The Convergence Trilogy: Episode 23 – Confrontations

Authors: Avagon and Solia


(Scene opens with Ioz at the helm of the Wraith, sailing rapidly towards a small island in the distance. His grip on the wheel whitens his knuckles and he stares grimly straight ahead. In his mind’s eye he can see Tula gesturing wildly from the dingy and his futile attempts to catch her attention as the Wraith whisks away, tearing her from his sight. He imagines the Maelstrom drawing the dinghy into its cavernous maw and remembers the last time Tula was lost to them.)

*Flashback*

(Tula’s hand slips from Ren’s grasp and she drops impossibly slowly to the roiling sea below, a cry on her lips. The dark water coils around her body, thrashing her cruelly back and forth before engulfing her completely. Ren wails in anguish.)

Ioz (automatically): We’ll avenge her!

(He’s too accustomed to hiding his emotions to stop now, though this time his objective words catch in his throat. But Ren is too preoccupied with his own guilt and grief to notice the strain in his friend’s voice, much less register the words meant to focus his attention back to the danger of their situation. Ioz shakes his head bitterly. Again he has managed to deceive a friend with his callous façade, but it has been many months since he stopped being able to fool himself. Later, when they are imprisoned on the Maelstrom, Ioz finds himself grateful for the habit of bravado that keeps him from crumbling under his guilt. He welcomes the familiar anger that gives him the energy to prod his captain out of despair to seek escape and vengeance.)

*End flashback*

(Ioz shakes his head, returning to the present to see Niddler emerge from the cabin with a bandage around his shoulder.)

Ioz (tensely): How is he?

Niddler (shaking his head): Still unconscious. (worried) It’s pretty bad, Ioz.

Ioz (nods, glancing at Niddler): What about you?

Niddler (a little surprised): I won’t be flying anywhere for a while.

Ioz: I thought not. (decisively) You’ll have to stay with Ren, then.

Niddler (puzzled): What do you mean?

Ioz (pointing ahead): I’m leaving you on that island to watch over him while I go back for the woman.

Niddler (gaping in shock): You’re going back?! You can’t go alone!

Ioz (pointedly): You want to tell Ren that we left her with Bloth?

(Niddler opens his beak to say something but stops. He looks suspiciously at Ioz for a moment before turning back towards the cabin, deep in thought.)

Ioz (calling after him): We’re almost there, monkey-bird! Get the rowboat ready!

(The Wraith pulls into a small cove surrounded by lush forest. Vegetation abounds, but so far the island appears uninhabited. Ioz and Niddler take Ren and some supplies and row to shore in the dinghy. Niddler carries the provisions while Ioz hoists Ren over one shoulder and draws his sword, and they set off cautiously into the undergrowth. Presently Niddler spots a small cave in the side of a hill, and they immediately investigate.)

Ioz (emerging from the cave): This is as good a place as any for you to hide. (lifting Ren again) Come on, monkey-bird.

Niddler (following nervously): I don’t know, Ioz. What if anyone lives on this island? I don’t think I could protect Ren if someone like Korgus finds us.

Ioz (not liking it, either, but having made up his mind): We don’t have much choice. You’ll just have to lay low until I get back and hope no one does.

(They’ve reached the back of the cave, and Ioz lays Ren down and helps Niddler set up a small camp with the supplies. Ioz turns to leave and Niddler follows him out to the mouth of the cave.)

Niddler (with growing doubt): How are you going to rescue Tula all by yourself? Shouldn’t we wait until Ren-

Ioz: No! (then, seeing Niddler’s shock, more calmly) We can’t wait. Don’t you remember how Bloth treats his prisoners?

(The monkey-bird hangs his head with a gulp, remembering only too well. Ioz puts a surprisingly gentle hand on his shoulder to catch his gaze.)

Ioz: I have to go. I’ll get her back, I promise. (His throat tightens as he imagines again what Bloth will do to Tula if he doesn’t.) If it’s not already too late…

(Cut to the Maelstrom, earlier the same day. Tula is bound tightly to the mast and just beginning to wake up. Memory returns in a rush when she sees her surroundings, and she breathes a sigh of relief that her friends did indeed escape. The discovery that she is yet again tied to a post curves her lips into a wry smile, but it quickly fades as she closes her eyes and tries to summon her powers. To her dismay Tula realizes that creating the windstorm drained her more than she thought, and the knowledge that it saved her friends provides only minimal comfort as she opens her eyes to see Bloth approaching.)

Bloth: Well, Tula, what a pleasure to have you aboard again.

Tula (through her teeth): The pleasure is all yours, I’m sure, fish-lips!

Bloth (unfazed): Feisty as ever, I see. (leering) I like that in a woman. It’s a shame you can’t be persuaded to join my crew.

Tula (repulsed): I’d rather die than work for a kreld-eating sea weasel like you!

