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Fiction Alma Mater

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by thedarkfourth, May 31, 2017.

  1. thedarkfourth
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    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

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    “Has anyone seen Oxyotl?”

    “He’s over there!”

    “Hello!” said the chameleon, jovially, hanging from the barracks roof by his tail.

    “You’re late for the summons,” snapped an older skink from the doorway. “Get out in line this instant or its terradon guano for you from now til the Great Plan is achieved.”

    Oxyotl scurried out into the pristine glare of the sun. The massed ranks of Pahuax had been assembled before the steps of the great temple. He gasped at the serried splendour of reptilian might, before gathering his wits and slinking as stealthily as he could into his allotted position - second rank of a small cohort of chameleons, third file from the left.

    Out before him, in the distance over the heads of scores of fellow soldiers, he could see - and feel, in the trembling flagstones - the enormous strides of a carnosaur, while the oldblood on its back barked the roll call. Name after name was called - a ritual lasting for hours and designed to instil discipline in the vital art of patience. It would be a long time before they even reached his battalion, let alone his cohort.

    “Miss anything?” he whispered surreptitiously to his companions, keeping his body perfectly still so that superiors wouldn’t notice any movement.

    “The summons came late. The higher ups seem nervous. They say it’s going to be war this time.” His comrade on his right had also mastered the art of motionless whispering.

    “War? There hasn’t been war in centuries. I wonder which enemy of the Plan we shall face.”

    There was a silence, and Oxyotl risked a momentary glance to his right. His fellow chameleon looked genuinely troubled, nervously glancing back.

    “I don’t think it’s anything we’ve faced before. I’ve heard rumours. Something seems...not right.”

    “I’m sure it’s nothing we can’t han-”

    “Oxy. I overheard Chief Taroq talking to Priest Loratl. They used the word ‘catastrophe’.”

    The chameleons pondered this in silence, looking at their feet. Lost in his thoughts, Oxyotl hadn’t noticed time pass until he heard the guttural shout of the name-taker right in front of him.

    “Report, newspawn!” it roared. “Or does the high and mighty Oxyotl have something else he’d rather be doing?!”


    ---

    Sixty-three centuries later, Oxyotl blinked and looked around. Instead of fellow lizardmen as far as the eye could see, there was only jungle. To his knowledge, he was the only sentient creature for hundreds of miles.

    He sniffed the air. Ah yes. The only sentient creature but one.

    There was something he’d rather be doing.
     
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  2. thedarkfourth
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    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

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    title1.jpg
    The slann are dead, the temple cities are rubble, the saurus armies all slain!

    (premise blatantly stolen from @Wolfwerty33 - thanks buddy!)

    The survivors have no choice but to resist the invading armies any way they know how. But the odds are against them. Who will come forward to save Lustria in these evil times? Who can give hope to those few who still fight the dominion of Chaos?!

    ...

    DARK4 STUDIOS PRESENTS

    rigg glyph logo.jpg
    coollogo_com-30042977.png
    An ongoing epic about the legend of The Returned


    Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

    Art above by @n810

    Don't forget to read and vote in the April-May story contest!

    Chapter 2


    There was something Huini needed to be doing. He had no idea what it was.

    He started by climbing out of the little rectangular body of water he had apparently woken up in. It was dusk, and he appeared to be alone. In one direction there was nothing but trees and the occasional chirrup of insects. In the other, dark shapes of simple buildings blocked his view of the sunset, and behind them seemed to loom the stepped outline of a mighty pyramid. That felt like the right direction to go.

    Just as he determined to scamper into the city, he realised that his entire body had stiffened with an unknowable instinct. The tiny sound of footsteps among the dusty alleys. And, simultaneously, rustling among the trees behind him. His head swivelled back and forth, eyes bulging. The footsteps got louder. He squinted in the half-light.

    There was a dizzying silence. When Huini couldn’t take it any longer, he took a single step towards the city. At that moment, something large and grotesque lurched from between the two nearest buildings, snuffling at the evening air. Huini didn’t have time for more than a glance before it flinched and reared, struck by arrows from out of the trees, sending an appalling screech to the heavens.

