Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chapter 17

I've noticed a trend with Carter's chapter naming, in that he tends to give away the chapter's surprise cliffhanger ending in the actual title, rather spoiling any suspense that might otherwise have built up. On that note, I bring you:

Chapter 17: Kashtar's Doom

I wonder what might happen at the end of it?

Anyway, Belshathla has just switched on the Lamp of Madness, everyone is either paralysed with shock or trapped behind other pirates... except for THONGOR, last seen swinging down from the rigging in the direction of the fog machine...

It was impossible for him, at this juncture, to alter the direction of his swing. But he seized the hilt of Sarkozan and brought the great broadsword from its sheath with a squeal of rasping leather.

The great blade flashed in the misty air as he swung it with a desperate surge of strength.

The hissing blade caught Belshathla just below the ear and sheared his head off cleanly.

The wizard's head thudded to the deck and rolled away into a corner of the deck like some great grisly fruit.

Black blood spewed up in a hideous fountain from the severed stump. The headless body lurched drunkenly and fell over. In falling, one shoulder struck the central tube of the ray projector, and it swung aside with a screech of swiveling gimbals.

The mind ray is now pointing, not at Barim, but at the next ship along, the Thurdan Maid, which had been approaching to investigate the noises of battle, and the men on board suddenly went raving mad! In an instant, the decks of the ship were a screaming maelstrom of homicidal maniacs battling each other like wild beasts.

Some more paragraphs of pirates insanely disembowelling each other pirates, until one of them knocks the wheel and steers the boat into the side of the next ship to portside, sinking both of them. The lamp of madness now shines on loads of the other ships too, bringing murder and madness and death to each!

Back on board the Red Wolf, Barim is battling mightily, and now Karm Karvus joins the frey! (Shit. Now I've just remembered that I had a dream with Karm Karvus in this morning, he was in some kind of superhero flick with the Marvel Superhero Squad.) In typical KK fashion, he manages to slip on some blood within two paragraphs and has to be rescued by his new girlfriend. Generously, he decides not to chastise her for disobeying his order to stay on board the Scimitar.

Battle makes her look pretty hot, too:

Never had she looked more beautiful. The cold wind had whipped fresh colour into her cheeks. The black jewels of her almond eyes glittered with mischief. the slim rapier she held clenched in one capable fist was crimson to the hilt, and gave further proof - if further proof were needed - of the truthof her claim that she could ride and hunt and fight like any man.

With her long slender legs clad in the glove-tight breeches, and her loose white blouse stretched taut against the rise of her sharp young breasts, a scarlet kerchief twisted about the heavy black cataract of her hair - she looked very desirable.

They interrupt the fierce battle for a bit of a snog. What the hell is she doing with an idiot like KK?

Meanwhile, Thongor is just about to smash the mist machine, but the steely glitter of a sabre-blade flickers before him! It is Kashtar, at last!

The Red Wolf of Tarakus was very changed. His face was a snarling mask of fury. Red murder blazed in his glaring eyes. His sallow features were slick with sweat and his brow was smeared with hot blood where a sword-point had slashed the flesh. His sleek dark hair was disarranged, and hung wetly in a tangle about his snarling face.

His upper torso was half-naked. Steel had ripped his scarlet raiment to shreds, and his sleek tawny flesh shone wetly with droplets of mist and sweat and gore.

"Dog of a Valkarthan savage!" he spat. "I'll spit your foul heart on the point of my steel!"

Thongor's Valkarthan broadsword is not suited for duelling, but luckily great thews swelled along Thongor's arm and his thick wrist was strong where sinewy tendons were braided about solid bone, and he manages to effortlessly bat Kashtar's weapon aside.

However, Kashtar's a pretty good swordsman, and after a while Thongor starts to get weary, and his muscles start to ache from the effort. Oh, hang on, pronoun fail, it is KASHTAR who is starting to get weary, damn these unheralded POV shifts! Thongor, in fact, is ice-cold.

Thongor fought silently. His chest rose and fell calmly and he did not seem to weary. Cruel amusement glinted in his strange gold eyes under the scowling black brows, as he read the desperation, the growing fury, and the fear and the frustration in the face of his opponent. Effortlessly he turned aside the flickering blade of Kashtar's sword.

Kashtar is getting desperate by now, and spots a pool of blood near Thongor's feet, so tries to edge him in that direction to try and make him slip (cos T has bare feet). Thongor slips! Kashtar swings back his rapier for the killing blow! But!

Kashtar's sword touched the copper antenna of the mist machine, which flashed and crackled with its aura of blue fire - and the Red Wolf of Tarakus stiffened as ten thousand volts of man-made lightning tore through him!

(Hands up who wasn't expecting this...)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Chapter 16: The Ray of Madness

Back a bit, to Barim's POV slightly earlier on. He'd allowed the pre-ramming time to elapse, but on hearing the red music of battle from across the dark waters, he knew it was time to put Plan B into action.

No sooner does he give the command than the Scimitar crashes into the Red Wolf, then Barim seizes a dangling shroud and swings across to board the flagship, wielding his great Belnarthan battleaxe with the savage strength of his tireless arms. His pirate companions follow suit.

Wave after wave of his men came swarming over the shattered wreckage of the rail, and in mere instants the decks were alive with battling figures and hte roar of yelling men; the shriek of the wounded, the screams of the dying, rang through the fog like a chorus of the damned yowling up from the scarlet hells of the Ultimate Pit.

Even Blay gets in on the action:

Blay was stout and heavily-built. Not to be unkind, one might as well admit he was - fat. But beneath his wobbling paunch and red, moon-faced exterior there beat the valiant heart of a fighting man.

I do love the way that Carter acts all coy about referring to Blay as fat, like he hasn't been using that very adjective in every description of Blay throughout the entire book...

Some more pirate-battlin' action, interspersed by jolly comedy moments like Blay sneaking a drink from a wine-bottle during a lull in the fighting.

Back to Thongor's POV. Typically, he was the only one who hadn't been thrown off his feet when the ship got rammed, so managed to extricate himself from his circle of foes by climbing up into the rigging. His plan now is to disable the mist machine, so the Patangan air fleet will be able to raise the alarm and arrange some defences. He grabs a rope and swings down towards the crackling blue machine...

More pirate battlin', much the same as before, cutlasses are brandished and buckles are swashed, etc etc. But! There's someone else we'd forgotten about!

Suddenly the noisy air thrilled to a weird sound.

A deep-throated humming rose amid the clangor of battle, rising swiftly to a shrill scream that sent crawling terror through the tingling nerves of all who heard it. The vigor of battle faltered, as men turned to see the source of this eerie song.

At the controls of the Lamp of Madness stood Belshathla.

He is pointing the lamp at all the pirates, friend and foe alike, ready to thrust home the throttle. (?)

No-one could move or think fast enough to avert the horror that hung over them.

Minga, Turan and Gorchak* were too far away, there at the head of the stair.

Only Charn Thovis was upon the foredeck. And he was held back by a wall of swordsmen. He could never cut through them in time.

The glittering crystal eye of the Lamp of Madness glared straight at the figure of Barim Redbeard.

The hand of Belshathla tightened on the lever.

And thrust it home!

End of chapter!

*these are three of Barim's men, but they haven't done anything interesting enough for me to bother introducing them.