The Port of Peril - Otis Adelbert Kline - ebook

The Port of Peril ebook

Otis Adelbert Kline

0,0

Opis

When Vernia, empress of Reabon, mightiest land of all Venus, was kidnapped by the strange marauders of the sea and was taken to their hidden port, it presented the Earthman, Robert Grandon, with his greatest challenge. Grandon goes on a quest to save her, a quest that will put him on challenges, and against enemies beyond everything he had came across before. And out of this comes a tale of action in which event follows event at unparalleled speed, and always against a background of the most fantastic creatures and horrible men. „The Port of Peril”, Otis Adelbert Kline’s concluding novel of Venusian adventure, amply demonstrates his high skill with fast-action science-fiction. It continues the fantastic adventures of Robert Grandon as he encounters the Huitsenni, a weird, buccaneering race.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS
czytnikach certyfikowanych
przez Legimi
czytnikach Kindle™
(dla wybranych pakietów)
Windows
10
Windows
Phone

Liczba stron: 308

Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostepny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS



Contents

1. THE THEFT OF VERNIA

2. GRANDON PURSUES

3. THE CUNNING OF SAN THOY

4. A TREACHEROUS SHOAL

5. THE TOAD PEOPLE

6. THE DECEPTIVE LIGHT

7. HUMAN SACRIFICE

8. THE WRATH OF THE SERPENT

9. THE SECRET GATE

10. THE PORT OF PERIL

11. THE SEA RATS

12. IN THE SERAGLIO

13. GRANDON MEETS THE ROGO

14. KANTAR’S BLUNDER

15. BEASTS OF THE ANTARCTIC

16. ZINLO OF OLBA

17. THE DEATH SENTENCE

18. THE ALLIES ATTACK

19. THE DUEL

20. RETRIBUTION AND REWARD

1. THE THEFT OF VERNIA

Perhaps the furniture and decorations of the personal apartment of Robert Grandon would have appeared bizarre to earthly eyes. Its paneled walls were hung with strange weapons and still stranger trophies of the battlefield and chase–prized treasures of a soldier and a hunter. Skins of marmelots, fiercest cats of the Zorovian fern forests, and tremendous bear-like monsters known as ramphs, magnificent specimens all, were flung on the floor. Cloud- filtered sunlight entered through two immense windows that reached from floor to ceiling, opening on a private balcony which overlooked the palace gardens.

A marmelot, carved from red wood and supporting a round top of polished crystal formed a table in the center of the room. Around it, in chairs carved in the representation of kneeling giants holding scarlet cushions which formed both seats and backs, were four men.

“The power of the Huitsen must be broken, and broken forever,” cried Aardven, brawny, bull-necked ruler of Adonijar. And he banged his huge fist on the table for emphasis, causing the kova cups to dance and rattle.

Robert Grandon, former Chicago clubman who had fought his way to the throne of Reabon, mightiest empire of Venus, grimly nodded his assent, as did his two other guests, Ad, ruler of Tyrhana, and Zinlo, ruler of Olba. For the sake of privacy and comfort, he had dispensed with the rigid formality of the throne room, and received them in his own drawing room.

Ad of Tyrhana stroked his square-cut, jet black beard meditatively. Then he turned to Grandon. I fear we have disturbed you at a most inopportune time. A man about to start on a honeymoon should not be annoyed with affairs of state. It was only after we learned of the latest outrage perpetrated by the yellow pirates, that Aardvan and I, who were awaiting Zinlo’s return to Olba, decided to hurry here in one of his swift airships.

“When he heard that one of my ships of war, crippled by a storm and half sinking, was set upon by these yellow fiends, part of its crew massacred and the rest carried off prisoners, and my daughter Narine taken to I know not what fate, we felt that something must be done, and done quickly.”

“And I heartily agree with you,” said Grandon. “The imperial navy of Reabon is at your disposal. Do you have any plan of action to suggest?”

“I felt sure you would come in with us,” said Ad, “especially after my talk with Zinlo this morning. As I have intimated previously, we must make our plans in secret, and carry them out as unobtrusively as possible. The Huitsenni have spies everywhere. They have the treasure to hire the vile traitors among our people who will sell their honor for personal gains, but because of their peculiar physical characteristics they can do no eavesdropping among us themselves.”.

“We should have two main objectives: to sink or capture every pirate ship that sails the seas of Zorovia, and to find and take the secret port of Huitsen. It is a port of missing ships and treasure, of slaves who were once citizens of our own and other lands, a port of peril to every man, woman, and child on this planet.”

