Another extract from the same, similarly titled, huge piece that will probably never see the light of day in its entirety. Enjoy!
FANTASY FARCE: On a Pig Hunt
‘Gretchen, it’s still dark outside. Surely I need to be able to see our quarry in order to shoot it.’ Burr stumbled down the rickety tavern steps, ricocheted of a dozing horse’s bottom and landed face down in the muddy and empty street. The elven hunter, who was casually checking her fletches, rolled her eyes and sighed.
‘I told you we were getting up early’ she began, in that slow, monotonous droning Burr had come assume was how all elves spoke. ‘The best hunting is at dawn and dusk. And It is going to take us a while…well, you a while, to waddle out to the forest.’
The fat man lifted his grimy head from a puddle ‘But I’m still half drunk! All the delicious woodland creatures will hear me a mile off!’
‘And smell you…’ said Gretchen, soothing the startled horse. ‘Well it’s your own fault. I told you to get an early night. But instead you squandered the last of your time and coin on filthy rot gut and filthier floozy’s.’
Burr had managed to get a leg up under himself and was just gearing himself for the final heave toward verticality ‘Hey, I am a man!’ he panted. ‘A roguish, alpha-bull! I need to range and strut about my territory hollering and such…’
‘Quite. I am not sure I agree with any part of that statement, however this is precisely one of the reasons why we are out here in the first place. You have never slain anything wilder than a bacon sandwich. From adolescence, pauper or prince, my kin learns to track, kill, clean and cook his or her own food. And nothing goes to waste.’
Exhausted, Burr gave up trying to right himself and elected merely to fall sideways in the foetus position with a wet splat. Wheezingly, he rejoindered ‘Well back where I’m from all a young buck needs in order to provide for himself is a smartphone and the Just Eat app. either that or a conveniently localized fridge and microwave.’
‘I did not really understand a thing you just said, Burr’ exhaled the elf, leading the charge back toward the prone fatman. ‘But I highly doubt it was worth listening to anyway’. The horse still had its saddle on and the elf made Burr take one of the stirrups in his grubby, pudgy hand. ‘But put it this way, Lumpling, if you want to travel with the rest of us and have even a slim chance of getting back to your own world then you need to learn some basic bush craft and survival skills. And fast.’ She whispered something in the, now docile, creature’s ear and it slowly moved forward straining against Burrs weight.
When the fat man was finally righted, the elf whipped the saddle off the sweating horse and laid it over a bannister on the tavern porch. She kissed the horse’s nose and said something delicate in its ear with a smile. The beast whickered and tossed its mane about, apparently pleased.
‘Y’know, that’s the first time I’ve ever seen you smile, Gretchen.’
‘I have never known any reason to smile around you, Pigboy. Now get a move on, the dawn is breaking.’
The forest loomed dark and foreboding ahead of the duo as their track wound uphill to greet it.
Closer to the tree line Gretchen stopped and sniffed cautiously. ‘Oh my,’ she sighed like petulant teenager. ‘Stupid humans. Try and keep it together Burr were about to be waylaid.’
‘What? But I’m still half asleep, I’m not ready yet!’ he whined. ‘I mean, how can you tell? Who the hell would be out here at this ungodly hour?’
‘Well us. And muggers, of course. Approximately six of them. And one huge dog. All armed, unwashed and unkempt apart from their well-oiled armaments. Thankfully none of them have bows.’
‘Wow, you can tell all that just by their scent?’
‘Why yes, Lardling. That and the fact I can see them up ahead in the dark. Now don’t do anything stupid. Just let me handle this.’
A gangly, bearded man with an eye patch stalked out of the shadows with a confident gait and blocked their path. The bandit looked most smug as he idly patting his sheathed sword against his leg. His lackeys formed a loose circle around their prey, hungrily looking them up and down and fingering daggers in their belts. Next to the sneering leader a large, burly, unshaven, sweaty man was struggling to maintain control over the biggest most ferocious hazel-brown mastiff Burr had ever seen.
When it barked, which was often and bowel wobblingly disconcerting, the ground shook and Burr could feel the shock wave of sound passing through his quivering flesh. The emittance was cavernous and echoed around the woods up ahead and the village back behind them. It was like an angry god of thunder trapped in a rather uncomfortable and cramped cave.
‘Evening lady, evening squire,’ leered the leader through missing and blackened teeth. ‘Have about you any coinage or goods of value? What say you toss them over here, then both our parties will safely be on their way, eh?’
‘No good. No coin. No job!’ spluttered a trembling Burr.
The bandit cocked an eye brow at the fat man as if astonished the thing he was looking at could even speak. His attention returned to the elf, who was stood completely at ease with her arms folded and her bow still neatly on her back.
He went on, ‘No trees for you to hide in here my lovely little forest nymph. Only way out is through us’ then he paused and made a lopsided grin to his colleagues. ‘Either that or on us…’ he let the sentence hang in the air for a few moments. His colleagues cackled and caroused at his wit as is a henchman’s want.
The elf, always calm stepped in front of the quaking Burr and said conversationally, ‘What a beautiful dog. Prey, what is her name?’ She couldn’t help but note that the monstrous canine actually looked quite dishevelled and with quite a few ragged lesions down its flanks; but never the less the animal was fatally aggressive and had ropey lengths of saliva flopping and swinging from its cavernous maw.
The thugs looked in amazement from this seemingly suicidal elf, to one another then the angry, noisome dog.
The leader rounded with a wicked cracked grin, ‘Killer, by name… Killer by trade’.’
The snarling dog immediately barked and reasserted itself against its chain. The sweaty man re-adopted his pose, leaning back at almost a forty-five degree angle, to keep the monster at bay. The muscles on the animals back and shoulders were erupting and quivering through its short fur. Gretchen didn’t even blink.
