Naggrund Slavers (featuring Dark Elves)

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Karak Norn Clansman
Posts: 306
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:23 am

Naggrund Slavers (featuring Dark Elves)

Post by Karak Norn Clansman »

Illustrated by: Forgefire

Written by: KNC


Naggrund Slavers

Far away beyond lands of men lie an ashen desolation. Seated betwixt twain towering mountain ranges are to be found the Dark Lands,wreathed in embers and smoke. Here, volcanoes roar and spew forth their fumes. Elsewhere, such vents of the underworld would turn the soil fertile, yet not so in the Dark Lands. For these ravaged landscapes are well and truly cursed. The dreaded Bull treads here.

In the Dark Lands dwell innumerable savage tribes, roaming as cannibal nomads in search of prey amid thorny bushes and jagged cliffs. Here are also to be found monsters defying reason itself with their existence, preying upon the squabbling mortal folk. Yet the apex predator of the Dark Lands is of lowly stature, stout and strong and the best toolmaker of them all. For the prime hunter of these forsaken wastes is the Dawi Zharr, also known as the Chaos Dwarf. His dark empire of Mingol Zharr-Naggrund the Great and all her holdings is sworn in service to the ravenous Bull God, Hashut, the saviour and enslaver of his kin, whom the Dwarf of Fire sacrifices to in relentless ritual worship upon the Temple altar.

The screaming sacrificial victims who have fed the insatiable hunger of this Dark God over the centuries may be beyond number, but far numerous still are the whipped hordes of slaves teeming in open-pit mines, plantation, lethal manufactories and other foul industries, all of them about to be worked to death by oppressive taskmasters. Each of these doomed thralls can tell a harrowing tale of starvation and backbreaking toil, as well as of cruelty and violence and horror. The enslaved labourers will learn to fear their masters and owners, the Chaos Dwarfs, yet they will likewise come to live in terror of the middleman slavedriver caste, the heinous Hobgoblins with their wicked knives. Cruelty is second nature for these treacherous Greenskins, and they take great pleasure in whipping around and punishing the Chaos Dwarfs' masses of slaves, as the Hobgoblins strut around like petty potentates with borrowed power, shooting glances as sharp as their hidden daggers from under fur-trimmed hats and dangling cloth caps.

Among the patchwork of Chaos Dwarf holdings on the polluted Plain of Zharr was once to be found the modest demesne of Sorcerer-Prophet Zharru-Ukin, quarrying plenty of granite for fortifications and mining a bitter harvest of lead and the zinc ore known as sphalerite. This dispersed realm of quarries and mining pits were jealously guarded by sturdy watchtowers and small ziggurats, each a pale echo of the titanic stepped city that is the Tower of Zharr-Naggrund, the megalomaniacal capital of the sprawling Chaos Dwarf empire.

Sorcerer-Prophet Zharru-Ukin was once a cunning master of dark sorcery, particularly in the art of fire magic, though less so with metal. Although Zharru-Ukin was but a lesser Sorcerer-Prophet within the exalted Priesthood of Hashut, he had once proved himself a capable schemer and backstabber, seemingly capable of always striking the winning alliance in any crisis of intrigue. Zharru-Ukin had once gained the epithet of the Harsh, a compliment for his callous treatment of imprisoned warriors out on mechanized expeditions. All this was once ago. More recently, however, this minor Sorcerer-Prophet had started to be called the Mad.

For Zharru-Ukin, the Curse of Stone proved to be a far slower poison than the intoxicating nectar of Chaos, for the Sorcerer-Prophet descended into powerless impotence as his sanity was overcome by the unnatural forces which he sought to enslave, just as he had enslaved mortal flesh and broken mortal will among the living. Thus Zharru-Ukin shifted between dumb lethargy and bouts of raving madness. He would witness otherworldly visions during epilectic seizures accompanied by prophetic ramblings which attendant Temple Acolytes diligently wrote down, and so they filled a whole archive chamber with their slaveskin parchment scrolls, heinous tomes, ashen clay tablets, carved bones and skulls, and etched metal plates. All testament to the ravings of Zharru-Ukin the Mad, who would be peered over in search of mysteries for ages yet to come.

