Source material: Worm, Interlude 19 (Donation Bonus #2)
Blogged: March 30-31, 2022
Huh! My hunch turned out right! Guess we’ve got another Interlude to speculate on then.
I think I demonstrated pretty well last time why guessing the POV character is so difficult to do. It could be literally anyone but it’s probably not someone directly relevant, which paradoxically makes it even harder to come up with plausible guesses because the directly relevant people are easier to think of.
Usually these less relevant POV characters are used to give us a glimpse at what more relevant characters are up to, though. Who’d be relevant to check in on, besides Faultline’s Crew and the Nine (both ruled out because they had this recently)…
Cauldron? Is it too early for a Contessa Interlude? It’s probably too early for a Contessa Interlude. But maybe someone else working for Cauldron, or another customer?
Ooh, maybe we could check on one of the former Coildiers and see how they’re feeling about Tattletale’s takeover and the destruction of their workplace.
I don’t know. For all I know we might be about to check up on those characters that showed up all the way back in Interlude 2 and then were never relevant again. Let’s just jump into it and find out!
The weather beaten trail wound ahead into the dust racked climes of the baren land which dominates large portions of the Norgolian empire.
…yeah there was no way I was gonna guess we were going to check on the world outside superpowered North America today.
Should be interesting, though. There are tidbits all over the story that imply a bunch of superpowered wars out there, the rise of capes massively changing the geopolitical landscape of the world. Case in point, I’m pretty sure there’s no Norgolian empire in our world. Where is that?
Age worn hoof prints smothered by the sifting sands of time shone dully against the dust splattered crust of earth. The tireless sun cast its parching rays of incandescense from overhead, half way through its daily revolution.
Hmm. Horses. Why do they use horses?
This place seems to be pretty dry, but not quite a desert despite the “sands of time”.
Small rodents scampered about, occupying themselves in the daily accomplishments of their dismal lives. Dust sprayed over three heaving mounts in blinding clouds, while they bore the burdonsome cargoes of their struggling overseers.
You should probably have brought offroad vehicles instead.
“Prepare to embrace your creators in the stygian haunts of hell, barbarian”, gasped the first soldier.
“Only after you have kissed the fleeting stead of death, wretch!” returned Grignr.
Wait, what? I thought we were traveling, not fighting.
Oh, “struggling” as in “fighting”, I guess. So the horses are just kind of watching from the sidelines, then, or would if the dust wasn’t blinding them, while the humans duke it out. Do any of them have powers, or is this a traditional battle?
Given that Grignr (interesting name, seems to suggest Norgolia has a language with syllabic /n/ as a valid syllable core, which I like) is named, I’m assuming the POV is on their side.
A sweeping blade of flashing steel riveted from the massive barbarians hide enameled shield as his rippling right arm thrust forth, sending a steel shod blade to the hilt into the soldiers vital organs.
His arm is “rippling”. Water powers? Would be beautifully ironic in a place this apparently dry.
The disemboweled mercenary crumpled from his saddle and sank to the clouded sward, sprinkling the parched dust with crimson droplets of escaping life fluid.
Bonesaw: Psh, amateur.
The enthused barbarian swilveled about, his shock of fiery red hair tossing robustly in the humid air currents as he faced the attack of the defeated soldier’s fellow in arms.
I feel like the prose is a little more purple than usual in this chapter. I wonder if Wildbow did that to imply that Grignr is smarter than the self-ascribed/accepted “barbarian” label traditionally implies. There’s so much characterization you can do just through the style of your narration, even if the character isn’t actually narrating.
“Damn you, barbarian” Shrieked the soldier as he observed his comrade in death.
A gleaming scimitar smote a heavy blow against the renegade’s spiked helmet, bringing a heavy cloud over the Ecordian’s misting brain.
It’s entirely Brandon Sanderson’s fault that I read “misting” as a noun here.
Ecordian? I guess that’s the other nationality in whatever greater war this might be part of?
For reasons entirely unrelated to the name, this area of Norgolia at least strikes me as similar to Mongolia or other parts of the Great Steppe. Maybe Ecordia is also in that area, a neighboring country?
Shaking off the effects of the pounding blow to his head, Grignr brought down his scarlet streaked edge against the soldier’s crudely forged hauberk, clanging harmlessly to the left side of his opponent.
Ah, Wikipedia tells me it’s a shirt of chainmail. Basically casual wear armor.
Also wait a minute, apparently Grignr was the one who just got struck in the head and is the Ecordian. I guess that means we’re in enemy territory. No wonder it’s two against one.
The soldier’s stead whinnied as he directed the horse back from the driving blade of the barbarian. Grignr leashed his mount forward as the hoarsely piercing battle cry of his wilderness bred race resounded from his grinding lungs.
The term barbarian often implies a degree of living outside “civil” society. From a Norgolian perspective, all their enemies might fall under that label, but Grignr also seems to be thinking of himself that way. Does that mean Ecordia is a small, almost tribal community being attacked by this larger empire, or something like that?
Do we have an Asterix on our hands?
Or maybe an Obelix. Dude does seem like he might have some Brute powers.
A twirling blade bounced harmlessly from the mighty thief’s buckler as his rolling right arm cleft upward, sending a foot of blinding steel ripping through the Simarian’s exposed gullet.
Another country? Or is Simaria a region of Norgolia?
Grignr seems to have multiclassed barbarian/rogue.
A gasping gurgle from the soldier’s writhing mouth as he tumbled to the golden sand at his feet, and wormed agonizingly in his death bed.
Wait, the sand was literal?
Grignr’s emerald green orbs glared lustfully at the wallowing soldier struggling before his chestnut swirled mount.
o r b s
…lustfully? Oh no.
His scowling voice reverberated over the dying form in a tone of mocking mirth. “You city bred dogs should learn not to antagonize your better.”
Don’t think they can learn much of anything anymore.
Reining his weary mount ahead, grignr resumed his journey to the Noregolian city of Gorzam, hoping to discover wine, women, and adventure to boil the wild blood coarsing through his savage veins.
Yeah, Grignr definitely comes from somewhere rural at the very least, and he’s proud of it.
So if this is enemy territory, can he just.
Hopefully we get more details about what this war is about in Gorzam. It sounds like he’s heading for a bar, which is always a great place for exposition in fiction.
The trek to Gorzom was forced upon Grignr when the soldiers of Crin were leashed upon him by a faithless concubine he had wooed.
Ohh, it’s not a war. Those were personal soldiers. Unless Crin is a city? Still, point stands, the soldiers have more personal beef with Grignr than “he’s from the enemy’s country”.
His scandalous activities throughout the Simarian city had unleashed throngs of havoc and uproar among it’s refined patricians, leading them to tack a heavy reward over his head.
And that’s why Simarian soldiers were in Norgolia. They followed him across the border.
And died on Norgolian soil. Let’s hope no one finds them and thinks it’s an act of war from either country.
What kind of scandalous activities are we talking here? Supervillainous ones?
He had barely managed to escape through the back entrance of the inn he had been guzzling in, as a squad of soldiers tounced upon him. After spilling a spout of blood from the leader of the mercenaries as he dismembered one of the officer’s arms, he retreated to his mount to make his way towards Gorzom, rumoured to contain hoards of plunder, and many young wenches for any man who has the backbone to wrest them away.
Ah yes, the other thing inns are good for in fiction. Getting attacked at so you have to flee town with little warning.
It’s ridiculous how many times this happens in The Eye of the World alone.
Arriving after dusk in Gorzom,grignr descended down a dismal alley, reining his horse before a beaten tavern.
No, seriously, why do they use horses? Did the chaos caused by capes break all their traffic infrastructure or something?
The redhaired giant
Oh wait, no, Grignr.
The redhaired giant strode into the dimly lit hostelry reeking of foul odors, and cheap wine. The air was heavy with chocking fumes spewing from smolderingtorches encased within theden’s earthen packed walls.
Who’s Theden and what is a smolderingtorch?
Tables were clustered with groups of drunken thieves, and cutthroats, tossing dice, or making love to willing prostitutes.
Mat Cauthon would like this place.
Eyeing a slender female crouched alone at a nearby bench, Grignr advanced wishing to wholesomely occupy his time. The flickering torches cast weird shafts of luminescence dancing over the half naked harlot of his choice, her stringy orchid twines of hair swaying gracefully over the lithe opaque nose, as she raised a half drained mug to her pale red lips.
I get the sense that these aren’t the only weird shafts about to show up.
Hm. What if the technology here is so reduced because Shatterbird did a tour of Norgolia?
Glancing upward, the alluring complexion noted the stalwart giant as he rapidly approached. A faint glimmer sparked from the pair of deep blue ovals of the amorous female as she motioned toward Grignr, enticing him to join her. The barbarian seated himself upon a stool at the wenches side, exposing his body, naked save for a loin cloth brandishing a long steel broad sword, an iron spiraled battle helmet, and a thick leather sandals, to her unobstructed view.
Wait, there’s no mention of him undressing, which means… I think he was wearing exactly this the whole time.
…did he at least have a saddle? I’ve never tried, but riding bareback seems rough enough without also riding barebottomed. Then again he seems like the type who would like it rough.
Also that one soldier earlier sure hit him in the only place he had armor.
Maybe his power is he’s invulnerable everywhere except his head?
“Thou hast need to occupy your time, barbarian”,questioned the female?
If you’re gonna talk like that, at least pick a level of intimacy. “your” should be “thy” (in this case) if you’re addressing him with “thou”.
Otherwise it’s like saying “Bro, wanna copulate, sir?”
“Only if something worth offering is within my reach.” Stated Grignr,as his hands crept to embrace the tempting female, who welcomed them with open willingness.
“From where do you come barbarian, and by what are you called?” Gasped the complying wench, as Grignr smothered her lips with the blazing touch of his flaming mouth.
This could be worse. At least there’s clear consent.
The engrossed titan ignored the queries of the inquisitive female, pulling her towards him and crushing her sagging nipples to his yearning chest.
…okay it got worse. Wildbow clearly hasn’t written much of this brand of explicit before. Sagging nipples, really?
Without struggle she gave in, winding her soft arms around the harshly bronzedhide of Grignr corded shoulder blades, as his calloused hands caressed her firm protruding busts.
“You make love well wench,” Admitted Grignr as he reached for the vessel of potent wine his charge had been quaffing.
Does she? She doesn’t seem to have done much of anything other than yield.
A flying foot caught the mug Grignr had taken hold of, sending its blood red contents sloshing over a flickering crescent; leashing tongues of bright orange flame to the foot trodden floor.
