Friday, February 25, 2011

Chapter 4 - Dragons of the Deep

...and at last Thongor is on the move. A "slim black galley" is leaving Patanga harbour - I wonder which boat that could be? The sun is also just about to rise, and Carter makes a very big production of this:

Morning mist roiled, thick and white, upon the face of the waters. Stars still burned in the darkness of the sky, but steadily, moment by moment, glory grew brighter in the east and shafts of burning light thrust across the gloom of heaven, driving the stars to rest. And it was day.

Thongor is glad to be back at sea, and, casting aside his velvet robes, has dressed for the occasion:

Black boots clad him to the knee. A loincloth of scarlet hung for his ornate girdle. A broad leathern collar encircled his mighty throat and his bronzed and mighty chest was bare save for the straps of a warrior's trappings. A great black cloak, pinned to the shoulders of the broad collar, with cairngorm broaches (??), swelled with the wind behind him like vast black wings.

Barim is not sure by which title to address him, and tries a few before Thongor sensibly reminds him that, as he's travelling undercover, it might be better to conceal his identity. Barim thinks this is a worthy notion, and they agree to call him by his old pirate name, Black Hawk. Wasn't that the name of his old ship? Must have made for some confusion.

Charn Thovis is also aboard the pirate ship, also in piratical disguise. And again we are reminded of how Charn Thovis rescued Prince Thar from Dalendus Vool, in case we'd missed any of that in the previous two chapters. Come on, Lin, enough with the recaps!

But no, we also now get a potted history of Barim's heritage, and how it links up with Thongor's. Thongor, it turns out, was the last of his clan, called, um, the Black Hawk clan. I get the sense that Carter's not really trying any more. Then they all have some lunch.

Lots of sailing. The lean black galley cleaves through the water like a slashing blade, they pass by various cities... Then it was that Fate took a hand.!!!

Water broke a few hundred yards to port as a great scaled head lit with cold eyes of lambent flame rose above the surface of the Gulf.

Yep, it's our old friend, the dreaded larth. Thongor remembers his previous larth-battle, and wonders how he can escape this time!!

The ship is armed with some catapults, their only defence against the sea monsters. If the catapults fail, they're in some trouble...

But all knew that if the catapults failed , they were lost. For if once the dragon came at the galley itself, sword or spear or war arrow would have little would have little effect upon that terrible reptilian engine of destruction.

Twangg! Twunngg! They fire the catapults! They miss! And the larth is upon them! It eats a few crew members and causes some havoc, while they ineffectually shoot arrows at it. Then it lunges for Thongor!

In a flash he jumps up and lands on its head, sitting astride its neck.

Bright steel flashed ruddy in the sunset flame as the great Valkarthan broadsword swung up - and came slashing down! Fetid reptilian gore oozed down the scaly jaws and the larth was convulsed with the stabbing pain of Thongor's mighty blow.

Thongor hacks at the beast's neck and eventually manages to kill it, but then it sinks into the water and takes him with it! The surviving crew search and search until nightfall, but no sign of Thongor is found.

The waves had swallowed the Warrior of the West, and only the Gods knew whither his indomitable spirit had flown... whether to the cold Shadowlands of the spirit world or the drowned black caverns of the unknown deep.

My money's on the drowned black caverns, personally. But yeah, that's more like it!

This marks the end of "Book 1" - Book 2 up next, called "The Storm Breaks". For reference, we're only actually up to page 39.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chapter 3: The Gray Magicians

Starting with an excerpt from The Lemurian Chronicles, stating how great Thongor is, it looks like we're in for a bit more exposition, and a lot more baffling discontinuity. Aedir the Sun-god is high above Patanga, but it's also only just after dawn, and they're off to the "librarium" where Father Eodrym has been busy researching all night. He's trying to find out which ancient secret of Nianga might have been discovered by the renegade wizard Belshathla (he's the fella that's given super magic weapons to the pirates).

The librarium sounds impressive; there are books and scrolls made out of all sorts of materials, including pterodactyl hide. However, the relevant information appears to be in the ancient book called, um, The Chronicles of Lemuria, the only remaining copy of which just happens to be in the library librarium. Now, didn't we just hear a quote from this book, telling us about Thongor? On the previous page? Maybe the only copy is in the librarium because Father Eodrym hasn't finished writing it yet...? - just a thought.

