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yet more twists and turns, Blackheart: chapters 11-15 
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Blackheart
Chapters 11 to 15


11 - The Wanderer

Khaina brought his sword out in front of him, throwing the reigns of his horse to Davilar as it panicked and tried to flee from the undead monstrosity in front of them. He stepped forward, keeping his sword level with the mans throat and stopping just out of reach, making sure he did not take his eyes off the rotting skull of the newcomer. He paused there and stared into its empty, lifeless eye sockets as if trying to find some hint of life, but there was none.
"Who, or what, are you?" he said again, raising an eyebrow to the undead being.
The figure slowly raised its right arm, tattered cloth blowing in the breeze as it hung from the thin limb, and stretched out its clenched hand to Khaina. It slowly opened its hand, extending its fingers upwards, and revealed three skulls burnt into the palm of its hand like the three points of a triangle.

"By all the gods!" cried Silvar, darting forward and pulling Khaina back with his free hand, "I know that symbol."
"Then what is it?" Khaina asked suspiciously.
"The symbol of one of the chaos gods, the lord of pestilence and disease, known as the father of plague."
"Nurgle..." muttered Ranith with a gasp, "Kill the creature, lest he inflict some cursed disease upon us. Look at him, he is filthy and sick."
"I agree, just cut off his head and leave the corpse to rot further, we should leave this place at once" said Arleth.

"You are not the warriors who kill me. No, that honour belongs to someone else, one who has seen the daemonsword and slain the plaguefather. Yes, that is what the sorcerer said, he said that" the zombie man rasped, bursting into a coughing fit as he finished speaking.
"Foul warrior of Nurgle, leave us or we shall strike you down" said Silvar, brandishing his sword menacingly at the man.
"Fools, I am no man of Nurgle," the man began to cough again, "He inflicted these poxes upon me for standing in the way of the plaguefathers army."
"Then who are you?"
"The sorcerer said I was to be the wanderer, that i was to wander the wastes until i met the plaguefathers slayer and that he too would slay me."
"And you do everything this sorcerer tells you to do?" asked Khaina, covering his mouth with his free hand to avoid the mans sickness.
"I do not choose, he does not give me a choice. I am forced to wander until i meet my death."
"So just how long have you been wandering the wastes, bearing these poxes from Nurgle."
"How long? Who knows, maybe a day and maybe a decade, only the sorcerer knows. The plaguefather cursed me with disease when i entered his camp and did not call him by his sickening title, the sorcerer has laid this curse on me ever since."

"Ive heard enough, let us kill this rotten apple and be on our way" snarled Arleth, coming forward and slashing his sword at the wanderers' neck. The wanderer seemed to step forward and fade out of reality at the same time, disappearing in a cloak of shadow which Arleth's blade cut through as if only air had been there. The warband looked around in confusion, but the wanderer was nowhere to be seen. Then suddenly, off to the east and just outside of crossbow range, Khaina noticed a small black cloud appeared, and the wanderer shuffled out and walked across from east to west slowly and purposefully, before vanishing in another shadowy mist.
"I have seen some pretty weird things in my time, but this has to be one of the strangest" said Silvar, "It seems he can not leave this place and must wander here until whatever he said is going to happen happens."
"You don't think he was in that thorn maze like us do you? Perhaps he was in there too long, perhaps he did not turn back. Maybe a sorcerer lies in wait in the depths of the now invisible thorn forest" said Khaina, looking to Silvar for answers.
"I do not know, all i know is we should leave before he appears near us again, the diseases gifted by Nurgle are always contagious. It helps the lord of decay spread his little works around a lot faster."

As they rode across the wasteland towards the mountain, Khaina kept noticing the wanderer appearing and disappearing all around them. Sometimes he would appear, walk a few shuffled steps, and then disappear again. Other times, he walked for a long time before once again being lost in the shadow mist. Luckily he never seemed to come too close, so the warband kept their weapons sheathed as they rode on in silence. Khaina had been thinking about what the wanderer had said about his death, and decided to break the silence with his thoughts.
"He said the sorcerer told him he had to wander until he was slain by he who has seen the daemonsword and killed the plaguefather. Do you think perhaps he is referring to Tz'yatr when he said the daemonsword, if so I wonder just what that weapon really is. I want to know more about this plaguefather, if I am to wield the sword then does his destiny mean I am to fight this creature?"
"You believe the ramblings of an old, rotting, walking carcase?" laughed Silvar, "Even if there is a plaguefather and a daemonsword, I doubt they are connected to us. We are only here to seek out gold and this Tz'yatr weapon, and we are closing on the mountain of blood as we speak. We will be out of the wastes in no time."
"I hope so" muttered Ranith as they rode on.


* * *


Suddenly the wanderer stepped out in front of them, coming from another misty cloud and walking straight into their path a dozen yards away. With a loud shout, Khaina ordered the warband to halt and reared his steed in a few feet away from the wanderer. The old man still had his hood down and his eyes remained lifeless and cold and Khaina realised again how much the man stank of rot and grave dust. The wanderer continued to shuffle forward and then stopped, as if seeing the warband for the first time, and looked up at them.
"Why do you disappear and appear like this?" Khaina asked calmly, letting his horse trot back a few paces.
"The sorcerer cursed me," the wanderer rasped, "I can not attempt to leave until my fate is sealed, if i walk in one direction for too long I am thrown off course."
"Tell me more of this sorcerer, where did you meet him? Why did he curse you? How does he know so much about the fates of others?"

