Art Inspired: The Great Pig-Man

the-great-pig-man
The Great Pig / art by: Zachco

 

With the morning sun just touching the Eastern horizon the two men on guard wake the rest of their fellows. They break camp after spending the night not two miles from their target.

Their target is known as the pig-man. All twenty-seven feet tall and a thousand stone of him. Snout nose, squiggly tail and flaps of pink flesh on the sides of his head that if dried could make dogs go wild. He walks on two legs and swings fallen trees as weapons. When in rampage his grunting squeal carries for miles.

He has murdered.

He has stolen.

He is a monster once known as a normal sized baker named Thomas Loaf. The baker is from Central City. He had a shop near the keep. His family owned and ran it for many generations. His wife does the work now. Not many people even know Thomas disappeared. His wife is good at keeping secrets. Mainly because she has a litter of children to feed and a business to run and just assumed the lout is hidden away somewhere drunk off ale. She surmises he will be back and she is ready with the rolling pin to abuse the notion out of him that such behavior will be tolerated again.

The baker’s shop is in the land of Bananlor.

Bananlor is glacier formed drumlin hills rumpling a green landscape. Where thick patches of forests are interrupted by a few lazy tributaries flowing into the Deep River that separates it from the neighboring Kingdom to the East. The Great Water lies on the West and runs along the south creating a rocky coastline with huge clashing waves. The threat of Kraken is real there. Only the bravest call the coast home. The Deep Mountains hollowed out by dwarves haunt the northern landscape.

Rain is common.

The sky is usually white with clouds dotted with a sparse orb that passes for the sun. The temperature is unfair, but it hardly ever snows.

Besides the occasional invasion by sea beasts, monsters are rare.

However the pig-man did not invade, he was instead made with the magic of a Half-orc magician named Zankul.

The edict to kill or capture was handed down by the king. The proclamation was hung on every vertical flat surface. It relieved the monarchy of any future responsibilities. He had parties to plan and banquets to attend and maidens to ravish.

In the end Four boots, one knight and an officer came to deal with the pig-man accompanied by a bard. They decamped quickly, packing their rolls and loading what loose provision were about back up into their saddlebags.

“Tether the horses, we go in on foot,” says their leader a knight named Ser Geon.

The enlisted do as commanded and quickly get the horses tied down before getting into an easy formation for the march.

Taking up the rear of the column are three brothers from the Smithies brood. He had eight children and not enough room at the forge for all of them to apprentice. These three are his youngest, still freckled with Red hair and no need to shave. They are good with a polearm, but still novices when it comes to battle. Naturals with metal they do some of the repair work around the barracks and have a reputation of fighting well and always having eachothers back.

Next is Jem the dandy. He is no warrior. He is a song singer and under his steels wears silks and padding. His only weapon is a lute. He enjoys the fine life in Bananlor, little of it there is. He came on this little adventure because he fears the few stories he has of bravery might be getting a bit long in the tooth and needs fresh fodder for tales if he wants to continue regaling his audiences.

Fifth in line is Greck, he was raised on a pig farm and  is a large man with a huge bulbous belly and a thick white scar running the length on the right side of his face. His right eye is dead white color and his mouth hangs slightly ajar where the scar runs through it. He has ideas involving a stew when the massacre is finished.

Lieutenant Hostetler has already warned him three times, “there will be no eating of the pig-man.”

It does not seem Greck cares though, he has his mind set and talked about the feast until sleep took him last night.

The lieutenant is remiss to admit the description the man used for the barbeque had his stomach bubbling with hunger.

