This post is part of the series Disputed Land Chronicles
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“See you soon coach,” said the giant orc as he slammed the door to the locker room shut with a bang.
He was regaining consciousness, and the bang wasn’t the locker room door but the slam of the cell door clanging open. He could make out a form standing in the doorway, with two (or maybe more) behind it. He had been propped up in the corner of the cell, he was drenched in sweat, he was shivering…but it had to be over 100 in the cell – there is no respite from the heat in the Disputed Lands.
Two figures emerged from the door as the forward one spoke.
“Lesz go,” it said.
Grabbing him by the arms they lifted him up to his feet, even though he towered over their stooped and bent forms. He was strong, but not in this condition. His head throbbed, and he blacked out every now and then. The shivering, it hadn’t stopped.
He was brought to a room with a single chair, where his escorts plopped him in, and bound his hands and feet, and promptly left.
Maybe this was a bad idea he thought. No it wasn’t came a voice…a voice in his head. His voice, but not him. He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts, then he stopped suddenly and cocked his head to one side, as if to see if he could hear something in the distance. Nothing. Silence.
The door creaked open and a mountain of a man stepped in its place. Turning around he bent and let the rider on his back dismount, before standing and taking a step back into the hall, allowing a few creatures like those that escorted him here scurry in.
Skaven! He thought. Of course, the vile stench of this place had masked their scent. But what did they want? – finished the voice in his head.
“Eyez Cane,” said the stubby man. “Welcomez tos de Underwerd.”
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
He didn’t say anything, he just looked at the grubby dwarf.
“Youz wonder whys you are herez?” said Cane.
Tell him said the voice.
He shook his head vigorously and tried focus on the dwarf.
Cane’s guttural chuckle startled him and the traveler withdrew as much as his bindings would allow.
“I seez uz manz is go thra withdraw nowz,” smirked Cane.
“Withdraw?” the traveler said. Neeeed answered the voice.
Cane motioned and a rat with an apparatus strapped to his back and an arm that was half mechanical half rat stepped into the room. “Meets yous new thowrat, Heatsink.” said Cane.
“New what,” said the traveler as the rat stopped beside him. Yes….came the voice.
As Cane spoke, the rat extended his arm opening the three fingered claw at the end to latch onto the travelers shoulder. The apparatus on his back started to actuate. He felt a prick, then a cold and hot sensation as the green liquid pumped from the tank on the rats back into his blood stream. Green ooze he thought, what is this?! Yes! cried the voice.
“We hazus revized it,” said Cane. “Hundred mores bettah than what Iggy uses.”
“NO!!!” cried the traveler as he strained against his bonds. This is what you came for isn’t it? said the voice.
“Get out of my head!” shouted the traveler. Heatsink turned to leave and Cane backed out of the room smiling as he watched the traveler converse with himself.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
“Go away,” he cried!
Wherever you go, I go – I am you! said the voice.
“No you aren’t,” he said.
You wanted this, you came looking. I’ve always been here, I’ve always been the better one of us.
“Leave!” he shouted.
Silence. No voice. Nothing. He strained against his bonds, but they held.
You need me whispered the voice.
“Go away,” he said with a gasp before blacking out. Yet his arms strained, and his legs flexed. He ripped his right arm free and then his left, standing up he jerked the chair from the floor and let himself free just as he regained consciousness.
See. You need me. said the voice.
“Shut up,” he said as be reached for the door – it was unlocked.
There was only one way to go from the cell, down the corridor into a grungy and poorly lit room. He walked in, but was not prepared for the site that hit him.
It was a locker room, or rather a cesspool of junk and debris that had be shuffled around to make what he took for a locker room. Standing about the burrowed out cubby holes served as lockers where a dozen or so rats. Cane stood in the middle talking with one of the vermin who jumped him when he pulled into town.
“Welcome to the Underworld,” said Cane “and your new team.” he said with a motion of a grimy hand around the room. He could hear the mumbles of the rats, perfectly clear mumbles, and Cane had lost his terrible dialect as well. Amazing aren’t I? said the voice.
“Team?” the traveler said.
“Team.” replied Cane. “You see, we are in need of a coach, and our work in New Orcland has lead you here.”
“Work? You’re responsible for the Grunts?” he said through clenched teeth.
“Tsk Tsk. Such thanks is not necessary,” dismissed Cane. “You hear that?”
He hadn’t noticed it before, but there was a rumble of cheers, chants and taunts coming from whatever was above the ceiling.
“That is your audience,” said Cane “our fans.”
“There is no our,” said the traveler. At least we have each other, right? said the voice.
“You don’t seem to understand,” said Cane.
“Down here, in the Underworld, I am the boss. Up there, in the Thunderdome, you will lead our team to victory.”
“If I refuse?” he said. We, if we corrected the voice.
“You will die,” said Cane.
The traveler laughed. “I’ve spent years with Orcs, you all don’t scare me.”
“Oh, it’s not us that will kill you,” said Cane. “It’s you! You see this little concoction we have here is much more potent than the warpstone you’re used to seeing back home.”
Cane patted Heatsink on the head and walked around to stand in front of the traveler.
“Without it, you will go into shock, your system will start shutting down, the shivers and nightmares will drive you mad before you finally die. You will coach the Scavengers to victory, and we will supply you with a continued supply of…life.” smirked Cane.
Sounds like a fair deal to me said the voice.
He was about to respond when a horn blew.
“Game time!!!” cried one of the rats.
“Let’s go coach!!” said another as he shuffled him over to a platform that had already started to raise towards an opening in the ceiling.
He looked down at Cane as the dias raised.
“Victory or death.” yelled Cane.
“Don’t worry about him,” said one of the more armored rats with the name Gigahorse on his jersey.
Yeah, don’t worry said the voice. I, we, got this.
Continue reading this series:
Disputed Land Chronicles: Chaos