Chapter 1:

The Fighter from Azu, Part I

Desert Company

The wind howled. Layers of sand blew across the landscape, carving new dunes across the Yahmajô̗ continent. The afternoon sun blazed the surface to a scorching temperature. Piles of metal and mechanical parts sunk in the pool of the desert, immobile in the sand.

A girl ran against the wind as it battered her face, covered in a shemagh, a cloth which wrapped around the face and head. She was heading towards a distant hut which looked abandoned. It was marked with graffiti and composed of rusted sheet metal.

Izdaha Saya was a girl born in Al-Shinkyou, a ‘Basad level township in the nation of Azutami. Al-Shinkyou was a city far from the sea, a place where the dunes ruled the land.

When Saya finally reached the hut, she removed the front piece of the wall in order to enter.

“Wa ga kitanya, obaa,” Saya greeted her grandmother in Azu.

“Saya. Come in,” The elder responded in the same language.

Saya closed the entrance. The interior was filled with an assortment of essential tools, bowls, pitchers, and a large designed carpet. On the opposite wall was a poster of the annual Dineh Kazaàd, along with a special clock, a gift from long ago.

“Saya, can you take this back to the mill?” With rough hands she held out a small wrench. “Prepare it and repair the discharge pipe.”

Saya immediately grabbed the offering and sauntered over to a large toolbox. Inside, she grabbed a pipe and two metal chips, each with two holes on the side. On the floor, she used the wrench to connect the two chips on the opposing sides of the pipe.

“How’s your Khoit lessons doing?”

“I can understand most of the words Khoitan people say,” Saya turned her head, while working on the pipe.

“I see, your Khoitan father would be proud. It will also be useful when you participate in the Dineh Kazaàd,” Her grandmother inspected the pipe that Saya had prepared.

“I’m already old enough to go there. But mom would probably never let me. I’ve been training super hard though.”

“Of course she wouldn't. It’s a game of life and death,” The grandmother handed back the pipe. “Yoi de, yutte.”

Saya exited and climbed the dune that was behind it. Her legs sunk as she struggled to climb up.

After finally reaching the top, a large windmill could be seen, its four-winged rotor moving to the intense gusts of wind. The top part of it was a minaret, with a rectangular building next to it where the discharge pipe was loaded.

Her parents were always at work at Rümqî, and barely made any trips to visit her and her grandma, Kyukko. Kyukko was always the one that managed their windmill, but as she aged she became impaired, and Saya had to take up her grandmother’s duties.

She also wanted to fight in the Dineh Kazaàd ever since she saw it on the hologram broadcasts. It featured a brave fighter whom she’d come to admire.

“Alam Botok!” She leaped up in the air as saharic particles, white energy crystallized from her hands, gave her a boost towards the windmill.

She opened the side door with a fatigued push and numerous water containers were presented inside. With the pipe, she used the two slabs she'd attached and bolted them onto the connecting ones. Water began gushing down like a waterfall. Quickly, she shoved a water container below. Wiping the desert sweat off her head, she exited to see the rotor churning. The windmill would provide water for a few months before the discharge pipe broke again.

Heading back, she noticed buggies driving off from the hut. The advanced mechanical vehicles were scratched from thousands of sand particles constantly groveling at them.

Confused, Saya hastily slid down and popped inside. Her grandmother was unharmed.

“Aitsu wa nan shitorun?!”

“It’s okay, Saya. They were searching for you and left a letter,” Kyukko gently tugged on Saya's sleeve.


Kyukko gave the letter, covered in sand, to Saya. She took it with a hard swipe, and ripped it open. Confusion drew across her face as she read.

Dear Izdaha Saya,

You are invited to participate in the Dineh Kazaàd through the Al-Wa Corporation.

The annual Dineh Kazaàd will be held in the next three months, and we have scouted individuals who we think have potential. If one accepts, go to Wakoku ‘Basad for confirmation.

Al-Wa Corporation, Wakoku ‘Basad, Azutami

Their company seal was next to their signature emblem, indicating that they were the real deal. An official Kazaàd company.

“What does it say?” Kyukko asked with a frail voice.

“It’s saying that they want to endorse me for the Dineh Kazaàd…” Saya couldn’t believe it. In order to enter the tournament, participants had to get an endorsement from a Kazaàd company to represent them.

“Good for you!” Kyukko was delighted at the news, but in her eyes bore deep sorrow. “But how will you get to Wakoku without trouble?”

“Obaa, I think we have to leave.”

“Why is that?”

“Because,” She grabbed Kyukko’s hands, kneeling, “I can’t leave you behind. And mom and dad can’t take care of you in Rümqî. We’ll go to Wakoku together.”

No matter how many times Kyukko insisted she would stay in Al-Shinkyou, Saya kept on urging until she gave in. Saya had wanted to participate her entire life, and it meant the world to her. She wasn’t going to give up her one and only chance, perhaps ever.

Saya and Kyukko gathered anything that would be of use for travel; water, rations, and others. Saya wore her modified shemagh, which covered her entire torso and lower face in a sand-patterned cloth. Grabbing a saracen scimitar with a broken guard and a brazed hilt, she mounted it on her back along with their personal belongings. For only a moment, Saya glanced at the two shamisens in the dark corner.

“Obaa, what will we do about the mill?” She stuffed supplies vigorously into a sack.

“The mill won’t serve us for quite some time,” Kyukko fixed her yukata. “It will be fine.”

They both stepped out taking each other’s hand, and began walking towards Al-Shinkyou. In the distance, tens of thousands of windmills dominated the landscape, their shadows arching over golden oriental buildings in unison to the wind.