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Mayple

"A Sudden but inevitable Betrayal" - Malign Portents: A Skaven narrative.

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This narrative will follow the global Malign Portents campaign as it unfolds. Here, the consequences of the Malign Portents choices will directly impact the unfolding narrative - deciding the fate of several Skaven characters throughout the campaign. At least that's the idea. 


"A sudden but inevitable Betrayal!"

Prelude:

Doom! Death! Destruction! Corpse-things wake! Corpse-things wake!

Creek Doomclaw threw himself back with a screech. His mouth agape with horror as he lost his footing and tumbled backwards down the little metal staircase leading up to the warp-scryer. His rune-engraved warpsaw hand reaching out instinctively for something to grab, but finding no hold but a passing warlock-engineer, making a bloody mess of the brand new saurian carpet adorning the floor, as the warpsaw spun wildly out of control. Doomclaw's mind was still swirling when he landed on the carpet with a soft thud. Pieces of flesh, fur and bone rained down in his wake, caking his already stained robes in gore. What little remained of the unlucky engineer was stuck in his warpsaw, which growled alarmingly, as it tried to tear through the carcass thoroughly lodged in its internal mechanism. This momentary setback was below Creek's concern, who glared up at the Warp-scryer with fearful, beady eyes. The device, which was a series of tubes drilled into a fist-sized lump of shardglass, adorned a thin, crudely cut, oval piece of pure warpstone half the height of a skaven. It was glowing ominously, and color danced across its surface, as if alive. The musk of fear must have been strong on him, as several warlock-engineers immediately bolted for the door with panicked squeeks, no doubt suspecting that one of Doomclaw's contraptions had malfunctioned, and was about to explode. Again. Creek Doomclaw did not have time to punish them for their presumptions, but he did it anyway. With a snarl, he flicked his wrist, and brought forth a burst of warplightning. Reducing the fleeing Warlock-engineers, and the surrounding machinery, to charred ruin. "Imputent fools!" Creek croaked. That equipment had cost him many warp-tokens! He would kill those cretins for violating his-.. Right.

He rolled onto his feet, and made a quick glance around his lab. Surely, there were someone to blame. Someone to punish. The remaining warlock-engineers were hard at work. Flicking a great number of switches hurriedly, pulling levers at unplugged machinery, and closely examining empty vials. His workers truly were the cream of the crop. A group of skavenslaves were cowering in a corner, their overseer a pile of ash in the doorway. He scratched absently at his mechanical warpsaw hand, trying to alleviate a phantom itch that layered warplock steel would never allow him to feel. He had the distinct feeling that he was supposed to be doing something, but he couldn't quite remember what.

"Spinepaw!" He cried out. There was no response. He tapped his foot impatiently. Where had that untrustworthy coward run off to now!? Creek wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that he was the one that had sabotaged the machinery in the doorway. It was just the kind of thing Spinepaw would have done. "Spinepaw!? Come out here, right now!" - One of the warlock-engineers mumbled something. Doomclaw pounced on him like a shark, grabbed him by the throat and forced him up against a wall.

"You mumble-speak without being asked-allowed!?" 

 The warlock-engineer wheezed, his eyes darting wildly about the room. The other engineers doubled their work effort. Their work were simply too important to do anything about the situation unfolding before them.

"M-Mercy!" The warlock-engineer squeeked. "Most brilliant of Arch-Warlocks-..!" His hoarse breathing intensified as the applied pressure to his throat deprived him of oxygen. "I only felt.. duty-obliged to tell-inform of Spinepaw's demise!"

Creek gripped the Warlock-Engineer harder. "Demise? How!? When!? Tell-Share!"

The Warlock's eyes slowly rolled back into his head. With immense effort, he lifted his arm and tapped the bloody carcass stuck to Creek's warpsaw repeatedly. Creek looked at the corpse, dumbfounded. The pulped piece of meat did have a certain resemblance to Spinepaw.

He released the quivering pile of Skaven, who sucked in air greedily. Creek lifted the bloody warpsaw-carcass, and compared it to the engineer. With a satisfied nod, he tore a piece of mangled cloth from the bloodied meat, and dropped it onto the barely concious ratman. "You have gift-received promotion! You are assistant now!" 

The Warlock-engineer was so happy, he cried for an hour. Which was coincidentally about the same time it took for Creek Doomclaw to remember what he had been so agitated about. Upon recalling his scientific discovery with the warp-scryer, he immediately pulled the (un)willing appointed assistant with him out what remained of the door, and hurried down one of the thirteen shafts they would have to traverse to reach the nearest warren.

He had a message to deliver.

A malign portent. 

