I’m doing an Old Races short story project throughout 2011. This project will deliver 6 Old Races short stories to its patrons, starting with “Salt Water Stains the Sand”, the story of–to quote the reader who asked for it, “the first time Malik lost.” This story has been delivered to the patrons who have thus far subscribed, and I am now pleased to offer you a little ol’ teaser for it.
The Old Races Short Story Project patronage window is now closed.Salt Water Stains the Sand
My name is Tahira Firaz Galia al-Shareef di Nazmi al-Massri, and today I have killed my brother.
He does not know it yet, but I see it as he limps away over desert sands. He is an exile, lost to his people, and because of that, he is dead. Because of me, he is dead.
It is not how I hoped this story would end.#
“He is wealthy and powerful. Respected among the clans. You could do no better.”
“He is old.” A silly argument: I am old. There are very few young among us anymore, not since the Bedouins came to ride their horses through our sands and take the few resources we once called our own. The humans; my father and brother would not be pleased that I know their tribes by name, or that I care. They are all young, every one of them, even their most venerable sages. The most extraordinary see a hundred changes of the season, and I have long since lost count of how many soft desert springs I have witnessed. So: I am old.
But not as old as Amar, who is so old the desert sun has bleached the blackness from his hair. So old that the sandstorms have driven lines into his skin, so old that his scowl reminds me of young mountains, harsh and sharp with their newly-risen ridges. He is old, and has thirteen wives, and I will not be the next.
“Tahira,” Malik says with a winsome note. “Tahira, you must listen to reason. Amar is powerful. He could destroy us if you refuse him.”