Chapter 8:

The Devil, The Witch, and The Hydro Pilgrimage (Part 1)

The Devil, The Witch, and The Wicked World of Delirith

Somewhere in the exiled world of Delirith, somewhere in the endless sandy plains of Kaandur, somewhere inside a large nomadic tent stood the mighty Sandking Anubrax and his loyal sand-bois all around him. Kneeling on both legs in front of him were two small individuals, their hands tied up and brown sacks covering their heads.


Pretty pissed off right now

Anubrax drew out his chain-a-rang blade while signaling one of his men to open the sack on the two’s heads.

“To be fair, dragging that huge water tanker around in the middle of a scorching desert is... pretty inviting...”

Captive no.1

“Yeah, and y’all are driving like, tons of them? No harm in stealing a few dozen liters.”

Captive no.2


Anubrax lifted his blade to the air.


“Well, it’s nice knowing ya Fyra.”

“Yeah, we had a pretty good run.”

With one swing, Anubrax chopped off our protagonists’ heads and thus ended The Devil, The Witch, and The Wicked World of Delirith.



Nah, I’m joking. The story’s not over yet.

Anubrax swung his blade to Mako’s neck when a sudden call interrupted the scene.


Anubrax stopped his blade right as it touched Mako’s neck, causing a drop of blood to drip onto the saw blade. The Sandking turned around and was greeted by an old crooked woman, no bigger than the two captives themselves.



Pissed off at his son?






Tension grew inside the tent, leaving Mako, Fyra, and the rest of the sand-bois in a rather awkward position.

“BOYS! GIVE US SOME TIME ALONE-” Anubrax dismissed his men as they all left the tent.

“NUH-UH, NOT YOU TWO! YOU BOTH, STAY!” Anubrax stopped Mako and Fyra who were about to leave the place as well. They obediently went back to their seating floor.

With the tent cleared, it was time Anubrax settled his argument with his mother in private. The Sandking opened his Razesaurus teeth-crowned helmet revealing a tough looking scar-filled face and grey-pupiled eyes.

“Come on, mom... How am I supposed to be a fearsome king if I don’t shed some blood?” Anubrax’s voice lowered much to the duo’s surprise. He no longer had the commanding and fearsome voice of the mighty Sandking, but rather a timid and soft tone of an obedient son. It’s still deep as hell though.

“You CAN achieve such a title without shedding blood every few seconds, son. Being a leader and being a killer are two different things,” Beatrix replied, approaching Mako before squishing his cheeks out of nowhere- “look at this cute lil angel. It’s amazing he and his partner here could kill dozens of our bois.”

“Come to think of it, this reminded me of you back when you’re little. Small, timid, looked like you couldn’t even harm an ant. Yet that same kid just ripped off a Scorpex sting right off its tail.”

“Heh.” Anubrax smiled, recalling his sweet childhood memory.

“Point is, it would be a waste if you kill off such skillful kids just like that. You gotta know how to balance mercy and sternness,” the mother lectured. “A merciful king is not a weak king-”

“-but a weak king is one that gives too much mercy,” Anubrax continued his mother’s quote.

“So, what should I do with these two then? Without ruining my image as the fearsome Sandking.”

“Ah, that’s why we don’t just kill off our enemies, my son. There are times where we exploit their skills and talents to our benefit-”

“Wait, did you just say exploit?” Fyra interrupted, but none paid attention to her.

“I suppose we could take them as prisoners. But I’ve already announced all the crimes these two did to everyone. They’ll be furious if I don't chop off their heads at this point!”

“Then put these two as MY prisoners.” Beatrix offered a solution. “They’ll have no say against their king’s mother.”

As mentioned by Beatrix, the Sand Gang’s custom favoured maternal power over their fathers. Disobeying one's mother was greatly frowned upon among the clan’s society, and this affected their leaders as well. This indirectly placed Anubrax’s mother above the Sandking himself in authoritarian hierarchy, thus every decision made by the mother holds equal or sometimes higher power than Anubrax's own.

