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Undeath and Taxes
Prologue Chapter 6: Cry Havoc
The command had been given, the assault on the city was to begin. Kel’thuzad only needed to communicate this to the other Generals who had amassed their forces for the siege. Kel’thuzad addressed his fellow Undead Generals via his [Orb of Communication]. He sent out a signal to all of them, beckoning them to their Floating Fortress’ individual conference rooms. As they each arrived to their seat, an illusion of themselves was projected to the other Fortress’ conference rooms in the seat they had been assigned. They sat around a circular table, with the largest and most magnificent seat set aside for their great master, Morterran. Kel’thuzad considered himself blessed that his seat was next to the seat set aside for his glorious god and new full well that the other generals envied his positioning at the table. After the illusions had all appeared, Kel’thuzad addressed the Generals in the room.
“Everyone, welcome. Today is a glorious day indeed!” (Kel’thuzad)
“Quit the pomp and ceremony already. You called us here for a reason. Get on with it!”
Kel’thuzad looked across the table directly in front of him towards the one who spoke. There sat Terrax Baneclaw, a former Wolf Beastman who held the responsibility of keeping the Beastmen tribes in line. Until Morterran had arrived, the Beastman tribes had battled each other just as much if not more than the Humans who constantly encroached on their lands. In only a few more years the Beastmen would have been pushed completely into the deadlands and into extinction, but Terrax Baneclaw did the impossible and united the tribes against their true foe.
Alas, this was too little too late and Terrax was struck down by an assassin in the middle of the duel with a hero to decide the fate of his people. During his final moments, he raged silently while being paralyzed by the assassin’s poison. That rage called forth his peoples’ salvation and damnation. Morterran appeared and offered Terrax a choice. He could die here and condemn his people to being driven to extinction or to become slaves, or he could accept Morterran’s power, be reborn and gain back all the land his people had lost in exchange for their allegiance.
Terrax took the deal with the devil and as the hero’s blade came down, Terrax was reborn as a [Death Lord]. By the time Terrax was fully conscious, he had massacred the entire Human army and not a single Human corpse was left intact. As per the deal, Terrax made his people swear utter loyalty to Morterran. Terrax had assumed that Morterran would demand tribute or women or maybe the bodies of their fallen, but much to his and his peoples’ surprise he did not. He instead used his power to heal the sick and injured and kept his end of the bargain, leaving the ancestral lands of the Beastmen to its rightful owners. That alone would have been enough, but when Morterran revealed that he had ambitions to crush the Theocracy that had sponsored the assaults on his people, Terrax and his people were one of the first to throw their support behind his cause, even though Morterran had given them reprieve from further combat.
“I agree with Terrax! You called us here while a perfectly good opportunity is being wasted! We should be assaulting these bastards, not enduring more propaganda! We all believe in our cause, so hurry up and order the assault!”
This time, the voice came from the second seat to the right where Morterran would sit. It came from a Grave Elf named Vaile Avalon. He was another [Death Lord] and was one of the most recent additions. His people had fought both the Humans and Morterran and were ultimately defeated and rendered extinct. Vaile was the greatest of his people, a High Elf and their King, although being the King of a single city ultimately didn’t mean much. His people had been systematically killed off by the Theocracy and its pawns as elven grace and prowess could only do so much when waves of Humans marched through their homes and cut down their forests.
Before the final battle for Avalon, the capital of the Elven Kingdom could begin, Morterran had arrived and killed off the Humans that had surrounded the city. Much to his irritation, the Elves had no intention to parlay with a “filthy corpse” and attempted to destroy him. This ended poorly for the Elves and their punishment for assaulting him was to be raised in eternal servitude. What made the situation even more tragic for the Elves was that Vaile had tried to convince his people to settle things peacefully but was treated as a coward and a traitor, winding up dead himself. Vaile was the first one to be raised, and was given dominion over not only his new race, the Grave Elves, but also all the lands that were stolen by the Humans.
“Yes, I suppose we do not have time to waste.” Kel’thuzad admitted.
“FINALLY!” Everyone assembled yelled in glee.
“Old Bone-Brain finally gets to the point! No beating around the bush, no long-winded speeches about how amazing our Lord is!” (Terrax)
“Indeed! Is this a dream? I would never have expected this! Normally he goes on and on as if he intends to bore us back to the grave!” (Vaile)
“If you don’t mind, I have orders from our God.” Kel’thuzad said while trying to hold back his irritation.
