“What are ya runnin’ from?” The one-eyed elf asked, sharpening his blade with a stone.
“Who says I’m runnin?” Tulis said, taking a drink from his clay cup. The rum burned down his throat.
The boat rocked along the waves. The candle flickered on the captain’s table, sending shadows creeping along the darkness.
“Ya don’t go to the new lands ‘less yer runnin’,” he said. “‘specially if yer an empire-welp.” The elf stared with his one good eye, the other hidden behind a black eye patch.
It unnerved Tulis. “I paid fer this voyage. I don’t need to tell you anything.”
The elf had long unkempt black hair and a wispy mustache. He had a scar across one cheek running down from the eye patch. “You run from the empires. Through the Independent Nations and hop on the first boat you find. Mine. You got good gold, too.” The elf shrugged. The stone across the knife made a jagged sound. “Curious.”
“Keep yer curiosity to yerself. You offered me a drink. I didn’t know it’d be an interrogation.”
The elf-captain put his blade away and the stone down on the table. He raised his hands in supplication. “Very well, very well. Let us speak about other things.” He refilled Tulis’ cup along with his own. He took a drink.
“What do you know of the new lands?” Tulis asked.
The captain smiled, closing his eye and shaking his head. “The rumors or the truth? Rumors say all manner of beasts and monsters lurk there, ready to murder unwary newcomers and explorers alike. Not to mention the locals, tribes of all manners of goblinfolk, orcs and ogre included, hostile and thirsty for civilized blood so they say. And the land itself? Inhospitable, jungle filled with poisonous plants, swamps you’ll get lost in until ye starve, rocky mountains ye can’t cross.”
“And the truth?”
The elf shrugged. “There are monsters and beasts, some new, some known, dangerous if disturbed but no more than fishing in shark waters or the like. As for the tribes, depends. Some are hostile and kill all “civilized” they see. But others are reasonable. There is trade between most of the tribes and the outposts.”
“So the rumors are false.”
The elf took a drink. “If they were true there would be no outposts and going to the new lands would be a death sentence. Still is, for many folk. It’s a tough life but ye can live. It’s where the criminals and poor go, the ones who want or need to leave an old life behind. Ones like you.”
Tulis finished his drink and put it down. “Thanks for the drink.” He left the captain’s cabin and went to his cramped quarters. What the hell am I doing he thought to himself. He heard the feet of the sea elf crew running on deck. They would reach the new lands soon.