[Continued from Part 4]
> "Take hold of this rope," said the first soldier, "and climb out from
>your pit, slut.
Crow: A slut? Where?
>Your presence is requested in another far deeper hell
Mike: At least there you know where you stand.
Tom: I hear folks lend a hand there, too.
> Grignr slipped his right hand to his thigh, concealing a small opaque
>object beneath the folds of the g-string
Crow: The folds of his g-string?
Tom: I don't even want to think about that.
>wrapped about his waist. Brine
Tom: Any relation to Dawn Wells?
>swelled in Grignr's cold, jade squinting eyes, which grown accustomed
>to the gloom of the stygian pools of ebony engulfing him, were bedazzled
Mike: --and bewitched and bothered and bewildered.
>by flickerering radiance cast forth by the second soldiers's
> Tightly gripped in the second soldier's right hand, opposite the
>intermittent torch, was a large double edged axe, a long leather wound
Crow: A leather wound, huh? Must be an S&M thing.
Mike: Bad robot.
>oaken handled transfixing the center of the weapon's iron head. Adorning
>the torso's of both of the sentries were thin yet sturdy hauberks, the
>breatplates of which were woven of tightly hemmed twines of reinforced
Tom: The attention to clothing and raw, unpolished prose put me in the mind
of a Theodore Dreiser.
Mike: You're kidding, right?
Tom: Actually, yes.
>Cupping the soldiers' feet were thick leather sandals,
>wound about their shins to two inches below their knees. Wrapped about
>their waists were wide satin girdles, with slender bladed poniards dangling
>loosely from them, the hilts of which featured scarlet encrusted gems.
Crow: Emeralds, no doubt.
>Resting upon the manes of their heads, and reaching midway to their brows
>were smooth copper morions.
Crow: Morions for morons! How appropriate!
>Spiraling the lower portion of the helmet were
>short, up-curved silver spikes, while a golden hump spired from the top of
>each basinet. Beneath their chins, wound around their necks, and draping
>their clad shoulders dangled regal purple satin cloaks, which flowed midway
>to the soldiers feet.
Mike: Now that the soldiers' clothes have been described in painstaking
detail, we will now kill them off with no impact whatsoever on the plot.
Crow: There's a plot?
> hand over hand, feet braced against the dank walls of the enclosure,
Tom: Funny, I always pictured him as being maybe five-one, five-two.
>ascended from the moldering dephs of the forlorn abyss. His
Mike: I hear he's off the steroids, actually.
>stiff due to the boredom of
Crow: --the story.
>a timeless inactivity,
>compounded by the musty atmosture and jagged granite protuberan against his
>body, craved for action. The opportunity now presenting itself served the
>purpose of oiling his rusty joints,
Tom: Suddenly he's the Tin Woodsman!
>and honing his dulled senses.
> He braced himself,
Mike: He couldn't afford an professional orthodontist.
>facing the second soldier. The sentry's stature
>was was wildly exaggerated
Crow: --by the author in a failed attempt to generate interest.
>in the glare of the flickering cresset cuppex in
>his right fist. His eyes were wide open in a slightly slanted owlish
>glaze, enhanced in their sinister intensity by the hawk-bill curve of his
>nose andpale yellow pique of his cheeks.
> "Place your hands behind your back," said the second soldier
Mike: Gotcha! I didn't say "Simon says"!
>raised his ax over his right shoulder blade and cast it a wavering glance.
>"We must bind your wrists to parry any attempts at
Crow: --anything interesting happening.
>escape. Be sure to make
>the knot a stout one, Broig,
Tom: Who let Scooby-Doo in?
>we wouldn't want our guest to take leave of
Mike: They're school counselors gone bad!
> Broig grasped Grignr's left wrist and reached for the barbarians's
>right wrist. Grignr wrenched his right arm free
Tom: --and threw it across the room.
>and swilveled to face
>Broig, reach- beneath his loin cloth with his right hand.
Crow: There's no time for that now! You had all those hours in the dungeon
to do that if that's what you wanted to do!
