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Author MessageA Slight Return
TimothyLeighton
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A Slight ReturnTimothyLeighton 05-09-2015

A Slight Return

The sound of Zharr-Naggrund’s great furnace exploding rang through Daemonsmith Hzzkad’s private chambers.  It drowned out the howls of the Greenskin horde assailing the great capital.  The demented screams of the K’daai unleashed from the bowls of the ziggurat in a final, desperate counter attack.  And for a second it even obscured the crack of fireglaives coming from the corridor just outside, as the handful of Infernal Guard allocated to Hzzkad’s protection, made their doomed, final stand.

Hzzkad had barricaded himself in his chambers at the first sign of trouble.  He had seen the end coming.  Watching the skies through the thick clouds of toxic smoke that perpetually hung about Zharr Naggrund, he saw the subtle changes in the stars as the sickly sheen of chaos spread across the world.  The Prophets dismissed his fears as weakness.  Those same Prophets who were now in the grand chamber, desperately spilling the blood of their own Bull Centaur retinues in a hopeless attempt to summon Lord Hashut to save them in this dire hour.  Hzzkad knew Hashut was not coming.  He knew that the great capital would fall.  Death did not scare Hzzkad.  What came next terrified him.

Ignoring the sounds of battle Hzzkad stood facing the giant, polished plate of brass, screwed to the wall of his chambers.  He saw his terrible reflection.  The tiny horns protruding from his head.  The twisted, stone stump where his left arm used to be.  The single, grim tusk that erupted from his jaw causing his lips to loll open in a permanent sneer.  Trophies of heresy.  In his one good hand Hzzkad clutched a saw.  Forged of base metals but sharpened to a surgical edge.  He had used it many a time in the rituals.  Sawing off the head of a still living sacrifice.  Pain and terror spicing the blood for Hashut.  Gritting his teeth Hzzkad began to saw at the first of the two horns.  Part stone, part tissue every draw of the saw was burning agony.  Hot, coppery blood poured down his face.  But still he continued until with a wet, wrenching plop the horn fell to the ground.  Hzzkad paused for breath.  The pain worked him, exhausting every reserve he had.  But he was not done.  With grim determination Hzzkad hacked the second horn from his head.  Blood gushed from his wounds, staining his face a slick crimson.  Hzzkad inspected his reflection.  He ran a hand across his smooth forehead.  And in the midst of the pain he smiled.

Putting the saw down he turned to the other tools he’d gathered for this moment.  Hzzkad picked up a pair of pliers, still mottled with the dry blood of whichever slave had been too quick to stumble or too slow to move.  A slave just like the thousands who right now were exacting their well earned revenge on his fellow Dawi Zharr.  

Hzzkad locked the pliers around the tusk protruding from his mouth and closed his eyes…

He pictured a cavern, lit by warm braziers.  He heard singing and drunken boasts.  He smelt meat roasting and ale, rich and hoppy.  On the cavern walls he saw the shadows of comrades in celebration.  Proud, boastful and true.  A blood bond thicker than any incantation…  

Hzzkad gripped the pliers and pulled as hard as he could.

The sound of a battering ram crashing against the door brought Hzzkad to consciousness.  He lay on the floor, his mouth filled with blood, the ugly tusk lying beside him.  There wasn’t much time left.  Scrambling to his feet Hzzkad rushed to the sealed chest he kept in pride of place in his chambers.  A chest without seams or joins.  Even the mightiest giant could not pry it open.  But with one touch from Hzzkad the lid gently lifted to reveal its secret.

Hzzkad lifted up the solid, double headed axe.  He admired the runes upon it.  Runes he could no more understand than he could alter the fate of Zharr-Naggrund.  The doors were beginning to give way but Hzzkad was ready.  His horns and tusk gone and in his hand an heirloom passed down through his bloodline for generations.  A secret shame held by his kin.  A reminder of a long forgotten past.  As the doors began to splinter  Hzzkad became aware of the corrupted, stone stump of his left arm.  A final mark of guilt.  With one mighty strike Hzzkad brought down the axe down on his deformed arm, shattering the limb in a hail of stone and blood.  And finally, he was whole.  

