A Warriors Death
By King Ulrik Flamebeard
Time seemed to slow as the leprous arm swung forward once more; boils popped and burst splattering the appendage with its own vile liquid. Thagri Ironeyes brought his shield up just in time but he was still caught by the heavy arm. It struck the wooden barrier between the two combatants with such a force that the dwarf was sent stumbling backwards with a curse. Blindly the veteran Ironbreaker lashed out with the axe gripped tightly in his gromril clad fist, the runes carved upon the weapons surface flashed brightly for a moment as the weapon bit into the fleshy wrist of the rat ogre. A squeal followed by a whimpering sound followed, this in turn was followed by a whip crack as the oversized rats master exerted its control over the beast; goading it into the fight once more.
Inside his armour the dwarf felt the slow trickle of blood seeping from the multitude of gashes in his heavy plate armour, even the dwarven made gromril armour was little match for the strength of a rat ogre and its claws. His breath was heavy and laboured; the dancing he and the beast were doing was seemingly taking its toll on the dwarf more than the monstrosity that he faced. Glancing down at his battered shield he was immensely glad of whichever engineer or weapon smith whoâ€™s idea it was to reinforce them with a sheet of metal, without this the wood would have split ages ago. As it was the shield was almost spent. Its insignia of Thagriâ€™s home was long gone and the sheets of metal beneath were torn and rent in places; Thagri estimated that it would last only a couple more attacks like the last before it shatters.
Steeling himself the dwarf knew his end was at hand, drawing himself to his full height he brushed down his beard and straightened his shoulders. If he was to die here and now, he would not dishonour his brothers and comrades who died beside him. If this was to be his last act then he would see to it that he sent the two skaven to their graves before him. A new sense of purpose entered the dwarf, he would avenge this grudge. The rat ogre turned to snap off a low rumbling growl at its master â€“ who was sensible enough to stand well out of its reach, it quickly snapped back to its â€˜mealâ€™ when the low guttural sound came from Thagriâ€™s direction. The dwarf stood and stared at the red orbs of his opponent, no fear did he show instead his death chant filled the small cavern in which his death would take place. His enclosing helmet shaped in the features of the venerable ancestor God Grimnir seemed to amplify his voice. The guttural dwarven language of Khazalid echoed through the tunnels and halls in which they stood â€“ the sound was accompanied by the slow methodical beat of metal upon metal.
Thagriâ€™s axe beat upon the battered form of his shield, as if acknowledging their owners needs and desires the runes upon the weapon began to glow a deep red colour. Trapped within the axe head the bound magic writhed in anticipation, its sole purpose was to bring end to these subterraneous creatures and it would get its chance. With a final cry the creature powered forwards its roar was answered in kind by a bellowed dwarven curse as Thagri leaped forwards. One of the rat ogreâ€™s arms swung down towards the Ironbreaker, expecting this Thagri moved his arm upwards to meet the strike â€“ the shield exploded into splinters as the two attacks met. Ignoring the jarring pain in his arm the dwarf reacted quicker and moving inside the rats guard he swung his enchanted axe down onto its diseased arm. Sinew, bone and flesh was split then severed as his runic weapon sliced the limb from the ogreâ€™s body at the elbow. The pain filled roar echoed within his helmet but he did not relent â€“ discarding the remains of his ruined shield Thagri gripped his weapon two handed and began to attack in earnest; each strike gouging deep slashes in the braying creatures flesh.
The rat ogreâ€™s attacks became increasingly weak and sporadic. Thagri dodged easily or slapped his axe across the knuckles of the remaining hand. The smaller combatant had gained the upper hand, his handicapped opponent slowly began to shirk backwards from the dwarf, at this point Thagri was frothing from his mouth a change overcame him. It was as if the gods were watching and judging him, he summoned all his strength into one last desperate offensive. The double handed strikes forced the ogre further and further back towards its master; who in a foresight gifted to the most intelligent of its race gave a frightened squeak and fled into the dark tunnels beyond. Its tail firmly between is legs. Thagri showed no sign of slowing instead his forced his remaining strength into his attacks, the rat ogre swiped at the dwarf with its one raining limb â€“ the other was clutched tightly to its chest.
With speed and grace an elf would have been jealous of the dwarf slipped under the slow swing of the ogres arm and into its guard, all in the same movement he slashed across the oversized ratâ€™s stomach disembowelling it. Stumbling backwards it attempted to keep its intestines inside with the wounded arm but failed. The rat ogre stood standing, swaying slightly before crashing forwards to the stone floor with a thud. As his desperate strength fled his limbs Thagri found just enough strength within them for one last strike; raising the weapon high above his head he brought it down upon the dead creatureâ€™s neck. The severed head rolled for a few feet before coming to a stop; releasing the axes handle he left it buried deep into the harsh rock and with a metallic clang the dwarf fell to the floor beside his defeated opponent. Thagri was out cold, exhaustion caught up with him.
A dull sound reached Thagriâ€™s ears, it sounded like voices but it could not be â€“ his group were slaughtered by the skaven. His breath caught as he reacted to the name of the filthy rats, pain washed over him in waves. He groaned. It was then he realised he was no imagining voices, he could hear them. Dwarf voices! He tried to call out but his voice was caught in a bubble upon his lips, it popped at his forced attempt of speech splattering blood over his lips and beard. He felt himself being turned onto his back and then a bright light burnt its way into his eyes as the helmet of his armour was removed. Squinting he made out the figure of two dwarves, one was knelt over his prone form the other held a lantern bathing him in a bright light.
â€œBy Grungi! He lives!â€? the one holding the lantern exclaimed.
â€œNot for long.â€? The other said solemnly. Thagriâ€™s eyes met his and an understanding passed between them, his time was up. Standing the dwarf walked over and removed Thagriâ€™s axe form the floor, returning it to the Ironbreaker he placed t upon his chest and crossed his arms. Stepping back he stood and in a loud, clear voice he began to speak;
â€œHere lies Thagri Ironeyes, loyal Ironbreaker of King Ulrik Flamebeard of Undi a Uzgul-Kadrin. He fell here defending these mines from the ratkin and their ilk. Let he sup from the smooth ales of the hall of our Ancestors in golden cups, let he sit beside his Gods and know he earned his place there.â€? Looking down the dwarf saw that Thagri had passed; his eyes were open and glazed. Slowly he closed them and replaced the helmet.
â€œCome my friend a great warrior has passed, our king needs to know. We will return to bury him with honour.â€? Nodding reverently the second dwarf withdrew with his companion, bringing news of such a death was not going to ease the kings foul moods any more. Slowly their light receded â€“ leaving only the faint glow of the runic axe reflecting off the gromril armour of the fallen Ironbreaker.