The raven disappeared twenty minutes ago along with the forest.
Adela spent those twenty minutes cursing and staring across a vast expanse of desert that should not exist.
Then the wind picked up and blew sand into her stupidly open mouth and sent her on a coughing fit. Now she sat exhausted in the sand.
She looked up to a night sky over head. She had no idea how long the night, and the cool temperature it brought, would last.
The stars glimmered in and out of focus as she swayed bone-tired on her feet.
I wish I paid more attention in scouts, maybe then I would know the constellations and be able to navigate.
Still, she squinted and tried to find the only constellation she could recognize: Orion's Belt. It wasn't there.
Well it wasn't like she had known where she was for the past several hours.
You should get moving before the sun comes up.
Adela knew she was right. She often gave herself very good advice...well you know the rest.
Shakily she placed one foot in front of the other as she chose the flattest and least difficult path forward.
Adela woke to the sky speeding past her. The dull pink light of the rising sun illuminated her surroundings.
She was on a ship.
A ship sailing through the desert.
She sat up and reached to her back pocket.
"Looking for this?" a voice chuckled behind her.
Adela put her hands in the air and twisted her torso to look at whoever was on the ship with her.
A man dressed in a loose tunic and wearing goggles stood at the rear of the ship. He grasped a horizontal rod which she assumed must control the rudder or whatever steered the ship.
He held out her knife in his left hand and tossed it to her. She caught it in her right, after fumbling for a moment as a wave of dizziness passed over her.
She opened her mouth, but no sound came out. Her breath caught in her scratchy throat and she let out a raspy cough.
"Shouldn't go wandering through the desert without water," the man said. He clicked something on the rod to lock it in place and left his post.
He picked up a rucksack from beneath the sail of his ship and rooted around until he pulled out a canteen. He handed it to Adela.
You shouldn't take drinks from strangers, a voice in her head advised.
If he wanted me dead, he'd have killed me already. And he doesn't need to drug me to rape me; he could have done that while I was passed out under the desert sun, she argued back.
Adela twisted the cap off and took a large gulp. The liquid burned her throat on the way down. She slammed the canteen down.
"This is vodka," she coughed.
"Ah, yes, shouldn't go wandering the desert without that either," the man said. He snatched the canteen back from her and pulled out another from his bag.
Adela took it from his outstretched hand. She hesitantly twisted the cap off and smelt the contents. Not alcohol.
"You're not gonna wanna slam that back," he said. "Best to take little sips."
She sipped from the canteen until she felt the ache in her throat dull. Adela paused.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"I've got a great uncle with dementia who asks that quite a lot," the man said. "Not that you remind me of him. Do you smoke a hookah?"
Adela stared at him. She took another sip of water.
"Not very chatty, are you?" he paused. "You can call me Cap."