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Contest April-May 2019 Short Story Contest Voting and Reading Thread

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Scalenex, May 1, 2019.

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Which Story or Stories Do You Like Best? (choose up to two)

Poll closed May 31, 2019.
  1. Story One: "Been There, Done That"

    1 vote(s)
    8.3%
  2. Story Two: "Knee-Deep in the Dead"

    2 vote(s)
    16.7%
  3. Story Three: "The Flying Saurus"

    3 vote(s)
    25.0%
  4. Story Four: "The Doom of Vanir Rockfist"

    5 vote(s)
    41.7%
  5. Story Five: "A Long Journey"

    7 vote(s)
    58.3%
  6. Story Six: "A Final Tail"

    1 vote(s)
    8.3%
  7. Story Seven: "The Extermination of the Fimir"

    3 vote(s)
    25.0%
  8. Story Eight: "Tlatlacolli"

    1 vote(s)
    8.3%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Scalenex
    OldBlood

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    The theme for our 18th seasonal short story contest provided by @Y'ttar Scaletail was "Doom and/or Destruction."

    Please read all eight stories before voting. You may vote for up to two pieces.

    BEEN THERE, DONE THAT


    “Halt! Who goes there?”

    Exiting from the darkened alley, Tekk’it didn’t bother to answer.

    Stupid warmblood…What do you think I could be? A horde of screaming wrathmongers?

    The torches’ light shone upon the plumage adorning the skink’s head, identifying Tekk’it as the high priest, the commander of the Seraphon expeditionary force. The Free Peoples guards in front of the palace’s entrance, rigidly saluted him.

    “Sir! The Council has begun Sir. You are expected.”

    Tekkit moved past the guards without saying a word.

    As if I needed to be told why I’m here. As if I like to enter this place if it wasn’t necessary.

    Tekk’it went up the stairs, feeling uneasy. He hated the weird sensation of walking upon polished marble. His feet were used to the rough cut stones of the temple, worked by kroxigors’ mauls. The way warmbloods built their constructions was unnatural.

    Going upstairs, Tekk’it went above the curtain of buildings that surrounded the governor’s palace. In the distance, the night was lit up by the burning of deamonic fires, surrounding the core of the besieged city; no longer muffled, he could hear the echoes of the Ironweld warmachines, battering the bloodletters without a moment of pause.

    Tekk’it could hear the angry debating only when he was basically arrived.

    “YOUR FORCES LEFT THE CITY! We are allies, how can Sigmar leave us without your support? We won’t last a week without the Hammerhands Chamber!”
    “Always stating the obvious, aren’t you?”

    The discussion stopped, and all the heads turned toward Tekk’it.

    The governor was seated at the head of the table, flanked by two commanders of the Free Peoples, the Chief Engineer of the Ironweld Arsenal, the Thane of Dispossessed, the Battlemage leader of the Collegiate Arcane… all facing the Lord Celestant, the last Stormcast present in all the city. The Excelsior Warpriest of Sigmar, of course, was not there.

    “Finally you’ve joined us!”

    Sigh. As I’ve said, stating the obvious…

    “I am here”
    “Then please, try to reason the Lord Celestant. We cannot hold the line without the SCE”.
    “So what? The leaving of Stormcasts was to be expected… the Temple of Sigmar has fallen and swarmed by Khorne’s daemons. They won’t fight to retake some desecrated, ruined walls”

    Tekk’it raised a claw, to stop the incoming shouting

    “…and for the combat, the Seraphon will cover it. Reinforcements are on the way.”

    There was a brief moment of pause.

    “You keep saying that. We acknowledge that there has been a constant flow of saurus troops, to replenish the losses, but it’s not enough".

    “Slann dominate the stars but are also tied to them. They need the right constellations to bring
    in their full power. Soon our real strength will be clear.”

    The Battlemage entered the debate. “The question is: how much soon? Apparently, I don’t read the stars in the same way of your Slann, as I don’t see meaningful star alignments”.

    “Tonight.”

    The hall fell silent. Expressions of wonder and hope crossed the faces of those present; only the look of the Lord Celestant remained concealed, behind the golden mask.

    “My Master is not a mere Slann. I serve Lord Kroak, the mightiest of them all. No one can match the power of His mind, and our enemies don’t stand a chance. If you want to excuse me, now I need to go on the high tower”.

    Without waiting for an answer, Tikk’it left the room.


    From the high tower there was an impressive view, but Tikk’it was not able to enjoy it. Without the Stormcast Eternals, the defensive line was barely holding the deamons’ pressure.

    You cursed beasts. Your mere presence forces me here, forces me to endure those warmbloods, their annoying habits, this cold place. I hate all of this.

    Then, something changed.

    A weird light began pulsing within the remnants of Sigmar’s temple, filled by octarine tones.

    Tekk’it knew what was going on.

    He saw it happened many times, during the Defense of Itza, during the End Times… Tikk’it was not there, but his master was. He saw it through the memories of Lord Kroak, which crafted him back to life. In a certain sense, every reborn priest possesses the knowledge of its Slann, so that every commander is a seasoned leader.

    The daemons swarmed from the hellish portal, that was growing bigger each second… hundreds, thousands, a whole legion. And then a bellow of rage covered the clash of the battle, mightier than the roar of a Dread Saurian.

    Tikk’it opened his mind.

    My Lord, the Daemon Ka’Banda is here

    A voice answered into his mind, older than everything. Inevitable as Fate itself.

    I know.

    Without the needing to see them, Tikk’it perceived the fading of the saurian regiments, going back to the stars. And while Tikk’it was vanishing too, he took a last look at the night sky, lightened up by the incoming meteor shower.

    Knee-Deep in the Dead

    The great spear erupted from the bloodletter, brains and viscera splattering back onto Varxin’s shield as he retrieved his weapon from the head of the fallen demon. The hulking saurus looked down with contempt at the bodies strewn about the room. A greater challenge had been expected today, for while he was used to operating on his own, he had never before attacked a fortified position without reinforcements. Despite the risks, Varxin was happy to die in service of the Old Ones and had yet to meet the foe who would prove to be his end. Perhaps a greater demon yet lurked within this Chaos outpost. One could only hope, he thought as he pressed on deeper into the depths.

    The warmblood followers of Chaos were formed up in the next room, shields at the ready, prepared for his arrival, prepared for death. With his spear, Varxin hooked the top of the shield of the nearest enemy, pulling him forward to meet his end at the sharp edge of Varxin’s own aegis. Enemy polearms thrusted at him from multiple directions, only to be expertly dodged, blocked by his shield, or to glance off of the ancient warrior’s scar-toughened hide. More importantly, there was now a gap in their ranks, the opportunity of their doom. After hurling his spear at the crossbow wielding warrior hiding behind the front line, he set to work with shield, tooth, and claw. Within the guard of the enemy, he was unstoppable. Soon, all that remained was a pile of bloody corpses and shattered armor. The silence in the room palpable given the chaotic cacophony that was present just moments before. Varxin recovered his polearm and spat the lingering chunks of flesh from his maw. Onward.

    Around the next bend, he came across a strange sight. A doorway, from which emenated a dim red glow, and through which the world seemed… distorted, or warped. Staring through it made Varxin’s eyes hurt, it was as if the objects beyond lacked definition, depth, dimensionality? The words escaped him, they were not words of battle, of war, of victory. Two words did emerge from the murk, strategic intelligence. Varxin knew he must learn all he could about this mysterious portal, and report the information back to his masters. A brief moment of disappointment flickered across his consciousness at the realization that this meant his survival was now mission critical. With a shrug, a tail slap, and a shake of the head, Varxin marched forward, deliberate, arms at the ready, eyes narrowing in readiness to target his next prey

    + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

    As Varxin crossed the portal threshold, his disorientation worsened. He had thought the distortion that he’d seen peering through the doorway was a result of some layer of air or magic at the junction itself. It now appeared he was wrong. The entire world maintained that blocky and ill-defined rendering making it harder for Varxin to find his bearings. Flat, muted, the colors less vibrant than even a saurus’s eyes suited to the dark were used to. Everything seemed too straight, too uniform. The randomness of life was missing, as if everything here were carefully constructed, with perfect precision. To make matters worse, his movement felt constricted, like he could only turn his head in discrete degrees of movement, instead of fluidly and continuously keeping his head on a swivel as usual. To make matters worse, wherever his head turned, his body seemed to follow. Mahrlect, these foul magics were more than Varxin bargained for. He was here to vanquish demons and punish the mortal followers of Chaos for their poor decisions of faith, not to explore uncharted realms. He began backing up, expecting to return to the bloody familiarity of the Chaos outpost, to continue as bringer of death. Instead of the expected smell of corpses, he found he could no longer move backwards. In fact, he turned to look at where the doorway should have been and was met by nothing but a blocky, blurry wall.

    An unfamiliar feeling welled up inside him. Panic. The lack of mobility, the thought he may never return to Lustria, the fear there would be no purpose for him in this strange realm. He had never feared death, had welcomed it on many occasions, this was worse than death. Before he could dwell further, he noticed a sudden movement. From the hallway straight ahead, a small bloodletter, frozen in place, appeared as if from nowhere. Varxin moved to bring his spear up, but watched as his arm shoved the gleaming weapon forward as if of its own volition. The bloodletter started getting bigger, and bigger, not bigger, closer. Eventually the demon was the size Varxin expected it to be, and so he thrust forward once more, vanquishing the monster with one fell stroke. To his surprise, the vanquished demon disappeared, more foul magic. Before he could think on it further, more began to emerge from up ahead. Varxin pressed forward, ensuring that none of the monsters flanked him, he took them out one by one, it wasn’t pretty, the joy of combat through fluid motion that he was used to escaped him here in this hell.

    The urge to roar his frustration surged through him, but Varxin found himself physically unable to vocalize his despair. All thoughts of strategic intelligence left him, and while some hope persisted he would find an escape from this dimension, he resolved to spend the rest of his days ridding this world of as many demon spawn as he could. He plodded forward incrementally, wanting to break into a run but constrained by the physics of this strange realm. As he turned the corner, he heard the bellowing of a large creature, though it lacked the resonance he was used to, in this world it sounded tinny, empty, weak. He could tell it still belonged to a fearsome foe, or at least this dimension’s representation of one. Perhaps today would be the day he met his doom, it hardly mattered, there were demons to kill.

    Flying Saurus


    In a dimly lit cave, two attentive skinks stood side by side, swinging their tails amidst the cold, drafty air. An abrupt breeze surfed their scales as they returned stares at the silent and aloof ripperdactyl before them.


    “Heh. I don’t think it’ll budge anytime soon,” Laz chirped.


    “What was Cahmahgazi thinking!? We’re a reconnaissance detachment!” Choki hissed loudly.


    “I’m sure he has his reasons…” Laz interjected as the ripperdactyl lazily swung its razor sharp beak aside, “He was assigned pack leader for a reason.”


    Choki casted off a furiously shivering smile.


    “Yeah, I thought getting us killed was one of them, but this is getting ridiculous!”


    “If it wanted to, we’d already be dead.”


    The cave fell silent from chirping and hissing at those coldly true words. Both Laz and Choki thought hard on how to get the rather timid ripperdactyl airborne and finally commence their sortie. Their train of thought, however, abruptly ended when a shadow loomed over the both of them, obscuring the rocky ground at their clawed feet in complete darkness.


    They turned around to see a hulking saurus, Munna, stare them down with a saddle meant for Cold Ones clenched firmly by one of his arms.


