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Thread: Arena of Death

  1. #1
    Chapter Master Son of Sanguinius's Avatar
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    Arena of Death

    Come one, come all. Literary critics and bolter porn junkies alike. Step right up and request your duel.

    Be it Warhammer 40k or Warhammer Fantasy, I wish to write the duel you've always dreamed of.

    Give me two heroes, villains, or monsters from GW background that you wish to see fight to the death and I will bend all of my writing talents to bringing it to life.

    I ask only two things - 1) make a serious request, and 2) no cross settings duels.

    With that said, ask of me what you will and place your bets. There will be blood.
    Last edited by Son of Sanguinius; 26-08-2012 at 08:03.
    The Arena of Death, where I write the duel you imagine.

    The Coming Apocalyse, my blog for 40k and FB rules development.

  2. #2
    Commander hawo0313's Avatar
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    Re: Arena of Death

    hmmmm Huron blackheart vs prince yriel is one i kinda thought would be cool
    "Duty, honor, and valor are either in your heart or they are not. You will never know until you are truly tested"
    Ajani goldmane

  3. #3
    Chapter Master danny-d-b's Avatar
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    Re: Arena of Death

    Franz vs bret king?- tyron and tecles vs malkith and his mum in a doubles match ?

    10 random dwarfs vs huge amouths of night goblins


    Go with the HE/DE doubles match first

    o and sorry about the spelling
    Last edited by danny-d-b; 28-08-2012 at 06:05.
    Quote Originally Posted by Walgis View Post
    maybe giant has something magical in his pants? :S

  4. #4
    Chapter Master Son of Sanguinius's Avatar
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    Re: Arena of Death

    Danny, please pick one. I can do both, but it will be easier for me to keep track if people give one at a time. And to both of you, thanks for replying.
    The Arena of Death, where I write the duel you imagine.

    The Coming Apocalyse, my blog for 40k and FB rules development.

  5. #5
    Chapter Master Son of Sanguinius's Avatar
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    Re: Arena of Death

    Alright, at the request of hawo0313, here is a duel between Huron Blackheart, Tyrant of Badab, and Prince Yriel, Autarch of Iyanden.




    The hole in the sealed, meter-thick adamantium bulkhead wasn’t so much punched open as it was voided open. Swirling, broiling pulses of unlight simply coalesced into half-being at the bottom center of the great door and made a mockery of metallic molecular bonds. A three meter tall, three meter wide tear phased into existence and displaced the physical matter into the warp. After a few micro-seconds, reality reasserted itself and the grenades entered the bridge.

    Discus-like and faint, they clattered along the deck like flat stones over a lake. Huron leapt from his command throne, turning in mid-air and landing in a crouch in the same moment that the charges detonated. Light flared and dragged a wash of searing plasma in its wake, enough to scour the skin and fat from a man’s body. The pulse of sound hit a moment later, enough to disorient the autosenses of a suit of power armor. The Blackheart let the sensations flow over him, shattering his ear drums, singeing his skin, and branding riotous spots onto his retinas.

    Around him, a half dozen fully-armored Terminators did the same, albeit with their nigh-impenetrable and rune-bedecked tactical dreadnought armor helping them to ignore the attack. Like a fraternal group of enraged steers, Huron’s elite stamped heavy boots and brandished brutal fists and axes in a barely restrained thirst to unleash carnage. Had the master of the Red Corsairs been capable of hearing in that moment, he would have relished the clash of ceramite on steel and the neutrally induced racking of bolter shells in combi-bolter breeches. In any case, Huron rose from his crouch without showing the slightest irritation at his sudden disfigurement.

    “Hamadrya,” he whispered with a ragged breath. The hideous and impish creature clinging to his back uncoiled itself from its hiding place and crawled parasitically to its master’s neck. Without hesitation, the creature buried fangs and claws into the exposed flesh there. But rather than vampirically leeching, the Hamadrya fed Huron a portion of power. Flesh reknitted into the brutal, deadened face Blackheart chose to wear. Sensory organs rebuilt and scoured themselves clean of scar tissue. All the damage was undone, and just in time for Huron to see the first of the boarders step through.

    Despite the size of the breach being large enough to accommodate a normal Terminator, the new arrivals still had to duck to get through. Two figures of luminescent white and yellow psycho-plastics forced their way onto the bridge, each with an ornamented arm held up as if to block a punch. The Terminators wasted no time, unleashing a firestorm at the intruders. Bolter shells cascaded toward the breech and detonated against shimmering force fields in a spray of blue-white energy and metallic shrapnel. The breachers pushed forward with their shimmershields and brought around glinting swords that even a Terminator would have to wield two-handed. As if in response, a chugging autocannon roared. The heavy caliber shells forced the two invaders to halt in their advance, but enough room had been cleared to allow more through.

    And come they did. Another four wraithbone brutes raced onto the bridge and adopted formation around their comrades. Two threw up their own shimmershields in support, and two with heavy distortion cannons protected the flanks of the shieldwall. Finally, behind this veritable fortification of science and warp-tech, came the enemy commander. Huron could see the indistinct outline of a thin, Eldar figure, but the wraithguard gave him no time to size the leader up. At an unspoken command, the ghost warriors charged.

    Huron snarled with savage delight and met them head on, his Terminators a half-step behind. A gleaming wraithblade fell and he caught it in the grip of his power fist. The edge sank only a few centimeters into the damned ceramite before halting and Blackheart returned the favor by burying his axe in the side of his foe’s head. The axe blade stuck for a moment, and the wraithguard pulled at its own sword, refusing to accept its defeat. With herculean, warp-spawned strength, Huron pulled his taller foe off balance and knocked it onto its back. As the Terminators engaged in their own combats around him, Huron stamped down on the bicep-equivalent of the wraithguard’s shield-arm, opened his palm to the wraithbone golem, and unleashed Hell.

    Flames that both mutated and burned wash over the wraithguard’s broken head and chest, melting the construct like butter exposed to a blowtorch. Huron felt the thing dying beneath him, spasming and squirming like any mortal would in its position. A broad smile creased his face as, despite the wraithguard’s distinct lack of a mouth, he could hear it scream.

    Some feral, arrogant impulse, perhaps caused by the desperate, pained cry of the wraithguard made Blackheart look up and see the enemy commander. The Eldar, more clearly revealed now, was what passed for statuesque amongst his fey kind. He was every bit the haughty, superior lord, wearing ostentatious armor complete with force shield and leaning on a spear that burned with an ancient, forgotten power. Both of the Autarch’s eyes, one fleshy and alien and the other mechanical and arcane, glared at Huron with unapologetic disgust. Even as he melted down the last of the wraithguard’s head and upper torso into a pool of viscous fluid and psychic energy, Huron returned the look with a mocking smile, daring the enemy to try and claim vengeance.

    Blackheart watched as anger rose like bile through the Eldar, and as one of his Terminators found himself caught up in a delusion of grandeur by charging the fey lord. Without warning or much conscious effort, the Autarch lashed out with his immolating spear and struck off the Terminator’s head before making a single step forward and letting the hulk of man, metal, and ceramite fall to the deck behind him with a clang.