Hostetler was reluctant to go on this mission. The garrison commander thought it best to have an officer present, so here he is. The lanky soldier watched in disgust as he was ordered to go between mouthfuls of roasted squab. Not that he is averse to eating, more that a closed mouth while chewing is considered polite, something his commander knows little about. Hostetler was not a knight, yet. His thinking was maybe with just enough valor and bravery he might one day stand in front of the king and have the regal sword pressed to his shoulder. Even as an officer he was no more than common rabble. He wants to be socially better not just a higher rank. Anyone can be an officer with enough time in service and no blemishes on their record. The only problem is to attain valor one must face battle and the idea of death doesn’t fit well with the lieutenant. He has his doubts about the Gods. The world seems to work differently then the priests, clerics and paladins insist it does.

The group marches hard through the thick forests just south of the Mountains in the North. There is a chill to the wet air, but even that does not ward off the pig-man’s great stench of rotting meat mixed with eye watering bacteria and fermenting yeast. They smell him far before laying eyes on the source.

Even through the misty rain, the men wish they could cover their noses for relief. Jem is the lone hold out, but only because under his Skull visor he keeps a sack of fresh rose petals.  

Ser Geon holds up a fist to halt the column. He is a man with jiggly jowls, a shock of grey stubble across his scalp and face and a stoic reputation for doing what needs to be done.

He has no plan to fight the pig-man. “Tis not his fault he got magicked,” he told the men as he headed out the night before with a large cart hitched to his horse. On the cart sat twenty barrels of good dwarven whisky infused with a sleeping draught that he had the alchemist brew up. He was promised it was enough to knock out an army for days. He rode the cart close enough to get the transmogrified man’s attention before uncorking his cargo.  Once the barrels were cracked he unhitched his mount from the cart and with hope the bait will be took, raced back to camp for a bit of rest before morning.

The soldiers all wear the steels that while in garrison shine with the brilliant sparkle of polished metal, but with every footfall across the Pigman’s burrow they become streaked with cold muddy water of which the contents can only be guessed. It’s hard to ignore the smells of waste and decomposition and imagine it is simply mud they traipse across.

The knight’s shield is strapped to his back and his long sword is sheathed.

Even with the old warrior’s relaxed posture the four infantrymen hold their polearms at the ready.

Hostetler’s belief is that an officer’s weapon is best left sheathed, but today wields a wicked morning-star with two shaking fists. Normally the weapon would be used to motivate unwilling enlisted. With every foot step closer to the snoring beast making his heart thump hard against his ribs, he hopes to only hold it and not swing it.

Jem holds his lute more for comfort then anything. His fingers are poised to strike a note, but he only holds them there for fear music in fact does not sooth the savage beast. He is willing to try as a last resort though.

They pass the empty cart.

It would appear the trap was took.

The pig-man snores bubbles into the muck surrounded by the empty barrels.

Ser Geon approaches closer than any of the other men would have dared and pokes the beast with the tip of his solaret.

The pig-man stirs, but does not wake.

The old knight nods and the next part of his plan is implemented.

A large tarp is taken off the nearby cart by one of the Smithie kids. A corner each is grabbed by the enlisted and pulled over the body of the wasted pig-man. His head is shoved through a hole in the middle while huge black smith made shackles are fixed around his waist and onto his wrists then bolted closed.

“We will deal with loading him onto the cart afterwards,’ Says Ser Geon. ‘The job is nearly done. The Pig-man will be taken back to town alive, but later. Then what is anyone’s guess. Maybe a cure. Maybe he could be used somehow, but,’ Ser Geon surmises, ‘he might just have to be put down eventually anyway”.

Greck is disappointed, “probably best to do it now, right? What’s the point in letting him suffer?”

The knight answers tersely, “the humanity of the situation should  dissuade otherwise. There is always a chance he can be saved.’ he punctuates the retort with a steely look. ‘besides the real punishment will be levied against the half-orc half-human magician, Zankul.”

The men shift about uncomfortably.

Hostetler volunteers, “Not much is known about the half-orc other then his mother was a full orc and many question how he got his human blood.”

“Whoever the father is, he never came forward to claim the boy,” Ser Geon replies.

“Drink,’ Greck states. It’s the common hypothesis, ‘lots and lots of drink, mixed with a wee bit of loneliness”.

