Oct 16

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Thog’s Tale

John David Couchot, still technically my brother-in-law, once invented a fantasy RPG. It’s a pretty good one, too, and we’d spend hours around the kitchen table kicking minotaur butt.  I created two characters for that game, the more interesting one by an order of magnitude being Ik.  Unfortunately, she never saw play, but being a writer, it was mandatory for my own sanity to create some background for her.

Here is one of the two pieces I wrote.  Neither was the consequence of serious world-building, and neither was with a thought to deep characterization or possible publication.  I certainly wouldn’t publish it for money, at least in the unpolished state that it’s in.  Also, once you read it, you’ll see that the picture of Thog and Ik here doesn’t match their description in the text, but there is an annoying and sometimes crippling glitch when transporting FBX files between DAZ Studio and 3DS Max and I couldn’t see hours hacking it when I have so much else to do.  Still, it’s a decent picture.  Anyway, here is Thog’s Tale, so you can learn just how deranged  I can be.

Thog’s Tale

Duane A. Vore, 18 Oct 2000

When the door to the tavern opened, there stood a warrior, a giant, three times the size of a normal man.  He had a bare chest as hairy as some feral animal, and a growl to match.  He looked as if he hadn’t trimmed his hair or beard his entire life, and smelled as if he hadn’t bathed in nearly as long.  He carried no weapon other than his dagger, but in a place such as this he needed none.  His heavy boots hammered dust from the warped floorboards as he made his way to the bar.

The place was crowded except for one corner, and every stool at the bar was taken.  With only a moment’s thought, he picked the man sitting at the end closest to the tables.

“Move,” he said simply.

The man took one look at the barbarian, hastily stifled his objection, and complied, nearly forgetting his drink.  The seat was taken at once by the newcomer.

“I’m Thog,” he announced.  “I want whiskey.”

The bartender didn’t have much to say right away.  He plopped down a glass, uncorked a bottle of bona-fide distilled rot-gut, and filled it to the brim.  “Two copper.”

Thog cast the coins on the counter and started in earnest his survey of the place.  It seemed like any other normal tavern, with its noisy patrons, its dingy and greasy oil lamps, and its stench of stale beer, sweat, and urine.  Normal, that is, except for one thing.

Over in the corner, surrounded by a ring of suspiciously empty tables, sat a young girl with gorgeous long blonde hair.  Almost a woman, perhaps, but not quite.  And clean, or so it would seem, dressed in clothes that looked somehow out of place yet somehow appealing, somehow wealthy and somehow adventurous.  She stared silently out the window with those adorable deep blue eyes set in her pretty face, and from time to time took a sip from a tankard of ale that seemed nearly as big as she was.

Thog started to get some ideas about her.

He caught the bartender’s attention and nodded in her direction.  “Who’s the little lump of sweet muffin all alone over there?”

Kilmor, the bartender, didn’t even have to look to know who he was talking about.

“People call her Ik.  Don’t know if that’s her real name.  She comes in here for a couple days six or eight times a year.  Don’t know where she’s from, either.  Don’t want to know.”

“How old you figure she is?”

Kilmor cast him a suspicious stare.  He’d seen this happen before.

“Heard her tell a man about your size that he needed to keep his eyes off ten-year-olds.  Of course that was last spring, well over a year ago.  That’d make her eleven, maybe twelve.  Now, stranger, just what made you ask?”

Thog revealed aloud what he had been thinking.  “I’ll bet there’s a tight little snatch on that one.”

Abruptly transformed from a kitten to a tiger as his suspicions were confirmed, the bartender slammed his hand on the counter with such force that it rattled mugs at the other end.  The drunk there grabbed his mug protectively.  But Kilmor’s voice came out as a harsh, commanding whisper, “No!  Don’t … even … think it!”

Thog was taken aback only a fraction of a second.  “What?  You sayin’ got some kind of interest in her yourself?”

Kilmor shook his head.  “Nothing like that.  I know better.  Besides, you ain’t got no business havin’ such intentions about one that ain’t quite a woman yet.”

