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Fiction Stories of Renown... Kind of...

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Lizards of Renown, Mar 1, 2020.

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  1. Lizards of Renown
    Carnasaur

    Lizards of Renown Well-Known Member

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    Thanks to @Scalenex I have had my creative side rejuvenated and I'll be writing short stories whenever I get the chance.

    The first one I'm posting is the one I put up in the competition that ended in February.

    Part of the reason I'm doing this is that I've already had another idea for a story and I can't keep it for the competition, we have to come up with the idea when the competition starts.

    Anyways, hopefully some people like the stories. I'm not the greatest writer in the world, but it's something that hopefully will a) help me do something between battles to keep the Warhammer spirit alive and b) help contribute to the ambiance of the site.
     
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  2. Lizards of Renown
    Carnasaur

    Lizards of Renown Well-Known Member

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    Well, the first thing I'll do is take the typos out of my story, then post it hopefully tomorrow.
     
  3. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Technically not quite. As long as you haven't written your idea down yet, you can use an old idea in the short story contest.
     
  4. Lizards of Renown
    Carnasaur

    Lizards of Renown Well-Known Member

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    Brill. Thanks Scaly. I've had a couple of ideas and I need to keep creating on something, so one of them will be written.

    (hopefully not one that would fit the contest parameters;))

    ---

    So below is the first story that I wrote for the competition with (I think) the typos handled.

    Working on story number 2 now!
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2020
  5. Lizards of Renown
    Carnasaur

    Lizards of Renown Well-Known Member

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    THE MESSAGE REPEATS


    Indianus Van Joneth, heir apparent to the grand house of Joneth, the strongest house in all of Stirland, was wet.


    No, he decided, wet didn't begin to describe it. It’s like something wet, had found a new, lower existential plane of wetness. As if –


    A large branch, covered in moisture laden leaves, slapped him from his feet.


    Spluttering, he scrambled out of the mud-filled loam and regained his feet, his manservant blabbering his apologies.


    Strange calls of birds and animals drifted out of the trees before him. Ignoring Leonart’s yammering, he looked up and again wondered why in Sigmar's name he had taken up this challenge.


    Tree trunks stretched out around him, moss covered trunks and branches bursting with fat leaves dripping with jungle condensation. He had been told that Lustria was hotter than the Empire, but how could it be hotter and wetter? He wiped a mixture of sweat and water from his brow. Small animals and large insects moved furtively all around him, up and down the trunks. Above, he could see patches of sky through the dense jungle which was somehow enough to illuminate his surroundings and hunting party.


    Sighing, he motioned for Leonart to continue on. This time, he thought, I won’t drift off. Not like Marcus, who had bumped into some kind of hive causing foot long insects with stingers the size of his fist to attack him. Indianus shivered, Marcus' body had been bloated to twice his size.


    Or Felix, who had been snatched in the night by some hulking baboon like lizard. He still heard Felix's screams when he tried to sleep at night.


    As their party had gotten smaller, they had become more paranoid. Which did have the benefit of lessening casualties.


    Indianus continued pushing through a seemingly endless sea of drooping green leaves, methodically taking hold of branches held back for him by Leonart. It felt like they were making good progress but you could never tell in this jungle...


    It had all started three months ago in a tavern in Nuln. After a bout of drinking, a rival challenged Indianus to prove his manhood. There ensued a barrage of boasts culminating in Indi stating he would travel to far Lustria and bring back priceless treasures.


    The voyage had been uneventful, with mild seas and making landfall in good time. Damn the fools who said that most never make it past the beaches. Where were all of these dangers spoken of? Pah, obviously fake. He snorted. They'll see.


    Unless... Leonart had claimed to have seem something in one of the streams, but when Indi looked he had seen only ripples. Everyone had laughed at Leo, told him that that he needed new spectacles.


    He looked behind him. Only Augustus was displaying any kind of fear. The others were tired, sure. But not afraid. Augustus claimed heritage to a long line of wizards and that he still maintained a psychic connection with the world. He still muttered at night about them being watched.


    Indi sighed and moved the next branch, holding it out for Augustus. Augustus looked up at him briefly, took the branch and resumed his furtive scanning, his eyes never resting in one place.


    Indi determined not to let any of this affect him.


    ---


    Suddenly there was no more jungle. The group stood at the edge of a massive plateau. Huge, stone buildings stretched out into the distance but dwarfed in turn by a towering ziggurat.


    "Well at least the map is right!" exclaimed Otto, the guide they'd hired due to his supposed experience on the continent. He motioned Indi closer. "Indi," he whispered, "Something's not right..."


    "Gah, not you too!" Indi shrugged off his hand and turned to the others. "Press on!" With the usual joshing and banter, his friends and their troops started off towards the closest structure.


    Indi was about to continue himself, when he saw that Augustus hadn't moved. Drat, he thought.


    "Come on Augus, I'll give you some of my beer tonight. Make it easier for you to sleep, eh?" Indi tried to get him moving but Augustus grabbed his shoulder.


    "He knows we're here, Indi."


    Shrugging off the hand, Indi threw up his hands in frustration and started walking after the others. Augustus followed after a brief pause.


    The jungle had fallen silent around them.


    ---


    Indianus chewed on some dried beef as they started up the steps to the Pyramid. He realized that he had been fretting for no reason whatsoever.


    Whoever had spread the rumors about this place had obviously just been trying to keep treasures for themselves. There was no intelligent life here!


    He put one hand on the yellow stone of the pyramid. It was very clean cut. Normally, cut stone had chisel type marks due to repeated hammering. This one had none. As if it had been cleaved with a single blow.


    He shivered and told himself again not to get jumpy.


    Looking up, he saw that the advance guard had made it to the top of the pyramid steps. Fritz waved to him and indicated that he was going in.


    Indi stopped halfway up the stairs and looking behind him. The city was spread out like one of the maps of his father's realm. The symmetrical precision of the buildings was impressive, as if supposed to be viewed from the sky. He looked up. The sun blazed down.


    He mopped his forehead and started up the stairs again. The inside of the pyramid would be cool.


    As he climbed, he wondered. How was the city not overgrown by the jungle? There was a clear delineation of where the jungle ended and the city limits began. All of roads and walkways showed no sign of deterioration.


    Pah, it's just heat getting to you, he told himself. Get inside and cool off.


    Indi and his attendants stepped into the pyramid entrance. The last porter disappeared into the gloom.


    A wind blew through the plaza, the only sound breaking the silence.


    ---


    Indi was worried. He stood in front of a stone pedestal, on which sat a gleaming gold pendant with a large emerald, bigger than his fist, set in its center.


    He had expected… something when they had entered. A maze, maybe. Or perhaps a snaking tunnel. They had encountered nothing of the sort.


    They had found themselves in a long, expansive hallway, easily able to fit a steam tank down its middle. They had lit their torches and had walked down the slightly sloping ramp. The walls did not glisten with moisture, but nor were there spiderwebs or dunes of dust on the floor.


    They had marched forward, initially bold and joking, but slowly dwindling into silence as they progressed. Indi had tried joking remarks about the places caretaking, but after some half-hearted responses from his comrades they had fallen silent and so had he.


    The silence was oppressive, disturbed only by a bone-dry breeze. He hadn’t thought what kind of sounds he expected, but by Sigmar this felt like a tomb!


    They had ended up in a large columned chamber, the whole space flanked by stone friezes on the walls depicting various sized beasts in battles and scenes of savagery.


    In the torchlight, the beasts moved. In his minds eye, he felt the eyes of the stone monstrosities on him and could not escape an oppressive feeling of being... watched.


    He wasn’t the only one. All of the guards were on alert. As he looked around, he found all with weapons in hand. Looking down, he found his own rapier in hand, though he couldn’t remember drawing it.


    Gods, they needed to get OUT.


    But he couldn’t make himself move.


