Hello all! Been quite a while since I wrote the WIP. And I have officially finished the chapter since last night. As for how I am, I'll get around to that afterword. Anyways, enjoy!

UPDATE: Sorry everyone. FF was acting funky. Deleted this chapter and reupload to alert everyone again. Sorry to bother. Hope you enjoy.


(Word count: 9740)

Unknown

Aliathra's body shot back up to rejuvenation, gasping for air. Delirious, the elf princess' vision was rather bleary from the start. Not helped by how dark it was at the moment. Even so, she did try to stand only to fumble forward. How long had she been asleep, she could not tell. Strangely, she felt something binding her wrists and legs.

She then felt something grab her, startling her and almost shrieked before the person in front of her spoke.

"C-Calm down!" Hushed the woman, speaking in Eltharin to the girl. "I'm not trying to hurt you."

Surprised to hear how gentle the voice was, Aliathra halted and her eyes were now quickly readjusting to the dank and grimy room around them. With only a torch hanging onto a wall opposite of them, Aliathra took a good look at the woman in front of her. It was a human, appearing in her prime. Pretty and not bad in the eyes, but probably average-looking to an elf. Her dark brown locks were in messy tangles and there appeared to be dirt on her face. Her white robes were equally dirty as well, covered in the same filth and grime as the room. Suddenly another woman came into view.

"Are you alright?" Asked the other woman, also speaking in Eltharin but with a distinct Bretonnian accent. Where the brunette was simply 'pretty' so to speak, Aliathra was somewhat struck by how beautiful this woman looked to an almost supernatural level. Golden hair and bright green eyes with a face that could rival the Sisters of Averlorn, only just a step below her mother's beauty. Though, such grace was hindered by the grime on her face and white robes. Like Aliathra, both women were bound by shackles, limiting their movement quite a bit. Looking closely, there were runes carved onto the metals that Aliathra did not recognize. They were nothing like the ones she had seen in Uncle Teclis' studies and grimoires. Far eerie and malevolent to the eyes.

"W-Who are you?" Aliathra asked. There was a pain in her voice, almost dried and parched. The brunette hushed her and said, "Be still. You have been asleep for a full two days."

"T-Two days?" Aliathra murmured before she was handed a cup of water. "H-How can it be?"

"You were captured. Like us." Answered the blonde. "I am Morgiana Le Fay. Fay Enchantress of Bretonnia. The woman here is Elspeth. A priestess of Shallya from the Empire."

"The F-Fay Enchantress?" Alithra was dumbfounded, recognizing the woman's revered status in her respective lands. "But how-"

"A series of misfortunes happened." Sighed Morgiana. "And I am stuck here as you are."

"And we're not the only ones either," Elspeth added, which was followed by voices coming from the opposite cell.

"Oi! Did I hear our new friend was awake? Name's Sindst! What's yours?" Sindst asked, speaking in Reikspiel and completely unaware of Aliathra's native language. Thankfully, the girl was already taught in multiple languages before capture. As for the man himself, he was the exact opposite of Aliathra's female company. While not exactly unpleasant in the eyes, the man seemed scruffy and had unkempt bushy hair. A fuzz for a beard was growing, but overall, the man was rather unassuming at best to look at. Right up until Aliathra quickly noticed that the man had no limbs whatsoever. She was a little disturbed, to put it mildly. Noticing the odd looks the man seemed to take notice as well and cheerfully said, "It's not so bad to look at. Barring a few itches I can't reach, I've had the most wonderful service catered to me. I've even got Old Dog here to cater to my whims."

"Shut it before you wake up the dead, you damn limbless thief!" Another voice erupted beside Sindst, coming off more like an animalistic growl than a normal human sound. Said man was burly and scary to behold. He was more wolf than man; his face was wild with a long red mane and beard to add to his fierce visage. His clothing was down to that of a torn gambeson; his armor was more than likely removed before imprisonment. One look from the man's gaze and Aliathra looked away in fright at how savage his glare was. Elspeth reached to her and calmed the elf.

"Do not be so quick to anger, Olf Doggert." A third voice interrupted, calm and reasonable to the ear. "Like us, the girl has suffered through the terrible fate that she now shares. Lashing will do you no favors, Wolf."

