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Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Sep 29, 2013
1,625
New Zealand
The Sand Reavers - Scouting

Sheleden knelt over the broken, stone snakes. holding up shattered pieces. After a short while, Talthine and Jaylis approached, engaging him in quiet conversation as Virathia watched on. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see The corsairs and mercenaries set up a defensive perimeter and Vedethar's scouts roving, whilst Katherya and Aartheia seemed intent on arguing who ahd contributed more to killing the snakes.
Talthine came up to Virathia, who kept a firm hand on Tyrant. The Cold One was understandably agitated.
"I see we have nothing to fear so long as your companions remain with us. Aratheia was quite enjoying herself."
Virathia glanced at the Witch Elf acolyte. "Quite so. Khaine requires she....indulge herself."
Talthine smiled. "Or maybe she just wants to impress Katherya."
Virathia couldn't quite argue at something she agreed with. "Perhaps."
"Katherya herself did well, too. It is well we brought her along."
"My sister will be pleased to hear that. Now, what were those things?"
"Sepulchral Stalkers," Talthine answered. "Guardian constructs that can be left in the sand for centuries, awaiting the right time to strike."
Virathia raised an eyebrow. "And a troop of Druchii, including tow fearsome sorceresses, was the right time to strike?"
"As you could see, Katherya and I, and Aratheia with the pendant's help, appear to be the only ones capable of hurting them." Talthine looked at Jaylis, who now seemed to be arguing with Sheleden. "The Stalkers may even have provided information to their masters. All in all, we should keep moving. Hekarti demands."
Aratheia and Katherya approached now, both grinning.
"Khaine will be most pleased with my destruction of the snakes," Aartheia said.
"Only because I drained out their souls," Katherya replied.
Aartheia frowned. "I cut them apart. My kills."
"You both did a good job," Virathia interjected. "Sister, I need you to work on your detection abilities. Try to sense these things from further away."
Katherya nodded. "I saw what happened to the corsairs."
"Come with me, my student. There are things I know that could help," Talthine said.
Aratheia drew up beside Virathia as Katherya departed. "That was exhilarating. But I don't know if Khaine cares about breaking statues."
Virathia saw a glimmer of doubt in Aartheia's eyes she wouldn't have believed if she were told about it. "You were perfectly willing to claim it all against my sister."
Aratheia sighed. "Katherya is Katherya. In the end, we worked togetehr. We like annoying one another."
"They were enemies, you killed them," Virathia offered.
Aartheia smiled. "That may suffice. Cytharai, never thought I'd need your advice."
"Always happy to listen. You and Katherya can come scouting with Vedethar and I, if it would make you feel better."

Virathia had Tyrant walk over to where Sheleden was talking with Jaylis. The corsair captain nodded to her.
"Master Virathia. That was quite the experience. Thank Mathlann your sister was there."
"Thank Mathlann indeed. Or perhaps Hekarti. Either way. we were fortunate they only did as much damage as they did."
Jaylis' expression was grim. "They killed several of my corsairs. We don't have the numbers for attrition."
"You're right. I'm going to go scouting with Vedethar, see if we can find the tomb city and find a way in before too many incidents."
"And not run into the Nehekharan army," Sheleden pointed out.
"That, too," Virathia agreed. "Sheleden, will you come with us? You seem to know a lot about Nehekhara."
"I've been here before," he replied. His eyes grew distant. "Decades ago. Before I came into your house's service. I saw many things. Wonders. Terrors. Both at once. I hope this is enough of a taste of Nehekhara to destroy any misconceptions you may bave You should also know that the Necrotects are builder-wizards, as far as I can tell. They love their statues."
"We'll deal with that in good time," Virathia assured him. The idea was terrifiyng. What sort of builders could make these things?
"And make sure your sister remembers where she is," Jaylis added. "We can't have two lovebirds deciding they have something better to do."
Virathia choked. If Katherya and Aratheia decided they did have something better to do, she'd kill them both.

