The landscape before her was coated in swaths of mahogany sand. The onyx and crimson gravel beneath her clung to her toes in an irritating fashion. Only her bright emerald eyes stood out, her plumage blending seamlessly into the shifting world around her. 1/11 #amwritingfiction
She moved forward slowly, squinting to reduce the glare from the sun and the amount of grit in her eyes. Her nictitating membrane swept over her eyes to protect them as she trudged forward. She took ragged breaths through her nostrils, the dry and hot air making them sting. 2/11
She felt as if her throat had been stuffed full of fiddleheads, all itchy and suddenly dry. Iara blinked, shaking her head, coughing. Sand now coated every scale and barb on her body.

Iara took a step, and froze, then stumbled backward, startled. The ground beneath her...3/11
...gave way, swallowing her metatarsals. She shifted her weight forward, finding the sand shifting back away from her as she pushed and shuffled. She slowly moved, nearly stumbling, then regained her balance, gasping. 4/11
A whoosh of air and a cackle from above made Iara duck down instinctively. An immense shadow passed overhead, temporarily immersing her in darkness.

Iara looked up and over the crest of a nearby dune. She saw a flock of large skinwingeds circling, swooping down and cackling.5/11
She shuffled to the dune and felt her jaw drop.
An avian with flame hued plumage was curled as if asleep in the sands, being attacked by skinwingeds. They swooped down and snapped their elongate beaks at each other, the loud clacks of them drowned out by the wind. #amwriting 6/11
Iara slid down the sand dune, and rolled into the fray. The skinwingeds screeched and flapped off, not willing to chase down their meals.

Iara turned to the flame hued avian, who was lightly buried in sand, some of his body scored by beakmarks. #amwritingfiction 7/11
Blood and plumage blended together, and the sand stung her eyes as she nosed his chin gently. “Tlactoc?” she whispered, frightened and unsure.

“Iara,” Tlactoc choked, and Iara scooped her nose under his lower jaw, lifting his neck away from the sands. #amwriting 8/11
“Why did you follow me?!” Iara hissed, half scolding, half mortified. “If you return to the enclave--!”

“I had to find you again,” Tlactoc gasped. He coughed up sand and dust.

“This path is mine to take!” Iara warbled angrily. 9/11
“And I will follow you past this sand sea, if only to see you through this perilous journey you have taken,” Tlactoc argued, his golden eyes finally opening and fixed on Iara.

“The enclave needs you, not me!” Iara watched him struggle to sit up on her outstretched wing. 10/11
“It is folly to come with me,” Iara growled, and Tlactoc snarled in response:

“That may be so, but it is my choice.”

“No avians besides Warriorfeathers can enter the Oasis…” Iara sighed, and Tlactoc chittered his lower jaw.

“I can persuade them otherwise,” Tlactoc grunted.
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