    Hamadrya shrieked in sudden and bright fear, the emotions traveling through its talons and into Huron’s nervous system. Blackheart growled in irritation and the Hamadrya withdrew, slinking back to a pool of shadow hanging from the Tyrant’s back. Huron turned back to his new enemy and spoke with the tone of the unimpressed.

    “Prince Yriel,” he said, even and measured. “I was going to be mad at you for causing all of this annoyance, but I think that spear of yours shall be ample recompense.”

    Yriel started forward without a word, refusing to dignify Huron with the effort of speech.

    The Autarch’s steps became bounding strides that pushed forward and side to side, and one in particular lent itself to a sudden, blinding thrust. Thunder cracked and fire billowed as spear tip met rune-etched power fist, two full force blows becoming one hammering impact. Huron was forced back a step, and Yriel, being lighter and weaker, bounded back in a series of dancing steps.

    Yriel did not spare a moment. The spear came forward again and again in a series of questing stabs at maximum range. Huron parried as best he could, but with each successive strike, the Lord of Iyanden came closer to a vital blow. The Tyrant spat and hissed as the spear’s heat scorched his armor and burnt his exposed skin. Yriel’s strikes came faster and faster, the spear blade appearing to come from multiple points at once, until Huron was forced to rely on pure instinct. And it was not enough. One lightning thrust came for the Tyrant’s belly, and Huron noticed it too late, only managing to knock the blade down so that it would strike his thigh and not impale him.

    Still, it felt like a volcano had erupted in his leg. Pain, worse even than that melta blast on Badab, rocketed through him. Bone, nerves, muscle and veins tore and cauterized in an instant, rendering the limb practically useless. Only the splinting strength of Huron’s armor and his sheer demented willpower kept him standing. Some deep inner part of Blackheart’s soul relished the extremity of the sensation, doubtless the same part that had sworn undying allegiance to the Dark Prince, and in his moment of excrutiation, Huron swore to the youngest of his masters that he would deliver the Prince’s soul.

    Yriel withdrew the blade as painfully as he could, wrenching it up and down and side to side to widen the wound. He brought the blade back in a spinning arc, blood sizzling on its burning edge, and stepped in for a killing blow. Yriel struck with the spear as if it were a halberd, seeking to take Huron’s head just as he had done to the Terminator. But in doing so, he had closed the gap to the dread Tyrant. Huron screamed and blocked the falling spear in a shower of sparks and flame. He brought his axe around, twisting on the pivot of his ruined leg. Yriel raised his own arm-mounted shield and blocked in a flare of energy even brighter than those of his wraithguard cohort. Still, while the axe blow was robbed of its killing potency, it managed to knock Yriel sidelong.

    Limping forward as best he could, Huron kept the gap tight. Yriel continued his rain of attacks, but now they came in slashing arcs with a range Blackheart could counter from. The Tyrant hammered and swung, and the Prince slashed and weaved. Finally, Yriel struck upward and Huron saw his opportunity. Blackheart swung down with his fist and parried the attack, and Yriel predictably turned its momentum into a complete rotation that culminated in an executioner’s downward chop. Huron brought his fist up and caught the haft of the spear in an inescapable grip. Without hesitating, he pulled the spear to one side and struck down with his axe at Yriel’s head.

    Any other mortal Huron had met would have been finished by such a blow. But Yriel was faster than any opponent the Tyrant had ever known. In one flurry of movement, Yriel simultaneously swayed aside and discharged the weapon concealed in his augmented eye. The laser beneath unleashed its full fury on the Tyrant, punching into his breastplate and moving toward his head. Had it struck there, Blackheart’s head would have been vaporized, but as damned fortune would have it, the axe bit home in the same moment. Yriel’s dodge had not been enough to avoid the axe entirely, and the weapon sliced one arm clean off, shearing through shoulder blade and armpit without so much as a hint of resistance. The secondary effect of the axe was to knock Yriel’s focus aside so that the laser simply ruined Huron’s other shoulder rather than killing him.

    Both warriors staggered away from one another in infernal agony. Yriel fell to his knees still clutching his spear and now blind in his spent eye. Huron collapsed on the side of his ruined leg, clutching his smoldering chest with his smoldering power fist in a futile effort to quell the burning pain there. Their duel had lasted only tens of seconds, and around them their warriors were falling. Perforated and ruined Terminators collapsed on pulverized and dissected Wraithguard. The final standing ghost warrior, armed with a distortion cannon, stepped forward and next to Huron to execute the Tyrant at point blank range. The construct’s head exploded into a rain of fragments as the dying autocannon-wielding Terminator spat the last of his breath and wrath. The Wraithguard fell like a puppet with cut strings, and Huron picked himself up.

    “Attend me, whelp,” Blackheart gurgled through mouthfuls of blood and burnt lips. On Huron’s back, the Hamadrya slithered out, its own form blackened and twitching. The creature climbed down to the Tyrant’s leg and buried itself in the wound, earning a bellow of agony from the former Chapter Master. Huron, now furious and wrathful, hefted his axe and limped toward the kneeling Yriel.

    “I will feed your soul to Slaanesh, Yriel,” he growled as he stomped unevenly, “but not before I find your beloved Iyanden. Not before you watch as the handmaidens of the Dark Prince bend your family, friends, and kindred to the most debased agonies imaginable.”

    Yriel dropped his spear, the weapon clanging on the deck. He sagged like a warrior defeated, his vacant shoulder pouring blood down his armor and onto the floor. He looked up with his one good eye and watched as Huron neared striking range.

    For the first quarter second, only the sound of a tiny blade cutting the air was any indication that something had happened. Then came the stillness. Huron had simply stopped moving forward, and Yriel was frozen in time, his hand outstretched and holding an elegant shuriken pistol. Yriel traced the view from the tip of the barrel to the Tyrant’s face, which was now missing one eye.

    Thoughts tried to form in Huron’s head, the very beginning fragments of what happened, how it happened, and what could be done about it. But none of them finished. None of them could. Not when a shuriken round had punctured his eye and torn into his brain, only to reflect off of the interior of a reinforced skull and further shred his grey cells.

    And without a hint of grace, the Tyrant of Badab fell.
    The Arena of Death, where I write the duel you imagine.

    The Coming Apocalyse, my blog for 40k and FB rules development.

  6. #6
    Chapter Master deathwing_marine's Avatar
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    Re: Arena of Death

    That was a great read, you gave a lot of life to Huron. Very nice.
    How about Ragnar Blackmane vs Lady Malys? I think they contrast rather well.
    AngryAngel: May the coming year give the dark angels..only victory..in the emperors name. As well may Thomas Tillington fist all who dare oppose him.

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  7. #7
    Chapter Master Son of Sanguinius's Avatar
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    Re: Arena of Death

    Thanks, deathwing_marine. I will get on that next. It will be up later today or tomorrow.
    The Arena of Death, where I write the duel you imagine.

    The Coming Apocalyse, my blog for 40k and FB rules development.

