|The Hammer Falls; Pre-Zundap Fluff|
|Tweet Topic Started: 2nd January 2005 - 01:56 PM (1,597 Views)|
|CaptainClark||24th January 2005 - 07:08 PM Post #16|
Prince of Bretonnia
By Khilkhret Foe-slayer
Khilkhret Foe-Slayer made sure the Princess was comfortable. On the chair she was sitting in, he had placed several cushions, and the goblets were laid out. He had made sure there were no poisons in either of them or in the wine. Oh, the wine, he had to get the wine... great. He got up, and walked over to the shelf, where the wine was.
As he walked behind her, Princess Leah awoke, and took in her unfamiliar surroundings. This room was definitly not one of the kinsmen; the ceiling was too low, the air too stale, and the walls were made of rock, not tents. Then, she realized an unfamiliar person was behind her, and attacked. She drove her elbow into his gut, knocking him down, and stood up. She went to draw her sword and run the rat through, except that her captors had been smart enough to remove the sword earlier. Instead, she blasted the stunned rat, and he rolled out of the way.
Khilkhret bounced up, dodging the first spell. The second one caught his tenebrous cloak and riccoched off. the third one he jumped clean over, and blew up the 2000 year old vase he'd 'acquired' from a Khemrian merchant. But, he let the fourth bolt hit him full in the chest, flattening him against the wall.
"So, this is how you treat... your rescuer?" Khilkhret croaked in high pitched, but otherwise flawless Breton. "My... my men rescued you from Clan Verak's slave-takers, and you try to kill-kill me? So much for gratitude..."
His words bought him a little more time. He used it to fall to the floor, stand up, and say, "First-first of all, I mean you no harm. Secondly, if you were to kill-kill me, where would you go? There are nothing but miles and miles of skaven-filled tunnels, and I-I am the only one of them who will protect you... A woman of your figure would be enslaved in seconds, or minutes, counting your magic... Thirdly, as soon as you want, I will lead-lead you home... I just advise we wait till the morning, since my appearance at night will not be welcome, even with you there..."
By this time, he had walked back to the table, and pulled himself up to the seat. "Pardon me... your magic dealt more damage than I expected..." Off of one of the shelves, he pulled a jar, and smashed it on his chest. He quickly turned his back, and whimpered as the Skalm ate away at his torn skin, damaged flesh, and broken bones. He shivered as the warpstone regenerated the wounds, and sat down heavily on the floor. "Ow... That stuff always stings..." he muttered, still in Breton. "Sorry about that... Please, sit-sit, eat, drink. I'm not trying to poison you- there are easier ways to kill an unconscious person." Khilkhret grinned, and kept talking. "What do you think of the food? The wine? The room? It cost-cost me quite a lot, and I hope it is up to your standards..."
Princess Leah did not take her eyes off her 'rescuer' and said, "Well, itís... uh... nice." She obviously did not trust the Skaven, and was uncertain what to say.
The Assassin sat down at the table, and stared for a moment at the silverware. Princess Leah faintly heard, "Um... salad fork-fork is the small one, I think," and the Skaven began to take some of the salad. Then, he stared at the goblets and glasses for a while, and eventually poured the wine into the wineglass. "Do you want some? Its elven wine-wine, from Ulthuan. Two-thousand-years old."
Princess Leah looked cautiously at the Skaven, and the offered wine. He seemed genuine enough, and he had poured himself some wine from the same pitcher. Still...there was the possibility it was something other then wine... But then, she really didn't have much choice. Slowly she nodded ďYes...please."
Once again, Khilkhret hesitated as he looked at the glasses. There was nothing in the book on Brettonian Etiquette on how to pour wine- he guessed the slaves, or 'servants' as the humans called them, did it. He settled for filling the glass halfway. He took a sip of his goblet, and said, "Skrarkav. Um... I don't know-know the word in Breton... good and rare? Like a... jeweled egg-egg?"
