Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Bull God, Part 4: 'Snakes in the shadows' [ by Bux ]

When the 2 big men walked into the darkly lit Stables they were not as alert as they should be, because they had been drinking a bit.
The 2 horses were a bit nervous in their stalls, and Krondagg turned to see a figure sat quiet at a small table in shadow...
" Hey, Boy.
Wake up, and help us saddle my horses.
There will be an extra silver for you if you are quick about it. "

The stable floor was covered with lots of old straw, and piles of fresher straw were in the empty horse-stalls.
Suddenly, a saddle slammed down on the floor just behind the 2 companions!
As they turned in surprise... many dark shapes rose quickly from straw piles and from out of the shadows!

Before they could gather their wet wits, six spears were pointing at their big heaving chests.

The dark figure rose slowly from the table.
A deep commanding voice grunted with menace and practiced authority...
" Stay still, Scum !
Do not move a testicle !
We just need to ask you some easy questions, before you depart."

Krondagg scowled and glanced at the scene in the dim light of a single flickering lantern... he recognised the purple uniforms of Soldiers from the local small castle, nearest the village. They had a very bad reputation for being cruel and savage towards all the peasants in the area.
They had murdered one of his underworld friends at an Inn, 4 months ago. He was secretly pleased to meet them, so soon, for a reckoning.

And it was fortunate that he had warned the wrestler about them, while talking in the tavern.

The 6 scruffy Soldiers all wore studded leather shirts, were armed with spears and short swords, and had a motley collection of different old and dented helms.
The men were naturally nervous and wary about the big bull-faced thug who stood solid, grim, and confident, like a bronze statue.
Their leader was tall, cocky, and sported a very evil grin that any demon would be proud to wear. His eyes seemed black and soulless, and he was tapping a curved scimitar across his mail covered chest.

He asked them about the fine tan mare.
Krondagg told him about winning it in a bet, but the scimitar soon pointed at his face...
" You LIE, Dog !
That superb mare was stolen from my master's mistress.
Her 3 escorts were slain, and she was tied up, molested, and had to walk back barefoot to our Froggat Castle. "

Trying to suppress his inner amusement, Krondagg went into his pleading act. He kept his face sad, slowly bowed his head, held his wide hat in both hands across his breast, and whimpered like a big puppy...
" But, Sir... I swear by the holy clouds...
I tell you the TRUTH.
Bring in the stable boy... he witnessed the bet on his little table over there.
He will confirm our innocence. "

The demonic grin seemed to widen and quiver with more evil pleasure as the leader sent 1 man to open the big rear doors of the stable-barn.
Hanging by a swaying noose in the bright moonlight was the battered, bloodied young corpse of the 14 year old stable boy...
Even tough Krondagg was shocked. The boy had been so cheerful and helpful, had told many dirty jokes, and was running the stable because his dad had been arrested a month ago, and was still being held prisoner.

As the mocking loud laughter of all the sadistic soldiers rang through his swiftly alerted head, Krondagg hissed a warning at Huevos and winked at him...
" Watch out for that deadly snake by your leg, Amigo ! "

The bull-face quickly winked back, and Huevos let out a big sigh of relief as he started his act.
He suddenly leapt into the air, holding his leg, and hopped chaotically about in agony, bumping past 2 shaking spears...
" Aii-Eeee !
I am bit by a snake !
The poison is like fire in my blood.
Help me....HELP....PLEASE ? "
As he screamed in severe pain and panic, all the soldiers were backing off and only had eyes for the mess of shadows darting across the floor.
The snakes in this land were greatly feared by all.

Then the crazed wrestler dropped to the floor and rolled around in violent, jerks of agonised pain. He seemed to kick out in spasms at random at nearby legs, and soon caused 3 men to trip and tumble into each other in a comical pile-up.

Krondagg dropped to his knees, as if in fear, and secretly felt for the dagger hidden in his boot. The angry leader pushed the sheepish Krondagg aside and strode towards the scrambling Huevos with murderous intent...
" Here, bull-pig, let me put you out of your misery..."

The scimitar flashed in the moonlight, and then sliced into the floor as the evil Leader was tripped down by Krondagg.
As his face slammed down hard onto the smelly straw...the evil grin turned into a scream of shock and agony.
Krondagg had shoved his dagger through the leather pants and deep into the arse of the fallen cocky bastard. Then he ripped and tore wildly with his very sharp blade as his victim thrashed about like a gutted fish.

Then Krondagg rolled to the side to avoid a spear-thrust, then grabbed the spear, and used it to knock down 2 more panicking men.

Meanwhile, Huevos had gone into a murderous rage that he had never experienced before...
he knew that he had to kill these very evil men, quickly and savagely, before they murdered him and his new friend. No time for fancy wrestling and posing moves. This was real life or death fighting, now!

This time when he bent arms and legs... he broke bones with furious force. When he snared a man in a head-lock... this time he twisted and squeezed and snapped the neck!
This time he did not wait for them to pose and block... he viciously poked their eyes with his very strong fingers.
He smashed his big fist and elbow into faces and groins, and he stamped on necks and limbs.
And he broke backs with his deadly bull-hug, at full force now!
One of the beaten men gibbered pointless garbled prayers to a mountain-god just before his back was snapped. He was convinced that his snorting Bull-faced slayer was a terrible man-demon of incredible strength and dexterity.

While Huevos broke and killed 3 confused soldiers on the floor in a fast flurry of unleashed expert-wrestling fury, Krondagg had fought and slain 2 other surprised men with spear, sword, dagger, and fist.

The last man, with his arm nearly hacked off, tried to flee out into the moon-shine.
Huevos hurled a spear at him... but it just missed, and splashed into the horse trough. But another spear sped true into his back, and the man fell dead under the hanging body of the boy... who seemed to stare down at the cruel soldier with smiling eyes...

Bull-face congratulated Baldy on his fine throw.
Krondagg smiled grimly as he observed the torn leader still slightly twitching on the floor in a huge pool of blood, staring in fixated horror, and bloody froth still oozing from his open mouth.
He used the fine scimitar to cut off the leader's head, and placed it on the table, so it could look at the whole scene of carnage.
Then he tucked the bloody, dripping scimitar into the belt of the swaying stable boy, and shook his dead hand, in a strange macabre salute.

