Morga Skullsplitter The Misadventures of Morga Skullsplitter Venari
The Monster Lady  

The Misadventures of Morga Skullsplitter – Episode 4: Bloody Snot

Buckle up, Buttercup! It’s time for Episode 4!

Missed an episode? Check out the episode list here.

All webisodes will be available to read for free either through my website, Ko-Fi page, or as individual ePubs. At some point in the future, there will be omnibuses and these will be available to buy in paperback, hardback, and eBook form. Watch this space! Well, not this exact space. Maybe watch this page. Or my Instagram.

Episode 4: Bloody Snot


‘Finally!’ Carnage thought as a surge of power lapped around his being. Teeth tore through newly formed gums. A mouth all but split his head in two. Salivating at the thought of what was to come, the warhammer snarled.

       Still unable to see (one of these days he was going to have to learn how to grow eyes), he sensed the auras in the room again. Aside from Morga and the object with a (very dark) soul, each one radiated terror. The feeling was so intense that Carnage could all but taste it on his recently created tongue. His tastebuds seemed to tingle at the thought of it, dancing inside his mouth. He wanted to dive head first into the fear and take a bite, but the orc held him tightly. Her grip so strong that he couldn’t sprout his arms and legs. That was a pain; he’d worked hard to get those right.

       Still, he trusted the orc to do what had to be done. In her capable hands, he’d be tasting that horror-stricken blood in no time. Carnage could feel her orcish Rage shaking through him, an earthquake set to destroy everything within a town’s radius. Carnage’s knowledge of orcish Rages could fit on the back of a postage stamp. Generally in this part of Venari, postage stamps were inexplicably small – often not much bigger than a gnomish thumbnail. This was because smaller stamps were cheaper to produce. The rulers of this part of Venari liked their riches and very rarely parted with them. They certainly weren’t going to waste precious coins on something as boring as stamps. Nevertheless, if you were to write in really tiny handwriting, you would be able to jot down Carnage’s thoughts on the matter.

       And, they were simply:

       1. Orcish Rages were pant-shittingly terrifying and would likely be the death of someone like him. (Well, ‘someone like him’ a lifetime ago.)

       2. Once started, an orcish Rage was hard to stop. It would only be sated once the orc had spilled an appropriate amount of blood. This was hard to calculate as it varied from orc to orc.

       Thinking about it, you’d probably need microscopic writing to fit all that on a stamp. Carnage would need to come up with a new metaphor.

       Carnage snarled and shook his head, knocking all thoughts of postage stamps and old fears out of his mixed up little mind. There were better things to think about.

       Like fine dining.

       Dinner tonight looked delicious.

Oh shit!

Over the years, Scratch had made pissing people off into an art form. While many could be annoying, no-one could quite reach the level of irritating that Scratch could. On a good day, the little critter could drive a person to the brink of a nervous breakdown and/or a murderous crime spree, but then bring them back down by showcasing his adorableness.

       Somehow, Scratch didn’t think that would work at that moment.

       Morga was pissed off. Scratch would have bet that in all the history of Venari that there had never been anyone as pissed off as that orc.

       He gulped, and the sound seemed to bounce around the room.

       The orc roared. It wasn’t a shout or a loudly voiced complaint; it was a full-on, animalistic roar. Scratch could almost imagine he was back in the Caves of Kroguts being chased by a hungry caveslug. The thought made him shudder.

       The animalistic roar came again.

       Animalistic was bad. Very bad. It was impossible to reason with animalistic.

       That wasn’t going to stop him from trying though.

       “Morga,” he said, before biting his tongue. He was about to say ‘You need to calm down’, but realised his error at the last possible moment.

       “What?” her voice rumbled. “Are you going to confess to trying to kill me?”

       Trying to kill her? When she’d said about the betrayal, he’d thought she’d meant the theft of her bag (which, to Scratch’s disappointment, was empty). Who would have been fool enough to try to kill her?

