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You can read the first 55% of this story for free; if you like it, you can read the rest for $2 (payable by paypal or credit card.)

[ Read more about author Neil Hartley ]



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Introducing Narg, grizzled hero of a thousand battles. His latest quest seems easy enough: Seek out and put an end to a menacing necromancer. However, things are rarely as simple as they first appear...


Narg and the Necromancers Tower.

by Neil Hartley

1. Quest.

Narg awoke with a hand over his eyes. He pushed it out of the way and groaned as sunlight replaced it.

Three of the maidens he had manfully abused the previous night were still sleeping, draped around him. He shoved them off and pulled himself to his feet. Staggering over to the large water bowl, he picked it up in both hands and tipped it over his head, drenching himself with ice cold water.

Thus refreshed he proceeded to use the same bowl as a receptacle for his overstretched bladder. The night before, he reflected groggily, had indeed been a worthy celebration for such a hero as he. Vast quantities of ale had been quaffed, wenches had been shown a good time, whether they liked it or not, and his fame had generally been enhanced with various tales of heroism. All liberally assisted with copious amounts of alcohol.

Basic necessities out of the way, he stumbled over to retrieve his clothing and equipment. He climbed clumsily into his under-tunic and then inspected the rest of his gear carefully. His life depended upon his equipment, and when it came to his life, Narg was anything but careless.

Satisfied the armor was in good condition, he strapped it on. Next his long sword, famously known as Bloodletter in the tales. Narg called it a Pain in the Ass most of the time. Being a magical blade it was instilled with a life and personality of its own, and it wasn't above preaching. Narg also suspected it was cleverer than he was. On a whim he pulled it half way out of the scabbard.

"Well well, look what stirs," Bloodletter said in a high pitched voice, calculated no doubt, to effect maximum nausea in the hung-over Hero. "If it isn't the famed drunkard Narb, slayer of a thousand innocent women and small furry animals."

"You're an overblown piece of scrap metal," Narg snarled back. "I've only killed one innocent woman, and you know perfectly well that was an accident. Who was the sword that cut her in half anyway? Eh?"

"Bah, I'm only the tool..." The sword was cut-off as Narg slammed it back into the scabbard, which nullified the weapons powers.

Feeling slightly happier at putting one over on the blade, Narg finished dressing and then stood back to admire himself in the room's mirror. He was, as befitted his profession and status, an imposing figure. A long dark tunic covered his mithril chain mail, hard won from a Wizards tower. Admittedly the wizard in question had been away at the time, but Narg still had to defeat several guardian beasts. His leather boots of Quiet Striding helped him maintain a stealthy reputation and, more importantly, dispatch enemies with a minimum fuss and effort when the opportunity arose. With the magical blade slung over his back, and his dagger and pouch of gigantic-holding filled with useful items at his waist, he was ready for the world.

It was just as well he decided this, because the door chose that very moment to be hammered upon in thunderous fashion.

"We're looking for a Narg," a rough voice shouted from the other side, showing no concern for Narg's headache.

"Stop that hammering you imbecile!" Narg yelled back, causing his head to throb more violently. He moved towards the door just as it was flung open to admit several large figures, clad in the black and red of the local militia. Unfortunately the first one ran straight onto Bloodletter, which promptly lived up to its name. Narg had instinctively drawn the weapon as the door burst open.

He pulled the sword free and stepped back as several more guardsmen entered, rather more cautiously than their unfortunate colleague it had to be said.

The skewered milita slumped to the floor to reveal a much smaller figure, dressed in robes.

"You morons!" the newcomer shouted. "I told you to knock gently! You can't just barge into a hero's room like that! Now look what you've done! Do you know how many forms I have to fill in if one you is killed?" He pushed his way into the room, stepped over the dying form and approached Narg, who lowered Bloodletter, slightly, as he approached.

Whoever the figure was, he was no coward. He walked right up to the fighter, totally ignoring the dripping sword.

"Lord Narg." He performed a slight bow. "I apologize for the interruption to your er, rest." He glanced at the naked flesh sprawled on the sleeping mat. "I am the Wizard Candelion, representing the town council. We had notice you were in town and, having heard of your formidable reputation, wondered if you would like to take an assignment from us."

