This is in no means a fantasy story, let alone warhammer, yet as this forum is not specifically for 40k fanfiction or WHFB then I saw no issue. What better a tale than that of tragedy?
The sun slowly set upon the horizon, casting upon the land a light the color of flame. The sun set upon a particular place in more ways than one. The same blazing hue eerily shaded the near-deserted halls of the Explorer's Abode. A vestige of civility in an ocean of barbarism and wilderness it stood alone upon the sole road through the surrounding forests. Dark, wooden panels and boards composed the exterior walls and gave off a dull sheen. Inside the walls were of a much lighter hue, a once-brilliant white now faded to a dull gray by lack of care. Shattered lumber lay strewn across the floor where chairs and tables had been broken, and the stones of the fireplace had been removed in several places. The latter part mattered little for no fire burned within the hearth where travelers had once laughed and sang. No items sat upon the few intact tables, nor in the domiciles, nor inside the stables. The only sign of habitation to be found was a solitary letter, partially opened, which had been bitterly thrown into the roaring flame that had once heated the inn. However, there it still lay, neither burned nor singed, nothing to mar it but shed tears.
It had all began, months ago, when a man entered the Abode. This in itself was no special occurrence at the time, as the inn had been a prosperous establishment. Nay, it was not the presence of him, nor he himself as he was no different than any other wanderer, but it was what he bore in his cloak that would cause the downfall of the inn. Wearing a tunic the color of rich soil, finely woven wool with green trimmings, and breeches the color of fallen leaves he approached the innkeeper while anxiously twiddling his thin, dexterous thumbs. Looking up from his task of meticulously washing the table nearest the kitchen wherein his wife labored, Arold Randulfson watched the newcomer push through the gatherings of men and women, quite rudely it should be noted, in his haste. As he came upon Arold the man reached into his light grey cloak with one long, spindly arm.
Being so bold, Arold spoke "To whom do I address?"
The man, still fumbling about his cloak, replied "You address one Thomas Alaric, my fine sir"
Yet again he ventured "And what is the nature of this business so urgent that it permits the upheaval of social goings-on between my other guests?"
Ashamedly the man replied, finally retrieving a parchment from within the depths of his garment, "Nothing so grand, for which I apologize. I merely would ask that you retain this letter for me when I return in one month's time today, and that you would leave it unread."
His curiosity piqued by a request so vague, Arold returned "I dare not assist a man who has broken the law. I do not insinuate that you have done as such yet it must be understood why I might refuse with so little information on the matter."
Seemingly shocked by the accusation Thomas made as if to leave. "My good innkeeper, on my honor I have done neither such treason nor crime that would warrant this claim."
Said Arold, to Thomas' relief "Then I shall do as you ask my fine fellow. I shall keep the letter under lock and key within my chambers, safe from prying eyes."
With a quick thanks Thomas hurriedly exited the Abode, his long, slender legs carrying him quickly through the entrance. Arold gazed at the parcel, the paper held shut by a red wax seal showing a stylized T surrounded by a laurel wreath. Forgetting his previous task he wandered to the uppermost floor of his place of work where he and his wife, Linda, resided. His chambers were not quite as he desired, they were not well suited to his physicality. The ceiling was quite high, with slender armchairs in the eastern corner of the room, and slim was the rest of the furniture that adorned the domicile. That suited Linda, she was tall and thin with golden hair that grew well beneath her shoulders. In contrast Arold was short, stocky, and was balding on the crown of his head. Thoughtfully running his fingers through his beard he reached for the wooden safe he kept beneath their hardwood bed, the silken coverings brushing his large forearm. As his hand was about the close around their quarry he halted, duty warring with inquisitiveness about what could work a man into such a worry. In an action he would live to regret he reached up and opened the parchment, breaking the seal.
From the desk of Thomas J. Alaric
To whom it may concern-
A loud thud from the common room broke his concentration and he dropped the letter. Worrying that the paper may be soiled he took out the safe he had before neglected to move and placed within it the parchment that would come to ruin his life.
True to his word Thomas yet again entered the Abode one month to the day of his last visit in the dead of night. None within the Abode were still awake other than Arold, knowing that the tasks of an innkeeper were never done, who was startled by the intrusion. Even if he did not expect Thomas to hold to his promise Arold had laid the letter upon a table near the center of the room. The fire burned low in the hearth, making Thomas' face look harsh and cruel, outlining his high cheekbones and long beaked nose.
"Do you still have the letter my dear sir?" said the traveler
"Yes it is over there" responded Arold pointing to the spot he had placed it.
As he walked to the point indicated by the innkeeper Thomas began to quake with rage. He turned, his eyes ablaze with fury. What had been before seen as harsh was now murderous, his teeth bared he looked as if he would throttle Arold right then. His fists hung at his side, tightly clenched while his arms tensed as if about to strike.
His voice barely a whisper he said "You read the letter."
Arold, worried at the sudden change, said "No, I merely opened-"
Voice levels higher then where it had been before he hatefully spewed "You read the letter!"
Frightened now Arold tried to tell him the truth "No sir I-"
Thomas yelled "YOU READ THE LETTER!"
With a roar of anger he lifted one of the chairs and smashed it upon the wall, his strength belying his thin body. He then set about doing the same to the other furnishings in spite of Arold shouts for him to stop.
"Thomas, desist these actions! I did no such thing as read whatever you wished concealed, although I now question what could incite such fury at being revealed. I opened the letter yet refrained from reading it, it has been safely planted within my safe since I opened it."
Thomas somehow seemed to have grown paler, deathlier; more dangerous. "How do I know that you do not lie? How do I know that you have not spread the contents of the letter? How can I trust the words of a man who breaks his vows so easily? No Arold Randulfson I cannot trust that man, and forever shall he rue the day he let slip his self-control. I will return in three months time, as the sun fades beyond the horizon, and you shall pay. For what you pay I care not, for I know not what you have done, but I swear you shall pay."
