The Comet | Part 5
Samarsen and his men went on watching the lake from behind the bushes. Now they could distinctly see the person standing in the lake. He was wearing the cap from the eye-like slits of which two beams of light appeared to shoot upwards. This was the same cap they had seen hanging by the branch over the lake’s water.
Samarsen quickly surmised that this man was the sorcerer. Four-eyes He had his extra eyes in his cap, and he must have got his name only on account of it. Besides, had not he said to the giant creature, Big Tummy, “You think Four-eyes is such an easy morsel?”
“Now, I must avoid being seen by this person!” Samarsen said to himself and began to wonder how best he could do it. While he was thus engaged, his followers were whispering among themselves and commenting upon the four eyes of the sorcerer. Samarsen was listening to their comments while he was busy. He was thinking of a plan of escape.
Suddenly he spoke out, “Is it not true that this Four-eyes is a deadly enemy of One-eye?” His men assented.
One of them could read Samarsen’s line of thought. “Commander!” he said hesitatingly, “if I may be permitted to remark-“
“Certainly, my dear fellow!” Samarsen replied. “Every one of you has a right to make a suggestion. We stand in utmost need of collective thinking at the moment.”
“If I read you correctly,” the man said, “you appear to be thinking of turning the hostility between One-eye and Four-eyes to our advantage. But I have a suggestion to make. The lion and the tiger may be deadly enemies, but at the same time, each one is deadly enough. One mustn’t forget that.”
“There’s a lot of truth in that,” Samarsen said thoughtfully. “These are great magicians with the darkest forces of evil at their command….” Samarsen saw Four-eyes come out of the water and fall silent.
All the men were seized with great dread. Their instincts told them to run away. They hardly took one step when they heard Four-eyes’s clear and bell-like voice.
“You fools!” they heard. “Do you expect to hoodwink me? No, you can’t! Nothing obstructs my vision trees, rocks, or hills. I can see through all. I can see everything that goes on on this aisle. Wait!”
Four-eyes raised his voice and summoned the Awesome Owl and the Ape-man. Having heard the call, both the creatures appeared and barred the way of Samarsen and his men. While the Ape-man flourished the tree branch in his hand to frighten them, the owl flew about, making car-splitting noises.
Now Samarsen knew where and how he stood. The situation. was entirely out of his hands. Their bows and arrows and swords were quite useless. “Now, friends,” he told his men, “it is up to Mother Kundalini to look after us.”
The men stood dazed and transfixed as Four-eyes came to them with deliberate steps. But when he spoke, his voice was soft and gentle: “Who are you?” he asked. “What brought you to this isle?” His speech did not hint at malice or cruelty, and his face was quite tranquil.
The way Four-eyes spoke to them brought back their courage, though he was the cause of its loss in the first place. Just for a moment, Samarsen could not decide whether to answer the sorcerer’s question, but then he decided to answer it since it was probable that the other knew all.
“Sir,” said Samarsen, “we are from the Isle of Kundalini. While going on a voyage, we were beset by a storm and brought here.”
Four-eyes laughed. “My dear fellow,” he said. “What you say is quite true. But how is it that you omitted to tell me why you started on a voyage?”.
There was no concealing anything now. Samarsen made a clean breast of everything, telling Four-eyes how the kundalini coffers were empty, how he started on a voyage of plunder to fill them and how his plans were miscarried.
“Ha, ha!” Four-eyes laughed, having listened to the tale of Samarsen. “So you started for wealth, defying the comet, and a storm flung you here! That’s fine! We have a sorcerer here who is inordinately fond of wealth. Should you join forces…. ha, ha, ha!”
Four-eyes laughed till the surroundings resounded. Samarsen did not know how to take this laughter, and while searching for something to say, there was a booming call, “Hey, Death’s-head! Hey, Devil’s Serpent!…. Come on! Watch out! Watch out!”
It was the unmistakable voice of the Sorcerer One-eye. Samarsen turned to his men, who were shivering with fear, and told them, “Go, hide in those thickets. It’s One eye.”
All of them dashed to the nearest thicket. They were hardly concealed when One-eye came upon the spot. The leering skull floated above his head while the serpent accompanied him at his feet.
“Ah, I see you again!” One-eye shouted triumphantly on seeing Four-eyes. “After such a long time, I got you!” He drew a broad sword from his belt even as he said it.
“Is it One-eye that I see?” Four-eyes said without moving an inch. “Welcome! Welcome!” Then he changed his sneering voice to a shout and called the Awesome Owl and the Ape-man. In an instant, both were there, and One-eye appeared to be taken aback at their sight.
Four-eyes did not fail to notice this. “My dear Owl,” he said. “You already had a taste of his right eye. ” Have a go at the left one too.”
At once, the Owl flew at One-eye, who shouted in panic, “Death’s head! O Death’s- head!” Clicking its bony jaws, the skull flew at the owl, and they began to fight.
One-eye began to roar with laughter when Four-eyes, getting angry, shouted for the ape. The next instant, the ape jumped at One-eye, who summoned the serpent. Another fight ensued between the ape and the snake.
The fight between the creatures of the sorcerers was prolonged, fierce and inconclusive. Samarsen and his men watching the struggle from behind the thickets, commented, “Both the parties are well matched,” “That is to our advantage, you know.”
Both the sorcerers eyed each other in anger. They knew that this fight was not going to be decisive. Four-eyes laughed and lifted his cap from his head with the chant, “Om-hreem!” Immediately he disappeared, and at the same time, his owl and ape also disappeared.
“You disappear, do you?” boomed One-eye. “Well, I shall see how long you remain safe and invisible! I shall get you, don’t worry!”
Then he looked all around. Fortunately, he could not notice Samarsen and his men hiding in the thickets. He was still suffering from a lurking fear of the Awesome Owl. So he looked up at the tops of the trees, flourishing his sword. He had enough cause to fear the owl because it was the same owl which made him blind in one eye: Its hoot was enough to make him sweat with fear.
When finally One-eye departed with his Death’s-head and serpent, the place became tranquil once more, and the men hiding in the thicket heaved a sigh of relief and emerged from their hiding place.
Now their path was clear. They could go around the lake and, keeping to the east as far as possible, hope to reach their ships in time. To their left, there was a mountain. The coast might be very near if they got to the other side of it.
So Samarsen led his men towards this mountain. They did not go very far when the earth began to shake under their feet, and scary rumbling sounds proceeded from its interior. At another moment, great columns of smoke and fire rose from the mountain’s peak. It was a terrific but fascinating sight. Samarsen and his men stood looking at the bursting volcano in great astonishment.