Thursday, 29 January 2015

Dungeon Crawl - Part 5

The rain came down hard as Reven and Borengar trotted into the small village of Arnswept. The village was made up of run down wooden shacks with a few barns scattered around the outskirts. The fields around the village were either barren or were covered in sickly brown weeds. Arnswept did not appear to be a place that was doing well for itself. Borengar hopped off of his pony, Sable, and led her over to the inn that dominated the centre of the village. 'What a miserable place' he said as he hitched his mount to a post outside the inn. 'You'd find more cheer at a funeral' he finished. Reven couldn't help but agree, looking around there was not a soul to be seen. No one was working the fields, no one even peeking through windows at Fang who always managed to cause a stir. The village was completely silent save for the unrelenting sound of rain and wind. The pair took a last look at the dilapidated buildings before heading into the inn. Reven didn't bother tethering Fang, he wanted to leave him free in case there was trouble. The hound seemed to share the uneasy feeling Reven had about this place. 

Borengar and Reven pushed the rickety wooden door wide and strode in to the inn. The common room was empty save for a dishevelled old man who sat on a stool, slumped forward over the bar. Reven walked over to the man and gently rocked him back and forth thinking him to be asleep. As he shook harder one of the man's arms that was cradling his emaciated face fell to his side to reveal the blank stare of a dead man. Reven called out, 'Borengar, something is not right here my friend. This man is dead.' He pulled his damp hair out of his face and pushed it down the back of his cloak which he flicked over his shoulder to reveal the sword in its scabbard at his side, he wanted to be ready and his feeling of unease was growing. Borengar drew his axe from his back and the companions walked behind the bar to investigate further. 'This is very strange' said Borengar, 'How are we to find Krassner if the only people around here to ask are dead?' The dwarf huffed as he moved into the back room of the inn which had signs that people had been here recently. A pot of stew hung over a fire pit in the middle of the room, fresh loaves of bread lay at rest on the kitchen counter which upon investigation were still warm to the touch. 'Hello' shouted Reven, 'anybody here?', no answer came. 'A dead man at the bar. Food ready to eat in the kitchen. What is going on in Arnswept?' Reven posed the question to Borengar but before he could answer a roar from outside brought them rushing back through the bar and bursting through it's front door into the street. 

Fang was roaring at a group of skinny looking men and women that were hurling rocks and sticks at him and Sable. The war hound had placed his considerable bulk between the crowd and the pony to protect it and the missiles bounced off him ineffectually. The crowd were about thirty strong and and looked only slightly more alive than the dead man in the bar. 'What is the meaning of this?' shouted Reven. The crowd ceased their their attack and parted to allow the fattest man Reven had ever seen pass between them. The man's belly was so large he used silk scarves to hold it off the floor and his bald head sweated with the exertion. His bright turquoise robes didn't seem affected by the rain; in fact the man would have been completely dry if it wasn't for the perspiration. He came to a stop in front of the crowd and let his enormous gut fall to the floor and spoke in a clear deep voice 'Leave this place, Arnswept doesn't suffer strangers or fools and you look to be both. Be off with you' The words struck Reven with the power and compulsion of a large wave. He staggered back and at once went to mount Fang. Borengar grasped his arm and pulled him away from the hound. He noted that Reven didn't struggle and he wore a blank expression on his face. 'Your words are tainted with foul magic sorcerer. But I am a dwarf and not so easy to compel as weak minded humans'. The fat man baulked at Borengar's words and looked decidedly uneasy. 'Kill the dwarf' he shouted at the crowd and they swarmed round him obediently. 

Borengar spun Reven to face him and hit him hard across the face with his gauntleted hand. Reven fell to one knee under the force of the blow but it had the desired effect. Reven awoke from his stupor and resisted the compulsion the magician had placed upon him. Rising to his feet he drew his sword and faced the shambling crowd in front of him. 'It doesn't sit well butchering these poor folk', Borengar said readying his axe, 'We need to get to fatty and put an end to his meddling.' Reven nodded his agreement and tried to run round the edge of the crowd but their hands grabbed him and pulled him in. He felt sticks being beaten against his back and shoulders. Somebody smashed him in the face with a rock that staggered him. Reven's anger ignited, his veins burning with liquid hatred. He head-butted the closest assailant shattering the man's nose and sending a spray of blood over the zombie-like crowd. He lashed out with his fists felling more  of the bone bags before him. There may be more of the crowd but they were as weak as small children and hard pressed to match Reven for speed. He hit another man so hard in the ribs that he heard them snap with a loud crack. He broke free of the crowd as Fang waded into the action. The hound understood what was happening and used his massive head to bat the crowd away from Borengar who was hot on Reven's heals. Fang kept them busy as they raced after the big sorcerer. 

