- Deon BeswickAustralia
Australian Capital Territory
Following on from years 1-3 in Lionstone Heights
Folk in the settlement were scared. Outside the ring of light a towering figure in black armour loomed. On his back was a cape of think fur and lanterns covered with skinned faces. In his hands were huge bone cleavers. He threw back his head and screamed a challenge. The experienced fighters briefly debated, and their original noble intention to strike out at this new terror waned as fear sunk into their hearts. So callously they decided to send five untried young men and women to face this interloper. However, the rookies did have the very best of Lionstone Heights hand crafted weapons and gear, and they were terribly keen to come to grips with this foe thanks to the inspiration of the hunt re-enactment.
So as the armoured figure trudged forward towards the settlement, a line of youngsters readied themselves among stands of tall golden grass and broken columns. There was Bam-bam, armed with a smattering of rawhide armour, a bone axe and a lucky charm. Fargo, with a bone helm protecting his head, a bone axe and the newly made harp. Chesty, with a long spear and bone darts. Charity, hoping to use a bow for long range and a sword in case of close up attacks. And finally Bold, who had volunteered to play the role of monster bait, in a full set of Rawhide with a bone dagger and monster grease.
Yelling defiance, they ran towards the foe, except Charity, who crouched and readied her bow. Chesty threw a heavy dart, but hit naught but armour with a resounding clang. The human monster paced steadily towards her. Charity, realising it was in range now, fired two swift arrows, but they both bounced off the massive plate mail of this menacing butcher. The butcher strode forward, seemingly uncaring of the feeble attempts to stop him, dismissing the closer targets in his unswerving goal of engaging those who had the effrontery to try and injure him. Charity was glad the others were before her and those terrible cleavers somewhat distant. Now she was in combat, it seemed far more brutal than the stories that the settlement told. Her lantern at her feet suddenly reflected against a massive wall of iron. She gasped, realising that by some strangeness the butcher was suddenly towering over her. She looked up into the maddened eyes behind the ferocious helmet. Charity saw her own doomed face staring back. A cleaver sliced off her face in a single blow. The other took her head.
Her friends fell back in shock and horror at the suddenness of this insanely brutal death. The butcher silently hooked her face onto his belt and raised his bloodstained cleavers. In fear and anger, the youngsters sprang at this insane killer. Fargo brought his bone axe, slayer of lions, in a massive sweep across the arm of the butcher. But his initial delight in a mighty blow turned to horror as the axe came apart in his hands against the hardened metal. The butcher shrugged off the weapons of Bam-bam, Chesty and Bold and despair filled their hearts. Bold knew his role though, and when the butcher raised his terrible cleavers again, he sprang in front of this terror. The butcher lashed out in a flurry of blows, shredding his armour as he dodged and weaved in the grass. But as Bold watched the weapons turn and spin, he felt on the grasp of understanding the deadly pattern. But not quite…..
Again and again the four lashed out at their tormentor. Occasional blows seemed to damage the monster, but it would spin its cleavers in a deadly dance, sending the youngsters flying, or catching their weapons before they could impact. Mad eyes stared at them and weakened their resolve. Bam-bam, bleeding heavily from savage wounds, got to his feet while the others lay prone about their terrible foe, and charged in. Were not his parents Fred, hero of the first story, and Wilma mighty heroine of settlement hunts? Could he disappoint their faith in him? Did he not have a lucky charm? He rubbed it for luck. His bone axe cut into the butcher and grinning, he looked straight into eyes behind the butcher’s helm. But he only saw his own doomed face staring back. The butcher’s return strike decapitated him instantly, and another grisly trophy was stuck upon its belt.
Fargo advanced towards the butcher. Another of them had died. He clutched his backup weapon, a sharpened rock that had helped slay fearsome lions. The butcher seemed frenzied and swift beyond belief, striking at will. He ducked under a weighted blow that would have sheared off an arm and struck deep into the giant’s side. He looked up the ferocious metal mask and the maddened eyes. They reflected naught but the face of death itself. The butcher lashed out and struck Fargo’s head with a fearsome strike. But the blackened, hardened skull Fargo wore resisted the damage, denting but not breaking. He had survived!