    “This way!” came a whispered order from the jungle undergrowth, as the thing continued to squeal and stagger. Huini wheeled to the speaker, glimpsing several pairs of slit-like eyes among the bushes. “Hurry!” came the voice again.

    He looked back to the awful creature, which seemed to have righted itself, shaking its whole body as if purging its doubts. Suddenly it looked up directly at Huini, red eyes blazing. Its freakish mandibles dilated to emit an ear-splitting, inhaled howl that can only be rendered as: “SKREEEEEEEE!”

    Huini sprinted for the treeline, turning back to look just as he dove into the bushes. More arrows whizzed past him, and he saw the creature pause again to spew black gunk into the very pool from which he had so recently emerged.

    “Don’t watch!” cried a voice at his ear. “Now is the time for flight!”

    He felt an arm propel him into the trees, and he found himself following closely on the heels of someone who looked much like himself, albeit clad in scales a slightly different shade of sapphire, and lacking the strange splotch of white scales that Huini noticed on his own panting chest. As they rushed headlong through the jungle, he realised that his rescuers comprised a band of about half a dozen such beings, armed with bows, pipes and javelins.

    They heard the chilling skree again, this time at a distance, but in a pitch that suggested a good deal more running might still be appropriate. Huini swatted branches from his eyes as they plunged into the deep undergrowth.

    “What is that thing?!” he panted.

    “What do you think?! It’s a daemon!”

    “What was it doing in the city?!”

    “Xlanhuapec fell weeks ago! Gods, were you just spawned?!”

    “...I think so?”

    “Huh.” The other lizard paused. “Another spawning of one. Increasingly common. In the old days we would have said you were blessed. Now we say you’re too few to replenish the ranks of the dead.”

    “I’m sorry,” said Huini, slowing to a walk. He stared glassily at his interlocutor, an elder skink with a scar across his nose and a glyph around his neck that gleamed a dullish gold.

    “You’re not the one who should be sorry. Hell of a time to be spawned,” he growled. “Name’s Latz. You can run with us until we find your proper station. Not going to lie, it’ll be a baptism of fire for a newb like yourself. We’re what’s left of one of the remaining deep jungle cells. Our job is non-stop interference and guerrilla sabotage. Welcome to the resistance, kid. Hope you survive the exper-”

    They came to a halt: Latz and the other skinks’ heads span around as they heard a cracking sound. All of a sudden, a nearby tree began to bubble and writhe with pustulent mutations. Within seconds it had decayed and shrivelled into a black, gooey puddle. Its absence revealed a monster, this time humanoid, overweight and sickly. Its mouth foamed and gurgled into a mucusy grin.

    Huini spun to flee, but there was another diseased creature behind them, this one with horns and a gaping hole where its stomach should be. Other daemons were striding towards them through the trees from other directions, in all sizes and shapes.

    “Defensive positions now!” called Latz, desperately. The skinks pressed their backs together into a circle, with Huini stuck in the middle. He felt fear clawing desperately at his mind as his nostrils filled with a stench worse than anything he could imagine. A few smaller daemons fell to desperate blowpipe strikes, but it was clear there were far too many to really fight. There was nothing to do but watch as they came nearer and nearer…
     
  3. Killer Angel
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    Killer Angel Well-Known Member

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    Interesting.
    Gotta grab popcorn. :D
     
  4. Warden
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    Warden Well-Known Member

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    Wow that was an impressive tagline, very curious where you plan to go with this.

    More from Dark4 studios please!
     
  5. Otzi'mandias
    Ripperdactil

    Otzi'mandias Well-Known Member

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    Interesting idea. I'm going to stick around and see how it goes.
     
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  6. thedarkfourth
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    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

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    Chapter 3

    In a very different part of the jungle, Klorax, minion of the Blood God, was salivating as he pushed through the thick vegetation.

    He stopped for a moment as he listened to a slight rustling sound.

    A cute little wild boar piglet waddled out of some shrubs and shook itself contentedly. It looked up at Klorax with huge eyes and an adorable little half-smile. Klorax - who was 8 feet tall, bright red and sporting twisted, obsidian black horns the length of his arm - looked down at it, with something akin to surprise.

