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Ground Zero - Chapter Ten; Nightmares from the past
Topic Started: 13th November 2004 - 11:34 AM (800 Views)
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Is writing Dragon Age fanfiction

Prologue, Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four, Chapter Five, Chapter Six, Chapter Seven, Chapter Eight, Chapter Nine

[This is my current NaNoWriMo project. 50 000 words from Nov 1st to Nov 30th. It is not proofread or grammar checked, so please be gentle. I'm writing during my lunch hour at work, where the computers are too old to have the english spellchecker for word installed. Long live wordpad! I will edit, proofread and streamline it once I am done. Wordcount so far: 19 057 (deadline minimum 16 000)]

~Chapter Ten~

Deep inside oblivion. Inside the mind and dreams of Rattsu the Black.

Rattsu could taste the blood in his mouth now. Could feel his heartbeat thundering away in his chest. With his nose filled with clotted blood he could not draw a deep enough breath, panting through half open jaws, red dots staining his vision.

Red dots staining the ground.


Both their blood.

Flexing his clawed hands around the hilts of the pair of curved blades, Rattsu smiled, baring blooded fangs at his adversary. The huge black shadow shifted in his vision, from the scarlet gore covered skin of the exalted daemon, to the darkly polished armour of... of... NO.

This had to be a dream.

But in his dream he still smiled, still carried two arms, two hands, and two curved black blades that could be wielded with speed and precision. The blades he had won from the chieftain he had slain to reach this position, as the youngest chieftain ever to be scar-sworn into the service of the great clan Hissvin. How the grizzled warlord had smirked then, perhaps seeing in the young rat's eyes the same ambition that had carried him to his seat of power. Ambition to be nurtured. Ambition to be crushed. For what young ambitious rat would say no to a chance to prove himself? To a chance to rise even more in power? And if that path was a dangerous and hard one, what rat would turn back? Most would... but those that did not became the leaders. Because they dared. Until one day they dared too much.

Rattsu knew that.

But it was far better to risk everything on his own skills and daring than to wait quietly for a dagger in the back. As long as he moved forward, there would be less opportunity for that feared shadow to sneak up behind him and claim his life. Far better to face the dangers head on. Far better to take the assignments given, conquering every one of them. To ground dead-things to dust beneath his paws. To tear the man-things to shreds. To run the goblins down. To crack the shelled armour of the dwarves. All tasks he had done for his warlord... and all tasks that had brought him more power, more glory. Already no other rat dared to challenge his position in a contest of arms.

And perhaps that was why he was smiling now.

Because he had met his match. Because the man in the dark ornate armour in front of him was not only his equal, but his better. Faster. Stronger. More skilled. More experienced. With better arms and armour. And yet, Rattsu had made him bleed. The tanned face was contorted with fury, looking down in disbelief at the stains of blood on his mailed hand where he had touched his face. Where there once been smooth planes of perfection now a hideous gash marred the symmetry. One eye had been punctured, and the blood could not conceal the horror of that shrunken pale sack that remained in the hollow.

"Pretty-pretty face man-thing." Rattsu slipped back a few steps, licking the black curve of his short blade. "Carve rune-scratch into it I will. Impale it on your cult-altar to scare more man-things away. These tunnels are vermin-home. You man-things should stay out." His hind-legs tensed, sending him into a quick lunge at the tall man-thing, keeping low to the ground to avoid that long gleaming sword that had already left numerous gashes all over his flesh.

"Fool!" The man-thing did not laugh anymore, but simply parried the quick hail of blows that Rattsu aimed at him, one swift kick sending the rat flying towards the tunnel wall, ribs cracked from the armoured boot. "The cult of Hashtaaroth has claimed this sunken temple for our own. The eye of chaos will be opened and you are nothing in the face of that withering gaze."

Rattsu coughed more blood, feeling his cracked ribs sending blinding stabs of pain through his flesh with every breath. Good. Pain was good, pain brought clarity, pain brought determination and that time when everything slowed down into nothingness. When he could SEE where the blows would land, which way to step, which path to send his blades down. "Man-thing is man-thing and below the ground no eye will see. Here the Great Horned Rat rules, not your distant god-god of chaos." This was a dream, had to be a dream, but in his dream he still spoke each word, still followed each motion though he knew what the conclusion would be.

The loss he would bear.

"As I said, a fool." The exalted champion of chaos strode forward, his rune-armour ablaze with the unholy symbols of his devotion. Rattsu could not penetrate that shell. He had tired and failed, his blades skimming over the forged steel, helpless to break through. They were crafted to fight rats, to fight the things under the ground that bore little or no armour. They were not crafted to deal with dwarf-things... or with this. "And now you die." And the blade descended in a gleaming arch of purplish light, faster than any blow that Rattsu could parry.

