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The General and the Sorceress 
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Blasphemer and Heretic
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Location: Sowing the seeds of evil in the hills of Austin, TX
The Dark Pegasus was foaming at the bit and sheathed in sweat. The normally aggressive beast held its head low as the handler took the bridle. Blood streaked its side from steel Cold One spurs. The legs of the great beast wobbled as it stood on solid ground for the first time in a day and a half. It had been ridden nearly to the point of collapse.

The rider dismounted with a clatter of enameled armor plates. She swept the camp with a withering gaze. Turning back to the broken Pegasus, she removed a gilded black Drannach from the saddle ties. Then, without a word, she marched into the camp with steel spurs ringing out her steps. A seething light burned in her eyes.

Murmurs rose from the Black Lotus 5th and 7th Divisons as she marched through tent lines and past campfires. What was she doing here? In the middle of the night? Wasn’t she at Wrath Gate? Why is she alone? Is she taking over? Speculation and rumor spread through the troops like a virus.

A few cautiously followed her to the ornate tents that housed officers and honored guests. The guards at the fence line stood momentarily slack jawed in astonishment. After a pause they snapped to attention. A silver pendant of Slaanesh jingled as they moved their halberds to make way.

The sounds coming from the noble’s tent were positively pornographic. Rhythmic moans of ecstasy of at least three different voices filled the air. It smelled of sex, incense and Chaos.

Light from the campfires flooded into the dimly lit tent as she threw the flap open wide. “On your feet, Xaniphera. I want a word with you”, she snarled.

“General Kala. How nice of you to join us.” Xaniphera purred with blatant innuendo. She brushed back her hair and wiped her mouth as she untangled herself from the cluster of naked bodies on the floor cushions.

“I gave you orders not to push your religion or stir up discord.” Kala snapped. “I took you into this camp in which I have been fighting to maintain a secular balance between Khaine and Slaanesh. Now my troops are more concerned about fighting each other then the enemy.” The campfire flared behind her, silhouetting her in the tent doorway and giving her the appearance of a vengeful wraith. “I gave you shelter and protection in the understanding that the Black Lotus is not participating in Morathi’s damned power grab. I have shed my blood for and with these Druchii and you are NOT going to turn them into tools for your pathetic crusade.”

Xaniphera slipped on something that was nothing and lit an oil lamp. “Why General, whatever do you speak of? I have only been doing as you ask. Your Sorceresses are being trained to summon and bind the Daemons of our Lord and Master Slaanesh, as you requested. I am doing it by my methods as you gave me permission.”

“Your lord and master, not mine Xaniphera. I lay my soul at the altar of no god. The Druchii race is all that holds me in thrall. And YOU are putting MY Druchii in jeopardy by stirring up unrest while the ASUR are camped not three hours ride from here.” Kala began to raise her voice. Nearly the entire camp had been awakened from their tents. A circle of spectators was now forming around the fence line. The Druchii on the floor, male and female, now also stood to watch. But they made no effort to collect their clothes.

“But my dear General, you are devoted to a god. Does not the fury of Khaine flow through you even now? Does bloodlust not rule your life? General Kala Kodai of House Velari, mighty Warlord of the Wrath Gate, a born and bred killing machine, daughter of a hundred generations of Velari Warmasters. You may not perform the rites, but you are a child of Khaine. Can you deny it?”

The General stood transfixed for a moment. Her eyes that had been burning like embers a moment ago now looked inward with soul searching.

“Or perhaps not?” Xaniphera picked up a goblet of wine and sipped. She sauntered around to Kala and lowered her voice to a sultry tone. “Maybe you have something else bottled up inside? Your troops tell me that you are a distant woman - always the Great Commander locked away in her tower, planning the next rampage of carnage. I myself used to believe in the myth of the lonely, aloof commander. But it is just an unnecessary mystique.”

Xaniphera tossed a pointed glance at the willowy male in the tent as she circled the General. Kala now stared forward entranced in thought. Every word seemed to seep into her mind and release even deeper, more intimate secrets.