"Like Hells I can't!" Sneered Olf. "Hellspawns killed my brothers like Cravens while I am to live with the knowledge of their bodies left for the crows to feast upon! Do I not deserve to howl for blood and vengeance?!"

"Morr has heard your grief, Wolf." The man calmly replied, giving sympathy to his companion. "I will send my prayers to Him to guide your brothers safely to his Gardens."

Olf said nothing after hearing the man. The latter finally gave his attention towards Aliathra, revealing himself under torchlight. It was an elderly man in dark robes. His head was shaved down to the scalp, leaving nothing to the imagination. Yet, what drew Aliathra's attention the most were the tattoos that were inked on said man's face. Like writings in a scripture, letters dotted across the man's face. The significance of which may have held some importance, Aliathra thought.

"As for you, my lady", the man said politely, "I don't believe we've introduced ourselves properly; my name is Mordevaul Cadavion. A humble priest of Morr. My two fellows, you already know as Sindst - a humble thief - and Olf Doggert, a knight of the White Wolf. Tell us what's yours?"

Aliathra kept quiet for a moment. She was very much hesitant to say to these new faces but ultimately relented in the face of kindness given to her.

"Aliathra." She said softly. "Everchild of Ulthuan."

"Then I am honored to be in your presence, Everchild." Mordevaul said with a respectful bow. As for the others, there were looks of surprise on their faces. Morgiana was the first to express this, "Then my suspicions are correct, it seems. We have all been gathered here for some nefarious scheme."

"But why us?" Elspeth raised. "What is it that connects us despite not being remotely connected at all?"

"I do not know." Morgiana frowned. "But with the Everchild here and me, I can take a good guess as to why."

Aliathra, intrigued and curious about the Fay Enchantress' deduction, tried to speak up until she heard a loud commotion coming from the halls of the prison. The noise itself came from a man speaking loudly in Reikspiel with evident anger and fervour. Aliathra jumped in fear when she quickly recognized the monstrosity before. A beast she thought would stay in her nightmares. Black as the stone on the walls and burly as an ox, with only its bony white face barely visible against the torchlight. Its hunched form did not dissuade its size, only making it more predatorial in a manner. In its large beastly hands, it dragged a screaming man across her cell.

"-AME OF SIGMAR, I DEMAND YOU TO RELEASE ME FROM THESE CHAINS, FOUL DAEMONS! I CURSE YOU AND YOUR ILK IN ETERNAL DAMNATION FOR LAYING YOUR HANDS ON THE GRAND THEOGONIST! UNHAND ME AT ONCE!" He furiously spouted, violently resisting his captor. Aliathra had gotten a look at the man, revealing a bald, grizzled but stern-eyed priest with a white beard and mutton chops; a scar noticeably running down his right eye which only added to his fierce visage. Behind him, two smaller, brown-skinned creatures were dragging another man not far. On him was armor of excellent quality. Adorned in black and gold schemed, with the heraldry of an angry sun on his chest. He did not seem at all conscious at the moment, though. Whether he was knocked out during the battle or struggled against his captor was moot. The two men were thrown into another cell, right next to the other three. The beasts themselves chattered and growled as the Grand Theogonist continued shouting religious vitriols back at him. The huge black beast roared back in anger, causing the other mortals to recoil and block their ears. Volkmar, however, stood defiantly in the face of a demonic servant.

"Do you think I have not stared into the face of damnation before, foul daemon?" Volkmar rhetorically stated. "I have struck down your unholy ilk the likes of which only Sigmar would rise from His Throne and cast his hammer down upon your wretched existence!"

Upon speaking his defiance, the gargantuan beast was ready to tear the man with its claws until another figure came forward.

"Nay! Not that gent. Not any of these folk. These might not but liveth." He said, revealing his unnatural state. To the ignorant and ungifted, he could very much stand out as a pale-looking if regal noble with heraldry not unlike those of the Empire. But to those who have seen through the glamour, they would know him to be a vicious creature of the night. Born of dark magic and death. A vampire.

His appearance was decked in a black set of platemail. While not nearly as refined nor artistic compared to Asur blacksmithing, the armor possessed a miasma of evil magic around it to compensate for its design. The spikes that jutted out of his back, however, may have overcompensated its intimidation a bit.

"Screameth thy lungs all thee wanteth. Nay one shall cometh to saveth thee." Gloated the vampire. Glancing to the side, he noticed Aliathra was now conscious.

