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The Affinity V (standard:adventure, 3051 words)
Author: Ian HobsonAdded: Dec 18 2008Views/Reads: 2140/942Story 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. 


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