|The Quest for the Sirna-Ha (standard:fantasy, 6214 words)|
|Author: Acekiller||Added: Sep 13 2000||Views/Reads: 3337/1684||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|This story is set in the Warhammer Universe. A group of adventurers goes pyramid-raiding in Arabia, the realm of the Undead...but they are alone in their quest, and strange things await them on their quest!|
Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story the Lord of the Necromants. Well, he too was one of these kings. It is rumoured that the king that lies in Harni was a disguised Undead Necromancer!” “That would explain why the rat-men are so wild at getting there before us!” interjected Sigfried Dreizack, a Dwarf in shining mitrhil armour, probably the only in the party that didn`t suffer from the heat because of his southern origins. “Er, yes, but that would also mean that we`re running straight into something that is bristling with traps that were conceived by human and by Undead minds, and I don`t know which one of these races has the most wicked ones!” The others grinned grimly, and no one made a comment. “It`s behind that dune!”, shouted Abdul, an Arabian that was guiding them to Harni, and pointed at a dune that was seeming much higher than the other ones. After two hours of climbing, they were finally at the top of the dune. In front of them streched a crater of sand, and in its middle stood the Harni Pyramid. Everyone`s jaw dropped to the ground. No one had ever seen anything like that before, not even Fridolin. The pyramid was taller than everything they had ever seen before, higher even than the Emperor`s Palace. It was made of dark stones, and around its top flew huge, dark carrions. Evil radiated from the pyramid, and it seemed to pulse. It had the form of a pyramid, but there was some disturbing element, something undefinable that made this construction seem unreal. A putrescent, rotten smell emanated from the pyramid, making breathing uneasy. Overpowering the horror and their fear, the “Shadow Fighters” made their way down into the crater. The temperature was slowly but surely falling, and Lianu, the Elven Rangeress even began to shudder. A small village of abandoned huts lay around the pyramid. As they approached them, the croaking of the carrions became audible. The wind whistled a strange tune as he was blowing through the small streets. The warriors drew their swords, and the magicians readied a few spells. Everyone was getting very nervous. Amanda, a human */*warrioress, saw something move in one of the huts. She slowly approached it, and jumped inside, ready to hack at anything she would encounter. But there was nothing, except a skeleton that stood leaned against the opposite wall,the whistling of the wind and the croaking of the carrions. Amanda looked at it, breathing heavily. She had heard tales of dead people returning from their graves, and she had already seen a few ghouls. The wind blew her hair into her face and the sound it made froze her bones. She raised her sword to strike at the skeleton, but it suddenly fell forward, crashed into her and turned to dust. As she wore nothing but a simple leather armour, she could feel the dust slide down her body. The dust was burning hot and her skin began to fume. She screamed and ran out of the hut and fell to the ground. Everybody turned around to see what was happening. The two magicians smothered the hut with fireballs, the other ones precipitated to Amanda`s help. She lay on the floor, shaking from the shock. Lianu waved away the thin smoke and examined her skin. There was nothing except small red marks. After Amanda had recovered from the shock, the party set forth, guessing what could have caused human skin to smoke like. They finally stood in front of the pyramid`s entrance, two heavy metallic doors, of which one stood open, as if to invite them inside. The gargoyles and faces sculpted in the rock around the doors looked at them menacingly or mockingly. Kane looked at his men, everyone nodding that he or she was ready to go, then he turned around and stepped inside. He was followed by Beli the Archer, Antamatar, the party`s second magician, and Amanda. Behind them came Abdul and Mekku, carrying spare torches and bandages, followed by Lianu, Fridolin and Sigfried, who was not to unhappy to have a roof above his head, even if he didn`t know what awaited him below that roof. */*He trusted Antamatar`s maps. They had always proved to be accurate. Only this time, the map didn`t show what lay in the middle of the pyramid, that part had been strangely burned away long ago. They travelled for hours through small, dark corridors, stopping at every sound they heard. Their way was twisted and difficult because of the */*rubble lying everywhere. They had soon left the areas covered by Antamatar`s map behind them. Luckily the way hadn`t forked yet. Skeletons and cobwebs were their only companions, and the cryptic writings on the walls were very disturbing. They showed humans with animal heads and beasts