Rude. Who’s the cape with the power to send their foot flying around the room on its own?
“Remove yourself Sirrah, the wench belongs to me;” Blabbered a drunken soldier, too far consumed by the influences of his virile brew to take note of the superior size of his adversary.
It’s possible that Grignr’s power (assuming he has one) is what’s made him so big, too. It really could be a bit of an Obelix situation.
What if someone fell into a vat of Cauldron potion?
I don’t think that happened to Grignr, but it could have interesting effects.
Grignr lithly bounded from the startled female, his face lit up to an ashen red ferocity, and eyes locked in a searing feral blaze toward the swaying soldier.
“To hell with you, braggard!” Bellowed the angered Ecordian, as he hefted his finely honed broad sword.
Like many barbarians, you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
The staggering soldier clumsily reached towards the pommel of his dangling sword, but before his hands ever touched the oaken hilt a silvered flash was slicing the heavy air. The thews of the savages lashing right arm bulged from the glistening bronzed hide as his blade bit deeply into the soldiers neck, loping off the confused head of his senseless tormentor.
And it’s true. I don’t like him when he’s angry.
With a nauseating thud the severed oval toppled to the floor, as the segregated torso of Grignr’s bovine antagonist swayed, then collapsed in a pool of swirled crimson.
Bovine? You could probably have mentioned the guy had minotaur powers before you killed him.
In the confusion the soldier’s fellows confronted Grignr with unsheathed cutlasses, directed toward the latters scowling make-up.
“The slut should have picked his quarry more carefully!” Roared the victor in a mocking baritone growl, as he wiped his dripping blade on the prostrate form, and returned it to its scabbard.
I mean yeah, but you could have just. Gone for his arm instead of his neck or something. Stop him from unsheathing his sword by not letting him have something to unsheathe it with. That might have driven the point home while still being theoretically survivable.
Then again, the guy was drunk and already showing poor judgment of which battles to pick. Might’ve pulled a Black Knight routine on us.
Besides, maybe minotaur powers would allow him to regrow the arm, or grow more likely grown horns to attack with instead. Dangerous to attempt to deescalate with
nonlethal less lethal damage.
“The fool should have shown more prudence, however you shall rue your actions while rotting in the pits.” Stated one of the sprawled soldier’s comrades.
Grignr’s hand began to remove his blade from its leather housing, but retarded the motion in face of the blades waving before his face.
I mean they’re right though. The guy was imprudent, but Grignr is ultimately the one who drew first. Knocking the wine glass out of someone’s hand with a kick (literal flying feet don’t fit into a minotaur powerset) isn’t an attack worth pulling weapons against.
If anything it’s a party trick, being able to do that successfully while that drunk.
“Dismiss your hand from the hilt, barbarbian, or you shall find a foot of steel sheathed in your gizzard.”
Grignr weighed his position observing his plight, where-upon he took the soldier’s advice as the only logical choice.
“Barbarian” or not, it would be hypocritical of Grignr to show the same imprudence in the face of an overwhelming force that he just criticized the minotaur guy for not showing.
To attempt to hack his way from his present predicament could only warrant certain death. He was of no mind to bring upon his own demise if an alternate path presented itself. The will to necessitate his life forced him to yield to the superior force in hopes of a moment of carlessness later upon the part of his captors in which he could effect a more plausible means of escape.
Wait, so the captors do have cars?
“The will to necessitate his life” is actually a really beautiful way of expressing the need for self-actualization and desire to do a great good, the need to be something the world needs.
“You may steady your arms, I will go without a struggle.”
“Your decision is a wise one, yet perhaps you would have been better off had you forced death,” the soldier’s mouth wrinkled to a sadistic grin of knowing mirth as he prodded his prisoner on with his sword point.
Always a good sign when your captors tell you you’d be better off dead.
After an indiscriminate period of marching through slinking alleyways and dim moonlighted streets the procession confronted a massive seraglio. The palace area was surrounded by an iron grating, with a lush garden upon all sides.
Seraglio… Ottoman-styled living quarters for concubines. Interesting. Does that mean Norgolia is a bit further west than I was imagining, maybe? Hm, maybe in the Middle East?
Oh yeah, that’s right, my guess of the Great Steppes was based on me thinking the sand was metaphorical.
We do know Behemoth did some damage in the Middle East, but not how much or at what range. He’s pretty well equipped to cause a country to collapse, though, so maybe his first attack led to a bunch of new countries in place of… maybe Iran, given the Persian cape names?
The group was admitted through the gilded gateway and Grignr was ledalong a stone pathway bordered by plush vegitation lustfully enhanced by the moon’s shimmering rays.
“Lustfully” again? That’s two Interlude POV characters in a row who’d fuck plants if given the option.
Upon reaching the palace the group was granted entrance, and after several minutes of explanation, led through several winding corridors to a richly draped chamber.
Confronting the group was a short stocky man seated upona golden throne.
Dang, barely checked into your inn and you’re already meeting royalty. You really might get along with some of the main cast of The Wheel of Time.
Tapestries of richly draped regal blue silk covered all walls of the chamber, while the steps leading to the throne were plated with sparkling white ivory. The man upon the throne had a naked wench seated at each of his arms, and a trusted advisor seated in back of him.
Gee, Your Majesty! How come your advisor lets you have TWO wenches?
no know your meme you’re lying to me there’s no way that meme is 14 years old what the fuck what is time a miserable pile of moments but enough talk have a skinless hot dog ’cause all your sausage is belong to us but i can has cheezburger instead
At each cornwr of the chamber a guard stood at attention,
Given the display on the throne, I can believe that.
with upraised pikes supported in their hands, golden chainmail adorning their torso’s and barred helmets emitting scarlet plumes enshrouding their heads. The man rose from his throne to the dias surrounding it. His plush turquois robe dangled loosely from his chuncky frame.
So the plumes on their helmets… come back down and wrap around their heads… sure, weird costume design but I can dig it.
I suppose it’s possible that this guy isn’t a king, just a supervillain who likes to have the trappings of a king, with a palace and a throne room and lackeys in guard armor and all that stuff.
In which case Grignr seems to have pissed off his lackeys in such a way that they want their boss to decide what happens to him. Presumably the minotaur guy was one of the king guy’s superpowered lackeys and he’s gonna be mad about losing one of those.
The soldiers surrounding Grignr fell to their knees with heads bowed to the stone masonry of the floor in fearful dignity to their sovereign, leige.
“Explain the purpose of this intrusion upon my chateau!”
“Your sirenity, resplendent in noble grandeur, we have brought this yokel before you (the soldier gestured toward Grignr) for the redress or your all knowing wisdon in judgement regarding his fate.”
Sirenity… interesting title. I’m not quite seeing a thematic connection between siren powers and the royal aesthetic though. Maybe the title just compliments his mundane singing voice.
You know, the kind of title a tyrant who absolutely can’t sing gives himself and forces his subordinates to use.
“Down on your knees, lout, and pay proper homage to your sovereign!” commanded the pudgy noble of Grignr.
“By the surly beard of Mrifk, Grignr kneels to no man!” scowled the massive barbarian.
Ooh, the Ecordian language allows word-initial “mr” clusters AND “fk”. Spicy.
Speaking of which, in retrospect, it’s actually far more likely that “Grignr” has a syllabic “r” than syllabic “n”.
“You dare to deal this blasphemous act to me! You are indeed brave stranger, yet your valor smacks of foolishness.”
“I find you to be the only fool, sitting upon your pompous throne, enhancing the rolling flabs of your belly in the midst of your elaborate luxuryand …” The soldier standing at Grignr’s side smote him heavily in the face with the flat of his sword, cutting short the harsh words and knocking his battered helmet to the masonry with an echo-ing clang.
Yeah, that’s what happens.
The paunchy noble’s sagging round face flushed suddenly pale, then pastily lit up to a lustrous cherry red radiance. His lips trembled with malicious rage, while emitting a muffled sibilant gibberish. His sagging flabs rolled like a tub of upset jelly, then compressed as he sucked in his gut in an attempt to conceal his softness.
Someone call whatever the emergency service number in this country is, this guy seems to be having some kind of stroke. That or he ate cartoon chili.
The prince regained his statue,
I wasn’t aware he had a statue, let alone that it went anywhere, but nice to hear it came back. What does that have to do with anything though?
then spoke to the soldiers surrounding Grignr, his face conforming to an ugly expression of sadistic humor.
“Take this uncouth heathen to the vault of misery, and be sure that his agonies are long and drawn out before death can release him.”
The Vault of Misery is a solid 7/10 as far as names for torture chambers go.
“As you wish sire, your command shall be heeded immediately,” answered the soldier on the right of Grignr as he stared into the barbarians seemingly unaffected face.
The advisor seated in the back of the noble slowly rose and advanced to the side of his master, motioning the wenches seated at his sides to remove themselves. He lowered his head and whispered to the noble.
Uh oh. Nothing good ever comes out of mysterious advisors whispering in a ruler’s ear in fiction.
“Eminence, the punishment you have decreed will cause much misery to this scum, yet it will last only a short time, then release him to a land beyond the sufferings of the human body. Why not mellow him in one of the subterranean vaults for a few days, then send him to life labor in one of your buried mines.
To one such as he, a life spent in the confinement of the stygian pits will be an infinitely more appropiate and lasting torture.”
Does Grignr have super hearing, or does the advisor just suck at whispering?
The noble cupped his drooping double chin in the folds of his briming palm, meditating for a moment upon the rationality of the councilor’s word’s, then raised his shaggy brown eyebrows and turned toward the advisor, eyes aglow.
“…As always Agafnd, you speak with great wisdom. Your words ring of great knowledge concerning the nature of one such as he ,” sayeth , the king.
Agafnd. That’s definitely a syllabic nasal. Sweet.
The noble turned toward the prisoner with a noticable shimmer reflecting in his frog-like eyes, and his lips contorting to a greasy grin. “I have decided to void my previous decree. The prisoner shall be removed to one of the palaces underground vaults. There he shall stay until I have decided that he has sufficiently simmered, whereupon he is to be allowed to spend the remainder of his days at labor in one of my mines.”
So far it seems like this guy at least thinks he’s a real noble and rules this place. Guess I might have been off on the supervillain theory.
Upon hearing this, Grignr realized that his fate would be far less merciful than death to one such as he, who is used to roaming the countryside at will. A life of confinement would be more than his body and mind could stand up to. This type of life would be immeasurably worse than death.
“I shall never understand the ways if your twisted civilization. I simply defend my honor and am condemned to life confinement, by a pig who sits on his royal ass wooing whores, and knows nothing of the affairs of the land he imagines to rule!” Lectures Grignr ?
