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The Vermintide of the 4th Century [Warhammer Fantasy/Elder Scrolls Crossover]

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Some Fucking Leaf, Oct 15, 2020.

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  1. Threadmarks: Prologue
    Some Fucking Leaf

    Some Fucking Leaf Getting out there.

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    Skritch Gutcutter coughed. The air in his personal lair was choked with smoke and agitated dust-indeed, the entire warren of Clan Gnawmak was filled with an omnipresent smog. His ears twitched in anger at the news he had received from Skavenblight. The council were demanding more tribute, more Clanrats to fill their meat grinder instead of his own.

    Skritch hated the Council with a burning passion, their constant meddling in his affairs, taking more than what they deserved from the great Murderlord Skritch. Had he ever been given the chance, he knew that he could easily surpass the worthless wretches of Clan Mors and even become one of the Great Skaven clans. But the council constricted and confined him to his meagre position.

    To make matters worse, he has heard rumors that the surrounding clans were plotting to destroy everything Skritch had built. He cursed himself for not slaughtering the weaklings sooner. Naturally, he blamed his incompitent retinue for poisoning his mind against starting war against his neighboring clans, and was relieved to hear the news of their departure as food for the Skaven Slaves.

    “Sorry-sorry, Murderlord. We are ready-ready to prepare your nest-lair for moving!”

    The speaker wasA meek Clanrat at the entrance to Skritch’s lair. Without a word of reply to the weaklings, he waved them in, where they wasted no time collecting prized artifacts and trophies for the great migration that was about to occur.

    He chuckled to himself, Skritch was reminded of the secret project that his Clan had been constructing for many years. Thousands of loose ends and fodder were sacrificed to keep news of his great invention from reaching Skavenblight. The Skittergate!

    His whiskers twitched in anticipation for the activation of his secret project. The Skittergate would allow Clan Gnawmak to expand their influence without the constant meddling of the Council of 13. A portal that would lead Clan Gnawmak to somewhere they could build undisturbed and without the Council’s knowledge they would not pester and limit his ambitions.

    The warrens of Clan Gnawmak had been a scene of chaos as equipment, beasts, and most importantly, Breeders were prepared for departure. Only a precious few knew of the Skittergate, it’s reveal planned only once they were beginning their departure. The Clanrats who asked too many questions were dispatched with efficiency.

    Skritch’s ears twitched as he heard the familiar sound of heavy reverberating footsteps echoing down the tunnel leading to his chambers. He stood from his seat and anxiously awaited the figure to appear, Skak, his chief Warlock engineer.

    Skak covered himself in the characteristic metal plating of the Warlock engineer, a large cumbersome metal tank was affixed to the suit’s back, which was connected through a complex series of tubing to various parts of his body. His gunmetal mask covered the entirety of his face. Warpstone energy surging through his suit projected out of the glass eye sockets of the helm making them appear as though radiant green orbs.
    He wore a great, rounded gauntlet on his left hand which glowed the same familiar green as his eyes. His fingertips cracked with warp energy, prepared to surge from his hand at any moment. In his right hand he wore a much more form-fitting gauntlet which projected long serrated razor claws. The rest of his body was hidden beneath the thick dull gunmetal robe.

    “Murderlord Skritch, the Skittergate will be ready-working soon! Our Clan wait-waits for your signal!”

    Skak’s deep metallic voice echoed through his mask, although it made it difficult to understand, Skritch was delighted to hear the news.

    “Wait-waste no time, Skak! The Clan has pick-packed everything, yes-yes?” Skritch asked hastily. His patience upon hearing the news had dissipated and was replaced with an overwhelming eagerness to begin the migration.

    “I am happy-pleased to talk-tell you preparations are complete.”

    “No more waiting-watching? The Skittergate can activate, yes-yes?”

    “Yes-yes” came a raspy third voice.

    An extremely aged Skaven adorned in burlap robes approached the two, Master Moulder Brik appeared from the shadows, followed by a cadre of assistants.

    Brik was partially hairless, his head completely bare of fur. Half of his right ear had been chewed off and the other ear was slicked back against his head. His tattered robe revealed little about his body apart from his withered right leg which forced him to walk with a distinctive hobble.

    His followers looked similarly disheveled, each carrying a large sack filled with much-needed supplies.

    The promise of operating on the creatures across the gate enticed Brik to align himself with Skritch. Despite the substantial risk the move might pose.

    He nervously peered around, more so than would be considered normal, even by Skaven standards. His assistants shared the same demeanor as their master.

    “Ah, Brik we’ve been waiting-staying for you,” Skritch said impatiently. “I told you to scamper-scurry quick-quick!”

    Brik’s tail nervously jittered, “Sneaking-Skulking from Clan Moulder was hard-hard, had to wait-watch for right time.”

    Skritch had no patience for Brik’s problems and chose to ignore his excuse-making. His mind quickly drifted to more important issues and scrunched his nose as he turned back to Brik.

    “Brik where is Qwik hiding-crawling? Where-where is Yermak?” The metallic ratkin gave pause to Skritch’s questioning. Habitually grinding his claws against each other making a fine scraping noise.

    “Yermak is about to start-start the ritual, nobody has spotted-seen Qwik and his host-host!” Brik finally responded.

    Skritch grumbled to himself as he motioned for the party that had assembled in his chambers to follow him.

    The scene outside of his lair was chaotic, Clanrat and Skaven Slave alike ceaselessly carried crates of supplies toward a great chamber waiting to receive them. A cacophony of screeching, scraping and hammering filled the caverns that made up Clan Gnawmak’s warren.

    Despite intimately knowing the details of the preparation, Skritch was surprised to notice how bare many sections of the Skaven complex were. Where once the tunnels were crammed with loose material and supply, it was now clear enough to see the tiny burrows that the average Clanrat dug themselves as a home.

    The burrows were shallow and destitute, only barely managing to keep the Skaven off the path of oncoming traffic. A few of the more motivated Skaven created much deeper burrows, which doubtlessly had swapped hands on multiple occasions as the more envious Skaven aimed to capitalize on their hard work.

    The winding path the party took brought them to a tunnel sitting on a steep incline. The constant stream of Skaven thinned to nothing. Their skittering was replaced by the vigilant glares of his Stormvermin guards. Brik began to audibly wheeze, the straining effort of climbing the incline taking a great toll on his decrepit body. Two of his assistants rushed to assist the frail rat in his ascent.

    Finally they reached the plateau at the top. The tight, claustrophobic tunnels gave way to a great open chamber which stretched down for many kilometers to what appeared to be a mustering ground. A great stockpile of Warpstone lined the walls in haphazardly stacked piles, the crates that contained them constantly threatening to topple at the slightest provocation. Their soft green lustre was always a welcome sight.

    Beyond the muster ground was a gargantuan circular structure. Upon seeing it Skritch’s spirits were lifted immensely, the Skittergate. It stretched from one side of the chamber to the next and all the way to it’s ceiling. Wooden support beams stuck out of the walls and braced the structure from tipping or toppling. The gate itself was a patchwork of metal and wood supports. A hole with a large chunk of Warpstone protruded from the top of the Skittergate. Which would serve as a source of power to maintain the gate after the ritual was complete.

    Suddenly, Skritch sensed the looming presence of an as of yet unknown party directly behind him. He drew his specially made sword from its scabbard and turned to face the would-be attacker only to immediately reconsider that course of action. Qwik the Assassin and his cadre of gutter runners had finally arrived.

    “Quik! You took-used your time to get-get here!” The Muderlord absent-mindedly snapped. Soon realizing his mistake, his ears flattened against his head and prayed the Eshin Assassin not retaliate. But all he received in return was a slight nod from Qwik.

    Qwik was dressed head to toe in black, belts and straps carrying equipment such as spare daggers and poison seemed to zig-zag across his torso. His hood shrouded much of his visage in mystery, what was visible was then covered by a crude cloth mask. Leaving only his eyes as the most visible part of his body. A cloak stretched down his body, stopping just shy of the assassin’s tail.

    “The Skittergate is able-ready to activate, Murderlord! Failure-fall is not an option. We need only order-tell yermak to begin-start the ritual!” Brik echoed.

    Skritch impatiently grumbled, as he scanned the platform for any sign of the senile Greyseer. He was surprised to see his silhouette at the far railing, how his presence escaped him for so long, Skritch didn’t know.

    Yermak wore simple, filthy robes. Any colour they may have had long since faded. His horns stretch high above his head, the signs of curling present at their ends. His eyes were a cloudy grey. Yermak had been rendered blind long ago, however this did little to inhibit his greatness. He gripped an ornate staff which bore the symbols of both Clan Gnawmak and the Great Horned Rat.