  8. #8
    Commander hawo0313's Avatar
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    Re: Arena of Death

    wow... that was amazing i love it how you used a boarding action to set up the fight and had the characters butcher their way towards each other gaining alot of character while doing it
    "Duty, honor, and valor are either in your heart or they are not. You will never know until you are truly tested"
    Ajani goldmane

  9. #9
    Chapter Master Son of Sanguinius's Avatar
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    Re: Arena of Death

    At the request of deathwing_marine, here is a duel between Ragnar Blackmane and Lady Malys.




    “Damned bitch,” Ragnar swore inwardly as he ran, pistol with its last clip in one hand and growling frostblade in the other.

    In a straight line, he was probably as fast as she was. His Fenrisian physique and augmented muscles powered him ahead like a ceramite cannon shot. He plowed through walls and domiciles, heedless of the damage he was causing. But every so often, there was something in the way that made him turn, and that in turn gave her ground.

    He did need to turn around to know she was gaining, that she was dancing manically over obstacles like some masochistic troubadour, or that she was choosing not to use her Astartes-murdering pistol out her own arrogant confidence. She laughed like a damned and possessed queen, insane with a hint of something even more dangerous behind her lack of morals.

    But at least his plan was working. Just a little farther.

    Almost from the outset of the surprise attack, Ragnar understood that he was the quarry. His brothers had been pinned by vehicle fire and ravaged by hyperfast aerial attacks, forcing them into establishing a defensive perimeter when they would much rather take the fight to their foe. But the xenos feints and faux-retreats were too obvious. Each of them had come from a direction that Ragnar would be ready to strike from. Each of them had been initiated almost the instant a counter-attack had begun. The damn harpy leading the xenos wanted Ragnar to take the bait.

    In her arrogance, she thought she knew how to hunt better than a Wolf.

    So Ragnar changed the rules of the game. He ordered his men to stand their ground, much to their chagrin, and broke through the perimeter himself, relying on nothing more than his own agility and heightened reflexes to escape. The first to follow him were the sky-riders, shrieking Eldar on arrowhead jetbikes or anti-grav platforms with the profiles of birds of prey. In their overconfidence, they taunted and toyed with the Wolf Lord, and they paid for it with their lives, taken out in mid-maneuver by saga-worthy bolt pistol shots or well-timed frag grenades.

    Then came the shadow-things. When he was able to actually see them, they did not appear to be as preternaturally fast or agile as their more traditional kin. They were half real, shifting like wisps of dark vapor and stalking rather than chasing. But when they struck, their threat was all too tangible. Ragnar’s armor was scorched and scarred in several places where their ethereal ranged attacks scored indirect hits, and his relic frostblade still spit flecks of viscous darkness after carving them apart.

    Finally, the superiority complex of the commander compelled her to take on the fight herself, which was exactly what Ragnar had intended. He couldn’t help it if he had bit off more than he could chew, especially after seeing what she could do against some of his Company, but there was no room for the changing of minds now.

    And then, out of nowhere, Ragnar ran out of room for anything. He skidded to a halt as a rockrete and plasteel fortification rose in front of him. The wall had been intended to redirect invasion forces to a bottleneck several blocks down, and there was no way Ragnar could go through it, or climb its sheer surface. He turned immediately, raising his bolt pistol as he did so.

    It wasn’t fast enough. The xenos woman’s feet slammed into him in a shockingly powerful drop kick, throwing him back into the wall. Rather than fall to her back, she arched her body into an almost perfect circle and flipped, landing on her feet without a hint of effort.

    As she hit the ground, Ragnar hit the wall and shattered the section around his power pack. He barked like a mad thunderwolf and raised his arm again. His targeting systems pinpointed her hips, heart and head, and he started to pull the trigger.

    Like a pict-feed set on fast-forward, the Eldar sashayed aside in same moment. Slow enough to allow Ragnar to fire, fast enough to allow the bolts to fly by her and detonate in the ruins behind her. It happened in such a flash that Ragnar’s cognitive mind did not bother to process it. As soon as his armor and brain registered the misfires, he had reacquired and fired again. Three more shots pulverized rockrete. Three more shredded a fuel canister into a leaking mess. The last three of the magazine died as their predecessors, in futility.

    Ragnar realized that it wasn’t that the queen was fast enough to dodge the projectiles in flight. Rather, she was predicting exactly where he would fire, and moving at the perfect moment to defend herself. How such a thing was possible was secondary. He had to kill her, now.

    Using the wall as a launching platform, Ragnar pushed and leapt at the woman, his frostblade coming across in a down angled sweep that would be impossible to duck beneath. To his surprise, she flipped sideways and over the swing. Ragnar landed, one foot in front of the other and powered into another swing, and another. He chopped, hacked, stabbed, and slashed. Nothing found its mark. In return, she kissed the Astartes with perfectly aimed slices. Her hissing, shimmering blade created neat perforations in his armor. Each was stained with blood, and though his wounds had sealed quickly, the sheer number of them was quickly ramping up his body temperature and hormone production to a pace that would tire even him.

    And then, like a cloud in a desert sky, her patience vanished. Whether he had somehow offended her, or her whimsical xenos mind had simply grown tired of her own games, Ragnar neither knew nor cared. She banshee-shrieked and ran Ragnar completely through. The Wolf Lord barked as his liver and intestines were split and skewered, and the woman ripped the blade clear in a welter of blood before his vengeful return swing could strike her down.

    Ragnar gripped his bolt pistol hard enough to put gouges in the handle and vomited blood into his helmet. He tossed his weapons aside and ripped off his helm, and failed to recover fast enough to see the woman strike again. She was caught in the grip of a spontaneous and murderous rage and rammed her strange sword into his chest, running through ceramite, a fused ribcage, a lung, and his primary heart. His organs pulsed out of tune around the weapon, and she pulled back again for another stab. Ragnar turned his shoulder into the blow and the pauldron parried the strike, to her surprise. But it was all the effort he could muster. The Wolf Lord fell to a knee and spewed out a spray of bile and crimson vitae.

    The Eldar woman stepped back and began twirling her blade, her mercurial mood alternating back to that of a cruel and malicious she-jester. She strolled around the dying Space Marine and giggled as he used one hand to support himself and the other to pointlessly try and stem the flow of blood near his belly.

    “Be a good boy and tell your corpse-god that Lady Malys sends her regards,” she said in the manner of an aristocrat asking a favor of a child.

    Ragnar gurgled up words that the woman could not hear. She waltzed up to him and leaned over.

    “Say again?” she cooed with a mocking tone.

    “Too close,” Ragnar said through a mouthful of red plasma.

    Lady Malys smiled. “Is this the part where my overconfidence lets you run me through?”

    “Not quite,” he said, and he reared up. Malys leapt back, far too fast for his frostblade to find her. But the hand that came up didn’t have a frostblade. It opened and tossed a primed frag grenade to the area where she was going to come down. In the air, Lady Malys had no way of altering her direction or propelling herself away from the weapon.