The desert wind blew away Virathia's concerns as she rode with Vedethar and his Cold Ones. It was a fearsome troop, a pack of vicious, elf-eating creatures just barely tamed, their riders' capes billowing in the wind. Katherya and Aartheia rode front with her, seemingly enjoying themselves too. It was shortly before dawn, the first tinges of sun breaking over the horizon. Soon they'd have to turn back and rejoin the main force. Nehekharan days were just too hot for Naggarothi to do anything.
Suddenly, Vedethar and his unit halted. Virathia and her companions drew up their steeds alongside him.
He pointed , and Virathia followed him. In the distance, she could see tiny silhouettes. For a second she thought they'd gotten turned around and this was the Druchii. Then she heard a low, dead sound echoing through the dunes, whistling across the sand. This was the Nehekharan army. Further beyond, Virathia could just make out a huge shadow that may have been mountains, or...
"Is that the city?" she blurted.
Vedethar nodded. "Yes, Master. The army is marching towards the Nehekharan city. Though as friend or foe, I don't know."
"le'ts go and kill them now," Aartheia suggested, probably out of boredome.
"My sister can't destroy a full army of Nehekharans on her own, and neither cna you," Virathia told her sternly. "
"Talthine would be so impressed if I could," Katherya said wistfully. "But now we know where we are going. Do we shadow this army, or return tomorrow night?"
Aratheia laughed. "Whatever. The sooner we start killing them, the better." She punched Katherya's side. "Don't let Talthine kill them all before I've got the chance."
"There'll be more than enough for both of us," Katherya replied sweetly.
Virathia, not knowing whetehr to be more happy or digusted, turned to Vedethar. "We return tomorrow night. Find a way into the city."
At that moment, a swarm of scarabs scuttled and scurried nearby.
"Sister?"
"i don't know," Katherya admitted. "I can sense some magic, but it's dark and twisted out of shape. Best get back to the main force, I think."
"Agreed," Aartheia said unexpectedly. "Very much agreed."
 
Last edited:
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Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Sep 29, 2013
1,625
New Zealand
The Sand Reavers - Missing

Woken by rough shaking, Virathia open her eyes to the blazing Nehekharan sun, the raiding force having sheltered within a rock formation. She pushed herself to her feet as she saw it was Katherya who had disturbed her.
"I hope there's a good reason for this, sister."
Katherya blinked, something that had to be sweat on her cheeks. "Aratheia's missing."
"What? When did this happen?" Virathia had no particular love for Aratheia, but one of her companions disappearing was embarrassing, and, to be honest with herself, she couldn't bear to think how Katherya must be feeling.
"We went to sleep together, as usual. Then sometime later I wanted to talk to her but she wasn't there." Katherya choked. "I looked about, searched around the camp, but she wasn't anywhere. Then I found two of the corsairs on the perimeter unconscious, and tracks leading over there." She pointed in the direction the Nehekharan army had gone. "What was she thinking, why would she go there?"
Virathia held Katherya. By Mathlann. Any other Druchii would probbaly have told her to stop being so weak. But since they'defended one another from the assassin, there was something between them. "Have you received any visions? Can you sense anything?"
Katherya shook her head. "Nothing. Sometimes Mistress Hekarti sends me word, usually I ahave to sacrifice something."
A subtle, just discernible scutting sound pricked Virathia's ears. She drew her sword and looked about, stabbing down at a scarab moving nearby. She picked it up and offered it to Katherya. "I know you prefer to do the sacrifice yourself, but..."
Katherya took the scarab and kissed Virathia. "Thank you so much, sister! Give me a minute to perform the ritual."

Virathia watched as Katherya sat on the ground,, shifted he robes to be more comfortable, and cut open the scarab with a ritual knife, whilst chanting words of power. Virathia felt power crackling about her, and an instinct told her to run. But she knew what Katherya was doing. Still it was a little disconcerting when Katherya's eyes opeend wide and her next words did not quite sound like her voice.
"The child of Khaine goes to meet the usurper. The cursed prince pursues her dark heart. Find her. Banish him. Meet the usurper." Katherya gasped, then collapsed onto the sand. Or she would have, if Virathia hadn't caught her and lain her out carefully, praying to Hekarti, Morai-Heg, anyone who would listen that she would recover soon, and that the vision meant something to someone.
"Master, I have to report - gods, is that Katherya?" Sheleden broke off and rushed towards the younger Druchii, touching Katherya's neck. "Her pulse is normla for a vision. She'll be fine. But I'll fetch Talthine just in case."
"Please," Virathia said.
"I've never heard you say that before." Sheleden frowned. "What is going on? I was going to report a perimeter breach. Two corsairs -"
"I know. Aratheia knocked them out before leaving."
"What? I knew the Khainite would get us all killed! She'll either die of dehydration or sunstroke, or get captured and lead an army of bones back to us." He glared at the sleeping Katherya. "If we do survive this, I strongly suggest making your sister choose her lovers more carefully."
"Don't blame Katherya. We don't know what Aratheia is doing yet. Please, go get Talthine, and Jaylis before she decides this is all my fault and kills us."

