A collection of rambling posts about gaming, running, and politics. (and, in 2009, photography.)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Shared Imaginative Space

More game/D&D stuff. Here goes:

When I first got my hands on fantasy role playing, and then shortly after, actual D&D 2nd ed, there was no battlemat. No minis. Sure, there were maps. I can't swear that we didn't sketch out environments and movements sometimes on paper, but I don't clearly recall doing that. So, what I mean to say is that ages ago, we didn't use any kind of tangible representation for movement and positioning. This also means that scenes were painted using only words, gestures, and creativity.

D&D 3.0 (re)introduced battlemats and minis, 3.5 solidified that, and 4e seems to be continuing that trend. Now, I'm not here to rail against that, merely to conduct my internal debate about grid vs not-grid. I sorta like the grid and minis, but I feel torn on it. For me anyway, too much in the way of boards and grids and tiles and minis and so forth reduces or eliminates my imaginative space. Let me compare it to monopoly for a moment. Never have I played monopoly and fleshed out in my imagination the thimble rolling down boardwalk, checking into a hotel, and spending every dime to its name. So too I think that you can overkill D&D into actually being a boardgame with a lot of rules. And I guess I don't want D&D to be just a boardgame. I still want to see it all happen in my mind's eye. I do appreciate how a board and minis can make the experience easier in some respects. It provides an immediate and easy medium to convey positioning and spacing and some general environmental stuff.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Who do you write your blog entries to?

I mean, do you just write them "to the internet"? Are they to your friends? Family? A niche group that's interested in the same things that you are?

Next question: How much do you define your audience? Do any of you give thought to "your audience"? Either at the dawn of your blogging, or before every post? Is your audience "Matt, Mark, Bill and Joe"? Or is it your fellow They Might Be Giants fans? Are you writing things that you think will be of interest to your audience, or things that are interesting to you, and hoping people won't gouge their eyes out while reading it? (I fall very much into the second category there)

I ask, because I think that I have two audiences, you (where you is/are the people who I am aware of that read this), and me. Am I narcissistic? I use my blog sometimes like a weird post-it-note. But its also my bulletin board for sharing stuff with the likes of you. Recipes, my quest to stay fit, my random gaming thoughts, and any other assorted stuff that comes flying out of my head and into the internets.

How's that for blogging about blogging?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Economy of Actions

Economy of Actions, a post on the gleemax forums by one of the WOTC guys, Rodney.

In very brief form, he's talking about how many things each player at the game table gets to do. In older D&D, players often had access to multiple attacks/actions in a round, not to mention minions, followers, summoned creatures, pets etc, that gave a player more share of the game pie than it did others. If the four of us are all playing D&D, and I've got two wolf companions, each of whom get to do stuff during a turn, and none of you have anything like that, I'm getting a bigger share of the game pie than any one other player.

This struck a chord with me when it comes to BBEG's (Big Bad Evil Guy), the endboss, or whatever you want to call him/her. And this goes for most gameist/sim games, D&D, Werewolf, etc. I had a hard time pitting 4 characters against 1 bad guy. This came up more than once in our recent Werewolf game. And quite frankly, I had to cheat like a fiend just to keep these big fights interesting, and to make them last more than like 2 turns. See.. it gets into numbers... if I have a big bad guy that I want to stand up to the four players, he needs to be able to last more than a round, so he needs to soak, or otherwise deal with the combined damage of the four players. He also needs to be able to hurt them back, in a convincing manner. He can't do mountains of damage, otherwise he's quickly dropping the good guys, which no one wants. But if I use "the rules", and he's doing his one measly attack per round, he's still a cakewalk.

Anyway, I didn't mean for this to be a YAY D&D 4e! post, but it kinda is - since 4e is gonna fix this little problem for me. Mostly I was whining about how terribly I had to cheat previously :P

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I used to read books. Really I did. I read a goodly bit even. Fantasy, scifi, Tom Clancy military stuff. I enjoyed books alot.

Somehow, I quit reading though. I'm not sure precisely when, or exactly why. I wasn't a decision on my part not to read. I just quit finishing books, and then quit picking them up in the first place. I think that the reason is over-stimulation. All of my quiet moments have been spent playing computer games, xbox games, fooling with role playing game material, etc. I've picked up a few books, but the only book that I recall having read cover to cover in the last three years or so was World War Z. Its a shame too. I like(d) reading. I value reading. I think its important. I'd like to read again. And I'm going to try.

