Joined: 19 Jan 2006
|Posted: Thu Jan 19, 2006 7:48 am Post subject:
|We stood on a wind-swept rock surrounded by the bodies of our enemies. The sea lapped hungrily at the rock, tongues of water licking the blood which spilled down rocky channels. The rock was not large, a rugged oval no more than a hundred yards across, but it did consist of steep and difficult terrain and we could not see whether more cannibals were hiding, waiting to ambush us.
We formed a line and swept across the island. Alvar spotted the creaturesí rough shelters first and he raised the alarm before drawing his sword. The rest of us joined him and soon bloodied skulls were sent to crash and splinter upon the rock. Our assault came to an end when only women and children remained. Rosemurray sought to end the lives of even these most pathetic of beasts, but we restrained him. Instead we scattered them and destroyed their camp.
On the far side of the island we found a fissure leading into the rock. Rank and sulphurous air rose from the pit. Ashraful turned himself into a monkey and scampered down. The rest of us followed less capably. Some of the cannibal children stood above us and pelted rocks upon our heads as we did so. Our mercy had come to haunt us.
A dark cave led off into the heart of the rock, steam and hot air hissing from inside. Rosemurray lit his lamp and we entered slowly and carefully. Near the entrance lay a great pool of bubbling water and the smell of sulphur here was almost overpowering. Some of us stumbled as we tried to walk on the narrow ledge around the pool and were scalded for our clumsiness.
A stream of hot water led from the pool and tumbled deeper into the cave along a shallow stream. This stream led into a second, cooler pool which stood next to a pit reeking of fire and brimstone. Stones lobbed into the pit rattled angrily downwards but we could not hear where their journey ended. We had no rope, but some of my companions still wanted to clamber into the depths of this hole. Our arguing came to an end when someone noticed an underwater cave leading from the pool behind us. We decided to explore this instead and Ashraful turned himself into a seal and led the way. On the other side we found a huge dark cavern. Glowing moss lit the walls and illuminated a small group of scrawny men. Dim light also reflected from the Kraken, which drifted sleeping on the surface of yet another pool. We recognised some of the men as those who had been taken by the Kraken as sacrifices. One of these, a man we recognised as one of the Krakenís former priests, saw us and tried to raise the Kraken by banging loudly on rocks. The Kraken merely opened one sleeping eye and then swatted him aside. Fearing the priest would try to waken the beast again some of us charged him and put our swords to his throat.
Some of the priestís companions told us that the Kraken used this pool as his larder but feasted on the sacrifices only occasionally. The priest, we were told, always hid behind the others when the Kraken came to feed.
We were interrogating the priest when Alvar made his move. Despite the fact that his companions were unarmoured and had their backs turned, the fool decided that this was the moment he should slay the Kraken. We heard a roar and turned to see him trying to pull his sword from the angry Krakenís eye. The beast was roused now and the combat was short and brief. I saw Rosemurray die, his body slammed into the cavern ceiling by the flick of a tentacle, and I saw several of the former sacrifices die even bloodier deaths. And then I was struck and blackness overwhelmed me.
I awoke some hours later. The Kraken had gone and so had Ashraful and Cormac. Rosemurrayís body floated on the surface of the pool and I found Alvarís bloodied remains nearby. He must have been struck after I fell. I assumed that the others must have escaped out the tunnel. Before following them I explored the cavern and found a large pile of items the Kraken has discarded. I pulled aside ragged pieces of cloth and ancient boots and stuffed my pockets with lost rings and torques. Then I dived back under the water and returned to the surface of the rock. Eventually my yells and waves drew the attention of the people on the other islands and a rescue party was sent to fetch me.
I returned to the islands to find that my companions had allied with a huge barbarian named Serge. Serge and my friends were engrossed in a discussion on the merits of trying, for a second time, to kill the Kraken with a giant crossbow. My companions were in agreement with Serge that this was a good idea and we decided to rest up for a week and to attack the beast on the date its next sacrifice was due.
During the week that past I shared my looted rings and torques with Ashraful and Cormac. The three of us also tried to persuade Shurly to join us, but he was too content in the arms of his woman and his booze.
On the day of the sacrifice Ashraful mounted the crossbow and the rest of us stationed ourselves around the sacrificial lagoon. The beast was summoned by the banging of drums and surges of sea water were sent to break on the rocks as he rose.
Ashraful took a deep breath and pulled on the spar that operated the giant crossbow. His bolt flew straight and true and caused the Kraken to scream in pain and anger as it tore through its great head. Many of the islanders were flung aside by its tentacles but we stood firm. My sword sliced deeply into its green flesh and Serge rained blow after blow upon its head. Shurly joined us at the end as islander sorcerers summoned water sprites which stabbed at the creature with spears of ice while it struggled to escape.
Eventually the beast fell silent. The islanders would not let it lie however and hacked at it until it was nothing but great hunks of stinking flesh. Even then some boarded little cobs and rowed out to render the floating hunks unrecognisable.
With the beast dead the celebrations lasted long into the night. We still had to find a way off these islands, but that concern was for tomorrow. That night we drank like kings and roared like giants.