As the power base of the demented Sorcerer-Prophet collapsed, Zharru-Ukin's underling Overlord Zharek the Bold acted swiftly to gain a measure of power and independence in the otherwise rigidly priest-ruled Chaos Dwarf empire. This warrior's warlord went to great lengths to mask his superior Sorcerer-Prophet's pathetic insanity, and thus Zharek had Zharru-Ukin hidden away, while letting his followers circulate rumours about the ingenious secret works of his secluded master. According to this common gossip, the upstart Zharru-Ukin displayed divine and unholy sparks of genius, which had made the Sorcerer-Prophet discard his mundane life for a Hashut-dedicated avalanche of intense study and experimentation, for rumours had it that Zharru-Ukin delved into arcane secrets and unparallelled inventions for the higher glory of the fiery Bull God.

The selfsame rumour said that Zharru-Ukin had hidden away his great works in the catacombs beneath Zharr-Naggrund, where these marvels were hoarded behind lethal traps and secured behind locked and warded Daemonforged gates and thick walls alike. Likewise, it was claimed that Zharru-Ukin the genius feigned stupidity and infantile incompetence to cover his tracks. These brazen lies were for the most part believed by Dawi Zharr of all castes, and so Overlord Zharek managed to establish himself as his Sorcerer-Prophet liege's chosen mouthpiece, secretly taking over Zharru-Ukin's harem. Such scheming had made Zharek the Bold in effect an independent petty ruler without prophetic visions or sorcerous powers, which was a precarious position for anyone in the Chaos Dwarf hierarchy to ascend to. Naturally, Zharek made his own clan filthy rich through his corrupt dealings, and he loaded the vassal clans of Sorcerer-Prophet Zharru-Ukin the Mad with his yoke.

Overlord Zharek the Bold was not only filled with a hunger for power, but he was also touched with military brilliance. And so detractors may have suspected Zharek of self-serving ambitions and a restless lust for battle when the mouthpiece of secluded Zharru-Ukin declared a mystical command from on high, received by his revered Sorcerer-Prophet in a dream set in the fiery and shackled court of Hashut Himself. Following this cryptic message from higher powers, the Overlord made a great sacrificial show as he formed the Naggrund Slavers, a small mercenary Legion of Dawi Zharr under Zharek's command. At first glance, this private host seemed to lack a lot of punch, even when compared to the minor power of Zharru-Ukin's armed forces. For the Naggrund Slavers were paupers in artillery, lacking in slaves, and almost entirely bereft of shackled Daemons and mechanical constructs. And last but not least did they sport no Templre troop support in the form of Bull Centaurs, leaving the mercenary Legion as a heavy infantry force without hard-hitting mobility, unstoppable monstrosities and machines or murderous artillery to blast apart their enemies.

To counter these drawbacks, Overlord Zharek the Bold reformed his Chaos Dwarf infantry into large maniples of shieldpairs, where the front member was equipped with a tower shield and pistol, while the rear member was armed with a spear. These shieldbearers and spearbearers provided a daunting prospect for enemies to break through. The shieldpairs were supported by small cohorts of warriors armed with blunderbusses and newfangled repeating crossbows, imitating the armaments of Grand Cathay. These crossbows were loaded with bolts whose tips contained the trapped essence of either a Daemon or the slave of a tortured slave, causing nerve-wracking shrieks and abominable damage to occur upon flight and impact. The shieldpair maniples were likewise supported by heavily armoured strike teams of grenadiers, sporting naphta bombs and Daemonforged orbs that could open a portal to hellish realms beyond this vale of woes. These heavy infantry units were supported by light artillery in the form of Hobgoblin bolt throwers, backed up with only a couple of heavier pieces in the form of a Magma Cannon and a Deathshrieker Rocket Launcher. The mercenary Legion was topped off by bands of Hobgoblin Wolf Raiders for scouting and foraging.

The Naggrund Slavers saw many years in the contracted service of various Sorcerer-Prophets, who mainly wished to use the sellswords in battle as a first wave to spare their own forces from the brunt of casualties. At other times their haughty paymasters pitted the Naggrund Slavers against roaming bands of Greenskins, Ogres and Ghouls since the Overlord's mercenaries quickly gained a reputation for resilience and courage-crushing small arms barrages in pitched battles on the one hand, and their marching speed on the other hand thanks to their small artillery park and resultant limited bagage train. The Slavers' combat record was overall a succesful one, with the occasional setback and ordered retreat, but no disastrous defeat. And as their reputation grew, so did Overlord Zharek the Bold enjoy the smile of fate. Yet this stroke of fortune turned out to be nothing but the cruel grin of monstrous gods decreeing dark destinies for mortals. For those that the gods wish bring down, they first make mighty.

