Talons of Scorpio [Dray Prescot #30]

Talons of Scorpio [Dray Prescot #30]

by Alan Burt Akers

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Product Details

BN ID: 2940032992745
Publisher: Mushroom Publishing
Publication date: 01/10/2012
Series: Dray Prescot , #30
Sold by: Smashwords
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 1,205,125
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Alan Burt Akers is a pen name of the prolific British author Kenneth Bulmer, who died in December 2005 aged eighty-four. Bulmer wrote over 160 novels and countless short stories, predominantly science fiction, both under his real name and numerous pseudonyms, including Alan Burt Akers, Frank Brandon, Rupert Clinton, Ernest Corley, Peter Green, Adam Hardy, Philip Kent, Bruno Krauss, Karl Maras, Manning Norvil, Dray Prescot, Chesman Scot, Nelson Sherwood, Richard Silver, H. Philip Stratford, and Tully Zetford. Kenneth Johns was a collective pseudonym used for a collaboration with author John Newman. Some of Bulmer's works were published along with the works of other authors under "house names" (collective pseudonyms) such as Ken Blake (for a series of tie-ins with the 1970s television programme The Professionals), Arthur Frazier, Neil Langholm, Charles R. Pike, and Andrew Quiller. Bulmer was also active in science fiction fandom, and in the 1970s he edited nine issues of the New Writings in Science Fiction anthology series in succession to John Carnell, who originated the series.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter one —Pompino's name affronts him

"It's very simple, Jak," Pompino said as he leaped nimbly ashore. "All we have to do is recruit a few more rascally fellows and go across and bash this Lord Murgon Marsilus. Then we burn all the damned temples of Lem the Silver Leem, sort out who marries whom —and go home."

"Simple," I said, and jumped up onto the jetty after my comrade. Always difficult that —for me to remember not to shoulder forward and be first out of the boat. The twin suns glittered off the water, gulls circled and screeched above, the air tasted like best Jholaix, and we were off to burn another temple.

Pompino started along the jetty, striding out, arms pumping, chest and head up, red whiskers flaring. I looked after him, and then down to the boat where the rest of the rapscallions who had wangled shore leave were tying up and jumping out onto the wet stones. Our ship, Tuscurs Maiden, lay in the roads, canvas furled, and those poor wights detained aboard hanging over the gunwales with faces like grandfather clocks.

To either side of this little seaport town of Peminswopt the red cliffs stretched, serrated, flecked with shadings and tonings of rust, orange and ruby under the light of the suns. We had made landfall within the enormous curve of the Bay of Panderk and here we were in the Kovnate of Memis. Our destination, the Kovnate of Bormark, lay to the west. I started off after Pompino. He was the Owner, the man who owned a fleet of ships, and his men knew him and would follow to keep him out of trouble.

With Pompino the Iarvin on the rampage, trouble was a natural and inevitable occurrence.

He headedtoward a line of broad-leaved sough-wood trees shading a walkway beyond which rose the walls of the outer town. Much activity went on here as the sailors and fisherfolk went about their business. The smells of tar and pitch mingled with the sea air. A long string of curses rose from a ramshackle shed where tarred nets hung. Someone was in difficulty in repairing their nets. Pompino took no notice. He strode on for the land gate situated alongside the water gate with its portcullis of black iron.

Lofting over the town the fortress of Peminswopt reminded anyone careless enough to let it slip his mind that reivers and pirates might at any time roar in to do all the unpleasant things that folk of that ilk are prone to. This fortress reared up, strong and well-positioned. From those battlements accurate volleys of rocks, darts and flaming carcasses could shatter an unwary attack. Trouble was —the pirates operating here in North Pandahem were just as crafty as renders operating anywhere else. I followed Pompino, aware of the men at my back, and —I admit —comforted by their presence.

If Pompino insisted on burning the temple to Lem the Silver Leem here —a sound and righteous thing to do, seeing that the adherents of the Silver Wonder indulged in murder and torture and baby-sacrifices —the ensuing fracas would need the ready weapons of our comrades.

His reddish whiskers abristle and his foxy Khibil face shrewd, Pompino halted in the shadows of the arched gateway. A string of calsanys passed, each one loaded down with straw-packed boxes, their tails tied to the neck-rope of the one astern.

"Before we start, Jak, my throat is—"

"Aye. And mine."

As we stopped —and only for a couple of heartbeats —a Sinewy brown hand reached out between two of the calsanys and groped for the wallet hanging on my belt. I looked down with interest, always fascinated by the ways in which differing people go about earning their living. This one was smart and quick. The steel knives fastened to the inside of his fingers would have snipped through the thongs in a trice.

Pompino said: "The rast!" and snatched at the lean wrist. He gripped it, tugged, and a bundle of gray rags flew out between the animals. The restraining rope caught around the wretch's neck and hauled him up. He gargled.

"Look out for the calsanys," I said quickly. "You know what—"

"I know what they will do if they are upset."

Pompino hauled the thief upright, disengaged the rope and, taking an ear betwixt finger and thumb, ran the snatch-purse a few paces along the wharf. The fellow twisted in Pompino's grip; he did not produce a weapon.

"By Diproo the Nimble-Fingered!" burst out the cutpurse. "You're mighty quick, dom!"

"To your sorrow, you forsaken of Pandrite!"

"Leave off! I need that ear."

"As you needed my friend's wallet?"

"I've three wives and ten children to support—"

"More fool you. Where's the Watch?"

Now the thief looked alarmed.

Copyright © 1983, Kenneth Bulmer.

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