    “Are you all alone, little piggy?” he said in his rasping below, cocking his head. He bent down and stroked his hand gingerly over the miniature animal’s fur. The piglet rubbed up against the daemon’s leathery skin like a cat against its favourite human.

    “Aw, you like that, don’t you,” chuckled Klorax. He looked around, furtively. “You know what, if you’re all alone, why don’t you come with me?” He picked up the little pig, who snorted merrily, and put it under his arm. “That’s good, isn’t it? You come with uncle Klorax. We’re off to find a very naughty trick, yes we are. It’s a horrible little artefact those bad bad lizards made oh so long ago. We’re going to find it, and we’re going to smash it into little-wittle smithereenies. Doesn’t that sound fun?!”

    The pig snorted again. Klorax adjusted his only article of clothing: a loincloth with a skull motif.

    “LDC could have sent anyone for this, couldn’t they...Skullgnasher? I’m going to call you Skullgnasher, it’s a good name for a pet.” Klorax was striding boldly through the jungle again. “They could have sent anyone. But they chose Klorax. Because Klorax is great and powerful and none can stand against him, oh no they can’t,” he continued tickling the little creature’s belly as he coddled it. “Just like they can’t stop you being such an adooorable little piggy-wiggy! Aha! We’re here, Skullgnasher, it should be just around this-”

    He stopped short. There was a chameleon skink sitting on a rock in a small clearing. He knew that the rock was in fact an ancient artefact of vital importance in maintaining the geomantic defences of Lustria. The skink looked up at the daemon and his pet, its expression entirely blank.

    “How did you know I was coming h-” began Klorax. He stopped as a javelin impaled his eyeball, sticking through the back of his skull. Slowly, his body stiffened and fell backwards from the heels, like a plank.

    Oxyotl stepped off his rocky perch and walked calmly to the daemon. He looked down at its twitching body as a young boar pushed its way free of one of its limp arms and scurried away into the jungle. Then he picked up a nearby branch, held it above his head, and - still expressionless - smashed it as hard as he could into Klorax’s face, black blood spraying up onto his own body.

    “Tizcec! Hatluli! Muttip! Tocl-Yotul! Nektek! Xizqac!” shouted Oxyotl, timing the words with further blows, each more furious than the last, until there was nothing left of the former head of Klorax but goo. The skink looked around the quiet jungle, where nothing moved but the insects. Blinking, he wiped the gore from his emotionless face.
     
  7. Otzi'mandias
    Ripperdactil

    Otzi'mandias Well-Known Member

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    Clearly Oxy was jealous of Klorax's piggy.
    I'm interested in what happens with the pig next, and also curious why Oxyotl didn't camouflage himself. Plot point or mistake?

    (EDIT : Just realised the only answer I'm ever going to get is plot point so nevermind)
     
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  8. PhoenixTheCat
    Terradon

    PhoenixTheCat Well-Known Member

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    I'm guessing the words Oxyotl was shouting were either the names of ruined cities, or notable Lizardmen champions that were slain.
     
  9. Otzi'mandias
    Ripperdactil

    Otzi'mandias Well-Known Member

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    It could just be that Klorax couldn't understand him and Oxy was shouting something like " Get. Out. Of. My. Jungle!"
     
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  10. thedarkfourth
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    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

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    Chapter 4

    “Hur hur hur,” said the slobbering minion of Nurgle as it stretched its gelatinous flab out to throttle the nearest of Huini’s skink band. “Hur hur hur,” it repeated its gurgling, mirthless laugh. “Hur hur - urk!”

    The corpulent creature looked confused for a moment. It keeled over with a squelch, face first into the mulch of the forest floor, which bubbled and decomposed inches away from the skinks. A trio of little darts quivered in its fleshy neck.

    “Look!” hissed Latz, pointing into the foliage. Huini caught a momentary glimpse of a dark green blowpipe tube, before it vanished behind some leaves.