It’s not too unlike what happened to Paige McAbee…
“Enough of this! Away with the slut before I loose my control!”
Seeing the peril of his position, Grignr searched for an opening. Crushing prudence to the sward, he plowed into the soldier at his left arm taking hold of his sword, and bounding to the dias supporting the prince before the startled guards could regain their composure. Agafnd leaped Grignr and his sire, but found a sword blade permeating the length of his ribs before he could loosed his weapon.
Whose ribs? Agafnd’s or the noble’s? We can assume they’re not Grignr’s.
This is one point where Norwegian is clearer than English. In Norwegian this would be unambiguous, because we have a possessive pronoun that refers back to the subject. You’d use that one if Agafnd own the ribs, and our version of “his” if Grignr or the noble did.
Kind of odd to kill of Agafnd so shortly after his introduction if he’s the one who gets a name out of the two men on that dais.
The councilor slumped to his knees as Grignr slid his crimsoned blade from Agfnd’s rib cage.
Okay yeah, Agafnd’s.
Maybe Agafnd will make a surprise recovery. Maybe his power makes him restoratively immortal and he was planning to exploit that to control the country from the shadows by acting as an advisor for centuries worth of royals.
The fat prince stood undulating in insurmountable fear before the edge of the fiery maned comet, his flabs of jellied blubber pulsating to and fro in ripples of flowing terror.
Look, Piggot was enough.
The fat prince stood undulating in insurmountable fear before the edge of the fiery maned comet, his flabs of jellied blubber pulsating to and fro in ripples of flowing terror.
“Where is your wisdom and power now, your magjesty?” Growled Grignr.
Magjesty is a brilliant play on the words “magic” and “majesty”, implying that the position he holds is like stage magic: fake, easily broken by viewers who don’t play along, and holding no real power to do what it claims.
The prince went rigid as Grignr discerned him glazing over his shoulder. He swlived to note the cause of the noble’s attention, raised his sword over his head, and prepared to leash a vicious downward cleft, but fell short as the haft of a steel rimed pike clashed against his unguarded skull. Then blackness and solitude. Silence enshrouding and ever peaceful reind supreme.
“Before me, sirrah! Before me as always! Ha, Ha Ha, Haaaa…”, nobly cackled.
I’ve been watching a version of Robin Hood recently, a kids’ animated series called Robin Hood: Mischief in Sherwood. This moment right here reminds me a lot of that series’ take on Prince John.
Consciousness returned to Grignr in stygmatic pools as his mind gradually cleared of the cobwebs cluttering its inner recesses, yet the stygian cloud of charcoal ebony remained. An incompatible shield of blackness, enhanced by the bleak abscense of sound.
Are you sure it’s not charcoal enoby? Maybe eboby?
Grignr’s muddled brain reeled from the shock of the blow he had recieved to the base of his skull. The events leading to his predicament were slow to filter back to him. He dickered with the notion that he was dead and had descended or sunk, however it may be, to the shadowed land beyond the the aperature of the grave, but rejected this hypothesis when his memory sifted back within his grips.
Honestly, “Silence enshrouding and ever peaceful” really sounds like death too.
This was not the land of the dead, it was something infinitely more precarious than anything the grave could offer. Death promised an infinity of peace, not the finite misery of an inactive life of confined torture, forever concealed from the life bearing shafts of the beloved rising sun.
Hey, look on the bright side! You might get superpowers down here, especially if you didn’t already have them!
The orb that had been before taken for granted, yet now cherished above all else.
To be forever refused further glimpses of the snow capped summits of the land of his birth, never again to witness the thrill of plundering unexplored lands beyond the crest of a bleeding horizon, and perhaps worst of all the denial to ever again encompass the lustful excitement of caressing the naked curves of the body of a trim yound wench.
I mean, there might be a couple of those in the mines.
This was indeed one of the buried chasms of Hell concealed within the inner depths of the palace’s despised interior. A fearful ebony chamber devised to drive to the brinks of insanity the minds of the unfortunately condemned, through the inapt solitude of a limbo of listless dreary silence.
Ah yes. “Simmering”.
A tightly rung elliptical circle or torches cast their wavering shafts prancing morbidly over the smooth surface of a rectangular, ridged alter. Expertly chisled forms of grotesque gargoyles graced the oblique rim protruberating the length of the grim orifice of death, staring forever ahead into nothingness in complete ignorance of the bloody rites enacted in their prescence.
I wonder if there are a lot of Endbringer cults out there, hailing them as deities.
Brown flaking stains decorated the golden surface of the ridge surrounding the alter, which banked to a small slit at the lower right hand corner of the altar. The slit stood above a crudely pounded pail which had several silver meshed chalices hanging at its sides. Dangling at the rimof golden mallet, the handle of which was engraved with images of twisted faces and groved at its far end with slots designed for a snug hand grip. The head of the mallet was slightly larger than a clenched fist and shaped into a smooth oval mass.
Do I want to know what the golden mallet of Rimof is used for?
Encircling the marble altar was a congregation of leering shamen. Eerie chants of a bygone age, originating unknown eons before the memory of man, were being uttered from the buried recesses of the acolytes’ deep lings. Orange paint was smeared in generous globules over the tops of thw Priests’ wrinkled shaven scalps, while golden rings projected from the lobes of their pink ears.
Eerie chants older than humanity rarely suggest a morally righteous ritual.
But then, neither does all that blood on the altar.
Ornate robes of lusciour purple satin enclosed their bulging torsos, attached around their waists with silvered silk lashes latched with ebony buckles in the shape of morose mis-shaped skulls. Dangling around their necks were oval fashoned medalions held by thin gold chains, featuring in their centers blood red rubys which resembled crimson fetish eyeballs. Cushoning their bare feet were plush red felt slippers with pointed golden spikes projecting from their tips.
…if you’re wearing slippers, your feet are not bare.
Situated in front of the altar, and directly adjacent to the copper pail was a massive jade idol; a misshaped, hideous bust of the shamens’ pagan diety. The shimmering green idol was placed in a sitting posture on an ornately carved golden throne raised upon a round, dvory plated dias; it bulging arms and webbed hands resting on the padded arms of the seat.
Green, webbed hands… a frog deity?
Its head was entwined in golden snake-like coils hanging over its oblong ears, which tappered off to thin hollow points. Its nose was a bulging triangular mass, sunken in at its sides with tow gaping nostrils. Dramatic beneath the nostrils was a twisted, shaggy lipped mouth, giving the impression of a slovering sadistic grimace.
Uh, not quite apparently.
At the foot of the heathen diety a slender, pale faced female, naked but for a golden, jeweled harness enshrouding her huge outcropping breasts, supporting long silver laces which extended to her thigh, stood before the pearl white field with noticable shivers traveling up and down the length of her exquisitely molded body.
Obviously the frog needs human sacrifice.
Her delicate lips trembled beneath soft narrow hands as she attemped to conceal herself from the piercing stare of the ambivalent idol.
I’m not sure the idol is who you should be worried about.
Glaring directly down towards her was the stoney, cycloptic face of the bloated diety.
Huh. You know what, I think I like this “cycloptic” better than the in my experience more common “cyclopean” as an adjective form for “cyclops”. Like, we already have “optic” from the same original word, why wouldn’t it be “cycloptic”?
Gaping from its single obling socket was scintillating, many fauceted scarlet emerald, a brilliant gem seeming to possess a life all of its own. A priceless gleaming stone, capable of domineering the wealth of conquering empires…the eye of Argon.
“Seeming to possess a life all of its own”… could that literally be the case? Maybe someone has the power to bring gemstones to life, or otherwise enchant them with other powers?
All knowledge of measuring time had escaped Grignr. When a person is deprived of the sun, moon, and stars, he looses all conception of time as he had previously understood it.
Is it any wonder my sleep schedule is as volatile as it is when I live in the Arctic?
It seemed as if years had passed if time were being measured by terms of misery and mental anguish, yet he estimated that his stay had only been a few days in length.
This whole thing hits a little different when I literally just came out of lengthy philosophical discussions about this video:
Fair warning: This gets existential and a little disturbing.
He has slept three times and had been fed five times since his awakening in the crypt. However, when the actions of the body are restricted its needs are also affected. The need for nourishmnet and slumber are directly proportional to the functions the body has performed, meaning that when free and active Grignr may become hungry every six hours and witness the desire for sleep every fifteen hours, whereas in his present condition he may encounter the need for food every ten hours, and the want for rest every twenty hours.
Twenty? That seems long when there’s also nothing to occupy your mind with. But then, my sleep schedule seems to want to be something like that anyway.
All methods he had before depended upon were extinct in the dismal pit. Hence, he may have been imprisoned for ten minutes or ten years, he did not know, resulting in a disheartened emotion deep within his being.
It really doesn’t help that the guy in the cell next door has passive time dilation powers in a field around himself.
The food, if you can honor the moldering lumps of fetid mush to that extent, was born to him by two guards who opened a portal at the top of his enclosure and shoved it to him in wooden bowls, retrieving the food and water bowels from his previous meal at the same time, after which they threw back the bolts on the iron latch and returned to their other duties.
…I mean, sure he’s a barbarian but that doesn’t mean you have to make the guards feed him their newborn child. Jeez, Nobly.
Since deprived of all other means of nourishment, Grignr was impelled to eat the tainted slop in order to ward off the paings of starvation, though as he stuffed it into his mouth with his filthy fingers and struggled to force it down his throat, he imagined it was that which had been spurned by the hounds stationed at various segments of the palace.
The dogs didn’t like the baby, apparently.
There was little in the baren vault that could occupy his body or mind. He had paced out the length and width of the enclosure time and time again and tested every granite slab which consisted the walls of the prison in hopes of finding a hidden passage to freedom, all of which was to no avail other than to keep him busy and distract his mind from wandering to thoughts of what he believed was his future. He had memorized the number of strides from one end to the other of the cell, and knew the exact number of slabs which made up the bleak dungeon. Numorous schemes were introduced and alternately discarded in turn as they succored to unravel to him no means of escape which stood the slightest chance of sucess.
It’s time to pull out a tooth and start carving the secrets of the universe into the floor.
Anguish continued to mount as his means of occupation were rapidly exhausted. Suddenly without no tive, he wasrouted from his contemplations as he detected a faint scratching sound at the end of the crypt opposite him.
A rodent? Is this going to be his Wilson?
The sound seemed to be caused by something trying to scrape away at the grantite blocks the floor of the enclosure consisted of, the sandy scratching of something like an animal’s claws.
