Deus Ex Machina

"Ogre The Unspeakable"

It was a dark and stormy night in the Imperial trading village of Schadenfreude; much like any night in this dank, miserable outpost huddled in the middle of nowhere. The wind howled like lost souls whom the Gods were exacting personal vengeance upon, and the driving rain roiled the muddy streets into torrents. The villagers huddled by their fires, listened to their wretched hovels creaking, and prayed the Storm Giants would go pick on some other miserable, misbegotten village. But the Gods have a thing for nights like this, bastards, so they huddled by their meager hearths, cursed their ill lot, and endured as best they could.

Despite that bummer opening, it was business as usual in the Last Man Standing inn: a despicable hole, the unofficial center of the Thieves', Degenerates', Sociopaths' And All-Round Losers' Quarter. The place was packed with the usual fugitives, escaped slaves, wandering vagabonds, Black Mages, and other riff-raff, so, yeah, the party was on regardless of the weather. The air was rank with stale urine, stale cooking, stale beer, and stale tralla smoke.

The crowd was noisy with drunken good cheer. Several of them were ravaging one of the serving wenches, while six more lay on the floor: one violently dead, one dying, one passed-out drunk, one stoned, one tearing at his clothes and screaming about spiders, and one having just been cold-cocked by a slaver's press gang. The adjectives flew thick and fast that night, and the local authorities long since gave up trying to get a decent story out of this place; a typical night, as was said before.

Of all that earthy, villainous crew, the earthiest and most villainous sat at the table furthest from the door (the dubious honor in this dubious place). The larger was known as Ogre: so-called since he bore an unhealthy resemblance to those creatures, and because he couldn't remember his real name. Not much was known about Ogre, other than that he was a Barbarian from the hill country who was sentenced to life in the salt mines (a short sentence, true) for ravaging an Imperial handmaiden. He broke out of there, so legends say, killing twelve guards in the process, and took up the skittish life of a thief and reaver. That seemed a bit far-fetched for his obvious limitations, but no one had the nerve to say so out loud.

Ogre seldom showed any emotion other than blood rage or utter confusion, but for now he was momentarily content...and a bit frustrated. The contentment was simple enough: while he lacked the wit to come in out of the rain, he at least understood there was no grog out in the street, so his thirst led him here a few hours earlier to a belly full of meat and his fifth or sixth tankard. His frustration...more on that in a moment.

The smaller fellow sitting next to him was Mouse, a typical thief. He was about as opposite to Ogre as one could be: short, slender, timid and quick-witted. He liked to think of himself (and was thought of by all who knew them) as Ogre's better half (out loud) or the brains of their duo (in private). In an odd way, thieves' status depends on their protector, and few indeed failed to show deference with Ogre looming in the background. While he often looked askance at Ogre's behavior, he nonetheless parlayed that deference into a cushy racket bringing him more loot and informal favors than Ogre knew about, or likely could comprehend.

They met two years ago during a particularly bloody escapade which netted a huge purse of gold and twelve more dead, followed by an epic bout of drinking and carousing which made Ogre the stuff of (lurid and vulgar) legends. Mouse thought at first that Ogre was a uniquely bold and successful Barbarian, but came to realize lately he was simply too stupid to know when to quit. Still, the money was good (he made a point of handling their finances), and if he spent a part of each day running for his life, at least it kept him fit.

Anyway: Ogre's frustration. The three things Ogre liked most in life were stealing, killing, drinking, and wenching—all right, four things. He had already slaked his lust for the first two by robbing an Imperial tax collector and killing twelve of the City Watch. He was now well into his cups, for the third item, and was vaguely wondering how he would satisfy his fourth. This was how his day usually went, and he would be hard put to change that ingrained pattern, but there was no outlet for item four in sight...hence the frustration.

He watched the group assaulting the serving wench for some time, which was starting to get under his skin, but the idea of getting someone to stop ravaging her so he could start was too much for his feeble imagination. The other tavern wench was hiding behind the bar (he at least understood assaulting the barkeep meant no more ale), and the only other woman there was a slave girl who clung nervously to a warrior almost as big as he was. Ogre watched him for some time, noting his great big muscles and his great big sword, and wondered about killing him (first item). But he was preoccupied with sex (fourth item) at the moment, and changing mental gears took way too much effort.

