To Chapter 27 The False Moon
Friday, 12 September 2014
The False Moon War: Chapter 26
to Title and Contents
Chapter 26. The Last Stand
As the Great Unclean One pressed to the front, Caneghem felt a sensation that made his teeth jangle.
The command, "Come," formed wordlessly in his mind. "Bring the cube, and your kin."
"Brothers!" Caneghem shouted, "Our Lord calls us to bring the solar cube to him!"
The four lizardmen warriors nodded and waited expectantly. From his position on Bessie's howdah, the skink priest grasped the mystic cube at the heart of Chotec's solar engine and tugged. The cube did not budge. Its depleted active face glowed sullenly.
"Rodekhil! Help me with this."
The ogre joined him on the howdah. Even using his considerable strength, he could not release the cube from its five finger-like clamps. He used one of his falchions as a lever. The blade bent double and then splintered into shards.
"Argsplat!" Rodekhil shouted, "Buy us some time!"
The misshapen ogre stumped part way down the ramp. He was alone, but for his meat axe, bladed hook and elegantly carved Queen Anne style peg-legs.
When the wave of pestilent things of Nurgle seemed ready to flow over him, he held his meat axe high. "I CHALLENGE!" he bawled.
The wave ebbed and parted. The Great Unclean One advanced to the head of the path that had been opened for him.
"None shall pass!" Argsplat squared his shoulders and brandished his weapon.
The Great Unclean One paused midstride and emitted a loud coughing gargle. Ropes of mucus quivered between his fleshy lips. Paroxysms gripped him and his shoulders quivered. It took Argsplat a moment to realize that he was laughing.
"I have no quarrel with you, brave ogre, but I will mount this bridge," the daemon snickered.
"Then you shall die." Argsplat swung his meataxe and severed the creature's right arm with one mighty blow. "You are defeated. Now stand aside."
The daemon couldn't contain his mirth. More choking sounds and shudders ensued. " 'Tis but a scratch!"
"A scratch? Your arm's off!"
"I've had worse."
"Actually... I know how you feel," Argsplat mused.
The daemon grinned and swept his Bale-sword low, splintering Argsplat's wooden legs.
"Right! I'll do you for that!" from Argsplat's new, somewhat lower position, he had an unobstructed view of the daemon's oedematous legs. The meat axe swung twice, and the daemon joined him on the ground.
The Unclean One grinned at his oozing stumps. "Just a flesh wound. I'm invincible!"
"You're a looney...."
"Nurgle always triumphs! Have at you!"
With his one remaining arm he struck a heavy over hand blow with the bale sword. This would have split Argsplat from right shoulder to left waist had the ogre not raised his hook in a desperate parry. The blow was deflected, but the hook was torn from its socket.
The daemon's follow through left him vulnerable for a split second as his festering arm crossed his body. The meat axe swung true, and the daemon's sword arm joined the growing pile of appendages on the pavement.
Argsplat pointed at the daemon's limbless torso with his axe. "Victory is mine."
The daemon coughed and gargled again. This time it was not laughter. A stream of corrosive bile spurted from the daemon's mouth and onto Argsplat's outstretched arm. Flesh and tendons melted from crumbling bone.
Argsplat paused to assess the damage. His arm below the elbow had been dissolved.
"All right. We'll call it a draw."
The daemon gargled in mirth again. From the oozing stumps of his arms and legs, yellow headed boils erupted. They swelled and burst, releasing stinking pus and tiny vestigial limbs. The limbs quickly regenerated to their original size.
"I like this game," the daemon giggled as he lifted Argsplat by the shoulders.
Argsplat's eye swam. This close to the daemon's face he was unable to escape the daemon's feculent halitosis. He pulled his head back as far as he could.
"Time for round two?" asked the daemon.
Argsplat slammed his rocklike head into the daemon's brow.
The head butt made a hollow sound, like pair of colossal coconut halves being clapped together. The impact caused a depressed fracture of the creature's skull. The intracranial pressure build up was sufficient to force the daemon's rotten brains to ooze out of his blobby ears.
"Victory is mine." Argsplat declared as he dragged himself back to the ogre lines. The remaining daemons of Nurgle began to mill about in disarray.
Caneghem and Rodekhil had tried brute strength, leverage, hammer blows and bad language on the cube of the Old Ones with no success. Chotec's engine stubbornly refused to release its grasp.
Rhodekhil glanced over and saw that Argsplat had squirmed back to the ogre line. "Argsplat!" he yelled desperately, "Lend a hand will you!"
Argsplat apologetically held up two ragged stumps.
"A hand? That's it!" Caneghem cried, "Rodekhil come here!"
