Across the Winedark Sea
It was cool in the shade. Lachlainn was grateful for that. While always profitable, the leader of the Warwik gang, the Shore Wolves, did not enjoy his visits to the city-state of Tarantis. Not in this heat.
“Gentlemen, I have one other item to show you.” A slick Gishmesh trader, Ossian, set a leather satchel on the table, moving the carafe of wine to the side. “Go ahead, my friends, look inside.”
Lachlainn was not a fan of theatrics. He flipped open the flap of the satchel and reached inside. He withdrew a pack of scroll cases, each carved from bone. They were tied with a golden cord. “Tell me these are magical, and that you’re not wasting my time with some dusty writings about desert plants or something.” He let the scroll cases fall on the table.
Ossian looked at Essam, Lachlainn’s contact for stolen goods in Tarantis, and gave him an evil grin. “Perhaps you would like to tell him, sayyid?”
Essam leaned forward, almost whispering. “My friend, these are the Scrolls of Ahriman. Lost for a thousand years, they may hold great power for someone with the knowledge and skill to interpret their secrets. Secrets of life and death, secrets of immortality. They are priceless. This is why I bring you here, sayyid.”
Lachlainn drained the last of his wine cup. “If they are priceless, why me? Surely you have sages and wizards aplenty here that would pay for them?”
Ossian spread his hands and sighed. “You must understand, sayyid, that this is not the west. Many people are superstitious of things from the lost empire of Kemed. They say that the scrolls must be cursed by Anubis, the ancient god that Ahriman defied a thousand years ago. But the learned men of the west do not share these simple superstitions, no?”
“Cursed?” Lachlainn held up his hands in front of him, warding off evil. “How do I know they really aren’t cursed? What are you trying to sell me?”
Ossian smiled. “Sayyid, I assure you, there is no curse on these scrolls. I have had them for weeks, and my luck has been anything but bad. My hair hasn’t fallen out, my skin is not covered in sores, and my wife is still happy with me in the bedroom. But priceless does not interest me, my friend. Gold interests me. Pay what I ask, take these scrolls back to your city in the west, and some doddering old sage will pay you handsomely for them. Everyone wins.”
Lachlainn looked at Essam, a question in his eyes. Essam nodded, grinning. He’d never steered Lachlainn wrong before. And 200 gold for the possibility of thousands? He would, perhaps, make in a few days what the smugglers in Warwik paid his gang in a year. “Very well. But if this Anubis kills me, you’ll be the first one I haunt.” He shook Ossian’s hand. “Done.”