    “Yermak! Begin-start the ritual!” Skritch impatiently spat.

    The Greyseer hardly payed the Murderlord any attention, already mumbling an incantation under his breath. The Skittergate jolted to life, the giant Warpstone chunk now glowed radiantly. The ground rumbled and the very foundations of the platform began to rattle. Loose soil fell from the ceiling in great clumps, only adding to the poor air quality of the warrens.

    Warp lightning crackled and lashed out, now from within the gate. A green miasma now began to swirl from the innermost edges of the gate, spiralling towards its center. The energy became more concentrated until one could not see to the other side of the Skittergate. The platform rustled and shook violently, Skritch skittered towards the tunnel he emerged from in his desperate search for stable ground. The rest of his retinue had already disappeared down the tunnel long before he took notice. The only one left on the platform was Yermak who not only seemed unafraid of the happenings, but unphased as he chanted louder and louder.

    A bolt of warp lightning surged from the portal and struck an unlucky group of Clanrats who’s bodies lit a radiant green their screams penetrated Skritch’s ears despite being many kilometers away from the source. Their bodies exploded into ash which now coated the floor. The only other sign of their existence being the pungent stench of burnt flesh within the area.

    The tremors became more violent until the hapless Murderlord cursed himself, himself! For being so hasty in the Skittergate’s activation. He covered his head and pleaded with the Great Horned Rat for mercy in going behind his back. But just as instantly as the rumbling had started, it suddenly ceased. Skritch lowered his arms and scanned his surroundings. Was he dead? Had his Grey Seer sabotaged his ambition?

    He looked through the hole at the entrance to the Skittergate’s chamber, his eyes brightened and squealed in joy. The Skittergate, apart from the occasional bolt of Warp Lightning, had stabilized. The radiant green pool at its center spiralled and danced erratically. None were more proud of this success, however, than Brik. Despite being incapable of reading his emotions due to the metal mask he wore at all times, his jubilation was nigh uncontainable, though he did much to conceal this fact.

    The doors to the mustering grounds were opened and a constant wave of Clanrats flooded the open ground, many stopping to marvel at the magnificent gate before them. This turned out to be a foolish endeavour however as they were promptly knocked over by other eager ratkin and trampled to death. Their cheers soon filled the chamber and left very little room for Skritch to make the speech he had mentally prepared for.

    A horn sounded from beside the Murderlord and the crowd quieted to a whisper. As they awaited Skritch to speak. He composed himself and revealed himself plainly for all to see.

    “Clan Gnawmak,” he began. “We must migrate-move! We are stuck-trapped here, weak-weak Clans plan to kill us! The Council want-must keep us weak, they fear us!”

    The countless Skaven below roared in approval, raising their crude weapons high in the air. Skritch cackled, this is the moment he had been waiting for and he wished to savour it for all it’s worth.

    “Listen-follow Skritch, go through the Skittergate! Crush-kill all you find, burrow-build our city, leave no survivor-meat!”

    The crowd below him fervently cheered and chanted for Skritch and Clan Gnawmak. They would go where no other Skaven had been before, none knew what lies beyond the gate but each great Clan found their greatness by venturing and Gnawmak would be no different.

    “Now, scamper-scurry! Skitter-go! We must slaughter-stab for Skavendom!”

    And with that the countless hordes of Skaven surged through the Gate many were trampled, but many more washed over their remains. Crates of Warpstone were picked and carried through the Skittergate, weapons and supplies followed shortly thereafter, Skritch had ordered that even the Breeders be dragged from their dens and brought through to the other side. There was no time to lose, the neighboring Clans were sure to have noticed the earthquake, they would soon come to investigate what Skritch had hid from them. He wanted them to find nothing but empty warrens when they arrived.

    Finally, Skritch and his retinue gathered, and began their descent to the muster grounds themselves. There was much to do once they reached the other side, after all.
     
    Tzeentch, Drak4806, Voidlord and 8 others like this.
  2. mrttao

    mrttao Connoisseur.

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    Well this looks promising.
     
  3. Some Fucking Leaf

    Some Fucking Leaf Getting out there.

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    Thank you!

    I haven't written anything in a while so hearing people's thoughts on my work is really helpful, hope you enjoy what I have planned for the future!
     
    Lightbringer and mrttao like this.
  4. TricksterPriest

    TricksterPriest 大六天魔王

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    Normally, I am sooooo not into Warhammer. But? I'll make an exception this time. :cool:
     
    Lightbringer likes this.
  5. EvaUnit01

    EvaUnit01 The man who stands at the top of AAWWEESSOOOMEEE

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    "Skittergate" is cute, that amuses me.

    I can't say at all that I'm familiar with Warhammer or TES... but you've done a great job of creating your atmosphere here, and it's drawn me in pretty well. You've also done a solid enough job of introducing your characters, and it'll be interesting to see where things go moving forward.
     
    Lightbringer and mrttao like this.
  6. Threadmarks: Chapter 1
    Some Fucking Leaf

    Some Fucking Leaf Getting out there.

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    Skritch snickered to himself, even after five months, the prospect of having outwitted the Council of 13 still filled him with the most profound joy. Not only had the Skittergate brought them out of the reach of the meddling Council and the opportunistic neighboring clans, they had been brought to another world entirely!

    Many wondered to themselves how such a thing could have possibly happened, Greyseer Yermak was most perturbed when the Winds of Magic were reduced to but a draft. He insists however that the Winds slowly gain in strength with each passing month. Skritch however asked himself no such questions, of all the places he could have been sent to, this was the most optimal. Completely out of reach of any competition, Clan Gnawmak was free to expand as they pleased.

    What overjoyed Skritch the most, however, was the clean, almost immaculate quality of the air within his newly constructed warren. Not because he valued clean air or cared about keeping the land around him pure, but the sheer cathartic satisfaction of being the one at the helm when those are long since gone filled his rodent heart with an uncontrollable amount of excitement.

    “Murderlord! Our digger-scouts have returned!”

    A Clanrat barged into his newly finished lair with a scrap of crude parchment clutched in his right hand. Skritch’s ears perked up at the news, his spirits lifted such that his instinctual rage at the imprudent Clanrat’s careless entrance was forgiven. He ripped the parchment out of the smaller rat’s filthy grey-furred claws. And scanned the paper with great ferocity. He abandoned his efforts shortly thereafter, once realizing that he could simply demand the Clanrat tell him instead.

    “Out-out with it then! Did they fetch-find Warpsone? Fetch-find more bug-food?” Skritch spat impatiently.

    The Clanrat flattened his ears, looking down at his own feet for a moment before recomposing himself.

    “Yes-yes! More bug-food has been found! We managed to trick-trap the main breeder and brought it to Brik!”

    While this news did please Skritch, he did not want to hear about the mysterious colonies of giant insects they had encountered,

    “Warpstone! Did they fetch-find Warpstone!? Speak-speak now!”

    He loomed over the terrified messenger who barely managed to stutter out his reply.

    “S-sorry, Murderlord,” the Clanrat choked out. “The digger-scouts couldn’t seek-find any Warpstone- there’s none!”

    Skritch raised his hand to strike the messenger in a fit of rage, it took every ounce of his willpower to stay his hand. This new world was not all good tidings. Since they arrived, the Skaven had searched for Warpstone but found none. Thankfully through theft, subterfuge, and shrewd conservation, Clan Gnawmak had amassed a truly massive stockpile of the deadly material.

    The terrified messenger scrambled through his report, searching for more good news to placate the towering Murderlord before him.

    “Murderlord, I know-have good news! We have begun dig-digging our first under-city!”

    Skritch’s demeanor changed, his rage placated for the moment, he recomposed himself and motioned for the messenger to continue.

    “Following Qwik’s order-command, our burrowing-behemoths have reached the first city of the surface. They are call-calling it ‘Under-Cheydinhal’!”

    Skritch scrunched his nose, he had heard much about Cheydenhal. He had heard many reports from his scouts that expansion west had revealed a large city of man-things, very little was known about this city other than it’s name, but once the Undercity is fully established and Qwik can entrench his network across the city these mysteries will become clear.

    “And what-what of Mournhold? Have we tunnel-bore our way east? yes-yes?”

    The Clanrat timidly shook his head.

    “Angry hives of bug-things and Mer-thing tombs are slow-slowing our progress.”

    Skritch gritted his teeth, despite being equally far from both cities, their push east had been far slower. Tombs and underground complexes of all shapes and sizes dotted the landscape. Many of which contained monsters, undead and most worryingly, witnesses of their existence. All of which had to be meticulously dispatched before they could continue boring through towards Mournhold.