    Laz noted Munna’s saddle with perplexed eyes. It pondered upon him why Munna was still clinging onto something gone so long ago, and though he hid it well like any other saurus, it was still readable.


    “Itz’xa’khax. Elves. Intrude. North-East.”


    “We’re grounded,” Choki grudgingly replied, “Our ripperdactyl has found himself to be mentally challenged, and won’t even move for Sotek’s grace… or ours!”


    Munna noticed the ripperdactyl’s massive wingspan beginning to beat up and down rhythmically until a faint wind current could be felt throughout the cave. His blood rushed when he realized what the flying beast was attempting to do.


    “RUN! SKNIKS!”


    Both Laz and Choki startled back from Munna’s sudden roar before looking behind them.


    The ripperdactyl’s wings flapped aggressively until it leaped right past the skinks, instantly knocking them down and bolting towards Munna with an ear piercing screech.


    Stunned, Munna dropped his saddle and threw himself hastily onto the ground, dodging all but one of the monstrous talons whom were sharper than spears his scaly hide once had to bear. It scythed a long streak of blood throughout the entire length of his torso before finally parting ways.


    Munna quickly got up and clenched his chest as blood fell relentlessly from his claws. The ripperdactyl sized him up with its humongous wings spread out, readying itself to pounce him any moment. Realizing this, Munna’s instincts took complete control amidst the seething rage. He charged ferociously.


    The winged beast leaped up yet again with its talons stretched out mercilessly. Before they could scythe Munna apart, he slid underneath as they harmlessly whooshed above him. Quickly, he regained his posture and jumped upon the ripperdactyl’s back who was still recovering from its leap whilst thrashing uncontrollably.


    Munna excitedly bared his dagger-like teeth before working his way up to the neck to deliver the killing blow, only to find it was completely encased by a thick golden ring used for controlling and directing the beast. With no other option, and with no weapons at his disposal, Munna tried the only thing plausible that came to his frenzied mind: restraint. An impossible task made crazier, for the ripperdactyl constantly fluttered and flapped into the air until crashing down, all the while threatening Munna’s fall, and by extension, his death. This continued monotonously until the ripperdactyl finally tired out from exhaustion.


    Munna looked for the avian rider skinks, but they vanished like leaves before the breeze. The lack of body parts and significant amounts of blood strewn across the cave floor made him think they’re safe. Before he could reach for the beast’s thickly built neck for further restraint, the ripperdactyl’s head swiveled around and gave off a nervous glare. It glared and glared, patiently awaiting its ill-fated end in tense expectation, reptilian eye to eye.


    It felt as if the ripperdactyl’s eyes themselves were a mirror of Munna himself. He could feel and sense its weakness ooze from within as it scantly reminded him of the dreaded day he lost his Cold One - a day he lost something so much more than pride. He could sense the ripperdactyl lost something too, and whatever it was, it eroded from deep within.


    Munna eased up on the pinning, and instead, brought his head alongside the ripperdactyl’s, embracing the beast who tried killing him. The ripperdactyl flinched abruptly. It was a rashly dangerous move, but it was one unorthodox way of taming and relaxing a mount; all reliant on soothing the mount’s confused mind. Excreting the same odor of these creatures helped his cause, but this was no Cold One. Despite that, it still excreted that familiar odor that resonated along with his life of mounted warfare. Wounds of the past slowly begun clotting up.


    As Munna continually embraced, the ripperdactyl’s large wings flapped once. There was no warning or noticeable startup this time when the ripperdactyl, along with Munna, leapt into the air and bolted out of the cave.


    Munna growled a surprised yelp as wind suddenly blew. He looked underneath to see the breath of the jungle canopy below moving at a slow pace. He looked above to see the clouds shadowing him. He was flying.


    Munna’s mind raced with a whirlwind of thoughts. It was rarely fear, sometimes excitement, and mostly wondering on how in Chotec’s name to get down from this freezing place!


    That large ring that encased the ripperdactyl’s neck occurred to him. There was a large handle on the top, presumably for the skinks to toil its direction.


    Munna yanked it back towards him only for the ripperdactyl to inversely incline its flightpath. He yanked it again, but only forwards this time, declining its flight path. Munna tried yanking it left and right to see how the ripperdactyl would respond to his inputs. Soon enough, and with adequate amounts of trial and error, he could reliably direct the ripperdactyl’s flightpath. Landing, however, was still a mystery.


    The wind’s harsh rush reminded him of his cherished Cold One riding days. Ecstasy of the breeze's howling kept on emboldening his heart the faster he flew.


    Munna noticed small white blobs moving amidst the jungle floor. Itz’xa’khax. The intruding elves. He abruptly yanked the handle and rolled the ripperdactyl over into a steep dive.


    Munna roared as the wind blew harshly against him and the ripperdactyl. His blood lust rushed to new heights as the jungle canopy and its elf-spawn prey became clearer. He gave another look to accurately pick out his targets, only to find the white spots suddenly disappeared from view.


    Munna yanked the handle in order to recover from the dive, but the ripperdactyl wouldn’t budge. Continuously, he tried everything he could to recover their suicidal dive but to no avail. Munna glared, hopelessly, as the jungle canopy thundered into closer view until he and the Ripperdactyl splattered onto the jungle floor in an unrecognizable pile of gore.


    If only their descent was slower, if only he was able to comprehend what was going to happen, and if only he could consult the ripperdactyl one last time…


    He would’ve smiled nonetheless.

    The Doom of Vanir Rockfist


    “Grand job, Inferno, that’ll be the last we see of them,” commended an aged Fyreslayer who went by the name of Vanir Rockfist. His Magmadroth, Inferno, had just wiped out the last of a coven of Spite-Revenants that had dared to approach Baeldrag Lodge uninvited.

    The younger brother by two years of the current Runefather, Aesir Doomaxe, Vanir had left the lodge several years ago after a quarrel between the two of them had resulted in his exile. The two of them had fought over the rights to marry a sturdy female named Hyja - Vanir had been the first to woo the flame-haired Duardin woman when he had met her during one of his brother’s great feasts. The two had developed the beginnings of a caring relationship when Aesir had discovered them together. While initially nonplussed at the idea of his brother having found a potential wife of his own, Aesir had soon started to covet Hyja to add to his collection of wives. Yes, it was the tradition for the Lodge’s Runefather to have many wives with whom to have strong, skilled sons, but Aesir already had half a dozen wives of his own, while Vanir had never yet found the right woman for him. Surely Aesir could have found other women of his own if he wanted them? In any case, the two had resolved to a duel with their strongest axes. Vanir had won, knocking his brother to the ground and disarming him of his weapon, but Aesir had then used his authority as Runefather to have Vanir banished from the Lodge. Furious, Vanir had left with pleasure, taking his axes and Inferno with him.

    Since that fateful duel, however, Vanir had regretted his eagerness to leave. He had always loved his Lodge, and while he still hadn’t forgiven Aesir for cheating, he still loved him too. Most of all, he longed to see Hyja again sometime. Just before he had set out from his home for the last time, she had given him a torc forged from pure Ur-Gold in the shape of one of the drakes of old, catching its tail in its mouth. Every day he looked at that torc around his wrist, and thought of how it essentially symbolised his whole life and cause. Grimnir had evidently meant for him to be a loner, as it featured one Dragon, not two. It was also a material representation of both Hyja’s love for him and his love for her. That was why he still stayed near his lodge in Ghyran, when he could be hiring out his combat abilities to manlings all across the Realms for precious Ur-Gold all of his own. That was why he ritualistically defended it from invaders every day, even though his brother’s trickery had cost him his honour and his future wife. That was why he was still risking his life to protect those who, for all he knew, could have branded him as a traitor and a threat by now, or even forgotten him completely. As an inhabitant of Ghyran, he knew of the war between the spiteful servants of that Aelf many called the Everqueen and the loathsome disease-bringers of the Plague God. Of course, Vanir couldn’t have cared less about who would ultimately prevail, so long as neither of the belligerent forces sent warbands to threaten Baeldrag - protecting his home and kin were his top priority. He goaded Inferno to continue upon his patrol route now, the Magmadroth turning from the remnants of predatory ferocity to diligent obedience in an instant as he turned smoothly back into the mass of trees.

    For a long while, Vanir could see nothing of note as the pair travelled through the forest, only the usual creatures that flew, crawled and scampered about the place, but all that began to change as they moved onward. The first thing that Vanir noticed was that the forest became quieter and less active - the usual inhabitants seemed to dwindle the further they travelled. Then the air started to take on a particularly pungent flavour - soon the stench was so vile that it could be physically seen clogging the air as a thin, green, low-lying fog, and a human or Aelf could have died from breathing it in (luckily duardin had always been made of far sterner stuff). However, it was not long before it became clear what - or in this case who - was responsible. Vanir saw that the trunks of the trees had become distended and bloated in unnatural ways, with huge buboes and splits weeping horrid green slime. The only animals that were not dead were deformed, leprous things that dragged, slithered or ambled listlessly around, with long tongues that quivered and slavered, or bulbous eyes sprouting all over their ballooned bodies. The Plague God had dug his malevolent green fingers into this part of the woodland, and it was at the mercy of his sickening pleasures.

    “So, a champion of the long-deceased Grimnir decides to frequent my patron’s new garden, does he?” A slobbering voice rang out from deep within the trees, causing Vanir to rein Inferno in a little and scan the area for any sign of the monstrosity that caused this damage.

    A pair of massive green hands parted a dead tree to both sides like a man would part tall grass, pulling the thing apart and causing the trunk to split and thick green pus to spill out, before the creature pushed its revolting head through the gap to look upon Vanir.

    “How small and feeble you look,” the Great Unclean One belched, “but don’t fret - Grandfather Nurgle can soon put an end to your weakness, if you join us.”

    The Greater Daemon lurched forward, crushing the remnants of the tree under his colossal bulk so that Vanir could now see him fully in the distended green flesh, and extending a disease-ridden green hand towards Vanir in a mockery of friendship, but now he was not the only denizen who stirred. A large number of smaller green Daemons, each as foetid and diseased as their master, were emerging from the shadows and shambling towards Vanir, rusty choppers at the ready.

    “Grimnir has given me a strength that your Plague God could never understand,” retorted Vanir, and as if to prove his point, the Ur-Gold runes set in his arms, shoulders and back began to shimmer as the Fyreslayer focussed his aggression. The lost power of Grimnir began to surge through his body, hardening his skin into a natural armour and empowering his muscles. Vanir twirled his war-axe in his right hand, before urging Inferno into a frontal charge at the Great Unclean One.

    The Magmadroth cannoned into the Greater Daemon, yet the corpulent creature had anticipated this, tensing his bulk for the impact so that when it came, the Daemon remained upon his bloated feet. Inferno gored with his horns and swiped a clawed limb at the Daemon, but the resilient monster grabbed the Magmadroth by the middle and forced it down onto its side, pinning Vanir to the saddle with his left leg trapped between the ground and his mount’s body. Chortling with slime dribbling from his nose and mouth, the foetid Unclean One drew a massive sword from a scabbard on his back with his right hand while pressing Inferno to the ground with the left.

    “How so very easy,” the Greater Daemon burbled contentedly, “Now keep still, and this won’t hurt a bit.”

