Thursday, January 20, 2011

We temporarily leave Sumia to her almost-fate, and skip back a few hours to see Thongor crouching in a tree. He has to wait until nightfall, and is pretty hungry, so he chows down on the (raw) bird he killed earlier. Apparently this isn't the first time he's had to eat raw meat; he was in the same situation some years before when hunting the mighty ulph on the Osterfell Glacier, and he got trapped by snow apes.

After a while, it gets dark and the beastmen start to gather for their feast cannibal repast. He climbs along a branch and jumps over the village wall, then heads down dark alleys to find his friends; luckily the Beastmen are making too much noise with their tankards of beer to notice him.

He hears Sumia scream!

Like a thunderbolt from the cloudy hand of Dyrm the Storm God he hurtled towards her hut.

He smashes Kogur in the face and knocks him out, then unties Sumia and rubs her limbs "to restore circulation". At which point, someone creeps up behind him and knocks him unconscious with a length of firewood!

Back again to Karm Karvus, tied up in the other hut. He's embarrassed that he let Thongor's bird get captured when he was supposed to protect her. Luckily one of his buckles has a rough edge, so he cuts through his bonds in the time-honoured manner of rubbing the ropes against the buckle for several hours until they break. He frees himself just as he hears Sumia scream, and dashes out with - yes - a piece of firewood to defend her, and clunks her "attacker" on the head. Oops!

It's too late. The Beastmen burst into the hut, and now they've captured all three! It's going to be a mighty cannibal feast all right.

Thongor regains consciousness to find himself tied to a stake, in between his two companions similarly trussed. You'd think this wasn't the best way to cook your dinner, and perhaps some kind of spit might have been more practical (even the ewoks know that), but these Beastmen evidently prefer drama to decent cookery.

Karm Karvus, seeing that Thongor is awake, quickly explains to him their situation, which seems rather unnecessary. Thongor is implacable, and smiles grimly, because apparently it's a good way to die if you are with your friends (??). Always the optimist.

Gorchak the Shaman approaches, in standard shaman-gear; he starts anointing the three with some kind of scarlet pigment. His assistants are carrying jugs full of the fire-flowers that were previously used to defeat the cannibal trees. Thongor starts trying to burst free from his ropes; apparently he'd have found it easier to break out of iron chains, cos iron is brittle, but these grass ropes are a bit stretchy. He applies "every atom of strength" to the task.

Then the fire-flowers are brought out; they look sort of metallic and have little flames in the middle. Thongor is amazed.

Check this out, science-fans:

Had he belonged to a later, more scientifically sophisticated age he might have speculated as to the nature of these most curious of all Nature's experiments. Since the essence of life is the digestion of food, and since digestion is a slow, chemical combustion - food is consumed as "fuel" - the imagination, confronted with these strange plants, might conjure up a picture of plants which extracted oxygen and perhaps hydrogen from the soil, in a chemical combination which created actual heat. Such a plant would burn anything it touched. And as Thongor watched, the ropy, vine-like tendrils of the monstrous plants stirred with a serpent-like groping motion. All along their tendrils the flaming blosoms turned, blindly seeking flesh to char and wither.

Now the shaman decides to rip Sumia's clothes off before daubing her with the red pigment. This is the last straw for Thongor. He bursts free from his ropes, grabs the shaman and throws him to the fire-flowers. Then he single-handedly defeats all the Beastmen in about half a page, leaving him face-to-face with Kogur!

Mano a mano. Man against beast. Fists cracking into jaws etc. Sumia is rather enjoying watching this testosterone-fest, with Thongor's savage black mane flying about his shoulders and so on.

Then suddenly Mugchuk grabs Thongor from behind, so tht Kogur can strangle him. Thongor's about to die, and thinks "ah well, it was a good fight anyway" when suddenly some arrows are shot into the village and kill all the remaining Beastmen! Thongor quicky frees his companions, just as soldiers enter the village - it's the Guards of Thurdis!


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