Lizards and rats, both unlike as well as alike, try their best to survive all the while finding meaning in war. Spoiler: Chapter index 1. Crimson Red Sky - 1.2k words 2. The Morality of Killing - 1.9k words 3. Instinctive Divergence - 2.2k words 4. The Prayers of Mortals - 5.1k words 5. Traumatized Betrayal - 2.8k words 6. To Forget… or Forgive? - 1.6k words 7. Civility’s Mission - 2.1k words 8. Unattended Ends - 3k words 9. Yuatek River - 3.4k words 10. Tensed Hearts - 4.5k words 11. The Darkening Numbness - 1.5k words 12. Cold-Blooded Condemnation - 1.5k words 13. Forgotten Hope - 4.2k words Chapter One: Crimson Red Sky Among the many swaths of humid jungles, laid an assortment of ancient Lizardmen ruins. The crimson red skies above cast their dipping sun’s glare at the ruins, illuminating the countless bodies’ blood spills of the Skaven and Lizardmen in their ever encompassing wake. Hordes of more lively slave and clan rats pushed harder into the broad ruin’s well defended entrance, falling victim to the defending Skinks’ javelins and clubs in the bloody process. But a limited amount of Skinks could only do so much against a nigh endless vermintide, for the defensive line buckled under pressure. All of this infuriated the Lizardmen defenders’ only leader, Conquatza. Alike his fellow Skinks under command, his entire body was covered in blue scales, while his elongated reptilian head was crested with colorful feathers. Conquatza surveyed the fighting with fleeting eyes. Nearly depleted cohorts of Skink javelins were holding the entrance to the ruins, meanwhile Skinks on the ruins’ far flanks were viciously engaged in melee with various clubs and melee weapons, fighting for the ruins and their lives. Rage and fear built up in his mind as he tried to figure out a way the ruins and his garrison could be saved from this utterly destructive vermintide. But their fates had been sealed. For it would seem rats by the hundreds replaced their dead comrades, meanwhile many of the Lizardmen’s ranks laid slain upon their freshly spilled blood pools. In pure determination in face of this all, Conquatza stiffened his scaly grip on his golden tipped spear before heading off into the frenzy the mostly javelin equipped Skinks were trying their best to contain. He knew no matter what he could do, the end result would always be defeat. But that didn't matter to him. Defeat or not, he’ll bring down as many of the vile rats as he can down with him! But before he could join the frenzy, he spotted a wide spanning line of blue figures along the trees, far behind the skaven. Reinforcements?! Finally, after long minutes of this costly battle, joy enveloped his mind, as he raised his head towards the vast skies that were hued an orange-red. “STAY FIRM! Reinforcements are coming!" In the shriek of their commanding Skink chief, the Skinks’ minds immediately turned into a bloody frenzy in parody of their Saurus comrades of the Southlands. *** Among the much needed reinforcements was an energetic cohort of Skinks armed with lethal clubs and stone hard red shields to assist them in combat. Massive formations of Saurus warriors constituted the bulk of the reinforcements with blade adorned clubs ready for the rats’ blood. Ahead of their advance, marched the army’s mighty Saurus Scar Veteran, Kha’kor. With golden plates strapped all over his saurian body, and standing a foot taller than his Saurus brethren behind, he grumbled in low Saurian at his fearsome army. “Purge the unworthy rats from the ruins of our Southlands' kin. Kill them all!” The Saurus warriors from behind roared in agreement of their leader’s orders, interpreting it as charging into the vulnerable ranks of the invading Skaven, and killing them as much as possible. Tenx, a single Skink of his aforementioned Skink cohort, looked to the left of him in pure awe. Kha’kor was leading the charge with legions of Saurus warriors frenzied by his order. Tenx also remarked the excited expressions of his Skink brethren, eager to commit in their first engagement of melee. No doubt that Tenx was also excited for his first time to let his training shine in actual battle. But worry ebbed slowly in Tenx’s mind. Will this be his last engagement? What’s going to happen in the following minutes? Despite his eager expression, Tenx was very much worried of the uncertain future. Looking to his right, Tenx noticed the Skink next to him mysteriously had no blades at all on his club. With no blades, how can this Skink have any hope of defending itself!? Furthermore, unlike all of the other Skinks, its facial muscles were strangely relaxed in the most dangerous and unpredictable of times it could find itself in. Tenx took away his glance at the strange Skink in an effort to ignore his many questions that were dangerously occluding his sense of surroundings. The horde of dirty rats came closer and closer, until the thin, black whiskers of their snouty faces could be seen. At that point, Kha’kor and the Saurus warriors were already committed into melee, brutally slashing and chopping rats with near impunity. The first column of the Skink cohort collided into the very vulnerable flank of the vermintide horde with colossal effectiveness, instantly killing tens among the Skaven ranks. Tenx of the second column took this small opportunity, and flanked around to the left to seek out an opponent among the rat horde. To Tenx's avail, A single malnourished slave rat was isolated from a sea of brown furred rats, probably trying itself hard with its mind to make sense of the insanity that ensued around it. With a swift charge, Tenx was already upon the unsuspecting rat with eagerness brimming in his mind to get his first kill. The slave rat shrieked in horror as a reptile-thing leapt into the air, with its club aimed directly at its own body. It tried a desperate block, but the club easily over powered the already malnourished strength of the slave rat, slashing a deep, vertical line across the slave rat’s torso. The deep wound leaked streams of blood, before the slave rat succumbed to the grassy ground, motionless. Tenx leapt back and stared at his first kill. He expected glory and joy from his first kill ever, but instead, he got… nothing? A feeling Tenx couldn’t describe ebbed in his mind and churned his stomach as he stood watching his slain foe staining the grass red. Another armed rat smirked to itself as it found a prime opportunity. It rushed forth with an incredible shriek, and a short sword to bare into the ignorant reptile-thing’s flank! In Tenx’s Slann like trance, he barely noticed the small rat that was rushing onto his left flank at the very corner of his left eye. His heart throbbed against his chest in incomprehensible rates with adrenaline driving his shield-equipped left arm to block this unexpected charge. The ‘Clang!’ sound made when iron meets iron, told Tenx this vile rat failed to impale him with his short sword. But the inertia of the charge initially caused Tenx’s small body to stagger. Seeing this, the rat quickly followed up with another horizontal swing to end this, but Tenx easily anticipated the rat’s move, and parried the short sword far away from his attacker. With pure rage over taking him, he counter swinged his club at the defenseless rat, mercilessly cutting into the torso. Tenx hurriedly looked away from his new kill, and instead focused on his surroundings. He frantically bobbed and turned his head for any of the rats that would want to challenge and kill him. But he found none of that. Instead, motionless bodies of the rats littered the jungle floor with humid air reeking of the putrid smell of dead rats. Kha’kor roared onto the orange-red skies above him, signifying to the army the enemy was utterly crushed! The Saurus warriors joined in along with the Skink cohorts. Conquatza and the ruin’s battered Skink garrison also chimed in on the glorious victory. But Tenx couldn’t. Instead, he glanced at his two slain foes with golden eyes wide open, beating his heart against its chest. Why can’t I roar to this?