Now we are regaled by the contents of this book. It tells of the Pnothic Brotherhood, who studied Akashic Science, and so could uncover all the secrets of the universe, which are all somewhat confusing (as you might expect); something to do with an eternal battle between Creation and Chaos, that has destroyed the planet Zarkandu and left the planet Iridar a crimson (yes) and lifeless desert. It also contains crucial information about how the dinosaurs died out:

'...the Lemurian Chronicles preserve the annals of Hyperborea in her prime, that ruled the Age of Reptiles ere the coming of Man. Chaos seduced the Dragon Kings of that dim dawn age to vile sorcery, and the Lords of Life wrought Man, and Man and Dragon fought in the Thousand Year War and at length the Dragon fell and the Age of Men began.'

The Aeon of the Gray Mages occurred shortly after the fall of the Reptiles, and apparently they dared to tamper with the secrets of creation itself, and (surprise!) unleashed strange magics that gave them control over the minds of man. However, the Nineteen Gods struck them down... but maybe Belshathla had found out those ancient secrets!

Thongor is unamused.

The strange gold eyes of Thongor blazed with wrathful fires like the savage eyes of the kingly vandar of the wild, the great black lion of ancient Lemuria.

"And again, Chaos!" he growled. "Will we never be done with the taint of the dark powers! It has been six long years since we whelmed the Black City of Zaar before the sithurl-guns and let the waters of the sea cover it from the sight of men, and still it haunts us!"

I wonder how many reminiscences that makes now. A good portion of these first 3 chapters has been a clumsy Babylon 5-style recap, ("How are you, Commander Ivanova, since you took over running this busy interplanetary space station two weeks ago?" "Well, it's all gone to hell since Mr Garibaldi got shot and the ambassador turned into a cocoon!"); the rest have been unnecessary bits of background filler, and Father Eodrym's next pronouncement fits the latter category. He reminds Thongor that the wars between Chaos and Creation have been fought for millions of years, for example when the Divine Avatar Sargon the Lion whelmed the Black God's Son, or when Chandar broke the Dark Flame and Arn secured the Sword of Psamathis to rescue the Three Talismans (blah blah), and the war certainly isn't going to end just because Thongor broke down the walls of Black Zaar...

Aedir the Sun-God is now heading west, which means it must be the afternoon, and Thongor is sprawling like a cat, and playing with his baby daughter. Sumia is not best pleased that he plans to go off to battle, but doesn't try very hard to dissuade him (just as well really, or we'd have to spend the rest of the book in the librarium), and quickly accedes to his daring plan to sneak into Tarakus on board Barim's ship......

The next chapter is called "Dragons of the Deep," so I'm hoping that soon we'll get to see some fightin'!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chapter 2 - Black Hawk's Ring (yes yes, settle down back there)

Another ship, another city - yes, we're in Patanga, the seat of Thongor the Mighty, and a lean black galley is sailing into port. Just in case we were in any doubt about the colour or shape of this boat, within 3 paragraphs we get mention of a "lean black hull", a "lean black galley", a "slim black length" and a "slim dark galley". Nothing so far has been described as crimson, though the sails are scarlet. This ship has the look of a pirate about her.

Patanga's defenders are waiting, and the first line of dialogue is "Ahoy the black galley!" - well, at least we know which boat they're referring to. The boat's occupants show typical piratical codes of dress, being accoutred in weapons, scars and items of outlandish jewelry. Here's their leader, straight from Central Casting:

Then a big hand shoved them aside and cleared space for a towering redbeard with a bright crimson kerchief about his brows, breeches of bottle-green, enormous black boots and a massive, gem-encrusted girdle. His bare bronze chest bristled with fleeche of curly gold and frosty gray eyes blazed under tufted brows. He was a bull of a man with deep chest, broad shoulders, and arms that bulged with knotted thews like the branches of a gnarled oak.

"This be the Scimitar out of Tarakus port," he growled, "and I be Barim Redbeard, her master."


Crimson! Thews! Piratey accent! All the boxes ticked so far.

Barim Redbeard apparently has some super-rare ring that will allow him to speak to Thongor urgently, so he's allowed to land. And now we have Barim's POV! Via a footnote, he lets us know that he became acquainted with various of Thongor's princes in an adventure called Thongor at the End of Time, published in 1968, though evidently not reprinted with the rest of the Thongor books.

