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Total War Heaven » Forums » Medieval 2: Total War Discussion » The XII Annual Awards: M2TWH
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Topic Subject:The XII Annual Awards: M2TWH
BastWorshiper
Sensei
posted 19 February 2012 16:51 EDT (US)         
An Alabama Redneck and Terikel’s Retort


First Chapter


The last thing I remember was arguin’ with that hick over the dead bird. I’ve known that sombitch for 20 years, and he couldn’t hit a cow from three feet away. There’s as much likelihood he’d get in the pants of a sister at Friday night karaoke down at the local bar as droppin’ that bird. (And I mean “sister” like a nun, ‘cause I hear he has no trouble gettin’ in the pants o’ his real sister.) Those webbed toes must give ‘em some advantage, ‘cause one o’ his inbred kin musta snuck up on me like a damn ninja. Next thing I know, I’m wakin’ up starin’ at some of the tallest pines I ever seen. As I sat up, I started wishin’ I had them web toes. Those bastards must’ve dropped me in the Delta – swampland all around.

Well, as you might imagine, I was hot – ready to down some Jack and whoop some ass – but I gotta get outta this swamp, first. I pulled out my cell, but o’ course I couldn’t get no signal. The time was flashin’ 12:00, and the date was Septober oneteenth. The year was flashing 1200, too. Can you hear me, now? I started headin’ east (with no help from my compass app or Google Maps). I reckoned that’d take me to the coast or to dry land – not a lotta options in between ‘round here, or at least ‘round where I thought I was.

After trudgin’ through the swamp for awhile, I saw a man walkin’ on stilts, like one of them parade clowns, but without the suit. (Though he was dressed funny enough, it was all dull browns and greys, not the bright fare that clowns are generally partial to.) I yelled for ‘im to wait but he hardly paid me any mind, and as you can imagine, he was much quicker than me with legs six feet longer. However, his appearance and my fruitless chase did place me on a well-worn path; so it only seemed logical to follow it to its end.

My spirits rose as I emerged into a small clearing in which was set a li’l hippie village. I assumed it was a hippie village because o’ the strong smell o’ good weed and the generally poor personal hygiene o’ the apparent residents. One thing I know is, if you’re lookin’ for trouble, the local bar is a good place to start; so I headed for the buildin’ with the strongest smell of beer and the befuddled old man sittin’ outside. I had clearly chosen wisely, ‘cause I was greeted with quite a ruckus when I opened the door. I s’pose it was due to the dreary, wintry day and the fact the sun was falling quickly behind me.

Through the cacophony of drunken debauchery I suddenly realized that what I was hearin’ was French. Then, it clicked: the humidity and the dank, the swamp, that ignorant idiot on stilts. Those backwoods bastards must’ve drug me all the way to Louisiana. Luckily, I took French in school, ‘cause I wa’n’t about to take Mexican, and it was the only other language. Besides, much of the Gulf Coast was settled by Frenchmen; so you run into it all the time with place names and old signs and such.

D'Iberville plaque, NW corner of Bienville Square, Mobile, AL


Considering it unlikely to get any useful information out of these people, and as long as I was already in a bar, I resigned myself to a couple glasses o’ whisky and a search for a hotel. At least, I would finally know where I was. I was certain the bartender was jerkin’ my chain, though when he explained I was in Gascony, near Bordeaux.

I never heard o’ Gascony; “You mean Boudreau,” I said. You can hardly throw a rock in Louisiana without hittin’ a Boudreau, though it’s often a hound. He assured me he meant Bordeaux, though. Ain’t Bordeaux in France? This must be one very strange dream, perhaps a coma dream, I thought. It seems real enough.

“Whisky, please, sir,” but he just looked at me blank. I searched my brain for the French word for whisky. Isn’t it whisky? I asked again, but he shook his head. No whisky. This has quickly turned to a nightmare! All he had was beer, wine and some fruity liqueur. I asked for a bottle of wine and turned to face the crowd.

There was a tall fella near the bar standin’ by a table and talkin’ to the two ladies seated there. They didn’t seem too inter’sted in what he ‘as sayin’, but he caught my attention because he was speakin’ English… sort of. At first, I couldn’t understand a word; so I reckoned he ’as from Tennessee. A couple minutes o’ listenin’ and I realized the accent wa’n’t right, but I started to understand. The story he was tellin’ to try an’ impress them girls wa’n’t makin’ no sense, though.

“…’twas frightening, I tell you. ‘Twas like a chicken, but it had no feathers. Instead, it was covered in scales and struck as quick as lightning. I barely escaped my death with its first strike, dancing to the side as I drew my sword.” He had a sharpened stick strapped to his hip. “Again, it struck out and its jaws snapped shut – did I mention the teeth? – just missing me as I rolled away. I knew I could not take a scratch from that vile creature; its fangs fairly glistened with deadly poison. I raised my sword, but the beast rose up simultaneously and spit fire. I brushed the flames that caught my sleeve. (You can still see the burn marks. You see?)”