    A similar fate awaited the other approaching daemons, as darts sailed out of the trees from all directions. After an extended period of whizzing noises followed by sickly wails, the entire band of Nurglites was despatched. The skinks looked around in shock. The jungle was silent. Not a leaf moved or twig snapped.

    “They’re already gone,” said Latz, quietly awed.

    “What was that? Another deep jungle cell?”

    “No, lad. They don’t work inside the system. And no ordinary skink can hunt daemons like that. They’ve already gone, probably on the trail of a new enemy. You’ve just seen something most lizards will never see. Chameleons.”

    Huini regarded Latz’ pensive expression. They picked their way through the fallen bodies and began trotting into the jungle again. The group was hushed, not chattering to each other like before the Nurgle attack. They barely said a word until they reached a small stone building crumbling in the centre of a swampy patch of jungle near a river. The skinks began attending to their equipment, and some went out to find food.

    Eventually, Huini gathered the courage to press Latz further on what had happened. The older soldier sighed and looked out among the trees.

    “Chameleons are a very special spawning,” he said eventually. “Legend says they used to roam all over the jungle before the Great Catastrophe, the first time the daemons took Lustria. They could make themselves invisible, navigate the forest like a fish navigates water. When Chaos was finally beaten back, there were none of them left. They haven’t spawned for thousands of years. But since this new invasion started, since the daemons defiled the sacred lands, us survivors have started seeing them again. Not often, like. But enough for a story to start to spread…”

    “Why have they come back?”

    “No one knows. Each cell has its own theory. Some say it is a sign the Old Ones have returned. Some say the new taint of chaos has altered our spawnings. Some say it proves that Sotek is too weak to fight any more, forcing the First to resort to subterfuge and hiding.”

    “What do you say?”

    Latz turned then, and fixed the new-spawned skink with a meaningful look.

    “I say it’s proof.”

    “Proof of what?”

    “Proof that the lizard we have waited for has returned to us at last. Proof that even in the Realms of Chaos, he could not be captured. Proof that he still lives - and still fights. Proof that Oxyotl stalks Lustria once more.”
     
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  11. thedarkfourth
    Temple Guard

    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

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    The tension was overwhelming. Rollcall had long finished and the host of Pahuax had taken up battle formation on the north side of the city where the Enemy was expected to arrive. Endless ranks of saurians and giant battle-monsters lined across the vast empty stretch between the city and the treeline. Flocks of terradons circled above, while the odd tongue of flame betrayed an unruly salamander. Everyone else waited in perfect, unmoving silence.

    Oxyotl waited with the rest of the chameleons within the trees. They were the first line of defence, intended to thin the enemy’s numbers before battle was even met, while staying hidden in the trees to harry them from the rear. But no enemy had arrived. Reports continued to come from the farther-roaming scouts of fallen outposts and the endless tide of Chaos spreading through the jungle from the north, the defiling of sacred Lustrian soil raising bile in every lizard’s throat. Hexoatl, the only temple city north of Pahuax, was resisting valiantly, but there were dark rumours that their protector gods had vanished without a trace. And still there was no sign of the hated creatures here in Pahuax.

    Night fell, and still the lizards stood ready, determined to push back whatever came to threaten the city. Twice more the sun crossed the sky. On the third day, Oxyotl woke from a brief and unfulfilling sleep to an even more potent sense of tension. The other chameleons were skittish. They could all feel it, a tightness or vibration in the air, in the very fabric of the jungle, growing stronger. Scouts came back with reports of mad screeching or laughter in the trees, but no visual sightings. Up and down the army, skink priests tended to saurus warriors who had simply gone cross-eyed and fainted. They recovered quickly, but the tension remained.

    The sun grew higher and brighter. Just as they thought the awful strained sensation couldn’t get any worse, it happened. Oxyotl wanted to retch, as there, on the very edge of the trees, in front of the entire, onlooking army, a cloud began to form out of the very air. Strange rainbow patterns could be seen to shimmer and warp across its oily sheen, until it contracted on itself, condensing down into a little humanoid shape. Somehow, Oxyotl couldn’t even look at it properly, it defied the mind’s ability to process. He thought he could hear frenzied laughter, or rather feel it, a terrible sensation of slipping sanity.