The skink priest inspected the hand shaped imprint on the back of the engine. The four fingered lizardmen could release the power stored in the cube by pressing a hand into the print. What would happen if five fingers were inserted?
Caneghem gestured to Rodekhil to press his fingers into the depressions. Then he cringed back.
Rodekhil seemed equally reluctant to perform this experiment. He gingerly placed his fingers into the grooves one by one, and finally pushed his trembling thumb home.
With an unimpressive click, the clamps released. The cube tumbled onto the howdah. Caneghem snatched it up and scampered to the temple mouth. "Come!" he called over his shoulder.
The other Lizardmen turned to follow, but were distracted by a commotion at the base of the ramp. A well ordered phalanx of Bloodletters of Khorne were thrusting through the disorganized swarms of Nurglings. At their head was a winged fiend many times their size.
"Fall back! Fall back to the temple!" Rodekhil herded his remaining ironguts through the arch and dragged Argsplat behind him. Bob, Joe and Rychek moved to follow.
"What about Bessie? And Rudolph?" Mahtis asked.
"They can't fit through the door. Come on!" Joe urged.
"We can't leave them." Mahtis planted his feet.
"It's okay," Rychek held up his hands in a placating gesture. He whispered into Bessie's ear-hole and stood well back.
The usually placid beast's eyes bulged, and she bellowed with apprehension. She tucked her head down, presenting a wall of bony plates, and thundered blindly down the ramp.
Rudolph the Rhinox saw his sweetheart disappearing, bellowed, and gave pursuit. Those daemon's that dodged or survived the bony wrecking ball had scant time to recover before confronting the tossing horns of the battering ram that followed. The pair careened off the ramp and into the wild night beyond.
The phalanx of Khornelings was no longer quite so well ordered.
"I've seen you do that before. What do you say to her?" Bob asked.
"Oh, I just tell her that the Karak Andstick Combined Pipes and Drums are coming back." replied Rychek.
Bob, Joe, Rychek and the fretting Mahtis entered the jaws of the Dinner Gong Chamber. Caneghem had already passed through to go to his master's side.
The ogre troopers had somehow released the great brass gong from its chains. They rolled it across the gaping arch as soon as the lizardmen came into the refuge. They began to reinforce the barricade with the kitchen supplies that had been neatly stacked on one side of the chamber.
The lizards found Rodekhil binding kitchen utensils onto the stumps of Argsplat's legs with lengths of rawhide. He already had a rolling pin and frypan lashed to his arms.
"What are you doing?" asked Rychek.
Rodekhil looked up, "I'm assembling my troops...."
"No time for that! Come!"
Argsplat waved him away with the pan. "The lads will hold for as long as need be. Go."
Rodekhil blinked tears from his eyes and looked to clasp hands with his most trusted trooper. He eventually settled for tugging Argsplat's left earlobe. The irongut himself snapped a crisp salute and knocked himself out cold with the frypan.
The clang seemed louder than it should have. Then it echoed again and again. Rodekhil saw that the brass gong was being struck with heavy blows.
"Ironguts!" Rodekhil addressed the bare half dozen that still stood. "You will hold here, by whatever means are necessary."
The battered soldiers nodded grimly as he lumbered away through the arch and onto the bridge.
The Exalted Bloodthirster of Khorne was still experiencing the after effects of the sensual attack of Slaanesh's Keeper of Secrets. In addition to his usual rage, he found that other emotions continued to intrude. On the whole, they were not unpleasant.
He had felt satisfaction as he broke the physical body of the hated Slaaneshi and banished his essence back to the Chaos realm.
When he called the Bloodletters to his side, he felt pride at their disciplined savagery.
As he approached the barricaded temple, he felt anticipation. Soon Lord Khorne's thirst would be slaked with the blood of a mighty Slann Mage Priest.
He struck at the brass disk which sealed the temple and felt delight as it gave way slightly under the onslaught of his dully glowing axe. He struck again and again until there was a thin rent many feet across.
Impatience possessed him, and he cast the axe to the ground. He seized the edges of the fissure with two powerful hands and bent the edges back until the hole was wide enough for him to thrust his head and shoulders through.
On the other side he was confronted by six puny ogres. The amusement he felt lasted until he saw what they held in their hands.
Each one held a spork, laden with steaming mashed potato. On the shaft of each spork was a gleaming dwarven rune of accuracy.
The Bloodthirster experienced a new feeling. This one started as a hard knot in his stomach and rose to flood his whole body with debilitating weakness.
The feeling was fear.
To Chapter 27 The False Moon
To Chapter 27 The False Moon