Chapter 4: One Big Pig
Samp woke up the next day, imbibed with righteous fury and vague recollection of the Oath of Vengeance he made long ago, before amnesia had come upon him: he made a prayer to his god, whose name he could still not recall, reinstating his lawful intent to uphold order at any cost; to fight and destroy the greater evil; to protect the innocent — and with this, he felt holy energy running through his veins once again.
Finch spoke with Toblen, who said that a wood elf from the nearby temple had asked to speak to them; he also passed on a note from Harry, detailing an outstanding contract worth 100 gold involving porc raiders near Wyvern Tor.
They crossed the street to the temple, and met the wood elf who had asked for them — she had strikingly bright green eyes and ash-grey hair, and introduced herself as Sister Hitomi. Her and Makoto seemed acquainted, although they did not speak to each other much. She asked a favour of them — to seek a banshee by the name of Agatha, who resided near an ancient, small town whose name has been lost to time, and ask of her the current location of the Spellbook of Bojarack. She gave them a silver comb to give to the vain banshee, and said that it should act as an offering that might catch the banshee’s attention and encourage her to talk with them. Hitomi promised them healing supplies in return for this. They spoke further on the identity of Bojarack, a good mage from many centuries past known primarily now for his spellbook, which is supposed to contain powerful healing and resurrection magic.
They then elected to speak to Darran Eldermath, the old-aged half-elf who was once a LARP associate, at his home on the edge of town. He was a friendly-seeming man of 150 years of age, who thanked the party for dealing with the Black Emperors — Darran had envisioned himself futilely trying to deal with them himself if they had not been stopped, so he thanked them for likely saving his life, in a roundabout way. He also had something else of interest to them — information: undead beings — supposedly zombies — had been troubling travellers near the Old Owl Well. Darran asked them to investigate, to see what they could discern about the incidents. There were even rumours that people had been going missing. The intrepid heroes decided to investigate this, too — and since the banshee, porc raiders and undead beings were all in a vaguely similar direction, they would strike out to investigate the matters in one journey.
Darran spoke of one last thing: Halia Thornton. He told them not to trust her — and that she might have connections to the Black Mask, a shadowy crime syndicate whose name is often whispered rather than spoken. Finch noted that she had asked them for their political support, and Darran asked them not to ally with her under any circumstances. Finch asked Darran to keep an ear out about anything he might hear about her. They then bid him adieu and went to speak to Barthen.
So these mightiest of heroes purchased horses, to make their journey faster, as well as camping gear and a week’s provisions. Barthen cut them a good deal, and they set off.
They reached the ancient, abandoned town at night time, and Makoto spotted a trail leading into the woods. They followed it, the woods getting darker and darker as they walked. They found a strange, loosely-constructed hut in a dome-like shape, the entrance leading into darkness. They entered; inside, they found elven-crafted furniture many centuries old. Almost immediately, a loose form took shape in the darkness — it had large, staring white eyes framing a spectral elven face, a loose, translucent humanoid shape appearing shortly after.
With disdain, the banshee asked them what they wanted, and why they had disturbed her leisure. Finch said he had an offer to make her, and she replied that it was unlikely that vile mortal creatures such as them could have anything she wanted. Finch then offered the silver comb, and her harshness dissolved slightly; she said that she would accept it, and offer one piece of knowledge in return, an answer to one question.
Finch precisely asked her: “Where is Bojarack’s spellbook?”
She answered: “I once held it in my possession. I traded it to a necromancer named Garrus from Thorn one hundred years ago. Other than that, I do not know.”
She disappeared. They travelled a distance away, and slept the night through, all slightly chilled by the brief, otherworldly encounter.
In the morning, they smashed breakfast, and continued their journey to the Old Owl Well. Eventually, the horizon broke, and they saw the Tonberry Hills, peaked by Wyvern Tor. They could see the ruins of an old watchtower, which they approached on horseback. They could eventually see a colourful tent set up beyond the ruined walls surrounding the watchtower. Leaving their horses tied up nearby, they approached.
A stench became apparent the closer they got to the tent, the stench of death. They headed further on, towards the tent, Finch taking the lead. ’Twas then that the ground did shake, and from it rose twelve rotten, shambling creatures: zombies.
The group readied themselves for a fight; it was then that a man exited the tent, a look of annoyance on his face. He was bald, his head tattooed; he wore grand red robes with an extremely high collar, and held a wooden staff with a crystal at the end.