    The pitter-patter of feet could once again be heard down the tunnel to Skritch’s lair. He rolled his eyes and prepared himself to be pestered by yet another weakling. This one wore the distinct burlap robes of Master Moulder Brik’s cadre. Much like his master, this one’s hair had begun to fall out in patches, leaving his head naked.

    “Murderlord! Master Moulder Brik wishes-wants to speak-talk to you! Very-very important news, quick-quick!”

    Scritch wished to protest, preferring to remain within the confines of his lair. But it was important that his inner-circle view him as proactive. The risk of other Clans attacking may be gone, but treachery from within his own ranks was not only a possibility, but a reality. Skritch knew that even the scent of weakness might spur plans for his assassination and replacement. Not that he would ever allow himself to fall into such a position.

    He followed the Moulder acolyte down the winding halls of the Capital of Skritch’s new Under-Empire, which he has proudly dubbed ‘Ratwarren’. The wide tunnels felt cramped, he navigated a sea of fur, his Stormvermin bodyguards not far behind. Stacks of wood and Bug-thing shells littered the sides of the cavern.

    Despite how heavily trafficked as this route was, there was very little in the way of lighting save for the odd torch haphazardly banded to the side of the wall. Skritch had to rely primarily on his nightvision to navigate the cramped hall, he detested having to walk amongst the filthy lower classes of Ratwarren and made a mental note to create his own personal passageways to key locations throughout the city.

    Skaven packed shoulder to shoulder each pushed against one another carrying supplies to and from all corners of the Under-City, even in these short months since being here, the Skaven population had almost doubled. Ratwarren struggled to expand fast enough to accommodate the quickly growing population.

    The Acolyte took a left turn into another tunnel, the traffic seemed to thin somewhat as they pushed through the oncoming Skaven. It wasn’t long before a horrid stench assaulted Skritch’s nose, more than even he was used to, which also appeared to be the case for his bodyguard. The only member of the group unaffected was the Moulder Acolyte.

    Suddenly, the tunnel gave way to a massive chamber. Great braziers fully illuminated the chamber. The light revealed rows upon rows of cages containing captive bug-things, including most recently a Bug-thing Breeder.

    The four legged creature had a thick, Chitinous brown abdomen, a sharp spine rise stretched all the way down from it’s head to it’s thorax. The head and thorax themselves were, in stark contrast to the hard shell of the abdomen, soft and fleshy. The head had four eyes and many circular rows of teeth. It had a pale, maggot-like colour and texture. While it’s thorax appeared to be a sickly soft bag of organs and eggs. While the Bug-thing breeder easily towered over the average Skaven, it was dwarfed by the average Skaven Breeder.

    Three Bug-thing workers were allowed to attend to the Bug-thing breeder, grooming the bound beast while it struggled against the chains that held it to the floor. Skritch was pulled away from his observations as the Acolyte motioned for him to enter a nearby chamber. There he saw the withered figure of Brik, who was busy planning the next of what was to be many abominable creations.

    “Brik, what-what is it you want-need of me?”

    The shriveled Master Moulder slowly turned around and nodded to the Murderlord standing before him. Skritch could see 5 dark-skinned Mer-things behind Brik, they wore the clothes of a labourer. Each appeared to be in a different state of emotions, some tried with all their might to free themselves from their bonds, others cried, one particular mer-thing that caught Skritch’s attention appeared utterly resigned to his fate.

    “These five are prisoner-food from the last Bug-thing raid, they ran-fled to the surface when we dug-tunneled into their lair.” Brik said matter-of-factly. “I wanted-wished to experiment on them.”

    One of the mer-things spoke up tears streaming from his eyes as he choked what words he could.

    “Please, we’re just Kwama Miners, j-just let us go and you’ll never see us again!”

    Kwama? Skritch wondered what these mer-things could possibly be talking about. He eventually concluded that the mer-thing was simply speaking gibberish, completely incapable of handling his first interaction with a Skaven. Skritch snickered and turned to Brik.

    “Murder-kill-kill them soon, I don’t want them to escape-flee from here and warn-teach their friends of us!”

    Brik simply smiled and nodded in return, before gazing longingly at his five new test subjects.

    “Murderlord!”

    A piercing voice echoed from outside Brik’s chamber. A frenzied Clanrat messenger, clearly exhausted from prolonged sprinting collapsed into the room. After recovering from a particularly nasty bout of wheezing, the messenger began to stammer a series of words which Skritch could barely bother to understand.

    “Speak-talk clearly!” He barked.

    “The… The Skittergate, it has collapsed!”

    -------------------------------



    The Imperial City Prison, 4E 201

    Anarril Aediuth rubbed his hands together, the dank cell he had been stuffed in provided little heat or comfort. The cold iron shackles clung tightly to his wrists, constricting his pallid alabaster skin. His clothes were little more than rags, held to his body with a tied strand of chord. His long, ashen grey hair was matted from lack of washing.

    A brown rat skittered across the cold stone cell past his feet, squeezing through the rusted iron bars at the entrance and disappearing underneath a crack in the stone brick wall. He recoiled in disgust. Rats, he despised rats with a passion. He picked himself up and walked towards the only window in his cell. It was small, small enough that were he to attempt to squeeze through he would only manage to fit his head. To make matters worse the window was high above his head, with a considerable stretch his fingers just barely reached the sill of the window. After realizing the futility of his efforts he let go and landed on the floor.

    He let out a long protracted sigh. just how did he end up here? He knew the answer, of course. The question was one more of disbelief than any lack of knowledge. His home in Bruma was raided by the local garrison on suspicion of spying for the Thalmor. Despite not finding any evidence, Imperial authorities arrested him ‘just in case’. Of course they would find no evidence, he had traveled to Cyrodil long before the war!

    He spat in anger, the spit however did not travel far, landing on his foot. He jolted in disgust, trying to kick the saliva off of his skin. When that revealed itself to be an act of futility, he swallowed his pride and wiped the spit off with his hand. He quickly dived to a nearby puddle to wash his palm clean.

    He often missed the elegant beauty of the golden cities of the Somerset Isles. Fond memories of a more civilized place washed over him in a soothing catharsis. For but a moment, he forgot about the dirty cities of Man and their outright criminal dungeons. Had it not been for his passionate interest in the secrets of the Dwemer, he may very well have remained in the Isles his whole life.

    But alas, the cautionary tales of Lorkhan’s treachery he had been regaled with as a child, of the caging of the Aldmer and their search for their rightful divinity did little to fill him with fear. No, it caused quite the opposite. He was excited by these tales, he had long since enjoyed using his wit to solve and overcome challenges. And what was this but the greatest challenge of them all?

    His research brought him to the research of the Dwemer, which he believed to be a failed civilization. Ones who foolishly took a shortcut by using the Heart of Lorkhan, and undermined their solution towards immortality, divinity. He sought to continue where the Dwemer left off, he threw himself into the research of Tonal Architecture. Of course, when the Thalmor began to pressure him to find a mate and create pureblooded heirs, he decided to leave the Isles to Morrowind to uncover and study the Dwemer’s secrets personally.

    Of course, the bureaucracy of Morrowind stood in his way, despite his research standing to benefit all of reality, they insisted he await permission, and permits, and payment. Bah! He decided he would settle in Bruma and use his services as an artificer to raise money for his expeditions. Of course, then the war happened, and people’s attitude towards him changed.

    Friendly faces turned cold, those he called his neighbors now only offered him only angry glares and bitter words. One day, the guards showed up and brought him here, to this dark, wet, cold, cell.

    Arannil tilted his head, he could hear footsteps far down the hall. Each foot fall was accompanied by the rustling of metal against metal. He could distinctly tell apart two sets of steps. A pair of patrolling prison guards, he surmised. He walked closer to the bars of his cell, half-hoping these guards were intending to feed the prisoners. He could faintly hear their voices as they drew closer.

    “... since the war, we’ve barely gotten any battlemages at all, we’re undermanned, and understrength.” one particularly gruff voice said. The footfalls grew louder, and more pronounced.

    “Well hopefully I can be of some help, Venexus. We’ve got prisoners of all kinds in here.”
    Another more relaxed voice replied.

    Anarril’s face contorted, what are they talking about? He tried to angle his head to get a view of the two as they drew closer, but they were still out of view. The footsteps stopped, metallic rustling could be heard from around the corner followed by a clunk. A door creaked open, rusty metal squeaking as it was moved once again.

    “Who’s this one?” the gruff authoritative voice asked.

    Chains rustled as one of the two figures ordered whomever occupied the cell to get up. Annaril grumbled in frustration at not being able to see what was transpiring.

    “This one is…” the relaxed voice paused for a moment. “A Breton, quite the magician, this one. Killed his wife with a lightning bolt while she slept.”

