|The Affinity V (standard:adventure, 3051 words)|
|Author: Ian Hobson||Added: Dec 18 2008||Views/Reads: 2354/1085||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|If you missed the earlier episodes of The Affinity, the story starts here: http://www.nicestories.com/unreg/s/story.php?id=8387 Recap: After being attacked by pirates, and then by a Kraken, Lord Astavar, Layana and Miglio have fled the sinking ship.|
The Affinity V ©2008 Ian Hobson 10 – Refugees A rough hand grasped my wrist and another grasped my sword-belt and, with relief, I was hauled into a longboat. 'You cheat death, time and time again, Lord Astavar.' It was Doran, and two crewmen, coming to my aid again and, pushing wet hair from my eyes, I saw that beside me in the boat were Layana and Miglio, soaked and shivering but clearly as glad to have survived as I was. The two crewmen pulled on the oars while, looking ahead, I saw the privateer, its side lined with grim-faced sailors. 'My men have control of the ship,' said Doran, 'and what's left of its crew have agreed to serve me or been thrown overboard. Perhaps you would like to continue your journey now?' 'Thank you, Captain,' I said, acknowledging Doran's assumption of authority. 'I am in your debt.' *** Doran renamed the privateer the Maffrai, to honour Captain Maffrai of the Kerree, and personally supervised the painting of the new name over the old one; and, of course, he replaced the Tirukshi flag with the red and gold flag of Elgypta. Though it hung limply from the aft mast, with just the occasional flutter, on the dull and overcast morning that we sailed slowly into the broad sweep of Romada Bay, on the south-eastern coast of the Litanlian peninsula. When first I had set foot in Romada, it had been little more than a fishing village; but now, centuries later, it had become a busy port. So I was not surprised to see four other cargo ships at anchor, in fact I would have expected more. What did surprise me was the crush of humanity lining the harbour's two wharves. And as we anchored in the bay, comments from some of the crew, revealed that I was right: there were fewer ships, but more people than was normal, and something was definitely amiss. 'Ahoy, the Maffrai!' A small boat had come alongside, with a young oarsman and a burly, middle-aged man with a bushy beard who, in passable Egyptian, announced himself as a merchant, wishing to do business. 'What Cargo?' Capitan Dorian asked, leaning over the side to look down at the man. The privateer had had no cargo, except for a few bales of silk and some gold that was found during a search of the captain's cabin. Along with the original crewmembers from the Kerree, Miglio and I had been given a share of the gold for our part in the fighting though, wisely, Dorian had kept half in order to purchase cargo to be traded in other ports. 'Passengers!' the merchant answered Doran's question. 'As many as you can take!' 'Passengers?' Doran sounded doubtful; an offer of passengers was something he had not expected. 'Bound for where?' 'Anywhere south!' Further discussion revealed that northern Litanlia had been invaded by King Ungstred of Grustan, a neighbouring, and mountainous, country that had for many years coveted Latanlia's fertile valleys, though previous invasions had been limited to the raiding of farms and villages for anything worth stealing. 'Refugees,' I said to Layana and Miglio, as I returned to where they waited with our baggage beside the foremast. 'I thought as much.' I wondered, and not for the first time, if I was responsible for so much suffering in the world, as trouble seemed to follow me everywhere. Though, from what the merchant had said, the moon had waxed and waned at least three times since this war had begun. Click here to read the rest of this story (277 more lines)
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