Later, after the 2 bruised but victorious companions had saddled and watered the horses, Krondagg asked Huevos to practice swinging a sword, outside, while he gathered some booty from the slain soldiers.

Making sure that he was not watched, Krondagg carefully prised out the eyes from the leader's severed head, and put the bloody trophies into a small leather pouch.
He knew his sorceress Mordama would be thrilled with them. She had told him to collect certain body parts from very evil opponents, aparently some had power she could use in her dark sorceries.
He decided not to take her the penis and balls of the evil leader. The only cock he wanted to give her... was his own 'wicked wand'. He gasped with lust at the very thought.

After quickly collecting money, jewelry, food supplies, wine, and 2 good swords from the congealing corpses, he returned out back.
Huevos said with a grin...
" I will learn this sword more, like you advised. I now know I will have to learn many new things from you to survive in this brutal land."

Krondagg gave him about half the money coins in a purse, and smiled widely...
" You are learning fast and well.
Tis great to be in any fight with you.
You can tell me later exactly how you broke all those armed thugs with your bare hands?
Now, let's walk the horses quietly through the woods. Hopefully we can bypass any patrols on the village roads..."

...After they had left... something stirred in the stinking stables...
A big brown rat scurried over to feast on some warm human entrails.
Nearby, the severed neck of the dead leader shook from within.
Suddenly, blood and gore spurted out from the stump, followed by a small black snake-thing about 18 inches long !

The big rat took one glance at it... then coughed out its mouthful, did a perfect back-flip, fled out under the staring bright moon, and dived into the stream, beyond the broken fence.

The small serpent-thing had no eyes. It slid around through the crimson straw, flicking out a long forked tongue, as if it was searching for something...

Sunday, 28 March 2010

The Bull God (Part 3)

Seated in a seedy tavern, Huevos del Toro was attempting to describe to his new friend exactly what had happened to him.

Krondagg, for his turn, scratched his bald head and nodded attentively.

"So there I was, in the ring with Vestido Peligroso. He grabbed hold of me and then ... here I am - with a splitting headache!"

Maybe the bull-headed wrestler was mad, but Krondagg had his doubts. Ever since he had started working for the buxom sorceress Mordama, his view of reality had been severely shaken up. Things that would seem like insanity to most people had become everyday reality for him. Could it be that the unexpected arrival of this outlandish stranger had something to do with his Mistress's plans? He had learned never to assume that anything was a coincidence so far as Mordama was concerned.

"You must come with me to see my employer", he said, "she is a very wise and beautiful sorceress. She will know why you are here. And, if anyone can get you back home to this place 'Mex-ico', it is she."

Huevos could not believe his luck. Within the space of an hour he had gone from losing a wrestling match, to being mistaken for a god. And now, he was going be taken to see an actual sorceress!

Ever since childhood, when he had stayed up watching old Santo movies with his wrestling-mad grandfather, Huevos had craved adventure. As he followed his silver-masked idol's battles against were-wolves, vampires, witches, reanimated mummies and other forces of evil, he knew that this was to be his destiny. Like El Santo he would defeat the wicked and protect the weak. Lovely girls would melt into his arms as he rescued them from cackling would-be masterminds, and grinning peasants would raise him shoulder-high as they paraded him through their newly-saved village to a feast of thanksgiving.

Up to now, however, Huevos had to admit that the reality of being a masked luchador had been disappointing, depressing even. Acting out scripted routines night after night to ever-dwindling audiences did not match what he had seen on the silver screen. Still, Huevos felt it was his duty to keep the magic alive, to make it as real as possible for the true fans who followed him as a técnico or "good guy" in the ring. El Santo had shaped his life by giving him something positive to believe in; perhaps he could do the same for others and save them from the traps of crime and drugs that were rife in the impoverished barrios.

"Yes," he said, "I would very much like to meet your sorceress. But, I trust she only practises good magic? You see, I am sworn to fight evil. It is why I wear this mask. I will help your sorceress fight the bad witches! And - you say she is very beautiful?"

"Ah, yes ..." drooled Krondagg, making a curvaceous gesture with his hands, a faraway look on his scarred features. "But!", he suddenly glared, "She is mine. You must remember this. It is me she loves, although ..." he added wistfully "she does not realise this yet. But I see it in her eyes, her gorgeous deep eyes ..."

The two odd companions drained their tankards and Krondagg dropped some coins on the rough wooden bar. "We had better leave now", he said, "you are lucky I have a spare horse that I won in a bet last night. Let's go!"

Friday, 19 March 2010

An Education for a Young Nobleman

Adrick's father became Ronard Baron Morand, and a few years later Adrick's education started in earnest.

Weapons training was his favorite part of the day. He and Master Bartol, his Father's Weapons Master, practiced in padded gambesons, using wooden weapons. Adrick didn't mind getting thumped by Bartol, as long as he got to thump back. The thumps were sometimes painful, but Bartol was teaching him how to protect himself, as well as how to deliver blows.
"No, Adrick, keep your shoulders down." (A thump to the leg emphasized Bartol's point.) "When you get excited, your arms drift up, and that's my signal to hit you in the leg or body. Whenever you notice your arms drifting up, make a conscious effort to pull them back down, even if it seems you've pulled them too far down. Believe me," (here Bartol launched a blow at Adrick's head which Adrick blocked almost without conscious thought) "you'll still be able to block head shots. It's the low shots that can sneak in on you." (as a leg shot came sneaking in, that Adrick barely blocked, even at full panic-driven speed.) "If you keep your shoulders down all the time, your arms will stay down, too."