    He raised his drooping right arm, intending to bisect Vanir, but the resourceful Fyreslayer drew a Fyresteel throwing axe and pitched it cleanly into the Greater Daemon’s face, right between the eyes. Of course the axe didn’t actually hurt the Great Unclean One, for his blubbery skin was far too tough and gristly, but it distracted him long enough to slacken his grip upon Inferno, allowing the Magmadroth to raise his head and follow the axe with a blast of lava right in the Nurgle Daemon’s face. That hurt the Daemon a lot more, as even his regenerative Flesh was no match for the searing, burning heat of the lava, and he let go of the Magmadroth entirely, clutching his burned face with his left hand and swinging his sword wildly to try and retaliate at the Ur-Salamander. That gave Inferno enough time to get to his feet, rear up and push the humongous Daemon over with a tremendous thump that shook the ground, blasting another stream of lava into his face. The Magmadroth tore great rents in the Daemon’s thick hide with his claws, yet the enemy refused to give up. He thrust his great sword deep into the Magmadroth’s stomach and out the other side, but the Ur-Salamander’s molten blood began to melt the sword and spray yet more lava over the creature’s body so that even the toughened flesh of one of Grandfather Nurgle’s greatest creations was melted to the bone. It was then that the Great Unclean One finally knew he was beaten, his right arm slumping to the ground with the molten hit of his sword in his hand, his body now more reeking of burning flesh than diseases.

    Vanir leapt off the critically wounded Inferno’s saddle and stumped his way up the Daemon’s body, avoiding patches burned by lava, until he reached the Daemon’s chest. He had long heard the Runemasters tell of the Fyreslayers’ ancestry, and knew that his people originated as a doomseeking cult known simply as Slayers, who wandered the world-that-was in search for ever bigger foes to defeat through martial prowess alone. He felt like one of his Slayer ancestors now.

    “Grimnir may be gone, but his sons continue his fight,” he told the Daemon simply as he calmly raised his war-axe high and brought it down upon its neck, cutting through the last of the flesh that had avoided being incinerated by Inferno’s fyrestreams.

    Vanir had triumphed, but he would have no time to celebrate his victory, for as soon as the leprous horde had seen their hallowed father die, they began to lurch toward the Fyreslayer, eager for revenge. Scores of Plaguebearers were immediately falling upon the mortally-wounded Inferno, stabbing and hacking at the dying Magmadroth. Inferno lashed out with his tail at the Lesser Daemons and burned them with his lava breath, but the Great Unclean One’s sword had cut through many vital organs, and the Magmadroth couldn’t get up. Vanir himself was also surrounded by Plaguebearers, and was so preoccupied fighting his opponents that he knew he was powerless to stop the horde of Daemons from overwhelming his faithful steed and killing him. The Fyreslayer bellowed like an enraged bull and doubled his efforts, beheading Daemons left and right, but the Daemons all now converged upon the lone duardin. Rusty blades lacerated his hardened skin, and one stabbed him in the abdomen, but Vanir continued his fight, drawing more and more power from his Ur-Gold runes. He could now see Plague Drones buzzing above him, and one of them headed straight over him in a flyby attack, the Rot-fly’s stinger tearing into him. Feeling the energy provided by his runes run low, Vanir mustered all his last strength and swung his war-axe around with a roar, cutting through the Rot Fly’s body as it buzzed over, the two halves falling to the ground in mid flight. The Plaguebearer rider got up off the ground and raised its rusty sword, only to be decapitated by the weakened Fyreslayer, yet more Daemons approached.

    Covered in Daemon bile and his own blood, Vanir sank to his knees, his great Fyresteel axe falling to the ground. He couldn’t defeat them all, especially with the Rot Fly’s thick venom coursing through his veins. He let them come, and waited for them to finish him, but suddenly a bright light filled the diseased grove. The Fyreslayer looked up, and saw bright pillars of blue light form all around him, only to be replaced with tall reptilian figures armed with clubs and spears that shone with the same blue light. The new arrivals formed a shieldwall around Vanir, before advancing, cleaving through the hordes of Nurgle Daemons and mortals in clean efficient cuts that cauterised the wounds inflicted to stop the creatures’ skin from regenerating. More of these reptiles materialised all the time and followed their comrades into the new fray.

    As he lay dying, Vanir then spotted one last of these creatures materialise. It was bedecked in golden armour and looked especially large and imposing - evidently the leader of the reptilian army. Although bewildered at their sudden arrival, he was nevertheless grateful for their timely assistance. As the reptilian leader stalked forward to command its subordinates, Vanir had one last thought. He removed the Ur-Gold torc that Hyja had given him, and raised it to the reptile as it passed.

    “Give this to Hyja, of Baeldrag Lodge,” he called to it.

    The Saurus Oldblood cocked his head to one side, perplexed at the request made by this dying duardin, but at last, he took the trinket in one clawed hand before resuming his advance into the fray, roaring an order to his Saurus Warriors pushing the Nurgle army back and launching his own attack.

    Watching the reptile, and his torc, head into the battle, Vanir laid back, in great pain from the Rot Fly venom, but otherwise relaxed. He could only hope that the lizard warrior had got the rough understanding of what he had asked him to do, but it was all he could do to make sure his love got the torc back. At least she could stop pining for him then, and live a happier life with Aesir and give him the strongest sons that Baeldrag could have.

    Vanir could feel his internals liquefying with the venom, and shuddered. The world around him began to dim, and with a tiny smidgeon of remaining energy, the Fyreslayer just managed to reach the handle of his axe and grip it weakly in preparation for death. His last thought as Gazul’s embrace took him was that, just like the Slayers of old, he had finally met his Doom.

    A Long Journey

    Several large planks were brought out and balanced on some logs in a jungle clearing to make a simple table. This table was brimming with carefully prepared meats of at least five different slain beasts. There were twice as many varieties of fruits. There was breads and pies. There were gourds filled with the finest nectars. A large pitcher of the purest water from the most well filtered springs.

    Fourteen saurus warriors, six skinks, and a kroxigor sat, stood or knelt around this sumptuous feast.

    “This is one the finest filets of tallosaurus flesh I ever had in a century! Have you tried this Zlakar?” the Scar Veteran asked his elder.

    Zlakar motioned for the meat. A skink moved it towards him and the Old Blood ripped off a small chunk of meat and ate it.

    “Very good, yes”
    “Do you remember that tallosaurus hunt we went on that one time, with the log?”

    Zlakar nodded and smiled.

    “It’s not that big a deal, Xoatkrok” he replied.
    “Not that big a deal?!?” Xoatkrok said incredulously.

    He turned towards the others at the table and gesticulated enthusiastically.

    “That was a hunt for the ages! The skink spotters found an old lone bull tallosaurus. Large and strong, but also old and sick. Seemed like good hunting. Anyway, it still had some fight in it. He barreled through the snares the skinks said like they weren’t even there.

    We were hitting it but the beast but he couldn’t feel it. He knocked out two saurus, others even bolted liked skinks—”

    He looked awkwardly at the skink chief.

    “That is to say a lot of the First were not holding steady, but Zlakar wasn’t going to give up even though his axe snapped in half with the blade was stuck in the tallosaurus thigh. The beast moved his big neck to bite at him, and Zlakar just picks up a log and then bashed his brains out. Probably saved some hunters’ lives, and we certainly ate well.”
    “To eating well!” said Zlakar.

    The table cheered and everyone took a bite of whatever food they had though Zlakar abstained.

    “To Zlakar!” said Xoatkrok.
    “To Zlakar!” the table resounded.

    Zlakar opened his mouth to speak and then closed it without saying anything.

    One other saurus besides Zlakar was fairly quiet. Another saurus turned to him.

    “Tlakori, you are allowed to enjoy yourself. You won’t get stripped of your eternity warden status for having a little fun.”
    “How often do you get a day off of guard duty anyway?” A skink asked.

    Tlakori paused then spoke.

    “We typically get a day off every century or two if we can be spared from our duties.”

    A few of the other lizards laughed. Then the skink started.

    “Wait, you are serious aren’t you?”

    The Eternity Warden nodded.

    “I am usually quite serious. I rarely ask for or receive time off duty, but I had to be here for my last spawning brother. There were fifty-three of us once. Now we two. I remember a battle, many years before we took on our respective callings. There were twelve of our spawning left then, we were no longer wet warriors, we all had many scars…but many scars still to come. Zlakar had become our new spawn leader, a promotion well deserved.

    “We didn’t know just how well deserved until this battle. We were fighting Daemons under the command of Oldblood Ikachoa.”

    He paused turned towards the crowd.

    “Ikachoa was before most of your times. He was a fine leader. We were on the south flank attached to work with a stegadon crew and a small skink and kroxigor regiment. Ikachoa was battling the enemy general atop his carnosaur and our center was holding. It looked like our flank was quiet. A few demon skirimishers were shot down by our skilled skink compatriots, but no major threats were apparent.

    “Zlakar had great instinct, worthy of mighty Itzl. Somehow the daemons’ scent and sight was hidden from the stegadon’s mighty nose and the skinks’ sharp eyes. Zlakar intuition found where three score daemons had buried themselves under the ground. They had rigged trap doors with foliage for cover. Zlakar stopped us all from marching into the ambush. We ambushed our ambushers.

    “Once Zlakar identified where our foes were, the skink chief with us positioned the stegadon for a pre-aimed shot then had his soldiers set fire to the foliage above the demons’ hiding place. I never seen a giant bow fired so accurately. Between the fire, bow, and javelins barely any demons survived long enough to even reach us. Our brothers were ready and made short work of the Old Foes. Naturally, I was the only one of our spawning that was seriously injured.”

    Tlakori paused, removed the piece of armor over his chest and revealed a deep and old scar. The others politely admired the scar’s impressiveness before Tlakori continued.

    “While I was barely conscious and staining the forest floor purple with my blood, Zlakar defended me with the ferocity of a carnosaur. If he didn’t save me that day, I would never have survived long enough to be an eternity warden. Everyone and everything I defend is ultimately due to Zlakar.”

    The table looked at Zlakr with even greater respect. Zlakar took a shaky sip from a gourd of juice to cover his embarrassment and then he spoke.

    “I cannot take their credit for your accomplishments. You saved my life plenty, brother. That is just what brothers do. You saved my life at least seven times”
    “I count nine times, but that’s nine against your saving me nineteen. There is no contest—”
    “—Speaking of contests!”

    The Skink Chief, Tlayta paused awkwardly.

    “Forgive me for the interruption, honored one.”

    The Eternity Warden just nodded and waved on him to continue. The Skink had been clearly aching to tell his story. Tlayta showed obvious relief at the permission then continued.

    “When I was newly spawned I had a very portentous spawning. I was a spawning of one and this gave me a huge ego. Lots of skink instructors taught me tactics, combat, history and many other things, but only a saurus could teach me what I really needed which was humility.

    “The first time I met Zlakr was in the training fields. I was doing target practice with javelins. Nearby Zlakr was working with the city’s youngest spawning of saurus warriors. He was drilling them in basic marching formations and maneuvers. I stopped what I was doing and marched over.

    “I thought the saurus warriors looked clumsy. I made some loud disparaging remarks about how much faster, smarter and more agile Skinks were then lowly saurus….comments unworthy of my pretentious spawning.

    “Zlakar halted his company and he turns to me said. “Great Skink who is wise and agile, I challenge you to a contest of ranged attacks.’ I could barely hold in my laughter. A saurus beating a skink at ranged attacks? Absurd. So I said ‘I accept your challenge.’

    “Zlakar picked up a javelin off the ground, pointed at a wooden practice target and said ‘I can strike this target more than you can.’ I said ‘show me.’

    “So Zlakar walks up to the firing line, mimes throwing a javelin, pauses a long time then he puts the javelin down and walks away. I can’t figure out what he’s doing. Is her forfeiting? He picks up this huge rock and takes it to the line. He kind of half-throws half-rolls it towards the target and it’s reduced to kindling. He turns to me and says. ‘Now you try to strike the target.

