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Fiction The Lore Section of the Great Library: Lord Agragax's Short Story Contest Entries

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl, Apr 30, 2020.

  1. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Slann

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Eleventh Spawning

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    Hello once again lizards, and welcome to this new thread that lists my full collection of Short Story Contest Entries. Having seen that the approach of producing a new thread to cover each short story I've written is not really that feasible, I've changed to everyone else's approach to produce a single thread that contains my entire portfolio.

    Like on my painting blogs, I will include a contents page to make it easier for any readers to find a particular story:
    Page 1: July-August 2018 - present entries
    Page 2:
    Page 3:

    In the case of entries with existing threads, I will simply place a link to that thread here, but in the case of all subsequent entries I will include the full stories on this thread.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
  2. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Slann

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Eleventh Spawning

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  3. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Slann

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Eleventh Spawning

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    My entry in the October-November 2018 Contest: The Visitor, with extended edition (my original draft). This entry reached third place in its Contest, which is decent, but I was a little miffed that I was knocked down a place from my previous record.
     
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  4. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Slann

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Eleventh Spawning

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    My entry in the April-May 2019 Contest, The Doom of Vanir Rockfist, with another extended edition. This one returned me to my record of 2nd place, which is curious given that both it and One Man's Meal were written with a Dwarf protagonist and turned out especially popular. Perhaps I've discovered my forte ;)
     
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  5. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Slann

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Eleventh Spawning

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    I took a break in the July-August 2019 Contest as I just couldn't think of a full story in time, but returned in full force in the October-November 2019 Contest with 'the Twisted Reflection':
    The Twisted Reflection

    Borg-qar marched at the head of the implacable Saurus phalanx of the Spears of Quetzl, who themselves had been the first to enter the gateway battered down by an Ancient Stegadon, and led his flawlessly-disciplined Saurus up the main street. All around them civilians of the Xho’za’khanx were panicking and fleeing, yet the Saurus were no simple predators. There was no honour in killing such wretched creatures, especially as such actions would bring further delay to their search for the Twenty-Seventh Great Plaque of Chotec. This precious artefact had been accidentally translocated out of Borg-qar’s Temple City by an inexperienced Skink Priest. It had then disappeared from the location it had been transported to when the City’s Priesthood found it, for it had materialised at a point beyond the enchanted marshes that protected the city from trespassers, and of course it had soon been discovered and carried off by opportunistic Xho’za’khanx like a pack of wild Huagerdons. The Saurus Lord of that Temple City, for the last Slann in the city had perished centuries ago, had instructed Borg-qar to retrieve the Great Plaque no matter the cost, for the Sun God was the prime deity of that city, and to defy his wish and abandon one of his sacred plaques would be an irredeemable offence.

    The mass of fleeing citizens scattered into alleyways and alcoves as a cavalcade of plate-armoured Knights thundered down the main street, lances lowered, but all Borg-qar had to do was bellow the command to receive their charge, and immediately his warriors tensed, keeping their shields braced against their chests so the impact of the cavalry charge would not shatter their arms, and raising their spears so the Xho’za’khanx riders would be propelled by their steeds directly onto the lethal iron barbs. Borg’qar immediately raised his own shield to deflect the lance of the rider heading straight for him as the Knights hit home, the point of the weapon embedding itself into the scaly hide of his shield, before swinging his jagged club around in an arc to sever the Knight’s leg at the knee. With a cry the maimed Xho’za’khanx fell from his steed as he lost the stability of the stirrup his lower leg had been in, landing with a clatter upon the stone cobbles. He immediately reached up with his left arm to release his remaining foot from the other stirrup, which had got caught in the fall, but this distraction left him powerless to escape the overhead blow that the Oldblood then dealt to finish him off.

    His opponent slain, Borg’qar turned to find that the rest of the enemy cavalry had been repelled by the spears of his warriors. While many lay dead or wounded upon the cobbled road, a few remaining Knights could be seen galloping back up the street, most likely to regroup further on up the road. If the Saurus did not keep moving, the warm-bloods would return, and in greater numbers.

    “Search the buildings,” Borg’qar ordered simply to his regiment, who immediately began to disperse to ransack some of the nearby buildings in their search for the Plaque.

    Borg’qar himself made his way over to an especially old, crooked-looking house with a front wall that slanted forward so that it looked as if it would fall flat upon its front at any moment. Forcing the door open, he shoved his way into a poky hall. The Oldblood snorted in disgust at the stench that permeated the room, which seemed to be a mix of the natural odour of the Xho-za-khanx and that of what could only have been defined as herbs, although none that the Priests of his Temple City would ever have heard of. The house was poorly lit, but the Oldblood could see strangely-coloured lights coming from the top of a small wooden staircase, and hear the voice of a warm-blood chanting in his crude language:

    Ovren die Pordal zur werled au die oddar zeede
    Veren die vru Emprah durn alzeede
    Begonnen wit die Empire, guten-tag die Imperium,
    Ovren die duur die Immaterium!


    Ignoring the mumbo-jumbo, Borg-qar rifled through the lower level of the hovel and, finding no trace of his prize, stumped up the frail wooden steps, splintering what was left of the banister into matchsticks with his tail, and encountered the source of the illuminations. The Xho-za-khanx wizard who had been reciting the phrases had reached the peak of his ritual - what had previously been a flickering swirl of multicoloured lights was now a circular portal. All around the cramped room were assorted phials, jars and boxes containing all number of different ingredients, but it was what was hanging upon the wall to the left that made Borg’qar clench his fists in simmering rage.

