There was darkness all around.
Overhead a blinding light shone down, making it impossible to make out anything in the oily blackness. But they were there, he was sure. He could smell them there. Their scent.
The scent of power.
He had only been here a handful of times before, to the Council of Thirteen’s Chambers at the heart of Skavenblight. Each time he had been summoned, fear had gripped him. While not the most determined Warlord, he was also not the most cautious. He always imagined himself filling a kind of middle ground. Loyal puppet, but also purposful individual. Agent of the Council, and agent of himself.
Now was the time to find out if this meant anything.
“Clanlord Trask.” a voice in the dark boomed.
He never did like it when they called him Clanlord. They always said it with such scorn, like his self proclaimed title was somehow amusing. Like it was a joke. Like he was a joke.
Then again, he figured they had seen many Skaven claiming far greater, and outlandish, titles than his own. Perhaps it wasn’t contempt they felt for him, but jealousy? After all, he had thought it up all by himself, while they merely sported titles that were centuries old.
Best not to think ill of the chosen of the Horned Rat.
“You have been called before the Council today…” rasped another voice in the gloom.
It trailed off mid sentance. The rest of the Council said nothing, though there was a detectable air of tension. Abrubtly, the rasping started again.
“To decide the fate-fate of your Clan. And of you.”
This couldn’t be good.
Instinctively, Trask quickly looked side to side, hoping to spot a means of escape should things turn bad. This was the tower of the Council of Thirteen. This was their Council Chamber. This was their domain. There was no escape, he knew it.
But it wouldn’t hurt to have a quick look.
“Be still, underling!” boomed the first voice again.
Trask pulled himself together, and snapped his view back towards the Council. Or where he assumed the Council sat. The overhead light made it impossible to tell how many of the Lords of Decay were in attendance, and his own fear overpowered his sense of smell. Unless the Council had now added the ability to perform multiple voices to their bag of tricks, he so far counted two.
“You have been a faithful servant of the Council for many years now.” the rasper continued. “We have never uncovered you scheming against us-us. You have comitted your Clan fully to the Councils plans, and you-you have overseen many successful missions.”
Clanlord Trask puffed up a little with pride. It was true that he had been an unswerving tool of the Council. When the Council had said jump, he had merely asked how many Skryre inventions he could obtain to help him. He had captured much warpstone, enslaved many, and brought fear and ruin to those of the surface. It was obvious he was deserved of a reward.
“However, you have commanded many more failures.”
The booming voice. And, yes, that was definately scorn. This certainly wan’t good.
“You have needlessly wasted-wasted resources, persued enemies to no tactical advantage, and snatched defeat from the jaws-jaws of victory.”
Obviously this was his subordinates faults, not his. His Clan was filled with the stupid and inept, cowards who would run at the first sign of trouble. Their failure was going to cause his downfall. Maybe it was a plot all along? He had killed many who he suspected of treachery, but perhaps there were more? If he lived through this, he vowed to find out for certain.
“As you can see, there is much-much going against you” not the rasper again.
“Therefore the Council has decided your fate-fate. Trask, you are to be stripped of your authority over Clan Vestren. All of the Clans holdings are-are to be siezed by the Council and redestributed to more deserving Clans.”
Maybe this wasn’t so bad. Surely his actions would speak for themselves, and he would be allowed to go free. Even if he didn’t have his power, at least he would have his life. Or maybe the Council would see the value he offered as an individual and appoint him a position in one of the mysterious Council Agencies.
“As for you, Trask, you are of little-little worth. You will be executed in a manner befitting your failure. For the Horned Rat!”
This couldn’t be!
Large, white furred hands emerged from the darkness and grabbed Trask by the arms. He struggled to break free, but the effort was futile. Skaven far stronger than him held him prisoner. They would haul him off, and soon he would be food for slaves. Or worse!
Panic struck him, and he thrashed about again. Somehow, he managed to wrench one arm free. Turning his body towards the guard still holding him, he sank his teeth into the pink flesh. Blood was drawn, but the guard continued to hold Trask in a vice like grip.
The first guard regained balance and moved towards Trask purposfully. Changing tack, Trask whipped out his tail, wrapping it around the approaching guards arm. Releasing his bite on the second guard, Trask used all his strength to bring his legs up towards his chest.
Such a sudden motion took the first guard unprepared, and he was whipped around into the second guard. They collided, their armour ringing together like a bell.
The sweet, sweet sound of a bell.
Trask dropped to the floor with a thud. Slightly stunned from the fall, as well as the success of his ploy, he attempted to stand. He was met halfway with a spear shaft to the back of the head. With a groan, Trask sprawled out on the floor of the chamber.
“That is enough.”
This was a third voice. It was odd, like the speaker was talking through a short, metal pipe. Trask lifted his head a little.
“While the inept nature of Trask is indisputable, his value is far greater when alive and in command of his Clan.”
At last, a voice of reason!
“Speak quickly,” the booming voice commanded.
“While in the Councils employ, Trask and Clan Vestren have-have consistently made use of Skryre technology. As such, they have amassed a hefty debt-debt to my Clan, and I intend to see that debt repaid.”
This wasn’t progressing very well. Perhaps this wasn’t his salvation after all.
“As a member of the Council of Thriteen, and representative of-of Clan Skryre, I lay claim to Clan Vestren and Clanlord Trask. It may retain it’s holdings, but is now subject to Clan Skryre authority. Trask, you-you are mine now. I am Lord Morkskittar of Clan Skryre, your Master!”
“This is rubbish!” interjected the booming voice. “Are we to allow this disregard of Council law-law?”
There was another akward silence, this one filled with a tension that seemed to sear the air. Trask held his breath, too frightened to make a sound. This was possibly the best break he had ever been given, and he didn’t want to ruin it.
Finally the rasper spoke.
“Yes, we will allow it.”
“This is an outrage!” exploded the boomer, pushing his chair back and thumping the table.
“This is the will of the Horned Rat.” responded the rasper.
There was a brief moment of quiet while the boomer collected his thoughts. With a huff, he sat back down, his Council chair creaking.
“Clanlord Trask. To repay the debt-debt owed to Clan Skryre your Clan will be put to work. While weak in battle, your control over your Clan is impressive, and can-can be harnessed. Clan Vestren will be put in control of Warprail Station XX, where you will oversee the running of cargo and troop transportation. Fail at this, and you will suffer a fate far worse than that the Council had for you.” Lord Morkskittar spoke in a metallic, monotone voice.
With renewed hope, Trask knelt before Lord Morkskittar.
“I am Clanlord Trask of Clan Vestren, and I am at your command. Horned Rat be praised!”
Things were certainly looking good.