When I first thought and scribbled up this tale I was around 15/16 years of age and heavily into the World of 'Warhammer' (a Citadel, Game Workshop creation) ironically it was also the influence for many a favorite Bolt Thrower album, namely Warmaster and the brutal Realm of Chaos (A Space Marine Warhammer 40,000 themed album).
As far as I was concerned (this may or may not be totally accurate) the world of Warhammer was set in mostly medieval times with many a race of being based loosely on Tolkein's imagination (Trolls, Ogres, Dwarves, Elves, etc) with the addition of a darker realm and theme that being named Chaos.
For every good element needs a bad element to keep it on it's toes.
In this world the bad element was split into four. Four gods, Khorne, Nurgle, Slannesh and Tzeentch.
Each of these gods and the acolytes therein are dedicated to a different theology though on occasion work together to the means towards the end.
Maim! Burn! Kill! Destroy! Death!
In a nutshell these words say it all.
Embrace death, everything will rot, the resulting stench will cover all!
Obsessed with the demise of life and the many aspects of it.
Live for the moment, for it will never come again.
Associated with perversity and deviant nature in all of it's many guises.
Change is inevitable, do all you can to make sure it's in your favor.
The most advanced of the four aspects and most heavily into the hybrid of technology, magic and transformation.
I hope that clears some questions up, if you have any more please fell free to contact me through the site or if you require more specific accuracy Google Realm of Chaos, Games Workshop, Warhammer and or each of the God's name themselves. - Cult...
And with all that said here is where it all started, along with some appropriate musical accompaniment...
The original manuscript circa 1990
I could remember when it was different. The splendor, the gold, the glory and the women. Ahh- the women.
I was a knight of the highest order, a protector to his Royal highness the prince of Constantinople. Now what prospects have I?
Well I suppose I do have maggot infestation to look forward to, yeah right!
How did it all end you may ask curiously.
Well let me tell you a little tale...
It was a cold and dank night (isn't that the way these things always starts out) with chills so deadly they crept inside the cracks of your armor and into the marrow of your bones.
I was staked out with the rest of my troops. We were positioned on a little hilltop near a small hamlet named Peninsula Border. Our mission was to clear the town of Orken spies. The armor we wore had been meticulously blackened by soot so as not to alert anyone (through it's reflection).
It was a time of great distress. I had recently heard stories of Orken battle gear so advanced that the sharpest spear could not pierce it.
The Orken threat was always at large, these reports if correct could spell even greater peril for our Kingdom.
Well back to the gory bits, after all what's a good story without copious amounts of 'bloodthirstyness'.
The night of my demise I was awakened, we all were, by a slight rustling outside of our makeshift tents.
I was the first to get dressed and peek through the fabric doorway.
What I saw will never leave my mind (even in my current state).
Piled outside of our tents was a small mountain of freshly killed toensfolk, many still writhing in torment.
Rathgar (a fellow knight) was the only person brave enough to inspect the corpses closer, the rest of us were still too busy gagging in disgust. Although we had seen atrocities before none compared to the sight before us. Rathgar pulled me to one side, I pulled part of my cloak closer to keep the stench of death from entering the back of my throat.
“There appears to be a message, take a look at the dark skinned man's flesh.”
I looked, indeed there was. Upon closer inspection there was a rune of some kind scrawled deep into the unfortunate's chest.
“What does it mean?”
Garthen spoke up, he was the group's Chaos expert.
Amazingly enough he had spent five years within the darker regions of the Realm for his initiation into the Pagas Sect, one that specialized in the cleaner side of magic, this sect dealt mostly with trainee warriors with Mage aspirations.
“It's the rune for the Great Void. Sure enough it brings with it tidings of the direst nature.”
I tried in vain to ease some of the group's greatest fears.
“Surely they wouldn't try to invoke the Void here. There's nothing here for Chaos, if only souls to take.”
“I'm afraid that's exactly what they're after.”
This decision was a mistake. Unknown to us the Orken menace had moved on also to be replaced by a much larger threat.
We were later to find out what that was.
