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.