Narg lowered the sword completely, though kept it unsheathed as he looked the Wizard over. Whilst he had battled several mages and lived to tell the tale, one had to be careful. The more powerful were formidable opponents, and fighters who went up against a prepared Wizard generally came in second. This one was dressed in a red robe with several pouches hanging from a simple belt around his middle. He didn't have a staff that Narg could see, but that didn't mean he was defenseless.

"I'm listening," he said.

"Good, I shall not go into detail here, but the town is currently facing a serious threat from a dark force in the mountains to the north. We are looking for a small band of heroes to counter the threat. You fall into that category."

"A group eh?" Narg rubbed at the stubble on his chin, making loud scratching noise. "I usually work alone. Still..."

"I assure you, the town would be sufficiently grateful for a successful campaign. We are not a poor community, and have many other assets," the Wizard waved his hand towards the last night's entertainment, "as you have already discovered."

Narg took a deep breath. "Mmm, it seems to be an acceptable proposition on the surface. Allow me to break my fast, and I shall be willing to hear more."

"Fair enough," replied Candelion. "Please visit the town hall when you are ready, we shall be expecting you." So saying, he gave another very small bow, and backed away several paces more before turning and leaving the room. The guards followed him, dragging their unfortunate companion behind them, leaving a nasty stain on the carpet.

"Aren't you going to clean me?" Bloodletter asked, speaking for the first time since the encounter. The blade had been strangely quiet during the exchange, which had escaped Narg's notice. He grunted and wiped the blade on the now ruined mat before sheathing it and heading down for breakfast.

The dining area was quiet and nearly deserted, the well used wooden tables standing empty. A strong smell of stale beer permeated the air, making Narg feel temporarily nauseas. The low fire in the fireplace just about fought off the autumn chill, while dull light filtered through thick glass windows. Only one other patron sat in the room, near the far wall, half eclipsed in the gloom.

Behind the counter the fat bartender was busy with a drinking glass, distributing the grime to a more even level with a filthy rag. "Sir Narg!" he exclaimed, seeing the fighter enter. He threw the cloth over his shoulder and beamed a sycophantic smile full of brown and yellow teeth. "How may I be of service this fine day?"

Narg sat down at a table with his back to the wall. "Mug of Morning Ale, something to eat," he grunted.

"At once sir!" The barkeep scurried to pull some beer, whilst simultaneously yelling back into the kitchen for a platter of food.

Narg drank deep of the ale as soon as it was set in front of him, rivulets of beer dribbling down his chin as he raised the tankard higher and higher until, belching enormously, he slammed it down empty. "Another!" he roared, sending the fat man scurrying away.

Wiping his mouth on the back of his sleeve, he glanced something out of the corner of his eye. The figure sitting at the far end of the room raised her mug and grinned at him. She was an ancient crone, dressed in a faded old red dress. Long gray hair dribbled untidily over bent shoulders, yet her eyes were bright and keen.

He frowned at her, and she chuckled to herself, drinking noisily from her tankard. Pushing his chair back, he stood up he strode over, to stand in front of her table.

"Have we met?" he asked.

"Oh yes indeed my little hero," she replied in a high pitched cackle. "We've met twice before, though once hasn't happened yet."

"I... see," said Narg, not seeing.

"Oh don't worry, it'll come back to you in time. Go and enjoy your breakfast. You're going to need your strength."

Frowning, he turned away and sat down once again. The barkeep soon appeared with a new drink and a platter of greasy dog. Narg bit into the meal, glancing occasionally at the old woman, who was eating her own breakfast with loud chewing sounds.

A short time later the woman stood up and hobbled towards the doorway, using on a twisted walking stick to assist her movement. She stopped by his table first though, leaning on the cane, and bent towards him.

"One word of advice, though I know you won't take it," she said.

"Go on," said Narg, spitting out pieces of dog.

"After the wall you cannot see, turn left."

"What wall?"

The crone raised a gnarly finger. "That's for you to find out. Fare thee well Narg, we shall meet again in a hotter place than this." With that cryptic comment she turned around and stumped out of the inn, cackling to herself all the while.

