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CaptainSarathai - Dark Elves
Not Only the Strongest
Nakaira stared around the tent with hollowed eyes. Himself, and nineteen other neophytes had been locked into the Blood-Field of Har Ganeth. Here, the twenty young Dark-elves would be reduced to only a single survivor, a paragon among killers. That survivor would be the newest assassin in the Temple of Khaine, an evil and twisted master of death, who had survived on a potent mixture of merciless killing and ruthless cunning.
“I’m dying,” Nakaira groaned to the five neophytes crammed inside the makeshift tent.
“You’ve been dying for two days. I don’t even understand why we haven’t killed you yet” Haiko spat, laying on his back, eyes fixed on the tent ceiling.
On the fourth week of their trial, the five of them had come together in an unstable alliance. There had been eight then, but other initiates had formed their own alliances, and the small wars for supremacy had left the Blood Fields littered with dead.
“Because we’re nearly starving,” replied Tiril, “and he won’t start to rot until he’s dead.”
It was true. Looking around the tent, Nakairo saw only gaunt, hungry faces. Their eyes alone showed that they were still alive- the spark of malice and self-preservation never dimmed. Those who gave in to despair or weakness had died months ago.
Treachery had seen many of the food supplies, and as much water, poisoned. The more wicked neophytes had dumped corpses into the bottoms of the wells, while others had soaked salted meats in the juices of poisonous herbs.
Even if the band of starving children had known where to find edible food, they were unable to reach it. On the other side of their greasy tent-skins lurked a vicious killer. Nakaira had already met with Yomira, who had slain another member of their camp- Uhara. Nakaira had returned covered in blood, and collapsed in the corner of the tent to await his death. Now he shuddered to think that if he died, his tent-mates were more likely to eat him than bury him.
“When Uhara and I stalked Yomira, we saw him eating apples from a tree by the well. He wouldn’t have poisoned his own food” Nakaira said weakly.
The others in the tent looked at him skeptically. “Who goes?” Tiril asked, settling it. He plucked a handful of grass, “everybody draw.”
It went without saying that Nakaira would not draw- he was too injured to make the trek. Haiko glowered at him resentfully when he was found to have the shortest straw. They decided that the youth would wait until nightfall to make the journey, and that Jito- who had drawn the next shortest straw- would accompany him.
As the sun slipped over the tall iron wall of the Blood-Field, the temperature dropped enough to become bone-chilling. Nakaira drew his bloodied overcoat tighter around himself and shivered. Another initiate eyed the garment jealously,
“Give me that, Cattle” Galyn lunged for the coat. Nakaira groaned and rolled away.
“Galyn, you can have the coat if you keep watch tonight. It was Haiko’s turn” Tiril said flatly. Galyn agreed, and together they wrestled the article from Nakaira’s emaciated form.
Nakaira awoke from his slumber as Jito returned. Haiko was dead- Yomira had been waiting for them at the apple-tree. But he’d managed to bring back four apples.
“And if they’re poisoned?” Galyn asked.
“We eat them one at a time. Cattle, you’re first” Tiril offered the bunch of apples to Nakaira.
The wounded boy reached out and wisely took the smallest, to avoid a beating. He bit into it, and waited. Hungry minutes passed, but nothing happened. Jito grabbed at the next apple and bit into it ravenously, all fears assuaged by the temptation of food.
Only seconds later, Jito vomited crimson. The youth crawled desperately for the tent door, but collapsed halfway there, spasming and wretching. It didn’t take long for the Bloodroot poison to kill him. Tiril grabbed Nakaira’s apple away from him.
“This is mine Cattle. Unless you want to risk another apple, I guess you’ll both just have to hungry.”
Galyn looked at the pool of blood and bile in the middle of the tent and groaned.
The next morning, Galyn was dead at his watch post. He had succumbed to starvation in the night. Only Tiril and Nakaira remained inside, with Yomira prowling somewhere beyond. On the third day without food, Tiril rounded on Nakaira,
“Well, Cattle,” he drew a dagger, “time to live up to your namesake”
Nakaira was suddenly on his feet, lunging at Tiril. The elf was caught by surprise as his previously 'dying' ally savagely drove him into the dirt. Finally, plunging Tiril’s own dagger into his throat, Nakaira stood and removed the bloody shirt he’d taken from Uhara’s corpse.
A sharp whistle called to Yomira. The taller, better fed Dark-Elf walked into the clearing, a hand raised in greeting. He admired Nakaira’s handywork with the eyes of a butcher.
“I’m glad that we could negotiate such a fruitful alliance” Nakaira said.
“Indeed, it’s just you and me now. Lucky you didn’t poison yourself with your own apples.”
“Lucky you killed Haiko, rather than viceversa”
Yomira chuckled, “Actually, Jito did that.”
“I expected as much from that coward. How do you want to end this?” Nakaira said, turning serious again.
“Well, I guess that such a faithful ally deserves a fair fight” Yomiro stooped to pick up Tiril’s dagger and reached for the water-skein on the dead elf’s belt.
“You don’t want that,” Nakaira nodded towards the skein, “It’s poisoned. He managed to build up a resistance to Manbane. It’ll probably kill anyone else, and I've agreed to a fight” he offered Yomiro his own skein instead.
“You first” Yomira said. Nakaira drank, and handed it back to Yomira. The elf gulped it down.
“Oh” Nakaira sneered, “did I say it was Tiril who built up the resistance to Bloodroot? I’m sorry.”
Yomira’s eyes widened in realization, before they glassed over in death...
Gnobblargobbler - Dark Elves
No fluff recieved
Voting ends in 98 hours
I like the deviousness of those elves, Captain! I did notice several errors throughout the piece, though, which somewhat detracted from the enjoyment of reading it. I like the way the twist is kept until the very end.
I guess I'll come back to this if Gnobblargobbler manages to send in an entry.
With so much deviousness, you'd wonder why any of them would trust each other, even for a second.
Very well written story, with a surprising amount of character development for this type of tale. The only weakness was that the link to the theme was a little weak. Otherwise, there were no other complaints. Well done!
"Any job worth doing, is worth doing with a powerklaw."
I thought that the link to the them was pretty strong, actually, if unconventional. My only problem was with how much you crammed into the story. It all makes sense, but it took two reads to get it all. Very clever, though. It must have been very difficult to write.
4.5/5 for the Captain.We'll see if GnobblarGobbler posts anything. I'll understand if he doesn't though. As fun as this fluffwar is, I do want to get back to my real calling and start righting my new D&D campaign.
Captain qualifies to the finals by default.