We begin with Sonja trudging through a marsh mentally bemoaning the fact she has been searching this unpleasant area for four days. She smells like a "latrine attendant" and:
Sonja: "I am in ill humour. Parched, starving and randy. I need wine. Lots of it. I need hot food. And not to put too finer point on it, I need someone to fill my bedroll. I'm not particular. As long as they're limber".
And that is pretty much this version of Red Sonja's mission statement! She decides to make camp and catches and kills a rabbit to eat. She dozes off by the fire she is cooking it on and wakes up to find a man and a woman aghast at her cooking.
They scold her for it being half burnt and half raw and has no seasonings, Sonja says "it's meant to fill my belly... I'm not one for complications". She offers them some, then tells them they both look limber... As she talks she realises they have her knife and sword, "I really must learn to sleep more prudently". The pair tell her she has intruded into their home. Sonja says they are "inbred, swamp dwelling murderers... rumor is that you are cannibals and sexual deviants. Pleased to meet you".
|Bogman gets some EyeScream.|
She is in a city watching slaves build a mausoleum, she speaks with the King who summoned her to go on a quest for him. He is dying and wants to go out with the best party ever. He wants her to find "a courtesan, a stargazer, a swordsman, a beastmaster and most importantly - a chef". If she refuses the quest, one thousand slaves will be buried alive and incarcerated with him in his tomb.
Sonja: "You... you put... you put food... In a barrel of delicious Cimmerian beer? You monster."
He tries to tickle her tastebuds with some soup, but Sonja is not impressed, "it's water and burnt weeds and roots. It means nothing to me." Then suddenly the grown reptile people attack. Gribaldi frees Sonja and she reclaims her weapons again.
|Sonja and Gribaldi escape.|
Four days later Sonja and Gribaldi are riding together in search of their next addition. Gribaldi has been doing Sonja's head in with his unending stream of foodie talk and she also is suffering due to other "hungers" that need to be fed. Finally she can suffer no longer and at camp that night she wakes Gribaldi up. She need nookie and she needs it NOW. He is vaguely horrified by her directness, she say "you can think of veal the whole time if you like, only hurry up would you?"
He says it's outrageous, what if she's not his type. "I'm Red Sonja" she says, "I'm everybody's type". He tell her she's a tad whiffy and she agrees, but asks if he can overlook it, "are you going to make me say please?"
Gribaldi: "Well what if I... what if I want to be romanced?"
This is too much for Sonja, she gives up and goes back to sleep grumbling as she does so. He tries to make it up to her next day with "quail breast poutine with..." she interrupts him demanding to know why he announces each dish like "it's of royal lineage?" She eats it anyway.
They arrive at the city where "Kalayah The Great" is putting on his animal show. Sonja is not going to recruit him, she is going to slit his throat and watch him bleed out. Later they sit in the audience and Kalayah starts the show - "wild bear versus hunting dogs!" As Gribaldi watches in utter horror, the dogs tear into the bear.
|The horrific animal show.|
For this kindness Sonja and Gribaldi are thrown into a dungeon cell. Sonja asks him why he did not bargain his way out, he easily could have. He says she saved him in the swamp, "I am no fighter. but neither does that make me a coward". Sonja notes this bravery, then clambers on his shoulders to loosen a wooden bar to their cage, unfortunately Kayalah was expecting this and stamps on her hand. Then he tells her he remembers her threat to kill him and as they speak awful noises come from the arena, he had the tendons of her horses cut and then them tossed to the dogs.
She grabs his foot and tells him she will have her revenge, "from this side of the grave... or next". He tells her she'll die in the morning and departs. Sonja say to Gribaldi when they come for them "Fight. Don't kneel. Don't beg. Fight." Gribaldi asks her "I don't suppose from now 'til morning is enough time to make me a fearsome warrior?" Sonja finds this gallows humour amusing.
|Rat to the rescue?|
And she runs to the cages and opens them, all the animals pour out and Kalayah has his arm torn off by a bear and the guards killed. Kalayah begs Sonja for mercy but she lets the dogs tear him apart. Rat kneels sayng she must now die for her sins.
Sonja refuses, "The Emporer asked for a Beast Lord. And a Beast Lord he will get, Rat the Magnificent. But a Lord deserving of the beasts who love her". Rat rises and the bears and tiger happily join in for a group cuddle.
|A happy conclusion.|
|Poor Sonja, always frustrated.|
Sonja: "Curse me for a fool. A bit of abstinance and I become a lovesick child."
She climbs the buildings walls and makes her way around until she finds a guard who she forces out of the location of "the princess of pillowing" from. Her name is "Aneva" and Sonja enters through her window.
And is struck dumb by how beautiful Aneva is. "I normally look much nicer" says Sonja lamely. Internally she is freaking out, the room is for the kind of woman she was never meant to meet or become. She tells Aneva that if she comes to the dying king's party he will triple whatever she desires. Aneva says she has work here and must refuse. She wishes to stay and start a guild for courtesans, they are ripped off and brutalised by the leader of a nearby garrison, Captain Ferox and she wishes to make sure he never ruins another life.
