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Forums > Fantasy Roleplay Forum > (CLOSED) Stromfels' Plague (Warhammer Fantasy)

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-The western beach of Sartosa, south of the Pirate Stronghold-

Sand...

Sand... Miles of Sand...

...And Smoke, stemming from green, unholy warpfire. The crackling remains of the decimated fleet collapsing into rubble is partly silenced by the piercing squarks of alarmed gulls hovering above the sky...

...Smouldering flames tower above the coastline, peeling at the carcasses of both Man and Rat alike...

...And Rat alike...

"RATS! DAMN-CURSE THEM!" In that very moment, the betrayed Captain came to from his daze - With a jolt of pure rage, he leapt upon his clawed feet, flailing himself as anger and frustration swelled up within his ruby eyes. Tripping and stumbling upon the washed up remnants of those who were supposed to be his unwavering thralls. Those whose loyalty was undying and forsworn, which they had of course admitted at the violent behest of a slavedriver, the body of whom was likely among the swathes of drowned, bloated rodent masses.

Anglermaw was famished beyond belief; The Black Hunger tore into his conscience as terribly as the musk of betrayal itself. He quickly tore into the body of a nearby Stormvermin. Man or Skaven, it made no difference - 'They were enemies all!' The Captain thought, as memories slowly glued themselves together within his primal mind. Moments of near-death flashed in miliseconds as he ravaged the drenched carcass. A fleet, no, a horde of innumerable rickety, poorly built ships. Yet each one carried masses of Skurvy Clanrats and their enslaved thralls. Each one rang the terrible bell of the Horned Rat, deafening even the thunderous storm above. Each one lathered under an air of sickly green, bearing poxes, plagues and other virulent substances that would've cloaked the Old World under a cape of death.

And at the forefront, was the Dreadnaught of Anglermaw itself: The Ark of the Horned rat, which housed the most dangerous tools of destruction Clan Skurvy had both pillaged and borrowed from the so called 'greater Clans'. What abominations were housed in the guts of this most dangerous ship are now irrelevant. For this infectious bulwark of the sea, which would have smashed into the walls of Luccini, is gone. The mighty warpstone cannons, the hide of corrugated, eldritch metal. Even as the lone dreadnaught singlehandly parted the Tilean fleet into a splintered mess (at the expense of at least fifteen smaller clanships, of course), that dauntless power alone was nothing under mutiny. As the Captain was knocked unconscious and thrown overboard by the unruly degenerates he once called his inferiors. To either drown or to perhaps become a snack for the predatory creatures of Stromfels that lurked under the sea.

Yet, he still lived, rising above his prey, the black hunger now sated - The single survivor under a mountain of death, still armed with his trusted Handgun, lodged deep within it's soaked holster. Water held no power over warpstone as it had done with the gunpowdered weapons of the Man-things, there was still some life left within the warplock. Fate had even been kind enough to allow Anglermaw to retain his pirate crown, the symbol of his now sullied authority, as he had found it tattered and wet amongst the broken lumber. Yet among this graveyard of scuttled warships, there was still one striking matter that still sent the Skaven Captain into a red mist, tormented under the fact that his prized Ark was missing, potentially under the ownership of some upstart inferior. His dreams of conquest and recognition had been crushed underfoot. For this, Clan Skurvy would not only remain obscure among Skaven politics, but would now endure ostracisation as the laughing stock of the Clans. Even the Slaves would now see them as a cautionary tale of lofty ambition.

His dignity torn asunder like the rotting bodies of those he trodded upon, Anglermaw screeched toward the clouded sky, and in his mind, swore vengeance to regain perhaps the only thing he considered loyal beside his icons of leadership; He would retake the ark, he would devour this Slave-thing captain, and massacre those who were complicit in this act of betrayal.

The only question now was... Where would he start?

Sartosa was a vast city filled with all types. From the lowest criminal and cut throats to the mightiest of sea faring heroes you could find people of all classes should they go against many laws of their homelands. Sartosa was a pirate haven. Ruled by pirate kings and filled with any combination of people they could want. Races of all kinds. Mostly Human but some Dwarves, Ogres and even Elves could be found amongst them. Though given the nature and racial tensions between some of these people tended to go missing and occasionally turn up in a canal or alley. The city was more dangerous than some battlefields as one bad look could have your nose punched in from a drunkard or overly aggressive criminal. Yet despite the volatile nature of the settlement it was prosperous. Getting trade from the Southern Realms of Tilea and even as far as Lustrian colonies.

