For Those Who Dare (VS short story)

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    • For Those Who Dare (VS short story)

      The Nest City of Culling-Black, the ancestral home of Clan Killscream, was awash with familiar stinks and chitterings of life as Raathus Killscream made his swift way through familiar, winding tunnels towards its heart. His trained bodyguard of heavily armoured Red-Throats had difficulty keeping up with their Tyrant, only their fear driving their march-weary limbs; to straggle was to be eaten alive by their liege.

      Urgency seared Raathus' cunning skull. Word had reached the tyrant that the patriarch of the Plague Cult had had a dangerous revelation that threatened to turn over the entirety of Raathus' carefully crafted political apparatus that held the four clans at bay, under his thumb.

      Muted gasps rippled in his trail as Raathus flew by the tunnel that would lead to his palaces (and more importantly, harem), making his way straight down the central well of the Nest City that would lead to the Great Temple of Ruinations that made up an artificial bottom above an unknown depth of chasm opening under the city. Rickety bridges had been suspended in the cylindrical space, hundreds of flickering lights shining from hundreds of nests in the chasm walls. Raathus crept, leapt and bounded almost straight down, ignoring the gently sloping stone steps carved criss-crossing on the edifice.

      A sickly green glow emanated from the Temple, its lamps' light seemingly tarnished by the impure magics of the priests residing in the Temple. It held the shrines of the four different branches of religious doctrine Clan Killscream had brought together in unifying the four clans that now made up the Killscream Clannad: Cult of Corruption, Cult of Shadows, Cult of Decay, and the Cult of Pestilence, more often referred to as the Plague Cult.

      The Plague Cult's followers were called Rotscourgers for their wicked chain weapons with barbs and spikes emanating foul fumes of magically induced virulence. The Cult of Pestilence had quickly grown to overshadow the other cults under the guidance of their patriarch Revek, and it was only the direct influence of Tyrant Killscream himself that kept it from snuffing out the other three.

      Raathus made his way into the inner sanctum of the Shrine of Pestilence, bodily shouldering past the towering, hooded acolytes grasping their scourges. The cavernous room was dimly lit by a few candles, and littered with an uncanny amount of scrolls and parchments. The Cauldron of Disease, a cast iron vessel of staggering proportions, was suspended by five chains in a giant hole on the floor opening into the chasm under the city. Its contents smelled fouler than anything Raathus had ever smelled, and he had smelled foul things aplenty during the nineteen years of his existence.

      A few acolytes of pestilence were to be seen carrying scrolls and reagents in the room, but to his surprise, Raathus made out the forms of all four cult patriarchs on the lip of the opening, staring down into the cauldron. At the sight the tyrant, Revek's beady eyes lit up with mischief as he made his limping way with surprising speed around the hole to meet his lord.

      "O Great One, your low-humble servant bids you welcome!" Raathus snarled, unable to not enjoy the cult leader's grovelling. "What have you uncovered, priest?"

      Revek beamed with contentment. "Shadow and death. Corruption and chaos. Decay and destruction." Raathus looked impatient. Revek licked his yellow fangs before continuing, shivering in reverence, "And disease, plagues and pestilence beyond measure-counting. Bane of the surface dwellers!" Raathus screamed in frustration, and Revek cowered less than the tyrant would have liked. "Speak plain-clear, worm!"

      Slight disappointment could be read on Revek's boil-riddled face. "I will show-demonstrate, Lord"

      Revek limped back to the other priests, casually shoving one of his acolytes into the stinking broth simmering in the cauldron. The priests raised their hands and began chanting.

      After a short while muted thunder boomed fromt he depths of the cauldron, and thick black smoke came pouring from it into the sanctum as flashes of sickly green light flickered in the depths of the foul muck filling the vessel almost to the brim. Raathus' eyes were tearing up as his Red-Throats formed a defensive ring around him, drawing ragged breaths in the obscuring fumes.

      Raathus could feel a wind in the smoke begin to circle the room, and it coalesced into a column swirling on the cauldron. Bright red sparks and embers would burst here and there with low rumbles emanating from within the black tornado as the billowing smoke's dance began to slow. As the fumes came to a halt they drifted back down to the temple floor in a four feet high blanket slowly draining into the abyss from between the cauldron and the stone floor. A towering figure was looming in the thinning fumes, two red eyes glowing like hot embers in the darkness; all the candles had been blown out.

      The priests were silent.

      A voice like a giant serpent's whisper came hissing across the space of the sanctum. "I have come, and creeping death is come with me"

      Revek was weeping in awe. When had he gotten so close, Raathus couldn't say, but there the priest was beside him, staring at the gargantuan daemon balancing on the lip of the cauldron. It's many curving horns held bells that seemed to make sound only when the daemon wished it, and its face was nothing but a silver skull of a rat with two eyes of unholy fire burning deep within the eye sockets. In its left hand it held a glaive-like spear, but in its right there was a rusty sickle scribbled with runes and sigils oozing an untangible threat.

      The daemon looked right at Raathus, lighting a flame to his every instinct to flee, hide and preserve himself.

      He ignored them.

      Raathus stepped forward, shoving aside a Red-Throat before lifting his sword at the daemon looming in front of him. Raathus' voice was steeled by a sense of destiny. "We shall achieve great ruin together, Old One!"