       “T-th-that’s why you’re angry?” he asked. It was a dumb question, but somehow he was stopping a Rage-fuelled orc from tearing him apart, so maybe dumb questions weren’t so dumb. Or maybe it was another of his powers (he seemed to be discovering new powers everyday now). He’d have to do a test with another Rage-fuelled orc, but he was in no rush to do that.

       “Is that not reason enough?” she asked.

       She was right, it was a perfectly good reason. But it also meant that she hadn’t noticed that her bag was gone. That was a relief. Well, kinda. There was still the fact she was intent on bashing someone’s head in.

       But, hey, at least she didn’t know he’d stolen from her.


       Scratch needed to find a way to return the orc’s belongings… but that would have to wait until his life was no longer in imminent danger. Planning and scheming when faced when almost certain death often led to sloppy decision-making. Rather like stealing from a warrior orc in the first place.

       While running all this through in his head, Scratch had neglected to continue the conversation, thus breaking whatever spell that was holding Morga’s bloodlust at bay.


       Before Scratch could hypnotise her with further stupid questions or random combinations of words, he saw two things. The first was the mutant hammer hurtling towards his face. And the second was his life flashing before his eyes. It had been a good life (mostly), and Scratch had no desire to let it end now.

       So, as a nervous stream of sweat trickled down his back, he dropped to the floor. He was pretty sure the move cost him a splinter and at least one bruised knee, but the hammer had missed him.

       For now. 

       Scratch’s fluffy green hair parted as the warhammer sailed over it. The sensation both served to remind him how close the hammer was, and how lucky he was to have evaded it.

       That snarling hammer. Why were there so many teeth? Any teeth on a hammer seemed unreasonable, but this took the biscuit.

       His heart galloped in his chest.

       His mouth went dry.

       A whooshing sound reached his large ears as the massive orc raised the hammer for another strike. Her body eclipsed any light from the lantern and Scratch saw nothing but darkness. Even his assailant’s face was in shadow. Perhaps it was good that he couldn’t see the look in her eyes. Murder lurked there; he was sure of it.

       Scratch raised a shaking arm. He wasn’t sure if it was in surrender or to protect his face for the inevitable attack, but it was ineffective either way.

       Scratch winced as the orc moved. He knew he should run, but that seemed impossible. Knees that had turned to jelly were barely able to keep him in his current crouched position, let alone being able to take him for a sprint across the cellar.

       Bottom lip trembling, Scratch realised there was only one way out of this.

       As a corpse. Most likely one that had been beaten into a bloody pulp.

       Every muscle in his tiny body tensed.

       A tingle ran up and down his spine…

       Something started to build within him. It started deep inside. Deep, deep inside. From there it grew. Whatever it was grew so large that Scratch knew he could no longer contain it.

       It begged for release.

       “WAIT!” a familiar voice shouted. “STOP!”

       If Scratch hadn’t already recognised the voice, he would have known those boney footfalls anywhere. Before he had the chance to repeat Hector’s words back to him, the skeleton had forced his way in front of the hammer.

       There was an almighty crash as the weapon made contact with Hector. Bones flew everywhere, clattering against the floor and the walls.

       Behind him, the strange gnomish knight gasped and took several steps back until he’d pushed himself against the back wall.


       Was that a tinge of regret in the orc’s voice? Could orcs feel regret when in the midst of a Rage? Scratch was about to ask as much, but was stopped in his tracks when Morga went in for the next attack. She may have felt guilty about deconstructing Hector, but she wasn’t about to stop in her quest for vengeance. Usually, Scratch would have admired such a quality in a person, but it was hard to do much admiring with a hammer swinging towards his face.

       His jellied legs hobbled him out of the way once more, but he could feel his luck running out.

       Or, at least, he could feel something. Whatever it was that had built up inside him before Hector jumped to his rescue (brave, stupid Hector) was still there.


       Scratch felt like he might burst.

       Growing by the second, the feeling became more and more intense until he could no longer pay attention to anything else. Even the raging orc and her hammer faded into the background. He couldn’t even focus on what remained of his new friend, Hector. There was no time to question why the reanimated skeleton had done what he had. There certainly wasn’t time to wonder about what that gnome knight was doing.