    The charge detonated in a storm so close and encompassing that no amount of precognition would provide escape. She took the full brunt of the fire, concussive force, and shrapnel, and was thrown into a pile of rubble several meters behind her. The Archon rolled off the pile in a haze of dust, spasming and screaming in a surprisingly unfamiliar agony. The voice behind her voice returned, as furious as she was pained. She twitched and writhed unnaturally, even for a woman mangled, as if the thing hidden in her soul were unsuccessfully trying to compel her.

    Now Ragnar picked up his frostblade.

    With one compliant leg and good arm, he dragged himself toward the beset Eldar. He wanted to laugh at her sudden lack of grace. In his core, he felt the pangs of something truly barbaric, a thirst for vengeance and blood that was all too easy give in to.

    Ragnar roared, not as a man, but as an animal. He drove his weapon into Lady Malys, letting the shredding diamond teeth reduce her heart and lungs to a pulped waste. She screamed again, without lungs, as her second soul vented its desperate frustration at being denied.

    Ragnar’s soul answered. He ripped out the sword, cast it aside and straddled her, meeting her face to face. He continued his animal bellow and grabbed her face, even as his fangs lengthened and his fingernails mutated to claws. He buried his emerging snout into her neck and tore at the flesh there, oblivious to the fact that his muscles were swelling large enough to tear through the weak points of his armor and producing tufts of black fur.

    The thing that was Blackmane reared back, pointed its blood-smeared jaws to the sky, and howled.
    The Arena of Death, where I write the duel you imagine.

    The Coming Apocalyse, my blog for 40k and FB rules development.

  10. #10
    Chapter Master deathwing_marine's Avatar
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    Re: Arena of Death

    What an inglorious end to miss Malys! Another great story. I hope you keep doing these.
    AngryAngel: May the coming year give the dark angels..only victory..in the emperors name. As well may Thomas Tillington fist all who dare oppose him.

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  11. #11
    Chapter Master Son of Sanguinius's Avatar
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    Re: Arena of Death

    The elf showdown will be up tomorrow.
    The Arena of Death, where I write the duel you imagine.

    The Coming Apocalyse, my blog for 40k and FB rules development.

  12. #12
    Commander hawo0313's Avatar
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    Re: Arena of Death

    for sneaky stuff

    (IG)Marbo vs (DE)Decapitator

    nice work with the malys vs blackmane
    "Duty, honor, and valor are either in your heart or they are not. You will never know until you are truly tested"
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  13. #13
    Chapter Master Son of Sanguinius's Avatar
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    Re: Arena of Death

    Elf showdown will have to wait a while. I've had no time to write today. After that will be Marbo versus Decapitator.

    It would be nice if one of these fights didn't have pointy ears.
    The Arena of Death, where I write the duel you imagine.

    The Coming Apocalyse, my blog for 40k and FB rules development.

  14. #14
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    Re: Arena of Death

    Wow, this is some fantastic stuff! Thank you for really painting a vivid and most compelling picture!
    There are quite a few awesome matchups that would be fun to read about. Being a huge fan of both the Necrons and the Thousand Sons:
    Perhaps a suitable mustache-twirling, dastardly long-term evil plan sharing encounter between Trazyn the Infinite and Ahriman?


    (Alternatively a meeting between The Stormlord and Gahzkull would be absolutely delightful lol)

  15. #15
    Chapter Master Son of Sanguinius's Avatar
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    Re: Arena of Death

    Well, sorry for making you guys wait. Life doesn't always accommodate free time.

    Tomorrow, I'll have the Elf brothers fighting their great grandmother and great uncle up, and as a second treat, King Louen Leoncouer will throw down with Emperor Karl Franz, both courtesy of Danny's suggestions.

    Nazrax, I'll get on that Trazyn/Ahriman story as soon as I finish Marbo and the Decapitator. Thanks for your reply.
    The Arena of Death, where I write the duel you imagine.

    The Coming Apocalyse, my blog for 40k and FB rules development.

  16. #16
    Chapter Master RunepriestRidcully's Avatar
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    Re: Arena of Death

    I second the idea of a Trazyn/Ahriman story, but I am not sure about a duel, or at least one where they die, more like a foiling of plans which would much be more in character for a of intellectuals such as them. Heck maybe a three way with He'stan thrown in as their plans converge on a archaeological dig?
    Galrouch vrs Lord Muazumaundi possibly?
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  17. #17
    Chapter Master Son of Sanguinius's Avatar
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    Re: Arena of Death

    Sorry for the wait.



    What is madness?

    Is it the desire to cause unnecessary suffering? Is it a marked insensitivity to the employment of violent overkill? Could it be the natural impulse to dominate, bereft of limitations or morals?

    Teclis had once heard a human philosopher define the concept of madness as expecting a new outcome in a repeated set of circumstances. Though the thought was simplistic, the High Loremaster could and did sympathize with its essence. As he looked out at the horrendous slaughter before the Sea Gates of Lothern, and watched it try to break into the valley bay beyond, Teclis fought to keep a wave of revulsion and depression from rising like bile in his throat.

    There had been, at the outset of the engagement, a semblance of order to the battle. Druchii ships came spearing toward the gate, the first of them knowing full well that their chances at survival were next to nothing. The archers and machine crews on the walls or at defensive entrenchment points outside the gates opened fire, pin-cushioning corsairs and igniting boats. The Druchii returned the favor with crossbow fire and enslaved winged beasts. Invasion groups and scouting parties charged the choke points, if for nothing else to slow the tide of arrows as the main forces tried to make their landings and push inside the gates. The Asur responded magically, Teclis’s own Sapherian cohort stalling the push in its tracks. The Dark Kin were in no mood to be outdone and the sorceresses of their covens eagerly met the challenge.

    And so the battle had gone, a somewhat predictable assortment of thrusts, parries, and counter-thrusts, all of which drew precious blood. The Loremaster wondered whether his brother saw the fight in such a manner, each maneuver like the steps in a dancing duel.

    As if on queue, Teclis felt a hand on his shoulder.

    “Are you alright?” Tyrion asked, stepping around into Teclis’s line of sight.

    “I am,” Teclis answered.

    Tyrion looked out at the battle unfolding. Teclis imagined he could see the predictions and decisions being laid out in Tyrion’s mind, multiple scenarios playing out simultaneously and to their logical conclusions. There was a precision there that the Loremaster admired and feared. The quality was what gave the Defender of Ulthuan unparalleled skill as a general and what made Tyrion quite capable of ignoring the emotional cost of such engagements.

    “I’m waiting for him,” Tyrion said, as though Teclis had inquired about his intent. “This has all gone too much to script. When the twist comes, we have to be ready.”

    “Does it bother you?” Teclis asked. He instantly regretted the question and berated himself inwardly. If there was even the slightest chance that Tyrion’s concentration could be unsettled, now was not the time for it.

    Tyrion did not answer immediately. He looked down from the balcony they stood on, taking in the waste of every elven corpse. When he turned to Teclis, his eyes were completely unchanged.

    “Do you remember father’s pavilion? And the day they took us?” the Defender asked his brother.

    Teclis nodded.