“Fine! But you better not let these two get away. These rascals are slippery as hell!”

“Oh don’t you worry about that. Besides-” Beatrix pulled the duo under her arms- “these two lil’ lambs ain’t got nothing against raising you up as a babe.”

Beatrix pinched both Mako and Fyra’s cheeks much to their annoyance. Either way, this was a better outcome than having their heads chopped off after a botched stealing attempt.

Anubrax let out a sigh. He wore back his crowned helmet and exited the tent where thousands of vehicles and his people greeted his sight. Cheer thundered from the crowd, delighted by their king’s presence.



Somewhere in Kaandur, the ground abruptly shook, awakening confused locals and other sand creatures from their rest. They went out of their homes only to be awestruck by such a sight.

A Sand Gang convoy was passing by, but this convoy was none like they’ve seen and felt before. When in usual they would witness dozens or almost a hundred over the top modified vehicles driving in a group, this one moved in literal thousands.

There were three main groups in the convoy; the front, the middle, and the back. The front group was the commanders driving in their track-wheeled trucks called Berthas. And among this Berthas drove the Warstompa; Anubrax’s own heavily modified tractor-trailer, whose trailer part stored his tent and other personal belongings. Logistics such as tankers, tractor trailers, and lorries carrying food, water, fuel and weaponry followed slightly behind.

In the middle group drove hundreds of armoured buses, ambulances, camper vans, and other common (but exaggeratedly decorated) vehicles. This group carried ‘families’ such as wives, children, the elderly, the sick and the injured. In other words, the middle carried those that were weak or unable to fight for some time, constantly protected from all sides.

Lastly was the back, where once more drove dozens of Berthas and other heavy vehicles with mounted turrets and other weaponry ready to take on anything standing in their way. Other vehicles such as hoverbikes, hoverbuggies, modified cars, mini-tanks, and even Chamel-eon chariots scattered the sides of all three groups, providing protection or scouting ahead from the rest of the convoy.

All three groups were rallied by two or three long-bed pickup trucks called Drummas, carrying a group of war drummers rallying everyone with the beat of their drums. A special Drumma rode at the front group known as the Ashura, where a stage and a tower of loudspeakers and exhaust pipes was built on its roof and bonnet.

A shirtless gas-mask wearing guitarist stood proudly on the stage with both his arms chained to the tower like a puppet. He rallied the convoy alongside the drummers behind him with his 16-string chainsaw guitar. His iron mask had six pipe-shaped horns, all holding a small blaze on its end like candles.



Scorch-face riffed his guitar hard as streams of fire blasted out from his mask’s horns and the tower of loudspeakers behind him. War drums banged violently behind, symphonizing together with the guitarist to form a maddening yet badass march rally. Mako and Fyra witnessed all of this in awe inside the Warstompa.

“Like the view, kids?” Beatrix asked, sitting comfortably beside the duo in the middle of the truck’s back seat.

“That’s the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen in my life!” Mako responded excitedly. “Tell him to do it again!”

“Not gonna happen. Now sit your asses down!” Anubrax replied from the driver seat, still salty about his mother’s decision to bring along those two on his personal ride.

“Okay, if we do that can you tell him to do that flamey thing again?”

“No! Now sit down!”

“Oh relax, Sandking. Kid’s just excited that’s all,” a bald man spoke from the seat on Anubrax’s left.

Sand Gang’s second in command

“But Anubrax’s right. We can’t just tell him to do that, Mako.”

“Aw, why not?”

“Well, first we have to alert his driver with this walkie-talkie. Then, the driver’s gonna bang his roof hoping that he hears it because Scorch-face there is blind, and deaf, and mute. The only way he communicates is by screaming or playing his chainsaw guitar as you’ve seen just now,” Von explained longly.

“In other words, mind your own business and SIT THE F**K DOWN!!”

“Hmph.” Mako and Fyra returned to their seats with frown looks on their faces.