       Whatever was inside Scratch wanted out.

       Visions of his body exploding and splattering against the orc sprang to mind, and he cringed. That would be a hideous way to go.

       He braced himself.

       And then his nose started to tickle.

       “Ah… ah… AH! ATCHOOO!!!!” Scratch’s sneeze was loud enough to shake the foundations of the tavern. Plaster and splinters of wood dropped from the ceiling, pausing the orc in her attack.

       “ATCHOOO!” The second sneeze was nowhere near as loud, but it had an even more surprising effect.

       Morga dropped her hammer.

       And the hammer walked away.

       After a couple of seconds – just about long enough for Scratch to have some further thoughts on how fucking weird that hammer was – the hammer held a lantern in its weird little arms.

       Now that there was some light, Scratch could see that both orc and hammer were covered in snot. In the meagre light, it almost looked luminous.

       “Bloody hell old chap,” the hammer said. “What, pray tell, are you? Mucus that can thwart an orcish rage? That really is something.”

       “You can talk?” Scratch and Morga said in unison. If she hadn’t just been trying to kill him, he might have insisted that this was further proof of their developing friendship. As it was, the timing didn’t feel quite right.

       “Oh, so I can.” The hammer seemed as surprised as they were.

Calming Snot

Snot coated her skin, armour, and clothing. Battle-hardened as she was, Morga was more than used to the sensation of being covered in bodily fluids belonging to someone else, but that didn’t make it any more pleasant. With that, it was usually blood and guts she was covered with, not someone else’s mucus (although that certainly did happen).

       While her current situation wasn’t pleasant, there was something about it that calmed her. Her Rage had dissipated, leaving her with the capability of reasonable thought again. Orcish Rage was useful in battle, where the main aim was just to take out as many enemies as possible, but it definitely lacked finesse.

       Now that she no longer saw everything through a hazy cloud of blood red, she began to process recent events. Someone had most definitely tried to kill her. But who?

       Morga looked from Hector’s pile of bones to Scratch, and then from Scratch to Benny. Thoughts raced through her mind. Calculations came together. Clues started to form.

       There would be time to split a skull later, but first she had to channel her inner detective.

       She needed to work the case.

       “What’s on your mind?” Carnage said. She still couldn’t get used to the fact the hammer could now talk. Apparently, growing a mouth, arms and legs was reasonable, but talking just seemed unfeasible. And the voice? The weird little hammer sounded like a posh butler. One of those ones that humans and gnomes usually have in their big mansions. Trying to imagine him serving drinks at a dinner party, Morga squinted at Carnage.

       Nope, that didn’t seem right. Maybe he stole the voice from a butler he’d eaten? That seemed more realistic. Or, if not a butler, then it definitely sounded familiar… like she’d heard the voice recently. The name she was looking for remained a mystery trapped on the very tip of her tongue. Carnage was a mystery all by himself, but Morga didn’t have time to solve that one at the moment. Besides, now he could talk, she’d just get him to tell her everything.

       “I’m solving the crime of my attempted murder,” she said, eyeing up her suspects. The snot on her chin was sticky as she rubbed it.

       “Any leads?” the hammer asked. “Or clues? Hector Cluescavenger always starts with a clue or a motive.”

       “You read those books too?” A few moments ago, that would have felt impossible, but now who knew what that hammer had done or could do.

       “Er… apparently so,” he said, his toothy eyeless face wearing a mask of confusion. He cocked his head like a puppy. When he wasn’t snarling and biting the crap out of everything, he was kind of cute.

       “You read books?” Scratch asked. “But you don’t have eyes, how can you see them?”

       “Maybe someone reads ’em to him,” Morga said. “Besides, it’s none of your business. You need to shut up. I’m thinking.”

       Scratch took the hint, making a motion of locking his mouth with a key and then throwing that key away, his shaking arm betraying the fact that he was scared shitless.

