Savage Miraya


A NOVEL OF ADVENTURE

BY JEFFREY BLAIR LATTA


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EPISODE 24: "What Happened to Shyrin Shas?"


Both Trayken Rayvers wore wooden shoulder and loin plates. Though they weren't armed with leisters, glassy silth whips formed bundled loops at their girdles. Barely had their beady eyes fixed on the intruder crouching in the dim light of the passage than they coolly unfastened their whips, allowing the cords to uncoil with a sinister rustling.

Seagrave knew well enough what would happen if he once allowed them to catch him between them with their silth whips. His first encounter with the Traykens had almost seen him torn in two. At the very least, they could render him immobile long enough for help to arrive. Urgently he cast about for some means of escape. His only weapon was the glass punch spike at his belt, but he had no intention of tackling the Rayvers hand-to-hand, if he could help it.

The Rayvers swung back their powerful arms, the whips rasping on the wooden floor. Together they launched their double lashes, casting the weapons with the same easy underhand motion which had proved Seagrave's undoing before.

But, this time, Seagrave knew enough to avoid those constricting cords.

In one fluid surge, he sprang upward, catching hold of an overhead beam and hauling his legs clear as the four lashes licked the air at his heels. His desperate gamble succeeded better than he had hoped. The whispering cords continued to unravel. In an instant, each Rayver found his throwing arm caught in the tightening coils of the other's weapon.

Seagrave didn't hesitate, but, seizing the opportunity, dropped down full on the middle of the tangled cords. His weight jerked both Rayvers forward, the rearmost Trayken stumbling to his knees with an enraged snarl.

Hoping to escape while they were off balance, Seagrave bounded forward, hurtling against the Rayver nearest the companionway. But that Ravyer had managed to retain his footing; with a fearful strength, he threw himself against the pirate, crushing Seagrave brutally against the wall with such bone-splintering force that a glim-gem sprang from its cresset and shattered into dark shards on the floor.

The power of the impact blasted the wind from Seagrave's lungs and he reeled backwards, blinking dazedly, barely able to keep from falling. Now it was too late and he had lost what advantage he had gained. The two Traykens managed to release each other from their silth whips, tossing down the weapons in disgust and closing in with gloved fists.

Seagrave barely managed to ward off the first flying blow when a second caught him in the stomach. The punch threw him back against the wall, bending him like a fallen oak. Barely able to breathe, he was jerked from the wall and felt thick arms slide under his own arms, then around the back of his head where powerful fingers interlocked forcing his chin to his breast. At the same moment, fists constricted around his calves, lifting him from his feet as the pirate's legs were pinioned between the arms and ribs of the other Trayken.

Desperately Seagrave strained and flexed, his breath hissing through his teeth, his lithe body stretched rigidly between his two powerful opponents. Their combined strength was irresistible; the rippling muscles which had held up five hundred pounds of water were reduced to childish impotence in their embrace.

In silence they bore their twisting captive down the hallway and into the torture chamber. Seagrave gasped as they heaved his struggling frame up and over the brazier, fighting down a cry as the rising heat seared his back. For the moment at least, he had only two opponents to contend with; an outcry would bring more, eliminating his last chance of escape.

And one chance there was.

Even as he was lifted over the brazier, Seagrave's mind was a whirlwind of anticipation. Everything depended on the next few seconds.

He could see that the Rayvers intended to lock him in the cell with the other two prisoners who they didn't yet know had escaped. To do that, they would need the key. For just a moment, one of the Rayvers would have to release his powerful grip in order to reach for the key. If they noticed the key was missing before releasing him, all would be lost.

His heart pounding, Seagrave watched for his chance. To encourage his captors, he feigned exhaustion, allowing his struggles to play themselves out. The Trayken at his feet was instantly suspicious, and the Rayver kept his black eyes fixed on the suddenly limp prisoner even as he dropped one of Seagrave's legs to reach for the key.

Had the key still been on its hook, the Rayver would have moved too quickly, repinioning the freed limb before Seagrave could have moved. But when the Trayken's fingers touched the vacant hook, a startled hiss spat past his jutting jaw and his eyes flicked to the wall in surprise.

In that moment, Seagrave heaved with all the power in his frame, rotating against the arms behind his neck and spinning almost over onto his side. His freed left leg crossed his right and lashed out at the smoldering brazier, catching it with his heel and toppling it against the Rayver still holding his one leg.

The astonished Trayken screamed as burning coals spilled against his hairy chest and down his legs, rattling against his loin plates and filling the air with sizzling scarlet flecks. The Trayken lurched backward in horror, releasing his grip as his short skirt burst into wild, crackling flame.

