Into the Orient

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The year was 1260 and an Italian trader, with dreams of prospering in the Orient, had just arrived in Byuklando, a prosperous port of Goryeo, known today as Korea. His name was Alberto Rossi. Alberto was a rugged man, built like one who was used to hard work, which he was more than accustomed to. He stood on the sands of this new shore recalling all that had brought him to this place and point in his life.

Alberto was born the son of a wealthy trader and head of the Merchant Guild who owned many ships that traded all over the known world. Alberto took a job as a deck hand and worked his way to captain of his own vessel by his early twenties, and during his seafaring life he saw many wonders. He was, in his mind, one of the most fortunate men in Italy since he was often the first person to handle remarkable treasures. He worked his hands until they bled, saving his money so that he, too, could one day travel to the Far East in search of riches unknown.

Alberto's station had caught the eyes of the Albano family who were high-ranking members of the Craft Guild. They worked hand in hand with the Rossi family, buying raw materials from them and turning them into marketable wares. The Albanos and Rossis had arranged a marriage between their two children, and due to the closeness of the families, Alberto and the Albano's daughter, Calandra, practically grew up together.

He was six years her better but had been smitten by her beauty from the first time he looked into her girlish eyes. He believed Calandra to be the most beautiful young woman in all of Genoa. Most Genovese women were born with brown eyes, but Calandra's eyes were as green as the most precious of emeralds, and to young Alberto, more valuable than any gem. He would fascinate her with rumors and tales of the Orient and amaze her with the way he believed he would one day journey there to start his own trading company. Their love and adoration for each another grew to such depths that when one was absent from the other, a void existed between them.

On the eve of their wedding, Calandra waited for Alberto's ship to dock. Unknown to her, Alberto had his mariners decorate the captain's chambers before disembarking. When Calandra boarded the vessel, the first mate said, "Alberto is in his quarters finishing the last of his tasks for the evening. He directed me to have you meet him there."

"Thank you, sir," Calandra said with a smile and stepped through the doorway.

With sunset fast approaching, lanterns lit a trail of rose petals down the short hall to his quarters, turned sharply at the doorway and continued inside. Calandra stood astonished by the sight before her. The finest red and golden silk cloths draped and adorned the room, hanging in swags from the ceiling and cascading down the walls. The silks shone in the candlelight and riffled with the ocean's breeze that wafted through the open portholes. In the middle of the room stood a single table with two chairs, one pulled slightly from the table inviting Calandra to come and sit. Beside the other stood Alberto. He was wearing the finest jacket he could afford, with a white shirt just beneath. The shirt was unbuttoned just enough to show the first few ripples of muscle in his chest. Though Calandra was a chaste woman, she still felt the draw of his masculinity and the raw attraction that Alberto's appearance generated. Her flesh screamed that she wanted him even as her heart sped up thinking of what lay just beneath his clothes and out of sight. She hoped that soon she would find out.

Calandra stood there before him in a long blue gown whose white lace trim disappeared deep between her breasts. Her thick dark hair was unpinned and curled down her back, glistening in the candlelight, and her olive-hued skin gleamed as softly as the same fine oriental silks that bedecked the cabin. As beautiful as her breasts were, their rounded softness peeking above the lace trimmed bodice of her dress, it was her eyes that drew Alberto's gaze upward to the steady look she gave him. The sheer look of desire captivated him. It was a look he had not yet seen in her eyes, and Alberto found himself lost within it, as if submerged beneath the waves of the ocean he longed to sail. In her eyes, Alberto saw himself as the man he wanted to be and not the man he was. She breathed life into his dreams just by looking at him. He knew that she believed in him, and he wanted desperately to make his dreams her own. When Calandra looked at him, she saw herself in his arms wherever that may be and knew she would follow him across any sea he chose to sail.

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