Kreeka - Chapter One
She Who Waits In The Dark. The Great Mother is always hungry.
An inofficial Story by A. Vogel, without permission derived from the intellectual property of Games Workshop Ltd.
„She's just a breeder, right-right?“
The apprentice grew more and more anxious, the closer they came to the last cave. He tried to hide it, but fear rose from his pores like a stinking cloud. It ruffled his hackles and made his voice even shriller than usual.
“Right-right?” he insisted, when the Highest Keeper remained silent.
Ekrek's tail twitched. It was amusing.
“Calm-calm, little Kwisik.” He bared his teeth and chuckled in a hoarse voice. “You will see. Now run-run, She waits. She hungers!”
The apprentice bowed and scurried on, hauling the trolley with the trough on it with him. His paws trembled, slipped, and the meaty broth sloshed up and down. Chunks of stringy meat drifted up and sank again, Ekrek saw the hands of a Man-thing, a horse's head... and the muzzle of someone he had probably known. He nodded, satisfied.
“Well-well chosen, this meal. Fat and substantial. She will-will like it!”
Kwisik slightly moved his ears, but went on without looking. Considering how his whiskers trembled, he was just too afraid.
The Master of the Eunuchs chuckled again, amused and perhaps feeling a little bit sympathetic.
He remembered his own first day here, after all, when he had entered the breeder's caves for the first time. It was years ago, more than a decade, even, but he still recalled the smell, ripe and heavy, of meat and fur and blood, of moulder and hot, living, hungry decay, devouring and mauling and giving birth. The spicy musk of all these females, making him, who had just been cut, restless and anxious at the same time.
Like young Kwisik here he had followed the low, narrow tunnels, the back bent by a load of food, still limping with the pain of the surgery and anxious to satisfy his masters.
He didn't want to end up in the pits, after all.
“Run-run!” he snarled now, “What makes you wait, flatsnout?”
Kwisik cowered lower, his feet scratching and digging in the mud, but he didn't move, but stared reluctantly into the dark, gaping entrance. Then he glanced back at Ekrek and whine-squeaked something, deep down in his furry throat.
“What-what is it? Speak up, stupid!” The elder eunuch growled and clicked his teeth, although he inwardly went on chuckling. He knew the stories. Of course the little one didn't want to go in there first.
“I... I...” Kwisik whimpered, “the honour should be yours, right-right? Master? To be the first one to see the breeder beast?”
“What-what-what? Maggot!” And suddenly the anger in his voice was real, he hissed in outrage and ruffled the shaggy fur under his heavy robes.
“Brash-brash you are”, he spat, filled with sudden ire. “Speak no more! Never you shall call-call the Great Mother that or I'll rrrip out your filthy little throat!”
“No-no-no-no, Master-Lord no, please, no!” Little Kwisik squealed, shrill and in shock. He writhed, threw himself on the floor and looked as if he was almost befouling himself.
“I..I..” he whimpered, breathless, and protected his snout with his paws.
“I beg your pardon! Please-please! I-I- didn't know... the other Keepers..!”
“Pha!” Ekrek snarled, yelled. “Flea-fleas and tail rot upon those fools! No-no-one calls her that. No-one!”
He ground his teeth, creak-creak, long, sharp teeth, and stared down at Kwisik, who was still writhing at his feet, covering his face, whipping the dirt with his rosy tail. “How can you stupid little maggot dare...?!”
Horrible rage rose up in the Highest Keeper's stomach, made his claws prickle and hunger for blood.
He felt his heartbeat, fast and angry.
It came like a black wave, the wild urge to snap the little one's bones between his teeth, to slit open his face and to rip this impudent little tongue-
There was a rumble, deep and and heavy and slow like the noise of an subterranean river, and Ekrek Silverpaw flinched and froze.
For a long, breathless moment neither of the two Skaven moved.
Then Ekrek laughed, a long, rusty cackle, and smoothed his brows and whiskers with an practiced, one-handed gesture.
