V – Hercules Revisited

Okay, look. I know I’m taking a bit of time to get to the meat of the story, so to speak. It’s just that I feel the need to explain just why we had no choice but to do what we did. The scribe likes all the explaining as that’s what keeps him in business.

‘Course he’s new and wasn’t with us on our trip. The original guy had a nervous breakdown and had to be put away. Something about a big ‘whatever’ coming to get him.

Anyway, there we were in that room surrounding a dead monster, trying to figure out our next move. Didn’t have long to wait. As we stood there contemplating our navels, a Praetorian officer barged into the room.

Seems there was another free for all in that room with the mangled doorway.

I was outta’ there and headed downstairs before the guy could finish his sentence. What the hades was going on here? Soon as I got there, I had part of my answer.

It was total war.

Mister Smelly’s brother was there with the same bad attitude as his sibling. Facing, and partly surrounding him, were at least a hundred legionaires trying to make up for the previous massacre.

The big guy had several spears poking through him and an unknown number of gladius stabs and cuts, but he was still coming on strong. Several of my crew were down but seemed to be holding their own. In fact they had just about encircled their foe and were getting ready to end the evening’s entertainment.

That’s when Smelly’s twin went to work. Using his deadly finger cutlery, the thing slashed through several shields at the same time, throwing the first line into the second. My boys managed to hold a somewhat flexible line but were seriously hampered by flying bodies and slashing claws.

To my disbelief the monster actually seemed to be turning the tide of battle in his favor. That’s when I pulled the stunt that earned me a week’s bedrest and a severe chewing out from Caesar.

Don’t remember much, so here’s what everybody else saw.

With a bull roar and pulling my blade, I charged down the stairs and straight into that mess. Pushing legionaires aside, I bore down on Smelly II, homicidal rage etched on my mug. In seconds I had reached him, ducking and sidestepping several lethal swipes of those clawed paws of his.

One swift sword thrust and I was on him and inside his deadly reach. I went to free my sword, but it was stuck fast in Smelly II, and not even my strength could pull it free before I was sliced and diced, so I did the next best thing.

I grabbed him around the waist and squeezed with all the strength I could muster. At the same time several legionaires had grabbed both of his hands to keep him from slashing me to bloody ribbons.

Time seemed to stand still as all of the combatants did their deadly best to end the somewhat uneven contest. I squeezed and squeezed and, you guessed it, squeezed. It was just like hugging a tree. All force and no give.

The thing was about a foot taller than me which turned out to my advantage. Let me explain. This guy was so tall that he couldn’t see a way to get a clawed grip on you know who. Main reason was also that there were several legionaires hanging onto both hands and arms, making his claws useless.

And so I squeezed , trying to increase the pressure of my own arms and body against his torso. Something had to give. While I was trying to give this guy a thinner waistline, every soldier in the room was trying to stab him to death, and it was this combination of slash, stab, and squeeze that finally turned the trick.

For one thing, Smelly II was spilling copious amounts of green ichor. I know this because I had become soaked with the stuff. The cuts and stabs he was getting had to take effect sooner or later. Hopefully sooner.

As I was putting on all the pressure I could muster from my nearly exhausted body, something started to give. I first noticed the change when my arms began to pull inward. Just a little. I also noticed that I was supporting Smelly II’s frame more and more.

Then, with a loud crack and a screaming roar, Smelly II collapsed. On top of me. Soldiers quickly heaved aside the corpse and helped me to my feet. As I groggily looked about the room to assess the situation I felt a mixed feeling of sorrow and surprise. Some score of my men had been killed but the majority were still in one piece, thank the Gods.

It was then that I spotted Caesar. He was toward the back of the room, near the stairs, as was the rest of the group. He was not a happy Emperor. His face was pale and his fists were clenched at his sides, knuckles whiter than white. My last thought as I slid toward the floor was that I was really gonna hear about this one.

Then things went black.

Chapter VI

Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 5:09 PM  Comments (1)  

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