It was a brand new day in Elcon, the Sun was shining bright, staring down at everyone with his big eyes and happily swaying his feet. The snow that was ever-present glistened like badly made icing. In the distance a blimp-like creature honked cheerily. Amid the snow, a huddle of houses gathered together, silent and sleeping.
Within these houses, there was one quite lazy being slumbering gently. It was a small house with only one room, and in this room was a hammock. This quilted hammock groaned in time with the snores of its occupant. A mound of quilts covered the sleeper. There wasn’t much in the house other than the hammock. Just a table, chairs, the scattered pieces of some obscure elconic boardgame and a bottle rack. The chairs were plain rocking chairs made of blue wood and the table due to age was a rocking table that was also of blue wood. A gun, a blunderbuss of red-brown wood and crimson metal was propped up next to one of the wall, and along with it was a bag of metal spheres.
In the distance, a high pitched shriek cut through the air, but the heavily sleeping hammock owner just grunted and rolled over inside the hammock. The pattering of trotters approached the house, and the door was flung open with a bang, then closed with another bang. The hammock dweller did not awaken.
The one who ran into the house was a purple hog wearing a brown toga. He looked extremely agitated. He moved the table and then the chairs in front of the door before he went over to the hammock.
“Wake up Phred! WAKE UP! WHAT ARE WE FEEDING YOU FOR?!” he squealed shaking the hammock.
Phred tumbled out of the hammock. A round bumpy red shell. Snores came from inside the shell.
The purple hog began shaking the shell.
“IF YOU DON’T WAKE UP THEN EVERYONE IS GOING TO GET EATEN, THEN YOU’LL HAVE TO FEND FOR YOURSELF!”
Finally Phred stirred. First one brown hairy clawed limb extended out of the shell, stretching and cracking. A second limb came out. A third arm with a clawed hand came out to scratch the other arms, and fourth followed promptly afterwards. After that came a pair of furry spider-like mandibles, then three stalks with blue eyes on the end of them popped out, blinking blearily.
Phred finally noticed the purple hog before him.
“Eh, Royale? Is it already time for breakfast?” Phred asked, rubbing his mandibles together eagerly.
The small purple hog called Royale clutched his head and gave out a distressed oink.
“Breakfast? If you wait any longer, we’re all going to become breakfast? You need to do your job as village guardian!” he complained.
“Eating right? Were’s breakfast?” Phred asked, still not taking in the situation and poor Royale’s panic.
Your job isn’t eating! Was what Royale was going to retort, when there was a savage growl and then something slammed against the door of the small house! It did not stop, but became fiercer and fiercer as it slammed up against the door!
“What’s happened?” Phred asked, one eye on Royale and two on the door.
“I woke early, so I went to do my morning chores, getting milk from the mottles and checking the underground crops for pests, but while I was checking them…”
“Yes, Yes? What?”
The door burst open and a pack of cabbages running on their roots tumbled in, baying for blood! Their leaves rotated and opened in a horrifying maw! Royale fell behind Phred and shrieked.
“They’ve gone bad!” he screamed.
Phred fell over as a cabbage jumped on his shell, but the vegetable was unable to use its leafy maw to break the shell, and so it ended up being used as a club by Phred to beat the other cabbages into submission. In short order the savage cabbages were reduced to green pulp.
When dead vegetable matter comes back into horrifying unlife, it is called truant. However it is not only dead vegetable matter that can start hungering for the living. When plants still living do this, they are simply called ‘bad crops’.
Phred loaded his blunderbuss and slung his bag of ammo over his shell.
“It’s harvest time!” he declared.
He then heroically strode out of his house on two of his hands. Royale was about to follow, when a panicked Phred dashed back into the house. Hot on his palms was a swarm of baby beetroot, he slid back and fired off a shot at them, and following that he beat the rest into sauce with the butt of his blunderbuss.
“Why didn’t you tell me that there’s so many of them?” He accused Royale.
The unfortunate hog shrugged.
“You just went off on your own, what was I supposed to do?”
“Nevermind. With these numbers, there’s probably a veggie king riling them up. I’ll have to slay that to get the rest of the crops to flee”
“That sounds like a solid plan, while you do that, I’ll hide carefully. I wish you well!”
Phred stared at Royale.
Sweat started to bead on Royale’s head.