       “You asked about clues, Carnage. Here’s what I know…” The orc started to pace around, making sure that she invaded the personal space of both Scratch and Benny. Even though Hector seemed to be out of commission, she still kept one eye on the pile of bones. Never underestimate an enemy. Or a suspect. Or anyone, really. Morga found that people always managed to surprise her, but not usually in a good way. “I know that Benny brought me here,” she said, pointing towards the gnome. “I also know that Hector came with the treasure chest.”

       “Yeah, it killed him,” Scratch said, before remembering that he was meant to be shutting the fuck up.

       Morga frowned, and the little green fluffy creature trembled even more. “I don’t know that for sure. For all I know, he was the one who brought it here.”

       “But he seems – or seemed – like such a nice chap…”

       “Maybe it was all an act?”

       “Then why did he sacrifice himself for me?” Scratch asked. The weird little critter had a point.

       “Perhaps you two are working together,” she said.

       “But we just met.”

       “Got any proof of that?” she asked. She was really feeling like Cluescavenger now. The detective liked to get proof. It was crucial to any investigation.

       “Well, no… only my word.”

       Morga showed just how much she thought about that by grunting.

       “I have some thoughts that I’d like to share. That’s if you don’t mind, of course,” Carnage said.

       “Go ahead,” Morga said.

       “Thank you. Two very interesting things came to mind while you were talking. The first is: why is the gnome down here when we left him upstairs? I seem to remember he was very nervous about coming down.”

       The hammer made a very good point, and Morga glared at the gnome in agreement.

       “What?” Benny said. “I heard a commotion, I thought you might need my help. I am a knight, after all.”

       “And, the other thing is…” the hammer seemed to pause for dramatic effect. Morga didn’t mind; this felt like the big reveal in one of her favourite mystery novels. “Before I mutated, I distinctly remember reading everyone’s aura. And yours, gnome, was full of fear and violence.”

       “Of course it was, there was a flesh eating treasure chest!” Benny paused to peer behind the hammer. “Aren’t you all worried about how quiet that thing has been?”

       Now that he mentioned it, Morga did find it a little strange, but there was no way she was going to agree with the gnome. Not when Carnage’s seemingly faultless logic had all but convinced her that Benny was her would-be murderer.

       Carnage tilted his head again. “I can still feel the chest’s aura. It’s rather hungry. I think we should vacate the cellar for now. I’d much rather see this gnome brought to justice in a room where we can also have a nice drink. Being a hammer is fine and all, but when I haven’t mutated, I do miss out on all the ale.”

       “I’ll grab the suspect,” Morga said.

       Benny cowered as Morga crossed the distance between them in two strides. After shoving the gnome under one arm, she made for the stairs. Carnage skipped along beside her.

       With a foot hovering over the first step, she paused. “You coming, Scratch?”

       The strange little creature looked at Hector’s bones and the ravenous treasure chest, and his decision came easily. “Yup, be right there. I need you to help me up.”

       Before another word could be uttered, he scampered after the orc and jumped on her back. Morga was clearly pissed off about giving the impromptu piggyback ride, but this time she said nothing.

Ale & Justice

Once upstairs, Scratch pushed a variety of crates, boxes, and barrels together. “Don’t worry everyone, drinks are on their way!” he said, as he pushed a chair across the floor, causing a sound not unlike nails being scraped down a chalkboard. The little creature winced, but hopped up and leant on the bar.

       Carnage nodded his thanks and climbed onto a barstool opposite Scratch. The sight of the mutant warhammer still chilled Scratch’s blood, but he definitely preferred this version of the hammer over the one that had been trying to kill him.

       “What would you like?” Scratch asked, not knowing what part of the warhammer’s face to look at. It was hard to make eye contact when someone didn’t have eyes… or space where eyes should be. “We’ve got gnomish ale, orcish ale, trollish ale, or goblin juice.”

       The final suggestion was met by the sound of Morga spitting on the floor in disgust.

       “Who apart from a goblin would drink that stuff?” she asked, before returning her attention to tying Benny to a chair. The gnome looked tired, but almost a little relieved. It was… odd. Very odd indeed.