    Upon that wall, supported by metal hooks underneath it, was the Twenty Seventh Plaque of Chotec, slightly chipped but otherwise intact. It had been this wretch and his cronies who had abducted it from where that puddle-brain of a Skink Priest had teleported it.

    Vhoo art du? Vhat du dewing eer?” Borg-qar was interrupted in his thoughts now by the sorcerer, who was shocked to see the Saurus standing right in the middle of the doorway to his workroom. He, however, had no time to say anything else as the Oldblood then turned and swatted him away with one great sweep of his club, the Xho-za-khanx flying into the right-hand wall and slumping to the ground, a massive gash in his chest where the club had killed him instantly.

    His enemy pulverised, Borg-qar then turned to retrieve the Twenty Seventh Plaque, but as he attempted to march over and gently pick it up, he felt himself being…dragged backwards. He turned to smash whoever was subjecting him to such a humiliation, but there was nobody there.

    Except the portal.

    Borg-qar dug his claws into the wooden floor, but the magical force of the portal continued to drag him ever backwards, away from the Plaque. He began to feel a tingling sensation in the tip of his tail as it disappeared into the portal, which then rose up through his body until he was completely engulfed, whereupon he sped along, spiralling round and round along a tunnel which shone in every colour of the jungle both separately and all at once.

    Even for a toughened Saurus Oldblood who had fought and bludgeoned individuals from every lesser race the Old Ones had created, and a good few from those that they had not, the experience was very disorientating. What was worse was that this portal that subjected him to such torture was a foe he could not defeat. No matter how many times he swung at the edges of the tunnel with his club, it simply passed through magical...stuff.

    Finally, with absolutely no warning whatsoever, Borg’qar was spat out of the other end of the vortex, he flew several feet and came sliding to a halt on a flat surface of dry earth. He gradually got to his feet, returned his club to its holder on his back, and shook himself of the dust that had coated his scales, relieved at least to finally be somewhere mundane again. However, mundane as this place was, it was nothing like the world he knew.

    The buildings were the first thing Borg’qar noticed - buildings of shining white stone and riven with great arched windows with multicoloured glass, and crasftsmanship that almost rivalled that carved by the Skink stonemasons back in his home city.

    Haltea, monstro!” a warm-blood voice suddenly yelled in his direction.

    Borq’qar spun round, and saw a pair of Xho-za-khanx strutting towards him. They were taller than any Xho-za-khanx he had ever seen before, and were well-armoured, even more so than the knights that had charged his regiment back in the town of wooden buildings. They brandished long metal weapons that Borg-qar recognised as firearms, akin to the smoky, unreliable weapons used by the warm-bloods defending the walls of the wooden town, but were longer and more streamlined in their construction. Were these soldiers created by the Old Ones, possibly intended to supplement the Saurus but never distributed to the Temple Cities accordingly?

    Such beliefs were soon quelled as the two warm-bloods each placed one of their hands firmly upon Borq-qar’s shoulders, evidently threatening him to come with them, to where Borg-qar did not know. All he did know was that these Xho’za’khanx would have known that the First were friends, not foes, if they had been designed to obey the Old Ones’ commands.

    Cum quet avos, monstro, tuas ondro areste!” ordered the warm-blood to his right.

    Nos sont marinii Imperium, et nos cognum ni fearr!” spat the warm-blood to his left.

    Both of the armoured Xho’za’khanx hauled upon Borg’qar’s arms to drag him away, but the Oldblood stood his ground and instinctively wrenched his right hand free, using it to deliver an overarm punch to the warm-blood on the left. As his fist came into contact with the plate armour of the recipient, Borg’qar felt the innate toughness and firmness of the metal as it refused to cave in to his strength, but his ferocity still inflicted great enough an impact to send the armoured soldier sprawling, at the same time tripping up the other with his muscular tail. He drew his club again and raised it to behead the one he had punched, but he then heard a loud crack and felt a sudden, stabbing pain in his back. The second warm-blood that he had tripped had calmly got up, aimed his gun and fired while Borg’qar had been distracted. The shot had missed his internal organs but had wedged itself into his body somewhere that was still excruciating. Clenching his teeth, the Oldblood whipped round and swung his club in an arc downward, slamming into the first warm-blood’s shoulder. Such a strike should have killed such an innately weak creature, but the thick armour this soldier was wearing meant the spikes of the club only just penetrated it and jabbed into the Xho-za-khanx’s shoulder, rather than cleaving halfway through his chest. The injured warm-blood flinched, but hefted his gun and swung the butt around as a club of his own, catching Borg-qar on the side of the head. Normally this would have done nothing to halt the Oldblood’s rampage, but, weakened as he was from his wound, this was enough to cause Borg’qar to slump to the ground and pass out.

    When he awoke, Borg’qar found himself within a cage barely tall enough for him to stand in, with a cacophony of shouts from warm-blood voices all around him. The cage he was in lay at the centre of a vaulted chamber, surrounded by a circular amphitheatre populated with wrinkled Xho’za’khanx clad in eccentric-looking robes who were wheezing and groaning amongst themselves. The wounds he had suffered from the armoured warm-bloods were still painful, but were no longer bleeding and had been crudely stitched with thread. He tried to force apart the bars of his prison, but they had been fashioned from the same metal as the thick armour of the warm-blood gunmen, and it was no use.

