23 January 2007

Sahm's Tale, Part 1

Sahm was uncomfortably aware of the biting, salty wind that caused his eyes to redden as he stared into the distance from the prow of the mighty ship. Better to have a loyal horse beneath him than the surging deck of a trader’s vessel, he thought miserably. Despite its placid appearance from the relative safety of shore, the ocean was a veritable desert, the countless sands replaced by briny, forbidding depths. There was little comfort in the analogy. To lose oneself here, thrown overboard by storm, or madness, or unruly crew, was to die and be forgotten.

He was a man who knew the wastes of his homeland well. Sahm had ridden across the breadth of the great desert many times, in service to half a dozen caravans. He had leant his bow and blade to the protection of the goods and folk of his country, loosing arrows at bandits, raiders, and the unholy spawn of the shifting sands. In between these meandering jaunts, which often lasted months at a time, he served with his father and brothers in his lord’s army.

It was not often that they were summoned to fight at the behest of the Caliph, but such a thing was not unheard of. Even Sahm had seen the ugly face of war, where men became beasts driven by bloodlust, and were rarely tempered by faith. There was no war here, upon the waves, unless it was between the sea and the endless sky that sat above it. The sun was setting, and the planets and stars had started to reveal themselves in the eastern sky. The sight of the stars in the heavens drew Sahm’s thoughts to another night, several months past, spent in a much better place...

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