Saturday, 23 August 2014

The False Moon War: Chapter 23

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Chapter 23.  Welcome to Lustria

The Greater Daemon of Tzeentch did not have it in his slippery nature to lead a frontal assault without need.  His fool rivals were welcome face the wrath of the ogres and a wizard who had mastery of Light, Dark AND Heavens magic.  He would approach in stealth from the south.

He cast a blanket of thick fog over a unit of Pink Horrors and sent them across the marsh.  The daemons were bidden to remain silent, and to suppress the warpflame that suffused them.  Beneath the mist they would they would be able to approach and climb the narrow side stair and seize the head of the ramp.  The Changer of Ways himself would then swoop in with his vultures wings and claim the head of the undefended slann.

He heard a burbling cry and saw a flash of blue flame under the mist.  So much for stealth.


The pink horrors' struggles to cross the swamp were made more difficult by their lord's gift of concealing fog.  An incautious step could plunge them into sucking ooze, spiky pits or icy waters.  The daemons alternately cursed their lord and breathed prayers of thanks to Tzeentch for their extra limbs as they dragged themselves out of yet another sinkhole.  They finally found firmer footing on a narrow isthmus of reeds with black water on either side.

The rearmost daemon began a shriek of surprise that ended with a strangled gargle.  His companions whirled to see nothing but an expanding circle of ripples.   One of their number leaned over the water to have a closer look for the straggler.

The other daemons had a brief vision of flashing teeth and claws as a huge reptile exploded from the water and snatched the searcher as well.  They reflexively released bursts of blue warpfire, but it was too late.  The monster and his prey had vanished.


An "S" shaped row of spines snaked through the water directly towards them.  In vain they hurled more warpfire.  This dissipated on the surface.  At the last possible instant, before the monster would surely collide with their bridge, the spines disappeared below the surface.

To re-emerge behind them.  With a sweep of its crocodilian tail,  the fearsome creature smashed another three horrors into the water.  One by one, the floundering daemons were yanked into the depths.  Just one resurfaced a moment later, its broken and torn body floating face down.

"Move!  Move!  Get to that island!"  The remnant scrambled towards refuge on a more substantial island which was anchored by a rotten tree stump and a large clump of bulrushes.

Only one of the horrors survived long enough to drag itself out of the swamp and lay twitching at the Changer of Ways' taloned feet.  It had a light shaft of bamboo standing out from its back.  "There were two of them....Two two two two....."  The voice trailed off and died.

To do a job properly......

The Daemon Lord sent out another unit of Pink Horrors, who advanced as a screen.  He glided silently from hillock to island behind them.  At his back were the rest of his cohort, ready to throw themselves into battle when needed.

A few of his scouts slid screaming into concealed pits of quicksand, and yet others trod on barbed spikes which temporarily pinned them in place.  He sneered as he stooped to examine one of the plantings of bamboo stakes.  He was a master of trickery and deception.  It was an insult that someone would attempt to delay him with such a simple trap.  It would take more than distraction of attention and sleight of hand to thwart him.

He rose.  "Move forward!" he commanded.

Silence.  His screen of scouts had vanished without a trace.

With a roar of frustration he summoned a Firestorm of Tzeentch.  The tornado of warpfire twisted this way and that, burning the sedges and tall reeds all around.  Even if he had not killed his hidden foes in the conflagration, he had eliminated their cover.  If they showed themselves, he would demonstrate that a Greater Daemon of Tzeentch was a perilous danger.  They would fall.

When he had all but crossed the marsh with no further incident, he paused at the edge of a wide pool.  Opposite him was his objective, the narrow stair.  To his right was a small island with a misshapen tree stump and a clump of bulrushes.  The sausage shaped flower spikes of the cattails were smoking after his fire storm.  They smelt like....mushroom and potato?

The tree stump came to life.  Golden eyes glared through a thick crust of cracking mud.  The daemon raised his arms, but before he could complete a deadly incantation, the golem plucked one of the bulrushes and hurled it at the daemon lord.  It lodged in his thigh.  A trivial wound.

The daemon pulled out the javelin with a grunt and sniffed the blackened paste on the point.  "Poison?  Hah!  Did you not know that my god, Tzeentch, has blessed me?  I am protected by magic!”

Bubbles appeared in front of the Greater Daemon's feet.  A giant reptile surged out of the water and struck him a sparking blow with a golden hammer.

"Yes.  Actually, I did know,”  Rychek replied.

As the blow from the Rune Hammer o' Anti Magic took effect, a black stain spread like tendrils of fungus from the wound on the daemon's thigh.  The leg began to jerk and dance.  Soon the twitching spread through his whole body.  "Oh, Marlecht  lecht  lecht..."  His body stiffened and he fell like a tree trunk, face first into the pool. 

As the Changer of Ways sank from view, the remnant of his force gathered to avenge him.

Rychek spent the remainder of his javelins and dove into the water to evade the gouts of balefire which answered him.  Neither he, nor Mahtis resurfaced.

The remaining Pink Horrors warily skirted the pool and filed along the narrow strip of hard earth which led to the stair.

Once more, skink and kroxigor sprang from the water and planted their feet in front of the steps, as if to say, "here we stand or fall."

With no space for more flames, the horrors plunged into combat.  Sandwiched between the wall and the deep pool, they could not gain advantage from their weight of numbers.  One by one they were given a lesson in mixed unit combat.

The bond the spawnkin shared was beyond that of comradeship.  In battle, their ability to anticipate each other's movements verged on telepathy.  If a daemon chose to direct a blow against the greater threat of the monster, he would find the darting skink would strike him with an ugly headed club.  The distraction of having an orcish idol shoved up his nose would give the larger beast time to complete his hammer blow, crunching through magical wards as easily as flesh and bone.

Even if the next daemon struck at the skink, the nimble lizard's superior speed allowed it to parry or evade the blow before it could land.  The daemon itself might dodge one or two swings of the kroxigor's great weapon, but a stomping claw or lashing tail had equal efficacy against the soft pink flesh.

Although Rychek and Mahtis had each received minor cuts and burns, the growing heap of twitching  pink bodies seemed to indicate that they had this battle won.

However, Tzeentch, the God of Chicanery, had one trick left up his deceptive sleeve.

The last remaining Pink Horror hurled itself suicidally at Rychek and grappled with him.  Mahtis had a brief impression of a faceless hooded robe as a bright flash blinded him.  When his vision cleared he saw TWO Rycheks wrestling over the orcish club.

"A Changeling!" one of them gasped.

"Kill it!" yelled the other.

Mahtis held his hammer high and looked from one Rychek to the other in confusion.

"Don't take the risk, Mahtis!  Kill us both!"

"But him first!"

Mahtis lowered the hammer.  His brows crumpled in concentration for a moment.

He raised the hammer again. 

"One question.  Which one of you is Da Bloo Shaman of Mork?"

One of the Rycheks released the sceptre as if it was red hot.  The other yelled, "I am!  I am Da Bloo Shaman of Mork!"  He held the sceptre triumphantly in the air.

"Swear it!"


"I won't believe you unless you swear it."  Mahtis raised the hammer a little higher.

"Yes, yes!  I swear I am Da Bloo Shaman!  I swear it in the name of Mork!"

With a roar of supernatural rage, Gork-on-a-Stick sprouted a pair of colossal green feet.  It stamped repeatedly on the false shaman until he was a bloody paste.  Then Gork's image returned to its normal shape and size and the sceptre thudded back to earth.

Mahtis shrugged.  "I always get those two mixed up."

To Chapter 24  The Ancient Conflict

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