    “I didn’t and you can’t prove that I did.” A third, almost bored sounding voice retorted in an almost disinterested manner. “The name is Astielvin Anice, at your service sir.”

    “Yeah yeah, just come with us, murderer.” the second voice said dismissively. The footsteps resumed, now he could distinguish between three sets of footsteps. The footfalls grew louder and more intense, Anarril looked closely through the bars of his cell. Three men emerged from the corner. The first was a short-haired imperial, a piece of parchment in one hand, and his helmet in the other. His uniform identified him as one of the guards of the prison. The second, much taller man was donned in the armour of an Imperial Lieutenant. His smug grin seemed all the more ostentatious paired with the plumed helmet he wore. The third was a short, bald, Breton man dressed in the same prisoner’s rags as Anarril was.

    They continued to walk until the Lieutenant stopped at the Altmer’s cell. He inspected him closely before turning to the prison guard and patting him on the shoulder.

    “Who’s this one?”

    The guard moved his finger down the parchment, occasionally looking back at the High Elf’s face. Confident he had found what he was looking for, he turned to the Lieutenant.

    “This one is… An Altmer, arrested for stealing magical artifacts from the Bruma Mages Guild,” he chuckled to himself. “Not the smartest move, was it there, elf?”

    Anarril was outraged, not only was he thrown in prison for something he did not do, but the guards had the audacity to fabricate charges solely to save face. The Lieutenant looked closely at him before motioning for him to leave his cell.

    “Altmer make good mages, right? Alright, prisoner, you’re coming with me.”

    Anarril was phased, while it was true that Altmer were more magically inclined than most other races, he was a simple artificer, not some explosion-obsessed battle mage! He immediately calmed himself down, realizing this as an opportunity to escape from the squalid conditions he had been subjected to. Not wanting to anger a member of the Imperial Legion, Anarril thought it best to obey the man’s orders. The guard briefly surveyed the parchment, was he looking for people suspected of being magically inclined? He started to piece what was happening together, they’re not drafting me into the Legion, are they?

    “That should be all of them, Venexus. You sure you want to take these two?”

    The Lieutenant, apparently named Venexus nodded, “I’d have hoped for more, but these two will do.”

    Anarril and the Breton were herded through the cramped corridors of the prison, the halls were brightly lit, far brighter than the cell he had been kept in. He was relieved to be even within the presence of relative comfort, even if he could not stay and enjoy it for long. He was quickly led through a side door to the outside of the prison where a wooden cart full of prisoners in similar situations to himself were waiting. Two legionaries stood by watching over the prisoners like hawks, waiting for the slightest excuse to strike.

    He shielded his eyes from the bright rays of the evening sun. The darkness of his cell did very little to prepare him for the bright luminescence of the outside. Eventually, however, his eyes adjusted and the pain subsided. For the first time in months, be breathed in the fresh air of the outside. The feeling was almost intoxicating and a much needed reprieve from the stale, humid air of the dungeon. The Breton, Astielvin, appeared to have the same reaction as him. The rays of light reflected perfectly off of his bald head.

    He and Astielvin were made to sit at the end of the cart, the two legionaries mounted their horses and rode behind the carriage. Within minutes the cart began to move. Where they were going, he had no idea. He felt a nudge against his shin, it was Astielvin, the Breton gave him a friendly nod.

    “Good day to you, elf! The name’s Astielvin!” his voice seemed almost chipper, understandable considering how they had been liberated from their past situation. Anarril nodded in return.

    “Likewise, my name is Anarril. Do you have any idea where we are going?”

    Astielvin laughed in response, shaking his head as he did.

    “Of course not! Why would I?”

    Anarril, realizing the obvious answer to his question, was briefly amazed by the stupidity of his own words.

    “Not to worry, my friend. We’ve got a long way to go, I’m sure we’ll find out eventually!”
     
    Tzeentch, Drak4806, Damdin and 6 others like this.
  7. EvaUnit01

    EvaUnit01 The man who stands at the top of AAWWEESSOOOMEEE

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    Corruption... corruption never changes.

    Still, at least we have some prospective heroes now to square off against Skritch and his legion of vermin.
     
  8. Vanbers

    Vanbers Versed in the lewd.

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    Well, in the Imperials defence, Altmer aren't really... people, y'know?

    "The Thalmor meet the Skaven" would be a highly amusing scenario, now that I think about it.
     
  9. Threadmarks: Chapter 2
    Some Fucking Leaf

    Some Fucking Leaf Getting out there.

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    Brik’s laboratory was buzzing with activity. Skaven Slaves and Brik’s acolytes buzzed across the open square carrying much needed test subjects and supply. Cages brimming with captured Mer-things, Bug-things, and Skaven Slaves lined the walls. Their cries drowned out by the cacophony of construction and chatter from the apathetic masses which surrounded them.

    A pile of carrion lay in the center of the room, cadaver of all species added to its mass. The resting place of Brik’s failed experiments. Many were patchwork creatures, taken apart and rearranged with the parts of other beasts to satisfy the Master Moulder’s curiosity. One was a soldier Bug-thing, it’s exoskeleton had greatly deteriorated. In its place was soft flesh covered in patches of brown fur. The creature was bulkier than the average Clanrat, yet was still dwarfed in size by the Rat Ogre.

    Many other creatures were far less whole, with entire segments of its body removed and replaced with the equivalent parts of an unfortunate Skaven Slave. Many, if not most creatures subject to this did not survive, the unlucky ones, however, did. These creatures were corralled into pens yet they did not move. Whether this was due to lack of control of their own faculties or from mental anguish, Skritch did not care.

    What he did care about was Brik’s lack of results. The creatures he had produced had been weak, fragile creatures which hardly held a candle to the monstrosities which had been created with the creatures in their home world. Each expedition to the surface to capture test subjects put them at greater risk of being discovered.

    Despite this, Skritch considered himself lucky. Each time a Man-thing or Mer-thing came close to discovering Ratwarren, whether they were unfortunate enough to be discovered during a Bug-thing nest raid or simply stumbled upon the tunnels, they were quickly and easily dispatched or captured. Their existence must be kept a secret until the time is right, the Under-Empire was still in its infancy, he did not want to risk losing what he had built to a gaggle of over-eagre Clanrats.

    Skritch’s bodyguards pushed a path through the crowded laboratory, allowing him to comfortably walk to Brik’s personal lair. His frustrations, however, were exacerbated as he had to wait for a stream of Skaven Slaves to finish filing through the door with yet more failed experiments. Skritch’s eyes shifted, scanning the surrounding area for threats. He hated waiting, any over-ambitious Clanrat with a deathwish could make an attempt on his life. He reminded himself to be vigilant at all times.

    Finally, the path to Brik was cleared. Brik was absorbed in his work, the centerpiece of the room was a winged creature captured from Under-Cheydinhal. It struggled in futility against its bonds as Brik prepared to splice the creature with a hapless Skaven Slave which was bound next to it. The chamber was humid and blood pooled towards the center of the floor. Skritch couldn’t help but smile at the misfortune of the two miserable creatures.

    “Brik! I where-where are new Mer-things?” Skritch snapped.

    Slightly agitated now that his concentration had been broken, Brik set his tools back onto the table beside him and turned to face the Murderlord.

    “Gnash-crushed into Bug-thing food! Listen-followed your order-command and bludgeon-based them quick, yes-yes!” Brick chittered his teeth in amusement, the wheezing ever slightly more audible from the exertion.

    Skritch, however, was not as enthralled. Mere days after demanding their disposal did he realize that they would be better used to give them precious information about the mysterious world his clan has found itself in. Killing or otherwise disposing of the slimy surface dwellers was a force of habit, they had never really had the need to interrogate them.

    He grumbled about his frustrations inaudibly, his scratched his tar-black fur careful not to allow his claws to dig into his own skin.

    “Also, send less-few surface-raids! Yes-yes, new creatures to use-make, might lead Mer-things to find-learn we exist!”

    Brik jolted, a mixture of surprise and disbelief across his face.

    “fewer-less surface-raids means fewer-less experiments!” Brik sputtered. “Fewer-less warbeasts for Clan Gnawmak!”

    Skritch recoiled at the realization of the significance of his own words. He sounded like the Council, not to mention that making an enemy out of Brik and his warbeasts would not be good for his health.To walk back his words now would be to show weakness. He thought quickly on how he might soften the blow.

    “Much-more raids when we attack-take the surface! Don’t cease-stop raids, send fewer-less!”

    Softening the blow of his words would come a long way towards lessening any potential resentment Brik may have to him. He cursed himself for this blunder. Brik seemed to be somewhat placated.

    “Fine-fine, sneaky-skulking raids will be smaller-fewer. But I need-must grab-take more subjects!”

