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The Eight Trials of the Two Centaur-Spawns
The Eight Trials of the Two Centaur-Spawns
Madness. Riddles. Secrets. Myths. Prophecies. Lies. Know of the Dark Gods, for they already know your innermost desires. Their very power stems from it. Their kingdoms are built out of it.
To the Chaos Dwarfs, the Realm of Chaos is an ever present parallell to the real world. It is not a false abyss, neither a distant hell nor a far-away source of magic to them. To the Dawi Zharr, the Realm of Chaos and its Daemonic inhabitants are all real and powerful beyond the boundaries of the Empyrean, yet the sons of Hashut constantly challenge this might of Chaos by trawling its depths in search of Daemons to enslave and use in heinous rites of forging.
Of the other Dark Gods does the Chaos Dwarfs know much but speak little openly. Some minor worship of the Great Four and the wider pantheon of Chaos is ever present in Zharr-Naggrund and all her holdings, and a few cursed Dawi Zharr even forsake Hashut and devote themselves to other Dark Gods. They are shunned by the common folk, because while the other powers might currently be important and even greater than the Father of Darkness Himself, what value are they truly to Hashut's chosen tribe? Come doomsday, come domination of all creation to Him and His loyal servants for all eternity. Or so some sects believe.
This ambivalent relation to the wider pantheon of Chaos runs like hot iron through much of their mythology and religion. For the Dawi Zharr knows that they are part of a greater whole, yet their souls are alone in the shackles of Hashut. This insight inspires them to strike alliances and toil to benefit Chaos as a whole, as much as it inspires them to enslave and to exploit their brothers in arms.
For these are the Blacksmiths of Chaos, to whom everyone and everything is a tool or raw material, and to whom not even the Great Four themselves takes precedence before high Hashut.
Their stories involving other Dark Gods are legion. Their unforgiving ruthlessness, their contempt and their greed even extends to the portrayal of the Great Four themselves at times. Or perhaps this is just the truth? Perhaps this is a true testimony of the malignant conflict and deceit festering at the heart of Chaos, as witnessed by the souls of the damned?
This is one of these stories.
The Thunder Quarrel: Long ago, when Hashut had delivered the Chaos Dwarfs from destruction yet before the construction of Mingol Zharr-Naggrund, the skies erupted. One night of fell omens under bale moon's green glow did the heavens tear themselves apart at the northern Polar Gate. Beasts and wildmen hid and cowered as the storm raged and spat lightning across the northern lands. South it moved, into the Eastern Steppes where giant wolf packs and horse herds fled before its wrath.
These boiling storm clouds slammed into the northern range of the Mountains of Mourn after a few days, where they showered the mountain peaks in lightning, scared mammoths and made the Sky Titans tremble in their lonely castles. Creatures fled and hid at its advance, yet there were one race who followed and savoured the fury of the storm. Hundreds of Dragon Ogres trekked the lightning-stricken landscapes on a warrior pilgrimage that took them to Blizzardpeak.
Here, the anger of the skies reached its height, and the night drowned in flashes of pale brightness as lightning struck Blizzardpeak and the Dragon Ogres who had climbed the mountain to worship Chaos. Yet as they gloried in the moment, a dust cloud rose from the Dark Lands in the west, where volcanoes answered the call of the storm. It began in Gash Kadrak, the Vale of Woe, and then rumbled east up into the Mountains of Mourn until finally the Bull Centaur Bhaal reached Blizzardpeak to worship the Thunderbull in the midst of the storm.
Bhaal was the mightiest and most devout of the old Bull Centaurs. He had already proven himself worthy to the Father of Darkness, yet the other Dark Gods and their servants knew nought about him. Even so, the young Dragon Ogres dared neither halt nor speak to the mighty bull-spawn who climbed straight to the very top of Blizzardpeak amidst the rain of lightning. Instead, it were the ancient Shaggoths at the summit who stopped Bhaal in his tracks.