I've found myself suddenly interested in a whole smattering of fantasy books.

The Black Company books, by Glen Cook. The Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser books, by Fritz Leiber. Robert Howard's Conan books, particularly The Hour of the Dragon (also published as Conan the Conqueror).

Went by the used bookstore today looking to find some of these, and they had none, but I came away with George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones, which tons of friends have highly recommended. And I picked up the first book in the War of the Spider Queen series.

Friday, March 21, 2008

More D&D

Part of the reason I love Mearls:



my job as a GM is to chase the characters up a tree and let them figure out a way to get down. The thing is, there's a snake climbing the tree, the tree's on fire, there's a mob of zombies around the tree, and the rescue chopper floating overhead is piloted by a drunk 5 year old. You've got choices, but none of them are "I sit in the tree and while away a pleasant afternoon with happy thoughts." There's peril in every direction. As Ralph said in the quoted bits above, not choosing is still a choice with interesting consequences.


Most D&D players want a background that looks like this:

1. My character has no notable friends and family.
2. My character didn't have any major villains or real issues with anyone.
3. My character wants to... get some treasure?


Since I'm all game theory and linking other people's stuff today, here's some more stuff that chased down from someone else linked from mearl's LJ. Mostly for my own reference, but feel free to enjoy it as well:
Great set of five articles about gaming: character motivation, central conflict, etc.

Monster Design in D&D

Pardon me as I wax metanerdy.

I imagine that most folks that read this have played D&D, and even if someone happens to be reading it that hasn't, you can easily imagine that its a game about killing orcs and dragons.

So anyway, about monster design in D&D. As I said, everyone assumes dragons and orcs and stuff. Check. Good solid monsters, close to "realism" - assuming that by realism I mean "Traditional Tolkien style fantasy". But the medium for Lord of the Rings was film*, while obviously D&D is an interactive game.

Let me pause here. I'm writing this because of course my brain churns furiously, lately, about D&D related stuff, and I saw this post by another blogger, about monster books, and about the difference in monsters that are "fun", and monsters that are designed mechanically. He's referring to a difference in approach. "Wouldn't it be cool if there was a monster that sucked people's faces off and had like four arms with lobster claws on them?!?" as opposed, as he references, to: "We need an aquatic abberation monster that fits into Challenge Rating 2."

I recently also read, and posted about this stupid monsters article. It rails against, I think, both types of monsters. Those created simply as filler, because they needed 80 monsters to slap between these covers so that they could sell a book for $19.95, which gives us such gems as the Owlephant and Duckbunny. Then there are monsters that were created with the Gygaxian theory that you can never make your player's lives too hard. Monsters that eat your armor. Monsters that pretend to be treasure. Monsters that pretend to be clothes. Monsters that pretend to be swords. Monsters that are the floor. Monsters that attack you from the ceiling. Monsters that pretend to be a cloak. Monsters that live in books and attack you when you read them. Etc etc etc ad nauseum. Jeff, in his previously mentioned blog post, talks about the fun of a monster that steals the map from an adventuring party. Yet another monster that exists solely to screw with the players (oh, and their characters).

And as I sit and ponder on these things, it occurs to me that sure, crazy ass monsters that eat your armor and steal your map are fun - in a way. It challenges the players as well as the characters, in a different way that encounters with non armor or map destroying monsters do not. I guess its all about the group, and the mindset. I mean, the rustmonster is easily a part of why we have satire like the card game Munchkin. I remember rustmonsters and mimics and things, and how much spice they added to D&D. Yet, as I've seen others discuss, I'm not sure whether I'd be hugely pissed, or able to just laugh it off and tell stories about it later - if the plate armor I'd just dropped all of my life savings on, got eaten by a beastie the next time I was out at the local dungeon. I think previously, I'd have laughed it off - not being of the questioning mindset, and that the DM/the rules were always right, and were just how it was. You don't get pissed, dude, its D&D! The rust monster ate your armor?! That's AWESOME! Let me tell you about this one time that my cleric found this succubus who was fighting a mimic......... Now I remember how fun stuff like level draining was too :P

So anyway, yet again, I run out of steam and wind down.


