".. The final resting place of the exiled prince.. broken free of bondage by serpent tongue to sleep among the dreamers." soft words spoken beside firelight. The researcher reached up to fiddle with a pair of glasses that looked to have seen better days while brown eyes behind them strained. The remainder of the text Gregory attempted to translate had been far too damaged. Unable to make out the rest, no matter how hard he squints, he reluctantly groaned after carefully setting the broken piece of ornate stone down beside him.
"When do you think it'll let up?" a question posed by another Hunter who stood closer to the mouth of the cave.
They had been lucky to even stumble onto this place after being turned about during their trip back to Gangos. The sand storm seemed to have come out of nowhere. The horses were gone, much of their supplies lost, but at least Gregory was able to save the broken tablet. Treasures one thing, which his partner was very vocally annoyed about losing their lion's share of, but he did not want to part with this find. It was history, a piece of the story that could very well bring light to just what these ruins were.
"Exiled prince.." Gregory muttered. He needed to read over the tablet again. Maybe he was missing something.
"Hey, did you hear me?" the Hunter spoke up again.
She's the only female of the group. They had found her after she was separated from her own party. With the blood on her clothes they assumed that either a Naga attack happened or possibly foul play. She did arrive to them carrying a golden rod of sorts, and it still clung to the belt loop at her waist, the current assumption was that trouble went down and she chose to run off with the gold instead of staying and fighting. Probably the smartest choice, but it made the others wary to trust her.
"Who the fuck knows." came from the leader. A brawny man, one of the desert locals, who had been trying to sleep; but with the muttering from Gregory and the random questions coming from the woman-who-refused-to-give-a-name, he was starting to get annoyed.
The annoyance must have peaked — because he stood and said, "I'm takin' a piss.."
There is a brief moment where he paused beside Gregory say, "Keep an eye on her.. Second she falls asleep, cut her throat."
This didn't phase Gregory. A life of a Hunter was a rather cut throat business, after all! This wouldn't be his first time and it most likely wouldn't be his last. He'd nod his head then spoke up after his friend continued on his way, "Don't go too far, there might be stone scorpions. They like to hide in the dampness of caves."
The annoyed muttering which came in response brought a grin to Gregory's lips.
"You see that wench back in Cadentia? The one with the big tits?" Came loudly from deeper in the cave.
"There's a lot of those, you'll have to be more specific." came Gregory's reply while he fixed his glasses and attempted to make out some scribbling off in the corner of the tablet; though a momentary distraction came from a sound coming from the mouth of the cave. Gregory looked up to see the woman-without-a-name still standing there; though now taking a lean against the rock and shaking her head.
"Sorry you ain't as well endowed, love. But you got a pretty face all the same." This came a minute or so after Gregory thought about it. And yes, it sounded cooler in his head. Like an attempt to at being suave.
All that got him was a look. One that gave off the vibe that the woman was looking at something lower than dirt. Gregory could be thankful for one thing, with the dim light of the fire — the flush on his cheeks would be hard to make out. He buried his face back into his studies and tried his best to put his mind on something else.
As the minutes passed something seemed to nag at him in the back of his mind.. Ti-an hadn't returned, and he knew the man was talkative enough when it came to wenches that him not responding was somewhat strange. The awkward fopaux with the nameless woman had distracted Gregory for a time to not realize it, but now that he did... he felt a cold sweat began to build up.
"Ti-an?" He called out.
"Ti-an! This wasn't funny back at the oasis, and it's not funny now."
Still no response.
Silence fell over the makeshift campsite. The rage of the shifting sand whistling from the outside.
".. Shouldn't you go check on your friend?" The nameless woman asked.
Gregory sat there still. It would be the brave thing to do, but bravery wasn't on his mind at all. Paranoia bringing up different thoughts. Could there really be stone scorpions? He was lying about them supposedly being this far south, but could he have been misinformed? He let out a small laugh to try and break the tension (or more likely make himself feel better).
"Ti-an.. Joke's over," he said.
No. There was a sound. A whistle. But not from the storm behind him.
A glint of something, he could make it out only for a moment, then came the searing pain. He looked down to see an arrow sticking out from his chest. In a panic he stumbled from the rock that had once been his seat, only to jolt back once more as a second arrow found his chest. Gregory struck the ground hard — enough to slam the side of his head against the stone and blur his vision.
He heard a scream. Was it him? No, he was yelling, but that scream wasn't his.
"Hume.. Far too South you have gone."
Gregory did not know that voice. But he did know the word. It meant Human, from the tongue of a tribe of the desert. No, no. He shouldn't be thinking about that.
"Wait, wait!" He began to say.
With blurred vision he raised his gaze and only saw the shadow of a looming form standing over him. The loving warmth of the fire gone, all that was there had been silhouettes in the darkness.
A third thrust. He felt it only briefly... Then nothing.
<"That one runs. Do we follow?"> one of the hunters of hunters said to their partner.
<"No. Let the sands claim it.">