After the Ascension: A UE Fluff Challenge

Ratty Gnawtail
Doomwheel Driver
Doomwheel Driver
Joined: June 2nd, 2011, 9:32 am

June 1st, 2015, 11:03 pm #1


Ascension.

The one gift, the one promise given to the ratfolk from their menacing god. Countless Skaven toiled, plotted, and died for that promise of ascension. When the rat would rise from their underworld and seize the surface, it was their birth right.

Then it happened. The dreams of Skavenkind given terrible form. The surface shuddered under the footfalls of the vermintide and the Horned One itself walked the surface of the Old World. The great nations of Man, Dwarf, Elf, and Lizard fell. The brutality of the Greenskins, the Ogre Kingdoms, even the insidious powers of Chaos were tamed and broken. Even the hordes of undeath met a final death. The world belonged to the Skaven.

Then, at the height of their power, the Horned Rat disappeared. Soon the verminous deity became a legend. Its children left as orphans, yet lords of this world. Many whisper that one day the Horned Rat will return, but it is not this day.

Forget the heroes of old, the cities of gleaming light. Forget the laughter of thirsting Gods and deeds of valour and villainy. For such things have long turned to dust.

For this is After the Ascension.


Welcome to maybe the first UE impromptu fluff challenge!

Given how the current story compy is a bit dead, I thought i'd shake it up a bit.
There's been talk for a while about a post ascension Skaven world (especially in the wake of End Times where we didn't get our ascension) and to me it's still a very tantalizing theme.

So, what is this challenge about?

Simply put, paint a picture of the Warhammer World if the Skaven actually took it over in an alternative reality. It can be in the far future, it could only be a few generations after, it could even be during the ascension if you wish. Of course, everyone will likely have their own interpretation, so i'd say to treat all entries as their own alternative reality. Don't feel pressured into not writing about the exploits of an ancient Thanquol if someone else wrote a piece about him being long dead or the like.

Rules

- Submit as many bits of fluff as you like in this thread, as long as it has something to do with a Post Ascension Warhammer World.
- Comment on pieces in the comment/feedback thread, not here.
- Respect the forum rules on posting.
- Have fun building your own picture of a post ascension world!

A rough guide on what the post ascension world is possibly like (this doesn't need to be followed)

- With the Chaos Gods sealed off/destroyed/consumed by the Horned Rat, magic is much weakened (making Warpstone much more valuable.)
- Some of the other races may have survived, having hidden themselves away.
- Skavenkind itself is starting to fragment with territory disputes and a lack of goals as a race.
- The Horned Rat has gone.

There won't be any time limit on this challenge, and i'm excited to see what you lot come up with! :)
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Grey Seer
Grey Seer
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Grey Seer
Grey Seer
Joined: December 2nd, 2010, 10:37 am

June 8th, 2015, 1:18 am #2

In the Ashes of Ascension


O wonder!
How many godly creatures are there here!
How beauteous skavenkind is! O brave new world,
That has such skaven in't.

- Grey Seer Scarspire, on beholding the Warp-Lightning Tempest that consumed Altdorf.

Chapter 1

Inquisirat Srice flexed the powered steel exoskeleton that was grafted to his right claw. Black coats rustled quietly in the activity around him, they were almost ready. They donned their gas masks and an engineer carefully, quietly stuck the small explosive charge to the door of the building, wires trailing out of it. The warpfire teams behind Srice readied their weapons but he knew they wouldn't fire so long as he was at the front. He had warpfire teams behind the warpfire teams to incinerate them if they did. The engineer held up an open hand and lowered his claws one by one. 5, 4... Srice counted along in his head, feeling the fizz of adrenalin before the raid, hungry for bloodshed. 3, 2... His high-calibre, automatic pistol was cocked. With a few painful nerve-interfaced impulses a lethal corona of warp-lightning began to hum and crackle around the metal of his claw. He braced his massive, armoured body, ready for the carnage. 1... The charge exploded and the door blew inwards in a disintegrated cloud of splinters. Srice was centimetres behind, his drug-enhanced reflexes assessing the internal architecture in less than a second. He broke left and snapped a burst of 10mm warpstone bullets into some foetid bundle of rags that was getting to its feet. He shouldered his way straight through a rotting internal door, barely felt the rusted knife that scraped along his armoured flank. The servos in that armour whined as he twisted and grabbed the Plague-Cultist under his jaw, green lightning dancing excidedly from the generator through the metal of the claw, through the pus-filled eyes of the skaven and into his brain. Skrice slammed him against the wall for good measure and the head broke into sticky pieces under the immense force. Then Srice began to gain momentum. He growled in kill-happy ecstasy behind his mask as he stalked and sprinted through the mayhem, shooting, punching and tearing cultists limb from limb. Behind him there was the throaty crack-rattle of warprifle fire and the concussive bangs of grenades as his kill-team swept through the building. The unclean would be purged!


Grey Seer Linz swayed in the rad-winds that howled and tore across the top of the Tower of Kavzar. It was viciously dangerous here. Any lapse in the sustaining magic that flickered weakly through her body and she'd be poisoned, suffocated and torn apart in seconds. And yet despite the lethal environment she spent as much time here as possible. The summit of the Tower was one of the few places she could draw magic freely, without the consumption of dangerous doses of warpstone. And the addiction to the few traces of magical power that still remained to her far outweighed anything as petty as agoraphobia. Linz was the last Grey Seer, unless you counted the two drooling wrecks she kept caged in the dungeons out of curiosity. Only here could she escape the feeling of mind-shredding weakness that invaded her like a ghost every time she walked the broken corridors of Skavenblight. Up here she was above the lightning-filled clouds of the nuclear winter that obscured the city she despised. Linz had been alive for two decades and they hadn't thinned in that time, they were still a roiling blanket of tainted ash that smothered the planet. But oh the stars were magnificent! They looked close enough to touch and more than that, they were the source of the subtle, almost imperceptible magic whose weak strength she drew on now. Her eyes snapped down and reflected the glint of fire from the exhaust of one of the Skryre Corporation's reusable rockets as it propelled another mining crew up through ash and anvil clouds. Linz felt her jaws crack in a smile and she gave a brief and hungry laugh. The second-stage craft would spend three days en-route to the renamed Skavenslieb where they would dock and refuel at the Stasya Station before their warlock calculated an intercept course and set them on a high-velocity dive towards Morrislieb. The heroic genius of the astrorats were the only thing that kept Skavenblight alive. The huge quantities of rich warpstone they brought back were what powered the warp-lamps that allowed them to grow the black corn. It fuelled the industry of the last surviving city and most importantly it fuelled the pathetic sparks of her remaining magic. Linz watched the rocket until it was just one more flickering star. She was still smiling. Morrislieb might be satisfying sustenance for the rest of skavenkind but she wanted the stars.
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GreyseerIlok
Clanrat
Clanrat
Joined: November 19th, 2013, 11:00 pm

June 13th, 2015, 1:19 pm #3

Pyrrhic Ascension



Thick layers of grey dust now blow across the ruins of what was once Skavenblight. The former epicentre of the underempire is now nothing more than a hunting ground for the monstrous mutants who long ago caused the Ratmen to flee from the capital in droves. From time to time some Skaven who are either brave or stupid enough to make a pilgrimage to this cursed place will sometimes catch a glimpse the tainted landscape and wonder if the promises made to them by their vacant god have really come true or not.

