Journey to the South: Twenty-Six of Thirty

Posted: February 27, 2013 in Fiction
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     The ambassador’s ship was both familiar and exotic. It looked like most ships in the Harbor of Akhem – after all, I assume that there a limited number of shapes that a vessel can take – but it was stylized in a way that seemed distinctly of the Tainir. The hull of the ship, around the main deck’s railing, was covered in a silver filigree that resembled the tattooing that Ambassador Ka’lahn had covering her skin. The figurehead was of a Tainir figure, arms outstretched before them, as if reaching for the horizon ahead. And the vessel contained only a single mast, its sail not overly large, and no discernible oar-deck.

    Needless to say, when we emerged from our carriages on the pier next to the Tainir vessel, I wondered quietly as to how we would even depart from the dock. But, I kept my misgivings to myself, after all, I was certain that this was not the first time that the crew of this vessel had set sail and likely had an idea of what they were doing. Ambassador Ka’lahn led us aboard the ship while our legionaries and the ships Tainir crew took care of the task of loading our belongings.

    “Welcome to the Jantir Korahm,” she said as we stepped onto the main deck – Rakaj, Tama, and our eldest daughter, Lila, all agape as they watched the Tainir crew bustling about their duties. “In the common tongue of the Moy, it would translate as ‘the Dancer of the Winds’.”

    She introduced us to the captain, Chejir Da’rahn, an Ainur who was taller than me by a head, and whose long, flame-bright hair was shaved and braided similar to Akar’s. Captain Da’rahn smiled and welcomed us aboard her vessel, stating that it was an honor to have a representative of the Moy of my status. Akar showed us the quarters that I, Viro, and the children would be sharing for the duration of the voyage – a room surprisingly larger than I thought it would be, but nothing so ostentatious that I was concerned about the feelings of the crew.

    It did not take long for the Dancer to be made ready for travel and soon Captain Da’rahn was calling for her crew of Ainur sailors to pull in the lines, raise the gang-plank, and push off. Four of the crew grabbed two long poles that had laid upon the main deck next to the ship’s railing and two each lowered a pole into the waters of the Harbor and began pushing the ship slowly backward, away from the dock. I was marveled by this at first as I watched, but was informed later on by Captain Da’rahn, when were well away from the port in the middle of the Harbor of Akhem how it was possible.

    The Tainir were using magic.

    “The poles are simply for show,” Chejir said, her demeanor almost apologetic as she explained. “Since the Moy has strict regulations regarding the use of magic, we must use some…sleight-of-hand, you might say? In the Hundred Kingdoms, magic is used all of the time, it is a natural part of our being as Tainir – we use it the way you Men use speech, for it is something that comes naturally to us from a very early age. But, as we do not wish to incite more hostilities between the Moy and us, we pretend not to be using it where any agents of the Moynama might think that we were undermining the Seven Tables.”

    I nodded softly as one of the Ainur crew called up a powerful wind that filled the Dancer’s sail, but touched nothing else around it, and propelled the ship forward into the Yevij Sea.

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