“Relative of hers, then?  Friend?”

“Let’s just say we have an understanding, Ik and I, and we get along.  Don’t know as she has any friends, and near as I can figure, her family’s all dead.  Look, there’s a brothel just two doors down.  Take any ambitions you might have over there.”

Thog was grinning at a situation he thought hilarious.  “If you ain’t her dad and you don’t want her for yourself, then just where does a runt like you get off trying to protect her from the likes of me?”

“Hey, stranger,” Kilmor barked as if he were chastising a child.  “I ain’t protecting her.  I’m protecting you.”

That statement took Thog aback for a good three seconds, then he burst out into an unbridled guffaw.  “Now that’s the most fuckin’ stupid thing I ever heard!  Protecting Thog from a little girl!”

“Listen, mister,” Kilmor held his tone.  “That little girl, as you call her, ain’t nothin’ of the sort.  At least not any holy kind of little girl.  She’s got weapons like no one’s ever seen before — they must be from some other world’s all I can figure.  Not that she needs ‘em, anyway.”

He let the words sink in, knowing that they probably wouldn’t sink in very far, before he continued.  “And that’s the least of it.  She’s born of hell, that one.  Must be half demon if only half.  She’s got a soul darker than the devil himself, and more fire and power, too.  Notice how folks are scared to sit too close?”

“Well,” Thog roared as he slugged his whiskey.  “Seems that most folks around here are chicken shit.  She don’t look too frightening to me.”

“She might not look too tough on the outside,” Kilmor agreed.  “Pretty as an angel and quiet as smoke.  But I can guarantee that you don’t want to find out what’s on the inside.”

Thog grinned a particularly wicked grin.  “Well, I beg to differ.  Finding out what’s on the inside is exactly what I have in mind.”

“I’m telling ya,” Kilmor shook his head.  “Stay away from her if you want to keep bein’ a man.”

“What the hell are you talking about now?”

Kilmor produced a hunting knife from beneath the counter and without warning hurled it across the room directly at Ik’s face.  She didn’t look up, didn’t flinch, but dodged her head out of the way like the beat of a butterfly’s wings just as it whizzed past and embedded itself in the wall.  Then, she glanced an instant at Thog, and cast Kilmor half a smile and half a nod before she returned her attention to her ale.

“OK, so she’s quick,” Thog grunted.  “That just might make things livelier.”

“Or deadlier,” said Kilmor.  “Let me tell to you a story before you make up your mind for good.  I’d say about four months ago a guy came in here, almost as big and mean as you.  He had the same idea in his head about Ik, and had his eye on her the whole time she was here, I figure better than two hours.  Not that I can blame him for that; Ik’s about the prettiest thing ever to come into this hellhole.  When she left, he pulled his dick out of his breeches like he was showin’ it off and followed her out the front.

“Well, it wasn’t about two seconds after the door slammed that there came this hideous screaming like you’ve never heard, enough to freeze the blood right out of a ghost, I tell you.  I didn’t have the guts to go outside myself — and still wouldn’t — but I took a look out the window.  Sort of wish I hadn’t.  That fellow was twistin’ on the ground like he was on fire.  Kept saying — when he could manage to talk, that is — ‘What do you want?  What do you want?’. She mighta said something back — couldn’t hear over the screamin’ — but she handed him her knife.  Know what he did with it?”

Thog shook his head, interested in the story but not entirely believing it.

“He took that knife and sliced his pecker clean off.  He gave it to her still drippin’ blood, and she strung it on this cord like a necklace.  Looked like she had five or six of them suckers on there already, all dried and wrinkled like prunes.  The man stopped screaming then, for a couple of seconds, then started up again when he realized what he’d done, only not as horrible as he was screamin’ before.  Not like he’d be needing it again anyway.  Turns out he’d been twistin’ on the ground so hard he’d snapped his spine about halfway down.  Nothin’ below his waist works anymore.”

“Dead?”  For a moment, Thog looked as if the story rattled him.

