The Eye of Argon by Jim Theis – Part Two

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     "Take hold of this rope," said the first soldier, "and climb
out from your pit, slut.  Your presence is requested in another
far deeper hell hole."

     Grignr slipped his right hand to his thigh, concealing a
small opaque object beneath the folds of the g-string wrapped
about his waist.  Brine wells swelled in Grignr's cold, jade
squinting eyes, which grown accustomed to the gloom of the
stygian pools of ebony engulfing him, were bedazzled and blinded
by flickerering radiance cast forth by the second soldiers's
resin torch.
     Tightly gripped in the second soldier's right hand, opposite
the intermittent torch, was a large double edged axe, a long
leather wound oaken handled transfixing the center of the
weapon's iron head.  Adorning the torso's of both of the sentries
were thin yet sturdy hauberks, the breatplates of which were
woven of tightly hemmed twines of reinforced silver braiding.
Cupping the soldiers' feet were thick leather sandals, wound
about their shins to two inches below their knees.  Wrapped about
their waists were wide satin girdles, with slender bladed
poniards dangling loosely from them, the hilts of which featured
scarlet encrusted gems.  Resting upon the manes of their heads,
and reaching midway to their brows were smooth copper morions.
Spiraling the lower portion of the helmet were short, up-curved
silver spikes, while a golden hump spired from the top of each
basinet.  Beneath their chins, wound around their necks, and
draping their clad shoulders dangled regal purple satin cloaks,
which flowed midway to the soldiers feet.
     hand over hand, feet braced against the dank walls of the
enclosure, huge Grignr ascended from the moldering dephs of the
forlorn abyss.  His swelled limbs, stiff due to the boredom of a
timeless inactivity, compounded by the musty atmosture and jagged
granite protuberan against his body, craved for action.  The
opportunity now presenting itself served the purpose of oiling
his rusty joints, and honing his dulled senses.
     He braced himself, facing the second soldier.  The sentry's
stature was was wildly exaggerated in the glare of the flickering
cresset cuppex in his right fist.  His eyes were wide open in a
slightly slanted owlish glaze, enhanced in their sinister
intensity by the hawk-bill curve of his nose andpale yellow pique
of his cheeks.
     "Place your hands behind your back," said the second soldier
as he raised his ax over his right shoulder blade and cast it a
wavering glance.  "We must bind your wrists to parry any attempts
at escape.  Be sure to make the knot a stout one, Broig, we
wouldn't want our guest to take leave of our guidance."
     Broig grasped Grignr's left wrist and reached for the
barbarians's right wrist.  Grignr wrenched his right arm free and
swilveled to face Broig, reach- beneath his loin cloth with his
right hand.  The sentry grappled at his girdle for the sheathed
dagger, but recoiled short of his intentions as Grignr's right
arm swept to his gorge.  The soldier went limp, his bobbing eyes
rolling beneath fluttering eyelids, a deep welt across his
spouting gullet.  Without lingering to observe the result of his
efforts, Grignr dropped to his knees.  The second soldier's axe
cleft over Grignr's head in a blze of silvered ferocity, severing
several scarlet locks from his scalp.  Coming to rest in his
fellow's stomach, the iron head crashed through mail and flesh
with splintering force, spilling a pool of crimsoned entrails
over the granite paving.
     Before the sentry could wrench his axe free from his
comrade's carcass, he found Grignr's massive hands clasped about
his throat, choking the life from his clamped lungs.  With a
zealous grunt, the Ecordian flexed his tightly corded biceps,
forcing the grim faced soldier to one knee.  The sentry plunged
his right fist into Grignr's face, digging his grimy nails into
the barbarians flesh.  Ejaculating a curse through rasping teeth,
grignr surged the bulk of his weight foreard, bowling the
beseiged soldier over upon his back.  The sentry's arms collapsed
to his thigh, shuddering convulsively; his bulging eyes staring
blindly from a bloated ,cherry red face.