Sitting out on a balcony from an inn called 'The Drunken Raid' was a tall man, about six foot with a slender frame dressed in a long brown trench coat and buttoned up, pale green shirt. Long dark trousers similar to many a sea fairer and dark leather boots showed he was familiar with the area. Likely a seaman himself. On his side was a Rapier. A blade with a hand guard looking like a cage of gorgeously forged dark grey steel looking like a Dragon with webbed wings moving around the handle. However on closer inspection it looked more like a large monstrous Bat. The Bats head sat at the base of the blade. The metal was sheathed but seemed to be made of finely crafted material. Far less crude than that of the Empire's typical blades. He was young looking. Seeming to only be in his early to mid twenties. Long black hair went down to his shoulders and his skin was smooth and very lightly tanned. His eyes were dark. Seeming almost black. The man leaned back in a chair. On the railing in front of him were two empty bottles. A characterized skull was on it and the text 'Rotgut' written in comically bloody text. In his hand was another bottle and the floor to his right had two more standing unopened. He took a swig of his current bottle and wiped some lose drops from his mouth.The liquid looked faintly red. As he brushed back his hair two pointed ears were shown. Indicating he was an Elf.

The sun was high above the pirate city indicating mid day. The air was cleaner here and the skies brighter then in most Imperial cities. Gulls squawked as they flew by. The Elven man tips his current bottle upside down and sees not a drop fall out. Rolling his eyes he pops the bottle on the railing and grabs another.
"To stronger stuff." He laughs popping out the bottle. He shivers at the smell. Rotgut was a beer made from Humans attempts to recreate a deadly Orc booze. It tended to blind, kill or cripple about half the men who drank it. Though the other half have the best drunken experience of their lives. This Elf on the other hand needed to find something stronger then standard ale. Elven wine with an overly sweet syrup he couldn't stand. A strong drink that would get him out of his own mind was best. But given his Elven blood he was shockingly resistant. As he took a large swig he started to feel the effects. His vision faintly wavered as he got what would be considered a minor effect from beer. Any Human would have likely died from drinking this much of what is essential poison infused beer. The Elf who seemed fine with drinking away the afternoon was called Falderan. A seafarer and skilled swordsman who tended to be on his own. But work was never hard to come by. The seemingly unnatural skill of the Elves was something mercenaries and pirate gangs loved to request. Though just as many looked at him like an arrogant show dog. As many people did see the Elves as. But this wasn't a problem to him. He had such issues all his life. Which is one reason a strong booze was his favorite pass time

"Are ye sure that ye hadn't swigged a' bit of me Bugmans when ya swore the sky turned green last night, Umgi?" An unusually gruff voice croaked from inside the Inn; a slither of wry mockery hidden beneath the baritone.

"Do you take me for some drunken loat, Dwarf?!" The other voice replied, one that was by far more Human, more regal, and a tad too pompous for the City of Pirates for that matter. "I would have you know that during my tutalage at the University of Altdorf, one of my professors was an esteemed astromancer and former Celestial Wizard. Do not take my suspicions for granted, I know full well what I saw."

"A student, eh?" Returned the crooked sound of Dwarven speech, accompanied the shuffling sound of large, swollen arms planting themselves across a wooden table. "Alright then, lad. I'm intrigued, I'll admit that at least. I struggle believe a word ya say, but you're welcome to spit it out.

"If you say so, Dwarf." Grumbled the student as he parted his lips for a swig of his beer. "I assume for one so old, you are aware of what is in our tounge the night known as... Geheimnistag?"

"I don't and I'll never celebrate Umgi holidays." Replied the Dwarf.

The Student merely scoffed over the comment. "Regardless, don't you understand the signs, Dwarf? Didn't you see how the ocean was lapped by lightning that was lime in colour, thrusted by huge, bulging clouds that seemed more full of toxic gas than rain? Did you not observe how terribly the evil gaze of Morrslieb tore through the darkness of the night? A reckoning has been cast upon us all by the northern Devils. I fear that dark times loom ahead." The fellow suddenly recoiled back into his seat, and suddenly fell silent for a moment, before realising how much a superstitious fool he had made himself appear.

"Dark times? You don't say, Reiklander!" Intruded a third fellow - The barkeep had been listening in to the chatter taking place. "Did the both of you awake from a rock? Do you not know what has become of the Tilean fleet? Hundreds of surviving mariners have taken refuge within the walls of the city, some of these poor bastards are decomposing even as they still breathe!"

"By Grimnir's blood!" Yelled the Dwarf, turning his head back toward the native Sartosan. "What terrible beast could've wrought such destruction?"

"Nobody knows, my Dawi patron." Replied the barkeep, setting down a clean tankard. "Some of the survivors speak of a great Ark that literally mowed through the Tilean navy. Others talk of how the smaller ships that accompanied whatever this Ark is carried vile plagues that rode upon the storm winds, infecting the crews and rendering them helpless. Go and see for yourselves, just make sure not breathe in whatever the Hell those sailors caught."

The student had suddenly become ghostly pale with panic as he stared back toward the Dwarf; A sudden fear for his life overwhelmed him, and he wanted no part in this affair...

