19
Aug
11

the chronicles of Shorok, part the first

Original art by Robbi Rodriguez

So…a little more than three years ago, we did an episode of Geekspeak during our terrestrial radio days. This one, to be specific. I don’t remember the details. I just know that Jake pronounced the name of a PR representative in a story he was reading as “Shor-rock”. It turns out that this was a real guy. It didn’t matter. I started babbling about “Shorok, king of the West” and then it became this whole thing about Shorok the Barbarian, king of all barbarians. The riffs continued throughout the show, but unlike most gags on Geekspeak, it didn’t just peter out due to lack of interest. Quite the opposite.

I started writing up stories that chronicled the adventures of Shorok the Barbarian. There was fan art, an example of which from Geekspeak’s Artist Laureate Robbi Rodriguez is to the left (though I’m not sure it counts as fanart if you ask him to draw it). An elaborate backstory developed.  There was a Twitter account. The stories, at first incredibly violent journeys to kind of stupid punchlines, became much longer and more involved. Things kind of got out of hand. I haven’t written a Shorok story since March of 2010.

But then this movie decided it had to come out. And I figured it was time to show them how we do it. So here’s the deal: starting today, I will reprint each of the original five Shorok the Barbarian stories I wrote on the Geekspeak message boards and Facebook, culminating in a brand new one on the sixth day (next Wednesday).  I’ll post some thoughts on each one, as well. You might not have read these, you might be rolling your eyes at the recycling of this content, but the important thing is that you did not pay for it. This is free entertainment and you will take it and like it.

The first story came at the height of my obsession with the Shorok concept. I wanted to get across the fact that he was basically an unstoppable murder machine while also poking fun at the idea of the monologuing villain. It’s also the shortest Shorok story, but in an odd way the purest. Enjoy:

Many seasons ago, when the snow had cleared from the Whispering Paths once more and Shorok could continue to wander, he came across a withered old man in the middle of his path. Shorok, who fought many

a dark wizard during his travels and was well aware of the threat that old men can present, cautiously gripped the hilt of his blade.

“Stop!” wheezed the mysterious elder. “I know of you. You are the Mighty Shorok, the wanderer from the West, master of the barbarian tribes, slayer of all manner of beast and man, and undisputed mead quaffing champion in no less than two different kingdoms.”

Shorok, unimpressed that this decrepit fool had heard of his exploits, began to move, but felt his feet become as lead and his muscles begin to tighten.

“Azalak will be most pleased that you have entered his domain, and would wish me to kill you with great expediency. As his lieutenant, it would be my duty to carry out his whim.” Fire glowed in the old man’s eyes as his wrinkled features gave way to a cold veneer of inscrutable ice in the shape of a beast’s skull. “Unlike Azalak, however, I have a more sporting nature,” he said as he grew in size to dwarf even Shorok’s frame. The wizard – for Shorok was certain now that was what he was – extended both of his hands, clenched into fists.

“In my hands, mortal, I hold two objects. The first is a mere copper coin, a pittance to even the poorest of the land. To you, however, its value is immeasurable, for it will guarantee you your life.”

Shorok could feel the wizard’s glee as he explained the childish game, though his bone-like visage betrayed no emotion.

“In the other, one of the rarest and sweetest plums of the valley, a delight many would kill for, and your last meal should you choose it.” The wizard shifted, his blackened robes blown about by the spring winds.

“So, barbarian, which will it be? This life…or the afterlife?”

Later, as he was adjusting the new skull at his belt, Shorok would wonder how a wizard who forgot the importance of concentration when using spells of binding made his way to the upper ranks of Azalak’s army, and how anyone thought valley plums were even worth the effort it took to find them.

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