To Chapter 26 The Last Stand
Thursday, 4 September 2014
The False Moon War: Chapter 25
to Title and Contents
Chapter 25. Divided We Fall
The remaining dozen Daemonettes of Slaanesh had evaded Bob and Joes' rock fall. As they mounted the narrow stair at the north side of the dinner gong chamber, the ogres and monsters were occupied by the process of sweeping the pestilence of Nurgle off the ramp for the sixth time.
The defenders still fought fiercely, but their numbers had started to dwindle. A few had fought their last battle and lay still upon the concourse. Others, too wounded to continue the cycle of charge, smash and withdraw, had crawled or been dragged into the shadow of the battle wagon, which was still chocked near the temple gate.
Ordinarily the daemonettes would have fallen on the wounded and gorged themselves on the pain and fear of their victims before they died. This time they were pulled magnetically through the unoccupied gong chamber and onto the bridge to nowhere.
Like bees to honey, they were drawn to the delicious scent of pain and anguish which oozed from Hellun of Troyarg's every pore.
When Welhung had left her to settle accounts with the Lord of Bees Hellun propped herself up against the bridge's low parapet. Her labour was well advanced, but her womb stubbornly refused to release her child, until her deity was appeased.
The Great Maw stubbornly refused to break its fast. It had not even accepted the sacrifice of the powerful Herald of Nurgle, moments earlier.
Hellun was alone, and at the last extremity of hopelessness, exhaustion, grief and agony. The daemonettes who now clustered in front of her savoured the sensations.
"We feel your anguish sister" one of the depraved ones addressed her. "It is a tribute worthy for our lord, Slaanesh himself. Would you have us give you release from your suffering?" She raised a claw suggestively.
Hellun looked up with glassy eyes. "You would give me release?" She whispered, then screwed up her eyes. "GIVE...ME...AN...EPIDURAL!!!!!!!!"
The screech was the loudest sound ever uttered by a mortal throat. No banshee could have emulated it in its octave range or its intensity. The daemonettes' physical forms were shredded to atoms, and their daemonic essences were violently and permanently torn from the mortal plane of existence.
In his pleasure palace in the Realm of Chaos, Slaanesh winced.
Bob and Joe were carefully scrambling over the scree of rubble they had created, when the sonic wave struck like a battering ram. Not for the first time they thanked the Old Ones for their lack of ears. After that, they needed all their energies and concentration to ride clear of the rocks which had been startled back into motion.
Once they had their feet back on solid earth they dusted themselves off. When they turned to recommence their pursuit of the daemonettes they found their way blocked by a pair of tree-like legs which ended in black cloven hooves. The legs were clad in brass filigreed greaves and cuisses.
Their eyes tracked upwards to take in the full terror of Greater Daemon of Khorne. The Bloodthirster's black wings were spread, his eyes were aflame, and his clawed hands were clenched around a dully glowing brass axe. The axe alone was easily taller than both lizardmen combined.
"Spears up!" Bob pushed Joe forward. As he stepped back a pace, just to make sure that the Bloodthirster knew who his challenger was, Bob became aware of another presence behind him.
The second daemon lord was leaner and smoother than the Khorneling, but no less menacing. The purple daemon had an extra pair of arms which ended in scissor-like claws. In one of its more normal hands it held a whip with several thongs which ended in scorpion stings. The other held a magical staff tipped with the symbol of Slaanesh.
"Oh great!" Bob moaned, "Now I'm going to be consumed by an exalted Keeper of Secrets, and my soul will be chained for all eternity in the Pleasure Palace to gratify Slaanesh's lusts! How could this be worse?"
The Keeper of Secrets leered hungrily.
"Don't be stupid!" Joe berated him, "Being decapitated and having your gleaming skull presented to the mighty Blood God, Khorne, is much worse. Khorne is rage and hate and violence all bundled together. Much worse."
"Slaanesh is worse! I can't even imagine the degrading acts that I will be forced to perform!"
"Khorne is worse! He sits on a throne made of skulls. I don't want to be a bauble!"
"Slaanesh is worse!"
"Raaargh! Enough!" The Bloodthirster had tired of the interplay. "My Lord Khorne is the mightiest! He alone is to be worshipped and feared!"
"Khorne? He is so.....crude." The rival daemon mused. "His emotional range only goes from annoyance to fury. There is so much more to be... experienced. Lord Slaanesh is greater."
The Bloodthirster brushed the two saurus aside with the flat of his axe and stood nose to nose with the Slaaneshi. "Khorne is greatest! Lust for nothing except hate! Raaargh!"
The Keeper of Secrets rolled his eyes. "Slaanesh is greater."