Of course, there was indeed a creature that was eager for action, whom was still languishing on the western beach. Captain Anglermaw brooded on what little help he could rely upon. Returning to Spineport would certainly be suicide, or willing slavery. Once the Clan Warlord caught a sniff of what had become of his entire fleet, he would make the Captain beg for death. As much as he detested the idea, Anglermaw knew that any small chance of survival for here on out would be uncovered within the hive of No-furs to the north.

In this knowledge, he scampered into the grassy knolls, leaving this gallery of decay at the mercy of swooping carrion birds and various pestilent insects. The seawater that trickled down the Skaven's ruined uniform betrayed his tracks, leaving behind a wet trail as he scurried northwards.

The booming voice of the Dwarf was like a drum being played by his ear. Falderan had no idea how such small creatures could be so loud. It boggled the mind. Trying to sit back and drink himself cold he couldn't help but notice the conversation. The word Geheimnistag sent a shiver up his spine. The dark moon reminded him of his 'humble' beginnings. He had heard the tales of where he came from and despised it. Whenever the moon rose his mother would fall into a frantic state. Locking up the house as if they were to be set upon by beasts each night. Hardly the craziest idea in this world. But there was more to it then that. As the memories danced in his head he chugged the bottle and went for the other. Hoping to quickly drown them away. Taking a breath he swung his head back. Chugging the new bottle after putting the previous one on the railing. He chugged it without breath. A burning sensation was at the back of his throat. Like drinking lamp oil. He didn't stop. He was desperate to get the thoughts to leave. Once the bottle ran dry he pulled it from his mouth and took in air. Tipping it upside down to get small drops seemed to annoy him. Scrunching his face he tossed the bottle into off the roof and it shattered on the neighboring building.
"It never ends." He says standing up. The effects of the booze taking effect.

Waving to his feet he shakes off the faint wooziness. He wouldn't notice his motions but each step was wonky. His leg quivered with each step as he pushed open the door and came in. The door opened with a faint creak and he over heard the ending of the discussion regarding a large Ark.
"The Tilean fleet taken out by an Ark you say?" He says wandering over and putting his hands on the back of a chair to steady himself. His blade hanging loosely on his side. The smell of Rotgut on his breath would be not unlike a sewer. The foul smell of sewer vermin rotting. The drink was far from pleasant before and after. "Where about was this?" The topic was of interest to him. Great and deadly Arks were something he knew was used by the violent Druchii of Naggarond. The very thought one could be here was interesting. It was certainly worth investigating. Maybe it could get his mind off his failed attempts to remove his memories.

A sudden breeze danced around the desolate interior. Aside from a few folk whose origins raised questions no one had dared to ask, this place was empty. The Dwarf mockingly pinced his nose to dispell the aloholic stench that surrounded the dishelved looking Elf.

"Valaya preserve us all..." He yelled, turning his head back to lessen the powerful smell. "Are you the one who brought the plague?" Even though this was not the place, nor the time to be realizing age old grudges, the Dwarf held a racial hatred toward the Elgi snobs on their prissy little island. But this fellow reeked of a foul odour that was far more disgusting than the most arrogant of Asur posture, and the Dawi took a malicious pleasure in this irony.

His companion on the other hand, did his best to simply ignore the smell - The Reiklander's thoughts were plagued desperate desires to escape back onto the mainland.

"Another straggler, aye?" The Barkeep asked wryly. "It's a shame my balcony isn't facing the coast, otherwise you'd noticed that huge cloud to the southwest. It's Hell on earth down there, the sailors cry out." chuckled the Barkeep. "Most of my usual patrons have set sail toward the beaches in hopes of grabbing some fresh loot, but a few have come back.. wrong..."

"Wrong?!" The Student suddenly interrupted, his voice weak with despair. "What do you mean by that? Did they catch the plague?"

"Aye, lad." The Barkeep nodded. "But that's not the end of it. You see according to the survivors, the coast was close by the battlegrounds where the Tilean navy engaged this massive Ark. The closer you get toward the beach, you supposedly come across the drowned remains of not just the unfortunate navymen, but also swathes upon swathes of giant, upright Rats." The Barkeep grimaced as he gazed out toward an adjacent window that looked down toward the refugee encampment. Much of the ongoing commotion was deafened by the acapella of agonising moans escaping from the tattered pavilions.

Not much of the city cared, however, as they continued to go about their day; venturing within the encampment only to scavenge trinklets from the dead and dying - Empathy and respect towards the fellow man was an expensive luxury within the City of Pirates.

Suspecting Druchii raiders Fal's head perked up at the mention of giant rats.
"Skaven?" He says looking rather surprised. He looks out the window to see the sky. "I suppose that makes sense. It seems all the foulest things in the world come out when Geheimnistag happens over the world." His stare goes distant. Remember his youth in the lands of the Empire and the savage Beastmen raids which occurred on the night of Geheimnistag. He bit his lip having not love for anything that went rabid under the moon. "But wait. Even all the Rats on this island couldn't take down the Tilean Fleet. Much less without leaving dozens if not hundreds of their own ships ruined." The words of the others including the Dwarf seemed to wash away on him. Not having any noticeable effect. Almost like he let them glide by.