There's pain tearing through my loins – not much left I know – and ripping away at my rotting innards.
Someone make it go away!
But I know what I must do to make it cease, and as much as I hate doing it I know it must be done.
So where was I?
Ah – near the gory finale...
Our new camp was at least two miles from our last, transporting our supplies and kit left us tired. Leaving Gartren (the Chaos expert) on guard we unanimously voted on a quick kip. My last sleep was a memorable and solid one.
It's been aeons since last I slept, in my current state it's very near impossible. As Chaos powers my rotten core they require it's services day and night in order to get closer to their goal of global conquest.
Anyway back to the story...
I think I was the last to awaken, I should have been the first, I usually awake to the slightest sound. It was strange that I didn't on this instance as the sound that woke me wasn't in the least slight.
Next to my body lay Gartren (the person that was supposed to be guarding camp). He was not sleeping. It would have been a lot easier for him if he had been, at least then he would have gotten merely a reprimand for falling asleep on duty which in no way would have been as horrific as his current predicament.
His glazed eyes were staring straight into mine. Glancing down from them I could see that he would've preferred a cleaner exit from this world.
Instincts told me to move aside, and quickly, I obeyed.
The spot where I was but an instant before was now occupied by a oversized crude looking ax head. The wielder of the same looked as though he could easily snap an ancient oak across his trunk like thighs. This was most definitely the biggest ogre I had ever had the displeasure of coming into contact with.
“Hey ugly. Are you stupid or just half blind?” It was said that the best way to gain advantage over an Ogre in battle was to make them boil with uncontrollable rage.
And I have to admit it looked like it was working like a charm!
“Ugh, grough nor throm?” It was apparent that an Ogre's strong point wasn't in mastering the human dialect or at least any other language I understood (I knew six). I moved aside once more as my giant adversary swung his ax once more.
Boy, was he pissed. He had whipped the ax around so heavily that it had embedded itself in the ground where moments before I was rested peacefully.
A chance presented itself. Perhaps my only one as Ogres are known to be fast (though not especially in the thinking department).
As luck would have it my trusty long sword lay but two feet away. I jumped towards it upon reaching it I grasped it with both hands and rolled to my feet.
I swung with all the force I could muster.
Have you ever awoken only moments later having to cleave a giant monstrosity in twain? Feels great I'll tell ya.
A scurrying movement to my left made me turn. Unbeknownst to me while I was busy with my oversized weapon swinging beauty Rassak another fellow knight was dodging another creature of Chaos, a Skaven (giant rat).
Rassak was injured, blood poured from a deep wound in his left side. I rushed to his aid, it looked as though he was rapidly tiring.
This furry beast was quick and nimble. His tail was being utilized successfully as a mace. If Gartren was still alive he would have informed me (with a smile on his face the whole time) that a Skaven's tail mace was quite deadly, it was said that they dipped it into the deadliest of poison before they went on any skirmish.
It's a sign of a great warrior he had once commented. Rathgar had also recommended on a different occasion that Skaven spit also be avoided. They are carriers to some of the worst diseases known to man...all they need do is make contact with any of your bodily fluids, an open wound will suffice and you're as good as dead.
And man was this one ever spitting, my guess was that it wasn't a speech impediment either.
“Cuurrssssed Hummaaaan Ssssccccuuummmm-!” - Oh well! It appeared that he suffered from both.
“Yoouu willll dieeessss forrr thee Cchhaaoossss cccaussseee-!” He stabbed with his short sword as if to add a period to his already elongated diatribe. I stepped to my right, avoiding his strike with ease, he was wide open. I lunged.
Skaven don't die well, they're too noisy, they squeal like frustrated pigs.
Ahh-! Just when the story was getting good; another bout of hunger. I'm on the lookout for some food to quench this infernal pain I'm in. (I usually don't eat for fun or because I'm bored.) Damn Chaos!!
I must quickly find food before this pain doubles my putrescent corpse over.