They ride out and later Sonja goes fishing. She returns and watches Aneva doing her make-up. She wonders to herself that if her tribe had not been killed, if she had not become The Devil, would she be like Aneva? Then Aneva spots her and offers to pretty Sonja up. Sonja says no, but Aneva can be "awfully persuasive" and an hour later she is made-up and in a nice purple frock. Sonja looks at herself in the mirror and freaks out thinking to herself:
Sonja: "This is a Sonja who died with her tribe at the hands of marauders when she was ten years old. This is a Sonja who can never be... I let my foolish vanity cause me to forget that we are hunted."
The horse is shot with an arrow and up rides Captain Ferox with a few soldiers. Ferox sarcastically says Aneva shames him, he who has protected her from all harm.
|Even in a pink frock Sonja kicks butt.|
Sonja: "Fancy dress or no, face paint or no. I am who I am. Seems we all could do with a bit of reminding".
Ferox grabs Aneva while Sonja kills the soldiers. Then turns to find Ferox dead. Aneva says he fell on his dagger. When Sonja notes he has several stab wounds, Aneva drily states "he fell several times. He really was an awkward fellow."
Sonja asks how she learned to defend herself like that. Aneva says she is the Princess of the Art of Lovemaking but she is also "Toa of the Rhamoan Mountains". She was born of peasants and worked since she walked and her brothers taught her to fight. One day she saw a fancy woman carried by four men and realised "the farm was not for me".
But despite her luxurious lifestyle she thrilled to hear of Sonja's adventures and freedoms and would wonder to herself could she have been like Red Sonja, "in a different world. Toa the brave. Toa the invincible. Rescuing damsels. Freeing slaves". Hearing this Sonja says she will return her here and Aneva will get her guild, then apologises for making a mess of Aneva's hard work on her, "I'm afraid I wasn't meant to be beautiful." Aneva embraces her saying "you are so wrong sister. You are more beautiful than the stars." Sniffle.
|Versus Osric the Untouched.|
Sonja: "But I am Sonja. I am the curse of Hyrkania. And I am getting humiliated."
She charges at him and misses and he spanks her on the arse with his sword as she passes him which makes her madder still. She argle bargle's at him and runs at him again, tripping and face planting in the mud. Aneva is still with her and runs to her aid saying she doesn't understand how she could be losing.
Aneva says she'll call the watch. Sonja says "don't you dare" and gets up for another go at Osric and humliatingly trips over her own feet. We then get a flashback to when Aneva and her first met with Osric. They rode into his camp and like a gentleman he welcomed them and invited them for a meal. She makes the offer of great riches from the King if he comes to the party. He's more interested in the fact Red Sonja has come to see him and throws a great feast for her.
At the meal she whispers a dirty suggestion in his ear as she is still starved for sex. But Osric has to refuse, "if it's absolutely neccesary... I'd been willing to bathe first" she offers. But he says he's taken a vow, he won't sleep with anyone until they defeat him in battle. Take it away Sonja.
|Nice bit o'meta Gail.|
Sonja can't believe it and sadly kneels thinking how she has failed the slaves and now they will all die. She turns to Aneva as says to her:
Sonja: "There is a distinct possibility water might come from my eyes Aneve. Please turn away."
Aneva kneels in the mud with her and holds her saying "Never. Never". The mournful pair go to the local tavern to collect themselves. Aneva tries to make excuses for her, that she was tired and hungry. But Sonja says she has fought and won battles under worse conditions. She asked why Aneva defended her and Aneva says it is because she is a hero. Sonja says "ridiculous. I drink. I fight. I bed. Ridiculous".
Aneva gets cross and slaps Sonja's drink away saying Osric does not care about the lives of those slaves whereas Sonja risks her very life to defend them. Her saying this gives Sonja a brainwave and she realises how she can use her brain and Osric's exact words to defeat him and leaves to find him again.
|Rules said nothing about using fists.|
She shouts at his prone body that he was given a gift and only uses it to fight when there is no danger to him. He rises with fury in his eyes and charges him. He misses and she spanks his bum with her sword. He yells she can't do this, and she says she can, "You sir. Are touched". He realises he has lost and graciously surrenders. He kneels and kisses her sword agreeing to join her. Then he asks that as she has defeated him does she want to...? She refuses, "...Sonja the invincible needs a nap it turns out."
The next chapter begins with our team relaxing around a campfire while Sonja is off collecting firewood. A group of bandits comes upon them and start making threats which the gang laugh off much to the cut-throats confusion. Then Sonja returns and says to them:
Sonja: "I'll give you one chance nightsneak. Leave. Or feel the full brunt of my inhospitable nature".
They don't take a hint and a fight breaks out. Several bandits are killed and the rest flee in fear. The only casualty on the side of our heroes is Gribaldi's soup. He takes it hard. Sonja muses how she understands people like those bandits, but tommorrow "I go to face two of the very things that actually do cause my heart to skip a beat".
They arrive at the temple where the Stargazer is to be found. Sonja remembers that her village has a small wooden temple and the holy men talked to gods made of sticks. What kind of gods is she going to face in a place as grand as this? She thinks:
Sonja: "Are my gods as humble and savage as my tribe? For the first time in my bloodstained life... I am afraid."