"You mean exquisite?" the Princess asked as she raised the glass to her lips, letting the heady scent of the wine fill her nostrils as she kept her gaze on him from above the rim of the goblet.
"Ah, yes. Exquisite. The wine is exquisite. Very..." He glanced down, as if reading something in his lap. "Piquant. I hope you like it, its worth about more-more than the rest of this room put together."
She raised one eyebrow quizzically "really?" she said, risking a glance around at her surroundings, taking them in and evaluating them, before taking a sip of the wine... Princess Leah sampled the wine, and savored it for a moment. Two thousand years of alcoholic history streamed over her tongue and down her throat, in one brief, but enjoyable, moment. "I do believe you are correct...that is indeed an...exquisite..." she smiles "...wine. My compliments on its fine selection and your fine taste"
"Itís the oldest bottle I have-have, at least of elven wines. I have a human 'wine' that is from before Sigmar's time, but that would turn-turn to vinegar as soon as I opened it..." Then, Khilkhret made a mistake. He ate some salad. A lightning fast grimace crossed his face, and he hesitated. He continued chewing, slowly and deliberately, as if determined to finish the mouthful no matter the cost. Since he'd started it, Khilkhret knew he had to finish it. Maybe the 'salad dressing' would be of use... After trying it with that, he nearly gagged. He thought *No wonder human children don't eat-eat their vegetables!*
As the assassin had his adverse reaction to surface greenery, she hid her lips with the glass, by taking another sip, as it is bad etiquette to laugh at a host, no matter how much he deserves it. "Are you all right? Is there something wrong with the salad?"
Khilkhret coughed, and swallowed. After some queekish swearing, he reverted back to Breton and said, "Salad... Never had salad before-fore... It seems like an acquired taste, yes-yes?"
The princess suppressed a giggle, and said, "Well, I suppose you could say that... But, you haven't eaten salad before? Ever?"
Khilkhret almost grinned, and replied, "No, this is my first time. I've never had any kind-kind of surface vegetables before. But, we still need to get the same nutrients, and more of them, so Skaven find a different source- Black Grain. Right now, Black Grain is so expensive, it costs-costs me thousands of warptokens every month to feed my followers. As you can see, that's not-not even a drop in the bucket, to use one of your metaphors." He gestures towards the opulent room.
The princess replied with a question: "Warptokens? What are those?" Behind her look of curiosity, there was some serious cognition going on. Black Grain was supposed to be fatally poisonous in meal-sized quantities. It was a good thing she hadn't eaten anything- it could kill her.
"Warptokens... they are like... uh..." Khilkhret fumbled for words, and eventually settled on a different route, "each-each one represents a lot of currency. The Council of 13, which is the... rulers of the Underempire, sends caravans around to every clan each year-year, and take at least one tenth-tenth of that clan's Warpstone. They then exchange it for 'warptokens'. Each warptoken is very-very valuable, worth lots of stuff. A warptoken can buy... one warptoken is worth enough food for 100 Clanrats for 30 days-days. Or you can get twenty humans, or three elves. Or, five of them can buy a Rat Ogre. Warptokens are big money."
She'd raise an eyebrow slightly and quite diplomatically say ďI see...that's very interesting. So they are your form of Currency?" She pretended to ignore the parts about Warpstone and slavery, as to avoid problems.
Khilkhret chuckled. "Well, sort-sort of. The main currency is 'shiny'. Anything that shines, glistens, or reflects is shiny. Everything from glass to rubies, tin to ithilmar. Things like glass and tin are called-called 'small shiny', while things like copper, and crystals are just 'shiny-shiny'. Gold, silver, and gems are 'big shiny'. Of course, since its-its a barter currency, different shinies are worth different amounts different places. Some shiny is so... shiny, itís worth warptokens. Like that goblet- it is worth-worth three warptokens. You can keep-keep it if you want."
She smiled "Thank you...that is quite generous of you, but I have enough and would not wish to deprive you of something so valuable. You have the most fascinating economic system I must say....its fascinating...and very confusing."