The wanderer let out a rasping laugh, his strange voice echoing throughout the nothingness around them, "I speak not of any mortal sorcerer you may known or find, nor do i speak of any sorcerer of daemonkind. I speak of my master and god, the great sorcerer, the changer of ways."
"The changer?" asked Silvar, sounding surprised, "You are a fiend of Nurgle not some warrior of Tzeentch."
"Wrong, I am a follower of Tzeentch the magic lord. It is he who laid the curse upon me never to leave this place until i meet my death."
"Why did he curse you so?" asked Khaina curiously.
"For failing him, of course. I was supposed to kill the plaguefather but instead i was seen and had this illness inflicted upon me. My skin rotted from my body, my mind seemed to dry out inside my skull. It is a terrible, terrible disease and as punishment for having it placed upon me so foolishly, my master bound my will to this place. He was even kind enough to tell me how i die."
"And how do you die?" asked Khaina, again out of curiosity.
"At the hands of the plaguefathers killer, one who has seen the daemonsword" the wanderer replied
"You already told us that, what is this daemonsword you speak of?"
"It is... a weapon" he replied, then disappeared again in a misty cloud only to appear to the west and just within eyeshot, wandering once more.

"This is madness, the chaos gods are just playing their warriors off against each other like pawns" said Davilar as they continued to ride towards the ever approaching mountain of blood, the strange red tint in the sky still giving it the effect of running blood.
"Such is the fate of any who worship such beings," said Khaina, "hence why I kill only in the name of Khaine, for our lord has never wronged any of us. If we fail him through dying we are offering him a death nonetheless, and should we fail to kill in his name and live, we shall serve him further and kill twice the enemies owed!"
The warband let out a cheer and brandished their swords at the red lit sky, crying out the name of the lord of murder as they charged towards the mountain ahead of them. Whatever this guardian was, they would sacrifice it in the name of Khaine. Things were about to get bloody.




12 - Mountain of Blood

As they approached the base of the mountain, Khaina was horrified to realise that it was not just the red tinged sky which gave the mountain its gory effect. The earth up its lower slopes was coated in dried blood, and Khaina saw blood running down small stream like crevices all around them. It was as if the mountain itself was bleeding, and had been that way for a long time. They cautiously started to tread the red earth as they looked for safe passage up the mountains side, looking up ahead at the black forests and bloody rivers which ran all around them. From where they were, it looked like there was some sort of trail, or at least an unforested area, which looped back on itself several times as it climbed the mountain. The only question was, how would they find their way onto the path.

"My lord, how do you propose we continue?" called Ranith as he jumped his horse across a small bloody river.
"I see some sort of trail up ahead, there must be a way onto it," he called back, "If we can just clear this ground and make it to the tree line, perhaps we will see it."
Arleth looked at the dense forests and then turned to Khaina, "I do not think we should risk entering the trees, who knows what lurks there."
"I second that," said Davilar as he followed Ranith across the stream, "And let's not forget there is some sort of guardian creature near the skull cave, best to be on our guard."
"Alright, we will try and get around the outside of the forests then but we still need to get up there first. I do not expect to see this guardian until we near the cave, which is no doubt at the top of the mountain. However, I am always on my guard" he watched Arleth understand the meaning of his words, that one could still prove to be trouble when they reached the cave or headed back to Har Ganeth. Perhaps the opportunity would arise for Khaina to remove him from the warband, then again he knew Arleth was probably thinking the same thing about him at that very moment. Slowly but surely, they made progress up the blood stained mountain side towards the woods above them.

They continued their steep climb for hours, zigzagging across the mountain side as they slowly got closer to the gate, leaping over many streams of running blood which lay in their path. The climb was too steep for the horses to carry them directly upward, so instead they went almost parallel to the mountain, only gaining a dozen or so feet with every pass they made. Eventually though, after hours of tiresome work, they had breached the first climb and come onto a reasonably flat area of dried red ground. The dark forest lay in front of them on a more gentle upward climb, while the steep slope they had climbed seemed to drop down on all sides around them.
"I can see no way around the forest" Khaina called out to the others who were just coming up behind him, "Are we forced to enter its depths?"
"As much as i don't want to, it would seem that way" said Silvar as he snatched up his crossbow from its place by his saddle bags.
"I have a bad feeling about this place" said Ranith as he scanned the dark tree line.
"Of course you do kid" sneered Arleth and he stepped forward, "This place is chaos given form."

"That's enough" said Khaina forcefully as he swung down from the saddle, "We can not take the horses any further, the trees are too dense and they are spooked enough already. We should tie them up here and continue on foot, stay together as a group I don't want anyone to get separated."
With his order given, the retainers milled about the edge of the forest, tying their mounts up and taking the provisions and equipment they thought they would need. Khaina wore only his armour and cloak and carried his sword out of its sheath, he wanted to travel light in case they came upon any resistance. If he had to fight the guardian creature at some point on the way up he did not want heavy bags slowing him down. He drank deep from his waterskin and then returned it to his saddle bag, taking on a few of his rations and then signalling for the others to follow him as he led the way into the deep forest.