     Rising to his feet, Grignr shook the bllod from his eyes,
ruffling his surly red mane as a brush fire swaying to the
nightime breeze.  Stooping over the spr sprawled corpse of the
first soldier, Grignr retrieved a small white object from a pool
of congealing gore.  Snorting a gusty billow of mirth, he once
more concealed th e tiny object beneath his loin cloth; the
tediously honed pelvis bone of the broken rodent.  Returning his
attention toward the second soldier, Grignr turned to the task of
attiring his limbs.  To move about freely through the dim
recesses of the castle would require the grotesque garb of its
     Utilizing the silence and stealth aquired in the untamed
climbs of his childhood, Grignr slink through twisting corridors,
and winding stairways, lighting his way with the confisticated
torch of his dispatched guardian.  Knowing where his steps were
leading to, Grignr meandered aimlessly in search of an exit from
the chateau's dim confines.  The wild blood coarsing through his
veins yearned for the undefiled freedom of the livid wilderness
     Coming upon a fork in the passage he treaked, voices
accompanied by clinking footfalls discerned to his sensitive ears
from the left corridor.  Wishing to avoid contact, Grignr veered
to the right passageway.  If aquested as to the purpose of his
presence, his barbarous accent would reveal his identity, being
that his attire was not that of the castle's mercenary troops.
     In grim silence Grignr treaded down the dingily lit
corridor; a stalking panther creeping warily along on padded
feet.  After an interminable period of wandering through the dull
corridors; no gaps to break the monotony of the cold gray walls,
Grignr espied a small winding stairway.  Descending the flight of
arced granite slabs to their posterior, Grignr was confronted by
a short haalway leading to a tall arched wooden doorway.
     Halting before the teeming portal portal, Grignr restes his
shaggy head sideways against the barrier.  Detecting no sounds
from within, he grasped the looped metel handle of the door; his
arms surging with a tremendous effort of bulging muscles, yet the
door would not budge.  Retrieving his ax from where he had
sheathed it beneath his girdle, he hefted it in his mighty hands
with an apiesed grunt, and wedging one of its blackened edges
into the crack between the portal and its iron rimed sill.
Bracing his sandaled right foot against the rougjly hewn wall,
teeth tightly clenched, Grignr appilevered the oaken haft,
employing it as a lever whereby to pry open the barrier.  The
leather wound hilt bending to its utmost limits of endurance, the
massive portal swung open with a grating of snapped latch and
rusty iron hinges.
     Glancing about the dust swirled room in the gloomily dancing
glare of his flickering cresset, Grignr eyed evidences of the
enclosure being nothing more than a forgotten storeroom.
Miscellaneous articles required for the maintainance of a castle
were piled in disorganized heaps at infrequent intervals toward
the wall opposite the barbarian's piercing stare.  Utilizing
long, bounding strides, Grignr paced his way over to the mounds
of supplies to discover if any articles of value were contained
within their midst.
     Detecting a faint clinking sound, Grignr sprawed to his left
side with the speed of a striking cobra, landing harshly upon his
back; torch and axe loudly clattering to the floor in a morass of
sparks and flame.  A elmwoven board leaped from collapsed
flooring, clashing against the jagged flooring and spewing a
shower of orange and yellow sparks over Grignr's startled face.
Rising uneasily to his feet, the half stunned Ecordian glared
down at the grusome arm of death he had unwittingly sprung.
     If not for his keen auditory organs and lighting steeled
reflexes, Grignr would have been groping through the shadowed
hell-pits of the Grim Reaper.  He had unknowingly stumbled upon
an ancient, long forgotton booby trap; a mistake which would have
stunted the perusal of longevity of one less agile.  A mechanism,
similar in type to that of a minature catapult was concealed
beneath two collapsable sections of granite flooring.  The arm of
the device was four feet long, boasting razor like cleats at
regular intervals along its face with which it was to skewer the
luckless body of its would be victim.  Grignr had stepped upon a
concealed catch which relaesed a small metal latch beneath the
two granite sections, causing them to fall inward, and thereby
loose the spiked arm of death they precariously held in.