“Well then, Get on with it!” (Terrax)
Kel’thuzad rose from his seat and opened his arms wide.
“Our Lord is busy raising the corpse of iamat, but Lady Nisha has given us permission to begin the assault! Rejoice, my brothers and sisters! The hour of our victory is at hand! We…” (Kel’thuzad)
“Great! I’ll be going, got to get my people through those gates!” Terrax said as his illusion cut out.
“Y-yes! I must lead my people to glory and vengeance! See you on the field!” Vaile said hurriedly as he too cut the transmission.
Before Kel’thuzad could get in another word, all the other assembled Arch Liches and Death Lords announced their intention to begin the assault and one by one they cut the transmission.
It was at midnight on December 25th of the 2049th year of Lugus that the attack began. The flying Necropolises and land based siege engines began a sustained bombardment of the walls surrounding the Holy City of Lugusia and for one whole day the thunderous roar of Dark Magic, High Explosives and the impact of Solid Cannonballs echoed throughout the city. At midnight, the next day, the walls had been breached in a great number of places. Walls that were over 30 meters thick at the top and dating back to the founding of the Church of Lugus had been reduced to the point where they looked like ruins that had been abandoned for over a millennium. Walls once gleaming with white marble and gold trim now were blackened and crumbled from the barrage of corrosive shells and spells aimed at the base of the walls had weakened said walls to the point where a stiff breeze could topple them. The guards who were supposed to protect the people had, by this point, been mostly executed by the mob and the rebel slaves, leaving the citizens of the lower levels to construct makeshift defenses to try and stave off both the rebelling slaves and the unrelenting tide of the dead.
At the time the barrage stopped, the gateway runes that had been carved by the lower city slaves activated and portals that led directly into the depths of the lower city soon began spewing forth an unimaginable amount of [Zombies], [Skeletons], [Ghouls] and other obscene horrors. While these Lesser Undead were only intended to soften the defenders of the city, they were too great in number and the defenses and defenders too weak. It took only a few hours for the entire lower city to be overrun with those who served the Divine Emperor of Death.
“That is out of the question, Terrax! My people demand vengeance for our humiliation at the hands of these inferior creatures!” Vaile spat.
“YOUR people will have their revenge, just as soon as MY people have their fun!” Terrax countered.
“If you ‘take their pelts’ as you want to they will die! My people will not be able to turn them into vegetation if they are dead or are in too much pain! The spell only works if the target is intact!” Vaile yelled into the face of Terrax.
“Why turn people into trees and shrubs when you can flay their pelts from their bodies? My people have been skinned like animals by these parasites for generations, sometimes even while they still drew breath! I know you Elves have your hard on for trees, but MY soldiers captured these bastards and MY soldiers will do what we want with OUR captives! If YOU and YOUR people want to indulge in your tree-based fetish, then go capture some Lugusians of your own!” Terrax snapped, baring his fangs.
Terrax and Vaile were nearly ready to set aside their loyalty to Morterran and try to send one another back to the grave. This all had started when Terrax and his Beastmen soldiers (Both Living and Undead) had cornered a group of about 300 LugusianCitizens in a market square. Terrax had promised his people that if they got their hands on a Lugusian of any kind, they could do what they wanted with their prize. It was widely agreed by the Beastmen that the Lugusian men would be skinned, the women made into concubines and the children would be re-educated to be members of the new regime. The fight between Vaile and his Grave Elves and Terrax and his Beastmen came about when Vaile demanded that the prisoners be turned over to him and his people.
Both sides were almost about to tear into each other when….
A thunderous voice echoed through the square. It was a voice that would normally be considered alluring and sensual, but now was terrifying to both the living and the dead.
“Terrax, you and your people captured these naked apes. They are yours to do with as you see fit. Vaile, there is a group of Lugusians roughly 400 strong heading toward the gate leading to the second tier of the city. Capture them and you can do with them as you please. Do NOT make me stop your fighting again. We are so very close to a final victory. Don’t. Screw. It. Up. I will pretend this never happened, so hurry and finish securing the lower city. If I catch you fighting and thereby jeopardizing our mission again…” Nisha said in a stern tone, slowly trailing off.
“T-then what?” Vaile asked, concerned.
