Beasts of the Dark
She strode into the war room, the minions of chaos were hammering at the gates of her city. Her husband was already dead by the second battle. The mutated throngs of the dark gods would not find cowards once the walls fall she wanted to ensure that. Looking around the table she hoped to see the generals of Dasivar to be with her on that front but she was wrong. All she saw were men and women cowering at the end. She ignored them and looked down to the map of the city. “We need to set traps, fire bombs at least to bleed them while they make their way to the palace.” She said firmly.
One of her generals spoke up “we used them up when the first wave hit our walls Lady Catherine.” At the mention of the loss of the firebombs she cursed. “Then we face them directly, we fight and we die. But will curse their masters as we go.” Her words simply caused nervous glances, another general coughed. It was Lady Abigail, her armour was dirty and worn from battle but her gaze was still defiant. “There is another option my queen.” “Oh? What other option is there?” “We could parley, the barbarian who leads them he said if we sta-” “No! How dare you! My husband gave his life, our sons and daughters are giving up their lives and you wish us to surrender!?” The general tried to speak up, but she would not let her. “Enough! Remove your cape, you are no general of mine!” Abigail stared her down and that was when she felt a sharp pain in her side. She looked down to see a dagger has been lodged into her waist, through the gap of her armour.
Catherine staggered back from the table, she looked back slightly to see one of her general’s baring a panicked looked on his face. “I-I am sorry my queen. We’ve all agreed…” “Just hurry up and end it!” Abigail shouted. She strode around the table dagger in hand, the rest of the generals fell upon her. Knives dove in and out puncturing her body again and again. Catherine tried to avoid screaming, she wanted to look defiant but all she could do was spit venom. She called them traitors, oathbreakers and slaves to the dark powers.
That was when a spear of lightning crashed through the ceiling, her eyes were enveloped by a blue light and around her she could hear the screams of the traitors as their skin was burnt away. Catherine smiled in satisfaction.
Her eyes fluttered open, sweat creased her brow. Caterine sat up from the bed and cursed. “I hate that dream.” She groaned in annoyance as she left her bed. She walked to the small shrine of Sigmar that was placed in the corner of her room. She knelt and muttered her morning prayers. Once she was done she looked up and stared at the small rendition of Ghal Maraz, but chiefly she was looking at her reflection in the golden hammer. She ignored her short cropped hair and lean face, she focused on the scars that lined her pale flesh. These scars have been with her each reforging, she expected them to disappear like most of the scars she received during her campaigns but these ones still linger. Caterine looked down to her side, staring at the scar that laid there simply caused her anger to build. She cursed again and stood up right, she strode over to the armour stand that held her gleaming white sigmarite plate.
She thought to call her retainer who was lingering outside but decided against it, as always she puts on her armour by herself despite the difficulty. As she began the long process her mind dwelled on the mortals within the Black Fortress. She couldn’t understand why Garis the leader of their brotherhood started seeking mortal help. Ever since the realm gate wars they have required no one, she actually longed for that time again at least it was far more simple than watching over a city.
For when the city of Haven was founded that was when mortals as always show their true colours. They choose to blacken their hearts again and again, then they have to deal with it. None of them could understand the sacrifice and pain that was required to reach this point and the mortals of today are squandering it.
Finally she reached for helmet, it was plumed and held the comet of sigmar to mark her as Liberator-prime. She turned it over, gazing at the frowning face. In truth the helm matches what they are, when people look upon them they see the face of Sigmar. It was not a face that promised peace but destruction that was what she thought. She then turned it back and placed the helmet on her head and went to fasten the straps. Once the straps were in place she walked over to her weapon stand and picked up her warhammer and attached it to her black leather belt.
She then picked up her shield and held it her hand left hand. Now fully armed she left her chamber and standing in front of her was her retainer, Turid. Her blonde hair was braided and her face was tattooed with ayzerite script. She bowed. “My lady.” “What is it?” Caterine said curtly. The mortal rose, whether she was offended she didn’t show it. She never did. “The White Seraph wishes to see you.” Turid declared flatly.
The summons was a surprise, but why the White Seraph didn’t personally approach her was another minor annoyance. “Very well, I will go and see him. You are dismissed for the day.” Turid bowed again and walked away. Once she was gone Caterine walked the other direction, the commanders lodging was on the third floor, the fourth floor was heavily guarded since that was where the Shimmershift realm gate was housed.