     Partially out of curiosity and partially out of an
inordinate fear of becoming a pincushion for a possible second
trap, Grignr plunged his torch into the exposed gap in the floor.
The floor of a second chamber stood out seven feet below the
glare.  Tossing his torch through the aperature, Grignr grasped
the side of an adjoining tile, dropping down.
     Glancing about the room, Grignr discovered that he had
decended into the palace's mausoleum.  Rectangular stone crypts
cluttered the floor at evenly placed intervals.  The tops of the
enclosures were plated with thick layers of virgin gold, while
the sides were plated with white ivory; at one time sparkling,
but now grown dingy through the passage of the rays of
allencompassing mother time.  Featured at the head of each
sarcophagus in tarnished silver was an expugnisively carved
likeness of its rotting inhabitant.
     A dingy atmosphere pervaded the air of the chamber; which
sealed in the enclosure for an unknown period had grown thick and
stale.  Intermingling with the curdled currents was the repugnant
stench of slowly moldering flesh, creeping ever slowly but surely
through minute cracks in the numerous vaults.  Due to the
embalming of the bodies, their flesh decayed at a much slower
rate than is normal, yet the nauseous oder was none the less
     Towering over Grignr's head was the trap he released.  The
mechanism of the miniaturized catapolt was cluttered with mildew
and cobwebs.  Notwithstanding these relics of antiquity, its
efficiency remained unimpinged.  To the right of the trap wound a
short stairway through a recess in the ceiling; a concealed
entrance leading to the mausoleum for which the catapult had
obviously been erected as a silent, relentless guardian.
     Climbing up the side of the device, Grignr set to the task
of resetting its mechanism.  In the e event that a search was
organized, it would prove well to leave no evidence of his
presence open to wandering eyes.  Besides, it might even serve to
dwindle the size of an opposing force.
     Descending from his perch, Grignr was startled by a faintly
muffled scream of horrified desperation.  His hair prickled
yawkishly in disorganized clumps along his scalp.  As a cold
danced along the length of his spinal cord.  No moral/mortal
barrier, human or otherwise, was capable of arousing the numbing
sensation of fear inside of Grignr's smoldering soul.  However,
he was overwrought by the forces of the barbarians' instinctive
fear of the supernatural.  His mighty thews had always served to
adequately conquer any tangible foe., but the intangible was
something distant and terrible.  Dim horrifying tales passed by
word of mouth over glimmering camp fires and skins of wine had
more than once served the purpose of chilling the marrowed core
of his sturdy limbed bones.
     Yet, the scream contained a strangely human quality, unlike
that which Grignr imagined would come from the lungs of a demon
or spirit, making Grignr take short nervous strides advancing to
the sarcophagus from which the sound was issuing.  Clenching his
teeth in an attempt to steel his jangled nerves, Grignr slid the
engraved slab from the vault with a sharp rasp of grinding stone.
Another long drawn cry of terror infested anguish met the
barbarian, scoring like the shrill piping of a demented banshee;
piercing the inner fibres of his superstitious brain with
primitive dread dread and awe.
     Stooping over to espy the tomb's contents, the glittering
Ecordians nostrills were singed by the scorching aroma of a
moldering corpse, long shut up and fermenting; the same putrid
scent which permeated the entire chamber, though multiplied to a
much more concentrated dosage.  The shriveled, leathery packet of
crumbling bones and dried flacking flesh offered no resistance,
but remained in a fixed position of perpetual vigilance, watching
over its dim abode from hollow gaping sockets.
     The tortured crys were not coming from the tomb but from
some hidden depth below!  Pulling the reaking corpse from its
resting place, Grignr tossed it to the floor in a broken, mangled
heap.  Upon one side of the crypt's bottom was attached a series
of tiny hinges while running parallel along the opposite side of
a convex railing like protruberance; laid so as to appear as a
part of the interior surface of the sarcophagus.