Falderan pulled out a chair and sat with the group. He looks over the two of them and raises an eyebrow.
"So I get why our bad tempered friend is here." He indicates the Dwarf with a head bob. "Their low built kind are all about any place with drink. But you." He points to the student. "You don't seem like the mercenary type. I'd say a scholar. Am I wrong?" He cocks an eyebrow. The booze hadn't affected his mental capabilities. With Elven blood in his veins he could notice these subtle things. Plus pas experience. He had seen the high ends of the Empires society when he did some jobs. Despite a sparkly look it was as corrupt as this pirate city, or possibly worse. His hands sat linked and elbows on the table. A casual position showing him to not be of the standard Elven arrogance with subtle methods.

The Student cocked his head toward Falderan with a solemn face, pale with regret. It had been a mistake to come here - He thought. Not necessarily to come so far down south from the Empire, but upon some stinking, lawless isle of vagabonds and plunderers. Getting out of here would certainly be a dangerous task; murderous outlaws patrolled the empty alleys, gleefully under the impression that a naive stranger would perhaps lose their way and stumble toward a quick death by a sharpened cutlass. Now even if he had managed to make it out to the harbour, what then? Would he be consigned to an egregiously slow death at the hands of this seaborn plague on the way back?

Would he even be so unfortunate enough to encounter the dreaded Ark responsible for this atrocity? The herald of these fabled 'Skaven?' Were those childhood fairy tales of giant, sapient rats actually true?

The words of the Barkeep, combined with the abhorrent moans of inevitable demise outside did the poor soul no favours, as he debated to his own desperate mind a course of action.

"I am a scholar indeed, sir." He stiffly replied. "My name is Hans Brunswick of Altdorf. I am a graduate of Imperial Geography, though for these last few months I have been travelling across the Old World out of wanderlust. To be honest, I am beginning to fear that I have made a terrible mistake." The Student gave a slight chuckle of nervousness, calmed by the company of more durable folk.

Hans gave a nod towards the Dwarf. "I'm not a man of the sword myself, but my friend here is. My father has ties to the noble elite of Reikland, so for now my Dwarfen companion and I have enjoyed a sense of mutual partnership."

"But remember!" Interrupted the Dawi, with a deafening boom. "I am, and I will never be a bloody sellsword!"

He once again turned his body in the direction of Falderan, still ignoring - with all his might - a smell that could only ever be attributed to some dangerous mixture of alcoholic sewege.

"By the ancestors, s'pose I'd best get this over and done with." The Dwarf grumbled. "The name's Bjorn. Bjorn Rubypick, 'cos I like to paint my pickaxe ruby red with the blood of Urk scum." He chuckled, caressing the steel pickaxe in question by his left side.

"She's a bit clean right now, see, but I'm looking t' feed her some time later on." Bjorn continued. "Y'see Elgi, for a while I've been looking to grab me fortunes down in the Greybeard mines that just recently opened in Araby. But I'm on leave for now. Grudgin' business, and this here lad's gonna accommodate me rage, or else who's gonna save his skinny little hide from all the lowlife scum languishing on this isle?" He asked, turning to his Human companion with a snide grin, before quickly embracing Hans with a bear hug from the opposite end of the table.

Needless to say, Bjorn's show of affection was a slight painful, as Hans choked from the raw power of the Dwarf's squeeze, one that looked as though it could've popped the head of a Goblin clean off.

"I'm just kiddin' boy." Bjorn laughed joyfully. "We're still best mates. Even if you're a bleedin' unfed Umgi."

Fal nodded.
"A mistake indeed. I'd hardly say the streets of Altdorf are safe. But it's a thousand times safer than the wide world. There are things out there you wouldn't believe." Fal couldn't help but smile. Hans had a childish sense of adventure when he came out. It must have been fairly rash and instinctive he thought. As Bjorn added his own words and sentiment before leaping over for a hug Fal laughed. "I shouldn't leave you both without a name." With a gentle curve of his hand and elegance expected from an Elf as if by nature he gestures to the two. "Falderan Geltroff." He says giving the two a nod.

As the two began to slowly separate Fals mind wandered. Maybe the booze was making him be a little more distant then usual but he didn't seem to notice. He had never known many people from Altdorf but the high end city slickers tended to be as arrogant as the 'High Elves' of Ulthwan. They saw themselves above the petty problems of the lower folk. Seeing things like rampaging Beastmen herds as bad as a pack of wolves hitting cattle. But Beastmen don't take two or three cows at worst. Beastmen will take whole towns of cities.
"I'd hope that pick of yours is ready. Greenskins may not be a common sight here but if Geheimnistag isn't yet over and this apparent attack was any indication. You'll get your chance to prove your namesake." He slipped back in the chair and let his hand fall to his Rapier's handle. "As you know a place like this who's to say even the guards will protect you." He smirked with a sly edge of his lip. It wasn't so much a threat as a joke and warning. A little dark humor he found ironically tasteful.