"And I seeth yond the issue is anon awaken from her longeth slumber." Said the vampire in a rather archaic form of Reikspiel. "How wast thy rest? Thee might not but best famished."

Looking down at Aliathra, the vampire flashed his grotesque fangs. Aliathra recoiled upon seeing such horrific things; reeling and crawling into the safety of Elspeth's embrace. The vampire smirked, gleefully scenting the despair of the elf.

"Cower in another's arms. Fleeth to the dark corners. Thy destiny shalt await in times passing."

"And just what sort of destiny will exactly await us, vampire?" Morgiana ruefully questioned, which only humored the bald undead even more.

"To serve as a conduit to awaited divinity." Spoke the proud vampire. "Where I shall bask in the glory of mine own master's returneth. As thee all knoweth so well."

This brought a rebuke from the battered Sigmarite priest. "If you think bringing back Vlad von Carstein will legitimize your claim to the grave, you know better than to stand against the Empire itself! We have advanced far beyond your twisted burials and cemeteries in the past five centuries! Our faith in Sigmar remains, but it is our steel and gunpowder that carry us forward! To victory! Your reign will be short-lived, Mannfred von Carstein!"

"So I have witnessed from afar." The vampire bemoaned; his displeasure plain on his face. "And I'll admit, I might not but giveth merit to thy people's evolution. Those gents have cometh so far, forsooth. However, tis not mine own father yond I speaketh of. In this very tower thee reside in lies the power of warpstone. Hath built upon the backs of slaves - both living and undeath -, and hath used in its very foundation. All crafted and forged by the very first master of necromancy."

Upon hearing this, Mordevaul's face ran pale with horror and plead, "No! It cannot be! That is insanity you are dabbling!"

"Oh aye, augurer. Thee knoweth who I speaketh of. The architect of unliving himself: Nagash!" Gloated the vampire. "And with the aid of mine own new benefactors, thy empires and kingdoms shalt falleth down liketh twigs under the feet of the undeath!"

Hearing the proclamations, the cells ran cold with dread. Even Volkmar, a man of fiery fervor and righteous fury, possessed a look of quivering fear and despair.

"You are trifling with powers beyond your control, Mannfred." Morgiana sternly said, stoic in her resolve. "Nagash is not some pet necromancer like your servant, Ghorst. And these creatures you have made bed with do not hold to your vile intentions. You will fail. This I very much predict."

The vampire scoffed and sneered at the Enchantress. "Speaketh all thee wanteth. But these new cater-cousins art more malleable and straightforward than the spawns of chaos. Oh aye, those gents has't did provide most wondrous service to our conquest."

Mannfred gestured the creatures away; obeying without question. As they passed, Olf snarled quietly at them; something that did not unnoticed as the largest beast snarled in kind. Out of sight, Aliathra - who remained quiet up until this point - spoke up finally.

"W-what will you do with us?" She asked in a quivered tone. She received a bemused laugh and was answered. "Is't not gross in sense? Each and ev'ry one thee shall shalt beest hath used to power the Most Wondrous Necromancer himself."

"Right, but how exactly are we connected?" Sindst interrupted. "I mean I get a bunch of pretty lasses is the norm, and a couple of priests is a second go-to. But what the hells do a pair of knights and a humble thief like me got to do with this? Doesn't seem to add up, if you ask me."

"Astute, forsooth." Mannfred agreed. "The sooth is, thee have all been did select for a specific reason. Besides the enchantress and the elf for obvious reasons, the rest of thee were chosen because of thy bloodlines. Divinity runs in thy veins. Aye. Coequal a lowly cut-purse such as this one here. Though, yond wouldst beest giving praise considering thou art a sir of Ranald. So bethink not thee can runneth from this. Presentation, notwithstanding."

A frown appeared on Sindst's face, not at all humored by Mannfred's insinuations, but made no objections about it. Suddenly, a flash of red glow came, urging the vampire to his attention. It stood a man, though, much withered and decayed. A literal corpse were it not for the Winds of Shyish flowing through his body. A noose hanged around his neck and tattered red vest, followed by a collection of bat wings covering his waist and legs. A pair of gauntlets covered his hands, with only a pauldron covering his left shoulder. The cowl he wore did nothing to hide the ghoulish expression that was his face.