“Well-well!” he said, inhaled slowly, exhaled, and bared his teeth in a wide grin. “Yes-yes, Great Mother, how right you are, indeed!” He shook and re-arranged his robes. “Stupid he is, but no more than others. A ploy, right-right?”
He leaned down to the young eunuch, who still laid in the dirt, not moving, frozen in blind, baffled submission. “Come-come, flathead. It's alright.” The little one's whiskers trembled, but he still didn't dare to open his eyes, and Ekrek cackled again.
“Up-up, apprentice. No more fear!”
Finally Kwisik blinked, felt no immediate danger and hastily jumped on his feet. He glanced back and forth, from the teeth of his master to the dark opening of the cave next to him, back and forth, and Ekrek gave him a moment to calm down.
“Luck-lucky you are, Kwisik, for The Mother interrupted me. I was angry! A fine trick, to feed you all these impertinent words! Keeper Lukor's idea, right-right? To make me waste a good apprentice?”
Kwisik remained silent. He just stood there, panting, but that didn't matter. Master Eunuch Ekrek was a patient male, and he would find out everything he wanted to know. Eventually.
“Go-go, apprentice!” he said, poking the other almost friendly with his silver paw. “It's time to visit The Mother. She is hungry. She is always hungry.”
They had barely passed the entrance when the little one slowed down again, as if the weight of the trough had become unbearably heavy.
The Master Eunuch understood.
He paused, too, and sniffed, took a deep breath.
Warm and heavy the air was, full and dark, age-old, filled with the ripe and pulsating smell of an enormous body.
The apprentice next to him shivered, overwhelmed, awed by the raw, wild odors, and cowled as if threatened by a dominant warrior.
Kwisik whimpered and gasped. “Biiig...” he mumbled. “Smells big-big-big!”
His master simply nodded, full of devotion, and gestured the little one to follow.
The ratling hesitated for the last time, and when he dared to speak, his voice trembled terribly. “Master... why is it so dark? Why is the light so-so low?”
He uttered a flat, anxious sound, and Ekrek sneered again. It usually made visitors uncomfortable to smell something this big, without being able to see it. He cackled.
“You will see-see, have no fear!”
Thus he pushed the young one forward, and they went into the shadowy twilight, closer to Her, Who Waited In The Darkness. Who Hungered.
Finally they got to see the Great Mother, but long before, they heard her. Rough, rustling breath, heavy limbs, dragging through the dirt, drowned by small, whining voices and the sound of countless small things teeming and smacking.
Ekrek imagined he could hear even Her heartbeat, sluggish, but steady, the pulse of Hellpit, so ceaseless and eternal as the howling and screaming of the beasts that echoed up here from the levels deep down below.
When the two Skaven finally stood in front of Her lair, the Great Mother moved, very slowly, and lifted her head.
She was magnificent, awesome, a trembling, pulsating heap of hot, glossy flesh, an enormous beast, gigantic as a Pit Behemoth.
As always she lifted her lips, breathing heavily, and bared her jagged, yellowed teeth.
As always the Highest Keeper of the Breeders folded his arms in front of his chest, lowered his head and greeted the Great One.
Apprentice Kwisik, on the other hand, simply fainted.
He pricked the younger one with his silver paw replacement, but just a little – in the overwhelming presence of his Queen he wasn't even capable of small-minded anger.
“Go-go, she's waiting!”
The apprentice got up, emitted a hollow, helpless squeak and fell down again. “Big-big-biiig!” he wailed, completely stunned by the fact that all those stories had been true. That the legend of the monstrous, swollen breeder in the depths of Hellpit was no legend at all.
“Yes-yes,” Ekrek grumbled, nearly purring in secret pride, “that's Her. The Eldest, the Largest, The Most Sublime Breeder of the glorious Clan Moulder!”
The younger eunuch nearly died from fright – literally – while he pushed the trough closer to the lair, just into reach of the gigantic head. The Mother's nostrils fluttered, and apprentice Kwisik flinched with every snorting breath.
