Friday, September 14, 2012



Being a wholly unauthorized tale of Gotrek & Felix
Bobby Derie

“Behold, manling.” The slayer growled. “The abscess of the world.”

Felix Jaeger choked and gagged in response, burying his nose in his worn red Sudenland wool cloak. His nose had not been subjected to such abuse since he and Gotrek had been sewerjacks in the vaults of Nuln. Gotrek and he were hiding, as best they could, behind a mound of ancient caked and dried dung that had been molded into the likeness of one of the gods of Goblindom. Swallowing back a mouthful of bile, he chanced a glance around the idol.

Before them in the twilight lay the greatest orc cesspit in the Old World, a vast pool that lay at the bottom of sheer cliff that had served as an open latrine to the Greenskins of the Massif Orcal. Streaks of brown and green stained the rockface down to the pit of foulness that had received the foul, odorous tribute of hundreds of Greenskin tribes in the centuries. Idols of orc and goblin dung like the one Gotrek and Felix now hid behind ringed the pit sporadically, and Gotrek could make out the likeness of Mork, Gork, and other more obscure Greenskin deities.

Gotrek Gurnisson, trollslayer, had sought his down throughout the world, from Albion to Cathay. Felix had stood by the Slayer’s side as he fought orc, elf, and man; dragon, daemon, and giant in the search of his doom. Felix knew that Gotrek was driven to face off against the greatest monsters the world possessed, for nothing less would wipe away his shame. Now they had come here, following a Bretonnian peasant’s tale, and Felix cursed himself bitterly for his foolish oath to follow the Slayer and record his doom.

Felix knew Gotrek well and disliked the mad look in the slayer’s sole remaining eye. The dwarf assayed the cesspool carefully, running a callused thumb along the edge of his great starmetal runeaxe. A few filth-caked goblins and snotlings of the Brown Eye Tribe waded at the edges of the turgid brown mire, rooting for squigs. In the university at Altdorf, Felix had heard that squigs bred beneath the vicious pools and mounds of orc waste, and that the Greenskins relied on them as both a foodsource and as beasts of war. Felix had never known squigs came in as many different shapes and forms as he could see now—previously, he had only known the bouncing, bipedal war-squigs which goblin tribes ran into battle, the terrible squiggly beasts that seemed half teeth and all mad.

It had all been going so well. The local lord knew Gotrek of old and had agreed to put them up for the night, and shared his local wines. They were dining well on could mutton and deep in their cups of the local vinegary red, ensured of a warm and dry pile of hay in the barn to sleep for the night—as close as Felix figured they would get to civilization in Sigmar-be-damned Bretonnia.

Then the stableboy came in yelling about the squiggoth.

Felix remembered how Gotrek sat up at the word, and asked short, pointed questions. The lord had been more than quick to answer them, Felix had noticed, and placed particular emphasis on the dangers involved. He didn’t think the old man could have gotten the Slayer out of his lands quicker if he’d offered Gotrek a bag of gold. Shaking off his ruminations, Felix studied the sight before them.

A single great goblin rode around on the back of a great albino squig as big as an Imperial warhorse, surrounded by an honor guard of the biggest, meanest, best-armed and armored goblins in the camp. Undoubtedly this was Turdlick, shaman of the Brown Eye Tribe. By some unspoken signal, the squig bearing the shaman lurched forward toward the vast brown pool, and a strange hooting went up. Every goblin dropped whatever they were doing and began a procession, heading in the same general direction as Turdlick.

“Now, manling!” Gotrek growled quietly. “Follow me!”

Taking the opportunity of the goblin’s distraction, the duo made their way quietly to the next dung idol. Felix, with his longer legs, had little trouble keeping pace with Gotrek. Once safely hid behind the icon of filth, Gotrek waited a few moments, and then proceeded to scurry out for the next idol. In this way the two came by degrees closer and closer to the edge of the mire, and in a few minutes they had reached the marshy shores of the cesspool.

The shaman, by this time, was standing on the back of his great squig and exhorting his followers. Felix was too far away to make any sense of the goblin’s pronouncements, but he could hear the crowd thump and bellow in response to every line. Then the shaman turned back to gaze at the great cesspool and raised his arms. Licks of green fire seemed to dance around Turdlick’s hands, then shot into the night and land at the exact middle of the cesspool.

