Chapter 4: Guests on battles eve
Grabbing a handful of Twitch’s scruff, Stabtooth hauled the Warlock Engineer to the ground. Around them the world exploded. Shafts of light and fire licked the cavern rocks. One of the clanrat guards was caught in the blast mid step. He stood, frozen in time for just a second, before his form turned to ash and disappeared.
Twitch look with disbelief at Stabtooth. The Grey Seer just sneered back at his hapless underling.
“You cannot die-die yet, putrid nuance” Stabtooth spat
Dazed by his sudden impact with the ground Twitch blinked in confusion. Snarling, Stabtooth grabbed him by the snout, pushing his face towards the abandoned cart.
“I need-need you to pull this”
It was a small, poorly assembled hand cart. Strapped on top was a large, black metal box. Inscribed with powerful runes and locked tight it glowed with evil malice, at least, to the Warlock Engineers eyes. The stolen Eathshaker rounds always seemed to be watching.
Grey Seer Stabtooth rose to his feet and glared into the distance. He could make out a handful of Dawri-Zharr in the distance, methodically loading another rocket into their diabolical device.
Summoning all his strength, the Grey Seer pulled on the strands of magic. He could see the power around him, and willed it into shape. Extending both hands forward he chanted, eyes glowing with barely contained power.
With an ear shattering crack light arced from both palms. It moved almost instantly, engulfing the Chaos Dwarfs in a brilliant green glow. The crewmen spasmed, their innards liquefying and their blood boiling. Warplightning danced between them and the machine, sending sparks flying.
Eyes dimming, Stabtooth slumped over, panting. Twitch stared, dumbfounded.
“Run, you idiot” was all the Grey Seer could manage
* * *
With a yelp the messenger fled for his life. He didn’t get very far.
Scowling, Brink drew his pistol and shot the fleeing skaven in the back. The warpstone bullet easily penetrated the few scraps of cloth on the ratmans form, passing straight through and exiting the left breast. A fine mist of blood followed the projectiles exit. Soundlessly the body crumpled to the floor.
Brink shot it four more times, just to make his point.
“Now. Can anyone tell-tell me what is going on?” he demanded
The assembled commanders looked at one another. They all new the situation, though none wanted to be the bearer of bad news.
Angrily, Brink reached out for the nearest lackey, his massive metallic claw closing around its head. The frightened skaven whimpered.
“Tell-tell me now!” Brink demanded, squeezing ever so slightly.
The sound of bones cracking could be heard by the entire ground.
“Great master, I tell-tell” the skaven gasped from beneath the sizable gauntlet “Chaos Dwarf things attack-attack our troops with war machines of destruction. Those skaven who make it into battle are few, and no-no match for their warriors.”
“Go on” Brink said, not easing his grip any
“Sneaky Dark Elf things, working with-with the Chaos Dwarfs, have destroyed many-many bridges over the chasms, making massed advancement impossible”
Brink only tightened his grip at this news.
“But-but any assault on our forces by either-either enemy is easily repelled, as they face our superior numbers and weaponry. We are at stalemate.”
Convinced that he had all he needed, Brink closed his fist. The skavens head imploded, spraying blood and bone between the hinged claws of the robotic arm. Several of the nearby commanders were drenched. But they dared not move.
“Drinkers of bile, this is my command. Keep at them, for now-now”
As a whole the group responded, then swiftly left to relay the orders. And stay out of harms way. Brink merely frowned to himself, and turned to return to his work.
“Master,” a voice from behind
Brink whirled around, furious that he had not had time to even gather his thoughts. His rage subsided when he saw only Skarb. The Master Moulder bowed, mockingly.
“We have… guests.” He said, gesturing away from Brink’s workbench.
Wordlessly the Warlock Engineer followed. By now he had learnt, if he said nothing it gave Skarb no reason to talk. And as always, the Master Moulder was supremely confident that Brink wouldn’t just stab him in the back. He was far too necessary. For now.
Skarb led Brink down a series of ramps and slopes cut into the rock. Here, in a corner of the Darkfang Hollow, Brink and his force had carved out a small encampment. It wasn’t perfect, but it was adequate for the job at hand.
Just below Brink could see a circle of clanrats, all with their spears tentatively pointed at two figures in their centre. One was a small skaven, cluttered with tiny devices and machines. On his back was a glowing warpstone device, though the warp blades often accompanying such a device were conspicuously absent. Brink recognised another Warlock Engineer almost instantly.