“So, any special occasion for all of this?” Fyra asked. “The convoy seems way grander than when we usually encounter y'all.”

“Yes indeed! We do have a special occasion right now.” Beatrix offered to answer her question. “What you see outside, the thousands of different cars and rides, are everyone under the Sand Gang clan.”

“Everyone!?” Mako and Fyra exclaimed at the same time. “Y’all having a migration or something?” Fyra added.

“Hah! Not migration, young girl. We Sand Gang are nomads. All of Kaandur we consider our home-”

“This is a pilgrimage. A pilgrimage for cool and thirst quenching water.”

“A pilgrimage, huh. So that explains why there’s tons of water tankers out there.” Fyra remarked.

“That’s right! Every year, our clan would move as one to the Great Puddle Lake at Boneyard Badlands, where we’ll drink and bathe and cool ourselves with the waters there for a week or so, before returning back to Kaandur with our refreshed souls.”

“I see… But, why Boneyard Badlands out of all places?” Mako brought up another question.

“Can’t call it a pilgrimage if the journey isn’t perilous. Besides, it has been a tradition in our clan for so long no one bothered to change it. Everyone loved the cool water there compared to any oasis here in Kaandur.” Beatrix replied longly.

Hours passed since Mako and Fyra joined the Sand Gang hit the road as the time was now an hour past noon. For some reason, Beatrix decided to kill some time by showing Mako and Fyra an album full of Anubrax’s pictures as a child.

“And this is Anubrax’s first meeting with a Skullruda chick. Hoho! The bird couldn’t stop pecking this poor kid.”

Mako and Fyra giggled non-stop. The Sandking’s mother kept on showing pages after pages of embarrassing photos much to the duo’s amusement- and not so much for the Sandking in front.

“Agh! Von! I really want to choke those two kids behind me!” Anubrax silently complained to his second in command.

“You know you can’t do that. Not when your mother is around,” Von replied. He turned back to Beatrix showing a picture of toddler Anubrax crying from a rubber ducky to the duo- “And I don’t think she’ll leave them anytime now.”

“Exactly! What benefit do we even get from these two!?”

“Benefit… Benefit… King, I have an idea.” Von proceeded to whisper his idea to Anubrax. A sinister smile immediately formed on the Sandking’s face.

“Hey mother, I’ve got some jobs I need to borrow those two for, if you don’t mind.”

“Hm? Jobs?”

“Well, I’ve heard some sand-bois whispering behind our backs that they don’t exactly like how we’ve been treating our new prisoners too luxuriously. Now I’m not disrespecting you mother, but I’ve still got a reputation to keep, y’know?”

“If that’s the case, I suppose you could borrow them for a while.”

“Wait wait wait- What jobs are we talking about here?” Mako interrupted their conversation.

“Heh. A job suited for slippery rascals like you two…” Anubrax smiled sinisterly under his crowned-helm.


“Y’know, I sorta anticipated that we’ll end up like this one way or another,” Fyra remarked.

The duo currently stood alone on a seemingly endless mudcrack floor somewhere in the desert, stripped of all gears save for their clothing, Mako’s digital watch, and for some reason, pans, woks and ladles.

“Yeah, let’s just get this over with,” Mako replied before banging a pan and ladle together like a drum. “HERE FATTY-FATTY! COME OUT WHEREVER YOU ARE!!”

*sigh* Can’t believe we’d end up as Matriarch bait.” Fyra banged her woks together as the duo proceeded to shout and beat their kitchenware, creating much noise in a rather silent place.

Watching them some distance away were Anubrax and his men, awaiting the Matriarch to emerge from the calls of the live baits. The Matriarch is a terrifying 60 foot tall four tusked bipedal beast of pure muscle and fat. Its flesh provide weeks long worth of food to the Sand Gang, its bones make durable weapon and armour, and its blubber-like fat provide much fuel for the travelling convoy.