* * *


The hounds had been calling out to each other for at least half an hour now, each time sounding closer than the last. From what Khaina could hear there were at least half a dozen of them and they were completely surrounded, even if the hounds were still a long way off. Darkness had settled on the mountain, either because the sun had set or because the trees were so dense, and the five Druchii hurried up the mountain as fast as they could. Even the keen senses of the elves were put to the test as they walked on in utter darkness, straining to hear the sound of any approaching predators whilst also trying to pinpoint the location of the hounds.

At last their nerves betrayed them as the hounds called out from what seemed like right behind them and to either side, and Khaina pointed forward and began to run through the dense trees. Sharp branches scraped at his face as he ran past them, snapping twigs underfoot and giving away their position to the hounds, though they probably already knew exactly where their prey was. As he ran, he could make out the figures of Arleth and Davilar right beside him, and hear the footsteps of the others not two paces behind his own. It was then that Khaina heard the footfalls of their pursuers, heavy pawed feet pushing along huge bodies at an alarming rate. He could hear two behind and two to either side, moving in on the warband like wolves on a fleeing deer. They were not going to make it.

Khaina grabbed both Arleth and Davilar with each of his hands, being careful not to hit Davilar in the face with his sword, and threw both of them to the ground with him as he dived down. The three rolled and came to a rest at the base of a large black tree, Silvar and Ranith stopping a few paces away and drawing their weapons. Khaina and the others got to their feet, swords at the ready, and formed a tight semicircle with their backs to the tree. Within seconds the hounds were upon them, six mighty dogs bursting from the darkness with feral snarls, a bloodthirsty glint in all of their eyes. The beasts bodies were muscular, hairless and stained the colour of blood, each had a matted mane of black hair around its ferocious face. About the neck of each was a large brass collar, and Khaina recognised them at once from adventures he had heard about.

"Are they the hounds of the blood god?" asked Khaina, trying to watch all six hounds at once.
"Aye none other, they are fleshhounds of Khorne, mighty hunting dogs for the lord of war" replied Silvar, pulling a bolt into his crossbow string.
"Well in that case," Khaina mumbled then leapt towards the nearest hound, "For Khaine! Kill them all in the lord or murders name, now!"
He sprang onto one of the hounds just as Silvars crossbow bolt thudded past and took one of the beasts in the eye, knocking it clean off its feet and sprawling into a dead heap. Khaina slashed out with his sword, forcing the Khorne dog to pull its head back before it lost it, then followed up the swing and brought his armoured boot into the hounds flank. He had expected the dog to go rolling off into the darkness so that he could focus on another beast for a moment, but instead his foot bounced off as if he had kicked a wall of muscle. Instead of crying out in pain, the hound roared its unnatural fury and pounced on Khaina before he could regain his footing.

Khaina cried out as his head hit a rock and several tonnes of bestial hound landed on his armoured chest. He felt the armour begin to bend inward under the pressure and lashed out with his sword at the hounds neck. Instead of decapitating the dog, his blade rang out as it hit the brass collar and glanced away, scraping down the flank of the fleshhound and opening up a deep gash. Even as the blood spilled forth from the wound the beast snarled and opened its jaws, ready to take Khaina's head off in a single bite. With a sudden flash of silver the beasts head rolled from its body and Khaina was surprised to see Arleth standing there, arm outstretched.
"You forgot to watch out for the collar" he jeered as he pulled Khaina to his feet, the heavy body of the hound rolling to one side. As he found his footing, readying his sword in his hand, Khaina took stock of the situation.

Ranith and Davilar still had their backs to the tree and were simultaneously stabbing at a single, mortally wounded fleshhound. Another lay dead beside it and Khaina guessed they had killed one and then doubled up against the second. Silvar had shot down the hound to his right, and was fighting off another of the red beasts with the skill only a real warrior could master. Khaina realised that was only five of the hounds, when there had been six attackers, and that was when he heard the growl of anger to his left. As he span to see the threat, Arleth barrelled into his waist and they tumbled to the floor. As he fell he saw the huge dog leap through the space where he had stood not moment before and instead collide with one of the dark trees. Before it had time to recover, Arleth was upon it and his twin blades made short work of the beast. Khaina turned back around and sprang to help Silvar, noticing that Ranith and Davilar had finally wounded the fleshhound they were facing.

The last dog was so busy focusing on destroying Silvar that it barely had time to register Khaina behind it before he split its spine in two with a mighty stroke of his sword. Silvar took the time to stab it in the face a few times, either to make sure it was definitely dead or just for the sake of it. The warband came back together at the base of the tree, Arleth wiping his swords clean on the bottom of his cloak before sheathing them. Khaina noticed that Davilar was clutching his left forearm with his other hand.
"Are you hurt?" he asked, indicating to the wound.
"Not badly, it was just a scratch. I hold a sword with my other hand anyway, so do not trouble yourself with such issues" came the reply.
"Very well. Come on, we are leaving immediately and will continue upward as before, if there is anything else out here it no doubt will have heard the fighting and come to investigate. Better that it finds six corpses to feast upon than five travellers to hunt."




13 - The Cave of Skulls

Khaina was relieved when the warband finally felt the touch of the sun again, emerging from the highest edge of the dense forest in the bright red morning sun. He wondered how long they had been in the forest, it had been hours before they had been attacked and they had walked for longer still between then and now. They emerged onto a dirty path, stained in blood just like the earth at the base of the mountain had been, which wound off to the east and west. The east path of the trail was at a gentle slope downward, while the west path spiralled its way upward. There were more trees above them but the path seemed to move around the forests, or at least cut through them. Either way, Khaina felt safer with the path under his feet than he did in the dense woods, but he kept his sword unsheathed either way.