" Khorne is greatest! Raaaargh!" The Bloodthirster smashed his axe into the flagstones at the Slaaneshi's feet, knocking him back a few steps.
The Keeper of Secrets, dusted himself off with his whip.
"Your mighty Khorne cannot do this..." He thrust his staff forward and the symbol of Slaanesh, a spiky combination of orbs and crescents, began to glow. A stream of sensations poured into the Khornate beast's unprepared amygdala."
It was the Bloodthirster's turn to be driven back, as a wave of love, melancholy, sympathy, pride, grief, affection and despair flooded through him. The brass axed fell from his nerveless fingers. When the storm of emotion abated, the Daemon wiped a single steaming tear of joy and sadness from his eye.
"You are right. Khorne cannot give these.....feelings..." He raised his head. "...but I wonder what your Slaanesh thinks of THIS feeling..."
The Bloodthirster seized the Slaaneshi's spiky staff and began a spirited effort to stick it up the Keeper of Secrets' bottom.
"I think we should leave them to it," whispered Bob, and he and Joe tiptoed back to the Temple of the Great Maw.
In his Pleasure Palace in the Realm of Chaos, Slaanesh's eyes began to water.
Bob and Joe arrived on the ramp at the same time as Mahtis and Rychek.
"Nothing left to kill in the swamp," rumbled Mahtis sadly.
"How about the north flank?" asked Rychek.
"Erm... No significant conflict to report." replied Joe.
"Yowie!" There was a faintly heard scream from the ruins. Rychek raised a scaly eyebrow, but neither Bob nor Joe would meet his eyes.
"Caneghem! How goes the battle here?"
The skink priest called down from Bessie's back. "We've got a battle wagon we can't use and two tiring monsters. The good news is that most of the ogres still stand. They can hold up groups of light infantry all night."
"What about those?" Joe pointed to the base of the concourse.
"Those could pose a problem."
Eight gleaming Juggernauts of Khorne had picked their way out of the boulders with their Bloodcrusher riders on their backs. The unit of magically animated brass monsters easily out massed the remaining ogres and they had the speed to outmanoeuvre Bessie and Rudolph.
Rodekhil and Argsplat ambled over to join the discussion.
"If they get the charge, they'll roll over the top of us." Rodekhil scratched his chin. "We could risk a charge on them, but I'm not certain that we would 'ave enough impact to break them."
"You should get the wounded back inside the temple." Rychek glanced back at the ogres who were tending each other's wounds in the lee of the abandoned battle wagon. "What about a chariot charge. Enough impact?"
Rodekhil snorted. "We can't turn the wagon before they get 'ere and Rudolph is just about spent. That thing turned out to be just a big, spiky, rolling piece of deathtrap pie."
"It would be selfish not to share," Rychek observed.
The ogre pondered, "Since we're not using it for anything... we could let them daemons 'ave a slice."
"Set it ablaze. That should spice things up," Bob contributed.
"Ooh! Ooh!" Argsplat flapped his hand and hook, "You! Ugly! Come with me!" He stumped into the temple building without waiting for a response.
Caneghem looked at Rychek, who looked at Joe. Joe looked at Bob, who aside from his eggshell, was pretty much identical to his spawnkin. They all looked at Mahtis.
Mahtis curled his lip and sulked after the broken ogre. A minute later both returned, laden with the kegs of black pepper.
"Tastes awful anyway," explained Argsplat as he loaded the casks into the wagon. "I've got more of a sweet tooth." He pointed at his one remaining yellowed molar, then tossed a flaming torch into the wagon.
"Shouldn't we, err...." Joe peered nervously at the blazing contraption.
The whole group leapt to remove the chocks which had kept the chariot in place. It groaned into motion and slowly gathered speed as it meandered down the ramp. Halfway down, it was well alight and moving apace. The Bloodcrushers merely split their formation and waited for the cart to trundle between them.
As the battle wagon drew abreast of the monstrous cavalry, it bounced violently over a loose cobble. This must have dislodged the bung in one of the kegs. The wagon erupted in a ball of red flame and white smoke. The rocks, which the ogres had collected to use as missiles, and the sharpened bamboo stakes were hurled in all directions along with the iron bound wheels and heavy wooden structure of the wagon itself.
The Bloodcrushers were obliterated.
The detonation also levelled the terrain at the base of the ramp. Without the screen of boulders which had sat there, innumerable daemons could be seen swarming like insects. They crept up the ramp like an inexorable tide.
SomeTHING oozed its way up through the mass of lesser fiends.
A Greater Daemon of Nurgle.
To Chapter 26 The Last Stand
To Chapter 26 The Last Stand