    “I dreamt of being here,” Tyrion said. “I wanted nothing more than to leave a thousand thousand enemies in my wake, and to be cheered as one of the Isle’s finest. I learned rather quickly that glory was not worth the cost in pain and lives. But you are.”

    Tyrion put his hand back on Teclis’s shoulder.

    “Our people are. Maybe it does bother me, somewhere deep in my soul, in a place that I would rather not explore. But that bother will never see me hesitate or question my purpose in this.”

    Teclis searched for the words to reply. But if he had them and could find them, they did not see the light of day. They were drowned, suffocated, and smothered by a sound of mind-shattering power. Part roar of the monstrous, part screech of the damned, and part challenge to all sane life, the sound echoed throughout the valley beyond the sea gate, shaking stone and morale and reminding each and every arrogant Elven soul of their miniscule place in grand scale of the world. The Loremaster doubled over. Only his brother’s strength of will kept them both from collapsing entirely. And then, as quickly as it had come, the sound retreated, but only in the manner of a scorpion tail, hanging in the air and waiting for another choice moment.

    The Loremaster forced himself to stand straight and looked out, past the battle, and into gloomy thunderheads above and beyond the eager ships. A vast shadow shifted in the clouds, hazy and indistinct but losing none of its potency as an omen of pure malice.

    “Seraphon,” Tyrion said. Whether Tyrion’s sharper eyes could actually see the dread wyrm or he simply assumed no other fell dragon capable of such an arrival didn’t matter. Teclis believed him, with no small amount of fear in his heart.

    “It’s going to be at least two hours before Imrik arrives,” Tyrion said. “If the Witch King commits now, we…”

    As if on queue, the massive, draconian form of Seraphon burst from the skyline and unleashed another crippling bellow. This time, Teclis stood his ground firmly and forced himself to look. He was cursed with the sight of the Witch King.

    Malekith sat atop Seraphon, armored in midnight black and emanating tangible evil. The horns of his barbarous crown crackled with etheric power and he looked out across the defenses with nothing but the desire to kill and dominate.

    The Witch King needed no reins, spurs, or lash to control his steed. He raised both hands, as if in supplication to some forgotten god. In his black iron palms, two churning spheres of unlight coalesced into being. The energies within them spun like hyper-compressed hurricanes and yet the Lord of Naggaroth held them with all the necessary care of a child’s baubles. He turned his palms to the defensive emplacements above the gate and simply let the orbs go. Seraphon soared past the walls, not even noticing the arrows that pattered harmlessly from his scaled hide.

    The orbs struck and released the tempests contained within. The full, condensed force of two natural disasters struck the defenders and their havens, obliterating elves, steel, and stone. The luckiest suffered near instantaneous compression deaths, their bodies flattened before their minds could register pain. The rest were either shredded limb from limb by chaotic winds or simply thrown off the wall to plummet hundreds of feet into land and water.

    Completely unconcerned with the insane carnage he had just caused, Malekith turned Seraphon down into the valley and descended upon the supply lines. Tyrion stepped forward, drawing his sword in impotent fury, but Teclis had a more potent answer. The Loremaster practically spat an incantation and raised his staff to the sky before angling the stave at Malekith. The weather vented the mage’s anger, sending bolts of lightning into the Witch King. The first struck Malekith with no warning, but his armor simply dissipated the energies. Now alert to the attack, the Witch King raised an arrogant hand to the sky and let the electricity hammer into it with little effect. Malekith turned his mount across the valley and toward the balcony the brothers stood upon, summoning the dark powers once more.

    “Can you give me a boost?” Tyrion said.

    Teclis spared a glance to his brother, but quickly looked back at the Witch King.

    “You can’t be serious,” Teclis replied.

    “Well, I’m not about to sit here and do nothing,” Tyrion said as the Witch King neared.

    “There are alternatives to…” Teclis started to say, but Tyrion was already running.

    The Defender of Ulthuan leapt from the balcony at full speed, his armor proving no more hindrance than a simple robe. Malekith realized what Tyrion intended and turned his attack toward the warrior, vomiting forth a torrent of green fire from his contemptuous palm. Teclis extended his staff with a swordman’s thrust and a rush of air boomed out of the balcony. The wave hit Tyrion, threw him into Seraphon’s neck, and blew the flames of the Witch King into shoulder of Seraphon, making the dragon bark and twist away in surprising pain.

    “Damnit,” Teclis hissed. He slammed the base of his staff into the ground and called upon the power of Lileath, filling the staff with the purest light, like the one he had used to defeat Malekith at Finuval. He lowered the staff and took aim, this time targeting the dragon so that he could ground the beast and rob Malekith of the aerial advantage. Every second saw Teclis speak a half dozen words of a memorized incantation that bound his intent to the tortured essence of the dragon, making it impossible to miss.

    He only stopped to take a deep breath, and with all of his will, he fired.

    The shield had been perfectly timed. So much so that Teclis did not have time to perceive and counter it. It couldn’t stop the attack, and it was never meant to. At the last possible moment, a barrier of deathly energy sprang into existence not even inches from the end of Teclis’ staff. As the power of the staff was unleashed, it vented into the shield, which directed the power up and back, like a cannon fired point blank into the side of a mountain. The balcony exploded with enough concussive force to match any dragon’s roar.

    + + + + + +

    Tyrion screamed in pain. He felt the backlash of Teclis’ attack as if it had been let loose upon his own body. Every coherent thought he had, few though they were, focused on maintaining the grip of his sword and the horn of Seraphon’s neck. He flapped against the dragon’s neck like a banner in the wind, his feet instinctively and unsuccessfully trying to find purchase on Seraphon’s burnt shoulder.

    The Defender turned his bloodshot eyes to the Witch King just in time to see Malekith preparing another magical onslaught. Tyrion had no interest in letting him procede. With a grunt of effort, he slashed at Seraphon’s neck and let the burning blade bite into the scaled flesh with startling ease. The dragon bucked and screamed, feeling the fires of Khaine scorch into the wound. Malekith abandoned the spell to control in his beast, and Tyrion used the fleeting moment of opportunity. He swung along the neck and kicked forward, planting one foot into the shoulder. He stabbed into the meat there and launched himself Malekith.

    But it did not have the intended effect. Tyrion hit Malekith with all the impact of a bird hitting a fortress wall. The Defender fell onto Seraphon’s back, and an instant later, Malekith had him by the throat. Tyrion squirmed as the mail links around his neck heated to scalding temperatures. The Defender slashed with his sword and the blade rebounded off of Malekith’s helm in a shower of sparks and fire. The Witch King recoiled and released Tyrion, who promptly struck again, denting Malekith’s breastplate and earning a moan of pain. The Witch King unleashed another torrent of fire over Tyrion, unconcerned about the pain being unloaded on Seraphon. The enchantments of Tyrion’s armor stemmed the worst of it but left the prince with a sickly, foul feeling in the pit of his guy. Malekith drew his blade and slashed in the same motion, and Tyrion barely rolled out of its path.

    + + + + + +

    Teclis inhaled with a sudden sharpness as his soul returned from the edge of the abyss. His body felt like a charred corpse, every movement proving an unspeakable agony. Without consciously intending to, he whispered the words of healing, drawing upon life magic to restore some form and function to his flesh. The sound of hooves on stone drew his attention.

