His head sagged up, his vision was red, he could taste the blood is mouth. Jonathan pounced on another mortal. The order repeating in his head to kill, he had to obey. He can’t think of anything else. A strange vigour gripped him, his flesh did not burn anymore, it did not sear. All he focused on is using this moment to devour more mortals, until the thought suddenly stopped. He sagged to his knees. He blinked “w-what just happened?” He looked up the skies which are now clearing.
Jonathan then bought his vision around him, all he saw were corpses and the skeletons standing at attention with bloodied blades. All the blood knights were looking around in confusion, just like him they wondered what just happened. He staggered to his feet. “Where is Edric?” Tracing the battlefield he saw him standing over a scorch mark. Jonathan walked over. “My lord I think we won.” He stood like a stone, then he clenched the handle of his blade. “This is a failure…” he said firmly. Jonathan looked around again all he sees is corpses and their army getting back into formation. “I don’t see it as a failure..” Edric turned he roared at him. “It is! He had to intervene!” The wight began pacing. “I should of used the morghast and varghiests...but I was too arrogant I though victory was assured...Mannfred always said to consider all angles…Arkahn said not to let emotions cloud my decision making....” his lord then stopped. “What’s done is done…” He then sheathed his blade. “Jonathan.” “yes my lord?” “have the blood knights round up the living mortals. Some are still alive.” he was going to follow the order but he had to ask a question. “Edric...what just happened?” his king looked up to the sky. “It’s your first time? Seems to be the case….you will get used to it.” the answer confused him, he had no idea what the wight meant. “Jonathan stop standing around and follow my order.” he sighed and walked back to his blood knights, he was still confused but at least he can focus on something.
Edric watched Jonathan beginning to order the blood knights, he guessed for all of them it must be a first for having the lord of the dead direct them. In the distance he could see Eredas is gathering his spirit hosts. The battle is largely done, the undying king saw to that. The fact he had to personally enter the battle shows that he has to do better, he can’t let his liege down. “Edric!” the voice broke his thoughts, he could see Kaphiri approaching him with her get. “Wha-” “I don’t have time to explain we have something to do.” he could see her get frowning in annoyance, he did not care if they don’t like how he talks to her they have to deal with it. “I know where the nobles are, you are coming with me to deal with them.” at the mention of nobles she grinned. “I suspected they were hiding away..by the way, what of the deathmages?” “they will most likely be entering the city and will be using the dead to secure it. The battle is won there is nothing to worry about, now come with me.” He began walking down the street, Gerwine is still recovering, he can feel it. So they have to march. In the end it does not matter, his mount is not needed at the moment. He began thinking of the mortals hiding away in the store house.
The great Nagash gave him another order to destroy their faith and that is what he will do the information passed to him by his god will be useful in doing that. It only took a few minutes of walking to reach the objective. It was a large building with double doors made out of wood. Edric looked up and from the skies the morghast landed, he then pointed at the door. “Take it down.” at his order the morghast began hacking away the wood with their halberds it only took about a minute for them to break down the door. Once the door was splinters he strode in with Kaphiri and her get. The morghast hovered behind him, what he saw were the nobles with their guards trying to protect the ill, Edric also spotted a few civilians. A woman charged at him blade in hand roaring prayers to sigmar, he did not move and inch seeing this, the Morghast merely came forward and grasped her head with one hand. She began struggling in their grip spitting curses. Edric ignored her and looked upon everyone else, he could see their fear, it bled off them. Even in this storehouse they must of felt the presence of the undying king, the screams of those he ordered to be killed. Yet he is here for another reason. “Be grateful mortal’s for you have been given a chance…” an older man came forward. His hand trembling on the handle of his blade. “Y-You have come for our surrender?” he stammered. “Yes and no. You will only live if you relinquish your faith in sigmar.” he gestured his head to the morghast holding the female. The harbinger threw the mortal back to the crowd. “Now, you only have one chance. I am asking, if you refuse all of you will serve in another capacity....” a part of him wanted them to refuse. Yet a small spec thought he should give the last dregs of this city one chance. Only one. A soldier wearing the colours of the female the morghast threw aside called out “if we accept. Can you cure the plague!? I-I have a sister who…” “it can be done. Easily actually.” at the confirmation of a cure everyone began looking at each other in confusion.
