Rahul stood on the prow of his new ship, the Green Dragon.
He had loved the Black Nautilus, but it was gone now.
Well, at first he had actually hated the ship as, because of his assignment, he had been forced to spend much time on it. He was a plainsman and until he learnt to accept that the sea was nothing but another awkward plain, he had hated everything associated with it: not being on his own steed, the constant rocking, the smell below deck during a long journey, the lack of beautiful women to surround him and most of all the food.
But he learnt to see the Black Nautilus as his steed, and actually found himself talking to him and stroking the railing and the masts.
Also he didn't notice the rocking anymore after being an hour at sea. Interestingly he found started to find solid ground unnervingly still after a long sea voyage, but that feeling also subsided quickly.
The stench was a problem but he created his own luxury cabin on board with that he kept cleaning and scented with jasmine oil. When he ventured below deck he would apply a simple trick he learnt: breathe in through your mouth and out through your nose. That helped too.
He sometimes had that company of beautiful women on the Nautilus, but he always had Shiva with him: he built a little shrine in his cabin, and burnt a special scented candle every night to keep the memory of her alive.
The food remained a problem, but he initiated a policy of having twice as many food-stops as common sense ordained and that lengthened his voyages but his thankful stomach more than made up for it.
So all in all life had turned out good on the Black Nautilus: the life of adventure agreed with Rahul and he managed to leave a lot of past issues behind him.
Awakening the primordial beast.
The deaths of crew members.
The betrayal of Balorac.
And when everything seemed fine and it appeared they had gotten out with their lives, true disaster struck.
Some time after that had dropped Milika off in Messantia and only a few days away from Khemi the Black Nautilus was sunk in a freak wave and the survivors were left shipwrecked in a strange place.
Together with his surviving crew members, Jip, Mordy, Clegg and Fatsy, he had gone to investigate the ruins of a walled city only to discover that it was cursed. The dead did not lie gently in their graves, but were doomed to aimlessly roam the streets and feed on themselves and unfortunate living he 'happened' to find themselves stranded on their shores.
His brave crew and Fatsy managed to fight their way to the citadel in the center of the city and discovered the source of it all: a lych.
Sickened by the disease that turned men and women into shambling undead, they ran a race against time to bring the lych has prize: a silver bracelet with a tree on it that had been looted on Caldera and taken in the Black Nautilus to be sold on the black market in Akhet.
But all ended well: they fought Shemite pirates and won.
They liberated a group of poor Khitani slaves who were forced to dive for treasure from shipwrecks and enlisted them as crew.
They returned the bracelet in time (well Clegg had to vomit something up that was a bit unsavory) and left the Garden of Shub as the lych used the power hidden in the unseemly bracelet to turn the undead into nightmarish mockeries of trees.
And when everything seemed lost end death or worse was a certainty it appeared out of nowhere: the Green Dragon. A beautiful Khitani ship in good sailing condition with a beautifully carved jade dragon head on the prow.
Whether is actually came from out of the water as the Khitani sailors maintain, or just happened to be deposited there by the tides, was irrelevant now. It was gods-sent and who was Rahul to question the gods.
The Green Dragon was a sailor's dream. Not quite as fast as the Black Nautilus but stronger and bigger, elegant looking and quite comfortable and luxurious. And with the expert Khitani crew, a hold full of jade statuettes and favorable winds for Stygia, Rahul felt that his fortune had finally turned good.
Mordy kept nagging him about having bad feelings about the ship and the fact that the lych seemed to be afraid of the Green Dragon, but that was just Mordy's paranoia getting the better of him.
Jip had created a horde of treasure he planned to sell. Clegg was drunk. Fatsy had eaten half of the ships provisions that had bought in the small Shemite port, and was now quite sick.
But they had the right idea: life was too short to worry about inconsistencies and coincidences.
One did not question fate. Like for instance that they found his little shine to Shiva and the box of scented candles that he thought lost during the sinking of the Black Nautilus.
Rahul stretched and stiffled a yawn.
'Time to retire and light a candle for Shiva.'
And in a few days time, he would be back in Akhet and the first thing he would do was throw a big party on his new ship.