Burr closed his eyes tight shut and whimpered as quietly as he could.
‘That’s preposterous’ said the hunter flatly. ‘I would have thought Willow or Poppy would have suited her more closely.’
The gang erupted into harsh, flinty, course laughter and jibes that would make a pervy sailor blush. Burr allowed a little more urine to trickle down his inner thigh.
‘It not a girl!’ barked the leader astounded, but with a tiny hint of apprehension.
‘Quite.’ Returned Gretchen with a quizzical raised eye brow. Seemingly insensible to the danger, she knelt down to the dog – palms up and open, and the barking turned to a long drawn out growl. The congregation was swept into a disconcerting silence.
‘Been waiting in ambush for very long gentlemen?’ continued the elf lightly, even though her face was less than a foot away from a set of chops that could swallow her head whole. ‘Anxious? No means by which to vent your pent-up adrenaline? Merely whiling away your time fiddling with your weapons and making idle threats? Little doggies are most sensitive to that sort of…stewing…’
One of the men behind our heroes, with a snivelling nasal voice piped up, ‘Bugger this, let’s just cut ‘em down and be gone. It’s almost mornin’!’
The growling had ceased and now the monstrous dog actually laid down and elicited a curious pining sound toward the elf.
The thugs glared down, wide-eyed at their pet. The leader even went so far as to kick the whining animal. ‘Git back ‘ere!’ he roared, bringing everyone out of their reverie. The dog was back on all fours in an instant and began its protracted, undulating growl with renewed vigour. However, it has to be noted that all the while she gave her masters quick sideways glances-Unsure as to the state of union ship between the assembled people. ‘Now everyone shut up; and you two, gimme your loot!’
‘Erm, Gretchen, don’t you think we’d better just do as the nice gentleman says?’
‘I’m starting to lose my patience, Girly. And Buffer here is starting to lose his grip on Killer. So if you want to leave here still a maiden and your fat friend wants to remain in one flabby piece then I suggest you hand over your valuables, sharpish!’
‘Burr? Said Gretchen, as if to a slow child. ‘Do yourself a huge favour and get down on your knees would you? There’s a good lad.’
After a couple of attempts Burr managed to get down on one shaky knee. The elf’s expression soften and she cocked her head and beheld Killer in a most gentle gaze. She sighed softly, soothingly and breathed something incomprehensible. The ferocious growling died away. Killer licked her lips then gently sat down on her hind quarters matching the elf’s look expectantly and with a fresh cascade of slobber.
‘Truth is gentlemen, Poppy here isn’t very happy. What’s more is, she’s very, very confused…’
‘Gretchen, please, this isn’t helping…’
‘…of course, dogs are most loyal…up to a point…’
‘I suggest you listen to your pet pig Darling or else things are about to get real nasty…’ the rest of the band closed in around the hapless duo, hands on knife hilts.
But now, Gretchen’s voice became louder and more assertive and her narrowing eyes slowly rose to meet the gang leaders’. ‘I am not sure what your game is o’ venerable gentlemen and undoubtable lords of the night streets, but it appears you haven’t the slightest inkling as to canine psychology and physiology…’
The gang leader shoulders slumped, exasperated. ‘Right, that’s it…no more talk…’
‘…You seem to be blissfully unaware that, although evidently the animal is exuding and exhuming warning pheromones and displaying physical traits in accordance with threats being present and that violence is surely imminent, SHE is unsure as to whom the real threat to her is. And indeed, the true target of your vexation. In her mind…it’s her…’
‘…Enough! Get ‘er lads…’
‘…But all it’s going to take is one little distraction, one little unexpected turn out of left field, to make her take drastic action…’
It had been a really trying day for poor Poppy: she was hungry, cold, confused, very frightened and in pain. But more importantly, the moon light just shone across something in her peripheral vision that was uncharacteristically metal sounding, hard, twinkly and above all sharp. And it certainly didn’t come from the two subordinates prostrating themselves in front of her with their hands open and clearly empty.
Either way, she had had enough.
There was a flurry of movement and Burrs thought patterns went rather hazy, the dancing moonlight and silhouettes did nothing to help his perceptionary senses either. He heard growling and the slither of steel and he heard pained, constricted screaming; Punctuated rhythmically by the tell-tale signs of arrows loosed at short range into dense meat. He smelt blood, urine and faecal matter and he felt the elf back in to him in her crouched stance.
Although in the commotion he couldn’t understand a word she was saying to him in her monotonous, dull tone he knew, deep down in his core, that if he didn’t maintain his squatted position and back away from the carnage right in that moment he was going to die horrendously and in variously sized chunks.
Of all Burrs senses, it was his aural capabilities that returned to him first. The ponderous lapping of waves on a peaceful sandy shore. The odd rumble of a distant tropical thunder. Exotic birds twittering high above. The sway of leaves and branches caressing each other.
A hot, although rather fetid, breeze. Some grainy earth at his back and under his hands.
His heavy eyelids gradually peeled back to reveal the entirety of his vision occupied by a canopy of green leaves, perforated by shafts of light that burnt his retina. His head felt like it had been used as a rudimentary football and then used as a rudimentary toilet.
This rather relaxing and tranquil scene was then entirely eclipsed by a huge, dark shape and his face felt like it was being rubbed by a hot, frothy seal.
Reality finally poked a muscular, hot and sticky finger right through his bubble of consciousness and Burr realised he wasn’t anywhere near a nice sandy beach or a rumbling storm. But his face was in fact being lapped by a very, very big tongue. A very, very big tongue attached to an unfeasibly large, doggy-breathed mouth.
To be revisited soon.