Caterine made her way to the staircase, passing by follow stormcasts on the way. They all gave curt nods or greeted her with single terms such as sister or prime. As she reached the staircase she started to wonder what the White Seraph wanted, it was evident he was going to send her on another errand. One where she was most likely cleaning up another mortal mess.
She then began to go up the stairs, along the way her annoyance increased with each thought of what type of mission was in store for her. Caterine then arrived in a hallway and took the left corridor. The White Seraph’s office was the third door on the right, when she arrived she hoped it was something trivial. She knocked on the door with the back of her hand.
Caterine picked up the sounds of locks moving and as the door opened she caught sight of Lord-Veritant Cardor the White Seraph. He stood aside and gestured in. “Please come in sister.” Despite the grim nature of his work his voice was soft almost warm it was something she has always found strange. She nodded to him. “Thank you brother.” She stepped inside the room, it was replete with book shelves, tables held icons of sigmar and his desk was covered with reports.
Yet what had her surprised was the mortal playing with Cardor’s gryph-hound. He was kneeling and stroking it’s head. It was clear to her he was not part of their auxiliary freeguild. The mortal wore leather armour and had a crossbow was strapped to his back. It was not the single shot kind but the repeater variant held by aelves, she guessed he most likely bought it on the black market despite a the twin-tailed comet charm hanging on it’s side.
Cardor closed the door and walked to her side, that was when the mortal stood up right. The gryph-hound chirped and ran back to his master. “So I assume the reason you called me has something to do with this mortal?” Caterine stated. The White Seraph nodded “yes it is.” he gestured to the human. “This is Adrian flogovar. He’s...a hunter of sort.” Caterine took measure of him, he had a stubble and bags claimed his eyes. His black hair was also dirty as well, it was evident he has been sleeping rough. “What does he hunt?” she asked. “Beasts darlin, I hunt beasts.” Adrian spoke up, she thought it was brave that he pushed into their conversation and calling her darling. “I wasn’t talking to you.” “Well I thought I was going to get help with dealin with a certain situation. Spent almost a week camping outside your fortress, screamin for someone to let me in.” Cardor chuckled “your help has arrived Adrian. This is Liberator-Prime Caterine Whiteheart she will help you, along with her retinue.”
Caterine didn’t like being pushed into a mission she knew little about. She grunted “before we get ahead of ourselves can you at least tell me what is going on?” Cardor sighed and walked around to his desk, he picked up a piece of paper. “Several young men and women have been going missing over the last few months.” Caterine nodded “I see...this relates to our mortal how?” “I am getting to that.” said Cardor. “Over those said months corpses have been found, drained of blood. Plus in the same general area normal corpses have been found as well.” She didn’t like the sound of drained corpses. “So how do the normal corpses relate to the ones that have been drained?” she asked. That was when the White Seraph gestured the paper to Adrian. “These corpses upon examination held crossbow bolt wounds, I assume this was the handiwork of our mortal.” “So he is a murderer?” “No I am not a murderer.” Adrian said flatly. “They were working with those I am huntin. The order of ayzr is useless and called me a madman, the guards are most likely in the beasts pockets so I came to you. I think I finally got a bead on their hideout. Being only a mortal I wouldn’t be able to take all of them on by myself.” Caterine narrowed her eyes at the man. “How did you get the information on their hideout?” “Simple, from the men I killed. Took awhile to get them talkin. I tell you that darlin.”
Cardor sighed again “so it leads to this. Investigate the hideout with the mortal and act accordingly.” She didn’t like this the order of ayzr could be right despite their weakness. Adrian could be a madman, yet the White Seraph feels this must be important enough to investigate. “Very well my lord I will look it into it.”
She then glared at the human due to her helm he did not notice it. But if the situation was serious she hoped he would not get in the way.
Caterine walked through the city with her retinue, Adrian strode at her side. The streets were largely empty due to the storm, most likely the populace think her brotherhood are upset about something. What the mortals don’t understand is that the rain was Sigmar’s tears and the lightning and thunder was his anger. The fact the storm clouds have descended upon the rest of the city and blocked the light of Hysh meant that perhaps the mortal with her was onto something. They marched down the cobbled streets until the mortal had them stop in front of a tavern. It was made from wood and the sign said. Gary’s Grotto. Caterine shook her head. “Is this the place?” Adrian simply smirked at her. “Yes it is, now let’s head inside.”