As they turned west on the path, heading up towards the location of the gate, they fanned out into a single line five men wide. This way nobody trailed behind and risked getting picked off by anything cruel which may be stalking them, at least not without the rest of the group knowing it. They continued to follow the path, looping around the edge of the forest and then cutting through it. They walked through an arch of overhanging branches which cast awkward shadows on the path, things seemed to move all around them and yet there was silence and nothing came. They hurried along the path until they emerged again, this time above the second forest, and followed the path west once more. By now they were so high up that they could make out the hills below them which they had crossed, separated from the mountain by the vast open plain where they had met the wanderer.
"At least we will know which direction to head back in" he called, looking around at the others with a sneer.
"Don't count on it" muttered Arleth, "This place is as deceiving as an elf of Ulthuan."

The warband chuckled as they continued along the path for a few more minutes, coming around the next bend in the path as it looped around a large boulder and began to climb upwards and north. Khaina noticed it at once, just up ahead was a large cave carved into the side of the mountain. Its mouth looked like that of a giant skull, sharp teeth pointing down from the roof and two large eye shaped windows above it. This had to be the cave of skulls which the sorceress Davilar and Ranith had tortured had spoken about. Khaina realised suddenly that if they were at the cave, the guardian was around somewhere too and they would have to try a more discreet approach. He cautiously moved forward with his sword drawn, trying to keep to the shadows and signalling for the others to follow him.

Khaina realised something was wrong as they moved up into the clearing in front of the cave mouth, unable to silence the bones and skulls which crunched underfoot. There was an eerie silence over the whole area and it seemed even the trees had fallen silent, though the wind still blew. He approached the mouth of the skull cave as quietly as possible and then turned to his retainers.
“I think we should just go in, perhaps the guardian is not around. We can sneak in, grab the sword and get back out.”
“And what about our treasure?” asked Davilar, “We are not leaving empty handed.”
“Then let’s go, while nothings around” Khaina said quietly and started to creep forward.

He was thrown to the floor by a sudden stream of flame which shot out from inside the cave as he stepped forward, boiling the air around the warband and burning his skin. He rolled out of the flames path and came to one knee with his sword at the ready, trying to see into the darkness of the cave to see what was attacking them. Then, with monstrous footfalls that shook the mountain, a huge beast came forth from the darkness. It was a dragon, of that he was sure, but it had been horribly altered by chaos. It had four huge clawed legs and a long whip-like tail, its entire body was covered in reptilian scales. It spread its wings which covered the entire entrance to the cave; they were leathery and ripped in places. The most striking thing he noticed about the dragon though was its heads, instead of having a single serpentine neck with a vicious head on the end, it had four.

The heads snapped at each other and the air around them, each looked somewhat different than the others and he noticed they were examining the warband carefully. The left head was enchanting, even though it was reptilian and serpent-like it held a sort of beauty which made Khaina want to stare into its eyes and be lost there forever. The next head was quit different, it looked like an ordinary dragon head but its eyes were red with rage and it snapped about wildly with inhuman fury. The third head was perhaps the strangest, for it was beaked and feathered like that of a bird but yet held its reptilian aura, and the final rightmost head was hideous. It looked like it had once been a dragons head but had rotted and decayed until the flesh hung off the bone around its face.

“I am Khorkazana, chosen dragon of Khorne the blood god” bellowed the head with angry red eyes.
“No, we are Nurkazana, dragon of Nurgle, bringer of disease” burbled the rotting head.
“Do not listen to them, Tzarkazana is a dragon of Tzeentch, the great sorcerer” said the feathery head wisely.
“Nonsense, I am Slaarkazana and I am a gift from Slaanesh, prince of chaos” the enchanting head said in a smooth female voice.
“Such lies, Khorne is our true master” bellowed the Khorkazana head again, snapping at the others ferociously.
“Tzeentch created me, not that it matters, you will not live to care” barked Tzarkazana.

The dragon lurched forward, swiping a clawed hand at the warband who threw themselves away as quickly as they could. Davilar was not swift enough, and one clawed finger caught him and sent him tumbling through the broken bones that littered the mouth of the cave.
“Do not be afraid of me little Druchii, come forth and embrace your death” whispered Slaarkazana.
“Embrace this” coughed Nurkazana, belching forth a stream of foul smelling rotten acid. The warband ran in all directions to avoid the stream of bile, horrified as it melted the bones on the floor.
“Out of my way you maggot ridden corpse, this ones mine!” bellowed Khorkazana as the head darted forward past the others and snapped at Khaina, missing his legs by a few feet as he dived out of the way.

“What are we going to do” called out Ranith, waving his sword wildly in front of him as the Slaaneshi head slithered towards him.
“Look for a weakness, try to find a way to bring it down” called Arleth as he darted around the snapping beak of the feathered head, slashing at it with his twin swords but to little consequence.
“I have an idea” called Khaina, rolling away from the frenzied jaws of the Khornate head as it snapped at him furiously.
“Let’s hope it’s a good one” called Davilar, staggering to his feet where he had been thrown by the dragons’ claws.