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Edited by Mayple
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**Retcon: Creek Doomclaw has been renamed as Creek Ripclaw, to avoid the unintentional similar naming as that of Kratch Doomclaw, Ruler of clan Rictus in the Old World - I will edit the previous post accordingly.**

 

CHAPTER ONE:

 

"The die is cast, and Lunaghast, the Moon of Dark Secrets, rises high. Across the lands, the doomsayers so intent on preaching of the evils to come overstay their welcome in every lord’s sanctum – from the high-vaulted strongholds of the free cities to the grisly throne rooms of the Flesh-eater Courts."

 

"Fear not, men! For I, Arterius, the brave, the bold, and the mighty, will lead you to victory!"
 

 

The square-jawed giant of a man towered above the small group of lightly armored men and women of the local freeguild guard. His long, blonde hair, and velvet cape swayed lightly in the cold morning breeze. Henrik Vultin, captain of the guard, hated the smug, self-righteous ****** with every bone in his body. It had been a week ago that their patrol had come across the lone Stormcast wandering the barren wasteland north of Wyrdlake. He had introduced himself as Arterius, hero of the people, and it had taken him a whole minute just to go through all of his titles and staggering attributes. Vultin had taken an immediate dislike to him - and it certainly did not help that the "dashing warrior of justice" had claimed Sigmar's authority, and taken immediate command of his patrol.

Now they were marching South, on some god-forsaken quest for reasons known only to Arterius himself. Vultin certainly did not understand it. There was nothing of interest near Wyrdlake. Nothing but charred ruins, and green, tainted waters.

 

Meanwhile, far below the mortal realms, Creek Ripclaw and his less-than-eager assistant find that their warnings may be rather.. unwelcome.

 

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"Betrayal! Mutiny! Uprising!" - Skabsk Blightblade, Supreme Overlord-General of Clan Barrow wailed. Froth and saliva ran freely from the crazed, elderly skaven's mouth as he shuffled back and forth between Creek and his underling. His Wyldwood walking stick raised between strides, as if to strike his lowly esteemed guests down at the slightest provocation. "You come here and speak-lie of great dead-thing threat in Shee-Yish!? You think I am stupid-fool? You think I don't see your plot-deception!?"

Creek kneeled so deeply he hugged the floor. Things were not going according to plan. They had only traveled through ten of the thirteen tunnels between his workshop and the great burrow-city of Verminhold, the current seat of power of the self-declared Over-Emperor of all Skavendom, when a gang of ruthless Stormvermin of Clan Barrow had set upon them without warning or provocation. They had been captured, and brought before Skabsk Blightblade himself. The warlord had passed his prime a long, long time ago, and should by all accounts of skaven lifespan, already be dead. Yet he clung to life and power with a stubborness that could match a Duardin. Through sheer will, and excessive violence, he remained at the top of the food chain. His extreme paranoia, and fear of death was no secret, and it was with a heavy musk of fear that Creek had finally told him what he had intended to tell the Over-Emperor. Creek did not expect that telling Blightblade, who's lifeline was already dangerously thin, that the god of death was on the rise would end well at all. When the warlord brought his walking stick smashing into Creek's assistant with such bone-crushing force that the unsuspecting Warlock-Engineer had been lifted off his feet and hurled into a crowd of Clanrats standing behind him, Creek's brilliant deduction had been confirmed. He took a quick glance at his assistant, slumped at the floor, wheezing for air. He didn't need to be a master moulder to see that his ribcage had shattered. A hint of sorrow came over Creek as his dying underling took his final breath - If only the little runt had lived a little longer, Creek could have blamed him for the whole thing!

Blightblade, uncaring of the meat-shield he had removed from Ripclaw's possession, stomped the corpse repeatedly, continuing well past the point where any sane skaven would have considered the threat neutralized. In the midst of the bloody beatdown happening before him, Creek couldn't quite remember why he was kneeling, so he stood up and turned to walk towards the nearest exit. This wasn't his burrow, after all.

A rather large stormvermin interposed himself between Creek and the way out. Why he had thought it wise to stand in the way of Creek, and by extension, science, Creek did not know, but he respectfully introduced the cretin's face to his warpsaw, and rectified the problem.

That set of a series of events that, honestly, was more confusing to him than it probably should be. "You dare!?" - A loud, wailing old skaven shouted. "Kill-Slay! Gnash-Gnaw on his bones!"

At once, a dozen clanrats rushed him with daggers, flails, and sharpened sticks. Their bloodthirsty, beady eyes alight with malice. They were confident, as they outnumbered him twenty to one. A quick squeeze on the trigger of the warpfire thrower built into his warplock warpsaw reduced their confidence to greasy pulp in a blaze of fiery death.