The men shudder imagining what a deed like that would be like.

“Some think the orc might have magicked herself with child,” says the oldest Smithie boy.

Ser Geon replies, “whoever gave her the seed probably did not do it willingly and if they remember will take that secret to the grave. Whatever the truth, people will believe the easiest excuse for their minds to comprehend and regardless the actual answer, it is now histories problem, because today, Zankul, will answer for his crimes.”

The knight turns and walks further North the party following.

The half-orc lives in a hollowed out old growth oaktree not far from the pig-man.

The pig-man was his security, to do what, is anyone’s guess.

Ser Geon intends to find out.

The squad sloshes through the muck and arrives at a well disguised door. Two of the Smithies beat the door with their shoulders until it caves in exposing a set of rough stone stairs leading deep into the ground. The lair smells of dirt and sulphur and other things that the mind easily associates with magic.

Greck lights a torch and hands it to Ser Geon.

As they enter the tree the fire tipped stick sparkles in the cold air.

Their breath blows out in clouds of steam. Under their armor skin tightens with fear and feet beg to turn and run the other way.  Whether the air is thick with warding spells doesn’t matter because Ser Geon pushes on down the steps and this motivates all who follow.

The notched gradation leads them to a large carved out area. Roots hang from the ceiling bright with lit torches and tables covered in bubbling concoctions and vials of many different colored liquids. The remains of man and animal lay about, some prepared for decoration, others freely rotting.

The cold the air is strangely antiseptic.

Soldiers are surprising dense when it comes to sneaking about especially when the clink of their spurs against the cobbled stone flooring have announced their presence.

Zankul stands across the room. He holds a thick staff in bone thin hands. On the top of the staff is a crystal ball. The orb glows blue.

Under the glow Zankul is a slight creature with a sickly green coloring. His lips are black and his eyes are yellow around bright azure irises. He wears red robes stained black with dirt around the fringe brushing the floor.  His head is crowned with a thick mane of white hair. And his face is decorated with long white tendrils of straight hair that that originate at the corners of his mouth and grow downward past his clean-shaven lips and chin to rest on his skinny chest.

His face is scrunched in a scowl.

Ser Geon prefers a straight fight to a sneak attack any day and tosses his torch at the magician before rushing forward.

The half orc flinches.

His shield is quickly taken from his back and placed on his left arm and held in front of him at the the ready, Behind it he holds his sword.

The other soldiers are slow in their attack, but it doesn’t matter.

Zankul has time to say one spell before Ser Geon’s sword cleaves him in half, but that one spell dooms him.

But he has no time to be doomed right now. He will have to deal with that later.

He wipes the orcs blood off on his own dirty robes and orders, “pack any books or papers. Valuables give to me,” as he slices through muscle and bone with his razor sharp blade to remove the two pieces of the Magician’s head. He sacks it up and removes the staff from the dead magicians grip the ball on top now dull.

Once burdened with several sacks of material they labor back up to the surface. Ser Geon holds on tight to the staff as the group enters a stiff rain that spills in great drops falling against the mud making things worse for travel.

The mud sucks at their boots, which fill quickly with water. Pulling them free with each footstep is exhausting. Every inch forward is an effort. Their loud squelching is obvious yet swallowed by the monstrous snores still emanating from the pig-man. He wallows in his mess, his great eyes squeezed shut in drucken contentment.  

The knights ignore the twenty or so empty whisky casks which lay half sunk in the muck.

“Get the horses,” Geon orders and the two of the smithies run off do so.

Once reunited with their mounts they throw several ropes over a giant oak tree branch thirty feet up and hitch them to the pigman. Secured to the horses they lift the giant burden onto the cart.

The creature belches in response and the air is filled with tooth decay and wheat mash.  

The Wagon is pulled through the muck and occasionally gets stuck making the soldiers have to climb down off their steeds and give the giant cart a push.