Yet even in these direst of times the children of the Horned Rat still attempt to better each other for what scraps of power there is left in this world. From the fall of the Lords of Decay sprung a new caste of ruling territorial warlords more savage and greedy than their decrepit predecessors imagined ever possible. The splintering of the four great clans and the subsequent destruction of their strongholds has resulted in many its former members of wandering around in a nomadic existence offering their services for a pittance to those who not so long ago they considered subservient and barely even worth their attention.

In this new age to be a Grey Seer is to be decried as a charlatan and slain on sight. Some of more canny ones have dyed their white fur while others have even gone so far as to painfully remove their horns. The shortage in warpstone and the dimming of magic in the world has stripped the ratmen wizards once powerful array of spells to a handful of mere parlour tricks. Yet despite their persecution a small number still believe that the Great Horned One is testing his children to separate the strong from the weak and gather in secret to discuss how to rebuild their diminished order.

That the world changed when the great catastrophe occurred is beyond doubt. Yet the price of supreme victory seems to have come to a greater cost to the Skaven then perhaps the children of the Horned Rat ever could have realized...




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Ratty Gnawtail
Doomwheel Driver
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Joined: June 2nd, 2011, 9:32 am

June 15th, 2015, 7:52 pm #4

Alone Amongst the Ruins


Fleek gazed up at the pitted and scarred statue. Once perhaps it had been a magnificent work of human sculpture, the kind of statue that would inspire greatness in all who looked upon it. To the young Skaven’s eyes it was a strange stone that might have once looked like something that wasn’t a Skaven. Its stony face had been obliterated by some kind weapon of the past, scorch marks indicated something flame based. Here was likely a relic of the Skryre rats of the Great Ascension.

The young Skaven turned away; it was not what he was looking for.

He scurried away through the ruins of the once proud city of Altdorf in search of his prize. To Fleek the city had no name, being only known as the man-thing place by he and his surface dwelling Clan. None of them remembered what the city had been like before the time of the Great Ascension, all they knew were myths and legends passed down from Skaven to Skaven on cold dark nights. Most of those tales were embellished and false in an attempt to ratify the teller’s position. Warlord Brightfur for example boasted that he could trace his ancestry back to the great Grey Seer Boneripper. That he had anyrat that disagreed with this divinity executed as traitors made sure this was maintained as the truth.

The ruins of the city were deserted, left to rot after the glorious armies of Skavenkind crushed it beneath their paws. For some reason Skaven had never settled a nest within this once city, more content to retreat back underground in a bid to discover the ‘old ways’ or settled their own surface cities elsewhere. Fleek had heard stories of the man-thing city being haunted by the spirits of the dead, spectres that would freeze the bones of any Skaven caught at night. There were other tales of Skryre’s leader, Warplord Pyrfang having taken an interest in the ruins through the rumour that one of the weapons of the fabled Ikit Claw was buried in the city. It was possible that the city was left abandoned to prevent the weapon from detonating until the Warplord was confident his engineers could locate and disarm it.

All Fleek knew was that he was alone amidst the ruins searching for precious fragments of Warpstone. These nuggets of concentrated magic had become so very scarce after the defeat of Chaos, so much so that the tiniest piece of Warpstone promised great riches to whoever found it. It was Fleek’s warband that had been chosen by his Clan to search this area of the ruined city. At least five other rats were elsewhere within what was once Altdorf, also searching. Fleek having decided that it was worth more the risk of splitting up than returning empty handed. He dimly reflected why this ruined city was search-worthy. It was said that the final fall of the city was due to the actions of the entire Seer Order, and even with the power of magic having diminished with the defeat of Chaos, there was enough to saturate Altdorf with such energy that may one day congeal into pure Warpstone. Though there had been little true evidence that there was indeed any yet.

Fleek hissed in annoyance as he turned another corner or rotted wood and broken stone. What was he doing in this city of the dead whilst others of his Clan were attaining better positions within the Clan as warriors? Rats like Fleek would be more useful combatting the rival machinations of other Clans. Figrz had whispered the rumour that Seerlord Skritch Mooneye had been seen in the territory of a rival Clan. The Seer Order itself had split with the death of Kritislik during the Great Ascension and there were at least four self-proclaimed ‘Seerlords’. Perhaps this was one of the reasons Warlord Brightfur wanted Fleek’s warband to find Warpstone. Having one of the Seerlords on one’s side was worth its weight in warptokens. Though the Seer Order was apparently a shadow of its former self, the taking of this man-thing city coupled with the loss of Kritislik had all but crippled them. To think, these mighty Seers brought to near ruin by man-things.

Fleek sneered at the stories of the man-things that swam unbidden into his head, strange hairless creatures with no tails or fine Skaven noses. It was no wonder they had lost to the might of the great Skaven race, Fleek for one thing had never believed the tales of them being taller than the Skaven or unwilling to retreat in the proper Skaven fashion. Then again, Fleek had never seen these man-things before. He quashed the thoughts of seven foot giants in gleaming armour whose incisors were larger than his wielding weapons larger than he was. Such images were false. The foes of the past were weak, a rat as great as Fleek could crush them easily. He was the product of Skaven evolution, the Great Ascension had strengthened his race, he was sure of it.

A shadow flickered in the corner of Fleek’s eyes and he whipped around in panic, drawing his notched blade. He relaxed slightly. It was a faded and torn piece of fabric, maybe an old banner that was caught in the debris. He bruxed his fangs at being so foolish. Why was he, Fleek, one day to be Warlord of Clan Drzz, maybe even the world, jumping at shadows? He sheathed his blade and darkly brooded again on why he was in this city of the damned.

There was another flicker in the corner of Fleek’s eyes and he ignored it. That was until he realised that this flickering shadow was on the other side of his vision and not the fabric at all. He turned, a yelp in his throat.

Sitting astride the collapsed ruin of a building was an old ratman. Grey wisps of fur that had once been black escaped from his black robes, his skin that did show was wrinkled like old bark, and a number of blades were sheathed under his cloak. But it was his eyes that made Fleek cringe, they were weary and yet sparkled with amusement and maliciousness. The old rat was holding something that glowed with a dull yellow colour and it withdrew its other paw, holding a claw to its lips. It smiled nastily.

Fleek turned and ran, the musk of fear leaving a somewhat humorous scent trail behind him. The old rat was still grinning as it lifted the object it clutched and studied the artefact again.

