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The Changeling's Time Loop
The Changeling's Time Loop
In betwixt two titanic mountain ranges stretches the nightmarish realm known as the Dark Lands, where fire, ash and molten rock is ever present. To live amidst these bleak landscapes is to experience hell itself, for it is a harsh world of roaming monsters, restless Undead, teeming hordes of brutish Greenskins, migrating Ogres and utterly ruthless slavers and industrialists bent on upholding and expanding their nightmarish empire in the Dark Lands. The latter ones are the Chaos Dwarfs - or Dawi Zharr, the Dwarfs of Fire as they are also known - and to foreigners, foes and slaves alike they will appear to be incomprehensible enigmas to their very core.
The Chaos Dwarfs will seem like nothing more than vicious villains whose cruel acts of Daemonsmithing, warfare, savagery and domination are but the manifestations of corrupted minds twisted into demented malignancy. And indeed they are, though these minds of the Dawi Zharr are not always necessarily insane, despite what the opinions of foes, slaves and uneasy allies alike would like to claim.
To understand the Chaos Dwarfs is to fathom that this wayward race is fundamentally Dwarfen at its core, as is evident in its stubborn toil and greed, though this Dwarfen nature is corrupted and mutated. On top of this fundament stands the component parts that makes the Dawi Zharr tick: Such as their fanatical devotion to the fiery Bull God, Hashut, and the decrees of His sacrificial religion; their extreme drive to survive and conquer at any costs in an unspeakably hostile world; their consequent will to dominate and trample, to burn and flay; and their important bonds to, and belief in the wider pantheon of Chaos. The latter aspect is crucial to grasp the Chaos Dwarf mindset.
Though the Father of Darkness has chosen them to be His tribe, and though He is mighty and great, Hashut is still a lesser Dark God within the Realm of Chaos, one malevolent spirit of divine and unholy power alike, amongst countless others. Though far mightier than mere Daemons and demigods, He is still beneath the power of the Great Four. The recognition of this fact does neither breed inferiority complex, nor does it lead to deep worship of the major Dark Gods amongst the vast majority of Dawi Zharr. Instead this recognition helps to fuel a hellish ambition to conquer and dominate, to toil and expand, to rise and carve out an empire in the name of the Bull God.
Likewise, the Chaos Dwarfs' recognition and partial, minor worship of the wider pantheon of Chaos do not only provide them with unparallelled insights into the nature of the Daemons of Chaos for the purposes of Daemonforging; it also means that the Dawi Zharr's plethora of characters and spirits in mythology share many of the legendary Daemons known to other Chaos worshippers around the world.
For the worshippers of Hashut owns an intricate knowledge of the different faces of Chaos, mysteries that are often shocking and revolting to other mortals. Their lore and their stories tell of these secrets. These are not tales of benevolent fairies or gold at the end of the rainbow, but gruesome and bizarre sagas of savage deeds, insanity and devious cunning. They are narratives in which Chaos Dwarfs and other mortals may challenge Dark Gods and Daemons alike, yet more often than not they are mere victims. These tales are also accounts of hideous characters, bottomless hunger for power and occult secrets of uncaring deities best left hidden from mortal ken, lest the Daemons in the tales prove to be true...
These are the stories of servants to the Dark Gods, as told by the Blacksmiths of Chaos.
This is one of these stories.
To Trick Time: The quest for immortality may at best result in everlasting infamy, eternal torment, or both. Even so, in ages past, the insane Chaos Sorceror Hy-Rass Snakebiter was willing to attempt the impossible and steal immortality from the grasp of gods and time alike. The Hung man Hy-Rass Snakebiter, of the Tu-Ka tribe, was neither a very powerful Sorceror, nor was he a warrior, pillager nor warlord of great renown. His potential and might could never earn him Daemonhood as a prince at the right hand of some of the Great Four, nor could his strength and sorcery achieve deeds that would grant his name immortal glory in the tales of the common folk in the Chaos Wastes. No sane man could see an alternative path for the Sorceror to tread in order to attain eternal life, yet insanity granted Hy-Rass that vision which others lacked.