Adrick was also learning to read and write ancient and modern Frankosian, under the tutelage of Master Alosius, an itinerant scholar whom Baron Ronard had hired for the purpose. This had been a shrewd deal on the Baron's part; Alosius was comparatively young, just up from journeyman, and was working mostly for room and board, and access to the excellant Baronial library accumulated by Ronard's forbears.
When Adrick had sufficiently mastered the Literate Arts, he was also allowed to handle the valuable books in his Father's library. One day, he was comparing and contrasting modern to ancient Frankosian by studying two illuminated histories of the Frankosian Empire, which he had open side by side on the table. "Master Alosius, why does this book show Korgan the Great astride a Black Griffin, and this other book shows him on a Royal Griffin?"
"Well, Adrick," said Master Alosius, as he studied the two illuminated manuscripts, looking for some clue to the answer to Adrick's question, "um, well, if you look at this book with the Black Griffin, Mabelard's Newe Historie of the Frankosean Empyre, see how crude the illumination is, and if you look at the back of the book, where the scribe signed his name, you also see the date it was completed, the 65th Year of the Empire. And look how much finer the art is in the other book, Pelotyr's Acts of the Frankosian Kings, and look, this book was completed in the 817th Year of the Empire, see, it is much newer. So just as the artwork in Pelotyr's Acts is more beautiful and realistic, so is its historical accuracy also superior. And logic supports this. Of course Korgan the Great, first King of the Griffin Empire of Frankosia, would have ridden a Royal Griffin, not a Black Griffin." Smiling, Alosius stood up from the books, satisfied with his explanation.
"But didn't Korgan find Swiftstrike, his Griffin, in the forest? So maybe Swiftstrike was a wild Black Griffin!"
"Um, well, it may be that Korgan is variously shown on different types of Griffins to symbolize that Korgan was the master of all Griffins. Or perhaps ..." Alosius was beginning to wonder about the advisability of thinking out loud in front of the boy, "perhaps the depiction of Korgan astride a Royal Griffin symbolizes an existential transmogrification of a wild Griffin into a mount worthy of a King."
"A egg-, eggs-..."
"Don't worry about it. You will learn to deal with such apparent paradoxes as you advance in your studies."
"A parent, a pair of ..."
"I said don't worry about it. Now, then, we were looking at these two books to study the vowel changes that took place during the second century."

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A relative's funeral

One of Adrick's earliest memories was attending the funeral of his grandfather, old Baron Adrick of Morand, fourth of that name. He was marching behind Grandfather's coffin, his hand clutched in his father's. The coffin was born on a wagon drawn by four matched black horses who must have been griffin-steady, for beside the wagon paced Wingshadow, Grandfather's griffin. Wingshadow was huge and dark for a Golden Griffin; the feathers of his neck and wings had darkened to a deep bronze, and he was almost too big to fly combat maneuvers.
The procession entered the Baronial cemetary, and passed by rows of family tombs, and the stone griffins that guarded them. At the end of the last row was Grandfather's gravesite. The coffin was lowered into the tomb. One by one Old Adrick's comrades, relatives, and retainers filed by, depositing burial gifts atop the coffin as Wingshadow crouched at the head of the tomb, watching. Young Adrick left a knife with a gold wire-wrapped hilt, in a tooled leather scabbard. The knife had never been his; his father had given it to him the day before to leave as tribute. Adrick felt a twinge of jealousy as he dropped the knife -- he would have liked to keep it -- and he had seen plenty of weapons already dropped on the coffin. As he turned from the tomb, he saw Wingshadow's great yellow eyes watching him -- could the griffin have somehow read that unworthy thought? Evidentally not - he raised no protest as Adrick walked back to where his Father stood. Finally, the last gift had been deposited. Then Wingshadow underwent a terrifying change: his face and beak suddenly turned white; the whiteness moved like a flush down his neck and shoulders and back along the muscular leonine body, and all the way down his tail, all the way to the tufted tip. Only the great yellow eyes retained the color of life. For a moment, the eyes flickered around horizontally, as if recording the scene, then they glazed over to a blank, white stare, and Baron Adrick's tomb was guarded by a stone griffin. Young Adrick had watched dry-eyed throughout the funeral; his grandfather had never been close to him, but had been an awsome presence in the background of his life -- someone whom he had to please but would never be able to -- sort of like God. The tears which started from his eyes now were more the result of fear than grief. "Is he dead, Father?"
"Of course . He's been dead for three days."
"No, I mean Wingshadow."
"No, Adrick. But Wingshadow is too old to take a new Rider, so he will do what all griffins eventually do -- he will become a guardian, and guard your grandfather's tomb for all eternity. There is no finer fate for a Golden Griffin, and no greater honor for a Griffinrider."

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The Griffin Tower

Adrick [main character] climbed the spiral stairway inside the Griffin Tower, holding his blunted spear in his left hand, where it wouldn't foul against the wall. A few steps short of the top, he wedged his shoulders against the trapdoor, and pushed it open with his last few steps. He stepped up onto the roof, turned to re-lower the trapdoor, and looked around. The roof was perfectly flat, with no wall or guardrail around the edges. The trapdoor was flush with the roof, and had no handle; it could not be opened from the outside. There were two ways down from the top of the Griffin Tower: fall 250 feet, or...

"Now I wait," he thought. He pivoted slowly -- the griffin would most probably dive on him from sunward, but in reality the attack could come from any direction. He strove for calmness and patience -- the griffin might decide to make him wait, wait until he dropped his guard, or worked himself into a state of limb-locked hysteria.
Every few minutes, as he scanned the sky, he stretched his shoulders, took a deep, slow breath, and tried to remember everything he had ever learned.
Finally, a cry in the distance announced the arrival of the griffin. He turned his head rapidly, looking for it. When two or three seconds of scanning failed to produce a shape, he decided that the griffin [main character] was indeed stooping from out of the sun. Squinting in that direction, he spied a dark blot very close to the sun, growing in size with startling rapidity. Suddenly, it was no longer a formless dark spot, but had wings, talons, and an open beak. Adrick took stance, and braced the spear against his firmly planted back foot. Would the griffin impale itself against the spear?
Amazingly, despite the speed of the griffin's dive, it seemed that he had all the time in the world to memorize a picture of what was hurtling toward him: wings flaring for a quick stop, the tips already beyond the periphery of his tightly focused vision; talons of legendary strength and sharpness spread to clutch him in a bone-breaking grip; mad eyes glaring on either side of the wide-open beak screaming the creature's battle-cry -- he could see its tongue! Adrick couldn't help tensing every muscle of his body as he braced to receive the impact. At the last instant, the griffin fisted a talon and batted the spear out of his hands.