    Brik turned back around to his ongoing experiment, eyeing the still bound creature with malicious intent. He raised a crude cleaver from his repertoire. Brik chittered as he slowly approached the increasingly panicked creature. Skritch’s curiosity was piqued, he wanted nothing more than to observe the operation, however he was a busy Murderlord and other members of his inner-circle demanded his attention.

    He motioned to his bodyguards to begin securing a pathway out of the grand laboratory. Blood curtling screams rang out of Brik’s lair, but Skritch had no choice but to continue on his way. Were he to give into his curiosity he would not be able to leave.

    Far to the exit, he saw many of Brik’s acolytes leading a menagerie of different beasts into their cages. Many Squig-like creatures were often found around the surface of Ratwarren along with many strange humanoid creatures which were found around Under-Cheydinhal. Skritch was impressed with the efficiency that Brik was able to gather so many varied beasts from across this new world.

    His heart sank soon thereafter. With his personal tunnels still under construction, he was still forced to contend with the cramped main passageways of the under-city. The next of his inner-circle he needed to check on was Skak, his Warlock-Engineer. Like any member of Clan Skryre he had been busy since the very moment he arrived. Innumerable Skaven Slaves had gathered great amounts of metals from the ground and a great workshop had been constructed deep beneath the surface, one that dwarfed even Brik’s laboratory.

    The workshop itself lay across the city. Past the countless intersecting warrens and chambers, countless amounts of busy Clanrats worked formically, carrying supplies to and fro. The Bug-thing pens, however, Skritch had never seen.

    Since their discovery, the bug-things had become a much sought-after delicacy and a staple of Clan Gnawmak’s diet. Thousands of Skaven Slaves tended to the creatures, scented such that the creatures would not attack them. A large enough breeding stock had been established but more and larger pens were excavated each day to keep up with the ever-increasing population of the new Under-Empire. Each under-city that was constructed now had a sizable population of bug-things to feed the Skaven. Brik in particular had been working strenuously to transform these bug-things into something more capable of keeping pace with Growing Skaven populations.

    As Skritch drew closer to the workshop, many signs of Skak’s engineering manifested itself. Pipeline emerged from the tunnel walls at random intervals, their locations and the contents they carried unknown to him. A large contingent of heavily armed and armoured Clanrats materialized from behind a corner ahead of the Murderlord. They streamed down the pathway. A large crumbling crash nearly deafened Skritch. His confusion and the resultant frustration got the best of him.

    He grabbed the nearest Clanrat and jerked him towards himself.

    “Where-where are you skitter-going? Where-where is Skak!”

    The Clanrat shrunk in fear, the bravado he had but moments before now completely dissipated.

    “Murderlord! Burrowers have tunnel-dug into new cave-nest! Metal-things trying to stab-kill us!”

    They were under attack? And they hadn’t the decency to tell Skritch about it?

    “Where-where is Skak?”

    “Skak is Fending-fighting metal-things!”


    -------------------------------


    Corpses and viscera layered the surface of the open clearing before the Skaven mining expedition. Immediately after breaching into a seemingly ordinary cave system, they soon observed there to be large looming structures engraved into the very cave walls itself. The walls of the grand structure were accented and reinforced with burnished gold, embossed piping emerged from high above the main entrance and into distant cave walls.

    Upon approaching the mysterious architecture, the whirring of gears and the grinding of rusted metal echoed through the cavern. Hundreds of bronze mechanical spiders surged from the main every vent, duct, and door available to them. Quick-thinking Clanrats cut the legs of nearby Skaven Slaves before fleeing. The mechanical spiders set upon the wounded vermin and dispatched them without mercy. In mere moments the initial expedition was eviscerated. The fortunate survivors were ordered by the expedition's leader to hold the mechanical creatures off until help arrived shortly before disappearing back into the tunnels of Ratwarren. Should they be found out to have fled, he would make certain that they be fed to the Bug-things

    With their escape psychologically barred to them, the dozen or so remaining Clanrats drew cude cleavers and picks and prepared to face the remorseless machines. The first spiders crashed into the line, knocking some Skaven off their feet. One particularly eager Spider leapt a great height into the air and collided with a terrified Clanrat, the impact itself shattering bone and rendering the Clanrat unconscious. The spider set to work mutilating the poor rat with reckless abandon.

    One miner, noticing the distracted Automaton, set upon the spider with his cleaver in a wide, overarching swing. It glanced off the creature's metal body, hardly even registering the blow. The few Skaven who had chosen to draw their picks, however, were far more fortunate. Those that found purchase in their hits managed to damage, and even cripple some of the Spiders. This did very little to dispatch the machines and typically ended up being killed by the very machines they had attacked.

    The few remaining Skaven chose to flee, dropping everything they carried and scurried towards the tunnel they had emerged from. Unfortunately they had spent too much time making up their minds whether they should run and were met by a second wall of creatures. This time being a large contingent of armed Clanrats. A few hundred strong they charged the opposing lines of mechanical spiders. Washing over their ranks like a verminous wave of death. While the automata were successful in their original one-on-one battles with the unprepared clanrats, they were far less successful when being set upon by 5 of the rodents at once. In a blinding combined flurry of blows, limbs were hacked off of the spiders and through sheer force of numbers the machines were felled.

    However more spiders trickled in from the distant ruins, along with a second type of enemy, it appeared to be entirely spherical in shape. Those Skaven with the time to observe these balls advance were bemused by it’s apparent harmless nature. The spheres, however did not seem to be discouraged by this and approached at high speed. Once within range they transformed, the ball broke from its original form and a vaguely humanoid upper-body emerged from within.

    In this deployed form, the incomplete sphere formed the base of their bodies with two metal legs attached to the inner-sides of the ball holding their body up. Their waist was a large gyro which connected the upper body to the legs in the sphere. The body was far more bulky, with complex and beautiful engravings covering the entirety of its surface. A long, serrated sword was affixed to it’s right arm. While it’s left mounted a self-loading crossbow which, as the Skaven would soon find out, fired in rapid succession. It’s head was no less ornate than the body, with detailed and individual faces having been carved into each of the machines. It’s head bore a large half moon shaped crest which like a canvas carried many embossed designs across its surface.

    A dozen or so of these new automata surged toward the Skaven lines with blistering speed, cutting into them like a hot knife through butter. Deftly butchering the hapless Clanrats with inhuman efficacy. Some of the more brave Skaven charged the construct with their shields raised, a torrent of bolts came surging at the advancing formation, with many Skaven hit in their legs and abdomens.

    The Clanrats who got within range would not face these spheres in a fair fight. While three Skaven struggled to hold the automata’s wrath, a much larger group of Skaven swept in from behind and wrestled the construct to the ground. They covered the machine in a stabbing ball of fur and steel, hacking, smashing, and cutting wherever they could.

    The surface of the cavernous clearing became slick with blood, both sides were forced to climb above their fallen comrades to engage with the enemy. Both spider and sphere trickled into the fight, dozens at a time. This was, however insufficient to stem the tide of maniacal mass of vermin surging towards them in the hundreds. For each Skaven the automata slew, 5 more would take their place.

    The Skaven, however, soon lost their nerve when a rhythmic rumble of footfalls became audible in the distance. Many turned to flee, but were held back by a line of higher-ranking Clanrats who held a line of spears, prepared to skewer any who turned tail. The thunderous steps became louder and louder, the anticipation of every Ratkin there was palpable. Silence filled the room. The automata, who hadn’t ceased their fighting in this time, stopped receiving reinforcements. The Skaven, encouraged by this, fought with greater ferocity until the doors of the distant ruins flew off their hinges with a deafening bang.

    A bronze door soared through the air and crashed into an unfortunate group of Clanrats who exploded on impact, atomized blood sprayed across the battlefield and Skaven scattered immediately. Trying to flee past the now unnerved commanding Clanrat. Many were impaled by the line of spears but the terrified Rodents simply clambered over their fallen kin, passed the prepared line of spears, and continued their beeline towards safety.

    From behind the doors emerged a colossal construct, it stood on two armoured legs, as thick as tree trunks. It’s ornate chest reflected the torchlight of the petrified Skaven, accenting the large spherical core at the center of it’s torso. It’s elegantly designed arms had no hands, an affixed sword and axe took their place. It’s finely carved faceplate seemed to evoke a sense of cold, cruel, hatred. It lumbered towards the large battleline of Skaven and dispatched half of the first rank with a single sweep of it’s right arm, followed by it’s left which took care of the unfortunate Skaven standing behind the first rank. Bits and pieces of Ratkin flew through the air.

