by, 12-02-2009 at 09:12 (893 Views)
If anything, life with the Corsairs was fast. The cycle of looting and extravagant spending opened up worlds to Namlas, offering experiences and feelings he had only before then dreamed of. And he rode that intoxicating wave to travel far from the Istani shores that had previously confined him and saw wonders in distant lands such as the Vabbian kingdom and, on a few occasions, even the exotic Canthan empire across the vast oceans. For a time, he thought he would live that way forever, because he was young, and there were plenty of time.
And then, as if finally slowly gaining consciousness from a long slumber, he gradually found life lacking. It happened so slowly he didn't notice it until he finally realized one day that he did not, in fact, feel like frequenting the merchants in Kodash Bazaar, that Vabbian bastion of happiness that he once loved but now no longer felt for. Nowadays, things weren't as interesting any more. The drinks didn't have that intoxicating effect they had as before. The fancy clothings weren't as exquisite as he hoped. The smiles were shallow, and the fruits were sour.
As impossible as it may have sounded to him at one time, this life of his had lost its luster. Even his own reflection off of a mirror no longer pleased him. He remembered trying to articulate, if only to himself, what exactly changed or went missing. Perhaps he was bored. He wondered if there were some frontiers left that he had not yet seen or explored. While he knew that there were more to the world than the places he had seen, he also knew that they would most likely be the same. The people may dress differently, speak in different languages, and dine and drink differently, but people were people; they could be intimidated or bought just as easily, and they all bled just as easily. And so he knew enough about people that very few aspects of their behavior—even when framed and shaped by different customs in different lands—would surprise him. Failing to come up with any answers for the longest time, his search had gotten more desperate, leading him to directions that he had not cared for previously.
Namlas had not whole-heartedly devote himself to any of the gods that his peers worshiped. At times it was convenient to placate those around him by worshiping whomever or whatever they did, but each time his heart was elsewhere. Everyone had their way of escaping the daily drudgery, he supposed. Some found comfort in gods. He found his the straight forward and sure way: by buying them with platinum. But because of these new feelings he had, lately he started to contemplate more about gods and such things. And just as if these gods themselves had heard his curiosity calling, that fateful day was not far off.
He always liked being around water, so he did most of his thinking in the presence of the calm sea. One day, he remembered, he was tightening the wrappings on his scythe on a pier. He found over the years that the activity soothed his mind and was conducive to various inspirations. He would walk off on his own and either worked on his gear or weapon. Most in the group knew him enough to not bother him during this time. After all, they also had their own affairs to attend to. This day, however, he was approached by none other than Lucky.
Other than Lucky, Namlas had not really confided in any others in the group. Somehow he found it difficult to trust men who looted villages for a living. But Lucky, that perpetually optimistic fellow, had always brought him at ease. Lucky was the reason, after all, he joined the Corsairs. He and about two drums of gin, he mused.
“Quiet times lately,” he started.
“Yes. That it has been.” Lucky sat down next to him, being careful to stay clear of the scythe's blade.
Namlas stopped and looked at his friend, as if studying him for the very first time. He aged well, Namlas thought. The black in his hair had all but replaced by gray. Together with the creases on his forehead and around his eyes, he had the look of a wise man well beyond his years. However, his infectious smile had stayed with him, just as he remembered of his friend so long along during that night they first got drunk together under the Istani moon in Kamadan. Lucky was one of the elders, or as close to one as the Corsairs will ever get. Feeble old men made terrible pirates, and although he seldom went on campaigns nowadays, preferring to stay back and man the boats and working out logistics, making the most of his experience, Lucky nevertheless enjoyed the respect from all within the group. After all, a good number of them were recruited by Lucky, just as Namlas was. And most of them had learned much from him. There were many ambitious younger men who rose to more senior commanding roles in the group, and they all were careful and respectful when conversing with Lucky. So while not a leader in any strict sense, Lucky's suggestions, when he did provide them, were never questioned by anyone.
“All is about to change,” continued Lucky.
Namlas looked and saw those eyes of his, the same ones he had learned to read over the years. “Another campaign?” he asked as he continued with his scythe. Might as well, he thought. Maybe the exercise would help snap him out of this pensive trap that he found himself in.
“Well,” Lucky turned to Namlas, as if to be sure he got the attention. “I just heard that there has been a concerted effort with the Kournans to hire all the Corsairs—every known group.” Shaking his head as if he was still in a state of disbelief, “And for what? To loot the Istani shores!”
Why would they be interested in working with the Corsairs? And when did the Corsairs start working for Kourna—or anyone? As far as Namlas knew, there were no love between the Kournan authorities and the Corsairs, for the Corsairs raided Kournan villages just as much as Istani ones. He was actually surprised that by now the Kournans didn't partner with the Sunspears to eradicate them. All of the Corsairs? That was even more unusual. The different Corsairs groups typically live and operated separately from the others, each content to man their own turfs. For all his time spent with the Corsairs, Namlas had never heard or seen the groups worked together on anything. He wasn't even sure it was possible, but if Lucky was correct, Kourna had managed to do it. Still, he wasn't comfortable at the thought of working for Kourna.
“How do you feel about all this? Are we going along with it?”
“The younger ones are impressed by the platinums, of course.” Namlas knew his friend enough to detect the trepidation under that smile. “It'll be nice to relive some of those glory days,” continued Lucky. Namlas wasn't entirely sure whom Lucky was trying to convince at this point.
“I am not that young man you recruited so many years ago, my friend.” Namlas put down his scythe and reached for his friend's shoulder. “I am not entirely sure those glory days can return to us. They seem to drift further and further away by the years.”
He noticed the wrinkles around Lucky's eyes. They were apparent whenever he smiled, but this time they were especially prominent. As if interrupting his own thought, Lucky perked up. “Namlas, you are much too young to talk that way.” Conscientious of himself, he reached for and lifted some of his gray hair that he had let grow down to his chest. “Talk to me when you have enough of these.”