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Unas the slayer

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 1, 2017
1,148
Northern Italy
THE WEIGHT OF OUR ACTIONS

The golden artefact was in the Lord’s Treasury. The priests of the pyramid-temple were prepared to protect it for countless ages.
_____

The first part of the expedition went well, they entered enemy’s land without finding any real opposition, apart the excessive dryness of the heat in that sea of sand. The negligible defenses of the old city were easily crushed by lizardmen forces, and they took the temple near the strange, smooth sided pyramid.
Then, things went wrong. Fragile skeleton warriors started to emerge from the sand itself, an easy prey for the seasoned saurus fighters, but there were more, and more, and more… numerous as skaven, except they didn’t break when burned by salamanders.
They were annoying, but things were still manageable, until the huge decorative statues, revealed themselves as something different.
In the chaos of the city combat, the frontline shattered. At a certain point, Qor-Tec heard the familiar roar of Loq-Loq’s carnosaur… but, almost at the other end of the battleline, he also saw for a brief moment Tepozi’s banner. Qor-Tec desire to join the fray at Loq-Loq’s side was almost a physical need, but surely the skink priest Tepozi would have been near his master, Lord Tlaxli… growling in frustration, Qor-Tec went toward the banner.
_____

So, their forces ended torned in two, and Qor-Tec found himself in the wrong part of the army; Lord Tlaxli was with the Oldblood Loq-Loq, and so their temporary commander was the skink priest Tepozi-Tzin. Qor-Tec was fine with Tepozi, but was worried by the absence of Loq-Loq; the Oldblood could keep in line Qor-Tec’s presumptuous rivals. And they were in open range… not a single tree, not a shade for the skink scouts to hide in, while the mounted vanguards of the enemy would have spotted the lizardmen from miles away. No, it wouldn’t have been an easy walk…
_____

Amon-Rha was standing near the royal sphinx, peering the two diverging clouds of dust.
The High Priest Thutmek was bowing at his side. “The frog-god is in the western army, My King. But we don’t know where the stolen treasure is.”
“No one steals my possessions. I’ll pursue the frog, probably the Plaque is there; but in case it’s a trap, you will take a part of the army, following the eastern fugitives”.
“My King… there lies the Kinslayer. What should I do with him?”
Amon-Rha pondered the choices. Thutmek would have needed some help? Can a traitor ever be trusted again?
“Send him a message. His assistance will be rewarded”.
"Wouldn't the traitor take the treasure for himself?"
The king replied "It has no value to him, and I have other things he desires. Let him know that his outcast status could be softened."
_____

It began as a dusty cloud on the horizon, a rapidly approaching cloud. The sandstorm hit them faster than a Lustrian hurricane. Qor-Tec stood still against the raging sands, the nictitating membranes protecting the pupils. Not that it was of any help, they couldn’t see anything one yard away.
Then, the storm calmed down, forced to kneel before Tepozi’s magic, revealing the approaching enemy units. The wardrums dictated the defensive formation, and the disciplined warriors moved into positions strategically optimized by millennia of warfare.
Qor-Tec was confident; all the saurus near him were spawned from the pool that gave him birth centuries ago, they all shared the same genetic memory and the wisdom of the ancient Oldbloods, previously buried in that same pool. There wasn’t the same link of true spawned brothers, but the tie was strong and they would have followed him everywhere.
The pressure on the lizardmen lines was constantly increasing. Tepozi’s lightning bolts were opening large holes through the attackers, but the bows of the dead were taking a heavy toll, and almost all the saurus warriors were stuck in combat with huge units of skeletons.
The few chariots were trying to surround them, but the Cold One cavalry, leaded by Itza-Uax, was able to keep them away… Itza-Uax lured the chariots where he wanted, and then he acted: the Cold Ones crushed the first line of chariots, then the second one, leaving nothing between the Cold Ones and the screaming catapults… at that point, a dune of sand bursted, revealing some bizarre huge snakes, that charged Itza-Uax on the flank. Even at a distance, Qor-Tec saw the death of the Scarvet, decapitated by a masterful stroke, and his Cold One stabbed by the fangs of the snake-thing. The rest of the cavalry didn’t last much longer.
Qor-Tec realized that things were going bad, when he saw also the unit of Tepozi was fighting. The kroxigors were dealing tremendous damage against their counterpart, some strange large beings with animal heads, but those cursed things were coming back from their apparent death, while the kroxigors didn’t…
Qor-Tec’s unit doubled the efforts against the skeletons they were facing, finally wiping them away, but it was too late. To Qor-Tec’s horror, after the fall of the last kroxigor, Tepozi’s unit broke, with the few survivors running away.
_____

Tepozi was fleeing, and he knew he was short on options. There was another skink cohort ready to be joined, but with no hero, or kroxigors, and then there was a large group of warriors led by a Scarvet: a strong unit but made by saurus; the sense of impending doom was strong.
And Tepozi moved alone, toward Qor-Tec.
_____