"What news doest thou bring, Ghorst?"

"Master." Ghorst addressed. "The prowlers have reported a small number of carriages heading from the southeast of Sylvania. They bear the mark of the Lahmians."

"Thanketh thee for imparting this, my faithful." Mannfred thanked. "I might not but wend anon and treateth mine own guests. I'll beest sure to maketh thy stayeth as miserable as the robes the moths shall feedeth upon."

The vampire laughed with mockery in tone. Volkmar pushed against his cell's bars and yelled, "THERE IS NO VICTORY IN YOUR WAKE, VAMPIRE! ONLY DEATH AND SUFFERING!"

"Oh yes." Mannfred replied. "Death and suffering upon thee."


(The Eternal Throne - Darksiders 2 OST)

Sylvania

The carriage rocked as it hit a bump on the road, fouling Neferata's ever-growing annoyance. Naaima barked at the driver from the side window for his carelessness to quell the ill thoughts plaguing her mistress' mind since they left Silver Pinnacle. Mannfred's latest scheme would be the doom of every single being in the world: bringing Nagash to the mortal planes. The thought not only sickened Neferata, but it also enraged her. The damned Von Carsteins were always trying to take over the world through force and an army of corpses. Astonishing display but impractical in the grand scheme. It would undermine not only their existence but every other vampire as well. Especially Neferata and her precious Lahmians.

And it wasn't just because she feared the First Necromancer out of genuine concern for the mortals. For uncounted millennia, Neferata had been a master of the Long Game. From the shadows, she pulled strings, manipulated pawns and tools to great effect, and had her servants infiltrate and guarantee high positions in almost every human society she could take advantage of. Neferata rose to the top to where she was now, and she damn well enjoyed it. And to have this all toppled to the ground because of damned Mannfred put her in the foulest of moods.

"You do not seem well, my lady."

"How can you tell?" Neferata dryly replied to an observant Naaima, staring out the window. "Was it my silence that you took notice of? Or was it my brows that are fixed in a permanent glare?"

"There is no fault for how you feel, mistress." Naaima spoke sympathetically. "Mannfred's ambition was troubling to read. Though, I must ask, is this a sound idea? Accepting Count Mannfred's invitation simply to berate him?"

"I suppose assassinating him would be tempting." Neferata spoke out her thoughts, earning a headshake from Naaima, "But for now, we will engage in his hospitality. And while we're at it, you or one of our own must gather any information on Mannfred's intentions. Talk to the guests, snoop around, observe any suspicious activity, etcetera, etcetera."

"Sound strategy, my lady." Naaima responded, "I will gladly fulfill my duties."

"That's too kind of you." Approved Neferata, "But I would rather you keep me company for this event."

"Understood, mistress." Naaima said, with Neferata looking out from the window after. To say the lands of Sylvania were dark and foreboding was like saying ogres had poor manners. Everyone knows it but someone had to say it. The forest surrounding truly capitulated Sylvania's ghastly reputation as a "corpse country". The scenery quickly changed to that of graves and cemeteries, staple landmarks for necromancers and vampires alike.

And yet, none are so monumental as the great castle on the horizon. Once, a significant capital of the Imperial province itself. Now the seat of decay and ruin. Mannsleib's light cast over the dark outline of the castle. Those who know of its existence - both living and undead, know it by one name.

Castle Drakenhof. Estate of the Von Carsteins. A concentrated nesting ground of power rivaled only by Neferata's base of operations. Something she both envied and admired from this distance.

Neferata let out her disgust. "Ugh. Ever a sore on the eyes."

"The Von Carsteins are not known for their subtlety, my Lady." Naaima commented. "Sooner or later, it will come back to bite them."

"Your quips are getting rather dry, Naaima." Neferata purred. "Try not to exhaust yourself further."

"I simply speak to only entertain your repertoire, Lady Neferata. But as you wish."

"Kind words, dearest Naaima." Neferata finished, looking at the dark castle that grew bigger as they reached the grounds. The gates opened on their own, touched by the magic as the carriages reached past the metal bars. With anticipation, the carriage came to a slow crawl, stopping completely as soon as they reached the castle's doors. On both sides of her vehicle, the Lahmian Sisterhood and their servants immediately left their carriages and began surrounding their mistress's own in an orderly fashion. Neferata exited her carriage with the help of her handmaidens, fixing her posture after sitting in the wagon for gods-know-how-long.

