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To Sari and Home
The small lugger made good speed as we found the great rock that marked the entrance into the waterway. Here the tribes were also unfriendly –once or twice large dugout canoes filled with painted warriors came out to engage us, but they couldn't keep up with the swift lugger and vanished in our wake.
When the meal came it was grilled fish. It was served in a light sauce and rather tasty. It was served with small bits of bread and tankards of wine, this was a bitter white wine.
“When you serve of a fishing boat,” said one of the bewhiskered crew, “You must expect fish to be on the menu. This is cooked well in honor of the occasion. You know, I have always wanted to see the Empire.”
“Captain Rey is trying to work out a peace between the Brotherhood and the Empire,” I told him as I ate my fish.”
“That would be a good thing,” answered the fisherman. “Together , who could stand against us?”
“What do you know of the people of the twisted cross?” I asked.
“They are very bad people, an evil people.” said the man. “I have never seen them but I have heard stories in the wine shops of the Brotherhood. Our ships just vanish when they sail close to their waters.”
Maja joined the two of us at the rail, she had her wooden tray and tankard. She sat down between us. The fisherman didn't mind her joining us.
“What are you talking about?” she asked in a curious tone, as she took bits of fish and placed them in her mouth.
“The people of the twisted cross,” I told over.
“An interesting subject,” she said. “I have heard they eat people and have three heads.”
“I have heard such a rumors, but I disbelieve them,” answered the fisherman. “May I know your name?”
“I am Maja,” she answered. “But I am Jason's Mate.”
“I am sorry, I saw no bracelet on your wrist.” said the man. “I apologize, I didn't know you are taken.”
I was about to say something, but kept quite as she gave me a stern look. The fisherman left quickly after this exchange.
“You are not my mate, Maja,” I told her.
“Not yet,” she said finishing her meal, “I just didn't want that fellow following me around for the rest of the voyage.”
“Have you seen Maria and Rey?” I asked.
“They are in the Captain's Cabin,” she said. “ Captain Lugo is at the helm so I have no idea what they are doing in there -- and not wanting to incur his wrath, I have not bothered them.”
“I am glad Maria is happy.” I said.
“Do you know I adore you, Jason Innes?” she said looking into my eyes.
“Do you love me or love the fact that my father is Emperor of Pellucidar?”
“I want to wear your bracelet,” she said boldly.
He face came close to mine and our lips touched in a light kiss that grew as we embraced. Before we could fully enjoy our kiss, we were halted by a loud cry.
“Thipdars! They come!” we looked and a sailor was pointing up into the sky where two of the winged creatures were diving on the boat. Maja jumped from my arms to a small rail gun, Thipdars were a curse to fishing boats I later learned, as the big creatures tried to seal a meal from the nets. She wheeled a pivoted small cannon set in the railing.
“A match!” she yelled to me, the fisherman who was speaking with us ran down the companionway to the galley to get one. She didn't know I had something better -- a lighter. I ran to her, opened the metal lid and worked the wheel that rubbed a small flint, causing a flame.
“Jason, you are full of wonders,” Maja said as she aimed the weapon at the descending Thipdar. Taking the lighter, she applied the flame to the touch hole just as it reached the deck. There was an explosion and the monster was struck full in the chest, sending it into the sea. Its fellow followed it into the water, to feast upon the flesh of its fallen comrade.
The crew bust into clapping at Maja's skills. To which Maja bowed to them. Captain Lugo brought out the good vintage of wine and a celebration was held.
“That was good shooting,” I said.
She was examine my lighter. She managed to light it by herself. “This is a real wonder, You call it a lighter?”
“It was created by Abner Perry, they are common in the Empire now.”
“May I keep this?” She asked. I nodded my head.
Later Maja would dance for the crew, as three men played lutes, and flutes, much to the amusement for the crew of the Lugger. The Swordfish left the narrow waterway and into the waters of the Empire -- the Sojar Az. The luggar made her way to a chain of Islands inhabited by unfriendly natives, but didn't stop or land, but kept going.
It took a sleep to reach the Amoroc Islands and it was here that two small ships, well armed with cannon, and having triangular sails. They flew the Red, White and Blue flag of the Empire. Captain Rey came on deck and with Lugo, raised a large white flag. One of the two ships came close and hailed us.
“Who sails the Sojar Az?” came the cry.
“It is Jason Innes,” I called back, “Sailing home to Sari -- we sail under a flag of truce!”
“Jason!” came the cry, “We thought you were lost. I will send our fastest gunboat to let them know you live and escort you into the capital.”
One of the two boats put on more canvas and made speed through the islands.