There in the shadows, it seems that the amassed legions of Darkness missed this one. I must approach slowly so as not to frighten. The poor thing shivers, she's scared, it's no wonder really as it's not everyday that a raggedy old corpse tries to befriend you. There it looks as though some of her fear is gone.
She walks towards me, her legs barely strong enough to hold her quivering form upright. She clings to me blindly, she can't have seen my features yet but I know she can feel the cold. Her body is warm , ahh- the memories of an lingering loving caress.
If she had a bit more meat on her bones she could pass as a Princess. I can't dwell upon that though, there are other pressing matters at hand.
She looks up and into my dead stare. There is a look of instant fear and recognition, her struggles register that she has seen the likes of my condition before, she knows she's made a huge mistake. She manages to break free from my grip and flees.
No-! The warmth I do miss it so.
She doesn't get very far at all, she trips and finds it hard to get back to her feet. She's visibly exhausted. She tries again, her legs buckle beneath her slender malnourished frame. I'm staggering closer, as far as my atrophied maggot ridden limbs can carry me, there's no pretense anymore.
I reach out for her, she doesn't give up much more of a fight as she gives into me.
Her flesh is mine. The pain will soon subside.
Rassak was growing more tired by the second and bleeding profusely. I ripped a strip from the cloth shirt I was wearing, soon he was all bandaged up and bleeding a little less. I can remember a cacophony fouling the air around us in the next instant. It was as if all hell had broken loose and it was under our very feet.
Obviously the two Chaos creatures we had recently defeated belonged to an even larger scouting party. But more importantly where were the rest of my knights I only hoped they were safe, lest a wounded Rassak and myself do our damnedest to hold of an entire horde of assorted 'nasties' all by our lonesome.
I held Rassak back while I peeked from the makeshift bed I had laid down.
Nothing. No sign of either the remainder of our outfit or any other vile aberrations of Chaos.
Wait, was that something? Only dust. But that high pitched wailing again it was enough to make one's ears bleed in protest.
Have you ever imagined a large gathering of the undead and various psychotic other beasts racing in your direction with only the worst intentions in mind?
Pray you never do.
Think fast, I remember telling myself. A lot more than just our life's were at stake here. There was also the welfare of the Kingdom, our families and the the human race. What a grave responsibility.
So I went ahead and did what any other skilled knight would do in the same situation. Needless to say I picked up my comrade and ran as fast as my little legs would carry me.
You can call me a coward, but I'd rather be a living coward to fight another day than a hero with next to no chance of surviving a skirmish with the odds slanted unfathomably against him.
After only what felt like a couple of miles my shoulder turned numb.
We stopped to rest for a few seconds, luckily we had reached a mountainous range and comparative safety.
These same immense towering monoliths would prove to be our shelter and our final stance. An impressive outcrop proved to aid in our defense as we watched aghast in silence as the Chaos ranks stormed the rocks below.
In vain we looked around for anything that might serve us as a weapon, at that moment our only defenses consisted of my longsword and the short sword Rassak had lifted from the Skaven we had dispatched in what seemed like an eternity ago.
“What are they doing?” I can recall Rassak asking, his voice but a weak whisper.
The troops had stopped a few had wandered off, Khorne (*God of war, blood and carnage) acolytes I suspect, living for battle, bloodshed and the kill but ignorant of command.
Amazingly enough from our vantage point we could see a few conversing (quite the feat from our position). Several troops seemed to fighting amongst themselves with enough conviction that I wouldn't be surprised to witness this turn into a full scale brawl. Alas it didn't it just appeared that a great many had a vicious difference in many of an opinion.
Seconds later I was chilled to the bone. It seemed that we were being 'gazed' into.
Spooky isn't the way I would describe it. A pain tore at my insides and the confines of my skull.
My comrade passed out quickly, I'd have to try to revive him later if possible or plausible. This pain was near intolerable, there seemed next to nothing I could do about it either. Unless, yes it might work I recall thinking to myself.
I pushed my frame against the outcrop we were perched next to.
At first nothing, then I reset my stance and pushed with everything.
Then, all of a sudden, I felt the smallest movement, a slight 'give'.
