Almost every good story has a struggle between good and evil, with evil usually having the upper hand. Evil can be in the form of a vicious conqueror, an invading alien race or a dark, faceless syndicate. In this case, it was a pair of chickens. A pair of uncooperative, clandestine chickens. No really. You’ll come to understand later.
The city of Hogsend seemed to be a good place for Bo to begin his new career as a Treasure Hunter. His departure from the farm was looked down upon by this Uncle and Aunt who had taken him in at a very young age. His mother died at birth, and his father had been placed in prison for stealing horses. Working on the shared farm lands bred Bo into a broad-shouldered, husky young man. Called “Red Haus” by his family and friends, he was well liked as much for his good nature as his work ethic. However, “Red” wanted more. And when it came time, he set off on his own.
Now Red found himself browsing at the Armorer’s stall, comparing his new chain mail to the available wares. After some time, the proprietor’s hard gaze finally caused Red to turn and consider seeking out something to fill his belly. Instead, his attention was drawn to a ruckus at some nearby tents.
A mostly naked man, wild in the eyes, was running away from several angry pursuers. Red raised an eyebrow, surmising that from the strange assortment of loot in the madman’s arms that he was likely a thief. As Red watched, he realized that the madman thief shifted his path rapidly, and was heading directly towatds him. Caught off guard, Red raised his hands defensively seconds before the collision. The madman smashed into him, pausing only for a second before running away.
The young man shook his head, and laughed. And then suddenly, his heart sank. “My sword,” he shouted. He slapped at his empty sheath helplessly.
And so Red joined the chase with the odd troupe of other victims, chasing after the madman. As luck would have it, the final victim was a priest offering blessings to players entering the gambling tents. The madman collided with the priest, slowing just enough to allow Red to catch up with him.
Red launched himself forward, tackling the thief. Although Red was big, the thief’s stamina was fueled by his madness. Realizing that he had staggered the thief, Red started to pummel the madman with his meaty fists in an attempt to knock him to the ground. The last thing Red saw was the pommel of his own sword lurching towards his face. Then, everything went black. As he went down, Red could swear that he heard chickens squawking. How strange.
When Red woke up, the rest of the group was carrying on a conversation with the thief. Well, he wasn’t really a thief, but instead a Baron down on his luck. Really down on his luck. Apparently someone had killed him, and then assumed his identity through some kind of witchcraft. But apparently, he was raised from the dead by something called a cleric. But then the cleric was killed. It was all very confusing.
His Uncle had told him of witchcraft and magic, although he really didn’t understand how it could be possible. Red listened to most of the conversation, gathering that the Baron wanted them to get some kind of ring from a underground complex. He would have caught more of the details, but his attention was fixed on the strange assortment of folk around him. Especially the one holding a writhing knapsack holding two rather ill-tempered chickens.
So after awhile, Red joined his new friends on the quest to help the Baron. Apparently something called a Doppleganger was the chief foe, a mythical creature able to assume the likeness of others … in this case the Baron.
They traveled to a cluster of trees near the Baron’s manor. Finding the entrance to the dungeon was easy enough, what with all the other people who did the searching and finding part. Red just stood around and watched. He kept an eye on the odd fellow with the chickens, and made sure to keep his trusty guard dog, Viceroy, close in case of danger.
Entering the dungeon, through a secret doorway embedded in a large tree, Red used one of his torches to provide a source of light. He took the lead, and kept his shield at the ready fully expecting terrible beasts to leap from the shadows at ant moment. Strange creatures indeed must lay ahead. I mean, who puts a door in a tree anyway? Odd and cruel beings, that’s who!
The odd fella with the chickens took out from feed, and coaxed the chicken to enter the room before the group. Apparently, the chicken was meant to be a patsy for any murderous intent that might be lingering in the darkness ahead. Nothing exciting happened, other than the chicken strutted around and made a lot of noise. Stupid chicken.
Entering into a large room, Red noticed that one of the walls was made completely of thick glass. Dark shapes lingered beyond the glass. He gave it a wide berth at first, but was coaxed closer by the priest. Giving his new companion a second torch, they stepped closer to the glass wall.
They saw that it was some kind of odd display with three bird-like beings posed in an elegant manner. Raising an eyebrow, Red watched as the others looked around for a concealed entrance to the room with the bird-men. He glanced at the chickens again, fully reminded that he could be hanging out at the farm filling his belly with a home cooked meal instead of rummaging around in the musty darkness with this motley crew.
After a little while, Red agreed with the others that it was time to move on. The priest suggested the left hand door leading north. This door led into a large round room mostly taken up by a big, muddy pool. In the midst of the mud was some badly rusted armor and a fancy looking sword. It almost seemed that the sword gleamed in the torchlight.
The man with the chicken seemed to think it was a good idea to toss the ornery thing into the pool for some reason. Maybe it had something to do with some other kind of poultry witchcraft. The chicken refused, of course, and ended up causing a ruckus at the edge of the pool. The odd man started chasing his chicken, trying to herd it into the water. The priest gave chase as well. Within seconds, Red was watching something that seemed like it should be happening at the fairgrounds in the Bazaar, not a dungeon. Not being a part of the nonsense, Red stepped back by the door to make sure that nothing nefarious was sneaking up on them from behind. After all, those damned chickens were loud as the Hells.
Suddenly, the chicken ran between the priest’s legs and there was a loud splash as the man fell roughly into the muck. Red could have sworn that he saw the chicken crack a sinister grin. Not possible, right? Chickens can’t smile can they? As the priest sat in the mud, the chicken did sort of a victory dance at the water’s edge. The other chicken started to made a lot of noise, almost seeming to cheer in sinister satisfaction.
Red started to laugh, but not for long. Suddenly, the mud began to move as if by magic. The mud formed into the shapes of men, and started to hurl balls of mud at the priest. There was a flurry of activity and someone tossed Red the end of a rope. “Pull!” someone shouted, so he did. All of the excitement had the big guy dazed for a moment. Red realized that they were making a group effort to pull the priest away from the mudmen and out of the pool. This plan proved fruitless as the mudmen pelted him with mud, and the rope broke in half.
Red rushed forward and did his best to put himself between the priest and Mudmen. We was aware that someone was shooting arrows at their enemies as well, but his focus was keenly on the advancing monsters. He was pelted with mud, fighting off the creatures who literally flung themselves at him as living weapons. He helped to carry the priest to safety at the pool’s edge. A powerful slash of the sword from the pool, tossed to him by the priest before he fell, splattered and destroyed one of the mudmen. Red kept trying to fight them off, taking steps backward to get out of the pool.
As Red finally exited the pool, the mudmen seemed to lose interest and slowly returned to their quiet slumber. As the others helped the priest remove the hardened mud from his body, Red started to break away the rapidly hardening mud from his own body.
He cast a look at the chickens, and frowned. He shook his head, and mumbled under his breath. “Damn chickens.”
Read more about the adventures of Red and his crew at Epic Words.