       Scratch shrugged in response. “So, what’ll it be?”

       The hammer opened and closed its mouth a few times before settling on an answer. “Orcish ale, please.”

       “Same for you, Morga?” Scratch called out. The orc nodded in agreement. “Comin’ right up.”

       Scratch busied himself with pouring three pints of ale. He didn’t want to think about what was about to happen in this room, and he didn’t want to think about what had happened to Hector. If the skeleton had reanimated once, could he do it again?

       The hammer took a drink as soon as they were poured.

       “Aahhh, that’s the stuff,” he said in between slurps. “I haven’t had a pint in years.”

       “Have you always been a hammer?” Scratch asked.

       “Who knows?” Carnage replied. “I don’t think so. Every now and then I get something that feels like a memory from another life. It’s never really that clear though.”

       “That’s gotta suck,” Scratch said, taking a drink himself.

       “You have no idea,” Carnage replied.


       After making sure that Benny was secure, Morga joined the others at the bar, and she couldn’t help but think it was a surreal moment. What was she doing drinking with these two like they were friends? Especially when she’d not long ago killed someone. She wondered if she should say how sorry she was about Hector. Despite considering Hector to be a potential suspect, she had to admit that she had liked him. She’d also been almost definitely sure that he was the Hector from the novels. Her guilt over his demise had almost broken through the Rage.


       Behind them, Benny sat remarkably silent. Anyone else would have been screaming the tavern down, but the gnome appeared to have accepted his fate. The look of relief on his face told Morga everything she needed to know. The gnome was guilty; he’d tried to kill her.

       When spending time in the same room as one’s potential murderer, it’s understandable – and pretty much expected – that there might be some resentment. Some anger. Some pent up violence. But Morga didn’t feel a thing. Actually, that wasn’t quite right. She did feel something; she felt numb.

       She thought back to the events in the cellar.

       “It’s the snot, isn’t it?” She hadn’t realised that she’d spoken allowed until Carnage’s head turned in her direction and Scratch blatantly stared at her.

       “It’s definitely doing something,” Carnage said, as if they had already been discussing it. “It’s quite remarkable how it stopped your Rage, now isn’t it?”

       “Yeah, usually an orcish Rage isn’t something to be sniffed at,” Scratch said. “Although, it wasn’t a sniff… it was more of a sneeze… oh, balls, that joke doesn’t work.”

       Morga finished her beer and returned her attention to the gnome. Aside from looking a little roughed up, he still looked like a proper knight. Where it wasn’t scuffed, his armour sparkled in the lantern light. His sword was well-maintained and sharp (and Morga had been careful to remove this from him almost immediately).

       Now that she thought about it, that was odd, wasn’t it?

       If the gnome had a sword, why didn’t he try to kill her with that? Had she got the wrong man?

       Was Scratch the true wannabe killer?

       “Tell me, Benny,” she said, trying to sound reasonable. “Why did you do it? Earlier you seemed to have your heart set on us being best friends forever, and then you feed me to a possessed box. What’s the deal?”

       The gnome said nothing.

       “If you tell me, we could work something out. It doesn’t have to end with your brains decorating the walls of this place.” She hoped that sounded sincere. Chances were, that was exactly how this was going to end.

       Benny turned his head and looked out of the window. In the time they’d been in the tavern, night had fallen completely. Was he looking for help? Was he hoping a passer-by or a customer who hadn’t heard about the pirate would pop in?

       “There’s no-one out there to help you,” Morga said, hoping that was true. “The only person who can help you is you. You just need to talk.”

       The gnome sighed like he had the weight of the realm on his shoulders. “There’s no helping me,” he said. “I’ve failed in my mission.”

       “So killing me was your mission all along?”

       Benny nodded.

       “So all that stuff about being friends before was complete bullshit. I knew I couldn’t trust you.”

