Vampires Story for TOL anthology
By Gav Thorpe
Open in Kislev, snow storm sweeping the steppes. A band of weary mercenaries takes shelter in the woods and find an abandoned tower. The gods be praised!
The predator stalks. Bloodsight, hearts thumping through the chill, their echoing chatters. They are ignorant.
They investigate the tower and find a study in the upper reaches. Full of strangeness, dissected corpses, alembics, etc.
They stumble around the foolish mortals. How sad it must be. They are unaware of the doom that stalks them.
Afraid, they head back, one of them discovering a secret passage beside the fire place. Some of the mercenaries will have none of it and leave.
Watching the fleeing men, seeing the shapes out in the woods, monstrous hounds that will kill them all.
Some venture into the catacombs, lots of skeletons here. Tombs laid out in circles around central chamber, where ghostly light flickers. Large casket, blood splashed on it, marked with the name Vlad von Carstein. Important local noble, apparently.
It is awakening. He can feel its power. It calls to its kin, the enemy are gathering. Armoured figures in the woods, riders amongst them. Now is the time.
Those that stay up top hear a thunderous knocking at the door. An armoured man walks in, tall and proud and gaunt. He warns them to leave. They laugh – not going out in this weather. The weather is the least of their worries.
Down in the crypt, the explorers see the ritual markings in the chamber, and a desiccated body. A book on a lectern pulses with strange energy. They investigate and discover the body is not dead – it croaks and grasps out at them – a liche (need Kislev word for it).
You’re too late he says, pointing to the Chaos Warriors encircling the tower. They will kill you all. Screams from below. Promise me the book and I will protect you from the Chaos warband. Yes, whatever, they say, foolishly.
Panicked the men are in disarray. The stranger takes charge, commanding the defence. Natural authority.
Big fight, but the man does not get involved. He will save his strength. Sees blood spilt.
Down below, the others hear the fighting. They skewer the corpse and retreat with the book and such gold accoutrements as they can grab. Emerge to find the tower under full attack.
The men will not hold, and that will not do. He does not know all of the secrets of the Great Necromancer yet, but he knows enough and his natural power will suffice. Reaches out, drawing the dark winds, infusing the bodies below, feeling their unlives sparking, slaves to his will. Touches on a more powerful wight, the lord of the tower in life, centuries dead.
The clatter of armoured feet on the steps causes consternation, and when the column of animated skeletons emerged they think they are done for! Power of Chaos! Surprised when the stranger flings open the doors and the skeletons march out to do battle. They are not great fighters but they keep coming back. The wight is smashed asunder by the Chaos Champion’s hammer.
The ebb and flow of combat, as seen by Vlad. But the Chaos Warriors are too much, it takes too much effort to sustain his he must take a hand himself. He lets the dark magic into his body, feeling its strength.
The stranger contorts and changes. His hair becomes ghostly, his skin pallid, fangs extending. Ghastly moans surround him, wraith-like faces swirl about him and his blade gleams with a chill light. He marches out and begins to the slaughter the Chaos Warriors.
Their lives are tainted, and he cannot feed on them. They are impure, corrupted by Chaos. The slaughter is pointless, but such is the nature of the Chaos Gods. He is above the petty passions that they control, though a shard of their power writhes in his heart. The time will come when they will try to sweep aside the lands of men. If that happens, all will become Chaos and he and his kind will be destroyed. He must have the book and its secrets, to protect against that outcome. He fights harder, slaying the Chaos champion.
Amazed, the surviving mercenaries see the stranger return. His undead forces collapse to the ground and as he returns to his normal state he appears haggard and weary. Aha! Says the captain. The book must be worth a lot. Now that the Chaos warriors are gone, they don’t need him. A mercenary plunges his blade through the stranger’s back and they pile in, stabbing him repeatedly. He does not bleed, but nothing could survive the onslaught. They toss the body down into the crypt.
The storm does not abate so they must stay for another night.
The ring burns on his finger. Every mote of his existence cries out in pain, but it will not let him die. He coalesces, his fragmented spirit repairing his body in a vortex of magic.
Mercs here thumping and howling from below. This is too much. They decide to leave, but the clamour stops. A few draw short straws and are sent below.
He is weak but they have sent him food. He pounces and feeds. Strength returning he extends his will.
The mercenaries are terrified whent he vault door opens, revealing the stranger full of life, dark eyes glittering. There is a shout: the skeletons surround the tower.
“We had a deal… Now I will take what you owe me.” Bears fangs.
Prises volume from dead mercenary captain, laying hands on the ninth Book of Nagash.
[[[As it turns out, the story worked better with the mercs knowing when to quit and get out of there…]]]