Astelbania: The Exile

Passing the front gates of Marrokville had become far more an ordeal than it had in the past. There had been much rumored of the Kings involvement with the darkness which grew in the North; a blackness being spread like a plague by a dark wizard, housed up in his floating citadel. Riding at a slow pace through the thriving streets of the City Proper, Danoa spied the Inn of the Heron Blades, and longed to bathe and sleep. But he was four days overdue, and he was anxious to rendezvous with a Captain of a Devensheerian Galleon. And so, a bath would have to wait, and the good captain would have to set eyes upon Danoa, travel-ragged be damned.Marrokville was a city designed for a great many to live within. Its design was that of a human man who arrived to the southern most edge of Astelbania and saw it for its potential as a trading post. He built a castle 10 miles inland, and from there built his city like he would a wheel... a great hub at its center with a dozen roads of cobble leading in all directions from there, the southern most spoke led to the docks; towards the Marrokian Harbour. For a human man, Joral Marrok had been a visionary... Having come from the East, Danoa Jaxa rounded off the main outer-rim of Marrokville and turned left towards the Docks. He was greeted with smiles and good tidings. He was amazed at the ignorance of Marrokan people. Such a dark cloud hung over Castle Marrok - and yet, all measure of darkness was lost as more and more gold fell into the pockets of its people. The more the king stole, the less taxes were forced upon the people of Marrokville, and the more willing they were to fight to defend their greed from any who would threaten to take it away. To Devensheer and Westbridge, this would be bleak news indeed.By the docks, Danoa dismounted, removing his travel-pack, his bow and sword from the strap mount on the saddle. With little negotiation, he sold his steed for a less than nominal fee... However, it mattered little.. he would not require a horse where he was going.Walking along the docks of Marrokville's harbor proved to be far more of a task than Danoa had first thought. With the storm having passed only the day before, many ship sought harbor for repairs. The harbor-master and his staff were busy setting schedules for dockhands to repair riggings, masts and rudder damage from the strain of keeping ship and crew afloat during such a deluge... it was a wonder any ship survived the onslaught at all; tho' Danoa Jaxa was aught but a sailor; a far-away traveler - sure, a singer, perhaps even an entertaining story-teller, but not a sailor to be sure. Finding the Harbinger was simple enough, though. She was one of the largest ships docked. Her hull was painted cherry red, with a likeness of a mythological sea-elven maiden carved on the forecastle. Her flag showed the Crest of Devensheer - and the Golden swords which marked Harbinger a ship owned by The King of Devensheer. Her captain stood upon the bridge speaking with a Knight - armored in the garb of a Marrokian guard. The captain's face was pinched in a tight grimace, but he nodded receiving what looked to be a sword wrapped in burlap. With a bow, the guard took his leaving, leaving the captain to oversee the repairs on his ship with a critical eye. His second in command was a fine looking human woman, with blue eyes as sharp as her captain's. Danoa had always secretly had a crush on the First Mate - but also suspected that she had a heart for Tiberius Karok... and beside.. he doubted she would fancy any man that preferred land over sea."Ahoy!" Danoa called.
Tiberius Karok looked to the docks and found Danoa's eyes among the hundreds surrounding him..
"Avast, my boy!! 4 days late, yet here you stand.." smiled the captain. He'd always been a genuine man, quick to rest anyone's worries away with a quick wink and joke.
"Permission to come aboard," asked Danoa Jaxa.
"You are welcome, sir elf.. Mind my deckhands and mastmen,"
"I see there, they are busy to work!"
"Busy indeed .. I shall greet you in my quarters..." Karok nodded to Alyssa Stormcloud who peered down at Danoa. She winked. It sent his tummy a flutter.. she could rival Elven woman - if not for her rugged exterior - and altogether human impatience and sailor's tongue. With a slight after-thought, he boarded the Harbinger figuring he could never compare an elf-maiden with Alyssa Stormcloud.. No Alyssa was a woman within her own class of woman. She was magnificent."Can I help you, good sire," the Fore-Mast master asked.
"I am no sire, my good man," smiled Danoa, bowing deeply, "I am Danoa Jaxa, a friend of your captain's and your guest..."
"The elf," the Fore-Mastman smiled a toothless grin, looking to the sides of Danoa's head; the ears again! Danoa allowed himself to be curiously scrutinized, and nodded. "Welcome, friend - that way with ye then,," the Fore-Mastman pointed to the rear of the boat - and Danoa did his best not to pump working men and women along the way.The hatch below the bridge was open, and led into the rear-belly of the Harbinger. At the far back of the stern, was the Captain's Ready-Room and below that, his quarters... the way was narrow; one could hardly fit himself through. "Ah," Karok said as Danoa entered. This room was far more spacious, "It is good to see you safely aboard."
"There was a day or two when i wondered if i could ever make it here alive," Danoa received a goblet of wine, the bottle marked with elvish script; wine from his homeland. With a sip, Danoa realized how much he missed home. He had tasted many wines from all over the world.. but none rivaled that of Qualerin. "Thank you for this,"
"I figured you would have a longing for something familiar.."
"I hadn't thought of home much, of late." Danoa admitted. The elf's thoughts turned to his arrival, "I noted a Marrokan Guard aboard? Trouble?"
Sipping from his own goblet, Captain Karok was quick to dismiss, "Oh no.. we have been commissioned to carry another passenger to Devensheer... "
"Another envoy?"
"Nay, again, sir elf.. a prisoner!"
Danoa almost choked upon his wine, "Really?"
"Worry not, Danoa Jaxa, this one will only be a prisoner until we make way for Devensheer.. after that, he is a guest of the King!"
"I see.. I should like to meet this prisoner.." Danoa was curious.
"Perhaps you've heard of him; Kanan Al'Barran!"
The End

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