L. Sprague de Carter

Comon the Simmerian did not look over his iron-thewed shoulder. He new Zap'm'ded, the evil and twisted necromancer, was not far behind. The warrior's body propelled itself forward oblivious to the great effort of three days on the run. His lightning-quick brain was likewise occupied, mulling over the events of the last week. Comon recalled how he had gotten himself in hot water with the aged magician, Moo's greatest wizard.

It had all begun when Comon had come to Ski-du, Moo's greatest city, from his home in the Freezing Plains of Death -- a name he had always felt had never helped the tourist industry back home. Comon had come to Ski-du in search of fame, fortune and fraternization, the latter which he found with Nih'sas, daughter of the crotchety and overprotective Zap'm'ded. Nih'sas and Comon had been at home in Zap'm'ded's sanctuary, the Castle of Big Green Things -- while the sorcerer had been out sacrificing virgins in the name of Yog-shoggoth, his patron slimy one -- enjoying the night air and sitting on the couch. Well, they started by sitting.

Zap'm'ded, having been extra bloodthirsty that eve, had finished early, came through the door to his keep with his characteristic evil grin, which he practiced at night in front of his enchanted mirror. After all, he was Moo's greatest wizard. But at the moment he opened the door, his smile committed hara-kiri, lasting about as long as virgins do in the city of Ski-du. Zap'm'ded's hands were up instantly, forming the Eldritch Circle of Mi-Go-You-Stay.

It is safe to say that if Comon had not grown up in the fierce wilds of Simmeria, the fireball that Zap'm'ded hurled out the window would certainly have ended the lad's newfound sex-life. As it was, the ball of immense heat missed, destroying instead a local dog kennel. Hot dog! thought the barbarian as he ran like the wind from a beggar's arse. And that was how Comon had spent the remainder of his week, dodging balls of fire and lightning bolts from clear skies.

The brawny fighting machine stopped but a heart's beat, cast his eagle-sharp, slate-grey, snow-cold and arrow-piercing eyes across the horizon. In his massive fist, the lad clutched his ancestral pride, the terribly tremendous sword, Swiz-Arm-E-Nife.

He continued to scour the landscape. There was a black tower on the plain below, luminous, vaguely squamous, oozing with death, sorcery and madness. "I think I'll go there," the barbarian concluded logically.

The warrior's notions of sanctuary were quickly dispelled when he reached the door of the tower. On the wood portal was nailed a sign, saying in clear Ski-dudian: "Sod off. This is the habitation of Zard of Uz, Moo's greatest wizard." Below that: "Beware of Dog."

Hmmm -- a difference of opinion here, thought the tall, brawny endomorph, opening the door, having no idea what a "habitation" was. Should I run into one though, I'll make sure to leave it alone.

The large conical building was just as cold and forbidding on the inside as it was out. Comon crept forward using all the natural stealth given to those who are seven-foot-six and weigh four hundred and forty pounds.

"What do you want?" boomed a squeaky voice. "Can't ya read?"

"A bit," admitted the mountain of muscle.

"This is the habitation of Zard of Uz --," stormed the voice.

"-- Moo's greatest wizard. Yah, yah, I know. I've been hearing a lot of that lately."

"Well, what do you want?" demanded a figure, showing itself on the stairs above. As the faint light revealed the man, Comon could see he was short, grey and very wizardly-looking. "I've got work to do, ya know."

"I'm a fugitive. I need sanctuary," begged the apparently helpless killer of thousands, sacker of cities.

"Well, okay, but keep your fugitivizing down. I'm busy."

"What at?" asked the barbarian.

"Nothing your pea-sized barbarian brain could appreciate. I'm summoning an Elder One to slay my rival, Zap'm'ded, Moo's second greatest wizard. So, leave me alone!" The small man stormed off to his workroom.

Comon did not call back the wizard to tell him that the aforementioned rival mage was on his way. As the warrior saw the situation, it would make it much easier for the "Elder One" since it wouldn't have as far to walk. Never let it be thought, declared the swordsman to himself, that Comon never thinks of the elderly!

Having been left alone, Comon took it upon himself to find some place to rest. After a few short minutes, he came upon a couch of black velvet and proceeded to sleep the sleep of the dead.

