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Rage Against the Juice: Finale

RAGE AGAINST THE JUICE
PAPPY’S INFERNAL CONTRACT
VAMPIRES AND MINOTAURS: A LOVE STORY

NOTE: This post is rated PG-13 for partial nudity and suggestive themes.

And now, the exciting conclusion of the Mighty Morass’s adventure!

The Mighty Morass, surrounded by his legions of undead minions, stood overlooking the nunnery of the Sisters of the Silent Shelton. Nunnery. Ha! That was one way to describe the abode of the Sisters of the Silent Shelton. Another way to describe it would be to call it a Den of Licentious and Conniving Harpies. The latter description suited the Mighty Morass just fine. Because, in all reality, the Sisters were conniving and licentious harpies. Harpies who used men as play-things. Humping them like rabid rabbits until they (the Sisters not the men) became pregnant. Then, the evil nuns went all praying mantis on them. Snapping their necks and tossing their corpses to the birds. So the rumors went, anyway. Did I mention the sky above the nunnery was perpetually filled with circling vultures?

Any male offspring were promptly eunuch-ized at birth and brought up as servants in the nunnery. The prettier voiced were forced into a Yuletide Caroling Boys’ Choir. Female offspring became the Daughters of the Dirgeful Daughtry. And whatever was rumored about the Sisters went 10 fold for their daughters.
Of course, the Sisters of the Silent Shelton, claimed innocence. Insisting that they didn’t kill their men, that instead, their men killed themselves because they deemed experiencing the Sisters’ erotic pleasures the pinnacle of existence. After sexxxing a Sister, there was literally nothing left to live for. And their Daughters were paragons of virtue and purity. They explained away their castration practices by claiming a problem with thieving squirrels. Morass didn’t buy it either. Which is why, in his more spry years, he attempted to woo one of the Sisters and get to the bottom of the story.
His attempt met with some success.
The encounter went something like this:

Setting: A smoky tavern, crowded with people and smelling of sweat, ale and piss. Morass and the Sister sit in a dimly lit corner.

Morass: So.

Sister: So.

Morass: I like your dress.

Sister: It’s a habit.

Morass: I thought nuns wore dresses.

Sister: I thought necromancers had long white beards.

Morass: Can I ask you something?

Sister: (rolls eyes and sighs) No. I will not hump you until your head explodes then snap your neck.

Morass: Yeah but—

Sister: And we have the same number of breasts as other women.

Morass: (deflates) Really? I mean…That’s cool and all, but really…that kinda sucks. Are you sure you don’t have three boobs?

Sister: No.

Morass: Prove it.

She did. And for the first time in his life, the Mighty Morass gazed upon the boobies of a living, breathing woman. Which was as far as he got before his little necromancer gave up the ghost.

The Sister rolled her eyes again. “That was easy. Now it’s my turn.”

“Your turn for what?”

“Insensitive pig,” spat the Sister and got up from the table. She left without another word.

And here he was. Over a century later. About to storm the walls of the very nunnery he desired to explore the secrets of pleasure within. Hell, he would’ve probably even let them snap his neck if the sex was good enough. But not now. Now, the only thing on the Mighty Morass’s mind was revenge. And that poisonous emotion roiled inside him, building pressure of magically cataclysmic proportions.

Had Morass been prone to self-examination or even random moments of personal epiphany, he might have realized that all his nastiness stems from his feelings of humiliation and inadequacy. This realization could’ve led him to an existential self-awareness of growth and positive change. Alas, Morass was prone only to vengeance and death. As such, the only thing his self realized was that humiliation and inadequacy were best overshadowed by fear and violence. The Mighty Morass felt that 103 years was long enough to have suffered the Sister’s humiliation. Might as well get this show on the road.