The Dwarf rattled atop his chair. Like a hippopotamus upon a stool, it was a miracle that those flimsy wooden legs did not splinter and crack under the sheer weight of Bjorn's girth. He smirked slyly at the prospect of painting his prized weapon in the ichor of new foes. Plague-ridden or not, there was only one kind of good Thaggoraki, and it was most certainly a dead one - One whose head was about to be bludgeoned under the piercing force of his pickaxe. He discreetly took out a flask from his waist. Enscribed crudely upon the murky glass were the words:

'BJORN'S BUGMANS'
'HANDS OFF!!!'


The Rubypick took a quick swig of his liquor. From the awkward expression upon his bushy face, it appeared that the liquid had gone down rougher that he would have liked.

"Oh... Bloody Hell." Bjorn murmured, accompanied by a subtle choke.

"Eh? Got no titles, Elgi?" He mused amid his small fit. "No posturing? No big, long speeches? I s'pose yer not so bad, for now anyway. Welcome to the club, Mister Falderan." Bjorn smiled to his new companion, a small token of appreciation that the Dawi had awarded to very few of Elfkind.

"Aye, It's reassuring to be in the company of good people." Hans added, dusting himself off after his torso had been nearly crushed by the Dwarf's bulging arms; a vice grip which would have killed him were Bjorn not merely being friendly. "Ha, good people. Probably a petty commodity on this island." The Student wondered aloud. "Good people. Honourable people. Brave folk, probably the first to be made an example of in this squalorous shambles of a city." His proud demanour had returned, bolstered at least by companionship. As ragged and dubious as Falderan appeared to Hans, there was some comfort in knowing that he had been approached by a bystander upon the Isle of Sartosa whose first sentence did not begin with the words: "That's a nice lookin' purse ye 'ave there, lad."

"A lovely isle, however." Hans continued to lament. "Sartosa could've perhaps been the very jewel of Tilea, were it not marred by such a backward people."

What Hans did not like about this Newcomer however, was that immediate insinuation that conflict was inevitable. But perhaps he was right - This was the City of Pirates after all. He cupped his hands upon the dusty table as he quietly brooded. They were undoubtedly smooth and remarkably unsullied; alien to labour, let alone violence. A privilege of his gentle upbringing. The student probably had never even swung the sheathed shortsword that hung across his skinny left thigh. But this was no worry to Hans for the moment, at least under the protection of these two experienced fighters, at least under that silly notion that his wit and tongue would allow him to slip out of any uncomfortable situation.

Much to his dismay, however - as the three had quickly gotten aquainted with one another - an emasculating shriek of terror rang through their ears.

"BY MYRMIDIA!" The shattered voice cried out from the plaza, plainly overlooked from the Inn. "WHAT THE HELL ARE THOSE!?" Those desperate words were aptly followed by a squishy gnawing sound, as pleas of mercy and assistance were quickly dispelled under a sickening gurgle. Other sounds of commotion quickly followed suit. Men panicked like maidens. Women flailed like headless chickens. The visceral gnawing continued under the chittering of rodent teeth. The moans of the afflicted were suddenly silenced with a bone wrenching crunch. Human-like screeches deafened the city streets, and the running of vagrants, ascending up and down the mountainous roads in dire breathlessness thumped like a stampede from outside the doors of the Inn. It was as though the gates of Chaos themselves had broken loose upon the plaza.

Even the brazen Barkeep, who had housed perhaps even the worst that Sartosa had bred, was unnerved.

"By Manann..." He uttered aloud, gazing outside the open window, awed at the slaughter taking place within the city. "Oi, you three! You won't believe what's happening outside." He said, beckoning the group to join his view.

Fal chuckled at Hans comments on the 'backwater people' of this island.
"Nothing here is as it quiet seems. Gotta wonder what it takes to bring people to this place. Loss? Lust? Maybe a simple matter to escape. Not everyone is here willingly but don't think that everyone here is here against their will." His ears perked up at the sounds of scattering and the clanging of metal a few seconds before the screams erupted from the streets. Screeches and cries came up from Human and non Human throats. The cries for mercy and shrieks of animalistic tones sent an ice cold shiver through Falderan. His hand cupping his blade he saw outside several people running from an alley. One man came limping out begging for help before an old blade hacked into his shoulder and he was dragged into the alley out of sight. Out of the alley came the assailant. A horde of ravenous Skaven.