Khilkhret chuckled again. "Yes-yes, it is a little confusing. But, we grow up with it, and so we know it well-well. If we were to grow up on the Brettonian Crowns system, we would know-know that system..."
He took another sip of the wine, and noticed that Princess Leah had not touched the food. "Do you not like the food-food? It was very expensive, since surface food is so hard to get-get these days. Its all from the surface, no Black Grain, Dark Fruits, or anything-thing that could make a surfacer sick."
"I see...is that so?" she said cautiously, carefully picking up a leaf of the salad and carefully taking a nibble of it. It tasted like a normal leaf of lettuce. "Of course! I'm not-not trying to poison you; like I said, there are easier ways to kill someone."
She smiled again, cautiously...."of course." She took another nibble of the food. It was obvious that she still didn't completely trust him...but what trust she did have seemed to be growing.
Khilkhret smiled, and helped himself to one of the steaks. Instead of the ravenous, ill-mannered rat she had expected him to become, he cut the stake into small pieces, and ate them individually. The rat must be being very careful not to appear ravenous, or else he was just naturally polite. He'd obviously practiced this, and was probably deliberately holding back his hunger. But, what was the steak actually made of? A cursory examination said beef, but knowing Skaven, Leah could never be certain. "Exactly what kind of steak is that?"
Khilkhret nearly spoke with his mouth full, but stopped, and finished his meat before saying, "I'm not exactly sure what the word is... Big, with four legs? Eats grass, has a tiny tail, and sometimes horns-horns? Farmers get milk out of them. They go 'MOO!' when disturbed?"
Leah smiled, not quite able to stop herself giggling at this "You mean a Cow?" she asked, amussed. "So beef?"
Khilkhret grinned. Not only was he amusing his guest, but he was learning more and more about her language. "Beef-beef, that's it. It's beef. Humans eat beef, right?" He looked worried for a moment, fearing he made the wrong choice. But, his worry was dissolved when she smiled and nodded "Yes...we eat Beef."
As soon as she finished her sentence, there was a knock at the door. It was the kind of knock that did not want to disturb anyone inside, a knock that was afraid of the person who's attention it was getting. Khilkhret said, "One-one moment..." and dissapeared out the door.
The princess could not hear any of the conversation that was whispered outside. Instead of finishing the meal, she took the oppurtunity to get a better view of her surroundings. When Leah heard footsteps leading away from the room, she tried to contact her sister, Aimee, magically. *Its worth a shot...*
Leah began to concentrate. There was some... resistance from something nearby, but it was quickly overcome. In fact, the spell progressed quite quickly, and she established contact in a matter of seconds.
"Aimee?...Sister?......Aimee, are you there?" Leah thought, concentrating, trying to send the magical message and make contact.
"Leah? Is that you?!?" she heard her sisters telepathic reply.
"Yes, it's me..." Leah sent the mental message back.
"Where are you? Are you alright?" her sister replied urgently.
"Yes...I'm fine." Leah answered reassuringly.
"Where are you? What happened???" her sister sent back again, worry and concern filling the message.
"I was attacked and kidnapped by a Skaven Assassin. Don't worry...I'm fine. I'm in a skaven warren...I think."
"Where? We found an assassins dagger..." Her sister sent, again, worry permeating the message.
"I told you, I'm in some sort of Skaven Warren...I don't know where exactly...I was unconscious when they brought me here. Don't worry I'm al-"
The Magical link was disrupted as Leah suddenly felt nauseous and light headed and momentarily lost the connection with her sister as her concentration was interrupted.
"Uhg...I shouldn't have eaten that food..." she thought to herself. She didn't doubt the skaven when he said it wasn't poisoned, it was just, for the past week or two she'd been feeling sick on and off, especially in the mornings and after eating.
"Leah? Are you alright? Leah?!?!" her sisters voice rang frantically in her head as the telepathic link was re-established.
"Yes...yes...I'm fine. Just a momentary dizzy spell..." she reassured her sister.
