The moon saw many things that night, even the ones that one would think remained secret and hidden. Away from Cutthroat Alley, across the Catfish River, there stood the massive fortress of Lord Azzur, ruler of Port Blacksand. The mysterious lord was rarely seen by his citizens, only appearing in public swathed in black robes that revealed only his penetrating black eyes. He would only remove those robes in his private chambers, at those times when he was alone.
Azzur was found this night in the mazelike passages of his home, making his way to a set of stone and marble double doors masterfully crafted with his personal insignia, the heraldry of Port Blacksand, the dragon and sailing ship that inspired fear and hate, or admiration and worship, in so many. He marched wordlessly up to the two armored men guarding the doors, glancing from one to the other. The two men nodded, before they each removed a key from their pockets and unlocked one of the doors, before pulling a hidden lever set into the wall that opened the door without setting off its deadly traps. Azzur passed through wordlessly, before the doors shut behind him.
Slowly and silently, the pirate lord glanced around his richly decorated chambers and all the splendour he had won as a pirate and a ruler. One could only imagine what was going through his mind as he looked at the jewelled mirrors, the crystal tableware, or the valuable furs and paintings that decorated every centimeter of the room. He finally walked across the room to stand before one of the mirrors, removing his thick black robes and fully revealing his visage.
Most people would have screamed had they seen what was underneath the robes. His face was crisscrossed with scars and burns, exposed veins that pulsed with a life of their own. His hair was still thick and black, his eyes glowed with the light of a man in his early thirties, although he was well into his sixties. The youth-retaining magic he had paid so dearly for still held its power, although nothing could or would heal the marks on his face.
They had marked him as a follower of Kukulak, a Khulian name for the god of storms, a twisted aspect of the god worshipped in Allansia as Sukh. He had been so fascinated by the darker side of life, the chaos and evil that seemed so pervasive in the world. Just a child when he snuck into the temple, he had been caught by the priests and forced to take a test, one that would either mean death, or acceptance by the god.
The burns on his face, formed into the ritual symbols of Kukulak, had trapped him, led him into the worship of a foul god. His parents would have reacted with horror to what had happened to their beloved child, had he not fled and been captured by pirates. Forced to join them or be fed to the sharks, he had become a murderer and pirate, with fanatically loyal men and untold wealth, until he had seized control of this city from the aging, enfeebled despot who had preceded him, rebuilding its power but making it more rotten and corrupt than ever.
It was so strange, the way the fates worked. A child's fascination, the type of escapade that most youths engaged in, had set him on a path that had led him to reap dozens of enemies, hundreds of lives and thousands of gold pieces, and brought him to the peak of power in one of the most rotten and corrupt cities on Titan.
It had brought him his love of piracy, of raiding and plundering, of imposing bizarre and erratic taxes on his hapless citizens for his own amusement. He might laugh at seeing them struggle to pay, before rescinding the tax just as they were about to revolt. Azzur might have had pleasure at these moments, to see the struggles of his victims either on the high seas or in the streets of his city, one could not say.
No one, not his aides, not his citizens, not the priests of Kukulak, knew what might have passed through Azzur's mind. He had been so calm and mysterious for so many years, it was almost impossible to tell how he felt when he did something. The same man who might slay everyone aboard a rich merchant ship, or impose a heavy tax on the number of children in a household might also execute a wealthy Blacksander and distribute some of his riches to the city's poor, or give charity and clemency to victims of circumstance such as the wrongly convicted or the Serpent Queen, a woman who had suffered at the hands of the nightmarish Snake Men of the southern deserts.
Azzur stood there for the longest time, simply looking in the mirror as his reflection looked back. At times, one might wonder if even he knew what was passing through his mind, as twisted and dark as his actions were. He could hear the seas passing through his ears, the clash of steel in the back of his mind, the screams of his victims and the curses of his enemies. It all tended to run together, with the blood of hundreds and the misery of thousands on his hands. He paid little heed to the gods, either of Law or Chaos, and so he was ready for his fate, when it came.
Looking around the room, Azzur was thinking to himself. But about what? What had he spent all his life fighting for? Fabulous riches that could offer him no solace in his darker moments? The rule of a rotting, diseased pit of a city that seemed to spiritually infect almost everyone who lived within its walls? A position that drew people hungry for the power it held, either destroying them in their attempts to reach it or trapping them within its grasp? What was it even worth anymore?
Azzur might have thought that with all his wealth, all his power, he would have found the answers. But all he found were still more questions. Looking at him, it was anyone's guess whether he would ever find the answers.
Or perhaps he just didn't care anymore.
Being a pirate, a murderer and a tyrant had a tendency to do that to a man.