I own the 2nd edition AD&D book Monstrous Compendium Annual volume I. I love flipping through it, checking out all of the completely ridiculous monsters in it. I don't have it here, or I'd be more specific, but you've got (from memory)
A monster that pretends to be a house
An elephant-humanoid with two trunks and a bad attitude
Cats with antlers
A monster that pretends to be a sword (previously mentioned)
Evil fish
A man-purse that sucks your blood like a mosquito
A monster with a scorpions tail that pretends to be a coin
A skeleton monster
A skeleton monster on fire
A skull
Two skeletal arms
A mushroom monster


* Sorry, I don't know why I half-ass baited you, there.

"But its not D&D!"


I've been entertaining myself by keeping up with the Enworld forums, with regard to D&D 4e.

There's a few different kinds of traffic there right now. Alot of rules mechanics discussion, some newsish scoops about what this or that developer said, or what this or that publisher is doing, and then a healthy smattering of blatantly pro or anti 4e threads.

The ones that have amused me most greatest are the ones that whine about how "Its just not D&D anymore!" Or how they argue that its "Less realistic". These make me grin, and clap my hands in near-silent glee. Typically I only have to scroll one or two posts to see someone justly smack these posts down. Because c'mon people, "Not D&D"? We're talking about the game that is about killing monsters and taking stuff. and "Less realistic"? Like elves and fireballs were realistic in the first place.

But now to step back for a second, and lend them just a bit of respect, when they say "Not D&D", these are usually folks who have gone on and on and on and on about which editions of D&D they've played, and so on. So I think that what they're trying to say is that they're disappointed that its lost some of the feel of 1st/2nd/3rd edition. Or some combination of those. Which I suppose I can understand. Some people like keeping up with the weight of their coinpurse, or dwarves not being able to be higher than 12th level, or THAC0.

"Less realistic"? Obviously, I'm chuckling when I discuss D&D and realism, but perhaps they're talking about realism as it relates to its (arguable) source material, easily (but not only) Lord of the Rings. If they're using this as the base for their gripes about realism, then I can give them some credit.

Where am I going with this? Nowhere. That's where.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Broken Drums Followup

HUZZAH! EA Rocks, and is going to replace my rockband drums at no cost to me.

And I'm hoping to get my hands on this http://www.rockbanddrumsoft.com/

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Songbird / iTunes

As I mentioned, I was looking for an iTunes alternative.

I'm trying Songbird.

I like it so far. Though its like pre-beta. So we'll see.

Busted Drums

So, I busted the drums on my Rock Band drum set. I noticed this, first when I started getting a funny hollow sound from one of the four pads. Later I noticed a tiny break in the gray cover of the same pad. We kept right on going, but soon saw that the tiny hole was a split in the cover. We stopped to take stock, and soon realized that I had managed to crack the plastic in two of the drum pads. !!!!!

So.. we stopped playing for the evening, even though I've started playing all the songs on "Hard"... INCLUDING mystery sets, which previously I always tackled on medium, because I was scared, but I ain't scared no more!

I am, however, concerned about being able to fix/replace my drum stuff. We discovered that the pads are removable pieces, more simply put - I don't have to replace the WHOLE drum set, to fix this, necessarily. The drum pads come off/out of the set. I have yet to carefully research to see if we can buy/replace individual pads. I can't have been the first person to beat the hell out of the thing, but I'm anxious about how to go about fixing it. And then keeping it from quickly happening again.

But uh, rock band fucking rocks :)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

AIM/Livejournal trap

This popped up on my radar recently, and now I got it twice in like two days.

My aim name is listed under my livejournal profile, cause I don't mind.

Friday I got an AIM message from someone with the following:

"your private friends-only posts have been stolen: [link removed]"

I immediately smelled a trap, and started digging, and quickly found that the site that this links to is a simple browser hack that makes it jump around and scream stuff at you.

So, just a friendly warning to anyone who mixes livejournal and AIM: watch out for this kind of thing.

iTunes :(

I think I've complained about iTunes before. But here we got again.

I finally reformatted my computer. It was SO in need of it.