    He stared at the gem. It was just an emerald, he told himself, just TAKE it. His hands started shaking.


    SNAP!


    They all spun round at the sound, levelling pistols, swords, knives and all manner of weapons at the source of the sound.


    One of the porters stood, white-faced as the group bared steel at him. Indi closed his eyes, it had just been the fire of the torch.


    Around him, men lowered weapons. But only slightly. They couldn’t see the threat, but they could feel it.


    Indi turned to the gem and, mustering his courage, grasped the amulet.


    With a low rumbling sound the pedestal sank into the floor.


    Indi jumped backwards. The pedestal was now level with and indistinguishable from the floor.


    Loud slams from either side made him jump again. Large blocks of stone slammed into place on either side of them, between the columns, hiding the carvings from view.


    Within moments they stood in a corridor at a dead end.


    As the dust settled Indi stumbled backwards, his instincts telling him to get out, GET OUT, as fast as he possibly could, but somehow not able to find his voice.


    The wall in front of him rumbled upwards, revealing a further passageway. For a split second, he wondered if this was another way out.


    A deep screeching sound, somehow high and low at the same time, thundered through the chamber, followed immediately after by rapid, pounding footsteps that shook the walls.


    “RUN!!!!” he screamed, taking his own advice and fleeing as fast as he could in the other direction. His fellows needed no urging and the whole group scrambled twoards the opposite entrance. Indi rapidly overtook the burdened porters and guards, sparing a glance over his shoulder for the noise’s source.


    Eyes widening and even though he still ran forwards, he couldn't take his eyes from a gargantuan… thing surging up the passageway behind them. Like an elephant from Araby, but no trunk, just scales and a beak of a face topped with two large, curving horns.


    Just as he turned back round, a porter was crushed underneath one of the massive feet, while another was impaled and tossed into the air like a rag doll.


    Indi ran even faster, feeling the floor beneath him move. He leapt forwards and in his peripheral vision saw the floor drop away, stranding over half of their party on the lower level with the beast. Their voices seemed to dwindle into the distance.


    Leaning against the wall of the passageway and trying to catch his breath, Indi turned to speak to his fellows only to find Fritz clutching his throat, hands around a dart as he began frothing at the mouth.


    The entire group erupted into action again and started running towards the light of the entrance ahead, as more darts flew out of hidden holes in the walls claiming more and more of the hunting party. Flames erupted out of other holes, creating man-sized, screaming conflagrations.


    Indi found his second wind, abandoning his rapier and throwing his pack and the amulet to the ground as he outdistanced them all. Gurgling death rattles and screams of pain followed him as he frantically reached the entrance.


    Another shudder.


    Without thinking, Indi threw himself forwards onto the sunlight ground as the ceiling behind him crashed down, the thundering impact reverberating through him which he felt rather than heard.


    And then silence.


    Complete silence.


    He lay there panting, face against the hot stone, gasping and trying to catch his breath. Thoughts tumbling over one another.


    His breathing and heartbeat gradually slowed.


    A slight scratching sound.


    He raised his head and found a large, clawed foot in front of his face.


    Terrified, he scrambled backwards on his hands and knees and backed up against the wall.


    A large reptilian figure stood before him. Covered in brilliant sky-blue scales, bedecked in a gold and jewel encrusted armour, the figure carried a large, double-handed, glossy black sword with the blade resting on its shoulder.


    Easily over six feet in height, its muscled bulk did not move as the cold, vertically slit eyes regarded him. The only movement being its forked tongue darting once out of its mouth.


    The figure stepped aside and motioned him onwards, resuming it’s statuelike state immediately after. All but its eyes, which continued to track him.


    Indi got up, wits befuddled as he stumbled forwards.


    The entire plaza was packed with a riot of color, glassy black stone and gold shimmering in the bright sunlight. Figures with less gold and metal, but hefting large shields and a variety of maces, sword-like arms and axes stretched out on either side of the levels of the ziggurat. Each standing in a group of similar colours, purples, yellows, oranges and others he couldn’t categorize.


    Stunned to insensibility Indi staggered down the steps. Silence greeted him, silence and their impassionate, staring gazes.


    Indi reached the ground level of the pyramid. Behind the ranks of creatures he could see smaller lizards beyond count, some bearing blowpipes and some goading larger, creature forwards. As he watched, one of them jabbed at the creature and a large gout of flame expelled from its mouth.


    The thought hit him that these had been in the passageway during his parties flight. Gods, there were scores of them…


    Deep, thumping sounds jerked his attention to the other side where behind the ranked warriors, over a dozen of the horned elephant-like creatures moved into position behind the warriors and stopped.


    Unable to meet the alien gaze of these large monsters, he sped up, irrational fear now giving way to the silent army now arrayed around him.


    He turned to face forwards again and immediately stopped. Inches away from his face was an oversized reptilian snout. As it opened his mouth, Indi was confronted by a cavern of multiple rows of razor sharp teeth. A moment later all thought was eclipsed as his entire body was pushed backwards by an earth-shattering roar.


    Then silence. The reptilian snout withdrew, heavy stomps making the road he stood on vibrate marking it’s departure. Indi stood utterly insensible, unable to process the magnitude of what he was seeing.


    Something forced it’s way into his mind. Dropping to his knees, visions assailed him. As he watched, time after time explorers came to the temple, tried to retrieve the jewel and were slaughtered. He saw all of the groups slain and bar one. Over and over the visions repeated, Arabyana, Kislevites, Norsemen, on and on. Each time sparing one.


    He blinked. He realized that he was viewing the present again.


    Looking around him he realized he was that one.


    Needing no further encouragement, he scrambled to his feet and ran down the boulevard of the city, watched by the silent legion.


    ---


    Slann Lord Ack’Huapek watched the human flee into the jungle.


    Turning to his Skink scribe, he indicated the date to be marked as a new messenger sent to the Old World.


    Turning, he floated deeper into the temple. His mind already on other things…
     
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  6. Lizards of Renown
    Carnasaur

    Lizards of Renown Well-Known Member

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    CROSSED PATHS


    "All roads well traveled lead us not to a location, but a state of mind. Not to a destination, but to a purpose." - Ancient High Elf saying


    "There are no destinations. There is only the journey." - Inscription translated from a plaque found in Huat'ocala, temple city in Lustria



    Elyanar blocked the first and second strikes of the Black Orcs in front of him, dancing backwards to avoid a third.


    Elyanar stood in a torch-lit dungeon room, maybe a guard post, deep in the rocky bowels of a remote island. The dark-grey, almost black, stone walls of the dungeon were damp with moss growing plentifully across the walls and ceiling. A sea breeze was just barely discernible, giving a clue to the small surface area of the island.


    In the dungeons flamelight, keeping track of the black monstrosities was difficult. The three Black Orcs drew back in unison, displaying a cunning grasp of tactics. If he had needed proof that some darker power was at play here, this was it.


    Feinting to his left, he slipped around the attacker to his right and used his own momentum to bring his long knife round and straight into the base of the Orc's skull, dropping it immediately. Elyanar wrenched the blade free and watched the two remaining Orc's red eyes gleaming in the darkness before him.


    Twirling the long knife in his hand, he dropped into the basic attack stance of Eluan, holding his his long sword in his right hand and slightly over his head. The two Orcs cocked their heads as if listening and backed away into the darkness.


    Elyanar kept his stance. If any creature would try to do some sneaking backstabbing it would be the Orcs and Goblins. He stood there on guard for what felt like an age, before finally accepting the stunning concept that the Black Orcs had just retreated. He had known Black Orcs to fight to their last against overwhelming odds and terrifying beasts. Their minds are not their own, he mused to himself.


    He was no mage, but even with his limited magical perceptions he could feel a pulse through the dungeon. Something that seemed to pull even at him. Muttering a prayer to Asuryan he checked his map and took the right exit out of the room heading deeper into the dungeon. The objective had to be achieved at all costs.