Mike: That does it. I'm taking away all your Green Day records.
>grappled at his girdle
Tom: Now that he's "mature" he needs a little extra support.
>for the sheathed dagger, but recoiled short of his
>intentions as Grignr's right arm swept to his gorge. The soldier went
Crow: Like Grignr in the bar earlier.
Mike: You still remember that? That was three hundred pages ago!
Crow: --buzzard. Caw! Caw! Caw!
>eyes rolling beneath fluttering eyelids, a deep welt
>across his spouting gullet.
Mike: Jenny, I think we should report your parents.
Tom: It shouldn't hurt to be a kid.
>Without lingering to observe the result of his
>efforts, Grignr dropped to his knees. The second soldier's axe cleft over
>Grignr's head in a blze of silvered ferocity, severing several scarlet
Crow: Say =that= five times fast!
>locks from his scalp. Coming to rest in his fellow's stomach, the iron
Crow: Oh, no! A head crash! Now I can't telnet to my other account!
>through mail and flesh with splintering force, spilling a pool
>of crimsoned entrails over the granite paving.
> Before the sentry could wrench his axe free from his comrade's
>carcass, he found Grignr's massive hands clasped about his throat,
Mike: Oh, =that's= where they are! I was wondering where I'd left those.
>the life from his clamped lungs. With a zealous grunt, the Ecordian flexed
Tom: Which is a very reasonable thing for an Ecordian to do.
>his tightly corded biceps, forcing the grim faced soldier to one knee. The
>sentry plunged his right fist into Grignr's face, digging his grimy nails
>into the barbarians flesh.
Mike: Was this crucifixion symbolism really necessary?
>a curse through rasping teeth,
>grignr surged the bulk of his weight foreard, bowling
Crow: --about a 185. Woulda been higher if he'd picked up that spare in
the seventh frame.
>the beseiged soldier
>over upon his back. The sentry's arms collapsed to his thigh, shuddering
>convulsively; his bulging eyes staring blindly
Tom: I've noticed that people do a lot of staring blindly in this story.
>from a bloated ,cherry red face.
Mike: Red again. Jim must be a big Kryzystof Kieslowski fan.
> Rising to his feet, Grignr shook the bllod from his eyes, ruffling his
>surly red mane as a brush fire swaying to the nightime breeze.
Tom: Either that's a touching, poetic image or this story has finally
driven me completely insane.
>Stooping over the spr sprawled
Mike: Spit it out, Jim!
>corpse of the first soldier, Grignr retrieved a small white object
Crow: Mmm -- a Pep-O-Mint Life Saver!
>from a pool of congealing gore.
Mike: Albert's cousin from West Virginia.
Tom: Cocaine costs Grignr over a hundred thousand hard-earned dollars a
>a gusty billow of
>mirth, he once more concealed th e tiny object beneath his loin cloth;
Crow: To join the other tiny object beneath his loincloth.
>the tediously honed pelvis bone of the broken rodent.
Mike: Excuse me, sir, this rodent is broken.
Tom: Do you have a receipt?
Mike: Uh, no, I don't.
Tom: No refunds or exchanges without a receipt.
>Returning his attention
>toward the second soldier, Grignr turned to the task of attiring his limbs.
Crow: While leaving torso and pelvis completely naked.
>To move about freely through the dim recesses of the castle would require
>the grotesque garb of
> Utilizing the silence and stealth aquired in the untamed climbs
Tom: Untamed =climbs=?
Mike: Must've been a lot of hills.
>childhood, Grignr slink through twisting corridors, and winding stairways,
>lighting his way with the confisticated torch of his dispatched guardian.
>Knowing where his steps were leading to, Grignr meandered aimlessly
Crow: Like this story.
>in search of an exit from
Crow: --the story.
>the chateau's dim confines.
Tom: Back in the Loire Valley, I see.
>The wild blood coarsing
>through his veins yearned for the undefiled freedom of the livid wilderness
Mike: So he could defile them.
> Coming upon a fork in the passage
Crow: I asked for chopsticks!
