Thursday, June 09, 2011

Chapter 19: Kings of the West

It was the better part of a month later, in the early days of Amgor, the first month of winter.

Although chill and gusty winds blew down from the mountains of the North and frost had withered the few remaining leaves to scarlet and gold, the Sun of noon blazed brilliantly in a clear azure sky and it would be long before the coming of Kyramon the Month of Snows rendered the season intolerable.

Um. Jungles? Tend not to be in temperate zones. I mean, do vandars hibernate or something?

A great procession is moving through Patanga, wearing colours with which we are all familiar - flamy gold, scarlet, green and pale gold. Jewelled harnesses, gold plumes, the works.

Obviously this is not for anything so unmanly as a wedding; Karm Karvus and Yian are in the procession, having just got married moments before, but we are spared the icky girly details.

Thongor, surprisingly, gets barely a line of description; he is merely "splendid in kingly robes". Maybe Lin has finally realised that we know what Thongor looks like by now, so need for further mention of his thick black mane and mighty thews.

Barim, on the other hand, gets a whole paragraph; he is rather uncomfortably dressed in green robes and has had to trim his beard and leave his axe behind, because he has just been declared King of Tarakus (hurrah!) - no, we didn't get to see that either, but it probably would have been quite boring. Quick flashback recap of how that happened - with the entire armada sunk, Tarakus was defenceless, and all the innkeepers (etc) who were left behind decided to surrender to Thongor's floater fleet. Hurrah!

Now we enter the mighty throne room, and Thongor strikes a pose.

From the dimness of the shadowy dome above him a vagrant beam of sunlight fell, striking to flashing fire the Flame Crown that sat his brow, all of pure redgold and studded with sparkling chandrals. Bleak and grim and impassive was the bronze mask of his features, but those that knew him well could read the glint of satisfaction in his eye, the deep happiness in the slight smile that touched his lips, and the pride in his tall stance.

All the other princes are seated around him - Zul of Zangabal, Turmis of Shembis, Thon of Thurdis, Karvus of Tsargol, Thal of Pelorm, and Barim of Tarakus. In case you were wondering. Now it's time to hand out some more honours, though there are no kingdoms left I'm afraid...

"Charn Thovis of Vozashpa, kojan of the Empire and leader of the Ninth Cohort of the Black Dragon, come forth!"

His face pale, his shoulders back, as erect as if he stood on parade, the young chanthar stepped before the dais of the Flame Throne and met the approving eyes of his Lord as Thongor smiled on him from above.

"For three years now the barony of Tallan has lain vacant since the hand of the Jasark my son struck down Dalendus Vool when he sought to usurp my station. Kneel, Charn Thovis, and rise as Lord of Tallan!"

Yes, the adventure is definitely over, we're back to reminiscing about Dalendus Vool again.

Changan Jal also gets a promotion, and then it's time for dinner! The End.


Yep, it ends with them all going off for dinner. I'm half-expecting (fat old) Blay to come in and make some jolly quip and they can all fall about laughing, but sadly Carter missed a trick there.

And thus we come to the end of this God-whelmed and age-forgot tome of crackling time-worn parchment, unearthed from the howling catacombs of David's Bargain Bookshop whence few ever return alive. Now it shall return to the mighty Archives of Min's Bookcase, never more to be opened while the watchful crimson eyes of Aedir the Sun God yet observe mankind's futile passage across the, um, ...nah, that's all I got.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Chapter 18: To the Death!

A few paragraphs about the electrified corpse of Kashtar, and what a sorry sight it is - even Thongor has to bite his lip and turn away. The mist machine is not in great shape now either. Maybe they should try turning it off and on again?

White fire spat viciously from fused electrodes and oily black smoke whirled up from the red-hot coils. The whine of the force field ebbed. No longer did the crackling aura of blue flame sparkle about the copper pole. The primitive Valkarthan knew nothing of electricity - he could not know how or why the steel blade of Kashtar had created a short circuit that had wrecked the mechanism. He only knew that the mist machine was dead and ruined beyond repair.

