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The Death Watch- Sister Elizabeth

Randolph Carter

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Elizabeth Reike-Woerlitz was always a precocious child, outdoing her peers both in the library and on the training yard. Like all the children of that family, she had been raised on the stories of the lost wonders of the Mortal Realms, and she took them to heart- burning to see every corner of the Realms with her own eyes. By the time she was of age, she was a noted scholar, artist and soldier, holding a well-deserved officer's post in the Reike-Woerlitz Freeguild. She spurned any talk of marriage, preferring to seek her fortune and future in the rough-and-tumble beyond the walls of Azyrheim.

In her third decade, the great crusade across the Realms began, and she leaped at the chance to be one of its countless leaders. Victories in Aqshy and Ghur brought her to the attention of some of Sigmar's lieutenants, but it was her inspired assault on the Dogfort in Ghyran that won her real acclaim. She was chosen to lead an expedition into Chamon, to seek out the remnants of the Dispossessed and any uncontacted Fyreslayer lodges that might be found. Months of careful searching, though, left her empty-handed and frustrated.

In her sixth month, though, she struck gold, or rather silver. To that point the expedition had skirmished with metal-skinned Beastmen, but seen no real battles- only vast, empty lead flats and iron mountains in the distance. This changed overnight. Her sentries brought her a Duardin, clad in the ruined scraps of a strange mechanical suit of armor and grievously burned by molten metal. He gasped out that he and his kin and their flying ship had been entrapped by a monster in the mountains, a gigantic argent wyrm that was roasting them alive, one by one. The creature was immune to shot and shell- perhaps, though, it might be vulnerable to mortal magic.

Swearing to the dying fugitive to rescue his friends and crewmates, Elizabeth and the expedition followed his tracks double-quick across the plains. In the foothills, they saw what they were seeking- a vast caldera with steam rising like a volcano. Creeping to its rim, Elizabeth saw a massive Duardin airship, sealed to the ground by silver chains, and a huge cage containing dozens upon dozens of its crew. At the center of the caldera was a spring, and in that spring rested a massive dragon made of molten silver. From one long claw dangled a single Duardin, screaming as he slowly roasted in his armor to the monster's amusement.

Mindful of the fugitive's warning, Elizabeth divided the expedition in two. The majority would go to shatter the air vessel's chains and break open the cage, freeing the prisoners and preparing an escape route. She would have the more perilous task. With her arcane halberd, Grimfire, and a few chosen companions, she would need to distract the monster away from the others for long enough that they could do their job.

Bullets couldn't hurt the wyrm, but they could attract its attention. At the first salvo, it raged up the slope of the caldera towards her party, burning up the ground as it came. When it reached the top, she struck- a swipe and thrust of her blade grievously wounded the beast, and she dodged nimbly out of the way of its counterattack. Time and again, it struck, and any one of its blows would have ended her- but she was agile and quick-witted, and she knew how to keep it off balance. She hit it again and again, and Grimfire cut away at its scales and tore at its flesh. Every time it roared in pain, and every time the air grew hotter as it bled.

Then it belched out a massive stream of burning metal, and though Elizabeth was not struck by the flames she was wounded by the flying debris.  The silver dragon loomed above her, pinning her fast with molten bonds that burned at her flesh. It laughed at her, mocking her for thinking that it, a creature older than the Realms themselves, could be defeated by her, a mortal. It would end her, the wyrm promised, and then perhaps it would encase her flesh in steel and make her its undying lieutenant. Her halberd would go into its treasure hoard, and her friends would be burned like the Duardin.

Even as it said this, though, there came a great groaning from behind it- and Elizabeth saw the airship rising up, turning on the dragon, a gleaming hook planted at its bow. The wyrm swiveled in horror- and at that moment Elizabeth broke her restraints, plunging Grimfire into its heart even as the skyhook dug itself deep into the creature's metal flesh. In that moment, the argent monster died in a cataclysmic explosion of molten metal, burning Elizabeth horribly and staining the ground silver all around.

------

When she awoke, it was in the belly of the Duardin sky-ship. She could not feel her limbs, and her eyesight was clouded and indistinct. As she lay there, one of the crew, dressed in the finery of a sky-captain, entered and stood beside her. He introduced himself as Throndin Steelheart, the captain of the vessel, and her debtor. The wyrm's flesh and its treasure hoard were worth a dozen king's ransoms, he explained, and it was thanks to Elizabeth that he was here to exploit it. In exchange, the least he could do was make her whole again.

While she had lain there, almost dead, much of her burned away by the heat of the monster's final blow, the Duardin had constructed a metal body to sustain and empower her. As Throndin spoke, her newly augmented mechanical body came to life, and her mechanical eyes focused with unnatural precision. She rose, half woman, half machine, ready to fight for her family and her god once again.

------

The storytellers call Sister Elizabeth the Iron Hand of Sigmar, the Neverforged, Conqueror of the Silver Wyrm, Skyfriend, the Bold, Queen of Battle, the Twelfth.



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