The Carrot and the Stick Part 23

Chapter 22: Hunting the Barkerlug

The adventurers found themselves divvied up among the three teams. Each of the teams had a different objective.

The first, which was approaching old Jaggletusk head on, was to pin the body down. The Body Team. This team was led by G Slayer. As for who he was leading, well it was some of the more stout Goadskulls along with Ran the Brute and Ulex. Basically speaking, their job was to be the distraction. They were all bait.

Normally G Slayer would by hook and crook, avoid being the bait, but this time was different. He had the press-ganged Ulex to work with! This group was quite serious and silent, though Ran the Brute was mournfully stroking the gouges left in his armour by Gheel’s chomper.

They edged ever closer to old Jaggletusk, who while making a terrible mess gorging on an unfortunate tree, was keeping his eyes peeled on his surroundings. He had to watch out for trees that would happily eat him.

The second team was closing in on the barkerlug’s left side. This team was led by Triplefoot, Gemsparkle, some more goadskulls, Spongy and Waufronk followed him. Triplefoot hadn’t wanted to be on the same team as Waufronk. The ex-duke bat however was quite keen on having a fellow combatant that he could manipulate in a pinch, and G Slayer thought it was a good idea too. Gemsparkle had wanted to lead a team herself, but since G Slayer had started to call the shots, she hadn’t the nerve to say it to such a powerful and respected hunter.

Spongy was getting increasingly excited about the prospect of wrestling with one of the secondary bodies of the barkerlug.

Hey, hey Spongy, we just have to lure the body to one of the traps, are you listening to me Spongy” Waufronk whispered.

Leave him be, it’ll be fine, just fine, hahaha” Triplefoot laughed.

Shhh! Old Jaggletusk will hear us!” Gemsparkle snapped, ending up louder than either Waufronk or Spongy had been.

The final group that had to lead the rightarm body away was led by Lady Joykill herself. She spoke not a word, silently gliding through the forest. Mad Cackle-tackle was on this team but he was strangely subdued. This was of course because Lady Joykill had knocked him out and was having Koalaga ferry the lunatic battler with them. Together with them and other goadskulls were Eadam and Gheel.

Gheel was feeling fairly optimistic about this whole hunt thing. He was looking forward to testing out a few chompers, though he had already left a few as part of Kepo’s elaborate trap web.

Eadam, however was considerably more morose about the situation, especially with being on the same team as Mad Cackle-tackle and Lady Joykill.

I’m going to get eaten. Just my luck. Eaten before I can blossom into my foodie powers”

Lady Joykill almost tripped at the thought of Eadam blossoming into anything.

Don’t feel so bad Mr. Eadam, if worst comes to worst I’ll hide you in my sac”

Eadam did not feel particularly comforted by this offer.

G Slayer’s mouth was open in a horrible fangy grin as they inched towards old jaggletusk.

Make me huge… oh and Ran I guess” he said, eagerly.

Feeling a little exploited Ulex clenched his muscles, and did as the seasoned hunter asked. G Slayer’s spear and Gargoyle head shield expanded with him, and Ran was an armoured colossus.

G THREADING” He yelled, surprising old Jaggletusk.

The wind was a roar as it threaded through G Slayer’s needle. Jaggletusk roared from both his mouths as Ran and G Slayer crashed into him.

Quick, don’t give the beast any time, do a forest salmon rush!”

If there is one creature that the goadskulls revere, it is the common forest salmon. A fish that swims through leaves and underbrush. They are of course most common in debris lakes. The goadskulls with Ran and G Slayer began to jump a series of undulating jumps, rushing in a torrent at Jaggletusk.

Ran and G Slayer slammed their shields into the barkerlug, but it barely moved, still it occupied it enough to allow the other goadskulls to strike its body. Its secondary bodies popped off and roared in anger as the main body slammed Ran away, sending him flying through a couple of trees. G Slayer having used his thread of wind to anchor himself to the beast’s body itself was quite a bit better off.

Now, lead the other bodies away!” G Slayer bellowed “G FACE!”

Howling out from the gargoyle shield was again that dreadful face, and with the size of it, the barkerlug froze in horror for a moment, and that moment was enough to blast it away from the snapping secondary bodies, the bodylings. Following that movement, G Slayer grasped his wind thread, letting go of his spear. He lashed the spear about with the thread, driving the bodylings further away.

At that moment, the other teams attacked!