Grignr gradually groped his way to the other end of the vault carefully feeling his way along with his hands ahead of him. When a few inches from the wall, a loud, penetrating squeal, and the scampering of small padded feet reverberated from the walls of the roughly hewn chamber.
We don’t know when we are in the timeline. Maybe Mouse Protector took a trip abroad?
Making the rodents back at the beginning foreshadowing.
Grignr threw his hands up to shield his face, and flung himself backwards upon his buttocks. A fuzzy form bounded to his hairy chest, burying its talons in his flesh while gnashing toward his throat with its grinding white teeth;its sour, fetid breath scortching the sqirming barbarians dilating nostrils. Grignr grappled with the lashing flexor muscles of the repugnant body of a garganuan brownhided rat, striving to hold its razor teeth from his juicy jugular, as its beady grey organs of sight glazed into the flaring emeralds of its prey.
Wait, so Grignr’s eyes are emerald colored? The same as the Eye of Argon? That doesn’t sound like a coincidence.
Taking hold of the rodent around its lean, growling stomach with both hands Grignr pried it from his crimson rent breast, removing small patches of flayed flesh from his chest in the motion between the squalid black claws of the starving beast. Holding the rodent at arms length, he cupped his righthand over its frothing face, contrcting his fingers into a vice-like fist over the quivering head.
Maybe Mouse Protector isn’t here and this isn’t the past, but she senses this across spacetime and immediately heads for her RATDIS (Rats and Time Dimensions in Space) to come consume Grignr.
Look, anything is possible for rodent-based heroes, at least until they get Bonesaw’d.
Retaining his grips on the rat, grignr flexed his outstretched arms while slowly twisting his right hand clockwise and his left hand counter clockwise motion. The rodent let out a tortured squall, drawing scarlet as it violently dug its foam flecked fangs into the barbarians sweating palm, causing his face to contort to an ugly grimace as he cursed beneath his braeth.
Well, I guess there’s weather in here now. Or is that Squall Leonheart from Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts?
With a loud crack the rodents head parted from its squirming torso, sending out a sprinking shower of crimson gore, and trailing a slimy string of disjointed vertebrae, snapped trachea, esophagus, and jugular, disjointed hyoid bone, morose purpled stretched hide, and blood seared muscles.
Again with Grignr’s narration making him seem more… educated than he lets on to the other characters.
Then again, I suppose if you make a habit of this kind of behavior, you start recognizing things after a while.
Flinging the broken body to the floor, Grignr shook his blood streaked hands and wiped them against his thigh until dry, then wiped the blood that had showered his face and from his eyes. Again sitting himself upon the jagged floor, he prepared to once more revamp his glum meditations.
There isn’t some way you can get out of here using the rat’s bones, is there? A makeshift lockpick or something?
He told himself that as long as he still breathed the gust of life through his lungs, hope was not lost; he told himself this, but found it hard to comprehend in his gloomy surroundings.
Hope, such a fickle thing.
Yet he was still alive, his bulging sinews at their peak of marvel, his struggling mind floating in a miral of impressed excellence of thought. Plot after plot sifted through his mind in energetic contemplations.
Then it hit him. Minutes may have passed in silent thought or days, he could not tell, but he stumbled at last upon a plan that he considered as holding a slight margin of plausibility.
Ooh, crazy enough it just might work?
He might die in the attempt, but he knew he would not submit without a final bloody struggle. It was not a foolproof plan, yet it built up a store of renewed vortexed energy in his overwroughtsoul, though he might perish in the execution of the escape, he would still be escaping the life of infinite torture in store forhim. Either way he would still cheat the gloating prince of the succored revenge his sadistic mind craved so dearly.
Vortexed energy… do you channel that to make parts of your body more powerful?
The guards would soon come to bear him off to the prince’s buried mines of dread, giving him the sought after opportunity to execute his newly formulated plan. Groping his way along the rough floor Grignr finally found his tool in a pool of congealed gore; the carcass of the decapitated rodent; the tool that the very filth he had been sentenced too, spawned. When the time came for action he would have to be prepared, so he set himself to rending the sticky hulk in grim silence, searching by the touch of his fingertips for the lever to freedom.
It does seem he’s planning on using the rat’s bones. Maybe to make a very small dagger?
Would a ratbone dagger even do anything to a human being? It’d be a wicked name for an RPG item though.
Lots of section boxes in this Interlude. That’s the oddest thing about this Interlude, not that anything else is particularly odd about it.
“Up to the altar and be done with it wench;” ordered a fidgeting shaman as he gave the female a grim stare accompanied by the wrinkling of his lips to a mirthful grin of delight.
Ritual time… maybe Grignr’s escape will bring the chaos into this room and mess up the ritual?
The girl burst into a slow steady whimper, stooping shakily to her knees and cringing woefully from the priest with both arms wound snake-like around the bulging jade jade shin rising before her scantily attired figure. Her face was redly inflamed from the salty flow of tears spouting from her glassy dilated eyeballs.
Should we be concerned that not just her pupils but her whole eyeballs are dilated?
…nah, you know what, in a situation like that, a little bit of eyeball dilation is totally justified.
With short, heavy footfals the priest approached the female, his piercing stare never wavering from her quivering young countenance. Halting before the terrified girl he projected his arm outward and motioned her to arise with an upward movement of his hand. the girl’s whimpering increased slightly and she sunk closer to the floor rather than arising. The flickering torches outlined her trim build with a weird ornate glow as it cast a ghostly shadow dancing in horrid waves of splendor over smoothly worn whiteness of the marble hewn altar.
I wonder if they used marble exported from my hometown. Obviously the marble is the important part of what’s going on here.
Hm. What if the girl triggers and that somehow interacts with whatever effect the Eye of Argon has?
Maybe that’s even core to the ritual.
The shaman’s lips curled back farther, exposing a set of blackened, decaying molars which transformed his slovenly grin into a wide greasy arc of sadistic mirth and alternately interposed into the female a strong sensation of stomach curdling nausea. “Have it as you will female;” gloated the enhanced priest as he bent over at the waist, projecting his ape-like arms forward, and clasped the female’s slender arms with his hairy round fists. With an inward surge of of his biceps he harshly jerked the trembling girl to her feet and smothered her salty wet cheeks with the moldy touch of his decrepid, dull red lips.
The vile stench of the Shaman’s hot fetid breath over came the nauseated female with a deep soul searing sickness, causing her to wrench her head backwards and regurgitate a slimy, orangewhite stream of swelling gore over the richly woven purple robe of the enthused acolyte.
The priest’s lips trembled with a malicious rage as he removed his callous paws from the girl’s arms and replaced them with tightly around her undulating neck, shaking her violently to and fro.
Okay, what he’s doing here is of course horrible but all I can picture is Homer and Bart Simpson.
That should probably say more about Homer Simpson than about this though.
The girl gasped a tortured groan from her clamped lungs, her sea blue eyes bulging forth from damp sockets. Cocking her right foot backwards, she leashed it desperately outwards with the strength of a demon possessed, lodging her sandled foot squarely between the shaman’s testicles.
Lodging? As in, she leaves it there, between… dang, some balls on that guy.
Also this seems less like cocking the foot and more like footing the cock.
The startled priest released his crushing grip, crimping his body over at the waist overlooking his recessed belly; wide open in a deep chasim. His face flushed to a rose red shade of crimson, eyelids fluttering wide with eyeballs protruding blindly outwards from their sockets to their outmost perimeters, while his lips quivered wildly about allowing an agonized wallow to gust forth as his breath billowed from burning lungs.
Are all the noble’s underlings (assuming these guys are that) cartoon characters?
His hands reached out clutching his urinary gland as his knees wobbled rapidly about for a few seconds then buckled, causing the ruptured shaman to collapse in an egg huddled mass to the granite pavement, rolling helplessly about in his agony.
He clutched his what?!
Maybe she did get her foot lodged right into his body’s sensitive area.
The pathetic screeches of the shaman groveling in dejected misery upon the hand hewn granite laid pavement, worn smooth by countless hours of arduous sweat and toil, a welter of ichor oozing through his clenched hands, attracted the purturbed attention of his comrades from their foetid ulations.
You’re telling me they didn’t notice this was happening?
The actions of this this rebellious wench bespoke the creedence of an unheard of sacrilige. Never before in a lost maze of untold eons had a chosen one dared to demonstrate such blasphemy in the face of the cult’s idolic diety.
Good on her. Now start running!
The girl cowered in unreasoning terror, helpless in the face of the emblazoned acolytes’ rage; her orchid tusseled face smothered betwixt her bulging bosom as she shut her curled lashed tightly hoping to open them and find herself awakening from a morbid nightmare. yet the hand of destiny decreed her no such mercy, the antagonized pack of leering shaman converging tensely upon her prostrate form were entangled all too lividly in the grim web of reality.
Dang it. Too many of them.
Also I suppose given that this is a cult, they probably aren’t operating under the noble’s command.
Shuddering from the clamy touch of the shaman as they grappled with her supple form, hands wrenching at her slender arms and legs in all directions, her bare body being molested in the midst of a labyrnth of orange smudges, purpled satin, and mangled skulls, shadowed in an eerie crimson glow; her confused head reeled then clouded in a mist of enshrouding ebony as she lapsed beneath the protective sheet of unconsiousness to a land peach and resign.
Y’know, assault with the aim of taking agency from someone is more fun when it’s half a little girl who just won’t die doing it.
“Take hold of this rope,” said the first soldier, “and climb out from your pit, slut. Your presence is requested in another far deeper hell hole.”
Time to execute plan R, for Rat.
Grignr slipped his right hand to his thigh, concealing a small opaque object beneath the folds of the g-string wrapped about his waist.
First a loincloth, now a g-string. This guy just gets more scandalous the longer you look at him.
Brine wells swelled in Grignr’s cold, jade squinting eyes, which grown accustomed to the gloom of the stygian pools of ebony engulfing him, were bedazzled and blinded by flickerering radiance cast forth by the second soldiers’s resin torch.
His might was intensified in a manner akin to a Ford-branded automobile from 1932, adding to the number of individuals moving quickly by the pitter-patter of feet on the soil during the fickle hours in which the world was blessed by moonlight.
Tightly gripped in the second soldier’s right hand, opposite the intermittent torch, was a large double edged axe, a long leather wound oaken handled transfixing the center of the weapon’s iron head. Adorning the torso’s of both of the sentries were thin yet sturdy hauberks, the breatplates of which were woven of tightly hemmed twines of reinforced silver braiding.
