Sand swirled around, a nebula of stinging particles. Yet he walked on, wearily brushing his blonde hair out of his face from time to time. A useless gesture, the wind would just blow it back again, but he continued. It was almost as if it were for comfort, not function. Eyes stared wearily ahead, half hidden in the sunken face. He didn't even blink as the wind threw his ragged cloak up in his face.

Through the whirling grains of sand, he could see the faint outline of a building. That meant just one thing. Shelter. Protection from the whirling sting of sand. Slowly, one foot was placed in front of the other, carrying him closer to the house. The wind suddenly grew stronger, one strong gust the pushed viciously against the man. Already weak from hunger and thirst, he fell heavily to the ground, too tired to care. Darkness filled his senses, until only the howl of wind remained.

--

"Hey! Hey you! Are you alive?"

I slowly opened my eyes. Sand lightly crusted my eyelashes and coated my face and hair. When I tried to move, my body felt stiff and heavy. Sand scratched against my skin, filling the creases of my cloak.

Far above me, a person's silhouette hovered. One of the twin suns was directly behind their head, making it impossible to see their face, but from the tone of the voice, it was a girl.

"Oh good, you are. It would have been rather depressing to have a corpse right in front of the house."

I closed my eyes again with a sigh. She made no sense right now. Better to sink back into the comfort of the darkness. That I could easily understand.

"Hey, don't go falling asleep on me now!"

Small, but surprisingly strong hands tugged at me, pulling me to my feet. Unsteady, I felt my body sway as gravity tugged down, determined to claim me. A small arm wrapped firmly around my waist, the other pulling my right arm over slim shoulders. It was thus that I was half carried, half dragged to the house.

I stared blankly ahead, secretly amazed every time I saw one of my feet land in front of me. Each time, my dazed brain wondered how it got there.

Coolness rushed past my face as we walked over the porch and into the dark, cool shelter of the house. I felt myself be propped up in a chair.

"Boys! We've got a drifter! Get the bath ready would you?"

The female's face swam fuzzily in front of my own.

"Don't worry, you're safe now. We'll get you cleaned up, okay?"

I blinked slowly as my brain processed her words.

"What's your name?"

My name...

"I'm..nn... Ben..."

The words rasped out over a parched tongue. A glass of water was placed against my cracked lips.

"Here, drink this. Slowly though, or else you'll get sick... Well Ben, welcome to my ranch."