“Hey. You guys. Get away from my zombies. What’d you want, coming around here, bothering me? Can’t you see I’m busy?” he said.
“What’s your name?” said Finch.
“My name is Kamun Host. And yours? Stand down, zombies.”
“I am Finch,” said Finch.
“And I am Samp,” said Samp.
The man looked puzzled for a second.
“Finch? Don’t I know you?”
“Yeah, maybe,” said Finch. “In the civil war? Down in Aspark?”
“No, no. One of my friends helped you out with something…”
Finch narrowed his eyes, and nodded. “Sure, yeah.”
“How’s it all going with that?”
“Well, I haven’t died. Yet.”
“Good. So, what can I help you with? It’s not to do with that, is it?”
Finch replied in the negative. Samp questioned Kamun about the undead, and the necromancer explained that he was not here for untoward reasons; he was simply investigating the tower, which held magic properties, perhaps linked to the Old Lightning. Any reports of people going missing were nonsense — his zombies were there but to scare away annoying intruders, nothing more. The party believed him to be telling the truth. Our heroes and Kamun spoke of the Spellbook of Bojarack, and the banshee Agatha, but Kamun didn’t have any further information on the subject, although he was interested in hearing that the spellbook had fallen into the hands of another necromancer, saying that he “wished that had been [him].”
Kamun then said that if they were wanting to be of use, they could help him out with a porc problem — raiders, causing him issues, encroaching on his ground. It turned out they were the same porcs the party were searching for anyway, so they said they could help him out, too. Kamun asked them to bring him the porc leader’s head, or else his gold tusk, as proof, and that he might be able to throw some supplies their way in payment.
So rideth’d on the fine champions of the lande, towards Wyvern Tor. They reached a large flat plain, and founde upon the plaine a carriage that was ransacked; four dead men lay nearby, slain in cruelty, the horses shot by arrows. Telltale signs of porcine brigands. The slain were likely to have been travelling merchants, before the porc raiders got to them.
The heroes rode on, as night began encroaching. They made their way up into th’ hills, and began searching for signs of porcs. Three hours passed, but no progress was made; there was not a sign of the pig-men.
They rested, and kept searching. Eventually, Samp stumbled across a small cavemouth; they investigated. Samp entered. He saw a chest at the back of this small cavern, and began moving towards it, when three mid-sized giant spiders came into view; they blocked his way, and showed their mandibles, promising danger if he continued. Samp struck forth with his sword, seeking to prove their abject destruction. In the struggle, Samp, Finch and Makoto were all poisoned, and badly hurt; two of the spiders were exterminated, and the last one crawled away into the cracks of the cavern. Found inside the chest was Samp’s glorious bounty: a book titled As I Lay Dying, and a magical scroll.
They made camp in the cave. In the evening, Makoto spotted two porc scouts wandering the area; Finch lunged straight for them, and Samp followed shortly behind. Finch took both of them on for a while, but was still poisoned, struggling through the fight and once dropping his sword. Ultimately, though, they were able to quell the surprised porcine True Humanoids before they could escape to warn the others. Our avenging heroes hid their mutilated bodies in the undergrowth and went back to their cave, eventually getting a full night’s sleep with no further interruptions.
They set off again in the morning, Finch leading. As they crossed through a wooded patch near a stream, they heard a voice: male, possibly porc, it muttered out loud about how unfairly it was being treated. Following the sound, they came across a porc named Gary, who claimed he was just a good old porc gathering water. Eventually they ascertained, through Gary’s own stupidity, that he was in fact one of the porc raiders, and that he knew where the others were hiding. Feeling threatened, Gary said:
“I don’t want no trouble. I don’t like the others — they force me to get water, and spit on me in my sleep. Every time I wake up, I’m covered in spit. They say they don’t do it, but I know they do, because I don’t spit on myself.”
Samp asked him politely and under threat of death to lead the party to these other porcs, and Gary duly obliged. He mentioned that they also had a pogre with them, a hybrid of both traditional giant pig and a standard ogre, that was named Cunt. Finch asked him how intelligent this pogre was; Gary was unsure, but he did know that it tended to only really say its own name, and quite frequently. Cunt defended the porc leader, Brock, with fervour.
