The Eye of Argonia

Author: Shmij-Tei
Released In:

Grognak squatted his saddle heartily, grasping his virile arms on the silver rains, while the footprints of his bleary horse echoed dully in the simpering swamp. Grognak hungered and bit at his mealy supplies. Too, he hungered for the lifting of meady mugs, the crushing of women in his arms, and the company of men. The robust man enthused himself at the thought.

Instantly the path revealed the feathers of three savage warriors of Argonia. A slithering voice was heard: "Have you prepared to meet your fate in deathly Oblivion?"

"It is not my day that is fateful today but yours!" rebuffed Grognak, coming off his horse, as he drew his fifty-seven inch dwarf sword and the forward-slooping quills of its gem-incrusted cross-hilt.

Grognak thrust and the first savage leaped greatly into the tersely chiseled point of the dwarf sword, running him all the way through and out the back. Grognak dropped the sword and pulled his dagger out of his loincloth. The other savages shiftily around to surround him, but Grognak slung left and then right and slashed first the one throat and then the other.

But were they not done? Another thong of lizards plunged in Grognak's feral gaze. "Engage me, wretch," said Grognak to all of them at once. The lizards obliged. Grognak yearned to confront the thong with valor, but he waited his odds for the right moment. There! A thud! There! A gurgle! And soon all the lizards writhed in the swamp of their deathbed.

His hands mightily squeezed the dwarf sword from the first savage copse and saw a common note inside his belt pouch. Untying the pouch, Grognak read:

Kill the barbarian before he learns of the Eye of Argonia!
- S

But who was S? Who is this barbarian whereof the letter speaks? And what is the Eye of Argonia? With such questions, a heavily thewed man such a Grognak was untroubled.

But should he be...

Too, Grognak was untroubled by more bandits on the way to Hell Strom, all the way to the Mead Soaked Inn. Grognak's eyes disappointed him, for he saw no tenuous maidens to brew with, only abrasive Argonians.

"What is the Eye of Argonia?" Unrested as ever, Grognak spoke loud to the inn when he could no longer wait.

Came the response: "Who is it who asks about the greatest valuable of all precious stones?"

"It is I, Grognak, who asks. And who asks who is Grognak?"

"It is I, Runs-With-Speed."

"Then tell me, Runs-With-Speed, how one could grasp this valuable?"

"Ha! No foreigner can even handle even the pedestal of the Eye!" spoke the Argonian. Then, with a sibilant yell, "No, you will die!"

Runs-With-Speed came faster than Grognak could draw his dwarf sword and tried to run him through but Grognak stood firm-thewed and threw the Argonian to the floorboard. Followed up with a fist, Grognak put him into his misery. And what else did Grognak find? But a map. Clearly marked in inedible ink with the location he seeked! The Argonians all looked upon the map with jealousy but one look of Grognak melted them into their seats.

So Grognak left the Mead Soaked Inn and rode across many moons. The further he encouraged his horse, the closer he came to the village of Backwoods that lied in the deepest edges of the Argonian Empire.

And just outside the village was the X on the map and Grognak rode until he saw the spot on the ground where the X. It was a pile of ruins with a door that had broken off long ago and decayed. Spookily, Grognak entered.

The darkening blackness crept encroachingly over the walls and all the candles, sniffing them out. Here was the Eye of Argonia, hidden in the lich tombs of the lost city! The air was clogged with leary chant ordinating from a bygone age. Grognak fought dust and cobwebs to find the deepest center of the ruin wherein he saw a great pedestal on a daze...And there it was beholden! A gem the size of an egg as big as his fist! The bracelet-cut tawdry emerald! The Eye of Argonia!

"I prepared your grave in this tomb." It was the graviest of voices.

"Then you prepared in vain!" cried Grognak, drawing upon all fifty-seven inches of his dwarf sword!

The mists swirled about the lich of the tomb and enspelled Grognak with gelid fireblasts. Grognak smote the lich about the face and neck. The dwarf sword danced and swung with clarity. But the lich was tough as bones made of ebony or adamant. The frosty spells of the lich wore Grognak down, until he was on his knees.

"Now you see the folly of your quest, gem-thief!" spoke the voice of the lich.

But his cinched fist swung one last time and took the lich head off between the shoulders, at the neck, rolling down the gradual steps of the daze.

Grognak took the Eye of Argonia. Too, his hands warmed in his armpits as he stomped his feet. Until the piles of rummage began to fall into ruins about him. Grognak's feet hurried out into the fetid air of the swamp of the Black Marsh. As he heaved his sides viscerally, trying to caught up with his breaths, a weak looking boy came in his view.

"Give me the emerald," said the boy.

"And why should I give what you cannot earn by force? Make like a dwarf and disappear!"

"SHEZZAR!" cried the little boy and grew twice his size, chest, arms, and legs bulging with power! A Shezzarine!

The giant boy spilt the dwarf sword like kindling twigs and thrust Grognak bodily into a tree.

Grognak stirred his limbs in the bowl of the tree but the gibbous Shezzarine took hold of the emerald from his grasp. "At last" said the giant who turned away from Grognak. Holding the Eye of Argonia up to what tepid light came between the leafs, the Shezzarine admired his last. For Grognak flicked the surreptitious adamantine spear he had hidden there earlier from his loincloth right between the giant's neck!

"This should buy me a drink" thought Grognak aloud and he picked up the tawdry emerald and climbed astride his steed. "To Backwoods and its best inn!" And Grognak bestrode his mighty form out of the dusty swamp.

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