    “My jaw just about hit the muddy ground in disbelief. ‘I cannot hit the target, it is impossible for anyone to hit it now.’….. So Zlakar says ‘I guess I win then.’”

    Everyone at the table erupted in laughter.

    “I want to tell a story now!” the lone Kroxigor bellowed.

    “I was with small patrol. Bad elves beat us. Captured me and my big and little spawning brothers. Bound us in chains. Not chains to keep weapons and tools in hand. Bad chains. I was shameful. Bad elves plan to do bad things. Tried to take us away. Zlakar ride in on Cold One. Run at the elves. He killed them and made them run away. Zlakar broke bad chains.”

    A few continued looking at the ancient kroxigor awkwardly as if there was more details to this story, but he seemed to be done talking. Tlayta broke the silence.

    “You have no reason to feel shame at anything Xalt. We all lose sometimes. It is good that Zlakar saved you because you went on to lead many kroxigor regiments to victory against many worthy foes.”

    Xalt beamed with pride. Zlakar took a shaky sip of juice to hide his smile. Tlayta did learn humility and proper respect for the other races of the First afterall. Zlakar’s stomach rumbled. He hoped he wouldn’t vomit all over the table and ruin the good feelings. The companions ate and drank and told stories of Zlakar. Stories of glory, stories of humor, stories of friendship, stories of leadership, all positive. One story remained unspoken but wore on Zlakar’s mind.

    Zlakar was second in command of the army below only the slann. He rode his faithful cold one of over two centuries, Groq. He was joined by twelve of the city’s bravest cold one cavalry. The southern flank was faltering. The Skaven’s missile troops had defeated the skink skirmishing units. They had slain two razordons and who knows how many skinks. The rest were fleeing being pursued by filthy rats while Tlayta the skink chief tried in vain to get them to the rally and fight back.

    Zlakar turned his soldiers towards around the fleeing skinks and hit the flank of their singled minded pursuers. The hunters became the hunted and the saurus knights butchered them without mercy. Seeing this, the skinks and their beasts took courage and rallied. The line held.

    Zlakar ordered his troops to hold position rather than advance. They didn’t need to advance much because the northern flank had decisively defeated the rat men and were turning towards the Skaven’s center. Zlakar positioned his troops to cut off any clear line of retreat.

    Once properly positioned, the two halves of the army of the First closed in on the Skaven from both sides like the jaws of a carnosaur snapping shut. Zlakar rode at the front. His sword arm already stained red with the warm blood of his enemies. He sensed a weakness in the enemy lines and rode towards the heart of the enemy army. As his comrades butchered their way through the skavens’ supposedly elite infantry, Zlakar looked for the alpha. A large rat almost a full head taller than his fellows and wearing thicker shinier armor.

    He locked eyes with the enemy general and a challenge was clear. The warlord showed fear but also determination. He knew he almost certainly dead and his only slim chance of survival lay in defeating this new challenger.

    The rat feinted a strike with his spear towards Zlakar then stabbed downward piercing Groq through his eye into his brain. The cold one thrashed and Zlakar instinctively rolled and got to his feet in a fury he had seldom been in. Groq’s death throws wrenched the spear away. With the rat temporarily unarmed, Zlakar took the opening and struck at the rat’s shoulder, piercing his armor but only slightly. His foe was still standing.

    The rat unsheathed a sword and squeaked something in its own foul tongue that was clearly some kind of taunt. He pressed forward with almost impossible speed with precision feints, parries and strikes but Zlakar had his foe’s measure now. He knew what to block and what to ignore. The skaven was fast but he was wasting a lot of energy on superfluous motions. So duplicitous he couldn’t stop useless feints even in the face of death death. The warlord was tiring out. Zlakar was not.

    Most of the ratmen were killed at this point, some of the survivors were already being bound, so they could be rendered unto Sotek later. More and more golden eyes turned to watch Zlakar’s duel. The warlord was almost completely on the defensive now. Despite his fatigue, he clung to life with the tenacity only a desperate Skaven could muster. Finally Zlakar knocked away the rat’s serrated sword then kicked him into the ground, flat on his back. Zlakar put all his weight into the sword to pierce the rat’s armored chest plate. The rat gurgled on his own blood as the onlookers cheered.

    After his victory Zlakar let his guard down for a split second. With a daemon’s will, the dying Skaven pulled a dagger out of his sleeve and stabbed the Saurus in the thigh, the highest part he could reach. As he died, the skaven mouthed words Zlakar couldn’t translate, but the context was clear “you die too.”

    Zlakar had recovered from far worst wounds than this. He would have gladly taken three or four such wounds if he could have Groq alive again, but Zlakar didn’t yet know the dagger was coated in an especially virulent poison. The skaven never intended to use the dagger this battle. The dagger and the poison were both intended for the warlord’s superior officer later. The ministrations of the Skink healers were completely ineffectual. Even the magic of the Slann could only slow the poison, not cure it. His strength was slowly but inevitably fading day by day.

    He couldn’t let the others seem him die like that. He had to undergo the Rite of the Last Journey.

    Once most of the food was eaten, the laughter and stories died down. Zlakar held up a hand and everyone fell silent respectfully. “It is time.”

    The assembled lizards respectfully got up and formed two lines while in salute towards the deep jungle. Zlakar’s legs wanted to buckle, but he willed himself to stand up straight and maintain a steady marching pace.

    After Zlakar crossed the short line. Tlakori shouted.

    “To Zlakar, the greatest oldblood Xlanhuapec has ever known.”
    “TO ZLAKAR!”

    Once out of sight of the others, Zlakar allowed the weakness in his body to show as he hobbled deeper into the jungle. His final journey had begun.

    A Final Tail

    The fortress held its breath. Thin dawn light wafted through the windows of the Great Hall, built in nostalgic imitation of the crumbling castles of Bretonnia. Here were the women, the children and the infirm. They covered the dusty tables and grimy floorboards: fidgeting, muttering, and holding each other tight as they waited for the communal exhalation, the breaking storm, the coming end.

    "Nicolas is a poopy head!" screamed a determined voice.

    A woman uncurled from her philosophical pose against the wall, breaking from a reverie. She drew two seven-year-olds into a magnetic embrace. Embalming them in skirt fabrics.

    "He took my bread! I was saving it for the siege."

    "I've told you not to call people names, Sara," cooed the woman above. "Nicolas, give her back the roll. Both of you, apolo-"

    She stopped at the sound of a thud. The little movements in the room ceased. Another thud, far off. At the gates. They could hear the men shouting out on the walls.

    "Mummy, are the monsters going to kill us?" asked Sara.

    The woman sat and took the children on her lap.

    "The monsters will break down the gates. They may kill many brave soldiers. They may burn the town. But they will not kill us."

    Four eyes, staring up at her. She inhaled slowly.

    "Thérèse of Bourcier will save us," said the woman. The eyes continued to stare. Mouths hung a little open.

    "Long ago, before this colony was founded, before anyone had even sailed to Lustria, our kingdom was at war with monsters much like those at the gates. It was an age of darkness, and the monsters we faced were not exotic savages but those who have already died. The darkest fiends of hell."

    Nicolas looked like he was about to cry. The woman stared fiercely at him as she continued.

    "The knights of Bretonnia fought bravely, but they were defeated. Only one castle stood between the vampires and the complete destruction of the kingdom. The castle of Vaillancourt. The dead surrounded it on all sides, sending spectres through the walls, and flying wraiths over the battlements. Living corpses moaned and clawed around the moat. The defenders were brave, but their supplies were running low, and terror filled their hearts.

    "King Charles wanted to ride to their aid, but he too was scared. His finest knights had already been slain by vampires. His generals told him to retreat and wait for more men. And perhaps he would have done so, were it not for Thérèse of Bourcier.

    "She was just a girl, only sixteen years old, when the Lady of the Lake came to her, the spirit of the Kingdom, and told her what she must do. She embarked on a dangerous quest across the land, seeking out the king. She arrived at his hour of greatest need. When she spoke, her words and manner were so fair that none doubted she was driven by holy purpose. Thérèse was no damsel or priestess, but a warrior. She convinced the king to ride out to break the siege of Vaillancourt, and he asked her to lead his army by his side."

    There was screaming outside the hall. And a roaring that made the floorboards shake. They were fighting in the streets. But Sara and Nicolas heard none of it.

    "The army of the dead was vast, and the Bretonnian knights were few. But at their head rode the Lady's champion, and she held the great banner of the goddess, the Veriflamme, the Green Flame, which rippled in the wind as she lead the charge against the darkness. The dead fled at the sight of her, though they had never run from any mortal before. But the monsters regrouped with their strongest vampires at their head, and there was a mighty battle before the city gates.

    "King Charles was pulled from his horse by their leader, and Thérèse leapt down to save him. The knights saw her take a terrible wound in the neck from an undead sorcerer, and the Veriflamme was lost beneath the throng of battle. The citizens of Vaillancourt thought their end was truly upon them as they gazed down from the walls. But at that moment, the sun rose over the horizon, and from the thick of the fighting the Green Flame burst out in glory. Its radiance burned the darkness away, and Thérèse, though gravely wounded, was welcomed into the city in triumph.

    "She promised to return to defend her people whenever they were in danger. So you see, little ones-"

    With a terrible wrenching, the wooden doors of the hall smashed open, and at once, blue-scaled creatures were everywhere. With no sign of feeling or concern, the reptiles began butchering the defenceless inhabitants of the town.

    The woman pressed Sara and Nicolas' heads deep into her skirts, covering their eyes with her hands.

    "So you see," she began again, shouting now over the screaming. "We do not fear our doom. We will be saved. For our faith in the Lady of the Lake is strong. And she will send us a champion!"

    Extermination of the Fimir


    Excerpts translated from journal entries recently recovered from the “Sour Sea Scrolls,” obviously the works of some highly-imaginative forgers and wordsmiths out of Marienburg. Currently kept in the Nuln archives under “fiction.” – Chronicler Wigbert Weiskropf, Nuln Archivist