“Have you any idea where to look for this hidden port?” asked Grandon.

“We have no definite knowledge of its location, but the belief that it lies to the south has arisen from the fact that pirate fleets, leaving a scene of pillage, have almost invariably been observed to sail southward.”

“I believe my flyers can locate it,” said Zinlo, toying with his kova cup.

“It’s a big world,” boomed the gruff Aardvan, “and it will take a deal of flying, sailing, and marching to explore it all.”

“Perhaps Mernerum will help us,” suggested Ad.

“I take it,” replied Grandon, “that you are unaware of the strained, or rather severed relations between Mernerum and Reabon. This morning I ordered diplomatic relations severed with Zanaloth of Mernerum, because of his affront to my wife when she passed through his dominions some time ago.”

“We can do well enough without that dissolute, old rake,” said Zinlo. “But we’re keeping you from that honeymoon trip, Grandon. I understand that your expedition was ready to march when Ad and Aardvan arrived.”

“We’ll give it up,” Grandon assured them. “I’m sure Vernia won’t mind for such, a worthy cause.”

“See here,” Ad protested. We don’t want any such sacrifice. Allow us to take a few of your ships for the present, and perhaps some warriors and munitions in case a landing party is required. Go on your honeymoon. Later, when we’ve discovered the port of peril, we’ll notify you, and let you in at the kill.”

“But your daughter has been stolen. Every man on this planet, worthy of the name, should be willing to assist in the search.”

Ad sighed deeply, musingly. “Alas,” he replied, “I fear all search for her will be vain. She has been gone for so long now that I can only hope to avenge her. But, of course, I, her father, shall continue to search.” He arose, and continued: “My friends and allies, we have imposed long enough on this patient, young bridegroom. I’m sure you will all agree with me when I say that we don’t want his help until after the honeymoon. Let him lend us a few ships and men now, and we’ll call on him later.”

“Those are precisely my sentiments,” roared the deep-voiced Aardvan, also rising.

“And mine,” echoed Zinlo. “And so, Grandon, we’ll go down and join the group outside that’s waiting to see you off. By the way, where are you bound?”

“It was a toss-up whether to go to the wild mountain fastness of Uxpo, or enjoy the bathing, fishing, and boating of the Azpok coast. But the seashore won, and we chose a camping-place on a wild and unfrequented part of the coast.”

“Splendid! We’ll see you outside.”

A half-hour later, speeded by an immense multitude that had lined the streets of Reabon to see them off, Grandon and his young bride, Vernia, Princess of Reabon, stepped into the waiting, one-wheeled motor vehicle, and with their guard of Fighting Traveks, left for the coast.

In the imperial tent of scarlet silk, decked with cloth-of-gold insignia and edged with golden fringe, Grandon opened his eyes as the first faint dawnlight appeared, for he had planned an early morning fishing-trip. He arose and dressed silently, so as not to disturb the slumber of his bride, but she heard the slight clank of his sword as he was about to step through the doorway, and wakened.

“Bob.”

He turned as she softly pronounced the name by which he had been known to his friends on Earth, the name he had taught her to call him and which he loved to hear her say with her quaint, Reabonian accent.

With three steps he was at her bedside. She smiled up at him the pink and white oval of her face framed in the wealth of golden ringlets that all but concealed her silken pillow. Then she held up both arms.

“Would you leave without kissing me good-bye?” she asked reproachfully.

Contritely, he knelt beside the bed and took her in his arms.

“I did not wish to disturb your morning sleep my dear,” he said, and added: “I was only going out for a little while–to have a try at a killer-norgal. I’m told they bite best at daybreak.”

She took his face between her palms, drew it down to hers, and their lips met.

“Never leave me,” she said, “without first kissing me good-bye. Who knows how long any separation may be? Even though we may expect to be parted for but a few moments, the hand of Providence may intervene and separate us for a long time–perhaps for eternity.”

He buried his face in the soft curve of her neck as she ran her fingers through his black curls. Nor did he dream, as he held her thus for a few moments, how soon the dire prophecy in her words was to be fulfilled.

“Ill be back in a jiffy,” he said, as he stood erect a few moments later.

She watched him, love and pride in her eyes, as he strode through the door. Handsome, strong, and gentle, he was an emperor–every inch of him.