The butcher suddenly screamed savagely, high, long and loud. Fargo, Bold and Chesty tried to cover their ears as they staggered to their feet. But all Chesty could taste was the blood in her mouth and her mind wandered back to happier times as a child in the settlement. Days of eating lion and hearing tales of the hunt. She wished she was back there now, with a tasty meal in front of her. Fargo’s ears rang. His mind was full of images of his childhood friends, lying headless among the stones. This was not like the tales he had heard. Look at this butcher, striding around laying into his foes. Not trying to attack those who were knocked down. Not trying to strike into the undefended backs of his opponents. No, he just strode forward and attacked with honor. That was what Fargo was missing. Honorable combat. He clenched his jaw and hefted the sharp piece of stone that was all he had left, and moved to engage his enemy face-to-face. Bold saw him move forward, and his eyes were drawn to the harp on Fargo’s back. “The harp! Use it! Stop the noise with more noise!”.
Fargo turned to stare at his friend. He pulled off the harp and began to pluck the strings, and a shimmering counterpoint to the insane screaming began. The butcher lunged forward but Bold, still committed to the original plan, jumped between Fargo and the butcher. Another storm of blows slashed into him. Bold dodged some and slipped past others, and some bit deep into his side and spleen, but in his mind a pattern emerged. His hands clenched his dagger. He could do that too! He jumped forwards as the screams subsided, lulled perhaps by the music. His dagger flashed at the weak points in the butcher’s plate. He pulled out the bloodstained point and stared up at the butcher’s metal-clad face. And he saw his own grinning face staring back. With surprising speed he matched the butchers counterstrikes, and in a frenzy of his own plunged the dagger into the monster again and again. The butcher staggered back and Chesty struck over Bold’s shoulder with her long spear. It screamed in anger and pain, spinning its cleavers around and throwing Bold back into Chesty, and flinging Fargo and his harp at a distance.
The blood soaked butcher stared hard at Bold. But instead of fear at that terrible gaze all he now felt was elation. Bold could no longer feel his wounds, the steady drip of blood down his legs or the cold stone on which he lay. All he could feel was the rapid pounding inside his veins. Rising to his feet Bold charged back towards the butcher, Chesty close behind, lunging over his head with the spear. One last push, one last try. Chesty’s spear point rang off the dented shoulder pads again. Cursing, Bold struck his knife deep into one of the butcher’s elbow joints. But the creature lashed out again sending him sprawling. As the Butcher advanced, cleavers upraised, Bold could see the form of Fargo rising up a little ways behind him. In Fargo’s hand was a short, sharpened stone. “Hey!” he cried. The Butcher turned, as the stone flew and caught him through the eyepiece of the fearsome helm. Silently, the huge figure toppled. The terror was finally over.
Luckily, the three survivors were close to the settlement. Their bodies streamed blood and their hide and cloth armour lay in ruins. But they were engulfed by the jubilant elders and other folk, who took them back into the light for bandaging and rest. A strange hooded man, calling himself the lamplighter, came to visit the settlement, but Fred and Russel saw him off. Later the settlement decided what to do with their newly dead. All but Fargo, now obsessed with thoughts of honor, thought to use the bodies of the dead to help replace broken equipment and gear. Bold was pleased to take one of the butcher’s cleavers as a trophy weapon. Chesty was pleased to have a child with him. Fargo decided to have a child also with one of the other young women in the settlement, as he was now a hero. But both she and the child died in childbirth. Fargo was racked with grief, especially when he saw what they did with the bodies. In his pain and anger he swore it would never happen to him. If that’s what happened when you died, why, he would simply never die. He would become….immortal.
- [+] Dice rolls