    • The [translated as ‘Old Ones’] landed three days ago. Our scientists theorize they have [translated as ‘sky-ships’] capable of moving through the atmosphere at great speeds. First contact was made by our enemies [translation- ‘shaggoths’]. Reports of a monumental city is sprouting up from within the equatorial jungle.
    • Our delegation was met with indifference upon arrival, though a thriving trade has begun between equatorial cities and our otherworldly visitors. Numerous resources are now being dredged up by their slaves. Our ambassadors report the resources are being exchanged for devices of great power. More disturbingly, our ambassadors also report that the [old ones] are conducting scientific and genetic experimentation on much of the planets flora and fauna, particularly on the crocodilian and saurian creatures of the jungles. Rumors of experimentation on captured [fimir] remain unsubstantiated.
    • Reports of epidemics have erupted from all of our population centers in the wake of the [old ones] grand tour of our major cities. Our more conservative government factions blame the visitors, however our scientists have been unable to establish a direct link between the [old ones] and the pathogens. The medical experts do admit both the outbreaks and the atmospheric temperature anomalies coincide with the alien arrival to the planet.
    • Our capitol city and our two largest industrial centers have been devastated in the wake of the surprise attacks by [old one] weaponry. Most of our central government officials were evacuated in time, though the fate of our ambassadors in the [old one] city is still unknown since communcation was lost with our trading enclaves. Our military is currently mobilizing and deploying between the midline cities and the equatorial jungles.
    • The decades-long armistice between our civilization and the [shaggoths] is over. They have been equipped with [old one] weaponry powered by unknown magical energies. Our forward military armies have been defeated, and the mid-zone cities have been all but overrun.
    • Scientists have confirmed that the legions of [saurian] creatures that have overrun our land forces are the result of the genetic experiments conducted within the [old one] laboratories. They hold the original genetic structure of their base terrestrial creatures, though refined and altered to an alarming degree of sophistication. It appears some [fimir] genetic material was used in their creation, though drastically altered. The [old ones] have also uplifted members of certain mammalian species that they are now breeding for some unknown purpose.
    • All contact has been lost with the eastern cities. Our frontline has disintegrated, as the [old ones] have now set up a network of nodes within each of our cities and seem able to teleport their forces directly into the hearts of our own population centers. Our government is fractured, with regional control now held directly by the military.
    • Scientists believe the [old ones] are using a previously-unknown source of energy to power their weapons. The energy appears nearly infinite in scope, almost magical by nature, and is being channeled into the planet from an “immaterial” realm. The power is channeled through use of tremendous [gates] located on the poles of the planet. How they are able to harness this power is a mystery.
    • The average global temperature has risen by nearly 12 degrees, resulting in the rising of the ocean levels. This has precipitated the melting of the planetary polar ice caps. Our draconic allies fled in the wake of the collapse of our cities, and have retreated to the mountains in the north where the temperature is still at its much lower pre-invasion levels. Our scouts report that the [old ones] have also turned upon their [shaggoth] allies and rendered them all but extinct.
    • The last series of plagues has rendered our own population effectively sterile. No solutions have been proposed by our scientific community as of yet.
    • Degenerates within our ranks have discovered means to repopulate our species numbers by impregnating captured members of the [old ones] experimental mammalian races. These practices are widely condemned by our surviving governments but have not been effectively stamped out.
    • In the wake of the recent massive earthquakes and upheavals, we have received the report the [old ones] have fractured the continent into two halves. All effective resistance has collapsed, with our armies and remaining settlements being destroyed in the [saurian] extermination purges. Survivors have fled our strongholds and are attempting to survive in hideouts across the globe, most within swamplands.
    • Our remaining scientists have issued a final alarming report on the state of the immaterial realm. The magical realm seems to have become increasingly convoluted and corrupted since the invasion has begun, to include manifesting signs of intelligence (and malignance) in the material realm. The report states this is due to the rampant warfare, disease, unbridled change, and even the hedonism in our own ranks that has devastated the planet. The report ends that if this corruption continues unchecked, it could bring about another cataclysm. Due to the destruction of our civilization at the hands of the [old ones] it is unlikely such a cataclysm will be able to be stopped…

    Tlatlacolli

    The prisoner pulled at the golden manacles that chained him to the wall, once more in vain. He hissed low and tried to close his aching eyes instead, yet sleep eluded him as tantalising visions of slaughter and the death of countless rat men continued to surge through his mind, causing his body to painfully spasm with rage and desire to rend and kill. Alone with the madness and torture brought about by solitude and singular purpose drilled and twisted into his being, the dull scaled Saurus called only the Tlatlacolli waited.

    --------------------------------------------------

    “We need to unchain the Doom to meet this threat, Lord Huepanmecatl has decreed it...” The Skink Priest paused and favoured his young acolyte a glance. “You do not know of the Tlatlacolli, the Doom of the Xa'kota... do you, Ichil?”

    “I do not, master,” Ichil replied. The Skink Priest was quiet for a long while as the two walked, the tapping of his staff upon the stone floor echoing through the corridors and chambers leading to the prison. At length he spoke again.

    “Long ago the ratspawn defiled many cities and ravaged much of Lustria in great plagues, until Sotek rose and with the prophet we drove out the taint of the rat. Our losses however were great. Many spawning pools had been tainted and too many of our treasures of the Old Ones had been lost forever. And yet within one of these spawning pools, a sole Saurus emerged. Somehow not physically twisted by the poisons of the ratspawn, but instead born with the purpose of the Old Ones to slay the Xa’kota. The Tlatlacolli’s scales, a dull greyish hue, could turn aside any of the ratspawn weapons, their poisons and diseases could not bring him low, and the glowering green stones of magic would grow dim and lifeless around him. He reaped a fearsome slaughter of the ratspawn, and yet he could barely be controlled. Even our lords felt wrongness about him, a hollowness that sapped away their powers and itched like the bites of a swarm of insects.”

    The Skink Priest paused and ran a claw across part of the glyph inscribed wall. He sighed deeply and to Ichil seemed to suddenly look older and frailer than before. The Skink Priest closed his eyes and sighed.

    “The Old Ones had blessed us with a weapon to bring destruction to ratspawn. And yet like so many things, an outside element had twisted it. Tlatlacolli often could not tell friend from foe once he began his slaughter. It became necessary to find a plant that could make him sleep despite his resistance to venoms and then chain him like some wild animal. Some even argued to slay him. But twisted or not he was still a gift from the Old Ones. And so we hide him from the sky until he is needed.”

    Ichil remained quiet, surprised and confused at the Priest’s tone.

    “This is my third time I have unchained the Tlatlacolli. The first time I was but an acolyte as you are now. I was inquisitive and tried to use my power to see into his mind. For a moment I broke through the emptiness that suckled away my power and I felt the pain and vengeance that wracks the Tlatacolli. But he is a gift from the Old Ones and we must do our duty. Perhaps I have lived too long in the shadows, for every day we number less and the plans set out by the Old Ones can seem further from reach. Like the Tlatacolli, we shall wear doom and destruction about us like a scaled cloak. Though for whom...I do not yet know...” He trailed off and the two continued their rest of their journey in silence.

    A small host of Temple Guard met the pair outside the glyph marked chamber that housed the prisoner. They led the Priest and Ichil into the ill-lit chamber whose shadows seemed to curl and twist as if in pain. The dull scaled old Saurus chained to the wall opened his glazed eyes. His fanged maw twisted into either a smile or a grimace.

    It was time.

    If I missed something that needs to be fixed, let me know by a private message. If there is more than one error in a single piece, please message me the entire edited piece rather than just copy and paste the corrected sentences. Less work for me that way.

    Per usual, critiques, comparisons and friendly banter is encouraged.

    I'm not going to be too strict on this, but if you are aiming to do a comprehensive critique, I'd prefer you make a few large posts rather than a swarm of little ones. Mainly for the benefit of people who are reading this thread a year from now.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2019
    Sreeves, Lizerd, Aginor and 5 others like this.
  2. Scalenex
    OldBlood

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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  3. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Skink Priest

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Well-Known Member

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    Once again some exceptional entries! Something I've really enjoyed this time is that due to the excellent theme provided by @Y'ttar Scaletail, all the stories are filled with grimdark, Rogue One-esque goodness, with hero mortality aplenty. Now, onto my reviews:

    Story 1: The first of two stories set within the AoS mortal realms, this one does a very good job at capturing the 'Lizardmen culture vs warm-blood culture' dynamic, as it features an exasperated Victor Meldrew of a Skink Priest constantly grumbling to himself about the pointless military bureaucracy and strange building materials used by the men and Dwarfs of the Free Cities, and also features a hint of 'Stormcast culture vs ordinary people culture' in that these races show their frustration at the resident Stormcast Eternals for deciding to abandon a city, and ultimately doom its populace, just because the temple of their beloved Imperial God-King has been taken, very much the sort of thing that the Space Marines of 40K would do. Of course, the latter hardly matters when the Skink Priest contacts Lord Kroak through telepathy and the Relic Priest decides to nuke the city with a meteor strike, killing both the resident humans, Dwarfs and Sigmarines and also the Khorne Daemons trying to take it over - while certainly effective in stopping the Daemon incursion from spreading, this also retains the grimdark interpretation of the Lizardmen from Fantasy as a race willing to sacrifice itself or its warm-blooded allies for the greater good of stopping Chaos. Another nice link to the old Fantasy lore demonstrated here is where the Skink Priest recounts memories of events from Fantasy history that he received from Kroak during his creation from memory. I like any attempt to bridge Fantasy and AoS together to ensure they all part of the one and the same story, as it helps to move everyone on from the controversy that arose when AoS first debuted and shows that it can be as good as Fantasy was if enough thought can be put into its writing. Even though Story 5 has probably the funniest segment in all of these stories, that one also ends with a very sad note - this one on the other hand doesn't feel as sad to me personally (even with the grimdark ending similar to 'Orders are Orders' from October-November 2018), and the Skink Priest's grumblings and the irritation toward first warm-bloods and then Sigmarines are pretty amusing to read in places, so I award the Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Comedy Award for April-May 2019 to 'Been there, Done that'.

    Story 2: As most of you I imagine know, I am a big fan of Saurus above the other Lizardmen species, and to have three stories definitely revolving around Saurus protagonists (and half of a fourth) was a very nice surprise to me. This first one I particularly enjoyed, as it features a Saurus Oldblood rampaging through a Chaos Stronghold cutting down Chaos Warriors and Daemons alike, until he encounters a strange Chaotic portal. Realising that this is something the Slann should know about, the Saurus decides to investigate it further, which of course is a bit more out of his comfort zone as he is used to simply butchering the enemy rather than finding more about them, but he still takes on the challenge. Part of his investigation then involves actually stepping into the portal (which isn't advisable especially given that it was found in a Chaos stronghold guarded by Chaos Warriors and Chaos Daemons) and finds everything starts to go weird (which isn't too surprising). However, he takes this on the chin with typically Saurus rationalities and continues his quest, determined to find out exactly where this portal leads to and what it does. Although this story doesn't end with the main character's death, it does end with what is probably the second most grimdark fate - as it is not clear as to whether the Saurus would be able to retrace his steps and find his way out again, it is certainly very likely that his determination to carry out this investigation has doomed him to being trapped in the portal forever. In fact this could arguably be seen as even more grimdark - at the beginning it seemed clear that the Saurus would emerge triumphant, but now that he is trapped in this new realm forever, he has been undone at the last hurdle. A highly intriguing and mysterious story indeed that I enjoyed thoroughly.

    Story 3: Now when I initially read the title of this one, I thought it would be some kind of comedy, given that Saurus aren't normally fielded in games of Warhammer Fantasy flying around on Terradons or Ripperdactyls, and indeed it seems to start like that, with two Skinks trying to get their stubborn Ripperdactyl to do what they trained it to do and earn its keep, but after this it starts to evolve into something far more powerful. First we have our Saurus friend Munna enter the den, and, possibly because it's never seen a Saurus before, the Ripperdactyl goes for him. After a short fight, the Saurus manages to break in the aggressive pterosaur with some Saurus grit and determination, before he is whisked off on his first ever trip above ground. We see him start to imagine this as a new bond of rider and steed forming, a revisit to when he rode a Cold One, and learn with him as he manages to control his new steed (in a way that is uncannily similar to a video game aeroplane joystick). We feel his elation that he seems to have been given a second chance as a rider, and share his feeling of new-found confidence as he tests his new mount in their first ever joint combat mission, but something starts to go wrong. For some unexplained reason, the Ripperdactyl refuses to pull up, and both Saurus and Ripperdactyl plunge to the earth and crash messily, dying instantly - evidently Munna still had quite a lot to learn about flying, and he ultimately paid the price with his overconfidence. A very sad, dark story that is certainly a contender for the win in my books.