Prince Thar laughed with delight. "Of course I've grown, Captain Barim - it's been three years, you know, since we sailed together that time Charn Thovis bore me away form the usurper, Dalendus Vool, and you helped us get away."

They all reminisce a bit about mutual acquaintances whose names shall, alas, ever remain but nonsense syllables to those of us who were born too late. However, this does bode slightly well for this book, being evidently one of the few Thongor novels that was worth reprinting. Blah, blah, anyway, they lead the way to Thongor!

Thongor sits on the Flame Throne. It's very flamy, as you can see:

The Flame Throne of Patanga was sheathed in beaten gold the colour of flame. Flame-like, too, was the ornamentation of that throne, whose high back rose to wavy, flamy points. Atop a nine-tiered dais of black marble stood the Flame Throne, and thereupon sate Thongor.

What's Thongor looking like these days? Has he aged well? Well, apparently he's as lion-y as his throne is flame-y:

He was a magnificent lion of a man, with the broad shoulders and mighty chest and splendid thews of some savage gladiator. His grim dark face was impassive, expressionless, but under his black scowling brows his strange gold eyes blazed lion-like.

Now we get a list of Thongor's attendant princes (yawn); all of the nobles are present except Sumia, who's become a stay-at-home mum. And again we are reminded of exactly how Thongor knows Barim - sailing on the Scimitar, escaping Dalendus Vool, etc etc, and they tell Barim about what happened to Karm Karvus. Enough catch-up, can we get to the fighting please?

No, there's more background. Barim has some information about this Gray Death, and the history of pirates in general. It turns out that once upon a time, Thongor was one of the pirates, and sailed the ship Black Hawk (ah, hence the chapter title, I see). Eighteen years later, the pirates now have a new leader: Kashtar, Red Wolf of Tarakus, who wants to build a Pirate Empire! He has a secret weapon from some wizard, and now he's heading for... Patanga!

Grizzled Thom Pervis is sceptical, as no-one can stand against Patanga's air fleet, as had been proven some 12 years previously when they defeated Yelim Pelorvis and won a throne for Karm Karvus... twelve years ago? Did I miss something? (flips back) Ah yes, apparently this is the twelfth year of Thongor's reign; not sure why I thought it was only 3 years later. Thongor asks to know more about this weapon... and the chapter ends!

I must say, I'm disappointed by the lack of monster battles so far. By the end of Chapter 2 in the previous book, they'd already crashed a floater, fought a sea-monster and been almost eaten by cannibal trees, vandars, phondles , beastmen etc, and here we are still in a boring council chamber. Bah.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thongor Fights the Pirates of Tarakus - Chapter 1

The title would seem to imply a more limited range of enemies for Thongor to dispatch, but I'm sure he'll find a number of other beasts, wizards etc to fight on his way to and from Tarakus, as it's quite a way from Patanga. Carter has now decided to provide a map for us, which I have helpfully scanned in: map of Lemuria!. You can see he's taken great care over it and not just scribbled something on the back of an envelope with a felt tip pen. Doubtless Thongor's adventures will take him through the wilds of Ptartha, and I'm sure both Zangabal and Pelorm contain untold horrors for him to dispatch.

Despite being only 150 pages long, this book seems to be divided up into Books 1, 2 and 3; Book 1, which we are about to enter, is called "The Storm Gathers". Sounds pretty ominous. Chapter 1 is "The Ship of Howling Men", and you'll be pleased to hear that the overblown prose is as colourful as ever, as night falls over Tsargol...

Night was almost come and the sun lay dying in a welter of crimson athwart the shadowy west. Slowly the purple wings of night rose up ofer the edges of the earth to enshroud the world in darkness. The first stars flickered pale and dim against the dusk. Soom Illana the Moon-Lady would ascend to the heavens to flood all the land with her cold shimmering glory, but not yet, for still bright Aedir the Sun-god ruled the skies from his deathbed of royal crimson in the darkling west.

I should also mention that Thongor is only mentioned in passing here, as lord of the Six Cities, so he's obviously gained a few more since the end of the last book, but Tsargol (if this is indeed one of his six cities) is a long way from his capitol so he's unlikely to appear just yet.

A mysterious dark ship pulls into the harbour, and a messenger races off to the palace of... Karm Karvus, who's lord of Tsargol! Well well well, they have been busy. Everyone's worried that this ship is the advance party of a Pirate Invasion! but it seems to be unaccompanied, and in some trouble. As the ship moves closer, a "faint horrible sound" is heard by the waiting guardsmen. What could it be, do you think?