Outside the cave that the porcs supposedly made home, a guard stood on watch some fifty feet from them. They pelted the lookout with javelins, but not enough hit true enough to take him out, and their target squealed and ran into the den. Finch led the charge into the cavern. Inside, it was dimly lit, a cavernous corridor leading down. They followed it down, and around, more cautiously now. Finch turned the corner, to see what would come next…
The pig, seven feet tall on four legs, a huge metal ring in its nose and the hair on top of its body forming a natural mohawk, was already hurtling towards him. Finch moved just in time, but as the giant pig crashed against the wall, it shook him and the rest to their bones, unsteadying them for the battle ahead.
Thus began what was, genuinely, one of the hardest fights they would ever face.
Brock and three of his porc warriors strode forward, anger in their eyes.
“Gary, what the fuck are you doing?” he said.
“Oh, hi, Brock,” said Gary, sheepishly.
“You listen here, little prick, I’ll ’ave you first. I’ll cut you.”
Before he could, Finch rushed forward, using a burst of energy to strike the porc leader twice, dealing massive damage to the mighty warrior. Brock, bleeding, enraged, struck back instantly with his greataxe, giving as good as he got and then some, tearing links from Finch’s chainmail and almost knocking him unconscious in one blow. Samp, reacting with refined expertise, struck forth with his longsword, calling out — “DIVINE SMITE,” — bringing the blade, glowing with radiance, through Brock’s head, splitting his skull asunder longways, blood spilling out onto both Finch and Makoto.
Gary felt great; he felt a lot safer seeing big Brock in pieces. Cunt charged at Samp, enraged at the death of its master, but Samp dodged with ease. From here, the heroes struck forth against the remaining porc warriors, hoping to push them back into submission whilst they floundered, leaderless. But it was not to be so; they stood resolute, although shaken. Gary, unsure of his position in life now, tried staying out of the fight for a while, to gauge the situation, whilst the porcs and our valiant heroes clashed blades and axes.
“CUNT,” said Cunt.
The giant pig raged towards Samp, crushing him against the wall. Cunt thought he had this one settled. He went for another ramming attack. But the giant pig had made a fatal mistake; its focus was on the wrong target. In another moment, Finch had used the blood on the floor to slide under Cunt, and spilt its guts all over the floor. It cried out its name one last torturous time, and then fell.
Even Gary was getting into it now, striking down one of his erstwhile comrades. He grinned. Victory seemed close at hand. But, alas, things never quite work out as simply as they should; two further porcs, a returning hunting duo, entered, unsure of what they were seeing but knowing that the only correct approach was to go in swinging. One of the two, a porc by the name of Kronk — notably, the only porc who didn’t spit on Gary as he slept, a fact unknown to everyone but him — saw the waterboy, standing over the body of one of his friends. He spun his greataxe and roared: “Traitor!” — and then advanced.
Our heroes, surrounded and running low on health, kept striking out, raging against the dying of the light. It was looking hopeless. Gary’s head was struck from his shoulders by Kronk. Kronk stifled a wave of emotion and kept attacking. Only one group was getting out of this cavern alive, and it was looking almost likely to be the porcs.
Finch, on his last legs, delivered a killing blow to one of the porcs, who fell to the ground, his throat hanging open. Makoto kept Finch standing with one of his last health potions. Samp was overwhelmed, unable to get any hits in — he was almost knocked to the ground by the swinging axes. Likewise, Makoto suffered a devastating blow, just about keeping himself on his feet. Finch, again, turned a porc’s throat into a void. Makoto swung his morningstar and the penultimate porc’s brain met the musty cave air.
Finch struck Kronk, who collapsed to his knees; he saw his years of raiding and pillaging flash before his eyes.
“That’s it. That’s all I can take. Either kill me or let me live. It doesn’t matter anymore,” he said. The wounded trio, in a moment of clemency, spared him. Samp questioned him on his intentions, but there wasn’t much to it; it was easy work, and worth the pay.
“Crime doesn’t pay,” said Samp.
“It did until you arrived,” said Kronk.
“Is there any reason that we shouldn’t kill you? Have you got any advice, or information about the area?”
“Yeah. There’s lots of hills.”
“That’s not information, that’s just stating a fact,” said Finch.
“That’s all I’ve got,” said Kronk. “You could take me back with you. Throw me in jail.”
Finch and Samp looked at each other.
“I don’t want to be dragging him around for ages,” said Samp.
There was a flicker of recognition in Kronk’s eyes before Finch cut him to the ground. The porc didn’t even have a chance to scream.
The trio had survived to fight another day. They took their rest in the porcs’ cavern, amongst the corpses.