So his frustration simmered, building slowly as he slammed ale shots with ale chasers, and munched a ham bone. He watched the room quietly, like a wild animal, while Mouse watched him nervously and kept ready to dive for cover when the need arose.

It must have been midnight when the door opened, letting out a cloud of foul air and admitting a tall stranger dressed in full cape and hood. Few noticed at first aside from Ogre, who wondered vaguely if this was someone to rob first and then kill, or kill first and then rob. He was sinking into total confusion over that when the stranger threw the hood back, revealing a bold, aristocratic face with piercing blue eyes wreathed in shimmering red hair. It was a woman!

The room fell silent as she doffed her cape with one swift flourish, revealing her stunning figure. She was as tall as most men, with fulsome hips, long legs and a rampaging bosom barely contained by a straining chain mail bodice. Her fiery red hair fell in a shimmering cascade to her waist, framing her bare midriff, while her chain mail thong held a drinking cup, a leather purse, and precious little else.

The villainous mob made way for her in awe as she approached the bar. The look in her eyes commanded respect, her cleavage cleared the path like a battering ram. It was plain to all this was not someone to mess with. She paused to exchange looks with that great big warrior with the great big muscles and his great big sword: he faded cautiously into the background, leaving her his place at the bar.

"Woman," Ogre muttered, which showed how entranced he was to get big words like that right. His long-simmering frustration exploded in a flood tide of testosterone. "Me want!"

"Ogre, that's a Barbarian Warrior Babe!" Mouse hissed. "Steer clear of her!"

That confused him, which wasn't difficult. "Huh?"

"She's a Barbarian Warrior Babe! She can clean out any tavern in the Thieves', Degenerates', Sociopaths' And All-Round Losers' Quarter without half-trying!"

Ogre eyed her skeptically. "She not have sword."

"She doesn't need a sword, trust me!"

But he was drooling by that point, not that he ever listened anyway. "Ogre want!" He stood abruptly and shoved the table aside. Mouse managed a hasty catch of his mug, saving most of his ale, and protested feebly as Ogre advanced on her like a one-Barbarian conquering horde. He shoved two earthy villains aside—the rest scattered like wind-blown leaves—came up behind her and confronted her at the bar. "I'll have you, wench!"

She paused to give him a contemptuous once-over, then turned, put her hands on the bar, vaulted up on it, and sat facing him. "What did you say?" she asked with a cool look.

That also confused him, since his conquests usually fainted dead away or ran screaming at the sight of him. "Uh...I'll have you, wench!" he repeated.

"Will you now?"

But Ogre never was one for lengthy courtships, and he never met a female yet who could play hard-to-get with him for long. His courting skills exhausted, he tackled her, wrapping both arms around her waist intent on pulling her to the floor where matters would proceed in typical rugged Ogre fashion. Then she grabbed his hair and pulled his face against her chest right between her massive breasts. For a moment, Ogre thought his wildest fantasies of eager women were at last coming true, but then she twitched her shoulders—first the right, then the left—taking an exaggerated roundhouse swing with each. Her huge, solid breasts wrapped in hard, heavy chain mail smacked him up-side the head with a cringe-inducing WHAP! WHAP!, and he dropped in a heap.

"I warned him," Mouse muttered in the silence which followed. "Didn't I warn him?"

She sat on the bar and looked down at Ogre with a disdainful sneer as she swayed gently back and forth while the oscillations in her cleavage dampened out, then looked up at the silent figures around her. "Next?"

Dead silence. Even the wind stopped howling.

She twitched her shoulders again, evoking a collective whimper from the mob as she shimmied lethally. Once she saw they were properly cowed, she slid off the bar, dug a pence out of her pouch, and slapped it down in front of the stunned barkeep. "A mug of ale, and not the cheap rotgut you usually serve!" she snapped. Then she paused to kick at Ogre, who lay moaning on the floor with a broken jaw, six teeth gone, and a concussion. "And get someone to clean this floor while you're at it."

*****


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