Chapter 14

Two weeks later, they had sailed up the Irata River and into Irata Lake, and were almost to the fortress of Irata. Various attacks had occurred along the way, but they were all easily repulsed. As they sailed closer to the fortress, Turos stood in the bow of his ship and looked anxiously at the massive structure of blackened rock looming before them. Wet Zet stood beside him. “This place has an aura of evil about it,” he said.

“It looks more impressive than it really is,” Wet Zet reassured. “The throne room of the fortress is actually open to the lake, so all we need to do is reach the stone dock, disembark, and rush forward to victory.”

“What sort of defenses would there be?” Turos asked.

“There may be a few other ships against us, and there’s also the Overlord’s army if they aren’t distracted by the Olo,” Wet Zet answered. “I think we should slow down and let the others line up to either side of us for the attack.”

Turos nodded. “Make it happen, and signal the other ships so they know what to do.” He reached down and began to unfasten the board covering the name painted on the hull of the ship. “They’ve seen my flag, but now it’s time to put a definite name to things and remove any doubt of my identity.”

Wet Zet nodded as he stepped away and gave orders to the rest of the crew. At the stern, one of the crew began to send the signals to the rest of the ships following them. The oars were put in place and the crew began to slow the ship so the others could move into position. Wet Zet soon announced that the small fleet was ready.

Turos looked at the ships to either side. The captains were waiting for his signal. He lifted his spear into the air and gave his battle cry. “TUROS THE MIGHTY!”

The ships began to move forward toward the fortress. A strong wind filled their sails. “I should get to my place in the rigging,” Wet Zet said.

Turos grabbed Wet Zet’s arm as he started to step away. “Stay with the ship,” he ordered. “Guard Jo’Ana as you would guard me.”

“I gave her a dagger coated with malinoa poison,” Wet Zet said, “but as long as I am standing, I will keep a watch that no one approaches your quarters.”

“Thank you,” Turos said. “I will have to go ashore and lead this battle, so I cannot protect her myself.”

Minutes later, they were close enough to their destination to see the enemy defenses. Everyone’s eyes widened in fear as they noticed the massive numbers of soldiers waiting for them on the docks. “I thought you said the Olo were making a counterattack,” Wet Zet called down from the rigging. “Either they’ve forgotten to attack, or they’ve been wiped out!”

“Or maybe the Overlord has a larger army than we expected,” Turos shouted back.

He turned around and looked at his crew. “Stow the oars and ready your weapons. The Lunari would never send us into an impossible battle.” Turos picked up a shield and slung it over his shoulder to protect his back. He held up his spear and pointed it at the enemy. “Flee before me, cowards of Irata,” he shouted at the enemy.

Several arrows flew through the air, but skittered harmlessly when they hit the deck without striking anyone. Shouts and battle cries filled the air as the ships neared the docks. The battle was beginning. More arrows flew through the air in both directions. Without any rowers to slow the ship, the timbers groaned and cracked as it scraped to a stop against the stone dock. The enemy extended boarding ramps onto the ship and surged forward. Turos stepped back as the enemy attacked. He expertly threw his spear into some enemy soldier on the dock and pulled out his sword. Steel flashed and clanged as the men fought with desperation.

Despite their best efforts, Turos and his crew were being pushed back, and he soon found himself with his back to the mast. An unexpected stream of liquid came down on an enemy soldier, who then looked up, giving Turos enough time to plunge his sword through the man’s torso. With the enemy soldier dead, Turos took the time to look up. He saw Wet Zet standing in the rigging, completely nude from the waist down. Turos suddenly understood how Wet Zet got his name when the man urinated on another of the enemy soldiers on the deck below him. The enemy soldier looked up, giving another crewmember a chance to kill him.

“Watch your hips,” Turos shouted to Wet Zet. “They make quite a target!”

Wet Zet laughed as he distracted another enemy soldier with his antics. “Do your part and I’ll do mine. I don’t believe in a fair fight.”

Turos returned his attention to the mess in front of him. The soldiers on the docks were beginning to thin as they made their way aboard the ships. “Push them back!” he shouted, thrusting his sword into the air. “Drive them from the ship for victory and the Lunari!” The crew pushed forward against the enemy on the ship and the resistance began to soften. A sword sliced across his left arm but did not go very deep. He thought he heard Wet Zet scream out above him, but he did not have time to look. Turos turned his head to see the enemy soldier go limp and fall over with one of Wet Zet’s poisoned arrows sticking from the top of his head. “Thanks,” he shouted, hoping Wet Zet heard him.