There was still much to do.
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Clanlord Trask
Doomwheel Fanatic
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Joined: November 18th, 2005, 12:17 am

June 16th, 2015, 6:30 am #5

A Grave New World - Prologue

Light pierces the thick, green clouds, hitting the ground in dispersed thin shafts. Rain falls, a light constant mist that dissolves the barren rock of the ground upon landing. There are no plants. Or animals, people, anything living. Just pock marked rock as far as the eye can see. Rock that sizzles as the acidic rain eats it away.

Who knows how long this had been happening. How long this gaping wound has been dug, ever deeper, into the skin of the planet. But gradually, surely, the stone has made way to a strange object. Over what may have been years, decades, or even centuries, the object has been revealed.

Black as the void, it is shaped like a water droplet. Perhaps the last tear of the world itself, shed as it had been swallowed by fire and poison. Its tip pointed to the earth, its bulbous base gazing at the murky sky.
Eventually the dire rain eats the rock away. The black tear, at last free, topples inelegantly. Striking the ragged, bare stone the immense object sends agonised shards of rock flying. In the matte, oily black surface of the tear, a small fracture is born.

More time passes, and the hungry drizzle seeps into the fracture. What once was a break gradually becomes a massive fault. A crazed, erratic line that dodges its way across half of the black tear. Each day the fault grows longer, as if the tear is grinning a massive maniacal smile.

The tear groans. A long, deep groan that comes from its very bowels. There is a slight hiss as the black tear finally gives way and the air at its ancient hollow centre rushes for freedom.

Slowly a thin, chipped piece of metal slides out from the crack. It is a sword, dulled and bitten. Soon half the blade protrudes, pointed towards the sky, as if the black tear is threatening the very heavens themselves.
With a sudden, ear splitting shriek, the black tear splits in two.

Casting the blade aside, a figure drags itself from its dark prison. Slowly it brings itself to its full height, something it hasn't been able to do in what seems like an eternity. Long, thin limbs stretch out. It arches its spine, and pushes its shoulders back. Its skin sizzles as the acidic rain dances across its grey, lined flesh.

It inhales, not for air, but on instinct. Its lungs do not breath. Its heart does not beat.

Immortal, undying eyes look out over a dead world.

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Wolfwerty33
Chieftain
Chieftain
Joined: March 2nd, 2013, 7:38 am

June 24th, 2015, 1:27 am #6

Chapter 1: Graznik's Fall.
Coruck paced around the apartment, waiting for his assassin to report in. The apartment’s luxurious, if soiled furnishings, close proximity to the docks and warehouses of the port and its solid construction marked it out as the home of an Empire merchant before the Skaven had risen up and taken their promised reward. He glanced at the grandfather clock. A short time after the second food-break in his day. Good. His killer wasn’t late – yet. He’d hate for him to have failed. It would mean he’d need to find another operative, and, even worse, he’d have lost the money he’d payed him. Good killers were rare, but Warpstone was rarer.

Xaort sprinted across the rooftops. A crossbow bolt thudded into the beam right next to him, and he cursed. How did he ever let that stupid Coruck talk him into going after that two-flea Warlord? It’ll be easy, he said. Graznik can hardly afford any guards, he said. Well, looks like he’d found a bag of money in the two days between Xaort first getting the contract and him setting out. Oh sure, getting in was easy enough, but just as he’d finished choking the life out of the warlord, two clanrats with crossbows had walked in on him… Another bolt stung his ear as Xaort raced on, tripping over a broken slate in the process.

Shivering, Coruck pulled his clothes tighter around him. It was cold this far north, and he cursed the upper-level pompous fools who’d put him here, in Darklair. He glanced up at the grandfather clock again, before screwing his eyelids shut to keep out the cold. It was getting closer to the time that he had told Xaort to be back by. He called a slave in and ordered it to fetch him a blanket. Having disposed of an enemy meant nothing if you froze to death, after all.

As he lay face-down on the cold slate, Xaort cursed Coruck again. The fool had gotten him into this, acting like he was warlord of all he surveyed… But he was, wasn’t he? Horned one knows how, but somehow the fool-meat had managed to convince his superiors to assign him to this town! Or maybe the Horned One didn’t know. Maybe he’d stopped watching… Xaort shook the thought from his mind and focused on the present. The two clanrats leapt onto the roof. Briefly, Xaort wondered at why they were so persistent. Why weren’t the back there trying to get ahead in the power struggle? He shook that thought from his mind as well. He could think over the mission later, now he just needed to survive.

Gretz grinned. One of the chieftains, thinking that killing the assassin who killed Graznik might get him a certain measure of fear from the other candidates for the top job, and therefore an advantage, had offered a reward for the skaven that brought back the killer’s head. Not that he knew that. All he knew is someone would pay for this assassin’s head. He was still grinning when the other clanrat put a bolt in his gut, still grinning when Xaort spun, took a swing with his knife and sent his “fellow” clanrat’s head spinning through the air.

Chapter 2: The Seer of Darklair

Xaort swung through the window into the apartment, panting from the effort of sprinting to get there in time. Corucks’ eyes snapped open, and he surveyed the Eshini… except he wasn’t, Coruck reminded himself. Eshin still existed, but it was confined to Cathay and Nippon. He was a Bloody Paw. Regardless of the fine details, his assassin was back, and judging by the fact that he had come to him, the mission had been successful. If he’d failed, Xaort probably would have been buying a ticket to somewhere really far away on one of the transport barges run by Fleetmaster Ironscratch. But still, making sure the killer knew who was in charge was important. Putting on his most imperious voice, Coruck snapped. ‘You are late. Why?’ Xaort, who had been doubled over panting, took a few deep breaths and stood up again. ‘I was late because you were useless. Send me into a situation like that again, without proper information and, seer or not, I’ll choke the life out of you!’

Snarling, Coruck took a step back. ‘You wouldn’t dare’ he growled. ‘I can and I would. I know that ever since the Horned Rat left and closed all but the most unstable and faraway of the portals to the warp, your magic has been reduced to parlor tricks, a few rituals and those useful charms you make. And besides, who in your order would come looking for you, and even if they did, who would really look for a killer? I bet there’d be one or two apprentices who would relish a chance, any chance, to command, even in a place as far from the homeland as here.’

Slowly, Coruck considered this while pacing around the room. The runner was pretty far off the mark: whichever senior apprentice got appointed in his place would probably try to help along the investigation by whatever means he could, as one of the few things that really scared a grey seer was knowing that there was an assassin loose nearby who could kill a seer. And there would be an investigation: with the power of the seers reduced to its current level, and with them being the only things standing between the world and chaos, the high seerlord would be most anxious to find out who had murdered one of his agents. Regardless, though, Xaort still was the only agent worth hiring in Darklair, and every moment the gutter runner spent on a mission for him was one moment the killer wasn’t working for Lizkaz. He wouldn’t kill the sneak this time, he was too important to his current plans. But he’d make sure to tell Xaort that he’d spent his only chance, and he’d make sure to give him a job to. It didn’t pay to give an assassin both a grudge and time on his paws. Coruck headed back towards the window to give the killer his next job, and his payment…

The only reason he’d stayed long enough to hear the grey seer’s next job and his warnings and threats, Xaort reflected, was because the seer had refused to hand over the Warpstone until he’d heard him out. Speaking of the Warpstone, the tiny pebble Coruck had handed him sat in his pouch, illuminating the cloth with a faint green glow. Xaort thought back to before the ascension, when warlords and chieftains had given him much more Warpstone to have a single one of their rivals eliminated. Now, for a pathetic sum, the seer expected him to risk his neck over and over again… Still, the seer was one of only a few rats in town who could afford to hire him, the others being Lizkaz and… he couldn’t remember who else. Still though, Coruck had given him his next target, a barge captain who’d been cheating the seer out of his share as warlord of the city. It wasn’t a well-paying job, but it was a living.