“Attack!” he ordered his undead minions and they descended on the nunnery to do their master’s bidding.
Morass munched carrots on the hilltop above as his zombie slaves wreaked havoc on the nunnery. Every now and again, the sounds of battle were pierced with high-pitched shrieking. Whether it was coming from the eunuchs or the Sisters, Morass didn’t know. But he hoped for both. After an hour of bloody warfare, the sounds of battle died away to be replaced with the death wails of the wounded. This was Morass’s favorite part. The part where he could nonchalantly stroll among the dead and dying picking the best scraps for himself and leaving the rest to the vultures. He would stroll in, loot the place, get Raphael Esperanza’s Infernal Contract and Unsticking Juice and be on his merry way. Simple.

Only things are never simple. The Mighty Morass didn’t nonchalantly stroll through a field of corpses, instead he wandered stupefied among half cat, half human boys eating the flesh of his precious and innocent zombie minions. What’s worse, an imposing group of Sisters barred the front door to the chantry. Every last one of the ‘Nuns’ was clutching weapons and baring fangs.

“Figures,” said Morass. “Vampires. The lot of you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked a voice from the back of the nun pack.

The nuns parted reverently to allow the speaker to step forward.

“You,” breathed Morass, color dropping from his face.

“Have we met?”

Morass swallowed the lump in his throat and forced himself to speak. “Long ago. In a tavern. You wanted a turn at something. And then you left.”

“The necromancer. Mighty Morass.”

“You remember me?”

“How could I forget? We were a peaceful and benign order who sought our spirituality in seclusion. That is all we were guilty of. The rumors were awful, but we bore them with humility. But my ‘date’ with you was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We accepted vampirism and sought vengeance on the insensitive brutes who plagued our hearts.”

“I did something right, then. I should be revered among your order. Perhaps a shrine or a Feast Day in my honor?”

The Sisters’ eyes glowed a deep crimson and they growled low in their throats.

Morass’s brutish male instincts told him he was dangerously close to unleashing the fury of the Hells. “We’ll discuss that later.” He cleared his throat and motioned to one of the eunuch cat-boys, “You know, your pussy-boys shouldn’t be eating that meat. It’s not exactly approved by the Food Council.”

“Neither is what they had for breakfast. Enough chatter. What is it you want, Morass?”

“I come for the Infernal Contract of Raphael Esperanza and a bottle of Unsticking Juice for my barbarian.”

“Raphael sent you? Typical. It’s all a big club with you boys, isn’t it?”

“Don’t be daft. We aren’t in any clubs together. This is strictly business. Now are you going to hand over what I demanded or are things going to get ugly?”

The Sister laughed. “You are out of minions, Morass.” She whistled and her cat-boys snapped to attention, forming a formidable line in front of the sisters. “You tell Raphael Esperanza, if he wants his Contract, he better send someone that can reclaim it!”

Sweat broke out on Morass’s brow. The magic of desperation boiled inside him, but he didn’t have anywhere to direct it. He had to think of something or become vampire food. “Listen. You all seem like good women. And, being a patron saint of your order, I would hate to have to punish you for insolence. Last chance for forgiveness.”

Hell hath no fury…

“That’s it! Get him, boys!” screeched the Sister.

Morass threw up his hands as the cat-boys pounced. With nowhere to direct his magical energy, the energy was directed everywhere. A great wind rushed in, collecting the pieces and parts of the necromancer’s zombies. Snapping jaws, clawing hands and kicking feet filled the air. Morass stood in the eye of that hurricane directing his rotting projectiles into anything that moved.

The necromancer had reclaimed his power at last. He laughed maniacally, lost in the throes of magical ecstasy. Morass lost all concept of space and time and only came to when the Sister’s cry of, “Enough!” broke through his blood lust.

The hurricane died as quickly as it had been born. The nunnery’s courtyard was a disaster area. The corpses of cat-boys and mauled and mangled vampire sisters added to the litter. Only the head Sister was left standing on the steps of the chantry, her habit ripped and torn, exposing all the right sensual curves.

“I underestimated you, Mighty Morass.”

“Huh?” Morass blinked dazedly as he returned to consciousness. “Oh. Yes, well, don’t let it happen again.” He surveyed the result of his destruction. “Next time I stop by, a nice dinner and a warm bed will suffice.”

