A NOVEL OF ADVENTURE
BY JEFFREY BLAIR LATTA
Previously: Seagrave was interrogated by a black-armoured "Trayken", one of the moth-winged humanoid monsters. Inexplicably, this Trayken knew how to speak English. A green-skinned Kamir looked on, evidently displeased with the situation. The Trayken wanted to know where Seagrave had come by the emerald "tal-stone" by which he had been transported to this world, but Seagrave, fearing for the mysterious orange girl, refused to tell. The Trayken made plans to torture Seagrave as soon as he received permission from his superiors.
Now, moments later...
"Here all wounds heal within a day," the Trayken had told him. But where on God's green earth was "here"?
Seagrave was as much in the dark as ever -- moreso in some ways. Now he had new puzzles to benight him. How was it that such a hideous creature knew the Queen's English when no one else here seemed to? How could these people not know what a cutlass was? In fact, the way the creature had so carelessly handled the weapon, it had seemed almost as if they did not even recognize a sharp edge when they saw one. And what of the emerald, the tal-stone? What did it have to do with all this? And the orange girl? What would have happened had Seagrave told what he knew?
What might they have done to her?
Whatever the answers to those questions, one thing was for certain: Seagrave knew he would have to escape and soon. Where he would go, once free, he had no idea, but any place had to be preferable to this hell. His best bet was to find and rescue the orange girl, assuming the two- headed monster who had snatched her from his cabin hadn't killed her already. The pirate might not know where he himself was, but he knew she at least might know how to get him back home. Somehow she had found her way onto the Sea Dog in the middle of the ocean. Seagrave couldn't explain it, but, if she could do it once, she could do it twice.
Unless, of course, it was the monster who was responsible for taking her there. At this point, Seagrave was prepared to believe anything.
Still, one way or another, before he could rescue the orange girl, he had to escape. To that end, he was already hard at work on a plan by the time he climbed down the ladder into his one-room prison. He didn't see how it was done, but the cords about his wrists abruptly went limp, setting him free. He massaged his wrists and grimly watched as the guards looped up their whips and retreated back up the ladder, sealing the circular hatch behind them.
His lovely blue-skinned companion had disappeared during his absence. He found himself hoping she would return; even if he couldn't communicate with the girl, he had felt a certain comfort having her around. Conversely, he recalled the way the purple guard's eyes had played over her before... and wondered if she wouldn't be better to stay away.
He spent the next while standing out on the balcony, numbly watching the wingships passing to and fro under the impossible island, some cruising out over the open ocean, gradually dwindling beyond the misty blue horizon. If he could just get to one of those ships...
For the first time, Seagrave noticed armoured men riding in tight formation on the backs of crimson, winged serpents the size of horses. These bizarre mounts had long necks with small, narrow heads, like snakes, but with swaying dewlaps. Lengthy tails thrashed behind, and between the tail and the neck was a heavy squamous body, but without limbs of any kind. It reminded Seagrave of a python he had once seen which had swallowed a goat whole. Their iridescent wings stretched out horizontally like the wings of dragonflies, flickering illusively, almost invisibly as they flew.
Each serpent displayed a large ruby gemstone where its long neck widened into its swollen body. Seagrave observed that the rider controlled his mount by tugging on reins which in turn caused a gilded crest to exert pressure on the gem.
But strangest of all was the lack of limbs. The serpents' bellies were covered with heavy scaly plates like the backs of crocodiles. Did they settle on these when they landed?
It was all too much.
Dumbly shaking his head, Seagrave returned to his chamber. He entered just in time to find the blue girl agilely descending the ladder. A long, gold contraption swung from one delicate hand, and he was amazed at the ease with which she managed the ladder so encumbered -- moreso to think she had carried the thing all the way down from the platform high above.
The girl glanced at Seagrave timorously, then glided spritely to the side of the hanging bed. She hung the thing from a link in one of the bed's supporting chains. With a fluid grace, she sat down on the mat-covered floor, her sleek legs crossed, and motioned Seagrave to do likewise. He settled in front of her, eyeing the gilded contraption with interest.
It was a rack, a central pole with U-shaped brackets. Two of the brackets held gold cups with pointed bases. Two long containers, like gravy boats, hung beneath two other brackets by hooks on their rims. The girl unhooked one of the gravy boats and passed it to Seagrave. It contained chunks of meat steeping in a thick brown sauce. The succulent aroma of spicy meat was delicious and heady, and Seagrave realized he was famished.
They ate using only their fingers, the girl setting the example as she drew a chunk of meat to the spout at one end of the gravy boat, allowed the excess sauce to drain away, then popped the meat into her mouth. She slid her fingers daintily between her smiling lips, licking off the gravy, then reached for another piece.
To wash it down, she simply caught up her pointed cup from its bracket, took a sip, and returned the cup. Seagrave found the beverage light and invigorating, and the meat tasted like lamb.