Bloth (threatening): That can be arranged, wench! (leaning down toward her slyly) Unless of course you tell us where your friends took the treasure.

Tula (glaring defiantly): Never!

(Bloth straightens angrily and summons Mantus to his side, barking a quick command in the dagron trainer’s ear. Mantus hurries to comply while Konk sidles up to the mast to gloat over Tula’s predicament.)

Konk (poking Tula’s ribs): You make big mistake, woman. Bloth always get what he want.

(Tula ignores him and keeps her eyes on Bloth. Mantus has rejoined him with another pirate in tow. Tula’s eyes narrow as she recognizes him as the four-armed bounty hunter who framed Ioz’ father, and she draws herself up straighter against the mast. Strant advances toward her, tattoos rippling, and looks her over with his good eye as he clenches his four fists.)

Bloth (smiling triumphantly): Now, Tula, I think you’ll reconsider your position when you see what Strant has to offer. He can be quite persuasive, I assure you.

Tula (coldly): You’re wasting your time. I’ll never tell you anything.

Bloth (frighteningly confident, nodding to Strant): We’ll see about that.

(The pirates gather in a circle around the mast, cheering and hooting while Strant raises his fist over Tula. She braces herself as Bloth, Mantus, and Konk share smug smiles.)

*commercial break*

(Sunset. The Wraith skims the ocean at full sail, Ioz at the helm. The Maelstrom looms on the horizon, and he steers straight for it, intent on his plan. His mind whirls with questions about Tula’s fate. Ioz knows she exhausted herself saving them with her powers and fears that she will not withstand whatever torture he knows Bloth won’t hesitate to use. Not allowing himself to consider a worse alternative, Ioz abandons the wheel and outfits himself with as many weapons as he can carry or conceal. With a last glance at the approaching Maelstrom he takes the diving mask Ren had used once and lowers himself over the side of the ship to wait.)

(Cut to the Maelstrom, where Tula sags unconscious against the mast. Several pirates have gathered at the rail to watch the approaching Wraith. Bloth rubs his hands together eagerly in anticipation of the conquest.)

Bloth (laughing): How touching! The fools have come to rescue the woman!

Mantus (peering through the spyglass, surprised): Captain, there’s no one on deck! It could be a trap.

Bloth: What? They must be hiding below! Open the maw and get down there, men! Trap or no trap, that jitatin boy is not getting away this time!

(The Wraith is quickly engulfed by the Maelstrom’s maw. Inside the main canal, Ioz clings to the anchor chain and bides his time. Seconds later, Bloth’s crew swarm toward the ship, and he quickly dons the mask and slips underwater. Clinging to the anchor, Ioz can hear the pirates searching the Wraith, and he smiles with grim satisfaction at their angered cries upon finding it deserted. Soon the pirates abandon their search and hurry to report the bad news to their captain. Ioz surfaces and swims to the edge of the canal to follow.)

Ioz (to himself): I’m coming, Tula!

(Cut to the Maelstrom’s deck. Bloth leans over Tula gleefully, slapping her face until she starts to come to and lifts her head weakly.)

Bloth (crowing): Foolish woman! Your bravery was futile–now we have your friends as well!

(Tula says nothing, glaring up at him as best she can through glazed eyes. But her stomach tightens with fear. Had they come back and gotten captured because of her? She turns her head as Mantus runs up to converse with Bloth.)

Mantus: We have searched the ship, Captain. There was no one on board.

Bloth (furious): What! (He turns on Tula in a rage.) What is the meaning of this, woman?

(Tula remains silent, even when Bloth summons Strant again, her mind whirling with confusion as much as from his heavy blows. What had happened to make her friends abandon the Wraith? Ren and Niddler were too badly hurt to attempt a rescue, and surely Ioz would not have left them to come back for her alone. She didn’t think he cared enough about her to take such a foolish risk, although his behavior towards her had been much kinder since she had saved him from the Delpha warriors. She also knows how fiercely loyal Ioz can be towards the few people he trusts, and wonders if she has yet become one of those people. For the millionth time she regrets betraying him so long ago, even if it had been for a good cause, and resigns herself to the cruelty of her situation. Unbeknownst to her, the object of Tula’s thoughts has made his way through the sewers to a hatch on the main deck and is watching with growing wrath as Strant torments her.)

Strant (gloating): Looks like your friends have abandoned you, after all. I always knew Ioz was a coward–I should have known the rest of you are, too!

Tula (hoarsely, through her split lip): He’s no coward, you jitatin Dartha eel! Ioz is more man than you’ll ever be, and you know it!

(Ioz’ mouth drops open in astonishment at Tula’s passionate defense. But Strant lets out a humiliated roar and strikes her hard across the face, and Ioz barely manages to prevent himself from leaping from his hiding place and accomplishing nothing but his own swift death.)