So I'm reinstalling stuff, and I am absolutely dreading iTunes.

It is such bloatware, I hate having to choose to use my computer, or to use my iTunes jukebox, but not both.

I also hate how terribly poorly it manages my music library. If I move some tunes around or anything. Goodbye playlists. Goodbye song ratings and statistics.

I loved winamp 5. It was light weight, and simple. But I'd be surprised if it can manage syncing with my nano. I like rating songs and keeping stats on them and such, cause I'm a nerd.. but do I need those things?

So, mostly I'm just complaining here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

blame al-qaeda

This was on my feed reader earlier, thanks to cnn or some other helpful mainstream news source:

"Iraqi archbishop found dead, al Qaeda blamed"

Immediately, other thoughts sprang to mind. Similar thoughts.

"Fluoride found in water supply, communists blamed"

"Stream runs dry, beavers blamed"

"Fat people keep eating food, aliens blamed"

"Bush says retarted shit, Cheney blamed"

"Windows Vista sucks, Nigeria blamed"

Now, some of these made slightly more sense than others. I don't mean to make light of (YET ANOTHER) death in Iraq... I just hate being told to watch out for the fucking monster in the closet, while Jason, Freddy and Mike Fucking Meyers are standing at the foot of my bed.

D&D Geeks

In which I criticize my own.

When D&D nerds get together, they don't compare penis sizes. They discuss how long they've been playing D&D through the ages. What editions, how old they were when they first played, etc.

Here are quotes from a thread on a certain forum.

"I'm in my late 20s as well and I've started playing with the Red Box, touched briefly AD&D2, then played some of 3.0 and 3.5 (the latter mostly through OGL games though).
I've also played several other RPGs."

"Starting with the Red Box doesn't mean they started the year it came out - it was the 'current' version for several years. Also maybe you're confusing it with the Red Book.
I'm 33 and started in 1982 (on my 8th birthday) with the basic set BEFORE the Red Box - the one with the Red Book and Keep on the Borderlands, not the one with Bargle"

"Starting with BECM/RC to AD&D, then 3.0, then HackMaster/AD&D1 (you just have to ignore some wules to make HM equal AD&D1), then 3.5, and finally alterning 3.5 in our Friday Game Night and Classic D&D/Labyrinth Lord as an not-so-afterschool activity at the centre where I'm teaching. If you think about it, most of the gaming happens during the teens (12-23 or so, I'd say), when you're in highschool or college."

"I'm 30 and have played every edition through Red Box.
My aunt, who worked for Ral Partha, started me at the tender age of 9.
It's not impossible."

And me? I started with the teal box back in '54, when I was -22 years old. *SNEER!*

Oh, where is some video of Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons.

Actually, those quotes are basically the whole end of that thread.

4e playtest, player perspective

This past weekend, for GaryCon, I ran some friends through some pre-release D&D 4e stuff.

Here are the thoughts from one of the players:

There were a number of us trying it out, and the class structure was
interesting. Our level 1 group of misfits tore a bunch of kobolds a new
one, then using the new superpowers handled a young black dragon which at
first was quite scary but Pally taunt + Warlock Sliding Nightmare power +
Quarry = Dead Dragon, then we tried our luck with some skeles. Things I
liked: Second Wind as a Last effort do not cause your charrie to die
(twice in our campaign, let's say the newb's did something stupid, like a
mage or the cleric running in front of the meatshields and getting smacked
down by the numerous kobolds/skeles, secondwind causes heroes to have at
least a few hitpoints when they get smacked down to negatives, assuming the
negative number is not negative bloodied), class powers making it so that
the mage does not cast 1 magic missle and then sit for 2 hours of combat,
every class had something they could cast, pray, throw, shoot, or swing
every round, that was cool. "Marking" or as I call it, The impact WoW
has had on D&D. Tanks can now taunt to the detriment of the mob. The
Pally taunt is BRUTAL (mob's were taking 8hp of damage everyround it tried
to attack someone NOT the pally we dropped the dragon because of it's
numerous attempts on attacks of opportunity) Maddie played a fighter
pregen, and we did not use a power of hers until the end but the fighter had
the ability to attack on 5 ft steps if the monster was trying to move to
another person and if successful, stop the mob in its track. Rangers
finally get the DPS they deserve, lol more WoW influence. New Healing
Surges rule and 5 min rest rules. New "Bloodied" rules and what that does
for MOBS that get bloodied.

