HellCraft: The Drunken Bard's Edition

by Stephen van Ham

Credits

Actually, I think you're meant to put the credits at the end of the tale.  Too bad.  Just pretend I've already finished the story as you read this, and you'll be fine.

A lot of people made this piece of fiction what it is. First of all, thanks to Steve Dong for writing the original "HellCraft."  It's an excellent tale.

Secondly, I'd like to thank Dalai Lama for this superb tales, as well as pretty much every AGD post he's ever written.  Dalai, your humour has gotten me through many a writer's block.

A credits section wouldn't be complete without mentioning Rob.  He penned the bizarre tales "Unlikely Heroes of Tristram" and "The Lord of the Barrels" and is now wowing us with "Diablo's Curse."  Go read UHOT and TLOTB at Aberrant Fantasies (http://www.eccentrix.com/artist/rob/).   They're long, but well worth your time.

Finally, thanks to anyone who ever wrote back saying that my tales don't completely suck.  Ald and Handy_Solo in particular spring to mind here, but to everyone else who's ever written "SPOT," "SBPP" and the like - cheers.

One more thing:  When you start reading, you may begin to think "wow, this is incredibly cheesy."  Don't worry - it's meant to be  :-)

Disclaimer

Profanity and nudity contained herein.  If you're young of age or heart, or just plain easily offended, please go read something a little more ... cultured.  I hear "Bambi" and "Doctor Seuss" are real page turners.

Introduction

"HellCraft: The Drunken Bard's Edition" is based upon the story HellCraft by Steve Dong.  HellCraft was originally published as a serial to the alt.games.diablo newsgroup during 1998 and 1999.  It is an original story based on characters and situations created by Blizzard Entertainment.   "HellCraft: The Drunken Bard's Edition," on the other hand, is a completely unoriginal tale looking to ride upon the successful coat tales of it's older sibling.... (HellCraft) is a great story.  In contrast, "HellCraft: The Drunken Bard's Edition" isn't.  A great story, that is.  In fact, it sucks like a high powered vacuum cleaner.  Oh well.

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Prologue: Mr. Mojo Fallin'

A wizard had come to save them all.  No one knew much about him, and, quite honestly, no one really cared.  He answered to the name "Mojo" or "Mr. Mojo," and he'd babbled something about being a wizard from the House of Risin.   Ogden, watching as the wizard had thrown back one ale after another, had decided that the old man was a crack pot, and the sooner a pack of hungry monsters turned him into sushi, the better.

He seemed confident and competent, but everyone knew this was just the actions of a man gone mad on bravado.  He did however, through sheer fluke most guessed, manage to make a couple of trips down into the cathedral and kill a few monsters.  Those little yellow bellied Fallen that ran at the first sign of trouble, no doubt.  And no doubt about it, everyone hoped the guy wouldn't end up hanging from Ogden's sign.  He had the ugliest mug this side of a circus freak. It would be bad for business for customers to have to see his mangled, bloodied visage grinning down at them as they sat there supping on a pint.

Then, one day, he had said to the gathered crowd, "I'm going down into the hive, the wonderful hive of Tristram.  I'll smack around a monster or two, and then, Gillian, I'll be back before teatime for some huggin' and some kissin'. "

Gillian, former barmaid and now apprentice to Pepin the healer, had slapped him silly and told him to never ever come back up from the overgrown veggie garden if he knew what was good for him.

Anyway, off he'd gone to battle "The Defiler" or some such monster than he'd probably made up during one of his drunken ramblings.  It would be nice to say that he made a bunch of trips down there, killed everything in sight and bought back loads of treasure, but, unfortunately, as wizards go, he was at the bottom of the barrel.  His deadliest spells - firebolt and charged bolt - were no match for all the assorted nasties, and, thankfully for the townsfolk who'd had more than enough of the loony, they ate him whole.

Two weeks later, a swarm of carnivorous uglies exploded from the nest.  The creatures called themselves the Zerg, although how anyone else knew this, since the insect like creatures only spoke in scratches and chitters, is beyond explanation.

Chapter 1: Morning; Two day's journey north of Tristram, at the northern edge of the Creep

"What is this stuff?" asked Jolt Lungbean, wrinkling his nose (he hadn't bathed in almost a month).  The forest floor was covered in, to put it simply, purple goo.  And there were more flies than you'd ever see at a horse sh*t throwing contest.

"That's what we're here to find out, doofus," replied Solo, kneeling in the purple crap.

Griswold scratched his crotch thoughtfully.  "The ground was covered in the stuff when we left Tristram.  And it's been following me around like a bad smell ever since."

"Bah, let's just call it creep," added Gillian, waving her hand to ward off Jolt's manly odour.