"By Ranald I should bet more." Fal says leaping to his feet. "Dwarf. Bjorn I mean. Hope that pick of yours is ready. Suns barely set and they are striking. Certainly more confident here to others of their filthy kind I've seen." Drawing his blade the smooth metal made a faintly gasping sound as it was drawn. The outside courtyard was quickly being filled with dozens of crouched rodent bodies. Dark and beady eyes glared into windows and started breaking their way in as noses twitched. Seeing the open window of the Inn two Skaven wearing basic armour chest plates and wielding crude swords that looked like they found them in a scrap heap leapt inside. Lunging forward with blood chilling cries they went to strike. Fal could see their simply and animal like tactic a mile away. They had no discipline in combat or skill with a blade. Immediately as one entered the open window Fal's rapier danced in the air with a dancers grace. It made a faint screeching sound as the perfectly balanced metal cut through the air before meeting the first Skaven's throat. Once it entered the blood lust in it's beady eyes turned to fear as it collapsed into a table with it's throat perfectly sliced. The other lunged at the Elf with blade cleaving. It was deflected with a clang of steel. The Skaven's old blade seemed to chip as Fal's collected it. Bouncing it back the Ratman staggered but quickly met it's end when the swift blade went through it's neck. A faint shriek was heard at the rodents head hit the floor and the body slumped after. A crimson pool forming in front of it. Fal grimaced at the sight. The first of many tonight most likely. He thought.

The three others jumped instinctively as the Ratmen clambered atop the window, and they by no means chose one mere breach as their target. Whatever bedlum was occuring outside was now hardly a thought as the Skaven began to swarm the exterior of the Inn. Ratmen clambered atop the balcony, as squads of the vermin broke through the doorway. Other patrons who had originally neglected to observe the pestilent pavilions outside now found themselves fair game to these voracious creatures. With no chance of escape, they were quickly set upon by small groups of clanrats, and ingloriously torn to bloody giblets by the ever-hungry Rats. A disheartening mixture of chittering, hissing and even ecstatic moans - stemming from that all important task of sustaining the Black Hunger - manifested from the newly prepared platters of gore dotting around the room, as the wooden roof had become exposed under weight, cudgel and even the gnashing of razor sharp teeth.

Hans was terrified. Of the three bystanders who reacted as Falderan dispatched the Skaven, his was of course the most dramatic. Untouched by danger his entire life, the situation of life and death that had now been fixed upon him was indeed a traumatic one. Hyperventilating like a frightened child, his skin turned pale and his voice turned deathly silent as he helplessly watched these supposed fairy tale monsters pour forth.

On the other hand, Bjorn had become fiendishly excited at the prospect of a fight for his life; He quickly unsheathed the pickaxe that once hung upon his side, frothing alarmingly at the approaching rodents, standing firm beside his companions.

The Rubypick gave Faldern a nod of acknowledgement. "Oh, thank my ancestors!" Laughed the Dwarf, as he aptly made short work of a lunging Skaven. "My tool was gettin' parched." A few more of the vermin tumbled forth, though not as unwary as the sod who had come before. Their indecision would be their doom, however, as a hardy swing of the pickaxe sent three of the Rats crashing into the woodwork, screaming as they flew like ragdolls in the air.

"Come to me, Thaggoraki!" Roared Bjorn, flexing his sturdy arms in a show of strength. "Plagued or not, my pick shall drink!"

Even the Barkeep was undaunted, caressing his thin mustache as he surveyed the carnage before him. He groaned at the damage to his establishment - The holes, the red stains, and all the corpses - This was all going to cost the poor sod a fair few crowns once this situation subsided, he thought to himself.

The fellow crouched from under the bar desk, and brandished a scoped handgun of extravegant gold and mahogany wood. "Well, I suppose this mess is just part and parcel of making my business within the City of Pirates, after all." Mused the Barkeep as he unleashed a round into another oncoming group. Aside from putting one of the Rats on the ground, the thunderous bang had thrown it's brethren into a sense of despair, as they ran back into the crowd of pests. They were quickly slain by the oncoming Skaven, and had indirectly contributed to the feast taking place.

"Hans, me lad!" Barked Bjorn, pulling his Reiklander friend back to his feet. "Snap out of it, boy. This won't be much longer now!"

Skaven were cut down left to right. Blood pooled inside the inn as previously uncaring citizens were butchered by the ravenous Ratmen. Dancing through the air like something not of this world Fal's Rapier tasted the blood of several other Skaven. Hissing through the air like some fel beast of the night it cut through flesh like butter. Dozens of rodents ran in but Fal was a blender. Swift single hits took down each Skaven. They were mostly lightly armored Clanrats with little to no real threat to a trained swordsmen. What was their danger is numbers. For everyone one Fal, Bjorn and the Barkeeper struck down three more seemed to pour in. There were dozens of mutilated bodies. Two broke in from the back. Coming in from the now broken window of the balcony. They hissed and leapt to Hans. Fal saw this and acted quickly. A bottle on the bar was seen in the corner of his eye. Putting the tip of the blade in the bottles throat he flicked it to the leaping Clanrat. Leaping to Hans with claws and knife bared the bottle smashed on it's face letting it hit the ground with a snarl. As it looked over to it's attacker Fal was on top of it. A swift slash saw it's head removed.

