A particularly successful trader from an ancient race of merchants, Phinehas sat back and fixed Kurga with an intent gaze over the tent of his jeweled fingers. “The Sand Sea.”
He sat still, only the glint of his diamond mail betraying any movement as he breathed. Kurga knew better than to interrupt. “You are young. Perhaps you do not know that in four generations not only has no one found a safe path through the Sea, no one has returned from trying.”
“I am not so ill informed.”
“Yet you think it is not only possible but economical.”
“Goods from the East, not in months going around the Sea but in days going through it. The one who could deliver such a thing would be a king.”
“And a criminal. The Legions consider it a demilitarized zone and do not want to waste valuable resources protecting caravans.”
It was the opening Kurga has been looking for to play his ace. “No they do not. But they do not care how many missionaries wish to become martyrs.”
Silence. Outside the tent the bazaar continued in full throat. Kurga made a show of sipping his tea. The plan was brash to say the least, the only way Phinehas would finance it was if he believed Kurga was the kind of Panthera, bold and resourceful enough to pull it off. Now was not the time to betray nerves. Yet before the expedition faced its first lethal trial, its life hung upon the knife’s edge of a wily, old merchant prince’s perception of Kurga’s character.
Phinehas laughed and Kurga relaxed. “A missionary! You!”
“Why not? After all, are not wealth and prosperity the blessings of God? Is a merchant then, anything but an fellow worker with God? An evangelist, spreading the faith, sharing the blessings of those who have with those who need?” It was a little joke but Kurga was rewarded with more laughter. This was going well.
“All very fine and very funny but even if I did believe you had found religion, my young friend, I am not yet so senile as to think the Legions will. That is to say nothing of the Sandskiff captains.” Kurga knew this too as he had spent his first fruitless weeks here in this harbor town trying to secure passage before fate intervened.
“Which is why I am merely attaching myself to an existing mission, passage already booked …which is a little short of the funds it needs to launch.”
The old man chuckled. “Which brings you to me. “The young lions are in want and suffer hunger, but those who seek Yahweh will not lack for any good thing.”” Kurga took that as a, ‘yes.’