In the dead of night

Rathen and Bulo camp out after their first day of travel. The nightmares continue of the foul creature haunting his mind. I tried to create it as eerie as possible. In the end, I thought there was a better way to introduce this into the story. I cut it out but still like this scene.

Rathen awoke to the sound of movement. He remained motionless and slowly reached for his sword. Grasping the handle and getting a firm grip, he carefully opened his eyes so as not to give away the fact that he was awake. The firelight was dim and the flames danced wildly about casting shadows that appeared almost as ghosts in the night. The air was cold against his exposed skin, very cold.

The sound came again close to his feet in the direction of the fire. In the corner of his eye, a shape came into view. A head, a large head. His first thought was that they were being robbed by orcs or even an ogre. The light flicked across the face enough to illuminate the outline and the hairline. It was Bulo! Why was he crawling so close to the ground?

“Bulo, what is it?” Rathen asked in a whispered voice. “Are we under attack?”

There was no answer as Bulo inched closer to Rathen. He thought Bulo was working on getting as close to him as possible in order to be able to fight back to back, possibly meaning that Bulo thought there were greater numbers.

Rathen fought away the feelings of panic and tried to look around the camp with his head as still as possible. Nothing. Apparently the attackers were still concealed.

Bulo inched closer but without movement from his arms or legs as if he was slithering along the ground. What the hell?

“Bulo!” Rathen said in a slightly raised voice.

There came no answer from Bulo as he inched forward towards Rathen’s face. The camp fire sparked up with a hiss as it became brighter. Bulo’s face was clear now, his eyes were empty. No, they were dead! An overwhelming panic surged through Rathen as he realized that his attacker was not out of sight hiding in the shadows, but was now almost face to face with him. He had let his defenses down and now he was in trouble. It was strike now, or not at all!

Rathen slide the sword from the sheath, twisting his body with the swing he generated torque strong enough that landed directly on Bulo’s large shoulder cutting deep at an angle. The blade stopped at the base of Bulo’s neck but there was no reaction. There was no blood.

The fire suddenly engulfed itself in a giant blaze sending up flames high in the night. Rathen could see well Bulo’s face where he had cut him to the neck. Rathen tried to wrestle the sword from Bulo’s body but it did not move. It was stuck in the horrendous wound. Rathen tried to stand up but was unable to move as if there was someone holding down his body from above. He could only look straight into the ghostly eyes of his good friend he had just cut his sword into.

“Raathennn….” a hissing voice came out of the mouth of Bulo.

The wraith, Rathen realized. No! Had it consumed Bulo’s body?

The campfire popped loudly and went brighter as if someone threw a bucket of oil onto it. From the fire, another hiss. The hiss grew louder “ssssss Raathennn”.

The voice sounded as if it were coming from the fire but the lips on Bulo’s pale face moved to them.

Feeling sorrow for his dead friend and fear for himself, he looked upon Bulo’s face as he laid there motionless.

“There iss more to fear than me”, the voice hissed.

As words were spoken from Bulo’s dead lips, his face started to shift, his skin started to boil. The skin started to drip from his face, his lips, still hissing, slid down his chin and onto the ground. His eyes bubbled into liquid and ran down his face that was now mostly bone. With nothing but a skull and what was left of his hair on top of his head, Bulo’s mouth began to hiss louder as his eye sockets sparked two fine points of red lights within.

What the hell was he looking at, Rathen’s mind raced as he continued to struggle to free his sword. The campfire become brighter and brighter as the skull hissed louder and louder. The light become too much to bear, shutting his eyes, he tried to twist his body and kick his feet.

Suddenly the noise stopped and his body moved again. Rathen opened his eyes to the bright sunlight above. Sitting up as quickly as he could, he saw Bulo holding a pan of sizzling meat over the campfire. Was it all a dream?

Enter Porkus

Setting: Rathen and Bulo are sitting at a table with Selven in Gunther’s Tavern talking about finding a member of Selven’s Guild. A large man named Porkus had fallen in the tavern threating to return to get the money for his injuries.

Suddenly, the doors to the tavern were thrown open, three men turned around quickly in their chairs.

“I told you I’d be back!” Porcas shouted out. He stepped in with two big men on each side of him who looked like thugs hired off the street. “If you don’t pay me the twenty gold I spent healing myself I’ll take it out of your place!”

Rathen, Bulo and Selven remained sitting at their table but were now on the edge of their seats ready for anything.

“I told you I ain’t paying for your own clumsiness!” Gunther shouted as he came in from the back room behind the bar.

Rathen quickly sized up the situation. The two big men were not armed but were rather large and looked like they could handle their own and obviously Porcas was big with less muscle. Looking over at the other two, Bulo remained calm in his seat as if he were watching a play while Selven seemed to be a bit nervous reaching under his tunic to where Rathen could see he had a dagger tucked away. Rathen felt confident he could fend one off while Bulo worked on the other one.

