W-well this is embarrassing.
Ladies and gentlemen, animals and readers all, please excuse this delay, but I feel like it's quite necessary.
As it happens I've simply overestimated my free time available for shining up the project, and the amount of shining the project requires. I tend to believe that if you get something done right the first time it's better than doing it ten times quickly. That said, I'll be keeping episode one of this series on the desk for just a little while longer.
Oh, also expect a new Walking the Scar soon- it's only a matter of time.
In the mean-time, enjoy chapter one of Xtreme Manly Man Force of Intense Badassery, Book 1: The Fountain of Testosterone:
OI! MATURE CONTENT AHEAD! NOT LIKE NAUGHTY SEX STUFF, WE'RE NOT GOING THAT FAR WITH THIS, BUT SERIOUSLY LOTS OF BLOOD AND CUSSING AND GUTS. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.
CHAPTER ONE: FIFTY-FIFTY (AKA: PUNCH HIM IN THE FACE, TO DEATH)
Somewhere far from lands where reason and good-sense rule, walk two men. These two Subspace-dwellers are heading towards a large, oppressively-sharp ziggurat, shaped like a giant-ass fist punching the sky in its stupid fucking face. The duo halt a minute’s walk from it and feel the strange, dusty breeze blow against their chiseled, stoic faces.
“Ya’ think that's the place?” the large figure on the left asks with a deep, masculine voice to the figure on the right. The person on the right pulls out a map and looks at it for just a moment.
“That must be it,” the thin figure on the right confirms with a voice of notably-less manliness levels. “There aren’t any other fist-shaped temples for miles,” he adds with a mild smirk as he rubs his chin stubble.
“Good. Ya’ ready, then?” the large figure on the left asks. Some call him 'Ultra Death Graveman Death Death Death—' but for the sake of briefness, he will be referred to as 'UDGD.' He is a man of coal-dark skin, wide features, and intense eyes. His hair is very short, and he is dressed in full, black plate with the exception of a helmet. He wears face paint in the style of an ash-white skull, staring forth with manly indignation.
“Yes, and you?” asks the figure on the right, known by the locals as 'Super Manly Heart Tearer Outer' (or 'HTO' for short). He is a boy with a witty, decent look about him. His kept blond hair is held in a short ponytail and he has a charismatic, handsome face. He is outfitted in a light, thin plate suit, silver with aged blue accents, also without a helmet. He holds a solid rapier and a left-hand buckler, colored in the same tarnished silver and blue.
UDGD takes a quick look at his weapon: a gigantic, strange axe. He scratches off a thin layer of rust, and after a moment more he sheathes it.
“Yeah, let's fuck these goons up,” UDGD says with an unnecessarily angry scowl. The two ascend the stairs of the giant temple, ready to complete their quest with gritted, manly skill. At the top of the ziggurat, however, the path of the two figures is blocked by a huge beast man— its voided stare gazing into their souls.
“Halt, human, scum. This is a sacred temple of face punching. Only initiates with our order, The Great Society of Face Punching, may pass,” the large beast that totally looks like it's been working out with a super high protein, high human flesh diet for the past three decades says with a deep snarl and abdomen flex. UDGD scowls as he draws his axe.
“I think you're gonna’ let us pass,” UDGD says, clenching his teeth with intense, disgruntled strength. The intention of the visitors made clear, the beast enters a frontal stance, readying to tear off their heads and drink their blood while punching every inch of their bodies to oblivion. HTO does the same and draws his long rapier— warning of the oncoming, skeleton-crushingly-brutal fight.
The beast lunges forward with a snap of his teeth at UDGD, who thrusts his hand at the creature's neck. UDGD swings his axe with a single move, lopping off the beast's super muscular left leg and opening a gaping wound. Xtreme amounts of blood spray from the crimson hole, painting the armor of the two mercenaries. Fuck yeah. The beast howls in manly pain as it punches UDGD in the face with its muscular beast fist. As the two engage in a radical exchange of fists to the face, HTO delivers a precise thrust to the beast's chest. Blood spurts forth all around the entrance of the temple as the beast flails its fists at UDGD. A few more impalements by HTO and the beast falls to the ground, spewing insane amounts of bloody awesomeness and painting the stairs of the temple. UDGD, with an enraged yell, draws back his axe, to which he has given the name 'The Tomb Lord,' and throws it down on his foe with all the strength he can muster. The axe comes into brutal contact with the beast's neck, and blood covers both of the human warriors as the sinews are parted and the head goes flying off down the stairs.