There was a singe on his right shoulder, but it looked like the kind you get from pressin’ the iron too long, though an iron had clearly never touched that shirt. Regardless, the slight burn was at odds with the fiery breath of this “vile creature” he was describin’.

“Are you saying that you battled a dragon?”

“Well, I wouldn’t call it a dragon,” he replied.

“Why not? It sounds like a dragon.”

“I’ve been led to believe that dragons are bigger.”

“What do you mean? How big was this ‘beast’?” It seemed an obvious question.

“Like I said, about the size of a chicken. Maybe a little bigger.”

“Di…” I may have missed part of the story, but I couldn’t recall when the small size of the beast had even been implied. I wanted to continue the cross-examination, but the bartender was insistent on gettin’ my attention.

He wanted to be paid, o’ course; so I laid down a couple of bills. He told me he wa’n’t tradin’ wine for a song or pretty pictures of people he didn’t know, either. He wanted coin, and I didn’t have any change. I suspected this place wouldn’t take a credit card. Since this place used candles and lamps for all light, I pulled my trusty Bic out of my pocket thinkin’ to trade the lighter for the wine. Unfortunately, when I lit it to show ‘im what it was, a cry came from the table with the girls the dragon slayer was talkin’ to.

“He’s a witch!”

“What?!”

The dragon slayer quickly leaned across to me and whispered one word, “Run.” The celebratory mood changed very suddenly in the tiny bar, and many strong arms began to wrap ‘round me. I struggled to push past ‘em and exit, or rather, escape.

“Grab the Englishman!” yelled the bartender.

“I’m not English!” I screamed, as the dragon slayer simultaneously cried, “I’m Spanish!” The bartender was not referrin’ to me.

The dragon slayer was tall, but moved like his body was too big for his brain to control. Though he seemed reluctant, it appeared he was gonna fight, once he realized they weren’t lettin’im go. As he drew back to punch the man in front o’im, his elbow landed square in the face of the man behind ‘im. He started to turn, and tripped. He and the stool he tripped on crashed into the man in front o’im, knockin‘im down. The man who gripped my right side turned to see what the commotion was and stepped on the man now layin’ prone on the floor. He, too, went down freein’ my right. The clumsy dragon slayer had unwittin’ly cleared a path to the door. I pulled away from the man on my left as the dragon slayer awkwardly turned and tried to apologize. I grabbed ‘im as he leaned over, apparently to help the men back up, and pulled ‘im out the door behind me. I pulled ‘im along as I made a break for the woods. Turnin’ as we reached the trees, I saw the villagers poolin’ together outside the bar.

Once we had cleared the village by a fair stretch, we slowed to a walk; and he told me that we would likely have been burned at the stake, after they tortured us until we admitted to witchcraft. I didn’t know anyone still did that.

“You didn’t handle yourself too well back there, with the threat of being barbecued, even for a man who tries to impress women with stories of slayin’ chicken-sized lizards.”

“That really happened. You can take my word for it.”

“No good. I’ve known too many Spaniards.”

“Well, I’m not really Spanish. My name is Liam. Liam the Spartan.”

“Uh huh. How am I to trust you, now?”

“You could…”

“Greetings, fellow travelers.”
___________________________________________

Second Chapter


There was a man driving a cart on the path ahead of us. Since I had seen that horrible Kevin Costner Robin Hood movie, and the much better Disney cartoon, I immediately recognized his dark brown robes as the costume of a monk. I hadn’t thought about it since the fiasco at the bar, but I was beginning to think it was either Halloween or I’d found one of those antiquated towns, like in that M. Night Shyamalan movie. God, that was one of the most boring pieces of trash I’ve ever seen. He should have quit after Signs.

That’s neither here nor there, though. The monk’s cart was stuck in a rut and he needed our help to free it. I was in a hurry to stay ahead of my death, but I couldn’t leave a holy man stuck in a rut. He thanked us and introduced ‘imself as Selifator, before askin’ us why we were being chased as he pointed down the path where we could just hear the mob’s approach. I quickly explained they thought we were witches, and expressed we’d really appreciate a ride in his cart.

“And are you in congress with Lucifer?”

“Congress? No, no, no. Don’t care much for gove’ment myself. Besides, I’d never get elected; I’m a libertarian.”

“Those foolish townspeople and their silly superstitions,” he replied.

“Yeah, you have to run as a straight republican to get elected where I live.”

“Any man can walk faster than that old mule pulling the cart.”

“If that’s some kind of wisdom, I don’t get…”

“Just lie down and I’ll take care of them.”

“Oh, sorry, right.” Liam and I settled ourselves in the back of the cart and Selifator covered us and walked back down the path towards our pursuers. Several minutes later he uncovered us and told us we were safe. He told us he’d told them townspeople we had not passed ‘im, asked them who was protectin’ their families while they chased the “witches” and weren’t they concerned the “witches” had deceived them to leave their families defenseless (as witches were wont to do).

“Mister Selifator, you are, without question, the most intelligent person I have met this day.”