    Around him, the room and balcony that had belonged to Sea Lord Aislinn, and which had been graciously lent to the brothers, was no more. Burnt stone and rubble lay strewn about in place of delicate furniture and elegant works of art. Tapestries and written histories died infernal deaths, transforming into worthless ash. But it was the woman that held his pained attention.

    She was at once glorious and damnable, impossibly tempting and utterly revolting. Her hair writhed like a gorgon’s mane, caught in an ethereal wind and lashing with poisoned barbs. She straddled an enormous pegasus, a creature blacker than night and with burning, hateful embers for eyes. The woman held a wicked lance in one hand and stroked the neck of her mount with the other. The gesture had a disgusting sensuality with it, making the animal seem more of an enslaved lover than a beast of burden. Through his pain and injury, Teclis felt competing rushes of survival instinct and unbridled lust, and hated himself for both.

    “Hello, young prince,” the woman said with a serpent’s seductive tone.

    Teclis squirmed and picked himself up, looking for his staff, but he could not find it. He drew his sword despite knowing that he could not strike her down, even at his strongest. And now, robbed of his staff and broken by his own spell, he hovered within the reach of death. The pegasus stamped the ground, its bloodlust palable and wholly unnatural for one of its species. The woman slithered from its back and gestured, making it hold its ground.

    She sashayed up to Teclis, watching him intently as his eyes followed the swing of her hips and the perfect curve of her exposed breasts. She licked her lips in anticipation as the Loremaster lowered his sword and made a staggering step toward her. The woman dropped her lance and embraced Teclis, letting her naked flesh press against his blackened skin and making him shiver and moan.

    “Morathi,” Teclis whispered, as if her name were that of a deeply desired taboo. The Queen of Naggaroth cradled the Loremaster’s head as it came to rest on the silken skin of her shoulder.

    “This is only the beginning,” Morathi promised. “You will know love and agony that the gods only dream of. The brightness of your soul will shed light on the darkest of sensations, and together we will achieve the impossible.”

    + + + + + +

    Tyrion let the black runeblade pass inches overhead and kicked across the Witch King’s face, earning a loud clang of star metal. Malekith grabbed the extended leg and struck down with his sword. The Defender blocked, but both blades rebounded off of his armor and sent a thunderous jolt of pain through him. Frustrated with his own lack of mobility, Malekith cut himself loose of the ties that strapped him to Seraphon and rose to a stand with surprising agility. He hammered down with his sword, chipping the ancient length of Tyrion’s blade. Malekith hauled back for a two-handed strike, roaring in his incandescent fury.

    The Defender rolled onto his shoulder as the blade fell, letting it bury in Seraphon’s neck. Only the iron will of Malekith kept the creature on its path and spewing noxious gasses over the ranks of warriors below. Tyrion shifted and hacked down as fast and hard as he could.

    The Witch King’s hands parted from his arms at the wrist.

    Malekith stood there, stunned, and his control over Seraphon began to slip. The beast began to writhe in previously denied pain. It shut its eyes in a futile effort to block out injury it had not known since the cages of Kar Klarond. The dragon slammed into the valley wall, crushing its skull, shattering its neck, and throwing its master against the same obstacle. Tyrion clung to Seraphon’s back as the creature bounced off the rock and fell onto the elves below. In his peripheral vision, he saw the black-armored form of Malekith caught in free fall.

    + + + + + +

    Teclis watched Morathi’s eyes turn to cold, depthless fury. If such a thing were possible, it made her even more beautiful. To know that she was capable of such emotional extremes was to know that she were capable of an undying, unquenchable passion. And Teclis would know those passions, gods willing.

    He almost yelped in denial as she turned her countenance from him and stormed back toward her pegasus. She mounted the creature and turned to take off. But she paused, turned back to Teclis, and to his delight, beckoned him forward. He handed her his sword and let her drag him over the back of her steed.

    + + + + + +

    Tyrion picked himself up, inch by inch, with effort that had never been required of him before. He counted several broken ribs, a broken arm, and a copious amount of internal bleeding. The Everqueen’s talisman carried in his armor worked feverishly to keep him alive. His sword lay on the ground next to him, broken beyond all but the greatest artisan’s skill. He picked up the hilt and checked the sharpness of the jagged remainder of the weapon. He looked up, and when his vision cleared, he spotted the prostrate form of the Witch King.

    It was a sight that filled him with hope and hate in equal measure. He staggered over to Malekith and kneeled down next to the Lord of Naggaroth. Ragged, gurgled breaths escaped the tyrant’s armor, and Tyrion wasted no time. He found a gap in the neck plating and placed the broken blade over it.

    “No!”

    The sound cut through him like a blade, feminine in its tone and shrill in its pitch, with all the desperation of a panicked mother and the indignation of an insulted despot. Tyrion knew the source of the voice and fought the urge to look up. He had no strength left to fight her off. He knew he could not hesitate.

    The Defender drove the broken sword into Malekith’s neck, slicing easily through vertebrae and spinal cord and ending the Witch King’s six millennia reign of terror. The Druchii Mistress screamed her denied ambition, a sound that none of the elves present would ever forget.

    Ready to accept Morathi’s vengeance upon him, Tyrion looked to the sky. He watched with sudden and surprising horror as he saw the charred body laying across the back of her pegasus. Without ceremony or even her normal malicious patience, Morathi landed and dismounted. She dragged the Loremaster off the steed and forced him onto his knees facing Tyrion.

    Tyrion saw his brother’s eyes. They were glossed over, hazy portals to a mind lost to a hell of its own desires.

    Blue flashed.

    Tyrion watched as Teclis’ head rolled toward him. It was surreal for him, an impossible moment. He watched the head, waiting for it to speak, to imbue him with some wisdom of the wider world or the realm of magic. The glossy eyes stared back at him, and he could not look away. He was oblivious to the advance of the Queen, and paid her no heed as she took his head as well.
    The Arena of Death, where I write the duel you imagine.

    The Coming Apocalyse, my blog for 40k and FB rules development.

  18. #18
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    Re: Arena of Death

    Wooo!! Morathi for the win!
    That was great, I have hated Teclis for 20 years! I felt like cheering when he succumbed to Morathi without a fight, and then fell to his knees to die. I will definitely be cackling evilly for some time now whenever I think about this.
    I think Malekith found a suitably unexpected and unremarkable death.
    Tyrion...well he was almost as bad as Teclis and twice the arrogant ass. Glad he watched his twin die knowing that he died lost to his basest desires.
    Morathi has spent what, more than 6 thousand years dealing with Chaos and whatever else the Warhammer world could throw at her? I almost feel sorry for the Gods...Hell Hath No Fury...



    Thank you Son of Sanguinius-these stories are all well done and good reads. I look forward to more!

  19. #19
    Chapter Master Son of Sanguinius's Avatar
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    Re: Arena of Death

    And here be the regents of men, at danny-d-b's request. Tomorrow should see Marbo and Kheradruakh doing their shadow dance.