"This is all your fault, and I'm going to kill you," Jaylis snapped when she appeared before Virathia, her escort flanking her. "Only by the grace of Mathlann were my women just incapacitated, and your Witch Elf ahs shown herself
"Are you threatening your Master?" Virathia asked warningly. Out of the corner of her eye, Katherya was stirring, while Sheleden had his hand on his sword.
"Not at all. Cytharai, the Nehekharans will kill us all before I've decided what to do anyway."
"Are you going to kill me right now?" Virathia demanded.
Jaylis fixed ehr with a piercing stare. "You'll wish I had."
"Then stop going on and be constructive for once. We need to chase after her and rescue her before something happens." Virathia decided Jaylis was going to have to die first. She didn't think the corsair captain made empty threats. She needed to assert her authority before anyone else started thinking to hard about the circumstances.
"How do you propose we chase a single elf in this place?" Jaylis asked.
"I know," Katherya gasped out, rubbing her eyes. "Mistress Hekarti gave me a vision. She showed me where Aartheia's going."
"And I know who the cursed prince is," Talthine said. "Apophas, the Thousand Scarabs."
Sheleden nodded. "He seeks the darkest heart in exchange for his freedom from the Nehekharan underworld." He laughed dryly. "Perhaps he has waited this long because a host of Druchii confuses him."
"We have to go find her!" Katherya said desperately. "I have to find her!"
Talthine smiled. "Come, my student. I can help you deal with the prince." She flicked her eyes towards Jaylis. "And any other problems."
"Your help woould eb greatly appreciated," Jaylis replied, holding the sorceress' gaze.
"Mortal blades cannot harm him for long," Talthine announced. "We won't need the corsairs. But we could use the steeds to catch up."
"yes," Sheelden agreed. "The Master Virathia and her sister are my charge, so I shall accompany them. Vedethar can protect this site. Jaylis, stay here and make sure nothing else happens. The Nehekharans should be busy, but try not to wake up any more Sepulchral Stalkers."
Jaylis glared. "I suppose you approve these orders, Master?"
"Do as he said," Virathia confirmed. She then went to Katherya. "Are you able to fight?"
Katherya nodded, eyes burning. "I'll rip this cursed prince to shreds."
 

Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Sep 29, 2013
1,625
New Zealand
The Sand Reavers - The Cursed Prince

Aratheia didn't notice the sand burning her feet. She didn't notice the sun raking across her skin. She'd gone through worse in her Witch Elf training, would go through worse. There was something about being dedicated body and soul to a god of murder that made physical pain an irrelevance. She pushed on through the desert, jumping from dunes to rock, keeping her eyes on the Nehekharan army ahead. Lord Khaine had told her to find the Tomb Prince who led this army, the usurper who coveted a throne. Soon he would have the city sealed too shut for the Druchii to get in by themselves. But if she could cause enough disruption, weaken the siege, clear a path to the secret entrance she was assured Hekarti had shown Katherya...
Katherya! Aratheia blinked. It had felt wrong to leave her companion behind, to make her worry. But this was something she had to do alone. Because this wasn't just about helping fulfill Katherya's vision. Khaine wanted her to do something else, something her beloved and Virathia wouldn't approve of at all.
She heard scuttling, and looked about to see scarabs swarming nearby. She felt a shiver go down her spine. There was something wrong about these ones, the way they moved, the way they appeared. Normally such creatures would be of no concern to a Witch Elf, let alone a Druchii with only the most basic survival skills. But these creatures disturbed her, and her hands drifted to her daggers.
Aratheia spat. She shouldn't let these things frighten her. Whatever would Katherya say? And she'd never hear the end of it from Virathia. Whom she planned to kill at some point anyway, but not yet. Katherya would kill her, horribly.
She shook her head and returned her gaze to the Nehekharan army, slipping behind a rock for protection. She was now close enough to make out massed ranks of soldiers, weapon-bearing skeletons clad in rusted armour and ragged finery. Amongst them were animal-headed statues carrying sickle-like weapons. Chariots and stone snakes - some with riders, some without - prowled the flanks. In the centre was a massive tent, proudly flying bright banners, surrounded by skeleton warriors in heavy, gilded armour. Out of the corner of ehr eye she saw a giant statue in leonine form. Then it stood up, making Aratheia jump. This was a full Nehekharan army? She wasn't concerned about the skeletons, but all the constructs looked concerning, and she still hadn't resolved whether any of these were alive enough for Khaine to care.
Beyond the army sat the city ,a massive complex filled with pyramid structures, great towers rearing up from the walls. A sandstorm raged between the army and the city. She'd have to find a way to get rid of that. SHow Katherya she wasn't the only one with tricks. Aratheia could never understand why she loved an acolyte of the goddess, and queen, she hated so much. She clasped the pendant she'd taken from Katherya. It felt wrong to wear Hekarti's trinkets, but this was Nehekhara, no place for half measures.
A buzzing filled her ears, stronger, longer than before. The ground around her seemed to be shaking as she jumped away from the rock. A huge swarm of scarabs burst through the rock, an endless swarm of the things pouirng through the hole. When they exited, they began pooling, congealing, forming into a new shape. After a short while laughter filled the air, seemingly coming from the (extremely) vaguely elf/humanlike form before her. Well, it was more like a head and pair of arms attacked to a spine of writhing scarabs than either elf or human.
Aratheia stumbled backwards. She was an acolyte of Khaine! She shouldn't be scared. She drew her daggers.