The other snuck past Fal and was ready to set upon Hans. As it lunged merely a meter from the man a crack went over the room as another boom from the Barkeeps gun hit the vermin. Shooting into the side of it's head it was flung into a table and flipped it. It twitched as it coughed up thick fluids and died. Fal looks to the blade on Hans waist.
"If you know how to use that pull it out already!" He snaps as he looked over to see Bjorns pick coming out of a Skavens mouth through it's throat and tossed it. At this time the Skaven were starting to pull back from the building seeing little headway being gained. But there were six still in the inn fighting fiercely. Fighting like cornered rats. It was almost ironic. As the sun outside left the sky a blood orange the Rats outside pulled away and made their way back. Numbers starting to thin and fade outside as quickly as they came.

In a rare moment of discpline, the cowardly Rats began to speak and hiss in their screeching tones. They chittered and scampered back into the bleakness of the alleyways, carrying what ever loot they had scavenged and leaving the wounded of their kin at the mercy of those hardened fellows.

"M-musk-stink of retreat strong!" Wheezed an inhuman voice scattered amongst the fleeing droves.

"Spoils and flesh-meat obtained!" Another Skaven added. The rodent, barely glimpsed from the smashed entrance, was clad in a corrugated hide of iron; clutching with both arms at a jagged polearm stained by a foul concotion of virulent ichors tinted in various shades of green. "Clanrats go back to sewer camp! Stragglers left to die!"

Thus, in a savage frenzy of self preservation, did the Skaven speedily creep back into their holes. Hidden within their dirty sacks of loot, hoisted up by at least two or three of the Rats were a mixture of Sartosan weapons, currency, and even captives who writhed and muffled under the linen; arms and limbs protruded in panic, jumbling about like dolls under the mass scampering. The surprise raid had ended as sudden as it had begun - Mobilized irregulars and bounty hunters roamed the streets aimlessly, frustrated with vengeance at an enemy that was now long gone. The raid had ended, but the lower quarters of the city had been sacked. Smoke, fire and asphalt dust marred the vision of death that laid bare around the plaza.

Bjorn laughed maniacally at his victory, unfazed at the massacre that had transpired. These broken Skaven were no more than mere trophies before him; the sacking of the Sartosan slums? Merely a small sacrifice to be noted as hallowed lyrics to the song of his triumph.

"Look at 'em cower!" Yelled the Dwarf in triumph; clenching his fist upon his breastplate, which lay hidden within the fiery grove of his beard. "The Rats return to wallow within their sewers, but we'll avenge the slain folk here in due time." As the blind fury of battle dissipated, so did Bjorn's vigour, and he had felt himself suddenly begin to pant and breathe heavily in fatigue. He gripped his pick as he succumbed to his daze.

But just as Bjorn's mind had become sieged by stress and tiredness, Hans' mind had slowly managed to return to the world of rationality.

"Thank you, Falderan..." The Student solemnly uttered, returning to his feet. "...I owe you a debt of gratitude, as well as my life." He continued on, finishing his thanks with a small bow.

Wandering over to a flipped table Fal picked up a torn table cloth and proceeded to wipe his blade clean. The vibrant and dark metal was cleaned with ease. The blood seemed to run off without as much as a smear.
"May want to keep your so called body guard on a tighter leash." He says analyzing the blade in the candlelight before sheathing it. Fal tossed the cloth to the floor and looked over the carnage. Skaven bodies littered the room. Clean cut and dismembered by Fals swift strikes and the more smashed bodies due to Bjorn. The Dwarves were never elegant but their effectiveness couldn't be questioned. They struck down any foe they opposed despite their stunted appearance. What they lacked in speed and subtlety they made up for with brawn and stubbornness.

Fal approached a Skaven that had been shot by the barkeeper. The side of it's head missing and it's brain matter painting the wall a spectacular shade of red and grey. Something was off about it. A tinge behind Fal's eyes in it's direction. This Skaven had several sigils carved into the crudely forged armour. It had a neck guard built up. Didn't help its head though. He knelt next to it and rummaged through a small pouch tied to it's waist. He finds something. Small. Not even the size of the tip of his pinky and it gives a warm burning feeling to his skin. Pulling it out it's a tiny piece of green stone. The tinging behind his eyes was focused on it. He had learnt over the years how his Elven blood could make him more in-tuned with magic. His blade gave off a similar feel. Nothing noticeable but a faint tingling. He had learnt to tune it out though. Not notice his own weapon. Only real potent magic triggered him like this.