Their horses are not meant to pull, they are meant to face battle, but they manage.

The wagon tips dangerously a couple times, but does not topple.

The Great Pig laughs in a drunken roar. The sound is a snort and chuckle. Its grotesque. The horses whinny in fright. But the creature is merely dreaming.

It takes the rest of the day to reach Central City. The Keep’s gates open for them. A fanfare of trumpets announce their return. The king greets them on his balcony. He waves a silk handkerchief at them from the great height and smiles down.

Ser Geon‘s last effort is climbing down from his steed and going to one knee in a deep bow to his liege.

Then he dies.

Upright.

Visor over his face both hands gripping the magician’s staff to support his weight.

The rumors did not take long to develop.

The one that stuck and became legend was that the magician’s last conjure was to turn the knights heart from human to mouse.

It’s a testament to the man’s will he even managed the killing blow let alone make it back to the castle keep with the bagged half-orcs head clutched in the bag in his fist.

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My thoughts: Star Wars Rogue One

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Somewhere along the way people forgot Star Wars wasn’t a great movie, it was great escapism.

For Rogue One movie I was able to escape my twins, get a bottomless bucket of popcorn, M&Ms and omfg are those Reeses Pieces!? I got to pour a gigantic CHERRY DR. PEPPER, myself, with no ice, oh what a world! Then I found a place to sit, alone, isolated and peaceful in the dark theatre in my favorite sit mid way down the last row right under the projector and then lose myself in a food orgy with a Star Wars movie playing in the back ground.

Bliss.

After which I of course ran home in tears and immediately told my wife all about my food transgressions, this happened more out of fear she would find out on her own and the punishment would be 3000 times worse.

Still, in between fists filled with sin I remember stuff happening, which after I thought made ‘A New Hope,” a better movie.

Tarkinstein did not bother me, because, well,  I was too busy wondering if the people sitting three rows down and near the aisle were getting annoyed with my constant crunching of carefully planned hand fills of corn and candy.

I now know the female character is named Jinn only because I have listen to about five spolercasts on this movie by now.

Was it good?

Did it satisfy?

I write stories that no one is paying  for, let alone giving me hundreds of millions of dollars to tell. Maybe its not my place to judge the attempt.

But in my many years I have learned:  Expectation when it meets reality rarely satiate if the desire is too strong and stale popcorn and mass produced chocolates are definitely a mistake, but this movie gave me nostalgia driven escapism and was loud and fun and the robot made me laugh.

It adds to a universe already bursting with badly written novels and adequately drawn comics and movies that I think may have won an award for lighting or something.

Hating on something like this is like hating on my childhood. My expectations were met I got to see a star wars film I had never sen before. That’s pretty cool.

I think what I like about this stuff is how any new nuance feeds conversation.  And nowadays any conversation that doesn’t include the word Trump, nuclear Armageddon, or Wall Street is a good thing.

No doubt history will remember this movie fondly, and maybe John Williams should have given the music a bit of a clean up just for old times sake, it did get a little John Denver from Mars for me, but it was fun and I cant wait to bring my kids and my wife next to VIII.

Reddit Writing Prompt: After death, people get to spend eternity with the person who loved them most in life. You died in an accident, then woke up next to a complete stranger.

heaven-and-hell
artist unknown

My eyes open.

I lay still.

Something is wrong, but nothing is wrong, all feels right and the air around me feels filled with love and understanding and I cry.

For the first time in my life I know God. I know this being that was not suppose to exist. This being many people fought and killed each other over, but that was never the intent. I realize that God isn’t a person. He is everything. He is air, food, the ground, the universe, he is me, and a feeling fills my mind like it is being flushed and I get to witness the life I gave God.

Suddenly I am witness to my birth. I see the doctor and the nurses. I see my mother I feel the warmth and comfort and sustenance of her breast. It washes over me and I stay there for as long as I want. I am a baby. I am loved and cared for. I want for nothing.