“Does loneliness and the chill of Naggaroth get to you at night, Kala? Do you secretly long for someone warm and beautiful to share your bed? See Eurthurian over there. Is he not lovely? Lithe of line and graceful. He’s exceptionally gifted. You can have him if you want. Consider it my present to my beloved commander.”

Xaniphera stood up on her toes to whisper in Kala’s ear. “Or perhaps your tastes run into the feminine? Someone who knows you inside and out? Someone who can share your most fragile thoughts and tender sentiments? You can take me as a gift, too. Take me back to the Wrath Gate with you. I can ease your loneliness and give you the pleasure you deserve, my beautiful Lady Velari.”

Kala snapped back into reality just as Eurthurian lunged in for a strike to the throat. His deft sleight of hand had left the sword hidden until the last moment. She elbowed Xaniphera in the sternum and twisted just enough to glance the blade off her gorget. The second strike came with blinding speed down to her unprotected head. This time she was ready. The parry with the heavy blade of the Drannach was enough to give her room to step clear of the tent and into the open.

Eurthurian leapt into the firelight naked but for a blade. He danced and wove with a grace that mystified and beguiled. A naked elf or human in a duel would have been an embarrassment, but an Annointed was a supernatural thing. He wore his bare skin like armor.

He closed the distance with her in a blur. A thrust, a backhand, and then another thrust struck within the time that a normal being would take just to lift the sword. Kala was forced to raise the blade of her spear and defend with the post. His face was a grinning mask, mocking her as his attacks kept her pinned to the defensive. He slashed at her thighs and then thrust to her eyes in a single motion. She dodged and parried. He remained too close for her to lower her blade for a counterattack.

Kala’s mind had slipped into the battle fugue that she had so long ago perfected. Every maneuver, stance and weapon form had fused to become a single combat mantra. She had only thus far survived this supernaturally fast assault because she knew every move and step he would make as he was making them.

“Kourimin’s underthrust”, she thought to herself as he performed a lunge to the abdomen and dropped into a fluid crouch. “Shifting sands stance. Straight lunge. Backhand. Upper stance. Feint left. Handcleaver.”

Eurthurian felt exultant. His opponent stared into space and defended mechanically. He would slowly cut down this so-called General and then his Mistress would take control of her armies. She could not even lower her blade to attack and his blows were coming too fast for her to step back. There was no way he could lose this fight. He pressed even harder.

“High Inside. Straight lunge. Backhand. Upper stance. That’s twice.” Kala’s mantra continued as the Annointed pressed harder. A cut had slipped through joints in her armor and she was bleeding. The fight was wearing on and his speed would eventually catch her. But she had a pattern now.

“Stone stance. Overhand. Sabar’s Throatcut. Tipslip. Straight lunge. Backhand. Upper stance.” Kala allowed his blade to penetrate her defenses as he shifted into the upright stance. She leaned back to avoid the incoming thrust and dropped the shaft of her Drannach down between his shins. A sharp twist and he hit the ground with an audible whoosh of air from his lungs. Kala whirled and brought down the heavy blade, snapping his spine with a crack and a splash of blood.

Eurthurian howled. Then he smiled. “My Lord, it is exquisite” was all that he said before he dropped his face into the dust.

Xaniphera stood with her mouth agape, staring at the broken corpse of her Annointed bodyguard and lover. It had never crossed her mind that Eurthurian would not win the combat. She looked up to see Kala storming forth toward her. She raised her hands to begin calling forth magical energies, but it was too late. Kala grabbed her by the hair at the back of her head and jerked her stumbling forward. Now it was Kala’s turn to whisper in Xabniphera’s ear. “You missed one critical secret, seductress. I am not a feeble, simpering, soft-skinned Lady.”

The General dragged her struggling, squealing quarry to the foot of the crowd that had formed around the battle. Xaniphera was thrown to the ground and pinned down with the tip of the Drannach at the base of her skull.

“Hear me, my minions”, Kala roared into the night silence. “I do not come to you tonight to dismiss Slaanesh from this camp. I come to cut this cancer from your midst.”

“The gods of the Druchii are not complicated things. Both require only blood and your faith. It is the mortals who insolently claim to know the will of the gods that force you into observances and tests of faith. It is they who shroud themselves in a twisting maze of piety and zeal. It is they who will enslave you to carry out their earthly ambitions in the name of your gods.”

