“Should we knock?”, I snickered, marveling at the staggering amount of blood.
“Nah…they rolled out the red carpet for us”, Lorenz sarcastically responded.
“That’s the most blood I have even seen!”, blurted Aven.
“I’ve seen more. Much much more”, a way too serious Myrrh added.
“I can think of thirteen possible reasons why this fleshforge is so bloody”, Goethe stated, he continued after a deep breath, “First, a back end sphincter malfunction…”.
Lorenz interjected, “Please keep it to yourself Goethe. I just ate”.
We unceremoniously entered the bloody tower. Unbelievably it was twice as bloody on the inside, floor to ceiling and wall to wall. No one greeted us so we took a look around. The first floor seemed to be a warehouse full of strange alchemical goods.
“Mostly ooze countermeasures”, Goethe explained.
“For fucks sake, I hate oozes. Why do creepy towers always mess with oozes? Why not make something useful like a more delicious cow?”, I rambled.
“Quiet! I hear someone”, snapped Lorenz.
I heard it too, the muffled wails of someone on the verge of a dirt nap. Lorenz and Aven bolted to the rescue. They found a munthrek man on the ground writhing in agony. Up close, you could see something projecting under his skin like wandering goosebumps the size of rigging knots. Before I knew it, I was blindsided by the pool of blood under my feet. The bloody ooze forced its viscous pudding down my open mouth. I threw it up and ran away like a frightened child.
“It’s trying to get me pregnant with ooze babies! I felt it release its seed!”, I cried. Aven and Goethe eliminated the threat while Lorenz cared for the screaming man, ignoring me completely. I watched as the others kept pouring precious rum and other rancid concoctions down the limp man’s throat.
“Why torture him more?”, I asked after composing myself.
“He’s got an angry ooze in his gut. We need vinegar!”, demanded Aven.
“Ahh! A simple acid, C2H4O2, give me a moment. Where did I put my portable lab?”, Goethe proclaimed. His what?
Sure as water is wet, Goethe spontaneously catalyzed up a vial of vinegar. The man puked up an entire blood pudding ooze monster (So Gross!) which we dispatched quickly before it could impregnate anyone else. After, Lorenz got the guy, Bil Li, healthy enough for talking. He told us to find Rudhale in the fleshforge chambers below that his boss would know what to do. We went downstairs and checked out the fleshforge chambers. Turns out, a flesh forge is just a big bath tub with lots of arcane engraving on it, I was expecting a crazy over-engineered butcher shop with skinned animals everywhere so it was a bit of a letdown. From one of the four chambers we heard some mysterious shuffling. Goethe summoned an invisible scout to check out the noises. A few seconds later…
“You’re the wayyy wrong coLor! You little devil!”, a man effervescently shouted, his voice oozed with all the eccentricities of a fabled flim flam man. We heard a barrage of explosions and ego-maniacally laughing from the chamber.
“Rudhale?”, yelled Lorenz.
“Yes! What coLor are you?”, questioned an outlandish voice.
“Black, blue, white, and pale”, Goethe sharply answered.
“Wayyy wrong answer! Bombs Away!”, shouted the bizarre man behind the door.
“Wait! We’re chartreuse like you. Ignore that other idiotic. He’s blinder than a deaf bat”, saved Lorenz. He pointed at the chartreuse ashy dust on the floor and motioned to Goethe to magically change us to the same color.
“Ahhhh…well if that’s the case. I need a nap…”, the man yawned.
We entered the vat room and found a sleeping chartreuse munthrek with perfectly coiffed hair wearing wing tips and a flamboyant fur outlined lab coat. Immediately, we tied him up and disarmed him. Lorenz somehow managed to cure the odd man of his chartreuse sheen with diamond dust and magic.
“What are you doing here?”, asked Lorenz.
“Great question, Mister. I mean, what are any of us doing here? Wow. Food for thought”, Rudhale answered as he rose. He shook his head and yawned again.
