Glistening light dazzled the waves' peaks as they played gracefully on the surface. A couple strolled by the sight, and it moved the female.
"Oh, isn't that just lovely?" she swooned. "I wish Mooky was here to see it." The man grunted in response, half not paying attention and half disgusted at hearing the name mentioned yet again. What attention was caught pulled his eyes towards the spectacle. He winced.
"Dunno, doll. It doesn't really," the man started, "it doesn't really... set right with me."
"Well, as far as here goes, I think wonderful." With her peace made, the pair continued their path, alongside the great pit of flame with a suspended lake overhead.
"It's just weird," the man couldn't hold in after a few silent steps. "Damn weird."
Her miraculous marvel soon turned grim. She tugged on the large man's sleeve and pointed up to the high blue. A monstrosity, a mess of fangs, fins, and feelers, lashed wildly about the water's floor. He ignored it. Such horrors were nothing new to him, not after all his time in Tower. It should have come to no shock to her as well, but still she pulled on his arm, ghost faced. It was not the beast that had her worried.
"There's a man," she gasped, "a man with the beast."
"Guh, Ilryg, who cares?" her companion groaned. "If some idiot jumped into the water, they deserve death. It's probably poisonous and teeming with a dozen more fiends bigger than that one. Everything around here is a death trap. That guy's as good as gone. Just forget 'im." She continued her efforts. Finally, the words fell past her lips.
A head unlike recognized life thrashed down into the air. The surface was covered with at least eight bulbous eyes of various sizes. Barb tipped fins fanned out and contracted as they feverously beat. Its three mouths snapped wildly. All was in an effort to knock from it a rider. Although thought drowned, he still moved. Purple clad hands clamped tight to a cluster of tendrils. His feet were anchored in one of the mouths, prying it open best he could. Like a rabid animal, the stranger swung his head at the creature, teeth bared, until it was gotten ahold of. Tearing back, one of many eyes was ripped from the socket. Rotten, yellow fluids gushed out from the fresh wound.
Releasing a hand for a moment, the prize was deposited into a deep pocket. It was not the first eye he had plundered from the leviathan, and it would not be the last. Taking hold within the fresh pit, a final bounty was secured in the same manner as the last. Rancid juices spilled out from the hollowed hole, drenching the already wetted attacker. Sadly, there was more chance of the beast suffering some form of infection from the man having his face in the open wound. He was disgruntled, crazed. A wild look of insanity and desperation persist in his eyes. Grabbing the writhing antenna and recently exposed nerves like reigns, the lunatic guided the monster closer to the land. It was greatly relieved once the assault ended and swiftly sped away in a yellow wake.
"Yeah, ya better run," the maniac taunted with as much swagger as his exhausted body could manage. "... Swim," he corrected to no one. Snatching one of his bounties from his pocket, he wrenched out the contents into his mouth. Safe water was a scarce find in the dungeons. He knew substitutes.
"Oh, dear. Let's... let's go, 'Lock," the girl whimpered, tugging on the man's sleeve with no where near the urgency as before. "I don't want to know what he'll do if he sees us." The words fell past his ears. The giant squinted at the stranger in deep pondering.
"You... you know that horrible thing?" she questioned with a shutter. Her gaze fell back to the curiosity, unfortunately catching him draining another eye. "It looks like he smells." She scrunched her freckled nose. "Does he smell?"
"You don't understand, doll, that's Freddy." His enthusiastic proclamation was met with a blank stare through her bangs. "Greenborne," the man clarified. Ilryg was taken back, overcome by shock and bewilderment, more so than when she saw the man grappling with the sea monster.
"The champion of this hell? The man who has braved this torment for years?" The claims were rattled off in disbelief. The pair was making its way around the smoldering crater to the old acquaintance. "That wretch is he?"
"Well, I don't think all of those are quite true," weighed Parilock, "but... yeah. That's the guy. That's the guy. What? Never got to meet 'im? I figured everyone's path crossed his at some time."