    Story 4: From experience in reading Short Story Contest entries, we do often get tales that feature non-Lizardmen protagonists, but usually around one or two of them - providing a bit of variation in the contest but not too much (this is a Lizardmen forum after all). This time we have two, and the second of our AoS stories this time round is the first of these - the tale of an exiled Fyreslayer and his faithful Magmadroth as they patrol the forests of Ghyran, killing anything that threatens their former home. We have a powerful segment recounting how Vanir became exiled and explaining why he still lingers around his home, featuring romance, a grim betrayal of brotherly trust, and also forgiveness. Returning to the present, we follow the companions as they continue their trek and stumble upon part of the forest corrupted by Grandfather Nurgle (with a delicious description of the diseases that have afflicted the wildlife) and their encounter with a corpulent Great Unclean One. Defiantly refusing an invitation to turn to the Dark Side, our hero launches a devastating attack upon the Greater Daemon, but the battle doesn't go all his own way - indeed the Great Unclean One manages to overpower the duo in the first couple of minutes, being pinned down by one meaty hand, but is distracted by a tiny throwing axe of all things, allowing our heroes to turn the tables on the vile Daemon and kill him. Of course that was only half the battle - now the pair have to deal with the rest of the Nurgle army, and injuries suffered in battle with their general have taken their toll. The horde of Daemons manages to divide and ultimately conquer both the Fyreslayer and his mount, but our hero has bought enough time to attract the attention of the Slann, for moments later the Seraphon arrive, pushing back the green tide and allowing our hero some room with which to breathe his last. I would say that this one has the most frequent and well-described action of all the stories, with a well-developed character taking on the greatest of odds to defend his home, his kin and the woman he loves, only to falter and perish just when he was getting into his stride, and just as with Story 1, I love how the creator has provided a link between the old world of Warhammer Fantasy and the new Mortal Realms of AoS, this time with the Runemasters' tales harkening back to the old Cult of Grimnir as the origin of the Fyreslayers. A powerful story that is sure to have anyone on the edge of their seat!

    Story 5: This was another especially sad one. Initially the story starts with the merriment and celebration as an assembled collection of Saurus, Skinks and a Kroxigor celebrate the great deeds of their friend, the Oldblood Zlakar, with varied stories of bravery, friendship and even comedy (in the case of the Skink Priest's tale) that is reminiscent of the Canterbury Tales in the form of characters with all different roles getting together and telling stories to entertain the others. However, amidst all of this, we don't actually know the reason for this party until the end of the story, where the Oldblood recounts in his mind of how he was wounded with a poisoned dagger by a Skaven Warlord originally reserved for his immediate superior, and that even though the Slann would be able to slow the poison's effect, it ultimately was deemed incurable. We then realise that the party, and all of the storytelling, was done to celebrate the memories of a friend who is about to die, and that it ends abruptly when the Oldblood realises his time has finally come. Given fond farewells by his immediate friends, the Oldblood limps away into the jungle, presumably to perish alone when he can walk no longer. A tale of friendship, happy memories, and ultimately loss, this is relatable to any reader who has lost a loved one in their life, and is probably the most poignant of all the short stories in this contest. The author has done a splendid job capturing the atmosphere of both the initial merriment and also the subsequent sadness at the realisation of the purpose of the feast, and such perfectly invoked emotional keys makes this story one of the top contenders.

    Story 6: The other of our non-Lizardman-protagonist stories is another suitably dark story that is similar to parts of the Lord of the Rings, most notably the siege of Helm's Deep arc from the Two Towers where the Rohan citizens are sheltered deep in the catacombs of the fortress, petrified of the sounds of the battle between the Rohirrim and the Uruk-Hai outside and always afraid that the next bang is the sound of the Uruk Hai battering their way in to murder them. Evidently set in a Bretonnian colony in Lustria under attack from the Lizardmen (some greedy nitwit must have pinched an important artefact of the Old Ones from a ruin and brought it home), the story revolves around the relatively simple plot of a mother hidden in similar catacombs telling her scared children the story of a Bretonnian heroine who saved the colony before to calm them down and keep the fires of hope alight. Of course, no such aid arrives when the Saurus do smash their way in and kill all those inside, but the whole storytelling scene still pulls emotional chords, and it is also nice to see not only a Bretonnian story (@Warden will be pleased) but also one featuring ordinary, everyday people who can't fight for toffee as the protagonists, rather than a hero equipped with great fighting abilities, the finest weapons and profuse bravery. The only thing is that the title is misleading due to a simple spelling mistake - I thought 'A final tail' would be something to do with Skaven or Lizardmen, as they have tails, or some pun mixing 'tale' and 'tail' together, when it is simply supposed to be 'A final tale'. Now you all know why I can be something of a spelling policeman.

    Story 7: Of all the stories in this contest, and indeed any other contest entry I've read so far, this one is by far the most unique. Rather than a regular prose story, this one is essentially a collection of journal notes from a scroll in the archives or Marienburg, as if we're the ones who have gone to these archives, taken this scroll off the shelf and started to read them. It isn't clear who the writer is (although it's talking about the Old Ones as an enemy, so it could be the Fimir given the title), but the subject is the Old Ones' conquest of the Warhammer World and their subsequent modifications to it to make it more habitable for their own creations to live in. How on Earth any man of the Empire would know of such events is beyond me, or how men of the Empire could have obtained Fimir writings, but this is still an interesting read. It even starts some rumours of new Warhammer Fantasy theories (that the Fimir, or whoever wrote the records, could have caused the manifestations of the Chaos Gods, and that the Saurus' gene pool actually came from the Fimir) - I don't know if these are true, but it would be fun to find out!

    Story 8: The last of our stories is the shortest, but that has no effect upon its quality. This is a really interesting piece that, while treading upon the familiar lore of the Skaven poisoning the Spawning Pools, also adds a new layer to it - the Saurus known as the Tlatlacolli is described to have been spawned by one of these corrupted Spawning Pools, but exhibits an unusually exceptional ability to kill Skaven specifically, and is immune to many of the Skaven diseases and chemicals - essentially an attempt by the Spawning Pool, and possibly the Old Ones themselves, to retaliate to the Skaven invasions and an attempt to adapt the Lizardmen way of warfare to counter the increasing Skaven threat. This is very similar to the Star Wars theory of Anakin being conceived by Midichlorians as a retaliation at the evil Dark Side meddling of Darth Plagueis to destroy the Sith and bring balance back to the Force. Furthermore, this 'Chosen One' of Saurus, like Anakin and Brad Pitt's interpretation of Achilles in Troy, is a law unto himself as part of his exceptional fighting gifts - like Achilles he will not allow himself to be controlled by people who say they are his superiors, and like Anakin he is a deviant from his more traditional companions, preferring to do his own thing and do it terrifyingly well. This little story explaining how the Tlatlacolli was created could become part of a much wider arc revolving around his complete adventures in Lustria - his battles against the Skaven and other foes, his interactions with his comrades and the part he plays in the development of Warhammer Fantasy's lore - does he save the Warhammer World, or destroy it? Although this plot has been trodden over before in other franchises as I have already established, it hasn't been done before in Warhammer Fantasy, at least not with Lizardmen, and therefore I'm pretty impressed that someone has finally thought of it.
     
    Lizerd, thedarkfourth, Aginor and 5 others like this.
  4. Scalenex
    OldBlood

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    You could always write some critiques!

    Hats off to @Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl. He got very insightful well-written critiques up before I could...and I started a few my critiques BEFORE I posted the stories on L-O on account of I read at least some of the pieces before anyone else. I noticed Lunaxoatl's post when I was about halfway. I chose not to read his posts until I got my initial thoughts down (though I did read the critique on MY story as I am vain). Turns out, me and Lord Agragax agree on a lot.


    Story One “Been There Done That”: A strong start to this contest. The piece is nice and concise. It explores a new aspect of Seraphon metaphysics that I do not remember someone exploring before. That doesn’t mean no one ever did it before, I just notice it. Can Slann impart knowledge into the memories of their minions in this way? While that’s neat, the best part of this story is the Seraphon’s curmudgeonly stream of critiques on the warmbloods.

    My misgiving about this piece is quite minor, so minor I’m almost embarrassed to bring it up at all. That is this story was fairly predictable. As Seraphon pieces gradually become more common, tropes are emerging. There are two tropes that are very common on Lustria-Online for Seraphon short story. One is a group of humans are saved at the eleventh hour by the timely arrival of Seraphon. Another is that Seraphon coldly and calculatingly decide that for the greater good, a bunch of more or less innocent humans must die. If the contest theme was literally anything else, I would have been on pins and needles the whole time about whether the humans would be saved or not. But you combine Kroak and a contest theme containing the word “Doom” and the ending was telegraphed a lot.

    A lot of people died and the main character grumbled about doing his duty. This piece is a contender for the Scalenex Cup.


    Story Two “Knee-Deep in Death”: Wow, the title alone is a great way to hook my interest. The author piqued my interest and didn’t disappoint. Obligatory comment about word count: this piece was short and precise communicating complicated ideas efficiently. The best part of this piece, in my opinion, was the look inside the mind of a Saurus warrior. It’s tough to write a point of view character like this and the author succeeded brilliantly at the challenge of portraying the Saurus’ alien sensibilities while keeping him relatable.

    This piece could have used a little bit more exposition. Was the protagonist in some Chaos tainted part of the mortal world, was stuck in the Chaos realm? It was unclear how he got so far from Lustria, who was he fighting exactly, and why he was by itself assaulting a whole castle? Was he on a suicide assignment? Is he the last survivor of an expeditionary army? He is a wandering champion? He mentioned Chaos worshipping humans in passing but we see mostly daemons. Who built the castle? Did Chaos build the castle, or did they conquer the castle?

    This is a strong contender for the Scalenex Cup. It doesn’t have the body count of some of the others but this deals with a character struggling against a fate worse than death. I love fates worth than death..…for fictional people that is.


    Story Three “Flying Saurus”: Another very intriguing title. “Flying Saurus.” First off, this piece surprised me, pleasantly. This piece got me emotionally invested enough to forget that the theme for this contest was “Doom.” I thought this piece would have a happy ending. You have a physically and emotionally broken Ripperdactyl and a physically and emotionally broken Saurus. I thought they would be united in loss, form a true bond and have a long friendship. Nope, the writer got my hopes up then expertly dashed them bravo!

    My negative critique, like most of my negative critiques in this contest is a small one. In this case it’s very straightforward. There was a fair amount of sentences that were a little wonky grammatically. This could have used a bit more editing. Understandable. Like most pieces in this contest, this was submitted at the last minute.

    With the way the author lulled me into a false sense of security than took a sharp turn towards grimdark was impressive. In any other contest this piece would be a shoe-in for the Scalenex Cup but with the doom laden contest, there is very stiff competition.


    Story Four “The Doom of Vanir Rockfist”: Spoiler alert, Vanir Rockfist is doomed! The fact that the ending was spoiled by the title does not bother me in the slightest. Vanir’s doom is not especially important, the excellent characterization is what is important. Vanir Rockfist was an honorable dwarf that was given a very raw deal. How can you not root for that? It’s kind of silly asking a Saurus to give a trinket to your love interest. Odds are not good she'll ever get it, but he was dying and young men are not always rational when dealing with their first love, especially if it’s unrequited and unresolved. It brought back some embarrassing memories from my youth before my heart became the small chunk of obsidian it is now….

    Every once in a while, we get a contest piece that barely contains Lizardmen or Seraphon at all, and there is nothing wrong with that. I welcome a look into other aspects of the fluff universes we write in. I have a bit of @NIGHTBRINGER 's tastes. I tend to biased favorably towards The World that Was more than the funny named realms of the Age Sigmar. Normally, if I come across Age of Sigmar fluff that is not Seraphon related I normally gloss over it and just skim it, but this was different. This was so well-written that I actually cared what happened to this dwarf and his people. That’s very noteworthy.