At first, nothing happened, and the brown slime was still. Then the crusty surface rippled slightly, as if by a strong wind, but Felix felt no such breeze. Finally, a vast green-black hump began to break the surface, the liquid waste rolling off of it, like the crocodiles of distant Araby. Felix squinted in the dark, hoping to get a better look at the thing as it emerged from the orc-pit. The hump continued to swell and grow larger, and the whole filthy surface of the pool was agitated. The goblins took up to hooting again, and as Felix looked out he saw other huger lumps emerging from the pool, small hillocks he had taken as submerged islets and other geographic features.

Then there was a vast squelch, and the squiggoth stood up. Felix stole a glance at Gotrek and even the Slayer seemed to be registering disbelief. It was if the entire cesspit had raised itself on four vast legs, each of which was larger than a Bretonnian warhorse. Mounds of orc-dirt and rancid waters ran off its back as the squiggoth raised itself from the muck in response to Turdlick’s call. Felix was reminded of an ancient story he had read from a book of Arabyan children’s tales that his father had given him on his naming-day, about an great fish or turtle whose broad back was mistaken for an island. Here could be the truth to that tale.

Now standing free of the cesspool, Felix could see the beast more clearly. It was certainly of squig stock, it had all the basic requirements: it was green and had big teeth. Beyond that, there was something reptilian in its gate, and the head was diminutive compared to the body, attached directly to the great humped mass of its body without any proper sort of neck. Between the vast fleshy columns of its legs, Felix could just discern its tail—or what he prayed fervently to Shallya was its tail.

Now, all of the Brown Eye Tribe save for Turdlick and his guard, surged forward with nets and long pointy sticks. The goblins ran quickly past its great gaping mouth—although not quite quickly enough, for an herd of snotlings were swallowed up by the squiggoth as they dallied too close to its maw—and between the vast forelegs, so that the belly of the great beast formed a roof over their heads. Pale things squirmed in the mud, and Felix realized that they bulk of the squiggoth must protect the largest and most favored squigs, which the goblins were now catching.

“Come manling! Now is the hour of my doom!” roared the Slayer.

Felix cursed and unsheathed his sword as Gotrek sprinted towards the great green thing, running to keep pace with the Slayer. Turdlick’s guards shouted a warning and surged forward to deal with the intruder. The first swing of Gotrek’s axe took split the face of the one goblin, sliced open a second from left shoulder to right hip, and cleaved the third in the groin, but the dwarf did not stop moving. Felix’s dragon-hilted sword stabbed and slashed at the wounded, finishing off those that were dying but not yet dead and were still dangerous.

The slaughter was mercifully brief, and soon Gotrek stood before Turdlick himself. The shaman was still seated on his great albino squig, but the thing seemed like the smallest of mice now compared to the vast green horror behind them. Turdlick stood at his full height atop the squig, green froth foaming at the corners of his mouth and sparks of green fire coming from eyes, ears, and nostrils.  Gotrek was running towards the Greenskin, but when he was still a few yards away the shaman gestured and a great green blazing fist tore from the sky and smashed into Gotrek, sending the dwarf to his knees.

Felix watched amazed, for the apparition of the fist disappeared almost as soon as it had come, and Gotrek rose immediately back to his feet, eyes blazing. The Slayer managed another two steps forward and the shaman gestured again, and again the vast green hand appeared from nowhere and crushed Gotrek into the marshy earth. The slayer jumped back to his feet, blood streaming from nose and ears. Turdlick for his part was laughing in devilish glee, and the great albino squid was slowly backing away from Gotrek, increasing the distance between them.

Now Felix had caught up with Gotrek, and the two advanced side-by-side, cautiously getting nearer and nearer to the mountainous squiggoth. Green fire licked at the shaman’s eyebrows as he gestured again, and this time both Gotrek leapt out of the way, flinging his axe in the shaman’s direction. Felix was less quick or less fortunate, and felt the massive hand of Mork crush down on him, pushing him into the wet earth. Searing pain filled his left shoulder and clods of foulness clogged his mouth and nose. In that moment Felix knew he was going to die, drowned in a bucket of orc "I swear too much".