    Two weeks earlier...


    "You can't tell me anything?!" Elyanar demanded, standing in front of the High Elf delegation that had arrived to the Elven Noble House's door not an hour before.


    The Mage and leader of the delegation regarded him with a slightly quirked eyebrow, the blue robes marking her station barely visible under her heavy travelling cloak. She had refused all pleasantries when entering the house claiming "Time to be of the essence" and "Her mission could wait no longer". Her two guards stood mute behind her, sentinels whose stoic faces betrayed none of their thoughts.


    All of the houses Dispossessed had gathered to hear the delegation speak. It was a truly rare occurence to have visitors from Ulthuan and rarer still to have them come with demands. Well... Maybe demands was the wrong word, but his arrogant nature had taken every word as such and he was determined to show them their place.


    His father sat on his favorite chair, head in hand as if in thought. The aging Ranger Lord often let Elyanar run meetings that occurred in the house in preparation for him receiving the mantel of leadership in years to come.


    The Mage calmly continued, "Peace, Elyanar. We have divulged all that we could scry. Something blocks our vision into this island and scouting parties that we have sent have not returned. There is a maelstrom of magic around this place and we dare not launch an assault without knowing what lies inside."


    Elyanar eyed the Mage again. She was pretty, he'd give her that. But both her and her two guards were too sincere, too haughty... He didn't like it. "I don't think you're telling me everything" he stated bluntly.


    "Yes. And I fear that nothing I say will change that, my lord," the Mages voice was soft and compelling, "we have given you the information and we beseech your aid. You have come... highly recommended as the most experienced Ranger in this area." Elyanar couldn't tell if there was any sarcasm in her voice. Her eyes did not leave his. It was disconcerting.


    He glanced at his father. The elder nodded his acceptance and Elyanar sighed. Well, if he was going to have to do this then he would get his moneys worth. "What payment do we get?" he asked brusquely.


    "I have nothing for your Elyanar. Nothing except the journey itself."


    The words hung in the air.


    Elyanar barked out a short laugh. Now? Now the true disrespect and arrogance? The mighty High Elves come to beg assistance and would make paupers of them? This was the last straw.


    "Are you out of your mi-" Elyanar began, but was cut off by his father.


    "Enough Elyanar." Standing, his father faced the Mage. "We accept the charter and honor the old ways." He inclined his head and received a similar gesture from the Mage, before leaving towards the door. Elyanar was floored. He had literally never seen his father acquiese to any request without some major boon in return. This thought running through his mind gave him pause. That was it, his father had obviously worked out how to cheat them in some way that he couldn't see. That was why he had accepted so quickly. He calmed.


    Before leaving, his father's hand clasped him on the shoulder. "Sometimes the journey is all one needs my son," he whispered, "you will take this quest."


    Elyanar fumed inwardly. Journey? A journey would not finance the house, pay the bills or buy further wares. His father was normally a razor-witted businessman known locally for his shrewd bargaining abilities.


    Resigned to his fate, Elyanar turned back to the delegation. "Well, then. Why don't you tell me all of what you do know," he said sarcastically. "Again."


    o0o


    Kal'lath knelt in the eternity chamber.


    He knew that his promotion to Old Blood was coming, his entire spawning knew it was coming and was way overdue. Some of his spawning had started to wonder why he hadn't already. This coveted position of general in the Lizardmen was rarely bestowed, but he had proved his battle prowess on battlefield after battlefield, against every type of creature there was opposing the great plan. Surely this must be the ceremony now.


    Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the Temple Guard standing in intervals along the back of the room practically motionless. He imagined that he could feel their envy. Kal'lath would soon be lord, acknowledged as such and given his own command.


    The glow-stones around the chamber emanated a soft light. With no natural light entering, the stones light reflected off of the jewels covering the insides of the walls and under the surface of the ritual pool which stretched out around the penninsula of rock that he knelt on. As far as he knew, the eternity chamber was the largest space inside the temple. He had no idea how large it actually was, as the only clue to the size of the space was the dim light but the fact that they were set in upright stone columns throughout the chamber as well gave off an illusion that was almost complete. Eternity.


    The whole effect was such that aside from the entrance and wall behind him, it seemed that he was standing on a rocky outcrop bridging on the edge of the universe. The stars seeming to shine back at him.


    Kal'lath wondered which of the Mage-Priests would enact the ritual. It was said that the Slann following the lores of Life or Light regularly did so. Well, this sort of ceremony only happened once every hundred years so no information was readily available.


    He came back to the present as a floating rock palanquin emerged out of the gloom. As he bowed his head again, his keen eyes briefly noted the celestial markings around the edge of the rock throne.


    Ah. Of course. Who else would enact great changes than those following the lore of Heavens.


    As the palanquin floated closer, he felt a sense of destiny growing within him. Finally, he would help enact the Great Plan. He would bring the Lizardmen back to their former glory. All would bow before them and take their rightful place as describ...


    YOU ARE NOT READY, KAL'LATH.


    There was no sound, there never was. The voice sounded in his mind.


    He jerked his head up and looked at the Slann. Yellow eyes regarded him. How was this even possible? He had been asked no questions! There was no questing through his thoughts, his feelings, his devotion... How could he be judged so harshly so quickly?!


    "My lord, I respectfully disagree... Surely my exploits have reached even your ears. If you would just give me a moment to explain you would see that-" The Slann's thoughts cut him off mid sentence.


    YOU STILL VALUE ONLY THE DESTINATION, KAL'LATH. YOU SEE NOTHING OF THE JOURNEY.


    Shocked, Kal'lath watched as the palanquin turned and moved off into the darkness. How had he failed? His mind grasped at possibilities of treachery somehow, or someone prejudicing the Slann against him. As the palanquin moved further away, he finally found his voice.


    "HOW SHOULD I PROVE MYSELF GREAT ONE?!" he bellowed into the darkness.


    He received no answer, except the chilling echoes of his own voice. Then even that died, leaving only the sound the soft lapping of water at the sides of the stone he stood on.


    Kal'alath stood, chest heaving. He couldn't believe it. If the Slann already knew, why summon him to the chamber? If he had not the absolute faith in his leaders, he would have suspected a cabal or plot of some kind. As it was, his mind was blank and his feelings numb.


    He didn't know how long he stood staring out into the darkness, half-hoping for the return of the Slann. All he knew was that some time later, one of the Skink Priests appeared next to him.


    "We have a mission for you, Scar-Veteran."


    Two weeks later


    Kal'lath moved through the shallow water, the upward facing nostrils on his snout making for a perfect stealth approach to the dungeon in the middle of the island. This inlet of the sea gave him perfect cover to approach the location indicated to him by the Skink Priests.


    These followers of the Heavens had told him of a grave threat that had been prophecized. An island previously part of the pattern of Lustria had disappeared from the awareness of the celestial Slann. Now, they could only sense darkness in this area.


    Worse, the island was the site of an abandoned Temple-City. Even though it was claimed no relic's or artefacts had been left behind, they could not take any chance.


    As Kal'lath had arrived, carried through the water to his destination by two Kroxigor, he had been surprised by the island small surface area. How had it held a Temple-City?


    He moved silently through the river's water approaching the designated spot. Although not as at home in the water as his cousin species Skinks and Kroxigor, he was still adept at maneuvering through it.


    Kal'lath passed several Black Orc patrols on his way down the river. Having fought the species several times, he had great respect for their battle prowess and ferocity but, although better than the average greenskin, their lack of discipline still marked them as inferior. However, these patrols were tightly scheduled, attentive and even he had difficulty remaining hidden from their searches. There was something wrong here.


    He still felt a lingering sense of embarrassment and shame at his rejection by the Slann. His eyes narrowed. He pushed the emotions away. He would deal with this like he had with all situations in his life. Single-minded devotion to the task at hand and accomplishing the mission. The objective was all that mattered. Victory at any cost.