Chance or darker powers still would have it so, that the Naggrund Slavers were out campaigning in the southernmost Dark Lands close to the swamps of Pig Barter by the Sea of Dread, when their mercenary contract to the Tower of Gorgoth was finished. The small host struck camp on a hillock, and the charimatic Overlord Zharek held a feast for his scarred and victorious warriors. Captive Gnoblars, disheveled Ghouls and Human pirates from Ind were roasted alive on spits alongside boars and ibis birds, and many strong beverages were swilled in the glow from the campfires.

It was in this state of revelry and muffled victims turned into food that the Naggrund Slavers found their next contract. For the Dawi Zharr camp sentries spotted in broad moonlight how a sleek blade of a ship sailed in and cast anchor off the rugged coast. A slender rowboat set out from the ship, its oarsmen rowing in perfect unison and shooting the small vessel over the shallow sea akin to an agile water skipper. The rowboat was not concerned about stealth, for a solitary figure stood in its fore, staring ahead and carrying a torch. Thus Zharek had been warned well in advance when his barricaded mercenary camp was approached by a tall, hooded stranger, swathed in a dark cloak the colour of midnight, sprinkled with tiny pearls as if to imitate the nightsky. The Overlord met the lithe stranger at the entrance, flanked by a retinue of grizzled veterans, and barked at the camp guards to let the silent Elf come inside.

The messenger turned out to be an emissary from the Druchii Corsair lord Aldrathir Kinflayer, master of a small fleet of Dark Elf pirates, who was in search of able fighters for a daring campaign overseas. The messenger opened a little sack, and showed the Chaos Dwarfs a small number of gleaming treasures in valuable metals and gemstones, letting their greedy eyes take in the looted wealth before closing the sack and informing them that this wealth was but scraps compared to the hefty amount of riches that Aldrathir Kinflayer would pay, half a treasure in advance, and the other half upon completion of contract. The Druchii diplomat paused for effect, and then went on to describe in detail the nature of martial service required to win such payment. After many careful calculations and muttering councils, the Naggrund Slavers at last agreed to enter into the service of Dark Elf Corsair lord, and so the parties sealed their pact under oath to both Hashut and Druchii gods by carving the contract into the writhing skin of a captive Halfling, who was then flayed alive and sacrificed on a small pyre.

And the smoke from the pyre reached on high, and the Dark Gods leaned in, watching with malevolent interest as a legend unfolded. And all was fell.

Ensnared by all-consuming greed, the mercenaries of Zharek the Bold according to some Chaos Dwarfs thus lost the blessing of the Bull God as the Overlord accepted a mercenary commission from others than the sacrificers to the Bull Father. The Naggrund Slavers boarded their own little flotilla nearby, but not before hiring a few cargo vessels from Dawi Zharr travelling down the River Ruin. These cargo ships were loaded with supplies, arms and ammunition as well as pack animals and freshly-captured Greenskin and Ghoul slaves for fodder and work.

All ready, the Chaos Dwarf warships steamed out in convoy formation, ever ready for the treachery of the Elves, and so the Naggrund Slavers at all times employed lookouts to give warning at the first hint of betrayal. Yet the voyage southwards passed without any such incident. The trek across the waves saw its victims. One of the Chaos Dwarf supply ships were lost to a male Kraken disturbed prior to mating with his beloved, and a score of Druchii Corsairs were likewise swept overboard by its lashing tentacle, yet otherwise the sea journey went well.

After months out on the whipping sea, the flotilla of Druchii warships and Dawi Zharr mercenary vessels arrived at the southeastern coast of the humid continent of Lustria. The ships soon found a natural harbour where both forces rapidly landed, established basecamps, unloaded supplies and deployed defensive artillery. The Chaos Dwarfs and Dark Elves set up separate camps, since mutual trust was never high between the two races of slavers and torturers from opposite corners of the world. Yet so far no friction had spilled over into bloodshed, and both Zharek and Aldrathir had managed to keep their underlings in check.

Leaving behind two garrisons in the basecamps and anchored ships, the Druchii Corsair lord led his army inland, first marching under the scorching heat on the Culchan Plains, then hacking through jungle and wading across crocodile-infested rivers. Scaly monsters, wild animals, Greenskins and Beastmen assailed them at every turn, yet despite losses the strangers to this untamed land persevered and fought off tribal ambushes and predators by blade and quarrel and fusillade of shrapnel and lead.