During one night under a full bale moon and numerous fell portents, the Chaos Sorceror stole away eight children from his tribe's encampment and dragged them into a large, hidden hole in the ground. This was his dwelling and stage to achieve immortality, the abandoned underground lair of some unspeakable monster. Hy-Rass Snakebiter had adorned it with bones, teeth and intestines arranged in arcane patterns all over the earth floor, roof and walls. Each bone, tooth and organ was covered in wild carvings of script in the Dark Tounge. As the insane Chaos Sorceror sacrificed the human children one by one, he read out every single carving aloud, in an unintelligible tirade of an incantation.
The blood of Hung children had to be shed because no mortal tounge could ever empower the spell without bloodletting, and children were always easier prey than adults. Hy-Rass knew himself to be a weakling and coward, yet in his madness he did not care. His barbed knife hewed and hewed as his magic incantation reached its crescendo. And so it was that Hy-Rass Snakebiter earned immortality of a sort with his newly discovered spell, for he tricked the flow of time itself into forming a loop. This would allow him to live forever, again and again experiencing the same event for a short duration of time in a neverending cycle of repetition and the visions of the insane, without aging or decay.
The time loop went on an on, over and over again, until finally it reached its nine times ninetynineth cycle. Then, the Changeling, the Trickster of Tzeentch, appeared out of the Realm of Chaos at a critical moment. The Changeling was disguised in the shape of the Chaos Sorceror himself, and this sight so disturbed Hy-Rass Snakebiter that his concentration slipped, and his tounge fumbled with a single syllable of the incantation. Catastrophe struck immediately, and the insane Sorceror aged nine thousand years in an instant. The time loop was broken, yet the spell was not lost forever. The Changeling transformed himself into one of the dead child victims of Hy-Rass' blade, stole every spell concocted by the mad Sorceror, and went out into the mortal world on a bewildering tour of arcane trickery and deceit, in many disguises.
A Once in a Lifetime Offer: Some years afterwards, in the Dark Lands, the aged and petrifying Sorcerer-Prophet Kar-Astralittu searched in vain for a remedy to his far advanced Sorcerer's Curse. After all his triumphs and inventions, no success in life could soothe Kar-Astralittu's yearning for flesh as his body turned evermore into stone. Had the Chaos Dwarf been able to, he would have forsaken everything he had achieved in order to reverse the petrification.
To this end the old Sorcerer-Prophet scoured the archives and sought the lost secrets of Zhargon the Great, the Accursed Golden One of ancient times. Kar-Astralittu invested much of his wealth in this quest for flesh and possibly even immortality, yet failure followed upon failure. Pacts were struck with Daemons, portents were read everywhere, in everything. Vast quantities of worldly possessions were sacrificed, both at fiery altars and to ask the dreaded K'daai Oracle of Daemon's Stump for advice. Sleepless nights were spent in trance as the Sorcerer-Prophet meditated on the mysteries of Hashut. The old man prayed, offered up sacrifices and even scoured the feeble mysteries of foreign races for clues on how to change his grim fate. He even dabbled into foreign arts of herbalism and magic lores forbidden or unobtainable to Dawi Zharr sorcerers. Yet all were to no avail, and neither Kar-Astralittu nor his labouring acolytes could find a cure.
Eventually, the once-mighty Sorcerer-Prophet's skin had almost completely turned into stone. Life was a tragedy to old Kar-Astralittu, and the Bull God would not answer his call for aid. Eventually, the old Sorcerer-Prophet sacrificed an Ogre Bull in molten iron, and secluded himself in the loneliness of his inner sanctum. There, in the darkness of his high halls, the petrifying Chaos Dwarf prayed fervently to whoever god or Daemon that would listen. Kar-Astralittu begged for youth, immortality and escape from petrification at whatever price any saviour deity would ask for. He would even chisel off his beard if necessary.
At that moment, a cloaked human wanderer appeared out of the shadows in the Sorcerer-Prophet's inner sanctum. He was clad in black, and his face was concealed in the shadows of his hood, although a strange beard of teal feathers was visible. The man's arrival was unannounced by guards and wards alike, yet the aging Kar-Astralittu did not shout out to his guardians.
