Savage Miraya



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EPISODE 17: Jakar Jet Makes His Move!

Bramal Bren wheeled at the soft sound, instinctively brandishing his leister. His eyes widened and the breath locked in his lungs.

A moment before, he had stood alone on the platform, silently watching the distant ships' beacons tacking through the gathering gloom of early morning. Now he saw a lithe tanned figure smoothly straightening from a deep crouch. The yellow glow from an overhead lantern added a shining gloss to the play of muscles sliding beneath the figure's sleek flesh. The shadowed foliage above the platform still wavered from the newcomer's passage.

"You!" Bramal Bren stumbled back against the railing, one hand making a spasming claw before his eyes as if to dispel the terrible vision. "Please," he croaked. "I didn't know what he would do to her! I swear I didn't! I only wanted to punish her -- I never thought -- never imagined he would do such things! I left because I couldn't stand to watch it any longer!"

Slowly the dreadful apparition strode forward. The topaz light splashed dazzling flame from the length of metal in his fist. His approach was all the more terrible for his smoldering silence -- and Bramal Bren began to quake, though still retaining sense enough to raise his leister defensively.

"What do you want from me?" he gasped desperately. "Please, what do you want?"

The figure halted, his eyes cloaked in the dark night of his lowering brows. "Bramal Bren." His voice was the mutter of approaching thunder. "You will take a message to Dol Hashar."

"A message?" Bramal Bren shook his head quickly, as if thinking he had heard wrong. "What message?"

"You will take a message to Dol Hashar from me," the dark figure continued. "You will tell Dol Hashar that I am free and that I have my metal stick now. You will tell him that his nightmare is about to begin. I break men in half with my stick. I deal death such as this world has never seen. You will tell him that he shall pay for all he did to the slave girl Montaz. You will tell him there is nowhere he can hope to hide from my wrath; someday soon I shall kill him like the dog he is."

The grim figure gestured with his free hand and something chimed on the boards at Bramal Bren's booted feet. For a moment, the guardsman hesitated for fear it was a trap. With his shining eyes fixed on the vengeful shade, he stooped and picked up what had been tossed to him. Light glinted from the woman's golden bangle clutched in his quaking hand.

"I don't understand," he stammered. "What is this?"

"You will tell him," the voice rumbled softly. "You will tell him all these things -- and yet you will not say a word."

For an instant, Bramal Bren regarded the bangle with a baffled frown. Abruptly, horrific understanding dilated his gaze -- but too late to save him as something cast a blinding flare in his eyes and something sang like a whip...

"You told my guards you had vital information for me?" Dol Hashar asked, carelessly settling on a hanging chair and regarding his visitor with a lazy yawn.

Jakar Jet nodded slowly. A hungry gleam danced in his narrow eyes, but it was muted with irritation. It had taken far longer than he had expected to meet with Dol Hashar. Already it was approaching midday; the delay irked him. Then too, he had been surprised that Dol Hashar should meet with him in Khomas Khan's personal chambers. Though Khomas Khan had signed a pact with the Trayken, Jakar Jet had no wish to run into the advisor during his present mission; Khomas Khan was too much a man of honour. There was no telling what he might do if he knew what Jakar Jet planned to offer to the Trayken.

"Well, what do you have to say?" Dol Hashar prodded impatiently.

"I have two things to offer you," Jakar Jet began, using words which he had rehearsed many times before. "The first I give to you as a gift -- to prove I deal in good faith."

"I see. And what is this gift you offer?"

Jakar Jet smiled a crawling grin. "I offer you the Princess Shyrin Shas," he said.

Dol Hashar was silent for a moment, but the sudden slight opening of his cooling gills gave Jakar Jet a thrill of satisfaction.

"And how is it that you are able to make such a generous offer?" the draykhis asked presently. "We have searched without success for the princess."

"Let me explain, Draykhis Dol Hashar." Jakar Jet quickly warmed to his topic. "It was the princess's intention to use a tal-stone to seek allies on another moon -- allies to fight against your people. I was sent with her to recover this tal-stone from the catacombs where it had been hidden. Once there, I found the tal-stone, but then switched it for another stone, a purple and gold one almost identical which I had bought in the market for precisely that purpose. She never knew the difference."

Dol Hashar nodded slowly. "Go on."

"That was all I had intended on doing," continued Jakar Jet; "but, just then, we heard noises as of someone approaching. I told her to stay put while I went to see who it was. Rounding a corner, I found a party of fenoks hunting in the catacombs. They didn't see me. I hurried back to the princess, galvanized by this unexpected development. I grabbed the princess and bound her tightly with thongs, then left her on the floor of the tunnel. As I rushed away, I heard her sudden scream as the fenoks happened upon her."

Dol Hashar's tongue glided over his bottom teeth and he chuckled with grim admiration. "Very resourceful," he praised. Then he asked: "These fenoks -- we know they live in tribes atop your islands. To which tribe did these fenoks belong?"

Jakar Jet responded defensively. "I can't tell you that. All fenoks look the same to me. But there aren't that many; you should be able to find her easily enough."

"And is the princess likely to still be alive?"

Jakar Jet shrugged unconcernedly. "The fenoks are strange creatures. They will eat her eventually -- but they have strong taboos. The conditions must be right. She could be alive. Does it make a difference?"

Dol Hashar carelessly flourished a hand. "Only in so far as I had hoped the princess personally. I have been told she is very beautiful. There are things I had hoped to do to her."

A lingering smile played across Jakar Jet's thin lips. "I understand, Draykhis," he sympathized. "Perhaps if you hurry --"

"You said there were two things you offer me," Dol Hashar interrupted abruptly. "What is the second thing?"