* * *

When the barbarian woke he found a silver tray filled with fruits and meat waiting for him, as well as a pitcher of good red wine. This breakfast was served by a lovely girl who sat across from him on a cushion. "Good morning, my big, bad barbarian," she cooed from rose-colored lips below rings of white curls.

"Who are you?" muttered the big man, rubbing his eyes.

"My name is Iwan'it. My father is Moo's greatest wizard."

"Zard of Uz?"

"Who else?"

"I've heard otherwise," the swordsman admitted, paused then asked, "Why do mighty wizards always have beautiful, virgin daughters?"

"Does it matter?" she responded.

"I guess not. It's just one of those questions in life. Like why does beer have foam?"

"How philosophical of you," Iwan'it congratulated him.

"I try," admitted the barbarian. "It's part of my dark and brooding nature."

"Is anything else?" pleaded the beautiful young woman, pressing her large breasts against his solid chest.

"I'm irresistibly drawn to wizard's with beautiful, virgin daughters," he declared, pushing her down onto the couch roughly.

"Take me. I'm yours, barbarian!" Iwan'it said in true 'beautiful-daughter-of-a-crazed-wizard' style. "But who said anything about me being a virgin?"

* * *

Comon woke to the bloodcurdling roar of something from another dimension. Throwing on his skimpy fur bikini bottoms, he grabbed his sword and bounded towards the doorway. Then, as he rushed up the stairs, did he notice that the girl was gone.

Voices flooded the stairwell from above. The barbarian slowed to listen to the angry commotion. "Where is he, slut?" It was a man's voice and one Comon knew full well. It was the squeaking bark of Zap'm'ded! But what could he be doing here? "I will destroy that barbarian pig! That rapist, that seducer -- who is obviously in league with your father!"

Rapist! Seducer! burned the swordsman in thought. She was willing, you dog. Especially after her fifth or sixth drink. Comon continued to listen.

"You would deny information to Moo's greatest wizard, Zap'm'ded of Ski-du?" There was a slap and a scream. Comon saw red. Nobody slapped a woman in his presence! He might be a barbarian but never a cad! Without thought, Comon dashed into the room, fire in his very soul.

As the Simmerian charged in like half a Bithunian dragoon -- in full armor -- bearing lances -- mounted on Srudeck elephants -- Zap'm'ded looked up from his handiwork of tying Iwan'it to a metal ring hanging from the ceiling. A large bullwhip rested beside the suspended girl, ready for the wizard's pleasure. The magician had only a second before the huge bulk of the swordsman would crush his life from him. It was enough.

Comon froze. His plunging form stopped as if it had been trapped in a block of invisible ice. He was helpless, not even his horse-like thews could break the magical force that held him.

The wizard laughed. He drew up a barrel from nearby and sat, surveying his captives. Picking up the whip, Zap'm'ded began to describe, for the barbarian's sake, as all good villains are ought to do, every point of his evil schemes, punctuating his statements occasionally by striking Iwan'it on the fanny. "Before I destroy you, barbarian, I wish to gloat over your useless life. And I want you to witness this." Whip. "You have soiled my daughter. For that, I can never forgive." Whip. "And after you and the girl, barbarian, I will defeat Zard of Uz, Moo's second greatest wizard."

"You are in error, brother. I will destroy you," a voice challenged from nowhere. Through a panel in the wall, the other wizard made his presence known. "I have called upon a being so great, even you can not stop it."

"Mother always did like you best," whined Zap'm'ded.

"Cthplegm ia ia Yog-shoggoth!" pronounced Zard of Uz.

"No! You did not dare! Not the Elder Old One!"

The room filled with a pale, ominous light. For the second time, Comon the Barbarian heard that fearsome roar. He fought harder to free himself from the bonds of airy chill, but to no avail. "Chrome and Mitre!" cursed the Simmerian. "I must break free." What happened next only added fuel to the savage's attempts to break out of his prison.

The mystical light dimmed and from the vastness of space, another dimension, from the long forgotten past or unseen future, came the most terrible thing ever: the Elder One, the Really Ugly, Nasty Thing From Hell! The beast was horrible and difficult to describe; only an alphabet of adjectives could suffice; it was: antediluvian, bilious, cadaverous, discordant, effusive, fetid, glutinous, hybridous, ichorous, jaundiced, kleptomanical, leprous, muscoid, nameless, obscene, palpitating, quavering, rugose, squamous, tittering, unspeakable, vomitous, wailing, xenophobic, yammering and zymotic.