“I knew we would be well received.” smiled Maja. “I have longed to see the Empire and Sari, we have heard much of it in the Brotherhood.”
“I had hoped to arrive in a grand galleon but a fishing lugger will do nicely,” I added.
It wasn't long before we rounded the point and followed the smaller boat as she charted our course along the cliffs, with the mountains of the clouds high above us. Then down a natural waterway to the harbor. Now other ships were coming out to greet us ---many waving a greeting to me.
“Where are the forts?” asked Maja. “I see no walls around your city?”
“We do not need them,” I answered her. “If we were not under a flag of truce the way would have been blocked by the Imperial Fleet. The cliffs we passed would have bristled with cannon.”
There were flags flying at the port as well, as we made our way into the harbor. Flags were waved and we were directed to a single stone dock. The sails came down, as the crew watched nervous about what to expect. Rey and Maria joined Maja and I.
Now the city was in full view back from the sea, the stone building dominated the skyline, I could made out the huge palace where I grew up. Ropes were case out and men on the land pulled the Swordfish in to the dock, and a gangplank was rolled out.
Then my eyes fell upon old Abner Perry himself. He was waiting on the dock, a smile on his face.
I ran down the wooden gangplank and embraced him, I could see tears in his eyes.
“Abner,” I said, “tell me of mother?”
“She still lives,” he said. “I don't know how, but she still lives.”
“I have the medications,” I told him, slipping off the knapsack. “I hope they help her.”
“Thank you!” he said. “Was the journey hard, How was Ohio?”
“I never made it to the United States, I came up in Central America. On the return trip I came up in the lands of the Korsars. I wish to talk to father as soon as possible.”
The old man was looking through the contents of the bag, the medications were in waterproof bottles but my magazine on automobiles was reduced to wet paper.
“These will do nicely!” he said. “I must return to the palace, They are setting up a feast for you. I have to go...”
“I must introduce you to my friends, Maria, from the outer world, Captain Rey, the son of the Cid, Maja of the Korsars, and Captain Lugo of the Swordfish.”
“I need to ask you a question, noble sire?” asked Lugo with a big smile.
“What is it?” Perry said, impatient to return to the palace.
“Can I sell my cargo of fish?”
“It will be up to the harbor master, but I don't see why you can't? I really must go...”
At that he turned away and left the dock, quickly walking back to the palace. It wasn't long before a tall man came on board, he proved to be the harbor master. Not long after that the fish were brought out of the tanks, still alive, to be deposited into baskets -- and a sort of fish market emerged on the dock.
“I think we need to go to the palace!” I told my friends, “follow me.” I made my way up the main street, as people waved and greeted me. It was enough to make me blush. The people thought I was dead -- now my return was seen as something miraculous. Behind me followed Rey and Maria, at my side Maja. The captain of the Swordfish remained at the ship happily selling his cargo. Many followed us until a sort of parade ensued –with clapping and waving from the people.
“Who is the pretty lady?” ask one bystander pointing to Maja.
“I am to be his mate,” she answered him. Her answer caused me to blush.
I just smiled.
The guards at the place opened the doors for me, smiles on there faces.
“Good you have returned, Jason.” said one of the guards as we walked in. Both Rey and Maja were impressed with the huge building, grander than the Cid's palace in Esmeralda. Built by a grateful people –it was designed by Abner Perry into something he thought a palace should look like. There were tall pillars, marble floors, designs and works of art. We passed though the lobby and a servant offered us drinks and informed me that father was in the main room, where a council of tribal elders were meeting. I thanked him and walked into the meeting.
I didn't know if he would be angry but the smile on his face and his warm embrace dispelled on thoughts that he might object to our invading his meeting.
“Jason my son, I thought I had lost you.” he said, I could see tears in his eyes. “Abner tells me the drugs you had are helping your mother -- there is hope.”
“I didn't know if I would be in time,” I answered. “When we arrived in the lands of the Korsars, I almost lost all hope. It was their help that made my return possible.”
“And how much gold will this cost us?” he asked.
“I am Captain Rey,” the Korsar blurted. “I have come to offer a treaty of peace between the Korsar Brotherhood and the Empire of Pellucidar. I believe we should live in peace, and trade.”
“If it will stop the raids and warfare,” replied my Father. “Then I am all for it.”
“This is Rey, the son of the Cid,” I informed him. “With him is Maria, from San Mateo of the outer world, She is his mate.”
“Maria?” asked my father, “You took the trip on the Iron Mole to Pellucidar?”
“It was an accidental trip, I assure you,” she said with a sort of a bow.