Is silver good for armor? Isn’t one of the benefits of most of the metals used for coinage that they’re easily malleable? I know that’s a thing for gold, at least.
Wikipedia says it’s a 2.5 on the Mohs scale, versus iron’s 4. But in fairness, this does say it’s reinforced, and the Mohs scale is about scratching while I’m more concerned about bludgeoning damage.
It also says silver is the most electrically and thermally conductive metal, which could be problematic. Though it’s also the most reflective, so sunlight heating could be worse.
Cupping the soldiers’ feet were thick leather sandals, wound about their shins to two inches below their knees. Wrapped about their waists were wide satin girdles, with slender bladed poniards dangling loosely from them, the hilts of which featured scarlet encrusted gems. Resting upon the manes of their heads, and reaching midway to their brows were smooth copper morions.
Poniards, manes, it’s almost like we’re back in that world with all the horse people.
These guys are really decked out in fancy stuff. High-profile guards, by the sound of it.
Of course it won’t help much against a cape.
Just in general, I mean. It’s still unclear whether or not Grignr has a power or is just beefy.
Spiraling the lower portion of the helmet were short, up-curved silver spikes, while a golden hump spired from the top of each basinet. Beneath their chins, wound around their necks, and draping their clad shoulders dangled regal purple satin cloaks, which flowed midway to the soldiers feet.
Of course, it’s always possible that they’re so decked out because they are capes.
hand over hand, feet braced against the dank walls of the enclosure, huge Grignr ascended from the moldering dephs of the forlorn abyss. His swelled limbs, stiff due to the boredom of a timeless inactivity, compounded by the musty atmosture and jagged granite protuberan against his body, craved for action. The opportunity now presenting itself served the purpose of oiling his rusty joints, and honing his dulled senses.
Ready to get back into the fray, eh?
He braced himself, facing the second soldier. The sentry’s stature was was wildly exaggerated in the glare of the flickering cresset cuppex in his right fist.
The what now?
Ah, a cresset is a kind of metal flame-holder.
His eyes were wide open in a slightly slanted owlish glaze, enhanced in their sinister intensity by the hawk-bill curve of his nose andpale yellow pique of his cheeks.
“Place your hands behind your back,” said the second soldier as he raised his ax over his right shoulder blade and cast it a wavering glance. “We must bind your wrists to parry any attempts at escape. Be sure to make the knot a stout one, Broig, we wouldn’t want our guest to take leave of our guidance.”
Hmm. Did he make the rat bones into a makeshift knife to cut the bonds with?
Maybe the Ratbone Dagger isn’t as useless as it seems.
Broig grasped Grignr’s left wrist and reached for the barbarians’s right wrist. Grignr wrenched his right arm free and swilveled to face Broig, reach- beneath his loin cloth with his right hand. The sentry grappled at his girdle for the sheathed dagger, but recoiled short of his intentions as Grignr’s right arm swept to his gorge. The soldier went limp, his bobbing eyes rolling beneath fluttering eyelids, a deep welt across his spouting gullet.
Nope, we’re doing this the old-fashioned way.
Without lingering to observe the result of his efforts, Grignr dropped to his knees. The second soldier’s axe cleft over Grignr’s head in a blze of silvered ferocity, severing several scarlet locks from his scalp. Coming to rest in his fellow’s stomach, the iron head crashed through mail and flesh with splintering force, spilling a pool of crimsoned entrails over the granite paving.
Before the sentry could wrench his axe free from his comrade’s carcass, he found Grignr’s massive hands clasped about his throat, choking the life from his clamped lungs. With a zealous grunt, the Ecordian flexed his tightly corded biceps, forcing the grim faced soldier to one knee. The sentry plunged his right fist into Grignr’s face, digging his grimy nails into the barbarians flesh. Ejaculating a curse through rasping teeth, grignr surged the bulk of his weight foreard, bowling the beseiged soldier over upon his back. The sentry’s arms collapsed to his thigh, shuddering convulsively; his bulging eyes staring blindly from a bloated ,cherry red face.
Am I reading a fight scene or BDSM?
Rising to his feet, Grignr shook the bllod from his eyes, ruffling his surly red mane as a brush fire swaying to the nightime breeze. Stooping over the spr sprawled corpse of the first soldier, Grignr retrieved a small white object from a pool of congealing gore.
I assume “spr” is short for “super”. This corpse is “super sprawled”. Like, jumping jacks style, every limb fully outstretched in a different direction sprawled.
Snorting a gusty billow of mirth, he once more concealed th e tiny object beneath his loin cloth; the tediously honed pelvis bone of the broken rodent.
…of course he took the pelvis.
Returning his attention toward the second soldier, Grignr turned to the task of attiring his limbs. To move about freely through the dim recesses of the castle would require the grotesque garb of its soldiery.
Also known as being dressed at all.
Utilizing the silence and stealth aquired in the untamed climbs of his childhood, Grignr slink through twisting corridors, and winding stairways, lighting his way with the confisticated torch of his dispatched guardian. Knowing where his steps were leading to, Grignr meandered aimlessly in search of an exit from the chateau’s dim confines.
Isn’t knowing where your steps are leading kind of at odds with meandering aimlessly? Heck, isn’t being in search of something also at odds with meandering aimlessly?
The wild blood coarsing through his veins yearned for the undefiled freedom of the livid wilderness lands.
Definitely no city boy.
Coming upon a fork in the passage he treaked, voices accompanied by clinking footfalls discerned to his sensitive ears from the left corridor. Wishing to avoid contact, Grignr veered to the right passageway. If aquested as to the purpose of his presence, his barbarous accent would reveal his identity, being that his attire was not that of the castle’s mercenary troops.
Hm, yeah, that makes sense. The regular guards would mostly be locals.
In grim silence Grignr treaded down the dingily lit corridor; a stalking panther creeping warily along on padded feet. After an interminable period of wandering through the dull corridors; no gaps to break the monotony of the cold gray walls, Grignr espied a small winding stairway. Descending the flight of arced granite slabs to their posterior, Grignr was confronted by a short haalway leading to a tall arched wooden doorway.
Sounds like you just found something important.
Halting before the teeming portal portal, Grignr restes his shaggy head sideways against the barrier.
He just has to take a moment to get ready to be thinking with portals.
Detecting no sounds from within, he grasped the looped metel handle of the door; his arms surging with a tremendous effort of bulging muscles, yet the door would not budge. Retrieving his ax from where he had sheathed it beneath his girdle, he hefted it in his mighty hands with an apiesed grunt, and wedging one of its blackened edges into the crack between the portal and its iron rimed sill.
This definitely won’t raise any alarms the next time a real guard passes by the door.
Bracing his sandaled right foot against the rougjly hewn wall, teeth tightly clenched, Grignr appilevered the oaken haft, employing it as a lever whereby to pry open the barrier. The leather wound hilt bending to its utmost limits of endurance, the massive portal swung open with a grating of snapped latch and rusty iron hinges.
So what’s in here? A super secret stash of Cauldron documents?
Glancing about the dust swirled room in the gloomily dancing glare of his flickering cresset, Grignr eyed evidences of the enclosure being nothing more than a forgotten storeroom. Miscellaneous articles required for the maintainance of a castle were piled in disorganized heaps at infrequent intervals toward the wall opposite the barbarian’s piercing stare. Utilizing long, bounding strides, Grignr paced his way over to the mounds of supplies to discover if any articles of value were contained within their midst.
Surely there’s something useful or interesting here. Otherwise we wouldn’t even be here. Wildbow is a better writer than that.
Detecting a faint clinking sound, Grignr sprawed to his left side with the speed of a striking cobra, landing harshly upon his back; torch and axe loudly clattering to the floor in a morass of sparks and flame. A elmwoven board leaped from collapsed flooring, clashing against the jagged flooring and spewing a shower of orange and yellow sparks over Grignr’s startled face. Rising uneasily to his feet, the half stunned Ecordian glared down at the grusome arm of death he had unwittingly sprung. “Mrifk!”
A trap? There’s definitely something of value here, then.
If not for his keen auditory organs and lighting steeled reflexes, Grignr would have been groping through the shadowed hell-pits of the Grim Reaper. He had unknowingly stumbled upon an ancient, long forgotton booby trap; a mistake which would have stunted the perusal of longevity of one less agile.
Or at least there was something of value here at some point. Maybe the Eye of Argon was kept here?
A mechanism, similar in type to that of a minature catapult was concealed beneath two collapsable sections of granite flooring. The arm of the device was four feet long, boasting razor like cleats at regular intervals along its face with which it was to skewer the luckless body of its would be victim. Grignr had stepped upon a concealed catch which relaesed a small metal latch beneath the two granite sections, causing them to fall inward, and thereby loose the spiked arm of death they precariously held in.
Partially out of curiosity and partially out of an inordinate fear of becoming a pincushion for a possible second trap, Grignr plunged his torch into the exposed gap in the floor. The floor of a second chamber stood out seven feet below the glare. Tossing his torch through the aperature, Grignr grasped the side of an adjoining tile, dropping down.
I do like that despite the “barbarian” label, Grignr doesn’t fall into some of the usual stereotypes associated with such characters. Often characters who are built like brick shithouses are also dumb as those same bricks, but Grignr isn’t, and unlike even more characters called barbarians, he’s also got one very important thing: A sense of self-preservation.
Glancing about the room, Grignr discovered that he had decended into the palace’s mausoleum. Rectangular stone crypts cluttered the floor at evenly placed intervals. The tops of the enclosures were plated with thick layers of virgin gold, while the sides were plated with white ivory; at one time sparkling, but now grown dingy through the passage of the rays of allencompassing mother time. Featured at the head of each sarcophagus in tarnished silver was an expugnisively carved likeness of its rotting inhabitant.
I like how it sounds like the likenesses were made when the corpses were already rotting.
A dingy atmosphere pervaded the air of the chamber; which sealed in the enclosure for an unknown period had grown thick and stale. Intermingling with the curdled currents was the repugnant stench of slowly moldering flesh, creeping ever slowly but surely through minute cracks in the numerous vaults. Due to the embalming of the bodies, their flesh decayed at a much slower rate than is normal, yet the nauseous oder was none the less repellant.
Yeah, that sounds about right.
Towering over Grignr’s head was the trap he released. The mechanism of the miniaturized catapolt was cluttered with mildew and cobwebs. Notwithstanding these relics of antiquity, its efficiency remained unimpinged. To the right of the trap wound a short stairway through a recess in the ceiling; a concealed entrance leading to the mausoleum for which the catapult had obviously been erected as a silent, relentless guardian.