As he ate, it occurred to him that nowhere, either in his room nor in the throne room, had he seen a table. Neither the cups nor the gravy boats had flat bases; apparently this was how her people customarily dined.
When they were done eating, they returned the gravy boats to their brackets and wiped their fingers on a soft towel hung from a loop at the bottom of the pole. The girl's emerald eyes caught Seagrave's, and she smiled playfully, then laughed as she patted her stomach, indicating she was full.
"My compliments to the cook," agreed Seagrave, nodding. "I don't know what that stuff was, but I feel like I've eaten a horse, instead of a single bowl." A mischievous light flickered in his feral eyes. "Watching my companion eat wasn't half bad, either."
The girl giggled in a way that made him half wonder if she had understood.
With a satisfied groan, he started to rise -- then fell back heavily, startled bewilderment in the curve of his brow.
"Hey." He shook his head, blinking against a sudden lightening of his senses. The girl's smile had vanished, and she was watching him intently. "What's the matter with --"
He tried to rise again, but his limbs were heavy and sluggish. The girl straightened gracefully, and began to help him up into the bed.
"Damn you, girl," Seagrave mumbled thickly. The
drink! It had to be. Drugged.
"What's the idea?" She was tiny compared to the lean-thewed pirate, but he found he couldn't resist her as she forced him to lie down. He was tired. He tried to speak, but found even this was beyond him now. His eyes closed, his breath shallow. Dimly, he felt her climb onto the bed beside him, felt her lithe body nestling liquidly against him, her soft head settling on his broad chest. She was so warm, so smooth...
An eerie scarlet glow played through the circular door from outside -- the only light in the darkened chamber. Gently Seagrave slid from beneath the slumbering girl and climbed from the bed. The girl stirred, licking her lips dreamily, but didn't wake.
Adjusting his scarlet head-scarf, Seagrave stepped out onto the balcony. A cool breeze teased his black mane and pressed against his breeches; the red glow smoldered in his eyes and painted his torso with a lustrous rosy wash.
As he took in the sight spread before him, he was not as surprised as he might have expected. Somehow, after all he had seen, this final revelation seemed a mere...detail.
In the sky beyond the rim of the island and beyond the two further islands, where earlier the sun had shone, now hung the vast globe of a moon, its surface a turmoil of brown streamers and pink swirls, orange veils and trailing ivory ribbons.
It was frightening in its grandeur. At least six full moons of Earth would have fitted across its swollen diameter. The cloudless night sky was a magnificent scarlet, fiery like a sunset, and the moon draped its light over the red ocean, creating a shimmering orange river that trailed away to the horizon. Here and there, the brightest stars glittered through the glowing vault, growing more numerous in the sky furthest from the breath-stealing orb.
Gradually Seagrave discerned other moons, smaller moons, suspended in a curving zodiac with the giant moon at its apex. Some were as large as the moon of Earth, others mere specks of polished rock shining stark and clear, like droplets hurled up by the sea.
"Korash is content."
The girl's voice was soft and seductively breathy. Seagrave looked down at her in surprise, as she joined him on the balcony. Blinking sleepily, she took his arm to her soft cheek.
"You speak English," he said in surprise. But then he realized that wasn't true. The girl had spoken in her own tongue; somehow he had been able to understand her.
To his puzzled glance, she explained: "It was the drink I gave you -- damash. It is how we first learn to speak. While you slept, my thoughts entwined with yours. Now all the words I know, you know as well."
Seagrave frowned doubtfully. But then, to his astonishment, he found she was right. Suddenly he knew the Trayken soldiers were called Rayvers; the double-lashes they carried were silth whips; the weird flying serpents were narses. And yet, the words came to him only with effort, as if trying to recall events long forgotten, hazy with age. It was an odd feeling, having memories not his own. But, stranger still, there were many things he felt he should know, yet which seemed to drift just out of reach, tantalizing. Seagrave recalled the mumbled voices in his dream and nodded slowly. "Can you understand me, if I speak English?" he asked.
She laughed as if he was a child. "Of course not. For that, I would have to drink damash. But I only drank vinala juice."
"Who is Korash?"
She gestured carelessly toward the ribboned moon. "That is Korash. Korash is the planet around which our world turns."
For a moment, Seagrave didn't understand. "I thought that was your moon."
She giggled again, the light flashing playfully in her eyes. "Where are you from that you can be so ignorant?" she asked. "Korash isn't a moon. Korash is a planet and those others are its many moons." With a grand sweep of her splendid arm, she indicated the other bodies in the sky.
Seagrave found this all a little difficult to grasp. "Its many moons? Just how many moons are there?"
"Korash has twelve moons," the girl explained, smugly enjoying her superior knowledge. She began to point at the various orbs, thrusting at the sky as if plucking fruit from a tree. "That one is Lin; there is Donyr; there Besh and Nishara; and Enam and Fakal..." He was amazed at the ease with which she could recognize the different moons, some of which were barely visible. "That one Shek and that one Tholas." Her slender hand returned to his arm. "But we can't see the moons Raz or Prinis or Pali because they are hidden by Korash just now."