They ran over the boarding ramps and onto the dock. Turos looked to either side to see how the other ships were fairing. Two on the far left were burning, but their crews had made it to the dock in time. The rest of them were in various stages of success, with some on the docks and some still fighting to clear the enemy from their ships. Turos stepped through the bodies that littered the dock and picked up his spear. “Surround the Overlord!” he ordered.

The crew rushed forward. On either side, other pirates overcame their adversaries and began to move up the docks to where they merged into a large plaza paved with stone. At the far end of the plaza, it narrowed into a street lined with trees. Turos briefly hesitated as he took in the malevolent spectacle before him. Almost every tree had someone with their hand chained to a branch. Some of them had been there quite some time. Some were dead. Others had only recently cut themselves loose, and writhed in agony below their dangling hands.

“Free them all and care for the wounded,” Turos ordered. “The rest of you keep up with me.” He continued to run down the street.

Captain Ezrak came up beside Turos. “Don’t forget, the Overlord is mine,” he said. “Keep him distracted and I will come up from behind him.”

Turos nodded. “I’m sure he’ll want to talk first.”

By now, Turos could see that what had once appeared as a massive blackened fortress in the distance was nothing more than a massively tall blackened wall with a slight overhang. It separated the docks from the rest of the land and had a large gateway through the center of it. A single man stood in front of the gate. His skin was pale and his body was covered with decorative markings and jewelry. His lightweight armor and clothing was black. Proportionally, the man was grotesque and bloated by years of extravagance, and his dark hair was sparse and scraggly.

Turos slowed down as he approached the man. The other pirates spread out to either side until the man was surrounded. “You must be the Overlord I’ve heard so much about,” Turos said.

“Who are you, boy?” he asked haughtily. “Why are you threatening a defenseless oldish manar?”

Turos took a step toward the Overlord. “I am Prince Turos, son of Prince Hifur, and I have come to free this land from your evil clutches.”

The Overlord frowned. “You will speak the sacredish Tikar language in this place.

Turos took another step toward the man. “You are defeated. The blood of your soldiers stains the water by our ships. Disband the rest of your armies and I will be merciful when deciding the reward for your cruelty.”

“No,” the Overlord growled. “I will never relinquish my power to a royalish prince. Kill me now, and you will discover a new Overlordar will rise to power, and that no pirate remaining loyalish to the Overlordar will ever submit to your orders.”

Turos threw his spear to the ground and rapidly walked toward the defiant man. “I know there will be a new Overlord,” he hissed as he put his hands around the man’s neck. The Overlord tried to resist, but Turos was too strong for him.

Turos noticed Captain Ezrak approaching the Overlord from behind. The Captain took his sword and plunged it upward through the Overlord’s fat and into his ribcage. Turos released the man’s neck, and grabbed the Overlord by the shoulders to spin him around before he died. “Look on the face of your successor,” he said. “Your rule is over.” He let go of the Overlord.

The Overlord made a few gurgling noises as he looked at Captain Ezrak, and then collapsed backwards to the ground.

Captain Ezrak stepped over the large corpse and lifted his sword in the air. “Our days of forced piracy are over,” he yelled loud enough for everyone to hear. “Today we begin new lives as honest men of the sea. Captain Bill, unload the Rum Bucket, and let us celebrate this victory!” The many sailors cheered the victory.

Turos looked around. “I thought someone said the Overlord had a throne here.”

Captain Ezrak grinned and pointed to a pile of ashes on a large pedestal to one side. “I don’t think he wanted anyone to take it,” he said. “I guess I’ll have to get a new throne.”

Turos looked up at the immense wall. “What is on the other side?” he asked.

“The rest of Irata is on the other side of that wall,” the Captain answered. “It is a city of slaves ruled by cruel minions of the Overlord. We are safe from them on this side of the wall since the only way through is by sea or through that gate.”

“A gate can be burned,” Turos said. “Set a guard around the gate, and get men to the top of the wall to see what is happening on the other side.” He turned and looked back toward the docks. “We are vulnerable until we find the Olo army.”

“Do not worry,” the Captain reassured. “We always post a watch. Without it, a pirate would be overcome in his sleep.” He reached down and picked up the spear Turos had thrown down. “Take your spear and return to your ship. Tonight we celebrate, and tomorrow we press forward into Irata. Thank you for leading this attack.”

