The Drums Are Closing In – Chapter 7, Act 4, Strip 36

After a short respite at Dum Bulb-a-Dim’s house, the reality of our protagonists’ endangered situation soon reestablishes itself – in the most obvious way it can do that in a forest setting: the drums are drawing nearer.

A classic effect for this sort of situation, although Gregory slightly dulls the impact by not setting it up properly for the Barbessor. By not pointing out that “the drums are closing in” is only shorthand for “(enemy) creatures beating drums are closing in”, he creates nightmare visions of free-roaming, aggressive drum sets in the little Barbarian’s mind. And in the dimly-lit, shadowy forest, it’s easy to have your eyes play tricks on you, if your mind is filled with such ideas.

(While the idea of sentient, mobile drum sets with ill disposition is horrific indeed, I’m not sure whether Yamaha sets would be particularly more so than sets from other manufacturers. It’s probably just a stray thought on the Barbessor’s part. Perhaps he was bitten by a motorcycle once, or something.)

Compared to being stalked by percussion instruments on their own, Orcs and Trolls in pursuit are far less upsetting to the Professorian…That’s something he’s used to, after all.

On the tactical site, beating a drum while stalking seems a somewhat self-defeating activity. To counter that argument, one might point out that drums were used to direct and coordinate military units for many centuries…against which, in turn, one might argue that Orcs and Trolls are seldomly interpreted at possessing any sort of higher military organization to begin with. But it’s a moot point. Drums closing in is just far too effective in setting up a mood of growing danger to do away with it. And it’s not like it hadn’t been used in situations were it didn’t make far less sense than in this one. And after all, Orcs are fond of hitting things in general, their love for percussion instrument doesn’t even require a deeper rationale than that. =P

More on Thurs…uh, Monday.

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