Chapter XXVII - The Necropolis of Klarath Har

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Senlui
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Chapter XXVII - The Necropolis of Klarath Har

Post#1 » Thu May 10, 2018 1:55 pm

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The rumbling fell silent, and once again all was still in the basin in this death blighted corner of the Shadowlands. Caranordor watched as the waters on the lake fell still, then glanced upwards to the path traversing the ridge.

“Let us proceed quickly, there is no telling how long that way will remain open.”

Suspecting a nefarious scheme by the Chaos devotees that had conveniently found their way to the Regiment, Ithilsyn followed at a distance, watching them like a hawk.

The path meandered along the top of the crater before ending on a lip of rock jutting out from the mountainside. Where before had been a solid face of black rock, the tremor had revealed the mouth of a cave, shattered stone piled up beneath it. As they drew closer, it was apparent that this was no natural formation, pillars on either side of the archway marking an entrance of some sort. Any doors were long since decayed, but so too were the guards that had revealed themselves to the world of the living once again. Several skeletons clad in ancient armour wandered aimlessly around the open entrance, occasionally bumping into the unlikely warband as they cautiously moved through them towards the forgotten doorway.

No wards were sensed by the sorceresses, and so onwards they went, stepping into the darkness before them. Within the passageway, several faintly shimmering Shyish crystals adorned the walls with the undead sentries packed more densely around them, like travellers gathered around a campfire. Here and there, faded paintings decorated the walls, the slabbed footway beneath their feet cracked and worn. As they moved deeper into the subterranean compound, the louder the scuffling of countless skeletons became. The place held the atmosphere of a tomb, who knew how many undead these chambers held?

“Touch nothing here,” Khrell hissed, floating inches over the path beneath his disk as he looked about himself with keen intelligence.

Here and there the corridor split into other passageways, and stairways going up or down into the complex. Long lost and forgotten, wiped from the memories of most, Klarath Har was a shadow of its former glory. Thousands of years of neglect had taken their toll, dust and mould gathered thickly on the walls, and from the roof, stalactites hung like jagged teeth. All about echoed the shuffling feet of its skeletal citizens, leaving the Regiment and its allies on edge.

Eventually the passage revealed a larger chamber, perhaps once a grand plaza, where four corridors met. Moving down a slope, they found the floor littered with bones, gnawed and broken. In a small alcove rested a skeleton that had been spared the curse of animation. Dressed in the robes of a sorcerer, he grinned mirthlessly over the domain that he had long ago sired over, a shimmering staff clasped in his bony fingers, still crackling with untold power after all these years. His other hand rested to his side on a dusty tome, foul sigils marked on the bindings.

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“Well, well, well... our ancient sorcerer.” Khrell uttered, leaning in to inspect the cadaverous remains. “Still dead I see.”

Ithilsyn glanced at Sildra and then to Caranordor, with warning in her eyes. These were items of great power, clearly sought after by both the recently deceased Zathos Chillwind, and now Khrell and his troop of marauders. Had the Commander been tricked so easily into assisting these barbarians? Before she could speak, the goblin shaman pattered past them all at speed, barging in to close the gap between Khrell and the skeletal sorcerer as he attempted to snatch the staff from his hands.

“Drop that at once, you foolish cretin!” Sildra shouted out. With a scream the greenskin was thrown backwards, leaving a trail through the dusty flagstones as he came to a rest some yards beyond the group.

The chambers fell abruptly silent, as the skeletal inhabitants ceased their mindless shuffling as one, turning their skulls towards the long dead staff-bearer as if awaiting orders. After what seemed like an eternity, they suddenly turned their empty eye sockets towards the invaders to their domain and began as one to shuffle in their direction. Surrounding them, the quiet was broken by the noise of chattering teeth as the skeletons stretched out their bony arms and advanced, ready to tear their prey to pieces. Sildra raised her staff, throwing a ward over the warband, as Thaza cast a protective cant over the area, making ready for a fight.

“The writings...” urged a marauder hungrily to Khrell, sweat beading on his brow as he gripped his axe.

“The staff... the book...” mused Khrell, “Choices, choices...”

“Dat blasta is mine, ya smelly grot!”

“Have you lost your minds?!” roared Caranordor at the squabbling underlings, “We are about to be eaten!”

“We must move and carve our way through the dead,” uttered a marauder, “Pikemen, join me,” he invited, before taking a step outward, paying attention to the shadows cornering him to track the movements of the many skeletons before turning his sight to one that had stepped within his reach. He swung his axe with bone splintering force, shattering ribs, yet still his foe advanced.

“Argh!!!” screeched Noogl, back on his feet, his small form filled with frustration, anger, and fear.

