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The Dreamingwind is an insidious thing, and that is why it is so dangerous. Sometimes it comes to us in our sleep, and we dream bad dreams of blood and darkness. Other times it comes to us in our waking thoughts, like a daydream. This is how the Demon Prince used to impart his will upon the degonti, to bring them under his rule. We have since learned other uses for the Dreamingwind, and so you needn't be so afraid when you hear it's howl. In Sandwalker Drai's time however, such techniques were unheard of. They relied on meditation and prayer, and the saints have mercy on those who found themselves praying to the wrong god by mistake...

The wind whistled and moaned, and the sand hissed as it blew up around Drai’s tent. This tent was tiny in comparison to the yurt he had shared with the makhani back at home, and he could barely stand up in it. But Drai was glad to have it despite the cramped quarters--made even more cramped with the addition of Friend Azzir, who was fast asleep. Drai had heard tales of sandstorms flaying the skin from the bones of unfortunate degonti of the Stone caught too far from their cities without shelter. He would rather not learn what that felt like.

Besides the sounds of the storm, it was very quiet inside. The Stone degonti was curled up against one wall, seemingly oblivious to the sounds of the storm. Had Azzir ever been this far out in the desert? Drai wondered. He wondered too, at the sense of bringing him along. The Ba'malra was like a strutting young mulusdar, challenging the elder bucks with his tiny horns, seeming oblivious to the damage they could inflict on his hide if they truly cared to fight him.

But there was something else about the young degonti that Drai liked. A kind of spirit, and Drai knew that so long as he survived his first dry seasons, the rash young buck would grow up into a great big mulusdar with his magnificent rack. It wasn't a given. The coyote and the sandcat were always watching. When the wind roared particularly loudly, Drai doubted the young buck would survive.

The wind howled. Like an itch in his side, Drai wondered why the spirits had seen fit to speak to Azzir and not himself. The makhani had always taught him that the spirits moved in mysterious ways. Even the ignorant degonti of the Stone had an important part to play in the turning of the winds. But if this greedy and arrogant degonti was anything like the rest of his kind, Drai was glad he didn't understand the Ba'malra language better. He didn't want to learn anything more about the grasping race who had pushed his people into the worst parts of the desert.

Drai closed his eyes. There were a lot of reasons to detest them.

The wind made an about-face, and the tent walls shuddered under its force. The dream-catchers in the rafters shook and tinkled, and Drai glanced up at them with sudden fear. Across from him, Azzir moaned and began to shift in his sleep.

I could just kill him now, Drai thought. No one would know. He has no family, no friends. Then I could go home...

The wind shrieked, and somewhere in the distance a brother gale moaned through the rocks of the far away cliff face. Drai shook himself, the hair standing up on the back of his neck. What had he been thinking? Murder? This was no ordinary storm, to put such thoughts in his head.

Drai stood up, pacing the floor of the tent and reciting the Seven Sermons to keep his mind off whatever Re'Sheek was trying to slip into his conscious. The wind blew louder and louder.

"Is this your ploy?" Drai tore his thoughts from the Sermons, accusing the wind. "Drown out my soul with your noise and frightful rumor? It won't work, Re'Sheek! I won't surrender!"

The dream-catchers seemed to be moving of their own accord now. They hadn't worked on his father, Drai remembered. The makhani had hung the dream-catchers all over his yurt and fixed him valerian cordials to help him sleep, but still he had listened to the voices. He had betrayed them all...

"I'm not him!" Drai shouted. "Leave me alone! I'm not my father!"

He wasn't strong enough. His soul was tainted with the madness, his blood diluted with his father's weakness. The others all stayed away from him for that reason. It wasn't his weak breath, his shaven head. He was alone from his own inner failings, would always be--

"Go sleep," groaned Azzir suddenly from his corner, and Drai realized he must have woken him with his shout. "By the Greatmother, why're you awake?"

The words were hard to decipher, but at the moment, the language didn't matter. Drai collapsed with a groan, simply grateful for the presence of another living thing. Azzir's eyes blinked at him inquisitively out of the dark, and the violet glow of his irritation was somehow more inviting than a hundred green smiles of his tribe.

The wind tore angrily at the outsides of the yurt, but it knew the prey had slipped its jaws.

"Sleep, Friend Azzir," said Drai hoarsely, switching to the language of the Ba'malra. The words felt solid and clunky on his tongue. "It is only storm. I guard your rest."

"Whatever," Azzir muttered, and turned over again.

Maybe he wasn't here to teach the young mulusdar how to grow up, Drai reflected as he listened to the degonti snore. Maybe the young buck is here to bestow on me his strength.
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