Saturday, September 12, 2009

Chapter 4, Part 4: "A Pleasant Expedition..."

New Players in this Drama:

EUPHORBUS - Fighting-Cactoid from the Red Sands
RODAN THE SCROUNGER - Green Man Fighting-Man

Part I Here, Part II Here, Part III Here, Part V Here, Part VI Here, Part VII Here.

... Buzz is jerked back into conventional reality thousands of feet above the purple grasslands south of Pit the Gyraphont still clutching him from behind... ag////////////////ain in t................he mae\\\\\\\\\\\\\\lstrom of w//////////////////hirling ene\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\rgy, he\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ad feel////////////////////////ing i......t wo\\\\\\\\\\\////uld bu\\//./\.\.\'.\\\\\\/////rst...

...thousands of feet above the landscape the grasslands now a scrub with twisted black shrubs glinting with coppery thorns the ground ahead dropping off to a misty sea of mud below....

...h////////////////////////is nerv////////////es are be\\\\\\\\\\\\\ing pull////........//////////.........//////////////......ed o\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ut of h/////////////is bo\.\..........\.........dy, he is diss\.\.\................\\\\................olv\\\\\\\/..............''''ing i,,....,,.,.........nto the fract,.,,,,,,,,.,.,al lig,

...Buzz drops into the mud as the Gyraphont releases him. Clenching his eyes shut, burying his face into the mud, he must not look at the thing that is snipping off his bonds with it's countless nippers. His limbs are useless dead meat from days of cruelly tight ligature and he lies helpless as needles of pain slowly swarm through his extremities.

The Gyraphont repeats the process with the rest of his companions, while Buzz screws his eyes tightly shut and keeps his back to the thing. Some of his companions follow suite, among those who dare look upon the Gyraphont, most scream and Kalmor soils himself.

As this is occurring the companions inspect their surrounding as the blood slowly agonizingly returns to their extremeties. All have deep bloody gouges in their flesh from their erstwhile bonds, a souvenir of Mozug's regard for their well-being when he callously trussed them.

A morass of thick greenish-gray slimy mud choked with giant ferns, tall drooping moss trees, thick twisted vines, blotchy pulpy reeds and towering branched bloated gray fungi. Monkeybats shriek as they fly from perch to perch, punctuated by the harsh fluttering of hunting mothawks. Biting vermin, miniature relatives of the N'Grutha, crawl through their hair and clothing and long, thread-like white worms squirm out of the mud into their boots. The dense air is suffocating with heat; clouds of dirty sulfurous fog drift through the jungle.

Two or three miles north they see towering, steely-gray cliffs over a mile high stretching from east to west, the southward escarpment of the Iridium Plateau. To the east they see the vegetation thinning out into a vast wasteland of mud flats punctuated by a few vicious snarls of vegetation and crumbling rotting rock formations, the Slime Lands, haunt of the Limb Pirates and worse. To the west and south the vegetation is denser, the latter after miles and miles becoming the Jungles of Venom where lies the city of Sangkalla.

When the Gyraphont drops off the last party member Buzz asks how they are supposed to return after harvesting a glowing ocher slime lotus pod while making sure to maintain his gaze at a point completely opposite the Gyraphont's position. The thing responds that when Mozug was instructing it to transport them to the Slime Lands that he said that he "...never expect to see those stupid assholes again..."

Buzz asks the Gyraphont to take them back to Mozug after they complete their task and it replies that Mozug expressly forbid it to do so. The desperate Australian makes an offer to supply the lobster-ghoul with exotic, tasty corpses in return for transporting them back and after sufficient cajoling it's carrion appetites overwhelm it and it agrees. They make arrangements to meet in the same location in a day's time and the Gyraphont disappears just as two forms approach though the fog resolving into the forms of warriors: a green-skinned man, and a manlike being, green as well but also hairless and having thorns growing out of it's skin.

The two strangers make clear their peaceable intentions and introduce themselves: Rodan the Scrounger, a scavenger, archer and fighting-man; and Euphorbus, of the Red Sands, a Cactoid who carries a sack of sandy soil from the Red Sands to snack on. Buzz is dumbfounded by the Cactoid, finding the plant-being even more unbelievable than the Phraint guard in Mozug's lair.

The party bickers; Rygarr is insistent that they should head southward through the morass to the Jungles of Venom. This is thoroughly ignored by the rest. They decide to head northwest, as maps indicate a canyon piercing the cliffs looming above them in that direction, also deciding that while hunting for Glowing Ocher Slime Lotus Pods and creatures to render into corpses, they should scout out an alternative route out of the swampy hell, in case the Gyraphont reneges on their arrangement.

Roughly four or five hours later Buzz hears sounds that recalls memories of being stalked by a killer croc back in his homeland; the sounds of a large creature dragging itself through the muck behind them. He alerts the party and they circle around as the hunter becomes the hunted.

Through the mist and vegetation they see the shape of a large fin wobbling, attached to a massively jawed dimetron that charges through the mud instigating a terse battle as the fighting men fend off it's snapping jaws with the staves of their halberds while the weaker companions maneuver and fire missiles at it's flanks. Many of their attacks are deflected by it's slimy, parasite infested scales, still they are drenched by gouts of cold black blood as they hack and thrust at it's heaving bulk. Euphorbus is seized in it's huge jaws and is torn almost in half before the primordial beast is slain.

Ropes are crafted from the thick lianas that choke the vegetation, and they drag the bloody, dead reptile back to the meeting spot just as the last of the three suns set. They make camp on a cluster of damp hummocks of matted vegetation, set watches, and try to sleep without rolling into the mud as they sweat and scratch at the crawling and flying blood-suckers assauiling them.

The night passes without molestation, although they are often awoken by the distant bellowing and croaking of unseen titans wallowing in the ooze. The suns rises and it gets even more hot and humid. As the hour of their rendezvous with the Gyraphont draws close, the forms of pale degenerate beings come hopping out of the mist...Pallid Croakers...

Part I Here, Part II Here, Part III Here, Part V Here, Part VI Here, Part VII Here.

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