Turos took back his spear. “This war is not over until all of Irata is destroyed. If tomorrow we march through Irata, then tomorrow I expect you to follow me once more.”

Captain Ezrak smiled. “My allegiance is to the Lunari and those whom the Lunari have destined to govern us. I will follow you tomorrow, and beyond if you request.”

Turos turned and walked back to the ship. Partway there, he chanced upon a wounded crewmember and helped the man return with him.

Once back on his ship, Turos noticed that Jo’Ana had left the safety of his office. Her hands and clothes were bloody, and she was tending to the wounded, pulling them onto sheets on the deck. Turos noticed that Wet Zet was among them, lying face down with an arrow sticking from his naked rear. Turos walked over and knelt down beside the wounded man. “I told you to watch your hips,” he scolded.

Wet Zet weakly laughed. “I won’t be able to sit for a few months, but the looks I get when people look up make this more than worth it.”

“I can only imagine,” Turos replied. “That was a great shot, by the way, when you shot that man in the top of the head.”

Wet Zet shook his head. “You were fortunate that it was him and not you,” he said. “When this arrow slammed into my behind, I slipped and shot downwards without aiming.” He groaned. “I think it’s into the bone this time, and it hurts horribly. It took me a long time to climb down, and it was very embarrassing asking Jo’Ana for assistance.”

“It wouldn’t have been so embarrassing if you’d been wearing pants,” Turos said. “Why hasn’t she removed the arrow yet?”

“It’s not that bad, only painful,” Wet Zet explained. “Once I was situated here, I told her to check over the others lying around and care for anyone worse off first.”

Turos pulled out his dagger. “I can take it out for you,” he said.

“No! No!” Wet Zet pleaded, almost with tears in his eyes. “This is a very delicate matter here!”

Turos put his dagger away. “You’re right; I’ve never done it before. Should I have you carried to Captain Ezrak’s ship and have Parven treat you?”

Wet Zet shook his head. “If the Fasara Ru is anything like ours, Parven is already very busy. I’d be waiting just as long there as here.”

“Well you can’t just lay here forever with an arrow sticking from you,” Turos said. “Sooner or later someone will have to take it out for you. Trust me, waiting a few days to get an arrow removed makes it that much more painful.”

Wet Zet frowned. “Get me rum. Give me enough to drink, and I’d even let you remove it.”

“I’ll get some,” Turos said, standing up. He looked down at Wet Zet. “Don’t try rolling over while I’m away. It might hurt a bit.” Wet Zet laughed as Turos walked back to the dock.

Turos walked among the many sailors on the docks and eventually arrived at the Fasara Ru. Captain Ezrak had just returned to his ship and greeted him. “You look like you need something,” he said. “Did your ship’s doctor survive the battle?”

“I never had a doctor on my ship,” Turos replied. “We used Parven when we were still sailing with you, and then never had any major injuries until now.”

Captain Ezrak glanced back at his ship. “I’m sorry, but Parven is a little busy at the moment. I’ll send him your way as soon as possible.”

“I welcome the doctor’s assistance, but that isn’t my reason for coming to you. I have a more delicate matter to deal with.”

Captain Ezrak looked confused. “When you mention a delicate matter, are you referring to something political?”

Turos grinned and shook his head. “No, Wet Zet needs an extraction. It seems he presented the enemy with too tempting a target. He says he needs rum before he’ll allow anyone to remove it.”

Captain Ezrak started laughing. “I’ll get some rum and bring it to him myself. This is a sight I just have to see!”

A short while later, the three of them were drinking rum and laughing about Wet Zet’s misfortune. After drinking a lot of rum, Wet Zet finally agreed to let Turos remove the arrow. “Be careful now,” he urged. “Keep in mind that this is an extraction, not an amputation!”

Turos pulled out his dagger and prepared to use it to hold open the wound. Captain Ezrak pulled out a stick with leather wrapped around it. He thrust it into Wet Zet’s mouth as Turos began the extraction. Wet Zet screamed in pain and bit down on the stick until the procedure was complete.

Turos then dribbled some rum into the wound and dried it off with the sheet. “There,” he said. “Other than the hole, it’s as good as new, but you might need to find a doctor to stitch it shut.”

Captain Ezrak removed the stick from Wet Zet’s mouth. “You should also look for your pants.”

Turos stood up. “Thanks for the help, Captain,” he said. “You’re welcome to stay and chat with Wet Zet, but I need to care for the rest of my crew.”