“No, it’s a mistake, he cannot find shelter within my unit…” Qor-Tec knew it was wrong, saurus are not fit to guard skink priests. So Qor-Tek stood immobile, without knowing what to do, while Tepozi came closer.
But it wouldn’t have been necessary to take decisions. An arrow pierced Tepozi’s throat, and the priest fell to the ground, spurting blood. Qor-Tec went to his side, already knowing that the fate of his commander was sealed.
Tepozi was holding an engraved gold tablet. Qor-Tec recognized the mark of the Old Ones, and he knew that the item should be brought to Lord Tlaxli, but it was also a sacred object, and he was not supposed to touch it. Tepozi’s last breath, exhaled “takeee…”, and so Qor-Tec took the tablet from the dead hands of the priest, hiding it within his armor.
Then arrows fell like hail upon Qor-Tec’s unit.
_____

The watcher-in-the-sand, was lurking near Tepozi, ready to strike, but when the saurus took the shiny object from the dead skink, he drew back his arm. The big lizard had not gone to the smaller one's aid - he had gone to rob him and leave him to die. “Interesting… maybe almost interesting as Amon-Rha promises”, he thought. “There is no rush to recover the treasure. I will watch this one a little longer”.
_____

In the end, they made it. But losses were staggering… and, as if the loss of Tepozi and Itza-Uax wasn’t enough, Qor-Tec’s companion were all dead; only the champion Gorak survived the slaughter, and now he was silently following Qor-Tec with lifeless eyes. Qor-Tec knew that sensation of void and loss, but now there was a more urgent matter: the tablet was not a burden he could bring by himself.
Tehechi was with his troops. His squadron suffered minimal losses and was one of the most reliable unit still remaining, and so, not surprisingly, Tetechi was acting as if he was the appointed general.
Qor-Tec cursed his weakness. To ask for help, would have put ahead his direct rival for the Oldblood rank, and without the promotion, no chance for Qor-Tec to be buried in his old spawning pool. No inheritance of memories, his name would be forgotten.
But Qor-Tec needed help, so he swallowed his pride, and approached the Scarvet. “Tehechi, I need to talk about an important thing…”
_____

Tetechi saw a defeated Qor-Tec approaching him. The chance to humiliate the rival was a strong temptation, but he also knew that the army was in danger, and that their forces were relying on the two survived veterans… When Qor-Tec talked, Tetechi opted to exploit his advantage.
“I don’t need to talk. Your scars are the mark of defeats. You lead warriors to death, my warriors are still alive. I will be the next general, and my first order is: stay away from me”.
And so Qor-Tec obeyed. There was only a thing he could do.
“Gorak, I need your help…”
Qor-Tec didn’t speak for long, but at the end, Gorak’s eyes were alive again.
_____

The skeletons didn’t even bother to hide their moves. There was only one way home for the lizardmen, and it was through the pass of rocky cliffs placed at the border of the desert sea.
The undead army was there, waiting for them.
Tetechi planned the assault, with his troops in the center, shielded by less reliable units; salamanders and all the remaining shooting on the wings, to protect the center from side attacks. If it worked, Tetechi and his troops would have probably been the only ones returning into the jungle.
But Qor-Tec knew the enemy had different plans and so, when the charge begun, he and Gorak left the army, slipping between the skeleton horsemen, too occupied in pincushioning larger targets to lose time chasing a couple of fugitives.
_____

The watcher-in-the-sand was satisfied. “the commander escapes with his stolen prize, and the soldiers die. Such a beautiful, egoistic behavior…it recalls my youth. I think that Amon-Rha’s interests can wait a little”.
_____

Qor-Tec and Gorak were climbing the rocky slope. From their high point of view, it was easy to see that the army was dying, shredded by magical vortexes. A large group of skeletons halted Tetechi, and sallies were probably already dead, as the only visible flames were breathed by a large lionesque monster.
The two last survivors of the lizardmen’s force, moved out of sight, and proceeded toward South.
After a couple of hours, the breeze was carrying the first, weak jungle smells. Smells of life, and a sort of victory, ‘cause armies can be spawned again, but a Slann’s artefact cannot.
“We are chased”.
Qor-Tec turned. Two large scorpions were tracking their footprints on the sand, it was only a matter of minutes before they would have to fight.
“We’ll wait for them. Set an ambush”.
“No, commander. You go. Your duty is to bring back the tablet, mine is to fight”.
Qor-Tec’s pond was murky. Strong emotions were running through him, something he’d never experienced before. “I don’t want to”.
“You must obey Tepozi’s will. It’s the only way.”
And so Qor-Tec ran away.
_____