A stout hand grabbed Felix’s lanky blond hair and drew him back aright. Gotrek took a moment to survey Felix’s condition, then grabbed his left arm in one hand, placed his massive right paw on Felix’s shoulder, and wrenched. Once again, Felix felt the indescribable pain as something inside him popped back into its accustomed socket. Leaving the dazed human where he was, the Slayer waded off into the pit.

Still in shock, Felix sat and stared at the milling goblin chaos in the shadow of the squiggoth. Through the haze of his pain-filled-brain Felix realized that the impact of the spell must have dislocated his shoulder, and the dwarf had re-set it before it had inflamed and the limb was rendered useless. The great albino riding-squig was some distance away, sinking into the mire. Gotrek’s thrown rune-axe had cleaved the thing deeply, splitting skull and brain and spine. Turdlick was still atop the thing, a haze of green smoke wisting from his charred neck-stump. Felix knew how dangerous the Greenskin magic was, and apparently the final spell had been too much for the shaman to safely handle.

Gotrek waded forward, now waste deep in the muck. Without his axe, bloodied and bruised from the shaman’s maltreatment, and caked in orc-filth, the Slayer was much less of an imposing sight. Even his great crest of hard was damp with green slime, and hung to one side of his head. Some of the nearest squig-hunters took this as an opportunity to attack. Gotrek caught the first sharp pointy stick in his left hand, pulled the goblin that had thrust it toward him, and brought his ham-like right fist down on its head. The skull smashed like an eggshell, spilling brains into the mire. A pair of goblins tried to net the Slayer, but only managed to incapacitate his right arm. Gotrek ignored them and continued toward the sinking albino squig and his axe, dragging the hapless squig-hunters behind him.

Felix managed to find the strength to stagger to his feet, leaning on his sword for support as he fixed his red Sudenland wool cloak into a makeshift sling for his arm. Gotrek would not be able to hold his own forever, he would need help. Even as Felix advanced, he saw that Gotrek was having a hard time of it. Besides the net caught around his right arm and the two goblins he was dragging behind him, a half-grown squig all was attached to his left leg, the vast toothy mouth closed up to the Slayer’s knee. Squelching with every step, Felix dove into the cesspool after Gotrek, stabbing and slashing at the squigs. Almost immediately he felt the putrescent liquid spill over the edge of his boots, felt the mud and mire at the bottom of the cesspool pull at them. By the time he had taken ten steps, Felix had lost both boots forever in the squig-nest and felt indescribable slime squish between his toes.

With a few slashes, Felix finished the goblins holding Gotrek. The dwarf was busy trying to dislodge his axe from the albino squig, the weight of the Slayer’s muscular body just causing it to sink deeper. With a roar of triumph Gotrek freed his axe, and ripped the remnants of the net away from him. Felix stepped forward and skewered the squig biting into Gotrek’s leg, twisting the blade a few times until the thing stopped moving.

“Careful there manling, I almost lost a toe!” the dwarf growled, then stalked for the nearest of the colossal legs. The Slayer surveyed the scaly green flesh with the eye of an engineer, then cast his single eye to gaze on the vast arch that the squiggoth’s forelimbs made.

“Give me a boost.” He commanded.

Felix stared at the mad dwarf in disbelief, but got down on his knees in the orc filth and offered his broad back to the Slayer. Gotrek clambered on top of the human as if he was no more than a footstool, and Felix gasped beneath the dwarf’s weight. With terrible calculation, Gotrek slashed his axe at the mighty leg, opening a vast chasm that wept a pale, horrible green ichor. Felix thought he could no longer discern terrible odors after his time in the miasma of the orc-marsh, but this new scent had him adding his own wretching offering to the pool in front of him. Gotrek grasped the cut in one hand and pulled, lifting himself free of Felix’s back. Felix watched, amazed, as Gotrek began to climb, using the mighty rune-axe to carve hand-and-footholds out of the squiggoth’s hide.

