Tales of the Left Hand, Book One
By John M. Meagher
Copyright 2009 John Meagher
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Across the black waves, the lights of Kohayne twinkled a welcome golden glow to the approaching merchant ship. Faint strains of music and revelry rolled over the surface of the water, telling everyone on the ship that the city was done with honest business for the day, and that the night’s business had begun.
The captain hummed along to the music as he sighted the harbor beacons through his spyglass. Then he snapped it shut and tucked it back into the leather sheath at his belt. His first mate stood at his side waiting for orders. “Bring us in, Shaddeck. Drop the sails to half and prepare to thread the beacons.”
“Aye, sir,” the mate replied. “Shall I signal the harbor of our approach?”
“Do that, though like as not they’re aware of us out here already.”
“Aye, sir.” The mate turned and began relaying his orders to the crew. The captain turned to the other man standing in the bow with him. He was clad in black and bore the same grim expression as when he’d come aboard the ship at Narlos. In the week’s voyage from there, the captain had never seen his expression change.
“We’ll get you to dock in a few hours at most, sirrah,” the captain said, using a polite honorific that did not indicate any rank or title, for he did not know what to make of his passenger. The man had paid his passage in full and looked to have more gold than that in his purse, but he didn’t bear himself as a nobleman. He had no retainers and gave no orders. A large leather travel bag, always slung over his shoulder, appeared to be all the luggage he had. He visited the cook for his meals rather than send a crewman to fetch it for him, but he always took his food back to his small quarters rather than join anyone else.