Greetings, child of Naggaroth. Acolyte of Khaine.
"Who are you?"
Scarabs scuttled around Aratheia's feet. A reaper of lost souls. A slayer of the heartless. A lost prince.
"Apophas?" Aartheia asked. "Are you the cursed prince?"
Yes. Long ago I was imprisoned and torn apart by scarabs. Apophas circled Aratheia, the clicking of his mandibles too close for comfort. Now I hunt for a soul as dark as mine so I may return. With the help of my once enemies.
"If you want a dark heart, go after Talthine. I know she's up to something."
I don't care about your petty quarrels. I care only that your heart shines like a beacon of cruelty in an ocean of madness. Now, I shall see if Usirian approves. Apophas lunged.
Aratheia jumped out fo the way, feeling cuts against her ankles as she landed. She looked down and saw the scarabs biting at her. She stabbed downwards, the pendant gleaming as her blades struck. Scarabs dropped. But there were always more. She cotntinued her retreat, knocking away Apophas' claws when he struck, just as he avoided her attacks. She could feel the adrenaline building within her. Soon the red mist would descend. She prayed to Khaine she would prevail.


A rather shorter one today, then.
 
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Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Sep 29, 2013
1,625
New Zealand
The Sand Reavers - Usirian's Tally

Cut. Stab. Slash. Dodge. Roll. Overwhelming urge to kill and destroy. Aratheia had never felt so alive as she dueled the scarab prince. Reflexes honed by years in the arenas wrre just enough to keep from getting torn apart by deadly pincers and bitten by dozens of unnatural beetles. This was what she lived for, her first true challenge. It was no surprise to her that the madness had descended so quickly. She was doing Khaine's good work here, battling a foe that tested every part of her training. A red haze filled her vision as adrenaline, and perhaps something more, flowed through her blood. Glory to the Lord of Murder. Honour Queen Hellebron, his most devoted servant.
A powerful shiver ran down her spine as she rammed a dagger into Apophas' skull, about the only thing of him that could be called anything resembling normal. The talisman around her neck glowed bright blue.
Apophas hissed and fell back, a cloud of scarabs swarming around him.
You live for the kill, child of Khaine. You do not fight me because I am an abomination. You fight me because I am here. Usirian will approve of that.
Not caring who Usirian was, Aratheia pressed her attack, leaping forwards after Apophas. But she connected with air, the prince having shifted out of the way, and for a moment sheflailed against nothing, before regaining her balance and turning. In time to deflect a rush of scarabs, tearing them apart. Aratheia laughed with purely malicious joy. She would tear this creature apart, piece by piece. The Lord of Murder watched over her. The red haze was thickening. Her focus narrowed in. Only Apophas mattered.
Hurry up and kill me before your friends arrive, elf. Do not allow them to steal the glory.
Aratheia screamed. She couldn't let anyone else take Apophas. This was her kill. Hers! She charged again, unleashing a flurry of blows that the scarabs swarmed away from. As she rushed forwards, she felt tiny legs running up her ankles. She smashed down, feeling a satisfying explosion. A dust storm blew up, and it was not the red haze she ahd to worry about anymore. She twisted and lunged this way and that, searching for Apophas. The talisman burned bright blue. The sand shifted under her feet, making her stumble. This was as frustrating as having to listen to Katherya's visions or Virathia's plans. The thought of the two sent a rush through her. She wasn't going to let them steal credit. She didn't need them.
The scarabs swarmed around her, turning the sand into a sea of claws and pincers. Aratheia destroyed as many as he could, but there were always more. Apophas floated back,, laughing.
The desert consumes all, mortal. You sink beneath it, deeper and deeper, your attempts to escape only increasing your plight.
"Khaine's Dripping Hand! Get out of my head!" Aartheia screamed. The talisman glowedbrightly once more. The scarabs surrounding her fell away. She stepped over the smoking carcasses, towards Apophas. "To the underworld, now." Another wave of scarabs emerged from the desert, but Aartheia paid them no heed, even as they bit and scratched at her skin. Maybe there would be advanatges to wearing armour, or at least clothes. She stalked forwards, and Apophas stumbled backwards, his scarab body swarming in unnatural directions, but Aratheia continued until she heldher daggers at his skull. "Khainegives me this kill. As all others. He shall surely be impressed."
Yes, I imagine he will. Go on, finish me.
Aratheia rammed her daggers into his skull. The scarabs writhed and turned to dust. The skull dropped to the ground. The dust storm ceased.
Usirian waits for you, elf. The prince's voice was distant, fading. Tahoth watches.
Aratheia breathed heavily. She could feel the dozens of injuries she had suffered. They were inconsequential. But the ands around her were red. And what would Katherya say when she found her like this? She could hardly claim it wasn't her blood. Cytharai, Katherya! Please, Aratheia begged, her mind clearing. Let Katherya never know what she had thought in those moments of madness. And Virathia? Aratheia still had to kill her at some point. But she was Katherya's sister, which earned her some respect. Ugh, life had never been this complicated before she'd met that Khaine-cursed sorceress! Not that she regretted it. She shook her head. There was something she had to do now.
Where is this? a surprised voice called. What have you done?
The talisman glowed blue.
Aratheia smiled, imagining the look on Katherya's face when she found what she ahd done with her mistress' precious talisman.