      The room's acrid atmosphere electrified with anticipation of imminent violence. For an agonizingly long while, the daemon stood motionless, regarding the tyrant dwarfed in its oppressing presence, head and tail held up in defiance.

      Suddenly, the monster laughed like a million rats squealing in glee, causing the closest acolytes' ears to bleed profusely.

      "This one amuses me!", the daemon proclaimed. "Show me my victims, so that I may begin my work-task!"

      Raathus grinned, triumph swelling in his chest. He could feel Revek's poison glare on his back; he had seized the priest's weapon meant for usurping him and turned it to his bidding. The gamble had worked.

      Was there anything Raathus could not accomplish?

      "Hardly", thought he.
      "You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?" -Death
      Phae's Pointy-Ear Blog: Elves in a Corner
    • I got a lotta notes for a background for a hypothetical vermin army (i currently have minis for a mordheim warband + the end times era GW daemon), this is the first short story i've jotted down concerning the clannad. Might write more at some point. Glad you like it!
      "You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?" -Death
      Phae's Pointy-Ear Blog: Elves in a Corner
    • Raathus eyed the three vermin lords seated at the triangular table of the small council with a smug grin on his face. Rarely would he have displayed the comfortability of his position so openly, but the latest developments with the daemon had bolstered his confidence; not one of them would dare move against him without careful contemplation of their position, no matter how he flaunted his power.

      Tyrant Raathus sat at the farthest point of the elongated triangle-shaped table, and the three undertyrants of the subjugated clans each held a side at the triangle's bottom.

      Patriarch Revek was seated opposite Raathus, having recently usurped Clan Hellgnaw's former tyrant, Lord Drakan Hellgnaw. Technically, Revek was Tyrant Hellgnaw now, but everyone called him Rotscourger for his followers in the Plague Cult.

      To Raathus' left Tyrant Urryk Nineclaw held a seat, garbed in dull grey robes as was the Nineclaw custom, though all knew there was ringmail and padding beneath. Clan Nineclaw was the most recent of Killscream conquests, one that Raathus had personally seen to completion, so Lord Urryk's reluctance to take on the black and red of Clan Killscream was understandable, even though he was pleased that Raathus had bitten the head off his sire's shoulders.

      The last seat belonged to Raathus' offspring Felks Killscream, now known as Tyrant Swiftskitter. Clan Swifskitter was the first that Clan Killscream subdued two generations earlier, and Raathus had to have their own ruling line replaced because of a stirring uprising. The revolt had taken a pause but was now gaining momentum even faster, the Swiftskitter loyalists using the usurpation as fuel for their propaganda. Felks was however legendary in his ruthlessness, and terror tactics were so far enough to maintain the level of control Raathus needed.

      The attentions of the council shifted as the doors behind them swung open. Two Red-Throats were scourging a troupe of slaves forward, pushing a granite throne into the room, rolling on round wooden blocks. It was installed in a corner beside Raathus' own seat, to his right. On the high back of it was carved a deep rune that the councillors recognized to be a magical seal of some sort.

      Raathus grabbed one of the working slaves by the neck and ripped out the wretch's throat with his teeth. He smeared the gushing blood all over the grooves of the rune, soaking it completely before tossing the lifeless slave aside to be carried off by his fellows.

      Revek looked on, wary. Raathus cast a knowing glance at the priest. The tyrant uttered a single word, which caused Revek's eyes to bulge in terror and frustrated rage, "Viquirirch". Two smoldering orbs of light ignited in the air before the rune, sputtering black smoke and embers between them.

      Raathus laughed. "You thought my magisters couldn't name the daemon, did you, priest?" Revek's snout was wrinkled with impotent rage, but he said nothing.

      "Viquirirch of the First Seal, Bringer of Plagues, the Shadowheart, Lord of Sorrows, the Crumbling King. My mighty friend shall hold a seat on this council now. There is need for war, and he thirsts for the blood of the man-things"

      The glowing eyes narrowed, and a rasping laugh echoed in the chamber, as if carrying from an adjacent room. Raathus' grin widened. "Spill as you like, and drink deep, Old One! Our time of skulking in the shadows is over. We have need of steel, and the man-things of Aecil have plenty. They cannot stand against us, united as we are!"

      The other lords at the table nodded slowly and thoughtfully. With a steady supply of raw materials into the nest city, all manner of opportunity would present themselves. There was much to be gained here, even ignoring the fact that were they to oppose this march against the humans, Raathus would likely have no choice but to unleash his daemon upon their clans for their petty plots that under less straining circumstances would warrant little violence.

      The council gave their blessings for the campaign, and Raathus smiled victoriously. Viquirirch grunted with satisfacion, and closed his eyes, leaving the fresh blood to clot and dry on his empty seat.
      "You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?" -Death
      Phae's Pointy-Ear Blog: Elves in a Corner

      The post was edited 2 times, last by Phaeoron ().

    • Great stuff!

      Easily and subtly weaving backstory and lore into present narrative whilst keeping it succinct and flowing.

      GW often made their skaven characters very silly (not in a good way) and clown like, glad to see the ruthlessness, cunning and subterfuge coming out in our ratty brethren. As it should be. Keep those characters keen and and their teeth keener!

      Glad you continued the story. Keep up the good work!