “On the eighteenth year, I started experiencing the love these people have for me. I am one of them, and if you can’t accept that as an answer I suppose there is nothing that can convince you.”

“Then I suppose I’ll stay,” Ozier said.

“Disappointing. Just, disappointing,” Anta said.

“Why is that?” Ozier questioned frustratedly.

“It’s disappointing because I don’t want to see you and your woman start a family with these savages.”

“But mother, the time we must spend together. Doesn’t that matter to you?” Ozier questioned in sad tone of voice.

“All the time you’ve spent growing up in the palace, gone. All the time you’ve spent playing childish games with the nobel’s children, gone. All the time you’ve spent training to be a general, gone. And the time I would’ve spent with you, gone. And it’s impossible to remember that, you were merely an infant,” Anta said.

“How did you know that I was doing all that?” Ozier queried, “I didn’t even know I did that.”

“Akela told me, she sent a courier every now and then. But that’s besides the point Ozier, go spend the time that you have now, the time you can remember for the rest of your life in Egypt. In Egypt with that girl of yours,” Anta said crying obsessively, “I’ll miss you but I just, want you to have a better life. And I can’t leave, they’ll hunt me down and bring me back. Or worse, kill me.”

“Mother, I want to you to come with us,” Ozier said persistently.

“Son. My boy. I will not,” Anta said wiping the tears from her face and sitting up, “I will take my own life if you are here in the morning.”

“Mother no, you can’t,” Ozier sat up from his rock bed, “I can protect you, I. I can to do the impossible to keep you safe.”

“Go now, and never come back. I mean it,” Anta said in a straight tone of voice, still sniffing away the congestion.

Ozier grabbed Tabia by the arm and practically dragged her out of the tent like a ragdoll. He let go and stood looking at the fire. He began tearing up more. Tabia got up from the ground and wiped the sand off of her clothes. Hugging Ozier from behind made his body less tense. He looked down with his eyes closed, tears hitting the dry sand, and emotions coursing through his body.

“I’ll go untie the camels and grab our satchels, we’ll go to Egypt,” Tabia said softly.

“Yea, maybe it’s for the best,” Ozier said. “You know I just wanted her with us, I just want to have parents that love me or a parent.”

“Hey cheer up, don’t go all soft on me Ozier,” Tabia said smiling, “She does love you, and this is her expressing such love.”

“Yea well, it’s tough love,” Ozier stopped tearing up.

“Listen, just stay here I’ll grab those satchels and untie the camels.” Tabia said.

The sun began rising on the edge of the horizon. Ozier looked back and saw nothing but sand and the footprints from the camels. Tabia led with her camel and Ozier sat on his moping his way to Egypt. Their camels started to climb an incline on a large sand dune. Suddenly they saw a glistening river that seemed to stretch for miles. Deciding to follow the river north Tabia and Ozier encountered the kingdom of Egypt. There they started their new lives together.