However, the Matriarch was such a terrifying creature that comparing it to a Razesaurus is like a Razesaurus to an average man. Thus, hunting it required great force and preparation. But baiting it out was as simple as creating much noise to disturb its sleep, as per what Mako and Fyra were forced to do right now.

“HERE MATRI! MATRI! MATRI! MATRIIIIII!” Mako shouted, banging his pan furiously. “Are they sure a Matriarch is hiding here? We’ve been doing this for half an hour and nothing happened.”

“I don’t know man. They're the ones who know this kind of stuff.” Fyra waved her arms to Anubrax’s group, gesturing to them as if saying ‘are you sure it’s here?’. They responded with a sniper shot on the floor near her right foot.

“Well, they insist.”

The duo went back to hollering and beating kitchenwares when the ground beneath them suddenly quaked with great magnitude. The tremor was felt even from Anubrax’s place which was 100 yards away from the duo. The Sandking signaled his men as everyone quickly got into their vehicles.

“Ho boy! This ain’t good.” Mako stumbled to the ground having lost balance from the quake.

Fyra rushed to help him back up, but right as they grabbed each other’s hand, the ground near them suddenly erupted with great force. The duo was flung a few dozen feet away, and emerging from the settling debris was the terrible four tusked beast that is the Matriarch.


The True Apex of Kaandur

“FLOOR IT BOYS!!” Anubrax shouted as dozens of his men rushed to the monster with their turrets and harpoon cannons mounted to their rides.

Back to the duo, Mako digistructed Silverbolt in panic. They immediately got on the bike and took off at full speed.

“FASTER MAKO! FASTER!” Fyra shouted at Mako.

However, the Silverbolt was already driving at its maximum speed. Thanks to the Matriarch’s enormous footsteps it easily caught up to them. Raising its arm to the air, the Matriarch was about to smash the two kids to a bloody puddle when it received several machine gun rounds to the face.

“HRAAARGH!!” the beast groaned in pain.


Anubrax pointed his chain-a-rang to the Matriarch as he and the rest of the sand-bois drove onwards to the beast, passing by Mako and Fyra who rode the opposite direction from the rest of them. The duo stopped some distance away to witness in live, the carnage of a Matriarch hunt.

The convoy split into three; one group went left of the Matriarch, one group went right, and the remainder braked and stopped to form a firing squad to distract the monster. The Matriarch was mostly unfazed, pissed at most, by the hundreds of machine gun rounds fired to its body.

However, a few dozen Ogunite harpoons shot above both knees sent the Matriarch screaming in agony. The harpooners began circling around the monster’s legs with harpoon chains still intact to their cannons. The outcome should end with a falling monster after losing balance due to having both legs tied up.

Of course, the Matriarch did not just stand there without putting up a fight. It yanked some of the harpoons off on its right thigh and threw it to kingdom come alongside the cars and its riders. The matriarch charged onwards towards the firing squad, dragging along the circling vehicles that fired the harpoons. The vehicles lost their ground and either flew off, ripped off, or straight up destroyed from the monstrous drag.

Despite that the Sand Gang did not yield, for every harpooner removed by the Matriarch, two or three took its place and shot their harpoon cannons. One of them was the Sandking himself.

“KEEP CIRCLING BOYS! ITS LEGS ARE GETTING SMALLER!!” Anubrax commanded while Von drifted their car hard.

True to his words, the Matriarch’s stance was getting smaller and smaller, but not enough to make it lose its balance. Out of nowhere, the Matriarch garnered all its strength and lifted its left leg up high like an extreme version of a sumo’s shiko. Many vehicles were kicked away or lifted all the way to the air for the harpooners. This included Anubrax’s car as well, but the Sandking fell off his ride instead of joining his men to the sky.

Anubrax quickly got up but his life suddenly flashed before his eyes as his greeting right above was the Matriarch’s sole, crashing towards him at great speed. Too late to escape, Anubrax had no choice but to accept his death-


The monster’s stomp shook the earth hard. Had a seismograph been present it would’ve easily registered it to be near 6.0 in value.