    Arese poro le Imperator!” a warm-blood voice suddenly yelled out, and all the Xho’za’khanx sitting upon the benches arose as a figure clad in golden armour, evidently the ruler of these warm-bloods, strode into the stone pavilion raised above the other wooden seats and sat down upon a golden throne adorned with eagles and the same arch designs as could be seen in the windows of the chamber. A deathly silence fell upon the chamber as the golden figure began to speak and the wrinkled warm-bloods below him sat down again and quietened in reverence.

    Es Imperator, denucio vos por monstro et abominatus. Par le legalitii de cet domina, setecio ad mortem par gladiatoris. Si gagnus, liberatas, si vanquis, mortas.

    Of course, Borg’qar could not understand a thing the golden warm-blood was saying, but if he could, he would have known that he was being sentenced to death in arena combat. After this, Borg-qar’s cage was carried out of a grand arched doorway underneath the stone pavilion by a couple of shrunken Xho-za-khanx assistants, and dumped upon the back of a large wagon alongside several other cages. The Oldblood recognised several of the False First and a Dro’ka’khanx in those cages, alongside other creatures he had never seen in his world. The wagon was then driven along a paved street, along both sides of which crowds of warm-blood citizens had gathered to hurl insults and more solid objects at him and the others that were caged. As much as Borg’qar wanted to show these petulent Xho-za-khanx the true extent of the power of a faithful servant of the Old Ones, such acts would be futile.

    After several minutes of being jolted about and bombarded with warm-blood refuse, Borg-qar saw that they were heading for a collection of assorted holes in the ground, around which yet more of the Xho-za-khanx citizens had gathered and were cheering as they spotted the wagon’s approach. They applauded even more when the wagon stopped beside the first cavernous pit and two of the hunched warm-bloods driving it clambered into the back and opened the door to Borg-qar’s cage, tipping it forward over the side of the wagon to send him tumbling in.

    Staggering to his feet and dusting himself down after his second unpleasant landing of the day, Borg-qar heard the braying laughter of the Xho-za-khanx spectators as they squinted down at him from the edges of the pit, and now knew in his bones that they were eagerly anticipating his death, and had put him in here to fight. He steeled himself as he heard the creaking groan of a prison door on one side of the pit being raised, but faltered as he heard a familiar roar burst from the open doorway.

    The roar of a Carnosaur.

    His Carnosaur.

    This one came joint 3rd as 'The Visitor' did, continuing the my-Dwarf-stories-seem-to-be-better trend.

    This contest is the only contest so far where I thought the winner didn't deserve it, to be honest, as the theme was 'Alternative Settings', and amidst a load of entries with really wacky and original storylines and settings, the winner instead followed one of the oldest tricks in the book and based their story entirely around the transition between Fantasy and Age of Sigmar. However, it was still a well-written story to give it some credit, and I'm not one to make much of a fuss so I left it be.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
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  6. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Slann

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Eleventh Spawning

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    My entry in the January-February 2020 Contest, 'the Visitor's Revenge', an intentional sequel to the October-November 2018 entry:
    The Visitor's Revenge

    Lord Therizinuital had been feeling more and more uneasy for the past several months. He knew that an old enemy was on its way, and that it was fated to arrive at the city of Oxylan upon the fourth moon of the twelfth month.

    What made him especially anxious was that the fourth moon of the twelfth month was today.

    He knew not what the evil was, whether it was the hordes of Chaos, the vile Ratmen or the barbarous Greenskins, all that he did know was that it was intended to destroy Oxylan today, and that even he, with his almighty Slann wisdom and knowledge, would be unable to save it.

    His fears had continually interrupted his meditations, and after a couple of months he had stopped eating. Naturally his Skink attendants had been consistently trying to force-feed him Itxi Grubs and other treats, but he grew weaker and weaker with every passing day. What was worse, their closed, tiny minds could not find anything wrong with him, which made them fret all the more.

    Every hour, every minute, every second felt like an eon to Therizinuital as he continually spent his energies probing every inch of the world and the universe around it for any sign of the prophesied destroyer, to no avail.

    It was then, however, that he detected what he had been searching for. Some sort of metal ship, soaring high in the sky above the jungles, was now descending from the heavens. A ship of a design that Therizinuital had seen only once before - when the Automaton came.

    Yet this one was bigger.

    Far bigger.

    In his mind's eye, the Slann watched as the ship silently landed in a jungle clearing not far from the city, and many Automata disembarked, at least a score of them if not more. Once the last had emerged, they immediately turned and advanced towards the city, merciless and full of purpose. They turned out of the jungle onto the road leading to the main gate of the city as a column two abreast, and marched toward it in full sight of the sentries there. Immediately the alarm was sounded, and Skink sentries hurled poisoned javelins down upon the Automata, yet they walked through them as a Saurus warrior would walk through rain.

    The wooden gates of the Temple-City provided similarly little opposition to the metal monsters - even though their swords and double-handed scythes looked to be made of metal no different than the gold that covered the city and its protectors, these weapons hewed through the thick jungle logs the gate was composed of in barely a minute. A battalion of Saurus had already mustered just behind the gate to take the fight to the invaders, but Therzinuital knew that they were doomed. He saw that his Saurus legions fought valiantly, battering and denting the Automata with their clubs, but with their lethal weaponry the Automata ruthlessly and efficiently carved their way through the serried ranks of Lizardmen.