The woman his morghast threw staggered to her feet. “He is lying!” she pointed her blade at him. “I Freida Vogel of House Vogel! will never bow to the dead! Never! My parents! My friends fought to free ourselves! To free this city! We follow the tenets and ways of Sigmar the god king!”her proclamation caused people to look at each other he saw hope. Seeing even a spec of it disgusted him, especially from these mortals. “Then call him to save you.” Freida narrowed her eyes at him. “I am sure you felt it Freida, the power and presence of the god-king but what came after? Do all of you recall that?” Kaphiri tutted “we should just kill them..” “be silent Kaphiri allow me to talk with them.” the vampire rolled her eyes Edric continued. “I am sure you felt the chill of death, the voice in your minds. The sounds of bells and the decline of all. You can refuse me, in the end you will still serve the undying king. If he can’t have your lives he will take your body and spirits instead. I have come with the offer to heal your sick and in return I ask for faith.” he looked at the rest of the people. “All of you choose, how do you wish to serve? In death or in life? I care not…” as he finished a house guard ran towards him and got to his knees. The same one that spoke of his sister “I accept! My sister is right here! If I have to bow to the god of the dead to heal her so be it!” Edric looked at the mortal who is on his knees. His eyes are full of despair, he is at his end’s rope. “Tell me, have you prayed for sigmar to heal her?” “Yes! Bu-” “It never works does it?” “no...it doesn’t...the wizards can’t heal them, the priests prayers do nothing…” Freida barked at the olderman “Eckard! We have to do something w-” Edric could see the man named Eckard was ignoring her somewhat, he walked foward. “Tell me if you can cure it where did this plague come from?”
As they moved to that subject everyone looked at him. He could tell they all think they are the cause of it, but his lord has graced him with wisdom. Edric pointed at a blonde haired noble. “The Noble Leon Koch can answer that question.” as he spok everyone looked at him, Freida was the only who did not shift her gaze. “You are lying, you seek to divide us.” The noble he pointed at came forward “what do I have to do with this!? I-” “not you, but the plague is linked to you.” Edric intoned. “Tell me Leon Koch do you have a mother?” He gulped and slowly nodded “I do.” “tell me has this mother of yours had you make statues, temples and places of worship for the people of this city? Along with the surrounding villages?” the human slowly nodded. “Yes...but...what do-” “it has everything to do with that. The plague is of Chaos.” the announcement caused everyone’s eyes to go wide. Eckard barked “our wizards and priests have confirmed it’s not of the ruinous powers!” “It is, corruption is insidious, especially when it comes to the plague god and it’s diseases. The god of decay’s plagues are alive, all your holy sites are not of sigmar but of the foul chaos god. All those who enter temples or pray to statues are infected” the announcement caused all colour to drain from everyone’s faces, even Freida.
Leon shook his head “it’s impossible...we are all infected!?” Edric nodded “yes, the disease incubates and activates at random points. Hence those who take care of their infected family members are absolutely fine. Still the plague god can activate the disease when he wishes to, like the last time we visited to make it appear we were to blame.” At the mention of their last visit Kaphiri clenched her hands and ground her teeth. Her eyes flashed red at the humans. “Calm yourself Kaphiri.” his order caused her to relax only slightly, he bought his gaze back to the humans who were in disbelief. “Now if you worshipped the undying king such things would have no power over you. Still one way to deal with it is to remove the original source. Tell me Leon you are a smart man, who do you think is the original source?” The noble dropped to his knees “n-no you are lying...it can’t be…” “It is your mother. If your mother dies the places of worship should no longer spread her vile disease. All those who have an incubated version of it should also be cured.. The deatmages and those who know the art of death can also kill the disease of those who are in its clutches.” He gestured to this crowd “all those years of suffering….of hurt...the god king did nothing as you had to bury your families in ditches. Watching them convulse and die…so you have one last chance. Give your faith and things will be well again. Do not?and serve in death….”
There was a deathly silence in the storehouse, many looked ashen, the soldier who is on his knees looked up to him. “I pledge my eternal soul to nagash the undying king.” as that one lone soldier spoke everyone began pledging fealty, one by one. Apart from three people, Eckard, Leon and Freida. “Well what is your answer?” Ekard gave a heavy sigh, he placed his hand on his chest and pledged fealty. “I pledge my soul and my house to the undying king.” Edric moved his eyes to Freida. She was trembling, the news has shook her faith, all the suffering and hardship dealing with the plague could of been easily dealt with. Edric repeated his liege’s words. “Sigmar only bought his eyes to this city because of the cost of losing it. This whole time his sight was elsewhere as your people died. He does not care.” tears began running down her face as she looked down. “I swear my soul to the undying king…”
As she made her fealty known, he looked at Leon. The noble rose and drew his blade he charged at him. “I won’t let you kill her!” he roared. As the noble got in a few paces one of the Morghast in a simple movement removed his head. Everyone stared at the corpse slumping to the ground in silence. “So he serves in death.” Edric said flatly.