In anger, they cursed his insolence, hefted their titanic axes and asked the Bull Centaur how he dared interfere in a holy ritual of worship of the very gods who had made their race immortal. Bhaal stood undaunted, however, and before he answered them, he performed a full sacrifice by cutting the throats of three Greenskin slaves, fresh from the Dark Lands, which he had carried in shackles upon his strong back. Then he answered the enraged Shaggoths.
Bhaal told them of high Hashut in his divine aspect of the Thunderbull, the mighty creature that stampedes and tramples across both skies and Empyrean. He told them of the portents which had made the nascent Dawi Zharr sorcerers discover this sacred storm, and of his holy quest to sacrifice to the Thunderbull amidst the thunder and lightning. Now that he had done so, Bhaal would fast in prayer for twelve days and twelve nights atop frigid Blizzardpeak, no matter the weather or foes that might stand in his way.
The threat in his words did not escape the old Shaggoths. Yet they checked their wrath at the mention of this "Thunderbull", and asked Bhaal for more details. Such they received. Then they all laughed out loud in a great uproar that overpowered even the noise of the mighty thunderstorm. The younger Dragon Ogres joined in the laughter and gloating, telling each other of the ignorant's beliefs.
This commotion amidst the lightning bolts ceased suddenly, when Bhaal stamped hard with his hooves and made the whole of Blizzardpeak quake. Avalanches crashed down the sides of other mountains. The Dragon Ogres fell silent. Bhaal yelled with bloodshot eyes and demanded an explanation for the mockery and scoffing. He got one. The Dragon Ogres knew of a similar god of a different name that they worshipped in the lightning, yet this god was not a bull. Such nonsense had they never heard of before! Bhaal fumed, and soon he was exchanging insults that echoed across the whole Mountains of Mourn with the Dragon Ogre horde.
The Decrees of Dark Deities: By now the thunder quarrel had attracted the attention of all the Dark Gods of Chaos, whether weak or great in power. They all enjoyed the ruckus, and agreed to test the mettle of Bhaal and the foremost of the Dragon Ogre Shartaks, Rulek Strongscale. The two centaur-spawns had no choice in the matter, and thus the contest began upon the summit of Blizzardpeak. It was to be a competition of eight trials.
First, the Dark Gods agreed to let the two contestants stand upon the summit of Blizzardpeak in the shower of lightning to see who was truly blessed by their thunder god. There, the storm emptied itself in a torrent of lightning bolts that blinded anyone who looked upon it for too long. Hundreds of times did it strike the two creatures. After one hour of bombardment, Bhaal eventually sank to his knees, his whole form blackened and burned by the wrath of the Thunderbull. Rulek Strongscale stood strong and unharmed amidst the lightning, and raised his axe to the skies in victory.
Second, Hashut the Bull God spotted, in His wisdom, a forest of burning conifers just below towering Blizzardpeak. It had been set ablaze by the lightning storm. He ordered the two centaur-spawns to charge down into the valley and prove their worth by standing in the flames sparked by the Thunderbull. The two warriors did so, yet after one hour Rulek Strongscale could not take it any more. He cried out and threw himself out of the flames, rolling like a dog in the snow. Bhaal was scorched badly by fire, yet calmly strode out of the forest fire while muttering praise to the Father of Darkness.
Third, Khorne the Blood God demanded the two centaur-spawns to batter each other unto the point of death. Amidst the ash and the snow, with thunder rolling overhead and strong winds whistling, Bhaal and Rulek charged each other and wrestled for eight days without pause. Their muscles bulged and their sinews strained as the two combatants rolled on the ground, clawing, kicking, biting and throwing each other left and right. The power on display was immense in both creatures of Chaos, yet in the end the greater strength of the Dragon Ogre won out, and Rulek Strongscale won his second victory and roared as Bhaal admitted defeat.