He looked down to the Ratman and stone. This wasn't something good. For such a tiny sample to give off a noticeable aura was horrifying. Especially given the status of this Skaven. He wasn't high ranking. Nothing of any worth. A Clanrat he thought. Maybe a commander. But nothing of noticeable rank. Fal didn't know much past the Skavens establishments. He fought them several times across the Southern Realms and from time to time when living in the Empire's lands. He heard rumors of such stone. Apparently it was something Witch Hunters would take a great interest in. Something as forbidden as items relating to the ruinous powers and dark gods of Chaos. Or so the stories of the Witch Hunter boogeymen went. Fal tucked it into his pocket and stood up worried. He never felt uneasy like this. Not since he fought for the blade on his hip. But this was different. This was something blasphemous to the highest order. In short time the cooling warmth of the dusk sun faded as the sky grew grey while the sun went away, over the horizon. The moon started to rise. Followed close by, by the vile Morsslieb. The Chaos Moon.

The Barkeep blew the smoking muzzle of his extravegant rifle, caressing the smooth wood as he made sure that his prized weapon was still pristine and untainted. He did not want the bodily fluids of some foul vermin to stain his heirloom. Walls could be cleaned; ceilings repaired. The cadavers that dotted room, well, the Canines of Sartosa made no distinction between Man and Ratman. But the golden slithers that glinted like sunset honey upon the mahogany wood of his carbine: utterly priceless. None were worthy to touch the strands; not even the Emperor himself from up north. Placing his crown jewel back into the hidden cabinet in which it had laid, the Barkeep took a notice of the resonating glow that had shone from Falderan's hand, and was immediately intrigued.

"What have ye found there, lad?" Inquired the Barkeep, leaning upon the wooden bar. "The city might be in a state of panic, but there are grizzled dregs 'ere in these misty alleyways who wouldn't have second thoughts to steal from ye if Stromfels himself threatened to devour the whole of Sartosa."

Hans himself had been pulled away from his fear-stricken haze, and he could not help but heed Falderan's words: Bjorn's actions a moment earlier were far from heroic. Indeed, they were naught more than the berserker flailings of a crazed psychopath, but scolding the Dwarf for his impulsiveness was far from Hans' mind - He could not bear to take his eyes away from the corpses of these giant, sapient Rats. Hideous, bloodthirsty rodents, draped in the most rudimentary of clothing; wielding blades that would make the Greenskin 'Choppa' seem as elegant and deadly as an Asur longsword in comparison. Some of the dead bore on their skin vile ailments of the body like rashes, pours of leaking pus, and black, bursted buboes.

The Student knew, even if he had just faced these... 'Skaven' - as they were called - that many of dead here existed in life as little more than plague carriers - Their task was to die, and in doing so, condemn this entire city to damnation. That small skirmish was little more than a prelude to the biological genocide that would soon commence. A thought that had struck him with such heartache, that the desire to leave this island was immediate.

"I-I think S-Stromfels is of little worry as of right now, Sir." Said a shaken Hans. "W-we need to get out of this city before Morssleib waxes again, or we'll all end up with whatever infections these creatures have!"

"Ho ho ho, lad! I think you're a bit too premature to get going." Interrupted an eerily jolly Bjorn, grabbing Hans by the felt fabric of his trouser leg. "We've barely even been here a full day. Don't you understand that these Thaggoraki need to be purged?" Asked Bjorn, as though he was teaching a small child the difference between right and wrong. "If this festering hole of manfilth was a Karak, what just happened then would've invoked a reckoning, and we can't afford to let that slide, now can we?" The Rubypick continued.

"But Bjorn! What benefit do we get from stalling in this place?" Replied Hans.

"Well, not so much you, but I just benefitted from getting myself a bit of raw action, and to tell ye the truth, Umgi, I can't say I'm ready to put me pick down just yet."

"You're beyond mad!" Hans shouted, pulling himself away from the Dawi. "Is this really what you want? Didn't you understand me earlier?" Questioned the frustrated Student. "Look at all these beasts! Look at the filth that they carry! Have you already forgotten about those moaning soldiers outside?! Is that what you want to end up as? Then fine! Have it your way; I'll be the one to live and take the next ship back to the mainland."

Bjorn gave a deep sigh.

"Alright then, Umgi. Go on then. Take the next ship back to Luccini if you want. You could probably afford Bordeleux knowing you. Then get robbed and thrown aboard by a bunch of cut-throats because I wasn't there to save a poor, defenceless nobleman. If I am a mercenary to ye Hans, then I am entitled to my payment, and that is action. So far, you have been cutting me a bit short, and perhaps venturin' into those sewers for vile Skaven to kill might sate my needs."

Hans fell deathly silent, and hung his head in shame. For he knew that the moment that any of these Sartosan folk found out that he was the Scion of a rich Imperial, there would only be dire trouble for him and his family. Even if Hans had come to the Southern Realms in inexpensive, practical clothing, the vocal tinge of Recieved Pronounciation upon the nobleman's highborn lips said it all. Without Bjorn, without even Falderan, Hans would not return to Reikland.

At least in one piece, of course.

"Besides, I believe even our newfound ally could do with some more swinging of his swordarm, eh?" Joked Bjorn toward the Elf, ignorant of the glowing rock that the Barkeep himself had pointed out.

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