    Even as the last Saurus toppled to the ground with his head parted from his shoulders, however, the Automata spent no time celebrating their victory - this was what unnerved the Slann the most. Even the Daemons of Chaos, offspring of the Great Catastrophe and the most reviled foes of the Lizardmen, knew how to celebrate if they had prevailed. These, on the other hand, comprehended only a cold, unrelenting discipline that matched that of the Saurus, yet each of those Automata was stronger than five Saurus put together - in short, the perfect fighting machines.

    Despite this, Therizinuital was not completely despondent. Even as he watched the Automata march further and further into his Temple City virtually unscathed, despite continual assaults from the defenders, he had expected this to happen. When the first Automaton had arrived, it had done just the same, and the Slann now knew that this lack of adaptation in strategy could be the one way he could defeat these monsters once and for all. Just as before, the Automata were making a beeline for the Great Pyramid of Huanchi, where the Slann himself resided in his personal meditation chamber, yet this was where Therizinuital had deployed his secret weapons.

    The first of these was a very recent development - after the first Automaton's assault upon Oxylan, Therizinuital had instructed his Priests to begin researching the qualities of a mineral first discovered with the arrival of an asteroid that had landed nearby. This stone seemed to resonate with the power of the storms themselves, so the Priests had named it 'Celestite' in honour of its origins and nature. What they had found out was that it could certainly have been interpreted as a gift from the Old Ones in preparation for the trials that lay ahead, for if a Lizardman weapon was tipped with this mineral it was discovered that it could slice through virtually anything with a single strike - a single Saurus equipped with such a weapon would be able to cut down the thickest rain forest trees, and even stone would crack significantly with a blow from it. If anything mundane could cause significant damage to the Automata, it was highly likely that this would do the trick. However, there was only enough Celestite to tip the weapons of Therizinuital's Temple Guard, and as his elite guardians, they were given priority access to the stone.

    It was these Temple Guard who were now alerted to the presence of the Automata as they strode up the steps of the Great Pyramid. Those in the front ranks raised their shields to protect their comrades with double-handed weapons behind from any incoming missiles, yet the Slann knew it was not missiles they needed to be concerned about, for when the leading pair of Temple Guard descended the steps to engage the Automata, instead of their halberds ringing uselessly off the monsters' metal bodies, the Saurus' weapons scythed clean through them, the Celestite sending crackling bolts of energy to frazzle their foes' metal innards as they did so. As the foremost pair of Automata toppled listlessly from the Pyramid steps, their sparking corpses crashing to the bottom, those behind them suddenly acted more defensively, using their shields to protect their bodies from these new weapons - these seemed to possess some sort of energy technology that deflected any Celestite halberd that came into contact with them, granting the Automata a measure of protection that meant they were still able to gain the upper hand over their opponents, who had no protection against their swords and scythes.

    As a result, the relentless band of Automata was gradually pushing their way up the Pyramid steps, felling Temple Guard after Temple Guard with carefully calculated strikes and repelling their foes' attacks with their shields. On occasion a Temple Guard would decapitate an Automaton, briefly halting the advance of the rest, but the enemy were just too skilled for the Temple Guard's new weapons to turn the tide. Therizinuital estimated they would make it to the top in less than five minutes, so the Slann prepared his second line of defense - his loyal Skink Priests, each a potent sorcerer in his own right. In his paranoia, Therizinuital had ordered the city's full council of priests to stay with him all day and all night in readiness for when the evil arrived, for he knew how magic was one of the few things that could harm these creatures. Knowing that their species would send more of their kind to kill him after he had defeated their first emissary, the Slann knew that concentrating all the city's magic users in the one place the Automata intended to visit would give the servants of the Old Ones the best possible chance of destroying them once and for all.

    So it was that when the dozen remaining Automata got to the top of the Pyramid's steep stairway and entered the chamber of their target, Therizinuital was ready for them, yet when he set his eyes upon them the Slann felt a stint of genuine surprise - the lead Automaton was the exact same one that he had slain last time. He recognised the creature's more embellished shoulder ornamentation and the golden symbols adorning its head and chest. Even scorch marks from the fireball he had used to slay the first Automaton were present.

    Somehow, these creatures had conquered death.

    Somehow, they had learned to resurrect themselves.

    Judging from the time between the two attacks, Therizinuital knew that this must have taken some time to occur, or otherwise they would have attacked sooner, but the fact they could resurrect at all meant that he had to reconsider how the children of the Old Ones should take on this threat - it was uncertain if the Celestite would prevent such resurrections or not, so he would have to prepare for if the latter was the truth, but that would have to wait. Even if they could not truly stop them, he and his Priests could at least delay their inevitable campaign of invasion against Lustria.

    So it was that he gave the telepathic order to attack, and immediately his Priests began to bombard the Automata with lightning from their outstretched hands. As expected those Automata with shields deflected the bolts, but a couple of them instead hit their comrades behind who were unable to do so, and these Automata were wracked with electrical energy, their internals shorting out and their weapons dropping to the floor. The others immediately advanced forward, beheading several Priests closer to them, but the Slann was undaunted. He launched a gout of flame from an outstretched hand at the first Automaton, who deflected it with his shield but was pinned in place by it. With another portion of his mind the Slann channeled power through his most trusted Priest, Izqua, and soon instead of releasing lightning the Skink was manipulating the compounds within the skin of the Automaton nearest him, compelled by skills that were not his own. Before his very eyes the surprised priest had turned that Automaton's entire body into molten metal, its internal components incinerated by the heat of its own liquid carcass.

