It was a long four more hours before we reached the signpost declaring the ferryman's crossing ahead. By then it was dark, and Karathos had nodded off in the carriage. As the caravan pulled to a halt, I stood to stretch my legs and have a look about. It must be some ferryman, I thought, to keep up business this far off the road.
Outside, Jaerol stood speaking to one of the drivers in a foreign tongue. He nodded on seeing me. "Evening, General," he greeted. "It seems we are out of fortune's favor today: the ferryman is away." I scowled, peering into the dark river, judging the flow of water, asking whether we could ford it or not.
As we debated, I looked again down the river and spotted strange light floating above it. I pointed it out to Jaerol, who peered into the darkness with me, his trained eyes having more lively skill than mine. "A boat," he declared, "a large skiff. Perhaps the ferryman?" As it drew closer, Jaerol signaled with his lantern; the light in the water signaled in return. Finally, I thought, perhaps a stroke of luck.
When the ferry drew close, a figure leapt skillfully off onto the dock and tied the boat. He lit a torch nearby, and stepped to meet us. His appearance, dear reader, I am not ashamed to say was a bit shocking, even for an old warrior's eyes. The man's flesh was a deep bronze, as though having spent years at sea or in the desert. Along the sides of his face and neck, iridescent azure scales marked his face, glittering in the torchlight. A cigarette dangled from his mouth, and shoulder-length tawny hair hung from his long face. He wore a long dark coat, and two scabbards hung from his swordbelt. He had the appearance of a pirate or a widely-traveled venturer. Such an odd being, reader, in such an odd place, at such an odd time - It was surreal as any dream.
He took a long draw from his cigarette, the smell of tobacco drifting into the air. A gruff sound escaped his throat. "You folks need a ferry?"