Only in Death Oxtluc shifted uneasily and tightened his grip on his spear. Rain patterned down from the canopy above, rattling away from the hardened scales of the Lizardmen. And yet an eerie silence had descended upon the forest. No birds called from the trees, no predators stalked the brush, even the insects that would normally swarm the air seemed to have vanished. The phalanx of Saurus glared at the clicking ranks of skeletal Lizardmen and other walking corpses that marched through the rain to take up position beside them. Several Saurus turned their heads to regard Oxtluc as if willing him to let them loose and attack the undead. The Old Blood shook his head slightly and they continued to watch the arrival of their questionable allies. Sat on a palanquin of bone and gristle was what once had been a Skink Priest, now wizened and dried by the very powers he wielded and yet still impossibly alive. Glowering eyes tinged with witch lights gazed out from the eye sockets of the bleached skull helm covering his face and blackened bony claws idly wove intricate patterns in the air. Oxtluc hissed low at the sight of the traitor, the priest that had turned to forbidden necromancy. These were the monsters Oxtluc had to raise his spear beside to fight worse monsters, a thought that had not settled well in the Old Blood. The Skaven of the disease cult had risen once more in Lustria’s forests and according to the star scryers if unchecked would reach the walls of Itza. Several armies had been swiftly assembled to drive back the ratmen, but they were stretched thin. The tide of Skaven seemed near endless. For Oxtluc’s army news had come of Zikatl, a former Skink Priest exiled for his dark beliefs and magical practice, offering to join tails to fight off the Skaven. Oxtluc had initially dismissed the thought until the Skink Priest Ikylatl had predicted their doom without the traitor’s aid. The palanquin was lowered to the ground by a pair of undead Kroxigors and Zikatl rose. “Hail Oxtluc, mighty Old Blood,” the necromancer spoke in a whispered voice that still cut through the air. “I am glad that we shall fight together to defend the Plans of the Old Ones, and that through our efforts we may further their goals.” Oxtluc stomped forwards and brandished his spear, the glyphs engraved on its surface glittering in the rain. “Your path spits upon the Great Plan,” he hissed, feeling his own army bristle with animosity behind him. The necromancer seemed to smile behind his bone mask. “Oh? You doubt my loyalty to our people to our creators? Listen, mighty Oxtluc. Why should we let death stop us from continuing to protect our cities and the Great Plan? What would you give to serve the Great Plan, Oxtluc?” The Old Blood snarled. “Enough. For now we are allies, tomorrow enemies again. Understood?” Zikatl dipped his head in mock agreement and lashed his tail in amusement. “The Pestilens camp lies to the east, we attack before nightfall,” Oxtluc said at last and began to growl a series of commands to his army. The necromancer said nothing and was lifted back into the air by the undead Kroxigors, his shambling horde beginning the march alongside the living. ------------------------------------------------------- Lifeblood soaked the forest floor and mired there with the constant thrum of rain as the Lustrians clove through the Skaven. And yet the ratmen continued to fight with a rabid fervour, for every three green robed Skaven slain they dragged down one of their own foes. Zikatl’s undead horde ground against the Skaven’s own teeming ranks, again and again dark energy collected around his talons as he drew the dead back to their feet and hurled them back into the fray. Shrieking spirits swirled around the necromancer warding off any attacks from the Skaven. Oxtluc was surrounded by a sea of Plague Monks as he battled to reach the Plague Priest leading the horde. Around him his warriors bought him time as they cut through ragged robes even as they were dragged down. Finally he stood before the bloated disease ridden priest and with a roar lunged towards, rain hissing from his spear as the power of the Old Ones radiated through it in a bright glow. The Skaven gave a burbled shriek as Oxtluc buried his spear deep within it and then grunted in pain. As the Plague Priest fell away from him, Oxtluc looked down to see a blade lodged deep in his chest. He tore it out and tried to move forwards as the Skaven around him started to break and flee. The world span and Oxtluc sank to the ground. He stared up past the forest canopy and into the dark skies lurking above. Done...my...duty... And Oxtluc’s world went dark. ------------------------------------------------------- Oxtluc opened his eyes. The forest was tinged with grey, as if all the colours of the world had been bled out. He felt strange, he could barely feel the rain that rattled from his scales. Around him other Saurus stood, the wounds that killed them visible to even Oxtluc's grey filmed sight. Confused, he felt for the wound that the Plague Priest had dealt him, concern flickering in his dulled mind as his movements seemed sluggish and off. Though he could barely feel, he found his pierced and dead heart. He looked up and found Zikatl gazing upon him from his palanquin. Oxtluc tried to snarl, tried to speak, but all that came was a low moan. The necromancer tilted his skull encased head for a moment and then turned away. Unable to resist, Oxtluc and the others shambled in his wake.