    Where most seemingly deceased Automata disappeared in an alien green light after a while, this one remained where it was, the Slann noticed - maybe this was how they could be stopped from returning to life.

    Such a distraction was fleeting, yet it also proved crucial, for while the Slann's mind was preoccupied for that scant amount of time, he did not see one Automaton swing its keen-edged blade and sink it deep into the side of Therizinuital's blubbery neck.

    His lifeblood pouring down his body and his mind now reeling, Therizinuital spasmed in extreme agony. His expansive mind immediately shifted focus from gaining more knowledge how to defeat the Automata to the need to transmit the knowledge he had to another Slann, one that could send it all across the Geomantic Web so that all Lizard-kind would be prepared for this insidious new threat. While his most devoted Skink Priests were now bombarding the Automaton with lightning to keep it from finishing their master off, Therizinuital channeled much of his remaining energy into contacting the nearest Slann to him, a Second Generation Slann who governed the Temple City of Hexoatl many miles away.

    "I am here, Thirdling," Mazdamundi mentally spoke reassuredly to Therizinuital, "tell me all that you know."

    "They are coming...the C'Tan's children are coming...Metal Lore and Celestite can kill them, nothing else can..." Theriznuital responded weakly, "Tell the others, before it is too late..."

    But before he could utter any more, the Automaton swung again, almost completely severing the Third Generation Slann's head.

    "You know what to do..." Therizinuital whispered telepathically to the distressed Izqua beside him before the last inklings of his soul faded from him completely.

    As his master died, Izqua reached to the heavens, and enacted the final ritual to ensure that the Automata would never get out of Oxylan alive.

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

    Even as the Automata finished off the last of the Priests, and began to venture into the temple's chambers to search for intelligence upon the hated gods of these savages, they were powerless to defeat the comet that was diverted from its orbit down to the planet below, and obliterated the Temple City of Oxylan and all its inhabitants.

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

    Many millions of miles away, back upon the homeworld of the Lychguard sent to Oxylan, their Stasis-Crypts buzzed into life in the attempt to return their charges to life.

    Yet these industrious whirring turned into bleeps of distress, as all that appeared within each crypt was an assortment of burnt, battered and melted parts that not even the living metal of the Necrons could repair.

    This one came joint 4th, which is my worst performance yet, but there were a heap of other especially good entries in this Contest, so it lost to deserved winners.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
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  7. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Slann

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Eleventh Spawning

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    My entry in the April-May 2020 Contest, 'The Return of the King':
    The Return of the King


    The Slann council were in session.

    Each telepathically linked to every other, they discussed the events occurring in the Realms below in their orbiting Temple-Ship.

    "The Conqueror has escaped," murmured Lord Azquotl, the eldest Slann present, in his mind, "And sooner than expected. This poses a serious threat to our plans."

    "Although we cannot see the Conqueror as he is no longer corporeal, we can prevent him from returning to the physical world," spoke Lord Ouboratl.

    "We have but one course of action," Lord Azquotl resolved, “Have our Saurus cohorts more meticulously supervise the Fourth Race populations here, and kill any who are performing a ritual. We cannot let the Conqueror return."

    The assembled Slann all nodded slowly in agreement.

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

    “Boy, do you hear me?”

    Khadir woke suddenly as he heard a loud voice rumble this question.

    He peered around the darkened room of his little house in the burgeoning town of Lybalma, but he could see nobody sufficiently awake to have spoken to him just now, only his wizard Master,Abazzar, snoring loudly in his own bed across the room. Thinking it was all a dream, he settled back down to sleep.

    “You are trying my patience!” The voice rang out again, jolting him awake once more.

    This time Khadir spoke a question of his own, suitably quietly to avoid waking his master.

    “Who are you?”

    “You dare to ask the True King his name?” The voice growled loudly, before reluctantly quietening down and commenting, “At least, though, it seems you have a voice after all.”

    It sounded as if it was coming from... inside his head. Was he surethat this wasn’t all just a dream? Well, regardless, he had to play along, because the voice would continue to shout at him all night if he didn’t.

    “I am... most sorry, True King, sire,” he replied courteously, “But I didnot expect to become host to your fine company at this time of night.”

    “You have an eloquent tongue on you,” the King of Kings commented, “An especially desirable trait for a Grand Vizier.”

    “Grand Vizier? I can never hope to reach such a position,” Khadir confessed humbly.

    “You will not if you continue to study under that wheedling old fool,” The True King commented with reference to Abazzar, “But if you assist me I will reward you with everything you could ever want. I am in need of someone to assist me in an especially complex ritual. I chose you for the task because I sense boundless potential in you. I am giving you a chance to escape the monotonous destiny currentlyin front of you, and to build a better one for everyone here. The choice is yours.”

    Khadir had never really enjoyed learning under the cranky old Abazzar’s tutelage, and if there was ever a chance that he could berid of him, this was it.

    “Yes, I will help you, my liege,” he eventually thought.

    “Good. Now, there are many magical ingredients I need you tocollect. Do not fret if you have never used them before, I will guide you with my ancient wisdom...”

