Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Pen and the Sword: The Isle of Pirate's Doom

"Listen! Was that a footfall?"

"I heard nothing; it must be your imagination conjuring up noises."

Still she insisted she heard something and was for hurrying out into the open as quickly as might be. I reached the floor a stride or so before her and turned to speak across my shoulder, when I saw her eyes go wide and her hand flew to her blade. I whirled to see three menacing shapes bulking among the column s- three men, smeared with mud and slime, with weapons gleaming in their hands.

As in a dream I saw the fierce burning eyes of John Gower, the beard of the giant Bellefonte, and the dark, saturnine countenance of La Costa. Then they were on us.

How they had kept their powder dry as they crossed that filthy swamp I know not, but even as I drew blade, La Costa fired and the ball struck my right arm, breaking the bone. The cutlass dropped from my numb fingers, but I stooped and, catching it up in my left hand, met Bellefonte's charge. The giant come on like a wild elephant, roaring, his cutlass whirling like a flame. But the desperate fury of a cornered and wounded lion was mine. And, crashing on his guard as a smith hammers an anvil, until the clash of our steel was an incessant clangor, I drove him across the room and beat him to his knees. But he partly parried the blow that felled him, so that my cutlass, glancing from his blade to his skull, turned in my hand and struck flat instead of edgewise, stunning and not killing. At that instant, La Costa clubbed a musket and laid my scalp open so that I fell and lay in my own blood.

- "The Isle of Pirate's Doom," Robert E. Howard

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