Throwing a shimmering wrap of scarlet material around her, she went to the door of her tent to watch him depart. Two guards saluted stiffly as she appeared. They were members of a company of Grandon’s crack troops, the Fighting Traveks from Uxpo. Each was armed with a tork, a rapid fire weapon that shot needle-like glass projectiles, a scarbo a cutting and thrusting weapon with a basket hilt and a blade curved like that of a scimitar, and a long-bladed spear.

Vernia watched him for a few moments as he stood beside his small fishing- boat in earnest conversation with Huba, mojak or captain of the company of Traveks who were guarding the camp. Six men stood on each side of the little craft, holding it’s nose into the breakers. In the prow of the boat was Kantar the Gunner, carefully shielding his mattork–a weapon resembling a tork, but of considerably heavier caliber and longer range, and mounted on a tripod –from the spray that was breaking over the bow, by holding a waterproof silk cover over it.

The rest of the crew consisted of six oarsmen, a man who had charge of the sail, and another who held the tiller.

Having finished his conversation with Huba, Grandon leaped into the craft and the twelve men who were standing in the water launched her. When they reached water up to their necks, they let go, and the rowers plied their oars vigorously. Presently the sail went up, and the little boat tacked into the breeze which was just lively enough to stir the fog that hung low over the surface of the Azpok.

The princess watched the boat until the mists had swallowed it up, then turned and re-entered her tent. But scarcely, it seemed, had she crept once more beneath her warm covers, and closed her eyes in sleep, before there sounded outside the crack of a mattork, the shouts of men, and the clank of weapons, followed by a fusillade of shots that told her the camp was being attacked by a considerable body of armed men.

Jumping out of bed, Vernia called to the guard outside.

“What is it?” she asked. “What has happened?”

“Pirates, Your Majesty!” replied the guard excitedly. “We are attacked by the raiders of the coast.”

She dressed as swiftly as possible, buckling the jeweled belt which held her small tork and scarbo around her slender waist. Meanwhile, the sounds of fighting drew closer and closer to the scarlet tent.

As soon as she was dressed, Vernia drew her scarbo and stepped fearlessly from the tent. Descended from a thousand fighting Torrogos, or Emperors, of Reabon, she was fully as brave as her mighty husband, even though she lacked his strength and skill in swordsmanship. With flashing eyes she surveyed the scene before her. Tugging at their anchors, less than a quarter of a mile from land, were a score of vessels which she instantly recognized from pictures she had seen as the ships of the dreaded yellow pirates, the scourge of the Azpok Ocean. Their peculiar sails branching out on either side of the mast like the wings of bats instantly identified them. And coming rapidly shoreward were no less than fifty boats loaded with armed men, each mounting a mattork in the bow. But this was not all, for converging on the camp from both sides and the rear was an immense horde of yelling, shooting pirates. Already, more than a third of the Fighting Traveks had fallen, and the tork and mattork fire from all directions was rapidly decimating the ranks of those who remained.

A dozen of the boats were sent down by Huba’s mattork gunners before the landing-party reached the shore. As their prows grounded, the remaining pirates leaped out and charged the camp, and it was the signal for a general advance from all directions.

The camp had been guarded by two hundred men, but by the time of the charge, a scant forty remained. They formed a hollow square around the Princess, and met the shock of the attack with a resistance worthy of the traditions of the Fighting Traveks, though it was obvious from the beginning that there could be but one outcome.

In the hand-to-hand fighting that followed there was no report of tork or mattork–only the clash of blades, the war-cries of the fighters, the groans of the wounded, and the shrieks of the dying. Vernia and Huba fought bravely with the others, time and again leaping into the gaps left by fallen men until the line could be closed. But they were waging a hopeless fight, and presently only the Princess and the mojak were left, fighting back to back. The latter, battling three adversaries at once, was suddenly cut down by a blow from one of the pirates, and Vernia was left alone. When a man leaped in from behind, pinioning her arms, her weapons were quickly taken from her.

The looting of the camp was already in progress as she was dragged kicking and struggling, into one of the pirate boats. Everything in the camp was seized in the way of booty except the bodies of the fallen Traveks, and even these were stripped of their clothing, weapons, and accouterments. The pirates also took with them all of their own dead and wounded.

