Home of Sword and Soul
Narsus walked away and the Ndoko followed her onto the warship. The other Tyrak ignored the new passengers, keeping focused on their duties. Narsus led them below deck. The innards of the Tyrak dhow were much more spacious to Omari, a requirement because of the Tyraks’ bulk. They were lead to a space which was obviously a cargo hold, the only space on a dhow that accommodated the Ndoko communal living style.
“We have made arrangements for you specific needs,” Narsus said. “We weren’t aware Omari would be with you, but I think we can provide for him as well.”
“How long will our journey take?” Dumi asked.
“All the fleets are launching today,” Narsus replied. “The Kiswala say they will reclaim Bashaba in two weeks’ time but they are always optimistic. We will reach our destination in one week.”
“One week?” Omari blurted. “From here to Aux?”
Narsus smiled. “Our dhows are very fast.”
Omari and the Ndoko secured their gear then left the room to roam the dhow. Omari went immediately to the deck. The docks were filled with well-wishers waving, ululating and shouting words of encouragement to the fleets. Omari spotted his people as well, the brightly colored and beautiful workers from Matalai Shamsi resembling a flock of birds as they waved scarves at random. Omari whistled and they turned to the Tyrak dhow. A cheer went up among them; Omari was leaving in style. A few folk from the Hole dared to emerge to wish him well briefly then went to work silently robbing the crowd. The Tyrak paid no attention to the celebrants, their efforts focused on getting the dhow under way. If the Kiswala were masters of the sea, the Tyrak were their gods. Omari had never in his life experienced such a fast dhow. He’d heard rumors of Kamite craft so fast they seemed to glide in the air, but people were always saying such things about the Kamites. He’d yet to see any of it proven.
The Tryak warship raced out of the harbor and into open sea. Narsus had not boasted when she spoke of the ship’s speed. Omari was very familiar with dhows as all Mikijen were, and he was impressed. The Tyrak worked the sails with amazing precision, capturing every gust of wind like stingy Kiswala merchants after wealth. He watched the crew for hours, fascinated by their coordination. His time on deck let him witness another skill of theirs; their swimming prowess. A team of Tyrak stripped naked then took up spears, tridents and nets. They dove into the water then disappeared into the clear blue depth faster than Omari thought possible. Minutes later they returned to the surface with the ocean’s bounty, easily swimming alongside the ship then climbing back on deck on the cargo nets lowered over the side.
“I take it you like seafood?”
Omari looked to see Narsus standing beside him. Despite her bulk she was able to approach him unnoticed. Omari studied her instinctively. It wasn’t taking him long to appreciate Tyrak female attributes. A smirk came to Narsus’s face.
“You’re living up to your reputation,” she commented.
Omari flashed a seductive grin. “I’m a man of wide appetites.”
“Well, curb your appetite here, though I doubt any of my crew would be interested in such a slight man as you.”
“We’ll see,” Omari said with a wink. “And of course I love seafood. I’m Kiswala, aren’t I?”
“Your companions prefer land fare. We’ve made accommodations for them.”
Narsus reached into her lap pouch and extracted a scroll.
“Take this to Dumi. It’s the map for your mission.”
Omari took the map. “I’ll deliver it now.”
“Please do. You’re becoming a distraction. Some of my crew are pairs and the men are becoming angry at your lingering eyes.”
“I thought you said I was slight,” Omari said.
“Tyrak can be curious as well.”
Omari chuckled as he headed below deck. As he strolled to their room his mercenary mind began its simple math. With each of them offered 30 stacks for the mission, his payday would rival what he lost in Kenja. No doubt they all would not make it back and the Kiswala would honor the payment with those who remained. He felt somewhat bad about losing a few of the Ndoko, but war is war. He might as well make the best of the situation. When he opened his drinking house we would have a drink in their honor.
His chest tightened, a pricking pain rising around his scar. He rubbed it until the pain subsided.
“Got to do something about ‘Odu’s mark,” he said before entering the Ndoko lair.
His clan gathered in a circle as if expecting him. He approached Dumi, map held high.
“A gift from Narsus,” he said.
Dumi took the scroll then spread it out. It was a map of Aux, with major roads and citied highlighted.
“We will land here,” Dumi said, pointing at an obscure harbor. “We will travel at night. Once we get to Esmeera we’ll follow the main road to Qwera. It is their Kandak who lead the attack on Bashaba. It is he who is our target.”
Dumi looked at Omari. “You will lead us into Qwera.”
The others nodded with Dumi. Omari nodded back but was slightly surprised. He knew Aux but not well enough to lead an assassination into the city. But the clan leader had made the decision and he could not refuse. Dumi rolled up the map then handed it back to Omari.
“We will trust you,” he said.
Omari nodded again, absently rubbing the scar as it ached.