Casting his cloak behind him Thomas stormed off into the night, swiftly receding until he could be seen no more, leaving only a flustered innkeeper in his wake. Subconsciously Arold grasped the knife he wore at his belt, scared beyond comprehension by a man half his size, yet somehow he knew that Thomas did not lie. Glancing at his door he backed away toward the stair, before hurrying to his bedchamber and the comfort of family.
Six days gone came the first reports. A group of men on the road had been murdered, stabbed through the heart with their eyes ripped from their sockets, their horses being the only thing to escape from the scene. This caused an uproar in the Abode, many wishing to return home to their families to make sure they were alright and that the murderer had not struck elsewhere. Unbidden came the thought of a man in a tunic the color of rich soil and breeches the color of fallen leaves. Linda thought that they might need to restock on supplies if the issue was ordered to prevent travel.
Arold, exasperated, moaned to his wife "Linda, I beg that you not go! I am sure any here would gladly retrieve what you ask for a small fee. Please, I beg of you do not go!"
Linda gazed amusedly at her husband "I have traveled the roads many a time, and not once has ill befallen me. You let these reports get into your head, create fear where there should not be! I am flattered by your care but surely there is no cause for alarm."
Arold frantically tried to persuade her to stay "I know not why but I have a feeling that if you go out tonight you shall not return. Heed my pleas and do not leave the inn!"
Linda just chuckled at her husband's worry and began to organize an inventory of what they had and what they would yet need. Arold looked upon her fair features and golden hair, and knew with grim certainty that he would never again see his wife's beautiful face. Much to his dismay and disgust he was wrong. For exactly one week from her departure, he received a package from a courier that sealed his fate, upon which was laid a letter sealed with a stylized T, surrounded by a laurel wreath.
From the desk of Thomas J. Alaric
To whom it may concern,
I told you that you would rue the day you opened my letter, and now you shall rue the day you opened this one, I sent you a 'special' package that I do believe you should not like to see. I shall see you within two months and a fortnight. I eagerly await to make your acquaintance yet again.
A knot forming in the pit of his stomach he undid the wrapping holding the package closed. And in his hands he held the severed head of his wife; her eyes plucked from their sockets and dried blood seeming like tears. However she did not cry of sorrow, her mouth manipulated into a smile before rigor mortis set in. Arold retched, splattering the ground with his meals of the day. So the murders continued, any who would come the way of the Abode slaughtered, some tied to their horses, some hung as a warning while others yet were just left to rot in the road. Soon the once steady influx of visitors and patrons dwindled to none. With neither the supplies nor will the inn soon fell into disrepair. Through it all he never read the letter, merely wishing to be rid of the thing that had broken him, tossing it into his hearth just to watch as it did not burn. Soon even that small satisfaction was made impossible as his stocks of firewood were depleted, too afraid to step beyond his door.
Thus it came to be, exactly three months from his last encounter with Thomas the fiery light of the setting sun eerily lighting the abandoned hallways of the Explorer's Abode. Arold sat, gazing dully at the road from whence his death would come whilst holding onto the woodsman's axe given to him upon his fortieth year by Linda. Tears welled in his eyes as he thought of her and her cheery demeanor, the way she had lit up a room with her radiance, how she could settle disputes with but a word. His grip tightened as the sun faded ever lower until the last rays of its light were lost. The moment the moon peeked up from where it had rested the sound of hoof beats could be heard in the distance coming ever closer. Silence ensued, unbroken for what seemed an eternity yet was in actuality no more than a few minutes, until a slender man walked through the rotting doorway as he had twice before.
Thomas was different however; his hair was wild and unruly, now grey where it had been black. His once neat clothes were tattered and bloodstains could be seen all over his person. A mad light glinted in his eyes.
"Why my good sir, what say you about a quick chat before we settle our business?"
Arold flared his nostrils "I have no care that I shall die I just wish to know why you have done these deeds."
Twitching uncontrollably Thomas spoke "So, you did not read the letter after all" he let out a bark of insane laughter "No matter, what's done is done. Since you obviously don't know, I was running to find a place to hide before sending my letter to an accomplice. I was- am- a doctor, the greatest surgeon within leagues. One day however, a man barged into my office thinking himself better than me claiming I had caused the death of his brother. He began to assault me. So-" a hint of glee entered his voice "So I took my scalpel and murdered him, right there in my workplace." He began to cackle. "I had feared that you would tell law enforcement and they would set upon me. Oh well."
Arold glared at the mad doctor "Leave this place. You have had your undeserved vengeance, I can bear no more of your presence. Unlike you however I am no murderer. So leave, and I ne'er again do wish to see thee darken up my door. Be gone and never return."
"Hah! You call me mad, when you expect me to leave after telling you about who I murdered! No, your life ends now, but I figure I can tell you how she died." Who the 'she' was went unspoken, as it need not be said.
"You sick bastard" said Arold, beginning to feel nauseous
"Let me tell you, she screamed. I told her why I did it, and I had her cursing your name into the night as she bled out onto the ground. She was in such agony I could but attempt to make that smile on her face, how I succeeded I am not quite sure!" He laughed some more.
With the roar of a man who had lost everything that made his life worth living, who had lost everyone and everything he ever loved, Arold swung his axe in a broad arc, slaughtering Thomas where he stood. The incessant cackling still rang out in his mind. Shedding tears for all that was lost he reached for the knife he held at his belt.
The last words to part his lips "Linda, I but hope we may meet yet again beyond this life." With that, he slipped the knife between his ribs into his heart.