Narg sighed deeply, shook his head, and carried on eating.

*

His meal finally finished, Narg belched loudly, as good manners dictated, and stood up to leave. Striding out of the Inn he booted a dwarf who was sleeping in the hallway.

"Get out of the way short-arse," he shouted at it. "People are trying to walk here!"

"So... sorry sir" muttered the dwarf, and dragged itself to a small cubbyhole nearby.

"Bloody dwarves," he mumbled under his breath, "what next? Paladins?" He spat on the floor and left the building.

The `Bloodied Virgin' Inn was situated in a respectable part of town, and the roads reflected this. The street was cobbled and clean, with lamps in place for the darker hours. The local militia was in evidence too, patrolling up and down at regular intervals. Several guards looked at Narg closely as he passed, but none accosted him.

Even though Narg was new to the place he remembered passing the Town Hall the day before, a large building made of white stone, set in elegant gardens. He took a moment to get his bearings and then headed off in what he hoped was the right direction.

The town was, as the wizard had said, a fairly prosperous place. It was placed on a trade route between two other large and busy cities, and had enough coin to protect itself from the general banditry that was common in less heavily populated areas. Besides, even bandits needed somewhere safe to buy provisions. As a result Narg saw a variety of races going about their business, from hulking ogres to tiny imps. No one paid him more than a second glance, with the exception of a lone working girl out for some early trade.

Stopping only once to buy an apple from a market stall, he wandered the streets, enjoying an uneventful journey to the town hall. Finishing off the fruit, he walked up to the guards who were standing beside the main entrance.

"Name's Narg. Here to see some wizard, Dandelion or some-such."

"Hold," one of the guards grunted, his voice echoing from within his helmet. He turned away and spoke to someone just inside the doorway. A moment later a plainly dressed clerk emerged.

"This way please, Sir Narg," the man said, and set off. Narg followed without comment.

A short trip later, and he was standing in a large and well decorated hall in front of three councilors, who looked down upon him from behind a solid looking table perched upon a stone dais. One was Candelion the wizard, whom he had met at the inn. Sat beside him was a large man with an enormous black beard, and a huge hammer resting beside his chair. No doubt some sort of Cleric. The other was a thin but tall Elf, dressed in flowing white robes. He looked at Narg and wrinkled his nose, but otherwise said nothing.

Candelion rose to his feet as Narg entered. "Good hero, welcome, welcome! I am glad you could heed our call for champions."

"Cut the crap" answered Narg. "What's the deal?"

"Straight down to business, excellent." Candelion walked around the table and stepped down from the dais to floor level. "Our fair town is fairly well defended, and the main highways are patrolled, but of late a new menace has arisen. To counter this threat we have decided to enlist outside help."

Narg raised an eyebrow, but said nothing.

Candelion looked at the elf. "Perhaps our esteemed Spiderswill Dwarfeater could fill in the details...?"

The Elf sighed and looked at Narg. "Apparently some kind of Necromancer has set up shop in an old tower in the mountains. He has some sort of undead army gathering and we would like him stopped before it grows too large and becomes a major threat."

"Hmmm" said Narg, picking his nose. "Pay?"

"2000 gold sovereigns, plus three of our finest wenches, or bucks should you taste run that way, for two days. However, we have deemed it a task that should be undertaken not by one, but three or maybe four adventurers. You, as the famed hero, shall be the leader. We have taken the liberty of assembling a team of companions. Let me introduce them to you."

He waved his fingers at a clerk who was standing by another door. The servant opened it, and in strode a heavily armored human. He wore bright mail and had a huge two handed sword strapped to his back. Long golden hair flowed down over his shoulders and he strode with the knowledge that Righteousness was with him. He stopped and bowed in front of Narg, who stood with jaw agape.

"Theororus the White at your service, in the name of the True God Avantuss."

Narg turned to the council. "A bloody Paladin?" he screamed. "What makes you think I want one of these do-gooders nagging me about morality as I hack the undead apart? Do you know what a pain in the ass they are?"

"Good Sir Narg..." the Paladin began, but Narg cut him short.