The sphynx was huge. Enormous. Massive. It was fascinating. A cat's body, and a human's head. All rendered in blackest stone. A statue to rival the greatest works of Druchii or Asur. But this was no mere statue. No, Khaine had told her this was the key, the key to entering the city. She'd sarcastically asked if she were to ride the thing. Khaine had a better idea. As she approached the heavily armoured, finely decorated soldiers guarding it, she thought again this was stupid. She just wanted to kill everything. And if they being subtle, why not let Katherya and Virathia help? Because Khaine had needed her to fight Apophas first, which couldn't happen if she were escorted. Now, with the pseudo-life from the cursed scarab prince, this would work.
She held the pendant. It was dull, lifeless. For now. Aratheia crept as close as she dared to the sphynx, admiring it as much as she didn't want to. Wasn't Katherya the sentimental one? Never mind.
"Aratheia!"
She turned at the sound of ehr name to see Katherya and Virathia galloping towards her on their steeds, Sheleden and Talthine a little further behind.
"What are you doing here/" Sheleden asked. "You could have been killed."
"Could have. Wasn't. And I've got a lot more killing to do. Talthine, is everyone ready?" It was annoying to have to work with the sorceress, but none of the people closest to her would have approved.
Talthine nodded. "Vedethar's knights and Jaylis' corsairs are in position."
"In posiiton for what?" Virathia asked.
Aartheia removed the chain from around ehr neck and held up the talisman. "Hate to tell you this, dearest, but your mistress ahs been lying to you, a little anyway."
Katherya turned to Talthine. "Mistress?"
Talthine smiled. "Don't worry, my stduent. Not much. I sent Aratheia out."
"You what?!"
Sheleden's balde was at Talthine's throat. "Do not be so reckless with my wards."
"Stop it, both of you! I knew Aratheia could manage it. And she needed to go alone, because it needed Apophas. Now, am I going to ahve to explain everything, or shall we watch?"
"Thsi had better eb worth it," Virathia muttered.
Sheleden withdrew his sword, glaring at Talthine.
Khaine, this would be fun.
 
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Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Sep 29, 2013
1,625
New Zealand
They are unrepentantly evil nutcases on average, and the only 'evil' Warhammer faction with a purely cultural/historical, rather than 'inherent' motivation. Which is why I just love them. Sure, they may be petulant. But they're so arrogant about it. And their lines in TWW2 are just the best. Alongside the Tomb Kings, ironically.
 

Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Sep 29, 2013
1,625
New Zealand
The Sand Reavers - City of Sand