Neferata beheld one long look at the castle once more in its glory. It had been too long since she had come here. Yet, even if it were the same monument for its immortal masters, the air around it felt…off. Few things had ever truly caused fear for Neferata, but this was different. There was indeed magic, but the winds were different in a way. It was nothing like the magic she was familiar with. Around Sylvania, at least. It was not Shyish as she felt earlier ago. Dhar was certainly crossed off from her suspicions. And the presence of warpstone, despite being far more common around these parts, did not feel potent to detect. This magic felt almost like the heat of a growing fire. But more controlled and contained. Like a furnace being readied in a forge. Not even the magic of Chaos could feel what she sensed. The thin wispy hairs on the back of her neck stood up, warning her of impending danger.

Neferata's foreboding instincts were interrupted as the castle's very doors opened wide and out came one of its inhabitants. She strode through the doors in Sylvanian fashion, adorned in a deep red gown. Ostentatious and reflective of Von Carstein nobility. Her crimson hair had been styled up in two buns resembling the top half of a heart. Neferata took a critical eye at the golden "beard" she wore on her chin; a white cloth attached below it, covering her neck.

The Von Carstein carried herself with graceful air and a calm demeanor. "Greetings, Queen Neferata. Castle Drakenhof is honored by your presence."

"Greetings, Elize," Neferata responded. "I have come with Mannfred's invitation."

Along with murdering him, thought Neferata, keeping with the facade and all.

"Indeed." Said Elize, remaining stoic upon hearing it. "Follow me inside. The other guests are waiting."

The decorum remained the same, vast and ancient save for new and fresh faces on the mortal servants that were busy attending to their duties. How long they will last before they fill a vampire's appetite is anyone's guess. The halls were long and confusing, but for vampires, familiarity becomes a key advantage when you have centuries under your belt. After what felt like forever for a mortal, the Lahmians had arrived at the banquet. Elize opened the doors and revealed the other vampires. All vampires present turned their heads as they saw Neferata's kin, falling silent by their beauty of them.

To Neferata's surprise, she observed that Mannfred had invited more than just the acceptable bloodlines. The vast majority as she expected was the Von Carsteins and the Blood Dragons; both bloodlines mingling about, trading stories and cups of blood to pass the time. She could more than tolerate those two. She, however, did not expect the "others". For every ten Von Carstein and Blood Dragon, there was either a Necrarch or - to her horror - a Strigoi sitting in the corner.

Ghastly as the Necrarchs were, the walking corpses naturally had an aversion for social gatherings and seemed content with simply staying in their little corners or removing themselves elsewhere. The Strigoi, on the other hand, were another issue. Though, not quite as large in numbers as the other vampires, the Strigoi seemed to have huddled themselves as one big group, staying away from their more enlightened cousins as they feasted on what carrion they were given. The other guests ignored them entirely, being mindful as to not laugh in their direction, lest they incur the wrath of these savage beasts.

Yet, such caution was ignored in favor of giving focus to the new arrivals. Neferata felt a measure of gratification as she basked in the attention she and her dearest servants received from everyone. Some like a few von Carsteins and Blood Dragons were attracted by them, others like the female attendants and many of the Strigoi spared no contemptuous resentment back to them. However varied the receptions were, Neferata felt a little bit of her ego stroked to a cooling effect. A wonderful sensation she could never get tired of. Eliza spotted a pair of mortal servants standing in attendance with glasses of blood in hand and snapped her fingers to gain their attention. The two did not hesitate and approached.

Neferata snatched the first cup closest to her and drank the red liquid deeply. She felt a bit of her energy rejuvenated upon sating her thirst. Lowering the cup, she wiped the corner of her mouth with a thumb, her mind a little relieved. The rest of her maidens soon took their pickings, indulging in the wine spice mixed into the blood. As Neferata's kin was partaking in the blood-tasting, another servant approached Eliza and whispered into her ear. Neferata's heightened senses allowed her to hear the words, "The servants say Lord Mannfred has just arrived. Along with the… others."

Just the way the servant said 'others' roused some suspicion due to how nervous he was. Eliza nodded and turned to Neferata, who smoothly feigned ignorance of any eavesdropping.