that could not really exist. The worst thing was the strange music the wind made while blowing out of small tunnels in the walls. It was impossible for a human to crawl into these tunnels, and the torches didn`t reach to their other end. The wind blew out of most of these tunnels, but not out of all of them. Its wailing, plaintive sound accompanied them everywhere they went. Suddenly Kane stopped. “There`s light ahead!” Beli looked over the warrior`s shoulder. “At last! That has to be the throne room!” “I would expect another colour than this blue one out of a throne room! No, it can`t be it!” “Ah, I wouldn`t be so sure, back in Breto...” “Do you two always have to squabble? Can`t we just proceed and you`ll be set on who is right?”came a trembling voice from behind. Kane sighed, shook his head and moved on. The party entered a room so tall it was impossible to see its roof, and so large it was impossible to see the other end of it. An impressive number of strangely carved pillars stretched towards the roof. On the floor was painted a way that lead right to a large pool, which was the source of the light. Ten huge statues of armoured men stood at either side of that way, looming over the party. Everyone of it had a rat`s tail and the blades of their weapons were curved in typical Undead manner. The shadows were moving and shifting because of the waves on the pool`s surface. The wind didn`t blow in this room, and its wailing could only be heard very faintly now. Everyone drew a weapon. Kane ordered his men to form a circle around the magicians and the guides, to protect them as they would move towards the pools, just in case the statues were more than just mere statues. They moved very slowly , focusing totally on the statues and their shifting shadows, still remembering what had happened to Amanda outside the pyramid. They were at the height of the fifth statues when suddenly Lianu cried in horror. They all looked around quickly, ready to strike at anything. There was nothing. “What`s wrong?”asked the Dwarf “There...there`s something out there in the darkness, I saw it looking at us from behind that statue! It had red eyes and was glowing blue”she answered, her voice trembling as much as her knees and the finger she pointed at one of the statues. “Fridolin, light that area up please!” ordered Kane. The magician stepped out of the circle the warriors were forming and sent three fire-balls flying in the indicated area, before quickly jumping back into the circle. The globes lit up the area and made it as visible as if the sun had been shining on it. Half-rotten corpses littered the ground. Small rats fled into the shadows. */*Everyone looked at his neighbour to try to find support in them, but they were all as desperate as the other one. All except Sigfried. He had seen all his friends die as the Orcs had invaded a Dwarven fortress. He began to speak. “My friends, do not despair. Maybe a battle took place here some time ago. Maybe our Elven companion has just seen the reflection of the pool`s light on an armour or a diamond.” “Do you think I`m beginning to */*see things?” “No, I would never insinuate such a thing, but you are not used to be in such dark places, and you...don`t feel safe...which is very understandable. This could cause your mind to summon old fears of yours which you could think were here but are not!” A horrible laughter suddenly erupted, shaking the room. Everyone looked around again. Sigfried screamed. Some ethereal, blue form had jumped in front of him and was flying into his open mouth and into his nose. When it totally inside, the Dwarf stopped screaming. Everyone looked at him. “How do you feel?” asked Antamatar The Dwarf was beginning to formulate an answer as the thing came out of every pore of his body, surrounding him with a blue aura. His eyes went red. He began to scream as if he were mad. The thing lifted him from the ground and quickly dissapeared in direction of the roof. The screaming fainted away and finally dissapeared totally. No one said a thing at first or moved, they were all too shocked and surprised. Everything was quiet now. Amanda`s knees gave way under her, and she collapsed to the floor. Her red marks had begun to fume again. She began to whisper words in an unknown tongue, and her eyes spinned around like she was possessed by some demon. Her body shook spasmodically and she began to sweat terribly. Antamatar, Fridolin and Lianu kneeled beside her, trying everything to get Amanda back to normal. Kane looked over to the blonde fighter, worry in his eyes. She had always been a good fighter, and a good companion in hard times. He would hate to lose her to an unknown foe. He walked over to Beli, who was trying to calm down their guides who were gesticulating madly and shouting in their native tongue. “Any idea what that was, Abdul?” “What that was?”, shouted the Arabian,“what that was? I`ll tell you what that was. That was Girnah, the Blood-Drinker.” “We`re dead, we`re dead!” cried Mekku. Abdul slapped him. “Stop