The Lady Reborn

This is part one of an ongoing series of stories following the journey of our protagonist through The Silver Hills Age of Sigmar campaign.

She awoke in a crypt. She knew it was a crypt immediately, they had a familiar smell, dry air and old death. The smell was familiar, but how she’d got here wasn’t.

The cold of the rock slab she was laid out on bled through into her body. Her arms and legs ached, so did her neck. Stiff from a long cold slumber.

Swinging her nimble legs off the slab, she sat upright to survey the room. It was small and enclosed, hewn out from solid rock. A doorway was cut into the wall beyond the foot of the stone slab, it held a heavy wooden door, barred shut, with an large bookcase pushed against it. A man lay dead at the foot of the bookcase, a priest of one kind or another based on his garb, his life essence having left him days ago.

She stood. Unsteadily at first, but after a moment to compose herself she drew herself up to her full height. She lifted her chin, cocked her head slightly and surveyed her situation. A brazier burned in the corner, bright with an off-yellow, slightly green flame. There was no discernible fuel source, likely some arcane trickery keeping it ablaze. The brazier cast light upon a small wooden table, which was covered in metal implements, bloodied and haphazardly thrown in a pile after use. The only other thing on the desk was a sealed jar, containing a thick deep red, almost black coloured liquid. She picked up the jar to inspect it, the liquid oozed rather than ran, it was cold. She could tell what it was without even opening the lid.

The air in the room was stale, it'd been days since the door was sealed by the smell of the priest piled against it. The blood in the jar had been so cold, it was almost like a jam, she’d tore through those sanguine delights, hungrily devouring the contents, palming the preserve into her mouth in a burst of animal savagery, unexpected based on her size and stature.

After replacing the lid of the jar, she placed it carefully back on the table. She pulled open the door, the wooden bar across it splintered and broke, the bookcase and accompanying body at its foot easily swept aside in its wake.

Leaving the room she entered a narrow, unassuming corridor. She followed it into the main room of the crypt. There were bodies strewn around the room, all dead. Some had been hacked to pieces, some heaped in one spot with bolts protruding from their chests. Others had been staked and tied down, then burned alive. They were familiar sights, some of Sigmar's most devout had been here. Witchhunters!

She emerged from the crypt. It was early still, before midnight she thought as she stepped into the pale moonlight. Walking up the steps from the crypt she came to a grassy area, bisected by a pebbled path. Around her grave markers and gravestones ranked up, she was in the middle of a cemetery.

The Crypt

There was a familiar scent of decay and death in the air. It filled her nostrils, breathed life back into her. The scent was age old and familiar, but somehow also different, fresh… new.

Taking her time, she surveyed her surroundings, the graveyard sloped downhill in front of her, a gentle descent to a wall and set of iron gates in the far distance. Behind her the path split off to climb the hill, passing a barrow sitting atop it. Some King or Duke would be interned there. His most prized warriors laid to rest in the graves surrounding the barrow, to slumber alongside him for all eternity.

Inspecting the graves more closely, there was no signs of Morrda here. His taint wasn't evident in the grave markers or in the iconography upon them. She relaxed slightly, this place was free from his influence, his protection, she spat as she thought the word.

She strolled along the path, intrigued she climbed the hill towards the barrow. The name chiselled above the entrance was ornate, but well worn. Centuries had eroded much of the filigree that the site had once held. She leaned in to read the name of the interned noble. Moltke. It was a notable name from stories she had heard of Kings past. A name that held significant renown.

A suitable name for a general.

She could feel the dead surrounding her, sense their presence. She cleared her mind, melted into the feeling, could pick them all out across the cemetery. With a tense of her senses she felt the rush of the gift flow through her.

Soulblight they call it. It was no blight. It was a gift. It was power. It was the power over life and death itself.

She stood back to observe. She had felt Moltke in his grave, had pulled on his essence, lulling him back from the dead, bringing him into her thrall.

The now Wight King Moltke emerged from his barrow. Earth and stone tumbled around him as he as he fought his way from his place of long slumber. The retinue of his most elite warriors, who had been laid to rest around his barrow, began clawing their way from the roiling earth to join him. Still garbed in their ornate armour befitting his palace guard, they pulled sword and shield from their graves, stood to attention and reaffirmed their pledge to serve him, in life and in death.

Beyond the barrow and over the crest of the hill skeletal horses burst out of the ground back into unlife, shaking themselves from the tundra. A cortège of black clad riders emerged from the same graves, climbing upon and mounting the polished bone steeds. Settled back into the saddles that bore them to war many hundreds of years prior, the Knights ranked up, spurred their mounts, and joined the ranks of the gathering undead.

Across the cemetery soil turned and boiled, graves ruptured and the dead stirred. Back to once again walk in the Mortal Realms. A shambling horde of reanimated corpses gathered, drawn to the presence of she who had dragged them back from Shyish.

With her deathly entourage in tow she swept down the hill, towards the gates of the cemetery. The looming gates presented a name once she was close enough, 'Hirkeit Mausoleum & Cemetery’. The large gates were framed with ornate cast iron dragon iconography.

Memories of long forgotten old stories came rushing back to her. Stories of a now nameless warrior King, who had lain siege to these lands atop a mighty dragon named Kaukas. With this dragon he’d cut himself a holding of lands larger than any of the dukedoms or chiefdoms of the time. He started a dynasty of kings that ruled for hundreds of years.

The stories ended with tales of the unknown king having been laid to rest in a barrow alongside his dragon. A barrow so large and deep, that it looked like part of the landscape. The stories told of the site becoming a place of power, where others have flocked to bury their dead for many hundreds of years since.

She slunk back into herself, melting away all of the distractions around her, deepening her concentration. A wry thin smile slowly painted across her face. There was a sharp intake of breath and she began striding onwards, through the gates of the cemetery.

In the distance, the earth below the mausoleum where her rebirth took place cracked. The ground ruptured, a noisome scream erupted from the crevasse. The crypt toppled and folded in on itself, swallowed by the earth. Emerging in its place boney wings broke through the ground as the hulking mass of Kaukas tore into view.

The Lady Petra Hirkeit passed through the gates of the cemetery, leading her undead host towards her ancestral home.

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