I love Arabian Nights, sword and sorcery, Thief of Baghdad, and the stop motion works of Ray Harryhausen. If you do too, you’ll probably get as much of a kick reading my novella Sinbad and The Sword of Solomon as I had writing it. It’s appearing in volume 2 of Airship 27’s Sinbad: The New Voyages series, alongside stories by Shelby Vick and Erwin K. Roberts, and featuring illustrations by Steve Wilcox.
Airship 27’s take on Sinbad is pretty cool. I love researching and writing about the coming together of various cultures. Merkabah Rider is full of culture clash. In this incarnation, Sinbad’s most trusted crewmembers are culled from his various adventures around the world. There’s Henri Delacrois, a rogueish archer from Gaul, Ralf Gunnarson, a towering Viking youth, Tishimi Osara, a Japanese swordwoman, and the put upon first mate of Sinbad’s fantastic ship the Blue Nymph, Omar.
My own story sends Sinbad on a quest to a remote island surrounded by a magic, ship-smashing storm in search of the mystical sword of King Solomon, forged by a demon, and capable of inflicting wounds which cannot be healed. There’s a giant metal skinned demon, a savage tribe of mermen, marooned Maori warriors, and a ship on the back of a giant white roc.
Here’s an excerpt –
The greatest sea port in the Arab world was Al-Basra, the place where many paths met.
And among the many dhows bobbing in the harbor, the greatest of them all was the Blue Nymph.
She was ostensibly a baghlah, one of the intrepid shallow draft ships whose sharp bows and lateen sails allowed them to outpace the turgid monsoons that plagued the Indian Ocean upon which they plied their prosperous trade. But her type would remain unmatched and unseen in those waters for centuries, for her exact specifications, which some covetous sailors whispered must have been divinely inspired by the Lord of All Waters Himself, were entirely of original design. She had been so heavily modified and refitted under the direction of Sinbad and Omar, that she barely resembled any ship sailing the seas. She was not sewn together with fibers, as was the preferred method among Arabian shipwrights. Her strong Ethiopian teakwood planks were mysteriously joined by twinkling metal fasteners. It was a technique Sinbad and Omar had learned from the Viking shipbuilders, and was practically unknown in this part of the world.
The Blue Nymph’s rippling canvas was dyed sky blue, a vanity of Sinbad’s, but one which also served to keep all but the most daring of the Bawarij corsairs away as his fierce reputation preceded him. She could, at an order, raise a jib on her bowsprit, or supplement her main from the topmast, and with the blessing of the wind she could attain a speed unmatched.
Her gloriously ornate stern had been carved by a master woodworker and his son for a sultan’s ransom. It depicted a beauteous, full bodied, mermaid, smiling impishly, her circling black hair writhing like serpents, as if captured underwater, her scaly tail curling upwards mischievously, as if beckoning her pursuers on. All around her were seven starfish, representing the seven seas her captain had conquered. Her two shining eyes were crystal blue and composed of great globes of inset glass, though some swore they were two great jewels Sinbad had procured in his travels. Whatever their make, they gave the appearance of two mighty nazar charms, twice warding the ship against the evil eye.
To see that flirtatious, mocking smile recede, to hear the crack as the wind caught her lovely blue sails, to see the ocean split before her and to be left bobbing in the white foam of her powerful wake, that was a heartbreak to many a sailor who had never set foot upon her.
But to the twenty five lusty men who sang heartily as they lovingly scrubbed her decks and wove and tarred her rigging beneath the sun, she was the greatest home many of them had ever known. Her captain did not allow just any sea rat to set an unworthy heel upon her decks, and to be a member of that immortal crew was almost to be beloved in the eyes of Allah. No shirkers there, for broad-shouldered Omar would toss a fool overboard by his ear, and to be thrown off the Blue Nymph was a greater curse than to be denied her decks, because who would employ a fool that had attained that august company and been cast out?
No coward either, for all knew that wherever the captain of the Blue Nymph pointed her prow there would be death and danger enough for a fleet of such vessels. But even the most pitiable jellyspine pined for one such voyage with Sinbad the Sailor. All knew men who had returned from his journeys and retired young to lives of luxury, bolstered by unfathomable riches which their generous master always paid out to any who would quit the sea.
But some never quit.
Sinbad and his companions were such. For them, the sea was their greatest love. That boundless blue plain pulled their souls, and would not release them until their bodies gave up the tug of war at the end of their days and the waves rolled over the only graves they would ever know.
There were others too.
Like young curly headed Haroun, a penniless bastard, a son of bastards, with the name of the caliph of Baghdad, who secretly thought himself more fortunate as a member of the Blue Nymph’s crew.
The youth sat in a sling dangling over the stern with buckets of paint, touching up the blue and gold gilt work of the Blue Nymph’s namesake. He turned and flashed an ecstatic smile at the appearance of Sinbad, striding down the dock like a sable emperor, his blue silken shirt and the embroidered pantaloons tucked into his rich Kurdish boots rippling in the ocean wind, the familiar red cloak billowing out behind him.
Sinbad saw the young sailor at the same time and returned his smile as he reached the foot of the gangplank.
“Ho! Haroun!” he tossed a red apple up to the boy.
Haroun caught it and raised it in thanks.
“How does she look, O Captain?”
Sinbad put his fists on his hips and took in not just the boy’s touch up work, but the entirety of his beloved craft. He felt his heart swell within his chest. There was but one thing he loved more than the sea and that was this magnificent craft that carried him across it.
“Beautiful,” he answered, and ascended the bouncing gangplank.
It also appears in my collection With Sword And Pistol from Ragnarok Publications: http://www.amazon.com/Sword-Pistol-Edward-M-Erdelac-ebook/dp/B0140F624S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441037550&sr=8-1&keywords=with+sword+and+pistol