saying that, you saw the signs, we`ve still got a chance!” “Explain, damn it, Arabian, what are you talking about? What signs” shouted Kane, gripping Abdul by the collar, fear and anger in his eyes “Well, well, calm down, I`ll tell you everything, Northman. Girnah, by all the moons, I had thought it was only a legend, er, well, Girnah is the guardian of the Pool of Life. He kills everyone who tries to approach the pool. It is said...” “We`re dead, we`re dead!” “...erm, it is said that no one who saw him ever survived it. We can only escape him if we step outside of his territory, which is marked...” “Aaahhh, the pain!” screamed Amanda “We`re dead, we`re dead!” “...damn, I hate this place. His territory ends at the signs carved in the door at the entrance of this room. They are in every pyramid, so I`ve not suspected anything this time, I`ve never seen the Blood-Drinker before. The only other solution to survive this is to destroy him, which is impossible, or drink out of the Pool of Life. He`ll spare us then. But we`ll never make it there alive!” “We`ll see about that. Lianu, Beli, Abdul and Mekku, you`ll carry Amanda to the pool. Quick, we have no time to lose. Antamatar, you and Fridolin, you`ll cover us if that Girnah shows up again. I doubt it has met a properly trained wizard yet! Alright, everyone, move!” They all */*what they had been told. Suddenly, a guttural voice echoed through the room. “More!” Fridolin suddenly stopped running and began to make an incantation. Two electric bolts erupted from his hand and flew towards Girnah, who had just appeared out of the darkness. The thing screamed horribly, sending shivers down everyone`s spine. Then it was upon Fridolin. It began to enter his nose and his mouth, but the magician somehow managed to hold it with his hands. The thing shouted, and ripped of the man`s hands, turning them to dust. It was now completely inside of him. Fridolin fell to his knees, holding his stomach with both his arms. “Not with me!” he shouted. A blue vapour began to flow out of his ears, then he exploded into thousands many pieces. There was nothing left of him except a bloody patch on the floor and the nearest statue, but there was no trace either of the Blood-Drinker. Antamatar and Kane looked at each other. “It`s gone, I can`t feel it anymore. Whereever he is, Fridolin took the thing with him.” said the magician. Kane nodded, looked around himself, then at the rest of the party who had now reached the pool. “Come on, they may be gone, but I`ll feel safer when I`ve drunk out of that pool!” They both ran to the pool. It was filled with pure water, and radiated a light but warm blue glow. Its interior was covered with strange images of giant beasts that seemed to fly among the stars. */*The were huge, fish-like beings with tentacles hanging from their mouths. The rest of the images were mainly skulls of unrecognisable creatures, of small children and of rats. The pool was so deep it was impossible to see its bottom. The others had already drunk out of it. They did too, and then they gave Amanda some of the water too. She immediately stopped shaking and fuming, her skin turning back to normal. She held her head with one hand. “Damn, what happened?” After having checked their equipement, they had set forth their journey. There had been an exit on the other side of the room, and Girnah didn`t show up again. They were now making their way slowly through tunnels looking exactly like those before. The wind had also begun to make his noises again. The only difference was the absence of two of their most experienced fighters and a disgusting stench that had appeared out of nowhere and that made breathing nearly impossible. Everyone was getting more and more nervous the more they advanced. No one said a word. After a few hours of walking, they had found a room that did not contain any skeletons or menacing carvings in its walls. Kane decided they would stop there and get a little rest. “Good, we`ll stay here a moment or two, just the time we need to get our energy back! Where`s Beli?” “I don`t know! He was closing the march! He should be here!” “Beli, answer, Beli, where are you?” No one answered, except the wind. They all looked at each other. Mekku began to cry silently, muttering things about their doom. They settled down for half an hour, waiting for Beli to catch up with them, but he never came. The wind was still blowing through the tunnels, chilling everyone to his bones not only because of its temperature. The walls were carved with scenes of obscene rituals where men, women and children alike were sacrificed to alien creatures. The carvings seemed to move imperceptibly, and it hurt the eye to take a prolonged look at them. The walls themselves seemed to be pulsing, and were strangely warm, */*(strangely contrasting with the cold air). Lianu hid her hands behind her. They were shaking from what they had just been through, and they had not even reached their goal. She had already been in a lot of deadly places, but she