“The gods of the lesser races make slaves of them as well. See the humans who live chained to the whims of their deities. See the greenskins who cannot even think without a Waaagh! to guide them. See the Asur, who still serve the feeble old gods without questioning their inherent weakness.”

“The mortal mouthpieces of any god, true or false, should not hold sway over us. Far too often they have a way of requiring greater and greater obedience. You, Captain Kerlen the Bereaver. I was there when you forced a knight to wet himself at the charge of your Cold One. But I also stepped in when the Temple denied you your Captainship for “lack of faith”. And you, Mistress Zhani. Was I not there to hear your first cry of devotion to Slaanesh on the field at Kaama? But was I not also there to take you in when Morathi cast you out in humiliation.”

“You all have as story to tell like these. You would not be in the Black Lotus if you did not. Yet here this slut…” She pressed down hard on Xaniphera, drawing out a whimper, “…has managed to sow the seeds of hatred between you. And for what? A few more slave-minded zealots to follow her? A handful of extra toadies to massage her feet at the end of the day? She would destroy the majority of you in order to improve her following by a few dozen while the Asur grow mighty in the fields and forests north of here. All supposedly in the name of Slaanesh, who did not spare her when the time came. Or that one.” Kala tossed her head toward the naked corpse of Eurthurian.

“Remember this, all of you. Before all else we are DRUCHII! We have a destiny greater than that of mere pawns of the gods. It is WE who are the most worthy to rule this world. I say it will be accomplished with the gods at our sides, not holding our leash. It is our birthright, proven time and again by prowess and unyielding will. It is tempered by our very flesh and blood. Neither gods nor mortals can deny us that destiny.”

“For the rest of Naggaroth, this civil war is deciding to which god the Druchii will be slaves. I say to you all that we are and will always be the MASTERS!”

The camp erupted in exultation. For a moment they all forgot the demoralizing murder and intrigue of the last few weeks. They forgot that they worshipped Slaanesh or Khaine and the discord of the Civil War. A chant of “Druchii! Druchii! Druchii! Druchii!” grew up out of the cheering crowd as Kala picked Xaniphera up by the hair again.

The crowd parted to clear a path as Kala marched her prisoner away. A cluster of Druchii followed, eager to see the fate of the Sorceress. When they reached the tree line of the camp Kala threw her to the ground again. Xaniphera leapt up to her feet. She turned on the crowd as quick as a sprite. Now ragged and dirty, her exquisite beauty was transformed into a primal allure as she stood naked before them. She arched her fingers and raised her hands to begin plucking the strings of magic.

“Uraithen!” Kala snapped. A dozen repeating crossbows clicked into firing positions at her sides. Xaniphera froze. Her fury subsided and was replaced by a calm amusement. The faintest hint of a smile crossed her ruby lips.

Kala’s voice lowered to an icy tone. “If she raises her hands above her waist, if she utters a single sound, if she even turns to look back, shoot her.” A calculating glance surveyed the General over her shoulder as the Sorceress slowly turned. All eyes were on her as she swayed into the midnight black.

******

An hour later, Kala lay awake and brooding in a standard issue tent. She had ordered Xanphera’s entire camp burned. Some were even still drinking and reveling around the bonfire. Most of the troops had drifted back to their own tents. Even in the deep of night, the camp positively glowed with quiet pride. Kala was certain that she had salvaged the damage that the Sorceress had done to the morale and solidarity of the 5th and 7th Divisions. She had heard songs sung in her honor. But she couldn’t sleep or take part in the impromptu celebrations. An inescapable question tugged at her mind like a black sprite.

Why didn’t she kill Xaniphera?


--------------------------------------
Reality Check

This is a little story that Onyx Paladin has been colaborating on with me. It's more for the fun of it than any actual battles. Hope you enjoyed it.

If you have been reading my journal thread, you will know that Kala had been nurturing a Temple/Cult alliance within the Black Lotus, specifically the Khainite 5th and the Slaaneshi 7th. Xaniphera had her own plans for Slaaneshi dominance, but crossed the line when she murdered several Khainite oficers.

