“He will be punished,” stated Justinius J. Justinius.
“This is a travesty!” yelled the wild-eyed Waldo, the dwarvish wizard and recently appointed Magistrate of Magic by Bigby. “Solitary confinement for the Great and Powerful Bigby the Braindoom?! Have you lost your enfeebled mind?! I say thee nay!” The maniacal wizard then wildly gesticulated, beckoning powerful, ancient magics to the air… or so he thought he was.
Nothing happened, but it didn’t appear to matter in the least to the wizard.
Justinius J. Justinius had always felt the crazed little wizard was melodramatic, if not outright insane, and he was none too thrilled to be sitting here in his opulently decorated office wasting time addressing this wizard’s and Bigby’s concerns.
“Bigby must be punished,” the halfling lazily declared, leaning back in his upholstered chair and placing his feet on his new desk.
Bigby’s growling response made Justinius quickly add, “Merely for appearances, as I’ve already explained to you. For a hairy, half-naked barbarian with no skill in the finer arts of theater, I say you performed amazingly well.” Justinius knew the Bugbear needed to have this explained to him again. “We couldn’t have you kill Beaumont immediately, not until we knew what the Countess was playing at, and most importantly, those people needed to see me ordering you to do it. For your safety as the Grand and Glorious Leader of the Guild, society must think that I am the leader. Understand?”
“A trick?! Ah, I knew it all along,” smirked the wizard.
Slowly…ever so slowly… the light of realization dawned upon the Bugbear’s eyes. “SO ASSASSINS KILL YOU INSTEAD!”
“Indeed, so the assassins will kill me instead, leaving you safe to guide the guild to its ultimate glory,” sighed Justinius. “To perpetuate this myth, all must be made aware that you were ‘punished’ for your apparent ‘cowardice’.” The bugbear didn’t need to know that this would have the extra benefit of getting him out of the way. “So you’re to be sent to The Cavern, my personal dungeon below this very office. Word will be spread throughout the land that the Mighty Bigby Bashclaw the Braindoom has been sent to solitary confinement, per mandate of the guild. An’drow has even agreed to proclaim the event a Holy Purification, sanctified by his church. Just imagine, the story of ‘The Beauty and The Bugbear’, one confined in a dank, hellish pit, while the other pining for her imprisoned love. You’ll both be famous. A legend, I daresay.”
Bigby pondered. Then he pondered some more.
For management, he would do this. He’d already pretended to be a coward. He would bear this burden as well. He’d have a barrel of water and a horse. Those were the rules, and it would be enough. And bringing his favorite pet, Frank the Undead Skeleton, along for entertainment wouldn’t hurt either. That wouldn’t count as company to these Reading Races.
“I DO IT.”
THE COMMITTAL OF BIGBY THE BUGBEAR
Day 2: “BIGBY AM THIRSTY.”
Bigby found himself thirsty. And bored. And hungry. And horny. And thirsty. He knew he’d have to make the meager supply of water last, and the food situation would only last a short time longer than the horse. The complete and total darkness wasn’t a problem either, given his bugbear eyesight. But Bigby knew the main trick was to occupy his mind, so he wouldn’t fixate on his problems.
Fortunately, Frank the skeleton had proven himself to be a steadfast companion, always smiling at Bigby’s jokes, always smiling while sharing his portion of water with Bigby. Frank was always smiling.
In fact, they had decided that each afternoon was to be the time for MASTERFRANK THEATER, where Bigby would help Frank perform plays. Today, Frank had performed PINNOCHIFRANK, and they had begun development of a big, original musical entitled GODSDAMNED MOON DWARVES.
Day 7: “FRANK SHIFTY.”
The thirst was getting worse. Bigby could feel his muscles, normally taught and ready for battle at a moment’s notice, were beginning to atrophy. Bigby’s hunger tore away at his stomach, with shooting pains that were often impossible to ignore.
Worse than that, Frank’s performance of Sir Tibius Anklebroke in GODSDAMEND MOON DWARVES was described by a local critic as ‘embarassingly lackluster’. While Frank attributed his muted silence in the first act as stage fright, Bigby suspected Frank had purposely refused to contribute in order to sabotauge Bigby’s first original musical and directorial debut.
While outwardly Frank still smiled, Bigby was beginning to suspect this was a veneer. Bigby would keep his eye on Frank.
Day 10: “PRETTY HORSE.”
Bigby would never fuck a horse. And Bigby wasn’t saying he would ever fuck a horse. Bigby was just explaining that he could understand why somebody would want to fuck a horse.