     Raising the slab upon its bronze hinges, long removed from
the gaze of human eyes, Grignr percieved a scene which caused his
blood to smolder not unlike bubbling, molten lava.  Directly
below him a whimpering female lay stretched upon a smooth
surfaced marble altar.  A pack of grasy faced shamen clustered
around her in a tight circular formation.  Crouched over the girl
was a tall, potbellied priest; his face dominated by a
disgusting, open mouthed grimace of sadistic glee.  Suspended
from the acolyte's clenched right hand was a carven oval faced
mallet, which he waved menacingly over the girl's shadowed face;
an incoherent gibberish flowing from his grinning, thick lipped
     In the face of the amorphos, broad breated female, stretched
out aluringly before his gaping eyes; the universal whim of
nature filing a plea of despair inside of his white hot soul;
Grignr acted in the only manner he could perceive.  Giving vent
to a hoarse, throat rending battle cry, Grignr plunged into the
midst of the startled shamen; torch simmering in his left hand
andax twirling in his right hand.
     A gaunt skull faced priest standing at the far side of the
altar clutched desperately at his throat, coughing furiously in
an attempt to catch his breath.  Lurching helplessly to and fro,
the acolyte pitched headlong against the gleaming base of a
massive jade idol.  Writhing agonizedly against the hideous
image, foam flecking his chalk white lips, the priest struggled
helplessly - - - the victim of an epileptic siezure.
     Startled by the barbarians stunning appearance, the chronic
fit of their fellow, and the fear that Grignr might be the
avantgarde of a conquering force dedicated to the cause of
destroying their degenerated cult, the saman momentarily lost
their composure.  Giving vent to heedless pandemonium, the
priests fell easy prey to Grignr's sweeping arc of crimsoned
death and maiming distruction.
     The acolyte performing the sacrifice took a vicious blow to
the stomach; hands clutching vitals and severed spinal cord as he
sprawled over the altar.  The disor anized priests lurched and
staggered with split skulls, dismembered limbs, and spewing
entrails before the enraged Ecordian's relentless onslaught.  The
howles of the maimed and dying reverberated against the walls of
the tiny chamber; a chorus of hell frought despair; as the
granite floor ran red with blood.  The entire chamber was
encompassed in the heat of raw savage butchery as Grignr
luxuriated in the grips of a primitive, beastly blood lust.
     Presently all went silenet save for the ebbing groans of the
sinking shaman and Grignr's heaving breath accompanied by several
gusty curses.  The well had run dry.  No more lambs remained for
the slaughter.
     The rampaging stead of death having taken of Grignr for the
moment, left the barbarian free to the exploitation of his other
perusials.  Towering over his head was the misshaped image of the
cult's hideous diety - - - Argon.  The fantastic size of the idol
in consideration of its being of pure jade was enough to cause
the senses of any man to stagger and reel, yet thus was not the
case for the behemoth.  he had paid only casual notice to this
incredible fact, while riviting the whole of his attention upon
the jewel protruding from the idol's sole socket; its masterfully
cut faucets emitting blinding rays of hypnotising beauty.  After
all, a man cannot slink from a heavily guarded palace while
burdened down by the intense bulk of a squatting statue,
providing of course that the idol can even be hefted, which in
fact was beyond the reaches of Grignr's coarsing stamina.  On the
other hand, the jewel, gigantic as it was, would not present a
hinderence of any mean concern.
     "Help me ... please ... I can make it well worth your
while," pleaded a soft, anguish strewn voice wafting over
Grignr's shoulders as he plucked the dull red emerald from its
roots.  Turning, Grignr faced the female that had lured him into
this blood bath, but whom had become all but forgotten in the
heat of the battle.
     "You"; ejaculated the Ecordian in a pleased tone.  "I though
that I had seen the last of you at the tavern, but verilly I was
mistaken." Grignr advanced into the grips of the female's
entrancing stare, severing the golden chains that held her
captive upon the altars highly polished face of ornamental
     As Grignr lifted the girl from the altar, her arms wound
dexterously about his neck; soft and smooth against his harsh
exterior.  "Art thou pleased that we have chanced to meet once
again?" Grignr merely voiced an sighed grunt, returning the
damsels embrace while he smothered her trim, delicate lips
between the coarsing protrusions of his reeking maw.
