Every story needs a villian, but in “The Dark Tides” we have a whole slew of them–from both history and legend and some from my first book, “Forever Avalon.” Under the direction of Morgana le Fay, these unsavory types have one goal in mind … The domination of Avalon and the death of the Gil-Gamesh. Here is a taste of what they have in mind in this excerpt from “The Dark Tides” novel:
Deep within the bowels of Idlehorn Mountain, Mnenock the Goblin King looked in awe of his growing fleet of airships. More than 20 ships now filled the vast cave in Idlehorn. Its entrance, hidden by simple illusions, disguised the immense hanger for him to spread his evil across Avalon.
Though they couldn’t duplicate the Gil-Gamesh’s technology, they scavenged what they could from other ships they captured or destroyed.
Even then, the goblins needed help to make them work. They used gnome and human slaves to bring the ships back to working order as goblins didn’t have the skill nor coordination for intricate woodwork or the technical know-how for the steering and wings.
Their skills lay in ironwork. Goblins were known for forging the toughest iron weapons ever made. With pools of liquid metal pouring out from the lava pits under Idlehorn and their immense strength, goblin weapons and armor are prized by every thief, brigand and cutthroat on Avalon. They didn’t have the craftsmanship of the Dwarves or Elves, but their iron had no equal.
Sometimes, the Goblin King used human pawns to get him the materials and supplies he needed to keep his fleet up and running.
Today, though, he waited for his ultimate payoff that would aid the plans of Lady Heather and the great Morgana le Fay.
A horn bellowed from outside as his guards notified all of an arrival, one the Goblin King had been waiting for. He watched as his goblins guided the massive airship in. It was larger than any ship in the Goblin Fleet, albeit a familiar one … The Reaper, former flagship of Lord Kraven Darkholm. It was confiscated by the Gil-Gamesh for an insult his cousin made toward Lady Stephanie MoonDrake, but now it had returned home.
The canvas wings folded back once the mooring process began. The human sailors scurried about the deck, securing sails and tightening down the lines. Once the ship was tethered, it set down on mooring blocks and the gangplank was lowered. Sailors filed off the ship in a quick, disciplined manner, led by their captain as they rushed to a second airship waiting to be brought in.
The captain walked up to King Mnenock, exuding confidence in the swagger of his every step, but Captain John Henry Avery was no ordinary man. He was the descendant of the most ruthless pirate to sail the Caribbean—Henry Avery, the legendary “King of the Pirates” as some say. When Avery disappeared around 1696, people thought he retired to a quiet life, living off his riches. Instead, Avery and his crew found their way through the barrier to Avalon. He continued his pirating ways, plundering the coastal cities around Avalon’s shores. He even made his own town in the hidden North Seas off Avalon. A haven for his pirates, their kin and any others who wished to join called Barbarossa.
John Henry was carrying on the traditions his family laid down by taking them into the air. The Gil-Gamesh’s airships opened a new chapter in pirating for the Avery family. He carved out a reputation for himself, hoping one day to surpass that of his ancestor.
Unlike some of his crew, Avery preferred a well-groomed appearance. His long black hair was flowing and carefree, his beard neatly trimmed and his clothes emulated his rank and status. He wore an eye patch over his left eye, a gift courtesy of the Gil-Gamesh during one of their many encounters. Around his waist hung his sword Crossbones, a broad cutlass with a jagged edge on top. Th is was the sword of his ancestor and signified his status as the Pirate King.
John Henry stepped up with his first mate Rajesh Singh, an Indian sailor and devout follower of the Cult of Thuggee—worshipers of Kali, the Hindu Goddess of Death. They bowed to the Goblin King, a sign of respect but nothing more. Avery was here to do business.
“As promised your majesty, I give you The Reaper, returned home to Idlehorn,” John Henry cajoled showing off his prize.
Mnenock smiled, something he rarely did. “Indeed Captain Avery … Your reputation precedes you. And tell me,” he cackled, “how did you obtain this magnificent ship from the shipyard in Emmyr?”