Scrap Metal 3 (an interlude) by Daniel

the morning following commander Paulinus's dream of the sorceress, camp routine was carried out with the same brand of excitement reserved for impending disasters-yet no man in the camp could name the nature thereof.

the men were ordered to drill until midday. at about 9 in the morning, the men could hear the approaching march of some expedition, and the sound of drums and bagpipes met their ears. the drill ceased, and the men stood to attention, as Paulinus mounted the sentry's tower. what he saw was yet another blow to his knowledge in natural studies, from which monsters were banished to the realms of myth. behind groups of infantry armed with swords sheilds and bows, marched thirty animals that looked like an african rhinoceros yet with three horns rather than two, and a strange bone-shield on it's neck. the beasts had mounts, as did the elephants hannibal brought to rome... the mounts carried lances and bows. several riders and soldiers had animal-shaped helmets like sargeant hewitt: bears, hawkes, a reptile... yet the sight that threatened to send paulinus's morning breakfast of gruel prematurely to his bowels with fear marched at the fore of the column:
it was a reptile that walked upright, about 26 feet in length from snout to tail-tip, with three-toed legs, a mouth with teeth like steak knives, and eyes like the flames of hades. it's arms were puny, however, and had two small claws. yet paulinus knew that this beast was a monarch. a tyrant lizard.

aback this juggarnaut, paulinus saw a tiny figure: a young woman, whose hair was so red, it was almost like blood. her eyes, when he saw them, weree as pale green as the skin of her mount- and as intense as it's entire entity. the column approached the camp. "sentry, seek livius,my lieutennant. inform him that under no circumstances is any of you men to leave the camp. i shall greet the party move!"

the sentry did as bidden. paulinus hurried to be seen by the approaching column. as the tyrant lizard neared him, two rhino-lizards hurriedly flanked it, their mounts ready with their bows. the beast lowered it's head gently and the young woman lithely descended to the ground. "all hail-" cried a captain.

"we may dispense with the formalities" cut the whip-voice of the young woman. "i am empress hectorine the russet-haired, ruler of the known world". she satated. "i am informed, by a certain battle-mage, that you are men known as romans, from the same world that is home to the greeks". that last was said somewhat sourly, upon seeing the roman commander's breastplate with winged horses.

paulinus took a moment to inspect the empress: she was not taller than five feet, her body so thin and wiry that even under the light mail shirt and iron leg-guards he could imagine to see abdomenal muscles and leg-tendons. she could'nt be older than sixteen, he thought, yet seemed like a scion of these strange reptiles for strength.

"greetings, imperial highness" spoke paulinus. he introduced himself, looking into those deep, metalic eyes that seemed to inspect him as he would have inspected an enemy formation in the feild. " i would see your camp" spoke the empress.

he led her through the camp, which she studied appreciatively. paulinus was surprised to see such keenness in a woman. as he looked at the men, he thought to see a similar puzzlement on their faces.

"your men may be about their tasks i would learn from you, sir roman, in your own words, your arrival in my world. i am well capable of defending myself should you have any untoward notions". of that he was certain, as well as the jaws of that reptile... they entered his tent. he offered her a chair and some wine. a breif parley followed, in which she learned of the planned revolt against emperor caligula, the discoery thereof, and the flight to ostia, under a forged commution of sentance, made by livius, in itself an injury to paulinus's honesty. he would have made martyrs of them all.

when she heard his description of the dinosaurs, she said: " the brontosaurus, triceratops and tyrannosaurus are the life-blood of our world. my own lineage claims kinship with them. learn to marshal them and you shall be rewarded. disrespect them -" the sentance needed no completion.

"you are an honest man, castor paulinus". said the empress. "i can make it happen that you and your men return to your world, and even extend some reinforcement as a gift. yet there is a price". she stood up. " prior to your arrival, my mages detected some activity from the desert regions, where the buxom sorceress you describe from your dream is currently trying to revive her ancient lover." a pause. "you and your men will be sent on a mission to gather information about her activities. magical aid will be given you along the way. learn what you may and then return." sargeant hewitt and turtledovix entered. "guide him". she commanded. they bowed. the empress marched to the edge of the camp unexcorted. paulinus walked as swiftly as he could beside her, only to catch a glimpse of her mount the aptly-named tyrannosaurus as sleekly as he would a horse. to even think of horses in a world like this was an affront, he mused.

in the tent, turtledovix explained:" apparently your arrival is a residue of the activities of the sorceress in recent times. by magical law, you and your men are to take part, at least, in the attempt to stop them". a lengthy explanation followed, about probability, attraction, paradox and time. paulinus felt that it all seemed like some mad greek play. maps were unfolded and the task was explained. "i cannot be with you in person. but i shall be alerted to any harm that comes to you". said turtledovix matter-of factly.

"and now, to the auguries". he said, producing a cage with a black cockerel.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Scrap metal: 'Serpent stream Pass'. [ by Bux ]

Turtledovix the wizzened battle-mage had just sacrificed an old Cock, but to no avail... a cheeky little dog had jumped up and run away with the signs in the entrails !
Fuming and spitting out feathers, he sent his one-eyed Raven flying fast after the mutt. But the sleepy old bird bumped into a tree, and flopped upon the grass with its legs in the air and its head spinning inside.

So he wearily sighed, and cast his magic runestones and carved bone shapes upon the table. He frowned long, and then tried to speak in a booming deep voice...
" I have seen your path ahead.
Your destiny lies far beyond the mountains, and through many dangers."

Commander Castor Paulinus threw down his fifth cup of wine, stood up to attention and wobbled as he thrust his short sword up towards the sky...
" Yes. Hail my destiny !
Er, ... but I better just send the Advance Guard ahead to check the route, eh?"