“He’s still livin’ but not like a man ought to be.  Crawls around the castle courtyard on his hands while folks laugh at him, and eats the rotten cabbages people throw at him.”

The illusion of being rattled was gone.  “Well, that’s a mighty scary campfire tale you tell there, beer pusher.  But this here’s the daylight and I don’t scare so easy.  What I see is a scrawny little pussy sittin’ in the corner just askin’ to be nailed, and a mean-ass warrior big enough to crush her skull with one hand.  I reckon those are odds I can handle.”

“That ain’t just no story,” said Kilmor.  “I seen it myself.  And I ain’t likely to forget it.”

Thog pointed his finger at Kilmor, then at Ik.  “Don’t matter what you seen.  There ain’t gonna come no day when Thog runs away from a girl.  Don’t matter who or what folks say she is.”

“As you wish.  But if you start bleedin’ all over the floor, I’ll expect you to clean it up yourself since you been warned.”

“Fair enough.”

Thog downed the rest of his whiskey, and pounded the floor with his boots as he approached Ik, sitting silently in apparent unawareness.  She didn’t look up.  Yet.

“Hey little girl….”

That was all he had time to say, for then her eyes pierced into his.  In that instant, he knew he had made a ghastly mistake, for behind them reeked the cold, crawling stench of death.

A split second later, a wave of blazing white-hot agony ripped through his mind.  No, not just his mind, but his entire being, saturating every iota of his substance with pain and terror so brutal and so penetrating that his consciousness could not grapple it, only suffer it.  He heard his own screaming distantly, as if coming from someone else, an inhuman gurgling sound the likes of which he had never heard even on the battlefield.

He was to consider later that it was like being suddenly thrust into a pit of fiery embers, only a hundred times as worse, and like the most terrifying nightmare of a scrawny coward come to life, only a hundred times as worse.  And there had to have been a dozen other feelings of anguished torment he had never felt before, let alone imagined, each a hundred times as worse.  He would have gladly cast himself into hell to find relief, if only she had permitted him that option.

It lasted only a second, but it had felt like a century.  When it was over, he was lying on the floor, trembling like a whipped dog and foaming at the mouth like a rabid one.  He opened his eyes, and beheld Ik standing before him with her tankard in one hand and the bartender’s knife in the other.  Automatically, he cringed.

Thog cringed!  The great warrior of twenty campaigns, who suffered neither pain nor fear, who had hacked hundreds to their deaths, cringed before a little blonde-haired girl!

She lifted her skirt for just a second with the tip of the knife.  “Still want a piece of this?” she asked softly, almost gently.

“No!” he wailed.  “Oh, god, no!”

And he didn’t.  He never wanted to see her again.  He wanted to be as far away from her as he could get.  The other side of the world if that were possible.  Who could know what greater horrors might await him even if she allowed him into her bed?

“Then listen to the barkeep.”  She dumped the rest of her ale on his face, deposited Kilmor’s knife on the bar with a curt nod, and headed for the door.

She was gone!  Oh, glory to God!  She was gone!  He lay there for the longest time, catching his breath and wondering what in the hell that thing was that looked like a girl.  He was thankful to be alive, for the first time in his life, and confident that she had, in her warped, demonic way, treated him mercifully and left him in one piece.   Nevertheless, he checked his crotch to make sure he still had his most valued treasure.

Thog never returned to that tavern.  But he did stop by the courtyard to see what had become of the last man who had attempted with Ik that to which he himself had aspired.

She is Kolaika Jinnleksa Korporin, called Iznik, the Destroyer.  She only goes by Ik.  Naturally, there is story behind her, how she came to possess her terrible power, and the terrible things she does with it.  It’s all deeper, darker, and more demented than anything I’ve seen from Steven King.  It’s more like Clive Barker.  And I shan’t tell you what it is.

As you can see, I wrote this in 2000, a full twelve years ago.  I kept thinking it could be the premise for a book, but a whole novel never seemed to take shape around it and it seemed too good to waste on a short story.  But now, something is starting to solidify….

Permanent link to this article: http://www.duanevore.com/thogs-tale/

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