Trembling like a pit slave, Master Ekrek thought, but that will cease. One way or the other.
He watched the little one, secretly smiling, remembering the time when he had been an apprentice himself, young and lean, with two healthy paws and full of deadly fear.
Back then. So many years ago. Even She had been young then.
A breeder like the rest, plump and brown, just a bit larger than himself, with dull eyes and an empty face. He had watched the Master enchain her when she arrived, just bought, and Ekrek had prepared her first meal, a bowl of mushed meat, and saw her gobble it.
Just a breeder.
Now she lowered her gigantic head to the trough, lapped and gorged, devoured meat with the weight of a whole pig in just a few minutes. Bones splintered, a horse's skull cracked and burst between her jaws, and the two of them watched her in silent awe.
“Much time, right-right?” the Highest Keeper muttered, and young Kwisik flinched, jumped back and fell down again. “How? What?” he squeaked, but the older one just shook his head.
“Nothing, flathead. Go-go, we have work to do. Selection. As long as She feeds – remember, She is always hungry!"
This was the most dangerous part.
They went closer, Master Ekrek full of determination, apprentice Kwisik a picture of misery, soaked with sweat.
Standing near the body of the enormous breeder her smell was barely sufferable, her heat radiating like a damp, feverish mist.
The Mother lay on her side, as she had done for the last years, since generations of Skaven, thousands of births had made her body swell out of any proportion. She had grown, had become bigger than any other breeder, and after some time even her strong limbs couldn't support all that mass.
She hadn't risen for years. That made her not a bit less dangerous.
The silver claw that Ekrek had in place of his left paw always reminded him of that.
“Si-silent!” the Highest Keeper whispered and bent down, reached into the teeming swarm of newborn Skaven and lifted one ratling after the other. “Quick-quick, flathead! Check them, but for the Thirteen's sake don't-don't make them squeal!”
Those were a good litter, fat and strong, more than a dozen males and three, no, four breeders. Six mutants, turgid little monsters, one of them even two-headed, with slashing claws and snapping, misshapen muzzles which grabbed Ekrek's robes and dug stubby teeth in the silver of his paw.
The Highest Keeper was excited.
“Look-look, Kwisik!” He lifted his arm, showed the brawly beast. It was perfect, mutated flesh for the Moulder's pits, and when he noticed the eager look in the younger one's eyes, he bared his teeth in a sharp, triumphant grin.
A good apprentice, true-true, he thought. The plague upon you, Lukor!
They worked with haste, fast-fast, and the apprentice just drove the last mutant into the tunnels that led to the moulding pits when Ekrek made the horrible discovery.
He couldn't believe it. He nearly overlooked the pup, hidden deep between the slippery, hairless folds of the Great Mother's skin, and at first he believed the plump little breeder to be pale brown. But then he lifted her, taking a closer look, and under all this dirt and slime her fur was grey as ash. Grey as stone. Grey as-
His heart skipped a beat.
“Not good!” he squeaked hoarsely. “Not-not-not good!”
He stood there, paralysed, staring at the wriggling bundle of fur in his claws, and before he could do anything Kwisik turned up beside him. His damned apprentice with his damned sharp eye.
“What-what-what?!” The younger Skaven gasped. “Grey?”
His voice became shrill again.
“A breeder? Go-go, let's check if-” Kwisik reached for the small female, but Master Ekrek suddenly darted at him, snarling and hissing. He snapped his jaws, dug his teeth in the apprentice's arm and ripped out skin and a mouthful of fur. Blood spurted on his tongue, warm and salty.
“No-no! We won't check anything. You hear-hear me?” Master Ekrek yelled. He forgot his dignity, forgot, where he was, forgot the pulsating mass of the Great Mother next to him.
Forgot that the trough was nearly empty.
His heart trembled and raced in his chest like rats in a burning cage.
That could not be. That must not be!