Before he had a chance to tell the warband his idea, the feathered head reared up and spat forth a huge ball of blue flame which engulfed Arleth. The assassin-retainer jumped back, throwing his arms around wildly and trying to cast off the fire. He dropped to his knees amongst the skulls as the last of the flame flickered out, and rose back to his feet with his hair smouldering and the side of his face blackened. He spat out a curse at the dragon and charged forward, twin swords flashing like lightning as he ran under its heads and started hacking wildly at its underbelly. It may have just been the angry reaction to the flames, but it seemed to be working. All four heads roared out in pain, and turned inwards trying to bite at Arleth who was underneath the dragon.

“This is my chance,” he called out to the others, “I am going to slip inside and try to find the sword. If it’s as powerful as I think, I can use it to slay the dragon when I return. I won’t be long; do you think you can hold this thing off until then?”
“By Khaine, I hope so,” replied Silvar, firing a crossbow bolt at the dragon, “In that case, go now.”
Khaina turned and sprinted down the side of the dragon, trying not to be seen by any of its chaotic heads but fortunately Arleth was proving the perfect distraction. He ran past the dragon, ducking around its swinging tail, and moved on into the darkness of the cave of skulls in search of Tz’yatr.


Tue Sep 02, 2008 3:01 am
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14 – Tz’yatr

Khaina stumbled forward through the darkness, his keen eyes were adjusting quickly to the darkness but he hadn’t the time to wait around for them to do so. As his vision cleared he could see that he was walking down a dark tunnel, the floor littered with bones just like outside. Along the walls were chalk drawings of skulls and daemons and other, less describable, things. Khaina tried to look at all the drawings as he continued forward but all he registered was that one sword which appeared hundreds of times across the cave walls. It was long and lightning shot from its blade, burning the enemies of the wielder with ease. In most of the drawings a strange, daemonic face appeared on the hilt of the blade and Khaina was horrified to see that the sword was slaying the wielder in a lot of the images, turning the wielders own hand against him in its need for blood.

“By Khaine,” he thought aloud, “what am I getting myself into.”
He continued onward for what seemed like an eternity, hoping the dragon outside would not realise he had entered and come after him. Finally he emerged into a huge chamber, lined with jewels and lit by burning braziers, which he figured must be where the dragon dwelled. The chamber reached out as far as the eye could see in all directions, even the dragon would have had plenty of room to move around in here. Khaina stopped suddenly as he noticed what was in the very centre of the room.

A huge pillar of black iron rose up towards the ceiling of the cave and tied to its base were four warriors in mighty suits of chaos armour. Each wore the same suit with a golden rim, but each had a colour of its own. One suit was red, one suit was green, one suit was blue and the final suit was purple. Each warrior had no helmet and their skulls were revealed, proving that they had been tied to the pillar for centuries. Emblazoned on the brow of each skull was a chaos rune, and Khaina recognised them all at once. The warrior in red bore the symbol of Khorne, the blood god whilst the warrior in green bore the symbol of Nurgle, lord of decay. The warrior in blue bore the symbol of Tzeentch, the great sorcerer, and finally the warrior in purple bore the symbol of Slaanesh, the dark prince. It seemed a warrior of each of the four chaos gods had been bound here, but to what purpose.

Khaina approached the pillar, taking no notice in the endless sea of gold and jewels which lay around him in every direction. He knew better than to be greedy, he had heard tales of adventurers who took but a single gemstone from a dragon’s lair and were doomed and cursed from that point onwards. Khaina wanted no such fate, though he would take up the daemonsword Tz’yatr without a second thought for he needed it more than anything, to wreak his revenge on his brother and sister. He approached the black pillar and noticed an inscription written in some daemon language; however when he tried to read it the words spoke their meaning to him, as if the inscription wanted to be read.

Here lies Tz’yatr, mighty daemon of chaos, bound forever more to the daemonsword which will be his prison and his temple, his armour and his shell, his heaven and his hell. Great champions of the four gods shall guard him from the unworthy, bound forever to the defence of the cave of skulls. Four champions of chaos willingly offer themselves to his cause and together they shall be Arkazana, and they shall defend Tz’yatr for eternity. Disturb not the daemonsword, for its curse does not lift itself lightly.

He looked up the black pillar and saw a large altar at the very top, from which protruded the hilt of a mighty sword. It was Tz’yatr; of that much he was certain, though he did not yet know how to reach it. He looked around for another inscription which might give him clues but could see nothing, so instead ran across the gold-laden to the nearest brazier and plucked it off the wall. He followed the wall of the cavern, which was covered in chalk drawings like those in the tunnel. He frantically tried to read them all at once, looking to see if they showed him a way of reaching the sword, until he spotted one interesting drawing.

The chalk image showed a figure throwing down his sword and walking through the air to the altar as if an invisible staircase were there. As the image continued along the wall, the figure pulled the daemonsword from the altar and leaped from the pillar, standing triumphant over the body of a great four headed daemon. In the final image, the figure was plunging the sword into his own heart, as if trying to escape the blade he had worked so hard to reach. Perhaps there was a message in the drawings, that the sword posed as much of a threat to the wielder as it did to his enemies. It seemed every figure shown who managed to draw the sword would eventually commit suicide to get rid of the blades curse; either that or the blade would turn their own hand against them.

He noticed also how Arkazana had been portrayed as a might daemon with four heads instead of the dragon form Khaina had fought him in. He wondered if Arkazana could change his form willingly into whatever beast he desired, or if he would return in a new form each time he was slain. Perhaps that meant there was no point slaying him after he retrieved the sword, thought Khaina, since he would just return in a new, probably nastier, form. First things first though, he had to actually get the daemonsword from the altar.

