The commander ambled back into the tent glumly. “False alarm.” he grumbled.
“Commander, I’ve been meaning to ask: Why did the King order you to capture us?” asked expositionally useful E’ni.
“His orders were to secure E’ni hostages and return to the capital as soon as possible. I suspect he was doing it to prevent E’ni retaliation.”
“He thinks we’d use our flower on him?” Jean said. “But, we’d never…”
“Being cooped up in a place with only people who worship you will result in a natural distrust of the outside. If that’s been your whole life, paranoia and bigotry are to be expected.” said the E’ni elder.
“I can’t wait to dismantle it all!” Zev said with unconcealed excitement.
“This is troubling news.” said Jean’s mom. “Our elders went to Jul’Dor to discuss the breaking of the treaty.”
“More hostages.” The commander said flatly.
All of a sudden there was a loud ruckus outside.
When the Ancient Jul went their separate ways they didn’t only form the E’ni and modern day Jul. A particular group fled both sides. They are said to have found the order of the Jul too disorderly and the freedom of the E’ni too restricting. They rebelled against everything E’ni and Jul. They even mixed and mashed up their own language as an attempt to distance themselves from their cousins. Now they surf the deserts pillaging and looting E’ni and Jul alike. These desert pirates are known only as:
“Jojoji!” cried a Djulok scout. “Approaching from the North East!”
The commander immediately started barking commands to his soldiers and they scrambled to obey. The soldiers lined the side of the worm and readied their weapons. Bows were drawn, swords at the ready, one Djulok had forgotten his weapons but was making do with a large rock which he held menacingly above his head.
The Jojoji were approaching on some manner of sand surfing catamaran. It had been completely invisible until its bright green sails came into view. It drew nearer and surfed alongside the sand worm, maintaining its distance. The sprinkling of arrows from the Djuloks fell short of their evasive target who glided just out of their range.
Zev scoffed and spun a knife around in her hand. “I bet you a raisin I can hit the driver.”
“This is not our fight. Furthermore, I am not possessed of any raisins.” Beardface said. An arrow shot up from the Jojoji ship and embedded itself in Beardface’s hair. He felt the arrow. He paused. Then he roared with unbridled beastial rage. He snatched the large rock from the forgetful Djulok and lobbed it at the Jojoji sand surfer with a mighty yell. A direct hit. It exploded on impact sending the occupants flying headfirst into the surrounding sandy plains.
Beardface growled like a bear or perhaps a wolf and looked around wildly.
Zev sighed and handed him a raisin, but he did not accept.
“Um. Should I…” Jean said reaching for the arrow.
“Raagh!” Beardface bellowed and ran off on all fours.
“Ha! More raisins for me then.” Zev said. When she turned around every single Djulok was cowering in terror.
“Wait!” Jean said. “The Jojoji would never send a single surfer. It was probably only a distraction!”
“That must be where Beardy went!” Zev said.
“You heard them!” woofed the Djulok commander. “Follow the Mountish beast!”
They followed, but some more gingerly than others.
By the time they caught up to him Beardface had been surrounded and tied up with ropes. The Jojoji were climbing up the rope bridges and subduing everyone in sight with their fancy rope-work.
“Have at them!” the commander roared and leapt into the fray with his sword drawn. But, within seconds he too was roped. Before long the rope-wielding Jojoji had overpowered them and were in command of the worm.
They were fearsome. Their sand coloured clothes camouflaged them perfectly with the desert. They wore ropes as belts that gave one the feeling that your hangman had just arrived. But, most intimidating were their masks. Large, painted masks that sported terrifying visages that glowered unapologetically.
“Zhluzh out zhyy iuta!” laughed one of the Jojoji. Her mask looked like it was crying and it had a blue moustache on it. She poked Beardface. “Ty, zhli Jul udi ‘tedjp Mountish riutzht djyo?”
“What language is that?” Zev asked Jean.
“Xofam.” Jean said. “The language of the desert pirates.” The blue moustache Jojoji walked up to Jean and inspected her E’ni.
“Oluzh udi ay’ syedjp oezhl zhli Djuloks, e oydjsid?” she said. A Jojoji came running, his mask was green and one eyed.
“Zhlidi udi u r’djql yk E’ni lidi!” the Jojoji said.
“Chdetydjidt?” blue moustache asked.
“Djy, zhlia oidi iuzhedjp oezhl zhli Djuloks.”
“Hey! Enough mumbling! What do you want?” barked the commander.
“Oluzh ses li tua?” asked blue moustache.
“Djy esiu.” greeny conceded. Blue moustache took a pair of goggles off a nearby Djulok and looked East and then North. She reached into her pocket and withdrew what looked like a ball of crystalline sand. She threw it over the side of the worm. As it left her hand it started disintegrating, leaving a trail of sparkling pink dust in its wake and creating a pink stripe through the sky. The sand surfers alongside the worm sped up and overtook it. One of them dangled a bag behind their rig. The sand worm’s huge yellow eyes rolled down and fixated on the bag.
“Qybi udjs pizh ezh!” cried one of the sand surfers. They sailed their rigs North and the worm turned to follow them.
“The worm! How did you…” .
“Where are you taking us?” Jean interrupted. Blue moustache pointed North.
“Jul’Dor!” she cried.
“What? Jul’Dor is East of here you fool!” the commander said. She ignored them and rubbed her stomach. “Luxi ay’ ky’djs zhli kyys tzhydit aizh?”
“Is there another Jul’Dor?” Zev asked.
“There is.” Jean’s mom said. “Didn’t you listen to the story. It was incinerated by the legendary dragon Breyten. Now, only ruins remain.”
*Close up on Jean’s mom’s eyes for dramatic effect.
“They’re taking us…”
*Extreme close up on Jean’s mom’s eyes for gut-wrenching suspense.
“…to the ancient capital.”