“How bout a warm bed with a cold body?” the Sister licked her fangs hungrily. “I’m Star, by the way.”
“Don’t get any ideas, Sister Star. Plenty of time for games later. Right now, give me the Contract and the Unsticking Juice. I’ve got business to finish.”

But first, he had a mess to clean up.

Epilogue:

“It’s criminal, I tell you!” Esperanza’s bull nostrils flared and his eyes glowed crimson.

“It’s my terms,” Morass insisted. “If you want this Infernal Contract, no more Nord Juice. You’re done. I’m taking over and selling Prune Juice.”

Mac stood behind him glowering. The barbarian had been itching to smash something since his Unsticking. “Better do what the boss says, Mr. Esperanza.” He cracked his knuckles hopefully.

Raphael paced back and forth, snorting and cursing. Finally, he dug in his desk and produced a scroll. “It’s all here. The business, the lands, the contracts, everything.”

Morass reached for the scroll and Raphael snatched it back. “At the same time.”

“As you will.”

They snatched the documents from each other’s hands greedily.

“If you’ll excuse me, I have a Contract to Breach.”

“Of course. We’ve got a ship to catch anyway.” Morass and Mak left, leaving Esperanza to his own devices.

The vampire minotaur locked all the doors, lit a candle and sat at his desk. He broke the Infernal Seal with trembling hands and gingerly unrolled it.

Morass heard Esperanza’s cry of anguish and betrayal even as the ship pulled away from the docks. He spotted the minotaur raging through the streets, desperately trying to reach him.

“Bastard! I’ll kill you! Give me my contract!” reached Morass on the salty winds along with several creative curse words. The last thing Morass saw before Fileep disappeared on the horizon was the town guard swarming Esperanza. Morass laughed and returned to his cabin for a glass of wine.

Damn it felt good to be bad.

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Rage Against the Juice 3: Vampires and Minotaurs, A Love Story

Nord Juice? Find out what started it all in Part One

What’s up with the frog named Pappy? That’s crazy! Read that in Part Two.

Never mind the indignities visited upon him at the docks when he tried to hire a ship. Never mind the humiliations and dispersions on his character he suffered at the Carriage Express when he tried to secure passage over land. Never mind that ended up walking (walking!) over the craggy Muerto Mountains and to the costal town of Fileep. Never mind that he was beset upon by bandits, wild animals, orcs and the occasional berserker unicorn on his journey. Never mind that he conquered each and every one of these obstacles (adding to his swarm of zombie minions in the process) without flinching once in the face of overwhelming odds. None of these things were half as annoying to the Mighty Morass as the situation he found himself in since his arrival in Fileep and subsequent meeting with Raphael Esperanza (sigh) who, as it turns out, had been ensorcelled.

Where once was a dashing rogue, now stood an over-muscled, stinking minotaur. Oddly, his eyes burned red and he spoke with the lisp of someone who recently grew a new set of teeth.

“Are you a vampire too?” asked the Mighty Morass, consumed in complete fascination at the magical monstrosity sitting across from him.

“Yes,” sighed Raphael, “As if this disgusting bull-man body wasn’t bad enough. I was also cursed with Vampiretus Blood Suckulus.”

“Amazing,” murmured the wizard and leaned across the table for a closer look only to be batted away by Raphael.

“Head shots are ten coins. What is it you want?”

“Well, to be honest, I wished vengeance on you for Nord Juicing an entire population of unstable lunatics. But any vengeance I could’ve wished has been outdone. So now, I’d just like my barbarian Unstuck, if you don’t mind.”

“Ribbit,” croaked Pappy in reminder.

“Oh yeah. And I’d like you to autograph a head shot.”

“Unstick your barbarian AND an autographed head shot? “ said Esperanza and snorted. “That will cost you a princely sum.”

“The Mighty Morass does not pay for favors! People do his bidding out of fear!”

“Yeah. Maybe a century ago. But now you’re just another spindly old coot who talks to frogs.”

Anger churned in Morass’s gut and he felt his magic rising. So did Raphael.