    He surged onwards through the water, only his eyes and the tip of his snout visible on the water's surface.


    o0o


    Elyanar entered a larger corridor, with multiple exits branching off to the sides. A group of Black Orcs waited in the middle, their bulky armour and assorted weapons reflecting the torchlight. Elyanar surged forwards, emboldened by his success so far. As he clashed with the group in the middle of the room, movement caught his eye. Glancing quickly to the sides, he saw Black Orcs move out of each entrance until he was surrounded.


    Elyanar sneered. They thought to trap him? They would see what a true Ranger Blademaster could do.


    He spun into an attack, slicing through two Orcs with his weapons. As he twirled to attack the inevitable foes approaching from behind him, a huge foot connected with his chest. Saved only by his Elven chainmail, Elyanar flew backwards and crashed into a wall. As he staggered back to his feet, he saw three Minotaurs moving through the center of the room towards him.


    Reason filtered through his mind. He needed space to move and a narrower corridor to funnel his foes against him one by one, but the Orcs were guarding each exit from the passage.


    As a cold sweat ran down his back, he realized that he had been drawn deeper and deeper into the dungeon, emboldened by his successes to bring him to this place and this ambush. This was not Orcish behaviour, but showed a sharp cunning as well as a callous view of their's troops lives since they had sacrificed their own to lure him in.


    Committing his soul to Asuryan, he stood. Grasping his weapons tightly, he let go of his fear. These creatures would know pain and he would drag as many of them screaming in pain into obilivion with him as he could.


    The biggest minotaur grunted in increasing volume, culminating in a bellow of rage that Elyanar could feel in his chest.


    But, there had been another sound, something just at the same time as the Minotaur's challenge. What had that been...


    Like an over-ripe melon squeezed too hard, the middle Minotaur suddenly exploded in a shower of gore.


    Elyanar flinched as blood splattered his face. The Minotaur's head and upper torso had been split in two and, as he watched, lurched forwards and onto the ground.


    A large reptilian figure was revealed as the carcass dropped, wielding an enormous, two-handed stone weapon? What was this?


    He shook himself, the lizard-thing had engaged the other two Minotaurs with huge sweeps of his weapon. As he himself turned to attack the Black Orcs, the lizard caught a leg of the one of the Minotaurs cutting through it with seemingly no resistance and collapsing the creature to the floor.


    o0o


    Kal'lath bared his teeth as the thrill of the fight surged through him. The Minotaurs bellowed their challenges and rushed him, assured of their kill by their seemingly larger size and stature. Rarely did such large creatures consider that most of the time they barely out-weighed him, such was the compact power of his Saurian frame.


    He let the beasts close on him and then struck. Two steps toward the monster to his right and a bent knee brought him to the legs of the creature as the arms above grasped for his previous position. Using his own momentum, he swung his obsidian blade with both hands, easily cleaving through the leg before him.


    As the Minotaur toppled, Kal'lath turned and rushed the remaining Minotaur. The creatures own large axe swung towards him, but Kal'lath's blade met it, sending it crashing to the side. Skillfully bringing his own weapon to bear, Kal'lath lopped the offending arm off at the elbow. Roaring in pain the creature swung its other arm towards him, possibly thinking his weapon unavailable due to the swing.


    It had obviously never fought one of the Sauri.


    Kal'lath turned his head and snapped his jaws around the wrist of the beast. Tightening his hold and wrenching his powerful neck muscles he tore the hand from the arm, leaving the creature stunned and trying to stem the blood loss.


    Kal'lath spitting the still twitching hand to the floor, he kicked the minotaur to the ground. Turning, he found the rest of the Orcs in the room scattered or dead. And the... Elf... standing watching him.


    o0o


    Elyanar dispatched the last of the Black Orcs, the others fleeing into the darkness. Panting, he took a moment to catch his breath. He must have killed over a score of the creatures that time! Turning around his was just in time to see the lizard-creature tear the last Minotaurs hand off with his teeth...


    Gods above and below. This thing was savage.


    Suddenly it was just the two of them in the room, well... the two of them and the Minotaur bleating like a frightened goat as it tried unsuccessfully to stop it's life blood draining away.


    He eyed the creature. It reminded him of the Dark Elf Cold Ones that they rode to battle, but there was an... intelligence in the things eyes.


    Elyanar was an honorable warrior, but had an arrogant streak running through him greater than a Dwarfs gold-lusy. He literally could not acknowledge that this thing had saved his life. Turning his nose up and sniffing, he entered the corridor that led to the heart of the dungeon.


    The goal. Forget about the rest and accomplish the goal.


    o0o


    Kal'lath watched the Elf leave. What weakness! What stupidity, allowing himself to be cornered by the beasts that way. Snorting his disgust, he checked the device that he had been given by the Priests. As he held it upright in his palm it glowed, the runestone in the middle moving to point to a side tunnel.


    Kal'lath stored the device back in his pouch and stalked through the open doorway. The Elf was inconsequential next to his mission and he always accomplished his objective. Focus on that.


    With a final whimpered bleat, the remaining Minotaur expired and the scene of carnage was left complete.


    o0o


    Kal'lath checked the device. This was definitely it.


    He stood partially concealed in an archway at the end of a tunnel he had been walking down and looked out into a puzzling scene.


    A half-circle of unmoving Black Orcs stood on the rocky ground between him and the edge of what seemed to be a lake. A dim light suffused the place, but with no discrenible origin. The light showed a finger of rock stretching out a short distance into the lake. A single, crouching figure could be barely seen beyond the blackskins at the edge of the peninsula.


    All of the rooms he had been in so far had had relatively low roofs. This spare in comparison was gigantic, he could hardly see the ceiling and the cavern stetched out to both sides of him. He could see other archways in both directions and realized that this room was somehow a loci for the energy that the Priests had been perceiving.


    Something was odd though... Not just the Orcs, usually so unruly and loud, standing immobile in ranks. Something else. Suddenly he realized that the room actually seemed familiar to him. How could that be? He had never been to this island before.


    Wait. He glanced all around. Jewels on the walls let out a feeble light, so dim you could almost not tell they gave out any. He could vaguely make out stone posts out in the lake. Somehow this was an eternity chamber. Probably abandoned during one of the great wars.


    He looked again at the figure. Was it... glowing? Shaking his head he hefted his sword. Whoever or whatever this thing was, it was trespassing on sacred ground. He felt his rage building. These interlopers needed to be taught that some places meant death. And he was the instrument of the Old Ones brought here to give them justice.


    o0o


    Elyanar watched the lizard-creature charge out of the archway, having spotted it minutes earlier during his observation of the scene before him.


    He turned back to the scene. This space was evidently a magical conduit in some way, as the cloaked figure on the finger of rock was emanating power. The same pull he had felt through the dungeon was stronger here.


    The Black Orcs were evidently under some kind of hynosis or mind control. It must be strong, since he knew them to be particularly thick skulled and stubborn.


    Something about this space was unnatural. As he watched the Black Orcs engage with the lizard, he realized that the entire cave system was too orderly. This had all been made.


    He roused himself from his musings, no matter. He had accomplished his goal and had the information that the Mage wanted. Some ritual was being enacted here and evidently had possession in mind.


    Just as he turned to leave, a flicker of motion caught his eye.


    Turning back to the melee, he spotted several dark blurs closing on the reptile. Eyes narrowing, Elyanar realized them for what they were. Dark Elf Assassins. Which meant that the magic user could only be one of their sorceresses.


    Well, that was unfortunate. There was no way the lizard would survive against them. But he had his mission and he needed to get this data back to the High Elves so they could launch their strike.


    Turning to leave, a guttural roar of pain reached his ears.


    He closed his eyes as his teeth clenched. He took another step, but another cry hit him.