Long after Xaort had finished thinking and raced away across the rooftops, under the burning light of noon, the only sound was the breeze whistling through the streets and the faint splash of a body landing in the harbor.
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Clanlord Trask
Doomwheel Fanatic
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Joined: November 18th, 2005, 12:17 am

June 30th, 2015, 3:36 am #7

A Grave New World
Chapter 1 - A Long Walk At The End of the World

Very little went through the figures mind as it shambled across the barren wastes. It felt no pain as the acidic rain danced across its skin. The cold, pock-marked rocks barely registered as it plodded barefoot, ever onward. Tattered black and red cloth hung on its thin, emaciated form, slowly lopping about in the windless poison air.

All the figure felt was a deep, unassailable hunger. A need to feed that hadn't been sated in centuries. Only dust and ash could be found in its veins, its blood long ago having dried up, leaving a magic fuelled master of the night.

By some stroke of luck, either miracle or curse, some of the figures supernatural power still remained. This protected it from being dissolved by the constant, hungry rain, though exposure still took its toll. Large, nasty burns patch-worked the figures body.

The figure slowly, lethargically, flicked its dried tongue against the wickedly sharp canines in its mouth. Only the vaguest of thoughts flittered through its mind. This was not how it was supposed to end. Escape from an eternity of confinement, only to perish of hunger in some alien landscape.

And alien it was. Centuries ago, when free and bringing terror to the lands of mortals, there was always a scent on the air. The hot tang that the living brought, borne on the breeze to entice the senses and stir the bloodlust. There was none of that here. And not just the stink of the living, but the voices of the dead were missing too.

From deep in the earth the bones of the long gone should have been calling out. Ancient remains, ready to rise again at the behest of their dark master. But instead, there was only silence. Deathly silence.

Even the stomach churning power of magic was absent. It should have been a faint buzzing at the back of its brain, like a winged bug had crawled inside its skull and was desperately trying to escape. A dull ache that could instantly turn to pure, white euphoria as the true terrors magic could deliver were released.

But no buzzing. No ache. No smell. And no sound.

This truly was a dead, alien world.

* * * * * * * * *

For days the figure wandered. It wasn't aware of where it was going, how could it be? It just knew it had to seek out blood. Or perish in the attempt. There was little else it could do.

Eventually the rain eased, though the clouds overhead remained a sickly green-grey. They continued to block out any view of the heavens. That was assuming this place had a heavens to see.

The tortured, devoured rock slowly gave way to barren earth. A timid breeze listlessly blew around the figure, gently flapping the hopeless rags barely clinging to its body. Such a gentle and refreshing caress was little solace to the frail abomination. Only death, bloodshed and terror brought joy to its still heart.

Ground soon gave way to a rough pebbled beach. Green, almost fluorescent, water lapped against the shore in rhythmic pulses. The figure lifted its head slightly, and looked out across the putrid water. It couldn't see a bank, or land of any kind, on the opposite side. This was either an ocean, or a quite sizable lake. Whatever it was, the discovery was unimportant. Everything remained foreign, and left little room for hope of stumbling across another living being.

Dropping roughly to its knees, the figure reached out towards the water. Feebly extending a finger, it slowly dipped the digit into the gently undulating liquid. Grey skin sizzled and was quickly eaten away. The lower layers of ancient muscle took longer, as did the bone at the very centre. During the ordeal the figure made no noise. It felt no pain. Just cold apathy as part of it disappeared into nothingness.

The figure held up the bubbling stub to its face and studied it. Maybe there was no need to fade away. Perhaps it could just slip beneath the acidic waves and put an end to its now ceaseless and unproductive existence. It was time to resign itself to the fact. Where ever it was, there was nothing here, and there was no reason to continue.

Almost wearily, the figure rose to its feet. At least it would go out with some dignity. Stretching to its full height, it took the most regal step it could towards the acid water. The breeze picked up slightly, enough to make the decayed rags dance in joy at the prospect of annihilation.

A sharp sting in the figures nostrils caused it to freeze, transfixed. What was that on the wind? It was a faint, but no unfamiliar, sensation. The dirty, clinging smell of soot. The distasteful tang of oil. But most tantalising of all, the unmistakable musk of human fear.

Turning towards the source of the odours, the figure pushed forward. It was impossible, its heart did not beat and it no longer was subject to the petty emotions of the living. But for the first time since it had been reborn as an undead horror of the night, it felt true hope.

* * * * * * * * *

Travelling now with purpose, the figure lurched more quickly. Though it had not caught another whiff of the scent since leaving the beach, it drove itself past the breaking point. Its indiscriminate thirst had been awakened.

Not long after setting off the figure spotted something in the distance, high in the air. It appeared to be a thin, dark line. It stretched over the water and continued towards the land, running almost parallel to the horizon.

As the figure got closer it could see that it wasn’t straight, but veered off downward part of the way. It appeared to be going into the ground, but as it got closer, it realised that the line turned and started in the same direction the figure was travelling.

What was this magic, a gigantic line in the sky? The figure cast its mind back to tales it had heard, both when alive and undead. Of colossal snakes from Lustria, with the powers of gods. Or of the skies in the Chaos Wastes, where massive tentacles could materialise from openings in reality to writhe with unknown purpose. The unliving abomination was no stranger to combat, but these were enemies of titanic proportion, and things it had no hope in besting. Especially in its current state.

Its concerns slowly evaporated. The line was intersected randomly by other lines, that ran from it to the ground. These were, the figure realised, supports. It was a structure of some kind. But this was a scale of construction that rivalled even that of the stalwart dwarves.

Eventually the figure found itself at the base of one of the supports. It was a hodge-podge of metal beams, insanely criss-crossing each other to form a spiders web of steel. The line at the top appeared to be another beam, though single and massive. Rather than sit on top of the support it hung out on an arm.

A column ran straight up the centre of the support. It had two rows of metal teeth running up it, regularly spaced. Where it met the ground there was an indentation, waist deep and clad in metal. A variety of small notches protruded from the sides of the pit.

Kneeling down, the figure inhaled the air around the metallic hole. The distinctive smell of humans filled its nostrils. It was faint, but unmistakable. They had been here not long ago, though the figure could not discern which direction they had travelled in. It was like they had disappeared into thin air.

