Excerpt: Day of Departure

Author’s note: This is another excerpt from my NaNoWriMo story. I think these will be done at least once per week, now that I can sit back and edit the story at my leisure!

Endymion hurries to the docks, hoping to see Sepultur’a off on her journey. Since the night of the kiss, he has been busy doing his best to heed the teachings of the forge-master, and even managed to craft a serviceable dagger. He usually gets errands done quickly, but has taken more time recently to talk with the people at the marketplace and glean more information about this local tradition. He has a gift to give the young woman who unexpectedly stole his heart.

The great ship which will carry her off to distant shores is still docked, and a crowd has gathered to see Lord Yazim’s youngest daughter depart. Endymion joins the throng, asking one of the lizard-folk dockworkers if the merchant’s family has arrived. “Not yet,” comes the hissed reply. “They are due at any time, however.” A steady stream of dock-workers carry goods and supplies up a ramp into the bowels of the ship. Most of the goods are being delivered to ports along the way, where they will be traded for foods, materials, and livestock. Other, smaller ships at those ports will deliver the goods that are traded for, while the larger ship will continue on and ensure that Sepultur’a arrives at her destination safely. It will then return to the home port after she takes to horseback.

Sylph has been stabled on board near the other livestock; she is one of few horses that is able to travel by boat, and Sepultur’a will need a good mount when she arrives. Horses are rare and expensive where she’s going, and travel by foot isn’t recommended. Sepultur’a has chosen the most challenging lands to explore, just as Ildris did before her, so a swift, strong steed will be necessary.
The crowd stirs and jostles each other, excitement growing. Endymion turns and cranes his neck; his height makes it easy to see over the milling people, and his mouth hangs open in awe.

The family is coming down the road to the docks, single-file. They are all resplendent in the colours of their house: crimson red and deep, pitch black. Lord Yazim heads the parade; his white-maned black horse bears him proudly forth. He bears the house standard on a halberd – the sharp blade gleams in the sunlight. He is clad in the armour of his people, which is designed to show the waves that used to wash along the shores of the lost islands. They are a people without a home, carving their indelible mark wherever they roam. Yazim’s stern face is battle-scarred, yet striking. He moves his steed forward steadily and confidently, nodding to the people that he passes, acknowledging customers and friends alike. He rides to the end of the plank that leads up to the ship, then turns and faces the crowd, steadying his mount. His eyes glow with affection as his wife canters down the road astride her steel-grey steed.

Lady Zaiher wears flowing crimson robes, riding side-saddle in an elegant, regal manner. An opaque veil covers most of her face, protecting her skin from the blazing sun. Her hair is done in long braids, tied back with silken ribbons and adorned with beads and seashells. Her almond-shaped eyes regard the crowd with care, smiling with genuine happiness. She, too, acknowledges the people she passes, waving at everyone.

Sir Ad-hir af-Atwala, the eldest child and the only son, follows after Zaiher on his own black steed. Zaiher is the only mother he has known, even though she did not bear him and give him life. He has his father’s proud, strong features, but the pale skin and stocky build of his mother. Ad-hir’s hair is bone-straight, where his father’s is a thick, curled mane which drapes over his shoulders like a grand pelt. Ad-hir wears armour which is black and scaled, a tribute to the fish and other sea-creatures that make up the majority of the diet of the sea-farers. He gives a casual wave to the onlookers now and then, nodding and smiling behind his cowl.

Next comes Ad-hir’s wife-to-be, Sonja Troll-breaker. For the occasion, she is clad in robes of lightweight, black silk, and her face is veiled as well. The robe’s silken material clings to her voluptuous form, and her long warrior-locks are adorned with beads carved of bone. The men in the crowd eye her appreciatively, as do some of the women. Most female eyes are filled with envy, however. For her scarred, wild appearance, Sonja is still exceptionally beautiful. She rides proudly on a white stallion, casting a serene gaze over the crowd, her ice-blue eyes a striking contrast to her mahogany-hued skin.

Ildris, being younger than Sonja – and Sonja is a guest of honour – rides next in line on a golden palomino with a white mane, tail, and feet. Her robes are identical to her mother’s, and she wears a veil as well. Her locks are held back from her face by a curved, golden tiara adorned with a single ruby. She smiles and nods politely to the people in the crowd, catching the eyes of many.

Finally, Sepultur’a makes her way down the road to the docks. She is borne in a beautiful chariot carved of ebonwood and painted a glossy black, drawn along by a roan gelding. The wheels and trimmings are the beautiful crimson hue associated with the family, and gleam brightly under the sunlight. The chariot itself resembles the bow of a ship, with a long-necked seabird as the figurehead. The wings of the bird curve back gracefully to form the body of the chariot, the feathers rendered with great detail and care.

She stands tall and proud, lightly holding onto a leather strap to keep her balance in the gently jouncing chariot. Her face is veiled like the other women, and her lithe curves are set off and accentuated by the crimson, silken robes adorning her body. She also bears a halberd from which the family standard flutters, marking her status of the day. This also lets any late-comers know that this is the end of the family parade, and congregating in the streets in her wake is now allowed.

Endymion stares at Sepultur’a intensely and intently, willing her to look his way. She turns his way at that very moment, as if hearing his silent call. Her eyes glow softly as she meets his gaze, as he stands out noticeably amongst the other people. Electricity seems to fill the air as he moves carefully through the crowd, making his way closer to her…

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