Katherya knew that when she was older, she would be able to stare far into the future, destroy armies with a thought, and twist reality to her whim. None of that made what she now saw any less impressive. Aratheia, at Talthine's subtle behest, had just achieved. She watched in awe from ehr hiding place, where she and all the other Druchii awaited the signal.
Aratheia threw the blue talisman to the ground. When it landed, cracks ran through its form, and scarabs emerged from the sand amongst the Tomb Guard defending the Warsphynx. The scarabs bit and stung at the Nehekharans, most being crushed in returned. But a few ran through the armoured cordon, scuttling up the side of the Wrsphynx,.
When Katherya looked at the construct, she saw a great source of power, similar to the Sepulchral Stalkers but on much grander scale. It was a living statue. A living monument, Sheleden had said, to the gods of the desert. And now...
The Warsphynx sprang to life, lashing out at the scarab s swarming it. Such huge paws were never meant to fight such small creatures, and inevitably several Tomb Guard were crushed as it raged. The Tomb Guard turned to their erstwhile ally, and slowly backed away.
Then the talisman cracked some more, until it burst open in a blue flash and Prince Apophas swarmed out, his scarab body reconstructing in the midst of the Tomb Guard, They fought, Apophas easily dispatching the skeletal soldiers.
Your game amuses me, elves. For that reason alone I shall play along. But return here ever again, I shall claim your soul for Usirian. Then he summoned another swarmand headed towards the tent in the middle of the army. Whilst this occurred, the Warsphynx as still trying to trample scarabs. It knocked away a robed Nehekharan that had tried to attend to it.
Beyond the army, the gates of the city opened and a troop of chariots thundered out, followed by rank upon rank of Tomb Guard.
"That;s the signal, I think," Talthine announced.
Virathia nodded. "Everyone, whilst they're distracted, this is our chance to get inside." She nodded at Katherya and Aratheia. "Are you with me?"
"Always," Katherya replied, jumping onto her dark horse beside Tyrant.
"If I must," Aartheia said, clambering onto own mount, unable to hide her excitement, her eyes filled with bloodlust.
"Sheelden!" Virathia called.
"here, Master," he answered, riding up beside.
As they hurried into the city, followed by the corsairs, Katherya couldn't help but think of the Eye of Tahoth, and what surprises might await them. But they had to get in somehow, didn't they?

The city had been disturbingly quqiet and empty in her vision. Now Katherya almost wished that was still the case as she and her companions rode through the streets as dawn broke. Animal-headed statues walked, Stone stakes, some with riders, slithered. More regular Nehekharans patrolled as well. And sand. Sand was everywhere. It was a desert, yes, but this was not so much inevitable light layers of sand. This was huge mounds of sand that had to be naviagted around, thick carpets of sand that replaced streets.
None of that compared to the pyramids. The pyramids! Naggaroth was filled with dark towers and spiked walls. But this place, this was filled with golden structures ringed with wards and glyphs, stretching to points high in the sky. She could feel the power radiating from them. And in the distance, the centre of the city, the largest of them all. Surely there would be so much to take home from here.
"We'll be rich beyond measure," Virathia observed, admiring golden stairways and gold-capped columns. "I've never seen such wealth."
"Nor I, sister," Katherya agreed.
"I just hope we find something in our way to kill," Aratheia said.
"Must you spoil the moment?" Katherya snapped.
"You're being sentimental again."
"Do you still remember the way?" Sheleden asked.
"I recall the vision perfectly. I'll get us in."
They did indeed encounter some enemies that could not be bypassed, whom Aratheia gleefully killed, assisted by Katherya and Talthine's magic where necessary. At some point, Jaylis rode up beside Virathia.
"So this is a Nehekharan city? If we only take bakc half as much as I can see, this will definitely have been worth it. Maybe I won't even feel like killing you."
"Don't you dare," Katherya warned.
Jaylis held her hands up. "I didn't say anything!"
"Let's get inside a pyramid before someone kills someone," Sheleden muttered.
 

Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Sep 29, 2013
1,625
New Zealand
The Sand Reavers - Into the Pyramid

The door slammed shut behind Virathia,, but the corridor ahead was still well illuminated by torches set against the walls and a a faint glow. She turned to address her troops, now minus the Cold Ones which she had sent away once they were no longer needed.
"Druchii. We are now in the pyramid of Princess Amene-kate, ruler of this city. Many treasures lay deep within, but dangers also. Keep together, watch for enemies and traps, and we shall find wealth beyond all our dreams. Each of us shall be as wealthy as the highest lords. All this is ours now."
Virathia turned back and marched deeper into the corridor.
"Nice speech," Aratheia whispered.
"It never hurts to stir the troops' spirits," Virathia replied.
"You are most inspiring, sister," Katherya said.
"Well, I don't need speeches," Aratheia grumbled.
"Come on, Khaineite, it's fun to hear her like that."
"My Lord cares not for platitudes, sorceress."
Virathia held up a hand as Sheleden moved past them, to the end of the corridor. He ran a hand over the symbols carved into the door. Talthine joined him, and the two had a quiet conversation.
Jaylis cleared her throat. "Lord Sheleden, we are all aware of your vast knowledge of Nehekhara. But is it necessary to delay us? This corridor is empty of treasures, so we must keep moving."
"Indeed it is, captain," Sheleden replied, as a teacher to a child who had made a true but trivial point. "But we may not move through doors blindly, especially ones with defences, and Talthine has confirmed for this one."
Jaylis stepped back. "Deal with it, then. I prefer more...tangible problems to solve."
Talthine pressed her hand against the symbols and spoke soft words. Blue light ran through the markings, until they seemed to fade. "It is safe now."
Virathia, opened the door and walked through, followed by Katherya and Aratheia.