The expedition of the intruders amounted to a great journey inland, filled with hardships and travail, hunger and terror, disease and despair. Facing thick jungle growth and poisonous plants and beasts, the Dark Elves and Chaos Dwarfs gritted their teeth and pressed on for gold and dark glory. Slaves had both been brought in by ship and enslaved in the land of Lustria, including Human tribesmen waging an eternal war against marauding tribes of Orcs and Goblins and Beastmen herds in the outskirts of the southern jungles. These thralls served as porters, forced to carry heavy loads for miles and miles on end as the expedition edged close to its goal. Needlessly to say, the disposable slave carriers died in droves, and no master mourned as thralls sank paralyzed into bogs or succumbed to tropical disease.

"Onward!" the cry of cruel masters rang out, "And nevermind the corpses, just stamp them flat." And the Hobgoblins that did not go under in this strange land grinned with savage glee as they beheld the suffering and dying of others, and so Hobgoblins aimed kicks at dying slave porters.

At the foot of the Spine of Sotek, not far from the Eternal City of Oxyl, soared the Golden Tower of the Gods, a magnificient Lizardman temple city which appaered to be a patchwork of ancient glories, teeming earthy Skink barios and crumbling monuments. The Corsair lord Aldrathir Kinflayer had led his host by following a map which only he was allowed to see, on pain of death. Now, as Dark Elf Shades climbing high trees were able to spot their destination, Aldrathir led his forces on a circuitous route, up into a nearby spine of mountains, where the expedition trudged on as it climbed higher into snow-covered rocky heights. In the mountains of faraway Lustria, the Druchii and Dawi Zharr faced attacks from Yehtis, Trolls, grey mountain leopards, feral tribes and even explosive surprises from uncorrupted Dwarf prospectors. All these foes came in their way, and all were chased away bloodily as the brilliant Corsair lord led his greedy forces on a merry dance twisting hither and thither through passes and natural cave systems. Some of Aldrathir's and Zharek's warriors became lost forever in the mountainous labyrinth, and some fell to their deaths down precipices and sinkholes. The multitude of survivors nevertheless made it through on their snaking path, and thus they came upon the Golden Tower of the Gods entirely unexpected, from a mountainside thought secure by the Lizardmen who inhabited the temple city.

With the slower Naggrund Slavers acting as a stout rearguard, the Dark Elves struck swiftly and ruthlessly into the heart of the sprawling city, reaching its titanic central stepped pyramid and raiding it with torches, repeating handbows and blades. Here, the Druchii raiders killed guards with preternatural speed and set about to steal immensely valuable treasures. Tight on time, the intruders ignored the sleeping Slanns as harmless hulks, and focused all their efforts on gathering up treasures. The Dark Elf Corsairs soon darted out from the step pyramid before the vast bulk of Lizardmen inhabitants in the temple city had time to react. All Elves were loaded with booty.

As Aldrathir's forces fought their way back the same backhill path they had arrived by, the paved and sometimes overgrown streets were clogged with Skinks and Saurus warriors and giant reptile monsters, and the initial confusion of the reptilians was channeled into a directed assault upon the vile intruders from all corners. The hornet's nest had been well and truly stirred, yet the Kinflayer had a trick up his sleeve. Aldrathir gave the order, and his hornblower blew the signal to Overlord Zharek the Bold. Upon receiving this command, Zharek personally led his blunderbussers and grenadiers in a bloodsoaked advance, akin to a spearthrust down one of the city's main avenues. Hundreds upon hundreds of cold-blooded creatures fell dead or scattered amid the bloodbath as shrapnel and grenades blasted through their ranks and skirmish lines, sending slow-witted beasts into wild stampedes away from the source of their primal fear, dragging with them deadly riders.

As the steet was cleared from foes, the Dark Elves pushed past by nimbly jumping over Chaos Dwarf heads, somersaulting over their tall hats and dancing over their broad shoulders to take the vanguard once more. The Dawi Zharr were once again in the rear. Foul curses were shouted at the arrogant acrobatics of the Elves, yet the thrill of the temple raid and the promise of riches untold saw every grumbling Chaos Dwarf stay his vengeful hand, at least so long as he was not given permission to kill pointy-eared scum. With Druchii Corsairs in front and Dawi Zharr behind as a retreating rearguard, the army made its escape from the Golden Tower of the Gods amid the tumult. As per plan, Chaos Dwarf sappers blasted shut a bottleneck tunnel entrance to hinder any Lizardmen from following them or finding their secret way into the temple city, thus buying valuable time for the raiders.