    The True King then proceeded to rattle off so many names of chemicals and substances that Khadir just couldn’t stay awake, and the young apprentice fell asleep with the booming voice of the True King echoing and fading, as if into the distance.


    The next morning, Khadir was rudely awoken by Abazzar hollering into his ear at the top of his irritating voice, his usual wake-up call. He couldn’t hear the True King anymore - maybe he had dreamed it all in the night.

    “What are you doing still lying about here like a drunken camel?” The wizard screeched, “I got started in my work three hours ago! Come on, come on!”

    Hurriedly the apprentice flopped out of bed and got dressed into his robes, with his master chivying him on all the time.

    “Finally,” Abazzar breathed, “Now, before you begin your studies today, you will need to pick up the following ingredients from the market...”

    The wizard proceeded to list a quantity of substances that Khadir was prompted to write down, before shoving him out of the door and slamming it shut before he could realise that he even had a job to do. Sighing, the apprentice then turned to the left and trudged along the sandy street that led to the town square. Already there were quantities of people who had arrived to buy and sell goods at the market. Stalls with awnings that were as colourful as the clothes of the folk who manned them were dotted all around the plaza and the great golden statue of Sigmar that stood proud at its centre. Khadir had no idea about who Sigmar was, only that he was revered by the majority of the town. Around the statue there stood several Saurus, strange lizard-folk from another Realm, as motionless as the statue itself. Khadir noticed one particularly bulky Saurus turn its cold-blooded gaze onto him, its vertically-slotted pupils looking as if they were able to search his very soul for the secrets he kept from the world.

    Presently he arrived at the stall owned by Bashir, the resident apothecary. The portly gentleman sat contentedly in a chair that barely supported his weight, enjoying the heat of a particularly pleasant patch of sunlight that teased its way beneath the awning.

    “Ah, Khadir!” he welcomed in his booming voice, “come for some more of my fine produce, eh?”

    “Hello Bashir, that was my intention,” the young apprentice replied curtly as he rifled in the pockets of his robe for the list of potion and spell ingredients that Abazzar required. After a minute or so he found it unfolded it and examined it.

    “First I would like some dried Maw-Krusha Claw,” he read out, before a deafening roar suddenly burst its way into his mind.

    “What are you doing?” The True King growled at the top of his voice.

    Great, it hadn’t been a dream.

    “I was just...getting the ingredients you required for the ritual, my king,” he replied in his mind hurriedly.

    “Do not think you can sway me with little white lies, boy!” The True King reprimanded, “If you had been paying attention to my requirements last night, I think you will find the first ingredient was Carrion Sinew!”

    “Perhaps, my liege, it would be prudent to purchase the ingredients my master requested in addition to those you wanted,” Khadir thought hurriedly, “It would help to prevent the arousal of suspicion.”

    “Very well,” the True King relented after a moment of contemplation, “But make sure you purchase every single substance I personally required, as we agreed. I do not take kindly to dissention.

    “Are you all right, young man?”

    This next question brought Khadir back to the physical world. He looked up and saw Bashir with a concerned look upon his face, holding the pot that would serve to hold Khadir’s purchases.

    “Yes...yes, I’m fine, thank you,” he replied, before asking, “The next thing I would like is some Carrion Sinews.”

    It took most of the morning for Khadir to procure not just Abazzar’s requirements, but also those of the True King. To make it easier to hide the latter from Abazzar, Khadir had Bashir place the True King’s requirements into a separate pot, saying that those ingredients needed to be stored in an especially dry place to disguise their actual purpose.

    On his way home, Khadir once again walked past the Saurus lurking around the statue of Sigmar.

    “I’d advise you be especially wary of these creatures,” The True Kingspoke into his mind, “They will kill for reasons that are both beyond and below the understanding of you and even I.”

    When Khadir got back to the house, he quickly gave the impatient Abazzar the jar containing the ingredients he needed, but was careful to hide the other pot beneath his bed, while his master was fussing over his newest acquisitions.

    “Wait until after dark before performing the ritual,” The True King commanded, “I will guide you.”


    So Khadir did just that, continuing his studies under Abazzar throughout the rest of the day, and waiting until his master was sound asleep the following night before making his move. When he did so, he quietly lifted the pot full of ingredients out from beneath his bed, and left the house as stealthily as he could. The marketplacewas empty. Relief welling up inside him, Khadir quietly made his way over to the plinth upon which the statue had been installed, picked out each of the ingredients from the jar and laid them out in front of him on the stone steps, before reciting the words that the True King had told him to speak.

    “Great King of a world now lost, and humiliated by a traitor’s hand, by Ptra’s eternal judgement, I grant you a second chance!”

    At these words, he used all his power to summon magical flames to consume each of the commodities laid upon the dais. Each flamethen was drawn by some force into the statue.

    As this occurred, pillars of blinding light surrounded him and many Saurus immediately materialised, brutal-looking clubs in hand, but even as they closed on the young apprentice, the statue’s metal features began to meld and change. The representation of Sigmar’s mighty storm-hammer elongated and transform into a blade at the business-end. Primitive-looking robes warped into a far grander tunicand wrappings, and Sigmar’s bushy beard melted away, a thin, pointed beard replacing it at the end of his chin. The face of the statue became sharper and more gaunt. Lastly, the golden construct began to move, raising one great leg off its podium and stepping onto the ground, before doing the same with the other. Initially it moved in erratic jerks, as though it struggled to get its joints working again after standing still for so long, but soon it moved more smoothly as it bellowed a terrible roar and swung its blade into the ranks of Saurus, bisecting several in an instant and causing them all to fade into stardust. The others all surrounded the great statue, but it lay about them unperturbed, crushing some with its giant feet and smiting more with its blade, which burned with a searing white light.

