Savage Miraya


A NOVEL OF ADVENTURE

BY JEFFREY BLAIR LATTA


Bottom of page

EPISODE 16: "Kill Him...For I Cannot."


"Could we overtake him with another narse?" Seagrave's grim tone suggested he already knew the answer.

Pallin Pol shook his head ruefully. "Jakar Jet has too great a lead. We could never catch him now."

"Do you think he was working for Khomas Khan?" Zhanak Zen asked, wretchedly wringing his hands. "Or maybe even Dol Hashar?"

"No." Seagrave rose to his feet, wincing as his tired legs took his weight. "Jakar Jet gave the princess to these fenoks, correct? So, he at least knew all along where she was. The fact that Khomas Khan and Dol Hashar have spent the last few days vainly searching for her proves that Jakar Jet wasn't acting under their instructions. They don't know the fenoks have her."

"Then why did he do it?" exclaimed Bishras Bid, pounding a fist into his palm.

There was a moment of brooding silence -- then Seagrave spoke again. "I think I know," he ventured. The others regarded him questioningly. "He did it for the Lin tal-stone. Think about it. I understand these Traykens aren't just interested in your Miraya, but that they are fighting wars on several moons." The others nodded slowly, beginning to understand. "From what you've told me, they need at least one tal-stone from Lin in order to spread their conquests to that world. Once there, they could find more such tal-stones -- but all they need is one to begin their invasion. Jakar Jet knew this and saw he would be well rewarded if he could deliver the Lin tal-stone to Dol Hashar."

Pallin Pol took up the thread. "He switched an Earth tal-stone for the Lin tal-stone without the princess knowing. But he knew the princess would eventually realize there had been a switch and, once she had returned using her Eukara tal-stone, she would reveal him for the traitor he was."

"And so he gave her to the fenoks," Bishras Bid gritted furiously. "The monster!"

"But where did he get the Earth tal-stone?" Fanas Fel asked, spreading his heavy hands. "I've never even heard of this planet Earth."

"Perhaps Jakar Jet didn't know what it was," Pallin Pol suggested slowly, stroking his chin, his eyes slitted. "There are many unidentified tal-stones which can be purchased in the markets for a small price. All Jakar Jet required was that the gem closely resemble the Lin tal-stone so that the princess would not immediately recognize the switch. He probably never had any idea where it would take her."

"Well, wherever the Earth tal-stone came from," Seagrave mused, more to himself than the others, "the princess must still have it. And that stone seems to be my only hope of returning home." He glanced sharply at Pallin Pol. "These fenoks -- what will they do with the princess?"

The blue man's eyes reflected the depths of his fear. "The fenoks relish the taste of human flesh," he stated dismally. "Often they venture into the catacombs to hunt for Kamir as they would any wild game."

Seagrave felt his veins cool and he swallowed against the knot in his throat. "They'll eat her?"

Pallin Pol nodded weakly.

"How soon will they do this," Seagrave persisted after a moment. "Is it possible she might still be alive?"

"It is possible," Fanas Fel responded, "but unlikely. There are several different tribes of fenoks scattered over our four islands. Each has different customs. She might be alive..."

Seagrave nodded slowly, a fiery gleam kindling in his feral glare. Recovering the Earth tal-stone was important to him; yet, at the same time, there arose unbidden to his mind the image of the orange girl's hunted emerald eyes, the feel of her sleek trembling flesh. For that young body to find its way into the bellies of such monsters -- his blood seethed at the thought.

"We have no choice," he stated with fierce conviction. "We have to follow her trail and rescue her if we can. In a short while, Jakar Jet will reveal everything to Khomas Khan and Dol Hashar. I already know about the situation regarding your Fleet. Khomas Khan has ordered Admiral Nisram Nyl to return to port in accordance with the pact signed with the Trayken; but, so long as there is a chance the princess is free, Nisram Nyl won't do so."

Pallin Pol nodded bleakly. "Once Dol Hashar learns she has been captured by the fenoks," he said, "he will lose no time in finding her -- or finding her bones at least. If he can prove she is dead, Nisram Nyl will have no choice but to return."

"But how can we possibly search for her?" Zhanak Zen objected miserably. "We would have to take the same passage that she took -- with the catacombs thick with Trayken Rayvers looking for her."

"Not so thick," Bishras Bid corrected, a bitter smile touching his young lips. "I hear the Trayken have been attacked repeatedly by creatures living in the catacombs. There have been many deaths. From the sounds of things, they probably disturbed a nest of jakdaks."

"Dol Hashar ordered them to bring in worm cannons," Fanas Fel related, with a low chuckle. "How like the Trayken to use worm cannon against jakdaks -- as if it will do them any good."

"We have no choice." Seagrave's voice rang a knell of unswerving purpose. His eyes blazed, his chest heaved, and he seemed suddenly to tower over the other men like a giant brazen statue placed amongst a motley collection of tin figurines. In an instant he had gone from being a bound captive to being once again a leader of men. "Everything depends upon our finding the princess," he thundered. "And we have no time to lose. But I can't find her by myself -- I don't know this damn island of yours. Who of you will help me? Who of you has the courage?"

There was a moment of silence -- then, one by one, each man nodded his head.
"All right," Pallin Pol assented, a fatalistic note to his tone. "We're with you whatever the dangers that lie ahea --"

It was the sharp movement of Seagrave's eyes that caused the men to whirl.

Zhanak Zen gasped in mingled surprise and horror. Bishras Bid swore a furious oath, tensing to hurl himself at the newcomer standing in the doorway -- but Fanas Fel caught the younger man with a swift grab, checking his attack and hissing: "Wait."