Amid the chaos, Khrell stooped down to take the book, sliding the sorcerer’s hand from the tome with the creak of bones, and tucked it into his robes, not caring for the fates of any among him who were on the retreat, swiping desperately at the approaching skeletons. The horde appeared to be limitless, and despite their defiance, it was apparent that soon the warband would be overwhelmed completely.

“We have it...” he whispered, with a thousand voices.

Crammed into the alcove, bony fingers clawing at their robes and armour, the party prepared itself for an honourable death. Ithilsyn could not help but imagine that their corpses would live on, joining the citizens of this accursed place in their ageless vigil.

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Resigned to their doom, salvation came with the peeling sound of a horn, echoing through the undead-ridden necropolis, followed by the noise of crossbows twanging, stopping the horde of skeletons in their tracks. Turning their grinning skulls to the source, destruction rained upon them, as skulls were shattered in a hail of heavy bolts. Pushing through the grim throng, Caranordor led them in a run, barging clawing skeletons aside with his armoured form. No mistaking the sound of heavy repeater crossbows, more beautiful at this point than any music, the party cleared the alcove and back up to the sloping corridor through which they had entered, as the shambling skeletons were broken into splinters of bone in the chamber below. Triumphant cries filled the cavern from the lips of a detachment of Druchii shades, who greeted them loudly. Assembled before them was a host of them stood a host of Dark Elven warriors, each clad in heavy armour and carrying a terrifying heavy repeater crossbow. Their features obscured by hideous battle scars, their silhouettes were concealed by cloaks fashioned from their unfortunate victims.

“Merciless warriors!” one of them cried, soon followed by a thunderous response of, “Druchii!” from his host, regarding the rescued party with welcoming smiles, inviting them to come closer. All held trepidation and suspicion at their unexpected saviours, as their Captain announced,

“A great victory, kinsmen and allies! Arafein Quorth has been watching your progress through Nagarythe with shall we say, great interest.” Crossbows clicked. “You are invited to her presence and hospitality. I hear she will host a great feast in your honour! You would be wise not to deny her.”

Their way out barred by these smiling strangers, it was impossible not to notice the repeaters loaded and aimed at their throats.

“A highborn?” replied Ithilsyn with defiant calm, “How delightful.”

Vithari looked on at the Druchii, narrowing her eyes as Noogle scratched his chin. Out of the cook pot, and into the fire, it seemed.

“And what if we decline?” enquired the Seeress.

“I would strongly advise against it,” the Captain advised, his hand resting around the grip of his sword, ready to free it from its scabbard. He glanced over the barbarians and greenskins, “I see you bring some unexpected company. They too shall be... welcomed. Fear not.”

Fear of treachery? His words spoke of an unseen threat, yet their escape barred by a larger force ready to shoot them at a breath, it seemed they had little choice but to accept this warm invitation.

“Fear? I doubt any of us holds such. Whether we have the time for such frivolities however, is another matter entirely,” Ithilsyn replied haughtily.

“Indeed,” growled a Chosen from beneath his helm.

The seeress looked to the Commander. The decision lay with him.

“If your leader would offer her crossbows to aid the war effort, we would gladly join her feast,” came the reply, directed at the Captain before them.

“Demz good chukkaz” added Noogl, with a nervous gulp.

“The Arafein shall consider your offers, once you speak with her in person, rest assured. She awaits...” the Captain replied, somewhat impatiently.

“We too shall consider whatever your leader has to offer. After all,” Caranordor smiled, “You have offered us aid when we needed it.”

“A wise choice!” the Captain laughed, offering them a wide smile, “Onward!”

The unit marched as one, their efficiency and discipline a sight to behold, armour clanking in unison, as they led the warband out from the accursed city.

“We have a march ahead of us, do not tarry. Quorth waits for no-one.”

With a line of crossbows at their backs, it seemed they had no choice.

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Previous Chapters:

Chapter I - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=23964
Chapter II - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=24190
Chapter III - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=24669
Chapter IV - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=24808
Chapter V - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=24875
Chapter VI - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=24880
Chapter VII - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=24898
Chapter VIII - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=24937
Chapter IX - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=24976
Chapter X - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=24979
Chapter XI - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=25000
Chapter XII - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=25033
Chapter XIII - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=25053
Chapter XIV - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=25067
Chapter XV - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=25155
Chapter XVI - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=25174
Chapter XVII - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=25801
Chapter XVIII - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=25921
Chapter XIX - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=26031
Chapter XX - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=26114
Chapter XXI - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=26214
Chapter XXII - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=26233
Chapter XXIII - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=26323
Chapter XXIV - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=26342
Chapter XXV - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=26440
Chapter XXVI - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=26549&p=300189#p300189

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