Rupik the Pitiless: Part I

In the Jadewood on the Deeprun lived an outlaw known as Rupick. He was cold and he was vile; he was seldom seen by men. In his youth now long ago he was a fisher’s boy in Dradik; by age of twelve the boy had crossed the sea and back again.

When he was scarce fifteen he took a lover in the city, though little could he offer her of marriage, bliss or life. So he left her there in Dradik and he sailed the seas a deckhand; what little coin he made he saved to make the girl his wife.

Off the dreadful shoals of Wairk did Rupik learn the ways of water, and sailed he clear to Narne with ladened cargo bay to sell. He dove for pearls and rockfish in the coves of craggy Tartar, and learned he every yarn and tale that mariner would tell.

He journeyed far and deep, and grew from deckhand up to bosun; by age of twenty Rupik had the charge of twenty men. His eyes were fierce and dark; his voice would echo like a cannon; He led his crew and cargo safe through every wreck and fen.

Once when his ship was moored upon the coast of wooded Fenar, a caravel of raiders swept around the horn at speed. His crew was full ashore when Rupik spied the pirate schooner; no hope of any help had he, though desperate was his need.

Swiftly came the warship on to swarm the Dradii freighter, the gnarled and fetid captain standing rashly in her prow; but swifter still assayed the thought of Rupik, master-sailor, and “anything but capture, even death!” did he avow.