    This piece was barely under 2400 words. I am infamous for making a big fuss about word count, but I’m going to give this piece a free pass. The characterization was great. The exposition was detailed but not boring. I cared about the characters and the setting. It was a long piece, but was not a single section of this story that felt like dead weight. My main misgiving is not the word count but the word presentation. There were very few short paragraphs. I think the piece would have flowed better if some of the large blocks of text were broken into smaller pieces.

    A scrappy underdog dies achieves a great phyrric victory defending his people and his last thoughts are of regrets for what could have been. This is a strong contender for the Scalenex Cup.


    Story Five “A Long Journey”: I enjoyed the different narrators. They all had unique voices that built up the readers' connection to Zlakar in this heartwarming piece. I liked the transitions from one story to the next. It gave us a slice of life for Lizardmen we don’t always see as the different narrators stories varied in scope and scale.

    This piece like the previous piece was barely under 2400 words. In fact it was even slightly longer, but I’m going to give it a pass as well. It’s called “A Long Journey” afterall. This piece had a nice slow burn building up an emotional connection to Zlakar and his friends. I don’t think any of the words were dead weight. While on the whole this didn’t bother me, this piece maybe could have used a tiny haircut. There was a lot of description of battle and it was slightly redundant at times.

    The whole piece was built with the singular goal of making us like Zlakar…then killing him. This is a strong contender for the Scalenex Cup.


    Story Six “A Final Tail”: The quality of our pieces keeps getting better. One thing that I noticed that the entries have in common in this particular contest besides gloom and doom is excellent titles. The “final” part of Final Tale is obvious because the theme of the contest is “Doom” and the “Tail” in place of “Tale” may be a cheap pun but it serves a valuable purpose. It is not immediately clear within the text of the story that this story involves lizards but the title gives us good foreshadowing.

    This is another piece that gives an in-depth look into the culture of a group we don’t usually deal with on Lustria-Online. In this case, Brettonian peasants. The combination of hope, fear, faith, and doubt is magnificent.

    "Nicolas is a poopy head!" screamed a determined voice.

    That is actually a brilliant line. Anyone who had a sibling or watched young siblings or seen any kids at all can relate. This humanizes the characters very well. This piece had a low word count and great characterization because of lines like this. Putting in humanizing scenes during a battle or siege is a great way to make readers emotionally invested in the characters and the outcome of the story.

    I have trouble finding faults in this one. Maybe a little bit of polishing would have made this a bit smoother. There were more commas than was strictly necessary though a case can be made that loaded run-on sentences actually enhances the mood and theme of this piece, so I’m not sure.

    A nice Bolivian Army Ending is always a strong contender for the Scalenex Cup.


    Story Seven “The Extermination of the Fimir”: Fairly often, we get pieces that paint the Lizardmen as villains, but this one. Wow, just wow. This piece not only made the Lizardmen the bad guys but it made Fimir seem like good things. It is one thing to make Fimir relatable but to make them seem like good guys is a bold move. Fimir aren’t just bad guys, they are deplorable bad guys. Another bold move is the unorthodox structure of this story. We’ve had pieces that have been submitted in a similar format before but this piece was my all-time favorite non-traditional short story. Why? Because despite its unorthodox form it was structured like a short story with an introduction, build up, climax, resolution and twist ending.

    Like most of the pieces in this contest, my misgivings are small. I think this piece could have used a bit more editing. Also, I belive the commentary of obviously the works of some highly-imaginative forgers and wordsmiths out of Marienburg might have been more effective if placed at the end, not the beginning of this piece.

    Everyone was doomed, the piece had sympathic villains, and it involved an unusual take on Fimir which is one of my favorite things. This is a strong contender for the Scalenex Cup.


    Story Eight “Tlatlacolli”: Concise word choices are used to create a very interesting story. This is probably the most unique take on “Doom” in the entire contest. The author literally personified or “Doom” or at least lizardified it. This piece was loaded with excellent evocative imagery.

    I wanted to nitpick at the way the exposition was delivered. Introducing a clueless newbie character is kind of a clichéd way to give the audience exposition. One character says “I don’t know anything about this” and another character says “Let me tell you all about it….” But upon a second read I see that the exposition actually does a good job revealing characterization for the narrator’s hopes and fears his faiths and doubts while revealing exposition. So I cannot call that a flaw. What I can call a minor is the ended. I think it was a little too abrupt. I think the last paragraph had good imagery but left me hungry for more. I think this piece would have been improved by a little more foreboding imagery at the end. Tlatlacolli is literally the titular character and is full of interesting juctrapositions and yet proportionally little of the story's word count actually covered him/it.

    A suffering character is living in eternal shame as a barely accepted outcast-slave that is essentially always a prisoner. Yep, this is a contender for the Scalenex Cup.


    This contest is full of so many great pieces, the only thing that will be harder than allocating my votes will be awarding the Scalenex Cup.
     
  5. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Stegadon

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

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    Nice job on the quick reviews, @Scalenex and @Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl !

    I find it a bit disappointing that there's sadly no comedic/uplifting stories. I adore the grimdarkness like anyone else would (maybe even the most), but having that variety would've been cool despite the awesome contest theme. Variety is often the spice of life short story contests anyway imo

    Interesting thing to note, is that half of the short stories also have sauri protagonists (one of them isn't a protagonist, but is still important to said story).
     
  6. Warden
    Skink Priest

    Warden Well-Known Member

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    I will have to check this one out!

    Makes sense considering the theme

    JIqlIgR.jpg
     
  7. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    Great stories!
    ...and now, i will have to write the reviews and decide which ones to vote for...
     
  8. Scalenex
    OldBlood

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    I'm not surprised. Though though there is room for gallows humor or you could have Skaven and other badguys face their doom. No one went for an ironic light hearted take on doom for I think too reasons. First, while light hearted pieces are pretty common in these contests, they are never the majority. Second, the lively discussion in the contest entry got people brainstorming dark.

    Contest number four, the theme was "Spirit of Horror." There were twelve pieces, all fairly dark.

    I am not surprised. Saurus are generally unsophisticated compared to other Lizardmen/Seraphon so the plurality of our protagonists in contest are Skinks and Kroxigor point of view characters are fairly rare.

    Saurus are dedicated loyal warriors that live lives of violence. They are well suited to stories about doom hence why this contest is unusual.

    On a related tangent a lot of contests have trends. When the theme was "Continuity and Change" we got proportionally more Seraphon stories than usual for obvious reasons. When the theme was "Food and Drink" we had zero Seraphon stories, presumably because Seraphon do not need to eat though someone could have written a story where a bunch of Seraphon attack some Skaven interrupting their dinner.

    So nice, I wish I could like it twice.
     
    Sreeves and Paradoxical Pacifism like this.
  9. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Stegadon

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

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    Here’s my thoughts on these amazing stories



    “Been There, Done That”


    I’ve always been fascinated on how the lizardmen would interact with the other races (besides indiscriminately kicking in their heads with clubs - yes I love that too), and this story not only didn’t disappoint, but also satisfied my fascination perfectly. I loved Tekk’it’s annoyed and inpatient thoughts on the humans’ small talk that shows off his cold blooded seriousness compared to the other characters. It really does show one interesting way on how a nonviolent confrontation could go down.


    One minor nitpick I have is that while our skink main character offered many insights on the humans’ behavior and diction, the same can’t be said for the humans in this story. They greet and parley with him as if he wasn’t a large talking lizard, but rather as if Tekk’it was one of their own. Some descriptions on body language and/or thoughts from the humans on the skink would’ve been nice in my opinion. They could’ve either cemented their belief and hope in Tekk’it’s words, or show the reader hidden suspicions the humans could’ve had.



    “Knee-Deep in the Dead”


    I always adore stories like these. I can keep on reading them ‘till the day I crumble to dust for no reason. What I love so much in this story is the saurus’ psychological conflict - the psychological conflict between serving your purpose, and ultimately failing to do so. This is literally the crux for a saurus’ life and makes Varxin’s conflict very believable. Furthermore, this is one of the few stories on LO where a saurus main character actually displays fear. This again goes back to the psychological conflict Varxin has and is one of the main driving forces of that. In a way, this not only makes Varxin adequately relatable, but also exotically exciting as a saurus character.


    I would like a bit more exposition. One or two more sentences would’ve been perfect enough to explain why he’s here. Other than that, I’d also like a little more of the story overall. I think the length is perfect enough, but personally, I’d maybe like just a little more of the psychological conflict (some more pls, thankyou thankyou)



    “The Flying Saurus”


    I love this interesting and weird idea a lot. For some reason, saurus riding terradons and ripperdactyls into battle is incredibly rare in LO fluff. There have been many stories which were based off of the lizardmen (mostly the saurus) taming lustria’s wild fauna for use, but this story certainly does offer a unique take on that. I particularly liked Munna’s emotionally broken background of losing his Cold One. It justified why he would able to tame a ripperdactyl and get it airborne despite the trained skinks being there trying to do it first.


    I would’ve liked more exposition. It wasn’t really explained why the ripperdactyl attacked Munna exclusively, and also wasn’t explained why it flew Munna contently with seemingly no conflict. I think having the exposition explain the ripperdactyl’s past would’ve fixed these discrepancies. The pacing also could’ve been worked on in the latter part of the story. Things just went too fast by (no pun intended) without properly describing Munna and the ripperdactyl in enough detail.



    “The Doom of Vanir Rockfist”


    I really enjoyed the story’s focus on characterizing the main character, Vanir. It’s told to the reader straight away that he’ll die, and yet his death was still saddening nonetheless. I like to think it was the evocative exposition that explained Vanir and his inner-conflict thoroughly (but didn’t drown the reader in too much information), and the torc given to him by his lover. Especially when Vanir gave away the sign of his life and love to the saurus before dying and hoping it’ll find its way back. That’s pretty poignant.


    This isn’t much of a nitpick considering that the length of the story is perfect, but I think it would’ve rounded out the story well if there was a separate scene of that saurus delivering that torc to Vanir’s love, Hyja, and explaining to her that he died before aptly leaving. This or any other scene that goes back to Hyja and Aesir probably could’ve added even more sorrow to the story.


    Additionally, when Vanir meets the great daemon of Nurgle, I think it would add more drama to the action if the daemon knew of Vanir’s inner-conflicts personally, and spoke to him accordingly. Instead of it being only a physical fight, there would also be a psychological one as well, but I don’t think this is needed.


    The paragraphs need to be smaller in my opinion as well.



    “A Long Journey”


    This story is like the previous one in that the story focuses on characterizing through exposition (the other characters’ stories), and does it very well. Even the side characters were well characterized in their dialogue and descriptions. All of this adds strength and evocative warmth to their stories that celebrate Zlakar, the main character. Through these stories, we learn that Zlakar is an incredible friend, an amazing fighter and tactician, and also a great teacher to the relatively young spawnings… then we learn that the true purpose of this fun, lighthearted feast was to celebrate Zlakar’s last living moments of an incurable poison he’ll soon die from…


    Safe to say I genuinely shed tears for poor Zlakar and his friends I was very invested in. So thank you, anonymous writer, for utterly ruining my day!


    One very minor nitpick is that the saurus speak and act too human-like and isn’t believable. Then again, I think this added to the story much more than it took away from it.



