Hive World Terra

Quest - The Silk Road, Chapter 1 by Commissar-General

This story is an unofficial story based, without permission, on the Warhammer/Warhammer 40,000 intellectual property owned by Games Workshop Ltd.

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Abdul Rashid ibn-Khaldun couldn't stop shivering. His fur cloaks, wrapped tightly around him, seemed no protection against the icy wrath of the Mountains of Mourn. The tiny pass along which his caravan traveled seemed almost as if it would be blown away in the wind.

"Come on you sons of Orcs! I ought to beat you with my shoe!" he cried out, turning to his men. They struggled through the knee high snow along the pass, pushing and pulling the wagons full of the goods of Araby.

"I don't want to be around here when night falls, and I doubt you do either, so move!"

Abdul Rashid turned back into the wind, his black beard covered in the dirty snow now. Pushing forward, he thought fondly of the beautiful deserts of his homeland. He had believed them so hot and parched when he left. Oh, how he would love to see them again now! How he would love to bask in the warm kisses of the desert sun! Here, in these lands, appropriately named the Mountains of Mourn, there was nothing but ice and death. He had lost twelve men already on this trip along the accursed silk road. He hoped not to lose any more.

Gripping tightly on the hilt of his scimitar, he trod on.

They continued like that throughout the day, pushing through the narrow mountain passes, abused time and time again by what seemed to be a never ending wall of ice and snow. By the end of the day, even Abdul Rashid's brown, desert cheeks were beginning to turn red from the cold.

Finally they arrived at a small area, low lying and nestled within the mountains, that was shielded from the ice and snow. With the sun, though they could barely see it, setting, Abdul Rashid and his men laid out their rugs and carried out evening prayer. The men then unpacked the caravan and set up camp, the wind ever howling.

The visitor had not spoken in days. Writing in his journal as his men joked and ate their dinner, Abdul Rashid could not help himself but continuously look at the visitor, as he had been come to be called. He sat, alone, in the dark. He had not joined the men in the prayers, and that had angered some of them. Adro, particularly, had been incensed, calling the visitor an infidel. Abdul Rashid had warned him to keep his thoughts to himself in the future.

He was not wise who sought to incur the anger of a knight of Bretonnia.

As he fell asleep in his tent that night, shivering with the cold, Abdul Rashid wondered about the strange knight. Clad in a cloak of red, and a tabard of the same color, emblazoned with a golden symbol of some kind. The flower of the lily, he believed it was. The knight carried a large, two handed great sword, and kept his hood and cloak wrapped tightly around him. He had no warhorse characteristic of a knight from Bretonnia.

Abdul Rashid knew of the questing knights, of course. All the knights of Bretonnia were known to the people of Araby. Cruel warriors from the cold west, infidels and idolaters who had come on their "Crusade" and laid waste to the beautiful kingdom of Araby, casting down their Sultan. They had been nothing in their victory if not cruel. After much looting and slaughter, they had packed up and left Araby to return to their homes. The idolaters, with their worship of the "Lady" had left the country in a state of true despair. It had taken decades to rebuild. But finally, they had.

He had been preparing his convoy to leave along the silk road when the knight had appeared him, asking for passage. Normally a proud Arabian such as Abdul Rashid would have been loathe to offer any service to such a man. But he had provided good coin, and that was one thing a man of Araby always needed, especially in these hard times.

So, there he was, following behind the caravan, taking his meals alone, praying to his idolatrous goddess instead of joining the men in their daily prayers, and making everyone feel exceedingly uneasy.

Abdul Rashid fell into an uneasy and fitful sleep, his mind filled with dark thoughts about having a crusader in their midst.

The next couple of days passed uneventfully, as the caravan pushed ever onwards through the snow, the crusader knight always following behind them. Abdul Rashid continued to write in his journal. It was extremely rare that a man traveled along the silk road, and he planned to publish his works upon his return to Araby.

Adro was exceedingly uneasy. He was a pious man, with fierce devotion to the God of Araby, and Abdul Rashid often saw him stealing dirty looks at the knight, and cleaning his daggers. Adro had a pair of flintlock pistols from the Empire of Sigmar, that he had once traded for, and Abdul Rashid was fearful that one might accidentally go off in the direction of the crusader over the course of their journey. He did not feel easy about the presence of the Bretonnian, but he did not want anymore bloodshed on this journey. Especially if they should run into Hobgobla-Khan or dreaded Ogres. He would need all the men he could get if that were to happen, and as much as his feelings towards the knights of Bretonnia were negative, he would not mind having one of the infamous questing knights by his side.