The priests at the door hand robes to Sonja and Aneva saying "the women must cover their shameful flesh". Sonja thinks that she never thought of her clothes as shameful until asked to cover them and now, "I feel vastly more exposed." she can't wait to leave and "be Sonja again".
|Sonja is not too proud to beg.|
He then decides to quiz Sonja. He asks what she is called, when she tells him he says "yes, the colour of a woman's sin". He also says he has heard she is called "The Devil" and that she delights in luring "good, virtuous men into sin with your flesh". She says she is "as God made me, priest". Then she asks for the Stargazer Plaitius.
The Rector says the man is a heretic who has defied the church and is being scourged until he breaks. Then he'll be scourged again and burned alive to please the gods. Sonja decides to appeal to his wallet and says the King will give them gold in return for him. The Rector says, very well, if Plaituis recants he can go free with them, so he is brought up to see them.
But though he is in a pitiful state he refuses to recant, Sonja pleads with him saying he doesn't even need to mean it, but he still refuses and is taken back to the dungeons. But he allows Sonja, Aneva and Osric to go and talk to him in his cell. Sonja asks him if he is not afraid:
Plaitius: "They are going to torture me to death. I am so terrified I can barely stand. I spent most of today trying not to piss myself."
Sonja mentally sympathises, she remembers her time in the pit in book one. She pleads again to recant. He asks her a question, what shape is the world? Sonja says it is the shape of a map and at night Mitra himself rolls the parchement up. So Plaitius tells him his heresy, he believes the world to be round.
|Plaitius lays out his "heresy".|
Plaitius: "Because I love something more than my life mistress. Doesn't everyone?"
Sonja has respect for him, for raising his voice when he knew what the cost would be. She decides there and then that Plaitius is coming with them, guards and lack of weapons not withstanding.
The torturer comes back in and Sonja breaks his nose before ripping off the robe she was made to wear. Then they face the guards and Osric who still has his sword takes on a group of them. They fight their way to the Rector's private chamber and Sonja kicks the door down. She tells him they are leaving with Plaitius and he will not stop them. The Rector bellows why would he allow "a heretic and a whore" to leave?
Sonja shouts that he knows why it is because despite the guards and the stone walls, he is nothing but a coward. And this hits the Rector hard. Head bowed he tells the guards to let them go and as they leave Sonja thinks to herself:
Sonja: "And so Sonja will be afraid of temples no more. No more and never again. Thank you Stargazer. Thankyou".
The final chapter begins. Sonja needs a dancer fast, she has one day left and goes charging into an inn where Rukaua is performing. She barges in, ready for a fight, but the people there have heard of her quest and are only to happy to help her. This leads to the following page as Sonja reluctantly indulges Rukaua's fantasy of being rescued by a strong warrior. Heee!
|This page makes me very happy.|
Sonja relaxes in a lovely bath attended by men and women and starts to ask them to see to her "other" needs when Aneva rushes in saying "I have nothing to wear!" The King's second-in-command, the Overseer, appears saying they can supply clothes and Sonja, once again left frustrated gets out of the bath but tells the attendents to remember where they were.
Then as Aneva and Sonja are given beautiful dresses to wear, she asks where the others are. Aneva tells her Plaitius is reading the stars, Rat is caring for her beasts. Rukaua is constantly practising and Gribaldi is fussing over the food preparation. Sonja is being bothered by something she can't put into words. Then calls in the Overseer who has been watching them. The Overseer admits that Samala is not going to honour his agreement regarding the slaves. He says if she doesn't oppose him she will be showered with gold, titles, lands and nobility. Sonja responds:
Sonja: "The Emporer is a great lord, Overseer. A ruler of men. The King of the Golden City. While I may be no more than a peasant playing dress up for a moment. But I am Hyrkanian. We keep our word. So with a peasants heart... the Emperor can go $^%$ himself"
She hears the Overseer sigh and wonders if he is a good man put in an awkward postion. She starts fighting the guards but is quickly overwhelmed and put in a prison cell. Samala comes and taunts her and then drops the bombshell that her six friends will join him in death too.
|Samala is a dick.|
He throws her to the floor and when Gribaldi rushes to her side she tells him Samala means to kill them all. Then Osric appears and begins fighting his guards. Rat and Sonja arrive at the battle and Rat uses a hawk to dive and attack. Aneva gets stuck into the fighting too but Sonja, back-to-back with Osric admits they are outnumbered. Osric says "it has been my honour to fight beside you. Sonja the invincible."
Then Gribaldi shouts to everyone to stop. He says he has poisoned the Emporer and Samala dies coughing his guts out on the floor. Rukaua finishes his dance, "did I miss something?" The Overseer takes command and tells Sonja the slaves will not be killed, "I think he is a good man" muses Sonja as she gets ready to go.
|Goodbyes are said.|
She rides back to the brothel where she found Aneva and gives them a huge bag of gold. She gives it to the madam so they can start their guild. And there is also money left over for Sonja to have a great time.
Sonja: "As for my wishes? I'll take one of everything".
|And Sonja FINALLY gets to scratch that itch.|