“I-I’m going to hide now”
“I don’t know the way to the underground fields”
“Maybe it would have been better if I had been eaten in my sleep”
“Don’t talk like that!”
“Phred” -he actually cares about us?-
“If that happened, who would grow my food?”
There was no resistance from Royale’s brokenhearted body as Phred tucked him under one arm and walked out of the house again.
Magic wards kept the snow back from the streets, and thus it looked as if they were in a tunnel with a ceiling of snow. Growling vegetables stalked the streets and the houses were silent, either because the occupants were asleep or were trying very hard not to attract the attention of the deadly people-eating vegetables. Phred was actually showing some intelligence and was trying hard to not attract the attention of all the vegetables.
“This way now” Royale said, indicating that Phred needed to turn right down a street.
Rounding the corner, an aggressive artichoke leapt at Phred and tried to choke him! It had some difficulty with this as Phred’s neck was not visible, if indeed he actually had a neck in the first place. So, the artichoke settled for the next best option and tried strangling the life out of Royale. A hasty beating and Phred saved the hog from an unpleasant end.
They continued on like this, getting jumped by this vegetable or that vegetable, the vegetable having difficulty with Phred, attacking Royale, then being beaten by Phred. Royale was not happy about this arrangement, but Phred felt everything was fine. Finally they came upon one of the entrances to the underground farms.
It was however teeming with bad crops.
“Oh dear” worried Royale
“Well, this is a problem, I’ve got just the solution for this though”
Phred lifted Royale and placed him on top of one of the signs connected to a nearby building. It was a tavern with a happily drinking pig as the sign. The hog safely placed on top of the pig, Phred began the next step of his plan.
“Wait, are you…” Royale began.
Phred climbed up the wall on the other side and with all his might tossed one of his blunderbuss rounds at the tavern! As soon as it made a loud bang, Phred vanished into the snow above. Royale could only wail in despair as the bad crops gathered around beneath him. A moment later, Phred fell from the snow right into the underground entrance. He gave Royale a thumbs up as he fell. Royale wept.
Underground, Phred sped past the bad crops, he wasn’t going to get into a fight with them. It would take too long. Dodging this vegetable and that vegetable and clubbing the odd one that he couldn’t evade, he made it to the underground farms! Straight away he could see what the veggie king was.
He had heard the villagers were growing a prize pumpkin. A king among pumpkins, and it seemed that with excessive pampering, the pumpkin had become spoiled, and went bad! It was a massive thing, being more than twice the size of him. As it noticed him, it got up, exposing a muscled lion-like root body and a mane of vines with lesser pumpkins fiercely snapping. The great pumpkin cracked, and that maw let loose a thundering roar.
With a blast of his blunderbuss, Phred cut off that roar! Sadly the round didn’t do much damage to the veggie king, and the lesser pumpkins shot out at Phred. He rolled as they crashed into the soil behind him. Some adventurous turnips tried to bite Phred while he was down, but he slapped them silly and then fired them at the pumpkin king with his blunderbuss!
Roaring at being pelted with hard turnips, the veggie king directly charged at Phred, who had no choice but to jump out of the way to avoid being crushed. Seeing that his attacks were not proving effective, Phred reloaded his gun and considered a different course of action. A lesser pumpkin shot out at him, and he stepped back to avoid it, then he lunged, grabbing the vine it was attached to, with a mighty yell he tore the vine apart! The small pumpkin grew still, and Phred knew then what course of action to take.
He looked around at the ceiling, checking for a handy stalactite. He quickly spotted an unnervingly pointy and large one. He just had to lead the veggie king toward it. The king in question pounced at Phred, who just flung himself out of harms way and began to flee like a bat. With a roar, the veggie king expressed its displeasure at his flight, and slowly prowled after him, pausing for a moment to swipe a bunch of cabbages in his direction. Avoiding the rain of hungering cabbages, Phred got in position, and the veggie king followed soon after.
Wishing to prevent any mishaps, Phred aimed at the stalactite and quickly fired. With a loud crack, the stone fell, and the veggie king had just turned to look up at it when the severed rock fell down and cut the great pumpkin right off. The whole plant collapsed, and Phred relaxed only when the bad crops had fled the farm in fear.
He let out a long breath and then looked sadly at veggie king. It was his prediction that he and the villagers would end up eating pumpkin for months.
“I guess it would be too wasteful if I smashed it and claimed it happened in the battle” He mused.