Selifator said he was headed to Bordeaux (not Boudreau), to meet with the local lord. He said he’d been “summoned” by this man, Swamprat, but he didn’t know why. We were invited to accompany ‘im and he said that this lord, Swamprat was rumored to be the most helpful man in the kingdom. Liam and I agreed that was as good a place as any to start, if I wanted to get back home; so we joined Selifator on the path to Bordeaux.

I was overwhelmed when we arrived at the castle at Bordeaux, partially because the same smell enveloped this whole place as the li’l village where I’d started. (Before my adventure would end I would determine that the smell was actually the pine resin and animal dung they burned for fuel.) There prob’ly ain’t no Boudreaux here, I thought. There was to be some big to-do in the court that evening, like a Mardi Gras ball. Selifator said he’d introduce us to Swamprat, and I was hopin’ that I’d be able to find some whisky at this thing. Although, I was startin’ to convince myself this was some bad coma dream, ‘cause the alternative really wa’n’t possible.

Unfortunately, Swamprat was nowhere to be found. However, there was a strange lookin’ man with wild grey hair and a bejeweled cup he was wearin’ on the outside of his pants, which Liam told me was called a codpiece; and this strange lookin’ man kept lookin’ at me, too. Liam also told me he’d heard this man was the genuine article, a true warrior of old. The first clue would have been the fright’nin’ weapon, The Icy Banhammer +4 (+8 vs. trolls), swinging from his hip. As the man approached, Selifator said he was a representative from the Holy Roman Empire. He introduced himself, quite formally, as Terikel.

Puttin’ on my best Southern Gentleman airs, I replied, “It is a great pleasure to meet you, Father… er…Reverend? …Magus?” Each of these drew a confused knitting of his bushy brows.

“I’m sorry. I’m Baptist; so I don’t know the proper honorific.”

“This is France, and I’m no Charlie; so I’m certain ‘Monsieur’ will be fine, but you can just call me Terikel, my brothers. No matter. How would you chellovecks like to step to the side for a minoota and govoreet a little?”

“The hell’d’e say?”

“I live in a different time zone. Sometimes it is 24 hours ahead of others, other times 1800 years behind, while others 2300 years ahead. Get used to it.

“What I said is that I have a proposition for you. You are no Venetians, but I believe you can provide the help I need.”

“We are here by request of Lord Swamprat, and cannot commit to another until we have answered his summons.”

“You must be the monk, Selifator. I have heard of you. They say you are the hardest worker but are not good for much. It matters not. You are in luck, or not, for Swampy is not here. My ring was stolen about the same time he disappeared.”

“Are you suggesting that the lord of the land stole your ring?”

“Not at all. Swampy is the nicest noble I’ve ever known. I suspect the coincidental disappearances of Swampy and my precious are… well, coincidental. Besides, my precious was taken by orcs, and Swampy does not associate with such creatures. In addition, I believe I can help you. I, too, would like to find Swampy. We could use a great General, such as he; a man who has proven himself time and again. There are none who can claim to be his equal on the field of battle.”

“Wow, the bus doesn’t go where you live, does it? Hah, how do you know it wasn’t the ogres, trolls or goblins?” I said. “You must be the craziest person I’ve met, and I’ve spent more than a day with him,” gesturing to Liam.

Selifator replied, “There is no such thing as goblins. It is an understandable mistake, though inexcusable. Do not mock Terikel.”

“No appypolly loggies necessary. I pony your skepticism; but let me tell you that with my ring, I can also get you home. Yes, in fact, all 8,000 miles and 800 years.”

Well, that sold it for me. I don’t know how he knew, but it really drove it home for me. I could no longer deny where and when I was; and if he understood, I actually believed he could help me. O’ course, I didn’t have no other options, really.
______________________________________

Third Chapter


First, he had to get us equipped for war. He took us to his estate north of Bordeaux. When we first walked in, a small figure approached. At first, I thought it was a midget in a tux; but when it came closer and – I don’t know – warbled(?), I realized it was a penguin. Liam said little blue penguins are the best. Terikel said the penguin was a gag gift from the Holy Roman Emperor, because the scuttlebutt was that Terikel was the most likely to be promoted. O’ course, he added that the only way he could be promoted was to knock off the current Emperor ‘imself.

Selifator refused any arms or armor, claiming the arms God gave him were all he needed. I accepted some shiny chain armor and a longsword. I was also given a bow and a quiver. At least I had experience with a bow. The only sword practice I had was beatin’ the neighbor boy with a stick when we were growin’ up. Liam proved incapable of successfully wieldin’ the Spanish sword and buckler originally given him; so Terikel replaced it with a longer sharpened stick to replace the tiny wooden sword he carried. Terikel also added leather armor he claimed would give Liam a bonus to dexterity. We can only hope. Terikel ‘imself looked much different in his street clothes. His hammer still hung at his side; but he now wore full plate with a horned helmet and an animal hide cloak. He looked remarkably like the misplaced Viking Liam believed him to be.