With a sweet guitar riff provided by the Subspace Orchestra in the background, UDGD spits on the beast’s decapitated corpse and wipes the blood off his face.
“Thanks, bitch,” UDGD says as the two enter into the large temple. HTO sighs, secretly not being very fond of blood— and thus not really all that manly, though he does his best to look the part. The two pass through a torch-lit hallway, smelling deeply of raw body parts, blood, and more cool/gross stuff— when HTO, being the more perceptive of the two, hears voices up ahead.
“Wait a sec... that’s chanting,” HTO says in a tone that is not quite as manly as UDGD would prefer him to have.
“Yeah? So what?” UDGD responds with an arched brow.
“Oh, well I just thought that you’d like to know, because it sounds like there’s buncha’ beasts singin’ it,” HTO explains with a reasonable tone, the sort most normal people would find perfectly normal.
“Yeah, thanks,” UDGD says icily as he shakes his head in disgust that HTO would dare do something as unmanly as attempt to suggest tact. HTO shrugs as the two press forward into the drearily-lit halls of the sanctuary. Only a few seconds pass and UDGD can hear the many voices emanating from their destination up ahead. The two companions come upon an illuminated corner that leads into a bright place located at the end of the hall.
“That must be where they’re keeping ‘em,” HTO says.
The two quiet their footsteps as they reach the end of the hallway, and UDGD peeks around the corner with the profile of a shadow.
In the slight curve of his vision, the manly axe man UDGD can see a large pedestal surrounded by flames, which is surrounded by several dancing and chanting beast-folk, who in turn are surrounded by several mutilated corpses on fire. Atop of the pedestal and securely tied with ropes sits a dozen children and a young lady, all bound and gagged. This looks pretty manly, but not manly enough to beat UDGD and HTO.
“Looks like they're preparin’ for th’sacrifice,” UDGD whispers as he looks over the beast-men and their weaponry.
“What?! What's that?” HTO asks with a tone so un-masculine, UDGD would swear it sounds like the voice of a sissyass little bitch. UDGD sighs, showing his displeasure at HTO's lack of manliness while still maintaining his cool composure.
“It means they’re about to punch those people in their faces to death, eat their guts, and then set them on fire,” UDGD, the axe warrior of death, explains to the rapier user.
“Oh, yeah of course. So how will we attack?” HTO asks, shooting an “O.K.” signal to UDGD with his hand.
“How else? We tell ‘em we’re here, and then kill ‘em. Ya’ ready?”
“Uh, I'm not sure if that would wo—”
“WHAT THE FUCK’S UP, FAGGOTS?” UDGD yells at the large group of beast-men as he dashes into the main chamber of the temple. HTO cringes, seeing the small army of beasts turn their heads at the two of them. UDGD pulls a great breath into his lungs- it’s showtime.
“An interloper!” the high priest of the face-punching cult hisses at the sight of the two mercenaries.
“I'M GOING TO TEAR OUT YOUR SPINES, PISS ON YOU, BURN YOU, AND THEN KILL YOU!” UDGD yells in his most erection-crushing of voices. The dozens of foes form around UDGD and HTO as they draw their jagged, rusty weapons, each stained with the blood of many weakling foes. The high priest of the face-punching cult remains unmoved from the center of the pedestal where he is just about to punch the schoolteacher and the children in their faces, to death.
“Kiiiiiiill theeeeem!” The sniveling priest says with a deep, crimson-colored scowl.