“If you ain’t paying then this place will be torn down! Do it!” Porcas shouted pointing to his two henchmen. One of the henchmen picked up a bar stool and slammed it against the bar making a loud wood on wood smack. The stool shattered into pieces.

As the man slammed the stool over the bar, Bulo jumped up, and like a charging bull was halfway to the group before Rathen had the chance to even stand up. It was apparent Bulo had been anticipating trouble while he sat so calmly. Rathen noticed Selven slowly duck under the table.

Porcas glanced over to Bulo approaching, “This ain’t your fight so stay out of it, or else.”

Bulo reached the group and stopped, “Thanks for the warning. Now here’s your warning. I’m giving you three seconds to get you and your men out of this tavern or I am throwing you out!”

“Get’em!” Porcas yelled.

Rathen closed on the group and selected the henchman he wanted to subdue. He waited for the right timing to attack.

The henchman that busted the stool over the bar charged Bulo. Immediately, Bulo dropped down in his stance Rathen had become familiar with. The henchman swung his fist wildly with great force. Bulo ducked under the swing charging the henchman. When they collided, the henchman was knocked back a few feet stunned. Bulo took the opportunity to reel back and punch the henchman in the face. The henchman dropped down to his knees with his hands over his face.

“My nose!” he screamed.

Rathen closed quickly on the other henchman but as the henchman noticed Rathen approach, he carefully positioned himself behind Bulo.

“My nose!” The man on his knees screamed again.

With Bulo’s attention adverted the henchman behind him quickly charged and hit Bulo with a furious punch to the back of his head. Rathen cursed himself for letting him get the better of Bulo before he could get to him.

The punch was fierce but did not seem to faze Bulo. Bulo slowly turned around to face his attacker who now backed away. “Hitting a man in the back, huh?”

Rathen saw that fire in Bulo’s eyes he had seen during the Taklar orc battle. Please don’t let Bulo kill this man!

“How hard can you hit a man from the front?” Bulo challenged the thug.

During this confrontation, Rathen saw Porcas moving toward Gunther. Rathen quickly made his way there.

“Come on! Punch for punch! Let’s see who wins. You got first punch.” Bulo challenged him with his arms straight out to his sides.

The henchman looked around quickly and charged Bulo with a punch to his face. The punch moved Bulo’s head slightly and would certainly have put a normal man down.

Without a flinch, Bulo shouted “And now it’s my turn.” Bulo moved toward the henchman who was obviously not willing to let Bulo hit him. He backed up until he hit the wall behind him. When he hit the wall and stopped moving, Bulo let off a massive punch that hit the man’s face with a sound like a plank of wood hitting a side of beef. With the force of the punch the henchman’s head hit the back wall and his body slumped down to the floor.

Rathen walked over and stood between Porcas and Gunther and stared him down.

“I ain’t leaving until I get my twenty gold!” Porcas shouted.

Without even cleaning the blood off his fist, Bulo walked over to Porcas, “Oh you’re leaving alright.” Bulo walked behind Porcas and placed his right arm under his neck and locked in a choke by reaching his left arm around the other side. Bulo pulled him back away from Rathen. Porcas went to the ground but Bulo dragged him on his back to the door in the chokehold. Porcas’s weight was not a challenge for Bulo. Rathen rushed over to open the door for Bulo who continued taking him out.

Outside Bulo released his grip. “And if you ever come back, you will end up like your thugs!”

There was no response from Porcas, he laid in the dirt coughing from the pressure of the chokehold.

Bulo walked back inside and Rathen started to close the door. “Keep it open.” Bulo said and he picked up the man who was still on his knees holding his face with a handful of blood. Bulo gently pulled him to his feet and slowly walked him outside. Once back in the inn Bulo called out, “Rathen, can you lend me a hand?” and walked toward the henchman on the floor.

“Sure,” Rathen responded thinking to himself that was the first time he has ever heard Bulo ask for help from him.

Together they picked up the unconscious henchman and walked him out the door. They laid him next to Porcas who was still lying there coughing. Bulo laid him down and walked back inside the inn. Rathen took a few seconds to check the man’s heartbeat and breathing just to make sure he was not dead. While his bloody face had been split open and even had what appeared to be a broken cheekbone, he was alive.

Walking back in the inn, Rathen found Bulo helping Gunther clean up the mess the henchman made. A small welt could be seen under Bulo’s left eye from the punch he received.
Selven approached Rathen from under the table where he had been hiding, “Uh, I’ll come back tomorrow evening and let you know what I find out.”

“Thank you,” Rathen replied.

Selven slowly approached Bulo, “Bulo” he spoke out. Bulo turned to face him. “You will always have a position as a member of the Adventurer’s Guild if you should ever choose to join.”

“Thank you!” Bulo replied. “I appreciate that.”

“You’re welcome,” Selven replied as he walked toward the door carefully stepping around a pool of blood on the floor…