    He saw Lord Pocaxalan, Pahuax’s mightiest Mage Priest, float out from the ranks of his bodyguard, and advance towards the apparition. The sense of tension tightened even further, reaching its most spine-chilling climax, as slann and daemon faced each other, arms outstretched in psychic battle.

    Finally the tension snapped. From his station within the trees, behind the daemon, Oxyotl could only watch as a breathtaking blast of raw magic detonated from its position, disintegrating Lord Pocaxalan and then spreading outwards in a bubble through the lizard army. The entire host of Pahuax warped and twisted into shapes of unutterable anguish, blown away like leaves on the vast winds of Chaos. Within seconds, the shockwave had demolished the army and spread through the city, cleansing it of all life and bubbling the very stone of its temples.

    Oxyotl was too shocked to comprehend what he was seeing. Other chameleons who managed to keep composed were firing darts at the daemon’s back, but they melted into dust before even reaching it. There was something there behind the creature, a strange circle of...nothing. A void from which Oxyotl couldn’t draw his eyes, from which the destructive energy appeared to be emanating.

    Now there were cries among the chameleons, as the enemy army finally arrived. They surged through the jungle, demolishing every green and healthy thing they encountered, a numberless swarm of clawing, writhing, flapping things that howled and gibbered. As soon as the poison darts hit the nearest of them, it convulsed and exploded, spraying a sheen of black gore across all the nearby skinks. Oxyotl jolted out of his stupor as he felt the stinging acid of this fine spray across his scales. Now the chameleons were marked, and suddenly the daemons could see them, looking up with terrible hunger and malice. Oxyotl watched as they lunged and fell upon his closest comrades, horror rising in him like a tidal wave. Suddenly he was pushed backwards.

    “Run!” cried his friend, Tizcec. “Let’s get out of here!”

    They sprinted away from the coming horrors, which only took them towards the daemon who had destroyed Pahuax, although its body had crumbled under the power of its own spell; the forces it had unleashed had destroyed its very essence. Still, the hole it had rent in the structure of the world remained. Oxyotl looked back as the screeching horde thrashed towards him, and saw Tizcec tripped by a tentacle, devoured seconds later by dozens of gnashing maws. Without thinking, on some desperate instinct, Oxyotl lunged away from the nightmarish scene, and leapt with all his remaining strength at the only thing that looked like an escape.

    He dived through the hole in reality, and it closed instantly behind him.
     
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  12. thedarkfourth
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    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

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    Roxalin shivered at the joy of it. The pure pleasure of the pursuit. She had chased many things in her time, but few challenges had been as heady as this one. She clutched tighter at the throat of the Slaaneshi fiend she was using as a conveyance, as its spindly insectoid legs scurried over the Lustrian undergrowth, egging it on to even more unnatural speed. The quarry was just ahead.

    She had laughed when they had instructed her to hunt the chameleon. She was amused at their fear and frustration. The LDC hated this one, but she had no room in her heart for hate, only love. Love so strong and passionate that it would consume whatever it touched.

    First they had sent their legions to corner Oxyotl and destroy him. But they couldn’t find him anywhere. He knew the environment too well, and was so good and disguising himself, that he always slipped through their nets.

    Then they’d sent the slavering fleshhounds of Khorne. The ungodly doggies had caught the chameleon’s scent immediately, and set off baying and yapping through the jungle, bent on the single impulse of pure bloodlust. They’d run up and down most of the continent before they returned, cowed and exhausted, totally unable to find the true location of Oxyotl. It seemed he could mask, or at least falsify, his scent as well as his body colour.

    Next they unleashed furies, marked by Tzeench, who could hunt by telepathy. They flapped and howled across the trees, munching on the jungle’s smaller fauna as they went, tracing the mental signature of the cursed skink. In the end, they flew in circles and collided so many times that they set upon each other in a rage, devouring themselves with no other outlet for their frenzy.