    Cursing himself for a fool, Elyanar spun and ran into the room pulling out his weapons as he dashed forwards.


    o0o


    Kal'lath hit the Black Orc line like a boulder, his first strike powered by his run cut an Orc clean in half and bit into the side of the next. Swirling the sword round he parried an incoming blow and split the offender from shoulder to navel.


    Kicking the body from his sword, he laid into the remaining Orcs. His rage bubbled within him, powering his strokes as he moved through the adversaries felling them like wheat. As one Orc neared him to the side, he swung round catching the blade on his own before snapping his own jaws closed on the Orc's head. He felt rather than heard the crunch as it's skull was crushed.


    As he turned back to the survivors, a lance of pain went up his back. Spinning round, he glimpsed a blurred form in the gloom. No, several blurred forms. Darting around him. Grasping his sword, he struck out but met nothing but air.


    With a deep guttural growl, he concentrated and lashed out, finally meeting flesh and a spray of blood went into the air.


    Another lance of pain, this time from his leg. Glancing down, he could see his own purple blood leaking down. Another lance and another. He let out a roar of pain, swinging his sword out and again meeting flesh, bringing down a black clad figure to the ground. But he knew this would not be enough. His attackers were too well coordinated as a group.


    Commending his immortal soul to Chotec, he prepared to spend his last dragging as many of these creatures with him.


    Lance, lance, lance. Stiffening with pain, he dropped his sword and snapped his arms out to the side, finally getting hold of one of the attackers. Squirming in his grip, the dark-haired Elf tried to reach him with his long knives which were dripping with some kind of venom. Bunching his shoulders, Kal'lath heaved and ripped the Elf's arms from his sockets, knowing that this would be his last act of defiance.


    He slipped down as blackness took him.


    o0o


    Elyanar reached the lizard just as he plucked one of the assassins from his feet. Charging in, Elyanar parried a strike meant for the beasts back and opened the guts of the offending Dark Elf with his riposte.


    Elyanar spun to face the remaining assassins just as the lizard ripped both arms of the Elf straight off. Both he and the assassins momentarily paused in shock as the creature finally fell. Elyanar recovered first and danced forward to engage the enemies.


    Using his sword to maintain some distance, he looked for an opening. He seemed to stumble, drawing in one of the assassins with his feint. As the assassin closed, Elyanar blocked both knives and swept the attackers feet from under him. The man started twisting as he fell trying to recover, but Elyanar's heavy boot deftly targeted his throat and crushed his larynx.


    Even though the combat had been a blur, the quick reflexes of the last assassin paid off and Elyanar took a knife in the shoulder as he spun to face the man. Dropping his sword from no weak fingers, Elyanar spun backwards and flipped his long knife into an overhand grip.


    The two adversaries circled each other, knives flicking out faster than a human's eye could register and being parried just as quickly.


    Then suddenly the Elf backed away.


    "Greetings Elyanar," called a familiar silken voice from behind him, "I've been waiting for you to make your way here."


    Elyanar spun round to find himself confronting the Dark Elf Sorceress.


    Her straight black hair gleamed in the dull lit chamber, flowing over her lithe, full-breasted figure hugged by a close-fitting silken gown. With her cloak's cowl back, the face revealed was breathtakingly beautiful. Even though he knew the price that this hag had paid for her beauty, bathing in the blood of innocents, he was still taken effected.


    He was having trouble thinking. The pull he had been feeling through the dungeon was so strong now he felt physically drawn forwards. His mind struggled to resist but he was wounded and tired.


    "Come Elyanar. I have already performed the ritual with a Black Orc with success. This water allows access to souls. And your blood already flows. You need only come with me to the lake and I will complete the ritual. All your pains will be gone."


    Despite himself, Elyanar staggered forwards.


    "Yes," the sorceress crooned, "Come with me".


    Elyanar jerkily walked beside her, reaching the end of the rock outcrop. She turned him round and pushed him to his knees, his back to the water which lapped with a quiet innocence behind him.


    "The bond will be just enough. You wanderers have enough of the High Elves within you that the curse will take and just little enough to be unable to resist me. It is well you made it to he end, it took me great pains to get you here."


    Something about this struck Elyanar.


    She crouched down facing him. Looking up at her now, he could finally see the "Mage" that had visited him and his father. She stared at him with a savage smile on her face.


    "Don't be disappointed. Between my magic and the Assassins arts of concealment, you and your father never had chance."


    Elyanar's mind scrabbled for escape as she drew a wavy sacrificial knife from her belt.


    She licked her lips as she raised the knife high.


    His final thoughts were of his own arrogance and how this had brought him to this moment.


    A flash of black.


    Suddenly Elyanar's mind was his own.


    Looking up a huge obsidian blade protruded from the other Elf's chest. Swallowing, Elyanar pushed the blade away from his face, noting the infintesimal gap between the left side of his face and the blade.


    Staggering to his feet, the Sorceress slid to the floor beside him. The lizard fell to its knees behind her, black blade falling to floor as it too collapsed. Elyanar looked up and noted the 40 feet that it had crawled to reach him in time.


    Sobered by his proximity to death, he looked down at the lizard. It looked near death. Well, he had no idea of lizard physiology but the blood was obviously meant to stay inside. He rolled the lizard over, eliciting a low growl and drawing bandages from his pack to dress the wounds as best he could.


    Pulling out a healing salve, he muttered a short prayer that this wouldn't have some unforseen effect on a cold-blooded creature and poured it's contents over the wound in its back. Thankfully the scales closed.


    Elyanar sat back, drained. He looked around the large cavern, now silent, and saw that the no-one remained.


    Well, time to leave then.


    Reaching down, he strained and heaved the lizards body upwards. He ducked his head and shoulder under one of its arms and adjusted himself for the best lift, unfortunately ending his movement inches away from razor sharp teeth that just happened to still be red stained from it's kills.


    Swallowing, Elyanar looked into the things eye and tried his best to project confidence.


    The vertical slit regarded him steadily.


    Staggering forwards, Elyanar started the trek to the surface.


    o0o


    Elyanar stumbled through the entrance to the dungeon, dropping the creature to the floor and face planting himself on the ground. The upwards slant of the dungeon hadn't been much but Gods this thing weighed more than an elven steed!


    He raised his head up and gathered himself. Well, he had done what he could for the lizard and, judging by the fact that it was now pulling itself up, it would survive.


    As the lizard stood up straight, their eyes met for a moment. Elyanar felt something pass between them, some kind of unspoken acknowledgement. Perhaps it was a shame that he could not truly communicate with it, he thought to himself as the lizard stalked off rapidly disappearing into a nearby stream.


    But some things go beyond mere words, stretch beyond race or age. Honor was on such thing. As was gratitiude.


    Feeling like something had changed within him, he shouldered his pack and went in search of his boat.


    o0o


    Kal'lath should have been mortified to have this Elf carry him from the scene of battle. An inferior race having to help one of the Children of the Gods? He should have been fuming, enraged, incensed.


    He felt none of these.


    Standing, the wound in his back completely healed by some concoction of the Elf's. He looked at the one he had saved, and was yet his saviour, in the eyes. Not knowing any of the Elf's tongue, he willed his thanks and recognition of this one's prowess through to him. Curiously, the Elf seemed to understand.


    Slipping his sword into its sheath on his back, he stalked across to the stream and slipped in.


    He thought he had been so close to his goal, but this... This had truely shown him how much he had to learn, how far the journey was still to go. For the first time, perhaps ever, he felt confronted by his own mortality and yet somehow was stronger for it.


    Realizing now the wisdom of the Slann's words, he set off to his homeland. In reality his mission accomplished, but in his mind his journey had just begun.
     
  7. Paul1748
    Skink

    Paul1748 Member

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    Great story! Like the character developments, and it feel good to see the children of the Old ones help each other out.
     