It was a hideous ululation. It rose and fell, a moaning terrible and unnerving to hear. Otar looked at Otar with eyes wide with horror. The men of the dark, crippled ship were... howling...

Were they indeed. Seeing as we're only on page 2, and the chapter title is still visible, it's not that much of a surprise, really.

The Otars (they are commanders of a hundred men, it seems) speculate on the cause of this infernal howling:

Was the strange dark ship peopled by madmen? Or had it drifted into human seas from the crimson throat of hell itself, manned by the accursed? Were they madmen - or ghosts - aboard hte weird craft thaqt had come out of the unknown watery wastes in the hour of sunfall?

Karim Ptole arrives and tries to impose some order. They all decide that it couldn't possibly have been the pirates, because seldom do men escape their clutches once the crimson flag is hoisted and the black hulls glide in for the kill. And there's something devilishly familiar about the shape of that boat. It's not a naval ship, it's a bit too posh (too much crimson, perhaps?) It almost seems like... the Crown of Tsargol, that Prince Karm Karvus sailed away in not three days ago...!!!one! And it is!! oh noes!

Jorn Javas is the first to board the ship, and it looks rather like the Event Horizon. There are corpses everywhere with mad grinning rictuses and foamed lips, who have evidently either killed themselves or each other, in a mad rage! Despite being a (young) seasoned veteran, Jorn Javas is shocked and ill at the sight. The only man who had evidently not succumbed was the captain, who had bound himself to the wheel with thongs from his warrior's harness (though he was also wearing a crimson coat with gold brocade - I still don't get these barbarian dress-codes). It was Norgovan Thul, the lord high Admiral of Tsargol! But how could that be? He had gone off in Karm Karvus's ship just three days ago!

But this charnel ship, crewed with the dead and with the living dead, befouled with blood and wreckage, could not be the proud gilded trireme that had put to sea days before, bearing the Prince of Tsargol on a visit-of-state to the throne of Vozashpa... or could it?

Yes, Jorn Javas, it could, as we found out two pages ago.

Luckily, for all you Karm Karvus fans out there, there is no sign of his body, so he's probably still alive somewhere. The Admiral is also still alive, and mutters something about the Gray Death and how KK is "gone!" before succumbing to madness and howling with the rest.

As Karm Karvus is absent, his deputy Drath Horvan takes charge; KK is assumed to have thrown himself into the immeasurable waves of Yashengzeb Chun in order to avoid madness, along with a few other crew members. It is also determined that the disaster must have happened at sea, and as the chapter ends, word is sent to Thongor the Mighty, the Lord of the West of the World..............


A disappointing lack of thews in this chapter. I hope this will be rectified soon.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The final chapter!

Swords, daggers, pikes, spears were plucked from their owners' hands and whirled aloft by a ghostly force!

Something tells me that, just perhaps, someone might have turned up with a giant Wile E Coyote magnet...

Sumia watches all the swords, armour and other metal objects go flying up into the air, including a "gigantic iron-shod battering ram". Now, if this magnet is in the floater, surely the laws of physics should apply, and the floater should be dragged downwards towards this huge metal object, not vice versa... it's like that episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles where Shredder and Krang reversed the Earth's gravity, and all the buildings started flying up into the air.

The besieging army is in uproar, and the ones on the walls are equally confused. Karm Karvus seizes this moment to chuck Vaspas Ptol over the battlements:

The gorgeous jewelled robes fluttered through the dust-hazed air like a fantastic moth for a brief moment... then the dark, imperial dreams of Vaspas Ptol were quenched forever in a crimson smear as he struck the rocky field far below.

All the other captives (?) follow his example, by turning on their guards and giving them similar treatment. Prince Dru, who is apparently "lean, witty and sardonic" demonstrates these qualities by bashing two guards' heads together and throwing them down the stairs. There is general uprising against the druids and their men.

Outside, Hajash Tor (the bad general) has been thrown from his kroter, and stumbles through the chaos to see Barand Thon (the good general) strangle Evil Emperor Phal Thurid, whose golden armour had inexplicably also been sucked away by the giant magnet. Hajash Tor knows better than to interfere, and tries to run away instead -

Later, in some other realm, he could continue his quest for power.