Eventually, the dim beast noticed the carnage being done to it, though Felix thought that surely the wounds Gotrek was inflicting, though terrible to most any other terrestrial creature, were no more than the bites of a mosquito to the mighty squig. It was like attacking a mountain, one strike at a time. The terrible hooting of the squiggoth changed in tone and, and suddenly Felix felt a warm, wet breeze blow behind him. He turned to see a forest of great teeth, each the size of a Bretonnian knight’s shield. The squiggoth had lowered itself as far as it could to inspect the slight pains that had finally arrived in its tiny brain, and what it saw there was Felix. The great mouth opened, and once again Felix feared he would die in this place. He held his sword in front of him, prepared to do what damage he could to this thing before it ate him.

“Oi, you!” the Slayer shouted above, and Felix looked up to see Gotrek take a flying leap from the squiggoth’s shoulder, his massive rune-axe held over his head in both hands. Whether or not the squiggoth actually heard him, Felix would never know, but a shaft of moonlight caught the edge of the starmetal axe, and it seemed to burn like fire as it came down into a perfect arc, ending on the squiggoth’s head, right between the eyes. The axe head buried itself ‘til no metal showed, and in another moment the Slayer’s hands and arms had disappeared into the wound. The weight and momentum of dwarf and axe had cleaved straight through the squiggoth’s skull, and some hideous suction was now pulling the dwarf inside as well.

The hooting stopped. All around in the shadow of the squiggoth, Felix saw the goblins of the Brown Eye Tribe stop their squig hunting and look up. A tiny shiver ran through the beast, and in that moment Felix rand, clambered, and crawled for the edge of the cesspit, out from under the beast’s shadow. The fall of the squiggoth was like the death of mountains and gods. Those goblins too stupid or afraid to run were caught beneath it as their vast squiggy shelter collapsed upon them. Felix swore that the Massif Orcal shook, and a black wave of liquid filth and dead goblins caught him from behind, propelling him into an ancient, half-crumbled dung idol, the soft center of which broke his fall.

Wrestling his way free of the orc-dirt, Felix looked on the vast squiggoth as it sank slowly into the mire. The beast was only so much carrion now, probably a meal for the hundreds of squigs its bulk once sheltered. Then, looking around, Felix realized Gotrek was nowhere to be seen. Felix called the Slayer’s name, circumnavigating the vast pit and shouting into the darkness. It had never dawned on him that the dwarf might actually perish here. For a brief moment, Felix wondered how the hell he’d write this up. Certainly he doubted that Gotrek wished to be remembered as having found his doom as a squigslayer, then drowned in the greatest cesspool in the world.

Felix chewed his lip, feeling the loss of the Slayer. He was sore, tired, filthy in a way he had never been before and hoped never to be again. His boots lay beneath a hundred tons of squig, and could still taste the rancid flavor of orc urine on his breath. Gotrek Gurnisson, his only true friend and companion these many years, lay here, a massive mound of squig-flesh his only monument. Felix started to laugh. He cackled. Something inside his stomach broke and he whooped and hollered and laughed until he was out of breath, and he laughed some more, clutching his stomach and unable to breath. His black depression over the final death of Gotrek had given way to the terrible thought that finally, at last, after so many terrible adventures he was free. Free of the Slayer, free of the oath he had sworn in that moment of drunken madness.

Felix was still giggling when Gotrek punched his way out of the squiggoth’s head.

“Oi, manling!” the Slayer yelled. “What are you laughing at?”

Felix’s chuckles died, something like relief and a terrible weariness flooding back into his soul.

“I’m just glad you’re alive, Gotrek.”

“Don’t see why there’s anything to be glad about.” The dwarf said dourly. “It would have been a mighty doom, to die slaying a squiggoth and an entire goblin tribe to boot.”

“Don’t worry Gotrek. I’m sure we can find you another doom.” Felix said with a sigh. “Now, let’s go teach the Bretonnians how to boil water. I need a bath.”

Gotrek’s nose twitched in a mighty sniff.

“Aye manling, that you do.”


1 comment:

  1. There is a REASON why Dorfs are belowed universally all around . . Their sense of Honor and Humor ^^