Anubrax opened his eyes and was surprised to find himself still in the living world. He was joyed at first, but confusion and a teaspoon of rage began to mix in when he discovered his exact position.


“Saving you! Duhhh!!” Mako replied, with Fyra holding on to the witch’s back.

As it turned out, Anubrax was currently riding the Silverbolt sitting behind the one-horned devil. How the duo managed to snatch him and put him there in an instant will be left to your imagination- but the point is the duo saved the Sandking’s life.


“Because why not?” Fyra replied simply. “Rather than debating our decision, you should get back in there instead. Your boys need you!”

Fyra pointed at the hunting group, completely disorganized as the Matriarch ravaged its way against them. Seeing this, Anubrax quietly agreed to Fyra’s order and commanded the duo-


Satisfied by his choice of action, Mako drove Anubrax back into battle. The witch followed obediently to the Sandking’s direction as if he was part of the sand-bois as well. Anubrax rallied his group back into position and with a refreshed morale, they charged and circled the Matriarch once more.

They proceeded with the same tactic as before, but this time with better efficiency. The Matriarch received heavier bombardment from the firing squad which also included our duo protagonists firing their weapons returned to them by Von Petrol. The harpooners circled the monster’s leg at greater speed, tying it together before it could even counterattack.

In the end, their plan concluded with the 60 foot beast falling down on its back after a flying Bertha crashed straight to its face. The Bertha driver jumped out from the vehicle’s roof hatch, shouting in victory. With the Matriarch subdued, all that’s left was to execute it before it’s ready to be harvested.

Anubrax raised his blade. In one swift slash, the Matriarch’s throat was cut open- its jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe sliced. Green blood flowed out and flooded the mudcrack ground below.


Somewhere in Kaandur, nighttime fell as families and friends gathered around campfires and tents. Having spent the whole evening harvesting the Matriarch’s body, they enjoyed the spoils of their hard work in the form of a hearty dinner.

Stockpot after stockpot of meat curry and stew were served to family and groups. Served along the meat were plates of bread or a Kaandurian Briyani rice, placed in huge circular trays where a group would share the whole thing together instead of separating it to individual plates.

Though the Sand Gang were often painted as savages (which is true for most parts), their table etiquettes were quite strict as opposed to most inhabitants of Kaandur where anything goes. For starters, no one in a group is allowed to start eating before the rest. Everyone must be seen washing their hands before eating (this is very important as they eat using their hands). And most importantly, NEVER start a fight in the middle of mealtime, or you might find yourself at the other end of hundreds of sand-bois guns. Just like the ‘maternal’ custom before, this rule affects even the Sandking.

Speaking of Sandking, Anubrax’s eating group consisted of himself, his mother, his second in command; Von Petrol, and the duo; Mako and Fyra. Having never tasted traditional Sand Gang culinary before, the two kids were in for a treat as their taste buds went euphoric by the delicious combo of rice, bread, meat and some greens.

“Maaan. What a way to end the day,” Mako remarked, accidentally letting out a burp much to Fyra’s (but not everyone else) disgust.

“I heard from the sand-bois what you two did this morning. I’m forever grateful to you two for that,” Beatrix spoke, referring to the duo saving his son’s life.

In the end, everyone finished their meal and retreated to their tents or vehicles to get some sleep. Some stayed up of course to guard the place throughout the night, sleeping in shifts with other assigned groups.

Though not included in the night shift, Anubrax stayed at the campfire outside while his mother was fast asleep in their tent. He gazed at the fire, pondering alone when a small hand suddenly tapped his shoulder.

“Not asleep yet, your highness?” Mako greeted the Sandking.

“Oh, it’s you. Nah, I just don’t feel like it.”

“Yeah, same here.” Mako sat down beside Anubrax. “Say where’s your friend? Y’know, the baldie.”

“Von’s currently on night shift, like always. How about yours? Where’s the girl?”