Fourth, Tzeentch the Trickster challenged the two contestants to remember the most ancient of times. The two centaur-spawns searched their memories, yet Bhaal stood no chance. He could remember the first decades after the coming of Hashut whilst Rulek Strongscale's memory stretched back to a distant age before the Old Ones had come to this world. Rulek won for a third time and led by two victories, yet what value are the memories of ages even more distant than the coming of the Father of Darkness? What was truly there before Him? Beware the trickery of Tzeentch!
Fifth, Nurgle the Plague God told the two centaur-spawns to climb Blizzardpeak yet again and reach the very summit. The exhausted rivals did so despite their weariness and wounds. This time, the climb up to the top was long and harsh, and the fiercest of storm winds threatened to toss the contestants out into thin air. Yet still they endured, and onward they climbed until finally Bhaal almost reached the top. Suddenly his hooves found no footing, and he crashed down the whole mountain into the same valley from which he had started his climb. When Rulek saw this, he laughed with triumph and cruelty in his voice, and ascended to the very summit of Blizzardpeak. There, Nurgle told him to tumble down into the bottom of the valley the same way as Bhaal had done. The Dragon Ogre gaped and stood dumbfounded on the peak for a short time, and then he threw himself down the sides of Blizzardpeak rather than face the wrath of the Dark Gods. At the bottom of the valley the two centaur-spawns fell and rolled down the rocks and glaciers like corpses. Their flesh was torn, gashed and raw, and broken bones made them unable to rise. Yet they were not dead. The Bull Centaur still breathed if only barely, and his heart beat more steadily than the Dragon Ogre's did. Rulek was in an ever-lasting coma, and only the eager will of the Dark Gods to see the contest fulfilled saved him. Nurgle declared Bhaal to be the toughest and the winner of this round, and the Dark Gods restored the health of both with malicious magic.
Sixth, Slaanesh the Deity of Decadence filled the beastly mind of a nearby Stonehorn with perverse lust, and the hulking monster charged at the two centaur-spawns. Bhaal was quicker, and managed to throw himself out of the stampeding Stonehorn's way just in time. Rulek Strongscale, however, was not agile enough to avoid the beast's horns. He was thrown into a rock and had to butcher the stony creature to a pile of gravel bafore he was safe from its depravations. Bhaal won, and the score was even.
Seventh, the Dark Gods of Chaos all agreed to have the contestants strike a blow on their brother anti-god, Malal. Thus it was that they opened a portal into the Realm of Chaos and ordered the two centaur-spawns to slay the Guardian of Contradiction, Xorox Without Name. They stalked this Greater Daemon for unknown years and unknown leagues before they found it. Xorox Without Name defended himself visciously, yet to no avail. In the end, it was the Dragon Ogre Shartak Rulek Strongscale who proved his superior lethality in combat, and Bhaal shuffled back in shameful defeat to the world of mortals. Rulek led by one victory.
Eighth, Malal the Doomed Renegade came to the two centaur-spawns just as they were about to leave the abysmal Empyrean. The vengeful Dark God halted them, and decreed them to each enslave one Daemon Prince from each of the Great Four gods' hosts. The two fighters were caught up in the contest, and never thought once of defying Malal. Rulek Strongscale forged shackles of iron and lightning, and went off hunting. He was victorious against each of his four Daemon Prince foes, yet their power and essence always escaped through his shackles. Bhaal, on the other hand, was more dominant. He forged shackles of bronze and obsidian. With these he broke the will of four Daemon Princes and held them in contempt before the Lord of Paradoxes, who devoured them on the spot. The contest was over, and the two centaur-spawns returned to the mortal world. The final score was even, and Malal had his revenge.
Thus it was that neither Bull Centaur nor Dragon Ogre proved themself superior to the other when the Eye of the Gods were upon them.
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This post was last modified: 02-13-2019 04:32 AM by Admiral.
Posts: 6,936 - May 2011
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