Four Chests of Fine Ronas Silk

Heated winds shifted through heavy rigging, masts, and sails before finally washing over a sun and sea parched face. The face belonged to Lada, who shielded his eyes, searching the horizon of the grand Yamovi for his soon to arrive friend. Lada was one of the Landas, the sea traders whose hearts pumped sea water instead of blood. Their only love was the sea. Yamovi.

All of the Landas sailed the seas freely, but when forced to dock at home, they were oppressed under a strict hierarchy. The profits that they made were taxed fifty percent, so many of the sailors smuggled and stole parts of their cargo, at great risk. If caught, the smuggler and his crew would receive the death penalty.

Lada had taken this risk for his struggling family and starving children. He had stolen one chest of fine Ronas silk from an order of four chests from the famous silk farms in the south. Ronas silk was the best in existence. It was so light and paper-thin that to hold it was like holding a cloud. Hundreds of yards could fit in a small chest, no bigger around than a sailor's arm. It would fetch a high price on the black market.

"Oy! Lada! Sniffr comen 'roun!" a friend called from the dock. A "sniffr" was a tax collector, the scourge of these docks. Sure enough, Lada could see a thin, spider-like sniffr running to the dock. Lada's ship was the first one checked.

The tax collector sniffed impolitely when he stepped on Lada's boat, being of a higher class than Lada. "Your profits?" he demanded, eyeing the deck cautiously.

"Nidy-tray 'mant profit, an' tray chest o'fine Ronas silk."

The tax collector smirked at Lada's seaman accent. "93 amount profits, and three chests of fine Ronas silk? The sheriff wishes to see you to receive his order. Bring the chests too."

A feeling of gloom settled over Lada. It was just his luck! The sheriff was the one who had placed the order and was expecting all four chests, and he had only spoke of three. He became dizzy and sick; his dark skin became paler, almost matching his sun-bleached hair. He was going to die now. His crew watched from a nearby bar as soldiers led Lada to the court, swallowed their drinks and deserted the port at a run. Lada kept his head down like a man doomed to die as the tax collector introduced him to the sheriff.

"Raise your head, and bring me the chests," the sheriff demanded. Lada did so, trembling with fear. The sheriff opened one, and ran his hands over the fine Ronas silk, savoring it. "There originally was four chests, wasn't there?"


"What happened to the fourth then?"

Lada desperately tried to keep his voice from shaking, and thought up an excuse as quickly as possible. "T...Tare were ah...ah storm, i' wash 'way some o'ta cargo."

"I am sorry to hear that. You are not the great sailor I had thought you to be after all. Now, unless you find me another chest of fine Ronas silk, you will pay all of your cargo and your ship as punishment. I want the silk by tomorrow, is that clear?"

"Yesir," he murmured and bowed out. Maybe the sheriff wasn't so smart or ruthless after all. He hid away enough money to make it appear that he had bought a chest of fine Ronas silk, and decided to bring the fourth chest in the next day. They could search his ship all they wanted, and could not find a reason to punish him. He had lost a good crew, but had walked away with his life, and he was grateful for that.

Early the next morning, he returned to the palace. He strode confidently through the halls, and bowed deeply to the sheriff. He set the chest on the sheriff's lap, and he opened it. Then the sheriff loudly called out, "This does indeed have fine Ronas silk in it!" and suddenly Lada was surrounded by a dozen bow and arrow bearing soldiers. "You were the only sailor to come back with Ronas silk, so you could not have bought it here, but in Furnime, 200 leagues South." Before Lada could protest, the sheriff clapped his hands, and when Lada made a desperate dive for the door there was a dozen soft twangs and dull thumps. "Find me his crew!"