Yule Mathoms 2005 Collected
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December 8 - 17 cunning corsairs: 3. Tale of the Cunning Corsairs - by Raksha
Seventeen bold Corsairs whiled away the hours, awaiting the signal to disembark from Pelargir and open black sails on the Anduin, gateway to the rich City we came to plunder: from Sarkanga, the old man of the ship, to little Azraf, the cabin boy and the mighty Berkim, who drummed the slaves' oars. And I, Nallo of Umbar, quartermaster. We had such hopes, such dreams of roaring into that white stronghold of our ancient enemy, of seizing gold and pale-skinned maids for pleasure and profit. And to see the haughty, elf-blooded Gondorim humbled was a dream burned into the hearts of our fathers and their fathers' fathers before them as long as the Corsairs had counted the years.
Then a mist came up. No true mist, for it was in truth a great and terrible wind of ghosts, ghosts who flew up onto all the ships of our proud fleet. There were screams, and the sounds of our mates' scimitars and knifes, striking at nothing. And our crewmates fell, gibbering in horror and dying on the deck, or leaping overboard. The things in the mist; they grinned as they bore down on us. I thought I saw a few living men striking out from among that ghostly horde, if they were in truth men - one was very tall, with a grey cloak, a white face, and eyes that burned silver in the moonlight. Ai, we could not stand against them!
Seventeen Corsairs choked back our terror and decided to live. Cunning rather than courage ruled our hearts. We dove over the side, and swam for shore, then ran for our lives, cold, wet, desperate to be away...
We made it to Pelargir, where, hungry and miserable, we surrendered to the townsmen. They needed extra hands to rebuild; and, because we had surrendered, they let us live in servitude, until, a year later, they released us.
I never returned home to Umbar. I work in a dockside tavern, and hope to wed the Tavernier's daughter - she will have me, but her father is less certain. Sarkanga works for a sail-maker down the street. Little Azraf was adopted by a family who had lost their sons. Berkim was hung after he knifed a merchant. The other thirteen Corsairs who fled with us during the Night of Ghosts are scattered throughout Pelargir; living well for the most part.
Sometimes I miss the old life; the time when we Corsairs were feared from Harandor to Andrast; and I answered to my captain instead of a fat Gondorian innkeep. But whenever I turn to the sea, I hear the shivering wind and my skin crawls, my heart quails. I can't forget the sight of it, the awful sight, of the dead things, borne on that wind to kill the living. I don't know if my father, dead since I was a lad, would curse me for cowardice, or laugh at my cunning. I just know that I'm still alive, and glad of it.
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