Initiation of a Khan - Story

From: Martin Laurie (MLaurie@compuserve.com)
Date: Thu 09 Oct 1997 - 00:01:35 EEST


        Krarn blinked sweat from his eyes. The wall behind him pulsed =

red - he could feel the corruption claw at his nerves, steal at his
strength. =

But there was corruption everywhere, all around. It pressed upon his =

senses, shouted its hatred and spite into the heart of his soul. But the=

Bull =

was with him and he knew no fear.
        His nose twitched. He could smell its putrescence. It hovered =

around the corner, waiting as he did for a mistake. He thought of what t=
he

High Khan had said - "when you sense a trap - believe in the Bull - charg=
e,

triumph or die." Krarn roared his fury and swept his axe around the corn=
er

at waist height. The Broo that waited for him doubled over the heavy bla=
de

as it bit deep, deep enough to sever the spine, deep enough to finish any=
=

ordinary creature. But this was a fiend of chaos and knew no ordinar=
y
laws. =

It spat a viscous flem into his face that hissed as it tore into his helm=
=2E =

His =

eye burned with it. His skin seared and while the pain shot through his
brain,
 it clawed at him with a triple hooked appendage of bone and sinew that
tore =

off a whole strip of his hauberk as if it were cloth. Krarn's axe was
buried too =

deep to free so he pulled out his dagger and slammed it into the creature=
's

chest with all his bodyweight behind it. It screamed at him as its
hearts-flesh =

tore asunder then collapsed suddenly.
         Krarn stomped on its bony head with his bronze-shod boots till =

his vision lost the red tinge of fury and cleared to normal. He looked
about for =

the rest of his companions. They lay around the chamber locked in a deat=
h =

embrace with their chaos foe. All six were dead, only Krarn remained.
        He ripped his axe out of the dead Broo and pushed on down the =

corridor - how much further to its heart? he thought. The chaos was =

overpowering even his acute senses but he thought he could smell a =

concentration ahead that reeked of wrongness, like a rent in normalcy. =

        Suddenly the next room opened before him. It was wide and circul=
ar

but it possessed an irregularity that shifted the eye, that tore at your
perceptions =

till they were confused and distracted. Yet the centre of it all lay in
view. The spawning void of chaos that had brought Krarn to this hell wit=
h
all the other =

claimants for Khan status was about to feel the power of the Bull.
        "Storm Bull!" Screamed Krarn as he leapt to the attack. What cam=
e =

from the void to answer his challenge was not the entity of slime he
expected. Instead a small, robed figure appeared with a womans face, kin=
d
brown eyes =

and a sad smile. It was Krarns mother, long dead he knew but eerily =

reincarnated before his eyes. His attack faltered only for a moment but
his =

resolve was total as his axe sheared the illusion of his mother in two. =
=

Krarn =

felt elation, the Bull was with him and his rage was utter. Yet the void=

was not defeated and sent an image of his childhood bully to stand before=

him - =

Herrast Bighand. With Herrast appeared a legion of his gang members and =

more faces that Krarn had long forgotten. Faces from his youth, faces fr=
om
his =

days as a beggar and thief. Faces of men who had shown him no mercy, who=
=

had beaten, robbed and assailed him until his hatred for them burned with=
in

like an unquenchable flame. And he roared with pleasure as his axe cut
them =

down - they stood unresisting before his anger which swelled with each
stroke. Their bodies had substance, they bled and screamed and Krarn fel=
t
his rage =

carry him to new excesses of strength and power. A savage amusement fill=
ed
him as he chopped and slaughtered. A part of him noted the change in the=
=

faces before him, faces that no longer belonged to those he hated but to
many =

he had loved but he killed them anyway as the bloodlust within set him
laughing maniacally at their deaths. =

        Within the tidal wave of venom his soul was carried on a part of
him =

knew that this was wrong - the Bull killed, yes, the Bull even killed tho=
se
he loved =

in his rage but it was never willing and it was ever remembered with
remorse, =

not this sick joy he felt. It was wrong. He wasn't hearing the roar of
the Bull, he =

was hearing the evil lust for blood of Urain, the ultimate foe, the
greatest corruption =

of them all. =

        He stepped back from the slaughter and watched the illusions fade=

as =

his equilibrium returned. A lesson had been learned. Rage brought power
but =

also responsibility, something a Khan must know. =

        The void before him shivered at its defeat, morphed into another =

shape and prepared to spew forth more vileness to destroy its would-be =

assailant. Then Krarn hurled a small piece of truestone into the void,
just =

one tiny lake of rock but rock made of utter law. The void screamed an=
d =

shattered with a blast that drove the warrior before it to his knees. I=
n
its place =

a geyser of blood shot upward, spraying with terrible force against the
ceiling =

and casting a red rain all around the room.
        Krarn lurched to his feet, drenched already, soaked in viscous =

crimson that swarmed with tiny worms that ate his armour and skin. He ra=
n.
=

The corridor opened up before him like a gaping maw that he leapt into as=

if =

offering himself as a morsel for a endless appetite. The torrent of bloo=
d
followed him in ever increasing waves and soon swept his feet out from
under him. It =

pushed him down the corridor like a twig in a mountain stream in
springtime. =

        For hectic moments he tumbled along, desperately holding on to ax=
e =

and sanity and then he was airborne. His limbs were flung out and he cri=
ed
in =

shock as warm, Yelm-lit air brushed his battered face like a caress. Then=

he =

crashed into the ground with a rib breaking thump and all went black.
        =

        He regained consciousness with Jelman the Shaman standing over =

him, chanting and waving his totem stick. Behind the scrawny spirit-man
stood =

a cluster of warriors. =

        "He awakes" announced Jelman. "Waha blesses him with life!"
        One of the warriors came over. Krarns eyes regained their focus.=
=

It was Rark Ironbear, his High Khan. The scarred warrior gave a rare
smile. =

"You live Krarn. It is good."
        "How did I get out?" Asked Krarn as he struggled to sit. The =

bandages around his chest restricted his movement.
        "Ha! The ground outside the Block opened up like a wound and you=
=

shot out on a spout of chaos blood! The heartsblood of the slime you sle=
w.
 We =

felt the chaos subside as it died and we knew that one of you had made it=
=2E"
        "The others?"
        "You were the only survivor. Yet we mourn not for though a score=

of =

braves have died we have a new Khan!" He grabbed Krarns arm in approval
and =

the warriors in the tent howled in approbation. The yell was joined by a=

multitude =

of voice outside the tent. =

        Another Khan was with them and the chaos under the Block had take=
n =

a terrible wound. Storm Bull was content...for now.

Martin Laurie

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