The heat dropped from the sky and bubbled up from the ground, creating a vise of misery. Haze shimmered in abstract curtains all around the travelers. In front of them, opulent, vibrant flowers in reds and yellows blinded them after the unrelenting mirror of the desert sand.
Great palms stood sentry around a pool directly in their path. The trees created shade that appeared black and bottomless to their aching eyes. The water called out to the adventurers. It spoke of refreshment. It whispered cool delight. The pond spoke promises of relief from the grinding heat and relief from their troubles. They staggered towards the water, tongues hanging out, imagining the taste of the sweet nectar. They expected it to be a dream, a mirage that would disappear once their hope had revived.
They tumbled into the shade of the trees, hitting the ground. The temperature of their bodies began to drop. Crawling on all fours, they struggled to reach the edge of the dessert spring. Each inch seemed to take an eternity to travel. The sand here near the water was soft and as inviting as down feathers. They were tempted to lie down, pillowing the sand under their heads.
Thirst drove them on. Within a few feet of the water, an odd stench wafted towards them. It began to burn their eyes and choke their throats. It smelled of rotten eggs swimming in a bath of vinegar and rancid milk. They forced themselves to the brink of the water despite the smell that made them want to retch. They reached the water, looked into its depths and saw the empty eyes of drowned animals looking back at them. They added their meager tears to the fetid water.