     "Let us take leave of this retched chamber." Stated Grignr
as he placed the female upon her feet.  She swooned a moment,
causing Grignr to giver her support then regained her stance.
"Art thou able to find your way through the accursed passages of
this castle?  Mrifk!  Every one of the corridors of this damned
place are identical."
     "Aye; I was at one time a slave of prince Agaphim.  His
clammy touch sent a sour swill through my belly, but my efforts
reaped a harvest.  I gained the pig's liking whereby he allowed
me the freedom of the palace.  It was through this means that I
eventually managed escape at the western gate.  His trust found
him with a dagger thrust his ribs," the wench stated
     "What were you doing at the tavern whence I discovered you?"
asked Grignr as he lifted the female through the opening into the
     "I had sought to lay low from the palace's guards as they
conducted their search for me.  The tavern was seldom frequented
by the palace guards and my identity was unknown to the common
soldiers.  It was through the disturbance that you caused that
the palace guards were attracted to the tavern.  I was dragged
away shortly after you were escorted to the palace."
     "What are you called by female?"
     "Carthena, daughter of Minkardos, Duke of Barwego, whose
lands border along the northwestern fringes of Gorzom.  I was
paid as homage to Agaphim upon his thirty-eighth year," husked
the femme!
     "And I am called a barbarian!" Grunted Grignr in a disgusted
     "Aye!  The ways of our civilization are in many ways warped
and distorted, but what is your calling," she queried, bustily?
     "Grignr of Ecordia."
     "Ah, I have heard vaguely of Ecordia.  It is the hill
country to the far east of the Noregolean Empire.  I have also
heard Agaphim curse your land more than once when his troops were
routed in the unaccustomed mountains and gorges." Sayeth she.
     "Aye.  My people are not tarnished by petty luxuries and
baubles.  They remain fierce and unconquerable in their native
climes."  After reaching the hidden panel at the head of the
stairway, Grignr was at a loss in regard to its operation.  His
fiercest heaves were as pebbles against burnished armour!
Carthena depressed a small symbol included within the elaborate
design upon the panel whereopen it slowly slid into a cleft in
the wall.  "How did you come to be the victim of those crazed
shamen?" Quested Grignr as he escorted Carthena through the piles
of rummage on the left side of the trap.
     "By Agaphim's orders I was thrust into a secluded cell to
await his passing of sentence.  By some means, the Priests of
Argon acquired a set of keys to the cell.  They slew the guard
placed over me and abducted me to the chamber in which you
chanced to come upon the scozsctic sacrifice.  Their hell-spawned
cult demands a sacrifice once every three moons upon its full
journey through the heavens.  They were startled by your
unannounced appearance through the fear that you had been sent by
Agaphim.  The prince would surely have submitted them to the most
ghastly of tortures if he had ever discovered their
unfaithfulness to Sargon, his bastard diety.  Many of the
partakers of the ritual were high nobles and high trustees of the
inner palace; Agaphim's pittiless wrath would have been
     "They have no more to fear of Agaphim now!" Bellowed Grignr
in a deep mirthful tome; a gleeful smirk upon his face.  "I have
seen that they were delivered from his vengence."
     Engrossed by Carthena's graceful stride and conversation
Grignr failed to take note of the footfalls rapidly approaching
behind him.  As he swung aside the arched portal linking the
chamber with the corridors beyond, a maddened, blood lusting
screech reverberated from his ear drums.  Seemingly utilizing the
speed of thought, Grignr swiveled to face his unknown foe.  With
gaping eyes and widened jaws, Grignr raised his axe above his
surly mein; but he was too late.


     With wobbling knees and swimming head, the priest that had
lapsed into an epileptic siezure rose unsteadily to his feet.