He hadn't got far. His clothes were now soaked with sweat and he was making a poor job of getting away. When Borengar and Reven caught him he had only managed to travel about twenty paces from where he had started. As they neared they could hear him mumbling under his breath. Borengar swung his axe at the man's back but unbelievably he moved out of the way with preternatural speed and turned on the dwarf smashing him so hard in the face with his fist that the dwarf was knocked to the floor. 'My magic may not work on you my stunted friend but it works on me just fine.' Borengar tried to recover himself but the sorcerer lifted his enormous belly over the dwarf and dropped it on his head. The dwarf kicked out and strained against the fat but it was smothering him and he was struggling for breath. 'Now my young friend' the sorcerer said to Reven, 'Gut this stunted pain in the arse. I have a terrible hunger and must be getting on.' Reven struggled against the sorcerer's will his hand drifted to the hilt of his sword and slowly he started drawing the blade. Only one thought entered his mind and summoning all his strength he cried out,'Faaaannnggg!' The war hound reacted immediately trampling members of the crowd he had been corralling under foot as he rushed towards Reven. 

Borengar had ceased his struggles and Reven had drawn his sword and held it high ready to strike. With the war hounds approach the magicians power over Reven was waning. The sorcerer stumbled backward stretching his enormous gut as he did so. Reven and Fang struck in unison. Reven's sword sang through the air before slicing cleanly through the massive folds of skin that made up the sorcerers stomach. Simultaneously Fang bit down through the fat man's torso, removing his head, shoulder and arm with his huge jaws. Reven sliced the remnants of the stomach again which split in half revealing the prone form of Borengar underneath. Fang started coughing and choking as he tried to swallow the chunk of the sorcerer. Reven had never seen him struggle to swallow anything before and looking at the remains of the stomach he understood why. The flesh was crawling with fat black maggots. Thousands of them writhed out of the flesh. They poured from the sorcerers torso creating a living carpet under Reven and Fang's feet. Borengar spluttered as he regained his breath and frantically started flicking maggots off of him. Fang wretched and brought the foul meat of the sorcerers head and shoulder up in one fat lump, it landed on the floor with a wet smack. He pawed at his face trying to remove the maggots that were crawling through his fur. Reven grabbed Borengar and dragged him clear of the teaming mass of bloated maggots. Fang bounced away shaking his head. As Reven pulled the dwarf clear of the black pool of creatures they started to pool together. The maggots started to rise and take form as they did so. Reven and Borengar stood and watched in horror as the creatures formed the likeness of the sorcerer, 'Fools' the thing screamed in a voice more akin to a demon than a man, 'You have sealed you fate' it roared taking a step forward into the puddles of maggots. Reven watched as it raised it arms and started muttering an incantation. He continued to watch as Fang ran at the thing and swiped through the thing with one of his huge paws. In an instant the maggots turned to a swarm of bloated flies that buzzed away until the sound was lost in the torrential down[pour of the rain. All that remained was a pool of black maggot skin that shimmered in the water. Fang approached Reven and bowed his head and Reven ruffled his fur and brought his head up so he looked the hound in the eye. 'Thank you my friend' he said as he gently picked maggot skin from his fur.

The rain had cleared quickly after the sorcerers departure. The residents of the village that were well enough to talk had shared the tale of their downfall with Reven and Borengar. The sorcerer had arrived in the village a few weeks before and not long after he had arrived he had exerted his control over the villagers. none of them had eaten since he had came. The crowd that faced Reven and his companions were the last of a village that numbered over a hundred souls. The others had faced the same fate as the man who still sat slumped over the bar. They had starved to death. Many of the crowd who were now released from the sorcerers enchantment wouldn't survive. To weak to stand without the magicians spell they would now succumb to the weeks of starvation they had endured. The meal that was waiting to be eaten was for the fat sorcerer. Upon his arrival the crops had started dying as had the livestock, the man's very presence was a cancer that ate away at the village. The villagers were grateful to Reven and Borengar but they would never be free of the memory of their enslavement and the sadness they now felt weighed heavy on them. 

As Reven and his party departed they took one last look at the village of Arnswept and sorrow hung in their hearts. 'Curse all magicians. Power hungry meddlers the lot of 'em' Borengar commented as they passed beyond the borders of the settlement. 'I've a feeling we'll be running in to fatty again and I for one can't wait'. 'He'll soon get what's coming to him I'm sure. Lets concentrate on Krassner for now.' Reven said as he spurred Fang on. 

From on high a swarm of fat, bloated flies tracked the adventurers progress. They seemed to form a smile in the clear blue sky before they let themselves be carried away on the wind.






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