Onyx Paladin is currently writing an epilogue for Xaniphera and even I don't know how that one is going to turn out!

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Because anyone vicious enough to shoot down her own battlecruiser because there might be a traitor at the helm deserves to have a Druchii namesake.


Thu Nov 11, 2004 8:15 pm
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congrats Kala. I"m honored to be the first to respond to this thread! congrats with the story, its amazing. can't wait to see the epilogue

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Aravar Galdean-

The High Prince of Tiranoc (mainly because no one else is brave enough to live there :wink:)

I'm known as MavisDavis01 in Asur.org


Thu Nov 11, 2004 8:27 pm
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Very good, if you don't say so yourself. The epilogue will be interesting. To me, a Druchii not killing another over something like that is almost...Asur-like.... ;)


Fri Nov 12, 2004 6:25 am
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Blasphemer and Heretic
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Eldacar wrote:
To me, a Druchii not killing another over something like that is almost...Asur-like.... ;)


How dare you! Asur-like! ::looks around for a brick:: :mrgreen:

Seriously though, it was intentionally ended like that. Onyx wanted Xaniphera to be left as a viable character and I wanted the story to end on a questioning note. Thus Kala lies awake at night tossing and turning over why she didn't utterly annihilate someone who she flew hundreds of miles specifically to kill. It sets us up for plenty of future tension. Remember we are only about halfway through this campaign. I expect this to be the harbinger of much mayhem.

Plus, Kala as a character is still ruthless and vicious, but has developed the somewhat non-Druchii characteristic of being introspective. I think it gives her depth and makes her less of a cardboard cut-out.

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Because anyone vicious enough to shoot down her own battlecruiser because there might be a traitor at the helm deserves to have a Druchii namesake.


Fri Nov 12, 2004 3:48 pm
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Simply fantastic. Not killing the sorceress was a good idea becouse it leaves many options for future stories. Combat was described so well that I had no trouble picturing it in front of me.

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Weak perish so that the strong can live. It is the law of nature. It is the law of the Druchii.


Fri Nov 12, 2004 4:30 pm
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Blasphemer and Heretic
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I actually worked out the moves with staff and longsword. All the odd names are just fluffy versions of real life maneuvers from rapier fighting and weapons forms. It certainly helped me to better describe it.

Thanks everyone. I'm glad you are enjoying it.

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Because anyone vicious enough to shoot down her own battlecruiser because there might be a traitor at the helm deserves to have a Druchii namesake.


Fri Nov 12, 2004 4:40 pm
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Brilliant stuff. And I suppose the sorceress may have been controlling Velari in some way.

General Kala wrote:
I actually worked out the moves with staff and longsword. All the odd names are just fluffy versions of real life maneuvers from rapier fighting and weapons forms.


Ah, so that's where they come from. Permission to use them again, eventually, in pieces of my own?
By the way, I stole your Druchii maxim, y'know. :P

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Cenyu wrote:
Hail to the King, baby.
All my eloquence fails to express it as well as this.


Fri Nov 12, 2004 7:05 pm
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Blasphemer and Heretic
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Permission granted to use whatever bits of my writing you like. I'm pleased to inspire more people to write stories. Make 'em good.

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Because anyone vicious enough to shoot down her own battlecruiser because there might be a traitor at the helm deserves to have a Druchii namesake.


Fri Nov 12, 2004 8:42 pm
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Here is the rest of the story. I'm sorry it took to long to post.

Epilogue:

Xaniphera sat on a rock and sighed. She missed her silken pillows, the rich carpets that had adorned her tent and the erotic smells of the incenses. Now she could only smell rotting vegetation, her body still bruised from the assault of ‘General’ Kala. The same phrase kept echoing through her head. ‘I am not a feeble, simpering, soft-skinned Lady.’ One mistake had cost Xaniphera everything she had been working for.

Turning to her right, she addressed the hooded form leaning on a tree. “Perhaps I should get used to being exiled. I could build up a little wilderness haven and live happily.”

