Matt's Personal Log - Episode 16
Man, oh man, oh man. Well, I’m sitting here at the bottom of a cave system I’d’ve loved to have checked out with Lara – that is, if all of the blue bug people and the other monsters weren’t inhabiting it. Then again, she sometimes seems to like that kinda stuff, so maybe the monsters’d be a good thing with her. I don’t know, doesn’t matter. Anyway I’m getting ahead of myself.
Me and the rest of the guys got to Heorot after a hellacious ice-ship-skating journey. We had to climb a huge set of stairs leading to the hall, which of course were iced over, and since we were at the ‘shore’, winds were ferocious. A few of the group had to make several attempts to make the climb, especially since the Klingons that made it to the top first started throwing snowballs at those laggin behind. I don’t get it.
Awaiting inside the hall was the oldest Klingon I’ve yet seen (which of course means he’s probably the smartest one I’d ever seen, proven later when he retreated to the inner stronghold instead of staying to fight the beast with the rest of us idiots). After introductions, anothe rfeast ensued, during which I had the pleasure of getting totally blootered again on some fine Klingon mead. Probably shouldn’t have though, since we knew the beast would be showing up for a fight. Anyway, since everyone else was partying, who was I to say no?
So, after all the partying, drinking, and fighting (yeah Klingons fight with each other while partying, even when they’re getting ready for a war – probably weeding out the weak or some other nonsense), Karr was asked to outline the defensive strategy – a task made all the funnier as he told me he wasn’t a warrior but was instead an engineer. As it turned out though, no strategy or tactic would have mattered because the beast that showed up was basically Might Joe Young swinging a sword that woulda done Conan justice. I mean, this thing (person(?)) carved its way through us so fast I initially thought we were being attacked by a dozen or more of the things, not just the one! I must’ve seen three or four Klingons drop before I could even stand and pick up my own sword, but I threw myself into the fray as quickly as I could. (Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, but believe me, anyone in that hall that wasn’t fighting was dead anyway – well except for Tarak who was hiding out in the rafters.)
So I attacked and I think I scratched it, because the next thing I knew it had picked me up and threw me through the wall and down the slope to the frozen bay. The only reason I’m still alive after that was that the creature happened to throw me through the same hole that the Klingon he’d thrown a moment before made in the wall, thereby allowing me to avoid having multiple bones shatter. I found myself sliding across the ice before I knew it, and as I stood the ice beneath me started to crack. It’s forty below on this gods forsaken planet, and the ice is cracking under my weight. Do you have any idea how hot that makes the water underneath the ice? I don’t either, so I started running back up the hill.
As I clambered up the stairs, it came outside – I guess it’s arms were tired or something and it had decided to leave. Maybe it was bored. Anyway, I yell a challenge and throw myself at it, dagger in hand. I guess it blinked or something, or maybe my sheer lunacy confused it – whichever, I landed on its shoulders and stabbed it in the throat. My prize was a scream of outrage and pain issuing from the creature, and my chest swelled with pride and hope – which was short-lifed. The creature – wait, it just occured to me that I haven’t described this thing yet. Okay, it was taller than YunDarr, so say three to four four meters tall. It was stockier than the Wookiee though, kinda like it might’ve worked out. It was covered in shaggy black fur, and it’s head was almost catlike, with pronounced canines. And it’s gorilla-like arms ended in a clawed, six-fingered hands. I’m sure about the six fingers – I’d had time to count them just before it had thrown me down the hill. Okay, back to the battle – I had just stabbed this thing, so it’s response was to slam me into the ground. It drew it’s sword and hammered down at me, but I managed to evade it’s attack. By this time, the remaining warriors, including Karr caught up. Faced with fighting the seven of us and evidently bored at the prospect, the creature said goodbye and left. I waved goodbye in response.