This was our last hope I had to push harder. My whole world turned into dislodging this boulder cluster and ignoring the pain coursing through my system. Finally the rock's motion became more noticeable
At last real movement. With a tearing sound the rock ripped away from the patch of vegetation to which it was attached. Then it began it's tumble. My grin grew wider as I watched it pick up many similar shaped friends along the route.
Chaos provided the entertainment for me in the next few seconds, they fled in all directions, I can vividly remember many screaming their allegiance to Khorne as they disintegrated into chunk infested crimson dirt.
When the dust cloud cleared I was amazed to find myself face to face with several grime and dirt crusted oversized beasts. I honestly thought I had dispersed the darkened force successfully, but I was very much mistaken.
A mutt like beast stepped forward and growled a greeting.
“Where I hail from we fight fair choosing not to hide behind a pile of rocks.”
His comrades stepped back grumbling as he unsheathed a gigantic square metal topped chunk of wood from his belt.
“I admire your courage Human. I only fear that you might fight like a gnat and waste my time.” He beckoned menacingly with his weapon.
I gingerly picked up my longsword from the dirt beside me. It was heavy I had not reckoned upon how tired I actually was.
The beast swung without warning, his hammer grazed my sword knocking me wildly aside. Spinning I fell to the dirt in a daze.
I could hear my adversary's comrades chuckling as I struggled to get up.
“Puny Human, are you a girl? You fight like a dress wearing Princess.”
Another short burst of guffaws barked from behind him. He turned with what seemed like an ugly grin upon his hairy features.
“We shall feast well tonight. What's the best marinade for an infant?”
There was my chance. I quickly pounced to my feet swinging as I did, a mighty down stroke aimed at the beast's canine-esque features.
He was quick I'll grant him that. He blocked my attack. We both looked down in amazement as the two halves of his hammer clanged to the dirt and bounced from the mountainside. Grimacing the mutt looked towards me. I was too stunned to move. His visage changed from puzzlement to a sinister grin.
He turned towards his comrades. “Damn you're stealthy and full of surprises!”
I could see something pass between the groups paws/hands shortly before my opponent turned in a blur.
Something dark and tiny flew towards me cleaving the air with a whistle.
I moved, but not fast enough. A sharp pain took me by surprise. Yet again my knight's training saved my life, if it wasn't for it it could well have been my head on the ground instead of a small section of my ear.
However my intended killing blow was interrupted as one of his friends stepped in to stop my blow. This unlucky one's severed limb flopped to the floor twitching next to his comrade's disembodied head.
The one armed beast howled in fury, this was when the other one chose to attack.
In agonizing slow motion I could see my sword arm's hand sliced clean from it's socket.
With my sword laying three feet away from me covered in my life's blood I felt truly terrified for the first time in years.
No way to resist. I'm being pulled towards somthing.
A short distance ahead I can see a large gathering of the undead milling ahead aimlessly, it's still hard to comprehend that I'm actually one of them.
Trapped in a shell powered by the forces of everything that is bleak, despicable and vile. I can spy one of the 'Masters'. He seems to be conversing with a shapeless mass, a Demigod, ghastly and repugnant in it's appearance but nevertheless surrounded by various minions all willing to do his/hers(?) biding at the drip of a hat.
Abruptly the Master wildly waves his arms into the air, a Chaotic bidding and all of a sudden I'm pulled in a different direction.
Moving amongst the undead horde, we move as if a single unit.
I have nothing to do now but reminisce.
As we march sluggishly to wherever we are willed (for what purpose I have only the slightest inkling, and it isn't to play tiddlywinks of that I'm assured) the memories come flooding back...
And there I was weaponless and terrified.
I can remember a noise behind me, it made both me and the remaining beast turn.
I had forgot about Rassak (what kind of leader does that make me?) he was stirring. My adversary hadn't noticed my comrade during this whole time so his appearance was quite the shock. You could even say that his heckles raised.
I would have laughed at the sight if I wasn't in the current predicament I was in.
