Only the Beginning

Death is supposed to be calm. One quietly slips off into the night, or maybe they are carried to another place by beautiful Valkyries. Those who are suffering are finally brought peace. Or so I thought…

My death was anything but peaceful. My body no longer responded to my commands, but my senses were as sharp as ever. The warpstone dagger in my chest continued to burn and sting just as it had when it was first plunged into my heart by the traitorous Slinij. My eyes could not blink and so become as dry as the desert while still continuing to see. I could smell my own body rotting and feel my muscles tense in rigor. My hands seemed to be forever tightening around the dagger in my chest.

This gave me a first-hand experience of my own final preparations. My mourning family was paraded in front of me. I watched as they were informed that my eyelids would not shut, and no one could remove the Dagger: it appeared to be stuck by some Arcane power. I felt every attempt of every strong-armed fool that the Apothecary could muster as they pulled and twisted the shard of warpstone in my chest. But these experiences all paled in comparison to the horror of watching the coffin lid close and hearing each scoop of dirt piled on top. Then came the maddening silence, the stillness of the grave…

Without any sensory input besides the pain of the Dagger I think my sanity began to slip. I could not tell how long I was locked inside the Earth. Quiet gives a man time to think, time to reflect on his mistakes, and time to fantasize about his revenge. If there were any sense of justice in this world I would see the Goblin Gambling Company shattered into ruins in the same manner as I could envision the body of my once trusted team captain! But it seemed more likely I would just rot away until my ears could no longer hear and my chest caved in, releasing the Dagger from its fleshy prison.

A new sensation eventually began to gnaw it’s way into my awareness: my head was throbbing. It was a dull, slow throb located at the temples. Gradually the experience increased in both speed and intensity until it was akin to the sound of millions of rats: millions of rats burrowing and gnawing and gnashing through the ground! Just when I was convinced that I could take no more, that my last remaining bit of rational mind would snap I felt the rats break through the wood of the coffin, surrounding my body! So this wasn’t just a pain or insanity, I was being surrounded by true rats! Real live creatures who had burrowed their way into my grave, and were now carrying my body through their tunnel. I knew not where they carried me, I simply enjoyed the sensation of movement, the feel of warm bodies around my cold corpse.

I know not how long I was awash on a sea of rat bodies, but eventually I began to see light. The sensation was painful at first, but gradually my unblinking eyes adjusted. I was carried into a room lit only with warpstone candles and dropped onto some form of sacrificial altar. It appeared to be made entirely of warpstone and had 13 sides. I figured I must be in some sort of Grey Seer lair, one of the wizards of the Skaven. I must have been at least partially right because a hunched, grey-furred Skaven soon entered the room.

“I know you can hear me squeek-speak. I am the one called Skulk Shadowreaper. The Horned Rat spoke to me, yes-yes, and demanded I bring you to this place. You may feel some pain-hurt, but I must do his bidding!”

Skulk began squeeking in a dialect I could not recognize. After years of dealing with Skaven I thought I could understand their speech quite well but I was completely lost now. I could feel the Dagger burn with an intensity I had never felt before! If I could but speak I would have let out the most terrible of screams! After what felt to be an eternity the warpstone candles all shattered at once and the room was lit only with the glow of the Dagger buried in my chest.

We sat in darkness for some time before Skulk lit a new candle and began to exit the room through a small tunnel in the back.

“Come-come, we have much to discuss.”

To my surprise I could move again! I felt stronger than I had in years! I picked myself up off the altar and followed Skulk into whatever awaited us in the next room. I felt the burning of the Dagger matched only by the revenge in my unbeating heart.

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