We bandaged our wounds and egos. Some wounds were more horrendous than others: YunDarr had had his left arm ripped off and his entrails strewn across the floor. He yet lived, but whether that would continue would depend on the medical skills of a culture that still thought leeches and cattle urine was state-of-the-art cutting-edge science. Still, YunDarr’s wounds weren’t the worst. In a fit of macabre humor, the beast had apparently ripped off Karr’s ‘manhood’, slapped him with it, and then swallowed it in front of him. Karr was still wandering around in a daze – I don’t know if suicide is accepted among Klingons, but it anyone had a reason to do so…
We gave our report to Hrothgar (he’s the old, smart Klingon I mentioned earlier, and the king of Heorot). He sent us to see the witch, who happened to live down the mountain about seven miles away; most of us took skis. The witch lived in a cave and apparently spent most of her time swimming in her pool of lava. I know this because, when we got there she climbed out of the pool totally starkers – she was absolutely gorgeous, despite the fact that she had no hair whatsoever, a side effect I suspect of swimming in super-heated rock.
She asked us a few questions and passed out some party-gifts; I got a new sword out of the deal, a blackened saber she called ‘Night Bringer’. She said it would bring death to my foes, which confused me, as it wasn’t called ‘Death Bringer’. And as I write this a thought occurs to me – I wonder if she meant ‘night’ with a ‘k’, or ‘Knight Bringer’. Still just as confusing a name, but maybe she meant a ‘Knight’ would be the death of the creature?
I guess I should also mention the part where she told those of us who were wounded to swim in the lava and be healed. Being wounded myself, I started to strip down, but kinda got slower as I realized what I’d just been asked to do. Before I could finish my thoughts, Karr jumped in. His howls of agony had me getting re-dressed, but then he stood and walked out; all of his wounds had been healed. Me and the other wounded followed suit – yes, it hurt! Really. Really. Tarak then made the mistake of bragging how he hadn’t been injured in the fight, so I made as if to throw him in – Karr helped, but apparently didn’t know I was joking, ‘cause the next thing I knew was Karr had picked Tarak up and had thrown him into the lava! Tarak was screaming in actual agony while we watched helpless from the shore. He managed to get out of the lake – have I mentioned he’s a freak of nature yet? He was a mass of burned flesh, and his gear was destroyed. Karr told me he’d heal, and then left the cave. To my utter shock, Karr was correct – before we made it to the home of the monster, Tarak’s flesh was healed and as pink as a newborn, though his hair was still missing.
When we got to the cave system where the beast made its lair – we were given directions by the witch, I don’t think I mentioned that part – we scouted around and eventually found a likely entrance. Twelve of us made the journey. We moved quietly through the caves – well, as quietly as Klingons in full battle gear can move – and eventually found ourselves on a ledge overlooking a congregation of blue-skinned, bug-eyed ‘people’. They were in the midst of some sort of ceremony, probably religious, when our youngest warrior decided we should attack. Karr stopped him, and the two started arguing. As their voices grew louder and louder, I came to the conclusion that standing there was a mistake, so I made my excuses and left, deciding I’d stand a better chance on my own.
I went back through the caves, intending to check out one of the side passages we’d passed on our way to the ledge. Eventually, the rising Klinognese fell behind and I traveled for a time in quiet. Some time later, I saw a light. Approaching cautiously, I came to the entrance into a cavern, through which I saw several of the blue-skinned aliens beating on something with clubs. Taking a cue from a movie I’d once seen, I approached whilst making a high-pitch keening. I’d hoped to chase them off, but all I accomplished was getting them to back off a few steps as they looked at me curiously. (Mental note – don’t take all of your heroic cues from the movies.) The mound they’d been beating on turned out to be the young Klingon warrior (I’ve been calling him Half-Nub, as I don’t know his name). I helped him up in time to run away with him as the mass of blue insect people chased us back through the tunnels. Half-Nub was in the lead but I yelled directions to him, hoping to rejoin the group we’d both come there with. My sense of direction was true – we found the ledge, only it was empty of Klingons. As we arrived, Tarak was just climbing back onto the ledge from below. I knew he had rope and I knew the horde was behind us, so I tackled Tarak, taking him over the ledge and the both of us to safety.