Things I did not like too much: combining a daily power with an encounter
power for Maximized result and still fizzling because I rolled a 1.
Nothing is more brutal then losing two big powers on a bad role.
The rate of Action Point earning. You have to get to the third encounter
to get the next your second AP point, With the fizzling of powers, AP
points to replace the fizzle is possible but it may take awile if you have
to get to encounter 3.
The game is fun now but it does feel a little like a cross between Final
Fantasy and WoW sometimes. I'm sure that there will be mobs now with
THOUSANDS of HP maybe hundred of thousands, and you'll need a part with HP
in the several hundreds to compete with them. The whole time the Final
Fantasy fight song will be going in your head.

Overall, I thought the good outweighed the bad. It was a lot of fun and the
players only stopped because the DM was tired :). Will I buy a ton of
books to play? Not sure, but maybe if there was a good DM and a consistent
game, I just might.

Fuel Economy

So the wife and I were considering trading in our '05 Taurus to get a used Prius, in the hope that greatly increased gas mileage would save us money in the long run. But we got stopped pretty much before we could get started. Looks like we owe more on the Taurus right now than it is worth for a trade-in.

Ho hum.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Roundup, and GaryCon

Busy busy busy weekend. In fact, I woke up this morning, and still in a haze, wondered what day of the week it was, hoping it was wednesday or thursday already. It wasn't. And still isn't.

Saturday I was at work, fooling with cameras all day. Sunday I was dragging a bit, but then headed to GaryCon!!

Shortly after 1, the nerds began to assemble at Jason's place, who was kind enough to have all kinds of good food and stuff prepared for us. I pulled out all of the pre-release and forum-gathered stuff related to 4e D&D and we rolled into some instant-action combat stuff. Present initially were Jerry, Andrew, Michael, Jason, Krissi and myself. I passed out the 4e pregen sheets from the D&DXP thing, as well as the Elven Rogue that a clever ENWorld forumer (forumite? forum user?) put together. I did not keep close track, but Jerry took the Cleric, Andrew took the Rogue, Michael took the Ranger, Krissi the Warlock, I think, and I'm not sure which character Jason had (paladin maybe?). Everyone poured over the data for a few minutes before we picked up the dice. Michael had never played D&D before (!!!), and everyone else was of course new to 4e, though Krissi and I had played a little skirmish the evening before. Without much more fanfare, we got to it.

Oh Noes! A group of nasty kobolds had taken over their favorite tavern, and they had to Save The Day! Just as the party was rushing the tavern door, Maddie and John arrived and picked up characters. Maddie grabbed the fighter, and John took the wizard. They charged in the front door, and promptly got set upon by a cluster of kobold soldier types, who whacked Jerry's cleric pretty good, I think. In fact, I believe they dropped him pretty much right off the bat. Which quickly gave us one of the things that 4e does, and we saw this again later in the day. While previous versions of D&D have a mechanic called "No, sorry, you don't get to play this game anymore", also known as Character Death, 4e still lets you get smacked, but is willing to forgive you and let you try again right away. So the cleric's Second Wind kicked in, and he was on his feet again. Michael loved how the Eladrin got to feystep, and just pop up behind the kobold line. It's still D&D, so as you can imagine, there was much fighting of kobolds. It was a good little fight, and all of the characters performed exactly as intended. The ranger is an excellent striker. Standing back a little and raining death onto his opponents. I like that in 4e, everyone has more hit points to start with. That means that, for 1st level stuff, instead of fights being over because everyone has between 3 and 12 hit points, and can really only take one or two good hits, everyone - both characters and monsters, has enough hit points to give and take for a few minutes. In a game about killing monsters, its cool to be able to go a few rounds, trading blows back and forth. Anyhow, finally the characters were triumphant and wiped out the last of the kobolds.

I went straight into another encounter, wanting to continue to test/demo the 4e stuff. I drew out a rough map, and surprised the party with the dragon from the final encounter at D&DXP. The players were... anxious about fighting a dragon at 1st level. Made more anxious after the fighter got beaten on a bit. But they quickly turned the tide of the battle, pulling out all of the stops and using all of their available powers to kill the dragon. About this time, Jeremy Younger made it out, and so I offered to run more 4e stuff, to do some old school Tomb of Horrors stuff, or whatever else everyone wanted - Conan movies, etc.

