|Written||11 October 2019|
|Story Arcs||The Chronicles of Odeous|
The Aguaeto had set sail from the Outerlands. It was a large vessel, for a Junk. The battened silver sails and blackwood hull had set it apart from the other ships floating in the port - but soon it would be returning to more regular ports on the other side of Valordyn. Setting off from the west coast, it would sail through the northern wastes and around to the east coast - back to East Teleios.
The passengers on the ships numbered thirty, with another number for the crew. Many of those passengers were rich travellers seeking easy adventures and exotic lands - with none of the risk, of course. The exceptions to that group were the Telesian Samurai, who sailed free of charge.
These samurai were noble figures. Renowned for upholding vows of justice and honour, at least in their own lands. The nobility of other countries saw them merely as knights trained by families in power, and the common people saw only another authority holding a sword. Despite this reputation the samurai still held their honour wherever they went - especially when challenged.
“I bet I can get this noble thug to break his vows.”
Three men stood on the port-side railing of the Aguaeto. All rich men. One was dressed in fine red silken robes, with hair tied back and perfumes hidden up his draping sleeves. Another was thin and dressed in tightly fitting blue robes. The third wore yellow cloaks over his round figure, with jewels and rings on every finger. It was this third man who had spoken. They were all looking at the samurai standing at the opposite railing, dressed in red padded armour.
“Anyone interested in taking my wager?”
The yellow-clad man turned to the other two, glancing between them. The blue man spoke first:
“I’ll take the bet.”
The red-silken man spoke quickly next:
“That makes me the intermediary.”
He held out his palms, the other two men each placing a sack of metal coins. The blue man smiled, but the yellow man smiled wider before walking over to the samurai.
“Greetings, noble guard.”
The samurai’s eyes didn’t move, transfixed on the horizon. The round figure besides him tried to meet his face, leaning partially over the rail of the ship.
“I gather that you and your ilk take vows based on the virtues of the Telesian emperor. Not all take the same vow, of course, but from the way you’ve been staring at the horizon these past weeks tells me that your vow is one of patience. Stop me if I’m wrong...”
The samurai’s view remained still. The yellow man grinned.
“Excellent. Now, I know you’ve gotten free transport from this vessel. The captain greatly emphasises this fact in how he employs the likes of you. It’s understandable, you don’t often need money yourself - catered for in all the locales you visit. However...”
The rich man brandished a bag of coins, half the size of the one he put in the bet, in front of the samurai.
“...that doesn’t mean money isn’t useful. You could spend this in donations, charity, and ... whatever it is you think is a worthy cause.”
This is where the yellow-clad man grinned his largest.
“All you have to do is talk to me. Break your vow of patience and silence, and then you will have the money.”
Moments passed as the individuals stayed motionless. The rise and fall of the ship on the waves kept a slow rhythm.
The samurai turned his gaze at last.
“What would you like to talk about?”
The yellow man glanced a devilish smile over at the two others waiting on the other side of the ship. He passed the bag of coins to the samurai.
“Thank you for that.”
The man began to walk back towards his betting partners, but a voice behind him stopped his tracks.
“You should know that taking this money has not broken any vows.”
The comment was loud enough to reach the men standing at the other rail. The yellow man’s smile vanished. He turned around, his mouth open in a gasp. The samurai smiled as he pocketed the coins.
“My vow is one of vitality, not patience. You’ve actually helped my cause - these coins will be donated to a surgeon in my homeland.”
The yellow man’s hands turned to fists and his face tinted red.
“Then those coins are still mine! You’ve cheated me!”
The samurai kept smiling. As he did so the red-silken man shouted over the other:
“You paid him to talk to you! He played fair, and you’ve lost our bet.”
The red and blue men both laughed as the red handed both sacks of coins over to the winner of the bet. The yellow man turned between his betting partners and the samurai several times, before giving up and retiring to his room below the deck.
The samurai walked over to the red and blue men, who suddenly went stiff.
“You aren’t going to chastise us for gambling, are you?”
The samurai looked between them briefly with a stern glance, but laughed it off.
“Of course not. Though perhaps indirectly, you’ve helped my cause. For that there is reason to give thanks, and so: thank you.”
The samurai took a small bow in front of the two men, who both smiled at him. The samurai turned around again to return to his gazing point on the horizon. The sun was setting. The red-silked man asked one final question before the night arrived:
“May we know your name, honourable one?”
The samurai turned around briefly to answer him: