The End War

BrikWars fiction in long-prose form. Trigger warning: Walls of text

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Zahru II
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The End War

Post by Zahru II » Wed Mar 18, 2020 2:20 am

Note: Although Ragnablok has come and passed, the events described here take place during that time.
Related reads: Lord of the clan, Orks Must Die!, No rest for the wicked, Turning Tides, Gatecrash.

Chapter 1 – Pariah

The ruthless sun of the western wastes beat down on the tired orkish horde. They were headed west – homewards. Some of them hadn't seen their ancestral lands in years. There was a grim solemnity to the march of the clans, a bittersweet mixture of homecoming and shame. Shame. They were free, yet they had failed. The great conquest ended with liberation, but also a truce bound by honor.
The leader of the clans was a charred, ashen, bald ork, his crusty hide exposed to the beating sun, with specks of burnt skin falling of his back every step or so. He was Gurak, the leader of these orks. It was through his determination and sheer will alone that the rest of the orks were no longer the thralls of man.

Not so long ago, Gurak fought to claim leadership and won the right in honorable combat, only to meet his untimely end by the hands of a crafty sorceress’ fireball. It was an ignoble, agonizing death, unfit for an ork. In a grim twist of fate however, Gurak would soon walk among the living. Reanimated by an unholy ritual, the ork was given life once more through a burnt vessel of a man that transformed into a grim facsimile of the once hulking ork. Gurak would be fueled by necrotic energy, or so he thought. Upon the direst of hours, he was still able to connect with the great ork spirit – the Orknipresence, a higher state of mind the feeble humans would be unable to ever comprehend – and channel its energies, excising the vile magics from his system to become a true ork once more. This gave him the resolve to save his people, who had been enslaved by never-before-seen invaders known as the Falx. For this however, he needed allies – and he had to find them at the most unusual of places: his sworn, hated enemies.

Without a choice, Gurak found himself in league with not only the Imperials, but also the sorceress that caused his initial demise. Through this unlikely alliance, the Falx were crushed, and the enslaved orks were liberated. It did come at a price though: Gurak was to forfeit, along with his people, from Imperial lands, lands that they were locked in combat for years by then. Still, Gurak kept his word, hoping to lead his people by example back to a more honorable path.
He knew this would be demoralizing, yet he was not met with any resistance. A strange sense of melancholy came over his people. Even though they were always allies of arguably far greater powers in the past, they would always pick their sides willingly. Enslavement wounded orkish pride far worse than any blade ever could. Perhaps this was why the orks agreed to follow Gurak. In him they have found a savior, and a leader who could guide them through the spiritual purgatory that was the pilgrimage back home.

Gurak knew he was on borrowed time. By burning the necrotic magic from his vessel, he rid himself of the curse of undeath but damned himself to a slow and inevitable demise. Only the foul energies could sustain his husk. He felt pieces of himself chip away daily, his senses dulled. Words eluded his mind when talking to others. He hoped he could lead his kin home before casting himself into the wind. Satisfied. Accomplished.

One day Gurak felt a shift in the attitude of the orks. They seemed to have become more like their former selves. Spirited, vigorous, eager to pick a fight. There weren’t many creatures to challenge on the wastes beyond the odd pack of beastmen, but raiding parties often broke off to sate their newfound lust for battle. Gurak’s connection to the Orknipresence, which had been rapidly deteriorating ever since the start of their journey, was also flaring up. He could feel the shared psychic link between him and his kind. It was vivid, powerful, yet almost deafeningly discordant, echoing hundreds of thoughts and feelings far greater than the horde he was leading. It was puzzling even for an ork of Gurak’s intelligence. Was it some divine premonition? Perhaps enlightenment?

The answer soon came in the form of another ork horde marching towards them. It was far more numerous and more organized, its warriors clad in dark metals and riding gargantuan smoke-belching contraptions. Gurak’s orks paused as their ashen leader stepped forth to convene with theirs, a mountain of an ork clad in iron from head to toe.

“Hmph, and you are?”, bellowed the behemoth in armor.
“Gurak, leader of the clans from the east. We are returning home.”
“Returning? You cannot mean what I think you do, miscreant.”
“Our people were enslaved and I liberated them. However, as a part of that bid, I had to forsake our conquest. If your troops are reinforcements, then you all have to turn back. We no longer wage war with the Empire.”
“YOU might have given up like a coward, but I, Grimkor Ironheart, will never yield until I have the entire world in my hand! Now, step aside and go lick your wounds along with this pathetic rabble before I swat you like an insect, cripple.”

Gurak’s eyes lit up with the spark of primal fire. “I see we still resort to the densest and loudest to be leaders. Listen then, Grimkor – I challenge you to a duel to the death. Whoever wins can decide on how to steer the destiny of our people!”
Grimkor huffed, then grinned under his ironclad visage. “Now you start to sound like an ork. So be it!”

Grimkor instructed his orks to draw a circle in the barren soil while the two leaders prepared themselves. Gurak grabbed his two-handed axe, a trusty but worn weapon that led him through many a conflict. Grimkor’s wielded a massive, intricately-crafted war hammer. One could almost mistake it for a dwarven design, but upon closer inspection, undeniable orkish motifs were etched over it.

Grimkor and Gurak stared each other down. Gurak had already taken down an ironclad ork. He hoped this would be no different despite his failing strength. They were surrounded by orks of both clans, eager to see a real fight after weeks of dull drudgery and hapless slaughter.

Grimkor bellowed a deafening war cry, echoed by his followers as he lunged forward. Gurak anticipated this move and chose to evade, then circle around and aim for the nape of Grimkor's neck. He felt the closer to the Orknipresence than ever before, its psychic wails were deafening as the orks around them were fired up by their excitement. He felt as if not just these two ork clans, but the entirety of orkkind was overtaken by an inexplicable bloodlust and frenzy. Perhaps this was natural to a regular ork, but for Gurak, one who had been at death’s door and had been dragged back, it all suddenly felt like an unbearable cacophony draping over his mind and senses.

“You hear it too, don’t you?”

Gurak turned towards the voice. It was Grimkor. Gurak, overwhelmed, paused for too long, and now had to pay the price. He felt the iron-padded knee of Ironheart hit against his stomach, making him fly over the far end of the circle and land with an earth-shattering thud, dropping his axe and coughing up thick clouds of ash. He felt as if his entire body was shattered by the blow, deep cracks running over his figure and revealing a faint glow of life. Grimkor walked towards him, knowing Gurak would have no power to get up and reposition himself.

“Much like you, I too have tasted the flames before,” Grimkor spoke. “It seared and burnt my flesh, melting and grafting the armor plates I wore onto my skin. It would’ve been a good death but I survived. Metal became my new skin. The voices… do you also hear it? Orks… hundreds… thousands… millions… they all cry out for war! And you choose to run away, like a coward? No. I cannot let that happen.”
Gurak only saw a faint outline of the ironclad ork towering over him, hammer in his hand. He knew this was it, yet… he had one final trick.
“I do what I do out of honor! We have forsaken it for too long and we paid the ultimate price – our freedom! If you betray that pact, you only continue to perpetuate the cycle of mindless destruction and doom us all!”
“Enough! I see my kin has grown soft from being overexposed to humans. I shall make sure to not make the same mistake and crush every last one of them!” Frenzied cries thundered in agreement to Grimkor’s words. It did not matter, Gurak bought himself just enough time with this. “GRRRRAAAAAARGH!”

The centre of the cracked wound, Gurak’s stomach, lit up, followed by a pillar of flame erupting from the ashen ork. He focused all of his willpower and tapped into the Orknipresence, channeling its fury into pure flame, hoping to boil the armor clad ork. He knew it was likely his last move in this second life, but should he succeed, his dying word would hold over Grimkor’s.
Grimkor was surprised by the flame jet as he cried out in pain. His iron skin was soon glowing red hot, burning and melting his flesh. Yet, he grit his teeth and stepped forth, raising his hammer with both hands. “I HAVE CONQUERED THE FURY OF THE MOUNTAINS BEFORE! RRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAGHHR!”

He struck at Gurak’s chest, landing with a thunderous clap that echoed throughout the plains. A moment of silence passed and the orks paused as the dust settled. Grimkor, kneeling, was alive. His breathing was ragged. His armor slowly cooled down in the wind. In front of him, lay a spot of soot and ash. Gurak was undone and no more. The orks stared at the aftermath of the duel, then in unison began chanting: GRIM-KOR, GRIM-KOR, GRIM-KOR!

Grimkor stood up and slung the hammer over his shoulder. He could feel not only the cries of the two clans, but of all orks throughout all realities, hungry for battle. This, along Gurak’s final words about dooming all, gave him a sense of clarity. “Alright boys, gather up! We’re heading back to Ironkeep!”
“But… wasn’t we going to fight the hoomans?” Asked one of Gurak’s former orks, all too eager to battle once more.
Grimkor chuckled. “Oh, we will… but first we must make sure that it will be the greatest of fights this world has ever seen!”
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stubby
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Re: The End War

Post by stubby » Thu Mar 19, 2020 8:53 pm

A wild Zahru appears!
Natalya wrote:Wtf is going on in this thread?

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Quantumsurfer
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Re: The End War

Post by Quantumsurfer » Tue Mar 24, 2020 11:28 am

Good stuff.

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