“You better squelch that right now,” warned the bullish rogue. “Or I’m taking the head shot off the table.”
Morass swallowed his rage and belched a plume of smoke.

“Now, to business. It just so happens that the answer to both our problems lies in the same place.”

“Ribbit?” croaked Pappy hopefully

“I doubt he means Tampa. Now shut up!” Morass returned his attention to the vampire minotaur. “Please, continue. You were saying?”

“I was saying, I can’t Unstick the Stuck. I was supplied with a special concoction by the Sisters of Silent Sheltons. They placed this curse on me and only they can remove it.”

“You crossed the Shelton Sisters?” Morass couldn’t help but be a bit impressed. Not that that ragtag group of glorified nuns could’ve challenged his supreme power, but for a run-of-the-mill thief like Esperanza, it was a moderate accomplishment.

“Not them, per se, but one of their daughters. I…showed her the wonders on the opposite end of the spectrum from Chastity. Needless to say, here I am.”

“You bagged one of the Daugthers of the Dirgeful Daughtries?” Now Morass was impressed.
Despite his condition, Raphael’s bullman frame beamed with pride. “I did. And I did it again…and again…and one more time to round things out. It was that last round that did me in. We were discovered and I made a dash for the window, carrying my clothes in a bundle. Somehow I lost a sock which they used to curse me.”

“That old black magic,” said Morass dryly. “It’s so passé.”

“I don’t care what it looks like. Get the Infernal Contract the Sisters signed against me and I’ll give you what you ask.”

Morass thought long and hard. He wasn’t used to “making deals”. Deals always meant he was getting a shorter end of the stick than he wanted. And Morass hated short sticks. But the necromancer smelled something other than bullshit from Raphael. The cursed man reeked of desperation. And desperation was Morass’s favorite cologne. If he did reclaim the Infernal Contract for Raphael, he could swindle much more out of the thief than an Unstuck barbarian and a blurry head shot. Something like this could catapult him back into legendary status. Uttering his name could once again send waves of awe and terror through entire countries. Yes, this could all be worth it…

“I’ll do it.”

Rage Against the Juice: Pappy’s Infernal Contract

Read Part 1. The Mighty Morass demands it.

The plan was simple.

1. Seek vengeance on Pappy in a horrible manner befitting the reputation of the Mighty Morass. Said vengeance would then send a ripple of terror throughout the Nord Juice community, eventually striking at the very core of the operation resulting in a fear-induced implosion of Nord Juice and all associated with it.

2. Stop at café for tea and cakes.

Easy as a Venuvian prostitute, right? Wrong. Of all the days to unleash his wrath, Morass picked Two Bit Tirsday. Every last sweaty bum with a litter of critters had packed themselves into the bazaar like desperate sardines. Worse, the whole place smelled like fish and body odor, or fishy body odor. Morass despised the bazaar for these reasons. That’s why he opened his shop in a back alley next to the alehouse district. There the air stank of beer and unprotected sex. It was the lesser of two evils.

“That’s Pappy’s stall there,” Mak pointed with a meaty finger to a stall surrounded by gruff over-muscled individuals. “He’s pretty busy. We may have to wait a while.”

“Wait? The Mighty Morass doesn’t wait! People wait for him!” He tugged the leash of his dead shop boy turned zombie, Ricardo. “C’mon Ricky. Let’s see how they fare against a flesh-starved zombie minion.” He shoved his way through the crowd of bargain shoppers, thankful for Ricky’s safety muzzle. The last thing a Necromancer wants is an unmitigated zombie outbreak. They go feral that way. Nothing worse than a feral zombie. Well, that’s not true. The bazaar was worse. And the fact that Mak followed behind chanting , “Bazaaargh!” like it was a pirate’s mantra did nothing to improve Morass’s experience.

He broke through the throng covered in other people’s sweat and missing his coin purse and stood before Pappy’s stall, waiting to be recognized. When business continued oblivious to the necromancer’s presence he loudly cleared his throat. When this failed to garner attention he took his staff and whacked the nearest Juicer across the back.

The man yelped and spun around, fists ready to fly. “What’d you do that for?”