The next day was when they found the first signs of creatures living amongst the mountains. First they were just the bones of slaughtered animals. Then they became human skeletons. They passed a ruined caravan on the sixth day since Adro had first confronted him about the crusader. The day after, they found human skeletons nailed to crude signs. A symbol, Abdul Rashid assumed, warning trespassers. He gripped his scimitar, white knuckled. He heard dual clicking sounds from behind him, as Adro cocked his pistols.

The wind seems to be howling less quietly here. Somehow, that was even more disconcerting to Abdul Rashid.

Abdul Rashid examined their surroundings. They were passing through a small gap between two large, rocky, outcroppings. Above them, the rock walls were pockmarked with cave entrances. The perfect hiding place for attackers.

The wind howled again, momentarily, chilling Abdul Rashid's face.

Then it stopped, seemingly completely. Near silence overtook the caravan. Abdul Rashid could hear some of the men muttering prayers to the gods underneath their breath and drawing weapons.

"Alright, you fools, its just the wind! Keep moving, we don't have all day!" Abdul Rashid spoke as much to convince himself as the others.

That was when the first scream broke out.

Whirling, Abdul Rashid drew his scimitar, and then his eyes widened, horrified.

There were three of the creatures. Massive, covered in filthy, unkempt, white fur. Wielding crude weapons, seemingly made out of ice, and with teeth like swords. Abdul Rashid recognized them from the legends he had heard. Yhetees.

Aldo rose one of his pistols, firing. He caught one of the creatures through the shoulder, sending crimson blood splattering along the rocks. It was the last thing he did. Moments later, a huge ice axe swung down, tearing through his head, and sending what was left of his brain hurling through the air.

Men were running every which way now, screaming. The huge creatures were cutting them down like wheat, blood filling the air like a mist. Managing to draw his scimitar, Abdul Rashid cried out and charges.

He sliced one of the creatures through the thigh, as fast and hard as he could. He was satisfied by a jet of blood shooting outwards, and the sight of torn muscle. The creature bellowed, and Abdul Rashid cried out victoriously.

It took him a moment to realize it had not moved. Looking up slowly, he realized that the creature was looking down at him, almost bemused by his strike. Cocking its head to one side, it sniffed the air for a moment.

The strike slammed into Abdul Rashid's face and sent him flying. Landing in hard packed snow, his head swam. He wasn't exactly sure how long it was before the Yhetee's cruel, piggish face entered his field of vision. It seemed like only seconds.

His mouth filled with blood, Abdul Rashid could only watch as the huge ice axe was raised up over the creature's head. It was about to be brought down upon him when a battle cry rang out through the cold, crisp, air;

"For the Lady!"

The greatsword ripped through the Yhetee's arm in one swipe, dropping it to the ground and sending out a fountain of blood.

The creature roared in pain and rage, swinging around with its weapons arm. The knight's chain-armor glinted with snow and water, the chain hood over his face shining. His eyes, two chips of ice blue, glinted like diamonds, and his mouth was bared like that of a beast.

Swinging his sword again, the knight cut through the creature's abdomen, driving it back.

"For the Duke and the King! For the grail! For Bretonnia!"

He swung again, the yhetee swinging at the same time. The gleaming, straight sword, and the axe of ice contacted at the same time. The ice axe shattered in the air. A shard ripped across Abdul Rashid's face, spilling his blood along his cheek. It was, thank the gods, only a graze.

Angered beyond all reason now, the creature swung itself at the knight, sloppily opening its guard. Taking advantage of it, the warrior stepped within its arms, swinging his sword up.

The Yhetee's head landed in the snow, the look of rage and determination still etched upon its face. Its body slammed into the snow behind the knight, his blade still in the air, dripping with the monster's blood.

With the help of the knight, the men had managed to drive down the other two beasts. After ascertaining that there were no others in the area, they set up camp for the rest of the day, saying their prayers, tending to wounds, and dining together. Throughout all of this, the knight, as before, sat alone and separate from the group.

Finally, as the sun was setting, Abdul Rashid walked over to him, still tending to the wound on his cheek and his cracked rib.

"Thank you, knight of Bretonnia. For saving me," the merchant said, slowly, looking at the warrior earnestly.

Looking up at him for a moment, the knight seemed to study the merchant with his cold, metallic blue, eyes. After what seemed like a long time, he spoke.

"I was true to my word, Arabian," he said. "I fought for the Lady and for the Honor of Bretonnia. Not for you."

The knight turned back to cleaning his weapon, as he had been before. What seemed like an eternity passed in silence, before Abdul Rashid was certain he would not speak again.

Finally, nodding, the merchant turned and waked back to the camp. The knight may have been fighting for the glory of his goddess, and not to save his life, but he was no longer plagued with the dark thoughts of having a crusader in his camp.

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