The door opened into a chamber filled with several aisles' worth of treasures. Some seemed mundane, such as figures of bows and chariots and household objects. Others were large piles of gold coins, scrolls filled with the glyphs favoured by Nehekharan writing, There were also skulls. Lots of skulls. And images of scarabs resembling a swarm scuttling around the walls. In addition to the door they ahd entered through, there were three other doors on the remaining sides.. Virathia had known the Nehekharans were rich, but she had never ventured into a pyramid before. If this was but one chamber, what else was there?
Jaylis and her corsairs quickly spread out around the room, seizing whatever they could. Talthine seemed to eb helping Katherya interpret the scrolls, whilst Sheleden watched the doors.
Aratheia folded her arms.
"What's wrong/" Virathia teased. "Nothing to kill?"
"I might just find someone very soon," Aratheia snapped. "I was hoping to fight something here. You know I'm not sentimental."
"No, you aren't. Well, I'm sure there'll be something to fight soon."
Fondness entered Aratheia's eyes. "I know Katherya is enjoying herself here. There's probably as much lore here as in the vaults at Ghrond."
"My sister is definitely having fun. Aren't you being sentimental pointing it out?"
Aratheia shrugged. "She's Katherya."
"How sweet."
Aratheia spat. "You're lucky she's your sister, sea-child."

When the corsairs ahd collected all they could and Katherya and Talthine had stored away the scrolls that interested them, a discussion was held on which door to go through. Talthien insisted they only go through one so she could protect them and deactivate any magical traps ahead, unless they split into two groups, one of which trusting to Katherya. Whetehr or not she emant it, the idea of trusting arcane protection to Katherya sufficiently disquieted Jaylis for her to agree to keep her soldiers together. After a little more discussion, Katherya revealed which door Hekarti had shown her. Talthine began work on the enchantments on the door, when Virathia heard a familair buzzing sound.
"Scarabs!" she called. Everyone except the two sorceresses drew weapons as hundreds of small bodies emerged from the ground beneath, snipping and snapping at the Druchii. Each one was easy enough to kill, but there were many, and it was a somewhat dark, enclosed space, making the work more difficult. By the time it was done, just about everyone was bleeding. Except Sheleden, who was a blur and did not anything touch him.
"Something to kill?" she asked.
"It helps," Aratheia agreed.

The door led up a flight of stairs that then turned around into another chamber, this one lined with sarcophagi, each ornately decorated. On the floor was a large inscription that Talthine translated as "Turn back, trespasser, and you may still survive."
"That's not happening," Aratheia snapped. She strode up to one of the sarcophagi and glared at it. "Is anyone in there? Or are you standing here menacingly."
"Don't provoke them," Sheleden said wearily.
Aratheia folded her arms. "Maybe I should. I'm here to kill things, not for treasure."
"There will be many to kill soon," Katherya assured her. She went to Aratheia and gently pulled her away. Just in time, as the sarcophagus snapped open, a horde of scarabs leaping onto Aartheia. Katherya's intervention prevented her from being swallowed entirely, but she still had several on her. Undaunted by their biting, she grabbed her daggers and fought back, but it was clumsy work and Virathia felt the need to go over and knock some off for her. She glared, but didn't complain about the help.
Katherya exhaled with relief. "I couldn't do anything. My magic..."
"I know," Aratheia said gently. "You don't have to do everything, sorceress."
Virathia looked into the sarcophagus, to see only a few dead scarabs. Properly dead ones, that was.
"No one touch the sarcophagi," Shelden warned redundantly.
Then Katherya dropped to her knees. Talthine rushed to her and held her. "She's having a vision. But not from Mistress Hekarti."
"Can you break it?" Aratheia demanded. "Get that liche out of my Katherya's head!"
"No. We'll just have to - oh, it's over."
Katherya staggered to her feet. "That hurt."
Virathia touched her shoulder. "It's over now, sister."
"What did you see?" Talthine asked.
 
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Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Sep 29, 2013
1,625
New Zealand
The Sand Reavers - The Vault

Katherya took a few deep breaths, then smiled at Virathia. "Thank you."
"What did the vision say?" Talthine repeated.
"I was in this room, except it was empty except for myself, the sarcophagi, and the liche. He appeared to me, and told me that we were about to discover the price of trespassing in Nehekhara."
It wasn't specifically threatening, but Virathai felt shivers run down her spine.
"We should keep moving," Sheleden said. "Before anything else wakes up here."
Jaylis nodded. "I want to see what else is hidden."