The beast-men dash to dispatch UDGD and HTO in a frenzy UDGD, with his large axe poised to strike, throws a strong swing across the audience of beasts. His strike promptly cleaves through three of them, sending their organs splattering into their comrades. The rest waste no time in thrusting forward with their weapons, pushing UDGD back only an inch as he prepares his next swing. HTO meets swords with the beast-folk, parrying any foolish strike they make towards him. The two slash and gouge in the large group of beasts for several seconds— HTO skillfully evades and blocks every strike with poise and grace and UDGD takes the blows as they come; he feels that is the purpose of armor, to take hits and still be carelessly manly. The demoralized beast-men begin stancing defensively, allowing UDGD to break straight through their guards and chop them into a gory, crimson salad of weakness, failure, and parental disappointment. The high priest, dressed in robes of crimson and black, sees that the two are winning the bout against his minions, roughly halfway through the entire cult. He decides the sacrifice must happen immediately, turns to the struggling group of children plus one lady, and raises his fists to begin the painful, manly sacrifice.
“I DON'T THINK SO!” UDGD yells from behind. The priest turns his head just in time to see UDGD, flying in the air towards him, axe poised to strike. UDGD swings down with such inhuman strength, such dick-crushing force, a bunch of sweet guitars begin to wail as he splits through the high priest with a single strike. The high priest cries out in agony the second before his body explodes— blood drenching UDGD, the captives, and the alter in putrid, copper-tasting glory. The surviving beast-men are so distraught and intimidated by UDGD's display of manliness that they all drop their weaponry and surrender.
UDGD basks in the immense pride of leaping ten feet in the air and then splitting someone in half in front of dozens of enemies, and proceeds to take a victory piss on the piece of shit high priest in front of all his beloved subjects. Feeling relieved, UDGD turns to complete the second-most important post-fight task: to untie the children and woman. HTO nods with approval that the fight is over and proceeds to wipe the large splotches of blood off of his face, armor, sword, and shield.
“Oh, thank you so much, sir! Children! Thank the nice man for saving us!” the lady instructs with a nod as she’s released from the ropes.
“Thank you, mister scary guy!” the overjoyed children all exclaim on the command of their schoolteacher. UDGD puts away his axe and crosses his arms in a cool, uncaring way.
“Yeah… what the fuck ever,” he says, looking off to the subdued beast-men. HTO smirks from below as the children flood UDGD with compliments on his greatness, and how so many of them want to be as cool and badass as him when they grow up. “Shut up. It's all in a day's work,” UDGD adds as he shoos them off down the hall and out into freedom. The children and teacher rush away past the surrendered beast-men.
The kids seem to have taken the brutal slaughter of dozens of creatures fairly well, as they are all laughing and making jokes as they leave. HTO sighs as he spares a thought about children raised in subspace; violence is so normal to them that something this traumatic is barely scarring for them by their age.
The children and teacher step off to return home and UDGD turns his head to HTO and the remaining beast-folk. The beast-men freeze up once they notice UDGD's angry, super manly glare, which promises an awesome, disemboweling death to any who defy his will- he’s got a good energy like that.
“ALRIGHT, BITCH SISSIES, SHAKEDOWN TIME. LINE UP YOUR STUFF RIGHT HERE!” UDGD commands, pointing at a certain place near the shrine. The beast-men stumble to work, not wanting to displease their incredibly strong and angry looking visitor. UDGD leaps down and joins HTO, who has just finished cleaning his suit of armor near the growing pile of loot.
“Hey, pretty okay job, I guess,” HTO says moodily in an attempt to seem stoic and unaffected by the fight.
UDGD just sighs- this HTO kid is such a fucking pussy.
The beast people scramble around for anything of value they can find, and then all halt near the pile, hoping that the murderer of their leader is happy with what their offerings.
UDGD crosses his arms with an initially-disapproving stare. Most of the treasure they have looks non-manly and just plain weird. There are piles and piles of useless baubles, bronze and other various cheap metal items, and a single copy of the first book in the Oscar La’Coss book series— a novel in which he has no interest in reading, because reading’s for weaklings. A matter of fact, so little of it looks good to loot and sell that UDGD feels he may tear out the hearts of the beast-men, make a chair out of their furry corpses, and then just sell that instead. He was fully prepared to yell in their faces and kill them all, except he’s suddenly spotted something in the pile that catches his eye— a scroll.