"I thought something had happened." She heard her sisters light voice in her head, filled with concern.
"Don't worry about me, I'm fine." Leah said again, hep lips silently mouthing the words as she closed her eyes.
"Are you sure?" Aimee's worry was obvious over the mental link, and Leah couldn't help but smile at her sisters touching concern.
"Yes...I'm sure." Nearby, Leah heard footsteps approaching just beyond the door. "I have to go. Tell everyone I'm alive...and unharmed. I don't think I'm in any danger. Tell everyone not to worry."
Just before finishing the spell, Leah sent one final surge of encouragement and reassurance down the Link. "Don't worry my sister...we will be re-united soon. Have faith in that."
Aimee's final message coursed down the link in response, "I do..." along with a surge of Love, Hope and encouragement of her own, filling Leah with Joy and warmth.
Breaking contact and ending the spell, Princess Leah opened her eyes, fixing them on the door, just as the handle began to turn...
Khilkhret came into the room, and said, "It looks-looks like we might be able to get you home sooner than we thought! Kitlri said that the tunnels are cleared, and that it is safe-safe for us to leave."
"Oh...well that's good news." The Princess looked relieved.
"Yes-yes... Would you like to finish the meal-meal, or should we leave now?" Khilkhret asked.
"Ummm....well, I don't mind. We can finish the meal if you would like, though, yes, I am anxious to get back to my friends.."
Khilkhret grinned- a sight that looked far more vicious and hungry than it was supposed to. "That is fine-fine. But, before we leave-leave, I have to give the Kinsmen one more gift." He opened the door, and gestured to the hallway, where a large group of humans were standing. "Former slaves, taken from the Overcity of Zundap. Let us just say that not all skaven think it is our time to rise up and conquer the surfaceworld..."
Leah was speechless, as the three warring thoughts of Gratitude, horror and at the back of her mind, worry, struggled for control. At long last she said "Thank you....This is a most generous gift......Thank you."
Khilkhret's grin continued. "Freedom often is considered a gift... But, we know that it is a right-right... All that I ask in return is that the Kinsmen do not-not give up your mission, no matter how grim it looks- and if you ever need help, send a scout wearing all red-red into the tunnels. My rats will arrive in minutes. Now, we must move silently- there are creatures in these tunnels that are best left undisturbed..."
Leah nodded and rose from her seat "Thank you." she said quietly, and prepared to follow her Skaven host.
They slipped silently through the tunnels, with a squad of rats ahead and behind. It was about twenty minutes until the Princess had lost track of the twists and turns, and another ten before they stopped. The gutter runners surrounding Leah and Khilkhret waited, while Khilkhret motioned for the Princess to follow him up a tunnel. It opened up on the outside of the Kinsmen camp, just within the forest, out of sight of the sentries.
Khilkhret said, "You-you can go...Goodbye for now."
The Princess, who had been looking longingly at the camp, said, "Huh? You're leaving?" as she turned around. Where the assassin had been there was nothing but forest. Alone, Leah, Princess of Bretonnia walked towards the Kinsmen camp.
The princess strode quickly past the perimeter guards - they would recognize her and let her through without question, and she didn't have time to explain anyway. She simply nodded to one of the guards as she passed, and he responded "Welcome back, Princess", the complete meaning of his words not sinking in until she was long out of their sight. Then, much later one of them turned to the other and asked "Wait, weren't she supposed t' been kidnapped or somethin'?"
Leah headed straight to the royal tent...her sister's tent. She knew that Aimee had been very worried about her, after all, and it was all she could do to end that worry. She stopped just outside the tent, and softly called, "Aimee?" and waiting a few seconds. When there was no reply she stuck her head through the tent flap, and called her sister again.
Aimee jumped up as Leah stepped into the tent. "Leah!!" She yelped in suprise and delight, then, regaining her composure, "...You're looking well..." she continued, more formerly, trying to keep a straight face and stop herself running over and hugging her sister, as she leant in, inspecting her, smiling, barely able to contain her joy at seeing her sibling again. Leah smiled and said "I told you we'd be reunited soon..."