" Very wise, Commander. No need to lead the charge just yet."
The very steep valley walls are thickly wooded near the bottom, and many twisted trees overhang the path and stream.
The 'Serpent stream Pass' has a very narrow winding path alongside a very fast moving deep stream. The water channel is only about 6 to 10 feet wide all along.

The 'Romani' Advance Guard slowly marches nervously into the scarey narrow valley. They can only walk 2 or 3 abreast on the small path.
The sky is overcast with dark brooding the very gods are setting a grim trap?
Some dark writhing shapes are seen in the depths of the churning water. Fingers and spears point, while mouthes get dry and throats gulp.
The soldiers mutter whispered prayers to their various gods, and little religious symbols are secretly rubbed and kissed.

When they are over halfway up the valley, many soldiers get the feeling that they are being closely watched by eyes full of hate.
Then a man jumps out about 30 paces ahead on the path!
He is clad in the shaggy fur clothes of a barbarian, and his snarling face is crudely painted with blue.
He turns round, drops his pants, bares his big hairy arse, and shouts vile abuse at the soldiers.

The leading men just stop and laugh, but their insulted Officer shouts...
" Go bring me that funny man's arse !
I want to ask it some questions, with my boot."

Six men charge forward, still with smiles on their faces. They chase the 'hairy bum' round the next bend, while behind them, shouts along the column bring all the rest to full alert. The column cannot hear the distant screams because they are making so much noise stamping, shouting, and clanking equipment.

Three minutes later, after shouting himself hoarse, the frustrated officer leads 6 more men to carefully look round the bend. None of them notice all the blood flowing fast past them in the water.

Next time, they all hear the screams of terror and panic from ahead. Two weaponless soldiers come fleeing down the path like they are being chased by the great devil himself !
Loping quickly after them is a huge brown Bear-thing, splattered with fresh blood and gore !
It has something held in its massive jaws... tis the severed head of the Officer !

[ ...bearing the horror... ]

The 6 lead men bravely throw their pilum-spears and then brace their big curved-oblong shields together, ready to thrust at the beast with their short swords.
But, the massive Bear just ignores the 3 spears hanging from its thick fur, and charges into the first 3 shields like a herd of bulls!

It hits them so hard that the first 9 men are all knocked backwards, falling over in heaps of scrambling terror. From the slashing, flailing, deadly huge claws, 3 men are quickly torn apart, and 2 more are knocked into the rapid stream.

As the Bear-horror rips into the front, suddenly the centre and rear of the column are ambushed by wild barbarians leaping out of the thick dark woods!
Many howling fur clad, blue faced warriors savagely hack into the wall of big shields with spears, axes, clubs, rocks, and some shiny swords.
There is a frenzy of shouts and curses as flesh is thrusted into, pierced, hacked and sliced open. Armour, skulls and bones smashed, crunched and cracked.
Crimson showers of blood spurt everywhere, as this shocking orgy of feral violence quickly collapses into crippling mutilations and mangled, twitching corpses piling up.

The brave soldiers fought hard and well, but they stood no chance in this deadly ambush of overwhelming odds and barbaric power. There had been about 100 romani in the advance guard. Now about 80 lay dead.
Less than 20 jumped into the stream to escape, and some of them drowned in their armour.
They killed over 130 barbarians, but hundreds remain on the rampage.

Their huge 'Bear-god', which stood over 12 feet high on its hind legs, slew about 30 men [ and ate big chunks of flesh, too ], before it seemed to tire of its wounds. It limped off into the woods, and the wild men nearby cheered it like a hero.
A tall Shaman with a carved wooden staff walked slowly after it. Laid under some bushes he found a big bearded man in much pain. He was naked and very hairy all over. Most of his wounds were now smaller and closing up by themselves!

" Clawbur, you did very well my son.
You will be all healed again in a few days.
Then we will all celebrate your great victory at our feast."

The strange Woe-Bear man just groaned and stared back with very tired bloodshot eyes.

Smiling, cunning eyes, secretly watched the Shaman leave.
Later, a sleepy Clawbur heard a quiet voice from behind him in the bushes...
" I am a friend. Do not be alarmed.
I have watched your pain and I sympathise.
I know a beautiful Sorceress who's Tower is across these mountains. I used to work for her.
She will help cure your curse.
And only I can take you to her. "

[ Please read my Character notes in Comments, below. ]

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Keeper of Devils.

Keeper of Devils.

Crystal quintessence, a diamond like serenity. The cold calamity and palpable illusion of stillness were shattered into sound as Whitemane’s hooves ripped through the misty moors.
A terrible and marvellous beast it was, a gargantuan ebon stallion, with a quicksilver mane and vibrant grey eyes of granite. The beast was only a steed however to the equally if not more horrific and fantastic beast that sat atop it.
Blane impelled his mythical mount to larger effort, urging it feverishly on. The black castle of Ulgaath loomed before rider and steed, crouching like a tenebrous behemoth awaiting its prey.
Enormous cloven feet smashed down on the heath land and fierce gusts of breath were expelled in tremulous snorts. The midnight mists swirling all around abruptly dissipated and the Azanian could see clearly the macabre host awaiting them.
A winged devil stood sentinel outside the castle gates, a purplish conflagration blazed about his reptilian skin and three holes Blane took for eyes burned a fiercer balefire.
The demon’s scabrous wings widened as Whitemane approached unfalteringly, it would take more than a demon to insight fear upon that intrepid mount.
Triple eyes of white fire met twin eyes of grey slashed with emerald as Blane and the devil considered one another. The demon taking in the warrior’s beyond impressive size and tribal markings.
“Greetings brave barbarian. My mistress bids you welcome,” the devil uttered in a sibilant slurring voice.
Blane cantered closer towards the amethystine demon, one strong hand gripped firmly on the hilt of his ancient Warsong blade. He surveyed the devil’s serrated wing’s flapping gently, although there was no wind to move them.
“The Lich lord spoke to me of Sarana’s guardian, be you he?” Blane asked brusquely, his eyes smouldering a fatal fire.
The demon’s lipless gash widened and rubiate fangs blossomed into existence. “One of many,” the fiend murmured assent.
Blane nodded mutely and dismounted fluidly.
The winged brute was of impressive size and amounted well over six feet, but Blane was taller still.
“Stay,” Blane commanded gently to Whitemane who snorted his understanding before standing stoically.
“Lead on,” Blane instructed the demon.
His malignant smile never changing, the purple devil turned and led the Azanian barbarian into the entrance of the black fortress.

