They say the sand eats everything.

Over and over, they say the sand eats everything.

It eats the mountains, nibbling at their toes with tiny sharp teeth while the wind scrapes at their tops, endlessly screaming its discontent.  It eats anyone unfortunate or stupid enough to stay in it too long, or too still.  First the clothes, or the fur, or the hooves, or whatever is most exposed.  Then, accelerating as surely as gravity, it peels away everything else that is exposed.  It eats through skin and flesh and, eventually, bone.  It eats steel.  It eats wood.  It eats and eats and eats, an endless susurrus of destruction and consumption.

And yet, the keep stands.

No one questions it.  No one talks about it.  The keep just… stands.  The sand blows up to it, around it, and it hulks, impenetrable and imperturbable.

I think I found out its secret, you see.  I had to go there to find out.  I had to brave the sand of half the desert, and sneak my way past the great cat that haunts the shadows around the keep itself, and find my way to the very pits of it to discover that secret.

It’s made of sand.  The sand hasn’t eaten it, because it’s already been eaten.  The walls are grainy and black and hard – it’s all just packed in sand, smooth and tight as ever you please.  The further up you go, the tighter it’s packed, so it looks and feels just like stone by the time you get up to the surface, much less above ground level.  But down below, you can feel it, and you can see it, if you bring light.  It’s all just sand.

I wonder if the people who stay here know that?

And, I have to admit, something didn’t seem quite right.  The walls, down deep, were so grainy that they practically crumbled off when I brushed at them.  I went and looked around the outside, and the foundations are all pitted and crumbling.  It looks like the holes are getting bigger – like the sand that holds everything up is blowing away into the rest of the desert.

But I have to be wrong.  The keep stands, after all.  And if there were something wrong, I wouldn’t be the first person to notice.  Someone would have done something by now.

I mean, they’d have to.  Wouldn’t they?