>he treaked, voices accompanied by
>clinking footfalls discerned to his sensitive ears from the left corridor.
>Wishing to avoid contact, Grignr
Mike: --never felt comfortable with intimacy, dooming his relationships.
>veered to the right passageway.
Crow: How did he know it was the right passageway?
>If aquested as to the purpose of his presence,
Tom: I think we're all aquesting as to the purpose of our presence, don't
>his barbarous accent would reveal his identity,
Mike: We are Frensh! Whah do you think Ah have zis outRAGeous accent?
>being that his attire was not that of the castle's
Crow: Wait a minute! Wait a minute! I thought he just finished dressing
himself like a soldier! Isn't even =Jim= paying attention?
> In grim silence Grignr treaded down the dingily lit corridor; a
>stalking panther creeping warily along on padded feet.
Tom: --was several thousand miles away.
>After an interminable period of
Crow: --reading, the story still wasn't over.
>wandering through the dull corridors; no gaps to
>break the monotony of the
>cold gray walls, Grignr espied a small winding
>stairway. Descending the flight of arced granite slabs to their posterior,
Mike: Never say "posterior" again.
>Grignr was confronted by a short haalway
Tom: Suddenly the story's in Dutch?
>leading to a tall arched wooden doorway.
> Halting before the teeming portal portal,
Crow: It's a portal, but it's not really a portal portal.
>Grignr restes his shaggy head
Tom: Bless his shaggy little head.
>sideways against the barrier. Detecting no sounds from within, he
>grasped the looped metel handle of the door; his arms surging with a
>tremendous effort of bulging muscles, yet the door would not budge.
>Retrieving his ax from where he had sheathed it
Mike: And where was that?
>beneath his girdle,
Mike: Oh, okay. Thanks.
>hefted it in his mighty hands with an apiesed grunt, and wedging one of its
>blackened edges into the crack between the portal and its iron rimed sill.
>Bracing his sandaled right foot against the rougjly hewn wall, teeth
>tightly clenched, Grignr appilevered the oaken haft, employing it as a
>lever whereby to pry open the barrier. The leather wound hilt bending to
>its utmost limits of endurance, the massive portal swung open with a
>grating of snapped latch and rusty iron hinges.
Crow: This is so boring I can barely keep my organs of sight open.
> Glancing about the dust swirled room in the gloomily dancing glare of
>his flickering cresset, Grignr eyed evidences
Tom: I see one evidence, two evidences, three evidences...
>of the enclosure being
>nothing more than a forgotten storeroom. Miscellaneous articles required
>for the maintainance of a castle
Tom: Such as?
Mike: Oh, you've got your portcullis cleaner, chlorine for the moat...
>were piled in disorganized heaps
Crow: Like the words of this story.
>at infrequent intervals
Crow: Like the =punctuation= in this story!
>toward the wall opposite the barbarian's piercing stare.
Mike: The way I see it, you've got two ways of staring. Either you've got
a piercing stare, or you're staring blindly. Yup.
>Utilizing long, bounding strides, Grignr paced his way over to the
>mounds of supplies to discover if any articles of
>value were contained within their midst.
Crow: Trust me. There's nothing valuable in this story.
> Detecting a faint clinking sound, Grignr sprawed to his left side with
>the speed of a striking cobra, landing harshly upon his back;
Mike: Just like a cobra!
>torch and axe
>loudly clattering to the floor in a morass of sparks and flame.
Crow: Oh, good one, Grignr!
>board leaped from collapsed flooring, clashing against the jagged flooring
>a shower of orange and yellow sparks over Grignr's startled
>face. Rising uneasily to his feet, the half stunned Ecordian
Mike: --launched into a peppy rendition of "Lady of Spain".
>at the grusome arm of death he had unwittingly sprung. "Mrifk!"
Tom: Okay, remind me. Was Mrifk a character, or a country, or--
Crow: I think it's just Jim's cat jumping on his typewriter.
> If not for his keen auditory organs
Crow: You mean his ears?