The street fighting in the temple city had just been the beginning, however, and the desecrators knew it. But they could scarcely have foreseen the ferocity and vigilance and energy of the defenders' response. The Golden Tower of the Gods and its outlying jungle settlements boiled into an uproar of Skink agitation and frenzied mustering of forces. As the intruders made their winding way down the Spine of Sotek into the jungle, their reptilian pursuers had already fanned out with Chameleon Skinks and Terradon riders to the north, south, west and east in order to find the thieves and robbers. Indeed, Scar-Veteran Xhoqoroto bellowed to the skies and vowed to bring the intruders to the altar of the Sotek. Making good on their headstart and sneaking mountain paths, the Corsair lord's forces were nevertheless discovered in the jungle after only a week of frantic search party activity, and so the great hunt was on.

The march back to the coast turned into a nightmare which made the journey inland pale in comparison. Beset by Lizardmen and hardships and savages, the Dark Elves and Chaos Dwarfs time and again found themselves facing gigantic scaly beasts who erupted from the jungle and tore into their ranks. Some of the giant terrors were brought down by disciplined volleys of shot and bolts, and others were scared off by grenadiers or tight spear formations. Yet the herded monsters kept coming, and soon smaller critters of the jungle joined in the chase. At no point of day were the pirates and mercenaries and their slave porters safe, and many succumbed to small poison bites, while others disappeared down vast jaws filled with fangs. Still others were dragged away by packs of feral Cold Ones, or turned into pincushions by Razordons or roasted by Salamanders. With mounting fright and suppressed panic building in the callous hearts of Dark Elves and Chaos Dwarfs alike, the Corsair host of Aldrathir and the Legion of Zharek saw their supplies and slave porters lost in great numbers. Entire Dawi Zharr cohorts and Corsair companies were separated from the main marching columns in the jungle, never to be seen again. Sometimes distant screams and roars and the rustling of trees hinted at a brutal demise.

Anguished howls and shrieks of those found by the vengeful Lizardmen cut through the jungle day and night, robbing the exhausted temple raiders of precious sleep. Thus, with little to no sleep, too little food and having to resort to unclean drinking water, Dawi Zharr and Druchii alike came to endure such baleful hardships which they themselves had routinely imposed upon those they wished to dominate with whips and the breaking of wills and spirit. Frail Manlings would have succumbed entirely in the depth of the jungle against such odds, yet both Chaos Dwarfs and Dark Elves were made of sterner stuff. Thus the combined forces of elder races fought a desperate rearguard action practically all the way to the coast, with only a fraction of the original expedition stumbling out from the jungle.

Out on the open pampas of the Culchan Plains, the Lizardman vanguard of Cold One riders, Terradon riders and Skinks swarmed after the fleeing desecrators. With the jaws of the fast vanguard closing in, Corsair lord Aldrathir Kinflayer ordered the Chaos Dwarf mercenaries of the Naggrund Slavers to form ranks and stand against the onslaught. This was obviously intended to buy time for the swifter Dark Elves to make their escape cleanly as the cold-blooded pursuers feasted on the Chaos Dwarfs. At this, Overlord Zharek the Bold spat and roared with a voice made hoarse by so many travails. The Chaos Dwarf warlord reminded the Druchii of sworn contract oaths, waving the carved Halfling skin in the air. Then Zharek pointed out that the allied raiders had one chance to crush the incoming Lizardman vanguard if the Dark Elves at once split up and flanked the Lizardmen as the reptiles crushed into the Dawi Zharr shieldwall. The choice stood between victory or death, according to Zharek.

With sweat dripping down his strained face, the Corsair lord stared at the fiery Chaos Dwarf. Aldrathir there and then made a split second decision, and turned his own followers about, acting upon the Overlord's tactical suggestion without question. What would have been the end for the Chaos Dwarfs instead turned into a rapid shattering victory against the strong but fragile Lizardman vanguard. The slaughter of the Cold One riders and Skinks on the shieldwall, and the massacre of the Terradon riders by massed volleys managed to raise flagging morale among the temple raiders. In this moment, the common action in the face of desperation strengthened the warrior's bond between Chaos Dwarfs and Dark Elves in the harrowed expedition.