As the figure puzzled, the air was cut by a low rumbling. It emanated from the beams of the very support itself. Quickly the rumbling became ear piercing, the bass battering the figure off of its feet. The support rattled uncontrollably, looking as if it is was going to shake apart.

A collection of high pitched whines, angry hissing, grinding metal and repetitive gurgling could faintly be heard from over the water. With great haste it grew in volume, joining the cacophony of the convulsing support. In the distant sky, over the water, the figure could make out a group of green and yellow lights rapidly headed towards it.

There was no time to even speculate what this thing was. Within moments it was rushing directly overhead, a mottled blur belching black and green smoke. The front had looked almost like a ship, though the rest appeared to be a long cylindrical body made of metal. But it was travelling too rapidly to make an accurate assessment of exactly what it looked like. As it passed, it made a hypnotising, rhythmic clacking sound. And just as quickly as it had come, it was disappearing into the distance, following the line in the sky.

Picking itself up, the figure barely had time to dive out of the way as a wailing object came crashing to the ground. Looking at the sprawled collection of broken arms and legs, the figure immediately knew what it was. One of the foulest, most vile things that ever existed. An un-natural creation, more abhorrent than Beastmen and their ilk. Even the everliving spawn of the night were looked on with more favour than these things.

The Skaven twitched, its eyes rolling about in their sockets. Its tail slapped pathetically against the ground as blood bubbled up in its mouth. While not an ideal meal, by any stretch of the imagination, at this point the figure was so desperate even this twisted ratman was an acceptable meal.

Falling onto the helpless Skaven, the figure pulled its head back and bit animalistically into its neck. Fur filled the figures mouth, and sour blood flowed down its gullet. There was no refinement, just savage lust.

The figure drank. Drank until the Skaven was nothing more than a withered husk. It gulped down the foul blood and felt reinvigorated for the first time in centuries.

Black blood dripping down her pale face, the vampire celebrated.
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GreyseerIlok
Clanrat
Clanrat
Joined: November 19th, 2013, 11:00 pm

June 30th, 2015, 10:06 pm #8

Chapter One



Grey seer Scratchtongue could not help feeling nervous while the Skaven sorcerer skittered through the devastated forest where he had been summoned to meet with the rest of the cabal. The ratman had heard rumours that some beastmen had survived the great catastrophe and preyed on those who ventured through the cindered remains of what once ancient and powerful trees. Scratchtounge wished that his order could meet in places less eerie than this cursed place but the open persecution of the white-furred Skaven had given the group with no other option in these dire times. The new rulers of the Skavendom would not stop their extermination of Scratchtounge and his peers until the last Grey Seer was killed and his pelt nailed into pillar of shame for all to see.

There had been a time when such oppression against Scratchtounge and his order would have been impossible due to their sorcerous powers - but the great catastrophe and the subsequent disappearance of the Great Horned One had changed everything. The gradual erosion of magic in the world combined with the shortage of warpstone over had reduced the Grey Seers' once powerful catalogue of spells to just a few weak enchantments. It had taken Scratchtounge a lot of effort earlier just cast a little ball of warpfire to drive away a wolf-rat that had tried to pounce on him with the intention of making a meal out of Scratchtounge. To think that once the Grey Seer was able to bend the will of a rat ogre with just a lone snap of his talons...

Scratchtounge then caught a brief glimpse of himself as he stepped over a shallow puddle of water. The lithe wizard lamented the changes he had made to his appearance to escape persecution. His once proud mange of white fur had been dyed into a deep brown colour and the Grey Seer had painfully yanked out his pair of curled horns long ago. Scratchtounge resented that fact that he looked no better than a common slave but it had been either change his appearance or be slain on sight. It was the blending in and looking inconspicuous that was proving the most difficult part of being in disguise for the ratman sorcerer. Ordinary Skaven could have most banal discussions at times.

The Grey Seer looked forward to some intelligent conversation. It had been some time since the last gathering. Scratchtounge wondered how many of the cabal were still alive. The increased bounty on their hides had seen an influx of former members of Clan Eshin being recruited by the warlords. There would be no doubt that the number of Grey Seers' attending the gathering would be reduced by a number too terrible to contemplate. Scratchtounge himself had survived an attempt of his life a few weeks prior which had caused him to flee the clan he had been living amongst.

Scatchtounge stepped up as pace when he saw some markings that had been carved on a scorched tree a few yards ahead. The Seer Order had invented a new language known only to them to communicate in secret when the persecutions had begun. It was just a shame that the Grey Seer's hated rival Kreskas was the one who proposed the idea in the first place which had resulted in him becoming the unopposed leader of their cabal.

Scratchtounge's jealousy that he was not the Seerlord had increased to the point that it grown into a greater concern than the lizard-like scales spreading across his crooked back. Although the Grey Seers' were a dwindling group that relied on each other for protection that did not stop their constant scheming and backstabbing. Scratchtounge himself and overseen the secret elimination of two rivals that he was convinced were plotting to kill him shortly after their last gathering of the cabal. The fact that the two Grey Seers' were two of the closest companions of Kreskas was a complete coincidence, of course...

The sudden snap of a twig behind him made the Grey Seer spin around in a furious panic that caused him to spray a plume of foul reeking musk. Scratchtounge's eyes darting around the scorched terrain looking for what had caused the noise but he saw nothing. The skaven silently drew his sword and took a couple of slow steps back ready to flee.

Thoughts of dread began to plague the Grey Seer's mind. Had he been tracked down by bounty hunters? Were there beastmen lurking in this forest after all? Was he being still stalked by the wolf rat - was there more than one? All kinds of questions ran through the Skaven's mind as his paranoia went into overdrive. Scratchtounge cursed the fact that without his magic he was so naked and vulnerable. The Grey Seer tried sniffing the air but other than the aroma of the burnt terrain and his own musk he could sense nothing else.

After a minute or so Scratchtounge put his blade back in its sheath and continued his journey. He didn't want to be late for this meeting. The crooked sorcerer knew what he had to say would change everything for his order and reverse their fortunes. Scratchtounge just hoped that he was listened to.

This time, at least.

Perhaps.



The two beings watched the lone Skaven stray further into the forest. For a moment one of them stepped a cloven hoof forward in an attempt to the rush the Ratman but a muscular hand reach held the broad individual back and yanked it back into the shadows.

"No," snorted a bestial voice riddled with bitterness.

"We wait."





Chapter Two



Lashrot's brain festered with anxiety while he waited in the antechamber where his master currently held court. The stone floor beneath him was caked with stains of dried blood and the Master Moulder also spotted fragments of bone scattered around in near the base of the plundered starmetal throne that towered over him. The obese Skaven was not sure whether this evidence was to show his leader's brutal intolerance towards failure or whether it was just down to the incompetent cleaning of one of his stupid hobgoblin serfs.

Considering the foul mood that his lord had been recently in, Lashrot nervously decided it was the former.