“Paaah- She sleeps like a brick I tell ya what. You place her in a field of corpse and you can barely tell a difference, save for a poke with a stick. But I won’t recommend you do that. She gets pissed off easily if you interrupt her slumber.”

“Oh, and don’t tell her what I said about the corpse thing,” Mako added in a whisper.

“Sure… Anyways, mind if I ask you something personal.”

“Hm? Go on, I guess.”

“This morning. Why? Why do you save me?”

“Ah. You’re still bothered by that?”

“Yes I am bothered! You two have every opportunity to escape my clan and leave me to my doom, yet you came back for me! Why would you do that!? My father would’ve let me get crushed and then say ‘I’m foolish, weak,’ and whatnot as an excuse! So why!?”

They both grew silent for a while. Mako was caught off guard by Anubrax’s behaviour.

“Fine. But I doubt you’re going to like it though.”

“Just spit it out.”

“Fine. I’ll give you two answers. The first one is more accurate but the second one’s for if you feel unjustified by the first.”

“Now, I came back for you because you need help, and I want to help. That’s it. You can ask Fyra and she’ll reply with the same answer. Someone needs help, we help. It’s that simple.”

“Before you say ‘I don’t need your help’ let me clarify that we judge by the person’s current situation, not if they ask. Whether they’re grateful by the end of the day doesn’t matter. A witch helps others not for gratitude, but because they need to. That’s what my mother always told me.”

“What about the second answer?”

“Aight, like I said, this one is for if you feel unsatisfied with the first. Truth is, me and Fyra were heading towards Boneyard Badlands as well before we got caught by you guys. In a way, this convoy is sort of like a free trip with extra protection and guaranteed meals, y’know?”

“So in case you die, you think the pilgrimage will continue? Maybe your friend, Von, will take over but what if a coup broke out? What if they decide to overthrow your family or some shit- the hell’s gonna happen to us then?”

“That is if we’re talking from a logical point of view. But whether you choose to believe me or think I’m lying, I’m still more inclined to the first answer,” Mako concluded his long response.

“I see…”

~yawn~ Well, that got me sleepy. Guess we’ll see each other tomorrow then. Nighty night.” Mako retreated back to Anubrax’s tent where both Fyra and Beatrix slept, leaving behind the Sandking alone in his thoughts once more.

‘A witch helps others not for gratitude, but because they need to’.

‘A merciful king is not a weak king, but a weak king is one that gives too much mercy’.”

“I wonder if those two are the same…” Anubrax pondered to himself that night.


Somewhere far from the Sand Gang, another convoy sped through the desert that night, awakening slumbering locals awestruck by a horrific yet awesome sight.

The convoy nearly rivalled the Sand Gang’s in size, but the vehicles appeared more advanced, or at least for its mounted weaponry. Members of the convoy were tattooed with skeleton and skull motifs all over their body, while their commanders and elites were cladded with iron armour with skeletal motifs and terrifying skull masks with green glowing eyes.

In the middle of the convoy rode the leader’s vehicle; an armoured truck similar to the Sand Gang’s Berthas, made different from its greyish warpaint. Tied to the truck’s boot was a long pole standing upwards, and tied on top of it was a crucified man, now reduced to a skeletal corpse. A wooden sign was worn by the corpse stating ‘ZED, THE FOOL’.

Along the ride, the convoy’s leader suddenly emerged from his truck’s roof hatch. With the upper half of his standing body outside, the moonlight shone at the leader revealing to the world his full iron body and an eyeless robotic skull head. Despite the lack of eyes, his gaze was enough to strike terror to those who witnessed it, and his sight was as present as any two-eyed creature on the planet.

“The scouts’ just reported sir! We’re a week away from the Sand Gang!” the leader’s driver spoke.

“Good. Tell the rest to drive on as usual. We’ll show those sand folks the wrath of our ‘Skull Clan’ !!”

An Eyeless Terror

The Skull Clan convoy rode on that night through the harsh sands of Kaandur, hellbent on facing the Sand Gang for reasons unknown.