Chapter Seventeen

The Hiding Place


Our scouts headed out at midnight, with the light of the moon. They returned to notify us that they had found an area in a canyon where they noticed traffic coming in and out. It was close to our camp. Storm clouds were gathering as we proceeded to that area. I decided to hold Dazshtan back to prevent him from calling out to other horses. So far, he had not called out to other horses, but I did not want to take a chance.
Mathew watched the entrance to the Canyon as Rashad crept on foot, over a rise, and down to a group of horses that were hobbled. His quiet nature among these horses did not create alarm. Close by was a tent where he noticed that a glimmer had come from it. In the moonlight, within the tent, there was a white horse. As he slinked closer, there was the grey mare he was looking for.
Bint Shahwan was in decent shape except she had lost a lot of weight. Quietly, he untied her rope. Up the hill and avoiding the hobbled horses that were sleeping peacefully, he returned to where I was awaiting him. To my surprise, Dazshtan called out to his full sibling. They both whinnied as they were reunited. I was afraid that would happen! Predictably, because of the outburst of our horses, we had awakened the occupants within the camp that Rashad just raided. Matthew, who had waited at the entrance to the canyon, suddenly encountered a rider. He was on a stallion.
It was Shabbar, the same person that Mathew had followed the day before. This rider must have been surprised because he was without a saddle on his stallion. This took Mathew by surprise as the rider moved past him in a flash and headed towards Rashad who had mounted his mare, Basmah, with Bint being ponied beside him.  Matthew guarded the entrance to the canyon to prevent anyone from leaving. As he brought his AR15 from around his neck, more riders presented themselves.
“Do not go any further. I mean it!” In Arabic. This group of young riders did not take the chance and complied with his orders. Sunrise was soon approaching. The lightning and thunder, the approaching haboob obscured the rising sun. The youth turned around and headed back into the camp where they could find shelter from the approaching sandstorm. Mathew did the same between the desert scrub brush.
I gathered up Dazshtan and joined Rashad and Bint as we escaped, galloping full speed away from the pursuing Shabbar. The clouds were gathering quickly with lightning and thunder surrounding the scene as they broke away. The dust that we kicked up was swirling behind us. Shabbar, with his stallion, was catching up rapidly. I noticed Dazshtan glancing over at the fleeing pair beside me as if to protect them.
We were at the point of no return. I knew we had to do something. Dazshtan obliged and read my thoughts. With this madman following close behind us, we swiftly stopped and confronted our pursuer. Letting out a mighty bellow, my seemingly gentle stallion charged at the pair. All I could think about was holding on as my protector beneath me battled with Shabbar and his stallion. Hooves were flying, striking, and kicking out, as the wind swirled around them with lightning and thunder in the background with an approaching haboob. I was fearful for my safety, but Dazshtan was relentless in his attack.
Suddenly, the stallion reared and fell backward on top of Shabbar. I noticed blood coming from my mount’s shoulder. I was still astride him as I jumped off to see the injured Shabbar pinned underneath his stallion. As I approached, the injured stallion on top of him got up and fled towards the approaching haboob. Shabbar was injured badly. His mount was not motivated to stop and protect him. With the sandstorm closing on us rapidly, I remembered the conversation we had in Oregon when Rashad described the way that they protected themselves from the sand and the wind of the desert sandstorm. I asked Dazshtan to lie down. I poured sand into his wounds. I gathered up the injured Shabbar and placed him next to us. I gathered up our keffiyehs and placed them over our heads to wait out the approaching haboob.
We were far away from Mathew. The short-lived haboob had subsided. Shaking off the sand which had drifted, he returned to the tribal elders once he was able to ride speedily. A group of tribe members and elders mounted their horses for a rescue party. Mathew had explained to them what had happened and that indeed it was Shabbar that was the mastermind behind the theft of Bint.
I awoke from the deluge with hoofbeats coming closer to my location. Standing up I cleared the drifts that surrounded us. Dazshtan still protected the enemy that had once tried to destroy him. In the distance, the mounted Bedouin and tribal elders approached us with Mathew in the lead. They dismounted to find a severely injured young man who had been cuddled and protected by this injured stallion.
Once Shabbar was carried away by his brethren, my injured stallion stood up and was able to walk towards me with a little bit of effort with a slight limp. I inspected him thoroughly, thankfully, he had no broken bones, but was showing signs of injuries sustained in the battle with Shabbar’s stallion. He was not injured badly enough for me to mount him again.
Rashad and Bint took shelter from the sandstorm near where I was. With his war mare as an example, Bint crouched down as Rashad removed his cloak and his keffiyeh to cover his horse’s heads as they weathered the storm. Bint was shaken slightly but had not been injured. We joined up with Mathew and the Bedouin band of allies who had survived the haboob. With their task accomplished, they prepared to leave back to their tribe. Mathew vowed to them, that he would return to their tents after he completed his promise to rescue Bint and return her to the Sheykh.

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