I thanked the Gods on high for my second chance at the continuation of life.
While his attention was elsewhere I moved. My Knight's training couldn't have 'kicked in' at a better time, it enabled me to be silent, stealthy and sneaky.
But was it going to be enough?
Drum roll please...while I have your undivided attention have you told you how much it sucks to be a member of the undead hordes? I can't hold a conversation, my vocabulary stretches to Ugghhh, Arrgggh or even on occasion Mmmm-! Which isn't a comment on my meal perse' so much as a noise that escapes my lips while I gorge and choke on warm flesh).
Reaching behind me I reached for my sword, with my non sword hand, I knew I should have practiced more with it, this was going to be the ultimate test.
It was heavy, to make matters worse I knew this swing would have to count.
Regaining his composure the form that resembled more of a half Bull, half Jackal than a man started to shorten the gap between us.
He scrambled closer on all fours, that was terrifying enough but his visage was split viciously as he snarled. I flipped over the blade in my hand, it was an awkward movement but on the plus side he hadn't seen it yet. A flash of recognition in his eyes and I used all of my remaining strength to flip my wrist and exhausted arm including my sword.
“Puny human insect.” With a howl he tore the sword from out of my one handed grip, as he yanked it high over his own head it slipped from his spinning high into the air. I can remember attempting to punch him with what was now a oozing bloody stump, he barely flinched.
Our gazes locked and he howled at my quandary. I was weaponless and very afraid. I can vividly recall his pupils dilating into crescent slits. I watched in horror as he transformed above me.
He had me pinned, I could do nothing but squirm and prepare for what might happen next. I would swear on my family’s graves that I heard cartilage snap and saw bones dislocate and rearrange themselves beneath his rippling flesh.
He was a true beast of Chaos, a 'Berserker', one who changed under the allure of blood lust. I had overheard tales before, whispers in dark corners in the ale houses, but I always discounted them as old wife's tales (much in the same vein as Fishermen that boast of the one that got away). Nothing more than mere folklore employed to scare insolent children into going to bed when all else failed.
So there I was about to meet my maker, if everything went to plan I would arrive at death's door as an unrecognizable mess draped in bite marks and cloaked in clawed tattoos all citing a great deal more than a mere animal attack.
The form leering over me continued to metamorphose with no regard for my comfort. Bodily fluids dripped from his ruptured flesh and covered my form slipping beneath my armor making me shudder in disgust. I was forced to turn my head and breath from my nostrils lest I choke on all of his viscous grue.
The stench was beyond horrid, pheromones and musk drenched my arms, neck and shoulders, it a thousand fold worse than the charnel house aroma I'd encountered as a child when I walked in on my uncle as he was busy de-feathering a pheasant (a brief thought flickered through my head, if I got out of this I'd have to be refitted for a new suit of armor it didn't make me smirk in the slightest).
With more than a mere new hairstyle, rather a complete fresh wardrobe, the form atop me howled as if to state I'm done, aren't I a pretty boy!
His next motions were a blur, his change had apparently brought upon a drastic enhancement in his abilities also.
Fetid breath molested my cheek as he darted in (for more than just a kiss and a cuddle). Upgraded with an elongated snout overflowing with razor sharp fangs and quicker movements I used both my stump and well aimed head butts to deter his continued efforts. At one point he reared up, still holding me down, grunting his displeasure at my unwillingness to let him, well, eat me.
“C'mon Princess give me a kis-!” It was at this exact point, as he descended again, that a flash of reflective light caught my attention. I glanced upwards catching a puzzling look within a face that resembled more a primal wolf than anything else. The expression turned to shock as we both seemed to have a better physical understanding of the phrase what goes up must come down.
The point of my sword introduced itself to the inside of his throat without warning forcing me to buck upwards in an instant lest I also be reunited in a manner better befitting a kebab.
Crimson liquid showered me. I was slick with fluids, none of them mine, as I continued littering the mountainous ground with a claret pool ala' absent weapon hand.
It was now my turn to smirk as I pushed my quivering Lupen adversary aside.