"I've only met him through the tales," the girl admitted. "There're enough of them. And you know this legend?"
"Oh, yeah. We go way back," told the brute. "I don't think I would have made it a week without 'im. Course, back then, I was a different man." His eyes dropped to an open palm as pains from his past raked his brain. "Very different."
"This is so exciting," squealed the lass, squeezing on to the muscular arm. "I feel like I'm about to meet a celebrity." Her words, as normal, flew by him. Rather than lack of caring, this time he was distracted, thinking back to the times that were. Reuniting with his "old friend" only reminded him more of who he was. It seemed like ages, but he spoke with his acquaintance just weeks ago. In the hell, every day seemed like a year, and each was a triumph to get through alive. "I'm going to meet the Mighty Warrior, Alfredore Greenborne." Parilock shook from his daze.
Frederick crouched near the flaming hole in the center of the wide room. Ravenously, he squeezed every drop that he could from the fleshy plunders before discarding of the waste in sack. The bag was left safely at the rim of the inferno. The concern was not for its appearance, which was entirely lost. Once yellow and rabbit shaped, the carrier had declined to fetid, mobile nursery for his growing grub. The ears and limbs fell off in a day. The fact it survived a week was an astonishment. The ocular pulp dropped inside was greedily consumed by the larva.
Still wired after his struggle with the dweller of the sky lake, he recoiled at the approaching footfall. Of those he had met in the dungeon, none had good intentions. Two beings now approached him. They appeared human, but false guises were not above his scrutiny. The male in the pair was large, broad shouldered. His thick arms hung low, clothed in cuffed sleeves. A sleeveless coat was worn over top, held together by a series of straps. His hair and eye brows were wild and unkempt. His beady eyes barely stood out from beneath the masses, but the warm grin, stretched out across a wide chin, was clearly visible. The woman was less threatening, nearly engulfed by the man. Her hair was short and combed down all sides of her freckled face. Her cloths were posh, trimmed in gold. Their fancy nature was nearly lost in the harsh exposure from what could have just been a day in the depths. She interested the lunatic less solely since she was not holding a hammer.
"Freddy," greeted the man with open arms, "long time, no see. Shoulda known better than to think this place finally did you in." With a mouthful of eye juice, Greenborne bounced his glance to the girl and back to the man. "Oh, yeah, I know. Every time, a different dame." The conversation was enjoyed so much on the active side, the lack of participation went unnoticed. "Don't worry, tho'. She's good. I'm sure of it. I learned my lesson since that nutty cactus wench." His companion mouthed out the phrase in a state of disgust and confusion.
"But, whoa, you took out the braids?" continued Parilock. "Guess you've been too busy to inspire fear, huh? You look a wreck. What pit were you lurkin'?" The still squatting addressee sloshed around the liquid still remaining in his mouth the whole time before swallowing it in one large gulp. The same blank look that had been on his face persisted. Gradually, the large man's grin slipped into a frown. "Well, I guess I'll be see you later. I'm sure of it. Oh, and you wanted this back, er, you wanted it..." As he struggled to find the right way to say it, he gave up and just dropped the hammer onto the ground. Scooping Ilryg around the waist, he left the confounded stranger without another word.
"What was that?" harshly whispered the girl once they were a safe distance away. "I thought you said you knew him?"
"Oh, I do."
"He acted like he never saw you before," she countered.
"He hadn't," the brute responded, "not yet. Heh. Now I know how he must have felt." His partner was not as amused by the situation.
"So... you know a man who's never met you," she tried to piece together, "and gave him our only means of defense?"
"That little stick?" laughed Parilock. "That thing was only weighing me down. Nah, I only carried it around as a favor. Freddy gave it too me. Said to give it back next time I saw him. Said I'd get it then. I'd understand." Ilryg rubbed her temples, lost in the situation.
"You're green, kid. You don't get how this place works," he eased. "I'm just now getting a lot of it."