    Amidst the commotion, terrified townspeople emerged from their houses to see what all the noise was about, and fled when they sawthe colossal statue moving. The only person who did not run was Abazzar, who stood before the statue defiantly.

    “Melt at my words, O great calamity, for metal breaks its bonds at every syllable of my speech!” The wizard yelled, but the statue did nothing of the sort, and with a frightened squeal Abazzar was crushed beneath one gilt foot.

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

    Lord Azquotl was becoming ever more concerned.

    “The Conqueror has awoken. Our cohorts are powerless against him,” he murmured telepathically.

    “Return our cohorts to the Temple Ship, there is only one thing left to do,” he instructed the lesser Slann in his audience, and as they did so, he reached out into the cosmos, and used all his strength to dowhat the Great Plan dictated him to.

    “Not even the Conqueror will be able to resist the unbridled might of the heavens,” the Fifth Generation Slann intoned confidently.

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

    The True King was perplexed when the puny reptilians he was crushing now disappeared into thin air before he could kill them, an act of cowardice against all the rules of warfare he had learned when ruling his kingdom in the World-That-Was.

    Now, however, he had more pressing matters to worry about. Cries of fear from the townspeople prompted him to turn to the direction in which they were pointing. A meteorite was descending from the sky, straight towards Lybalma. If it hit, innocents from miles around would perish.

    The great statue turned and hefted his blade, awaiting the comet’s arrival and chanting prayers in a voice nobody but himself could hear.

    “By Ptra, by Neru, by Tahoth, by Khsar, by Djaf and by Usirian, give me the strength to protect my new kingdom!”

    As the comet passed through Ghur’s atmosphere and surged downtoward the True King, the statue stood firm. With a roar the statue swung his weapon back in both hands, channelled all his energy into it and...

    ...deflected the great comet back up into the skies, with a deafening boom that forced Khadir and all the other townspeople to cover theirears and crouch low to the ground, and an impact that hit the True King so hard that it knocked the statue to the ground.

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

    Lord Azquotl was astounded - never had he seen such strength in all his millennia of existence. Yet his astonishment turned into, for the first time in his life, a hint of fear as the comet, on its new course, approached the Temple Ship hovering in orbit, and obliterated it in a massive explosion.

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

    After the cloud of dust faded and the townspeople all got to their feet again, the statue could be seen rising from the ground, and slowly advancing his way over to them in heavy footfalls.

    “I know you may feel fear when you look upon my godly form, but as long as you prove your loyalty to me, none of you shall be harmed. I will show you that I am a far superior ruler to the Star-Lizards.”

    He now turned to Khadir.

    “This young man risked his life to return me to the corporeal world, and in return I give him everything I promised.”

    The statue held out his hand over Khadir’s head, and intoned ancient prayers in a tongue the apprentice did not recognise. When he had finished, Khadir was now dressed in an outfit so fine even Abazzar would have been green with envy, and in his mind he felt knowledge and wisdom he never could have dreamed of now taking up residence.

    “Thank you, my king,” he said gratefully.

    The statue then turned back to the crowds, and made them a promise.

    "I assure you, good people, that I will bring you unmatched prosperity and strength, for I AM SETTRA, KING OF KINGS, AND I NOW RULE THIS REALM!"

    Like the previous Contest's entry, this one came joint fourth, this tine alongside five others. I was a little miffed about this because, given that this one featured one of Warhammer Fantasy's most beloved characters arriving into the AoS era with as much respect and faith to his original character given as possible, I thought it would do better (it only got 3 votes - I would hazard a guess at @Killer Angel, @Lizards of Renown and @Lizerd, but it could have been anybody). However, one of the joint winners of this contest was one of my favourite entries, and the other I still enjoyed a lot, so once again the winners deserved the title.
     
  8. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    You guessed right mine. ;)
     
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  9. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Sorry mate, you didn’t get one from me :(
     
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  10. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Slann

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Eleventh Spawning

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    That's on one hand surprising given you're a Tomb Kings fan, but at the same time not so surprising given that my piece was an AoS story this time ;)
     
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  11. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    The funny thing is that i voted for your piece not because of Settra (that would have been unfair from my part toward the other entries), but because for once it's refreshing to see that the misterious and manipulative entity, once freed, it's true to its word, elevate to a higher status its "tool" and act as a "benign ruler" toward the people that live in its new domain.
     
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  12. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Slann

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Eleventh Spawning

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    That’s because from what I’ve read in lore, though Settra was egotistical and pompous, he was also honourable, never broke his word and cared about his subjects (at least their opinion of him anyway), that’s why the Nehekharans revered him so much. Breaking his word and enslaving the people would be what someone like Nagash would do, and far beneath a great king like Settra. Settra may have been a conqueror, but he wanted his people to follow him out of genuine devotion, rather than being forced to do so as enslaved or undead puppets. Settra learned that he had to earn the respect of his people during his reign over Nehekhara, which is why he became so revered, and what better way to earn the respect of potential subjects than by showing that you can keep your word to ordinary citizens and save them from perceived tyranny?

