Thursday, 28 May 2009

War on the street

Halibel covered his ears, the caterwauling of the Sigmarite priest echoed across the open plaza. Through gritted teeth, he grunted his orders to the rest of the band. They spread out, moving slowly along the centre of the plaza. Almost cautious like. That was until Ulquiorra spotted the humans. A group of males, wearing long sleeved cloaks and tall, high brimmed hats walked with a swagger through the ruins. Burning torches lit their way in the gloom, the ruddy red glow catching the purified, silvered weapons and the pristinely polished pistols held in black gloved hands. Each wore a silver icon of a hammer behind a flaming comet. Halibel felt sick, it seemed that Ulquiorra felt the same; the multi-limbed monstrosity howled a bestial roar and sprang out of cover. The possessed being bounded from ruin to ruin, nimbly avoiding the dangers; before falling upon a crazed fanatic and a devoted of Sigmar. His blackened tongue flicked out of his mouth in a hiss as he leaped upon his quarry. The three clawed talons that acted as his arms lashed about him in a flurry, the black nailed tearing flesh from bone with ease. Halibel’s demented grin of jubilation melted from his face as he watched the silver icon glow gold for a brief moment, and the realisation that neither of them fell. The fanatical flagellant merely shouted his prayer louder at the searing pain that flashed across his chest, and in response he swung the overly sized flail at Ulquiorra. The weapon, unlike the rest of the band, was unclean, its spiked head was matted with what Halibel could only guess was flesh and brain matter. In fact, to the magister’s eyes the entire man looked out of place. In stark contrast to the sharp, clean, pure clothing of the witch hunters themselves, this man and the others like him, were sorely an anomaly. Each wore a tore tunic of a red fabric; the edges were ripped and worn, like they were rarely taken off. The tunic exposed pieces of flesh through the holes, each inch of these humans were scarred or bleeding in one manner or another. Halibel had know of this, a self inflicted wounding – something about it, he recalled, was similar to those worshippers of the Dark God Slannesh. He watched in horror as this specific fanatic caught Ulquiorra hard in the head, blood as black as night gushed from the wound and the possessed human dropped hard to the floor.

On the other side of him, Halibel watched as one of his mutants grabbed a large breed of a dog and dashed its head out against the stone tiles of some ravaged building. In its death throws the mutt dropped a glowing green crystal from its mouth – wyrdstone! The mutant picked up the powerful stone, and began to wave and prance around – that was until a filthy, woman brained him from behind with a makeshift mace. Cursing Halibel turned back to the other half, where he was just in fine to watch the last of his coven fall beneath the silvered weapons of the blessed witch hunters. He could see that two were true killing blows, as the initiates fell, their corpses spasmed as they slid down to the floor. It was enough for Halibel, and he called a retreat.


Halibel dumped the rotting piece of wood on the floor, frustrated. It wasn’t here. One of the cult’s patrons, one of the many fools wishing to forget about the city’s plight and drown themselves in depravity, had told his ‘partner’ of a stash of gold, and “glowing green rocks”. Now Halibel and his followers were hunting through the dilapidated remains of what once appeared to be a market place – or just a large street, it was hard to tell what rubble and remains would have been there before the city’s destruction.

“Next one, its not here.” he muttered, gesturing to the others in the same building. As he turned to leave, there came a pained shout from the street. Carefully picking his way over to a ruined wall, he glanced up and down the open area outside the building. At the far end he spotted humans, ones he had fought with before – the rich, pompous ones they encountered many months ago. Sighing he began to bark orders at the cultists; it was never easy being the leader. Halibel stealthily slipped out of the building, to get a better look at the street, taking shelter behind an upturned cart less than a dozen feet from the building, and his fallen mutant.

Quickly Ulquiorra and the others began to spread out, looking for the prize before the humans did. But it was not to be. As the twisted man-goat neared a small burnt out pie shop he witnessed two men emerge, a large blackened chest was hefted between them on a makeshift stretcher.

“THERE!” he bellowed, his finger pointing at the two men shuffling further and further away from his followers. “Get it!” he bellowed, with as much authority he could mange, from his hiding hole behind the cart. Ulquiorra was the first to react, his near naked, purple form a mere blur as he sprinted towards the two men, ready to render them into pieces. But instead he was sent flying to the floor, as in a brave, yet ultimately stupid, move, one of the humans – the leader perhaps, Halibel thought, as he considered the oversized peacock feather flopping from his hat – had lowered his shoulder and launched himself into the speeding possessed, thus stalling his hunt for the treasure. Unfortunately for the imperial the possessed being was not easily stunned, and was quickly back on his feet – black clawed hands raked the worn clothing of the mercenary. Clouds of white tinged with black hung around the combat, as the captain unleashed two elegant pistols at almost point-blank into Ulquiorra. The act just angered his further, so much so that his next strike, struck the man in the head, knocking him clean off his feet.

Elsewhere, he could hear the sounds of metal upon metal, evidence that the cultists elsewhere were engaging the rest of the mercenaries, out of view. To the other side, he witnessed a third arrow strike the already wounded mutant; making the abhuman beast stumble again. Then, suddenly – as quickly as they came – they left. A couple of corpses littered the floor, the rest of their wounded being dragged away under the umbrella of bow fire. The treasure was his! The ragged remains of his warband shuffled around the corner, a wounded mutant dragging a leg whilst being supported by a cultist. Halibel cared not. The prize was his.

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