Once we were decked out in the finest warrior garb available (except Selifator), and the penguin was properly boarded, we set out on our quest to retrieve Terikel’s ring. I pressed Terikel about the nature of his ring, and he was initially tight-lipped; but I finally wore ‘im down. The story he told me was one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever heard. He said the ring allows a man to exist outside of time, which is why he’d be able to return me home. (Then, he made some crack about affordin’ my folks another chance at raising kids, that they’d maybe, you know, get it right this time.) He also said the ring made a man immortal and that it had been the weddin’ ring of a certain well-known God-on-Earth before he was executed.

“Is that how He came back to life – the magic ring?”

“Gods, no. That rose again stuff is just a story. Once you’re dead, you’re dead, my brother. He gave the ring away before he was captured to keep it out of the Romans’ hands. He had, of course, seen that coming; and the Romans were powerful enough without the ring.”

“Where’d the ring come from?”

“That’s a good question. It makes Mary the most important character in the story, doesn’t it? However, if you’re asking how I came into possession of the vessel, some secrets must be kept.”

As if God was angry at his story, the Heavens opened up and dumped more rain on us than Noah. Just when I thought I’d never see clear skies or dry out again, we saw light escapin’ the windows of a cabin in the forest ahead. While I ‘spect it ‘as just as bad o’ manners to invade a home back then, days of rain had made us all as crazy as Terikel; and we barged through the door.

There, we stood face to face with a wizened old warrior and, more importantly, his massive steel blade. It was quite a tense moment and felt like several minutes to me (during which I noticed ‘1337’ engraved on his armor), though it was prob’ly only a few seconds. Then, he relaxed, smiled and sheathed his sword.

“Terikel, it is good to see you again.”

“Swampy, the pleasure is mine. We were hoping to find you. It seems providence is on our side.” And to us, “This, my brothers, is the best oldie you are likely to meet in your lives – a veteran of innumerable battles and he always leads his forces to victory… well, mostly.”

After some discussion, Swamprat agreed to join us on our quest, though he quipped that he’d rather be leadin’ Highland Nobles than us rabble. Incomprehensibly, Swamprat insisted we carry his woodburning oven along with us.

“Are you kiddin’?” I said. “That thing weighs more than the fella down the street from me who I keep mistakin’ for the blimp when he wears his Goodyear cap.”

“It’s quite difficult to get any exercise in this state, though I do burn a lot of calories,” followed by a short chuckle from the woodburning oven.

I nearly leapt out of my fine new greaves, and everyone present was treated with a lesson in compound expletives. Swamprat said that the oven was his partner, Enemy of Jupitor.

“Get your minds out of the gutter; and I told you, Swampy, to quit using that term. We’re just friends. We fought together as brothers-in-arms, until I was changed into this form by an evil sorceress.” I noticed that the oven had the same engraving ‘1337’ on his door.

“She wasn’t really an evil sorceress. She was his girlfriend.”

“My passion burned too hotly for her.”

“Actually, the problem was that his passion warmed too many other people. This is why I summoned the monk.”

“I took a vow of celibacy,” Selifator interjected.

“I had hoped he would be able to restore EoJ to his human form. Selifator’s skills are most underrated.”

“I took a vow of celibacy!” repeated Selifator.

“…Through meditation and prayer.”

“If we recover my ring, I believe I can do it.”

“Ah, that gives me a warm feeling inside.” This from the talkin’ oven, o’ course; EoJ was provin’, not only the strangest, but also the funniest member of our fellowship.

“I mean I believe I can return you to human form. That’s all. Don’t get too excited.”

We arranged a litter to carry EoJ. It wa’n’t long before I tired of that. I told him ‘twould’ve been much better had she turned him into a dog or even a cow, somethin’ with legs.

“I have legs. They’re just a little stiff.”
___________________________________

Fourth Chapter


Our fellowship was complete. Our quest for the ring was clearly set before us, except o’ course we had no idea who had taken the damn thing or where we were going. This was a mystery that needed solvin’.

Cue the travel montage, set to a nice, folky acoustic version of a classic rock song. Your aural sense must be engaged while nothing is happening in the story. It must be something recognizable, but only just; so you have to concentrate a moment to know the song, but only a moment. Then, you get the warm feeling of accomplishment and nostalgia when you figure it out. Ah, hell, I don’t trust you to choose your own music. We’ll use something simple, like this:
feature=related


Our noble band of adventurers is seen speaking with people, walking, speaking with people. Someone points vaguely into the distance. The spirits rise like steam on a winter day. (I really think I stole that line from a song written by some friends of mine like a decade ago, but I can’t remember the lyric.) Interspersed with these brief scenes are shots of beautiful scenery, some with our heroes walking through them, some without. We need this to keep you visually engaged while nothing is happening. You can think, ‘Ooh, pretty,’ and forget how boring and hopelessly derivative the story has become. Something like this:




Now, back to our story: We find our adventurers seated around a fire. Darkness surrounds them, and we’ll return the narrative to our lovable redneck.

