Chapter 20: Pushing Limits

Desòchu groaned as he jogged toward the Wind’s Teeth. He considered slowing but couldn’t, not with the horrific memories of wanting to taste some creature’s blood and the image of his brother’s blood haunting him. His feet pounded against the sand, kicking out puffs as he raced toward the Wind’s Teeth.

The searing heat pounded down on him but he could barely feel it. His stride was surprisingly steady for being out in the open and without food or water for almost a day.

He reached a flattened section of harder sand and rocks. Seeing the Wind’s Teeth only a few miles ahead, he bore down and accelerated. He could reach it before noon if he didn’t stop.

Pumping his arms, he ran as fast as he could. It didn’t matter if he wore himself down to exhaustion, nothing would matter if he made the shade of the rocks. He was sure about that. He had to reach it, no matter what.

The world grew more focused.

He started to fear the twisting sensations, the idea of tasting blood was nauseating and he couldn’t take it. Pushing away, he tried to avoid the sharpening of his senses but it was unavoidable.

Instead of his hands tingling and the unnatural hunger, the dizziness brought a sharpening to his vision. With a sickening lurch, he found himself able to see even the tiniest detail of everything ahead of him. When he found himself able to see the individual needles of a cactus a mile away, he gasped. His eyes grew wider as he looked back and forth. Somehow, he could pick out places were there were safer patches to run across, small rocks sticking out of the dunes, and even notices in the stone spires that made up the Wind’s Teeth.

He gulped and clutched at the focused feeling. There was no nausea, no sensation of anything but racing forward with all his might. The fear, exhaustion, and hunger peeled away leaving only the drive to keep running.

Desòchu embraced it. Pumping his arms and legs as fast as he could, he clutched to the focus and sprinted ahead.

The air about a rod in front of him grew hazy. It was small and focused, not much larger than a ball. On either detail, the details were clear. Behind it, a wake formed in the sand as the fine-grained sands solidified into rock.

When his bare feet smacked against the solid surface, it became easier to run. He no longer fought against the shifting ground or struggled to pull his feet free. It felt like running at home but there was no limit to how fast or long he could run.

Euphoria surged through his veins. Desòchu smiled grimly as the Wind’s Teeth rapidly grew closer. What would have taken hours only took minutes.

Just as he came over the final ridge and entered a flat section that surrounded the Wind’s Teeth, he realized he was running straight toward one of the three rocks.

His focus crumbled.

With a gasp, all the speed faded away. The ground became unstable, no longer able to support his weight. His feet caught on something and he dropped to his knees. The sands and rocks tore at his legs as he dug a deep furrow in the ground.

The black rock of the spire towered over him.

Desòchu held his arms ahead of him to shield himself from the impact. His movement rapidly bled away until he stopped only inches away from the rock.

Panting, he stared up at the tooth. Up close, it was a column of rough stone easily a hundred feet tall. It was about thirty feet across. Wind howled around it, whistling as it blew sand in streamers along both sides of the base.

Desòchu shook as he stood up. A craving to run rose up, like the taste of blood before. He wanted to feel it again, to have it surging through his veins.

He shook as he stepped out of the deep furrow that he had created. Behind him, he could see a plume-like cloud marking his passage.

It looked just like the passing of the Shimusògo clan warriors.

A broad smile crossed his lips. For his entire life, he had seen how the adults had produced the same plumes as they ran back and forth. Now, he knew how they had done it. The urge to run again rose up; it was addictive.

However, survival took precedence. Panting, he inspected his new surroundings. There was no one waiting for him but the thick stones provided shelter from the wind and sun. He also spotted a small pile of wood underneath a strip of canvas and some survival supplies.

At the sight of a small water skin, he breathed a sigh of relief. Dropping next to it, he opened it and took a small swing.

The stale water was the sweetest thing he had ever had.

With a sigh, he slumped and let out a choked sob of relief. He was going to survive.