The human figure walked up to the Sorcerer-Prophet and offered him a sequence of three spells to achieve both immortality, youth and freedom from the Sorcerer's Curse. The trio of spells were each written in cryptic Dark Tounge script on three scrolls. Kar-Astralittu inquired what the cloaked man demanded in exchange for such a treasure, yet he did neither need to offer any sacrifice, nor barter away his soul nor forsake the Father of Darkness. The only condition was that the Sorcerer-Prophet read the three scrolls in the correct order. When he heard this, the old Chaos Dwarf was so relieved that he cried tears in his face of cracked stone, for the first time in his life since he was a toddler. Kar-Astralittu thanked the cloaked man vigourously and wasted no time to cast the spell. As the mysterious wanderer disappeared into the shadows of the inner sanctum, the Sorcerer-Prophet offered a quick prayer to high Hashut and read out the scrolls aloud, one by one.
Immortality: At the reading of the magic incantation of the first scroll, twin Daemons appeared out of thin air in front of the Sorcerer-Prophet. The Daemons were a couple of Blue Horrors mounted on a Disc of Tzeentch, yet they were overloaded with parchment, quills and ink vessels. They cackled and argued in confusion as the one named P'tarix scribbled down the very spell used to summon them. The other, named Xirat'p, read out the freshly-written magic incantation aloud, causing the pair of otherworldly spellcasters to disappear and immediately reappear right in front of their former position, now hovering above the high hat of the Chaos Dwarf Sorcerer-Prophet below. These Daemons were the Blue Scribes, Tzeentch's Quaestors, spell-hunters and record-keepers of sorceries throughout eternity. One of them can transcribe any spell to parchment, but cannot read, while the other can read any spell, yet cannot understand it.
The aged Kar-Astralittu took heart at the sight of these beings, for he believed the next spell to be one of control, to wrestle the immortality incantation from the surly Blue Scribes. With a commanding gesture to the chittering Daemons over his head, the Dawi Zharr read out the next spell, from the second scroll. It was a long and cryptic spell, and the Sorcerer-Prophet read it out aloud with great care. When he reached the end of the parchment, nothing happened.
Over his head, the Blue Scribes repeated Kar-Astralittu's second spell in their odd relaying way, yet again nothing at all occured. In fury, the stony Chaos Dwarf ripped open the third scroll and barked out the one word which stood written in the Dark Tounge's script at the very top of the parchment: "Again." The Blue Scribes reapeated after him, without any effect whatsoever. Kar-Astralittu unrolled more and more of the long scroll, and a large blank area stretched out over almost its entire length. The parchment seemed to be empty.
At last, the Sorcerer-Prophet reached the end of the scroll, found a single word, and growled the last word of the incantation: "Now!" Once again, nothing happened as the Chaos Dwarf read out the word, but when the Blue Scribes repeated it after him, the inner sanctum was filled with crackling bolts of sorcerous energy, and the sound of an hourglass being turned upside down. At first, Kar-Astralittu believed himself succesful, yet in the next instant he realized what had happened when he caught a glimpse of a teal feather falling out from the unfurled end of the third scroll. He had been utterly deceived. The aged Sorcerer-Prophet had just enough time to yell a heinous curse. In that very moment, time rewinded, and the time loop devised by Hy-Rass Snakebiter began anew where the cloaked human wanderer, the Changeling, disappeared into the shadows.
This cycle repeated itself for countless times, over and over again, effectively halting the march of history in the mortal world, until the Great Schemer, Tzeentch, dispatched the Lord of Change, Uzuzap, to pull his Blue Scribes out of the trap so that their cataloguing work could continue. The Lord of Change, Uzuzap, broke the time loop by pulling Kar-Astralittu into the Realm of Chaos, where the Sorcerer-Prophet at last was granted flesh, youth and immortality. Yet the fated Chaos Dwarf suffers an eternal punishment inside a giant hour glass made of crystal, which is filled by life-size statues of Kar-Astralittu rather than sand. Forever and ever is the Sorcerer-Prophet pummelled and mauled into a gory mess by the falling stone likenesses of himself, in a torrent of stone crushing both flesh and bone, and thus it shall be for as long as the might of Tzeentch remains.
Such are the fickle ways of Chaos.
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This post was last modified: 02-13-2019 04:55 AM by Admiral.