It has been 15 years since the last installment of Brigands of the Bog, the epic series of sprawling fantasy novels by acclaimed author Jack R. R. Pendarvis. VICE is especially proud to present The Dragon's Hump, the 11th and final book in a series that many have called "the only work of its kind written entirely under the effects of gin." All 1,000 chapters will be presented here in weekly installments, after which The Dragon's Hump will be published in a single volume, in or around 2031, shortly after the death of the author.
“Cake! Cake! Cake!” shouted Samsor the Great with impressive rhythmicity. Soon he had the whole crowd—surely a goodly percentage of the entire population of Folo—chanting along. Filthy tambourines were produced by the joyous peasantry from the crusty folds of their dirty cloaks and banged upon with utmost gleefulness.
What choice had the boisterous, blushing scullery maids in their charming kitchen frocks but to hoist the enormous cake on its supportive pyre and bear it on their shoulders into the Great Hall for the merriment of many?
Yet were you to have scrutinized Sir Gravulet at that moment, as Samsor the Great could not help but do, the last thing you would have seen was a hint of merriment, for there was none, no merriment, he was not merry, nay, not merry at all, neither the handsome nephew of the King nor the secret, hateful ogre that dwelt in his innards.
Yet who, aside from the wise King Samsor, would see? Whose eyes would not be turned, even from Sir Gravulet’s burnished outward handsomeness like unto the face of the sun itself, toward the cake?
And such a cake! Made for merriment! Now subverted from its merry purposes. For whom was it meant to make merry but Sir Gravulet himself?
How to describe the pinkness, derived from the nectar of a basket of edible marsh flowers so very rare that four good knights and 20 horses lost their lives attempting to retrieve them from the perilous banks? This was a pink much subtler than the pink of a pink baby’s eyelid, this was the pink, had you seen the cake, that you would have suddenly remembered from your mother’s womb.
The cake exuded an aura, so that as it passed through the heaving throng, none dared touch it, as if awed and humbled by its sugary glory. Some near to it avowed that it emitted a mystical hum.
Soon enough it was placed with proper aplomb before its recipient, Sir Gravulet.
To the astonishment of all, he seized the Forbidden Hammer of Gremelchior that had been given to him as a souvenir of his recent dubbing, and a mighty instrument it was, fashioned of a metal not unlike lead, and resembling in shape a mallet intended for the tenderizing of meats—enormous meats, such as the fearsome sigil of King Samsor the Great, the raging beefalo.
Upwards and upwards Sir Gravulet raised the imposing hammer of might, the very Hammer of Gremelchior, so incredibly forbidden, above the shining locks of his ennobled head.
Down swiftly the weapon came.
With one treacherous blow, the cake was atomized into a sparkling powder of pink and gold.
In later eons would many a child of Folo ask, “Mother, from whence comes the saying ‘When the cudgel hits the cake’?” And few could answer with any certainty. Such are the deeds of men, forgotten like the coiled horgabulons of yore.
But on that day, and on every day for the rest of their lives, those gathered in the Great Hall would remember indeed. Cake rained from the sky that day like a blessing, and fell straight into the mouths of the delighted people.
“What an efficient method for delivering cake!” was the exclamation of several.
“The cake itself is of exceptional moistness!” observed others. “A moistness so heavenly!”
“I think I detect nutmeg!”
Were all the cries of happiness and praise to be enumerated here, our tale would consist of nothing else but descriptions of a delicious cake for a thousand pages, which would actually be great.
Of course, none of this was Sir Gravulet’s intention. In his dark and ogrous heart he had meant only to bespoil and ruin.
For him, the cake was nothing but a bothersome impediment, a barrier between himself and the tube of fragrant bark, that mysterious object of power through which he hoped to unleash his army of small red ogres upon an unsuspecting land.
Suddenly, as if in answer to his melancholic brooding, the dreaded Advisucats appeared from behind a brocaded tapestry of fabulous worth and tottered ominously toward the Throne of Watching upon which their liege King Samsor was ensconced near his wife Linda, such a nice lady.
A cry of “Awwwwww!” went up from commoner and landholder alike, for the Advisucats appeared to the untrained eye as nothing more than three ordinary housecats walking on their hind legs and dressed in adorable outfits. Few outside of the most intimate royal circle knew of their terrible power.
Samsor descended from the throne and stooped to hear what the lead Advisucat was saying.
“Uh-huh, uh-huh,” said the King as the cat appeared to whisper in his ear. “Hmm, how about that… My goodness! You don’t say.”
This went on for about 20 minutes and everybody loved it. It was so cute. They were really getting a bang out of their evening at the palace.
Even Sir Gravulet seemed to find amusement and solace in the whimsical spectacle. But deep within the place where his organs should have been, the small red ogre that controlled him was writhing with suspense. Would the Advisucats allow him to access the tube of fragrant bark or were they going to blow the whole deal?
These lovable talking housecats held the fate of the world in their weirdly deformed upper paws! But they wore sweet little velvet gloves because they didn’t want to freak anybody out.