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Oliver Bernuetz
Richard Fenner
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Martin Laurie
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Alkothi Tales
Deville's Tales
Krarn's Tale
Onslaught's Tales
Sheng Seleris' Tales

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 the High Khan had said - "when you sense a trap - believe in the Bull - charge, triumph or die." Krarn roared his fury and swept his axe around the corner at waist height. The Broo that waited for him doubled over the heavy blade 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 ordinary laws. It spat a viscous flem into his face that hissed as it tore into his helm. 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 death 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 normalacy.

Suddenly the next room opened before him. It was wide and circular 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 with 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 came 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, kind brown eyes and a sad smile. It was Krarn's 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 from 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 within 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 felt his rage carry him to new excesses of strength and power. A savage amusement filled 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 those 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 flake of rock but rock made of utter law. The void screamed and shattered with a blast that drove the warrior before it to his knees. In 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 ran. 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 blood 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 axe and sanity and then he was airborne. His limbs were flung out and he cried 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. Krarn's 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 slew. We felt the chaos subside as it died and we knew that one of you had made it."

"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 Krarn's 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 taken a terrible wound. Storm Bull was content...for now.


May 31, 2000

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