to Chapter 25 Divided We Fall
Sunday, 31 August 2014
The False Moon War: Chapter 24
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Chapter 24. The Ancient Conflict
The Sky Titans had once had a thriving town or city on this site. With the impact of the warpstone comet, and the subsequent advent of the Great Maw, that city had been defiled, destroyed and abandoned. The inhabitants had settled peacefully with their kin further west, only to be overrun and devoured by the migrating ogres from the Eastern Steppe. Some peoples are just born unlucky.
Little of their architecture stood, but each of the dressed stone blocks was as big as a wagon. Only the temple cities of the Old Ones were made of stones larger than this, and the secret of their construction had disappeared with the star faring masons themselves.
The jumble of masonry created a maze of passages, some with dead ends, some with pitfalls. Delicately balanced heaps of rubble threatened to rain down with each clap of thunder.
"You won't be able to swing that spear in these tight passages. It's useless." Bob's opinion had not noticeably softened in the last several months.
"The spear will be fine. Better than a hand weapon."
Bob snorted, "I'll go in front to protect you AND your pointy stick."
The sauri vaguely heard the roar of an ogre charge followed by a crunching impact. A minute later there was some furious shrieking and a clash of metal.
"Its begun." Joe looked up through a gap in the stones. The moon was almost overhead. "How long do you think before we see some action?"
There was a fierce growl.
"You had to ask, didn't you!"
The growl belonged to the mouth of a Chaos Warhound of Khorne. The mouth also possessed dagger like teeth, a lashing tongue and an unpleasant amount of foaming drool. At this moment the mouth was being propelled towards the lizardmen by two hundred and forty pounds of frenzied muscle. Bob barely had time to bring his sword up into a defensive position.
The mouth halted inches from Bob's face. It had a new acquisition. A flint bladed spear had penetrated its hard palate. The point was lodged in the hound's tiny brain. With his eyes, Bob traced the shaft of the spear back to where Joe was standing behind him.
"Excuse me, I was about to parry with my vastly superior hand weapon. Kindly point that thing away."
Joe complied, and slung the spear over his shoulder. At the same instant, another hound, which had somehow got onto the block above them, pounced on the lizardmen. It impaled itself on the point of Joe's spear. As Joe retrieved the weapon from the squirming corpse he saw more pairs of glowing eyes in the passage behind them.
"Go! That way!" He shoved Bob forwards and raced after him, with the Hounds of Hell in murderous pursuit.
As Bob turned a corner, he saw his way was barred by a wide chasm. He had no other option but to attempt the leap. His legs bicycled in the air to get him a few extra inches of flight and he thudded, hard, into the opposite lip with his chest. Winded, he scrabbled with his elbows to pull himself up.
Joe was only feet behind when he saw Bob fall short. He jammed the toe of his spear into a crack in the floor and catapulted himself into the air, pole vault style. He sailed over Bob's head and landed in a crouch. The first of the slavering war hounds tried to pull up before the brink, but the two following it piled into the leader. The trio slid, howling, into the bottomless shaft.
The last of the hounds managed to gather itself for a leap, but its graceful arc was interrupted by a flint blade.
Joe held the foot of his spear down for Bob to pull himself up, and looked at his spawnkin smugly.
"What?" snapped Bob.
The pair continued their patrol.
Eventually they found themselves on top of the pile of rubble looking down over a flat strip of pavement on the brink of the Great Maw itself. Some forty mewling daemonettes were advancing down it towards the temple, and the ogre's undefended flank.
"Joe! Help me, this is heavy!" Bob was straining to dislodge a sizeable boulder to crush the horde below.
"Lift with your knees, not your back," Joe advised.
Rather than endure the withering glare that Bob directed at him, Joe wedged the butt of his spear under the rock and pressed on the lever with two mechanically advantaged fingers.
The boulder started to roll and dislodged everything around it. Before long there was an avalanche of pebbles, rocks, boulders and lizards pelting headlong towards the hapless daemons. Most of the screeching horde were swept over the brink.
Welhung Thunderloin was torn. He could hear the sounds of battle ebbing and flowing on three sides, but Hellun was quickly weakening. His men would have to fend for themselves. He turned to look back at the slann, wondering what it was like to have a cold heart and no ties to family.
The slann was still looking up at the Chaos Moon, as if judging distances and angles. Welhung followed his gaze. As always Morrslieb made him feel sick to his stomach. The moon hung so low above them, it seemed to cover half of the sky. A group of black dots slid across the orb, growing in size as they went. The ogre tyrant became aware of a low, droning hum.
Here? How had they found him?
He eased Hellun's head off his lap. She emitted a deafening whimper. "WHERE ARE YOU GOING, CUPCAKE?"