He meets Thalaba, the Lord of Torture, who orders him to get back and attack! Hajash refuses, and crushes Thalaba's skull with one blow from a wooden stick! He laughs harshly and strides away, followed sneakily by Arzang Pome. Who the fuck is Arzang Pome? We're 8 pages from the end, isn't it a bit late to be introducing new characters? *skims back through book* - ah, no, he was very briefly mentioned on p91. It turns out he's the "cruel and sadistic Sark of Shembis", with whom Thongor has a score to settle, as the Sark once sentenced him to life as a galley slave. Hmm.

Back in the city, all the guards have finally been chucked over the walls, and Sumia is declared Queen. Hurrah! The crowd joyfully begins tearing the Yellow Druids limb from limb. Soon, there's only one left, Numadak Quelm, who is bound and brought to Sumia for judgement. But then the floater appears overhead! Who could it be?

At the rail stood Ald Turmis, and a familiar giant figure in harness of red leather.


The ship came down in the littered meadow that had been a battlefield. Emerging from the cabin, Thongor sprang over the rail and dropped lightly to the turf. From the opening gate, he could see chariots thundering to meet him, and a great crowd flowing slowly out of the city to hail their rescuer. For it had, of course, been Thongor - armed with the Magnetic Ray of Omm - who had disarmed both Patanga and the host of Thurdis of their steel weapons.

Well, duh.

Everyone greets Thongor warmly, including Sumia's mates from Patanga, who (it turns out) had seen him three weeks earlier, when he had saved Sumia from the fiery altar of the druids. Three weeks earlier? Our boy's been busy!

Thongor's most recent adventures are now skimmed through very quicky in recap form. As suspected, the other victim of that vampire wizard was the one who beat his way through the forcefield and strangled him, then shut off the power; now he was the ruler of the Lost City of Omm, and had helped Thongor by giving him the Magnetic Ray. Then Thongor and Ald Turmis hurried back with all speed, yadda yadda yadda, we get it.

In the meantime, Barand Thon has gathered up all his troops and come to surrender. There are a couple of paragraphs of discussion about the fate of Phal Thurid etc, then Sumia comes over with a suggestion.

"My Lords, there is much work to be done today, and for many days to come, before our cities are restored to their former greatness. (note: wasn't she deposed just three weeks ago? How bad can it be, exactly?) I am but a woman, young and inexperienced. This work needs a man. Thongor of Valkarth, will you marry me?"

Thongor agrees, and she declares them married right there on the spot. Pretty nifty, being Queen. Everyone is wild with delight, as Thongor is their hero. So here's the money shot:

He made a heroic figure standing tall under the full blaze of noon, a towering and gigantic figure, bronzed in the full tide of his youth. And although he was nearly naked, clad in the rags of scarlet leather and a battered harness, his mighty torso and arms scarred and bruised, a kingly dignity invested him. And that was regal raiment enough.

Barand Thon is declared Sark of Thurdis, and Ald Turmis is made Sark of Shembis (even though Arzang Pome isn't actually dead). They both only accept on the condition that Thongor is their overlord, a position which had been vacant for many years. Nothing for Karm Karvus, then. Finally, Thongor releases all the prisoners (though the druids all get banished) and declares that it is now dinner time!

Hail Thongor!

And so the chapter ends.

The Epilogue

Not really worth doing a whole extra post for this, so here we go, let's get this book finished.

Days of celebration, ceremony, feasting, weddings, etc. Ald Turmis and Karm Karvus meet up, and Ald complains that Thongor won't be any fun any more now that he's married, no more manly adventures now that they all have cities to run. But never fear! says Karm Karvus. Thongor still has many adventures ahead of him!

"...Next year, he's vowed to go with me back to Tsargol. That's where we met, you know, in the dungeons, condemned to the Games by Drugunda Thal the Sark, and by Yelim Pelorvis, the Red Druid of Slidith. The Druid rules alone now, for Thongor put a cold steel through the Sark's guts when we escaped. Well, he's vowed the two of us shall go back and finish the job... and I may end up with a Sarkdom of my own!"

"Do you really think...?"

Karm Karvus rose, clapping a hand to his friend's shoulder. "Let's go back in and have a glass of sarn. There's a dancing girl I noticed looking at me - maybe she has a friend for you! Come, cheer up - wherever Thongor is, there'll be fighting and excitement enough for all!"