“She was a teacher in her homeland, She speaks the secret language of the Korsars,” I added.
“Its old Spanish,” she informed us.
“And who is this beauty?” asked father indicating Maja. Now it was her turn to blush.
“This is Maja Rojas, Formerly the chief gunnery mate on my Galleon La Victoria,” explained Rey. “She is known for her dancing as well as her accuracy with firearms.”
I was worried she might blurt out that she was my mate again but this time she just smiled. My father looked at her and noticed she was looking at me. He just smiled.
“Abner is setting up a great feast for your return, he has told me your mother is responding well to the new medications.”
“I met Jason Gridley,” I said. “he sent many items that will be useful to the Empire, Books, and even a few examples.”
“Where are they?” ask my father. “Still on board the Iron Mole?”
“With a peace treaty, you can retrieve your curious drill ship,” added Rey.
“We may need to build a very large galleon to carry it back to Sari,” I informed him, “I am sure Abner will be helpful with the design of this ship.”
“Old Abner will love this assignment,” smiled my Father.
Everyone let out a gasp, all eyes were on a doorway. I saw my mother Diana the Beautiful, dressed in white, He hair now partly silver, standing, with Abner Perry helping her.
“Diana!” cried my father, “Are you sure you should leave your bed?”
“I had to see Jason,” she said, her voice thin and weak but the sparkle in her eye was as sharp as ever.
“She insisted,” explained Abner. Knowing how forceful my mother can be, I understood. She came to me and we embraced. Now there were tears in my eyes.
“I didn't think I would be in time.” I said. She didn't answer but looked over the colorfully dressed newcomers in the room.
“Korsars?” she asked.
“They helped me return home,” I explained. “The Iron Mole came up in the lands of the Korsars.”
“Abner assured me you would return in Sari.” she said with a smile.
“The Korsars are offering peace,” said my father.
Just then a young man ran into the room, he wore the simple uniform of Abner Perry's assistants.”
“The Telegraph,” he blurted out addressing, Abner and my father, “A message, a great Korsar fleet has been sighted off the capital! Maybe two hundred ships.”
“Do they fly the white flag?” asked Captain Rey.
“No, they fly the red flag and skull,” answered the boy
“What treachery is this?” asked my father.
“We must intercept them. Let me return to the Lugger, I will confer with my father and see what has transpired?” asked Rey.
“Yes, you sail out under a white flag,” said the Emperor. “We will assemble the Imperial Fleet to defend the capital.”
“I will go with him,” I said.
“No, I don't want to lose you.” countered my father. “I will need you to defend the city.”
“This is partly my fault,” I told him, “I must go and stop this battle before it starts.”
“Go son, If you think we can avoid a war, the better.” added my mother.
“I am sure we can get my father to see reason,” said Rey, “I'm going to return to the ship.”
“And I will join him,” announced Maria. “I should be with my mate.”
“I will join you Captain Rey,” I said as he started to leave.
“And I will come as well,” included Maja. This caused my mother to raise her eyebrows.
We left the palace and quickly made out way down to the docks. The crowds were gone but large cannons had appeared out of nowhere. I even saw a battery atop the stone palace. At the docks I could see warships now getting ready to set sail to defend the capital.
“Jason, I am impressed,” said Maja as we boarded the Lugger. The fish was gone and a smiling Captain Lugo joined us.
“We sold everything we had! For gold and silver as well as many barter items! This was a profitable voyage for the Swordfish.”
“Now we must set sail,” ordered Rey, “The Korsar Fleet is approaching, we must reach them and keep them from attacking Sari.”
In moments the fisher was cast off, rowed out and sails set. We could now see the vast Armada that was making her way to the city. In the center of the formation a huge golden Galleon. This I took to be the flagship.
“What flag shall we fly?” asked Lugo.
“The white flag of truce,” I told him. “But be ready to raise the red flag if they should fire upon us.”
“A wise move, my Mate.” added Maja. I was about to correct her as the large white flag went up.
“Head towards the Gaviota de Oro,” cried Rey. “I wish to talk to my father and see what lies Brujo spread.”
“She's the flagship,” whispered Maja, “80 guns, the most powerful ship in the Korsar fleet.”
The wind was good and we closed the distance the fleet in short order. I saw no Imperial ships, they were holding back to see how our mission might go.
“Who goes there?” came the yell from the flagship.
“Captain Rey, and Jason Innes,” came our reply. “I wish to speak with my father, El Cid!”
“You have escaped David Innes?” asked the man on the golden galleon.
“No, we were never captured.” came the answer from Rey. “May we come aboard?”