They walked through the flapping doors and right away the smell of ale and sweat greeted her nose. She looked around, eyes went down to drinks, men and women stopped playing cards and exchanged glances. Adrian paid no mind to this and walked up to the bar counter. Caterine did the same and was right behind the mortal with her retinue. She was about to say something to the bartender who was sweating profusely but the mortal was ahead of her. “So...tell me Gary, what are you hidin?” “I am not hiding anything! Everything I do here is legal!” Gary glanced up to her. There was a scar over his eye and he had a thick brown beard. Adrian shook his head “so...how about you let us look at your basement storage? Sure your not hidin anythin..” “T-There’s nothing there.” Gary stammered out.
Caterine grew tired of discussion and started to walk around the bar counter she could see a door that lead into the back. “W-What are you doing!?” The bartender shouted. “Doing my duty.” Caterine responded firmly. “If you impede me I assume you are hiding something, which will not help you when you are taken to the Black Fortress.” At the mention of the fortress the bartender’s eyes went wide, he then narrowed them. Suddenly the fear vanished. His gaze turned firm. “Stop them!” he screeched.
Everyone in the bar rose from tables, Adrian didn’t waste time he unslung his crossbow from his back and fired into the bartender sending him to the ground. He then hopped over the counter and started firing at the approaching bar attendees. Caterine frowned “advance! Crush the heretics!” They all drew their warhammers and waded into the mortals. Caterine spotted one heretic coming at her with a blade, swinging it madly. She bashed them back with her shield, the cracking of bone greeted her ears as she sent the mortal hurtling towards a table. The human crashing upon the table did not stop the others, even as she raised her warhammer to crush the skull of another mortal. Despite the ease of killing them she knew something was wrong, there was no fear just a frenzy to see them dead. Like they were protecting something.
The melee lasted only a few moments, the men and women they killed were but thugs. She turned towards the counter and Adrian’s head popped up. “What did I tell you darlin? I bet you were doubting me.” “Shut up and lead on.” The mortal shrugged and gestured. “Follow me.” He lead them to the back, there were stairs leading to the underground storage where ale was meant to be kept but Caterine suspected something sinister was at work.
Entering the basement it was full of barrels containing ale, but Adrian led them to a second set of stairs. At the bottom of it was a door that was chained. “So they are hiding something….” Caterine declared. She walked down the steps with her Retinue, the mortal didn’t seem to mind this. When she was before the door she brought up her warhammer and smashed door the with a few blows. Once it was down there was a further set of stairs leading downwards. “Be on guard” she ordered.
She raised her shield and hammer and descended the steps. Reaching the bottom she noticed the walls and floor were cobbled and the hallway was dimly lit up with braziers that burned with purple fire.
They all carefully advanced down the hallway, that was when she picked up the sound of muffled screeching. The sound steadily crept towards them until out of the dark bats rushed out screeching angrily at them. Caterina caught grunts from her retinue but what she found most annoying was the obfuscation of sight. Once the bats and flown by she looked ahead to see two individuals standing before them. One was female and the other was male, both were pale complexion and they wore red baroque armour. The two individuals were also holding ornate blades. “Oh dear sister look at what has happened, rats have scurried into the lair.” said the male. “It is indeed annoying dear brother, I am quite sure mother will be upset about this.” “But mother will be quite happy if we dispatch the rats.” The male smiled showing fangs.
Caterina shouted right away “form up! Vam-” She didn’t get to finish both were charging down the hallway at abnormal speed. The female slid under his legs and a few moments later she caught the sound of an anguished cry, lightning was now crashing up and down the corridor until it turned back the way they came. She was about to twist behind her but the male bringing his blade down upon her shield drew her full attention. “Abominable creature!” Caterina hissed. She pushed the vampire back, he was grinning ear to ear like this was a game. “Do try to keep up tyrant!” the male vampire spat.
He went in again but this time he was thrusting, the speed was too great all she could do was defend. If Cardor was here they would of been able to deal with these creatures easily. “Close your eyes!” It was Adrian, she didn’t know what he was going to do but for some reason she agreed. Her eyes slid close that was when she heard a clang and despite her eyes being closed she caught the hint of a blue light. Once the light ebbed away frenzied screeching erupted in the hallway.
She opened her eyes and the male vampire was staggering back his skin was burnt, his yellow eyes were red with fury and now the creature revealed it’s true bestial form. Caterina took the opportunity before her, she strode forward and brought down her hammer upon the vampire. She sent him thundering to the ground, she didn’t stop there she kept up her assault. Breaking his limbs, caving in his armour and finally she bought down her hammer upon his head silencing the monster permanently.