    Ludwig watched as his ward stood in the pouring rain. It seemed rather pointless for the Emperor to be doing so when the outer flap of his tent stretched out to a point only a few meters behind him. From where he stood, Ludwig could hear the fat drops pinging off of his liege’s dwarf-forged armor. The feathers of the Imperial Helm were soaked and drooping like the tail of a dejected peacock. A gentle stream of water formed along the underside of the Reikland Runefang at Karl Franz’s hip, fed by a dozen rivulets.

    Though part of him had no interest in being soaked at the moment, Ludwig was more compelled than most men, especially where duty was concerned. He joined his Emperor out on the edge of the ridge, overlooking the wider pass through the Grey Mountains.

    “How many times must I insist that you allow me to act in your stead?” he asked with an uncharacteristic informality.

    “As many times as it takes for you to understand that I am not to be swayed on this,” Karl Franz answered.

    “This sort of thing is the very purpose of my office, my lord,” Ludwig countered, feeling an unpleasant sense of déjà vu.

    “Must we hash through this argument again, Schwarzhelm?” Karl asked. “King Louen must be called to account for the actions of his banner-men. We have enough warmongering, thievery, and political ambition in our nation without having to worry about the same from a supposed ally.”

    “You are the finest statesman in the Old World, my lord,” Ludwig said. “Could this not be handled by diplomacy?”

    It felt strange to Ludwig to be on the peaceful side of the argument. Ever was the Emperor staying his vengeful hand. But not this day. This day, the Emperor wanted to be that vengeful hand, and that spoke volumes to Ludwig, about how important the issue had become to the Emperor.

    “I have grown tired of learning that my envoys and emissaries have been rebuffed,” the Emperor answered. “I need to find out for myself if Louen has lost his way, and if he has, I need to end this in a manner that the lords and ladies of Breton will understand.”

    For a long moment, neither man said anything.

    “Have they moved?” Franz asked, cutting the silence.

    “Not that I am aware of,” Schwarzhelm answered.

    “Then let us end this,” Franz said, much to Ludwig’s surprise. “We are taking the pass. Have Deathclaw readied. And bring the would-be conqueror.”

    + + + + + + +

    King Louen sat in his ornamental throne, his hands resting on the arms, his fingers steepled before his face. Were it not for the barely detectable rising and falling of his chest as he breathed, one might have easily mistaken him for a statue of a deeply troubled monarch.

    “How has it come to this?”

    Louen said the words aloud, but there wasn’t an ear outside his own to hear them. He had, much earlier, banished his servants, liveried men, and nobles from his quarters to have some Lady-blessed peace and quiet. But the confusion and the guilt proved a more than serviceable dam for such notions.

    The smoldering remains of a fire burned in the center of the tent. Every so often, a burnt log would crumble and shift, adding a strange disruption to the emptiness. Louen stared into the embers, watching reds fade to blacks and his potential political maneuvers fade into dead ends, or more specifically, ends that meant war with the Empire.

    He wanted to hate Karl Franz for this, for forcing his hand and not handling the situation with his usual deftness. But he knew he could not. Every thought of wanting an exterior foe to be responsible was swamped and drowned by the knowledge that a corruption lurked at the heart of his realm. He cannot say who was responsible, when it started, or how far it truly went, but despite all his attempts to counter it, it had brought disaster to his people. Overambitious and arrogant lords were oppressing their people and allying such strengths that force of arms was neither a reliable or effective way of cowing them. Diseases rose and fell like invisible storms, sweeping through areas, killing at random, and vanishing, only to reappear clear across the territories. Perhaps worst of all, insidious cults and lawless gangs spread violence, confusion, and fear faster than any disease.

    It had been a long time since Louen had a decent night’s sleep. It had been longer since he felt like a decent knight.

    Some whispered, though in lesser numbers these days, that Louen was touched by the Lady, and that the Lady held a special place in her heart for the leader of her people. If that was true, or if it ever was, Louen didn’t feel it now. His prayers went unanswered. His body felt aged beyond even its considerable years. It wasn’t a matter for him to lose faith over. He could never lose faith in his glorious Lady. But it made him worry that she did not approve of his efforts, or in a worst case scenario, that she had turned her beautiful face away from the Bretonni.

    Both thoughts sat in his gut worse than spoiled meat.

    If only there was a way, he thought, to settle this without…

    The slapping of bare feet on soaked ground drew his attention to the entrance of the tent. A moment later, the source of the sound rushed in at quite a loss for protocol and etiquette. Immediately, the message runner dropped to a knee. He seemed reverent, but glad to be out of the pouring rain for the moment.

    “Forgive the disturbance, my lord,” the runner said, “but the Imperial army is on the march.”

    “To where?” Louen asked with mounting dread.

    “To here, my king,” the runner said.

    + + + + + +

    At the first sight of the Bretonnian army, Deathclaw roared. Somewhere between an eagle’s caw and a lion’s challenging bellow, the sound cut through the thick gloom of the dying day and echoed off the walls of the mountain pass. The proud, hungry griffon powered itself and its armored rider through the air with heavy wing beasts and repeated dives. Though Deathclaw’s intelligence was relatively limited, it understood on some primal level that its master was making a territorial challenge and was waiting for one particular individual to meet it.

    For his part, Karl Franz looked down at the oncoming host of multi-hued knights and their wasted serfs with no small amount of disdain.

    “How could you let it come to this?” Franz asked his counterpart, though only Deathclaw could hear him.

    The Emperor turned his head and took stock of his own force, a wall of spears and halberds arrayed in specific formations to meet and defeat the head on charges of cavalry. He had numerical and locational advantages, and a furious determination to see the act play out as so that this farce of a tale could finish.

    A spark of hope flared in the Emperor’s breast at the thought. Surely if he could recognize the superiority and righteousness of his own position, Louen could too. But the spark faded to nothing as quickly as it had come. If Louen had lost control of his own nobility, then maybe how he saw it didn’t matter.

    Then, out of the gloom, came the answer to Deathclaw. A shrill caw, not totally unlike the griffon’s own, responded with surprising and disheartening strength. It was the sound of a creature that wanted to fight. For a flicker of a moment, Karl Franz wondered if Louen had even lost control of his own hippogriff, Beaquis. He dismissed the idea, but more out of hope than its actual absurdity.

    Franz turned Deathclaw into another dive, this time back toward the Imperial line. The griffon landed with in a pompous, almost challenging trot and even the steeds of the Reiksguard Knights hesitated before the creature’s advance.

    The Emperor and his mount advanced to where Ludwig road with another horse in tow. A man was seated on the horse that Ludwig led, and that man was very picture of shame. He was filthy, soaked from the rain, shackled and shaved, and even branded as a criminal as was the tradition in the dungeons of Reikland. Nothing save a close analysis of his torn and tattered robes would have given away his status as a Duke of Bretonnia.

    “Hold here and bring him forward,” Karl Franz said before turning Deathclaw toward the Bretonni and urging him forward. Ludwig followed without hesitation or question.

