Stabbing into the Mist
A knife stabs into the mist
Colors fly through the garden
Tears fall into ash
Elti averts his gaze
Reading from the Oracle Omtani to Nobshi
Nobshi, like many young men, was raised from puberty as a monk, learned writing and liturgy, and grew up in Nol as a devotee of the forest. He was brought into the fold of the House Kuemno precisely because he was loyal and literate, and quite blessed as an accountant. The man spoke softly, held an arrogant demeanor, and proved fiercely loyal to his employer. He had every reason to be loyal: working under the house of the Orun was prestigious and lucrative. He was the kind of self-important, sexually-frustrated literati that would spend his time on the beach ordering his deckhands to clean up the cargo while complaining about how the saltwater has damaged his favorite outfit.
Incidentally, that was precisely what he was doing this morning. He stood on a rock overseeing a black, volcanic rock beach. Outcroppings of black rock jutted out from the waves, and pools of water left pock marks on the landscape. Standing tall above the rocks were two badly damaged Kohese trading vessels. The larger of the two had a large hole in the side from which several crates had spilled. It was as if the ship were a sacrifice for the reading of omens, and the ruined cargo were the entrails whose meaning the oracle would divine. The second, smaller ship fared slightly better. It sustained minor damages to its hull. Its sails, however, were torn into three narrow shreds that fluttered in the soft ocean breeze. Nobshi estimated that it would take several days to gather enough materials to repair the two ships, and another several more to make the repairs. This fact dismayed him. The winds would not be nearly as favorable on the return voyage, not to mention the financial losses from the ruined cargo and lost time.
Nobshi gave another disgusted glance downwards at his attire. As a matter of fact, the saltwater had completely destroyed Nobshi’s outfit. It was not fit to be used as a dirty rag to wipe the sweat off the brow of the now very sweaty, very smelly deckhands. The white robes had turned a disgusting shade of muddy gray. The teal handkerchief - a gift from his aunt - was caked in salt and dirt. It was quite the shame too. The outfit fit his lofty stature as elegantly as it did his figure, which of course he carefully maintained by not working to clean up the wreckage of his three ships. He groaned, then tried to wipe some of the caked mud off of his robes.
Before Nobshi could retrieve a towelette from his pocket, however, he was interrupted by a deckhand slipping on the wet rocks. The container of dyes he was carrying fell into a pool of brackish water. The color immediately bled out of its container, staining the rocks a vibrant shade of royal purple. Precisely twenty seven and a half silvers worth vanished into the ocean, Nobshi figured. He spat at his employee: “Foul turtlehead! Keep in mind that your contract specifically states that damages to our cargo will be deducted from your payment. Be more dexterous in the future, you oaf, for both our sakes. Thank you, now go on and get back to work.”
The deckhand, soaked in seawater, scowled but held his tongue and picked up another crate of dye to put back inside the ship.
Nobshi was concerned about the ships, if not as outwardly as his outfit; his fashion emergency was a distraction from the ships more than anything. Nobshi served directly under the management of Orun Tsal in Bar Hamiri, and oversaw the management of the family Kuemno’s dye exports. Several weeks prior he set out with three trading vessels packed to the brim with fine powders and extracts. Around seventy containers, over half of the dye, was a particular shade of royal purple popular in Anaetyr: the Kohese purple derived from local sea slugs. The Anaetyne loved the color: purple robes, purple glass, purple foods, purple ceramics, purple ink, purple paper. If they could dye their skin purple they would.
Nobshi didn’t care much for the color of purple. His favorite was a flattering shade of teal that had recently come into style among the upper class merchants in Bar Hamiri. This was of course, by his own design. A year ago he acquired a source of cactus dye necessary in the process of creating the color from his business in the Sybjyr. He doubted the color would be popular by the time he returned home. Rumors spread faster than any ship. News of his misfortune would be the topic of discussion at every party. While teal is a fortunate color to the Kohese, no self-respecting socialite would want to wear “shipwreck teal“.
As bad as the damage seemed, things were not entirely unsalvageable: literally with the sweaty deckhands, and figuratively with the situation as a whole. Nobshi has sailed the journey to the Anaetyne capital of Aeredos five times in the past two years, and had come to know this route intimately. By his accounts, they were stranded on an island that should not exist. In the many centuries of maritime trade on the Candarion Sea, not one sailor had told tales of an encounter with a lost rocky island, not one merchant had come back with the fortune of a naive tribe, and not one petty pirate lord had laid waste to this quiet corner of the sea. In fact, the most anyone could say about this stretch of water was that it was quite calm; a good spot for the crew to rest before tackling rougher waters.
No, this island presented a unique opportunity, one of the biggest since the establishment of the trade post in Sogadar. If a storm could bring Nobshi to this island, then another storm has almost certainly done the same to others sailing this stretch of sea. He wondered about the people who could call this isolated land home. What do they have to sell? What do they buy? How would they react to strangers? They might be curious. They might also be aggressive. He thought about taking an inventory of the goods that survived the crash. Gifts always go over well. These people may be quite receptive to gifts of exotic goods being cut off from the outside world. Nobshi stopped for a moment and pondered his strategy. This situation could end quite in his benefit, if he could play his hand right.
Nobshi looked up from his still muddy, ruined outfit, and gazed across the alien land he found himself in. The land rocky tidal pool beach ended about fifty feet from the shore with a small cliff face. Over the crest of the cliff was a gently sloped dusty field, periodically dotted with thorny succulent shrubs, palms, and patches of purple grass. On the horizon was an imposing volcanic mountain lined with pine forests. The most eye-catching feature of the landscape, however, were the massive tree-like mushrooms in all directions. They could be divided into two different types by color: round red mushrooms with white dots, and tall brown mushrooms that stick far into the sky before widening into a wide brimmed cap. Nobshi figured that were he to harvest one and bring it back to Koh, it would net him thousands of silver. Fortunes come in both bad and good, he mused.
Another of the deckhands interrupted Nobshi once again, “Captain! I see some natives down the coast. They have likely spotted us as well.”
Nobshi commanded, “Thank you. That is all I need from you. I will do the observation from here, and you will continue with your labor as you have been ordered.” Then, he put the thought of his tarnished clothes out of his mind for a moment, and he smiled.