“Fuck’s this?” UDGD asks with a curious glare. The beast-men shuffle about nervously, until one that knows what it is looks at the object UDGD is pointing at.
“Tis a map... sir,” the beast-man responds, head hanging low out of respect.
“A map for what?” he asks the beast man while tapping his foot in thought as he extends his hand to take it. The beast man humbly creeps forward and places the rolled up scroll in his hand.
“To a great treasure spoken of by our ancestors. Tis said to be a fountain that produces unlimited amounts of the purest of manly fluids.”
UDGD scowls. “Gross.”
“Nay sir, you misunderstand. I speak of testosterone, the essence of manliness,” the beast corrects, reversing UDGD's stance on the subject. The two warriors are taken aback slightly. HTO is taken aback much more, of course, because he is not nearly as manly as UDGD, who only displays his surprise with an even more-morbid scowl. While he does his best not to show it, UDGD is actually quite excited about the idea of gaining unlimited manly power. If the scroll’s legit, that’s exactly what he’ll have.
“I'll be keepin’ this,” he says as he looks over the map. It’s tough to decipher— the geography looks absolutely nothing like what he is familiar with.
By the way, map-reading isn’t for weaklings. Cool badasses love reading maps- got it? Because it leads to cool badass stuff, like cigarette, beer, or explosions.
“Tis contained in another subspace realm, sir. Only the most experienced of orienteers could find it. Legends speak that the road is perilous for all but the manliest of warriors.”
“Yeah, cool,” UDGD says, putting the map in one of his in-armor compartments which slides out to reveal an open hatch. He turns to leave, HTO following promptly behind, and only looks back at the beast-folk to say one last thing:
“Yeah, and stop punching people in the face; that's my job,” UDGD warns, causing a sweet, industrial-genre “Da dun, da duuuuun~” accompaniment from the unseen Subspace Orchestra. The beasts all fall to their knees in reverence— they know well that only a serious badass can make the invisible orchestra that persists through all of subspace play music with that level of awesomeness- the most the Face-Punching High Priest got from The Orchestra was a five-second horn quip when he slipped on a stray corpse- idiot.
UDGD and HTO make their way back through the hall and out of the temple. Going down the steps, HTO turns to his comrade.
“So, now that we're done with the quest, we just split the money fifty-fifty and you keep the map?” HTO smirks at who he sees as a friend after only a single mission. UDGD snorts out air with a crevice-like frown and stops at the bottom of the steps to look HTO in the eyes.
“Ninety-ten” UDGD responds, crossing his arms with stoic certainty. HTO’s eyes widen and he stutters like a big baby for a moment before composing proper words.
“ ‘Ninety-ten’? That's insane! I killed more than you!” HTO throws his hand to his rapier hilt with an alert stare.
“Yeah, but the kids and babe would've died if it weren't for me killin’ th’boss.”
“Fifty-fifty is what we agreed on! You should be grateful you got a professional fencer for that price!”
“And you should respect th’ fact I'm a better warrior than you, n’deserve more,” UDGD says, leaning forward without expression. HTO stretches to look bigger.
“Oh yeah?!” he says as he flexes for the sword draw.
“Yeah,” UDGD says, cracking his knuckles.
“WELL, I T-THINK YOU'RE ABOUT TO THINK TWICE ABOUT THIS!”
“ ‘N why’s that?”
“B-BECAUSE I'LL TELL THE AUTHORITIES!” The moment this halting statement exit's Heart Tearer Outer's mouth, UDGD sighs.
“You'll tell the authorities? Pretty lame, man. I fucking knew you were a sissy bitch.”
“I'm not a sissy!” HTO shouts.
“Prove it, bitch-ass, turn right around n’tell ‘em. See what it gets ya’,” UDGD says as he moves his right hand to retrieve his axe. His cold, obsidian stare makes HTO freeze, ponder the situation and then avert his gaze. “That's what I thought. Ninety-ten it is,” UDGD confirms with only the slightest of smirks. HTO sighs and nods as the two of them make their way back to the town.