On trembling limbs I bent to rip a piece of cloth from the trembling animal, laying face down in a ocean of sickness from his own making, and hastily wiped vile blood from my face.
Gingerly I stepped towards the edge of the outcrop, careful not to slip where the rock had once stood.
I could so easily have forgotten we (I would not forget my comrade again) were still being chased if it not for the shrieks, groans and whoops echoing across canyon walls to enshroud our position.
The ragtag force was again at full strength, enticed by the sounds of my skirmish no doubt, and climbing rapidly over rocks and shale in our direction.
I had to get Rassak and myself outta here, we were still in imminent danger tired with no way to defend ourselves.
We reached what quickly became a forest in a matter of minutes.
I feared that Rassak was worse for wear, his flesh against my neck felt unnaturally cold and he hadn't spoken a word in quite some time. When I'd reached a spot I felt relatively safe in, I could hear only the faintest noise from our pursuers, I laid my traveling partner down gently.
He was still alive, but barely, chalk pale and covered in sweat. Incoherent words fell from his lips forcing me to think back upon his heritage, the language he spoke was not from where he was from. Strange.
One thing was obvious he needed medical attention which I couldn't provide we would have to make a stop at the next town as soon as plausible. It would have to wait however as I felt my appendages shutting down rapidly, I had lost a copious amount of blood a factor I could no longer ignore though one that kept slipping my mind. Another sudden realization hit me. We were no longer being pursued.
I quickly saw the reason why, we were in Elven territory, the markings on a number of trees told me so, you just had to know where to look.
The chance that they wouldn't take offense was one I had to take as I could no longer go any further. I was exhausted, a total body shut down was the only thing my body willed next.
Sleep never came.
Chaotic high pitched wailing and shrieks kept us awake.
The sounds appeared to be coming closer. Did this force really want to mess with skilled woodland folk?
I couldn't take that chance as I would be stuck in the middle and up proverbial shit creek with only one arm, an uncontrollable urge to succumb to slumber and a partner perilously close to slipping into the next world.
I had to locate the next town and try to send word that preparations had to be made for an invading assault unlike any we had previously encountered.
I lifted Rassak to my shoulder. I was surprised to feel him stir as my feet moved as if of their own volition. I was on auto pilot, one foot before the other, on and on.
I can recall stopping abruptly as I felt cold air against my neck and something akin to a word spoke in my ear.
I felt teeth take me by the neck and I finally understood what Rassak had said.
The next couple of days were a blur. Consciousness came and went. It was if I was living several lifetimes all in one ill fated day.
I can recall several things very clearly however. On one occasion I can remember being surrounded by a large motley crew, creatures like no other I had ever seen, demons, aberrations of form pierced and covered in horns, growths and bestowed with extra limbs of unknown origin and distinction.
One in particular waved his arms and chanted in a tongue I had yet to encounter. Others stood stock still, a collective of dead stares aimed at nothingness.
Another thing I recall vividly was the pain as, I can only comprehend, my soul was stolen replaced by complete control from another.
And it didn't work in the slightest. Anything was better than becoming a puppet, a pawn in another's plans for global conquest, a grand scheme to rid the world of light and hope.
Who am I talking to?
No one is listening. Come to think of it I can't even hear my own words, I'm not speaking, am I? Or am I merely only thinking (aloud?)
I can't talk even if I wanted to. This doesn't surprise me as my vocal chords are but slivers of rotting flesh in a throat devoid of use.
So who am I talking to, myself?
Does it even make sense talking to yourself? Especially when you are but an emotionless shell of thoughtless flesh intent on feasting to control the annoyance of being dead.
Sometimes I try to fight. But it's useless even if I managed to succeed there could be noway to escape these hounds of obliteration.
I have nothing to look forward to, except maybe a rogue collection of peasants chasing me with pitchforks and fire. Perhaps I'll even be lucky enough to be killed by them. I would cross my fingers but I'm frustratingly unable to.
Hell isn't beneath the earth, it's my eternal predicament of roaming the earth praying for an end to it all whilst being commanded by another.