Finally I let the whirl pool take me further. I can come back to this moment whenever I want and release my self into the excitement of learning to walk and talk and stab my older brother with a fork and he stabs me back.

I get to play again with him day in and day out until he goes to school and I am alone with my mom for a few years during the day.

I let the whirlpool take me past the alphabet and times tables and learning about fractions and Darwin.

I stay for awhile and enjoy my youth, my strength on the high school football team. I enjoy running when it wasnt painful and I could run forever. I enjoy losing my virginity and winning prom king my senior year. I enjoy getting accepted into college.

I skip past the painful knee injury that ends my football career.

I skip past the studying to become a doctor.

I skip past medical school, my internship and the 24 hour days that still dont make sense.

I stay for awhile and explore my Doctors Without Borders experience in the Sudan. I stare down the war chief once more. I feel the exhilaration of winning my life back from his death squad by fixing his daughter’s heart.

I skip past the long as hell flight that lands me in New York City. I revel in my new home and exploring the busy streets again. Of being back in America.

I love this place again with its endless streets and possibilities. The tones, smells and faces all different and ever changing.

I win my dream job again. I open chests and make hearts work again. I give life. I give possibility.

I live my day to day life forgetting that there is more.

Then I see her.

I know immediately she is the missing part of my soul. Tall and graceful. Long legs, perfect stride. I chase after her on the Hudson River Greenway on the lower West side. She is fast. I dont think I will catch her, but I do. And I follow her and she doesn’t know it. I need to talk to her. I need to know her. And then she stops and I run into her. She falls. I help her to her feet. I apologize and we meet eyes and I know she is mine.

We date.

We are inseparable.

She likes Florida.

I like Alabama.

We are perfect for each other.

We drink beer with friends and travel the world.

I ask her to marry me. She says yes.

I am more happy then I have every been in my life.

She is the dream I never knew I had and it is coming true. I ask the man who has been through it all with me, my older brother, to be my best man.

He says yes and throws me a bachelor party.

In my life review I become confused because things end as I stumble drunken through my front door into my empty apartment.

I dont get to see my wedding, then I realize I dont have any memories of my wedding, because I never had a wedding.

I back the review up and I see myself walk through my apartment door again.

Then nothing.

I do it again and again and it still ends into blackness as I walk through my apartment door.

I play the nothing over and over again.

I am confused.

In this place of love, in this place of understanding I stand in confusion and begin to explore and bask in the perfection of everything the tangibility of it all the malleability. I feel like I could have anything I want, but there are no other people and the confusion of my death weighs on me. I want answers and in a place of everything it is the only thing missing.

Then I see her.

She is short with black curly hair and ample flesh. She holds her shoulders like her very existence is an embarrassment to her.

She seems familiar like I should know her. She watches me and as I approach, flinching.

I dont like this and replay my life again.

I run through it not expecting to, but spot her.

A lot.

She is in every class photo standing near me always looking.

I go to college at Alabama and she is there serving food at the Dorm cafeteria.

I go to the airport to leave for the Sudan and she is there watching me go through security crying.

I get back and again she is there elated as if she thought I would die.

She works in the cafeteria of the hospital I did my internship at.

I wonder how many meals has this person served me?

I go back and count and the answer is many thousands.

She is there in the peripheral of so many memories and then finally on the day things stopped she is there in the bar watching me. Fat silent tears dripping into her untouched beer.

In my afterlife I approach her and even in this place of love and understanding she starts crying. “I loved you, you have to understand. And now I get to have you for eternity.”

And I realize she is the answer to the blackness of the end.

Art Inspired: Sigmund

 

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Here is the Link to the page hosting the art.

Art Inspired: The Moon / by Boreas

 

 

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I was deeply inspired by this digital art and wrote a brief flash fiction piece. For more of my writing visit my Wattpad page.

Here is the link to this very talented artist’s page. They are currently doing a daily sketch challenge so his page will be filling up rapidly with quality content like this.