Rowed to the largest of the looters’ vessels, Vernia was carried aboard and taken before an officer whose insignia proclaimed him romojak, or commander, of the fleet. Like most of the members of his race, he was short, scarcely taller than the Princess herself, but with an exceptionally long body and arms. His round, yellow face was seamed and wrinkled, and his equally round eyes, wide open and staring, were without irises. The pupils were perpendicular slits that opened and closed like those of felines. His short nose resembled the tip of a pig’s snout, and there were no teeth in the chinless mouth beneath it, from the corners of which drooled saliva reddened by the juice of the kerra, the spores of a narcotic, fungoid growth chewed almost incessantly by the yellow pirates. Nor was there a sign of beard, eyebrows, or hair on the face or head, the skin of his body being covered with a greasy exudation, evidently nature’s protection for these totally hairless people. Judged by the standards of his hairless, toothless race, he was probably not unhandsome. But to Vernia, facing him as his prisoner, he was a monstrosity.

“I presume you are the Torroga of Reabon,” he said in Patoa, with the peculiar pronunciation that a lack of teeth induces.

“You have already presumed too much,” replied Vernia, spiritedly. “For this day’s work, I can promise you the annihilation of the Yellow Pirates.”

The gums of the romojak showed in a toothless grin. He expectorated a red stream of kerra juice, then turned to a short, bow-legged, pot-bellied mojak who stood beside him.

“Do you hear that, San Thoy?” he mouthed sneeringly. “I, Thid Yet, Romojak of the navies of Huitsen, have presumed too much!”

The mojak duplicated his kerra-stained grin.

“The Huitsenni never presume too much,” he replied.

“Well said, San Thoy,” approved the romojak. Then he addressed Vernia once more. “Your Majesty, the Huitsenni presume often, but never too much. Have they ever been beaten in battle? Has one of them ever been led to your court, a prisoner? Have their cities ever been found by pursuing battle fleets? Your Majesty is aware that history can answer but one word to these questions, and that word is: `No’.”

“There is only one reason why it must be so answered,” replied Vernia. “Cowardice. You never attack unless your overwhelming numbers assure you of victory. For this reason you never lose battles or prisoners. Your cities have not been found because you are adepts at flight from an enemy. In this there is nothing of which to be proud.”

“Your Majesty calls it `cowardice’,” said Thid Yet, “but we of the Huitsenni have a better word. We call it `cleverness’. However, I am not here to bandy words with you, nor dispute terms. You are my prisoner, captured not for myself, but for another. If you are reasonably docile and do not attempt to escape, you will be treated with gentleness and courtesy. If not– whatever misfortune befalls will be upon your own head.” He turned to the greasy, pot-bellied mojak beside him. “Take her to her cabin, San Thoy.”

2. GRANDON PURSUES

Far out into the morning mists that shrouded the surface of the blue-gray Azpok, Grandon sailed in search of the largest and most ferocious of all Zorovian game fish–the killer-norgal. Fishing for the norgal was royal sport indeed, and fraught with great danger to the fisherman. Hunting a full- grown man-eating tiger with a lariat could be no more dangerous, and as often as not, the man who lacked skill fell a prey to the fish.

Grandon had never seen a killer-norgal, and so when he felt a sharp tug at his trolling-line, and a magnificent specimen broke water, leaping high in the air and shaking its head to dislodge the hook, he had one of the greatest thrills that had ever come to him, intrepid adventurer though he was. Its body, covered with glistening blue scales and bristling with sharp spines, was about twenty-five feet in length. Its enormous jaws, when distended, revealed row upon row of sharp, back-curved teeth in a maw large enough to take in a dozen men at a single snap.

Kantar the Gunner jerked the oily cover from his mattork, but before be could bring it to bear on the huge fish, it dived out of sight.

Grandon kept a taut line on his quarry while the crew skillfully maneuvered the little craft to follow its eccentric and exceedingly swift motions as it dragged the boat farther and farther out to sea. After more than an hour of this, the struggles of the monster became slower, indicating that it was beginning to tire. During this time, it did not once expose itself to the deadly aim of the watchful Kantar.

Suddenly, without warning, the line slackened, and although Grandon reeled in with all his might, he was unable to pull it taut. He thought at first that the fish had become unhooked, but the flash of a dorsal fin, for a moment visible above the waves and coming swiftly towards the boat, showed him the true situation. Kantar’s mattork spoke, and the fin disappeared, but it was not evident whether he had registered a hit.

One of the older sailors, an experienced norgal fisherman, said:

“Beware, Majesty. The killer is about to strike.”

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.