To make sure nobody got into the mausoleum, or to make sure nobody got out…
Climbing up the side of the device, Grignr set to the task of resetting its mechanism. In the e event that a search was organized, it would prove well to leave no evidence of his presence open to wandering eyes. Besides, it might even serve to dwindle the size of an opposing force.
Maybe also deal with that door you busted open?
Descending from his perch, Grignr was startled by a faintly muffled scream of horrified desperation. His hair prickled yawkishly in disorganized clumps along his scalp. As a cold danced along the length of his spinal cord. No moral/mortal barrier, human or otherwise, was capable of arousing the numbing sensation of fear inside of Grignr’s smoldering soul. However, he was overwrought by the forces of the barbarians’ instinctive fear of the supernatural.
Oh, interesting, he’s got a weakness to ghosts? So if he comes to your place and won’t leave, all you have to do is put on a Gory Gabriel routine.
Still my favorite ghost-related song ever. Yes, it beats the Ghostbusters theme.
His mighty thews had always served to adequately conquer any tangible foe., but the intangible was something distant and terrible. Dim horrifying tales passed by word of mouth over glimmering camp fires and skins of wine had more than once served the purpose of chilling the marrowed core of his sturdy limbed bones.
Yeah, I suppose if your main problem solving method is fighting, going up against something you can’t fight is going to be scary.
I suspect this scream he’s hearing isn’t actually a ghost or anything like it, though. He’s probably just close to the ritual room now.
Yet, the scream contained a strangely human quality, unlike that which Grignr imagined would come from the lungs of a demon or spirit, making Grignr take short nervous strides advancing to the sarcophagus from which the sound was issuing.
…wait. Are the sarcophagi filled with previous “chosen one”s for the rituals, left alive in them at the end of the ritual to die of thirst and/or blood loss (we do know blood gets spilled at those rituals)?
Clenching his teeth in an attempt to steel his jangled nerves, Grignr slid the engraved slab from the vault with a sharp rasp of grinding stone. Another long drawn cry of terror infested anguish met the barbarian, scoring like the shrill piping of a demented banshee; piercing the inner fibres of his superstitious brain with primitive dread dread and awe.
Stooping over to espy the tomb’s contents, the glittering Ecordians nostrills were singed by the scorching aroma of a moldering corpse, long shut up and fermenting; the same putrid scent which permeated the entire chamber, though multiplied to a much more concentrated dosage. The shriveled, leathery packet of crumbling bones and dried flacking flesh offered no resistance, but remained in a fixed position of perpetual vigilance, watching over its dim abode from hollow gaping sockets.
…or it’s just coming through the wall behind the sarcophagi. That’s pretty much what I thought to begin with.
The tortured crys were not coming from the tomb but from some hidden depth below! Pulling the reaking corpse from its resting place, Grignr tossed it to the floor in a broken, mangled heap. Upon one side of the crypt’s bottom was attached a series of tiny hinges while running parallel along the opposite side of a convex railing like protruberance; laid so as to appear as a part of the interior surface of the sarcophagus.
So they’ve got a hidden entrance inside one of the sarcophagi… and they put it back into place while they were down there? Or maybe they don’t know about this hidden tunnel down to the ritual room.
Raising the slab upon its bronze hinges, long removed from the gaze of human eyes, Grignr percieved a scene which caused his blood to smolder not unlike bubbling, molten lava. Directly below him a whimpering female lay stretched upon a smooth surfaced marble altar.
Okay yeah, between having to move a corpse around to open and close the passage and the passage coming out in the ceiling, there’s no way they regularly use it as an entrance to the ritual room. Right?
A pack of grasy faced shamen clustered around her in a tight circular formation. Crouched over the girl was a tall, potbellied priest; his face dominated by a disgusting, open mouthed grimace of sadistic glee. Suspended from the acolyte’s clenched right hand was a carven oval faced mallet, which he waved menacingly over the girl’s shadowed face; an incoherent gibberish flowing from his grinning, thick lipped mouth.
So is the mallet literally for bashing the victim’s face in or…
Is it to make room on her forehead for bearing the Eye of Argon as a way of giving their deity a human body?
In the face of the amorphos, broad breated female, stretched out aluringly before his gaping eyes; the universal whim of nature filing a plea of despair inside of his white hot soul; Grignr acted in the only manner he could perceive. Giving vent to a hoarse, throat rending battle cry, Grignr plunged into the midst of the startled shamen; torch simmering in his left hand andax twirling in his right hand.
Ah yes, horniness, definitely the only reason anyone would have for intervening in this situation.
A gaunt skull faced priest standing at the far side of the altar clutched desperately at his throat, coughing furiously in an attempt to catch his breath. Lurching helplessly to and fro, the acolyte pitched headlong against the gleaming base of a massive jade idol. Writhing agonizedly against the hideous image, foam flecking his chalk white lips, the priest struggled helplessly – – – the victim of an epileptic siezure.
You know, I really didn’t expect that to be how anyone would get incapacitated in this fight, but sure, I’ll take it.
Startled by the barbarians stunning appearance, the chronic fit of their fellow, and the fear that Grignr might be the avantgarde of a conquering force dedicated to the cause of destroying their degenerated cult, the saman momentarily lost their composure. Giving vent to heedless pandemonium, the priests fell easy prey to Grignr’s sweeping arc of crimsoned death and maiming distruction.
The acolyte performing the sacrifice took a vicious blow to the stomach; hands clutching vitals and severed spinal cord as he sprawled over the altar. The disor anized priests lurched and staggered with split skulls, dismembered limbs, and spewing entrails before the enraged Ecordian’s relentless onslaught. The howles of the maimed and dying reverberated against the walls of the tiny chamber; a chorus of hell frought despair; as the granite floor ran red with blood. The entire chamber was encompassed in the heat of raw savage butchery as Grignr luxuriated in the grips of a primitive, beastly blood lust.
And so the altar gained a lot more bloodstains.
Presently all went silenet save for the ebbing groans of the sinking shaman and Grignr’s heaving breath accompanied by several gusty curses. The well had run dry. No more lambs remained for the slaughter.
These guys were hardly lambs.
The rampaging stead of death having taken of Grignr for the moment, left the barbarian free to the exploitation of his other perusials. Towering over his head was the misshaped image of the cult’s hideous diety – – – Argon.
You recognize it? He’s not super obscure?
The fantastic size of the idol in consideration of its being of pure jade was enough to cause the senses of any man to stagger and reel, yet thus was not the case for the behemoth. he had paid only casual notice to this incredible fact, while riviting the whole of his attention upon the jewel protruding from the idol’s sole socket; its masterfully cut faucets emitting blinding rays of hypnotising beauty.
Literally? Be careful with things whose beauty can be described as “hypnotising”.
After all, a man cannot slink from a heavily guarded palace while burdened down by the intense bulk of a squatting statue, providing of course that the idol can even be hefted, which in fact was beyond the reaches of Grignr’s coarsing stamina. On the other hand, the jewel, gigantic as it was, would not present a hinderence of any mean concern.
The Eye of Argon seems to be a lot bigger than I first thought. Starting to think there wouldn’t be room for it in her face.
“Help me … please … I can make it well worth your while,” pleaded a soft, anguish strewn voice wafting over Grignr’s shoulders as he plucked the dull red emerald from its roots. Turning, Grignr faced the female that had lured him into this blood bath, but whom had become all but forgotten in the heat of the battle.
Yeah, I noticed that, he kinda got majorly distracted by the Eye.
Wait a minute the emerald is red oh fuck it’s a chaos emerald
“You”; ejaculated the Ecordian in a pleased tone. “I though that I had seen the last of you at the tavern, but verilly I was mistaken.”
Ooh, it’s the same girl?
Grignr advanced into the grips of the female’s entrancing stare, severing the golden chains that held her captive upon the altars highly polished face of ornamental limestone.
Can she please get a name?
Also wait, it’s limestone now? Maybe only on the top.
As Grignr lifted the girl from the altar, her arms wound dexterously about his neck; soft and smooth against his harsh exterior. “Art thou pleased that we have chanced to meet once again?” Grignr merely voiced an sighed grunt, returning the damsels embrace while he smothered her trim, delicate lips between the coarsing protrusions of his reeking maw.
Oh right, I almost forgot about the old-timey… dialect? I’m assuming Norgolians don’t speak English and this is all translated (even though it’s not marked with <these> like in Hana’s Interlude), so I guess the Shakespearean grammar is supposed to reflect a dialect or way of speaking whatever language this is that sounds older to a modern Norgolian ear.
“Let us take leave of this retched chamber.” Stated Grignr as he placed the female upon her feet. She swooned a moment, causing Grignr to giver her support then regained her stance. “Art thou able to find your way through the accursed passages of this castle? Mrifk! Every one of the corridors of this damned place are identical.”
Wait, now Grignr is doing it too.
Okay, new theory: It reflects a T-V distinction in the Norgolian language, which would otherwise be lost in translation. They’re speaking in “thou”s because they’re already becoming close and intimate and would use the T form in Norgolian.
“Aye; I was at one time a slave of prince Agaphim. His clammy touch sent a sour swill through my belly, but my efforts reaped a harvest. I gained the pig’s liking whereby he allowed me the freedom of the palace. It was through this means that I eventually managed escape at the western gate. His trust found him with a dagger thrust his ribs,” the wench stated whimsicoracally.
whimsi– you know what never mind
So I guess Agaphim would be the current prince’s… dad? Probably?
“What were you doing at the tavern whence I discovered you?” asked Grignr as he lifted the female through the opening into the mausoleum.
“I had sought to lay low from the palace’s guards as they conducted their search for me.
Wait, it was that recent?
The tavern was seldom frequented by the palace guards and my identity was unknown to the common soldiers. It was through the disturbance that you caused that the palace guards were attracted to the tavern. I was dragged away shortly after you were escorted to the palace.”
I see. Nicely connected.
“What are you called by female?”
“Certainly not ‘female’, that’s for sure.”
“Carthena, daughter of Minkardos, Duke of Barwego, whose lands border along the northwestern fringes of Gorzom. I was paid as homage to Agaphim upon his thirty-eighth year,” husked the femme!
A lesser noble, then.
“And I am called a barbarian!” Grunted Grignr in a disgusted tone!
“Aye! The ways of our civilization are in many ways warped and distorted, but what is your calling,” she queried, bustily?
Yeah, if there’s one thing this story has made clear so far, it’s this. Cauldron controls the heroes and many of the villains, Nilbogs creations have taken over who knows how much of the U.S., the streets are full of people who got fucked over in various ways, wars have sprung up all over the world, and people… often suck.