“Well now, if I told you that, you wouldn’t need me now, would you your majesty? I have to keep some of my secrets,” he remarked, holding back his sarcasm so as not to offend the Goblin King. “Let’s just say I called in a lot of favors to get this for you; and I hope you will hold up your end of the bargain?”
Mnenock’s smile turned to a snarl. He felt insulted by Avery and though every fi ber in his being told him to kill these humans on the spot, Mnenock knew he needed them. “I never disappoint an ally Captain Avery.
“Gr-tah-ah!” Mnenock shouted to his goblins. They carried out two large trunks and set them down next to the Goblin King. He waved and the goblins opened the trunks; one was filled with weapons and armor—the finest to come out of the forges of Idlehorn—while the other contained gold and silver coins and an assortment of jewels. It was a fine “pay day” for Captain Avery and his band of pirates.
Mnenock watched as Rajesh picked up one of the swords and inspected it closely, checking its weight and edge, swinging it around him an experienced swordsman. When he was satisfied with the workmanship, he nodded to Captain Avery before placing the sword back in the trunk.
“It’s always a pleasure doing business with you, your majesty,” he announced, tipping his hat and spreading his arms as he bowed. “If you ever need anything else, don’t hesitate to contact me. I am your humble servant.”
“Well, that’s refreshing to hear,” came a voice from behind. Lady Heather stepped forward, examining The Reaper as if she were seeing an old lover for the first time.
“Lady Heather,” Avery remarked, bowing courteously to Heather. “It is surprising to find such a beautiful flower in this patch of thorns.”
“Why Captain, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were flirting with me,” she professed as she continued to inspect The Reaper.
“Not at all dear lady, I was just admiring what I see before me; but even the most beautiful of creatures can be deadly.
“I heard about what one of your followers did to the Gil-Gamesh,” Avery continued. “It was a nice diversion for me and my men when we went to grab The Reaper.”
“That was my intention,” Heather interjected, still ignoring Captain Avery as she continued to admire the airship.
“And how did you know what we were doing dear lady?”
Heather smiled as she finally looked at John Avery. “You have your secrets Captain and I have mine.”
“As I said … You are cunning and deadly but with an incredible lack of precision.”
“Really? And why do you say that?” she inquired.
Avery walked over to Heather, staring her down, face-to-face. “You left the Gil-Gamesh alive. I don’t know how you got your man on his island without being detected, but Lord MoonDrake will discover how and he will be more resolved than ever to hunt you down and kill you.
“And I for one do not want to be around when happens,” he reprimanded as he turned to leave. He signaled his men to pick up the trunks and bring them to the Flying Fancy.
“I left him alive for a reason Captain Avery,” Heather shouted. Avery stopped and turned around. “Don’t you want to know why?”
Avery’s curiosity had gotten the best of him as he motioned for her to continue.
“You are correct, I let him live; killing him was never part of my plan. But getting my follower on Emmyr undetected was. I now have the ability to bring an army to the floating isle without the Gil-Gamesh ever knowing about it,” she exclaimed, looking over to King Mnenock who cackled softly in agreement.
“I want the Gil-Gamesh alive so that when I destroy his precious Avalon right before his very eyes, I can watch him suffer the pain of failure. When I cut off the heads of his wife and children, I can watch him suff er the pain of grief. And when he has suff ered all the pain and all the heartache as I have these past eight years, I want him to look into my eyes and know that I have beaten him … Right before I cut out his still beating heart and hold it in my hand,” she extolled, twirling the Orb of Veles in her hand.
“How would you like to see that Captain Avery?” she concluded, flirting slightly as she touched him on the chest. “How would you like to see that and get your revenge on the Gil-Gamesh?”
Avery thought hard about what she said. He saw the confidence in her every word, something he rarely saw in people who tried to plot against the Gil-Gamesh.
“Alright milady, you have my attention.”