"You! Close it!" He stalked closer. "You have any coin upon you?"

"I do not debase myself with material possessions," the Paladin replied haughtily. "The True God provides."

"Thought not. You really can't do anything with your kind you know." Narg half turned away, then paused. "Well maybe there is one thing..."

"What's that?" replied the knight.

There was a blur as Narg pulled Bloodletter from his sheath and turned back in one smooth movement. A high pitched shout followed, which was abruptly cut short. A moment later came the sound of two items, one small, one large, hitting the floor.

"Can't stand Paladins" said Narg conversationally, wiping his blade on the body before sheathing it. "Them and dwarves just get my back up they do." He performed a perfunctory search of the body, found nothing, and stood up with a sneer. "Never anything. Still, the armor may be worth a few coins if I can find someone to buy it."

He turned back to the council who were looking on in stunned silence. "It's usually blessed stuff you know, strictly Paladins only," he explained. "Mind you, I think I know a Dark Wizard down Skullkeep way that may want it. Does some sort of corruption magic with the stuff." He shrugged and brought his attention back to the business at hand. "Right then, who's next?"

The servant, who had gone a little pale, gestured at the doorway, and a well build man, dressed in plain but serviceable amour and sporting a mace, entered.

"Gorgus Headbasher at your service. Cleric." he puffed. "Adept in the turning of all manner of night creatures."

"Mmm, could be useful" muttered Narg. "Who else?"

Next came a small figure carrying a staff twice his height.

"Ho short stuff" said Narg. "What are you eh?"

"I," replied the Halfling, drawing himself up to his full height, which wasn't much, "am Shogun Longstrider. Wizard, 4th degree 3rd Element."

"So say ye," said Narg, but in a quieter tone. He looked at the two, standing side by side. The cleric would no doubt be useful against the undead. The wizard, the wizard now he wasn't sure about. Generally he distrusted mages. They were a little too clever for their own good.

He pointed at the mage. "You any good short stuff?"

Shogun swelled visibly. "I can fry your brains in your head, should you have any!" he replied with feeling.

Narg nodded. "Fair enough. You're in." He addressed them both together. "If we are to do this, then we should leave soon. How long do you need to be ready?"

"Tomorrow morn shall give me time to meditate and prepare," replied the cleric.

"The same for me," said the wizard.

"Very well Gorgus, Shogun I will see you early in the morning outside my inn."

The cleric bowed again and departed with no further conversation.

"Until tomorrow," the wizard said, and followed the him out of the chamber.

Narg turned back to the council.

"Very well," said Candelion. "You may report back to this council should you, I am sorry, when you are successful in your mission." He raised a hand in a gesture of dismissal.

Narg turned to leave but the cleric interrupted, speaking for the first time.

"Adventurer. You may wish to seek out our Militia chief before you go. He could equip you with some provisions, and perhaps more in return for a boon."

Narg nodded in acknowledgment and turned once more to leave.

The severed Paladin's head looked on with a shocked expression from where it lay on the floor.

*

Narg spent the day wandering around town and purchasing supplies for his upcoming journey until evening drew in, when he returned to the Inn once more for some rest and replenishment.

He entered the main room, which was crowded with patrons, and shouldered his way to a table at the back which he had made his own. There was a short man in merchants' clothes sitting there with another friend. Both looked up as Narg bore down upon them.

Narg gave them a Look, hand resting on his sword, and waited.

"Um.." the merchant said to his friend. "Maybe we should find another table." They both scrambled from their seats. Narg sat down without a word and gestured at the barkeep.

*

He was downing his fifth ale of the night when there was a sudden lull in the general volume of the bar. He looked up and saw the reason. Standing at the entrance, doors swinging shut behind her, stood a vision.

She was tall and slim, dressed in a figure hugging red dress which displayed more than it concealed. Her long dark hair flowed over bare shoulders, tumbled past a perfect neck and flowed with turbulent curls down her back. Her waist was slim and oh! So fit. Her legs were long and shapely, and her bosom!!! Beer dribbled down Narg's chin as his mouth fell open. Never in all his days of reveling, raping and rampaging had he seen such a fine chest, and he had seen a few.