Don't touch that dial!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Siege of Patanga

Bit of a disappointing title, TBH, after all the cannnibal trees and whatnot, but I think, with a mere 30-odd pages to go, Mr Carter has decided to start tying up some plot threads, rather than introducing new monsters every chapter. This also means that we're in Sumia's POV, so will have to leave Thongor until the next arbitrary POV shift.

Despite all her previous adventures and supposed hard barbarian-wench upbringing, Sumia appears to have rather particular tastes:

Sumia spent a tense and miserable night imprisoned in a suite of palatial apartments in an upper level of the Archdruidical Palace.

The hardship!

After a refreshing wash and some breakfast, she is escorted by some soldiers to the main plaza, where Vaspas Ptol awaits, along with his entire bejewelled army and a procession of citizens waving colourful flags. Who knew that gassing a besieging army could be such fun? The Fart Gas of Madness is in the care of a priest called Himog Thoon, in case you were interested; could the names get any better?

Some of the citizens cheer at the sight of Sumia - as you may recall, she used to be princess of this city until she was ousted ("many weeks" ago, apparently. She does give up quickly.)

A few pages of description. We hear about the "great domes, as scarlet as the blood-bright cathgan, the viper of the Lemurian desert, gleam[ing] sanguine in the sun", and a view of the army outside the walls, including Phal Thurid, the Lord of Torture, Barand Thon and Hajash Tor. Vaspas Ptol is (evilly) pleased:

He too was gazing with intent eyes down on the panorama of the battlefield, a thin smile of cold satisfaction curling his thin lips as he gloated down on the enemy who, for all their vast numbers and glittering might, he could destroy utterly and in mere moments, at his whim.

Himog Thoon is preparing the gas to pour over the battlements (it's heavier than air, apparently). Sumia knows that whoever wins this battle, she will lose - and wishes that Thongor was here! He'd know what to do!

It had been five long days now since she had last seen the man to whom she had surrendered her heart... the man who, beyond doubt, lay dead in some far-off place. Would she never again gaze up into his strange golden eyes, or see his quiet smile, or feel the comforting strength of his mighty arms about her, sheltering her from the threat of danger? Almost she could wish for death, for perhaps, beyond the veil that stands between the world of light and the world of eternal shadow, she might again feel the power of those great arms about her...

It's all about the thews, even now.

The attack begins! And suddenly and with no warning we're in the POV of Hajash Tor. I think he's the Thurdian commander who is a decent sort and hates his eeeevil emperor. He is smart, and suspects a trap. Oh no, he's off to warn Phal Thurid, he can't be a good guy; he needs an ambitious Sark because he longs to conquer an empire. Barand Thon must be the nice one.

They're ramming the gates! Back in Sumia's POV, red-blood lust blazes up in the eyes of Vaspas Ptol, and he's just about to release the gas....................................

Then he struck with the sword - a smashing blow to sever the leaden stopper and release the Black Vapour of Madness-

Or, rather, he tried to strike! For the steel blade was torn from his grip by an unseen hand.

His sword floats out of his hand! Everyone stops and stares in astonishment! A shadow passes overhead!

And then - a shout - a hundred shouts - cries and shrieks from ten thousand throats!

It seemed that suddenly the whole world went mad.

Only one chapter (and an epilogue) left! Can you stand the suspense????

Friday, February 11, 2011

Leaving Princess Sumia in the evil grasp of Vaspas Ptol, we return to the Lost City of Omm where Thongor is trying out his new cloaking device - as you may recall, he's been captured by a vampire warlock, and imprisoned in a room made of nebium.

He's using the time-honoured trick of putting pillows in his bed to make it look like he's still sleeping, then he hides behind the door, his invisibility armlet on.

His keen ear detected the shuffle of approaching footsteps. They came to a stop before the great portal of black nebium. There was the hollow clang of a bolt being withdrawn... then the doors swung inwards, revealing ten of the white-faced, dead-eyed zombie-men, bearing great platters of food. Thongor's lips twisted in a savage, invisible grin. Fatten up the lambs for the slaughter! No wonder they had been fed so sumptuously.... so that Xothun could dine later from their hot, rich blood!

I can't actually read the word "sumptuous" now without thinking of The Duke. But anyway.

