Chapter 11 - The Armada of Doom
Dawn rose over the edges of the world, lighting all the skies with a brilliance of gold and crimson flame.
All the pirates are awake bright and early, clearly unaffected by all that carousing of the night before. Badass. There are all sorts of pirates from all over the world, but they've all got the same thing on their minds.
And in the heart of every man that poured aboard the waiting corsair fleet burned the lust for gold and gems, for wine and women. Soon, they knew, and grinned happily at the knowledge, the fabulous wealth of rich and glorious Patanga would be theirs. When the heavy treasure chests of the City of the Flame opened to pour a glittering flood of golden riches at their feet, not a corsair of their number but would be wealthy for life, a landed lord, with gold enough to live his years in luxury and splendor. They laughed at the thought, and fingered the gemmy hilt of dirk and dagger and keen-bladed cutlass... soon the sea wolves would run amok through the broad avenues of mighty Patanga, and the golden wealth of Earth's most glorious Empire would flow at their feet...
I'm at a loss to understand the economics of Lemuria. We have mighty and wealthy cities rising out of impenetrable jungles, with no visible agriculture or industry; we have pirates plotting to overthrow an entire empire and then somehow become landed lords... it occurs to me that, just perhaps, Lin Carter has not thought through this world-building thing very carefully. Just a thought.
Belshathla is busy tending to his one remaining Lamp of Madness, an unholy lust burning in his cold eyes. Kashtar, resplendent in scarlet, has cold fires burning in his somber eyes. These descriptions are in consecutive paragraphs. For added amusement, Kashtar's lieutenant is apparently a swarthy and bewhiskered rogue called Duranga Thool.
The sea gates are opened, and the ships all begin to sail out of the harbour, the pirates all singing lusty pirate songs. Yo ho!
But! One ship is not singing! It has a lean black hull and scarlet sails, so we know which boat this is likely to be.
Pacing his quarterdeck, a moody scowl upon his frowning brows, Captain Barim Redbeard cudgeled his wits for some way out of this dilemma.
Their dilemma? They can't refuse to sail with the fleet, lest they be suspected of black treason and hanged from the yardarm. Even Blay is no longer jovial.
"How can we do it, mate?" Blay wheezed dispiritedly. "How can we hack and murther like the rest o' these wolves, in the rapine of the city of our friends? What will the little lad say when his old comrades come a-knockin' at the gates o' his father's royal city, with naked cutlasses in they hands, eh? O, 'twas a dark day for poor ol' Blay when he decided to turn pirate and seek his fortune on the high seas, that it were!"
Durgan, however, has confidence in his cap'n, and Blay hopes (by Shastadian's green beard) that he is be right.
A bit more crimson and golden flame in the sky as dawn finally leaves the skies of Tarakus, giving way to rose and lavender instead, as well as palest gold and purest gold, which sets off Barim's red-gold beard (and fierce blue eyes) to pleasing effect.
The shipmates shout a bit and call each other a variety of dogs, before Barim unveils his plan - as they have no way of outpacing the Armada to warn Patanga, he intends to sneak towards the head of the fleet in the next fog-bank they encounter, and attempt to ram the ship with the Lamp of Madness on, to give Patanga's floater-pilots a chance of repelling the invasion from the air... even if it means the death of all of them!
But suddenly Barim goes pale - he has spotted something upon the shore! Hm, I wonder what that could be. Charn Thovis, being a lubber, can't see anything, as it takes the keen eyes of an ol' sea hawk the likes o' Barim Redbeard who is used to squintin' against the sun. He orders signal flags to be set, telling the fleet that he's sprung a leak and needs to go ashore for a bit, and then the ship turns about and heads for a cove...
The young Patangan chanthar, Charn Thovis, was still mystified at this baffling maneuver. But as the lean black hull of Redbeard's ship entered the little cove and he got a good look at the curve of jungle-clad beach, he understood.
And a vast and thrilling joy went through him. His eyes, of a sudden, filled with tears, and deep in his heart he gave profound thanks to the Nineteen Gods Who Watch Over The World...
End of chapter! Gosh, I wonder what they have seen.