Bloth (laughing with Mantus): Too bad Ioz isn’t here to see his woman defend him–though I doubt he’d find the situation as entertaining as we do!

(Mantus joins him in laughter, while Ioz can only fume silently and watch Strant’s brutal blows rain down on Tula. He can see her biting her lip, unwilling to give them the satisfaction of crying out, and feels his chest tighten in painful admiration even as he longs for her to give in to their demands and end her suffering. Finally, when Ioz can restrain himself no longer, he hears a strangled gasp as Strant’s fist slams into Tula’s side and sees her body slacken within the ropes. Strant drops his hands in disappointment and backs away. Ioz, sickened and guilt-torn, turns away as well, but stops when he hears Bloth speaking again.)

Bloth: She’s never going to tell us anything. If she doesn’t talk in the morning I’m throwing her to the Constrictus! (Then a strange gleam enters his eyes as he is struck with a better idea. He turns to the crew with high hopes for a big haul.) Unless any of you men would care to purchase her?

(Ioz is frozen in his hiding place, his whole body shaking with revulsion, terror, and fury. His face hardens with determination and he doesn’t hear the bidding war carrying on above. With new resolve Ioz hurries to implement his plan, vowing to rescue Tula before the night is over.)

*commercial break*

(Scene opens with a shot of the Maelstrom sailing on a moonless night. Cut to the belly of the ship, where Ioz, working quickly and stealthily, prepares the Wraith to sail, slashing the ropes that moor it in place within the cavern. He drags the rubble on either side of the canal into a large pile and sprinkles it liberally with his cinder sand. Then without hesitation he strikes his flint and watches the spark ignite his makeshift bonfire. As the smoke begins to fill the air, Ioz heads back into the sewers.)

(Cut to the deck, where only Bloth and a few of the crew remain, arguing over their bids. Suddenly they are interrupted when Mantus runs up.)

Mantus (frantic): Captain, there’s a fire in the ship’s belly!

Bloth: What?! Wake the men! Put it out at once!

Mantus: The smoke is too thick–we have to open the maw!

(Bloth shouts commands and the Maelstrom’s pointed maw swings upward, expelling a dense cloud of black smoke. But as the smoke dissipates Konk starts gesturing frantically.)

Konk (excited): Konk see Ren’s ship sail away!

Bloth and Mantus (racing to the rail): What?!

(Bloth snatches the spyglass from Mantus to see for himself as the Wraith glides into open water, trailing wisps of smoke.)

Bloth: Blast my soul! There’s no one at the helm!

Mantus (incredulous): What trickery is this?

Bloth: Release the dagrons!

(Cut to the inside of the dagrons’ chamber. Ioz lies in wait in the corner, ready to ambush the three riders that come charging in on Bloth’s command. Two go down without a sound with arrows in their chests before the third is sent reeling to the floor with the force of Ioz’ blow. Ioz casts the dragon bow aside and snatches up the keys to the dagrons’ cages.)

(Cut to the deck as the hatch opens and two riderless dagrons escape to freedom.)

Mantus (panicked): Scupango!

(The third dagron bursts through the hatch with Ioz in the saddle, brandishing his sword.)

Bloth (choking with rage): Torment my eyes!!! Kill him!

(At the mast, the commotion has woken Tula and she raises her head groggily to see a dagron swooping over the deck, knocking several pirates over the rail while its rider hurls knives at the others. She blinks in surprise, fearing the pain has clouded her mind. But there can be no mistake as Ioz skillfully wheels the dagron and raises his sword for another pass.)

Bloth (scarcely controlling his fury): And the wench, too!

(As Strant rushes toward the mast from the back of the ship, Ioz wheels again, slicing through both sails and bearing down fast on the murderous bounty hunter. Strant turns just in time to see the bearer of his doom before Ioz cuts him down with a vengeful cry. His sword continues in an arc to slice through the ropes binding Tula to the mast as the dagron rises in the air for a final pass. With an effort Tula manages to remain standing while Ioz charges the dagron at Bloth, Mantus, and the remaining pirates, forcing them to dive for cover. Then he skims low over the deck and reaches down with one hand to scoop Tula into the saddle in front of him. The dagron soars upwards again amid the angry shouts of Bloth and his men.)

Bloth (shaking his fist in the air after the retreating dagron): Blast you to the Abyss, Ioz! You’ll pay for this!

(On the dagron’s back, Tula clings feebly to Ioz with her arms around his neck while he guides the creature toward the Wraith. His arm tightens instinctively around her when he sees her bruised face and the blood trickling from the corner of her mouth.)

Ioz (barely managing to control his emotions): Are you all right?

Tula (weakly, but trying for a teasing smile): Ioz, I didn’t know you cared!

Ioz (through the lump in his throat): Tula, I-(He stiffens in alarm as she falls limp against him.) Tula? (desperate) Tula?!

To be continued…

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