“I need to speak to Pappy.” Morass stared hard at the man’s good eye.

“We all need to speak to Pappy, you old goat. Wait your turn like the rest of us.” He turned back to his business leaving Morass stewing.

“Do not trifle with me!” warned the wizard. “I command the undead!”

Still he was ignored by the ignorant.

“Need any help?” offered Mak.

“You dare suggest the Mighty Morass needs ‘help’? Hah! Watch and be amazed at my prowess!” The wizard removed Ricky’s muzzle. “Get ‘em boy!”

Ricky pounced on the nearest Juicer moaning, “Braaaaaaiiiinnsss”, in glorious undead rapture.

The oaf screamed like a barmaid and yelled, “Zombie!” just as Ricky dug out his first eyeball. By the time Ricky had torn out his throat, the other churlish individuals around Pappy’s stall had joined the fight. They dismembered the boyish zombie with extreme prejudice. Once they dispatched of Ricky they turned that callous prejudice on the Mighty Morass.

“Don’t take a single step!” demanded Morass. “I am the Mighty Morass! Necromancer and wielder of the Dark Powers! I will devour each and every one of your souls!”

“The Mighty Morass?” said one brute jokingly. “More like the Might Bore-ass!”

Laughter broke out among the group of ruffians.

“More like the Mighty Sore-Ass!” laughed another.

More heehawing from the goon squad.

Fury, mixed with heavy helpings of humiliation and indignation, bubbled in Morass’s gut. This emotional alchemy stewed and festered in his stomach, blending into a deadly power that he hadn’t felt in years. “I’m warning you!”

“Aww look,” another surly Juicer whined, “Looks like Princess Pretty-Ass is gonna cry.”

That was the last straw. Morass puked a column of flame from the very pits of his bowels. The first two Juicers in the inferno’s path dodged neatly. But the third was busy brokering a Nord Juice deal with Pappy. He turned around just in time to get blasted in his face. He instantly disintegrated into cinders.

“That’s what I’m talking about!” hooted Morass and burped a tendril of smoke.

The gang of thugs stared at the heap of ashes and then slowly turned their gazes to the necromancer.

“There’s more where that came from!” yelled the wizard threateningly.

“Get him!” roared somebody and the Juicers descended on Morass, pummeling him with fists, kicks, or Ricky’s limbs.

During the skirmish nobody noticed Mak walk quietly to Pappy’s table, pay for three Nord Juices (with Morass’s coin purse) and finish them all in quick succession, smashing the empty bottles against his head. Nobody noticed him grab the nearest Juicer by the neck and squeeze until the man’s head popped like a pimple. Only a few brutes noticed Mak’s eyes, so bloodshot they blazed fire, and his veins throbbing against his skin. But that was all they saw before the raging barbarian smashed them to gooey pulp. The remaining doomed bastards tried to mount a counter offensive, but they might as well have been throwing sand bags at a tsunami. Mak didn’t feel remorse, guilt or pain. He was consumed within the red-tinged world of the Rage. And since he’d tripled the recommended dose, he was teetering dangerously close to the edge of psychosis. He tore a swath of violence and blood through the remaining Juicers and then pounced on the prone Morass.

“What are you doing?” shrieked the mage. “Don’t you know who I am? You crazy oaf! Get off of me!”

Mak didn’t hear him or (more likely) didn’t care. He raised his fists to smash the necromancer’s skull when he suddenly froze. His eyes went wide and he toppled over, stiff as a plank and staring blankly at the sky.

Morass thanked the Nether Void for sparing him Its eternal embrace for one more day and opened his eyes.

Pappy leaned over him, smiling a toothless smile. “Lemme help you up there.” He hauled Morass to his feet and dusted him off.

Morass pushed him away. “I’m fine, thank you.”

“Quite a mess here,” said Pappy pleasantly.

Morass scanned the now-empty bazaar, impressed with Mak’s knack for total havoc. “The guard will be by shortly to clean it up, I’m sure.”

Pappy laughed. “You kidding? That was the guard.” He poked Mak with his cane. “This your barbarian?”

