“Is that Reg?” A tall, muscular man who wore only a loincloth and bore a mighty great-hammer asked while pointing at a crumpled bloody mess on the floor.
“I thought that was him.” Answered the small, bony, weaponless priest that accompanied the nearly naked warrior. “Gods rest his soul.”
“There’s only one beast that could have done this.” The warrior stated with a grave face and solemn tone of voice.
The priest’s jaw dropped, he couldn’t believe that there was a creature in existence that could crush Reginald the Destroyer, the strongest sword wielder in the west but this one had.
“Close your mouth priest. It could still be here. Let’s hope your Gods walk with us.”
“What creature could have done this? I mean Reg w-“
“Australia!” The warrior exclaimed with vengeance in his voice.
“The place Brother Barnstead discovered when the Gods sent him to the other dimension? I believe he made notes. If war is coming and they have some sort of machine, then our heavenly lords could destroy them. We could win this.” The panicking priest muttered, getting ahead of himself and jumping to conclusions.
“You priests dream of Gods and other dimensions but can never prove their existence to the rest of us. No, Australia is not a place, the beast has been known to us for a while. We named it after Barnstead’s imaginary place.”
“Why?” Asked the increasingly fearful priest.
A deep, booming chuckle left the warrior’s lips “It’s big.”
As the priest stood, staring at the sloppy remains of the once mighty hero that was splattered across the ground his companion walked onwards, continuing on his quest to reach the top of the mountain where he would kill the beast.
Further up the mountain, the priest was perched on the shoulders of the warrior. Muscles rippled as the huge man dragged himself up the near vertical slope of the mountain, his pain was just making him more determined to reach the top and slay the beast.
Still on the shoulders of the warrior, the priest got to his feet and reached upwards, his fingertips scraping against the edge of a ledge that jutted from the rocks above him. The warrior saw how he struggled and decided to lend a hand. A hand wrapped around the priest’s ankle and gave him the boost he needed to climb onto the ledge.
A terrifying shriek shook the mountain, causing the warrior’s foot to slip. Clinging on to the mountain with one hand, the warrior swung his legs wildly as he tried to regain a foothold.
The priest up on the ledge looked for anything that he could use to help, all he could find was a few rocks that had fallen from somewhere above. He knelt down to pray for his companion who was fighting just to hang on a moment longer. The priest finished his prayer, then picked up the largest of the fallen rocks which he threw at the warrior.
The rock hurt. Enraged by this attempt on his life the warrior tore holes in the mountainside as he forced his fists into the smooth, vertical rock, spurred on by fury and bloodlust. Using the holes, he helped himself up to the ledge where the priest was now curled up on the floor begging for his life.
Striking the priest with his fist gave the warrior a burning sensation all over his body causing him to cry out in pain. He was suddenly calm. He put the priest back on his shoulders, waited a few seconds so he could catch his breath and set off, heading further up the mountain.
Warm air emanated from a cave near the top of the mountain. Curiosity took the warrior inside. The priest reluctantly followed him in.
As the men progressed through the cave they heard grunts and grumbles that they thought sounded remarkably similar to snoring. They also found the source of the heat.
A large lake of lava stood between them and the snoring thing that they assumed to be Australia. There seemed to be no way for them to cross.
“I shall pray, and you shall walk through the lava, protected by the Gods.” The priest said, his faith in the Gods bolstered by the events on the mountainside.
“Crazy priest! Did your Brother Barnstead tell you that fire won’t hurt you if you only believe?” Mocked the warrior. He then put the priest on his shoulders and hoped for the best as he did what he was told. “I can’t believe I’m doing this.”
Slowly, the large, muscular man took his first steps into the fiery lake, the priest on his shoulders hurriedly chanting the same, almost inaudible thing over and over. Once the warrior realised that he was surviving this trial by fire he crossed the lake in leaps and bounds, untroubled by the tingling in his legs that should have disintegrated in the heat.
“I knew there was a reason I brought you priest! All your preaching has finally paid off! The Gods protect me. This beast won’t know what’s hit it.” Cheered the fire-resistant warrior.
“That’s it! Have faith and the Gods shall help you.” Delighted by his achievement in converting the warrior to his own beliefs, the priest’s voice cracked, suddenly becoming high pitched. He cleared his throat. “There is one other thing I need to do before we go on.”
Anger spiced with confusion could be seen in the expression on the warrior’s face. “What now? Was it just trickery? Have your Gods abandoned you?”
The priest didn’t answer, instead he was on the floor chanting. As he did so he smashed an amulet and threw some pink dust at the warrior. The dust made the air sparkle. A ghostly form appeared beside the warrior.
“The Gods have blessed you with an ally. It is an exact duplicate of yourself in appearance, strength, skill and will. Together you shall have a greater chance of slaying the beast.”
Booming laughter came with the warrior’s response “My ethereal twin.”
The cave opened up into a open ceilinged area that didn’t seem to have any walls, it was as if the men had left their world and been teleported to somewhere else. This place didn’t seem right.
Not much attention could be given to their surroundings because there it was, Australia. Huge and round, even while sleeping the black feathered beast looked formidable. The warrior took a few seconds to observe this monster before the priest started chanting in a loud voice. The chanting woke the beast. As it started it stand the men could see the claws sticking out as spikes from its bony feet.
Great-hammer in hand the ethereal warrior charged in, swiftly followed by his fleshy counterpart.
The beast swung its head, picking up the ethereal man with its humongous, knife-like beak and knocking the real warrior off his feet. Claws were raked across the warrior’s bare body who found himself to be unharmed, protected by the prayers of the priest.
Flinging the ethereal warrior yielded the result that Australia desired. The well-built ghost smashed into the priest, disturbing his religious incantation. Deadly claws tore the priest’s head from his body.
Bloodlust combined with what was left of the power provided by the priest took both the warrior and his ethereal twin. Together they rushed the beast, taking its feet out from under it. Blow after blow, their hammers struck the beast’s pink fleshy head until it was weak and vulnerable enough for them to land the killing blow. Muscular arms were wrapped around a strip of flesh that hung from Australia’s beak, the warrior pulled using all the strength he could muster. He removed half of the face of his gigantic foe, ensuring it wouldn’t get back up again.
Beaming with pride the warrior stood with a savage grin on his face knowing that the terror that killed many, many men including Reginald the Destroyer had fallen by his hand. It was a shame that Matthew the priest had to die but his name would be in all the bard tales from now on. He didn’t have time to mourn or be sad, he wasn’t the sentimental sort and he knew it so the warrior started to walk back the way he came to exit the accursed place.
The ethereal twin blocked his path, it was offering him something. “Well done Bernard.
We Gods are proud. Take this, you’ve earned it.” Said a thousand voices from the mouth of the ghostly man.
Taking the thing that was being offered made the ethereal man vanish. The warrior inspected the object in his hand, it was a metal cylinder marked with four crosses and it had a small part sticking out from the top. Pulling on the part revealed a strange smelling liquid. He took a sip, unsure of whether it was to be trusted. Then the warrior sat down where he was, grateful for the Gods’ gift, knowing it was worthy of the Gods themselves.