For Glory, For Empire
Plans Within Plans
The Palah’s Respite lurched as the wind suddenly changed direction and caught the sails. Although the rains had not started, the dark clouds and stiffened breeze foretold of the coming storm. Arturian deftly rescued his wine glass before the ship tried to heave it onto the precious contracts that he studied before him.
“Hmmm, empty,” he thought as he drained the last of Bordeaux from the glass. “It would not do to ponder one’s course without a refill,” he stated to himself as he leaned across the scant desk of his cabin to refill his glass from his private reserve. His mind momentarily distracted by the plight of an empty wine glass immediately snapped back to the litany of tasks he needed to accomplish before their arrival. “And now I can add ‘check the integrity of my cargo’ after this storm passes.”
He had come far, and gained much, but he still had farther to go to achieve his goals; the end forever eluding his sight. Satisfied with the contracts he placed them back in his leather bound ledger. He then triple checked the contracts that he carried on his person.
“These will pass to the untrained eye,” he eventually convinced himself. So much rode on this venture. So many strings tied to this gamble. “No, not a gamble, more like a calculated risk,” he concluded.
His cousin Baiyan had told him of this new colony, and the potential profits to be made there, but this Ts’ao Hai could prove to be difficult. “Unpredictable that one. Does he have plans of his own? Will those plans fall in line with my own?”
As meticulous as Arturian had been in plotting this course, the waters always got a little choppy around Ts’ao Hai. “Bah, I’ve persuaded nobles to see the light before. How hard could a pirate nobility be?” In-laws always seemed to troublesome.
“I still don’t see what she saw in that rake.” Arturian had only met the man briefly at his wedding, and he doubted that Hai would remember him, but how to play that. “Do I keep this a secret, or greet my cousin-in-law with open arms?”
Just then the ship lurched again, jarring him in his seat and shaking the thoughts from his head. He checked to make sure he had not spilled his wine, and as settled back into his seat his mind began to wander again. A pang of guilt and outrage shot through him as this time his thoughts turned towards his people and their displacement. His work had all been for them, the return his House to its rightful place always foremost in his goals.
“This new settlement is the key,” he was sure of it. This was the path he had gleamed from his research. New Salam would offer him a foothold for his operations, and promised the opportunity for him to gain the fame and fortune that he needed for the next phase of his plans. His partners were unsure of this venture, and if he miscalculated, their veiled threats had been understood. Fail in this, and I’ll have more than moneylenders after my head.
“Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to get in bed with the Mese-… No, I made a deal with devil, but only because they can provide the resources crucial to the next phase of my plan.” He would deal with them when the time came, for now he needed to dismiss these doubts. His work all pointed to this path, but so many unknowns and barriers were still in his way.
Arturian drained the rest of his glass and fell into his hammock. “My plan is in motion, and these doubts are thoughts for another day.” He tried to push them from his mind and catch a few hours of much needed rest. Just then a single ray of light broke through the clouds and shone through Arturian’s port hole. A smile burst across his face as he settled into his meditative trance.