Waufronk was actually the first one to attack from the left flank team. He actually hooked the bodyling on his fishing rod. The rod let out alarming creaks and the line of the rod twanged ominously, yet the whole thing held. A pair of skeletal fish floated out from his leather jacket and pulled the pole with him. All the goadskulls apart from Triplefoot and Gemsparkle joined in on the pulling. Waufronk quickly let loose another skeleton from his jacket, a whole rhagular! It pulled too.

While they did this, Gemsparkle was throwing down a rain of javelins to discourage the bodyling from going back from whence it came! Triplefoot was also helping it on its way by giving fierce kicks, when he was sure he wouldn’t get torn apart by its savage tusks and teeth. There was still a number of close calls, but Waufronk pulled him out of those unfortunate ends by manipulating the goadskull’s bone leg armour. Spongy Snaps for his part just seemed to be ignoring the threat of the bodyling. If it attacked, he’d give it a punch. If it didn’t attack, he’d give it a punch.

They moved slowly but ever closer to the trap array.

At the same time as all that, the right flank team was attacking!

Lady Joykill woke Mad Cackle-tackle who dived right into attacking the right flank bodyling. That then, was most of its attention occupied, and Lady Joykill and the other goadskulls contented themselves with jabbing at the bodyling when it began to go a direction they didn’t want. Lady Joykill had hovering above her the fat lead coloured crying horsehead spear. Eadam could not bear to look at it, but it allowed Lady Joykill to attack with near impunity. Of course because a barkerlug is a being with three bodies, its mind is more sturdy than many minds, so the spear wasn’t quite as effective. The bodyling still tried to avoid the spear instead of taking it head on though.

Eadam tried to draw upon his newfound food magic, but it just resulted in him conjuring an aggressively projectile onion. He was quite disheartened by that but when the onion was diced by the bodyling’s tusks and teeth, it was clear that the bodyling did not enjoy the taste to put it lightly. Thus, Eadam continued to pelt it with onions of varying sizes and speeds. One time an onion hit it with such speed it was like a little explosion and stunned the bodyling for a bit.

Contributing to the luring of the bodyling, Gheel had loosed three chompers from his dimensional sac. These chompers had white wide rectangular teeth, and black fangs between these teeth. Their bodies were a glossy black and they coiled on top of their fat tails. As for what these chompers did? They rattled their teeth in such a way as to produce vibrations that were highly distressing to the bodyling. It made its flesh crawl and its bones shudder.

As the two teams led the bodylings away, G Slayer continued to fight the main body. He was getting a little bit cocky. He wrapped the body tighter and tighter with his wind thread, not forgetting to slap it with a G Face now and then. Ran a bit dazed, was finding his feet again.

Just as G Slayer thought he had the body well and truly pinned down, old Jaggletusk shook violently, crashing and rolling on the ground. Avoiding getting tossed about was all G Slayer could do. In the midst of this thrashing however, old Jaggletusk achieved what it desired, and the wind thread burst apart. The barkerlug sprang up to its feet, and before G Slayer could do much about it, it furiously hammered the goadskull hunter into the ground, slamming him with his body again and again!

G Slayer’s shield protected him, but it did not prevent him getting sunk into the soil, nail to the barkerlug’s hammer.

Ran thankfully joined the fight again, preventing G Slayer from being prematurely buried. Not that Ran fared particularly well. He also became a nail, but it gave G Slayer time to be dug out by the other goadskulls.

They ended up going back and forth like that actually. Still, the might of numbers, a well thought out plan and not having to fight to kill showed itself and each body of old Jaggletusk was led to the trap array.

The traps were sprung! Boulders! Logs! Goadskulls! Winding Wire and Rope! More Logs! Flat Chompers that snapped and held on! The bodies had no chance of resisting such a torrent of attacks and bindings. Exhausted and battered in pits, the barkerlug’s three bodies had been overcome, and shortly following that, the goadskulls killed each of them.

The hunt was successful. For a moment everyone collapsed. Though, Gheel claimed a barkerlug leg to feed his chompers before putting the little beasties back in his sac.

We just need to get these hunks of flesh back in time for the feast” G Slayer said proudly.

Haha, well hopefully we don’t end up attracting something really dangerous with these bodies!” Triplefoot laughed.

He might have laughed, but it made all the tired adventurers and goadskulls spring into action to prepare the bodies for moving. Dismantling the remains of the trap array covered most of their needs and they were soon off, bodies and adventurers in tow.

Back to the Mossmallow Clan!

Author: SnowyMystic