There had been a time when such crazed despots had not been in charge like the warlords were now. The council of thirteen ruled through fear and careful manipulation of their subjects - yet the new rulers of Skavendom ruled with an iron claw and maniacal violence. Lashrot's master Stretchspine was amongst the worst of these new rulers. The towering Skaven had even named the capital of his territory 'Spineblight' in a vain attempt to force his dominance over his subjects. To think that once such petty rulers would have had to kowtow to Lashrot and his kind.

"I see that stupid old pudgy rat handler is still alive then" said a shrill voice from the shadows and caused the Master Moulder to nearly jump out of his skin.
"Kritch?" said Lashrot. "Is that you?"

"Yes-yes," said the assassin as the dark cloaked Skaven emerged from the darkness. "Not saw-seen you for a long time, Lashrot" remarked Kritch. "I assumed dear old Stretchspine had disposed of your services."

"No-no." replied the Master Moulder with a shake of head. "Lord Stretchspine sent much valuable Lashrot to work on project on his."

"Project?"

"Er-er. Yes" mumbled Lashrot when realised that what he was working on was not common knowledge amongst the warlord's other toadies. "The project is not-not important. Just a small undertaking."

"But you just said-spoke that it was valuable"queried the assassin with as he began to pace around the obese skaven with suspicion etched on his scarred face. "What are you working on, Lashrot?"

"I cannot say-tell!" protested the Master Moulder in a frantic tone. "I will be flayed by our lord for all to see!"

"If you make-get that far" said Kritch as he drew a rusting serrated knife from underneath his robe and began slowly moving with menace towards Lashrot.

"Come on, rat handler. What is fat old Skaven hiding?"

It was at moments like these that the Master Moulder realised how powerless he really was since the collapse of his clan in the afterbirth of the great catastrophe. No longer able to produce the brute strength of rat ogres and other foul creatures to protect them after their hordes of warpstone ran short Clan Moulder had been the first of the great clans to fall.
Lashrot had been eking an existence breeding packs of wolf-rats and peddling them to the warlords to before Stretchspine had retained his services. Yet without his pets to protect him the Master Moulder was more hopeless than a slave.

Lashrot was about to utter a protest before the clanging of bells began ringing around signalling the imminent arrival of his and Kritch's master. The black-furred assassin leapt back from the Master Moulder and hissed a warning at Lashrot.

"Speak of what has just happened rat handler and you will slice-chop your fat jugular when you are dreaming about your little pets" hissed Kritch before the he hid is blade underneath his cape.

Lashrot thought of squealing to Stretchspine about his assassin's attempt to extract information to him before he realised but the outcome would probably result in both of their deaths.

The Moulder Moulder stepped back from the assassin and tried to steady his frayed nerves.

The pair looked on as one of the warlord's skinny hobgoblin slaves entered the room and struck a small bell near the entrance of the antechamber. Both Lashrot and Kritch began to prostrate themselves and stared at the stone floor as their hooded master and his bodyguard strode into the room with their heavy armour drowning the room out with numerous clanking. The two Skaven kept this poise for a couple of minutes waiting for their master to sit on his starmetal throne before their ruler finally spoke.

"Rise-rise" said Stretchspine in a coarse voice stepped with menacing callousness. The tall Skaven then turned his covered head towards Kritch. "What are you doing here? I hope-hope that you have not returned empty pawed?" the warlord growled to the cloaked ratman.

"Of course not-not, master" replied the assassin as he reached into his cape and threw the disembodied rotting head of a Skaven onto the floor. "Possible information on a sighting of one of the Grey ones I got from this traitor before he die-died very painfully" said Kritch.

"What information?" enquired Stretchspine.

"This fool-meat was saw-seen by one of my spies trading a slither of warpstone to a strange Skaven that seemed to passing through the area" said the assassin. "The stupid mouse-brain squealed before he was kill-killed that the other Skaven asked him if he knew where he could obtain more warpstone."

There was an eerie long silence as Kritch waited for some kind of response from his Warlord but with his head hidden behind his hood it was impossible to gauge his reactions. The other Skaven in the room shared nervous looks at each other before turning to look at the anxious assassin.

Kritch eventually plucked up the courage to speak again. "Is something the matter most worshipful master?"

"...The stranger," inquested Stretchspine in a voice loaded with interest. "You think perhaps that it is the one I seek-desire the most?"

"Er..er, yes I think-think" said Kritch in a tone that was conflicted by both worry and excitement. "After years of looking I think we might be able track the slimy weasel down and bring his flayed hide before you."

"Good-good" replied the warlord with a hint of glee before turning his cowled head towards Lashrot. "Master Moulder," enquired Stretchspine, "are the projects ready?"

"They are, glorious lord" boasted the bulging Skaven with a small amount of pride. "The latest batch excelled beyond our expectation-hopes and will do you proud-proud."

"I hope so for your sake," warned the warlord in such a manner that it caused the Master Moulder to secrete a little bit of pungent musk. "Otherwise I will feed your fat inwards to them myself-self. You shall report to Kritch with him and aid him in his task."

Lashrot began to speak with a trembling voice upon realizing that he was about to be paired up with the duplicitous assassin beside him. " But I perhaps much useful Lashrot should remaining..."

"Do I have to explain-tell you again!" roared Stretchspine so loud that the other Skaven covered their ears in shock. "I want you to find-seek the cowardly runt who left me with this!" said Stretchspine as he gazed towards the terrified Master Moulder and pulled back his hood to reveal scarred and furless face with an empty socket where he right eyeball should have been.

"Want-desire that Grey charlatan's head on a spike for all to see-see or else" growled the warlord as he slammed one of his muscular paws on the armrest of his throne.

"But-but -"

The Master Moulder only had to see a glimpse of the narrowing of his lord's remaining lone eye to know it was perhaps not the best time to start protesting...



Chapter Three




The clearing where Kreskas had chosen the Seer Order to gather was not to Scratchtounge's liking. The Skaven sorcerer felt claustrophobic amongst the ring of smouldering and
entwined trees in which he and his peers had gathered to hide their meeting. Although the great catastrophe had happened a long time ago the scorched grass beneath
Scratchtounge's feet still felt like it was burning and left the Grey Seer feeling uncomfortable and irate.

The Ratman sorcerer looked from aback at the rabble of thirty or so of his peers gathered in front of him and noticed a sizeable drop in the number of his order attending the meeting.

To Scratchtounge this was a clear signal that the increased bounty on the orders hides was beginning to take a severe toll. It was entirely possible if the numbers of Seers continued to decline at the current pace that this meeting would be the last ever of its kind.

The frenzied chittering soon grew to a close when the Seer Lord at last graced their presence. Scratchtounge noticed that Kreskas looked at have aged considerably since the last gathering with his body seemingly racked with creases and wrinkles - no doubt due to the stress of keeping the order together and organized. The Seer Lord waded through the
group and painfully forced his stooped frame up onto a large jagged boulder that lay in the middle of the clearing. Kreskas then gazed at the other Skaven for a second or so with a baleful stare barely holding in irascible contempt before beginning to spoke.

