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The Affinity II (standard:adventure, 3387 words)
Author: Ian HobsonAdded: Oct 18 2008Views/Reads: 2210/1121Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
He spat at me and backed away towards the middle of the road as I followed him. 'I am Carrak,' he said, 'and it is I who will kill you, if you do not tell me where the gold is.'

If you missed part 1 of The Affinity, here's the link: 

Recap: Michael Collington, having inherited his grandfather's house and
books, finds a letter between the pages of a signed first edition of 
Tolkien's the Hobbit.  The letter tells him where to find the sword; a 
sword with the power to propel him, against his will, into another 
world, where he rediscovers his other identity: Lord Astavar. 

The Affinity II 

©2008 Ian Hobson 

3 – Moonlight Liaison 

The small town of Curab lay beside the mouth of a wide meandering river
and had originally consisted only of cave dwellings, though many 
rectangular brick and stucco houses had been added, on the lower slopes 
closer to the water's edge, some of them three stories tall.  On the 
opposite bank of the river was Curabacal, once a major city and busy 
port, though after many years of war, it was a shadow of its former 
self, but recovering now, judging by the number of ships anchored out 
in the bay. 

After a breakfast of fish-cakes and rice, and a leisurely bathe in one
of Curab's life-giving, hot springs, I dressed in a clean white robe 
and leather sandals, and walked with Magalo, down through the narrow 
winding streets towards the small harbour.  Magalo had sharpened and 
polished my sword, and I wore it, together with the leather scabbard 
and belt that he had kept safe with my other possessions.  Magalo 
himself looked to be unarmed but I knew that he would have a dagger 
concealed somewhere beneath his clothing. 

'How long?' I asked, though from the many changes I could see in the
town, especially the way it had grown in size, I guessed that I had 
'slept' for at least three years. 

'Almost four years, master,' Magalo replied.  ‘The longest ever; and
this time you became so cold, I almost thought you truly dead.'  He 
looked ashamed for beginning to loose faith after so many years.  
Though in a previous incarnation he had prepared my funeral pyre after 
only ten days, and I had awakened to the sound of crackling flames and 
the smell of my garments beginning to burn.  On that occasion, after I 
rose from the flames, he had thought me a god, and I'd had to convince 
him otherwise by allowing him to cut me and draw blood. 

It was a little after midday and I was surprised at how busy the main
street was, with many well dressed people making their way up towards 
the springs, most of them walking but some carried by porters.  'Many 
come now, like in my father's time,' said Magalo.  'And some of the 
elders say that a charge should be made for the bathing, though the 
ferrymen, porters and sponge-girl owners make good trade, as do the 
taverns on the waterfront.' 

I thought of the sponge-girl who had bathed me and trimmed my hair and
beard.  She was a slave but seemed happy in her work and asked me why 
my skin was so pale and my hair so red, like a god's.  Then she told me 
what other services she would be pleased to offer.  I declined, but 
paid her with a silver coin and promised to return later. 

'So there has been a return to prosperity, both here and in Curabacal?' 

'Yes, master.  No more war.  No work for us.'  Magalo smiled as he said
that, which surprised me.  In his younger days he would have been 
disgusted.  War often meant death for a soldier, but wealth for those 
that survived and, in his younger days, he had travelled far in search 
of the latter.  Not that Magalo was a poor man now; I had left him with 
enough gold and silver to last him well beyond the end of his days, and 
he had spent little of it. 

We made our way to one of the busy waterfront taverns, choosing an
outside table in a shaded corner where we could sit with our backs to 
the wall and watch people come and go.  We had no reason to expect 
trouble, but old habits die hard and, besides, the view of the harbour 
and bay, and the city across the water, was a sight to behold.  

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