Friday, 5 August 2011

Tales of Ankh-Mordheim - A Tail of Woe part 1

As night gave way to day, a thick dark grey spread from the direction of the Sun, not that it changed much.  The pitch black slowly gave way to dull murkiness and it appeared that even daylight was afraid to enter Ankh-Mordheim.  Haarchit Baang, Sorcerer of the Eshin Clan and de facto leader of what were now loosely termed as 'Haarchit's Harriers', watched as the wall of light approached and revealed that which was hidden, including what appeared to be a bunch of furred humans and a pet bear.

'Ambush!' he screeched, then realised his folly as the remnants of his warband consisted of animals and the Stupid.  Speaking of which, Haarchit turned his attention to his band and watched in horror as a bear charged into Itchee and Scratchee flipping the stunned pair into the air. A quick glance to his right showed the Rat Ogre remained oblivious and had in fact found something of interest in this tributary of the Ankh River.  As much as it pained him to do so, he had bring the Rat Ogre to order and leave the rats to their fate, one that was looking far more ominous as more humans joined the fray.   He slipped into the shadow of a ruined building and, slipping his spear through the harness on his back, drew his brace of Warplock pistols and eased back the hammer of the first.  More humans appeared and as the first tentatively crossed the relatively solid surface of the river, Haarchit leapt around the corner and shot him at close range.  At least he tried to, but the canny human flicked the end of the pistol away just as it discharged, leaving him open for a counter attack that never arrived.  Disorientated by the blast the human lunged ineffectually and Haarchit took full advantage to draw his spear and impale the human upon it in one fluid motion.  Shots rang out and the Rat Ogre howled in pain before leaping across the turgid 'waters' to batter two of it's tormentors to the floor, but Haarchit could only watch in horror as the Human leader calmly reloaded a pistol, took aim and shot the Rat Ogre in the head.  It crumpled to the ground and was quickly dispatched by the leader.  Enraged, Haarchit threw himself at the laughing leader, barely noticing the shadow that mirrored his charge and completely ignoring the humans baying for his blood.  The Shadow got there first and deprived Haarchit of his revenge as it slipped two weeping blades through the back of the human leader, so he took his frustration out on the youth stirring at his feet instead.

"I is Stikum Gud, me looking for Sorcerer Haarchit Baang?" the Shadow rasped, then looking at the charging humans smiled and continued "but seems like me just find idiot. If you no die now, me has work for you"

Before Haarchit could reply the humans were upon them and exchanging blows, the Assassin twisting and turning, laughing a dry wheeze as he danced away from the murderous blows.  Haarchit on the other hand managed to slip his spear through an attacker's defence to deliver a crippling blow, but it was too little, too late and a blow to the head sent his senses spinning.  The last thing he heard before darkness claimed him was the Assassin's taunt "Like me said, idiot!"

Days passed in an unending repetition of beatings and subduction, his once strong frame now racked by constant pain and his iron-willed control over the very fabric of magic reduced to the summoning of a common curse.  Then to add insult to injury, he was dragged, bound and gagged to the merchant quarter where he was forced to witness the sale of his beloved pistols to some Brettonian human fop and of himself to Slavers.  Despair hit him hard and the Black hunger threatened to consume him totally, however he held out a glimmer of hope. Just the day before Itchee had found him, the Giant Rat leaping around like an excited puppy to find its master alive and if Itchee had survived maybe others had to.

His answer literally appeared from the shadows, Stikum Gud moved forward and hunched down in front of him before running an appraising eye over his racked frame. "Look like shit you do", Haarchit managed a weak smile in return, "Now get up! Like me said, got work to do."

Haarchit moved his arms to emphasise the manacles that chained him to the wall, only they weren't attached any more, somehow the assassin had picked them without him realising.  "We're getting out of here" rasped the Assassin, existing as little more than a phantasm as he slipped into the shadows once more, "but as you not as sneaky as me, you be needing these."

Two furred hands appeared out of the darkness cradling the lost Warplock pistols and
Haarchit reached out tentatively to take them not believing them to be real until he felt the solid stocks against his palms.  A wicked smile crept across his face as he felt the Black hunger abate and it grew even wider as he fired the first shard of warp stone into the skull of one of the Slavers in his escape from the compound. 

A few hours later Haarchit was reunited with his Warband and the only casualty appeared to be Scratchee who had been torn apart by the enraged bear, not that Itchee seemed to mind too much as he snuggled up against a new female rat.  Stikum Gud turned to face him "Heezbeeg Anastee" he croaked pointing at the Rat Ogre "Ogre's got to have name so they's know when to listen!" It took Haarchit a moment to realise Heezbeeg was now the creature's name, not just a description.  Pointing at the rats Stikum continued, "Male, female.  Have both and no need to send for replacements." He chuckled the kind of laugh that would disturb the sleep of even the most hardened criminal.  "Now jobs I say I have and jobs we have to do.  Human knight looking for us, says something about killing his cousin whatever that is? Job one, kill Knight"

"And job two?" enquired Haarchit.  Stikum threw him such a glare that with a little more practice it could actually kill.

" Job one is kill knight!  No do Job two 'til Job one done!" 

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