After another long day of travel, we came to rest in a li’l copse. My first thought was that we were so limited by havin’ to stop at dark, since there were no flashlights. Then, I realized that I had been askin’ to stop for prob’ly two hours before it got too dark to find our way. Since my constant complainin’ wa’n’t enough to stop them, I should be very happy they had no excuse to keep movin’ after the sun went down. All their questions hadn’t helped, as far as I could see. We’d stopped at every li’l shack we saw and asked about the orcs. We knew they’d moved north, and we ‘ere close enough to the coast to smell the salt, kinda remindin’ me of home and makin’ me feel real low. Suddenly, Swampy interrupted the exhausted silence.

“We’ll need to secure passage across the sea tomorrow.”

Since we were all, I was sure, aware of that, I asked if that was all he had to say. He was hesitant, but he went on.

“I believe I know who’s responsible for the theft of the ring.”

“Go on, then.”

“There are two who haven’t been seen for some time. (I don’t know how I could have missed it.) A wizard who once had great power, a power which was lost – it stands to reason that he would wish to have power once again. He has an associate from the East (though he adopted a Spanish moniker), skilled in deception. Gaius Colinius and El Bandito.”

“Of course, it makes perfect sense. Our search is likely to end on the Emerald Isle,” Terikel chimed in.

“Let me get this straight. Now, my Mexican ain’t great, but it never occurred to any o’ y’all that a man known as ‘The Bandit’ may have been involved in this theft? We questioned unknown dozens of stoned-looking idiot peasants, when the obvious conclusion was that ‘The Bandit’ stole the ring? Didn’t none o’ y’all see that Burt Reynolds movie?”

“Well, sure, it sounds bad when you say it like that,” was EoJ’s only contribution to the discussion. This situation would’ve seemed like comic gold, if I ha’n’t been so hot. It seems like he could have done better than that.

Before I could comment about them havin’ the same mental defects as the guy who I’d argued with about the bird what seemed like decades ago, cloaked figures stepped out of the forest brandishin’ weapons. While I sat startled, frozen like a frog on the log, the rest of them moved quickly, except EoJ, who didn’t move at all. He did, however, yell, “En Garde!” This interjection from the oven caused just enough hesitation from our attackers to allow my companions to get the upper hand. EoJ continued to add color throughout the engagement by yellin’ the kind of monosyllabic words that used to appear in the balloons during fights in the old Batman TV show: Pow, Crash, Biff.

Swampy moved surprisingly well for an old man. He took on two of the highwaymen ‘imself. He easily parried their strikes and provided fatal wounds to both in turn with graceful arcs and thrusts of his sword. Terikel never drew his hammer from his side. I swear he brought down his opponent with the Vulcan death grip. Liam employed the same maneuver, but he grabbed the man’s crotch, rather than his neck. (Liam said he hadn’t found the handle on the spear. I told him there ain’t no handle on a spear.) Regardless, it was just as effective as Spock’s or Terikel’s version. Selifator also brought down two of the attackers with a whirlwind of strikes that mortal eyes could not track. It put the fear of God in me. It was all over before I managed to stand up, which prompted much heckling from EoJ.

“Did you think you were watching a sporting match? It’s over. You can applaud, now, if you like. Your team won.

It’s alright. I’m sure you don’t need any practice before the boss battle at the end.

Seriously, though, I predict minstrels will write songs about you, like:

There once was a man, claimed a fighter;
But forsooth, he was naught but a whiner.
When we were attacked,
He rolled onto his back
And showed everyone his vagina.


Ah, hah, hah, hah!”

…and so on.

The following morning we arrived at the coast and Swampy set to work securin’ passage for us to England. It wa’n’t long before he found a mate on a “heavily-armed merchant ship” who claimed he’d be able to get us on board as additional cargo. I didn’t particularly like the sound of that, but Swampy said the price was right. The man’s name was Boorego, and he was a strange character.

“They say I’m the best newbie on the ship, but I am still the new guy; so I get the most humiliating chores.”

When pressed for more information, he reluctantly admitted, “Well, I have to polish the balls.”

“Well, I ‘spect it helps the cannons fire truer.”

“The cannons?”

I ‘spose the rumors about navy men are true and it seems that they have been, we’ll say curious, since long before the navy was formed. Where’s Terikel’s codpiece when you need it. Regardless of the danger, we accepted Boorego’s offer of passage; and he was, in fact, able to convince the captain to allow us on board. In this strange world in which I found myself, I half-expected to be attacked by sea serpents or somethin’ en route; but the trip was relatively uneventful, though I did spend as much o’ my time as I could safely seated.

Followin’ rumors of the orcs was leadin’ us farther west, and it seemed Terikel’s predictions of where our journey would end were likely correct. We should have skipped our steps through England, and these would have been good steps to skip; ‘cause, while most of the trip was simply borin’, it was punctuated by the most terrifyin’ experience of my life – worse than when my uncle got drunk at that party and… well, never mind.