Something struck him hard in the back, and he turned to face a lone, dumbfounded clanrat with a broken spear, the edge having failed to penetrate Creek's thick armour. Creek swiped to the left, and the clanrat proved no match.

Despite his impressive display of violence, there was still a handful of stormvermin blocking the exit defiantly. The constant shouting of the elderly skaven behind him seemed to keep them in line somehow. Creek didn't really know why, but he had the distinct feeling of having seen him before. Somewhere. Sometime. Why were there stormvermin blocking his path? Had they been the ones who had killed all the clanrats!? Creek would avenge his fallen comrades, for they had surely been on his side in the fighting so far! He activated his warp generator, and with a roar, he set upon the task of directing the destructive energies surging through him towards his foes. With a burst of light, an unsteady, but highly potent stream of green lightning lashed violently into the group of stormvermin. Their fur set alight with fire, as bodies burst, and heads popped. More! More! A second bolt was sent into a lone clanrat hiding behind a pillar. Even more! He turned to let loose on the weak, old skaven that kept shouting things that Creek was far too preoccupied to pay attention to.

To his surprise, the old skaven was not weak at all. Skabsk Blightblade took the blast head on. Through strands of lightning, he brought his cane down onto Creek Ripclaw's unarmored head, and brought him down. Creek could feel a part of his skull crack from the impact, and teeth clattered across the floor.

Why was he on the floor?

 

 

Edited by Mayple
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"Across the lands, those with sorcerous leanings stare long at the dark moon, reading every aspect of its skeletal face and gaining flashes of insight as they do so. Whether through the wyrdglass lenses of an arcane observatorium, the shimmering surfaces of Ghyran’s sacred lakes, the stolen eyes of a magical beast, or simply from the peak of a high mountain, the gifted and the cursed alike glean new insights with every passing night."

 

Brilliant! Wonderful! Skizz's scheme had sprung into effect without flaw! As to be expected from a mind as cunning as his. A mind unrivaled in all of the under, and over-empire. Unrivaled, perhaps, with exception of his actual rivals - but that was just nitpicking on otherwise solid logic. Sure, his scheme hadn't exactly involved doing much at all except wish death and destruction upon his hated foe, Creek Ripclaw. His subconcious will must be formidable indeed, since the foolish Arch-Warlock had somehow unwittingly crossed paths with another of Skizz's hated rivals, Skabsk Blightblade, a warlord of fearsome reputation, who's sanity was notoriously brittle. With any luck, the two would wipe each-other out and never bother Warpheart again - True, he had never really formally met any of them, but he held them in contempt regardless. Surely, they regarded him likewise. After all, no one uttered his name without spurting the fear of musk uncontrollably, for he was infamous indeed! A mighty force to be reckoned with. Even the Great Horned Rat acknowledged his supreme power-..

"What are you doing over there!? Get back in line!" - A growly voice snarled, and a whip lashed across his shoulders. With a panicked squeal, he hurried back into formation, joining a numberless horde of poorly-armed skavenslaves marching through the vast tunnels beneath Verminhold..

 

"Stop-Halt!" The exalted Stormvermin guard hissed. He was clad in full-plated warpforged armor, and pointed a wickedly barbed halberd at a Warlock-Engineer and his two clanrat escorts. The lone stormvermin was guarding the first of thirteen gates that would lead deep into Verminhold, all the way into the throne room of the Over-Emperor himself. Warpheart stomped his tail impatiently. The amount of Stormvermin guarding each gate, and the bribes required to enter unharmed would increase exponentially for each door he passed. Even the lone guard, outnumbered three to one, seemed confident enough to boss them around. No wonder, with their steady diet of warpstuff and whatever else the moulder masters saw fit to provide, the Over-Emperor's personal guard of Stormvermin were a particularly savage breed of killers - and well-diciplined at that, they only accepted outrageously high bribes! An audience with the Over-Emperor was outrageously costly, and it would take a small clan's worth of riches to reach the throne room in one piece. Luckily, Clan Hoard had deemed his endeavour worth their while, and had sponsored Warpheart's visit. The outcome of his negotiations in the throne room would decide not only his fate, but that of his clan. Hoard did not make investments without profit - and had no shortage of clanrats to collect their due.

Warpheart nudged one of his clanrat escorts begrudgingly. The clanrat skittered forward, and presented the guard with a bag full of warp-tokens. The second clanrat, chained to the wheel, guarded a cart filled to the brim with similar bags. The guard weighed the bag of warp-tokens in his hand, and eyed the cart. "Give-Bring three bags, or see-visit Over-Emperor with no tongue!" 

It was going to be an expensive ordeal..

 

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Edited by Mayple
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