He winced, "I've got to go. I've got a score to settle." He hefted his iron bound mace and strode to the end of the bridge to wait for his most hated foes.
"Sodding bees!" he said to himself.
The squadron of Plague Drones of Nurgle were attempting to bypass the battle for the temple. Their tattered wings had carried them far out over the Great Maw to afford them a clear approach to the slann and the nexus of geomantic power which suffused his body. Their leader, a vile Herald of Nurgle directed his wing-daemons to swoop.
Taisteslaikch'ken was aware of their approach. From his floating throne near the end of the Maw's causeway he raised a handful of spatulate fingers into the air. Raw magical power coalesced between them, ready to be manipulated into any one of a dozen deadly forms.
"But it is too early. All is not ready..." he croaked.
A rough hand grabbed his outstretched arm and pulled it back down. "They are mine. You 'ear me?" Welhung growled at the mage priest.
Taisteslaikch'ken gave a single terse nod and returned his contemplation to the looming chaos moon.
The squadron of rot flies plunged from the sky in a loose "V" formation and zeroed in on the lumpy figure of the ogre tyrant. Welhung stood with his iron flanged mace coiled back behind his head in a two handed grip reminiscent of the New World primitives playing their pointless bat and ball game.
As the plague drones strafed across the bridge he swung with all his might. Strike!
One of the enormous insects whirled into the maw with one side of its thorax crushed. "That's for Chaarlotte!" Welhung bellowed after it.
The squadron parted around him like a wave split by the prow of a ship. The two groups banked and the riders levelled their filthy plague swords again. On this pass Welhung ducked the lead fly of one group and followed it with a blow which broke the creature's back. The momentum of the swoop, combined with the hammer blow propelled the stricken fly into the path of leader the second group. The combined mass and closing velocity of the two rotting hulks was enough to cause a very messy collision. The entangled remains of the pair plummeted into the void.
"And that's for Harrrison! And Samantharg!"
Three rot flies remained, twirling in confusion.
"That's for Rriley! And Annikarrg!" One fell with a compound eye and the brain behind it smashed to pulp. Welhung fluidly used the momentum of this blow to whirl about-face, and shred the fragile wing membranes of his next hapless victim with the sharp iron flukes on the tip of his mace. He paused to watch the broken insect's tail spinning descent.
With Welhung's guard thus lowered, the last of the flies was able to strike. With a sickening squelch, it plunged its dripping sting into the ogre's back.
Welhung sank to his knees, his mace slipping from his nerveless fingers. Nurgle's herald stilled his hovering mount and disembarked. He stood in front of the stricken ogre.
"You fought well, but to no purpose. You could not have defeated me. I serve the Lord of Flies."
"You mean 'Lord of Bees' ?" Welhung struggled to his feet. The herald was surprised that the ogre had not yet succumbed to the poisonous sting. Welhung scrabbled clumsily for his mace. The herald shook his head in disbelief and stabbed his plague-sword into the gap under Welhung's left pauldron.
Without even acknowledging the wound, Welhung grasped the poisoned blade with one hand and slowly drew it out. Blood welled from between his fingers.
The herald gasped. Grandfather Nurgle had blessed the venomous blade. It should not have only cut. The wounds should have instantly started to fester and run with pus.
Welhung pushed the filthy sword away, stood, and turned to face the multifaceted eyes of the humming rot fly. His bloody hand joined the other on the haft of his mace.
He slammed the heavy weapon down, driving the creature onto its many spiky knees. "That's for Joshuarrg! And Chloee! And Dyllan, Tylerrh, Rage-chel, Jaygob, Chaarrlie, Alexxiargh, Rryan, Cindry, Dolorious, Zaraargh, Hannahbal, Axxel, Chellsea, Maddison, Deckster, Slaed, Felanie, Blaeke, Harmonie, Eathem, Atrocity, Trravis, Phoebia, Scarah, Damniel, Hateley, Rocky, Maddnison, Phlegming, Angrea, Brattney, and Chastity!"
With every name, Welhung's mace rose and fell. The rotfly of nurgle was reduced to a purulent pulp.
He turned back to Nurgle's Herald. "You said you were with the 'Lord of Bees', didn't you?"
The daemon chose dark oblivion over liquefaction. Without hesitation, he leapt off the bridge and into the grinding maw.
Bob was buried under the rubble of the avalanche that he and Joe had created. With his one free hand he groped for purchase. He found a smooth shaft and pulled himself free. The smooth cylinder was Joe's spear. Joe's face was beaming.
"This changes nothing," Bob grated.
"Come on. We need to stop the rest of those girl daemons."
to Chapter 25 Divided We Fall
to Chapter 25 Divided We Fall