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Old 01-11-2004, 08:13 PM   #40
Shadow of Tyrn Gorthad
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As Airefalas walked with Mithadan back down the Lonely Star's gangplank toward the shore, he felt a peculiar sense of relief. It wasn't that things were going any better. They weren't. The ship and her crew were now under even more dire threat than they had been previously what with the recent arrival of the extra shore guard and a second black dromond. The graceful lines of the Lonely Star were now offset by the ominous shadows of two flanking warships. With that kind of might hovering over them, ready and poised to attack, Airefalas knew that crew of the Lonely Star would have to move quickly and with their wits about them if they wished to survive should the situation move beyond tense into actual open hostility. Ideally, he would have preferred to have served with Mithadan and the rest of the Lonely Star crew previously so that he could know what to expect of them should events come to a battle, but he was not concerned with their relative valor. They seemed as brave and stout a bunch of men as he had ever sailed with. In fact, he had complete confidence in ship, captain, and crew. What he did not have confidence in was the word of this Lord Falasmir. He had the reputation of a viper and, upon meeting him, Airefalas half-expected to see a forked tongue in his mouth when he spoke.

Stepping off of the gangplank back on to Umbar's territory, Airefalas cast a glance up at the pale blue of the Haradrim sky. The sun was baking down on them with the intensity of a furnace. If not for the steady offshore breeze, it would have been nearly unbearable. He wiped the sweat from his forehead with his sleeve and waited as the three guards who had escorted him and Mithadan from the palace earlier rejoined them for the trip back.

While he had initially experienced some private doubts about Mithadan's intents, fearing that their stalwart captain was going to let them all be slaughtered like sheep in a pen while he made some misguided and futile attempt at diplomacy, Airefalas now saw that his doubts had been rooted in his own ignorance of Mithadan's character. In fact, when he had made a passing comment to Saelon, the Star's second mate, expressing this doubt, Saelon had simply looked at Airefalas as though he had taken leave of his senses, then laughed loudly as though it had been a wonderful joke. Airefalas had laughed along with him and taken his leave, thinking, well, maybe... Then, he had heard Mithadan’s instructions regarding the lamp oil and found himself letting out a breath he had not even realized he was holding. When Mithadan had intimated a few minutes later that they would be leaving in a few days, with or without cargo, he knew for certain that his worries had been unfounded. That knowledge was the source from whence his sense of relief flowed.

Thinking back on his own foolishness in doubting Mithadan’s intent, Airefalas let out a soft, wry laugh. Mahat, the guard on his right, shot him a curious glance. On impulse, Airefalas dropped him a wink.

The guard eyed him cautiously. “You find something funny?”

“Only the heat,” Airefalas replied casually. Without giving the guard a chance to respond, he turned to Mithadan. “The tide will be turning soon and the wind with it. I can feel a change already."

Mithadan nodded. "I, too. Fortunately, Saelon has done a good job in our absence. Once the cargo is on board, very little remains to be done to prepare the Star for sailing."

Airefalas nodded in response and fell silent, letting his attention dwell instead on the route they took in getting from the docks to the palace. He paid careful attention to the closed and shuttered buildings, to where narrow side streets joined the main thoroughfare, and so on. As long as the possibility existed that he and Mithadan might have to fight their way back to the ship, he intended to do his best to make sure that there were no unpleasant surprises along the way.

The banquet scheduled for the evening worried Airefalas greatly. Earlier, he had toyed with the idea of trying to conceal a weapon on his person so as not be completely unprepared for treachery, but, as Mithadan had bluntly pointed out, being caught with a weapon would do nothing but land them both in Lord Falasmir’s dungeons. He saw the truth in Mithadan’s warning and abandoned the idea at once, but found his sense of foreboding regarding the banquet growing steadily throughout the day. He raised one hand to his temple where a throbbing headache had begun to take root.

Last edited by piosenniel; 04-05-2007 at 11:35 AM.
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