The watcher-in-the-sand was excited. “You’re even leaving your friend to die for you. This is better than I could ever hope… I really fear that I shall disappoint the King’s expectations”.
When the scorpions finished with Gorak, they started to follow the trace of the last saurus. But someone had deleted them.
_____

Qor-Tec was tired, but now the horizon was a green line… and much nearer, there was the Slann’s army, successfully escaped to the deadly sands. And a small group of temple guards was heading toward him!
The Scarvet’s relief was immense.
Then his foot sank into a soft hole. A swarm of scarabs emerged at blinding speed from the hole, enveloping the feet and the leg, starting to chew his flesh despite the scaly skin.
Qor-Tec tried to wipe them off, but more scarabs came out, from all around; they were covering him almost entirely now, and the black mass was also building a strange heap just in front of Qor-Tec, forming a sort of man-sized silhouette, enclosing a skull-faced mask. Scarabs were devouring him alive, entering the ears, but leaving intact his eyes, so he can see that the black and blue mass was forming also a pseudopod, which was holding a sacrificial dagger…
_____

When the temple guards arrived, there were only dry bones, and a golden plaque.
_____

Qor-Tec woke up, feeling really strange.
He was in a cave, a sort of darkened shrine with huge statues, very similar to the ones that fought with Tepozi’s unit. The only light was given by blue auras cast by evanescent spirits, some sort of will ‘o wisp, floating around the cave. Qor-Tec realized that he was a will ‘o wisp, too, attached with a thin silver cord to a chunk of bloodied flesh: his still beating heart, lying on a plate.
A large being, with a black jackal’s head, was in front of a set of scales, listening to the figure standing in front of him; Qor-Tec recognized his killer, the skull-faced scarab-man.
“Oh mighty Usirian, it must be him! I followed him closely, he betrayed his liege, his army and his friends, all for the lust of gold and magical power. His soul is black as mine, and it will free me from my torment!”.
“So you say, Apophas, my little prince of Scarabs, so you say… but only the Weighing of the Heart will tell us the Truth”
There was a hint of amusement in the jackals’ tone? Qor-Tec was not sure, he could not take away his senses from the God that was putting his heart on one plate, while on the other one there was a black, dessicated lump of flesh.
The scales was probably broken, because his heart was clearly heavier than its counterpart, and yet his plate was standing high, while the dessicated heart dropped as much as it could.
“You are still mine, Apophas.”
Skull-face was shocked “it’s not possible! I was sure it was him!”
“Apparently not, my poor prince of Scarabs. You have chosen… poorly. The actions of this soul were guided by something better than what you were thinking.”
For the first time, the eyes of the jackal pointed on Qor-Tec, sending shivers into his mind.
“And this soul is not for my Kingdom. Something else claims his spirit, and it’s time to let it go”.
_____

The honor ceremony was almost ended. Qor-Tec’s bones were ready to be dissolved in his old spawning pool, to transmit his memories and courage to the new generation of warriors. Lord Tlaxli was pleased.
_____

The golden artefact was in the Lord’s Treasury. The priests of the pyramid-temple were prepared to protect it for countless ages.
 

Unas the slayer

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 1, 2017
1,148
Northern Italy
If you are not aware about Apophas, here he is

This has been one of the first WHFB story i wrote, more than 5 years ago. I liked to play with the first phrase and the last one, which are identical, but the contests are totally different.
 

Disciple of Nagash

Oldblood
Staff member
Feb 12, 2008
27,732
Another excellent story. I didn't know much about Apophas so thanks for the link, it certainly added extra context.

The interesting point for me was the way the Saurus thought and spoke, almost human like compared to the simple thoughts of the kroxigor in your other story?
 

Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Sep 29, 2013
1,623
New Zealand
I too was interested by the Saurus talking. Even hints of politics? I thought they were essentialy biologicla robots that did what they were programmed to do. But then I guess they're allowed to interpert the Plan.
And Apophas...not today, apparently.
 

Unas the slayer

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 1, 2017
1,148
Northern Italy
I too was interested by the Saurus talking. Even hints of politics? I thought they were essentialy biologicla robots that did what they were programmed to do.
The interesting point for me was the way the Saurus thought and spoke, almost human like compared to the simple thoughts of the kroxigor in your other story?

yeah, kroxigors are just dumb, they can just reason on the most basic principles.
Sauri are on a higher level, but still dense as a rock. War-focused, programmed to follow instructions. This one, however, is a Scar-Vet. Centuries of experience, and his "friend" is the champion of the unit, so he's old too. The more they become old, the more their brain developes to accomplish the tasks, to elaborate strategies by themselves on the battlefield and so on.. While not smart as skinks, there's more room to work with.
 

Disciple of Nagash

Oldblood
Staff member
Feb 12, 2008
27,732
Makes sense, please keep posting up your stories, I'm enjoying them. Any chance I can convince you to join our Vampires Amongst Us game? 😁
 

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