Adela huddled with the rest of the soldiers, they have been rounded up by the vampires, in her long career for the first time she was truly scared. She could not even mutter a single prayer to sigmar, the darkness along with the screams of her comrades. The chill that ran through her spine as she ran for her life. She ran aimlessly trying to avoid the purple eyes, Adela even heard her own men crying out for help. They screamed her name, they screamed for sigmar but no further help came. Then she felt someone touch her shoulder, she looked to her right and on his knees she saw Alfred. “They seek to break us before they kill us.” the mention of death caused her to shudder, she never feared going into battle and the possibility of dying, that came with the job. But this was different, seeing the face of death, processing what just happened she knows there will be no peace. “Break us in what way Arch lector?” “break our faith. It’s what they do. But we can’t give them that satisfaction.” Adela wasn’t sure, there is nothing left they lost utterly. “What if there is a chance to live?” “It won’t be living especially under the lord of the dead. We fought well I think Sigmar will be proud.” Adela looked around young men and women were in tears, all of them in the grip of fear.
She clenched her hands “tell me Alfred how can you remain so calm after that?” The arch lector gave her a gentle smile. “I lived on the edge of death for most of my life. When this city was in control by cruel vampire lords. I have seen what it will be like if they get their way…” Adela bit her lip she had to brave like Alfred, she can’t let something like this get to her. She is the general of the claws of sigmar. She took a deep breath “thank you Alfred.” She then looked up to the sky she prayed that another storm would come to smite them. She had to believe that, Sigmar won’t let them be tormented by the dead. He is not that sort of god. She had to have faith.
Adela was about to mutter a small prayer until she heard several footsteps, she saw the leader of the undead host with a group of people. Alfred cursed “that’s impossible! Why are they with him!?” the outburst caused her to look more carefully she saw nobles, house guard and civilians following her dead “brother”. She shook her head “t-they surrendered?” as she spoke her fellows all looked to be in disbelief. Her “brother” approached their guards, A vampire in black armour walked to the wight. “My lord the soldiers and fighters that are still alive have been gathered.” “Let me see.” the vampires parted slightly letting him through, their eyes locked with each other. “So Nagash let you live. That is interesting.” Adela could not muster anger, staring at the wight king who is now pristine. Like he did not see even a day of battle, all their hard work was swept away in a few short moments. A dark thought crossed her mind, a thought she wanted to bury. They had no hope of winning. The lord of the dead could've moved at anytime to annihilate them. “You are correct sister. The undying king could of moved at any moment. This city was marked for death one way or another. But in this rare moment the undying king has offered some medium of mercy. His orders were to kill and break their faith. I will follow through with that.” He gestured to two knights “bring her forward.” at his order two vampires pulled her from the group and bought her to the wight.
Standing in front of him she did not know what to feel, her brother would never do this. The brother she looked up to. The one she wanted to be like. Adela found her mouth moving “why did this happen?” The wight looked up “Because he did not help….I was in a similar situation...I looked to him and received nothing. But that does not have to happen to you…” he leveled his hollow eye sockets at her. He gestured with one hand, next to him a blue light manifested it expanded until it was about the size of a head. What she saw was Leon Koch roaring in agony and pain. The fear she felt before came cascading into her body. “Sister, I will give you a chance. Trade your life for those of your free guild. Betray all your oaths, spit on your faith and serve. If not I will force you to.” as the skeleton spoke, her fellows began crying out that it’s not fair. Some shouted in anger and called the wight a monster. Adela looked back to Alfred who was giving her a stern gaze.
She then looked at the roaring spirit. She found her lips trembling “w-why….why me?” “Why not? This is merely what I have decided. Make your choice Sister.” as he mentioned choice she clenched her eyes shut. To accept would be to betray everyone who died in this conflict, to betray her faith, to betray her mother and those who are still alive. She was about to speak but she saw flashes of the darkness and the purple eyes. Then she recalled Alfred’s words that there won’t be peace in death. Tears began rolling down her face. “Please spare the rest of them. Kill me instead.” “No.” the wight said flatly. “Why!?” she was not angry, it was more a plea. “Make your choice” he intoned “I won’t ask again.” Adela felt her hands trembling “I-I-I…..”