“A Jollyboat will be sent over,” came the cry from the big ship. We watched as a small boat was put over the side by a competent crew. Flags went up from the flagship.
“The signal reads to slow down, and wait,” translated Maja. “I only hope Brujo is aboard, I wish to have my revenge upon this dog.”
“Perhaps there is a new Cid?” I asked Rey, “Maybe its Brujo or his father?”
“I think not,” he answered. “They are not popular with the fleet.”
The small rowboat came closer to the fisher. I could see the Jolly boat was twice as big as the one we had been set adrift in -- carved with a birds head on the prow and with gold trimmings.
Rey went down the ladder and jumped on the boat, followed by Maria and myself, Maja followed me, a grim look on her face. I was glad the boat was large enough for us. The crew of ten, set to rowing and the small craft returned to the flagship.
“Let us see what they believe on the golden galleon,” whispered Rey to me.
“They believe you are dead,” added one of the crew. “I served with you on the Victoria, Captain Rey. They said you were attacked by an Empire warship and murdered while under a flag of truce.”
“Lies, who told these tales?” Maja blurted out.
“Captain Brujo and others on the Victoria.” said the Korsar.
“So its Captain Brujo, now?” added Rey with contempt. “He shouldn't command a Jolly boat.”
“When the truth comes out -- Captain Brujo will find himself in command of an Iron cage on Fort Point.” smiled the crewman. Who seemed to not like the treacherous Brujo.
At this point we reached the flagship, a rope was tossed down and we were escorted off the boat and up a ladder to the mail deck. Rey went first, I was right behind, the two women followed.
On the deck, the ruler was seated in a large thrown like chair, Rey saluted him. I noticed Brujo was beside the Cid.
“I am pleased to see you alive my son, and I am glad you have taken Jason Innes as a prisoner.”
“I come to denounce 'Captain' Brujo. He lead a mutiny on La Victoria. Cast me adrift with my mate Maria, Jason and Maja. Only by the grace of King Neptune did we survive and were rescued by the Fishing Lugger Swordfish. We were not attacked by the Empire, they honored the white flag. Jason came to show his good faith, he is not my prisoner, but my friend.”
“What of Maja?” asked the Cid.
“I am Jason's mate,” she announced, boldly.
“Jason shows wisdom,” smiled the Cid.
“Lies!” cried Brujo. “I saw you fall when the Empire warship came close. Its a trick to capture the fleet of the Brotherhood.” I could hear desperation in his voice.
“Mutiny is a terrible charge,” added the ruler. “Its death.”
“Someone give me a sword and let combat tell who is lying!” demanded Rey.
The Cid drew his own weapon and tossed it to his son, as Brujo drew his cutlass.
“Worry not, Rey is one of the best swordsmen in the Brotherhood,” whispered Maja. I could see concern on Maria's face as the two men faced each other. I could see, Brujo was taller but not as young as Rey. The former captain of the Victoria lunged and steel met steel in a clashing of blades that flashed in the noonday sun.
I could see Brujo was a skilled swordsman and fighting for his life, but I could also see Rey was the better man. Still, Brujo used his long reach to an advantage, driving the Captain back as a ring formed around the two dueling men. Maria was clutching her cross necklace and mumbling something, prayers to her gods, I believed. The powerful blows were sending Rey back toward the rails but his parry was skillful, and slowly, as he judged his opponent, he began to smile.
“You are off your game, Captain Brujo!” mocked Rey. “She how you like this!”
At that he sidestepped the other Korsars point and lunged in a move that sent the mutineer reeling back. The point almost disemboweled him. Now the tables had turned and Rey's blows set the other man on the defensive. I saw a smile on The Cid's face now as he watched the duel.
The clash of steel on steel rang on the deck of the flagship as the skill of the younger man proved the difference between the master and student. Any false step or move could change the outcome of the battle. Now the contest became more and more favoring Rey and time and again Brujo was forced on the defensive, now fighting for his life. More and more, Rey's sword worked it way though Brujo's net and cut him, until their was blood on the former First Mate's cloths. Now Rey was in control and the other man fighting out of desperation. Brujo tried to lunge in hopes of catching Rey off guard, but the attack rendered him vulnerable. Rey thrust and sent his thin blade into the other man's ribs!
A look of shock and surprise passed over Brujo's bearded face. He know he was about to die.
“There will be no peace!' shouted the wounded Korsar as he drew his pistol but, in a move that came as a surprise, he didn't aim the weapon at Rey but turned and aimed it at me! Before I could react, I saw the smoke and fire. He was aiming at my chest!