Axe in hand, a half remembered song about drink and kin and glory on his lips, as the horde outside surged through the doors, Hzzkad stood his ground and prepared to die like a dwarf.

05-09-2015 07:18 AM
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DAGabriel
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RE: A Slight ReturnDAGabriel 05-09-2015

Congratz to winning SC III, but don`t think I will rebuild all my CDs to vanilla dwarfs now.

Great story!


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05-09-2015 07:37 AM
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Dînadan
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RE: A Slight ReturnDînadan 05-09-2015

Congrats on winning - had my vote for the twist of him returning to vanilla dwarfhood.  I've actually had a vague idea similar to this simmering in the back of my mind for a while now - there existing a secret 'underground' who still worship the Ancestor Gods in secret but pretend to be regular Chaos Dwarfs in public to avoid being branded as heretics.


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05-09-2015 08:16 AM
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Admiral
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RE: A Slight ReturnAdmiral 05-09-2015

Well deserved medal! You had my vote. The competition was tough (I actually thought Doombeard's entry would score high and earn a medal, he got another vote from me), but I think your originality here is what gave you the edge in the voting. Prize posted!

@Dînadan: There really should be something like that. These are Chaos Dwarfs after all. They don't all abandon their roots that easily, even in the face of fanatical conversion to worship of Hashut and the powers of Chaos. Some twisted memory of their ancestral worship should still linger somewhere, in a sect format or as a family secret. TimothyLeighton got it just right with this entry. Happy


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05-09-2015 08:20 AM
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Dînadan
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RE: A Slight ReturnDînadan 05-09-2015

Admiral Wrote:

@Dînadan: There really should be something like that. These are Chaos Dwarfs after all. They don't all abandon their roots that easily, even in the face of fanatical conversion to worship of Hashut and the powers of Chaos. Some twisted memory of their ancestral worship should still linger somewhere, in a sect format or as a family secret. TimothyLeighton got it just right with this entry. Happy


There's also the fanon that's been established here in the background section where vanilla dwarf females are taken as brides by Chaos Dwarfs to help boost their numbers so there's probably an injection of vanilla culture alongside the injection of vanilla blood into Dawi Zharr society.  I could easily see the half breed sons being inducted as low ranking priests of Hashut working in the libraries, museums, etc of their Sorcerer-Prophet/Daemonsmith/etc fathers and discovering vanilla artefacts held for study, feeling a connection, and then delving into forgotten/forbidden tomes held there and turning.  They'd then go on to drawn in lower class Dawi Zharr who have become disenfranchised/disillusioned with worship of Hashut.


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05-09-2015 08:29 AM
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Bloodbeard
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RE: A Slight ReturnBloodbeard 05-09-2015

This story was no less than fantastic! I really like him casting off the grim cloak of evil in order to face the End of the World as a real dwarf.

Absolutely great!


05-09-2015 04:25 PM
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TimothyLeighton
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RE: A Slight ReturnTimothyLeighton 05-21-2015

"Lo and behold!  For every interrogated Daemon of the Red Hexagon of Thirty have confessed the guilt of not their own but of a Dark God, under the cruelmost of tortures...

Listen at your own peril, for the high Bull God the Father of Darkness himself has been named by the Damned of Thirty.  You may well be struck down by Him upon hearing these words.  Now swear an oath of silence outside our circle on this high matter...

Our fierce overlord, our fiery divinity has damned our souls forever.  He has shackled our tribe and He has trampled and raped it like a herd of female cattle beset by a Great Taurus.  He has cracked our ancestral anvils and broken our blood bonds.  He has defiled our ancestry and corrupted our future.  For He is high and cruel Hashut the Trampler.


-Third Initiation Circle's Second Swearing of the Dawi Zharr sect the Shunned Brethren Under His Hooves.

A little bit of Dawi Zharr lore courtesy of Admiral.

05-21-2015 07:04 AM
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