The party comes across a nice hermit in the woods. He gives them food and lodging for the night. They awaken to his terrified screams. "East! It's east! Stop it! It'll kill us all!" The poor horror-stricken hermit dies thrashing in agony, one boney arm outstretched, his finger pointing to the east.
A common mistake when writing adventures set in deserts is to assume that the climate is too ferociously hot to wear armor. Historically, most battles in deserts involved troops dressed in protective armor. Although they would have been miserable during the hottest part of the day or the hottest part of the year, desert weather isn't intolerably hot 24/7.