“Then you will suffer eternally, wishing for a final death but perpetually unable to achieve it.” (Nisha)
Both Terrax and Vaile knew she both meant what she said and was more than capable of following through with her words. The name of the only traitor to Morterran had been wiped from everyone’s minds. They knew he existed and that he used to sit in Kel’thuzad’s place, but now his whereabouts were unknown and even what he looked like was forbidden knowledge that could make the holder of it ‘disappear’ as well.
Vaile and Terrax turned from Nisha back to each other and nervously wished each other a good day before separating. As Vaile and his people jumped and dashed from rooftop to rooftop and Terrax and his people hauled their captives into cages, Nisha smiled and looked towards the secondary wall that separated the lower tier from the second tier.
“If we only target the gatehouse itself, the bombardment should last about 4 hours, but to keep resistance to a minimum we could bombard the entire second tier… Then again, they may have underground vaults in which to hide, so using toxic gas and acid might be best. Also, an initial barrage of high explosive blasts followed by an incendiary attack could be helpful as well… Choices, choices, choices! Although the goal is to breach the third tier before the summoning, at our current rate that seems unlikely. My beloved and I both believe that the second tier will take much longer to break through than this one, so therefore the third tier would likely take even longer. By the time we make it to the fourth tier and the Papal Palace, the summoning will be completed by about a day at the least. Then again, I did predict that the raising of Tiamat will be finished roughly 3-4 days after the summoning is completed on New Year’s Day so even if the ‘heroes’ are strong enough to defeat our assault, then they will surely fall to Tiamat and my beloved.” Nisha said to herself.
“MORE BUTTER!” Yelled a morbidly obese man-child in satin and jewels.
“Right away, your eminence!” Said a elderly butler as he ducked out the door.
As soon as the butler returned with the platinum platter piled high with sticks of butter, the tub of lard in finery reached desperately toward the platter. When the platter was set down in front of him, he reached out using is obscenely thick arms and grabbed a stick of butter, dunking it is high grade red wine before again dunking it in a massive bowl of outrageously expensive seasonings. The blob-like person then shoved the stick of seasoned and wine drenched butter directly into his mouth. The elderly butler then came over to the tubby bastard and helped the fat-bag to chew his food and swallow it.
After this was repeated until the sticks of butter were gone, the man-child asked the butler, “Jeeves, how is my marriage with Desdemona coming along?”
“Lord Reginald, your bride to be is ecstatic that a handsome and virile nobleman such as you are to be her husband. And, please call me by my name, Henry…” (Henry)
“Fuck you, Jeeves! I call you what I want! I’m your master and if you mouth off to me again I’ll kick you off the balcony myself!” (Reginald)
“Of course, sir…” Henry said begrudgingly.
For 17 years, Henry had served this monster. He was sure that this monster had been the one who had the previous master, his wife and the firstborn son assassinated. He had seen the documents that were in Reginald’s “Study” and they pointed directly to Reginald being solely responsible.
“Oh, Master Roland… I pray that you never look down from heaven to this mess that your estate has become! This monster keeps watch over me constantly so I cannot treat it to the same painful end that you, the missus and poor little Timothy experienced! Someday his watch will grow lax and you will have your justice…” Henry bemoaned in his mind.
Suddenly the room got ice cold. Reginald seemed not to notice… no, time itself had stopped! Henry was stuck standing straight and could do nothing as a terrifying voice came from behind.
“Such a lust for righteous revenge… Are you willing to do anything to secure your justice? If so, I have a proposition for you. I am the God of Death, Imperator Morterran! If you serve me, I will aid you in your quest for justice, I can even return your lost master, his wife and their little Timothy from the grave if you wanted…” (Morterran’s Voice)
“Can you truly do such a thing? If so, then you have my undying allegiance!” Henry thought as he desperately tried to get the words out of his frozen mouth.
“Yes, I can do that and more. To get them back and gain your vengeance, you need only do a few simple tasks for me. Nothing major, just draw a symbol on the sides of walls in out of the way places that no one will see. Draw my mark there, and You will have your reward in a matter of days.” (Morterran’s Voice)
“Of course, my good sir! It will be done!” Henry thought with joy and jubilation in his heart.
Author Note: Things are beginning to wrap up for the Prologue Arc… Only a few Chapters left before the next Arc.