They wanted some more 4e, so we let folks go through the characters again and pick which pregen they wanted to play. This time around Jerry had the rogue, John took the cleric, Maddie stuck with the fighter, Jason had the.. warlock I think, Michael took the wizard, Andrew the ranger, and Krissi took.. the paladin I think. We endeavored to do a "dungeon crawl", and they checked out the first room. Michael's wizard went to the corner of the crypt room and started rifling through a big pile of junk and trash and bones, when suddenly, three skeletal warriors rose from the pile and advanced, just as the lids burst off of two of the stone sarcophagi in the room, and two more skeletons joined the melee. Of course, Michael's wizard go the brunt of the punishment, and again, the system smacked him, but let him keep playing. Shortly after, Jerry and Andrew and Michael had to go, as it was already 5:30 or so in the evening. After the skeletons were defeated, we ran one more encounter, against a couple of Gnolls, and then called it a day.

Apparently everyone had a blast with the 4e stuff. We had to make some assumptions on some things, and just go with it, since we have limited information to use. But it was alot of fun. Everyone enjoyed playing, and using the cool abilities and options that each character had.

We did not break out the Tomb of Horrors. After reading through it, I realized exactly how much of a killer dungeon it is. I've heard people talk about it in broad, general terms, but the traps and puzzles in it are just so arbitrary and... sadistic.. and by sadistic, I mean the kind that my players would have found un-fun. There exists, I think, a different mindset, from the D&D of the late 70's and 80's, than today. At least in my group. In its infancy, D&D was a game about simply surviving, outwitting the DM, and inventory/resource management. It was a bizaar mix of Simulation and Gamist play - bizaar to me because it there are distinctly Sim aspects, and distinctly Gamist aspects, and often they seem to be at conflict with each other, or at least not to fit well together.

Anyway, I call it a very successful GaryCon. Gamer nerds got together for some D&D and fun. Jerry, while playing the Cleric, and John too, invoked their Divine Wrath power against their enemies, while growling "IN THE NAME OF GYGAX!"


So over the weekend, with the time change, our spam filter stopped working. So we got a few thousand spam emails that got delivered to inboxes here.

The C drive on the file server/domain controller was FULL. 0 space free. Looks like when I last installed the reporting/logging software for the firewall, I installed it to C instead of E, where I'd intended, so it filled up the C drive. I removed it, as a quick fix, and just a few minutes later, folks can't get to the internet. Oh - the reporting/logging software is also the brains for the webblocker, and I had it set to block if it can't validate.

Also related to the time change, the time on our phone was way off this morning, not sure why it got so goofed up.

One of our user's blackberry's is acting up, again. He charges it all night, and then by 10AM the battery is dead. And he's not on it all that much. We had this problem a month and a half ago when I got him a phone initially, and the provider had to replace the phone. The replacement acted fine, and now here we go again.

And our terminal server was hard locked again this morning.

What fun!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Worst Story Ever


by Jim Theis

The weather beaten trail wound ahead into the dust racked
climes of the baren land which dominates large portions of the
Norgolian empire. 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. 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.
"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.
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. The disemboweled mercenary crumpled from his
saddle and sank to the clouded sward, sprinkling the parched dust
with crimson droplets of escaping life fluid.
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.
"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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Grignr's emerald green orbs glared lustfully at the
wallowing soldier struggling before his chestnut swirled mount.
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." 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.
The trek to Gorzom was forced upon Grignr when the soldiers
of Crin were leashed upon him by a faithless concubine he had
wooed. 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.
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.