    Finally they let the Nurgle Lord have his way, and, waving a lazy, pustulent arm, he sent a disease to rot away the jungle where Oxyotl was thought to be. Huge acres of lush and vibrant vegetation shrivelled and decayed away, clearcutting the entire region down to the soil. In the empty, barren wasteland that remained, a herd of surprised-looking stegadon roared and ran off, but there was no sign of any chameleon.

    Roxalin was their last hope. Oxyotl continued to frustrate their plans and sabotage their most important schemes. He was ahead of them at every turn.

    Already she had proved herself superior to all the previous hunters by simply getting close enough to the chameleon to give chase. She had spent the last month preparing for this moment in a non-stop orgy of the most exotic carnal delights and forbidden pleasures. She had fermented herself in a bath of unmentionable secretions to heighten her sensual capabilities.

    Now every fibre of her being trembled as she tracked her quarry. She couldn’t see him, of course, or smell him, or even sense any physical part of him. She didn’t track any of those things. She followed the only impulse of his that mattered: his emotions.

    She was unusual among Slanneshi heralds in using a fiend for a mount. The scuttling creature was difficult to ride, but she had had practice, and she found that she prefered its untamed, wild physicality over the demure, sensual caress of the seekers ridden by her subordinates on either side of her. The nimble, two-legged daemons had no trouble keeping up with the furious pace of the pursuit. Soon Oxyotl would be theirs to have their way with.

    She clacked her lobster claw in anticipation. What made this chase particularly thrilling was the quarry’s emotional state. Most of her victims fled in a blind haze of fear, masking all other feeling. For a lady such as herself, such damp, spineless behaviour was a terrible turn-off. But Oxyotl was not afraid. He ran ahead through the trees guided by anger, determination and most of all - confidence. Roxalin thought she might be in love. Or in more love than usual.

    She barely noticed when the two seekers on her left fell away suddenly, struck down by sudden missiles. And she didn’t care at all about the one on the right who tripped into a pit that had been loosely covered by leaves. And she merely cackled when the rider just ahead of her burst into flames as it activated a magical boobytrap. She could feel Oxyotl’s strong will just ahead, she was almost on top of him. The ecstasy of the chase’s consummation, the final moments that seemed to linger - this was all that mattered.

    With a great sigh of pleasure, she burst into a clearing and her fiend skittered to a stop. Before her, a dozen chameleon skinks, standing brazenly in the open, raised finely-crafted pipes to their mouths.

    “Where-!” she just had time to cry, and then she sensed it. She turned in the saddle and looked up. For the merest fraction of a second, she caught the outline of a camouflaged shape as it moved onto a branch of the tree behind her. Her mind just had time to realise that it was not Oxyotl who was hunted - he was always the hunter. Then 24 poisoned darts pincushioned the back of her head, and she fell to the ground. Her heart broke for the lust that would remain unconsummated. The last thing she saw were the other chameleons getting down on one knee and bowing their heads to the one above. The last thing she heard were names that she did not know - Tizcec! Hatluli! Muttip! Tocl-Yotul! Nektek! Xizqac!
     
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  13. Aginor
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    Aginor Well-Known Member

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    Good read. :)
     
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  14. tom ndege
    Skink Chief

    tom ndege Well-Known Member

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    Real good!
     
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  15. Killer Angel
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    Killer Angel Well-Known Member

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    Having described myself the inner thoughts of a Deamon of Khorne, I was immensely pleased by the same thing done to Slaanesh.
    Very entertaining and well executed. Kudos to you. :)
     
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  16. thedarkfourth
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    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

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    Huini’s heart was pounding. If he looked down he could even see the strange splotch of white scales on his chest pulsing visibly. The white patterning had been there ever since he spawned, which felt like yesterday. Now he was stationed on a tree branch a day’s march down the river from their cell’s outpost, and was about to engage in his first proper action as a member of the resistance.

    He had already learned to differentiate the little chirping signals of his comrades hidden in other trees along the river from the bird song that sounded so similar. The news had just been received - their target was arriving.

    He marveled at the new creatures that came lumbering through the forest. They were not like other daemons he had seen, hideous and hellish. Latz had told him that these were members of the Fourth race - soft-skinned warmbloods. They did not look like they were in a good mood. Scarred, marked with black inks and in some cases horribly mutilated, they trudged through the undergrowth swatting irritably at the insects that swarmed about their heads. They were leading a precious cargo that had drawn Huini’s cell to find them: captive skinks. The task was to slay the chaos minions before they could reach the rafts they had left on the riverbank.

