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.