had always known what she had to kill to get out alive. This time it was different. She didn`t know what had hit them, and she had no idea what awaited them deeper down in the pyramid. All she knew was that they would probably face a Undead Necromancer with the power of a half-god. With that she could cope, but what if it wasn`t that what lay before them. She looked down the corridor they would go down soon. Four pairs of red eyes looked at them. “At least there is no blue shimmer!” she thought, jumped up and drew her sword. “Alert, we have visitors! That way, four, red eyes!” As everybody jumped up, a shrill voice squeaked further down the corridor. The four pairs of eyes were moving closer quickly. “Undead-scum”murmured Antamatar and jumped into the tunnel and launched. He let four fireballs fly towards the enemy. They had no hope of evading them in this confined space. As he shooted his fireball fly, he felt something scratch his right ear, then he heard someone cry out in pain behind him and the thump of a body falling to the ground. “Antamatar, Lianu, with me!”yelled Kane and run into the tunnel that was now stinking of scorched flesh. “Amanda, watch our backs!” Amanda turned around. The tunnel where they had come from seemed empty. She looked at her guides. Mekku was curled up in one corner of the room, his whole body trembling. He was sobbing loudly.Beside him lay Abdul, a shuriken planted between his eyes. She kneeled down beside Mekku and lay her arm around his shoulder. “Come on, we don`t have time for mourning now! We will do that later, when we`re out of here!” Mekku looked at her, visibly under shock, nodded, stood up, and walked off in the tunnel the others had dissapeared into. Amanda followed him quickly. A bit further down, they found the trio inspecting some smoking Undead corpses. “Look, these wear the same uniforms as those that we`ve met before!” said Antamatar. “Hmm, I wonder how they arrived here before us. This place must be full of hidden passages!” remarked Kane. “Then maybe they already have the Sirna-ha. I hope we still have a chance to find it!” sighed Lianu, holding a hand before her nose because of the stench of the dead rat-men. Kane looked at his comrades. “The throne room can`t be far away now! Everyone ready to go on? Good!” The party continued to venture further down into the darkness of the pyramid. They were all paying attention to the others, so that no one would dissapear like Beli did. The minutes seemed to stretch into hours, and walking within these seemingly alive tunnels wasn`t very reassuring. At a certain point appeared strange markings in the dust, small, flat, clawed feet, */*two on all side, and a large line in the middle. In the trail was a slimy, green substance, which did hurt the fingers of those who touched it, because it was far colder as if it had been merely frozen. There were no more skeletons littering the ground or cobwebs hanging down from the roof. Cautiously the party moved on, ready to react */*at any noise or movement. They could only hear the mournful tune of the wind. The strange tracks dissapeared as suddenly as they had appeared. Antamatar tried to detect a hidden passage with his magics, or the trace left by some spell used in this place, but he could find nothing. There was no explaining to the trails in the dust. Kane sighed, then shrugged. He wondered what could still happen to them after they had survived Girnah. He didn`t care, the only thing he cared was the loss of three of his men and that of their guide. At least Abdul had been killed by an Undead. He knew Undead, he had already fought and vanquished them. If there wasn`t */*a too large number of them, or a Grey Seer, he knew his party could handle them. But Undead did not leave slimy, green trails in the ground. He sighed again, then stopped. Ahead of him, he could see a faint golden light. “Lianu, you`re the Elf here, do you see anything special in front of us?” “No, it looks like there is a room there. The light doesn`t move, I doubt it is coming from a lamp.” “Antamatar, you sense anything?” “Yes, but I can`t see what it is! My senses are somehow blocked by an unknown power. I`ve never seen something that powerful, but I do not detect anything hostile.” “Well, let`s go, then!” Lianu gulped. They all drew their weapons and went on towards the light. Amanda felt a knot in her stomach. Every inch in her body warned her not to take another step, yet an unknown force seemed to force her to advance. She made a warding sign and wondered if the others felt the same way. As they approached of the light, they were able to see that it came from a large room. They saw an ochre wall at the opposite end of that room, but they did */*neither see the roof or the floor. Surely it was a large room. They suddenly heard squeaks and someone shout orders in a typical Skaven way. The “Shadow Fighters” stopped and looked at each other, as if to take courage in their comrades. The wind was suddenly rising, and pushed them in direction of the