Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Darkfire Stargazer
Song of the Savage - Chapter Three: Of Challenges and Treason

Twice had the sun risen and fallen, and it arose the third day to greet the uneasy conspirators huddled around the foward deck rail. Bluddgutt appeared surlier than usual, Fishtooth taciturn to an extreme point, and Krutaine was clearly fidgeting more than he regularly did. The mutineers were stressed, and it was obvious from their behavior. In his bunk, Scaplax allowed himself a slow smile. He could simply picture the three scuttling about in their frantic way, planning to execute their futile takeover. The fox lieutenant mulled over the Captain's decision dealing with the traitors. Slowly he shook his head and rose from his bunk. Scaplax would have loved to skin that fat rat Bluddgutt alive. A short time later the crew of the Sayladar was up and about, going about their daily chores. All except, of course, the jittery three searats. Bluddgutt had conviniently chosen the day he was not overseeing the galley slaves, which was a rare occasion. The bullying rat usually hated to be away from the galley, harassing the exhausted vermin prisoners working the oars. Most Corsair captains used enslaved goodbeasts to power their ships, showing their hatred of the common Mossflower inhabitants. However, Morgan saw the clear advantage to fueling his craft with other corsairs, captured in combat; they were by far stronger, had more stamina, and could be easily recruited if they showed good behavior. The Sayladar could always use a few more willing paws on deck. Heavy seaboots tapped out a thoughtful rhythm on the planks of the aft deck, the wood worn smooth by the Captain's frequent wanderings upon it. Morgan's tail flicked apprehensively back and forth, his dark eyes half- closed in thought. One tough, brown paw rested upon the deckrail, the other placed carefully upon the hilt of his trusted saber. Soon he could hear three pairs of pawsteps behind him, he turned around slowly and calmly. The sight that greeted him was Bluddgutt and his cronies, as predicted, but out of breath and haggard looking. Bluddgutt had his slightly rusting cutlass drawn, his figure puffed up in a show of attempted bravado. His voice eminated as a bellow, clearly using a show of force and superficial bravery to cover for his inner anxiety. "Ahoy there! You allus said anybeast wantin' control of this 'ere ship could face ye in a duel! Well then I challenge yer for title o' Cap'n!" Morgan smiled calmly at Bluddgutt, who had great difficulty holding back his surprise at the captain's cool composure. The mouse corsair drew his saber, holding it out to his adversary and bowing slightly. "I accept your challenge, Bluddgutt. Have your companions stand back." Bluddgutt wasn't about to have Fishtooth or Krutaine move a whisker, all the more guarantee his plan would succeed. But Morgan had forseen this, and had come prepared: from behind the three conspirators strode Brutus and Lieutenant Scaplax, armed and looking stern. Bluddgutt took one glance at the sinewy fox and enormous black rat, and began to sweat. He waved Fishtooth and Krutaine back, ignoring their panicked expressions. The captain began to circle his opponent, signifying the beginning of the duel. The resounding clash of blade upon blade began to draw crewbeasts, curious to watch the fight. The observing crew began to form a tight circle around the combatants, Morgan smiling cooly at Bluddgutt, who was sweating outwardly and inwardly miserable. Thrice more the captain's saber and the mutineer's cutlass collided, each time sending the searat stumbling backwards a few paces. Then Bluddgutt lost his temper. "This is my ship now, Mouse!" With a roar he charged forward, and at the same time so did Krutaine and Fishtooth, taking their leader's frustrated cry for the signal they had been waiting for. Krutaine rushed in, poisoned knife drawn, with Fishtooth stumbling along behind him in panic. From the opposite direction came Bluddgutt, dashing with his cutlass drawn to swipe at Morgan. The Corsair Captain was caught in the middle, and quickly reacted. He ducked low and swung high with his saber, lashing out wide with the razor keen blade. It was over in an instant, the lives of all three conspirators snuffed out like the fragile flame of the candle whose light they plotted in. Krutaine was unable to stop his mad dash when he saw Morgan duck, and had collided with Bluddgutt, stabbing the pudgy bully in the throat with the poisoned dagger, while being skewered upon the rusted cutlass. Morgan's saber had dealt with Fishtooth, who had gotten in the way of it's sweep, and the rat had subsequently lost his head. Morgan paused a moment, then rose from his crouched position to shake his head as he looked over the three carcasses. Scaplax and Brutus rushed to his side, also glancing at the dead rats. The fox Lieutenant was the first to speak. "Shall I get some old sails and stones to bury them with, Captain?" Morgan shook his head. "A beast noble and brave enough to face me in combat for the title of Captain would deserve such a burial at sea. But conspiring cowards deserve only death and the cold seas. Throw them to the fishes as they are, Lieutenant. Thank you. Brutus, accompany me.." The corsair captain made his way through the crowd of seabeasts who had accumulated to watch the duel, and who were now murmuring in amazement at the sight they had seen. (To be Continued..)