While enacting his choking fit in writhing agony, the shaman was
overlooked by Grignr.  The barbarian had mistaken the siezure for
the death throes of the acolyte, allowing the priest to avoid his
stinging blade.  The sight that met the priests inflamed eyes
nearly served to sprawl him upon the floor once more.  The
sacrificial sat it grim, blood splattered silence all around him,
broken only by the occasional yelps and howles of his maimed and
butchered fellows.  Above his head rose the hideous idol, its
empty socket holding the shaman's ifurbished infuriated gaze.
His eyes turned to a stoney glaze with the realization of the
pillage and blasphemy.  Due to his high succeptibility following
the siezure, the priest was transformed into a raving maniac bent
soley upon reaking vengeance.  With lips curled and quivering, a
crust of foam dripping from them, the acolyte drew a long, wicked
looking jewel hilted scimitar from his silver girdle and fled
through the aperature in the ceiling uttering a faintly
perceptible ceremonial jibberish.

                             -7 1/2-

     A sweeping scimitar swung towards Grignr's head in a
shadowed blur of motion.  With Axe raised over his head, Grignr
prepared to parry the blow, while gaping wideeyed in open mouthed
perplexity.  Suddenly a sharp snap resounded behind the frothing
shaman.  The scimitar, halfway through its fatal sweep, dropped
from a quivering nerveless hand, clattering harmlessly to the
stoneage.  Cutting his screech short with a bubbling, red mouthed
gurgle, the lacerated acolyte staggered under the pressure of the
released spring-board.  After a moment of hopeless struggling,
the shaman buckled, sprawling face down in a widening pool of
bllod and entrails, his regal purple robe blending enhancingly
with the swirling streams of crimson.
     "Mrifk!  I thought I had killed the last of those dogs;"
muttered Grignr in a half apathetic state.
     "Nay Grignr.  You doubtless grew careless while giving vent
to your lusts.  But let us not tarry any long lest we over tax
the fates.  The paths leading to freedom will soon be barred.
The wretch's crys must certainly have attracted unwanted
attention," the wench mused.
     "By what direction shall we pursue our flight?"
     "Up that stair and down the corridor a short distance is the
concealed enterance to a tunnel seldom used by others than the
prince, and known to few others save the palace's royalty.  It is
used mainly by the prince when he wishes to take leave of the
palace in secret.  It is not always in the Prince's best
interests to leave his chateau in public view.  Even while under
heavy guard he is often assaulted by hurtling stones and rotting
fruits.  The commoners have little love for him." lectured the
     "It is amazing that they would ever have left a pig like him
become their ruler.  I should imagine that his people would rise
up and crucify him like the dog he is."
     "Alas, Grignr, it is not as simple as all that.  His
soldiers are well paid by him.  So long as he keeps their wages
up they will carry out his damned wished.  The crude impliments
of the commonfolk would never stand up under an onslaught of
forged blades and protective armor; they would be going to their
own slaughter," stated Carthena to a confused, but angered Grignr
as they topped the stairway.
     "Yet how can they bear to live under such oppression?  I
would sooner die beneath the sword than live under such a dog's
command." added Grignr as the pair stalked down the hall in the
direction opposite that in which Grignr had come.
     "But all men are not of the same mold that you are born of,
they choose to live as they are so as to save their filthy necks
from the chopping block." Returned Carthena in a disgusted tone
as she cast an appiesed glance towards the stalwart figure at her
side whose left arm was wound dextrously about her slim waist;
his slowly waning torch casting their images in intermingling
wisps as it dangled from his left hand.
     Presently Carthena came upon the panel, concealed amonst the
other granite slabs and discernable only by the burned out
cresset above it.  "As I push the cresset aside push the panel
inwards."  Catrhena motioned to the panel she was refering to and
twisted the cresset in a counterclockwise motion.  Grignr braced
his right shoulder against the walling, concentrating the force
of his bulk against it.  The slab gradually swung inward with a
slight grating sound.  Carthena stooped beneath Grignr's corded
arms and crawled upon all fours into the passage beyond.  Grignr
followed after easing the slab back into place.