“I suppose.”

“Nice. Firm. Good muscle. You could get two bits on the pound for ‘em at the Meat Market. I know a guy.”

“Two bits?” Morass scoffed. “I was thinking more like four.”

“Yeah right. Might get you two and a half. Cain’t get anything for ‘em all Stuck like that, though.”

“Is that what’s wrong with him? He’s Stuck?”

“Yup. Sometimes, these Juicers, they get a little Juice happy, ya ken? Then they over-Juice and stroke out. The lucky ones die. The rest of ‘em poor bastards end up Stuck.”

“Well how do you unstick them? He’s really a key part of my whole vengeance plan.”

Pappy shrugged. “Nobody really kens. ‘Cept maybe Raphael Esperanza.”

“Oh that’s a pretty name.”

“Ain’t it?”

“Flows smoothly off the tongue. Not like those Scandic names. With all their “J’s” and free floating periods and such. Raphael Esperanza. Who is he?”

“He’s the man behind Nord Juice, that’s who.”

“Where can I find him?”

“Ya cain’t. Now, what brings you to my stall today?”

“Revenge. See, I recently lost my familiar Sir Trollop to a Nord Juice attack.”

“Tragic. What’d you want me to do about it?”

“I’m glad you asked. Hold this,” Morass handed Pappy his staff and dug around in his voluminous robes. He hooted in triumph and presented a scroll to Pappy and snatched his staff back. “Read this. Out loud, if you will.”

“Well alright.” Pappy pulled out his spectacles and peered at the document. “Let’s see here…I, the forenamed reader do hereby grant the Mighty Morass permission to transmute my physical form into that of a swamplands warted bull-toad for the purposes of familiar-ship. Signed with my immortal soul. As I speak, it shall be so.” The Juice peddler looked up at Morass. “Pretty crappy poem if you ask me.”

“Not a poem,” cackled Morass evilly, “An Infernal Contract. I own you now, Pappy. Mind, Soul and warty body. Now you will suffer the wrath of the Mighty Morass! ”

Devilish tendrils of energy rose from the earth and surrounded Pappy, encasing him in a cocoon of devious magic. His terrified screams turned into frantic ribbits and the demonic tendrils retreated into the earth leaving the new Pappy croaking in a pool of his own toad piss.

Morass scooped him up and deposited him into his robe. He’d pump the toad for information later. His quest for vengeance wasn’t over. He was closer to the heart of Nord Juice than he’d ever been. Revenge was nigh. Raphael Esperanza (that sure was a pretty name, *sigh*) would Unstick his barbarian before he met his death at the Mighty Morass’s hands. And then, the total collapse of the Nord Juice industry. All in a day’s work for an all-powerful necromancer. Now it was time for tea and cakes, but first he had a mess to clean up.

Rage Against the Juice

A fun fantasy fiction piece inspired by a writing prompt from obiwannabe.

The mage was sad. Sir Trollop, his favorite toad, had been his familiar since he was in diapers. So much love…affection…gone! Wiped out by that brutish oaf swinging a broadsword like a drum major’s baton. Fury swelled with the destructive magic inside him. First his store, now his toad. This had to stop.

“Hey!” he screamed at the barbarian.

The brute paid him no heed. He continued relishing in the chaos and destruction he was visiting on M&M Magical Mystery Museum and Gift Shop.

“I said HEY!” This time he screamed it with fury and that emotion transferred, as all magic does, into energy.

The wizened mage’s emotional manifestation splattered against the barbarian’s wide back like a raw egg. It slithered around slicker than snot and attached itself to the invader’s face.

This got the barbarian’s attention. He clawed his face and the invading magical emotion, howling like a werewolf in heat. Unfortunately, instead of halting the berserk frenzy of that oversized man-beast, the battle with the mage’s fury caused him to thrash around even more, sending over the remaining shelves and skewering the mage’s shop boy with his ultra-rare Wand of Many Miracles and Snake Oil Juicer (which was shattered in the process). That was it. Total ruination. The last bastion of the great and terrible mage, The Mighty Morass, had been obliterated by an over-muscled simpleton in a Nord Rage.