  8. Lizards of Renown
    Carnasaur

    Lizards of Renown Well-Known Member

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    I feel honored to received a message from an esteemed reader such as yourself. I do realize you don't reach out very often.

    Cheers matey.
     
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  9. Lizards of Renown
    Carnasaur

    Lizards of Renown Well-Known Member

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    Wrote the below story for my wife for her birthday. I would describe her as a "strong, independent woman" and also the one who beat me once at Necromunda.

    I had a lot of fun coming up with a setting for her character and she liked it so much that I figured I'd put it up, even though not strictly speaking a Lizardmen story.
     
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  10. Lizards of Renown
    Carnasaur

    Lizards of Renown Well-Known Member

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    THE RAVEN

    The black-sailed ship came into view. Even at distance the snapping of it's lines and sails was audible. The ship itself was mammoth. Easily an eighteen- or twenty-gun vessel, it's size was obfuscated by distance and lack of reference points, but as it came closer it kept growing in size. Almost unnaturally. At the top of the highest mast, a single flag flew. A black bird taking flight, giving the vessel and Captain its name.

    Oscar Servew lowered his eyeglass and watched the ship approach with growing tension. Signalling his first mate, the first cry of battle stations seemed to echo across the ship as his crew passed the message.

    "We'll never outrun her, Skipper" rasped his first mate, "they've got the momentum and the wind behind them. And they'll not be leavin' us alone, not with it clear that we're a merchant." Oscar looked over at the old seaman. With his hair and beard a deep grey and his face a craggy outcropping, no-one would mistake him for anything other than a man of the sea. Despite the prospect of imminent death he was, as always, completely unfazed. You could stick Johann in the middle of a hurricane and he would calmly tell you that he'd seen worse. It was however, a reassuring characteristic which made him Oscar's constant companion at sea.

    Oscar turned back to the ship, as Johann continued. "Our only blessin' is that she won' be firing on us either. Not with the prospect of losing the prize." Oscar groaned. Fight and likely die or surrender and go bankrupt. They seemed to be equally damning and both ending in oblivion.

    He wasn't a brave man. He'd chosen these waters as they were reputedly clear of all pirates. As the fourth son of a prominent merchant, he had barely earned his keep with his father and kept riding the thin line between survival and being cast out of the family. Losing his load would ruin him. The Governor of the islands exacted cruel levels of taxes on the "free" cities trading. Even though his father was a very competent trader, between him and Oscar's brothers they barely broke even. Oscar was a dragging anchor on their finances, no matter how hard he tried.

    His sailors hefted cutlasses, climbed into rigging with rifles and ran to heavier deck guns. He cursed his luck. His crew were not combat trained. They barely got him to where he needed to get his cargo. Nervous and agitated he watched the other ship's approach.

    Strangely, it wasn't getting any bigger.

    He blinked and looked again. It was paralleling their course a little ways away. What in the world? As he watched, a small boat launched from the ship flying a white flag. Glancing at Johann, he saw the old seaman quirk one eyebrow. Just one. Oscar was shocked; this was practically the same as another man having a nervous breakdown. This was obviously not something that he had ever seen before.

    Curious, Oscar called orders to stand down but to remain on standby. He would honour a flag of parley as would any man of the sea. The boat came closer, it's three sets of oars making it seem like a sea creature itself. He got a good look at the figure standing at the prow. A large menacing man, swarthy and with a long beard that had a glint of gold in it. With that dark skin, this must be The Raven. Oscar couldn't help repress a shudder. Nobody every came out unharmed when dealing with pirates, but what was he to do? Throw away his crew's life in a meaningless battle? Better to see what their demands were.

    As the boat came alongside, Oscar motioned for a rope ladder to be let down. The minute or so of waiting for the boat's passengers to climb up felt like an eternity. Oscar realized that he was clenching his fists. Trying to relax, he put on his best I-won't-be-intimidated-no-matter-what-you-do face but knowing full well that this just made him look slightly constipated. Finally, the huge bear of a man climbed over the side. Standing up, he was well over six feet and seemingly almost as wide. Twin pistols hung from his belt near his right hand and a huge, almost double-handed cutlass hung from the other. Tan breeches tucked into knee-high brown boots, wide belt with a white shirt and long black jacket completed the image. With a small Raven embroidered on the left breast and on the top of his large three-pointed cap.

    Even Oscar had to admit this was quite dashing, despite the circumstances.

    "Greetings Captain. I am Oscar Servew of the Rising Tide. A peaceful merchant vessel bound for-"

    A bark of a laugh from the man cut him off. "Bah, save your blabberin' for the Cap'n." "The... Captain? You're not the Captain?" Oscar stammered. All he got in reply was a wide grin. Oscar's eyes shot back to the ladder, if this was not the Captain then who the hell was...

    The person who came into sight was definitely not what he was expecting. An appreciative grunt (different to one of annoyance or indifference, he'd been learning) came from Johann. Oscar completely agreed.

    Brushing off sea-spray from her cloak, a beautiful woman stood before him. Like her associate, she wore tight leggings tucked into silver-worked boots. A wide belt held two evidently custom pistols, made to fit a smaller hand. A rapier-like cutlass dangled from the other side. Her white shirt was open at the top, with the same long black jacket embroidered with the Raven, topped with a similar three-pointed hat. Only this was also worked with silver lines. But it was the face that stopped him. Beautiful ivory skin held full pouting red lips and eyes so dark they seemed to be black.

    He suddenly realized that he had been addressed by her.

    "Are you the Captain?"

    "Ye- yes. Me. That's right Captain. I mean, I'm the Captain. Captain Tide of the Rising Pervew. I mean Captain Rising of the Pervew Tide." His traitorous brain joined forces with his traitorous tongue to wage a short but utterly efficient battle to make a complete fool out of him.

    She quirked an eyebrow. "Well when you've finished working out who you are, you can tell me. I am Captain Raven and I'll be relieving you of a third of your belongings."

    This last statement shocked him into the present. His gawked as several things became clear in his mind with frightening speed. The Captain was a woman. The Raven was a woman?! This huge pirate of terrifying aspect was following this slim slip of a girl? This slim slip of a girl was The Raven?

    Before he could gather his wits, she continued.

    "Let's save ourselves some time. Yes, I am a woman. Yes, I am the Raven." She started pacing up and down, her beautiful face becoming slightly flushed as she grew irritated. "Yes, I am the one you have been hearing about. Yes, this is my ship over there and yes I am the most surprising thing that you have EVER SEEN."

    She continued unrelenting. Surprisingly, her companion seemed to wilt slightly as the tirade continued to increase in both volume and anger. The effect was not lost on Oscar; this five and a half foot statuesque woman was intimidating this beast of a man. Gods above, what was happening here?!?

    "And let's get to the real point here. Yes, I bloody well mean business and YES I AM TAKING YOUR BLASTED CARGO!" The last came out as a shout. The huge pirate was visibly shrinking and obviously perturbed. A line creaked above Oscar but no other sound disturbed the scene. Oscar wondered if he had ever heard silence from his crew outside of sleeping.

    She stopped pacing, straightened her jacket and addressed him again. "Unless, of course, you can defeat me in single-combat."

    WHAT?!?!? Nothing of course came out of his mouth. His brain and tongue still laid siege to his wits. He was still flabbergasted.

    She stood tapping her foot.

    "Well?"

    "I... er..." How hard could it be? He wasn't a tall man, but even he topped her by a good 10 inches. His reach had to be an advantage. He was even a fairly accomplished swordsman. The only thing was that glint in her eye.

    A stifled laugh reached his ears. He swung his head round looking for the offender. A crowd of overly-innocent faces confronted him. A little too innocent. Turning back round and closing his eyes his eyes briefly, he realized that his fate was sealed. His crew would never let him live it down if he refused a challenge from a woman that he towered over.