       While they spoke, Carnage hopped down from the barstool. “I think there may be more to this,” he said. “He could have killed you with a sword, but opted for the treasure chest. He could have run away as soon as you’d been trapped inside, but he hung around. There’s more to this case than what meets the eye.”

       Morga smiled at that. This was just like one of her books.

       “How do we find out more if he won’t talk?”

       “Well,” Carnage said. “We have a couple of options. We can either all sit down and have a nice pleasant chat…”

       The gnome didn’t seem impressed by that at all.

       “Or, we can torture him.”

       “We can chat!” Benny said, as he tried to squirm off the chair. Clearly, being caught and executed was one thing; torture was something else entirely.

       “A wise choice, my gnomish friend,” the hammer said. “Now, I’d like to clean up. All this snot is getting sticky. I’ll just make myself presentable, grab another ale and then we’ll get started.”


       A hush fell over the tavern while the group waited for Carnage to clean himself up. Morga knew she should probably do the same, but as far as she knew, the snot was keeping the Rage at bay. All the time the Rage was under control, she could think clearly and logically. It was a high price to pay, but she was willing to pay it for now.

       The hammer had disappeared into one of the back rooms several minutes ago, but hadn’t returned. Morga wouldn’t have said she was worried about the hammer – after all, what did a mutated hammer have to fear? – but her curiosity was piqued.

       “Are we here alone?” she asked, directing the question at both Benny and Scratch. “Is there a chance that Carnage is out there making new friends?”

       “If he was, I think we’d hear screaming by now,” Scratch said. “Teeth like that tend to elicit a loud reaction.”

       That was true. So where was Carnage?

       “I’m gonna go find him,” Morga said. “We can’t stay here all night, we’ve got places to be.”

       “We?” Scratch asked.


       “Like you and Carnage?”

       “Yeah, and you,” Morga replied. “You’re coming with us.”

       “Umm… what?”

       “I made a deal and you’re part of it,” she replied, as if it was the kind of thing that happened every day. “Don’t worry, I’m not happy about it either, but it does mean that I won’t be killing you any time soon.”

       “What about what happened in the cellar? You seemed pretty killy then.”

       “That was the Rage, love,” she replied. “I can’t control that. So, just don’t piss me off to the point where you awaken the Rage. I know that’s going to be hard.”

       The little creature gulped, and Morga could see he was thinking about making a run for it.

       “Don’t even think about it,” she said. “I’ll just find you and take you with me by force. That will be so much worse.”

       Scratch settled back down and had another drink.


       As soon as Morga had disappeared through the door the hammer had taken, Benny tried to get Scratch’s attention.

       “Psst,” he said. “Come here.”

       “Not a channncce,” Scratch replied, his speech starting to slur. He was only small and he’d already drunk far more than he should. That was the good thing about being so little – he was a cheap date.

       “Oh, come on, you know me,” Benny said. “Just let me go. Say I just escaped and you tried to stop me. Everybody wins then.”

       Scratch seemed to think about this for a moment.

       “What do you owe the orc anyway? She killed your friend.”

       “True… but he was already dead.”

       “Don’t make excuses for her,” Benny said. “Let me go and I’ll make it worth your while. Hey, you could come with me. I can tell you don’t want to go to wherever they’re going.”

       The gnome had a point. Scratch found himself starting to warm to the idea.

       “Where would we go?” he asked.

       “I have to get back to Red Fern,” Benny replied, “but you could go wherever you wanted. You could even hide here until the orc leaves. It’s completely up to you.”

       Scratch shrugged. That sounded reasonable.

       “Okay-” he started to say, but never got to finish his sentence.

       The door behind the bar swung open to reveal Carnage. Free of all snot, the hammer managed to look even more menacing. He snarled in the doorway before stalking his way into the room.

       “You alright, mate?” Scratch asked.

       The hammer didn’t reply.

       “CARNAGE!” Morga’s voice entered the room before she did. “Come back here!”

       The hammer didn’t listen, nor did he reply. Instead, he made a beeline for the gnome on the chair.

       Scratch couldn’t shake the feeling that this wasn’t going to end well for Benny.