Slowly, numbly, Seagrave shouldered his way through the group.

Khomas Khan, former advisor to the deposed Queen Itazara Tal, stood framed in the star-shaped threshold to the next room; in his arms, he carried a slender blue burden streak with glistening orange.

Without a word, Seagrave took up the girl and carried her across the chamber, laying her gently on a bed of living vines against the wall. Her eyes were closed and at first it seemed she was dead.

Grimly Seagrave's eyes travelled down her naked length, his features growing darker and darker as he took in the terrible marks of her torture, ending on the weals left by the cords which had bound her legs. He reached out his hands, lightly cupping the line of her chin.

Instantly, at his touch, a frantic spasm surged through her flesh, her tormented body arching stiffly, then writhing in anguished delirium as he crushed her to his chest. Her lips parted widely and her chest laboured again and again as if desperately straining to draw air.

As if finally forced past a terrible blockage, her voice shattered the stillness in a frenzied chant: "He attacked me; he went mad with fear; he jumped to his death; he attacked me; he went mad --"

"Girl!" Seagrave breathed into the fur of her shivering head. "Girl, you're safe. It's all right. You're safe now."

Her dark lashes lay on her cheeks, and she did not seem to hear him - - but suddenly terrible fear crackled in her small voice: "Please -- oh, please, not again -- not that again!"

Her anguished scream broke up into panting, choking sobs. Seagrave crushed her straining form as if to protect her with his powerful body. Suddenly her eyes opened and she looked up into his face. Recognition slowly flickered in her emerald gaze.

"Moryan?" she whispered fearfully, as if thinking perhaps this was but one more device to torment her.

He nodded silently, his jaw set in a rigid line.

"Oh, Moryan," she gasped, as the tears of joy coursed down her blue cheeks; "I didn't tell him where you had gone. I didn't tell him about the hiding place. No matter what he did to me, I refused to tell."

"You were brave, girl," Seagrave assured her, in a tight, grating voice. "Aye, no one could have been braver."

Her eyes dilated with sudden horror. "It was Bramal Bren," she gasped. "He wasn't dead as we thought. He gave me to Dol Hashar, saying I had killed your guard, then helped you escape. He watched, Moryan -- he watched --" At the mere memory of her ordeal, her eyes squeezed and the writhing returned so that it took all of Seagrave's strength simply to hold her labouring body in his arms. When she finally quieted again, she opened her eyes, unfocused and distant. "Moryan," she whispered weakly.

"Girl?"

"Did you mean what you said before? Do you truly think my wings are ugly?"

Seagrave could feel the smooth satin flesh of her back beneath his clutching fingers; feel the slick dampness of her warm blood from the ghastly wound where her wings had been.

"I think they are the most beautiful wings under Korash," he mumbled softly.

A faint smile stirred her tormented features, the pain of her many wounds momentarily soothed by his words. Her emerald eyes closed gently, dark lashes settling like sleeping wings -- and her trembling stilled. Slowly the ruby between her breasts darkened and clouded, the lustre fading from its many facets as if passing into eternal shadow.

Gently Seagrave lay her down on the mat of vines. Behind him, Khomas Khan spoke in a low, even voice. "Dol Hashar had already done too much to her. The most I could do was take her away from him to die in peace." He paused, then continued: "I've known about this rebel hideout in the ruins for some days. I couldn't think where else I could take her where Dol Hashar couldn't find her. But I didn't expect to find you here. Dol Hashar felt certain she knew where you had gone."

"She thought she did," Seagrave responded grimly.

He heard Khomas Khan stride across the chamber and something rang sharply on the stones at his heels. He turned quickly. The blade of his cutlass glowed like a splash of blood in the frosty light. He took up the cutlass, then regarded Khomas Khan questioningly.

"Kill Dol Hashar," Khomas Khan instructed rigidly. "Here is your metal stick. Kill him if you can. I saved Montaz from further torment, but I was too late to save her life. Kill him for her -- and for me."

Seagrave straightened to his feet, studying Khomas Khan as if trying to focus his vision on something seen only dimly through murky shadows. "Take me to him," he said guardedly. "I'll kill your draykhis for you."

Khomas Khan shook his head. "I cannot," he said bleakly. "I have signed a pact. I am a man of honour. I must return and accept whatever comes next."

Seagrave's eyes slowly widened as he realized what Khomas Khan was saying. "Are you a fool?" he growled. "You know what he'll do to you if you return."

Khomas Khan nodded his head sadly. "You don't understand me," he said. "I am a man of honour. My duty is to protect my people -- and so I deposed my queen. Now I have signed a pact with the Trayken, with Dol Hashar. I will not break my word. I cannot break my word. I must return no matter what the consequences. Please -- kill him if you can...for I cannot."

With a final weary glance at his blue slave girl, Khomas Khan wheeled sharply, his wings spreading, and dropped down through the hole in the floor. A moment later, Seagrave heard the muted hum of narse wings receding into the rose-hued night.

After a second, Seagrave knelt and gently slipped a gold bangle from Montaz's small ankle. His eyes lingered on her beautiful face, placid as if in sleep. Like the deep cough of a hunting cheetah, he said: "Get me a narse. One of you men must lead me back to Jinja Khyam."...



Next episode...Jakar Jet Makes His Move


Top of page

Previous episode Next Episode

Table of ContentsPulp and Dagger Webzine


Savage Miraya is copyright 1998, by Jeffrey Blair Latta. It may not be copied or used for any commercial purpose except for short excerpts used for reviews. (Obviously, you can copy it or print it out if you want to read it!)