"You said there were twelve moons," Seagrave objected. "That was only eleven."
She squeezed his biceps chastizingly. "Weren't you listening? We are standing on a moon. This is the ninth moon of Korash."
"And what is the name of this moon?"
Slowly, ponderingly, Seagrave looked out over the railing -- at the roseate sky laden with orbs like oranges in a grove, at the vast planet casting its dappled light on the endless sea and the impossible floating islands. "Miraya," he repeated, under his breath.
At last he had his answer. Miraya. The ninth moon of Korash. God help me, he thought.
"What is your name?" the girl asked softly, speaking suddenly out of a pensive silence. He told her and she said, with a frown: "Moryan?" Smiling, he corrected her, but again she made the same mistake; it seemed she could not pronounce the letter g. Finally, amused, he nodded.
"Good enough," he said. "Moryan it is."
All at once, it seemed she was very near. Her wide emerald eyes stared up into his with an urgent glimmering intensity. Small hands insistently drew his arm about her supple waist. Her full lips parted, her rose-scented breath quickening.
"Moryan," she whispered breathlessly. "Will you touch me -- please?"
There could be no doubting her meaning. The feel of her sleek length throbbing eagerly against him sent burning fire coursing to his heart. The crowded sky and scarlet glow imparted a dreamlike atmosphere to the scene, a languorous aura of drunken, magically unreality. Seagrave had known many beautiful women in many ports, but never had he held in his arms such a weirdly sensual creature as this, and never in such an unearthly port.
Too hell with mothmen.
Gently, without questions, he lay her stretched on the balcony, her slender wings spreading silently behind her narrow shoulders. With calm assurance, she drew his fingers to the ruby gem set in the sweet vale between her breasts. The gem was warm to the touch, like flesh heated with fever. She shuddered as his fingers stroked its faceted surface, her eyes squeezing tightly. The ruby began to smolder with a fierce red luminance, an inner effulgence which throbbed hotter and hotter under Seagrave's wide-eyed caress. The girl groaned achingly, her head flung sharply back, then side to side, a sheen of nectarine sweat fast bathing the pale curves of her straining torso. For a moment, Seagrave feared he was hurting her. But her nipples roused steadily, ripening proudly atop low, burnished domes.
Seagrave's eyes blazed with a wolfish fire. He felt intoxicated, by her beauty, by the feel of her satiny flesh sliding under his hands. He had no explanation for it, for the weird ruby fixed to her chest and what it did to her, but neither did he allow that to stop him. Suddenly his fingers fumbled down her smooth belly to the thong garment drawn tight between her legs. Drunkenly, he caught at the chamois fabric, pawing roughly like a bear seeking sweet honey --
Instantly, the girl's eyes snapped open. She grabbed his hand in a desperate clasp, her breath catching. "What are you doing?" There was naked fear in her look.
"What do you mean, what am I doing?" Seagrave blurted incredulously, irked and baffled at the same time. "What does it look like I'm doing? I'm moving this thing out of the way."
"We do not touch there." Her eyes were immense.
"What the devil are you talking about?" Then he saw her expression, and he frowned. "What -- you mean...never? But you have to touch there sometime. How else do you make love?"
"Just as you were doing."
Seagrave was bewildered. "That's crazy, girl. That's not making love." Then he had a thought. "Anyway, you have to touch there sometime. How else do you have children?"
Her slim brows knit uncomprehendingly. "Children? I don't understand. What are children?"
Seagrave stared at her in confounded silence for a space. Finally he said tightly, carefully: "Girl, I don't understand any of this -- but I think if you'll just let me try, I can show you --"
As he spoke, he pulled steadily at the fabric, momentarily unveiling a tantalizing glimpse of pink against the supple blue of her loins. Instantly she cried out, a sob of anguished horror, her hands wringing frantic fists against the base of her throat. Seagrave was astonished. Her entire body trembled with fear, bright tears coursing as she wept like a child.
"All right, girl. All right," he conceded bitterly, hastily replacing the fabric. "Stop crying, blast it. There -- I'm sorry. If it's that important to you...Look, I suppose I didn't understand. All right?"
Slowly the trembling subsided. Sniffling, the girl wiped the tears from her cheeks. After a moment, Seagrave asked cautiously: "There now -- no hard feelings? What do you say we start over again?"
Swallowing, she nodded silently.
But, even as he reached out to again touch the ruby between her breasts, he saw her eyes widen, felt her silken flesh grow rigid beneath him.
"Damn it, girl, what is it this time?" he growled.
Then he heard a board creak behind him. He twisted in surprise -- to find the purple guard standing on the balcony watching them with distended, furious eyes. It was the same guardsman who had eyed the girl so threateningly before.
With a formless shout, the guardsman raised his leister and thrust at them both...
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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
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