The shadow from the woods prt1

Breathless and half scared to death, the young man ran as fast as he could. Swirling here and there between the tall trees that seemed to reach down to him with twisted arms and wretched claws as if to snatch him of the ground, his heart hammered in his chest, ready to explode. His every muscle burned with pain yet he could not stop fleeing.
He was a young boy from the village down by the river in the shadow of the Toreburgh mountain. That very mountain rumoured to be the throne of some long forgotten winged god with eyes like fire and feeding of the flesh and souls of mortal men. An old women’s tale some said. To frighten the young children from wandering too far into the woods, but Johanz knew better now. The fairy tales of his youth became the hard terrifying reality he was now running from.

Cursing with every step the soil he ran upon, his strength was beginning to wane. Soon he would not be able to do much more but crawl in some dark place and hope that the shadow from the woods does not find him. And what if it could smell its prey? No. Such thoughts could not be permitted to fill his mind. Not now as he was almost clear of the woods, closing in on the rocky façade of the mountainside. There surely he would find many small caves and holes deep and dark enough to hide. At least for a while until…until what? What hope is there for a boy against such a beast that sailed the winds with wings wide a as three longships?

Then he fell. His legs failed him at last, overstrained beyond what a young and strong man of his age could possibly endure. As he laid down in the mud by a small stream flowing calmly as a never ending serpent through the tall grass he could hear naught but the clear singing of birds and the sweet chanting of the wind through the leaves. The nightmare was over. The old women’s tale was just that, a tale that returned from its long slumber in the dark recesses of Johanz’ soul to haunt him again. His heart slowed down its hammering as his breast was beginning to rise and fall in a calm, rhythmic pace. The sun even managed to pierce through the thick branches to send a warming ray of light upon his muddied face. He could at last open his eyes, just in time to see a monstrous gaping maw that seemed like a cavern’s threshold in size with uneven rows of stalactites dripping with froth and viscous bile. The warmth of the sun became a foul humid stench of decomposition and rotted meat. The ground shook but for a brief moment as if lightning had stricken it with all the might of the thunder god himself. Leaving behind, as the humongous winged form cleared the top of the trees dropping rocks and moist earth to the ground, a large whole in the wet, humid soil around the stream. In a loud yet deafened sound of flapping wings, the large shadow swirled its way up the mountain to disappear in some opening unseen to all but the gods from their heavenly abodes.

Later on that day at the village, the folk will speak in a low voice of a great shadow darkening the sun and the return of he who has been banished many winters ago. He who speaks the tongues of all beasts that fly, crawl and walk on all fours. He that summoned the mountain god.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Bull God: Part 2

Huevos del Toro suddenly stopped talking, and spun around.
He had heard a faint female scream of distress nearby, and he was poised for action.
He looked like a big bull-man ready to charge. Then he scraped the ground with his booted toe, snorted, and ran towards where the sound had come from. For a big strong man he was surprisingly quick and agile on his feet.

He peeped through the open side-window of a low wooden hut. He saw a big dark shape of a man in a wide hat leaning over the silent naked body of a pretty teenage girl!
Huevos leapt through the window like a big springing cat and was on the man's back in a flash.
His strong hands clamped round the thick neck and he rolled the heavy man away from the girl. They fell together across the rug and floor, and Huevos could feel the power and strength of the big man as he struggled violently to shake him off.

Huevos snarled at the killer in the black cape...
" You murdering bastardo !
Hold still, or I will break your neck ! "

Surprisingly, the man with the big scarred bald head, stopped struggling. His fancy hat had fallen off.
The grim voice spoke calmly and laughed...
" No ! You have got it all wrong.
She is not harmed. She is just knocked out. She had an accident.
See... she is breathing... Look ! "

Huevos could see her petite ribcage and pointy breasts moving up and down. Her beautiful flesh did look unhurt.

While the wrestler was slightly distracted by naturally lusty male thoughts, the bald man burst into action and elbowed Huevos very hard in his stomach!
Winded, the grappler loosened his grip in shock, and his big tough opponent quicky prised himself free, and then spun round to see him for the first time.

Krondagg [ Main character ] was so surprised to behold the face of a bull on a man in strange garb!
He took a pace backwards in awe and slight fear. His voice trembled a bit...
" By the horns of Satanus! What manner of demon are you?
Have you been sent by my mistress? "

Huevos, gasped, stared long and hard at the big grim-faced thug who was slowly backing away. The wrestler was cunning, and realised he had a chance to gain valuable information from this scared foe...
" Yes. You worm !
I grow impatient with your whining.
Who is this poor girl, and what is your business here? "

Krondagg sat down on the floor. His mind was racing fast and he was sweating now.
He quickly told the Bull-demon that the girl was a virgin, who was not to be harmed, and he had cut some of her hair. He must take it to his employer, Mordama the Sorceress, tonight.
She had told him to look out for more strong rogues and warriors who might want to earn a lot of money in secret work.

Huevos, scratched his bull chin, blinked his eyes a lot, and threw his head back in booming laughter...
" You crazy big bastardo. You do talk some stupid sheeet, eh? "

Krondagg was suddenly very relieved, and soon realised his mistake. He began to laugh too, and slowly rose up with his hands in the air, and moved nearer to the laughing bull...
" Yeah, I can tell the best funny tales, my friend. "

Krondagg was intrigued by this new guy in the painted mask, and he always respected strength and great fighting powers. And he thought Mordama could use a tough guy like bull-face?
" Hey, I like you.
Let me take you for a drink at the tavern?
You look thirsty from a long journey?
And later, perhaps you would like to meet my beautiful employer? She sure pays well."