The bar noise resumed a little, though most, no, all men, human or otherwise, had their attention on the figure as she slowly and sexily swayed forward into the common room. One drunken man stood up and made to approach her. There was a blur of movement as the woman's arm moved, and suddenly a long dagger was pressed up under the man's chin. Where she had found it was beyond Narg, as it wasn't there a moment ago, not in that dress!

Saying nothing the drunk backed away slowly. The dagger stayed in place, following him until his knees hit a bench and he went stumbling backwards onto his friend's table, sending ale in all directions. The laughter that action provoked broke the tension, and the volume once again rose to a more normal level.

The woman in red resumed her walk, dagger still in her left hand and, Narg soon saw, she was coming towards him! In the face of such a figure he suddenly felt like a greenhorn on his first rape. His mouth went dry and his knees shook. Then she was at his table. She stood before him, an image of lust in a red dress.

"Well?" she said.

Narg mentally slapped himself, forcing himself to speak. `Come on Narg,' he thought `you can do this!'

"Me Narg. You sit."

`Bravo.'

She pulled up a chair and sat on it backwards, legs akimbo. Narg stared deep into dark brown eyes and fell into a hole in the multiverse...

*

It was a little past midnight. The door to Narg's room burst open with a crash and Narg fell inwards, twisting in the air as he wrestled with the woman in red. Bodies grappled for position, mouths sucked, hands grasped.

They rolled on the floor, a frenzy of desire.

"Wait," she said, disentangled herself and sliding around to the other side of the bed. Narg pulled himself up and watched. She smiled; a smile of pure debauchery. Narg gasped in admiration, then again as she reached up and undid the dress. It slid to the floor in one smooth motion, revealing a body so superb, so perfect it nearly made him cry. She moved onto the bed on all fours, her magnificent bosoms swaying below in a hypnotic rhythm.

A hand, beckoning... summoning Narg. He struggled with his armor, trying his best to rid himself of this encumbrance and get to the image he saw in front of him. There was something stopping him disrobing fully. It was his sword belt, wrapped around him, holding Bloodletter's sheath on his back. He fumbled at the strap, eyes still fixed upon the figure. Finally he managed to undo the buckle and throw it off, dislodging Bloodletter from its sheath a fraction as it landed on the floor.

The final obstacle removed he started to move forward, the woman sat back, her breasts gleaming in the dim light with a thin sheen of sweat, her stomach taught. Further down...

... Narg clutched his head as a high pitched scream tore through his mind.

"NO Narg!" It was Bloodletter, freed from the restraints of his sheath. "LOOK!"

Narg looked again. The scene had changed in the blink of an eye. The woman, the image of desire, shifted. No longer a woman, but a she-demon; a Succubus. Her alluring smile now an evil, though still lustful, grin. Long white teeth grinned, ready to tear at flesh. Eyes no longer dark but red... reflections of the hell that had spawned her.

Shadows cloaked the room as the dark of the underworld surrounded them. Her hand, just a moment before beckoning, now became a grasping claw. Demon wings stretched up towards the room's low ceiling. A stench of brimstone filled the air.

With a shriek the demon launched itself at Narg, who jumped back to avoid the wicked claws. He was too slow to avoid her attack completely; three red lines appeared on his chest. Rolling back he kicked out with his feet. Her momentum carried her forward and with his kick she went shrieking head first into the small cupboard, smashing it to pieces.

It allowed him the few precious moments he needed to grab Bloodletter and regain his feet, just in time to see the Succubus launch herself at him again. This time though, he was ready. She may have been a Demon from the lower hells, but he was a Hero with a seriously magical sword. She was a Succubus, a kind who kills with stealth and allure, not in battle.

There was a blur of movement. Claws tore, but the blade bit, and bit deep.

Silence.

Slowly, the she-demon fell back as Bloodletter drank deep of her underworld blood. The spark of red in her eyes slowly died as she sank to the ground. For a moment, just a moment, Narg saw her as the woman again. She smiled a sad smile as if to say; `See what you missed?' And then she died.

*


 

Copyright © 2007 by Neil Hartley . All rights reserved unless specified otherwise above.


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