    If you’re interested in hearing more about Settra’s return, have a look at my unofficial Nehekros Imperishables AoS faction in the General Hobby Chat, because it was the lore I wrote there that inspired me to write a portion of it as a story for this contest.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
  13. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    oh yes, that kind of behavior is perfectly faithful to his character. That was a plus in my book
     
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  14. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Skink Chief

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

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    Well since you're curious, I did give one of my votes to your story. I really liked how you constructed and paced the story despite its long length. This 'voice' introduced quite a lot of tension in the eariler parts of the story, which made the whole thing pretty nerve wrecking in a good way. And speaking of the tomb kings, It never came to my attention the voice was actually Settra until the very end. Maybe I don't know Warhammer fantasy/tomb king lore that well, but that ending was pretty shocking. Though in my defense, most WHF characters are conquerors anyway :p
     
  15. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    around 2/3 of the story, the phrase "Great King of a world now lost, and humiliated by a traitor’s hand, by Ptra’s eternal judgement, I grant you a second chance!” kinda gave it away. If you know the oldhammer lore… otherwise, it would be hard to guess. ;)
     
  16. Imrahil
    Slann

    Imrahil Thirtheenth Spawning

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    At first I didn't directly thought of Settra, but Ptra gave away that it had to be something Egyptian based... So then the link was there.

    It was one of my votes as well. Only point of critique I had was that it felt like the Seraphon where put into the story so it could Enter in the Contest. There wasn't a particular purpose for it to be Seraphon I guess.

    Loved it nontheless;)

    Grrr, Imrahil
     
  17. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Slann

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Eleventh Spawning

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    Now that I look back on it I think it was a brilliant move to have Settra revealed right at the end. Whenever I write a short story I tend to write a draft larger than 2400 words, and so have to do some trimming down. My original draft gave more clues on who the Conqueror was, so I’m pleased I cut that out.

    I thought that of all the races, the Seraphon would be one of the races most capable of sending troops down to try and prevent a resurrection of Settra with the fear of it messing with the Great Plan, that’s principally why I included them into it.

    In any case, thank you both for your kind words!
     
  18. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Slann

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Eleventh Spawning

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    I did have some additional description for other scenes in the story, but with those my entry exceeded 2400 words (which they usually do :p), so I had to cut something out. I couldn't cut out any of the action or anything that added to the main plot, so I had to cut out some of the description that wasn't all that necessary.

    I do agree with this, but in this situation I just couldn't cut anything off the description of the ritual, the transformation, the action that comes after it or the sequence leading up to this because they're all integral to the story. If I did, these especially important points would have ended up being less dramatic or detailed than I had intended.

    That was a last-minute idea that I thought would make it a bit more fun and enjoyable to read. Glad it was well-received :)

    No worries mate, I do understand that AoS stories can be less entertaining to read for those of you who strictly adhere to Warhammer Fantasy. Indeed I did honestly despise AoS when it first came out, but gradually it has got better in terms of lore, factions and gameplay, and since I have become more accepting. I thus try to write both Warhammer Fantasy and AoS stories in these contests to keep my mind flexible as I now like both (although I have actually written a lot more Warhammer Fantasy stories at the moment - as far as I can remember this is only the second AoS piece I have written, the first one being 'The Doom of Vanir Rockfist' - so I still have a little bias towards my favourite of the two :D).

    Certainly Settra in his Fantasy form doesn't seem to survive the destruction of the Old World, and there's no sign of GW intending to resurrect him :(. Therefore, as part of the lore for my unofficial AoS faction the Nehekros Imperishables (the armies of Settra in the Mortal Realms - the rules for which can be found here if you're interested), I had to resurrect him somehow, and what would be a better way to resurrect him than by giving him what he always wanted - an immortal, solid gold statue body that would turn him into a god powerful enough to challenge his hated enemy Nagash?

    Haha, I did originally have the Slann telepathically discuss more about 'the Conqueror' on board the Temple Ship at the beginning, but when trimming the piece I thought that this may well have given the game away early and taken out all of the mystery and intrigue, so I cut that out and saved the full reveal of the Conqueror's identity for the end. I'm generally glad I did this because the reactions of readers in their reviews in relation to this has been generally positive.

    I had always intended this to be one of the most pivotal scenes of the story, because it details the results of the ritual the True King wants Khadir to perform and, indeed, actually gives us a glimpse as to what the True King really looks like, as we don't see his physical form before then. I had to give it a suitably detailed description or else it just wouldn't have done the sequence justice. I especially thought back to how animated statues had been portrayed in films (specifically the statue of Kali in the old Ray Harryhausen film The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, those films are just magnificent) in order to make the sequence as realistic as possible.

    I can understand that - certainly even in the world of Warhammer Fantasy, the idea of characters being able to deflect a meteorite by themselves is not very realistic.

    However, this is AoS, and I always intended the resurrected form of Settra to be a god-level character in the style of the new Nagash and the Celestant Prime. A god is certainly more powerful than an individual Slann (who I'd imagine would have to use a lot of energy just to move the comet out of its orbit), even an early-generation one, so this is how I justify Settra being able to do this. What's more, he doesn't deflect it especially easily - he gets knocked to the ground by the force of the impact and he had to use additional Nehekharan prayers and enchantments to enable this act to be possible in the first place.
     
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