     Winding before the pair was a dark musty tunnel, exhibiting
tangled spider webs from it ceiling to wall and an oozing, sickly
slime running lazily upon its floor.  Hanging from the chipped
wall upon GrignR's right side was a half mouldered corpse, its
grey flacking arms held in place by rusted iron manacles.
Carthena flinched back into Grignr's arms at sight of the leering
set in an ugly distorted grimmace; staring horribly at her from
hollow gaping sockets.
     "This alcove must also be used by Agaphim as a torture
chamber.  I wonder how many of his enemies have disappeared into
these haunts never to be heard from again," pondered the hulking
     "Let us flee before we are also caught within Agaphim's
ghastly clutches.  The exit from this tunnel cannot be very far
from here!" Said Carthena with a slight sob to her voice, as she
sagged in Grignr's encompasing embrace.
     "Aye; It will be best to be finished with this corridor as
soon as it is possible.  But why do you flinch from the sight of
death so?  Mrift!  You have seen much death this day without
exhibiting such emotions."  Exclaimed Grignr as he led her
trembling form along the dingy confines.
     "---The man hanging from the wall was Doyanta.  He had
committed the folly of showing affections for me in front of
Agaphim --- he never meant any harm by his actions!"  At this
Carthena broke into a slow steady whimpering, chokking her voice
with gasping sobs.  "There was never anything between us yet
Agaphim did this to him!  The beast!  May the demons of Hell's
deepest haunts claw away at his wretched flesh for this merciless
act!" she prayed.
     "I detect that you felt more for this fellow than you wish
to let on ... but enough of this, We can talk of such matters
after we are once more free to do so."  With this Grignr lifted
the grieved female to her feet and strode onward down the
corridor, supporting the bulk of her weight with his surging left
     Presently a dim light was perceptibly filtering into the
tunnel, casting a dim reddish hue upon the moldy wall of the
passage's grim confines.  Carthena had ceased her whimpering and
partially regained her composure.  "The tunnel's end must be
nearing.  Rays of sunlight are beginning to seep into ..."
     Grignr clameed his right hand over Carthena's mouth and with
a slight struggle pulled her over to the shadows at the right
hand wall of the path, while at the same time thrusting this
torch beneath an overhanging stone to smother its flickering
rays.  "Be silent; I can hear footfalls approaching through the
tunnel;" growled Grignr in a hushed tone.
     "All that you hear are the horses corraled at the far end of
the tunnel.  That is a further sign that we are nearing our
goal." She stated!
     "All that you hear is less than I hear!  I heard footsteps
coming towards us.  Silence yourself that we may find out whom we
are being brought into contact with.  I doubt that any would have
thought as yet of searching this passage for us.  The advantage
of surprize will be upon our side." Grignr warned.
     Carthena cast her eyes downward and ceased any further
pursuit towards conversation, an irritating habit in which she
had gained an amazing proficiency.  Two figures came into the
pairs view, from around a turn in the tunnel.  They were clothed
in rich luxuriant silks and rambling o on in conversation while
ignorant of their crouching foes waiting in an ambush ahead.
     "...That barbarian dog is cringing beneath the weight of the
lash at this moment sire.  He shall cause no more disturbance."
     "Aye, and so it is with any who dare to cross the path of
Sargon's chosen one." said the 2nd man.
     "But the peasants are showing signs of growing unrest.  They
complain that they cannot feet their families while burdened with
your taxes."
     "I shall teach those sluts the meaning of humility!  Order
an immediate increase upon their taxes.  They dare to question my
sovereign authority, Ha-a, they shall soon learn what true
oppression can be.  I will ... "
     A shodowed bulk leapt from behind a jutting promontory as it
brought down a double edged axe with the spped of a striking
thought.  One of the nobles sagged lifeless to the ground, skull
split to the teeth.