"Guess-guess that not all of you foolish cretins heeded my warning from last time" croaked the Seer Lord in a raspy voice that was etched with agony. "Although I am surprised to see that some of you are still alive" said Kreskas in comment that Scratchtounge felt was directed towards him.

"Perhaps more of us would-should be alive if your instructions were not so vague." replied a Seer called Gritzar, the youngest member present.

"Perhaps stupid whelp Gritzar should keep his mouth shut." replied an agitated Kreskas which was shortly followed by voices of agreement.

"Old thing is leading us to our doom." said a voice in the midst of the rabble that Scratchtounge did not know.

"Perhaps it is time-time that decrepit Kreskas stepped aside," suggested Skabak, a long-time critic of the Seer Lord. "I suggest-think that we need vote of no confidence."

"You only think--say that because you want the job yourself, Scabby Skabab." insulted the muscular Hackle Grut, Kreskas's most loyal supporter and brute enforcer in reference to Skabab's terrible hygiene. "I say we vote-decide to get rid of you instead!"

Scratchtounge looked on with dismay as the meeting descended into an entire farce as the other seers bickered and argued amongst themselves over Kreskas’s leadership with several fights breaking out amongst the group. The Grey Seer could not hide emitting a quiet chuckle as he watched the head of his order’s futile efforts to try and restore order.

"Cease-desist! Cease-desist!" appealed the Seer Lord to the other Skaven while frantically waving his arms while still stood on the large rock. Yet his appeals fell on deaf ears and his pitiful voice struggled against mass of squabbling around him.

Scratchtounge then began to forcefully barge his way through the scrabbling crowd towards the large jagged boulder that Kreskas was protesting from. The time the make his devastating announcement was right.



Nazgul Badbutt snorted with impatience while he waited for his shaman Gazra-Kur to return. The Beastman chieftain had ordered his shaman to bring the rest of his tribe after the pair of them had followed a lone Skaven to a clearing where it had met with a group of other Ratmen that he now hid watching.
A group that, for once, did not outnumber Nazgul's tribe.
For so had the gigantic beastman harboured a yearning desire for the opportunity to take some measure of revenge against the children of the being who had silenced the Beastman's gods and pushed his race to the near brink of extinction. No more would Nazgul hide in the shadows like a cowardly Ungor. Even though he felt disconnected from the power that his fallen deities once pumped through his veins the Beastman still felt that the world was his for the taking, no matter what the odds were stacked against him.
Nazgul then heard several muffled footsteps coming from behind him. The beastman turned round and saw Gazra-Kur hunched over as he crept towards him
.
"You did as asked?" whispered the chieftain.

"Yes," replied his blue robed shaman in a hushed tone. “The Ratmen are surrounded. There is nowhere for them to escape."

Nazgul drew a massive sword from the holster strapped to his shoulder with both of his meaty hands. Although now devoid of the bloodthirsty demonic entity once contained within it the Beastman still at times thought he could hear it driving him on to commit acts of violence.

"Now?" asked Gazra-Kur in a low voice.

"Now!" shouted Nazgul.







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Ratty Gnawtail
Doomwheel Driver
Doomwheel Driver
Joined: June 2nd, 2011, 9:32 am

July 7th, 2015, 2:20 pm #9

Lost Treasures


Seerlord Ritchit, pretender to the first seat of the Council of Thirteen, hissed again with frustration. Word had reached him that one of the other pretenders, the also self-titled Seerlord Mooneye, had been seen making some kind of deal with Clan Frxsnik. It was highly likely that Mooneye and by extension Eshin were seeking to bend the Clan to their will and threaten Skryre’s holdings.

Ritchit was less concerned about how Eshin would fare against his allied Clan but more how Skryre would view the actions of Mooneye. Warplord Pyrfang might decide that Mooneye was the better claimant to back and help him cement his rule as true Seerlord. Ritchit could have none of that. Something needed to be done.

The Skryre-backed pretender was still sifting through assorted reports and designs for his scrying device when a hissing of servos brought his head up sharply. The impressive form of Warplord Pyrfang clanked into the chamber, followed by a jet of green tinged gas from his augments. The leader of Clan Skryre was certainly something to behold. Towering over most Skaven, the Warplord was covered in all manner of technological marvels and replacements. So much so that some questioned if Pyrfang was more machine than rat. One arm was a mighty metal construct that terminated in a savage looking claw with a retractable rotating saw blade, the other seemed normal but was suitably armoured like the rest of his body. What was more striking was his right fang that served as his namesake, the fang was a curious transparent stone that seemed to contain a flickering flame. Rumour had it that Pyrfang had discovered the stone in a Dwarf-thing ruin and had it repurposed as a fang.

“Have you discovered it yet, worm-flesh?!” he growled, his fang blazing for a moment.

“Not-not yet, most merciful of masters, but I am close-close” Ritchit lied. Skryre had promised Ritchit their support in his bid to retake the first seat of the Council. This however came at a steep price as not only had they wanted the full support of the remade Seer Order, but Pyrfang firstly wanted the Seer to discover the location of Ikit’s fabled inventions, perhaps even the missing legendary Warlock himself. If he still lived.

Naturally, Ritchit had promised Pyrfang that he would discover these wonders that would make Skryre great again, he just had little idea how he’d do it. Instead he had spent considerable time trying to outwit the other three chief rivals for the throne, and all the while Pyrfang’s patience seemed to be wearing thin. He’d need to find something soon, but how?

“May-may this feeble-weak servant ask-ask about what mighty-great Warplord Pyrfang is looking for, again?”

The Warplord growled with irritation and for a moment Ritchit feared for his pelt. Pyrfang turned away in annoyance to stare at the flickering warplamp lighting the chamber. With Skryre discovering less and less Warpstone, most of their devices contained less and less Warpstone. Many rats complained bitterly about the rationing of the precious stone, without the same amount of Warpstone such inventions like lamps, augments, and especially weapons were nowhere as effective or powerful. Indeed, they seemed more prone to breaking down, though Skryre would never admit this. There had been talk of using worm oil instead of Warpstone for the lamps, but it was a matter of pride that Skryre refused to abandon their methods for a more backward fuel.

“Ikit, may the Horned One gnaw on his entrails, create-made several powerful weapons before the Great Ascension. From what we know-scent, the most-most famous of these were great rats of iron, in the shape of the Horned Rat’s daemons. It is said-squeaked that these machines actually contained the essences of these beings. Many-many were apparently lost in the destruction of the elf-things, though I know-know there are still some out there. Think-think what Skryre can do with such weapons! Any of Ikit’s late-later inventions for that matter!”

Ritchit remembered to bob his head in agreement, despite the heretical thought of the Horned Rat’s true children being imprisoned in such a way giving him chills down his spine. He scratched at the faulty augment that served as his left eye, biting back a mutter about why he hadn’t been given a more reliable version.

