Disclaimer: I do not own any of the recognizable characters; I am only borrowing them for fun for a little while. They belong to J.R.R. Tolkien.
Squinting against the harsh glare of the sun, Thorongil reached for the waterskin that hung from his belt. Shaking it gently, he frowned as he realized there was only a swallow or two left and he shaded his eyes to search the desert landscape for any sign of the small oasis of which he had heard. Grimacing behind the cloth that he wore over his mouth and nose he moved on, carefully slipping along the high rock wall he had been walking along all morning and through most of the night as well. Seeking shade, he hugged close to the red rock which was worn smooth by the ever present wind. He needed to find some type of shelter before midday, when he would be forced to stop and wait out the worst of the searing heat. The soaring temperatures would make it impossible for him to move until the sun set, bringing with it cool relief that would allow him to continue his search for the oasis.
Rounding a bend in the rock, Thorongil found a spot that would serve his purpose for the afternoon. It was a shallow cleft about a foot off the sand that appeared long enough for him to stretch out in, though he could not sit up in the space. Still, it was better than the place he had stayed in the day before and, as he had not slept last night, perhaps he could do so now. Crouching down he first checked the area for scorpions or snakes or other creatures seeking shade. Seeing none, he placed his pack at one end before wrapping his long desert robe more closely about himself before squeezing his lanky body into the cleft.
Thorongil allowed himself a single swallow of the water before laying back and closing his eyes as he thought about how he had gotten into such a predicament. He had crossed into Harad many weeks ago to learn what he could about this land and these people. Since he spoke the language well, and wore a head scarf to cover all but his eyes, he had blended in with the people in the towns he had visited even though he was a bit taller than most of the men. But three days ago as he was preparing to leave a village, his scarf had been knocked loose and it was readily apparent that he was not from Harad but from the North. The merchant had yelled for help and Thorongil had fled into the desert rather than risking a confrontation and possible capture by the village guards. It galled him to do so, but he knew that at this time it was more important for him to stay alive than to face questions and possible execution as a spy. Although, Thorongil mused, a lack of water would kill him just as easily. While he had food in his pack when he fled the village, he only had a single waterskin which was not normally enough to cross this part of the desert. Sighing softly, he slid into sleep.
Awake at sunset, Thorongil gathered his things, drank the last of his water, and set off to where he knew the oasis must be located. If he did not find it before dawn, he would die. It was as simple as that. He moved swiftly as he left the rock wall and headed out across the sand. His eyes never stopped searching the horizon throughout the short desert night. The sky was turning pink in the east when a hint of green in the distance caught the corner of his eye and he trotted in that direction, hoping that the oasis had not run dry. Just as the sun peeked over the distant dunes, Thorongil cautiously entered the small oasis, aware that others might be there ahead of him. But only the sweet songs of birds could be heard that morning and he smiled as he saw the glint of water between the trees.
Author’s Note: This was written for the ‘Middle Earth Express’ challenge on the Aragorn Angst board.