       Or, possibly, for him.

The Hammer & The Gnome

Benny watched as the mutant hammer wasted no time in racing straight towards him. Growling, it pounced onto his lap, its sharp claws digging into his thighs. They burrowed into his flesh, slicing it as if he were made of nothing more than butter.

       Around him, the tavern contracted. No longer was the common room the kind of place where people could dance around. Now it was small. Tiny. Only big enough for a gnome and a bloodthirsty warhammer.

       The hammer beast’s head angled down at him, as if it was looking at him. Judging him. Steaming hot, wet saliva dripped onto Benny’s face. Oozing, it slithered across his skin, collecting in his left eye and the corner of his mouth. It was thick, and turning sticky, clinging to him like a limpet. Bile rose in Benny’s throat as the stench of the hammer’s heavy breaths assaulted him.

       Was this really how he wanted to go? He could shout out to the orc and ask for her help, but then what? He’d only be delaying the inevitable. The Queen would skin him alive without a second thought. He’d failed in his mission. Maybe he wasn’t cut out to be a knight.

       “Wait!” he heard someone shout. He thought it was the orc, but the voice was far away. It was almost as if he and Carnage existed in their own little world.


       It was louder this time. And it was definitely the orc.

       Morga stood over them both, and Benny wasn’t sure if he was glad to see her or not. Was she there to stop this? If she wasn’t, at least she might speed things along.

       “Carnage! Stop!” Morga yelled, but the warhammer ignored her commands.

       Instead, he moved in closer, opening a jaw full of teeth. Teeth so sharp and jagged that even Benny’s ancestors wanted to shit themselves in fear.

       At first, Benny didn’t feel the teeth penetrate the flesh of his shoulder and neck. Perhaps it was luck or perhaps it was shock. Either way, it was probably for the best.

       “Let go! Drop him!” Morga’s voice continued to be the soundtrack of Benny’s demise. Some delirious part of him wanted to laugh as she shouted at the mutant warhammer as if Carnage was nothing more than an unruly puppy.

       Benny’s drool-coated vision was already hazy, but now it swam. Things came into focus and then fizzled away. He’d heard about this. He was losing too much blood. It was almost as if he could feel it leaking out of him, his energy and will to live going with it.

       “No, Carnage! He has more to tell us!” the orc cried, and she was right. He had many things he could have told them. He should have shared a warning with them. Morga was a tough warrior, but she had no idea what awaited her in the not-too-distant future.

       No idea at all.

       Carnage’s weight was ripped away, along with some fairly vital parts of Benny’s neck, as Morga picked up the hammer. Deep gouges were left in his legs, where the hammer had tried to maintain its grip on its snack with its taloned feet. Something wet, warm, and sticky sprayed across him.


       His blood.

       And there was so much of it.

       He tried to move his arms, as if a hand to his throat would stem the flow, but his limbs were still tied to the chair. The rickety old piece of furniture rocked from side to side as Benny struggled.

       “You can’t kill him… Don’t give me that look…” Morga’s voice seemed close again. “What were you thinking?”

       The hammer didn’t answer. At least, not with words. Carnage just growled and snarled, spat and hissed.

       “Get back here!”

       Those three words should have had Benny fearing for his life. Instead, he felt relief. Sure, that hammer was going to kill him, but at least Queen Elsbeth wouldn’t be able to get to him. Benny’s spirit would be long gone before she even knew he was dead.

       “Enjoy your meal,” Benny said, as Carnage dove into his stomach.

       The ravenous hammer made short work of Benny’s intestines, sucking them up like oversized spaghetti.

       Somehow, against all odds and logic, Benny clung to life. It was only when Carnage gave him a swift headbutt that all the lights went out.

       And that was probably because the gnome’s brains were being slurped up by the hammer’s obscenely long tongue.

       As Benny’s spirit left his body, he saw Morga trying to prise the hammer away from his meal. Then he saw the hammer scamper away and head back down to the cellar.

       There was no way that was a good sign.

       At least none of it was Benny’s problem anymore.

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