Virathia stalked through the corridors, increasingly frustrated by the lack of proper battle or access to anything of real importance. She saw Aratheia getting more and more agitated as well, not good in one taught from childhood knives were the solution to everything, and Katherya doing her best to calm her, whilst Sheleden, Talthine and Jaylis talked together. This pyramid was going to drive them all insane unless something happened.
Something happened almost as soon as Virathia thought it. Katherya stabbed the wall,, with a knife in evident frustration,. When she did so, Virathia heard a cracking sound. She looked up, seeing a fault line running along the ceiling. She stepped abckwards, trying to keep ahead of it, but it was too quick and soon a good portion of roof crashed down between her and the rest of the Druchii.
Coughing, she waved her arm in front of her until the dust cleared.
"Sister!" Katherya shouted.
"Sister!" Virathai replied. "Are you alright?"
"Yes. Aratheia's here, too. I can't see you!"
"Don't worry. We'll ahve to find other ways around."
"You, finding your way around this death trap?" Jaylis wondered.
""If I don't, you won't have to worry about killing me yourself, will you?"
"Good thinking. Corsairs! We find another route."
"Sheleden!" Virathia called.
"Yes, Master? Shall I rip Aratheia's head off for this."
"i'll do it myself, if anyone will. You and Talthine go with the corsairs. Katherya, Aratheia, go with them."
"Are you sure?" Katherya asked, worried.
"There's nothing we can do for eahc other right now," Virathia said gently. "We have to link up."
"Don't worry, Master," Talthine said coolly. "I won't let harm come to my student."
"See that you don't."

Trying not to distract herself too much with worry for Katherya and, to a lesser but still surprising extent Aratheia, Virathia marched forwards toward a door that seemed to depict a Nehekharan (except with an animal's head for some reason) holding a staff, with wriitng she wished Katherya or Talthine could translate for her. Not seeing much option, she opened it, blade and shield in hand, and adavnced carefully.
She entered into a vast chamber, filled with weapons, armour, larger than life chariots, smaller than life sphynxes, and a collection of miniatures representing the Nehekharan army, facing off Druchii army, in positions that resembled how a wargame might be played. Along the walls ran stacks of gold reaching up to the ceiling. In the rear, almost beyond Virathia's sight, a huge image of a beautiful young woman clad in gilded armour stood over the room. Amene-kate, perhaps?
Virathia had never seen so much treasure in ehr life. But Katherya ahd said the real prize would be the Eye of Tahoth held by the lLiche Priest. Still, this was enough to make enough wealth for herself, her sister and Aratheia, whose sharing in the profit of this venture was simply a fact of life given her closeness to Katherya.
"It impresses you, does it not? The wealth of eons?"
Virathia turned to see a decrepit, older than possible human clad in robes that seemed more wrappings for a corpse than religious attire. But given the state of Nehekhara....
The not quite corpse was accompanied by a squadron of ornately decorated and armed Tomb Guard, bearing halberds and shields with ease. Blue lights shone in their eyes.
Virathai felt a moment's fear. Then suppressed it. Katherya would never stop teasing her, and Aratheia would be even more uncontrollable.
In his hand the priest held a staff, that Virathia recognised from the image on the door outside.
"Welcome to the tomb of Princess Amene-kate. Although, soon she shall be Queen Amene-kate, thanks to your intervention. The trick with Apophas wand the Sphynx was inspired." His vocie sounded old, very old. Like the wind rustling parched paper.
"The Druchii claim the treasures of this pyramid." As much self-assurance as anything.
"Yes, yes." The priest waved a hand and yawned. "I'm older than this pyramid. Don't bother threatening me."
"Even now, my corsairs are scouring your tomb."
"Looking for a way in, more like. Stop lying to yourself, elf girl. Did you think you could walk into a Nehekharan pyramid and not face consequences?"
"You should make way for those with something to live for."
"Hm. Some of your ancestors were captured in Nehekhara a long time ago. Long stor,y but it's partly their fault we are like this. And those two you call companions - both serve mothers of the realm who stay alive through blood sacrifices. And your king writhes with the pain of rejection even now." The priest's eyes burned brighter. "Yes, that's it, rejection. You've been squatting all these centuries, trying to tell yourselves -"
Virathia had had enough. She would not have har people's honour insulted. She launcehd herself at the priest. halberds drove her back. She cut at them, but the eternal guardians were adept, if slow, and caught her every strike. She then realised she was being backed into a corner and leaped away.
"These warriors have traiend since before you were born. Need I say that?"
Virathia hid among the stores of gold. She needed an escape plan. She needed to get reinforcements and secure this place. She needed to find Katherya and make sure she was safe. Cytharai, what ahd goen wrong in her Naggarothi life that she cared so much for her? She stifled a laugh.
Her arms felt heavy, and armour sagged on her. She tried to take a step, but it was a massive struggle. What was happening to her?
Before Virathia properly processed it, bony hands wrapped around her and carried her away.
 
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