The sand shivered under the pin-pricked night sky just outside of the city. Beside a hulking transport, a thief dozed lightly, his snores drifting over his mustache and music like off-key music. His son Fadre whispered in dreams and turned in his dusty bedroll.
Again a slight tremor—a trickle—of earth's backbone and in its midst, an instant sinkhole. A spiny ridge appeared, dull and black; stark against the mediocre bland of the sand rushing to meet it. Somewhere, a pillar in the process of toppling over on the weeded and cracked temple floor gave its Swan Song.
Fadre awoke, his dark pupils obsidian discs in the growing white as he slowly rose, showing his teeth. The dimple in the desert was growing wider and discernible even at this distance. Red thundered behind his vision as his heart dumped spiked-lightning adrenalin into his blood as the ground quaked.
The low vibration echoed through the ground to brush the soles of his feet as he stood peering out into that moonless darkness, where sense rather than sight told him that the sand was going down. More stones met their final fate to fall from the heights where hands placed them so many eras ago. The black center of the sandy dahlia lifted higher, curved like an angry whip mid-lash. Black horns encrusted with glittering jewels followed this spine, and the boy staggered backwards, his small mouth wide open in an “o”, but soon dissolved into resolve and he took off running towards the desert, his arms pistoning at his sides, his lungs compressing and filling with hot, disturbed air.
The jeweled crown opened a cat's eye to peer out onto the world and the boy stumbled in shock, falling to one knee scraping against the jagged grit of the desert floor.
A black, segmented tongue, and the ridge beyond crawled and slithered with shimmers, inky and iridescent, bedecked in scales, each as large as a soldier's shield and the rest of the body was working free of the sand from which it seemed to have been born. A sinuous tail thrust up through the desertscape, primeval and strange.
A gigantic sail broke free, shooting out to block out the stars and Fadre looked up, mouth still open as sand rained down from it: deep, dark and veined, with hints of visceral red pulsating in raised veins branched out across the under surface.
With a sonic scream, which felt like noise, amidst the blast of superheated air, the beast rose from its sandy grave: wings unfurled, then folded, then lifted head overhead. A mere claw on this creature was the size of a transport for ten of his father's men. Its proud, arched neck undulated as it surveyed its surroundings and drove its wings down in one powerful swing, stirring up the desert winds and sands, first driving Fadre back as he clung to the ground, then tossing him like a rag-doll past where his father was just now stirring, just in time to witness the approaching sandstorm.