The mage spat in disgust, unable to believe that his power had come to this. It was only 253 years ago that the Mighty Morass first rose to the pinnacles of Infamy when he singlehandedly (well, he had help if you count his hordes of mindless zombies) conquered the city-state of Moist Gardens. No small feat right? Conquering a city-state and converting it into an undead factory must demand some kind of respect, right? Wrong. Mighty Morass was plagued by adventurers and would-be heroes for the next two centuries. Same story every time. They’d crash his gates, burn and pillage his city, murder scores of innocent zombies and high-tail it out with a chunk of his treasure or one of his magical trinkets. It was nonstop to the point of banality. These “adventurers” were really nothing more than bandits with a cause. They chiseled away at his resources and patience just like thieves until the mighty necromancer was forced to give. He barely escaped with his life on that day and he couldn’t help but cry as his city burned behind him. He’d been in retirement/ hiding ever since. Now all he had left was trashed by this imbecile caught in the throes of society’s newest demon: Nord Juice. Rage like a Viking!!! All the posters said. Rage indeed. They hadn’t seen rage like the Mighty Morass could rage. He’d find these Nord Juicers and rage them all night long. Starting with the offending oaf in his shop.

The barbarian had expended the very last of his wrath and now lay panting on the floor, the mage’s fury still dutifully clutched to his face like a little suckerfish. Morass leaned down and brushed the fury away.

“Are you awake? Can you hear me? You’ve destroyed everything! Everything! I’m going to disintegrate you!”

The barbarian looked frantically around, confusing leaking from his pores. “Where the hell am I? What the hell just happened? Who the hell are you old man?”

“Old man? Old man! I am the Mighty Morass! Great and Almighty Necromancer of Moist Gardens! And you, insolent barbarian, have obliterated all that I have left in the world.”

“Get out of here. You’re the Mighty Morass?”

“The one and only.”

“No way! This is great! I can’t believe I’m talking to the Mighty Morass. I loved all the bard’s stories about you as a kid.”

Morass inflated with pride. “Well, there are a few good ones,” he admitted.

“More than a few. Hey listen, can I get your autograph?”

“Well, I suppose I could manage a little something for such a dedicated fan. What shall I sign?”

The brute scrounged around the rubble until he found his broadsword. “Can you sign it, To my best friend, Mak the Knife. Always and forever, the Mighty Morass?”

“It’d be my pleasure. Now where is that runic chisel…”

“Real bummer what happened to your shop,” Mac said as he watched Morass carve the inscription into his blade. “If you want, I could help you find the guys that did this to you.”

Morass stopped his work and gazed hard at Mak. He couldn’t believe the stupidity of most people. But was it really stupidity? Or was it something else? Nord Juice could be the root of all of this. It wouldn’t be the first time society produced something self-destructive and then set it free on the masses. But somebody had to pay. Not only for the destruction of his shop, but for the deaths of Sir Trollop and his shop boy. True enough, torturing the idiot barbarian for his part in this would offer some small comfort, but there was a greater injustice here. If he had to blame someone, he might as well blame the demon. No telling how many other elderly wizards have been victims of Nord Rage. He’d be doing the world a favor. For once, he’d be the adventurer righting the wrongs and he liked the idea of that. “What do you know of Nord Juice?”

“I love that shit! Guzzle it like horse piss! Wait…are you saying that Nord Juice did this to you?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying.”

“Damn that’s hard.”

“Do you ever make sense?”

“Huh?”

“Nevermind. Listen, I need to know where you got the Nord Juice from.”

“I get it from Pappy. Down in the bazaar. Don’t you think that’s a bizarre word? Bazaar. Say it like a pirate. Bazaarrgh!”

“Shut up,” snapped Morass. “I’m thinking.” Deviousness rose with the destructive magic inside him. Pappy. That hapless peddler would be the first to feel the vengeance of the Mighty Morass in over half a century. And to be honest, vengeance never felt so good. But first, he had to clean his shop.

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