    + + + + + +

    To Ludwig’s eye, the vaunted King of Bretonnia was nothing like the tales he had heard. Where there was supposed to be a monarch of stature and vitality, here was a tired old king fraying to the end of his thread. The light of the Bretonnian deity, the Lady of the Lake, was said to fill his eyes and speech, and yet the man who rode the hippogriff seemed to have long since forgotten what hope looked like.

    And then Louen Leoncouer saw the shackled and abused prisoner in Ludwig’s charge, and in his face, the fires of anger replaced the taint of despair. Louen spurred Beaquis forward, assuming as haughty and noble a posture as his increasingly gaunt frame would allow.

    In a display that doubtlessly meant to convey fearlessness and fury, Karl Franz leapt from the back of Deathclaw, taking the landing in a surprisingly agile crouch. He rose, composed himself, and strode toward Ludwig. Without order or request, the Emperor took hold of the chain connected to the prisoner’s irons and pulled the miscreant from his horse, letting him splash painfully into the muddy terrain without the slightest bit of respect for the man’s title or that of his king.

    With powerful, splashing steps, Karl Franz dragged the deposed noble to the feet of the hippogriff and let him lie in the mud. He said nothing for a long moment, letting the look on his face and the treatment of the noble speak to his outrage.

    “Is this how you treat the people of Bretonnia?” King Leoncouer hissed.

    “This is how I treat those who would violate the sanctity of my realm,” Emperor Franz answered, pushing his voice to cut through the rain. “You may consider it a mercy that I present him to you now, rather than simply have his head sent back to you via cannon.”

    “His transgressions are nothing new. The borders have been contested for years,” Louen retorted. “Have you lost your ability to handle these matters diplomatically?”

    “Diplomatically?!” Karl roared. “If this sniveling, wretched villain that you call a duke is an example of Bretonni diplomacy, I want nothing to do with the notion. He killed women and children. He set his captives to slavery. He marched in with an army of bedazzled knights and preyed upon the weak. And you would have me treat him ‘diplomatically’? You have lost your spine and your way, King Leoncouer.”

    Fury lit Louen’s eyes, and it took a terrible focus of will to keep it in check.

    “Return this man to me, Karl Franz,” he said, his voice edging on a snarl.

    “No,” the Emperor replied. The duke looked up with sudden panic in his eyes, imploring the King to do something, to intervene.

    “He is my prisoner,” Franz continued, “and I now see that your sense of justice has failed you.”

    Karl Franz turned and began hauling the broken noble back to Imperial lines. For several seconds, all that could be heard was the sound of fat drops impacting on gromril armor and heavy boots displacing mud. A second set of boots landed in the mud behind him, and the Emperor stopped and turned back.

    “Karl Franz, I challenge you for the claim on this man’s life.”

    A thunderclap echoed in the distance and reverberated off of the walls of the mountain pass. Karl watched as Louen, now dismounted, drew gleaming steel from the scabbard at his hip.

    “And what then, you damned fool?” the Emperor asked, shouting to be heard. “Will you kill me, invade and watch as the Imperial war machine crushes your armies, or kill me and watch as Imperial vengeance annexes your kingdom and puts your people to the sword?”

    “Choose your weapon,” the King replied.

    Franz looked at him knowingly. King Louen understood the significance of the two weapons belted to the Emperor’s hips. To draw the hammer meant that he was acting as Imperial Regent, heir of Sigmar, and on behalf of the people of the Empire as a whole. To draw the sword meant that he was acting as the Elected Count and Prince of Reikland. To fight as the Emperor was to commit the whole of the realm to his will, and very likely, to war.

    Karl Franz drew his sword.

    “Damn you for making me do this, Louen,” Franz spat.

    The Emperor released his grip on the chained duke and strode back to the King. Both raised their swords, Karl into a two-handed grip in front of his body, Louen in a two-handed grip above his head.

    Neither man moved for a long moment. Karl started into Louen’s eyes and saw a flicker of the desperation weighing on his mind. He saw the need to reestablish authority and control, the need to slake the thirst of a wounded pride, and perhaps even the first cracks from mental pressure. The result was inevitable, and so the Sword of Couronne fell.

    The blow was meant to be blocked, to force Karl Franz onto the defensive, but the Emperor still felt the power behind it and knew that the duel could only end in death. Karl absorbed the strength of the hit and let the strike slide off his own sword, the runefang carving a tiny gouge into its counterpart’s edge. He swung for the back of Louen’s leg, but the King turned with speed and blocked. Louen turned his block into a shoulder charge and barged into Franz, forcing the Emperor back several steps but failing to knock him over. Karl drew a short knife from his hip and stabbed for a gap in Louen’s armor at the waist, but the blade struck steel and slid off. The Emperor planted his back foot and pushed back, throwing Louen off of him, but the King slashed in the same moment and caught Karl across the pauldron, turning him away as Louen regained his footing.

    Karl sheathed his knife and went in with a low sweep, which Louen blocked. Franz brought the sword around for a disemboweling slice, but Louen’s sword was there again, and the King punched out with his hilt, catching Karl in the face and cracking the Emperor’s cheek bone. Franz recoiled and Louen pressed, slashing down for Karl’s knee. The King’s sword struck the steel there, making it buckle but unable to break its enchantments. Surprised by his lack of success, Louen was a fraction too slow to stop Karl’s answer. The runefang speared into the King’s non-sword shoulder, parting the mail there as easily as the shirt beneath it. It was Louen’s turn to recoil, dragging himself off the blade tip in a welter of blood. Karl limped back to give himself more space and both men heaved steaming breaths into the chilling, wet air.

    Louen came in again, his sword held high. He hacked down at the Emperor, trying to put pressure on the Imperial Regent’s knee. Karl stepped into the strike, raised the runefang, and blocked. Either by the cruel whims of fate or the impossible fortune, the runefang’s edge found the exact gouge it had created seconds before and sheared through the remainder of the King’s sword. The enchantments bound to the breaking blade released and vented an impossible flash of light that blinded Louen, even as his momentum carried him into the Emperor. Something pulled his sword from his grasp as he stumbled and knocked them both over. Louen cried out as he rolled onto and over his injured shoulder, but quickly looked up through a face full of mud.

    The spots in his eyes took a moment to clear and when they did, he lay there dumbfounded. Karl Franz lay on his back, still and quiet. The bottom half of Louen’s sword lay protruding from the Emperor’s face at a downward angle, having been buried there by Louen’s inertia and the timing of the breaking. Louen scrambled to his hands and knees and over to Franz. He saw the Emperor’s face, half torn and half punched in by the blow, a ruined ravine that was flooding with blood. Louen rocked back onto his heels and no amount of rain could disguise the tears just now escaping his eyes.
    The Arena of Death, where I write the duel you imagine.

    The Coming Apocalyse, my blog for 40k and FB rules development.

  20. #20
    Chapter Master danny-d-b's Avatar
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    Feb 2009
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    Re: Arena of Death

    cool both very well written storyes, like the underling humor in the second one
    Quote Originally Posted by Walgis View Post
    maybe giant has something magical in his pants? :S

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