Astonished, the Trayken at Seagrave's head allowed his grip to falter even as the pirate's feet found the floor amongst the flaring rain of sparks and coals. Mindless of the blistering heat, Seagrave gritted his teeth and wrenched free, spinning with a snarl and snatching the punch spike from his belt. Light flashed from the two spikes, only to be instantly extinguished as he pounded the weapon into the Trayken just under the ribs. The Trayken gasped and tumbled backwards to the floor.

Still fighting the flames leaping and hissing at his waist, the other Trayken didn't even see the punch spike before it glided between his ribs. Without a sound, he too sprawled amongst the scattered coals, past caring as his blue flesh began to sizzle and char.

There as no time to lose -- the falling brazier had alerted others in the ship and already Seagrave could hear pounding feet approaching from below. He bounded out into the hallway, rushed down the passage and scrambled up the slender ladder even as he heard a door flung wide in his wake.

As he raced out onto the cool deck, a voice called out: "Quick! Over here!"

A glance showed him Fanas Fel and Zhanak Zen mounted on two of the four narses which Dol Hashar's entourage had brought. A third narse hovered nervously between them. Seagrave crossed the deck in a surge and sprang into the saddle of the middle narse.

"We let loose the fourth narse," Fanas Fel explained quickly, "to keep them from following us."

Seagrave realized that Fanas Fel couldn't have known about Pallin Pol and Shyrin Shas, but he cursed under his breath just the same; that fourth narse would have come in handy.

Tearing at the reins, Seagrave urged his mount into a steep climb, rising with breathless speed up and out over the rose-tinted forest. In seconds, the dark woods fell away beneath them, and the black gasbags swept by like whales on an ebony sea. Then the three fugitives reached the cliff top and Seagrave sprang from the saddle, while keeping a tight grip on the traces of his confused and rearing narse.

Seagrave's eyes blazed as they swept the skylit ledge -- there was no sign of Pallin Pol or the princess. What could have happened to them? He had told Pallin Pol to return to the cliff with Shyrin Shas; had they been intercepted? Had Pallin Pol decided to return to Jinja Khyam without waiting for Seagrave's return?

Leaping back into the saddle, Seagrave soared upward over the wall of trees, his two companions wheeling aside with oaths of surprise as he whirred past. Instantly, Seagrave spotted a blue blur sprawled in the middle of the glade beyond the trees. Dropping down into the clearing, he jumped from his mount.

"Pallin Pol!" Seagrave expostulated, dropping to his knees and tugging at the blue man's shoulder.

Weakly, Pallin Pol stirred and raised his head, his features contorted in a rictus of pain. For a moment he struggled to force words past his writhing lips. Finally he gasped: "It was the fenfyr! They must have tracked us through the woods -- Oh, my heart! I barely got back here with the princess when they sprang out of the woods and got me with their prods."

"The princess?" Seagrave asked sharply. "What happened to Shyrin Shas?"

"The fenfyr locked her in one of their cages," Pallin Pol groaned, beating his fist against his forehead in an agony of self-chastisement. "I wanted to stop them but the pain was too much. I've failed her -- I've failed my poor princess!"

"You haven't failed anyone," Seagrave snarled, clapping Pallin Pol on the back.
"You did what you could." He turned to Fanas Fel and Zhanak Zen who hovered a few feet away on their serpentine mounts. "You three have to get back to Jinja Khyam," he instructed. "Take my narse. You have to find Khomas Khan and tell him what you've seen. Tell him the Trayken are poised to invade Eukara with their entire Armada. They've broken their pact with him, so he doesn't have to feel honourbound any longer."

"What about you?" Fanas Fel asked. He seemed uncertain whether to be overjoyed at the news that the princess had been found alive -- or grief-stricken that she had disappeared again.

"What do you think?" Seagrave snapped sharply. "I've got to get Shyrin Shas away from those damn fenfyr. Once I've got her, we'll have to make our own way back."

"We can't just leave you," Pallin Pol gasped weakly, as Seagrave heaved him up into the saddle of the nervously rocking narse.

"In your condition you wouldn't be of any help," Seagrave retorted. "Now go -- the Rayvers will be on your trail any second now."

Recognizing the need for haste and the strength of Seagrave's logic, the three rebels choked down their objections. Together they rushed upward into the rose-hued night, sobbing curses through their grating teeth.

Barely were they out of sight than Seagrave dropped heavily to his knees. He shook his head to clear his vision, but he knew he couldn't keep up this reckless pace much longer. He was exhausted, every sinew burning, every muscle cramping as if his entire body was coming apart at the seams.

Dimly, through the masking forest, the restless throbbing of the fenfyr drum reached him in illusive snatches carried on the milling breeze. Setting his teeth, Seagrave struggled grimly to his feet, swaying a moment etched in the scarlet glow of Korash.

"Hang on, girl," he muttered tightly. "I'm coming."

Then he slipped into the black woods, barely rustling the fronds as he passed...



Next episode...The Deadly Vortex!


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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!)