AFOTM Feb 2020
(Art by Josh Gara)
The grounds and gardens of the Gorgon’s temple was populated with stone statues that once were men. Living, breathing, warriors and knights and soldiers who had come to slay the beast. They lived no more. Instead, they existed frozen in this horrific place, made stone by the countenance of the creature. They stood silently, in awkward poses, with the agony of their transformation captured in the twisted postures of their bodies, and in their facial features that were contorted into grotesque masks of fear and pain. The statues were testimony to the grisly fate they had met here in the lair of the beast. The stone men were of different eras and time periods, and wore armor and weaponry from many lands. Some victims had been here a long time, as evidenced by the amount of erosion on the statuary. The oldest ones were weathered and cracked, many with limbs that had fallen away. Others figures had toppled to the ground and lie in pieces, broken and scattered. Some had died in mid strike, some had cowered or turned to flee, while others had toppled to the ground writhing or were slumped over in resignation of their fate.
(Art by RAK)
From the cover of a small cluster of trees, Chakan surveyed the scene. He felt sympathy for the poor wretches who had come before him, and vowed to avenge them. The grey warrior was determined not to let the serpent queen deal him a similar fate. Although cursed to live forever, Chakan did not intend to spend that eternity as a living statue in this profane place. To prevent that, Chakan had planned and prepared to face the Gorgon. As the statues around him could attest, to kill a Gorgon is a perilous endeavor, and throughout time only a few have ever been slain. There was Medusa, slain with the aid of a bronze shield used as a mirror and a well placed arrow, but most attempts always failed. Chakan, however, had taken his time to plot and gather things he knew would enable him to tip the scales in his favor. First, he would fight fire with fire, or in this case, fight stone with stone. The warrior with the wide brimmed hat pulled a small vial from a pocket in the lining of his coat. Inside the vial was a rare and precious substance he had acquired from an old friend years ago. That friend was Graaaek, and he was a guardian gargoyle that lived upon a gothic cathedral in the south of France. The stone creature had helped Chakan root out and slay a coven of evil gargoyles centuries ago, and beyond that, had given the forever man a parting gift. The gift was drops of his own Gargoyle blood and an ancient spell that would enable Chakan to become something akin to a gargoyle. The Gargoyle spell would make him a being of stone that could move as if he were still flesh and blood. It would not be permanent, the effect would only last an hour or so, before returning Chakan back to his normal self. Chakan hoped that would be long enough to slay the Gorgon.
(Art by Erwin Papa)
In theory, already being stone would help minimize and possibly negate the effects of the Gorgon’s stare, hopefully long enough for Chakan to kill her. That was the theory, at least. Next, Chakan knew that he needed some very special weapons, armaments that could atomize or crush the head of the snake demoness. And so he had traveled a great distance to procure exactly what was needed. Forged by the legendary Leather Knight (who had designed and fashioned exotic weapons for use against specific arcane and darkling beasts for Chakan in the past), Chakan acquired two items custom made to deal with supernatural beasts like the Gorgon. One of the items was what the Leather Knight called a “Mauler Gauntlet”, made to be impervious to any strikes from the serpents she possessed, and able to enhance the grip and crushing power of Chakan.
Because of the time limitations of the Gargoyle spell, if he managed to grab a hold of the otherworldly witch, he could not risk her escape. The second item the Leather Knight devised was a hand cannon. Although a master with a sword, Chakan had to do more than just kill the beast. He had to eliminate the threat of that obscene visage that turned flesh to stone, especially if the Gargoyle spell was waning or if it was not as effective as Chakan hoped. With a head shot from the hand cannon, there would not be enough left of its’ face to terrify a lost puppy. These weapons were just what Chakan needed. Now it was time. Time to act, time to put the plan into motion. The wide shouldered warrior drank the mystic gargoyle blood and mouthed the incantation Graaaek had taught him. He felt an intense rush of warming energy course through his body, which slowly started to turn from skin and bone and blood to hardened stone. Unlike the unmoving stone warriors around him, he was mobile as if still flesh. On one hand he placed the Mauler Gauntlet, on the other hand he affixed the cannon. His eyes narrowed and his jaw clenched as he made his way resolutely forward towards the dark interior of the temple where he knew the Gorgon awaited. He smiled at the thought of the coming battle, then entered the ancient abode.
For years, the wicked Gorgon had slain and slaughtered many warriors. None had stopped her dark reign or put an end to her evil existence. They had all failed. No warrior had succeeded. In reality, none had even come close. But this day would be different. This day, the foul creature would come face to face with the grey slayer. This day, the Gorgon would face a brutal and savage and painful death at the hands of a stone cold killer, Chakan the forever man!
(Art by RAK)