     Grignr gasped as he observed the bisected face set in its
leering death agonies.  It was Agafnd!  The dead mans comrade
having recovered from his shock drew a jewel encrusted dagger
from beneath the folds of his robe and lunged toward the
barbarians back.  Grignr spun at the sound from behind and
smashed down his crimsoned axe once more.  His antagonist lunged
howling to a stream of stagnent green water, grasping a spouting
stump that had once been a wrist.  Grignr raised his axe over his
head and prepaired to finish the incomplete job, but was detered
half way through his lunge by a frenzied screech from behind.
     Carthena leapt to the head of the writhing figure, plunging
a smoldering torch into the agonized face.  The howls increased
in their horrid intensity, stifled by the sizzling of roasting
flesh, then died down until the man was reduced to a blubbering
mass of squirming, insensate flesh.
     Grignr advance to Carthena's side wincing slightly from the
putrid aroma of charred flesh that rose in a puff of thick white
smog throughout the chamber.  Carthena reeled slightly, staring
dasedly downward at her gruesome handywork.  "I had to do it ...
it was Agaphim ... I had to, " she exclaimed!
     "Sargon should be more carful of his right hand men." Added
Grignr, a smug grin upon his lips.  "But to hell with Sargon for
now, the stench is becoming bothersome to me."  With that Grignr
grasped Carthena around the waist leading her around the bend in
the cave and into the open.
     A ball of feral red was rising through the mists of the
eastern horizon, disipating the slinking shadows of the night.  A
coral stood before the pair, enclosing two grazing mares.  Grignr
reached into a weighted down leather pouch dangling at his side
and drew forth the scintillant red emerald he had obtained from
the bloated idol.  Raising it toward the sun he said, "We shall
do well with bauble, eh!"
     Carthena gaped at the gem gasping in a terrified manner "The
eye of Argon, Oh!  Kalla!"  At this the gem gave off a blinding
glow, then dribbled through Grignr's fingers in a slimy red ooze.
Grignr stepped back, pushing Carthena behind him.  The droplets
of slime slowly converged into a pulsating jelly-like mass.  A
single opening transfixed the blob, forminf into a leechlike maw.
     Then the hideous transgressor of nature flowed towards
Grignr, a trail of greenish slime lingering behind it.  The
single gap puckered repeatedly emitting a ghastly sucking sound.
     Grignr spread his legs into a battle stance, steeling his
quivering thews for a battle royal with a thing he knew not how
to fight.  Carthena wound her arms about her protectors neck,
mumbling, "Kill it!  Kill!" While her entire body trembled.
     The thing was almost upon Grignr when he buried his axe into
the gristly maw.  It passed through the blob and clanged upon the
ground.  Grignr drew his axe back with a film of yellow-green
slime clinging to the blade.  The thing was seemingly unaffected.
Then it started to slooze up his leg.  The hairs upon his nape
stoode on end from the slimey feel of the things buly, bulk.  The
Nautous sucking sound became louder, and Grignr felt the blood
being drawn from his body.  With each hiss of hideous pucker the
thing increased in size.
     Grignr shook his foot about madly in an attempt to dislodge
the blob, but it clung like a leech, still feeding upon his
rapidly draining life fluid.  He grasped with his hands trying to
rip it off, but only found his hands entangled in a sickly glue-
like substance.  The slimey thing continued its puckering ; now
having grown the size of Grignr's leg from its vampiric feast.
     Grignr began to reel and stagger under the blob, his chalk
white face and faltering muscles attesting to the gigantic loss
of blood.  Carthena slipped from Grignr in a death-like faint, a
morrow chilling scream upon her red rubish lips.  In final
desperation Grignr grasped the smoldering torch upon the ground
and plunged it into the reeking maw of the travestry.  A shudder
passed through the thing.  Grignr felt the blackness closing upon
his eyes, but held on with the last ebb of his rapidly waning
vitality.  He could feel its grip lessoning as a hideous gurgling
sound erupted from the writhing maw.  The jelly like mass began
to bubble like a vat of boiling tar as quavers passed up and down
its entire form.

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