He ran over to the point where the figure had stood in the drawings and threw down his sword, hoping Arkazana had not heard the blade spill the piles of gold around it. He took a deep breath and took a step forward, placing his weight where the first step of a staircase should be. Khaina cursed as he tumbled forward and fell face-first into a pile of gold, the sharp edges of jewels digging into his hands and face. A strange sound reverberated around the chamber, and Khaina realised it sounded like the laughter of some dark god booming around in the dimly lit place. He got back to his feet, looking to the tunnel entrance to make sure the dragon had not returned, and then looked up at the sword on the altar.

“Tz’yatr,” he called forcefully, “Show me the staircase to your altar!”
There was silence.
“If I do not draw you, daemonsword, you will have to wait centuries for someone else to come to this place.”
Still there was only silence in the chamber.
“Last chance” he yelled, reaching down for his own sword.

With a daemonic hiss the air in front of him started to boil, an eerie vapour forming out of nothing and taking the shape of a twisted staircase. The mist retained its translucency as it settled into shape, and Khaina paused for a few seconds before placing his foot on the first step. To his surprise, the stairway was as solid as the rocks of the cavern walls. He quickly made his way up the strange staircase, realising each stair dissolved back into nothing as his foot left it, to the black altar at the top of the pillar. He stood before the altar for a moment, weighing up the options. The pictures he had just seen showed bad things coming to those who wielded the blade, but without it he would not be able to regain his position and honour in Har Ganeth. With hatred all things are possible, he told himself, and vengeance needs to be done.

He stepped forward, his strong hand grabbing the hilt of the daemonsword, and pulled the blade free from the altar with all his might. With a thunderous boom, the sword came free of the altar and sent Khaina hurtling off the edge of the black pillar. He seemed to hang in mid air for a moment, staring at a daemonic face which cackled along the length of the blade, then slammed into the skull covered floor of the cavern. The air was knocked from his lungs and he almost let go of the sword as he hit the ground. After a moment, he warily staggered back to his feet and looked down on the daemonsword. As if registering his gaze upon it, the blade introduced itself inside his head.

”I am Tz’yatr, the daemonsword, and I thank you, Khaina Blackheart, for drawing me once again. It has been centuries since the last fool came to this place and took me from the altar, slaying Arkazana and then faltering. He did not last long. But you, Blackheart, you are strong. There is something different about you; I can feel it inside you.”
“What is this? Who are you? How can you speak within my head?” Khaina yelled, clutching at his head with his free hand.
”Listen to me, you fool, I just told you who I am. I am a daemon of chaos, once known as Tz’yatr the Bloodspiller. I was bound to this blade by my chaos master many millennia ago, trapped forever here so that I could not unleash my fury upon the world. If a willing host picks up the blade however, I can kill once again.”
“But you have no control over me, I can not feel anything but your voice” he replied to the voice in his head.
”I am aware of that Khaina, for I have no possession over you. I am now your right hand, destroyer of your enemies, your weapon of slaughter, your faithful sword. It will be enough for me to feel the touch of blood once more. However, there are still certain rules you must follow.”
“Rules? What kind of rules?” Khaina spat at the daemon.
”Simple rules which, if abided by, will mean you retain control over me. Break the rules, Blackheart, and I shall devour you and return to my altar; and my guardian shall be raised from the dead once more.

“For a daemon you aren’t that smart, I have not yet slain Arkazana. That is why I came in here to get you; I was hoping you would help me slay the dragon.”
”Dragon… so that is the form the creature has taken this time around. The last time I looked, Arkazana was a four headed troll.”
“Tell me, what are these rules?”
”They are simple, and you will do well to remember them. Firstly, you may not willing try to discard me or I shall turn your hand against you. Secondly, you can tell noone that I reside within your blade or you will suffer the same fate. Finally, the most important rule is this; if I am drawn I must feel the touch of blood before I am sheathed once more. Break the third rule, little Druchii, and you will wish you had never been born.”
“Simple enough, now let’s go kill Arkazana” he replied, heading towards the tunnel once more.
”Oh and I should inform you that pulling me from the altar is as good as drawing me from your sheath. Hence, I recommend you hurry along and find something to kill before I rip you asunder. I hunger for blood, Khaina Blackheart, now feed me.”

Khaina sprang into action, clutching Tz’yatr in his right hand as he darted back into the tunnel entrance and headed forward through the darkness in search of Arkazana. Hopefully his retainers had kept the dragon busy and were still alive, for he did not know if he could slay the beast alone. He had yet to try out his newfound daemonsword, the Bloodspiller. With a savage cry, he leapt from the cave mouth and onto the skullfield beyond, hungering for the blood of Arkazana.




15 – Betrayal

Khaina burst into the daylight from the cave of skulls, Tz’yatr screaming for blood in his hand, and took quick stock of his surroundings. Everywhere the skulls on the floor had been coated red with the bloody of his retainers. Arleth lay motionless in the centre of the bone riddled clearing, his cloaks red with blood and gore. The bloody remains of Ranith lay to his left, though they looked like nothing more than a piece of churned meat. Davilar crouched defensively at his friends’ carcass, Arkazana looming down upon him. Silvar was behind the dragon, firing his crossbow at the back of the dragons’ necks to little effect. He turned as he saw Khaina burst forth from the cave and called out to him.

