The sun cast her burning gaze over an empty and eternal stretch of sand. This was the very heart of the wasteland, and it stretched on for miles and miles in either direction. With no landmarks to steer by and the howling wind forcing a harsh cloud of sand over everything, navigation was impossible. For now, the land was calm: there was no driving gale, but it was only a matter of time before another started. Not a blade of grass grew, no living thing stirred: it was one of the harshest landscapes imaginable.

But now, on the horizon, a figure could be seen slowly revealing itself against the shimmering heat haze. It moved at a walking pace, as if it had all the time in the world. Gradually it grew larger, revealing itself to be a young man, clad head to toe in green. He wore over his head a strange kind of hat which achieved little save to look odd, and wore around himself a simple but tailor-made green tunic, held around the waist with a normal brown belt. His legs were protected from the harsh sun by a pair of leggings that were originally white, but after what would seem a few days travelling through the dusty landscape they were, by now, a lot dirtier and more worn. On his feet he wore a pair of sturdy, serviceable brown leather boots. Across his back he wore a heavy shield, decorated with symbols of his native land. Behind his shield, at a diagonal to be easily drawn by his left hand, he wore a longsword in an intricately patterned blue-and-gold sheath. Sweat beaded across his forehead and clumped his straw-blond hair together. The traveller's sky-blue eyes looked on with determination at the horizon. Gradually, at a constant pace, he toiled on under the merciless sun that continued to beat its rays down upon him. The traveller was too pale for this place: fortunately though, for the moment his clothes covered him well enough to avoid contact between his skin and the flame in the sky: but as it rose to noon, it would only be a matter of time.

The burning disc slowly climbed higher into the sky, and still the lone figure continued on across the sands, gradually making his way up and down the dunes, leaving his trail extending far behind him. Now, waving and winking at him in the distant haze, the figure noticed a single distant landmark on the edge of his sight. The hours ticked by and the exhausted figure finally stopped, wiped his brow and sat down in the shade of a dune. Far away, the unidentifiable object wavered in an out of sight as the heat continued to rise from the baking sand. The lone person pulled out a flask from somewhere on his person and drunk a mouthful from it. The water was hot and foul-tasting but still went some of the way to lubricating his paper-dry throat. He reluctantly stoppered the flask, looking at it longingly as he stowed it away again. The figure sighed, staring fixedly at the distant landmark. With a soft grunt, he got back onto his feet and continued on his way towards it.

Slowly, hour by hour, the mark grew in shape and size until it could be clearly seen as a monument of stone, standing all on its own in the middle of the sea of sand. Around it was what looked like paving stones, cracked and worn with the ages. Upon arriving, the young man looked up at the monolith. It was a simple spire, pointing to the heavens and inscribed with ancient and indecipherable flowing letters. He touched its rough surface and looked wonderingly at it, running his gloved hand down the letters on its surface with a frown of incomprehension. At that precise moment, the sun reached its zenith, hanging in the middle of the sky and directly above the spire. As if this were a signal, the ground suddenly started to shake.

The boy stood up suddenly and looked around, his hand flying to the hilt of his sword. The sand surrounding the rocky clearing that he stood in suddenly rose as if in anger and began to spin around in a fierce and howling storm. Then, with an ear-piercing screech, an enormous worm-like creature launched itself out of the sand and moved sky-wards, the dust cascading down from cracks between its armour-like plates. It opened its mouth, which ran in a vertical stroke down its head, and let a long, pale, whip-like tongue protrude briefly from it. With a sudden, snake-like movement, its head whipped to look strait at the boy in an eyeless stare. It roared again and dived with all the speed of a scorpion. The boy's eyes widened in shock and he leaped out of the way with sudden agility, rolling to his feet as the sand-dragon's head smashed strait through the rocky floor where he had been standing a brief moment ago and buried itself deep into the earthen ground, its tail whipping around to follow. The green-clad figure drew his sword in his left hand and slid his shield onto his right in a single, smooth, lightning-fast movement. Almost immediately afterwards there was a hiss of sand as the dragon's head burst forth again, before its tail had finished descending underground. It opened its vast maw and screeched as it raced towards the young man, who held his shield warily in front of him. At the very last second before it closed the traveller suddenly jumped upwards, clearing its mouth entirely as it snapped shut and landing on the back of the head immediately afterwards.