“I’m Rudhale, Captain of Industry, that’s if your industry is ooze. I started out, making platypus bears, but there’s no money in platypus bears even though they’re more tender than beef…”, he continued in his charismatic manner, “I had a vision one night about oozes, the bigger the better the richer I get, so I switched production. Let me tell you oozes are the next big thing. I plan to put an ooze in every home, they’re that useful!”.
“Focus Rudhale! What the hell man? Where are your oozes?”.
“Don’t know about that. The last thing I remember, I was in my observatory watching a meteor shower while sanding the calluses off my feet. Hmmm…that reminds me I think I have a rash. Where’s my assistant? Bil Li! Bil Li!”, Rudhale exclaimed in a carefree manner. He began to stretch wildly like a baby bird.
“I need to do my Rudhale-calisthenics program to get my mind warmed up. Genius takes a warm mind”. he said while doing pelvic lunges with his arms akimbo. Was this munthrek for real?
“We scraped Bil Li off the ground ten minutes ago. He is barely alive upstairs”.
“Great! Tell him to go downstairs and do the thing”, said Rudhale mid handstand.
“I am guessing my top secret carnivorous blobs are down there. They shouldn’t have gotten too big. Only 10 or 12 people to absorb down there. They’re each probably no bigger than a platypus bear, two tops. Luckily, I don’t keep the leftover platypus bears down there this time of year, they’re real jerks when in heat”, Rudhale elaborated while bending over to touch his toes.
“Strangely, I’m allergic to oozes. I got it! My Rudhale-calisthenics must be working!! Why don’t you fellas do the thing for me?”, he said, then he stood erect and flashed his pearly whites at us.
I couldn’t tell if Rudhale was a brilliant genius or a brilliant bullshit artist. No matter which, we were already committed by our own curiosity. Why not clear a few more floors? We crept downstairs past the bunks to the cellar. My dragon heart pumped like crazy. I’m certain I’m developing an ooze phobia. Then I saw the red undulating blob.
Definitely an ooze phobia! The carnivorous ooze was straight out of my worst nightmares. A huge alien pool of blood red unrelenting uncaring hunger! It was so big I didn’t need to aim. I just closed my eyes and fired and fired and fired. When I opened my eyes, the ooze was splattered everywhere in abstract gore like a red drip painting. Aven looked like he was part of the canvas, “Cease Fire!”, he shouted, “It’s dead”.
“Did it get you pregnant?”, I asked.
“How many blobs did you find?”, Rudhale called down from atop the stairwell.
“One”, answered Goethe. Did he expect more?
“How many fleshforges were open again?”, he quizzed in a shaky tone. What else was the bastard hiding?
“Two”, replied Goethe.
“Whoa! The voices in my head don’t like that. I was hoping the burnt ooze odor was coming from down there and not Ecanus. Well fellas! I got one more little thing for you to do. Why don’t you come to the roof?”, he finished. You could tell something was off with him. He talked too fast even for a crackpot fast talker.
Once on the tower roof, we saw Ecanus a few miles away burning like a five alarm fire. You could practically warm your hands from the heat. Between the razed buildings we saw a few glimpses of a massive crimson blob rolling and twitching. Yup, definitely an ooze phobia, I struggled to hold in my puke. It was biggest freaking creature I’d ever seen!
“I named him Funky Boy. I added something special I found in the Mana Wastes to the ooze mix. Funky Boy loves to absorb magic flesh. Can you imagine the amount of magic he can absorb in Ecanus? He may never stop growing.”, Rudhale spoke with bewildered fascination. Funky Boy came into view again, engulfed a score of battlemages, split in two, and then split in four. The look on Rudhale’s face turned from fascination to horror to melancholy.
In a subdued tone, Rudhale spoke one last time, “Bil Li, won’t you look at that? Funky Boy is a daddy now. So Beautiful. I guess that makes me the grand daddy of the Apocalypse”.