    The Skaven who hadn’t already run, attempted to surround the monstrosity. Cutting at its legs with spears, weary of drawing any closer that they had to. The machine swiped across the ground once again. The Skaven deftly avoided the telegraphed attack and counterattacked the overextended construct. Little damage, if any, was dealt and the machine regained its posture. Steam vented from it’s shoulders and eye sockets. A tight cluster of Clanrat reinforcements wearily charged towards the colossal figure. Which paused for a moment, streams of steam ceased flowing and built up within. It braced itself and released a massive burst of scalding hot steam onto the unprepared Clanrats before him.

    The frenzied screams of agony from dozens of Clanrats rang through the field. Those that remained instantly broke into a rout. Hundreds of Skaven raced past each other in a bid to be the first out of the range of the seemingly invulnerable beast. Another more consistent rumbling seemed to become more and more audible from within the tunnel they had emerged from. The smart Clanrats slowed to a stop and cautiously observed the desperate Ratkin flood into the tunnel.

    They were quickly tuned to paste. In their desperate rush to flee from the construct they failed to hear the signs of the colossal doomwheel which had careened out of the tunnel. Skak squeaked manically as warp lightning arced towards both Skaven and Automata that drew too close to the Skaven Warmachine.

    The surviving Skaven chittered cheered upon seeing Skak’s arrival into the fray. The Doomwheel was easily two thirds the size of the construct before him, wood reinforced with crude metal comprising the outer layer of the wheel with a shoddily crafted metal cage constructed within the wheel. Layers of spikes tipped with large chunks of warpstone adorned the sides and front of the warmachine. The center stripe of the outer wheel featured a trench so that any warpstone spikes wouldn’t be rolled over.

    In stark contrast to the fine craftsmanship of the colossal construct, Skak’s Doomwheel appeared to be a patchwork of parts cobbled together with little regard for aesthetic appeal or beauty. The few engravings which were visible on the Doomwheel were basic shapes and phrases which only consisted of obscenities.

    A large arc of green lightning struck the construct, which seemed to make the construct stagger, but no visible damage could be seen aside from the scorch marks which had now stained the once-beautiful chestplate. Before the machine had time to recover, Skak had rammed his gargantuan wheel into the construct, knocking it off its feet and into the air. The ancient automaton landed on the ground with a spectacular crash. The machine made its best attempt to right itself but the Doomwheel had not stopped. It swiftly rolled overtop of the machine and each limb that the wheel treaded on snapped and shattered.

    The now-helpless machine thrashed desperately as the Doomwheel finally rolled over the sphere within its chest. Under the immense pressure the chamber containing the orb deformed and the machine ceased moving entirely.

    Skak scrambled out of his warmachine and viewed the still body of the colossus intently. He let out a triumphant shriek as the few surviving Skaven skittered over to see the defeated enemy.

    “Who built-made this!? Smart-wise Skak will learn much-much from dead metal-things, yes-yes!”

    Skak had never felt such burning excitement and curiosity since he was but a whelp in Skavenblight. Warmachines which could pilot themselves both excited Skak and made him extremely envious of whomever had created these marvels of magical engineering. He wanted to make one himself. He turned towards the remaining Skaven, noting the many hundreds of reinforcements who had since joined them.

    “Fetch-find all within! Bring-take to me and I will gift-give you great-big reward!”
     
  10. mrttao

    mrttao Connoisseur.

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    atomized means it has been separated into atoms. if it has been atomized it is no longer blood. the water in the blood is broken to hydrogen and oxygen, the cells are broken to atoms
     
  11. Some Fucking Leaf

    Some Fucking Leaf Getting out there.

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    It can mean that, or it could mean to convert a liquid into a very fine mist.
     
  12. EvaUnit01

    EvaUnit01 The man who stands at the top of AAWWEESSOOOMEEE

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    Well, Skak seems like he'll be entertaining.
     
  13. Threadmarks: Chapter 3
    Some Fucking Leaf

    Some Fucking Leaf Getting out there.

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    Cheydinhal Imperial Garrison, 4E 201


    Anarril rubbed his wrists, thankful to be free of the tight, iron shackles that he was forced to wear for so long. His white hair was now cut short and he wore the garb of an Imperial Battlemage. He shifted uncomfortably in the rigid armour he was forced to wear- somehow even more uncomfortable than heavy Elven plate. This idea of being utilised as a Battlemage was baffling to him. While it was true that he was an accomplished practitioner of the mystic arts, his talents lay in analysis and enchantment; the higher mysteries. He was no explosion-minded simpleton who solved problems with arcs of lightning and jets of flame! It would be an utter waste of his talents and time to bloody his hands in such a manner.

    Thankfully, the humans seemed to have at least partially recognised their folly, for he sat in a finely crafted wooden chair inside of the office of the Garrison commander, the one who just so happened to have ‘liberated’ him from captivity. The room was finely decorated, with gems and artifacts neatly placed on display and trophy racks strategically positioned to catch the eye of any visitor. Anarril drank in the scenery as he waited- you could tell a lot about a man from the way he organized his workshop. Indeed, he himself often insisted on inspecting such when he was requested in order to determine if his client was worthy of service; in his early days, he had accepted any contract for money, but in his later years he was bothered far too often by buffoons with a surplus of wealth and a large deficit in mental acuity.

    Whilst not to the same standard, he was gratified by the deliberate balance of form and function displayed in the decor; it reminded him of his temporary workshop in Bruma. The line between ‘impressive’ and ‘gauche’ was razor-thin, and far too often people preferred simply to not even attempt to find it, leave alone balance upon it. He was different, however; He took great pride in his creations and the state of his workspace reflected that. Contrary to the disorganized mess most artificers choose to work in, Anarril’s workspace was pristine. Each tool, project, parchment and book had a specific place in which it was kept, organised for ease of collection. Even that paled, however, when compared to the aesthetics of his study in Alinor; he had spent centuries layering and fine-tuning the enchantments that rendered that workshop as much a work of art as it was one of reason. In it, he had applied well the lesson that his father had once given to him;

    “If you want respect, you must look respectable”.

    Idly he wondered what had become of the Bruma workshop in his absence. Though it had been a temporary thing he had still considered it a slice of home, carried with him from the Summerset Isles. He hoped that it had not been ransacked -most of the objects within were of little value to any but a master artificer- but prejudice had probably compelled the humans to destroy it anyway. He let out a long, defeated sigh at the thought.

    His melancholy was finally broken by the arrival of his erstwhile commander, a man named Venexus. An Imperial with short black hair, and adorned with the ornate armour of a Legion lieutenant. As he entered, Venexus’ gaze shifted from Anarril’s face to a piece of parchment he had in front of him, and he wasted little time in seating himself at the desk opposite. As he did so, Anarril made sure to straighten his posture and compose himself, assuming an expectant pose with his fingers steepled in front of him. This was a song and dance he had mastered long before the human in front of him had even been born.

    First rule of negotiation; never show weakness to an observer, even if they have more leverage. Especially if they have more leverage.

    For a few seconds, the two men sized each other up, and the human was the one to speak first.

    “You are Anarril Aediuth, correct?”

    An obvious stall tactic, meant to buy time for him to gather his thoughts- why would he be here if he was anyone else? Well, Anarril thought, he wouldn’t begrudge the human his crutches; besides, he’d known many nobles who disguised their slow wit with loquacious drivel. He gave a simple nod of acknowledgement, and waited for a more substantive opening.

    Venexus scribed something onto the parchment that lay in front of him, affecting disinterest.

    “And you do realize why you are here, yes?”

    This was his chance! Anarril carefully arranged his features into a mask of cool disdain, and spoke. “Hopefully, because you have finally realised how grievously you have been underestimating me”.The human’s response was to produce another piece of parchment, and lay it on the table; “This form contains the results of your aptitude tests” -Anarril had to suppress a wince at the memory of that unedifying experience- “and whilst your magicka capacity is exceptional, you showed no proficiency beyond the novice spells in either Destruction or Restoration”. The human lifted an eyebrow. “Tell me, then- how exactly are you being undervalued?”.

    Anarril scoffed. “Don’t confuse me for one of your barbaric battlemages, Lieutenant. I am a practitioner of the higher arts; a creator of wonders and horrors beyond anything Frost or Flame could accomplish”. In a show of excellent self control- or more likely massive ignorance, the Imperial did not react visibly, though Anarril could tell he was examining the statement in his mind.

    “An Enchanter, then”.

    “I suppose the comparison is warranted, though I am similar to your ‘enchanters’ only in the way one can compare the present and historical Falmer. That is to say, I am far more than a peddler of cheap tricks”. Anarril leaned forward, never breaking eye contact with his target. “I have had centuries to hone my craft, human. Nobles and merchants have competed for my favour, and my seal graces some of the most ingenious workings to be found in Alinor, far more puissant than any flaming sword or Shock Staff. It would be more apt to name those services I cannot provide!”