room. Its tune never had been as alien as it was now. Cautiously, the party stepped into the room, which had the shape of an inverted pyramid, and ducked instantly. The bottom was filled with sand, and a number of Skaven was scuttling around a huge statue that stood in the middle of the room. The tunnel from which the party had emerged was at the top of a large stairway that led to the statue, some fifty meters below. The statue looked like the paintings on the pool`s walls, a huge, upright-standing fish with tentacles hanging from its mouth. The face was disturbingly human in many aspects. The Skaven hadn`t remarked the arrivals of the party, they were too busy setting up two jezzails in firing position, directed against the statue. There was a Grey Seer gesticulating and reading the same time from a book. He was looking at the statue, and was clearly preparing a spell. There were only twenty Stormvermin there. They were bigger than normal ratmen, and one of them was wearing a green chainmail under a red cloak. It was clearly a Warlord. Antamatar quickly turned around and checked if nobody was following them. He knew that there was something in this room, even with his senses blocked, but he hadn`t thought it might be anything like this. If there was a Grey Seer in this room, how came it that there was only such a small army here with him? Where was the rest of it? Had they run into a trap? Antamatar looked at his companions. Every one of them had the same puzzled look in his eyes. “We should wait until we know what they are doing!” proposed Lianu. “Mmm, if we attack now, we don`t have a chance of surviving this in one piece. No, as long as these jezzails and that Grey Seer are not neutralized, I think we should wait here. They haven`t spotted us yet, and it seems they`re too busy to look up here. I say we wait here until some...” Kane was interrupted by an inhuman scream erupting from the statue. The Grey Seer stood now in front of the statue, hissing with satisfaction. Pink, blinding ray of lights began to burst out of the statue that began to move, still screaming. The stone on its surface crippled and fell off. The jezzails immediately began firing their deadly loads of warpstone into the statue, or whatever it was transforming into. The creature unleashed a blue energy lightning upon the Grey Seer and sent him crashing into the next wall. “Now or never!” shouted Kane, and ran off in direction of the Stormvermin leader. Amanda was just behind him, as always she would try to protect his back. Antamatar was unleashing a firestorm on a group of Skaven who were running to help the Grey Seer, while Lianu was headed straight for a jezzail`s crew. Mekku covered in the tunnel, waiting for the fight to end. Kane stepped in front of the warlord and struck. His blow was barely parried by the ratman. Two Skaven ran to the help of their leader, but Amanda and her blade were in their way. Happy to finally fight an enemy that she understood, she smiled and began cutting her opponents into pieces. Meanwhile Lianu was crossing blades with the Grey Seer, and Antamatar picked off Skaven that were not too close to his friends with lightning bolts. The creature in the middle of the room jumped onto one of the jezzails and began to fight the crew with some strange magic. Small spirals of an unknown colour began to wrap themselves around both the Skaven and cut through them, ripping them apart. Then the creature jumped off in direction of the Grey Seer and Lianu. “Foolz, you don`t know what you`re doing!” hissed the warlord and swung his sword at Kane`s head. The fighter ducked, thrust his sword into the Skaven`s belly, pulled it free and ran to the next enemy, without waiting for the warlord to hit the floor. The Grey Seer was heavily pressed by Lianu`s incredibly fast swordplay, the creature`s magic and Antamatar, who was now focusing his attention on the ratman, having no other target at hand. The surviving jezzail was still pounding warpstone into the creature`s back. The impacts left green fuming holes in the grey scales. The thing shouted and jumped on the Grey Seer, crushing him below its imposing mass. The remaining Skaven panicked and ran off screaming and squeaking into every direction. Kane and Amanda cut them down like wheat before scythes. “I don`t know if you understand me, but your combat skills, though strange, are very efficient!” said Lianu to the creature, who was now standing beside her. The thing tilted its head to one side. “I understand you” it muttered and jumped towards Lianu. The last thing the elf saw were the tentacles in her face, before her head was bitten off. Amanda`s eyes bulged, then tears began to fill them. “Nooo!” she cried and ran off towards the creature. It turned around and ignored the fireballs Antamatar was invoking. It spit out a small globe of the same unknown colour as before, which hit Amanda square in the stomach and exploded. The fighter was projected into the wall behind her, blood spraying into every direction as she