On Board the Ghannidor Ra
By Jeff Baker
I never found out whether I had been apprenticed or sold, but at the time it didn’t matter. I had just turned sixteen and my Great Uncle (who was the Patriarch of our family) took me in to The Holy Sword. I had been in the tavern before, usually with my Father for a meal, but I thought my Great Uncle was going to share the traditional celebratory glass as I had reached the Age of Ascension. Not that Ascension would do me much good as I was the younger son of the youngest son, and my future, as I imagined it, involved nothing loftier than being apprenticed to a merchant or working in the fields. Perhaps betrothals to the younger daughter or son of a family more prosperous than my own parents were.
I did not notice the stir when Besseron entered the tavern, and my life for that matter. I had reciting the tribute in answer to the one my Great Uncle had recited to me and had drank the small glass or the cool, sweet liquid somehow warming me when I realized that there was a quiet which suddenly swept over the room. My Great Uncle was talking and so I had to give him my full attention but I caught a glimpse of a tall, powerful figure out of the corner of my eye. I suddenly realized I could see behind me in the mirror.
The first thing I noticed was the sword. That and the tattoo on his powerfully-muscled arm. His garb looked like the usual attire favored by merchants and tradesmen but with a hodgepodge of styles from various regions. His ears were long and tapered, not trimmed and filed like mine and most city or town dwellers. He was leaning against the doorway of The Holy Sword, smoking the sort of thin pipe that I had seen sailors smoke. His own sword was in a long, leather scabbard at his side. I had trained myself to notice things and I saw the man’s eyes looking about the room.
My Great-Uncle raised a hand and for a moment I wondered why he would need to signal for one of the serving-people when we were actually sitting at the bar when, to my surprise, the man with the sword walked in to the Tavern and up to where we were sitting. My Great-Uncle introduced him as Besseron and he had the attitude of someone whose name was widely known. But I had spent my sixteen years mainly among my family, so I was not as familiar as I should have been with the outside world. Besseron, I noticed, smelled of spices and smoke and he and my Great-Uncle began to talk with him in low tones and I became distracted by the sight of a cat in the open doorway, its eyes yellow and gleaming.
It’s done, then,” Besseron said in a firm voice. “Have you a name, Boy?” This was the first time he had addressed me directly.
“Aris, Sir,” I said cautiously.
“Aris,” my Great-Uncle said. “Your future has been arranged. You will go with him now.”
“Yes, Patriarch,” I said, realizing that my life was changing fast.
“But we must go quickly, young Aris,” Besseron said. “My vessel is docked near here, and we must be off before the Night Watch gets a close look at the Ghannidor-Ra.”
That should have been my first clue, but I did not grasp it at the time. Through the offices of my Great-Uncle and Patriarch, I had fallen in with pirates!
This one swelled up again—I have about another page and it will probably become a novelette or novella sometime. This version is a condensed version. (I don’t even bring the pirate ship on stage in this version!)