Chapter 4 - Dragons of the Deep
...and at last Thongor is on the move. A "slim black galley" is leaving Patanga harbour - I wonder which boat that could be? The sun is also just about to rise, and Carter makes a very big production of this:
Morning mist roiled, thick and white, upon the face of the waters. Stars still burned in the darkness of the sky, but steadily, moment by moment, glory grew brighter in the east and shafts of burning light thrust across the gloom of heaven, driving the stars to rest. And it was day.
Thongor is glad to be back at sea, and, casting aside his velvet robes, has dressed for the occasion:
Black boots clad him to the knee. A loincloth of scarlet hung for his ornate girdle. A broad leathern collar encircled his mighty throat and his bronzed and mighty chest was bare save for the straps of a warrior's trappings. A great black cloak, pinned to the shoulders of the broad collar, with cairngorm broaches (??), swelled with the wind behind him like vast black wings.
Barim is not sure by which title to address him, and tries a few before Thongor sensibly reminds him that, as he's travelling undercover, it might be better to conceal his identity. Barim thinks this is a worthy notion, and they agree to call him by his old pirate name, Black Hawk. Wasn't that the name of his old ship? Must have made for some confusion.
Charn Thovis is also aboard the pirate ship, also in piratical disguise. And again we are reminded of how Charn Thovis rescued Prince Thar from Dalendus Vool, in case we'd missed any of that in the previous two chapters. Come on, Lin, enough with the recaps!
But no, we also now get a potted history of Barim's heritage, and how it links up with Thongor's. Thongor, it turns out, was the last of his clan, called, um, the Black Hawk clan. I get the sense that Carter's not really trying any more. Then they all have some lunch.
Lots of sailing. The lean black galley cleaves through the water like a slashing blade, they pass by various cities... Then it was that Fate took a hand.!!!
Water broke a few hundred yards to port as a great scaled head lit with cold eyes of lambent flame rose above the surface of the Gulf.
Yep, it's our old friend, the dreaded larth. Thongor remembers his previous larth-battle, and wonders how he can escape this time!!
The ship is armed with some catapults, their only defence against the sea monsters. If the catapults fail, they're in some trouble...
But all knew that if the catapults failed , they were lost. For if once the dragon came at the galley itself, sword or spear or war arrow would have little would have little effect upon that terrible reptilian engine of destruction.
Twangg! Twunngg! They fire the catapults! They miss! And the larth is upon them! It eats a few crew members and causes some havoc, while they ineffectually shoot arrows at it. Then it lunges for Thongor!
In a flash he jumps up and lands on its head, sitting astride its neck.
Bright steel flashed ruddy in the sunset flame as the great Valkarthan broadsword swung up - and came slashing down! Fetid reptilian gore oozed down the scaly jaws and the larth was convulsed with the stabbing pain of Thongor's mighty blow.
Thongor hacks at the beast's neck and eventually manages to kill it, but then it sinks into the water and takes him with it! The surviving crew search and search until nightfall, but no sign of Thongor is found.
The waves had swallowed the Warrior of the West, and only the Gods knew whither his indomitable spirit had flown... whether to the cold Shadowlands of the spirit world or the drowned black caverns of the unknown deep.
My money's on the drowned black caverns, personally. But yeah, that's more like it!
This marks the end of "Book 1" - Book 2 up next, called "The Storm Breaks". For reference, we're only actually up to page 39.