I put this little piece together in little over an hour for a fiction contest (deadlines are great motivators
). Not the cleanest bit of writing, but I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. The original idea was to write a short story 500-1000 focussed on 1 of a small series of themes provided. And though most of them were 40K, I opted to go with WHF for a change. Any crits and comments would be much appreciated....and apologies for any silly little grammatical mistakes, I always miss them when reading my own stuff!
So following the 'Skaven versus Lizardmen' theme here is:
THE EYE OF THE SERPENT
Gazing through the thick jungle undergrowth a lone figure dashed from tree to tree until he eventually made his way to the reptilian statues marking the edge of the temple shrine. In the distance he could see his target, the twin-headed golden statue depicting Tlazcotl. One of the many deities of these lizards loathed so passionately that the death of a single Saurus justified sacrificing a hundred slaves.
Stepping from the relative safety of the sweaty jungle Sqreekrot crawled into the shadow of on the serpentine icons. The full moon would serve him well this night, his black fur riddled with sores and parasites, allowing him to move nearly unseen. Quietly climbing up the statue, always making sure he stayed hidden in shadows, he quietly observed the remainder of the temple.
A large group of heavily armed Saurus warriors patrolled the smaller building surrounding the ziggurat temple at the centre of the clearing. Though he could not see it from his position Sqreekrot knew that at its top, beneath the golden statue, there would be a sacrificial altar. He could smell the spilled blood of his kind all over this place. For months now the plague lords had tried to take the temple, but every time row upon row of scalies, seemingly impervious to magic, had defended the shrine. But this would soon change…
Once the guards near him turned, retracing the paces of their nightly patrol, he made his move. Pushing of with all his strength he launched himself from the icon to the nearest building a good seven meters away. With dexterity befitting his verminous appearance he landed on the building’s balcony. Immediately squeezing his body to the wall, moving on all fours while avoiding the few windows from which the glow of torchlight escaped into the night.
Suddenly the balcony door next to him slowly opened, blocking his way. In the blink of an eye Sqreekrot threw himself of the balcony edge, hanging on for dear life with his claws as the Skink priest above him looks out over the temple. For a scant second his mind turned to the obsidian blade hidden underneath his robes, but disposing of this priest would surely alarm the guards and remove any chance of him reaching the temple and the statue adorning its peak.
With four razor-sharp claws dug into the crevices of the rock Sqreekrot hang upside down underneath the balcony, the guards below him ever patrolling. It would only be a matter of time before one of them would look up at him, time to move! Twitching and curling his long tail he removed a small pouch from underneath his robe. Using his long teeth he bite open the bag, revealing a tiny rat, its left eye replaced with a shiny gem. As quietly as possible he instructed the vermin, ‘Go….distract’. And with that he lifted his tail and the rat to the balcony edge. Within seconds noise could be heard coming from within the structure: the stubble sounds of a vase breaking. With a violent hiss the Skink priest turn away and ran inside to investigate, to find nothing but shadows and shards as the Sqreekrot’s little helper quietly moved back out onto the balcony returning to the safety of its master’s robes.
Making good use of the opportunity the silent assassin continued his rooftop journey, getting ever closer to the temple. And after dodging a few deadly encounters with the coldblooded Saurus he finally made it to the top of the temple. And to the gruesome altar, adorned with precious gems, Skaven skulls and the decaying remnants of a grey seer. Though greatly tempted by the jewelry sparkling in the moonlight, he knew things would have to remain undisturbed for the plan to work. So instead he quickly moved towards the golden statue behind the altar. Climbing onto the left side of the twin-headed snake icon he finally pulled out his darkened blade, which he used to prod out the gemstone in the eye socket. While his tail tucked the gem away underneath his robe a new addition was made to the icon, a dark orange gemstone was placed in the now empty eye socket. And with that Sqreekrot made safe his escape from the temple complex.
The next morning as the sun rose, life continued seemingly as normal as always in the temple. Once more the Skink priest ascended the stairs of the ziggurat shrine, all the way up to the top, to the shrine and the golden statue looming over it. Near the altar a shackled Skaven was held down by two looming Saurus, accompanied by the chanting of his followers the guard dragged the panicking ratman to the altar as the priest slowly came closer and closer. This sacrifice would certainly appease Tlazcotl and guarantee his continued protection against the plague ridden magic of the Skaven assailing the shrine.
As he drew his blade, the Skaven, now strapped to the altar, turned his head and mockingly spat forth his final words. ‘You die with me’, twitching his neck violently he vomited forth a piece of fuming warpstone. With a quick bite the stone was shattered, releasing the noxious green gas within which slowly rose into the sky. Shocked the priest watched as the orange gem in the golden statue in front of him started to glow violently as it sucked the green gas in. Until it released all the raw power held within with in a bright green flash, bathing the temple and its surroundings in burning warpfire. Tortured screams filled the morning as the guardians of the shrine were wiped out in a matter of seconds, Tlazcotl’s blessings had failed them.
From his hiding place in the jungle Sqreekrot had observed all, his plan had worked, the master would be most pleased. Giving a final glance at the now ruined temple he once more turned to the jungle and disappeared into its green madness.