“Took you bloody long enough, my lord” Silvar shouted over the roaring dragon, which was beating down on Davilar with all four of its heads.
“My apologies, I had a little encounter with a daemon-“
”Careful Druchii, do you remember the second rule, do not tell him about me” Tz’yatr spoke.
“… I am here now, that is all that matters” he finished.
“Then perhaps you would care to help us, there is no way to hurt the beast,” Silvar called as the dragon turned its attention to Khaina, obviously sensing the presence of the daemon, “Arleth didn’t do much to its underbelly before one of the heads ripped him out from under it and bled him dry. Ranith fell not moments later; this thing is as relentless and unforgiving as they come.”

Khaina turned to face Arkazana, all four heads of who were looking directly at him and his sword. He chuckled aloud and lifted the blade up for the dragon to see more clearly.
“This is Tz’yatr, I bet you remember that name,” he began to shout, “I wonder if you remember its touch too!”
He dived forward as all four heads lashed down at him, knocking each other aside in their eagerness to be the one to kill him. Khorkazana was the most frenzied, knocking the others aside and biting down at him with savage ferocity. He rolled his body to one side as the beasts jaws snapped shut mere inches from his face, placing his left foot and pivoting around it with the skill of a masterful warrior. He brought Tz’yatr up across the dragons’ neck and severed the head with a bestial warcry, a huge fountain of blood squirting from the fatal wound.

The other three heads pulled away at once, roaring in pain as fear filled their dark eyes. I thought as much, Khaina thought to himself, you remember its touch well. He dived forward and plunged the blade into the middle of the dragons’ chest, it passed through the scales with ease and Arkazana cried out in pain once more. He lopped off the rotting head just as he heard it prepare another stream of bile, and then knocked the beak of Tzarkazana aside with the flat edge of the Bloodspiller. He crouched down below the neck and then thrust the blade upwards, into the dragons’ third windpipe, before reversing the blade to cut the feathered head free too. With a few enchanting lullabies, the Slaaneshi head tried to persuade him to lay down the sword, but he ended its rambling with one final stroke of Tz’yatr.

As he sheathed the satisfied blade, Davilar approached him with anger and a glint of something else in his eyes.
“It killed him! It took Ranith, he was my responsibility! There is nothing that can repay this loss, nothing!”
“I think the mountains of gold and jewels in the cave might help” Khaina replied, nodding his head toward the cave door as Silvar approached. The glint in Davilars’ eye grew and Khaina recognised it as once as the lust for gold. The retainers had travelled all this way for the promise of gold, and the knowledge that so much wealth lay right beforehand was enough to momentarily forget the grief of a loss. The pair looked at each other greedily and then headed off into the mouth of the skull cave in search of their well earned treasure.

Khaina looked at the dead corpse of Arkazana for a few moments and then knelt down outside the mouth of the cave, tired from the fighting he had endured, to await the return of his companions. The sudden touch of naked steel on his throat startled him, and he almost lurched forward onto the blade in his shock. He kept a clear head, pausing silently and tensing his muscles ready to react to the attacker if the opportunity arose.
“Do not move,” said Arleth, “Not a muscle.”


* * *


Davilar and Silvar came walking proudly from the mouth of the skull cave a few minutes later, their weapons sheathed and their arms overflowing with gold coins and sparkling trinkets. They were looking at each other and talking in exited tones about the quantities of gold they had found. A moment later they spotted Khaina and Arleth and stopped, surprised by the sudden return of their companion. They dropped the jewels at their feet and drew their blades, approaching the pair cautiously.
“What is the meaning of this, Arleth? I thought you were dead” Silas said forcefully.
“I am not dead, no; you weak fools can not kill me. I see you have brought me my share in the gold” Arleth replied, blood dripping from his lips.
“Arleth, please…“ began Davilar.
“Silence you worm, my mistress must be most grateful for your assistance but I assure you that you are of no further use to me now. I am sorry for your loss but Kaeril will no doubt reward you for agreeing to help her locate and destroy her brother, but I am in charge now. As for you Silvar, I fear you have taken too strong of a liking to Blackheart. Do you remember who your allegiance truly lies with?”

“My allegiance lies with Khaina, for that is where I placed my oath of loyalty” shouted Silvar, swinging his crossbow up and firing at Arleth. Khaina thought the bolt would hit him in the face for a second, but it whipped past his ear and pierced Arleth’s shoulder. The assassin rolled back in agony, giving Khaina the opportunity he needed. He rolled to his feet and drew Tz’yatr, swinging the blade around in a wicked arc to make sure nobody came too close.
“Then you are a fool, and you shall die with him,” Arleth replied, “Khaina, I believe you hold an artefact that my mistress wanted you to retrieve for her. If you would be so kind as to hand it over then this can be over quick and easy.”
“There‘s just one problem with that,” laughed Khaina in reply, “Now that the sword is drawn it must taste your blood!”

Khaina dived at Arleth and the Bloodspiller cried out for more blood as it slashed down in a powerful arc. Arleth parried the blow by crossing his swords and then threw Tz’yatr to one side, forcing Khaina to spin to keep hold of the blade. Arleths’ offhand blade sliced deep into Khaina’s hip and he cursed to Khaine as pain shot up his left side. As the pain turned to anger he felt the daemons strength flow into his sword arm, and he span back and delivered a blow that could carve a mountain asunder. Arleth made to parry the blow but Tz’yatr broke his sword at the hilt and continued on through his chest until it protruded from his ruined gut. Arleths’ hands dropped loosely to his sides and let go off his blades, and he toppled to one side as a lifeless husk.