crashed, but she still moved, if only with her jaw. “Pool of Life, I see!” said the thing. It turned towards Antamatar who was launching an acid rain on it. Even though its skin began to fume, it didn`t seem disturbed by the attack and launched several small explosive globes into the magician`s direction. He rolled down the stairs, dodging the globes. Mekku was less lucky. As the first globe exploded, he was looking out of the tunnel to see what was happening. He was lifted of the ground straight into the trajectory of the other globes. His body was quickly reduced to pulp by the quickly succeeding explosions. Suddenly, the creature`s firing stopped. Kane had broken the warpstone storing chamber off the jezzail, and had slammed it onto the thing`s head. The stone was slowly burning away the creature, and it screamed in a bone chilling way. Kane struck at it with his sword, but he didn`t manage to pierce the scales. The thing gesticulated wildly, then it fell face forward into the sand, a large green trail of smoke elevating from what was left of its head. Kane plunged his sword into the now vulnerable head. The creature curled its body into a spiral, then the pyramid began to shake, stones and dust falling from the roof. The creature evaporated into a cloud of black dust, leaving only a strange object behind. It was a twisted cone that was hollow on the inside. It was ochre-white with some redder flecks. “That`s the Sirna-ha?” asked Kane and looked at the roof. “I think so, it looks like the thing we have been told to look after” replied Antamatar. “Good, get it, I`ll pick up Amanda and then we`re out of here!” “As ordered!” Antamatar grabbed the artefact, put it in one of his many pouches and ran to the tunnel. Kane lifted the heavily wounded Amanda on his shoulder and tried to run as fast as possible towards the exit. The pyramid began shaking more and more, and they had to pay attention not to be crushed by falling stones. They had been running for about five minutes when the core of the pyramid exploded. The three adventurers were lifted off the ground and projected in the nearest wall. Kane didn`t remember much of what had happened afterwards. He had some vague images in his mind where he was crawling in the darkness, still holding Amanda. Everywhere lay rubble and stones. He fainted, but he didn`t know when and where. The next thing he remembered was waking up near the Pool of Life, a soldier in Miraglianian uniform bending over him. Antamatar and Amanda lay beside him. They were brought back to Duke Antonelli, who explained to them that his spies had spotted a large group of Skaven pursuing the */*“Shadow Fighter”. Consequently, he dispatched his best knights to stop the ratmen. Their pursuit of this most evasive quarry had brought them to Harni. They had entered the pyramid the moment it blew up. Having lost no one of his men, their commander decided to investigate what had happened, and they found the three adventurers and the Sirna-ha. The “Shadow Fighters” had spent nearly a month in the Duke`s */*hospital, recovering from the many wounds they had suffered. During that time, the Duke`s magician had performed the ritual that should have broken the Waagh. Instead of bringing the desired effect, the whole area exploded and people who looked at it said that the scorched crater looked alive. It was as if something was pulsating on its bottom, they said, though none of the local magicians was able to find out anything. Kane looked in his empty tankard. Now he and both his surviving companions had completely recovered from their adventure. His mouth thinned. He didn`t understand why Skaven had been working together with Orks. Had they? Why had their Warlord said they didn`t know what they were doing? Kane let himself sink back in his chair and sighed. So many questions, and so little answers. Even Antamatar`s best guesses were unlikely to be true. */*And if Antamatar didn`t know it, no one did. And Amanda who was much more quiet than before. Before this adventure, she had always been cheering up the others with her laughter. Somehow something had died along with her friends. The spark in her blue eyes had vanished. It was rare to see her smile these days. Antamatar was a special case. He had been mourning his friends, but he had come over it very quickly. Kane wondered if it had something to do with him being a magician. Kane himself had regularly nightmares, in which he saw his friends die over and over again. He didn`t look too well. His face was very pale, and his eyes looked very tired. He stood up and threw a coin to the barkeeper. Amanda looked at him, but said nothing. Antamatar looked like he wasn`t aware of what was happening around him. Too much ale, probably. That happens ever more often these days, thought Kane as he walked out into the dark streets of Miragliano and took a deep breath. Life had to go on, even if he didn`t have the slightest idea of what would happen in the future. Tweet
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