    “A Final Tail”


    First off, this story contrasts the lizardmen nicely with “A Long Journey”. Previously, we read them as heartwarming characters mourning the loss of their friend and elder, now butchering defenseless Bretonnian peasants. But that’s not the only reason why this story is probably the darkest, in my opinion. It’s the mother telling her children a story to keep their chins up in the face of an inevitable end. It’s the faithful cling to hope’s rope even when doom indiscriminately taps upon your forehead with a claw. The author did a wonderful job of balancing the reader’s knowledge of the characters’ end (it’s told to us in the first paragraph), with the characters’ faithful and desperate hope. This made the ending incredibly dramatic and quite sad.


    I have no nitpicks for this particular story :mad: .



    “The Extermination of the Fimir”


    I really like the unorthodox structure of this, and yet it still flows and reads like a normal story. What I adore even more about this story is that despite the monotone tone of the bullet point structure, and the overall word choice, it was still evocative and tense. Bullet point by bullet point, the reader can see the Fimir’s civilization slowly degrade over the course of this unorthodox story, and can’t help but feel sorrow for them (or schadenfreude?). They’re usually considered the worst of the worst, yet with this monotone story, we can understand why they would see Chaos, the upcoming cataclysm they’ve foreseen, as saviors and liberators. This then can justify the incessant yearning the Fimir have for the attention of the Chaos gods throughout Warhammer Fantasy fluff (or am I stating the obvious?).


    Wow. Well done, anonymous writer, well done!


    Sadly, I also have no nitpicks for this too.



    “Tlatlacolli”


    I love this story’s tone and evocative diction. It characterized Tlatlacolli and the skink priest incredibly well without drowning out the reader in too much description. I particularly loved the skink priest’s grim sorrow on Tlatlacolli’s twisted psyche. His attempts at helping him whiffed into nothingness, pushing the skink priest into despair.


    One small nitpick here, though, but I think Ichil could’ve done more for the story. Perhaps he could argue against the skink priest in favoring Tlatlacolli’s death due to his relative youngness? Or would he vehemently agree with his master? It could’ve introduced an interesting moral conflict that questions what should be accepted from the Old Ones and what shouldn’t in this story’s context.
     
  10. Aginor
    Slann

    Aginor Fifth Spawning Staff Member

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    Pretty much all I wanted to say in my review of these fine stories has already been said at this point, so I'll just go ahead and say:

    I am not as big of a fan of the Grimdark as others, so it was a bit harder for me to enjoy the stories this time.
    That being said there is some nice quality to them, so my hat's off to all authors, y'all have done a great job making me sad. ;)

    I'll vote in the next few days. :)
     
  11. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    OK, as @Aginor said, with many things already been said, I'll try to focus on unsaid ones.

    BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
    A Greater Daemon arrives. And the Priest Tekk'it knows its name.
    Now, this strikes me as a long term plot… was that daemon the real target? was Lord Kroak sending troops only to prolong the fight and lure in the real enemy?
    if so, the fate of the city was sealed long ago... and i wonder if the commander of the Stormcasts knew it, behind the mask.

    KNEE DEEP IN THE DEAD
    it recalls me an old story here on Lustria. In that story, it was a Temple Guard the saurus that was cut off by the rest of the army. As that one, the fear to be left alone is the only one that really can strike our cold blooded fighters.
    Nice story, indeed

    THE FLYING SAURUS
    Now, i get that Munna doesn't know how to ride a ripper… but i didn't knew that rippers got suicidal tendencies!
    It's a detail that perplexes me. I like the final dive to death, but i feel it's a little forced.

    THE DOOM OF VANIR ROCKFIST
    I wonder if the writer took some ideas on the descriptions of the Nurgle's garden that I've read in the short stories of Malign Portent. It has a very similar wibe, and that's good.

    A LONG JOURNEY
    Apparently, this one took inspiration from the Rite of the Last Journey. Good to see that our Fluff & Stories subforum is appreciated.
    The different styles of tales narration, from the different sub-races of the lizardmen is well executed, good job.

    A FINAL TAIL
    through all the story, I've got the image of Milla Iovovich, leadin the charge. 'nuff said.
    I pity the poor children, but hopefully our sauri butchered also some of those unbearable brettonia noblemen.

    THE EXTERMINATION OF THE FIMIR
    i was lying as this has been already said. If the introduction would have been put as ending, it would have been perfect.
    Other than that, a very good story.

    TLATLACOLLI
    I wanted more.
    But i don't know if that "more" would have safisfied me more than this open ending…




    Sorry for the short reviews, but great overall competition!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 9, 2019
  12. Scalenex
    OldBlood

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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  13. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Stegadon

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

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    someone dark and gloomy needs to come fourth and base his reviews off doom metal :D

     
  14. Lizerd
    Troglodon

    Lizerd Well-Known Member

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    Good damn, that was amazing (scalenex I owe you for telling me about this thing, big time).one story that really resonated with me was hands down number seven. While all the other stories were excellent, this one really resonated with me. As someone who is a huge fan of spore, and in particular the a fascination with the civilizations destroyed by the grox long before you come onto the scene. Seeing the records of a civilization in decline and collapse and seeing its agony is a terrifying thing to read. It brings an echo of nostalgia to me playing spore.

    I also really loved for the flying saurus. While not the best written it spoke to me as finding someone who can share with you in an experience, being lonely, losing a friend or loved one really is something that really has a bitter sweet that really resonates.

    Reading others were pretty cool. I really loved the one with the fyreslayer and his last stand, a lone dwarf fighting an endless tide. It’s not something easy and seeing him give a trinket to a loved one to be returned is haunting. It’s kinda like receiving a letter from a recently deceased relative.

    Congratulations to everyone in the contest, these were all amazing.
     
  15. Aginor
    Slann

    Aginor Fifth Spawning Staff Member

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  16. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    Everyone took at least one vote. Excellent!
     
    Paradoxical Pacifism likes this.
  17. thedarkfourth
    Temple Guard

    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

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    *arising from a billowing cloud of smoke laced with lightning*

    YOU DARE TO POKE ME!? YOU DARE TO INVOKE THE CRITIQUER OF SHORT STORIES, THE OVERANALYSER OF JOKES, THE CHOSEN HERALD OF SHOAD N'TEZL?

    VERY WELL. PREPARE YOURSELF, MORTAL, FOR A TRUE TEST OF SANITY. BEHOLD:

    THE CRITIQUE ....OF DOOOOOM!



    1. Been There Done That

    I, Keeper of Objective Judgement, proclaim this story to be Classic Seraphon. I was pleased by the short, contained structure and the traditional punchline ending. The crotchety cynicism of the main character spoke to my withered soul. This type of story is a mainstay of seraphon-fic and the author has provided a fine example of the genre. Perhaps the author could have taken it even further by developing the relationship of the warmbloods and seraphon to the point we really care about it - making that sweet sweet abandonment all the more juicy. Parenthood or similar metaphors could have added some real zest.

    Thy Doom Is Pronounced: This story will win fame and fortune, but it will never be able to truly trust anyone.

    2. Knee-Deep in the Dead

    I, Knower of What Is Good, decree this story to be Silly But Brilliant. There is a long tradition in these contests of writing stories that essentially amount to a single pun or joke. This story clearly works on this level, but the Lord of Critiques can't help but feel that the tale of a warrior who finds himself trapped in a 90s video game could have been something ...moar? To start with, the first section in the real world adds little. L-O authors love their killing-in-excessive-detail scenes, but they add nothing, narratively speaking. Then we figure out what's happened with the literal Doom-portal, and then it's over. I was left wanting more of a story rather than a premise. True, it's a very fine premise, but still. And major points for comedy.

    Thy Doom Is Pronounced: This story will wait many years, but it will finally find true love.


    3. The Flying Saurus

    I, Arbiter of True Art, judge this story to be Heartfelt. It is a masterclass in relationship development, doing in a thousand words or so what some authors would need a thousand pages to achieve. I wasn't sure about the game of thrones-style ending. Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age, but I think ending simply with glorious flight would have been more memorable.

    Thy Doom Is Pronounced: This story will struggle to make close friends until it is able to let itself be vulnerable and open to real intimacy.


    4. The Doom of Vanir Rockfist

    I, Hurler of Rotten Tomatoes, find this to be a Pleasing Heroic Lay. It is refreshing to read a relatively straightforward but compelling narrative simply about a hero who fights some monsters. With a few linguistic alterations and another 300 pages, this could fit nicely in the Unfinished Tales or another Tolkien epic from the wider Middle Earth universe. I like that the author doesn't try to shoehorn a cheesy reunion with the love interest - Vanir is just a tragic hero with a tragic death and that's that. Perhaps the tragedy could have been enhanced a little by a greater sense of the hero's own flaws, that somehow he had brought this on himself rather than it being an entirely random encounter.

    Thy Doom Is Pronounced: This story will spend too much time alone in libraries.


    5. A Long Journey

    I, Bestower of the Correct Star Rating, rule this story to be Touchingly Nostalgic. It feels like an episode from an anthology series, a lovely way to capture a slice of the world we all know and love. A lot of people protest when I write stories that show the lizards being a little more human than usual, but personally it's my favourite kind of lizard portrayal. Like the last two stories reviewed, this one is clearly pandering for contention for the Scalenex Cup, but the "doom" here is well earned, it's the core of the story, not tacked on.

    Thy Doom Is Pronounced: This story is fated to always cry at sappy moments in the cinema.


    6. A Final Tail

    I, Sole Understander of How Stories Work, consider this story to be Another Blatant Suckup to the Scalenex Cup. It's also a prime example of a favourite L-O trope: the story within a story. It's a quick and easy way to compare and contrast your themes (salvation vs doom and so forth) but it can be quite effective. I think the best use of the idea is when both the prime story and the meta story are equally developed and compelling - in this case the prime story is fairly uneventful (everyone dies, the end) while the meta story is a bit too mythic to be impactful. But the contrast works fine.

    Thy Doom Is Pronounced: This story will wait its whole life for its father to say he's proud of it.


    7. The Extermination of the Fimir

    I, Bane of Pitchfork Dot Com, imply this story to be a Cool Addition to the Lore. This is a history, rather than a conventional narrative with characters, but histories are stories too. This one has well-explored themes of colonialism and conquest that superbly mirror those we already know from the Lizardmen universe as well as from the real world (hint: Fimir=Native American). This extra chapter of the history adds an interesting level to the cyclic rise-and-fall of global power that is so characteristic of warhammer lore. As such, it is a realistic and eye-opening approach to the idea of Doom.

    Thy Doom Is Pronounced: This story is destined to begin a lot of sentences with "well, actually".


    8. Tlatlacolli

    I, Unsolicited Replier to Tweets About Movies You Liked Telling You Why You Are Wrong, sort of think this story is a Nice Start. My own Doom seems to be that of eternally moaning about short stories reading like first chapters. But the author should take this as a complement. I wouldn't be annoyed at not getting more of the story if I didn't really like what I already have. I just feel that the *idea* of Tlatlacolli is great, but that seeing the idea fleshed out into a story with greater consequences and stakes and character comeuppances would be even better.

    Thy Doom Is Pronounced: This story will be its own worst enemy. Or maybe it has an evil twin? Anyway, thanks for reading, don't forget to click like and subscribe on the Lord of Critiques youtube channel!
     
  18. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    Once again, the winner award for the cathegory of original critiques, goes to @thedarkfourth ! :D
     
  19. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Stegadon

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

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    You have a youtube channel? :p

    Anyway, awesome wicked critiques! I already feel the sanity ebbing away.
     
  20. Scalenex
    OldBlood

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    That doesn't mean you are off the hook @Y'ttar Scaletail for your usual fashionably late reviews.

    NONE OF YOU ARE OFF THE HOOK! I demand more reviews!

    [​IMG]
     

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