Lizardmen Prelude Part II
Days had passed since Belashar Cordalis and the crew of the Silver Dragon made landfall on Lustria and spoken to Lord Adohi-Tehga, Lord of Tlaxtlan. His crew grew uneasy being kept under armed guard in the lizardmen city even though they were treated well; Belashar felt an even greater unease that he would fail at his mission and have to return to Ulthuan with no words of hope. His mission had been to convince the lizardmen that the cause of the Asur was their struggle as well. Alas, Belashar was a Dragon Prince of Caledor, no silver-tongued diplomat and he felt his presence and rash words did little to convince the mage-priest that the cause was worthy. He comforted himself with the thought that irregardless of who came the lizardmen would refuse to join any war outside of Lustria. Though he did not know it, he was right. The mage-priests were far more concerned with trying to fulfill the Old Ones plans for this world than aiding the struggle against Chaos, even though they already did their part. It was the afternoon of the third day after he had been sent away by the mage-priest that he was summoned back. Once again escorted by duty-bound skinks past saurus temple guards he entered the chamber of Lord Adohi-Tehga, a second generation slann and arguably the second most powerful mage-priest of Lustria. He had prepared for this moment and cleared his thoughts so that the telepathic slann would not read any of his anxious thoughts, a futile attempt but with good intentions. At a state of peace he entered the chamber and acknowledge the mage-priest with a low bow and thoughts of praise, “Greetings noble Lord Adohi-Tehga of Tlaxtlan!”
“My greetings to you warmblood and my apologies for keeping you waiting. You must understand that the matter presented before me had to be discussed amongst all the mage-priests of Lustria and a decision had to be made.” Belashar’s anxiety was apparent despite his best attempts to disguise it, he knew the outcome of this meeting would spell the future of Ulthuan. “I sense your anxiety warmblood, and justly are you worried. The Old Ones bestowed your race with their golden reasoning and harmony. You are indeed a noble race in the eyes of the Old Ones and for this reason the lizardmen look fondly upon your race despite your past wrongs. You must understand that the decision made was not easy, though you may think it has been written in stone.” With these words Belashar’s heart sank. Feeling the emotions surge through the High Elf’s thoughts the mage-priest continued, “The struggle you fight against the forces of Chaos is an admirable struggle and your present and future are covered with bloodshed – but know that your sacrifice does not go unnoticed. You are not alone in this struggle, the world of men and dwarves aids you in your cause. Though you may think me a cold-hearted creature, I do say this with what sorrow you think me capable of – the lizardmen cannot aid you in the struggle for Ulthuan.” Waiting for a response and getting none the slann mage-priest continued, “I cannot champion your cause alone warmblood, and the other mage-priests see no reason to fight beyond Lustria. Our task is to carry out the will of the Old Ones – we need our warriors to defend us while we fulfill this task.”
His emotions reaching their breaking point, Belashar burst out in words forgetting he need not talk, “It is easy for you to sit here atop your temples and watch from afar as we shed our blood against the hordes of Chaos. Yes, you may contain greater hordes within the poles with your magics but the sacrifice is not the same! Can you not simply breed another generation of warriors in your spawning pools and share blood with us in this cause?! Is the race of the Asur to perish under the swords of Chaos while the lizardmen watch?”
Not use to such an out-lash and rebuttal, the slann mage-priest gathered his thoughts while receiving communication from other mage-priests furious at the outburst of the warmblood. Adohi-Tehga was not like the younger generations; he knew the struggle of all races against the tides of Chaos, but the younger slann generations only saw the blood of Lustria and the devastation brought by the other races to their land. “I am sorry warmblood. The lizardmen do not seek to enter into a war that will bring war to our homes. We have a task to fulfill, and that task is easier fulfilled by keeping to our own. I shall see what we can do from afar to aid your struggle, but otherwise you must return to Ulthuan with what you have been given.”
Belashar nodded grimly and thought, “Nothing,” a thought he knew the slann received. He returned to the camp of the Sea Guard and coldly told them to break camp and prepare for the return journey to Ulthuan. The crew knew the answer he had received and thought better than to ask him of the meeting.
As dusk approached and the crew readied for their return, a strange series of events were set into motion that could be nothing other than coincidental. It had happened that in the days that the crew of the Silver Dragon waited for word from the Mage-Priests of Lustria, the corsairs of the Druchii ships had made land and pursued the trail of the High Elves. They came upon Tlaxtlan just as the High Elves were breaking camp and preparing to march back through the dense jungle. The corsair captain halted his troops in the jungle and wisely decided against a suicide attack on the lizardmen city with his warband, and instead opted to ambush the High Elves on their return and obtain any artifacts and information the High Elves had gathered. However, before the High Elves could even begin their departure an event began which would drastically alter the future of the lizardmen…
A loud rumble was heard from within the city, Belashar spotted in the distance a rising column of dust and ran with the crew of the Silver Dragon out of curiosity to see what had occurred. Upon arriving to the site they noticed that a large sink-hole had swallowed up a segment of a skink barrio. Lizardmen were scurrying to and fro trying to gather what exactly had happened and how best to rescue those who had plummeted to the earth. With dusk setting in and precious daylight ebbing away a sense of urgency was in the air. The cries of the buried skinks were suddenly transformed into blood-curdling shrills and in an instant the air was filled with a noise so vile that words could not describe it.
