About Sand & Storm:
The ancient machine that produced icefire was destroyed twenty years ago, but the deadly magic is again on the increase. No one understands why or where it’s coming from.
Icefire controls the weather and massive changes in weather patterns plunge the northern half of the inhabited world in deep drought. The tide of refugees swells, but as long as no one knows where the icefire is coming from, nowhere is safe.
King Isandor sends people to investigate a concentration of icefire in the mountains at the border, but two consecutive patrols both vanish. It appears that, after having suffered badly in wars, the neighbouring country Arania is on the offensive, and is using icefire as weapon. Their culture is harsh and their barbarism knows no boundaries.
Meanwhile two young meteorology students make a string of discoveries about icefire that will change the way the people understand the world. They’re on the threshold of the age of enlightenment, but vital knowledge necessary to save their world may well get lost when war overruns the inhabited world.
THE WEATHER STATION stood by the side of the road, a tiny hut, once painted white but now a dust-stained yellow, surrounded by a rolling stubble field that disappeared into the hazy horizon.
“There you are,” Pashtan said. He let the reins rest and the two donkeys came to a halt. The cart stopped with its usual creaking and groaning.
Javes gathered his equipment and jumped off the front bench. His boots, when they hit the ground, threw up a little cloud of dust. Over the past few weeks, they had gone from dark brown polished leather to smudged grey. Mother would kill him when he came home, and as the end of his field assignment neared, that thought occurred to him more often. Home, where he could go back to being a tryhard and sitting in the back of the class, being laughed at by the fellow students.
Yes, he dreaded that time. There was the prick Rolan who had been boasting about going to Solmeni. Yoshi who was going to Twin Bridges, and Branto and Siana, who had both scored assignments on the coast. Even Lana, who was going to work for the library in Tiverius, and had clearly been disappointed with her placement, had a more interesting job than his.
Yet, in one way, he didn’t mind it. For one, no one here knew who he was.
He trudged across the dry gravel road to the weather station, checked for scorpions as Pashtan had told him he should always do, undid the latch and opened the door.
The station wasn’t big enough to step inside, with each side barely as wide as a man. The door was long and tall and needed to be secured against the wind, lest it blow shut on him and injure his hands or damage the equipment.
There were no scorpions inside the shady den, but a legion of spiders had woven together all the equipment inside. The barygraph was barely visible under the silk. Wow. He used the corner of his notebook to push aside the white filaments. The owner of the web scurried behind the power board that held the connection plugs to the telegraph line that he’d been assured was going to be built in the future.
Ew, he hated spiders.
Javes folded out the shelf that formed a little worktable and secured it with the piece of metal that was neatly stowed on the inside of the door for that purpose. He lifted the barygraph machine from the bottom shelf onto the table, took out the roll, unscrewed the rings that held the recording paper onto it and let the paper fall to the bottom of the cabinet, all curled up.
He wiped sweat from his forehead. Now that the breeze of movement from sitting on the cart had stopped, the air was more searing than ever.
He took a clean, flat sheet from his folder, threaded it between the roll and the rings and tightened the screws again. He set the machine back and moved the bellows, with the arm holding the pencil, back into position.
He wiped his forehead again. Sweat threatened to run into his eyes. His forearms glistened with it.
He picked up the curl of paper with the barygraph scribbles for the past two weeks and slotted it in his folder, using a fold of his shirt to open the covers. Whoever at the Scriptorium had thought that issuing students with black folders was a good idea?
All right, done.
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About Patty Jansen:
Patty was trained as a agricultural scientist, and if you look behind her stories, you will find bits of science sprinkled throughout.