I saw a blur and a woman's voice cry “No!” Something leaped between me and Brujo, and took the bullet that was meant for me. Once hit, she fell to the deck. It was Maja!
I saw Rey withdraw his sword from Brujo, and with a powerful stroke, sever the man's head from his body, sending it rolling upon the deck.
I reached down at the fallen girl, blood on her vest. She was gasping for breath.
“Maja, why did you do this?” I asked.
“Because I love you, Jason.” she said. Her colorful vest now going red with blood and wet with another liquid.
I held her as she breathed in labored gasps.
“I love you too, Maja.” I told her.
“Let me be buried beside you as your mate,” she asked. “That is all I ask.”
“You are my Mate.” I whispered. Maria was next to me now.
The teacher looked over the terrible wound. I saw blood and as the garments were parted I saw the black and blue of a bruise, some blood, but mostly the bent remains of my lighter. The lead ball had been deflected by the thing, saving her life.
“You will live, Maja.” informed Maria. “The bullet was deflected.”
“My lighter saved you,” I said picking up the bent metal light case. Fluid was flowing from it.
“The wonderful Lighter,” she said holding me close.
“The bullet may have broken some ribs,” commented Maria, “But you will live.” When she said this the crew of the galleon let out a cheer.
“Father, lower the red flag and fly the flag of truce,” asked Rey, let the flagship dock at Sari and meet with David Innes. In peace, not war.”
Orders were given by the Cid, a cloud of flags were hosted and the Golden Galleon set up the white flag and sailed on while the rest of the Korsar fleet dropped anchor and waited in place.
“I hope your right about this, son.” confided the ruler of the Korsar Brotherhood.
“He's right, sire,” I added. “My father wants nothing more than peace.”
The great ship sailed up and though at least one hundred warship now filled the harbor, guns at ready, not one hostile act was seen. The galleon docked where the Luggar had been before. She was tied up and the gangplank extended. I saw a large group coming down to the vessel, they were flying the Red, White and Blue of the Empire. I saw My father in the group, now wearing a sort of uniform designed by Abner Perry as something Emperors should wear.
Rey and the Cid went down first and the two leaders clasp hands. I remained on the ship with Maja, holding her. Maria, having much experience in such things cleaned her wound and bandaged her ribs with rags the sailors on the ship provided. In time she sat up, she was white as a sheet.
I picked her up and carried her down the gangplank, following in the wake of the royal party as they made their was up the cobblestone street to the palace. I saw the great building was filled with flags and decorations at every window. Maja was strangely silent, he arms around my neck. When I looked at her she was smiling. I took her to my rooms and gently placed her on my bed. Mother came into the room.
“What happened?” she asked. “I heard their was a duel on the Korsar ship?”
“Yes, mother,” I responded. Maja was wounded when a man tried to shoot me. She took the bullet that was meant for me. A lighter deflected the bullet but she broke some ribs and lost some blood.”
“Why did she do that?” Mother asked.
“She is my mate.” I answered.
“I understand now,” she then turned and left the room. I didn't know if she was angry or just surprised by my announcement. She return in a moment.
“Jason, I have heard that among the Korsar people they have a custom to wear a bracelet when mated,” at that she held up a silver bracelet marked with the word 'Jason' and handed it to me. “Your father presented me with this when you were born. I want you to have it.” She gave me the bauble.
“Thank you Mother,” I answered her. “You will find Maja a most amazing woman.”
“I'm sure I will.”
At that she left the room and I presented the gift to Maja who was in tears as I placed it upon her wrist.
There was a great feast and a treaty of peace was signed between the Cid and my Father. Trade was established and a pact of mutual defense was worked out. The Korsar fleet came and spent time in the capital. Abner Perry elected to go with the Cid and in Esmeralda construct a large barge to carry the Iron Mole back home with all of its books and items. But, I wasn't part of all this as I spent time with Maja, only attending whose events that I had too. We both said our good byes to Rey and Maria, and they vowed to return to Sari in the future. In time The Cid, Maria and Rey left with fleet of ships along with old Abner Perry . I settled into the palace and took up the duties I had left behind. In my free time I introduced Maja to Sari and the life in the Empire. She made many friends and I even noticed some of the women in the capital wearing bracelets, as Korsar women do, in emulation of Maja. I found this was the happiest time in my life. My mother made a full recovery and I vowed to help Perry build an automobile when he returned with the Iron Mole. I wished to be the first person to drive a car in Pellucidar -- and Maja vowed to be the second.
A NOVEL IN 9 CHAPTERS
|CH. 1||CH. 2||CH. 3||CH. 4||CH. 5||CH. 6||CH. 7||CH. 8||CH. 9|
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