The other was even more familiar. A long grey robe, grey fur and massive curled horns. There was no doubt this was a Grey Seer. No wonder the clanrats were so cautious. They were poised to attack one of the representatives of the Horned Rat itself!
Brink shoved his way through the clanrats, sprawling himself before the Grey Seer. He had no idea who this seer was, or where he had come from. The last thing he needed was to displease one of Krittik’s henchmen.
“Terrible and cunning dark master, how-how can I be of service” Brink purred
The Grey Seer looked down at Brink, grinning.
“Foolish worm, you-you are before Stabtooth. Grey Seer and servant of the Council of Thirteen.”
Swallowing hard, Brink hazarded a look up. Not only had the Dark Host broken away from the council, he himself was still wanted by these most terrible of skaven. Had Stabtooth come to take them all away. If so, him and what army?
“The wretched surface-things have pursued us-us for much time-time now.” The seer continued “We are on an important mission-mission for the council, to deliver an item of great importance”
Brink smiled to himself. The old fool had no idea where he was, or who he had bumped into. Not only that, he had something the council wanted. And if the council wanted it, odds were that is was worth having.
“You will give-give us half your force, and they will protect us as we travel-travel back to Skavenblight. This I order, as a representative of the council.”
Metal scraped on metal as Brink picked himself up off the ground. He eyed Stabtooth for a second.
“Mighty one, may I see your cargo?”
Grey Seer Stabtooth frowned, obviously concerned by Brink’s request. Brink merely smiled a mocking, half smile.
“So that I can-can outfit you with the appropriate, measures.” He finished.
Still wary, Stabtooth motioned to Twitch. The Warlock Engineer scuttled over to a rickety cart, which Brink had not previously seen, and pushed it over groaning. When it was positioned next to Stabtooth the seer reached over and flicked the poorly made lid open.
Inside was a black, rectangular box covered in runes and wards. From within Brink could make out the faint glow of life force. But the box was surely too small for anything to be kept alive within.
“What… what is it?” Brink stammered, enthralled.
“We took-stole it from a Dawri-Zharr convoy. They are shells for-for the dwarf-things Earthshaker.” Answered Twitch, obviously excited by the carts contents.
“Quiet, scat mucker!” barked Stabtooth, slashing Twitch on the side of the face.
The Warlock Engineer screeched in pain and clutched at his eye and snout. Deep gouges seeped dark blood.
“Open it.” Said Brink
“I take no-no orders from you, insignificant maggot.” Screeched the seer
In two steps Brink was at Stabtooth, belting him away with the back of his massive claw. The seer pitched violently into the air, landing a few feet away. There was an audible crack from his arm as he hit the ground. Stabtooth screamed. Brink ignored him, intent on the box.
“Watch him,” Brink ordered the clanrats, then turned to Twitch “I said open-open it.”
Twitch cowered before Brink.
“I can’t. Magic greater than I understand holds-binds this box shut. It would take many seers of great-great power to destroy the seals.”
For an instant Brink glared at the box. And then he chuckled to himself.
He reached down with is claw, gripping onto the front section of the box. The air seemed to become electric, standing the gathered skavens fur on end. Many of the clanrats took a step back.
Slowly, Brink began to squeeze. His claw groaned, while the box popped multi coloured magical sparks. One of the talons breached a particularly potent rune, blowing both the seal and a section of the claw off. Brink continued to squeeze.
There was a series of smaller, though equally violent explosions, as the claw pierced the outer layer of the box. Brink cackled with glee as his fist closed around the twisted metal.
Yanking suddenly, the front section of the box was ripped clean off. Several wards were destroyed, their deadly magic immediately expelled and easily finding their way into the claw. Magic and processed warpstone substances mixed, causing the claw to explode from the inside out.
Shards of jagged metal flew in every direction, ripping into nearby skaven. Many fled for cover, only to be hit in the back by hissing gases and spewing liquids. Brink screamed, a scream of equal excitement and pain. His withered arm protruded from the wrecked remains of the claw, wafting smoke and hissing. But his attentions were elsewhere.
A kaleidoscope assailed Brink’s mind. From each of the four shells erupted an orgy of lights and colours. Swirling, pulsing and teasing. These shells, these inanimate objects were alive. Somehow, something lived inside them. Such a thing he had never imagined possible.
Raising his head and both fists to the air, Brink let out one long, maniacal laugh.
This was the answer. It was a gift from the Horned Rat. A gift just for him. And it would make the world his.