“If that is your wish, my Mistress.” Not all of the 7th division had found joy in her leaving. Some had quietly crept away that night to find her and pledge their loyalty. She had sent them all back of course. It would be better to have them where she could use them rather than here waiting to be tracked down. Only one had she kept. He had been part of the special scouts, trained for ferreting out insurgents and heresy. With the purging of their ranks, he would not be missed. She had had all the others killed.

“No, I suppose that would not be the will of Slaanesh. I must only think of the next step. It eludes me.” Xaniphera closed her eyes, only to see the image of General Kala flash before her eyes. While she had not been the most impressive fighter, nor the most irresistible seductress, Kala’s passion had taken her breath away. Well, that and the boot heal on her back. ‘I am not a feeble, simpering, soft-skinned Lady.’ Xaniphera knew well the cravings of the flesh and the ways to capture a person’s heart and mind. She could see the same feelings beginning in her. Obsession was dangerous. It could cause mistakes. This was something Xaniphera often used to her advantage. She only hoped that Kala had similar misgivings. Why else was Xaniphera still alive?

Crashing sounds alerted her and her guardian to something approaching. It didn’t sound loud, and soon they could make out the ragged form of a Chaos Fury. It flopped into the dirt in front of Xaniphera, making mewling noises and drooling on the ground. Xaniphera understood the uses of Furies, but Furies as messengers tended to be somewhat repugnant in her opinion.

“What news to you bring?” she pointedly asked it. In response it began garbling and sputtering, speaking in the infernal tongue of its home dimension. Getting frustrated by its audiences’ lack of understanding of the devil tongue, it scratched out a crude “D” on the ground with its claw. “Democles? He has broken through the southern passes?” It confirmed her questions by making an unearthly crooning noise. Once again Xaniphera wondered if flying couriers were worth the trouble of controlling them.

‘I am not a feeble, simpering, soft-skinned Lady.’ The whispered comment once again floated through her head. Then her mind focused in one sudden instant and all the pieces came together. Ignoring the gibbering Fury in front of her, she called to her servant. “I need paper and ink. Steal me a quill as well. We have work to do.” The scout slunk off in the direction of the 7th Division, intent on his task, leaving Xaniphera with hissing Fury.

Before dawn again the next day, Xaniphera finished penning her second missive. She reviewed it for errors, idly rubbing a bruised rib as she did so. Once she had assured herself of the intent in her letter, she neatly folded it in half and presented it to the scout standing, as always, near her side. “You will take this into camp and have it emblazoned with Commander Rechavia’s signet. Once that is done, make sure that it is sent out via courier. Then I want you to follow the courier until you reach Hag Grief. Then, kill him. Make sure his body is found by the city guard. Afterwards, come look for me in Naggarond. I will be awaiting you there.” With a short bow, the lone scout disappeared into the pre-dawn darkness.

“Now for you,” she looked down upon the tense Fury. It seethed under the binding, wishing to be free to kill. Taking one of the lacings to her dress, she tied the first letter to the Fury’s leg. Xaniphera had to now hold part of her dress so it would not fall off. “Take this letter and find Lord Democles. Once you deliver it, you will be free of your bindings.”

With an exultant screech, the Fury took off, crashing through the tree foliage above it. Xaniphera waited a moment, to make sure both her messengers didn’t come back to be reinstructed. Then she gathered her dress close to her, tying the dress in a simple knot so it would no longer fall off her body. She knew it wouldn’t protect her against the elements, but she wanted to have some measure of respect when she encountered another Druchii. She was sure she could finagle more clothing at that time. Perhaps even a horse. If not, there were other ways to persuade.

Xaniphera began to gingerly pick her way through the forest. ‘I am not a feeble, simpering, soft-skinned Lady.’ “Well,”Xaniphera said softly, gaining more purpose with her walk,”let’s see if we can’t change your opinion of Ladies, General Kala.” The copse of trees grew silent once more, content to be empty of plotting Druchii and destructive demons.

_________________
"Khaine only embraces death, while the Cult of Pleasure embraces life and all of its aspects. I often wonder how people have trouble choosing between the two."

~Lady Xaniphera, preistess of Slaanesh


Mon Nov 15, 2004 3:19 pm
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