Late in the afternoon, our travels were interrupted by the appearance of a dragon. Not a dragon like the diseased chicken Liam had faced earlier, but a real dragon, at least 40 feet in length.

“Oh, my God! This’ll be the death of us.”

“He said gravely,” chimed EoJ.

“Now the oven thinks he’s Shakespeare.”

“I haven’t shaken a spear in many years, but now does seem a good time, doesn’t it?”

The dragon landed directly in front of us and began to draw a rumblin’ deep breath. We all scattered as the beast belched fire. When I dove behind the bank beyond edge of the road, I looked back to see that EoJ had, of course, not moved and was being licked with flames. Hidin’ behind his iron body was the lanky form of Liam. When the dragon had exhausted its breath, it approached the oven. Its nostrils flared as it moved within striking distance. It stretched its neck and moved to peer over the top of EoJ, where it seemed to have detected the huddled Liam. He must have finally found the handle on that spear o’ his, ‘cause as the dragon opened its jaws, Liam leapt up and drove his spear through the roof o’ the dragon’s mouth. The dragon shrieked a bone rattlin’ scream and rose up on its hind legs, clawin’ at its own face. It wavered a moment and crashed to the ground.

There was a moment of stunned silence before we all cried out with relief and excitement, jumped up and ran out to congratulate Liam, lifting him up on our shoulders, like he’d just thrown the winnin’ touchdown for the 6A state championship. I was awestruck that Liam, who had struggled against a large lizard before I met him (a story which, even in its unimpressive state, may have been fabricated), had just killed a real, full-grown, horrific dragon. Liam was most improved. I could no longer sarcastically call him dragon slayer. It was a moniker he’d now earned.
______________________________

Fifth Chapter


The trail continued to lead us west. Finally we reached the coast and purchased a small fishing vessel to take us across the Irish Sea from Wales. It was too quiet as we traveled inland from the coast. We saw not another living thing through the first night. The landscape was empty; villages were empty. It was unnervin’.

The followin’ day, we were attacked without warning by a horde of zombies. This time I managed to draw my sword. In fact, I had no choice. We faced insurmountable numbers. Even durin’ the heat of battle, I detected a scent that I had missed greatly durin’ my time here – distilled alcohol. Each member of the fellowship fought bravely; but it was no use. We could not fight against the numbers arranged against us. Just as we were about to be overwhelmed, Selifator pulled out his lute. I thought, at first, that he’d decided that the arms God gave him were not enough for this battle. He was gonna use that lute to bludgeon the zombie hordes. Instead, however, he began to play. He jammed into a face-meltin’ lute solo, even Jimi’d’ve been proud of. It drew the attention of the zombies away from the fightin’, and soon the melee had ceased and all of their focus was on Selifator. He began walkin’ back towards the coast and the horde of zombies began to follow, like he was the Pied Piper or somethin’. That was the last we saw of him.

“The hell’d them zombies come from?!”

“Those were not zombies, my brother. They were just Irishmen.”

“But they attacked with no provocation, with violence and without thought.”

“Yes. As I said, they were Irishmen.”

“They fought without fear or regard to their injuries.”

“They were Irish. Enough of this social commentary chepooka.”

“He has a point, Terikel,” observed Swamprat. “Even for Irishmen there was something more, and did you notice that odd smell? That was not beer.”

“Yes. I suppose they were a little bezoomy even for Irish. It is rather amazing that we all got out of that drat with our guttiwutts still in our brookos. We must hurry to find Gaius and my ring, before more damage can be done.”

Followin’ the smell o’ the still and the wake of death and destruction wrought by the Irishmen and the orcs, we came upon the entrance to a cave with a tall slender stone erected in front. From its general shape, erect seems the right word. The owner must have been compensatin’ for somethin’. Terikel said it was called an obelisk and was engraved in Latin.

All light rapidly vacated the cave as we followed the passage deeper, deeper than the obelisk could reach, even. Soon, we found ourselves facing what must have been orcs. I was beginnin’ to wonder if these things were a myth, even after the rest of the fellowship’s insistence and the encounter with the dragon; but here they stood, arranged in an uneven battle line brandishin’ weapons in front of us. Their eyes shown in the dim light that still penetrated the cavern, and the warm glow from EoJ’s belly was reflected in those large orbs.

We drew our weapons as they charged forward with a bone-chilling shriek. Liam maintained the space around him with his spear and impaled any that stepped close enough. Swamprat’s giant sword efficiently separated orcs from life with slash and thrust as he danced around their feeble attacks. All could hear the cracks and crepitus as Terikel’s heavy hammer crushed chests and skulls. Even EoJ spit hot coals at our attackers, and my inexperienced swordplay was enough to keep me. I even managed to drop a few of those foul creatures.

Despite the skill with which my companions fought, we were again overmatched by sheer numbers. As I began to feel the shadow close in around me, Terikel stepped forward. With a mighty swing, he cleared an arc before us and then slammed his hammer to the floor. The force of the blow was like a titan’s breath and orcs flew several feet and scattered in all directions. This was enough to break the will o’ the pitiful orcs and those left standing scrambled through cracks and crags to safety deeper in the Earth.