Arriving after dusk in Gorzom,grignr descended down a dismal
alley, reining his horse before a beaten tavern. 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. Tables were clustered with groups of drunken thieves, and
cutthroats, tossing dice, or making love to willing prostitutes.
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.
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.
"Thou hast need to occupy your time, barbarian",questioned
the female?
"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.
The engrossed titan ignored the queries of the inquisitive
female, pulling her towards him and crushing her sagging nipples
to his yearning chest. 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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
In the confusion the soldier's fellows confronted Grignr
with unsheathed cutlasses, directed toward the latters scowling
"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
"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.
"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. 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
"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.
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.
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. 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. 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. At each cornwr of the
chamber a guard stood at attention, 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.
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."
"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.
"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.
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.
The prince regained his statue, 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."
"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.
"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."
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. 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
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 ?
"Enough of this! Away with the slut before I loose my
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.
The councilor slumped to his knees as Grignr slid his
crimsoned blade from Agfnd's rib cage. 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
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
"Before me, sirrah! Before me as always! Ha, Ha Ha,
Haaaa...", nobly cackled.


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.
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. 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. 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.
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.

-3 1/2-

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. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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. Her delicate lips trembled beneath soft
narrow hands as she attemped to conceal herself from the piercing
stare of the ambivalent idol.
Glaring directly down towards her was the stoney, cycloptic
face of the bloated diety. 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.


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. 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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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
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.
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. 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. 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.
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
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.


"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.
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
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.
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, orange-
white 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.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.


"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."
Grignr slipped his right hand to his thigh, concealing a
small opaque object beneath the folds of the g-string wrapped
about his waist. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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."
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. 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.
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. 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. 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
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. The wild blood coarsing through his
veins yearned for the undefiled freedom of the livid wilderness
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.
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.
Halting before the teeming portal portal, Grignr restes his
shaggy head sideways against the barrier. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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. 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.
"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.
"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." 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
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.
"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."
"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
"What were you doing at the tavern whence I discovered you?"
asked Grignr as he lifted the female through the opening into the
"I had sought to lay low from the palace's guards as they
conducted their search for me. 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."
"What are you called by female?"
"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!
"And I am called a barbarian!" Grunted Grignr in a disgusted
"Aye! The ways of our civilization are in many ways warped
and distorted, but what is your calling," she queried, bustily?
"Grignr of Ecordia."
"Ah, I have heard vaguely of Ecordia. It is the hill
country to the far east of the Noregolean Empire. I have also
heard Agaphim curse your land more than once when his troops were
routed in the unaccustomed mountains and gorges." Sayeth she.
"Aye. My people are not tarnished by petty luxuries and
baubles. They remain fierce and unconquerable in their native
climes." 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.
"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. Many of the
partakers of the ritual were high nobles and high trustees of the
inner palace; Agaphim's pittiless wrath would have been
"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."
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.


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. 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. Due to his high succeptibility following
the siezure, the priest was transformed into a raving maniac bent
soley upon reaking vengeance. 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.

-7 1/2-

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. 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. 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.
"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. 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
"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.
"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.
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. 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.
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.
"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
"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.
"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
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 ..."
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.
"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.
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."
"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."
"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 ... "
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! 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. 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.
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!
"Sargon should be more carful of his right hand men." Added
Grignr, a smug grin upon his lips. "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!"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 glue-
like substance. The slimey thing continued its puckering ; now
having grown the size of Grignr's leg from its vampiric feast.
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. 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.


Transcriber's note:
No mere transcription can give the true flavor of the
original printing of The Eye of Argon. It was mimeographed with
stencils cut on an elite manual typewriter. Many letters were so
faint as to be barely readable, others were overstruck, and some
that were to be removed never got painted out with correction
fluid. Usually, only one space separated sentences, while
paragraphs were separated by a blank line and were indented ten
spaces. Many words were grotesquely hyphenated. And there were
illustrations -- I cannot do them justice in mere words, but they
were a match for the text. These are the major losses of this
version (#02) of TEoA.
Otherwise, all effort has been made to retain the full and
correct text, preserving even mis-spellings and dropped spaces.
An excellent proofreader has checked it for errors both ommitted
and committed. What mis-matches remain are mine.
I shall endeavor to keep a copy of the original available
for viewing, so it may be appreciated in all its fullness. But
as a labor of love for those whose 3rd-generation copies have now
suscummed to the bitter vicissitudes of time and entropy, worn
away by the ravages of countelss re-readings before entralled
audiances, yet who have found that the the heady flavor of its
stylistic paragraphs has seeped into their soul and still grips
it with a fervid grasp, I dedicate this machine-readable version
of the inimitable The Eye of Argon.