Dec 4

Toxic Garden: Poisoned Paradise

Toxic Garden: Poisoned Paradise by Aribella Lafleur

Tongues loosened by ale tell strange tales, so I discovered, as the convoluted rumours of a mysterious but deadly jungle were whispered lecherously in my ear. Despite the drunkard’s foetid breath and leering glances, which caused me to recoil in horror, his compelling depiction of fantastic sights in a lethal landscape drew me in and held me in thrall.

Not in the habit of crediting gossip from the inebriated, I would have dismissed this yarn but for the mention of incalculable riches to be found in the crumbling ruins of an ancient civilisation swallowed up by noxious trailing vines. Designer gowns don’t come cheap, and Aribella Lafleur is too proud to resort to buying them second-hand off eBay. I needed financial security that didn’t involve marrying a wealthy coma patient, pyramid schemes or metal detectors.

After much diligent investigation, I unearthed the location of the underground entranceway to our treasure garden. With my crew assembled in the dimly lit enclosed chamber, we donned protective armbands filled with slow-release antitoxins. Oblivious to the risks and dangers of the two precarious and claustrophobic elevators, we avariciously relied on our certainty that they lead to great fortune above. We steeled ourselves, paired off, and rode topside.

The Assembly

Instantly assaulted by cloying scents, which hung in the moist air like monkeys on a bunch of bananas, we reeled and staggered into the clutches of a giant pulsating fleshy floral behemoth. I heard whispers of “Feed me, Seymour” as the hungry bloom attempted to ingest my motley crew. As a diversion to allow the remainder of us to escape I contemplated sacrificing at least one of my dysfunctional assistants, (preferably the boor who saw fit to hoard food amongst the costly garments in my suitcase) but, upon reflection, I recognised their continued value as human shields….

Flower

Feeling slightly over-pollinated, I brushed off sticky yellow residue as I headed my team in the direction of a derelict chapel. I hung back slightly, to determine whether the mass of throbbing, lashing vines, the dominant life form in this untamed ecosystem, would claim one of my minions as an unhealthy snack. After it became clear that none would be devoured, I boldly ventured into the eerie ruins, gazing in awe at the remnant of the once imposing structure, reduced to rubble by the strangling tendrils.

Chapel

Chapel 2

Following what appeared to be a path through the jungle, we glimpsed a glassy enclosed edifice, possibly one of the original laboratory structures housing the initial genetically mutated species of this unnatural environment. The enticing exotic fragrance trail from the greenhouse lulled us into an opiate stupor, from which we were caught totally unawares by giant cyborg ants which spat fountains of a formic-like acid towards us. Before we had even realised our peril, two of our number were down, writhing in agony as the acid steamed through flesh and bone alike.

Greenhouse

I turned hurriedly away, to find refuge from the nightmare unfolding in front of me, now exceedingly pleased I had shown the foresight to retain my human screen. Fleeing hastily from the gruesome scene, I stopped to catch a few gasping breaths, but a disturbing sense of inexplicable scrutiny impelled me to continue…

Hydra

With my retinue surrounding me we stumbled onward, thoughts of treasure becoming distant memories in our fevered flight. The back-rending tugging and hacking through the verdure began to take its toll, as one of my bodyguards lost his footing and slid to his demise in a pool of toxic ooze. As we watched on, powerless to save him despite his piercing, anguished cries, a well-camouflaged monstrosity surfaced from the slime and dragged him into oblivion.

Slimebeast

Dodging and severing the snaking vines, we abruptly burst forth into a clearing, our vision drawn to the remains of a giant statue which appeared to be fighting a losing battle for liberation from the swampy terrain. I briefly wondered about the civilisation that would build such a figure, its torch still held high in a valiant attempt to break free from the elements which were slowly, yet inexorably, reclaiming it.

Liberty

We scrambled awkwardly up a perilous slope, in anticipation of gaining a vantage point to survey the landscape, only to discover a set of rusted train tracks snaking the length of the crest. Trudging along above the sea of entangled greenery we encountered the source of the deadly effluent liquid which had claimed one of my aides. Bright green ooze was spewing from the mouth of a rusty drain, which was crawling with more of the mech-ants we had encountered earlier.

Drain

Wrinkling my nose in distaste at the rank, putrid stench emanating from the filthy sewer, I inched closer to the huge brick building attached to the corroded pipe. Was this the treasure-trove, ripe for plunder? We peered between the exposed girders and decaying brickwork to the interior of a vast warehouse.

Warehouse

With our attention diverted, one of my defenders was caught in a shower of blistering acid. As his melting corpse distracted the ant drones, we crept into the deserted depot to investigate….

The sole object of interest in the dilapidated storeroom was a bronzed locomotive that sprouted alluring blooms from a tarnished engine which was overgrown with stems of lethal weeds. A closer, wary examination of the train yielded no riches, and we reluctantly admitted the likelihood that all items of value had been evacuated with the initial inhabitants of this tainted place.

Train

Regretting our foolhardy venture, we cautiously vacated the building. As we eluded the venomous insectoids and their insatiable appetite for human flesh, we searched for a way to depart the catastrophic degeneration of paradise. Sickened by the swirling mix of toxins and antitoxins churning through our bodies, my dissenting crew fervently scoured the ferocious topography in search of an exit.

The falling of stubborn vines beneath our blades eventually exposed a passageway before us. In the mad dash for the freedom of the light at the end of the tunnel no one detected the almost imperceptible spores clinging to our travel-stained garments…..

Tunnel

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Copy and images (c) 2007, Aribella Lafleur. All Rights Reserved.
Produced with the editorial assistance of Must Packbiers.

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3 Comments so far

  1. jays munro December 4th, 2007 8:13 am

    Wow……what a place and what a motley crew……where on earth did you find them?

  2. RightAsRain December 4th, 2007 2:04 pm

    Glad you had a full visit across Toxic! If you liked that one…you have to go visit Hang10!

  3. Stone Culdesac December 4th, 2007 2:19 pm

    Hang10? Sounds interesting, I’m sure one of us will show up there soon, any other rezzable recommendations?

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