Solo removed her gloves, stuck her finger in the the purple ooze and licked it up like she hadn't eaten in a week.  As Griswold and Gillian made retching sounds and Jolt rubbed his belly blissfully, Solo spat out the foul gunk and swore like a sailor.   "It's sweet, alive and feeding off the forest.  No worries for the animals and large plants, but it'll eat moss and insects like Bob eats donuts.  And it's oozing sugar like nobody's business.  I wonder...  it may be here to feed some other kind of organism."  As Jolt started mumbling to himself, looking confused, Solo added, "no, doofus, not 'orgasm.'  'Organism.'   Another creature, shard for brains!"

Gillian was visibly impressed.  "Whoa baby," she breathed, "you're one clued up chick. You fancy shacking up some time?"

Solo smiled alluringly.  "I'll meet me later after the story, babe." She turned back to the two men.  "Anyway, this stuff has more sugar in it than a Krispy Kreme doughnut, and the flies are really ripping into it, but there should be maggots and such crawling all over it.  I tell ya, it's about 100% pure and would knock you out cold for a month if you swallowed it.  It's pretty toxic stuff."

Jolt belched.  "You said something about feeding some another creature? ..."

"That's it, doof, but I'm probably talking out a hole in my head.  Normally the sugar would be used to attract other animals, and not just those flies hovering around your armpits.  Since there's nothing here but your buzzing buddies, doof, I'm guessing it's not trying to attract anything, so it must be food for something."

It was then that a loud buzzing - even louder than the combined noise of the hundreds of feeding flies - started out of nowhere.  Then, leaves started to rustle.  A huge wasp-like creature the size of a hog flew over the quartet's heads.  In its claws was a struggling woman.

Solo and Griswold bought the nasty looking creature buzzing to the ground with swipes of their swords.  Jolt finished it off with a punch to its mandibles with his muddy fist.

While Solo checked out the insectoid corpse, Gillian checked on the woman.  She screamed.  Griswold swore in Scottish. "Och, ma lordey, a thistin winter doon, bless me muther's merciful haggis!"  He raised his sword, getting ready to cleave the still struggling woman down the middle.

"What in Zakarum are you doing, haggis for brains?" Solo yelled, pushing the smith back.  Solo looked down at the woman she had just saved.  She was a real piece of work, the bard noted.  Beautiful, stark naked (Solo checked her out with admiration), and blessed with flaming red hair.  A tiny pair of horns (and probably not the strap-on kind that bored married couples use for kicks) protruded from her forehead. Solo noted that the woman had a bat-like wing growing from her left shoulder.   On her right one was a mangled stump, a bit like Wirt's mangled stump, except this one oozed black ichor instead of a honey-dripping bunch of lies (okay okay, so I think Wirt should be stuffed in a washing machine on fast rinse cycle).

"'Tis a demon!" shouted Griswold, pushing Solo aside as he got ready to cleave little miss demon b*tch down the middle.  Jolt stepped forward as well, although whether it was to kill the woman or to engage in more ... base pursuits ... is debatable.

Gillian stepped in front of them.  "Back off ya big lugs" she hissed.

"What?" asked Jolt, being a little slow on the uptake.

"I said ... 'NO.'  N - O ... Nada.  Squat.  Zippo.  Listen, I'm a healer,"  she glanced at Solo slyly, "a lover, and, sure, a bit of gambler, but I don't kill.  Pepin always used to say 'A Healer does no harm, nor allows harm to be done. Now, go put on that French maid's outfit and rub me down with a nice poultice.'  Or something like that.  I forget."

Between them, Dolt and Griswold were roughly five times Gillian's size, but Gillian was a little house o' fire, and she had breasts, so they conceded that she may have a point.   Solo, looking on, was impressed.  She felt animal urgings begin deep within her as she eyed up the buxom ex-barmaid.

Solo shook herself from her reveries.  "Gillian is right. We need to question the b*tch before we kill her," she added, "as we need to know all we can about what happened to Tristram.  'Always be prepared' they say.  Best to find out all we can now - and she may well know something - and save you two ingrates getting yourselves killed later on in an ambush.  But then again, maybe Gillian and I would be better off without you."  She winked.

"Very well" sighed Griswold.  "But you let tha' little devil b*tch know she's scored her last soul and her hours are numbered."

Gillian knelt beside the demon woman and caressed the woman's smooth skin.  Then, remembering this was serious business, she stopped her fondling and cast a Healing spell.   "Look Gris," she said, turning to the impatient looking blacksmith, "this may not help.  I can make the wound close and the bleeding stop, but I can't bring the wing back, and she may still die from pain and shock."

Jolt and Griswold laughed to each other and did the high fives.  "All right!" they yelled.  "Down with the witch b*tch!"

--

Stephen van Ham
"No, my first name is NOT spelt with a 'V'!"

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