Friday, 21 April 2017

Bugo the Barbarian - Chapter 18, Bungo and the Briney Beast

A week passed as The Excelsior was lost amongst the waves; days running together into one endless night of thunderous fury. It was a miracle the barely seaworthy hulk hadn’t capsized yet, but nobody on board dared to breathe a word of it lest their last remaining fear would come to pass. Bungo had been no help either; feverish with amnesia and unable to leave his sickbed.


Shallica was on deck; perched on the prow of the ship. For the second day in a row, she looked out into the tumultuous grey and hoped for salvation. She squinted against the unrelenting downpour; for a moment a shape seemed to loom in the distance.


“Land!” Her exultant cry as cut short by confusion. The land seemed to be moving, or at least it appeared to have disappeared into the mists, like a wishful mirage just beyond reach.


Janboe was up the rigging in an instant and staring through his sexton at the object. Shallica wondered whether he knew how to use the nautical instrument at all. Come to think of it, it might explain why they’d been stuck in the storm for so long. It didn’t help her confidence when his trousers inexplicably fell down around his ankles and he scrambled to pull them up again; fumbling with the buckle for an unnecessarily long amount of time that made her wonder if the act was intentional.


Suddenly, Janboe’s face took on a different air; he shouted something down to the deck, but the words were lost amidst the storm. Judging from the goblin’s frantic arm movements it wasn’t good news. Her suspicions were confirmed when the ship suddenly lunged to one side in response to a loud crashing noise. A spray of water lapped across the deck and for one moment Janboe’s voice cut above the storm. The only word she could make out was “Serpent”, although by this stage it was irrelevant as the colossal creature she had originally mistaken for land reared its dinosauric head above the water.


At almost 30 feet tall above the waves it was impossible to tell the actual size of the beast. Its fiery eyes stared down hungrily at the sea hands that were scrambling on deck in an attempt to regain control of the wildly listing Excelsior. It lurched forward with the speed and destructive power of a lightning strike; neatly snatching a straggling cabin-boy from the crowd and wharfing him down in a shower of meaty chunklets. The disturbing scene was made all the more obscene as the creature emitted an odd purr that reverberated through the beams of the ship; it was laughing.


Shallica took to the air; her sensuous form spiralling straight for the beast’s draconian maw. At the last minute she twisted away and blazed demonic lightning into the right side of its face. The bolts cracked through the air; seeming to take power from the storm itself. The blast discharged against its flesh in a sizzling eruption that would have flash-fried a charging Wendigo, but barely scratched the surface of its iron-hard scaled hide. It turned immediately; snapping at thin air as Shallica flew overhead.


She turned in mid-flight, cutting her levitation and plummeting like a stone past its right flank. Her perception seemed to go into slow motion as the serpentine beast turned towards her, there was an opening for a brief moment and in that instant she sent another weave of lightning scorching into its face. This time the magical fires found their mark and its right eye exploded like a rotten pomegranate with a spray of pus and viscera. It threw its head back; wracked with pain; before its serpentine form crashed bodily to the deck.


The ship heaved out of the water in response to the sea beast’s bulk; cresting a particularly large wave before crashing down into the tumultuous sea with a resounding explosion of salt-water. Shallica’s magical power had begun to wane after she had expended so much energy in the assault; she floated unsteadily to the main sail and held on for dear life; drained of strength.


“We’re all gonna die!” screamed Janboe; wildly firing a pair of rapid fire hand crossbows ineffectually at the Excelsior’s monstrous occupant. He threw the spent weapons down and dived under a cargo sheet. Whether he’d ever emerge again was questionable, but even amidst the chaos Shallica still couldn’t help but notice that his trousers seemed to have fallen round his ankles again.


It was in that moment of utter despair, when all hope seemed lost, that something incredible happened.


“Who dares disturb the great Donglore – Lord of the Underworld!” The voice that boomed from somewhere inside the ship was so deep and manly that Shallica immediately went weak at the knees and collapsed pantingly against the main sail.


The cabin door flew open a moment later and Bungo emerged. Clad only in his leather pants and wearing a well shined chamber pot on his head he was a sight to behold. On closer inspection it seemed that he had through some unknown means bored a pair of eye holes in the shining spittoon, and he was standing proudly with his hands placed firmly at his hips. His rippling physique seemed even more bulbous amidst the storm as a flash of lightning illuminated his steely pecs magnificently.


The entire ship went silent; even the din of the storm and the crashing of the waves seemed to quiet in dumfounded confusion as the strange scene unfolded.


Leaping into the fray, Bungo delivered an explosive kick to the monster’s ruined eye socket. The force was so great that the charging barbarian’s colossal leg was momentarily buried up to the knee in the creature’s ruined face. He pulled his sticky leg out with a grunt of exertion; following it up wilt a ludicrously big punch that drove the massive creature 10 skidding metres across the deck; its bulk snapped the mainsail like a twig.


The Sea beast mewled pathetically as the Avatar of Donglore bore down on it.

“There’s….” Bungo paused, gathering speed for a new charge “No Escape!” He roared the last words as he tackled the monster again; driving his shining bed-pan-helm hard into its jugular. A colossal wind rocked the ship as all of the air was expelled from the beast’s lungs.


“BICEPS OF JUSTICE GIVE ME STRENGTH!” Bungo’s new persona seemed to be running wild. He leapt at the creature like an enraged tiger; wrapping his steely arms around its neck in an unrelenting bear-hug. It tried to roll away and back into the sea, but the bulksome warrior coiled his legs around its snake like throat and dug in deeper.


After several agonising minutes of straining, the beast finally went limp in Bungo’s arms. Its tongue rolled out listlessly as life left its body.


Not one to leave a job half finished, Bungo delivered a final boot to the creature that sent the lifeless beast plunging into the depths below.


“That’ll be 10 silver pieces each.” Janboe’s high pitch voice sounded from his vantage point on the floor. He dusted himself off and held out his hand expectantly. The crew looked at him blankly.


“It’ll be a cold day in hell when I let anyone see a man like Bungo choke the one-eyed-snake for free.”

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