    The Imperial in front of him seemed to come to a resolution at that. “Foremost among which is military service, I presume”. He quickly held up a hand, forestalling Anarril’s retort. “Leaving the veracity of your claims aside, it is clear now that you are a civilian contractor. As for the skills you speak of, I doubt they are of much use without very specialised, very expensive tools, none of which I can procure on short notice”. Now it was his turn to lean forward: “So again I ask; why should I not let you go here and now?”

    Anarril had to consciously keep his lips from twitching upwards at that; the lieutenant was good. Not good enough to best him, of course, but good nonetheless. He leaned back in his chair, and allowed a smile to curl his lips even as he spread his hands. “Come now lieutenant, we both know you shall not be doing that. How would your superiors react if you let an Altmer simply leave your service? A truthful man like you would no doubt have to report my profession, and then both of us would be executed as Thalmor spies- no, better by far that you keep me where you can see me. Besides, I’m sure a man of your standing has problems that cannot be solved by beating them into submission. Those dastardly Thalmor spies, for instance, that have evaded detection by even your most skilled sorcerers…”

    The lieutenant furrowed his brow at the thought. “You would work against the Thalmor so easily?”. Anarril shrugged; in truth, he cared little about the Thalmor one way or another, and would not mind if they were pushed off Tamriel entirely. Their idiocy had already cost him his freedom once, and the favour of the Imperial Army would allow him far easier access to Dwemer sites than simply trusting the locals to aid him. Besides, it would be a fine test of his skills to pit them against fellow Altmer. Certainly more stimulating than taking commissions from humans.

    He came out of his reverie to find the soldier examining him with narrow eyes. “And what would you want in return for such services?”

    To Anarril, that was as good as an admission of defeat; he may not be fully trusted, but he was confident that his work would speak for itself. “My dear Venexus, my bottom line is very simple; freedom to pursue my goals as I see fit -I will of course adhere to all the relevant laws!- and access to certain Dwemer structures for my research once I have earned a measure of your trust. As for the details…”

    He locked eyes with the Imperial again, and this time Venexus almost recoiled at the intensity of his gaze.

    “...I am happy to negotiate”.


    -------------------------------​


    After the meeting, Anarril grumbled under his breath as he stepped outside of the barracks. The parade grounds outside of his lodgings were bustling with activity. Legionaries busied themselves carrying weapons and provisions to their respective stockpiles. Officers could be seen conversing amongst each other in varying degrees of formality, their polished steel armour gleamed in the sunlight.

    “Well there you are, been searching all over for you!” a voice penetrated through the busied ambience of the parade grounds.

    Anarril shifted his gaze slightly to notice the familiar grin of Astielvin, a bald Breton with a bushy beard. He was a fellow prisoner in the same position as him. Taken from his decrepit prison cell and straight into a Legionary formation. He was one of the only friendly faces Anarril had encountered throughout his ordeal so he made his best efforts to remain on good terms with him.

    “Yes, yes,” Anarril groaned, still irritated from his meeting with his pompous commander. “I have been speaking to Venexus, apparently he only just now realized that my magical abilities are not barbaric enough for his tastes.”

    Astielvin chuckled and gave Anarril a hearty slap on the back. “You’re probably the only person I’ve heard put it that way.”

    Anarril was distracted, the glare reflecting off of the Breton’s head assailed his eyes, he was sure that any mirror would struggle to be as reflective as Astielvin’s head.

    “Come,” the Breton beckoned, “I’m headed into the city proper and getting a lay o’ the land.”

    Anarril was reluctant to follow, he wanted nothing more than to retire to his bunk and relax his bones which were still sore from sleeping on a stone floor for months on end. But the look on the Breton’s face seemed to imply that there was only one answer he was going to accept.

    Before he knew it he was well on his way through the busy parade grounds and into Cheydinhal proper. Owing to the city's proximity to Morrowind and it’s high Dunmer population, much of Cheydinhal’s population was now composed of Dunmer, following multiple crises in Morrowind. Cheydinhal, being so close to the border with Morrowind was an obvious choice of refuge.

    However, the rapid influx of refugees has left the city overpopulated, Dunmer filled the streets as there was nowhere to accommodate them. The Imperials and historical Dunmer population of the Cheydinhal largely turned a blind eye to the disparate peoples now crowding the Chapel and Market districts of the city.

    The two crossed a bridge into the Market district. The bustling streets became unbearable, Anarril and his new friend being forced to brute force their way through a plethora of bodies whom in turn pushed passed them. Not since his foray in the Imperial prisons had he felt so claustrophobic. He endured the packed streets until finally emerging into a large plaza.

    “By the Eight, there seems to be no end to them! At least now we have a little breathing room” Anariil grunted.

    Astielvin cheerfully nodded in return, if he was irked at the sea of market goers they battled to get this far, he was good at hiding it. The Market plaza was lined with shops of all manners, the stone walls reached only towards the first floor before giving way to a more traditional wooden second floor. The architecture of some of the more recently built stores reminded him greatly of buildings he had seen in Morrowind. Likely the result of the migration which had only recently taken place.

    Within the plaza itself rows upon rows of kiosks filled the large square. Each was of different quality, with some of the more established merchants having constructed sturdy, well crafted kiosks on which they displayed their wares. While others built shoddy frames meant to support a canvas covering.

    “Since we’re here, I could go for some food,” Astielvin blurted out while patting his small pouch of coins he had only received the day prior, “if ya’ want, I can split something with ya’”

    Anarril was loath to accept the Breton’s charity but considering his current situation, he wasn’t about to refuse a free meal. The two spotted a nearby fruit stall and returned to wading through the crowd which seemed to obstruct their advance.
    The merchant operating the stall was a stern Imperial who vigilantly scanned the crowd for any potential buyers. His demeanor loosened and glanced expectantly at the two battlemages approaching his kiosk. Rows of produce were neatly sorted on the display in front of him. Astielvin immediately began conversing with the merchant talking pleasantries and discussing the happenings around Cheydinhal. Without saying a word, Anarril reached out and grabbed a nearby apple, inspecting it for any imperfections.

    “I all o’ this is picked fresh from me farm- not much meat fer’ sale though.” The merchant said, an irritated look blooming across his face.

    “What’s happened to all yer’ meat?” Astielvin asked, inspecting a particularly large onion. The merchant shook his head, scratching his beard.

    “All o’ the cattle just up an’ vanished! Been happening all ‘round these parts.”

    Anarril’s hand brushed against something coarse and furry, at first he dismissed it as some sort of fibre littering the rack but a brief glance later and he recoiled in shock and disgust. His friend and the merchant curiously looked over in turn only to display the same reaction as him.

    A large grotesque rat gorged itself, hidden underneath a pile of produce. The merchant sprung into action, lunging across the table and swiping for the vermin, bellowing insults and expletives as he did. The rat deftly jumped away from the furious Imperial and scurried off the Kiosk and into the crowd.

    Anarril could vaguely determine the Rat’s location by the shrill screeching and commotion which drew further and further away towards the outside of the square.

    “By the Gods, not again!” The merchant spat “Th’ Rats ave’ been gettin’ worse and worse!”

    The merchant busied himself whilst Astielvin left a small pile of gold pieces as payment for the produce they had taken. Anarril’s appetite, however, was spoiled after his encounter with the Rat. The two made their way to the other side of the square. Their advance, while still hindered by the crowd, was more bearable as they approached the edges of the plaza.

    “The rats ere’ seem pretty bold” Astielvin blurted out. Anarril shuddered in agreement. Despite the business of the plaza, he now noticed the prevalence of rats lurking in gutters and alleyways.

    “Far too bold for my liking, filthy rodents!” Anarril spat.

    “Still, I wonder what’s been causing all of that farmer’s cattle disappearances…”

    Astielvin smirked, “I reckon it’s Ratmen behind it!”

    His laughter pierced through the cacophony of the Plaza. Anarril, however, was not as amused. With his luck, it probably was Ratmen.
     
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  14. Threadmarks: Chapter 4
    Some Fucking Leaf

    Some Fucking Leaf Getting out there.

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    The grass bent in a sudden gust, Rek recoiled slightly, quickly recomposing himself. He was not used to the cool breezes of the surface, far more accustomed to the stale air of the underground. He was bemused how ignorant the man-things and mer-things were, the disgustingly pure air drew their scent right to him! The far more clever Skaven hid their scent within the musk of the Under-City in which they resided. He snickered maliciously at how easy this raid would be.