The dragon continued to move and the warrior lost his footing, falling over and rolling across the surface of the beast as it gained altitude. Desperately he thrust his sword into the gap between two of its armoured plates and held on for dear life. The dragon screeched in annoyance and dived into the churning sand again. The warrior looked down and saw this, gasping in a mouthful of dust that plumed upwards in the beast's wake he let go of his weapon and hit the ground hard. The beast continued to submerge, taking his sword with it. The warrior rolled across the sand as more of it was driven by the sudden storm into his throat and eyes, destroying any perception of what was happening around him. Scrambling onto all fours, he coughed violently and also tried to wipe the sand from his eyes with his sleeve, only achieving to exchange the earth on his face with that on his clothes. Then, over the howling of the wind, his pointed ears picked up the distant sound of another screech heading towards him like an oncoming train. He quickly rolled to his side and immediately afterwards the dragon swept past with a roar. His hand shot out, grasping his sword by the hilt as it passed and being yanked along onto the back of the creature by its momentum.

Sheathing the blade in one movement, at the same time the traveller unslung his shield and stood on top of it. As the worm swept upwards, he slid back down with a wide grin on his face and his arms flung out to either side to balance him. With a final whoop of excitement, the boy flipped off the tail of the sand-dragon and landed on the top of a dune, boarding down to its end. Picking up his shield again, he unsheathed his sword and ran towards the indistinct shape of the monument, his shield raised to protect his face from the blinding sands. As he reached the stone clearing he also seemed to reach the eye of the storm as the whirling sands suddenly stopped, leaving him in a circle of calm surrounded by the furious dust. Far behind him however, he heard another roar that was rapidly getting closer. A look of focus on his face he ran strait towards the spire with all speed, slinging his shield over his back as he did so. The wide-open maw of the worm appeared only metres behind him, bursting through the storm clouds at a tremendous speed, its tongue lashing out like a serpent to ensnare its prey. It got closer to the warrior as he got closer to the monument, until it seemed he would run strait into it and then be eaten.

However as he reached the pillar the warrior didn't pause; instead his footing simply changed from one plane to another and he ran vertically up its surface for ten paces. Underneath him, the open maw of the sand-dragon collided with the solid rock base of the pillar and brought an abrupt halt to its movement. With gravity reinserting its authority the green-clad wander was unable to continue his vertical progress and so flipped backwards, positioning his sword underneath him. He landed on the beast's head with all his weight behind his weapon, driving it through the carapace and into its brain. The worm reared upwards, and shot into the sky, trailing him with it, where it flew around in circles, screaming in pain. Then, suddenly and without warning, it turned entirely and instantly into sand. The wind rose to a deafening crescendo and the dunes leaped up like a sea in a tempest to meet the youth. The hero fell backwards into a rolling column of dust…

The sun cast her burning gaze over an empty and eternal stretch of sand. Only one thing broke the endless monotony of the dunes, and that was part of a rock pillar, surfacing through the desert like a mountaintop through an ocean. In all directions for miles there seemed to be no living thing except the endless expanse of the ground. But now there was one other sign breaking the endlessness of the wasteland: a strange green hat lying on its own on the sand. Suddenly, a hand clasping a sword burst forth from the earth, and a hero, coughing and spluttering ungracefully, rose like a phoenix from the ashes. He sheathed his sword, retrieved his hat and wiped the dust from its surface, then put it back on before continuing on his way to the opposite end of the wasteland, to whatever fate awaited him there.