She looked back to see her brothers and sisters had the right idea, each of them were covered in nicks and scratches from the female vampire’s blade, but just like her brother she was dead. Adrian picked up a round sphere next to her corpse and held it up. “I am glad that I bought this.” Caterina was about to question what the device was, most likely another item from the black market. She thought it would be a good idea to take the mortal in for questioning after this situation was done. “We need to move.” she is said flatly. Adrian gave her a curt nod, her retinue simply fell back into formation.
They continued walking down the corridor, she hoped they would not encounter anymore vampires. She had a feeling that Adrian's device only worked once.
The corridor so far was a straight line but steadily Caterina picked up the sounds of panicked voices. This was when the mortal seemed to turn grim. “We are almost there…” his voice was breaking slightly. She could see he had a personal stake in this. “So tell me mortal, most would not go hunting after vampires. What drew you to this profession?” Her question caused Adrian to smirk. “That’s a long story darlin, one I don’t think I have time to tell at the moment.” If the mortal wanted to keep his secrets that’s down to him, but she suspected she would learn of them soon enough when he is imprisoned within the fortress.
The corridor lead them into a strange underground church. It was replete with bone-like statues and at the altar the face of the lord of death loomed over them all. Caterina would take time to examine this if it wasn’t for the fact a group of young men and women were clustered near the altar. When they approached Adrian came to the front. “Lisa! Come out!” From the group of fearful mortals a young woman with brown hair pushed through, when her eyes fell upon Adrian she held the look of shock but it slowly gave way to fear. Tears started to build in her eyes. “Papa!” She shouted.
Now Caterina could see what this was about, a father seeking to rescue his child at least that was what she thought before Adrian pointed his crossbow at the woman she assumed to be Lisa. “Stay back!” Lisa froze. “I-I thought you were coming here to rescue me?” Adrian started to cry, but strangely his tears to her seemed more real. “Let’s speak about your mother, do you know what happened to her?” Lisa frowned “t-the vampires killed her…” “Liar!” he shouted. Caterina wanted to reach for the crossbow, she had to keep him from killing anyone for the young men and women had information they could use. “Stop!” he shouted. She froze in place, it was evident he was addressing her. “J-Just let me speak to her. Alright d-darlin?” Caterina sighed “very well.”
Adrian smirked. “T-Thanks...I-I am going to ask you again Lisa. What happened to your mother? What happened to my wife...she was stabbed nine times. I was happy coming home to see you after a campaign, I came home to see my wife dead and my daughter missing.” Caterina noted going by what Adrian just said that he was most likely a deserter from a local freeguild, he would have to be questioned about that as well. Chiefly though Lisa was fidgeting. In her eyes the evidence was damning, this looks like a cult than a place where young men and women gathered by vampires and their thralls.
Adrian lowered his crossbow “y-your silence is the answer, t-those monsters most likely promised you immortality right? That you live in finery and that you would never be p-poor again? A-Am I right?” Adrian quickly turned away from his daughter. “D-Dammit!” He squatted and simply screamed his lungs out.
Caterina let the man grieve for now. Her eyes swept over the traitors. “Surround them.” she ordered. Her retinue took positions around the young men and women, one sought to run but a liberator split his head open before he could take a few steps. That death cowed the rest, her eyes then moved to Adrian who was rising. “We are leaving.” “Alright darlin..I am right behind you.”
They did not encounter any resistance on the way back, when they stepped back onto the streets there was a crowd but the sight of her along with her retinue caused the townspeople to flee. Standing outside in the rain she watched Adrian look up. “Maybe this is just a bad dream eh?” He looked down to his daughter then his gaze drifted to her. “I bet you want to take me in as well right?” Caterina nodded. “Yes, you are still a murderer, deserter and traded through the black market. Now drop your weapon.” The mortal was still holding his crossbow, they were a few paces apart. She hoped he would do the right thing. She has been let down many times in the past.
She watched Adrian sigh, he dropped the crossbow and took a step towards her. He didn’t get the chance to take the second, a blue light claimed her sight and thunder roared above her. Once the light dimed, the mortal was gone. She looked up to the skies and now they were clearing, letting the light of Hysh break through. Caterina chuckled to herself. “How strange...is that all it took?” She then faced her retinue. “We are heading back to the Black Fortress, keep an eye on the heretics brothers and sisters!”
The traitors were now trembling in fear, they were right to do so. Their death’s won’t come easy, they will soon learn all the stories about their fortress was true.
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