Aimee laughed lightly, the sound of her gentle laughter was like wind blowing softly through a set of musical chimes. "You did indeed..." she giggled. Then, she gave her sister a hug. "You are alright...right?" she asked solemly.
Leah hugged her sister back and kissed her lightly on each cheek, replying "Of course...I'm fine.". Aimee returned the gesture, a traditional greeting among close friends or family of the upper class of Bretonnia.
Suddenly, Aimee jumped backwards with a squeal of fear and surprise. Her staff seemed to appear in her hands without travelling through the space between. "EEP!...Ummm...L-Leah...you do realise there's a Skaven behind you?" she said franticly, her eyes locked on the man-rat standing behind her sister. She was already standing in a combat ready stance as her reflexes took over. Leah whirled around as her sister yelled the warning, ready to fight herself. Then, she relaxed. "Oh!...No, he's a friend! He helped me escape! Aimee, this is Khilkhret..."
Khilkhret bowed and said in accented Breton "I am Deathmaster Khilkhret Foe-Slayer, one of the thirteen-thirteen Master Assassins of Clan Eshin. Let us just say-say that not all of us find the conquest of Zundap to have been a good-good idea... I cannot stay long, so I will tell-tell you this. Let whoever is in charge-charge know that if they ever need help, they should send a soldier clad-clad in all red into the tunnels. We will aid-aid our allies. Also, this-this goblet is a gift to the Kinsmen- consider it an emblem of our aliance..."
Khilkhret was suddenly cut off by a soldier calling outside the tent, saying a group of humans in tettered clothing had just arrived at the camp. Both princesses glance breifly at the tent flap, and then returned their gaze to Khilkhret, only to find him gone. Where the Assassin had been standing there was just an empty space - he had vanished...
|CaptainClark||24th January 2005 - 07:09 PM Post #17|
Prince of Bretonnia
They were running in the light swirling fog.
A men, an Elf and a dwarf; three Kinsmen searching for their lost, captive comrades taken away by the accursed rat-men.
The day was dying and they were still running; they had to run and catch the Skaven before they reached their destination or there would be no hope to save the others.
They were running with all their strength, but it was not easy to follow the tracks of the vermin. The ground was soft and treacherous, and the air started to become filled with foul vapours.
"The gods curse a million times these chaos spawned rat-men!" Shouted Durog with his deep, dwarfish voice "This ground is not natural, and Iím sinking into it up to my knees!"
"Do not Grumble Lord Ironheart." Said Prince Clark. "Youíre not the only one who finds it difficult to move in this marsh." he continued from just ahead of the dwarf.
Before them Prince Silverleaf of Ulthuan suddenly stopped and rose an arm.
The two Kinsmen behind him froze themselves.
"What have you seen, Brent?" asked the Bretonnian Prince.
"Thereís something before us...aboust a dozen yards, maybe a little more... It seems to have a humanoid shape..." said the Elven Prince in reply.
"Yes...I can see it too now, But...itís smaller then a human..." said the Bretonnian Knight.
"So...Itís one of the vermin. Well, good...better this way." Said Durog raising his battle-axe "we can gently ask him where his friendss have gone..."
"No...something is wrong..." whispered Clark "He should had spotted us already...and definately heard us. Your threat with your axe was none too subtle my friend. Still he does not move. Why?"
"Well, provided he stays still and is not moving...let me check this thing, my Kinsmen" the Elf said in a whisper as he walked as silently and lightly as the spring wind, nearing the figure almost noiselessly, not even the wet ground beneath his feet making a sound. Stopping, he rose his hand, signing his two comrades to come closser.
When they arrived, a nightmarish vision appeared before them out of the mists.
Impaled by his own halberd, the dead body of the stormvermin stood with a raised hand and writing on his armour. A writing made surely by his own blood. But the letters of the bloody writing were the only blood remaining on, or in, the body of the rat-man.