"Kill him," instructed Zard of Uz, pointing at his brother. Zap'm'ded backed away, begging Zard to banish it to the nether pits from whence it hath slunk. Zap'm'ded screamed as the vast weight of the monstrosity covered him. Zap'm'ded, Moo's second greatest wizard, was no more.

Zard of Uz laughed, gloating over his triumph. There would be no further disagreements over who was number one in the wizard biz for some time.

Turning from the bleached, acid-eaten bones of his rival, the wizard looked at the barbarian who was beginning to move now that Zap'm'ded's spell had been removed by that mage's death. "Kill him, too," commanded Zard. And why not? He, too, was an overprotective father.

The barbarian met the slimy behemoth head on, the great blade Swiz-Arm-E-Nife hacking at a tentacle. Several others curled around the man's legs, lifting him into the air. Slashes and chops freed the barbarian, causing him to fall onto the thing's back (?). There at the top of the amorphous bulge was a jewel of blood red color. "Chrome be blessed!" cheered the Simmerian. "These things always have a weak spot." The heavy dwarf-forged blade descended on the gem, but failed to break it.

The beast went crazy, if that word can be applied to something mind-scatteringly insane, madder than the senselessness of the universe. In its throws the warrior was thrown from its back into a pile of carpets.

Looking up from his soft landing, Comon could see the thing had gone on a rampage and was attacking blindly. It was heading for Zard, who clumsily tried to counter its progress with a spell. "No -- no, back, you stupid thing! It is I, your master!" The cancerous beast could hear no more than it could see. Zard of Uz, Moo's greatest wizard, screamed as his brother had done. It must have run in the family.

It was at this time that Comon thought of escape. He looked to the stairway, then to Iwan'it, who still hung from the ring, half-naked, unconscious. He could not leave her to be eaten like an apple from a string. Using his mammoth-like strength, the warrior picked up the stone brazier that lighted the chamber. He flung it headlong, aiming for the immense gem on the creature's back.

The heavy stone pillar struck the thing, tearing away the jewel on its unprotected top. The beast screamed. A shower of black ichor spewed from the wound as the vast form began to dissolve like green, sludgy ice. The air filled with a nauseating odor.

"Who farted?" asked the barbarian. Iwan'it only groaned.

Comon cut the poor, tortured girl from the iron ring. He laid her down on the spilled carpets. Nearby he spied two sets of white, polished bones, Zap'm'ded and his brother, Zard. A look of sadness filled the barbarian's eyes, as he was going to say something profound, as only a barbarian with a brooding nature can, but instead, he simply passed out.

* * *

Though Comon's wounds were great, he did not die. He woke from a sleep of many days to find Iwan'it tending him. The injured man's brow wrinkled in confusion. "Girl, I do not understand. Why do you not slit my throat in revenge for your father's death?"

Iwan'it cleared her pretty little throat and declared, "Even though I loved my father, I realized that he was a very evil man. I believe the world will be a better place without him." The wench wiped away a sentimental tear. "Besides, he never let me out on weeknights."

Comon spent the next two weeks in bed, recuperating, when he wasn't expending some of his new-gained strength with Iwan'it. They were happy days, alone in the dark tower, but the swordsman knew he would have to leave soon. He had a destiny to fulfill, a throne to win and other things a barbarian really needs.

"Do you have to go?" begged Iwan'it.

"Yes, I'm afraid so," he comforted her. "I have some unfinished business waiting for me in Skidu."

"Will you ever come back?"

Comon did not answer, just smiled. Iwan'it knew then he'd be back as often as possible.

Without further good-byes, Comon the Simmerian turned his horse in the direction of Skidu, thinking of further R&R with Nih'sas. He concluded that his adventure had reaped no gold -- brought him no closer to his kingdom -- but he had won some real treasures. Two daughters whose fathers were permanently out of town!


© 1999 Edward P. Berglund
"The Really Ugly, Nasty Thing from Hell": © 1999 G.W. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Graphic © 1999 Erebus Graphic Design. All rights reserved. Email to: James V. Kracht.

Created: March 12, 1999; Updated: August 9, 2004