This time Jakar Jet had to pause to control the tremor in his voice. The princess he had given for free; now came the true test of his planning.

"The princess intended to seek allies on the moon Lin," he explained. "I know you have no way of reaching that moon. I can give you the Lin tal-stone she intended to use. For a price, I offer nothing less than an invasion route to the first moon of Korash."

Dol Hashar studied his visitor for a moment, then asked quietly: "And you have this tal-stone with you now?"

"I don't have it with me -- no. But I hid it and I can get it for you as soon as we agree on a price."

The draykhis smiled slowly, the light glistening on his fangs -- and he gestured with one gloved hand.

Instantly Jakar Jet felt powerful fingers close on his upper arms as two Trayken Rayvers seized him. His eyes bulged.

"Draykhis, what is the meaning of this?" he blurted, trembling with outrage.

"Why should I pay for this tal-stone?" Dol Hashar questioned mildly. "You will tell me where to find the stone soon enough. In between your screams you will tell me everything." Jakar Jet gaped in horror, struggling uselessly against the pinioning arms of his captors. Dol Hashar motioned disdainfully. "Take him to one of the cells."

With Jakar Jet writhing between them, the two powerful Traykens dragged him from the chamber.

For some moments, Dol Hashar lounged in the hanging chair, idly scratching the arm with his gleaming claws. Abruptly he looked up in surprise -- then sprang erect, as one of the Trayken guards stumbled back through the doorway. Black blood rained from between the spasming fingers the guard clutched to his throat.

"He -- had a -- punch spike!" gurgled the Rayver hideously. "Killed the other guard -- ran away --" Blood overspilled his jutting jaw, drowning his words in a grisly flood, and he pitched face down on the blue marble floor.

In seconds, Dol Hashar had dispatched a dozen Rayvers to find the fugitive and return him alive. Under no circumstances was he to be injured. As they rushed off down the corridor, Dol Hashar wheeled with a raging snarl and, seizing one chain of the hanging chair, tore the thing from the ceiling with a single powerful jerk. For a moment, he stood in brooding silence, inwardly raging at his stupidity in risking the Lin tal-stone so carelessly.

Abruptly he straightened.

Leaving the room, he followed the corridor, then passed out into the reflected sunlight of day. Startled Kamir men and woman scurried clear of his path as he strode swiftly along the many platforms and bridges. Finally he descended a long ladder to the roof of a cabin where two Trayken Rayvers stood at their posts. One guard lifted the round hatch in the roof; Dol Hashar clambered down into the cabin, the guard closing the hatch after.

It was the same cabin in which Seagrave had been imprisoned. A heavy skin had been fastened over the door, so that the only light was shed by a single gem-centred lantern. Four Trayken guards flanked the ladder, leisters poised at their sides, the jaundiced glow shimmering on their shoulder plates.

Stepping down to the floor, Dol Hashar regarded his captive with a mildly appraising squint.

Khomas Khan was bound spread-eagled between the four rings in the floor and ceiling. His nude body shone glassily, the light whitely gleaming on the struggling, sweat-glazed ridges of his trembling jade muscles. In silence, his arms and legs strained frantically at their bonds, his body spasming outward, frenziedly flexing in a vain effort to escape the Trayken calmly working at his back. Dol Hashar waited until the Trayken was done, then motioned him away.

The draykhis deftly removed the plugs from Khomas Khan's ears but left the gag and the blindfold in place. In this way, Khomas Khan could hear him, but neither see nor speak. He waited patiently for Khomas Khan's trembling to subside. A puzzled smile curled his mouth.

"I find something strangely compelling in you even now, Khomas Khan," the draykhis confided quietly. "I find myself truly baffled by your behaviour. Why did you return? Surely you knew what I would do to you? Surely you knew, after you stole the slave girl, I would have no choice but to punish you? And yet, still you returned. I am...intrigued."

The draykhis was silent a moment, contemplative. Khomas Khan trembled as if with a terrible gelid chill. "It is almost as if you wished to take the girl's place. Is that the answer? Are we presented here with an example of altruism -- of sacrifice?" Dol Hashar inhaled ruefully. "You bother me, Khomas Khan. Of all the subjects, you alone do I take no pleasure in tormenting."

For a moment, silence settled -- then Dol Hashar seemed to revive from his melancholy brooding. "You will be pleased to know we have located your princess, at least," he stated. Khomas Khan flinched, bringing a thin smile to the draykhis's lips. "We will have the princess very soon --"

The draykhis paused as a Trayken Rayver quickly descended the ladder. Irritated by the interruption, Dol Hashar turned, scowling. Apologetically, the Rayver whispered urgently in the draykhis's ear. As he finished, the Rayver handed Dol Hashar a flashing gold bangle stained with orange Kamir blood.

Dol Hashar regarded the grisly bangle with strange unease; he seemed suddenly off balance, as if having taken a momentary misstep on a swaying ropebridge. After a second, he glanced up at Khomas Khan, his demeanour oddly distracted.

"We will talk later," he said, and hurriedly replaced the ear plugs. To the Trayken behind Khomas Khan, he instructed: "Remember, he is not to die. Khomas Khan is the representative of these people. He is their leader and we must respect that. We have signed a pact and we are his guests. We are merely here to assist in any way we can."

Wheeling, Dol Hashar vanished up the ladder followed by the messenger, and the hatch was sealed behind them.

For a moment, the thick silence was disturbed only by Khomas Khan's fearfully quickening respiration. The Trayken quietly resumed his place. Then, abruptly, Khomas Khan arched rigidly in his bonds, a muted scream breaking past the gag twisted like a bit between his teeth. Slowly, inexorably, the second strip of skin was pealed from his naked back...

Next episode...The Catacombs and the Jakdaks

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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!)