"By the tears of Isha...who...what could have done such an horrible thing?" asked a visibly shocked Silverleaf.
"The body of this Rat had been completely drained of all his bloodÖ What happened here?" echoed Lord Ironheart into the mist.
Clark, who was much more practice in such affairs was kneeling down, examining the body. "Donít ask me who or what has done this...but this Skaven didnít die from the loss of blood, but from this..." The Knight turned the head of the skaven and showed the other the obviously broken neck.
"A single blowÖ fiuuu, our mystery killer must posses a great strength to do this..." Concluded Durog from behind him.
Clark looked at the red letters on the skaven body "I can read this..." he frowned, reading the bloody letters scrawled across teh Skaven's armour. "It's written Breton" he said, frowning deeper.
"Bretonnian ?! Are you sure Clark ?" grumbled a shocked Durog.
"Quite Sure..." the Prince frowned, struggling to read the words. "It says... Follow my Blood"
"Follow my Blood ?! Whatís this? A joke ?!" Shouted the dwarf lord, grabbing his axe tightly in his hands.
"It is no joke." Said Brent quietly. The elven prince was kneeling near the body looking at something on the ground. "If you were wondering where the Skaven's blood had disappeared to, Iíve the answer my friends."
He stood up and pointed his finger to the ground. A thin red, bloody line could be clearly seen on the soft earth, heading east.
Splinter Blacktail, actting commander of the Stormvermin was fairly satisfied; they had taken captive a great number of those foolish Kinsmen, who tried to retake his Zundap.
"Fool-Fools !" he spat on the ground. "Many Kinsmen taken-taken, and many breeders and reward for myself!" he grinned gleefully. "Iíll become-come the new-new hero-hero after this mission!"
Well, admittedly, there had been casualties to...too many casualties really, but who cared? It wasn't his problem...his predecessor had been incompetant. He was alive and full of prisoners, and this was more than good enough for him.
"Stop-stop daylight dreaming, you fool-fool." Said the voice of Darkmuzzle, leader of the gutter-runners, from behind his back. "It was my trainees who saved your tail-tail, and those of your stormvermin-vermin."
"Shut your jaw-jaws, we will-will talk of that in the City-city." answered Splinter "Now, think-think only to scout us safely back-back to Zundap."
"The captured-things are slowing-slowing us too much. I think it would be better-better to reduce their number..." Squeaked the assassin.
"Reducing-reducing my slave-slaves?!" the Stormvermin snapped angrily ďNever-never !! Besides...I have my Orders. All the Kinsmen were to be captured...alive-live. Now youíd better show-show us the way to the City orÖ"
"Or what-what? Remember stupid-stupid! Without me youíll never-never exit from this marsh alive!" Shouted Darkmuzzle angrilly, snarling at the larger Skaven. HJe was quite confident that despite the other Skaven's size, he could take him if it came to a fight.
"Quiet you two-two! I smell some-thing-thing..." Said Sharpclaw Greymane, Splinters lieutenant.
"None of you will exit from this marsh alive anyway, he he he..." A chilling voice passed over the three skaven commanders like an icy breeze.
"What was-was it!?" squeaked Splinter suddenly full of terror.
Darkmuzzle instinctively rose his twin blades, his senses strained to the breaking point to locate the source of this voice, but he couldnít grasp its location. There was nothing else than the thick fog surrounding them and their warriors.
"What was it-it?! Eh, assassin, What was-was that voice?!" Demanded Blacktail.
"It was...It was nothing-nothing." Answered Darkmuzzle, trying to sound confident, yet still trembling under his cloak. "Yes, nothing-nothing, only a bad joke-joke of the wind. A trick...no more-more."
"If it was nothing...then why do you shake so?" The chill voice washed over them again, filling them with Dread. The voice was terrorising them. The Voice of the Dead.
Not far from the three skaven and their warriors, a pair of glowing eyes lit up, shining in the mists of the marsh and a fanged mouth opened in a spiteful smile towards the vermin...
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