This thing was a mistake, void, wrong. Just an accident.
Ekrek Silverpaw had examined thousands of ratlings during his time, had divided them into those he allowed to live as ordinary Skaven and the rest, monsters, raw material for the pits.
His work was based on certain principles, age-old traditions, knowledge that had been handed down for generations.
There were rules.
Ekrek war the Highest Keeper, the Master of Births, and he certainly wouldn't check the head of a ashen-furred breeder for horns.
Instead, he had to kill that thing. Quick-quick, one bite, sharp teeth and tender, young flesh.
“She will eat it it, yes-yes!” He wheezed, fought down the sudden dizziness, ignored Kwisik's shrill, wailing squeaks. “Always hungry. No. Signs. Left. No. Never!”
Grey fur. On a breeder.
He felt the weight of that responsibility, and he knew he had to do it.
Without further hesitation he lifted the struggling little female to his face and bared his teeth, ready to rip open her belly.
This time it wasn't the rumble of a distant, subterranean river. This time the Great Mother's growl was like thunder, exploding warpstone, like death and the first seconds of world's end.
After all, she was directly beside him.
Directly beside him.
All of his strength gushed out of his body like blood from a slit throat.
His limbs tingled, he felt cold to the tip of his tail, when he saw, when he heard masses of heavy, glistening flesh beginning to move, skidding, sliding, and he could feel his intestines cramp.
The Mother growled. Panted.
Newborn ratlings lost their hold of the enormous breeder's teats, wailed, and rained down upon the floor like plump, fleshy fruits.
The Eldest, the Great Mother turned over and rose.
Age-old rusted chains shattered with a muffled clink, and the twilight became darkness when the Great Mother towered above him like a living mountain.
A living, stinking, raging mountain.
The beast opened its mouth and roared. Spittle splashed in his face, and Ekrek saw hundreds and hundreds of sharp, crooked fangs, smelled blood and musk and decay.
The foul breath of Hellpit itself.
But this cold, hard look in her eyes was worse. He felt as if she knew him. Had known him for all that long time.
Ekrek Silverpaw barely noticed that the blasted grey freak wriggled free from his grip, jumped down and fled, before he peed himself and fainted.
When Ekrek and Kwisik woke up, they were still alive. They looked at each other, without a word, and swore to themselves never to tell anyone. Ever.
The master didn't even have to threaten his apprentice.
“She ate it, right-right?” the younger one squeaked in a low voice. “Grabbed the little thing and ate it right away. Gone-gone, yes?”
Ekrek simply nodded. The ratling was clever.
He cleaned himself as good as possible, careful not to face the Great Mother directly.
She rested, as she had before, a swarm of whining, smacking ratlings crawling over her swollen flesh. Her breath was slow and quiet, as if nothing had happened at all.
And that was true, right-right? Nothing had happened. And of this nothing, there was no evidence left.
The grey thing was gone-gone, as Kwisik had said. It could have fled nowhere, except into the holes that led to the Moulder's pits, and there it would die.
Right? Right. This is-is over.
Re-arranged his robes.
“Go-go!” he squeaked finally, made young Kwisik scurry on.
“There's much-much to do!”
He would find out if Lukor had planned other “surprises”, this arrant minion, this malicious, ineffective weasel...
“...who shall be punished, yes-yes!”
He saw his apprentice tremble and fold his ears flat back in fear, but he didn't care. He was out for bigger delinquents and already lost in new schemes.
Master Eunuch Ekrek's nose twitched, and he stopped, considered, had a last look at the dark, awe inspiring form of the colossal beast that lay there in the shadows, breathing, waiting.
He lowered his head in a last farewell.
As he left the cave, he was already grinning his wide, sharp-toothed grin. It felt great.
He thought of the treacherous Lukor and knew what he would do.
After all, the Great Mother had spared his life, so he owed Her a gift.
And She was always hungry.
Any suggestions, ideas, hints (or typos) concerning this page? Drop me a line!