Frank wasn’t buying it.
Day 14: “HAD TO KILL HORSE.”
Frank didn’t understand, Bugbears have needs.
But Bigby would be godsdamned if he’d become a horsefucker, so the horse had to go. And Bigby needed to eat.
Frank would just have to find food for himself.
Day 28: “WATER GONE, FRANK STOLE IT.”
Bigby weakly awoke one morning to find all of the water gone.
Such a treachery had been building for weeks. Bigby and Frank had nearly come to blows on multiple occasions, but Frank’s smiling demeanor had prevailed each time. Until last week, when Frank officially declared all lands halfway from the far wall a sovereign nation, and he was seceding from Bigbyland. Through his parched throat, Bigby bellowed, “THIS UNCONSTIPATIONAL AND ILLEGAL! WAR!”
While Bigby’s spirit was willing, Bigby’s flesh had been too weak to make a good war on the newly minted land of Frankfort. Bigby’s only munitions were also his only source of food: horse parts.
Bigby was distraught. Starvation gnawed his flesh, while he could already feel the pangs of dehydration. And this was the longest Bigby had ever gone without carnal relations that he could remember.
Now his water supply was gone. Frank had doomed them all.
“FRANK MUST DIE.”
As for Bigby’s other, more primal need, it was nothing a smidge of his own blood and some vigorous diligence could not solve.
Day 50: “AM THIS HEAVEN?”
Bigby had never been one for the smoking of the silly weed. Alcohol, on the other hand, Bigby had a natural proclivity for.
Neither offered him the sensation of stuporific euphoria Bigby now experienced as he lay on death’s precipice.
Bigby had not eaten in weeks. Movement pained him at a level he had not thought possible. If he had any water to soothe his parched lips, he would have cried, “HEAL ME,” but alas, there was no water.
Bigby was surprised to find that he was not speaking with his Little Buddy’s god, Apolygon.
Instead, he found himself in a beautiful green pasture. Not too far ahead of him stood his bride, Countess Rawlin, indescribably beautiful in a gown of white. He strode across the grass, naked, proudly to her. As he approached, she smiled, knowlingly, and lifted her dress, exposing three perfect vaginas.
They made sweet bugbear love in the grass of that pasture, and all was bliss.
So was the end of Bigby Bashclaw the Braindoom.
Day 60: “BIGBY IS DEAD. LONG LIVE BIGBY.”
Suddenly, a light shown from end of the cavern as someone opened up the door, which was unlocked. Bigby stirred slightly, struggling to open one eyelid as he lay upon the dirt floor, as his eyes adjusted to the influx of light. He could just make out his long-lost little buddies: Justinius, An’Drow, and Cora.
They had come for him.
He was rescued.
His trembling paw reached from the darkness. “HERE,” the withered Bugbear croaked.
As the light filled the cavern, Justinius fought to keep the bile in his throat from wretching free, while Cora cried, “DAMN!” and An’Drow wrinkled his nose in complete disdain. Each of the three compatriots would carry the sight of that room to their graves.
There lay Bigby, prostate on the floor, disheveled as all hells and barely conscious. Adorning the bugbear appeared to be a horseskin cape, and there were three muddy, red holes in the dirt floor. Pieces of Frank’s skeleton were flung all about, while his skeletal torso hung at the far end of the room, where an enormous horse skull had been placed where the human skull should be. Remnants of the horse had been used to decorate Frank’s skeleton, giving the appearance of a demonic cadaver overseeing the carnage therein.
A barrel full of shit stood reeking from a corner of the room. Not all of the shit was in the barrel.
Scrawlings written in blood covered every inch of the walls, which read:
ALL WERK AND NO PLAY MAK BIGBY A DUL BUGBARE
As the companions stood, mouths agape, surveying the carnage, Waldo burst through the door, crying, “My liege! Oh my liege!”
As the dwarvish wizard struggled to help Bigby from the room, An’Drow was the first to voice the question burning in each of their minds, “How in Apollyon’s Nine Hells of Baator did this happen? He was only in here for 24 fucking hours?!”
Justinius hailed for Timbo to come clean up the godsforsaken mess, and he pondered as they walked from the room. For the single 24-hour period Bigby was imprisoned, Justinius’…or the Guild’s… profits were up 32% over the daily average. But while losing his fucking mind in this cavern, the Bugbear had somehow learned to read and write.
That could be a problem.