Panic swept over the lizardmen attempting to set up a rescue effort and instantly massive beacons were lit around the city of Tlaxtlan. A lone kroxigor patrolling the perimeter of the city by the sinkhole suddenly let out a gutteral cry and the ground shook around him, collapsed and from it erupted the puss of the earth – swarms of skaven. Dozens of skaven assailed the lone kroxigor trying to bring it down, but oh did the beast give them a struggle. As the blades tore into him, the creature swung harder and massacred a dozen skaven in one swing, but alas even the mighty heart of a kroxigor gives out eventually.
Belashar realizing the events that had come to pass began to order his Sea Guard in formation, and the dark elf corsair captain seeing the chaos that had overcome the lizardmen city ordered his corsairs to charge through the lizardmen at the High Elves. All around the city skaven emerged from underground tunnels and began to assail the lizardmen. Belashar turned to the pyramid of Adohi-Tehga to see what response had been issued and already swarms of vermin were scampering up the sides of it, and in response saurus temple guards emerged from hidden chambers from within the pyramid and made the skaven pay dearly.
“To the pyramid elves of the Sea Guard! Lord Adohi-Tehga must not fall to the skaven!” Belashar commanded in a voice fit for a Dragon Prince. The well organized Sea Guard crew marched in form fighting their way to the pyramid, and from the dense jungle the warband of corsairs spread carnage as they raced for the Sea Guard. In a matter of minutes the city had erupted into a war zone, as the lizardmen fought for their very survival against the seemingly never-ending onslaught of skaven. Just as Belashar and the Sea Guard reached the foot of the south side of the pyramid, the corsairs reached the east side. Belashar spotted the dark kin, slightly taken aback that they were here and immediately thought that the Druchii had concocted a plan with the skaven for this assault. A vicious struggle erupted on the steps of the pyramids as temple guards faced a dual onslaught from skaven and Dark Elves, as High Elves driven by some internal urge for vengeance fought towards the Dark Elves, and as the Dark Elves driven by blood lust and the desire to appease Malekith drove towards the High Elves. Caught between the Dark Elves and the skaven, the High Elves fought desperately still while ascending the pyramid to reach Lord Adohi-Tehga’s chamber, an ascent made all the more difficult by the slick blood-covered steps and skaven bodies being hurled through the air.
As dusk turned into night the bloody struggle on the steps of Lord Adohi-Tehga’s pyramid was but a microcosm of the greater struggle for the city of Tlaxtlan. Smaller pyramids were being overrun, while the larger ones held out. Skink barriors were ablaze, and all around the city individual buildings kept sinking into the ground. The flames of the temples and battle sickly danced in the pools of glistening blood. The struggle suddenly took an unexpected turn as a low horn was sounded from the distance and the skaven onslaught which seemed to have the upper hand, in numbers certainly, began to recede as rapidly as it enveloped the city. The Dark Elves now alone faced temple guards and the remains of the Sea Guard. The ensuing battle was needless to say short as the corsairs were brutally cut down by both factions.
As night turned into dawn the magnitude of the battle became apparent to Belashar. Skink barrios were ablaze. Several buildings were missing – replaced by sink holes. Thousands of bodies covered the grounds, it could be said that pyramids of skaven bodies could rival the size of the temples of the lesser mage-priests. Dying kroxigors bellowed at the edges of the city – the valiant beasts fought with all might shredding apart dozens of skaven. Belashar at the top of the temple of Lord Adohi-Tehga took all this in, not failing to notice that his Sea Guard had dwindled down to half is number with the corpses of his fallen comrades ascending the pyramid. In his heart the Dragon Prince felt that he had failed in all aspects – he had lost his dragon, he had failed Ulthuan and the Phoenix King in his mission, and now he had failed to protect the Sea Guard which had so valiantly protected him. The blood-bespattered crew circled around their commander, and to their shock watched as their commander fell to his knees and broke into sobs. Public display of emotion was certainly not a quality of the High Elves, but nonetheless the situation was so overwhelming that even the stoic Sea Guard could not hold back the tears.
Lord Adohi-Tehga emerged from his chamber unhurt carried by loyal skinks and took the carnage in. Glancing down at the Sea Guard and their weeping commander and down at the steps of the pyramid the slann mage-priest was deep in thought. The slann mage priest croaked loudly gaining the attention of the High Elves and penetrated the thoughts of Belashar,
“Though the lizardmen would not spill blood with the High Elves, you and your comrades fought with great valor and spilled blood with the lizardmen. Whether we willed it or not, war has come to Lustria.” Belashar rose and attempted to make himself appear to be the warrior he was. Lord Adohi-Tehga continued, “The vile hosts of skaven will not cease to plague Lustria if we fight and win alone. No, this struggle requires us to go beyond Lustria and strike at the heart of the beast, and for this we need you. The other mage-priests have agreed to aid the High Elves in their struggle against the Dark Elves if you in turn aid us in destroying the lair of the beasts, Skavenblight.”
Belashar spoke, “It would be an honor to fight with the lizardmen, children of the Old Ones, in any struggle.”
“Your display Belashar Cordalis has proven that the High Elves are indeed worthy friends of the lizardmen. For this I thank you and for this you have gained an ally in your struggle. Rise noble warrior and return to Ulthuan and tell your Phoenix King that you have succeeded in achieving the unachievable – you have brought the lizardmen to your cause. With your blood you have forged an alliance that will hold off the hordes of Chaos.”