Khaina span back furiously to Davilar and strode up to the retainer,
“You were in this against me all along, working for my sister? She told you to lead me here so that she could claim this sword?” he barked furiously at the terrified warrior.
“Blackheart, please…” began Silvar.
“Shut up, Silvar” shouted Khaina, watching as the retainer raised his hands slightly in surrender.
“You got what you wanted didn’t you, don’t you think I have suffered enough” murmured Davilar.
“No” replied Khaina, driving the daemonsword into the back of Davilars neck, “I think the suffering has only just begun.” He strode towards Silvar with the Bloodspiller raised menacingly.
“Khaina, you must understand that I am loyal to you alone.”
“Only for as long as your oath of loyalty still stands, after that I am sure you will scurry back to my sister and tell her everything that you witnessed here. Well hear me now Silvar, my sister is going to die as soon as I return to Har Ganeth. Vengeance shall be mine as I stand over her cold, dying corpse. And that is not the end of the line either, for I will slay Ulthar too and anyone else who stands in the way of me becoming as powerful as I once was. More powerful than I have ever been, more powerful than anyone has ever been. You have the choice Silvar, swear a blood oath into my service or die now along with these traitors.”

Khaina raised Tz’yatr to Silvar’s throat and waited for an answer. He could see the fear in Silvars’ eyes, the retainer knew that Khaina was infamous for his fury and short temper but had yet to witness it. He had slain Davilar purely out of anger at the knowledge that he had been tricked, and Silvar had witnessed first hand the effect the blade had on Arleth. Silvar cleared his throat and looked into Khainas eyes and then smiled slyly.
“You have a sure way of persuading someone, Blackheart. In the eyes of Khaine, I swear a blood oath to your service, I pledge myself to you for the rest of my life as a retainer.”
“And you will do well to remember that this oath overrides any hold my sister used to have on you” Khaina said, lifting his blade slightly to draw a trickle of blood from Silvar before sheathing the blade and helping his retainer to his feet.
“Now let’s get out of this damned place.”



I have cumulated chapters 11-15 of Blackheart here so that they are easier for you to access and it makes the forum less cluttered. I hope you enjoy the novel, please post here your comments, criticism and requests for more!

my complete works - http://www.druchii.net/viewtopic.php?p=690845#690845


Tue Sep 02, 2008 3:04 am
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What an ending! Can't wait for more!

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Tue Sep 16, 2008 4:04 am
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great thanks i will do the rest asap :)


Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:19 pm
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I liked it you didn’t leave them wandering around the wastes for too long and they ended up fighting a dragon-daemon. Keep up the great work I am hooked.

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Tue Sep 16, 2008 9:15 pm
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Phew. Just finished reading all of your stories. An excellent read. The best I've seen on these forums in a long time. I love the plot and the amount of chaos-ee stuff you've poured into these stories is enlightening, and it has made me feel better by reading these stories.

More to come I hope.

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Equipment: Executioners Axe (Rune of Beastslaying - Heroic Killing Blow), 2 Scimitars (Rune of Speed - Always Strike First), Dagger, Rune Branded Leather Armour, Executioner Helm, Fine Set of Throwing Knives (x4)
Inventory: Amulet of Darkness, Poison Vials x7, Deadly Poison Vials x8
Mount: Dark Steed
Gold: 163
Skills: Ambidexterity, Frenzy, Two Weapon Fighting, Ride
Class: Khainite


Fri Sep 26, 2008 5:33 am
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Hey everyone who likes the story! Sorry i havent posted in the thread in so long, I am still working on the book at around chapter 16 when i got extremely busy with college all of a sudden and have not been able to write much at all. I can still get online to RP and post, but most of my free time is going into painting and reading horus heresy rather than writing. Rest assured however, as soon as i have more time on my hands the book will be finished off! I hope you can stay hooked until then, it aint over yet.... :twisted:


Mon Nov 03, 2008 10:43 pm
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Fulgrim wrote:
Hey everyone who likes the story! Sorry i havent posted in the thread in so long, I am still working on the book at around chapter 16 when i got extremely busy with college all of a sudden and have not been able to write much at all. I can still get online to RP and post, but most of my free time is going into painting and reading horus heresy rather than writing. Rest assured however, as soon as i have more time on my hands the book will be finished off! I hope you can stay hooked until then, it aint over yet.... :twisted:


WOOHOO! :D

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Saldrimek Xenan - WS6 / S4 / T3 / D5 / I3

Equipment: Executioners Axe (Rune of Beastslaying - Heroic Killing Blow), 2 Scimitars (Rune of Speed - Always Strike First), Dagger, Rune Branded Leather Armour, Executioner Helm, Fine Set of Throwing Knives (x4)
Inventory: Amulet of Darkness, Poison Vials x7, Deadly Poison Vials x8
Mount: Dark Steed
Gold: 163
Skills: Ambidexterity, Frenzy, Two Weapon Fighting, Ride
Class: Khainite


Mon Nov 03, 2008 10:44 pm
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It's a long time coming, and I know at least one fan (go Khel!) will be pleased... but I am writing once more. I have finished my first term of college and have work out the way, meaning I have a break to do the things. Read, Write and get DRUNK! woo! Writing first though ;)


Mon Dec 15, 2008 11:40 pm
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