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Fiction Only in Death (Jul-Aug 2021 Story comp entry)

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Y'ttar Scaletail, Sep 14, 2021.

  1. Y'ttar Scaletail
    Ripperdactil

    Y'ttar Scaletail Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
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  2. Y'ttar Scaletail
    Ripperdactil

    Y'ttar Scaletail Well-Known Member

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    Thank you kindly. Admittedly, I did write this piece right on the deadline so I could have fleshed out the antagonism between the two a lot more if I (for once) had given myself more time to do so.

    That's the scary thing, what if Zikatl is right? Though I guess as long as Zikatl doesn't harm the Plan, he is of less concern.

    I really should have made it clearer that Zikatl was actively using all manner of undead, of course constantly raising and controlling an army is taxing so i'm not sure if he could have won out in a war of attrition. I guess in Oxtluc's case he was trying to be too much of the hero, the spear to strike out the heart of the Skaven army. Over-pride in his force and distrust in his allies.

    Limes are overpowered. Pls nerf.

    You are too kind. *Blush* Alas, i'm in no way original, in fact I took heavy inspiration from a short story that appeared in a BL collection where the main character is killed and risen from the dead by Nagash's legions but remains vaguely unaware until the pov changes at the end. I just made Oxtluc realise and made the imprisonment part more heavily felt. I am a horrible person. :p
     
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  3. Y'ttar Scaletail
    Ripperdactil

    Y'ttar Scaletail Well-Known Member

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    @Killer Angel

    Since you asked so nicely. Here's a little something I knocked together as a prequel:

    Before Death

    Claws almost tenderly tore through the earth and found purchase upon their prize. Through the small gaps hidden amongst the canopy above the pale light of one moon warred with the sour green light of its sister. A sibilant hiss of a night-hunting avian broke through the ambient sound of the forest and then was gone as it wheeled away in search of bigger prey.

    Soil fragmented and sifted in a torrent of grains, grass, and insects as with a final pull a gleaming skull was revealed to the night air. The Skink Priest stared intently at the hollow sockets, his claws gently drawing their way across contours and cracks. His studies and the dreams had led him to this place, to this moment. He stopped the shaking in his tail and with a click removed the lower jaw from the Lizardman skull. In reverent slowness he placed the skull upon his head and reached out to Shyish.

    Visions of a world of death assailed him. The sun no longer shone and the sky was filled with a bleak grey pallor. Trees bereft of life stood as skeletal claws that grasped in vain at the darkened skies for the light that would never come. There was no sound but the distant click of bone and moan upon the breeze. He ran further through the realm of dead until finally colour crept back around him.

    Still shaking he found himself before a stream and idly realised that his throat was screaming for water. Talons that almost looked skeletal in his wearied eyes cupped shimmering water and he urgently brought it up to his mouth. His eyes rolled back for a moment as he felt the coldness of the liquid run down his throat and caress the inside of his ribs. He gazed down at the ripples and saw himself; the skull fitted almost snuggly to his head. For the briefest moment he thought he saw his eyes shine with witchfires but shook the thought away.

    He began the long trip back to his lair, the other priests had not understood and had driven him out of the Temple City. They could not understand the severity of the situation. This had to be the way. The children of the Old Ones would not be wasted giving their lives only once. The Plans of the Old Ones had to be protected, had to be achieved.

    Zikatl stared long into the darkness and continued to walk.
     
  4. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    Ohhh, really good!
    I'm glad there was more!
     
  5. Imrahil
    Slann

    Imrahil Well-Known Member

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    I liked your story the best out of the top three ;)

    Nice addition to it. Was this at first part of your story that you had to cut due to word count? or did you wrote this afterwards?

    Grrr, Imrahil
     
  6. Y'ttar Scaletail
    Ripperdactil

    Y'ttar Scaletail Well-Known Member

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    I wrote a good chunk of it partway through the voting period and then returned after the tiebreaker had ended to finish it off. I had a few other ideas where to take the errant necromancer on his descent into darkness, i.e. his first time raising corpses from a shipwrecked band of humans and him temporarily losing control.

    I really like the nuance of the character in that all of his actions are to his mind righteous and are for the Plan of the Old Ones and yet he is walking a path that is damning his soul and perhaps even purpose.
     
  7. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    That was what i loved of that story. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
    A classic with a so great narrative potential!
     
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