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Darkfire Stargazer
Song of the Savage - Chapter Seven: Expedition into the Unknown

His eyes clouded by hot tears of anger and frustration, Morgan clenched his jaw. Sargeant Levair's blood flowed over the white sand, staining its purity with the treachery that lurked within the bamboo forest. The corsair captain's voice was gruff with his rage. "Brutus, prepare the crew for land travel. Scaplax, pick the strongest fighters you can find and keep them here. Make sure Talongaze stays on alert, both seaward and landward. I'm entrusting you with my ship.." Scaplax was silent a moment in surprise, then threw a salute and quickly went off to gather beasts to guard the ship. Brutus remained a moment longer, his slightly pudgy face contorted with apparent confusion. "Cap'n, we're goin' in there? You saw what 'appened to Levair.. 'Ave ye gone mad?" Morgan's eyes remained upon the carcass of the pine martin Sargeant, stiff with his seething anger. "Brutus, we'll die if we don't get water. I'd rather face this enemy we have a chance of beating than run away and die from the enemy we cannot fight. Either we face these guerillas, or we face thirst. Dart shooting jungle beasts can be killed, dehydration cannot unless we get water, and this may be our only chance to get any!" With a sigh, Brutus complied and went off to make the announcement to the crews. Just after his departure, Scaplax returned, expression solemn. "I have gathered enough guardians as the ship's supplies can support, Captain. Ah, sir, I have an idea as well.. If you plan to face the dangers within that jungle, perhaps the galley slaves can be of use. Keep them in front and on the outsides of the force, and if there is an attack, you will not lose valuable crewbeasts initially. Surely even the most crazed villan amongst those galley slaves would not be insane enough to lash out at his captors in such a situation." By this time, Morgan had calmed a little and managed to pry his eyes from Levair's corpse, which was beginning to grow bloated in the sun. He looked his Lieutenant over a moment without a word, then nodded as if impressed. "A wise suggestion, Scaplax. I will see to it that the oar pulling wavescum are set out front. You should have enough ale to keep your group strong for a good few days, but with the season's luck you won't need that much. One other thing, Lieutenant.. Take good care of the Sayladar. She's my life, and she's the lives of every crewbeast." The fox smiled slightly, throwing another sincere salute. "You can count on me, Captain!"
* * * * * *
Some time later, Morgan stood at the center of his amassed crew upon the beach. The mouse corsair gazed out over the rather large group, then drew his saber without a word. Morgan dipped the tip of the blade into a sticky pool of Sargeant Levair's blood, watching the thick fluid run down the length of his steel. Shaking his head, Morgan pointed with the bloody blade first to Levair, then to the jungle. In complete silence, the troupe of well armed corsairs begain their exodus from the beach into the thick and foreboding jungle ahead. From the deckrail of the Sayladar, Lieutenant Scaplax shook his head with a sigh. He turned his head to glance at Sandstar the vixen, who stood just behind him. "I pray we see them again soon.."
* * * * * *
The corsair group had been trudging along for a brief time, long enough to get the mass of beasts into the thick of the jungle. Visibility was limited, the bamboo was so tall and dense that it let in hardly any sunlight. The mutual feeling was that of tense anxiety, the whole mass of creatures seemed to whirl about on their heels at every rustle or sound. As they tread deeper into the strange jungle, the frontline suddenly seemed to freeze in their tracks, soon all were motionless, most confused as to why. The gathering of creatures at the head of the group were almost all galley slaves, captured enemy corsairs enslaved to power the ship. Their dull, flat eyes were wide with fear, gazing ahead at group of large ferns, which were rustling unusually. From the darkness beyond, a set of eerily glowing lights shone. It soon became apparent that the lights were really eyes, shining with terrifying brightness. A gruff, snarling voice eminated from the ferns. "Go.. This land OURS!" As the rough words were spoken, the foliage all around began to shake and rustle.. (To be continued..)