Mike: Let's not jump to conclusions.
>and lighting steeled reflexes,
>Grignr would have been groping
Tom: --a 17-year-old Senate page.
>through the shadowed hell-pits of the Grim
Mike: But after reading this story, I no longer fear the shadowed
hell-pits of the Grim Reaper.
>He had unknowingly stumbled upon an ancient,
>long forgotton booby
>trap; a mistake which would have stunted the perusal of longevity
Tom: That's that spinoff of Omni Magazine, right? I tried to peruse that
once and the guy said, "You gonna buy that? This ain't a library!"
>less agile. A mechanism, similar in type to that of a minature catapult
Mike: Except for the new passenger-side airbag and anti-lock brakes.
>was concealed beneath two collapsable sections of granite flooring. The
>arm of the device was four feet long, boasting razor like cleats at regular
>intervals along its face with which it was to skewer
Crow: Iss godda skewer inda belly!
Tom: Thanks, Nell.
>the luckless body of
>its would be victim. Grignr had stepped upon a concealed catch which
>relaesed a small metal latch beneath the two granite sections, causing them
>to fall inward, and thereby loose the spiked arm of death they precariously
Mike: Thank you for describing the trap in painstaking detail now that it's
failed to work and we no longer care about it.
> Partially out of curiosity and partially out of an inordinate fear of
>becoming a pincushion for a possible second trap, Grignr plunged his torch
>into the exposed gap in the
>floor. The floor of a second chamber stood out
>seven feet below the glare. Tossing his torch through the aperature,
>Grignr grasped the side of an adjoining tile, dropping down.
> Glancing about the room, Grignr discovered that he had decended into
Mike: --Al Capone's vault. Geraldo Rivera was there, holding an empty
bottle and sobbing uncontrollably.
>the palace's mausoleum. Rectangular stone crypts cluttered the floor at
>evenly placed intervals.
Tom: A meticulously organized clutter.
>The tops of the enclosures were plated with thick
>layers of virgin gold,
Crow: As opposed to Tracey.
Mike: Yowtch! What was that for?
>while the sides were plated with white ivory;
Tom: Isn't that redundant?
Mike: In this story, it could be chartreuse for all we know.
>time sparkling, but now grown dingy through the passage of the rays of
>allencompassing mother time.
Crow: If it's 7 PM Pacific Daylight Time, what time is it in Allencompassing
>Featured at the head of each sarcophagus in
>tarnished silver was
Mike: --Carol Channing, five nights only.
>an expugnisively carved likeness of its rotting
Tom: Eww! That is pretty expugnisive.
> A dingy
Crow: I guess Jim got tired of everything being fetid and decided to go with
>atmosphere pervaded the air of the chamber; which sealed in
Mike: --freshness. Do not consume if seal is broken.
>the enclosure for an unknown period
Tom: Come on, Jim, make something up!
>had grown thick and stale.
Crow: Like the prose.
>Intermingling with the curdled currents was the repugnant stench of slowly
>moldering flesh, creeping ever slowly but surely through minute cracks in
Crow: --the plot.
Mike: I don't think "minute" is the word to describe those, Crow.
>the numerous vaults. Due to the embalming of the bodies, their flesh
>decayed at a much slower rate than is normal,
Tom: Imagine that!
>yet the nauseous oder was
>none the less repellant.
> Towering over Grignr's head was
Mike: --a big question mark. He was confused.
>the trap he released. The mechanism
>of the miniaturized catapolt was cluttered with mildew and cobwebs.
Crow: Luckily, he'd hidden some X-14 in the folds of his g-string.
>Notwithstanding these relics of antiquity,
Mike: As opposed to brand-new relics.
Tom: Well, you know, the way computers get obsolete these days...
>its efficiency remained unimpinged.
Crow: Unlike that of the prose.
>To the right of the trap wound a short stairway through a
>recess in the ceiling; a concealed entrance leading to the mausoleum for
>which the catapult had obviously been erected as a silent, relentless
[Continued in Part 6]