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A Lost Rune (Scribe's Contest VIII Entry)
Author MessageA Lost Rune (Scribe's Contest VIII Entry)
Ikkred Pyrhelm
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A Lost Rune (Scribe's Contest VIII Entry)Ikkred Pyrhelm 07-18-2016

A Lost Rune

Dark whispers and even darker promises. Our kind has fallen prey to these time and time again. I know the truth of these whispers and promises; I have seen what awaits all of us.

It was only meant to be a simple ritual. My master Drekkfra had only recently perished in battle against a migrating tribe of Ogres. As his adept, I was meant to take his place as Sorcerer. Yet the old coot had fed me precious little knowledge and his tomes were locked by a rune I could not fathom. In my lust for knowledge and trusting not to consorting with daemons yet, I decided to cast my spirit into the fabled Halls of the Dead. If I could find my master then maybe I could learn how to unlock his rune, even if I had to torture his spirit to do so.

Ten slaves and a young bull carved with runes of death and afterlife were sacrificed within my master’s altar room, the dying bull’s blood pooling into a goblet that I drank whilst invoking the words engraved on the gates of Hashut’s Halls. What happened next, I do not know, but I must have passed out for I awoke in darkness.

I rose to my feet and looked around warily as my eyes began to adjust. I was within a stone chamber marked with the runes and dark signs of Hashut. I muttered an incantation and a small sphere of light grew from my hand to float beside me. I knew I did not have long before my spirit would be drawn back to life.

There was a large stone passageway that opened up and I passed through it. Of the souls of my fellow Dawi Zharr, I at first saw nothing. I have heard tales of pits of fire and flame where the weak of my kind are eternally tormented, and I have heard other tales of great halls with warm hearths where our greatest eternally feast and toast our lord Hashut. None of those tales hold truth. The oppressive stone around me was dark and cold. There was little sound, as if these halls were truly empty.

I then heard a pained gibber. I turned quickly at the sound, words of destruction forming within my mind. A face had appeared on the stone wall. It was the face of one of my fellow Dawi Zharr. It gibbered, eyes slackly turning. It did not seem to notice me, too lost in agony and madness. I took several wary steps away and continued down the tunnel, noticing more and more faces appear and disappear upon the walls. Males, females, and children. Some were nobleborn, some Sorcerers, some guards, and some mere underlings. They gibbered, gnashed, and groaned as they painfully crawled across the walls. I tried to entreat some of them whom seemed familiar to me, but none answered.

The tunnel grew colder, ice crystals seemed to form upon the walls. Still the faces swam.

Finally, a stone portal loomed ahead and I quickly passed through without looking back. An ancient and haggard Chaos Dwarf leant against the back wall, muttering and shaking. It was my master. Not five days had passed since his death, yet he had aged so much. I strode to him with purpose, though my heart was already chilled with what I had seen. He looked up with confused and distant eyes.

”Lost...lost...lost...” he murmured in a faded voice.

“Master. Drekkfra. It is I, your pupil” I replied. He looked at me strangely with unfocussed eyes.

“Lost...lost...lost...Hashut...It’s so cold...” he gibbered.

“What is the rune you used to hide your secrets? Tell me!”

“Cold...cold...cold...” he whimpered.

Snarling, I seized him. Yet I was unable to move him. He was becoming one with the cold stone. He dragged a finger nail across a slab of stone beside him, almost absentmindedly. I looked on, brow furrowed. It was the rune that I didn’t recognize. I reached out to touch it but on contact it burnt worse than any flame that has licked my flesh. I reeled back in pain and turned angry eyes to my master.

“Lost...lost...lost...” he murmured again, unaware of me. I turned to leave and as I did so my master and the cold stone walls seemed to fade into the darkness. I heard a laugh. The laughter of Hashut.

I awoke.

We are fools. In our greed we have surrendered our souls. We are the building blocks for Hashut’s Hall. There is no reward for our service, only the cold stone. It is our fate and something we shall all face.

Even now, I look to my hand and the rune burned into it. I realize now what it is, forlorn, misplaced, or impossible that it may be.

Hope.


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07-18-2016 08:49 AM
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Admiral
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RE: A Lost Rune (Scribe's Contest VIII Entry)Admiral 07-18-2016

Clever and well-written. But can someone with whiskers and tail be a worthy gold winner? Tongue Wink

Well done and well deserved! Takes Hat off


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07-18-2016 03:33 PM
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Ikkred Pyrhelm
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RE: A Lost Rune (Scribe's Contest VIII Entry)Ikkred Pyrhelm 07-18-2016

Well if it helps, the Skaven afterlife is either overcrowded or the Horned Rat has a never ending buffet. So you dwarf-things probably have it easier. Tongue

But yus, many thanks! Happy


I should probably say some of the inspirations/thought-things behind this piece. I forget when and how but I had an old Image comic from 2001 called UniVerse which was about the third issue in. The main character is sent to Hell by the Devil to deliver a letter to one of the souls, encountering demons, imprisoned souls, discovering the very walls were made of souls, a ride in one of the many Charons' Taxi, before finding said soul with the message that brings the soul hope and escape.

I also figured that rather than fire and brimstone, cold stone and dark tunnels would be more fitting for a Dwarf afterlife as well as being ironic that Hashut is a daemon of fire and forging. I think I must've also had Genesis' Lamb Lies Down on Broadway in my mind when I wrote about the Carpet Crawlers...I mean...faces crawling on the walls, though all the souls becoming the stones that build Hashut's Halls seemed in line with the stone curse and the idea of all Dwarfs being born of stone.

I felt the ending was a bit rushed (ran out of words and had to cut great chunks out) and maybe the last line was a bit corny. But I like to think there's enough vagueness whether the rune was actually lost hope or learning the rune has the possibility of hope in a fight against the fates. Perhaps the unfortunate master had been looking for a way to cheat Hashut of his soul but had not fully finished his research before his untimely death? Honestly, i'm not exactly sure myself. Tongue

So yus, comments, feedback, criticisms, and stabs in back are welcome. Happy


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07-18-2016 04:52 PM
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Jackswift
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RE: A Lost Rune (Scribe's Contest VIII Entry)Jackswift 07-21-2016

Nicely done.  Captured the imagination from the start and culminated in a wonderful twist!

07-21-2016 11:29 AM
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Ikkred Pyrhelm
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Posts: 46 - Oct 2015
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Scribe's Contest Silver Scribe's Contest - Gold x4 Scribe's Contest Veteran                               
Post: #5
RE: A Lost Rune (Scribe's Contest VIII Entry)Ikkred Pyrhelm 07-23-2016

Cheers, Jackswift! Happy

I think I managed to give myself nightmares after writing it. Tongue


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07-23-2016 10:32 AM
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