Our injuries were light, and those who could be classed as warriors seemed no worse for the wear. I, however, was rattled by the succession of battles, feeling the veil between life and death to be very thin. Even our dragon slayer seemed unsteady on his feet, though magic leather notwithstanding, he always looked like he might stumble and fall at any moment.

We passed deeper into the cave through windin’ tunnels until we came into an open cavern, through which flowed a li’l spring. In that cavern were what I recognized as several large stills. Yeehaw! I had been waiting for this moment; and up against the walls were stacks of barrels. Before I could crack into one of them barrels, though, a voice echoed through the cavern.

“Ah, Terikel. I assumed you would eventually find me. Here for the ring are you? And I see you’ve brought warriors to aid you.”

“I hesitate to call some of them warriors, Gaius; but they’ve helped me get here.”

“Warriors or not, you must know that they will provide little assistance against me. Besides, you may find their loyalty to waver. After all, I have the ring. In addition, I am certain that at least one among you will find my whisky tempting.”

Liam spoke up first. “Gaius, I will join you. The forces you command are too great. I do not wish to bear the responsibility or difficulties any longer,” and he rushed to stand beside Gaius and El Bandito.

“Also, I’m sure they never told you what happened to your father, Liam. I am your father.

What of you, time traveler?”

“It’s been a dog’s age since I’ve tasted whisky.”

“And you may have as much as you’d like, if you join me.”

“Do not be tempted,” interjected Terikel. “I can return you to your home. You must remember that Irish whisky cannot match the taste of Tennessee whisky and Kentucky bourbon, at least in your mind. He cannot return you to your home and you will find his whisky inferior.”

“He’s right, Gaius. I’ve never really liked European whiskies, and I am a gentleman. I cannot simply switch sides on a whim. I stand with Terikel.”

“Very well,” and with that he waved his arm.

I felt as if I’d been lashed by a gator tail, and was thrown back against the rock wall. Everyone failed their saving throw, except Terikel, who now stood alone against Gaius, El Bandito and Liam. Gaius stepped forward to faceTerikel alone. It was the oddest duel I’d ever seen. Terikel’s hammer whipped about occasionally, but mostly they stood facin’ each other and mumblin’ under their breaths. Finally, Gaius performed some fancy maneuver with his hands (while mumblin’ o’ course), and Terikel fell forward.

Gaius turned to his lackeys, and raised his arms to proclaim his victory when, in a flash, Terikel leapt up and onto the back of Gaius. He was feigning. He wrapped his legs around Gaius’ waste pulled his left arm up and back and latched onto his finger. Gaius let out a yelp like a wounded hound as Terikel’s teeth tore into the flesh of his hand. Soon, Terikel released his grip and dropped lightly onto his feet with Gaius’ finger and the ring protrudin’ from his mouth. I saw a similar macabre scene involvin’ my cousin and a snappin’ turtle many years ago, but this was much more disturbin’. In the confusion which followed as Terikel reveled, Gaius disappeared where he’d stood and El Bandito slipped silently around a hidden corner. Liam stood alone, now, with the victorious Terikel in front of him.

“Don’t worry, son. I shall show mercy to you. It is a shame Gaius and El Bandito have gone; they will be most missed. You, however, Liam, will simply receive no reward and I will take my leathers back. You cannot keep your armor.”

“But what of my father?”

“What? Oh, that was bullshit. How could you believe that when you actually remember your father?

“The rest of you will get what you wanted.”

In a flash of light, where once there was an oven, there was now a very red-faced and naked man. Swamprat raced forward, as if to hug the man, but stopped short. He looked confused and momentarily ashamed before he gave the man a high five and turned away.

“And do you still wish to return to your own time and place?”

“O’ course I do!”

“Then simply close your eyes, tap your heels together and say, ‘There’s no place like home.’

“Hah! I’m just yanking your chain.”

And next thing I know, I was standin’ alone in a field lookin’ at the place where a dead bird had lain.


M2TWH Awards

M2TWH Aelred Award (Nicest Forumer) – SwampRat

M2TWH Thomas Aquinas Award (Most Intelligent Forumer) - Selifator

M2TWH Erasmus Award (Funniest Forumer) – EnemyofJupitor

M2TWH Charles VI Award (Craziest Forumer) – Terikel Grayhair

M2TWH Abelard Award (Most Mature Forumer)
- Terikel Grayhair

M2TWH Black Prince Award (Best Newbie ) - Boorego

M2TWH Barbarossa Award (Best Oldie )- SwampRat

M2TWH Galileo Award (Most Underrated Forumer )- Selifator

M2TW Terikel Award (Most Popular Misplaced Viking) - Terikel Grayhair

M2TWH Marsilio da Padova Award (Non-staff forumer who works hardest for the good of M2TWH)
- Selifator