With this success under their belts, the allied temple looters headed for the coast, losing almost all of their last porters who were too weak to keep up, thus damning the underfed slaves to a grisly end at the fangs of reptilian monsters. The few surviving Hobgoblins cackled maniacally at the grim fate awaiting the thralls, spitting and jeering as they pushed past on foot or on top of the scant few surviving mangy Giant Wolves that were still alive.

And so the mercenary Legion of Zharek's Naggrund Slavers and Aldrathir Kinflayer's Corsair host arrived at their basecamps ahead of any further pursuers. It would seem that their gods smiled on them. Yet here they found their field fortifications to be in ruins, their Chaos Dwarf artillery and Reaper bolt throwers hacked to pieces, their supplies burning and their garrisons slain. The survivors of the greedy expedition stood aghast and stared out into the natural harbour. Worse yet, all their ships had been either sunk in the bay, or else were nowhere to be seen. Shipwrecks protruded through the water like jagged rocks, and sea birds called out as they flew between their new seats.

Yet no enemy was in sight, and no signs of who could have attacked the twin basecamps were visible. Not even a javelin was spotted which could betray the identity of the attackers. Bewildered, Overlord Zharek, Aldrathir the Corsair lord and their most trusted companions headed toward a single surviving Chaos Dwarf, one who was severely wounded and missing one leg, who they found crawling away from the basecamps. The maimed Dawi Zhar was hoarse and spat blood, and it was clear to everyone that he was dying. When asked about who had assaulted the basecamps, the Chaos Dwarf survivor's hazy eyes fixed themselves upon the Druchii retinue, and somewhere inside he found an untapped reservoir of strength to yell foul curses, accusing the Dark Elves of falling upon the Naggrund Slavers without warning. Yet the dying man also rambled something about how they had known that this would happen, and thus the Dawi Zharr had struck first.

The basecamp garrisons having obliterated each other in tense boredom at the coast, and their flotillas sunk in vain, the Druchii Corsairs and the Naggrund Slavers found themselves helplessly stranded on a distant coast in an unknown land, with tens of thousands of wroth Lizardmen closing in upon them. And as the grand temple host of the Golden Tower of the Gods arrived in full strength to the smoking remains of the twain basecamps, they found the last surviving temple raiders at war with one another, furiously slaying their former allies with reckless abandon in a frenzied display of sheer bloodlust and insane carnage.

And the Dark Gods laughed.

At this sight, the Lizardmen duly joined the battle and crushed any resistance, this time unlike in past clashes easily sweeping past the ranks of the Chaos Dwarf shieldpairs, which were in disarray and in no position to mount a strong defense. Yet there was to be no quick slaughter of the desecrators, for the Saurus warriors fell upon them with blunt weapons and overpowered both Dark Elves and Chaos Dwarfs, claiming them all as prisoners. And so the Lizardmen stripped the captives of all their armour and clothing and carried them, hanging bound under poles, all the way back to the Golden Tower of the Gods.

Here, in the sacred temple city, the Skink priests of Sotek had all the captives dragged up the pyramid steps one by one, and one by one they were flayed alive, mutilated and then had their ribcages opened and their beating hearts torn out for bellowing Lizardmen to devour. All in full view of their companions, who awaited their turn at the altar. The skins of the long-haired Druchii and bearded Dawi Zharr were made into ceremonial priest suits, and their flayed carcasses were kicked down the temple stairs to cheering roars, were the wild crowds tore them limb from limb before mounting their skulls on display racks and claiming their bones for trophies and toolmaking. And in such manner were the intruders dealt with who dared to steal from the temple of the gods.

Up north in distant, cold Naggaroth, a Dark Rider patrol hunting escapee slaves would several years later discover a grinning Elf skull, fastened to a freshly carved Lustrian stone plaque. As wise ones among the Dark Elves attempted a translation, they could with difficulty make out what amounted to the name of Aldrathir Kinflayer, along with what appeared to be a list of his unforgivable sins against the gods.

And several decades later, in Mingol Zharr-Naggrund the Great seated atop the Dark Lands, Sorcerer-Prophet Zharru-Ukin the Mad's insanity was discovered after seventyseven years locked inside his reclusive ziggurat. As the Bull Centaurs dragged his semi-petrified pathetic being away for a hideous fate behind the Temple gates, he was heard shouting, over and over:

"The serpent! Their hearts eaten! Eaten!"

- - -

Story written out in raw format in 2017 and finished in 2024 for Forgefire's artwork entry into Chaos Dwarfs Online's Artisan's Contest XIX.
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