    "I accept."

    A flash of steel. The Raven stood with her sword out ready for his attack. Oscar tossed his cloak aside and drew his own sword. His sailors gathered into a large, loose circle. "What are the terms of-"

    He was cut off as she attacked. Caught off-guard, he frantically parried as he got his feet back under him. This bought him a brief respite, but only briefly. Within seconds he realized he was hopelessly outclassed. Her rapier flashed in the sun. Her attacks were unrelenting and any riposte he attempted was parried while she flowed back into the attack. He was a fit man, but her stamina was total. After each attack sequence she paused, able to deliver the final blow or demand he yield. Yet each time, she gave him that bare half second of recovery time.

    He anxiously thought of some way to get the advantage as he barely parried her last assault. His weight! Of course! Get close and he could force her to the ground. Mustering his remaining strength and energy, he launched a series of desperate attacks pushing forwards and using his size rather than sword to move closer. It was working! Just a little bit more...


    Their swords clashed and held. He was face to face with her now, her angelic face inches from his. If he just pushed more... She had a small smile on her face. He realized he'd been had. Somehow she hooked a leg behind his and pushed, her lower center of gravity enabling her to topple him backwards. Flailing, he lost grip on his sword while gravity gripped him from behind. He crashed to the deck.

    He scrambled to move, but found a gleaming point of steel right before his eyes. He lay there for a minute panting, not sure what to expect next.

    She sheathed her sword and turned to the watching sailors. Oscar didn't get up just in case. As he looked round, he expected jeering or fear or bravado. But they were all just looking at her, a new respect in their eyes.

    She snapped her fingers and the huge pirates scrambled to put down a stool before her on the deck. This was followed immediately by a small, silver-worked cushion which the pirate hurriedly dusted down. He watched her anxiously as she sat, adjusted herself and then gave him a small nod. Oscar could hear his sigh of relief from where he lay, as he backed off.

    "Listen boys. I've been doing this for a while now and no-one takes me seriously until I show up in a ship that would make the Governor himself jealous and then beat the pants off of someone in swordplay. But that's not what I'm about." She gestured to the ship in the distance. "I've got four others like her now. All crewed by free men who have had enough of the oppression that this government is forcing upon us. Men who don't have to live in fear of taxmen taking away their homes or families due to their debts. I need more men like that."

    Oscar looked around. Their faces seemed hungry. He suddenly realized just how much weight the taxes were putting on him. He'd never thought about it that way. The taxes had always been there, they had just been a part of his life. To be able to change that...

    The Raven turned back to him and extended her hand. He grasped it and she pulled him up smoothly, her strength in congruous with her slender frame.

    "So what'll it be Captain? Sail with me? Or back to your financial chains?"

    Which wasn't really a question at all. He looked at Johann. The old sea dog looked back at him.

    And winked.

    Feeling a weight lifting from his shoulders he smiled broadly. As he reached out to shake her hand, cheering erupted from around them.
     
  11. Cho'qomel
    Skink

    Cho'qomel Member

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    Cool stories! I particularly like Crossed Paths for getting an inside to a Saurus' mind, even if I've imagined Saurus more simple-minded myself so far. But then that's exactly the impression that elf had at first. Well played!
     
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  12. Lizards of Renown
    Carnasaur

    Lizards of Renown Well-Known Member

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    Thanks! I consider my entry in the present competition my best work so far and I'll stick it up on this thread as soon as the contest is over!

    (Definitely check out the competition if you like reading stores in Fluff & Stories, there are some really good ones in there)
     
  13. Cho'qomel
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    Cho'qomel Member

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    Just've read the first story of the contest and really enjoyed it. Will definitely read on. I'm curious to find out which is yours when the contest is done.
     
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  14. Lizards of Renown
    Carnasaur

    Lizards of Renown Well-Known Member

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    Ha!

    Well you can read all of them, do your votes and then tell me here which you think is mine. You’ll find out anyways at the end of May and can see if you got it right!

    :D
     
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  15. Lizards of Renown
    Carnasaur

    Lizards of Renown Well-Known Member

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    This was one was tied in first place with @thedarkfourth in the April/May Short Story contest. I really enjoyed writing it, so hopefully you enjoy reading it :D

    THE RITUAL

    Year 1536, Temple City of Hexoatl

    Ca'raag stood in the topmost chamber of the pyramid before the great Tezca’coatl, Mage Priest of the Temple of Chotec.

    Glowing stones lit the chamber, giving an even, bright light through the space and causing the numerous gold artefacts surrounding the palanquin on which the lord sat to sparkle like miniature suns themselves. Ca'raag was unintimidated, this wealth meant nothing to him as a warrior-born. Even after having trekked upwards through the numerous levels of the structure, passing monuments to the Lizardmen's glory and priceless treasures. Standing almost in the center of the floor’s inlaid golden symbol of Chotec, the Sun God, he stood at ease waiting for his lord's command.

    He just wished he knew why he was there.

    The Slann regarded him, large eyes blinking slowly. A skink priest stood to his right with scroll and quill to record any utterance.

    He felt a pressure on his mind and reality... shifted.

    Bounding up the stairs, he weaved to one side to avoid the crashing blow and heaved his double-handed sword horizontally through the daemon's body. The runes on the obsidian sword glowed brightly, showing the intricately devised runes for a split second against the black stone and the daemon exploded into a mist of glowing particles.

    Without pause he hurled himself up the remaining stairs. The daemons had almost reached the Eternity Chamber! A bright, burning rage filled him as he rounded the next corner. He would let no harm come to his lord. Ahead, blood-red daemons turned from a stone door set into the end of the corridor, their blades weeping blood that vanished into sparkling motes as it reached the floor.

    Roaring his defiance he crashed into the beasts, smoting left and right. They were no match for his skill with the blade. One’s head was split in two, its body dissolving. Another daemon’s arm ripped from its body with his off-hand even as his sword impaled the last. As the ectoplasmic remains dripped from his sword, he looked up to find his worst fears confirmed. The Chamber’s door stood open and a red-light flickered from beyond.

    Screaming Chotec's name, feeling the god's fire fill him as it did all true believers, he burst into the room.

    A nightmare.

    The Slann's skink attendants had been torn asunder, rib cages opened and hearts torn out. Their blood covered the walls and sacred gold sunbursts adorning the chamber. The Slann himself was encased in a coruscating, protective shield, but was being pressed to the floor by the assault of a huge, winged figure of red and black. Its whip and axe, runes smouldering in red upon its surface, struck mighty blows against the shield and even as he watched the mage's shield shrank to within inches of its face.

    He took a breath. Even his rage-filled mind could see this would be his end. Committing his soul to He Who Brings Fire, he charged forwards even as the beast's dog-headed, snarling visage turned towards him.

    Their weapons clashed, sparks flying through the chamber and blows were exchanged quick as lightning. One of the monster's strikes opened a large wound on his leg, even as he scored a heavy blow to it's midriff in return. Red ichor dripped from the wound, but its counter-attack smashed him from his feet, his blade flying from his grasp.

    Forcing himself up, he almost fell as he put weight on his wounded leg. Bellowing his defiance, he staggered forwards to rake the beast with claw and tooth until it’s axe head buried itself in his chest. Overwhelmed by pain, he dropped to the floor as the beast loomed over him, seemingly unaffected by the gaping hole in its side.

    As the huge, vermillion claws grasped him, he struggled to snap and bite, to inflict some kind of pain before he expired. The beast grasped his torso and dug its claws into the gaping chest wound, wracking his body with pain. The beast bunched its muscles as it prepared to splay his ribcage open.

    A light built to a rapid crescendo behind the monstrosity, building in intensity until the world was consumed in white. A scream seemed to echo from far away, but of frustration rather than pain.