“Grignr of Ecordia.”
“Ah, I have heard vaguely of Ecordia. It is the hill country to the far east of the Noregolean Empire.
Ah, so Ecordia is not a part of Norgolia. Good to have that solidified.
I have also heard Agaphim curse your land more than once when his troops were routed in the unaccustomed mountains and gorges.” Sayeth she.
So that’s another reason for Nobly (who may be Agaphim — it’s unclear whether Agaphim died from Carthena’s stab) to dislike Grignr.
“Aye. My people are not tarnished by petty luxuries and baubles. They remain fierce and unconquerable in their native climes.”
Are we sure this isn’t an Asterix and Obelix situation?
After reaching the hidden panel at the head of the stairway, Grignr was at a loss in regard to its operation. His fiercest heaves were as pebbles against burnished armour! Carthena depressed a small symbol included within the elaborate design upon the panel whereopen it slowly slid into a cleft in the wall. “How did you come to be the victim of those crazed shamen?” Quested Grignr as he escorted Carthena through the piles of rummage on the left side of the trap.
At least someone knows what she’s doing.
“By Agaphim’s orders I was thrust into a secluded cell to await his passing of sentence. By some means, the Priests of Argon acquired a set of keys to the cell. They slew the guard placed over me and abducted me to the chamber in which you chanced to come upon the scozsctic sacrifice.
Their hell-spawned cult demands a sacrifice once every three moons upon its full journey through the heavens. They were startled by your unannounced appearance through the fear that you had been sent by Agaphim. The prince would surely have submitted them to the most ghastly of tortures if he had ever discovered their unfaithfulness to Sargon, his bastard diety.
So let me get this straight.
The competing deities here are named Argon, and Sargon.
(There’s also Mrifk, Grignr’s Ecordian deity.)
Many of the partakers of the ritual were high nobles and high trustees of the inner palace; Agaphim’s pittiless wrath would have been unparalled.”
“They have no more to fear of Agaphim now!” Bellowed Grignr in a deep mirthful tome; a gleeful smirk upon his face. “I have seen that they were delivered from his vengence.”
Grignr is really an “always look on the bright side of death” kinda guy, huh?
Engrossed by Carthena’s graceful stride and conversation Grignr failed to take note of the footfalls rapidly approaching behind him. As he swung aside the arched portal linking the chamber with the corridors beyond, a maddened, blood lusting screech reverberated from his ear drums.
Seemingly utilizing the speed of thought, Grignr swiveled to face his unknown foe. With gaping eyes and widened jaws, Grignr raised his axe above his surly mein; but he was too late.
That ain’t good. I certainly hope Wildbow didn’t just kill off Carthena immediately after saving her — she’s quickly becoming the second best character in this Interlude.
With wobbling knees and swimming head, the priest that had lapsed into an epileptic siezure rose unsteadily to his feet. While enacting his choking fit in writhing agony, the shaman was overlooked by Grignr. The barbarian had mistaken the siezure for the death throes of the acolyte, allowing the priest to avoid his stinging blade.
Just as much as I didn’t expect the plot beat of “character in an ensemble under attack falls to an epileptic seizure” today, I also wasn’t expecting the plot beat of “character is saved from death by an epileptic seizure” today.
I doubt he’ll be happy about the Eye. The rest of the cult going down is a bummer of course, but the Eye? That’s sacred.
The sight that met the priests inflamed eyes nearly served to sprawl him upon the floor once more. The sacrificial sat it grim, blood splattered silence all around him, broken only by the occasional yelps and howles of his maimed and butchered fellows. Above his head rose the hideous idol, its empty socket holding the shaman’s ifurbished infuriated gaze.
His eyes turned to a stoney glaze with the realization of the pillage and blasphemy.
Yeah, see? It’s not the death of his buddies that really fucks him up, it’s the empty socket.
Due to his high succeptibility following the siezure, the priest was transformed into a raving maniac bent soley upon reaking vengeance.
Is that how it works? I’d better be careful, my dad’s epileptic.
With lips curled and quivering, a crust of foam dripping from them, the acolyte drew a long, wicked looking jewel hilted scimitar from his silver girdle and fled through the aperature in the ceiling uttering a faintly perceptible ceremonial jibberish.
Evidently he speaks a slightly different dialect of ceremonial gibberish than the main shaman.
So did this guy just have a trigger event? Because this definitely sounds like one. That’s not good for our main characters.
A sweeping scimitar swung towards Grignr’s head in a shadowed blur of motion. With Axe raised over his head, Grignr prepared to parry the blow, while gaping wideeyed in open mouthed perplexity.
I don’t know how deodorant is gonna help here, but Grignr using Axe definitely tracks with their commercials.
Suddenly a sharp snap resounded behind the frothing shaman. The scimitar, halfway through its fatal sweep, dropped from a quivering nerveless hand, clattering harmlessly to the stoneage.
Cutting his screech short with a bubbling, red mouthed gurgle, the lacerated acolyte staggered under the pressure of the released spring-board.
Eyy, Chekhov’s booby trap goes off!
After a moment of hopeless struggling, the shaman buckled, sprawling face down in a widening pool of bllod and entrails, his regal purple robe blending enhancingly with the swirling streams of crimson.
“Mrifk! I thought I had killed the last of those dogs;” muttered Grignr in a half apathetic state.
“Nay Grignr. You doubtless grew careless while giving vent to your lusts. But let us not tarry any long lest we over tax the fates. The paths leading to freedom will soon be barred.
The wretch’s crys must certainly have attracted unwanted attention,” the wench mused.
Not unlikely. Then again, sound doesn’t seem to travel very far in here. You were screaming up a storm not long ago and Grignr barely heard you.
“By what direction shall we pursue our flight?”
“Up that stair and down the corridor a short distance is the concealed enterance to a tunnel seldom used by others than the prince, and known to few others save the palace’s royalty. It is used mainly by the prince when he wishes to take leave of the palace in secret.
You found that, but didn’t use it in your escape?
It is not always in the Prince’s best interests to leave his chateau in public view. Even while under heavy guard he is often assaulted by hurtling stones and rotting fruits. The commoners have little love for him.” lectured the nerelady!
Considering what we’ve seen of him, yeah, that tracks.
“It is amazing that they would ever have left a pig like him become their ruler. I should imagine that his people would rise up and crucify him like the dog he is.”
“Alas, Grignr, it is not as simple as all that. His soldiers are well paid by him. So long as he keeps their wages up they will carry out his damned wished. The crude impliments of the commonfolk would never stand up under an onslaught of forged blades and protective armor; they would be going to their own slaughter,” stated Carthena to a confused, but angered Grignr as they topped the stairway.
The trick is to get the blacksmiths on board. But of course, they too profit from having the prince as a customer.
“Yet how can they bear to live under such oppression? I would sooner die beneath the sword than live under such a dog’s command.” added Grignr as the pair stalked down the hall in the direction opposite that in which Grignr had come.
“But all men are not of the same mold that you are born of, they choose to live as they are so as to save their filthy necks from the chopping block.” Returned Carthena in a disgusted tone as she cast an appiesed glance towards the stalwart figure at her side whose left arm was wound dextrously about her slim waist; his slowly waning torch casting their images in intermingling wisps as it dangled from his left hand.
I like that she seems to share some of his views on civilization despite being nobility herself, while also having a practical view on it. It helps sell the chemistry between them.
Presently Carthena came upon the panel, concealed amonst the other granite slabs and discernable only by the burned out cresset above it. “As I push the cresset aside push the panel inwards.” Catrhena motioned to the panel she was refering to and twisted the cresset in a counterclockwise motion. Grignr braced his right shoulder against the walling, concentrating the force of his bulk against it.
Ah, it requires two people to open. That would explain why she could find it but not use it.
The slab gradually swung inward with a slight grating sound. Carthena stooped beneath Grignr’s corded arms and crawled upon all fours into the passage beyond. Grignr followed after easing the slab back into place.
Not the spaciest passage, huh?
I’m sure Grignr enjoys the view though.
Winding before the pair was a dark musty tunnel, exhibiting tangled spider webs from it ceiling to wall and an oozing, sickly slime running lazily upon its floor. Hanging from the chipped wall upon GrignR’s right side was a half mouldered corpse, its grey flacking arms held in place by rusted iron manacles. Carthena flinched back into Grignr’s arms at sight of the leering set in an ugly distorted grimmace; staring horribly at her from hollow gaping sockets.
Hm… Grey, flacking arms… iron manacles… yep, definitely a Homestuck cosplayer.
“This alcove must also be used by Agaphim as a torture chamber. I wonder how many of his enemies have disappeared into these haunts never to be heard from again,” pondered the hulking brute.
“Let us flee before we are also caught within Agaphim’s ghastly clutches. The exit from this tunnel cannot be very far from here!” Said Carthena with a slight sob to her voice, as she sagged in Grignr’s encompasing embrace.
Definitely gotta get out of here. And then maybe get both of you some clothes.
“Aye; It will be best to be finished with this corridor as soon as it is possible. But why do you flinch from the sight of death so? Mrift! You have seen much death this day without exhibiting such emotions.” Exclaimed Grignr as he led her trembling form along the dingy confines.
“—The man hanging from the wall was Doyanta. He had committed the folly of showing affections for me in front of Agaphim — he never meant any harm by his actions!” At this Carthena broke into a slow steady whimpering, chokking her voice with gasping sobs.
“There was never anything between us yet Agaphim did this to him! The beast! May the demons of Hell’s deepest haunts claw away at his wretched flesh for this merciless act!” she prayed.
“I detect that you felt more for this fellow than you wish to let on … but enough of this, We can talk of such matters after we are once more free to do so.” With this Grignr lifted the grieved female to her feet and strode onward down the corridor, supporting the bulk of her weight with his surging left arm.
I wonder if it’s supposed to be a quirk of the “translation” that Carthena’s religion includes “demons of Hell”. Or maybe she’s Christian? She did refer to Sargon as a “bastard” deity, suggesting she doesn’t follow that religion, and I highly doubt she’s an Argonite.
Presently a dim light was perceptibly filtering into the tunnel, casting a dim reddish hue upon the moldy wall of the passage’s grim confines. Carthena had ceased her whimpering and partially regained her composure. “The tunnel’s end must be nearing. Rays of sunlight are beginning to seep into …”
I have a one-shot titled Tunnel’s End. Easily my most melodramatic work, not really all that good.
