This is a short beginning to a story I was writing in the Warhammer universe. It’s on hold now, but I may pick it back up in the future.
“Our world has always been a dark one. Be glad that you don’t have to face the bulk of the darkness,” Ben’s father Sigfrid had just finished telling him. “Now hurry off to the mines before the foreman comes looking for you- you know what a marauder’s wrath is like.”
With that, Ben opened the door of their rickety shack and walked out into the gloomy Ostland surroundings.
“Dark is an understatement,” Ben thought as he looked skyward, barely able to make out the sun among the putrid clouds of Nurgle that floated above. “It’s times like these that I’m glad that the God of Decay isn’t our host.”
As he made his way down the dirt street, lined with derelict hovels just like his own, he made sure to avoid eye contact with the marauder guards keeping watch. He’d had friends who were slaughtered on the spot like cattle for simply looking at those abominations of nature in a way they found displeasing. He was, however, grateful that he didn’t have to work in the keep. It was well known that the Overseer was a Chaos warrior chosen by Tchar’zanek himself. The horrors everywhere made it apparent that there were many fates worse than death – and the chosen warriors of Chaos were experts at orchestrating them.
By this time, Ben had arrived at the mines, and walked up to the zealot manning the post outside to clock in and pick up his tools.
As he got near, the zealot barked, “Name?”
“Ben,” he replied. The villagers in Ostland were not allowed last names- if two individuals were found to have the same name, one was simply slaughtered and sacrificed in the name of the Tzeentch.
“Ah. You. I imagine you’re having a good day aren’t you?” The zealot proceeded to cackle manically as he handed Ben his pickaxe and shovel. “Now get out of my face, fleshbag. And remember, everything you do with your wretched life is for the glory of the Tzeentch and the Chaos Gods.”
Ben never understood why the zealots would always find the mention of his name so interesting. He often wondered if it had to do with the fact that his family was allowed to work half the number of hours as everyone else- a fact of life that his father would never explain.
After venturing through the even darker and more foreboding mines, Ben took his spot at the end of tunnel three, and began mining away aimlessly, as he always did.
About two hours passed, when suddenly Ben heard a blood-curdling scream come from tunnel two-just next to his own. He hurried around the corner to see what the matter was and found a rogue Flamer of the Tzeentch chasing another miner around with gouts of molten lava.
Ben knew the miners were taught to never fight against an agent of Chaos- they were always in the right in every situation- and he was planning on staying out of the altercation until he noticed that the peon in peril was the same man who had saved Ben’s own life from a Bloodletter of Khorne just three days earlier (attacks from horrors of the Warp were a common occurrence, as Chaos minions had almost no limitations to their actions).
Thus, Ben threw his shovel at the Flamer to attract its attention away from the man. Immediately he realized that was a bad idea, however, as it turned and began spouting fire right at him, instead. He knew he would be burnt to a crisp if it got anywhere near, so in a last-ditch attempt, he threw his pickaxe as hard as he could at the daemon- with surprising success.
The pickaxe had flown straight into the Flamer’s largest mouth and pierced the back wall of the cavity, cutting deeply into its core. As a result, it puffed a little bit of smoke out of its other mouths, and collapsed, withering away on the floor.
Ben’s immediate feeling of victory turned into horror when he saw the look on the faces of the other miners who had gathered to watch the skirmish. He remembered then, that Flamers were one of the Tzeentch’s favorite types of daemons, and that the punishment for destroying one was submitting to the will of the Tzeentch through the Overseer at the keep.
“That,” he thought, “is a fine example of a fate worse than death.”
Schmidt, the miner who had been saved, put his hand on Ben’s shoulder. “You’ve gotta get out of here, my friend! They’ll make you see the Overseer when they find out you did this.”
“Run, Schmidt? Where? There’s nowhere I can run that they won’t find me. The Architect of Fate sees everything.”
“Not everything. Run west of town to the old temple. The enforcers of Chaos never seem to go near there.”
“The Forbidden Temple? Are you crazy?” Ben replied. “You know that it’s completely off-limits, right?”
“Yeah. But do you have any better ideas?”
As little as he wanted to accept it, Ben didn’t. And so, he agreed.
“Follow tunnel six out of the mines. Someone found a way outside through there yesterday. They’ll likely patch it up soon, so hurry!”
On that note, Ben took off running down tunnel six. After about fifteen minutes, he reached the slightly less foreboding, but equally as dark Ostland sky, and began heading west. It took about two and a half hours of walking-running rotation for him to reach the temple, but when he got near it seemed to rise right out of the ground before him.
The Forbidden Temple was mostly sunk into the black dirt that surrounded it, but the doors were still accessible, so Ben headed toward them. As he approached he wondered why it was so “Forbidden.” No agent of Chaos would ever elaborate on it for fear of the Tzeentch’s wrath, and his own father told him, “There are many things in this world that you do not need to know- that is one of them.”
Regardless, as he walked up the front steps (if they could even be called that in the ruinous state that they were in) he noticed the sign by the door. At the top it read:
FORBIDDEN TEMPLE OF THE TZEENTCH – ENTRY PROHIBITED ON PAIN OF OUR LORD’S WRATH
Then just below, another sign read:
Do not ask which creature screams in the night. Do not question who waits for you in the shadow. It is my cry that wakes you in the night, and my body that crouches in the shadow. I am Tzeentch; and you are the puppet that dances to my tune. – The Changer of Ways
After a moment of reading it, Ben thought it odd that such a large quote from the Great Manipulator would be on the outside of the temple. It seemed out of place, far too big for the wall it was mounted on. Then, he spied something underneath- a different plaque, ancient, barely readable and covered up by the word of the Tzeentch.
Quickly, he began to search for a way to uncover it, finally finding a rock in the surrounding dirt. With how shoddily the Chaos post had been put up, it only took two or three smacks of the rock for it all to come crumbling off. The plaque underneath now read:
Temple of Sigmar – Our Light in the Darkness
“Sigmar…” he thought. “There’s something strange about that name…though I can’t quite put my finger on it…”
The one thing he did know, however, was that now he absolutely had to enter the temple and find out more- he felt compelled to do so, and yet didn’t know why.
And so, with a large breath of dank Ostland air in his lungs and as much courage as he could muster, Ben grabbed the bent door handle, opened the great wooden door, and entered the temple.