Ayy I completely forgot I had this thing to visually distinguish between story and non-story text! I should use it more consistently. (previous)
From all directions, countless birds came flying over the horizon. ‘Come on dude, help a lady out.’ Hesitantly, silently, he stepped closer. And as he did, the birds neared too. Sparrows, they looked like, now circling the two. ‘Stick your arm into me.’ she commanded. His thoughts could be read off his face. What, into one of those holes? What would that do? Is it even a good idea? What is she trying to accom– ‘Just…’ A sigh, a hand brushing her millimeter short hair. ‘Just do it.’
His trembling hand moved towards a hole on her stomach. He paused, then pressed onwards, into the darkness. She groaned, grimaced, clenched her fists. A strange sensation crawled across his arm, and inhuman anxiety consumed him when he saw. Out of her other holes, his arm was emerging. Copies, fakes, or maybe all the real thing. He tried moving his fingers, and fingers on the other hands moved, but none matched his exact commands. He freaked out, wanted to pull back. ‘Don’t yank it out.’ she advised, panting. ‘Take it easy. Grab hold of a bird, and slowly pull it back.’
He moved his arm around, but all the copies sticking out of her moved in unexpected directions. Then he felt a bird sit down on his hand. One of them, at least. A swift reaction had him command the hand shut, and it did. Looking around, every single limb was now holding a bird. Some had indeed caught it under the fingers, but others were holding onto a wing with index and thumb or had a bird resting on the palm by their own free will. As instructed, he slowly pulled his arm back out of the hole.
A single bird in his one right hand. One, from the hundred that had frantically frown around not a minute ago. She took it from him, opened a small canister it carried on its back. Inside was a slim scroll, filled with runes the explorer couldn’t quite make out. She made some corrections, additions, revisions using ooze from her mouth as ink. Satisfied, the scroll went back to the bird, and the bird into a hole.
Out flew a hundred birds again, scattering in all directions again. She moved to retrieve and don her cloak, leaving no impressions in the sand as she moved. She thanked the man for his help, but he seemed too dazed to process her faked appreciation. When she moved inside to rest again, he didn’t follow.
This didn’t go as well as pt1 I feel, but at least I finished it.