Grignr clameed his right hand over Carthena’s mouth and with a slight struggle pulled her over to the shadows at the right hand wall of the path, while at the same time thrusting this torch beneath an overhanging stone to smother its flickering rays. “Be silent; I can hear footfalls approaching through the tunnel;” growled Grignr in a hushed tone.
Huh. Meeting Agaphim here might be awkward.
“All that you hear are the horses corraled at the far end of the tunnel. That is a further sign that we are nearing our goal.” She stated!
“All that you hear is less than I hear! I heard footsteps coming towards us. Silence yourself that we may find out whom we are being brought into contact with. I doubt that any would have thought as yet of searching this passage for us. The advantage of surprize will be upon our side.” Grignr warned.
Maybe someone’s trying to sneak into the castle.
Carthena cast her eyes downward and ceased any further pursuit towards conversation, an irritating habit in which she had gained an amazing proficiency. Two figures came into the pairs view, from around a turn in the tunnel. They were clothed in rich luxuriant silks and rambling o on in conversation while ignorant of their crouching foes waiting in an ambush ahead.
“…That barbarian dog is cringing beneath the weight of the lash at this moment sire. He shall cause no more disturbance.”
That does sound like the other person is Agaphim. But neither is dressed like a guard. Trying to be a little less obvious about the role while out in the town?
“Aye, and so it is with any who dare to cross the path of Sargon’s chosen one.” said the 2nd man.
“But the peasants are showing signs of growing unrest. They complain that they cannot feet their families while burdened with your taxes.”
Tarantino: please help me budget my movies, I cannot feet my family
“I shall teach those sluts the meaning of humility! Order an immediate increase upon their taxes. They dare to question my sovereign authority, Ha-a, they shall soon learn what true oppression can be. I will … “
I mentioned this guy reminds me of Prince John, right?
And to some extent, Carthena reminds me of Maid Marian.
Grignr is definitely no Robin Hood, though.
A shodowed bulk leapt from behind a jutting promontory as it brought down a double edged axe with the spped of a striking thought. One of the nobles sagged lifeless to the ground, skull split to the teeth.
Grignr gasped as he observed the bisected face set in its leering death agonies. It was Agafnd!
Huh. Regeneration power?
The dead mans comrade having recovered from his shock drew a jewel encrusted dagger from beneath the folds of his robe and lunged toward the barbarians back. Grignr spun at the sound from behind and smashed down his crimsoned axe once more. His antagonist lunged howling to a stream of stagnent green water, grasping a spouting stump that had once been a wrist.
You can say Agaphim now, we know it’s him.
…Agafnd, Agaphim, actually, are we sure the main guy isn’t just a figurehead and Agafnd the actual prince? A bit like the princess switcheroo in Star Wars Episode I?
Grignr raised his axe over his head and prepaired to finish the incomplete job, but was detered half way through his lunge by a frenzied screech from behind.
Carthena leapt to the head of the writhing figure, plunging a smoldering torch into the agonized face. The howls increased in their horrid intensity, stifled by the sizzling of roasting flesh, then died down until the man was reduced to a blubbering mass of squirming, insensate flesh.
Yeah. Yeah, I like Carthena.
Grignr advance to Carthena’s side wincing slightly from the putrid aroma of charred flesh that rose in a puff of thick white smog throughout the chamber. Carthena reeled slightly, staring dasedly downward at her gruesome handywork. “I had to do it … it was Agaphim … I had to, ” she exclaimed!
You did good.
“Sargon should be more carful of his right hand men.” Added Grignr, a smug grin upon his lips.
Unfortunately cars seem in short supply around here.
“But to hell with Sargon for now, the stench is becoming bothersome to me.” With that Grignr grasped Carthena around the waist leading her around the bend in the cave and into the open.
A ball of feral red was rising through the mists of the eastern horizon, disipating the slinking shadows of the night. A coral stood before the pair, enclosing two grazing mares. Grignr reached into a weighted down leather pouch dangling at his side and drew forth the scintillant red emerald he had obtained from the bloated idol. Raising it toward the sun he said, “We shall do well with bauble, eh!”
Yeah, that should fetch you a solid sum. Just watch out for more cultists while you still have it.
Carthena gaped at the gem gasping in a terrified manner “The eye of Argon, Oh! Kalla!” At this the gem gave off a blinding glow, then dribbled through Grignr’s fingers in a slimy red ooze.
What? Is that a swear or a trigger word?
Grignr stepped back, pushing Carthena behind him. The droplets of slime slowly converged into a pulsating jelly-like mass. A single opening transfixed the blob, forminf into a leechlike maw.
Then the hideous transgressor of nature flowed towards Grignr, a trail of greenish slime lingering behind it. The single gap puckered repeatedly emitting a ghastly sucking sound.
If B.L.O.B. over here is made of red slime from a red gem, why does it leave a green trail?
Grignr spread his legs into a battle stance, steeling his quivering thews for a battle royal with a thing he knew not how to fight. Carthena wound her arms about her protectors neck, mumbling, “Kill it! Kill!” While her entire body trembled.
I wonder if this thing might be a byproduct of Cauldron’s tests on the same line of potions that created Gregor.
Maybe they tried to infuse the powers into a gem, or something.
The thing was almost upon Grignr when he buried his axe into the gristly maw. It passed through the blob and clanged upon the ground. Grignr drew his axe back with a film of yellow-green slime clinging to the blade. The thing was seemingly unaffected.
Yeah, slashing isn’t great against oozes. At least it’s not as bad as piercing though.
Then it started to slooze up his leg. The hairs upon his nape stoode on end from the slimey feel of the things buly, bulk. The Nautous sucking sound became louder, and Grignr felt the blood being drawn from his body. With each hiss of hideous pucker the thing increased in size.
It gets stronger with blood? No wonder it presumably arranged the ritual sacrifices.
Grignr shook his foot about madly in an attempt to dislodge the blob, but it clung like a leech, still feeding upon his rapidly draining life fluid. He grasped with his hands trying to rip it off, but only found his hands entangled in a sickly gluelike substance. The slimey thing continued its puckering ; now having grown the size of Grignr’s leg from its vampiric feast.
…okay that’s a lot smaller than I was picturing it. Granted, I was picturing it a lot bigger than the emerald could reasonably turn into without drawing mass out of a power.
Grignr began to reel and stagger under the blob, his chalk white face and faltering muscles attesting to the gigantic loss of blood. Carthena slipped from Grignr in a death-like faint, a morrow chilling scream upon her red rubish lips. In final desperation Grignr grasped the smoldering torch upon the ground and plunged it into the reeking maw of the travestry.
That might work!
A shudder passed through the thing. Grignr felt the blackness closing upon his eyes, but held on with the last ebb of his rapidly waning vitality. He could feel its grip lessoning as a hideous gurgling sound erupted from the writhing maw. The jelly like mass began to bubble like a vat of boiling tar as quavers passed up and down its entire form.
Slime and fire don’t mix too well, huh?
With a sloshing plop the thing fell to the ground, evaporating in a thick scarlet cloud until it reatained its original size. It remained thus for a moment as the puckered maw took the shape of a protruding red eyeball, the pupil of which seemed to unravel before it the tale of creation. How a shapeless mass slithered from the quagmires of the stygmatic pool of time, only to degenerate into a leprosy of avaricious lust. In that fleeting moment the grim mystery of life was revealed before Grignr’s ensnared gaze.
Hm. An interesting creation myth for a superhero setting. More interesting is that we’re getting a creation myth in the first place, especially one that doesn’t seem to involve Dandelions or cosmic worms.
The eyeballs glare turned to a sudden plea of mercy, a plea for the whole of humanity.
…ya shouldn’t’ve tried to suck his blood out, you little eyeball. That’s some optic nerve right there.
Then the blob began to quiver with violent convulsions; the eyeball shattered into a thousand tiny fragments and evaporated in a curling wisp of scarlet mist. The very ground below the thing began to vibrate and swallow it up with a belch.
The thing was gone forever. All that remained was a dark red blotch upon the face of the earth, blotching things up.
Did it just create one of those pits that burn for decades? Is that what we mean by “blotching things up”?
Except this one would be, like, puddle sized.
Shaking his head, his shaggy mane to clear the jumbled fragments of his mind, Grignr tossed the limp female over his shoulder. Mounting one of the disgruntled mares, and leading the other; the weary, scarred barbarian trooted slowly off into the horizon to become a tiny pinpoint in a filtered filed of swirling blue mists, leaving the Nobles, soldiers and peasants to replace the missing monarch.
They probably won’t even know for sure that he’s dead for a while, given the disuse of that tunnel.
Long leave the king!!!
Long leave the king!
End of Interlude 19b
Well, that was an interesting Interlude. It felt like we went outside of the States for once to learn what things were like on a broader geopolitical level, except we also learned basically jack shit. Iran, or somewhere a bit like it, might have been replaced by smaller principalities after Behemoth caused enough destruction to send them back to almost medieval levels of technology. That’s about the extent of what we learned.
Grignr was a fairly simple character, but interesting enough to support holding most of the POV of the chapter. And of course his background was used decently for some good ol’ social commentary.
Carthena didn’t show much personality to begin with, but once she was allowed to shine, she proved to be kind of fun. Her rebellious noble background makes her complement Grignr rather well.
All in all, this was a weird one. It’s almost like it might have been
So, what was this actually?
This was The Eye of Argon, a 1970 fantasy novella by Jim Theis that is widely hailed as one of the worst pieces of fantasy fiction ever traditionally published. Honestly, though, from it’s reputation, I was expecting much worse than what I got.
Don’t get me wrong, this was baaad. But it still leaves me a bit saddened, because there were elements here that spoke to a potential to improve. Theis was 16 when he wrote this, he had plenty of time to ditch the thesaurus and the incel-ish way of describing women, take those good elements, improve them, learn more, and become a much better author. He could have been great.
But life didn’t turn out that way. The Eye of Argon was mocked so much that Theis gave up on writing (though apparently not before publishing one more story called Son of Grafan in 1972… I don’t know if that one is similar in quality). When I was reminded of that fact partway through the blog, I felt a bit bad for continuing the tradition of mocking this work. But Theis died in 2002, so at least I’m not causing more harm to him.
Still, I want to say that I’ve read stuff that’s so much worse than this.
On a lighter note, though, now that I’m no longer restricted by the “I think this is Worm” gimmick and can actually acknowledge it, can we just appreciate once more how silly this particular paragraph is:
“Aye! The ways of our civilization are in many ways warped and distorted, but what is your calling,” she queried, bustily?
“Yes, society sucks, by the way who are you?” *boing boing?*
*chef’s kiss* Beiuetuifiul writing.
See you soon for a real chapter!