It didn't hurt. Not at first. The blade clove precisely through armour and arm both, sending one of the blades clattering to the floor, still clutched by the jerking hand. Rattsu looked in disbelief at the stump of flesh that remained, his upper arm cleft in two by the man-things attack. It was gone.


"Greet your gods, rat." The champion reached down and grabbed Rattsu by the throat, easily hoisting the rat to his feet, drinking in the terror and agony as if it had been the finest of wines. Slowly the fist tightened, choking the rat slowly, laughing at the ineffectual scrapings of the remaining blade. There was no power left in that arm anymore, all strength escaped with the red stream that flowed from the stump of the other arm.

He was dying. Rattsu knew that. But as he let go of the remaining sword, desperately clawing at the hand that choked him, he spied something moving behind the man-thing. Unseen, one of the surviving Scryre teams had returned from the tunnels where their cowardly flight had taken them during the battle with the cult. And now when the fight was nearly over they had dared to sneak back to the sunken temple, probably to see whether there was anything left looting. And thus they had found the two survivors, locked in single combat. Rattsu's tail twitched and he fought for breath enough to scream an order.

"Stubborn vermin." The champion laughed at Rattsu's struggles, releasing the grip just a fraction to prolong the suffering. After all the rat deserved an agonising death for the damage he had wrought to his perfect face. But what was that noise...

Rattsu could feel the grip easing up a fraction and choked out "Kill-kill! Shoot it!" Right now he didn't care whether he lived or died, but this man-thing would tumble into the abyss with him. Nobody laughed at Rattsu the black and got away with it. Nobody.

"No!" The champion turned, attempting to strike the weapon team down, but he had a large and very irate rat now clinging to his arm with the grip of the dying, refusing to let go, slowing him down. Fatally so.

The weapon team opened fire, as much from fear as from the barked order, and a hail of bullets riddled the man-thing. The roar of the gun was deafening, the impacts ate through the ornate armour, tearing off huge chunks with each shot, a final bullet making the champions head explode like a chestnut in a fire. Thrown back from the impact, both bodies hit the altar, limp and lifeless.

But not quite dead.

Rattsu pushed aside the corpse with his last strength, it had shielded him from most of the shots, or perhaps the Horned rat had truly held his paw over him. With his remaining arm he tore away the shimmering charm that had gleamed around the champion's neck, warpstone jewel polished to a finish far beyond the skill of most rat-artisans.

He remembered looking into the charm, thinking... thinking that he would rather be damned than having his path stopped here. He would live. He would...

"He's coming to." The smoky voice sounded stronger now, bringing with it memories of a story so strange that it might as well only have been a dream. "Make him drink-drink. Much blood-loss." He could feel paws behind his head and something bitter and foul smelling being forced down his throat. Skalm. Or something much like it. Gagging weakly he swallowed, feeling burning strength return to his limbs, enough to enable him to open his eyes.

The vision that greeted him might as well have been the eternal tunnels of the Horned One. A group of females clustered close around, dark eyes huge with wonder and worry. The scents here were safe, clan marks strong, no enemies and the only blood here was his own. Safe. He was safe. They were safe. He had sacrificed too much to rekindle his clan again, he would not let their first breeders be harmed. Not by anything.

"Welcome back-back warlord." The smoky voice had a face now, that of a female with pale grey fur and dark eyes, as black as obsidian. "The Horned Rat be praised. The axe-wound was not as bad-bad as we thought." She moved slim clawed paws over his shoulder, where only the faintest trace of the horrible wound could now be seen. The pain came from other sources, from the sword stabs and the daemon claws that had torn into him. None of them life threatening. Just painful. He could already feel strength coursing back into his veins, helped along by the Skalm.

"I... it..." Rattsu's voice felt hoarse, as if he hadn't spoken for days though he knew that only hours could have passed since the battle. He fingered the wound that was no wound, wondering whether he had dreamt it. Had he simply fainted and become confused? Had he simply remembered his other battle, the one that he had dreamt of so vividly right now? "How?" He sat up slowly, causing the females to withdraw, chittering to one another in the shadows, too quiet for him to hear. The grey one remained however.

"You crawl-crawled here through sneak-hole. We cleaned wound-wounds and fed you Skalm." She fingered her tail, sleek fur gleaming in the faint light. "Skalm was parting-gift from last mate. For hard births in new warrens." She smiled, whiskers twitching in dark humour. "Better re-birth than birth-birth."

Skalm could not have healed that wound, of that Rattsu was certain. The foul potion could help the living to heal, it could do little for those as close to death as he would have been. There had to be a better explanation here, and somehow he KNEW that the grey furred female could provide it.


Because right now he had a clan in disarray to tend to.
I am currently writing an epic Dragon Age 2 adventure that can be found HERE!! or on my deviantart.

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