Thursday, January 19, 2006

Tales of the Rancid Blade: Part Five: The Gift

It was a low cage. About six feet high and across. Some sort of straight wood lashed together held the entire structure tight. It was in a pit about twenty feet deep with straight walls and an opening to the sky. A number of other cages lay about the wide chamber. The wood cage had sustained very little damage as a result of the fall but this could not be said for its contents. When the grots had dropped the cage from the edge of the pit it had crashed down the wall. Its fall was impeded only by a small outcrop of rock. When it hit the rock it made the cage spin as it fell crashing to the ground on its side. Succubus Yanaloo’s leg had been smashed on impact and she had spent the first two days in the pit in a pain filled daze. By now she was so weak and feverish that she drifted from sub-conciseness to an uneasy restlessness.

When she first had seen rats moving about the floor of the chamber she had hoped possibly to catch one and consume it. Several of them converged on a shape in one of the other cages and the form offered no resistance. After some reflection she realized that they were waiting for her to die and consume her. She would rather they eat her alive than be returned to the goblin horde that had brought her here. When captured she and several of her kin had been transported on motorized trucks. With belching engines and large wheels they had bounced across the open territory of the grasslands back to the camp of the grot rebellion. She had been face down on the back of a wagon and seen very little of the camp or the cage before she had been placed in it. She had been surprised that they had not made a spectacle of her. Had things been reversed she would have bathed in the pain of her foe. Given the opportunity she would have stripped them, ridiculed them, and then butchered them. As the cage was carried toward the pit she had seen the bodies of the Dark Eldar warriors, armor removed, limbs removed, and eaten raw. The head and torso of a lifeless Eldar form, solid with rigor, bobbed from a black cauldron, cooking. She could barely fathom boiling something that was already dead. What was the purpose? She pitied the grots. They simply saw the Eldar as a meal.

On the third day in the pit she became aware that someone was watching her. Weak from solace and close to death she struggled to open her eyes. She could barely get them open. She lifted her head, weak from a lack of water and a lack of sustaining pain. The only misery she could take comfort in was her own. It was the only thing that kept her alive. The form that she saw regarding her was repulsive to her. Though he stood confident she could see his age. Long green robes, slightly worn, encompassed him. He wore several pendants and chains each with odd images, bones, and symbols that she didn’t recognize. Behind him she thought she saw several shapes. One seemed to move behind his head, several lights emanating from it. She could not see his companions but the man was bathed in a sickly almost putrid yellow light. The human spoke several words she didn’t understand.

“What gift is this that my old friend has sent me?” The confessor stooped down closer to the form in the cage. Yanaloo groaned and forced herself up onto an elbow. She could feel her life sapping away from her as she willed herself upward. The dried blood on her leg cracked and she moaned as her broken bones shifted. She reached her hand to the bars above her and pulled herself upright. Supporting herself on her good leg, her broken one hung limp.

Confessor Sylax viewed her. She seemed to snarl in pain or aggression, he couldn’t tell. Her leg was smashed. While she was well toned her body was on the verge of collapse due to lack of water and food. He could see that she needed some other type of sustenance but he couldn’t tell what. What remained of her armor hung off her revealing pale blood crusted flesh. Drug injection tubes that had once stimulated her were limp and cracked. Where they entered her flesh blisters and red sores had formed. Her skin and clothing was smeared with dried blood and dirt. Stands of matted hair hung at her shoulders and over her face. She was breathing hard, shaking from with withdrawal, and as she exhaled she blew her hair aside. The matted mess returned over her forehead and in front of her eyes. Relying completely on her arms gripped to the bars above she finally pulled herself to almost her full height. Solid eyes behind raged hair. She tried to speak but failed.

“Don’t speak my pilgrim” he was now speaking in the Dark Eldar language. Sylax raised his hand as if to bless her. “I shall purge you of your sins to the Emperor and while I will not be your ‘play thing’ I know you shall enjoy the plans I have for you.”

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