Huevos shrugged, sighed, and then beamed a big smile of relief...
" Ok, Baldy.
But what about the girl ? "

Krondagg picked up his hat, tossed a blanket over the now snoring girl, and gently kissed her on the forehead...and chuckled...
" She will be fine.
You can come back and marry her later, and I will be your best man, eh? "

The wrestler now noticed that his new 'friend' walked with a limp.
They both slapped each other on the back, and went laughing lustilly down the dark street towards the rough local tavern...

[ Please read my Character notes in the Comments section... ]

The Bull God

Huevos del Toro staggered to his feet and pulled his mask straight. His opponent, the mountainous Vestido Peligroso, was already rushing towards him again. The Mexico City crowd erupted as Huevos was grabbed in a double underhook and El Peligroso fell back, smashing his opponent's head to the ground in a deadly "brainbuster" move.

For Huevos del Toro, the world went black and began to spin. Awareness of his surroundings dropped away as he entered an unconscious void. All that remained was the sensation of revolving in space as he fell deeper and deeper into the abyss. Gradually, however, he began to notice specks of light, streaking like shooting stars in the dark . At the same time, he became aware of a whooshing sound that filled both ears and a pulsating headache. Colours flashed as his aching brain struggled back to consciousness.

Beneath his head; that was not canvass! And where was the jeering crowd, baying for blood? There was a sound like the sea. It was the sea! And that was sand he was lying on; a beach!

Disorientated and weary, Huevos wiped the blood from his eyes and looked around him. In the distance from where he lay on the beach, he could see a city. Nearer, there were palm trees and a small cluster of dilapidated huts. Wincing as a fresh wave of pain swept across his brow, Huevos hauled himself up and slowly shambled over to these signs of habitation.

Knocking on the door of the first hut, Huevos was taken aback by the extreme age of its occupant. The toothless elder who answered, for his part, seemed terrified to see Huevos. Somewhat confused by this response, the luchadora felt his own face and thought "Of course, I'm still wearing the mask!" Huevos' mascara was a complicated bright red adornment, fashioned to look like a bull, complete with stylized horns.

The ancient sank to his knees and prostrated himself full length on the dusty ground. "Doom, doom!" he mouthed, "I never thought I'd live to see it! First, the Warriors from the Sea and now, the Bull God himself... Truly the Day of the Prophecy has come; the Dead One who Lies Sleeping must have risen!"

"Excuse me, Señor", asked Huevos, "Do you think I could trouble you for a glass of water? And please could you tell me where I am?"

Sunday, 7 March 2010

scrap metal (part two)

"honestly turtledovix, be decent to those chaps", jut caught hold of himself quickly."it's not as though they claim to have come through a wardrobe..." jut had considerable difficulty not to poke the battle mage with his elbow. to castor paulinus he said promptly:" protocall demands that you camp either in the garrison or within sight of it's sentries. turtledovix here will alert the imperial palace regarding your presence. i must return home. my name is jut. i'm an armorer. should you need any further assistance summon for me". he extended a hand to castor paulinus. the commander shook it, more for the benefit of morale than anything else. jut turned to go. a guardsman arrived, in his black cuirass and bear-shaped helmet, indicative of his rank: a sargeant. "i am sargeant hewitt. would you and your men prefer to use the lodges or to make your own camp in the field?" c.paulinus turned to his lieutennant, scipio livius. the burly ligurian responded to the unspoken question"the field". paulinus turned to hewitt:" am i thus able to understand all men, having drunk that potion?" he asked. "yes" came the reply. " for a year since the drinking, and your men also, since you are their guardian, in a manner of speaking". much relieved, the romans turned to dig a camp in a nearby empty patch of ground. midday approached. the camp-digging done, livius ordered rest and time to eat some rations for the men. the silence in which their activities were carried out spoke volumes for their confusion and restraint. as early evening drew near, a council was gathered. the unit-commanders gathered in paulinus's tent. officiality was cast aside: " gentlemen" he began: "from what little i understand, this is a civilised if odd place, and people at least try to show some understanding. tomorrow we will see someone in a higher position. tell the men to rest and remember they are roman-" not a second elapsed since these words were spoken and the men began to tumble over each other as the earth started shaking violently. it was as though titans hammered at it, bellowing furiously, the roman sentry's buccinae brayed for dear life. paulinus and his seconds in command charged out of the tent. outside, sargeant hewitt and his men tried to calm the roman soldiers who were busy making entreaties to gods and demons alike in all the tongues of their empire. "nothing to be concerned about" rpeated hewitt. "hades what is t h a t"? asked paulinus. at the edge of the camp, charged a group of about 20 huge animals that looked like a python with the legs and belly of an elephant. " it's our battle-mounts, sir. the brontosaurus. harmless beasts. unless provoked. we always excercise them come evening". said hewitt, as to frightened children. "you mean to say you ride these monsters as you would a horse?" hewitt was offended. "sir, please! horses indeed!monsters, indeed! these beasts are very dear to our military heritage!". the serpent-necked herd charged away, towards some distant orchard. later on, they would return like cats after a nightly prawl. the romans, clearly shaken, fell to rebuilding their camp with vigor. the night was spent in thought and prayer, reading from classical texts and fitful sleep. paulinus dreamed of huge lizards with mouths like caverns and a large-breasted woman trying to raise the dead...

Trouble Brewing: Part 2 ...

She turned away from the bubbling hot steam and rotting stench of the ancient iron cauldron which had weird reliefs of various skulls and demonic faces on it's side. She shook her long raven hair, stretched up her bare arms, and did a little jumping-dance. Some of the evil faces were glowing firey-red, and one with big horns and a forked tongue seemed to be leering at the beautiful bouncing flesh of the long legged sorceress.
She often felt that it's empty black eye-holes were following her around the chamber whenever the dread cauldron was on full heat.

Her almost manic wide eyes glared down at the big wooden sarcophagus which lay at her pretty, bare feet. The lid was missing, and some torn pieces of dark ancient bandages littered the floor.
The semi-wrapped dry corpse was several thousand years old. It had taken her 9 long years to find it, and then organise the robbing of the hidden tomb.
She had paid a small fortune to the very talented, ruthless, selected group of rogues and thieves who brought the dead-lord to her in secret. But only half of them had survived the deadly traps, and the desert patrols, in the land of the pyramids and serpents.

