The sand here was finer, purer, and walking barefoot under shade felt almost like wading through the memory of water. 

She smiled to herself, lost for a moment in distant thoughts of a place southeast of the vast desert they crossed, where the Winds were almost tangible to the touch. Closing her eyes, she could almost imagine she were there again, after so many years, and not in a modest oasis town with an untested boy from the mountains and a riddle shrouding his fate.

A murmur of voices nearby reminded her of where she was, and with no small sense of regret she opened her eyes to watch a trio of travelers pass by, swaying gently in their saddles on the way to the set of cool, sweet wells that made this stop imperative to any desert-crossing. A huddle of dusty buildings crouched a few spans away from the wells where there were merchants selling provisions and small comforts, and a taller building that boasted a collection of rooms and charged a decent rate for anyone wishing to rest for a night.

It did not seem like much to an observer, especially anyone from one of the great cities along the edges of the desert, but a journey without it would spell out death to most travelers–such as the boy would have faced had she not been feeling charitable when she saw him.