M2TWH Prince Hal Award (Most Improved Forumer) - Liam_the_Spartan

M2TWH King Arthur Award (Most missed TWH Forumer) – el_bandito, Gauis Colinius

M2TWH Knight Hospitaller Award (Most Helpful M2TWH Forumer - gameplay) - SwampRat

M2TWH Saladin Award (Best M2TW Online Player) – SwampRat

M2TWH Henry Bolingbroke Award (Most Likely to be Promoted – Terikel Grayhair

M2TWH Sir Robert Award (Best M2TWH Gameplay Article) - Terikel Grayhair

M2TWH Froissart Award (Best M2TWH History Article) – Terikel Grayhair

M2TWH Best Game Thread- (HotseatA) Hotseat position / general discussion

M2TW Favourite Unit – Highland Nobles

M2TW Favourite Faction – Venice

M2TW Favourite Mod – TATW

M2TW Favorite Woodburning oven – EnemyofJupitor

(Finally, apologies to all from whom I stole jokes and concepts. SOPA please leave me be.)

"It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. There is no fun in doing nothing when you have nothing to do.
Wasting time is merely an occupation then, and a most exhausting one. Idleness, like kisses, to be sweet must be stolen." -- Jerome K. Jerome

"Some people become so expert at reading between the lines they don't read the lines." -- Margaret Millar

ERADICATE CONDESCENSION! (That means don't talk down to people.)

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 03-12-2012 @ 02:49 AM).]

AuthorReplies:
EnemyofJupitor
HG Alumnus Superbus
posted 20 February 2012 08:41 EDT (US)     1 / 5       
“The hell’d them zombies come from?!”

“Those were not zombies, my brother. They were just Irishmen.”

“But they attacked with no provocation, with violence and without thought.”

“Yes. As I said, they were Irishmen.”
Best line ever.

This is brilliant, and hilarious, and so forth. Fantastic! Well done!

And I shall go Softly into the Night Taking my Dreams As will You
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 20 February 2012 09:31 EDT (US)     2 / 5       
I absolutely loved the movie references! And the side-track in the lovely nature was a very nice touch indeed.

A tale well told, even if it came from an Alabama redneck. No, especially since it came from an Alabama Redneck.

Teasing aside, this was simply awesome.

Congrats to all, and to you, Bast, for a wonderful presentation.

|||||||||||||||| A transplanted Viking, born a millennium too late. |||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
|||||||||||||||| Listed on my page for your convenience and envy.|||||||||||||||||
Somewhere over the EXCO Rainbow
Master Skald, Order of the Silver Quill, Guild of the Skalds
Champion of the Sepia Joust- Joust I, II, IV, VI, VII, VIII

[This message has been edited by Terikel Grayhair (edited 02-24-2012 @ 11:21 AM).]

Pitt
Tribunus Laticlavius
posted 21 February 2012 00:34 EDT (US)     3 / 5       
Fantastic work!

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins
Gaius Colinius
Seraph Emeritus
posted 21 February 2012 16:06 EDT (US)     4 / 5       
M2TWH Charles VI Award (Craziest Forumer) – Terikel Grayhair

M2TWH Abelard Award (Most Mature Forumer) - Terikel Grayhair
Seems a bit of a contradiction in terms!

Good job Bast!

-Love Gaius
TWH Seraph, TWH Grand Zinquisitor & Crazy Gaius the Banstick Kid

Got news regarding Total War games that should be publicised? Then email m2twnews@heavengames.com. My blog.
Nelson was the typical Englishman: hot-headed, impetuous, unreliable, passionate, emotional & boisterous. Wellington was the typical Irishman: cold, reserved, calculating, unsentimental & ruthless" - George Bernard Shaw
Vote for McCain...he's not dead just yet! - HP Lovesauce

BastWorshiper
Sensei
posted 21 February 2012 16:43 EDT (US)     5 / 5       
Maybe he's matured to the point of senility.

Thanks a lot, guys. I'm glad at least four people managed to read through the whole thing. When I finished it, I thought, 'This is too long. No one will read it.' This means that I only spent an hour-and-a-half to two hours per reader.

Reading through it, now, though, I wish I'd spent more time with it. The writing could be a lot better. Terikel's retort is supposed to be the ring. I was using retort in the old sense, as a vessel. That didn't come through in the story at all. It's like I skipped right over it. Oh, well. I've also always struggled with dialogue, and I had a difficult time maintaining the narrator's accent throughout. (In fact, I see a couple of places where I dropped it.)

I should add that, once I got over my bout with procrastination, I did enjoy writing it.

Will someone please edit in the following caption to the first picture, though:

D'Iberville plaque, NW corner of Bienville Square, Mobile, AL

"It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. There is no fun in doing nothing when you have nothing to do.
Wasting time is merely an occupation then, and a most exhausting one. Idleness, like kisses, to be sweet must be stolen." -- Jerome K. Jerome

"Some people become so expert at reading between the lines they don't read the lines." -- Margaret Millar

ERADICATE CONDESCENSION! (That means don't talk down to people.)

[This message has been edited by BastWorshiper (edited 02-21-2012 @ 04:45 PM).]

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