She leaned down over the mummified King Astar-Hoth [ Main character ]
and licked his dusty forehead with her long pink tongue. Meanwhile her big breasts almost fell out of her crimson silk top.
Licking her lips, she seemed to get a jolt of pleasure through her whole body from what flakes of dusty power she had tasted.
Throwing her head back she laughed loud with a vulpine howl...
"Soon, I will taste ALL your sandy secrets ! Ha ! "

While she skipped joyfully around the big sinister chamber like a prancing school-girl, her breasts escaped to enjoy their brief bouncy freedom, but she ignored them for a while.
Then she lifted them and pulled a very wet cloth from out of her top. It had soaked up lots of her sweat which had run all the way down from her face and neck.
She squeezed the cloth out into a big glass jar, and then placed a new cloth under her heaving bosom. The jar was now nearly full, and she kissed the glass, and hummed with pleasure as she carefully placed the precious fluid on a shelf next to a small pickled human foetus in another jar.
There were many shelves and different sized jars waiting in limbo in her chamber of horrors.

When this complex ritual of incredible necromantic power is complete, she will talk to the long dead sorcerer-king, and force him to reveal the vital information she needs.
But, there are still 2 things she needs to mix her perfect commanding spell.
Some hair from a living virgin.
And, the fresh heart of an evil human man. It must be cut out in her chamber and plunged quickly into the hot pot.

Both these missions have been underway for days, and they are due to arrive at her Tower later tonight...

Scrap Metal (by Daniel)

Another humid day threatend to lay it's soggy armpits over the roofs of throssenspurt, a mighty metropolis, that has seen it's share of tavern brawls, heroic quests, oriental dooms, and the tentacular monstrosities usually mandatory therein. the sun deigned to wearily rise, casting inviting rays to aspiring country lads and steppe barbarians alike, who would be soon devoured by urban ennui and unhealthy feeding habits.

not much after sunrise, jut the armorer rose from a very pleasant dream in which several nubile maidens, tending towards terminal duskiness, were in the midst of explaining the intricacies of the famous "hide the dojimbuh" game to him. the fruit, originating from the jungle-continent of humbaza, was known to serve as an aphrodisiac as well as a deadly throwing-weapon... whatever could it be that had to be done so early in the morning with such loud knocks at his door? jut rose angrily, wore a house-robe over his paunchy stomach and grumphed his wayy to the door of his house. his armory was situated 15 buildings away up prince roderic the melancholy street, as a point of insistence: let those who indulge in the barbarian romances build an apartment above an armory. "people who place an apartment over a metal-working lot go around later on wearing their swords on their backs. and we all know i'ts the begining of the end from then" said jut's father to him years ago. well, the old man died peacefully, three years ago, but the common sense he bequethed his son was as sound as the weaponry they both made.

at the door, stood an alarming sight: 600 men, all in recently-polished armor, were rigidly arrayed before him, eyeing him and the street around them with a combination of irritation and confusion. the man jut decided was their commander, on account of his horse-hair-plumed helmet and apparently-winged-horses ornamented breastplate, tried to speak to him: "ave caesar". he said, in an obvious attempt at authority. the commander handed jut a scroll. jut, who could never miss a buisness opportunity, was well versed in the proceedings. these men will need a good armorer as a friend with so much metal on them. he took from a small shelf on the hallway wall a flask, and dropped four red drops on the four corners of the unfurled scroll. the foreign script now became legible in the local tongue:"

"my dear something-or-marcus" read the scroll. "as i could'nt possibly stand all that much broomstick-straight gravitas around me these days, about to be crowned as zeus king of the gods and all that, you and your men are exiled. for all that i care, go find another world to settle on my divine behalf. whoever governs it has you, as my gift to them. honesty is as useful as scrap metal these days".
the signature was:

"right" said jut to himself, and took two goblets from the same shelf. he poured some of the same liquid into them, offering one to the commander and quickly drinking himself. the freindly gesture seemed to ease the tension a bit. the commander drank. "can i help you, men?" asked jut. "i am castor paulinus, commander of the 34' legion in the imperial roman army. these are my men. we were to establish ourselves in ostia when a thunder-storm erupted just as we landed on the beach, and we found ourselves here, wherever here is." jut knew what to do. "follow me" he said. the fat, balding armorer, still in his dressing-robe, found himself suddenly leading a legion of foreign fighters to the city barracks, where he found the man he was looking for. "hullo turtledove fork-beard" he stated to the wizzened battle-mage seated on a stool before him. " i guess these men are here for some reason beyond our ken." he said, shifting to a dialect unknown to the foreigners, now that at least on of them could understand him. he told the tale to turtledovix. the latter tugged at his beard thoughtfully. "well, from what i recall, the flying horse is a symbol not uncommon among the men known as greeks, a group thereof arrived a decade ago under similar circomstances and were sent to fight by our divine empress against the canibal amazons of humbaza. they were peirced to a man by very sharp dojimbuh spears. now did i tell you that dream i had eralier this morning just before waking up? funny, it involved a game of "hide the dojimbuh" played by a group of terminally-dusky maidens and for some strange reason you were there...i'll tell you all about it soon". turtledovix hurriedly referred to the romans, seeing the hurt look on jut's face. "mind you, these chaps, who go around putting wings on horses are a step away, if you ask me, from taking a perfectly reasonable tyrannosaurus the wings from som hapless pterodactyl and calling it a dragon. these greeks told such tales to me when they arrived. my ribs still hurt for laughing." jut nodded sagely at the ever-patient romans, as would a parent at a child adding two and two and not knowing it was four.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Prologue: Trouble Brewing!

It was a wild night. A gibbous moon soared high above the storm-tossed landscape, revealed through tattered clouds as the wind howled and moaned its symphony of terror. The buxom sorceress Mordama toiled away, her beautiful but deadly features lit by the multi-coloured flames that licked at the side of her seething cauldron. Sweat poured down her ample cleavage as she chanted the grim archaic words of a long-dead pre-human race. The ritual was almost complete ...