The guards drag away Narjan Zash Dromor, who is Thongor's disposable cellmate (I think Ald Turmis is safe, being Thongor's buddy). This is handy for Thongor, as he can now follow them as they take Xothun his next victim.

The rest of the palace is less sumptuous than Thongor's quarters, in fact it's rather run-down and shabby, with the former grandeur eaten away by the nameless agents of time etc etc. Our Hero was initially worried about his ability to find the secret lair of Xothun in this vast labyrinth of a palace, but when they get there it turns out Xothun has a name-plate on his door.

As you might expect, Xothun is not a pleasant-looking fellow.
Xothun was indeed like a spider or a bloated, incredibly fat and loathsome leech. His flesh was spongy, pallid, dewed with perspiration, and it hung upon his body in repulsive rolls and bladders of unhealthy, fatty tissue. His torso was a great, squat globe of bulging flesh. His arms and legs were flippers of dangling blubber rather than limbs.

No thews on him, then.

He's sitting in a laboratory, which is like a typical mad scientist's wet dream: flashing globes of lightning, bubbling vats, bolts arcing between copper rods etc.

But what's this? He can see through Thongor's cloaking device! He flips some switches and Thongor becomes visible again. Thongor panics and starts to attack him, but Xothun says "Don't kill me, let's have a chat instead" and for some reason Thongor agrees.

How did he spot Thongor? Well, apparently he has some kind of device which gathers up all the sounds from the city and pours them through tubes into his ear, thus he was able to eavesdrop on Thongor explaining his plan to Ald Turmis. But now he has "merely rendered its powers negative by countering it with an opposing force of the same vibration and intensity".

Yes, Xothun claims to be a scientist, none of this wizardry nonsense. He shows Thongor another one of his inventions, which is a "videosphere", through which he observed the floater and resolved to nick it, with his Magnetic Ray. And now he plans to steal the secrets of the floater, drink Thongor's blood, then build a new army of floaters to go out and get more victims. Who'd have thought the floater would turn out to be such a vital plot point?

Thongor now lunges for Xothun, but is stopped by a forcefield! However, a forcefield is no match for Thongor's thews. With iron strength he battles his way through the forcefield. Xothun is getting a bit worried now, and turns up the power, so even the mighty barbarian is struggling. But now Narjan Zash Dromor springs to his aid!

End of chapter! Not much of a cliffhanger really though, as we all know Thongor will survive... or will he?

Monday, February 07, 2011

Black Vapour of Madness

Like the previous chapter, this one starts with the exploits of Princess Sumia and Karm Karvus, lately captured by the Yellow Druids of Patanga. Sumia is in an audience with Vaspas Ptol, the current ruler of Patanga. He likes the look of our heroine.

Her smooth body swayed with lithe, animal grace as she crossed the great hall. His eyes feated hungrily on her astonishing beauty... her slender body whose marble-smooth limbs were half-revealed and half-concealed by her translucent draperies, flesh of alabaster-white, flushed with creamy rose... proud, tilted breasts rising firm and full, cupped in hammered gold... the calm, sweet oval of her face, framed in a thick tangled mane of glossy hair that flowed in curlinmg waves dow her slim back... great eyes like wells of dark light... full sensuous lips ripe-hued like rose-petals.

Phwoar, eh lads?

Vaspas Ptol accuses Sumia of turning up at the head of an illegal army, but she laughs in his face. Good for her! She accuses him of trying to wed her against her will, and threatening her with torture or death, which makes him the criminal and not her.

Sumia is proper kickass chick here. Vaspas Ptol continues to be a smarmy arsehole, threatening her with this and accusing her of that, and she just laughs at him. Eventualy, he suggests that she can be cleansed of her "sins" by marrying him, and she continues to scorn him, cos of course she's in love with Thongor. She says that soon Phal Thurid will conquer the city, so Vaspas Ptol's scheming is useless.

Not so, apparently - Vaspas Ptol has a secret weapon! He summons the priest Himog Thoon to demonstrate.

Himog Thoon has a mysterious black globe, and uses a slave to show off its power. When touhed with a knife, a nasty vapour comes out.

The vapour coiled in smoky wreaths about the whimpering slave like the cloudy tentacles of Iorgazon the Demon of Madness in the old myths.
An apt comparison, seeing what occurred upon that instant - the slave went mad.

Oh noes! Vaspas Ptol plans to unleash this terrible gas upon Phal Thurid's army the next morning. Muahahhaha!