“I think-think there is one method that will work, most terrible of tyrants. The machine-things should have some of the essences still bound to them. If I can get the scrying device I’ve been work-working on as per your instructions, most great of greats, I will be able to find-locate them by their disturbance of magic.” The would-be Seerlord decided not to mention that the device wasn’t likely to discover anything outside a hundred mile radius, nor the amount of Warpstone it would use up.

The Warplord grunted with satisfaction. “Good-good, I expect more results when I return.” He stomped out of the chamber leaving Ritchit to wonder how he got into this whole mess. The fading warplamp guttered and then with a crackle died, plunging the chamber into darkness and Ritchit’s cursing.
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GreyseerIlok
Clanrat
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Joined: November 19th, 2013, 11:00 pm

July 31st, 2015, 9:53 pm #10




Chapter Two



Lashrot's brain festered with anxiety while he waited in the antechamber where his master currently held court. The stone floor beneath him was caked with stains of dried blood and the Master Moulder also spotted fragments of bone scattered around in near the base of the plundered starmetal throne that towered over him. The morbidly obese Skaven was not sure whether this evidence was to show his leader's brutal intolerance towards failure or whether it was just down to the incompetent cleaning of one of his stupid hobgoblin serfs.

Considering the foul mood that his lord had been recently in, Lashrot nervously decided it was the former.

There had been a time when such crazed despots had not been in charge like the warlords were now. The council of thirteen ruled through fear and careful manipulation of their subjects - yet the new rulers of Skavendom ruled with an iron claw and maniacal violence. Lashrot's master Stretchspine was amongst the worst of these new rulers. The towering Skaven had even named the capital of his territory 'Spineblight' in a vain attempt to force his dominance over his subjects. To think that once such petty rulers would have had to kowtow to Lashrot and his kind.

"I see that stupid old pudgy rat handler is still alive then" said a shrill voice from the shadows and caused the Master Moulder to nearly jump out of his skin.
"Kritch?" said Lashrot, "Is that you?"

"Yes-yes," said the assassin as the dark cloaked Skaven emerged from the darkness. "Not saw-seen you for a long time, Lashrot" remarked Kritch. "I assumed dear old Stretchspine had disposed of your services."

"No-no." replied the Master Moulder with a shake of head. "Lord Stretchspine sent much valuable Lashrot to work on project on his."

"Project?"

"Er-er. Yes" mumbled Lashrot when realised that what he was working on was not common knowledge amongst the warlord's other toadies. "The project is not-not important. Just a small undertaking."

"But you just said-spoke that it was valuable"queried the assassin with as he began to pace around the obese skaven with suspicion etched on his scarred face. "What are you working on, Lashrot?"

"I cannot say-tell!" protested the Master Moulder in a frantic tone. "I will be flayed by our lord for all to see!"

"If you make-get that far" said Kritch as he drew a rusting serrated knife from underneath his robe and began slowly moving with menace towards Lashrot.

"Come on, rat handler. What is fat old Skaven hiding?"

It was at moments like these that the Master Moulder realised how powerless he really was since the collapse of his clan in the afterbirth of the great catastrophe. No longer able to produce the brute strength of rat ogres and other foul creatures to protect them after their hordes of warpstone ran short Clan Moulder had been the first of the great clans to fall.
Lashrot had been eking an existence breeding packs of wolf-rats and peddling them to the warlords to before Stretchspine had retained his services. Yet without his pets to protect him the Master Moulder was more hopeless than a slave.

Lashrot was about to utter a protest before the clanging of bells began ringing around signalling the imminent arrival of his and Kritch's master. The black-furred assassin leapt back from the Master Moulder and hissed a warning at Lashrot.

"Speak of what has just happened rat handler and you will slice-chop your fat jugular when you are dreaming about your little pets" hissed Kritch before the he hid is blade underneath his cape.

Lashrot thought of squealing to Stretchspine about his assassin's attempt to extract information to him before he realised but the outcome would probably result in both of their deaths.

The Moulder Moulder stepped back from the assassin and tried to steady his frayed nerves.

The pair looked on as one of the warlord's skinny hobgoblin slaves entered the room and struck a small bell near the entrance of the antechamber. Both Lashrot and Kritch began to prostrate themselves and stared at the stone floor as their hooded master and his bodyguard strode into the room with their heavy armour drowning the room out with numerous clanking. The two Skaven kept this poise for a couple of minutes waiting for their master to sit on his starmetal throne before their ruler finally spoke.

"Rise-rise" said Stretchspine in a coarse voice stepped with menacing callousness. The tall Skaven then turned his covered head towards Kritch. "What are you doing here? I hope-hope that you have not returned empty pawed?" the warlord growled to the cloaked ratman.

"Of course not-not, master" replied the assassin as he reached into his cape and threw the disembodied rotting head of a Skaven onto the floor. "Possible information on a sighting of one of the Grey ones I got from this traitor before he die-died very painfully" said Kritch.

"What information?" enquired Stretchspine.

"This fool-meat was saw-seen by one of my spies trading a slither of warpstone to a strange Skaven that seemed to passing through the area" said the assassin. "The stupid mouse-brain squealed before he was kill-killed that the other Skaven asked him if he knew where he could obtain more warpstone."

There was an eerie long silence as Kritch waited for some kind of response from his Warlord but with his head hidden behind his hood it was impossible to gauge his reactions. The other Skaven in the room shared nervous looks at each other before turning to look at the anxious assassin.

Kritch eventually plucked up the courage to speak again. "Is something the matter most worshipful master?"

"...The stranger," inquested Stretchspine in a voice loaded with interest. "You think perhaps that it is the one I seek-desire the most?"

"Er..er, yes I think-think" said Kritch in a tone that was conflicted by both worry and excitement. "After years of looking I think we might be able track the slimy weasel down and bring his flayed hide before you."

"Good-good" replied the warlord with a hint of glee in his tone before turning his cowled head towards Lashrot. "Master Moulder," enquired Stretchspine, "are the projects ready?"

"They are, glorious lord" boasted the bulging Skaven with a small amount of pride. "The latest batch excelled beyond our expectation-hopes and will do you proud-proud."

"I hope so for your sake," warned the warlord in such a manner that it caused the Master Moulder to secrete a little bit of pungent musk. "Otherwise I will feed your fat inwards to them myself-self. You shall report to Kritch with him and aid him in his task."

Lashrot began to speak with a trembling voice upon realizing that he was about to be paired up with the duplicitous assassin beside him. " But I perhaps much useful Lashrot should remaining..."

"Do I have to explain-tell you again!" roared Stretchspine so loud that the other Skaven covered their ears in shock. "I want you to find-seek the cowardly runt who left me with this!" said Stretchspine as he gazed towards the terrified Master Moulder and pulled back his hood to reveal scarred and furless face with an empty socket where he right eyeball should have been.

"Want-desire that Grey charlatan's head on a spike for all to see-see or else" growled the warlord as he slammed one of his muscular paws on the armrest of his throne.

"But-but -"

The Master Moulder only had to see a glimpse of the narrowing of his lord's remaining lone eye to know it was perhaps not the best time to start protesting...






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