Chapter 5: Red Wolf of Tarakus
I notice that the chapter numbering continues, even though we're technically on "Book 2". I don't think Mr Carter has really thought this one through. But, here's the return of an old friend:
For days and nights beyond counting, Karm Karvus had lain in the foul dungeons beneath the towering bulk of the Pirate City, and he hungered for freedom. Freedom and - revenge!
Beyond counting? Last I heard, his ship was only lost 3 days ago (plus the day it took for Barim Redbeard to get to Patanga, and the day of reminiscing about Dalendus Vool, etc). He must be REALLY bad at maths.
But KK is still alive after all! His ship had been attacked by pirates, whose slim black boats had contained an "outlandish contraption".
A fantastic thing it was, all globes of crystal and rods of twinkling brass. But from it struck a weird and terrible beam of gray light... colourless light that twisted the sight away and held under some hypnotic fascination the minds of all they who had looked upon it.
Karm Karvus had managed to tear his sight away by sheer force of will (he's been hanging around with Thongor long enough to learn these skills, evidently) but everyone else had just stared at it while the pirates swarmed aboard. Manfully, he'd tried to mount a single-handed defence of the ship, but had inevitably been captured, and then Red Kashtar had ordered all his shipmates to kill each other, which they did. And now he's stuck in a rather nasty prison.
The dungeon cell wherein they had hurled him was dark and clammy and foul with the stench of human droppings and the vile odour of rotten straw wherewith the bare, beslimed stone flags of the floor were strewn. From somewhere in the stone ceiling above, moisture dripped ceaselessly. The slow plink-plink of it went on forever without change, and the monotony thereof drew his nerves taut and quivering.
Wherein? Wherewith? Beslimed? Thereof?
Anyway, he's pretty bored, until at last there came a break in the eternal monotony of his long imprisonment.
(it's still only a few days, right?)
Footsteps approach, and he springs into action, hoping that there will be few enough guards for him to overpower. But no, there are seven, naked cutlasses (of course) in their hands, and 'twould be an act of desperation to fling himself bare-handedly against such a number of armed and ready men.
He is taken into the pirate palace, which is full of treasures just casually strewn about and trampled on, cos pirates are just big slobs really. Their rich clothes are also covered with food stains, ugh! Naturally, we now get to meet the pirate king - no swarthy redbeard this one, instead he's a slim elegant man dressed in stretchy skin-tight red satin. He is dripping with jewels and his face is the "smooth, glossy hue of old parchment". Yes, I'm having trouble picturing that too. His wizard stands beside him, looking quite wizardly.
At length Kashtar smiled and made a mocking little half-bow. His voice was soft and there was laughter in it.
"Well, my lord prince, I trust you have found your quarters suitable, and our hospitality pleasurable?"
Kashtar is every bit the suave villain of cinema legend (his skin-tight scarlet pants notwithstanding) - polite and mocking, with the occasional COLD BLACK FIRE flaring in his eyes every time KK insults him. But what is Kashtar's evil plan??
"You are an old friend of the Lord of Patanga," he purred, "And, I doubt me not, he feels towards you with a warmth of friendship almost worthy of our demands - but not quite. But- when we have in some little measure added to our little collection of the friends of the so-called Lord of the West- "
"Added?" demanded Karm Karvus, hoarsely.
"Aye! now let me see; there is the Prince Ald Turmis of the city of Shembis, and old Barand Thon, lord of Thurdis of the Dragon, and hte young Prince Zul who but last year succeded his elder brother to the throne of Zangabal, and-"
?? So the pirates have been kidnapping all Thongor's mates, so that Thongor will have to, um, hand over his entire kingdom to the Pirate King, or else they'll take their
FFS. I've seen episodes of Terrahawks with a more sensical plot.
Hands up who reckons that Thongor will free all his mates and then have a super reunion party (full of jolly backslapping about how they defeated Dalendus Vool) before killing all the bad pirates?