That’s when I found out he’d free-climbed – in other words, no rope.
We hit the ground 10 meters below us – luckily, he broke my fall. I got to my feet as Half-Nub hit the ground beside me. The three of us were able to get to our feet and take off running again, this time deeper into the tunnel system.
I’m going to take a moment here to mention that running through caves and such while being chased by an alien horde while on a quest to slay an evil beast that is terrorizing a countryside is something I’ve read about since I was young. It’s everything I’ve always imagined it would be, except with more pain involved.
So, we’re running through the tunnels and of course we hit a dead end – this one’s another ledge overlooking a drop into a mist-shrouded abyss. Below us, through the mist, dark shapes move. The horde is quickly approaching, preceeded by it’s howls of anger and hunger. Half-Nub immediately stands at the entrance, preparing to fight for our lives. Tarak immediately climbs the wall of the cavern, heading upward to the shadows and personal safety. I start to move to back Half-Nub’s play when a woman’s scream comes from the mist-covered depths.
I asked Half-Nub if he’s got things handled to which he screams his war cry. I took this for assent so I leapt into the chasm, aiming for one of the dark shapes moving through the mist. I expected to find a flying creature of some sort, one which I could guide to the woman I heard screaming below. Instead, what I found was the dark shape was a shadow cast by some light below moving past rock formations. When I ‘hit’ the shadow I’d aimed at, I of course passed through it like the mist it was – my screams joined the woman’s who I had made the leap for. My screams were cut short as I plunged into an icy subterranean river.
Breaking the surface, sputtering like a half-drowned cat, I wiped my eyes clear to see a rowboat passing by. The woman’s screams were coming from it! I swam quietly (I swear), and eventually caught up. In it I could see six Klingon rowers, and a beastial female biting great gobbets of flesh out of a screaming woman. I grabbed the gunwales and climbed aboard, and before anyone could act, I’d drawn my new saber and clunked the beast-woman across the temple, knocking her senseless. I then lopped off her head, and was turning with a smile to the Klingons I’d just freed from servitude. So it was with a little shock that, as I turned, I saw them rising to their feet and drawing weapons that I hadn’t noticed. So I did the only thing I could think of: I grabbed the girl and dove overboard, swimming for a shore I could only hope was there.
We reached it, but as I carried her out of the water, the Klingons started shooting arrows at us. One caught me in the side and another grazed an arm, but I managed to get to a defendible position among some rocks before the Klingons could land the boat and disembark. With an arrow in my side, I watched the six warriors leave the ship, and I decided on my course of action – I hid. Yes, I hid. I was wounded, and there was SIX of them! Of course I hid. And it worked. They got no closer than twenty feet or so, and luckily the unconscious girl wasn’t making any noise. They eventually wandered away, and I was able to relax for a moment, before attending to the arrow in my side and girl’s wounds. By the time I was finished, I was exhausted, wet, and hungry, and all I wanted to do was sleep.
That’s when I heard the scream and splash. Of course. I looked in time to see Karr surface and then sink again. He was still wearing his armor (I didn’t mention that I’d taken mine off shortly after entering the caves due to the heat of the cave system – it was like a sauna in here). So Karr was sinking, and would drown, if I didn’t do something. I took a moment to think about it, and then I ran and dove to save him. I managed to find him and cut off his heavier pieces of armor, and then was able to get him to the shore. He eventually came to, and I half-carried, half-dragged him back to my little ring of rocks where the girl still laid unconscious. When we got there, I noticed black veins appearing all over Karr’s face and body – luckily I remembered the vial of poison antitode the witch had given him. I poured it down his throat, and since the veins disappeared, I’m guessing that was the right thing to do.
We’re resting up now, preparing to find a way out. I’ll need to find something to wear in order to leave. My shirt is now bandaged covering the three of us, and I’ll never survive the trip back to Heorot without one. It’s quiet now, and I’m trying to keep my eyes open. More to follow if I can stay alive.