    Guided by the pale moonlight, Rek crept ever closer to his target. A sleepy town in the distance, sentries patrolled the town’s outskirts, illuminated by the torches they carried. Rek and his pack didn’t rely on such conspicuous devices, preferring instead to use their senses alone to navigate through the twilight.

    The village itself was hard to properly view from this distance but from what he could tell, the buildings were made mostly from wood and thatch with some of the larger buildings built from Stone. Vast fields surrounded the village from all sides, unharvested crops obscuring the ground from view. A fact that Rek had taken full advantage of.

    With a wave of his hand, his Clanrats split off into pairs and moved to envelop the settlement. The shapes of the patrolling guards were now clear, their plan would soon spring into action. Once the band was within earshot of the guards, they moved in time with the wind, concealing the rustling of the grass and the sounds of their footfalls. The relaxed posture of the man-things only served to spur Rek and his cohort on, the thrill of the hunt was too enticing to ignore.

    Their target was now in sight, a tall stone building near the center of the town stood above all the others, a mysterious blue light emitted from the windows. The guards wore shoddy armor, more of a town watch than an actual organized defender. He almost stood no chance against Rek’s undeniable intellect.

    The hapless guard was unaware of the danger that stalked toward him. A gust of wind rattled the fields, and Rek and his band drew ever closer. But the man continued to mill about mindlessly, using the metal end of his spear, he raked the soil by his feet, making his best attempt to write on the soil.

    Rek nodded to the Clanrat beside him, who promptly disappeared into the grass. His teeth jittered with excitement, the promotion he would get for this mission would finally give him the recognition he deserves. Slaves, control, even Breeders would he his! His ragged, flea-ridden fur bristled, he saw the signal, and moved to act.

    Rek stood tall, revealing himself to the Watchman, the man took several moments to finally notice his presence. Seemingly more concerned with the hole he had now made than actual vigilance against attackers. His head turned upward, his eyes meeting Rek’s. The man recoiled in shock, taking multiple steps back and into the blade of the Clanrat behind him.

    A blade burst out of the Watchman’s chest, instead of a scream, he coughed up copious amounts of blood, his eyes widened and put up a vain struggle. He was promptly thrown to the ground and the two Skaven descended upon him. Rek could barely hold back his squeals as he plunged his knife into the man’s chest. Blood soaked the soil around them, the frenzied stabbing of the man not ceasing until Rek was satisfied he would not be getting up again.

    Wasting no time, the pair dragged the body into the foliage, and proceeded with their mission. Keeping low to the ground, they approached the town proper. The windows of the houses were dark but nonetheless they aired on the side of caution. They made barely a sound as they skulked through the shadows. Even now, the stench of the man-things and mer-things assailed his nose, the filth and grime of the village did little to impede his ability to snuff out his target.

    They crept their way to the side of a house, Rek looked upwards and judged the height of the building. He gestured to the top of the house, the two Skaven wrapped their tail around their weapons and scurried up the side of the building onto the rooftop. From there he gained a birds eye view of the settlement. Across various buildings on the outside of the Village he could see the other Skaven groups had successfully dealt with their guards.

    Dozens of Skaven sat atop various roofs, surveying the area just as Rek was. The village was a loose collection of shelters surrounding a more compact downtown which housed, Rek assumed, the village’s most important treasures. The tallest building was Rek’s target, the blue glow of it’s windows faintly illuminated the streets around the building.

    The few remaining Watchmen patrolling the streets were easily avoided on their approach to their goal, a dozen of Rek’s underlings had gathered at the building’s base. With a motion of his hand, the Skaven filed into the building through the open windows on the second level, Rek however scurried to the top.

    Careful not to make any noise he scaled the wall effortlessly, his experience in the Under-Cities had more than prepared him for such a climb. He was careful to look around every few meters he climbed, keeping tabs on the remaining sentries. On the top level, where the glow was at its brightest, Rek spotted a scraggly robed figure. The man’s back was turned to Rek, far more interested in whatever he was working on.

    The only thing separating him from his quarry was a simple window, as it was so high up, it lacked any way of locking shut. Again, the foolishness of these man-things amused Rek greatly, almost causing him to snicker. Sliding his hand between the window and the sill, he managed to raise it open just enough for entry. Readying his dagger once again, he prepared to dispatch the decrepit man.

    Suddenly, the robed man perked up, looking towards the door. His Clanrats had clearly been careless and alerted the man-thing to their presence. His hands lit up and to Rek’s amazement, fire seemed to materialize from his palm. He was not told he would be fighting sorcerers! Fear shot into his heart almost instantly, he remained where he was, instead choosing root through a pouch on his side.

    He retrieved a small chunk of warpstone, it’s glowing green energy twisted in the palm of his hand. Wasting no time, he chucked the stone some distance inside, startling the old man inside. Rek quickly ducked down, concealing himself until the right moment. A brief moment of silence followed by careful footsteps from within.

    Each footfall grew louder, Rek readied his poisoned dagger and listened intently. The sound of the old man’s irregular breathing grew louder as his footsteps approached the window. The man’s scent reeked of fear, the shuffling of his robes and a momentary scraping of the floor alerted Rek that his plan could now be put into action.

    In a flash of violence, Rek hurled himself up and plunged his dagger into the old man’s throat. The fire dissipated from his palm and dropped the glowing green warpstone. He gurgled for some time, blood dripping down his neck, staining the ostentatious grey robes he wore. He instinctively grabbed onto the Skaven’s arm in a vain attempt at defence.

    With an unceremonious tug, the man was pulled over the window sill and plummeted to the dirt road with a pronounced thud. Rek snickered, the weak old man had hardly been a challenge for one of his stature. It was almost embarrassing how afraid of the Sorcerer Rek had been. He pulled himself over the threshold and into the now vacant room. In an almost synchronized fashion, his underlings had burst through the door at the other side of the room.

    “Quick-quick! Fetch-take all you can!” Rek hissed.

    The Pack got to work ransacking the room, bookshelves were toppled and artifacts of all shapes and sizes were stuffed into pouches. Rek approached the table the old man had previously been fixated on, noticing strange crystalline gems which glowed with energy. Rek immediately squealed with excitement, while it did not glow green, what else could these be other than warpstone!

    He wasted no time gathering as much of the crystals as he possibly could, he would be handsomely rewarded for his efforts tonight, he knew that much. Rek had not only slain a sorcerer, but had found the Warpstone that Clan Gnawmak had been searching for since they arrived here.

    He barked at his underlings, and climbed back out the window. Looking down, the broken body of the old man lay strewn across the street in a pool of his own blood. It took him no time at all to disappear back down the side of the building, shortly followed by the rest of his pack.

    They slinked through the town once more, leaving the building they had emerged from safely in the distance. Weaving their way through empty alleyways and sleeping households they arrived at the grassy field they had emerged from. Their timing could not have been any better as a shout rang out from within the town. The old man’s body must have been discovered.

    Alarm bells rang out and the town slowly came back to life. Lights now illuminated previously black windows and watchmen emerged from many of the houses. The pack of skaven dove into the grass and made their escape, content with their handiwork the pack laughed and jested their way back to the tunnel they had come from.

    Rek’s expression suddenly dropped, as his hand moved towards his sheath, his dagger was still in the man-thing! His heart dropped and anxiety filled his very being. To leave a poisoned dagger to be discovered by the town would certainly earn him a swift beheading at best. He prayed with all his might that his blunder would go unnoticed.

    -------------------------------​


    The town was in a state of chaos, bodies dotted the outskirts of the town with each seeming more brutalized than the one before. Worst of all of them was the old mage Velvich whose body lay broken and contorted in the mud, a crudely crafted dagger stuck out of his throat. Deren knelt over the body, his hand hovering over the hilt of the dagger.

    “By the Eight, who could have done such a thing?” his voice trembled.

    Deren had lived in the town of Arvon all his life. Apart from the odd creature that wandered too close, nothing as monstrous as this had ever occurred. His hands slowly wrapped around the hilt of the blade, with a brief moment of hesitation he pulled the blade free. The crude weapon had large serrations which lined the bottom half of the blade. A faint green glow accented the edge, he hadn’t seen anything quite like it.

    He was pulled away from his thoughts by the glow of torchlight from behind him. Another watchman peered over Deren’s shoulder, a look of shock and disgust stained his face.

    “By the- is that old man Velvich?”

    Deren could only nod in reply. The watchman sighed.

    “Here, help me look for footprints, maybe we can still track this coward down.”

    The two got to work searching the mud for any sign of the intruder. Apart from their own, there were curious prints on the ground, almost animalistic. There were many sets of prints which stretched out in many directions leading to and from the east end of town.

    The footprints disappeared into the long grass at the edge of town. The men scratched their heads.

    “Goblins?” the other watchman asked.

    “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Goblin do this.”
     
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