Dass'arakaz'eth (often called "Dass" for short) had spent many long years with her instructor, Kashaam. She found him to be
wretchedly old, and quite bitter - but a good instructor. He taught her of other cultures, of language, and writing, and reading the
stars. She was most interested in the trade, so he taught her as much as he could about the counting. She left him three months
ago, and right now, as bitter as he was, she sorely missed his company.
The sun was hot, the sand was harsh, the water was scarce, and the company was non-existant. With the sun beating down on her
scales, she was forced to open her mouth to cool herself - and felt like a savage for doing so. All that she owned she carried at her
waist, and though she hoped to make good trade of it, she had yet to find a single customer... more importantly, she had yet to find
water. At least fortune still smiled upon her, for she had yet to be devoured by a Tak-kaam, a deadly beast of the sands.
Oh, what she wouldn't give for a single drop of Manaah! She was beginning to look like a begger, the bottoms of her robes were
fraying and tattering with every passing day, and she hadn't enough water to wash them, so they began to smell. Her skin was
darkening beneth the harsh glares of the shadeless sun, and she was certain she would die. But no. She was Ssashirk! Daughter
of the Darashe'ne Mother! The desert could not defeat her! She refused!
Suddenly, in her solitude of the seemingly endless sand, she heard a sudden burst of shouting and screaming - the sound of steel
clashing on steel, and the sound of a dozen great beasts bellowing into the sky above. She flinched briefly - and then raced toward
the sound - peaking over a dune to see the commotion happening at the oasis below.
An oasis! Water! Water and shade! Clearly a village was here, she could see the rubble of the once great town that grew around the
water - a source so precious that whole tribes would kill each other for it, which is what seemed to be happening now. From her
possition of upon the hill where she could watch out of relative danger, she gathered the battle-scene below her.
A Tumai human, and a band of a dozen Ssashirk people mounted upon beasts had their sabres brandished, and were slaying the
group of Tumai poor-blooded that had taken up home in the Oasis ruins. It was a very one-sided battle. Though the poor-blooded
were fierce, holding weapons in their hands, they only managed to injure a few of the mounted Ssashirk, and only kill one. A single
Ssashirk stood out to Dass the most - a mighty warrior, the mightiest of mightiest!
When the fighting died down, it was because all the poor-blooded were slain - almost three dozen bodies lie in the sands - and
those few that remained fled into the waterless ocean of the desert. There was no victory cry. This was a mercenary-like conquest.
Cold killers, likely hired by the Tumai human. And that's when they saw her. Damn! How could she have been so stupid as to be
seen!? Instead of ducking down into the sand (which would only show that that she had been trying to be sneaky, like a theif) - she
decided to make herself as known as possible, and stood boldly at the top of the dune so that all could see her. They rode to her
quickly, their expressions grim, and formed a circle around her, their swords still drawn.
The greatest of the Ssashirk was the one who spoke, her voice harsh and graveled, "This is Mndume's water." - she was the
tongue for Mndume, whom Dass assumed was the Tumai.
"Yes." she agreed.
There was a moment of contemplation, and then Mndume decided to speak for himself, a smile playing across his flat and dark
face, "You may drink from it."
In return, she offered her new friend a humble gift of eleven gold pieces - one for each survivor of the battle that they had won here
today. Ah, water - Manaah. The greatest gift the mother could ever bestow.
Later that day, as the entire party drank and cleaned at the Oasis, she learned that the greatest of warriors in this party was named
Gikashk. It was a name she recongized. She was the favored general of the Tumai armies - the mightiest of warriors in all the
sands. It was little wonder at why she had been so impressed by her. Kashaam was a good teacher, he truely was - but it was
Gikashk that could teach her more. And a Ssashirk with many skills is one that sees the tomorrow.
It had been twelve years ago when she met Gikashk. And in twelve years, Dass had learned a lot.
She had seen the city of Tumai, and watched the gladiator's games where Ssashirk happily fought each other to the death for the
entertainment of the Tumai, and the coin it would provide. She had seen the many clutches and tribes of Ssashirk wandering the
desert - and had come to know each one's territories, Oasis, ruins where they set up their summer and winter camps, and even
their wells (which she made sure to never drink from without an honorable trade). She had seen war and battle, and was herself a
fierce warrior of the twin daggers. She had known of raiders, and defended her caravan. She had aquired herself a Duma'koon, a
Shovel-Tusk to pull her cart of goods she had amassed. She had learned of the best places to find and steal young Duma'koon,
and where to find the wild Sarane eggs.
When she learned of the lush and green lands with more water than one could hope to drink in a lifetime, she set out toward the
east. There was good trade there. She had established her own trade-routes, and learned to read the land by memory alone.
After she learned to trade there, it was another five years before she and her new found friend, a human by the name of Barthew
had decided to travel south. That was when they met the Ka-tak'ash. Those people were different from the Ssashirk - but Barthew
couldn't tell the difference. Foolish human. He offered to trade with them, and Dass couldn't refuse. While they traded well (an event
that took two days and one night) with the more experienced of the two, they butchered and devoured Barthew. She didn't know until
the trading was complete and she tried to find him - flesh-eaters, all of them!
She would never venture so far south again. It's no wonder that the Ka-tak'ash and the Ssashirk are considered different people, it's
not just becuase of the differnence in the color of their scales, but their cruel mannerisms. She regretted most of all the greatest
deal she made with them. It was a good deal, but their cruelty to Barthew left her feeling tainted. Ever since then she stayed to her
own trade-route between the city of Tumai, and the city of the "Labs" - in the land of rolling hills.
This was her trade-route. Hers, and her egg's. She knew it was a boy, she could smell it. After he hatched, three years after, she
would name him for his favored trait. She would teach him well - the trader's skill. The honorable trader's skill, not the trader's skill
of the raiders who would sell back to you what they stole. No. The good kind. She would never tell him of his father in the south, for
her shame was too great.