Silver Nephil
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The Man In the River
The two men strode along the green, hilled place, keeping the river close as they were able to their right hand. The taller of the two men had a janbiya on his hip, beneath his golden belt. His shirt was of dark blue, pants black, small leather shoes constantly sucking into the mud.

The young man at his side had a colorful cloth tied round his wrist: turquoise, orange, and brown. Besides the kilij on his waist, it was the only flash of color, the rest of him clothed in a travel-stained, formerly gray kurta and even dirtier, once-upon-a-time-white shalwar, the legs of his pants tucked into soft boots.

His face wasn't really a man's face, from what the surviving crewman of their wrecked ship could see. He still had the barest hint of a boy's chubbiness in his cheeks and body and the stubble on his cheeks, chin, and upper lip left him doubting whether he was of the age he said.

The commander of their ship had had them set sail along with the others, all heading for a raid to a distant land. The storm had struck and pushed them to the side, off course, despite all their efforts. The ship had foundered on rocks at the riverhead and most were tossed into the sea. Some were washed ashore--he among them. The lad had not been. No, an ill-omen that lad was; he had swum to the land.

The lad being surveyed so was all of twenty-two years and had wanted nothing more than to prove himself and his mettle. Now he strolled about this foreign land with a cautious, nigh cowardly mien. Some lordling's or soldier's little get. Each footstep was set carefully, eyes darting this way and that.

When they wanted camp, the lad set about scouting the perimeter. For what, the crewman couldn't say until, "Hsst." He looked over from his attempt to make a fire. The lad waved his hand again, hissing, "Pssst." Frowning, the crewman went to his side and peered toward where the other pointed.

There they watched a tall figure. Unable to see from the distance if it was man or woman, all that was known was that it was tall, taller than even the crewman, hair reaching nearly to the small of the figure's back in a long, wet rope of black. The two leaned forward for a better look as the figure bent, trying to make out some sign of what it was, human or spirit, male or female.

Some sound they must have made. Some startling snap of twig or creak of boot. The figure bolted from the river water, the crewman rushing forward, calling out. The lad came up behind him, but was brought up short as an arrow stabbed into the man's face. He fell, one eye staring at nothing, the other replaced by the wooden shaft.

Stupidly, he'd knelt, or fallen to his knees, looking at the dead man. Feeling eyes upon him, he turned his head. Heat rushed to his face before he pulled his eyes up, and up, and up again until they found a stern, brown pair of eyes to look into. His hand rested on the hilt of the blade at his side; an arrow was notched to the bow held before him.

His nerveless fingers fell away from the hilt, arm dangling at his side as he took in the whole of the man once again.

"You have a very large spear on hand, efendi. I must say, I prefer this death at your feet than an embrace in the arms of the sea."