Time was slowing down, it was hard to breathe, a part of her prayed to Sigmar that he would do something, anything in this situation. If she says no her spirit along with those gathered will be tormented and pressed ganged into the army of the dead. “I tell you this sister I thought the same way. He will not help you. Not when you need it. You are alone.” “A-Alone…” all she could see are the purple eyes and all she can hear are the screams and the tearing of meat. “I….a-accept” She blinked rapidly in shock “N-No! Wait!” The wight’s face distorted into a unnatural grin. “So you accepted.” “I didn’t! I…” she recalled her first words and she felt a chill on the back of her hand. A strange discolouration formed she began panicking. “You heart agreed sister.” The wight dismissed the tormented spirit and grasped her hand, he began escorting her out of the circle. For some reason she did not resist, she was dumbfounded, her mind was blank. “I-I…” “sister you made your choice.” before they left the circle she looked back to Alfred who was shaking his head. “Jonathan.” said the wight. The black armoured vampire approached “yes my lord?” “The blood knights can do what they want with the rest. Think of it as a victory meal.” the vampire smiled and bowed. “I see…” the vampire walked away and joined the circle. As they made their way out, all of the vampires began pouncing on the remainder of her free guild. The screams bounced in her skull. Adela slowly looked away, she stared at the ground. “What have I done?” “You made the right decision sister.” she looked up the wight who’s skeletal face was now normal. As he held her hand she saw flashes of her childhood, Edric holding her hand taking her out to play.
At this moment he was acting like family, that the battle did not happen at all. Adela then remembered her brother. He died before the true battle even started.
She clenched her free hand “do you regret killing Aldwin?” “I can’t feel regret.” Adela shook her head. “None at all?” “None. I have to look beyond that if I wish to complete my task set by the undying king.” They slowly began approaching the group of people who are looking at her in surprise. What shocked her was that among the group were the nobles of the city and the ill who look hearty. “How? Did you cure them?” “ They were cured through death, the main cause of the disease has to be dealt with to free the whole city.” “Main cause? Free the whole city? What do you mean?” “You are infected at the moment.” the news caused her eyes to go wide “w-what do you mean I feel fine!?” they stopped, Edric released his grip from her hand. “Well at the moment you are. I won’t spend time explaining but you are infected with the plague. Do not worry it will be dealt with then you will return with me to Helopolis.” At the mention of leaving the city she shook her head. “Why are you taking me away!? What reason do…” “It’s because it’s my will. You will come to Helopolis and that’s final.” The order caused her slink back slightly, her hearts beating rapidly. “Kill me….I…” she looked back to the crowd of people screaming for their lives as the vampires devoured them. Her heart was filled with regret, she made the wrong choice. “Please ki-” “Be silent!” he shouted. His hollow sockets flared with a mix of blue and green energy. “You made your choice. You will come with me.” he said firmly.
Adela looked down it was hard to breathe, she then bit her lip. He was right in a manner of speaking she made her choice. She let fear control her, She imagined it was the same with everyone else who is still alive. She stared at her fellows who are being torn apart, crying for sigmar to help them. Screaming for mercy. But no mercy will come, watching the violence unfold at the back of her mind a small voice told her that the god-king will not help. “He won’t help.” she looked up to the wight who was now staring with her. “That is what you are telling yourself for it’s the truth. This is also a lesson. In the past I cried for his help, yet misfortune came, torment came. Even when I did not look to Nagash he did not help me. He gave me no signs, nothing...”
He pointed at Alfred who was being devoured by several vampires. “A high priest of sigmar is dying like everyone else. Where is sigmar? Why has he not saved him? Why have you not been struck by his lightning? Where is your punishment for you “treachery” sister?” As he spoke she stared at Alfred slowly dying. As his life was drained away she grit her teeth, her heart was telling her he was right. Now she wondered what sort of things he had to endure thinking that sigmar will aid him, the thought of being abandoned, the thought that he would never see both of them again. Slowly she felt herself being detached to what was happening in front of her until eventually they were all dead. “I know in your mind you do not think of me as your brother. But I am your brother, the bitter remnants that still presses on for the sake of order in the realms and the end of chaos.” as he mentioned the end of chaos, she looked up to him. “Do you really believe that?” “I do.” the conviction in his voice. It’s clearly there. She looked down to her hands they still trembled slightly a part of her still ached at the the choice she made. In the end she has to live with it. This is her life now, she wondered what her mother will think of this decision. At least she is now with her brother Aldwin or at least she hopes so if Edric forgets to enslave his spirit.
Staring at the wight all the parts that were bitter and hateful towards chaos and now sigmar were there. Even the conviction. She had to admit this being before her is the brother she searched for all these years.
Adela looked up to the sky. “Sigmar will you truly do nothing?” she waited for a moment, the clouds did not gather, there were no storms brewing. No divine punishment, for her choice or vengeance for those who are dying, the clouds were merely still. Still and unmoving, just like her brother said.