    It took several minutes for his sight to return, but along with sight came feeling. Agony clouded his thoughts. The beast, though banished, had torn open his ribcage and his lifeblood fled him.

    In his last moments he looked up and found himself face to face with the Slann. Looking into his eyes, an understanding passed between them. Knowing his lord was safe, he left. To find his place in the eternal sun.

    Like he had been told, his spirit joined a stream of light like a spiritual beam of sunlight. Eventually, a ball of bright light hung before him. And he embraced it.

    Ca'raag shook his head. What had that been? As like waking from a dream, all details slipped away from him like a Skink disappearing into a stream. Some kind of battle? The last of the details went, leaving him only with a sense of loss.

    The Skink Priest spoke.

    "You are to be honoured, Ca'raag. You will carry these sacred implements into battle and bring ruin to those who oppose the Great Plan."

    Befuddled, Ca'raag took the proffered obsidian blade and golden-studded armour. "Please inform the Great One that I am honoured and will gladly enact the will of the Old Ones, but... Why me?"

    Wordlessly, the Skink Priest came forwards and, reaching up, took him by the elbow guiding him to back to entrance, Ca'raag looked back at the Slann but he had turned back to regard the large, bejewelled orb in the back wall and paid him no more mind.

    Year -903, Temple City of Hexoatl:

    Hamath reverently lit the pyre of his beloved general, Ca'raag. The Old Blood's body lay on top of the pyre at the very pinnacle of the main Ziggurat of the complex. How fitting, he thought to himself as the flames grew and finally hid the body from view, to be consumed by flames like you were consumed by the fire of life inside you.

    Hamath turned to the assembled Old Bloods and fellow Scar-Veterans who had fought with Ca'raag. For some of them it had been centuries of brotherhood and camaraderie. Pushing down his own emotions, he steeled himself for the final step of the ceremony.

    "HE WHO LIVES WITH FLAMES INSIDE", he intoned, roaring voice echoing across the plaza, "LIVES FOREVER IN THE SUN!"

    As one, all present bowed their heads. Their grief hidden from each other's eyes.

    Below them, in the uppermost chamber of the Ziggurat, Tezca’coatl watched the proceedings through the eyes of his Skink Priest. A single tear coursed down his face as his features slowly transitioned from grief through to determination.

    Turning, he regarded the large orb depicting the God Chotec's eternal sun. Raising his arms, he let the winds of magic flow through into the sphere. Runes sparked to life across its surface, with a silver shimmering light seeming to blossom from its bottom up to a point two-thirds to the top. It was almost full, enough that it was appropriate to start the ritual.

    Nodding to himself, Tezca’coatl increased the flow of magic into the orb. Gradually brightening, the orb became an incandescent circle as it tapped into the ley lines that the city was built over. The light built in intensity and then seemed to fire downwards in a bolt of energy.

    So it begins again... he thought.

    Year -920, Temple City of Hexoatl:

    Xara’la stood at attention. Wondering what in his short career had earned him the honor of a reception with the Mage Priest. He wasn't intimidated by the surroundings as nothing glamorous could intimidate a warrior born.

    He just didn't know why he was there.

    As he looked up into the eyes of the Mage Priest, reality... shifted.

    Bounding up the stairs, he weaved to one side to avoid the crashing blow and heaved his double-handed obsidian sword horizontally through the daemon's body...

    o0o

    The doors closed with a dull thump behind him.

    Scratching his head, he looked down at the golden studded armour and large, black obsidian blade. Somehow after his bizarre daydream, the interview had ended abruptly with the Skink Priest proclaiming that he would bring honor to Children of the Old Ones and presented him the items.

    No matter what he said, the Skink Priest had refused to answer why and the Mage Priest had already moved on to other things. He had been ushered from the room and now stood alone.

    Wondering at his luck, he set off at a rapid pace. His spawn-brother Cwa’tha would never believe he had just been gifted this magnificent armour and weapon.

    Year -457, Temple City of Hexoatl

    Heads bowed in sorrow, the Saurus phalanx entered the outer limits of the Temple City. Although victors in the recent conquest, with the loss of their leader it felt like defeat.

    A Skink Priest met them on the outskirts. "Did you bring the armour and sword?"

    Ula’thur, now the ranking officer of the unit, wordlessly nodded and handed the items to the Skink. He gave no thought to using the items himself, it would only serve to prolong the grief as he would be forever reminded of his Old Blood and friend.

    The very pinnacle of a follower of Chotec, the remainder of the strike force owed their lives to him. The battle had been all but won, until the last of the cursed rat-men had enacted a foul ritual and brought a Vermin Lord into the world. The battle lines had been ripped to pieces by the Daemon’s surprise assault. It looked like there was no stopping the thing, until Xara’la had roared his defiance and charged the creature. Even as it struck fatal wounds upon him, the Old Blood had first lanced his sword through the beasts heart and then with tooth and claw ripped its head from its shoulders.

    The battle had been won, but at great cost.

    Steeling himself, Ula’thur turned back to his comrades and gestured towards the distant central pyramid. There could be nothing but the highest burial honor for their general. Immolation atop the temple of Chotec.

    o0o

    The Skink Priest entered the chamber and paced across the golden sunburst set in the floor. He didn't even look at the Mage Priest, who sat staring at the golden, sunlike orb.

    Hefting the sword, he placed it in the statue's hand and lifted the armour over it's head. Standing back, he adjusted the armour until it sat perfectly. Then he turned and sat to wait.

    Eventually, his master stirred.

    "Zilith."

    "I have returned master, the sword and armour are secured."

    "Good. The orb is full now so the ritual can be enacted. Go and make exact note of those that emerge from the spawning pools today. I want you to watch them closely over the next few years and watch for one-"

    "Who shows fire, passion and promise. Yes Great One, I remember."

    With that Zilith left the chamber, leaving the Lord to his contemplations. He knew that he would sleep again, as the ritual to bring the Saurus back through the ley lines was very taxing.

    Lord Tezca’coatl watched the doors close behind the Skink Priest.

    Standing, he turned towards the statue. He had had it commissioned centuries ago after his most trusted protector and friend had given his life for him. The likeness was uncanny, but that was the benefit of being able to give the Skink artisan the exact mental picture of how the warrior had looked.

    The statue, especially with the sword and armour, was eerily life-like. It's entire countenance speaking of passion and fire.

    "Soon, old friend," the Slann whispered, "soon we will meet again."

    Turning back to the sacred sun artifact, he braced himself and channeled his full might through the orb. The ritual culminating with a blast of light vanishing downwards.

    o0o

    The lesser Skink Priests followed Zilith into the underground spawning chamber of the temple. As they entered the space, the pools, normally perfectly tranquil and dark, were already churning and glowing as eldritch powers stirred the depths of the liquids. One by one, Saurus climbed steadily from the waters to be met and blessed by the attending priests.

    The priests carried out their blessings in a workmanlike fashion, rapidly blessing all 300 warriors that clambered from the pools. Their curious questions about their high priest’s ability to predict the spawnings had long since been extinguished after repeatedly being ignored. Now they simply appreciated the efficiency by which they could perform their duties.

    Blessed, the 300 warriors were led from the chamber into their barracks beyond, their part in this phase of the Great Plan now begun.
     
  16. Imrahil
    Carnasaur

    Imrahil Well-Known Member

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    I really loved this one. The fact that there is a circle in it: there is always a new hero to fight for the good cause.

    What I also liked was that you started the next circle slightly chances layer then the one before. So you got More aware of the process.

    Needless to say I voted for this story as well ;)

    Good on you to finish tied for first
    Congrats

    Grrr, Imrahil
     
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  17. Lizards of Renown
    Carnasaur

    Lizards of Renown Well-Known Member

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    Dank u wel, my friend! High praise! :D
     
  18. Imrahil
    Carnasaur

    Imrahil Well-Known Member

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    Lol :D

    Grrr, Imrahil
     
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