    It was not so simple a mission as it might have looked. As soon as the first man fell to a blowpipe, the rest of the crew raised shields. Most of their hides were already protected by thick pelts they sweated under in the jungle heat. Huini was not an expert marksman, and failed to land any of the projectiles he’d been given. The humans quickly snatched up the bound and injured skinks they were leading and scurried towards the rafts. Which of course were no longer there, having been dismantled by Latz as soon as his cell arrived. Putting their backs together on the beachhead, the humans fended off the missiles that continued to fall around them, but soon they had been whittled down to just a few surviving members. Several of the prisoners managed to twist away from their fallen captors and escape into the jungle, raising a cheer of whistles from the trees.

    Finally, the grimmest and most gnarled of the human warriors bellowed and dropped his shield. In its place, he gripped his captive in a huge arm and held a savage knife to its squirming throat. The hail of darts ceased. His prisoner was adorned with the glyphs of a high priest, the most important of those they had come to rescue.

    On a growled command Huini couldn’t understand, the remaining humans suddenly leapt into the water behind them, abandoning all the skinks except the priest. With strong strokes they began to swim the width of the sluggish river, splashing inelegantly but fairly rapidly. A series of whistles from Latz sent Huini and the others scampering down their trees and into the water in pursuit. As the humans emerged on the farther bank, the skinks were already in the undergrowth, rearming their blowpipes. Two more warmbloods fell in poisoned agony.

    Seeing this, the leader spun around and drew his knife again, this time drawing a sickly trickle of blood from the priest. While the other lizards stopped firing, Huini found himself moving on a sudden instinct, propelled by the horror of that blood drawn from a holy skink. Now he was out in the open, running at the much larger warrior, brandishing his little stone club in anger. The barbarian laughed and kicked him with a massive boot, and reared up above him as he sprawled on the ground, raising a sharpened axe. At that moment, the man was impaled by a spear through the back of the chest, its lethally sharpened point protruding through his body and narrowly missing the head of the skink priest he still gripped in one arm. He dropped to his knees, gurgling blood, and slumped down dead.

    Getting unsteadily to his feet, Huini peered through the bushes in the direction the spear had come. There were more warmbloods there, and for a moment he tensed for further fighting. But these were different. They had long hair, sleeker bodies and none of the pelts or other adornments the men had worn. There were about a dozen of them, and they locked eyes with him with serious expressions. He thought the one in the centre nodded. Before they turned and vanished among the trees, it said a single word. Huini thought it sounded like “Kalith.”

    “What was that?” asked Latz, coming up behind. Huini realised he couldn’t have seen them.

    “No idea,” he said, truthfully.

    “No, I mean, what was that!” repeated Latz, and Huini saw that he was furious. “You broke cover! You acted without orders. You endangered your own life and that of our revered priest,” he continued, bending to cut the bonds that still held the skink in question, who had passed out from fear.

    “I’m sorry, leader. It just felt like the right thing to do. I wanted to help.” Huini hung his head.

    “Not like that!” barked Latz. “You never - never - break cover. We’re a guerrilla unit. We stay hidden at all times - it’s the most important rule for how we fight, you understand me? The enemy is stronger than we are, so we cannot ever let him see us. And we’re not chameleons. We need cover.”

    “I understand, I’m sorry,” said Huini again.
     
  17. Killer Angel
    Skar-Veteran

    Killer Angel Well-Known Member

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    Ohhh!
    "apparently good" elves (?) enter the picture! :)
     
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  18. Aginor
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    Aginor Well-Known Member

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    I would also say high elves.

    But I really wonder how the Skinks didn't notice them. Intriguing!
     
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  19. Killer Angel
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    Killer Angel Well-Known Member

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    Maybe wood elves?
    Some of them have a decent stealth...
     
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  20. tom ndege
    Skink Chief

    tom ndege Well-Known Member

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