And that the Red Wolf of Tarakus would rove the seas no more...

All the other pirate ships are now heading this way, to investigate the battle that is still raging with undiminished fury. Boat after boat comes gliding through the misty waters! Fortunately, Charn Thovis appears to have no particular sense of fair play or sportsmanship, and deals with this crisis by turning the Lamp of Madness on the approaching ships, like the burning eye of Avangra the Death God himself!

In no time, it seemed, half the fleet was thrown into a roiling chaos. Ships swung drunkenly in the hands of raving maniacs, to crash and ram into their neighbours. The orderly lines of the armada broke up in a twinkling, and the fleet lost wau and floundered in the choppy waters.

Charn Thovis watches impassively as men set themselves on fire and hurl themselves into the water, etc etc, bathing ship after ship in the ray. Do we get any condemnation of this behaviour? Nope.

Sometimes the Gods are just. The horror of death and madness the corsairs would have brought down upon the hapless citizens of the City of the Flame was now turned upon their own heads. He swung the beam back and forth, again and again, until eventually he sickened of the slaughter, and thrust the lever back. Then, even as the humming died and the eerie glow faded and dulled within the sparkling crystal tube, Charn Thovis bent and seized up a fragment of broken oar and battered the Lamp of Madness into a tangle of splintered glass and twisted metal.

The machine from hell should have perished with the fall of elder and God-whelmed Nianga. It should have remained forever hidden from the knowledge of men under the dead dry sands of the Grey Barrens.

But now, at any rate, no man would ever use this horrible invention in war against his fellow man again...

Now that the mist machine has been destroyed, the mist is starting to clear, and the faint red glimmer of dawn appears to the East. No more the mists of foul enchantment cloaked the invading fleet from watchful eyes! Thongor is pleased to realise that his city will be saved, which means it's time to go back to the air-traffic control officer, hovering impractically at 20,000 feet...

Changan Jal is coming to the end of his shift, but before he heads home for a cold bottle and a warm bed, he decides to take one last look at that mysterious fog-bank that's been approaching up the Gulf.

Just as the trim little floater arched over the harbor, and as Changan Jal peered down at the roiling mists that had by now moved very close to the sea wall... the gusting wind whipped aside the mantle of deception and he saw with a thrill of unearthly shock the black-hulled war galleys of the dread pirates of Tarakus!

His floater is armed with some kind of lightning gun, so he orders his pilot to fire at will while he digs out a device built by the wise Nephelos, Iothondus. (?) It's a sort of flare gun, only to be used in the direst of emergencies, which explodes in the air above Patanga in a blinding dazzle of blue-white fury. The rest of the floater fleet are on their way!

Like lean and deadly hawks they swooped down upon the confusion of tangled and blazing ships, and like hawks they struck to kill. Soon the darkness before full dawn was ablaze with flickering fingers of fire, and ship after ship exploded into a cloud of flaming wreckage as the stored energy of the sithurl crystals was expended in irresistable beams of electric fire.

Back on the ship, Thongor is so awesomed by his floater fleet that he forgets to fear for his own safety, until they start firing on the flagship. The battle is still raging on deck, but things are heating up unpleasantly:

The deck jumped and slapped the soles of his feet as the rear of the ship blew apart in a deafening explosion andan eye-searing flash of white and crimson flame.

Thundering a command to the others who fought with him to hold the foredeck, Thongor sprang lightly over the rail and wove through the staggering throng of battling seamen. The air was thick with oily black smoke now; the upper works were ablaze, and smoking cinders drifted down like some grim Pompeiian rain to bestrew the decks with smoking sparks.

Barim blows a horn, and they all swing across the gory decks, back onto the Scimitar, where they instantly hack themselves free. And just in time! Cos the Red Wolf is sinking fast...

To stave off attacks from above, fat old Blay is dispatched to run up a flag of surrender, and the boat heads to the harbour, where the city guards are astonished to see Thongor. In two more paragraphs the rest of the pirate fleet is destroyed... and Patanga is saved!

It's all over bar the knighthoods...