"My apologies, Lady Neferata, but I must prepare for Count Mannfred's arrival. Please help yourselves around the banquet. There's plenty of bloodwine here."

"You're too kind, Elize." Neferata feigned praises. Elize then turned to the crowd and announced, "Count Mannfred will arrive shortly. Wait a moment. Please enjoy your stay here."

Without much ado, the Von Carstein doyenne left the banquet with grace. Neferata's maids quickly scouted for seatings for their mistress. A few admiring von Carsteins emptied one table for the Lahmians to take a seat. Neferata's servants were cautious of the invitation, ready to pull out steel daggers sheathed in their extravagant clothes. Their mistress, however, raised a hand; signalling them to cease hostilities. She took her seat, followed by Naaima sitting beside her. The rest of the Sisters stood by, not letting anyone come near their mistress. The Von Carsteins distanced themselves, but Neferata could see the enamored gazes they had before disappearing into the crowd. She was amused, to say the least, but also saw the opportunity in it as well.

Snapping her fingers, the Lahmians snapped to attention. Neferata leaned forward and whispered, "Go on and mingle about."

They all nodded, to which they understood as "gather information", and quickly fanned out, with only Naaima staying beside her mistress. Her servants blended well in the crowd, confident that they will return with new secrets.

"Seems rather uneventful." Naaima quietly passed the knowledge on to Neferata. "But I suppose we are a bit early to the party."

"Very astute, dearest Naaima." Her mistress playfully teased. "But I believe we're on time."

Naaima flashed a small but genuine smile but was quickly alerted by the presence of someone coming their way. Neferata turned in time to see a vampire in full-crimson plate mail. He showed no sign of reaction towards the Queen of Lahmia, only a permanent grimace. Even among vampires, few dared to challenge his authority and his ferocity as grandmaster of the Blood Dragons.

"Walach Harkon."

"Neferata." Greeted Walach, words cutting through as he did with a sword. "Care if I join you this evening?"

Such blatant disrespect from a lesser being would have been torn apart by either Neferata or her servants as Naaima would; preparing to pull the blade hidden in her sleeve. Neferata, however, had known the knight long enough to match wits with him, seeing his honesty being oddly a breath of fresh air. She placated a hand over her faithful companion, refraining from provocation. Instead, the Queen raised a brow and asked, "I never took you for someone who would seek female company. Are the boys boring you already?"

"Rest assured, my prick is reserved only for women." He replied, earning a snort from Neferata. "As for my knights, they know how to behave. Especially around your handmaidens."

"That's a relief." She snarked, "Fine. You may have an audience with me."

The Blood Knight sat amicably, placing his cup on the table.

"I take it you did not come all this way to find joy in Mannfred's latest scheme?"

"Oh. Oh no. Quite the opposite." Neferata stirred her cup as she nursed the murderous thoughts inside her head. "What he's planning may be the death of us all."

"I concur." Walach agreed. "The others seem to think so as well. Save for the Necrarchs, everyone else is in fear of the Necromancer's return."

"Then what is stopping the rest from sabotaging Mannfred's plans altogether?" Neferata whispered, keeping herself and her kin out of the conversation. Walach smirked and said, "Well, from my observations, I'd say it has something to do with his new 'friends'."

Neferata raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean by 'friends'?"

"You'll see." Walach cryptically answered. Just then, the entrance opened. The entire room grew silent as guests turned to the host of this main event.

Mannfred Von Carstein. The lord who gathered them all here, with everyone save for the Blood Dragons wanting to know what the scheme he concocted was this time. Nagash's return was already an open secret at this rate. No point in hiding, Neferata thought. However, the clear look of confidence on his face seemed to speak of something else entirely. He was already outfitted in his suit of armor, implying war was imminent. One that Neferata found displeasing.

"Greetings, thy honored guests!" Mannfred addressed. "I am pleased to see thou atten-"

"Could you speak properly instead of that weird flowery crap you keep spouting about? Most of us can't understand a single word you just said!" Walach brazenly heckled, earning a lot of attention from the other attendants. Some glared at the affront that was given to the lord. Others had amused looks but kept quiet to not earn Mannfred's wrath as he was now expressing. Fortunately, he only showed a smouldering glare and kept his anger to a simmer.

"Fine," Mannfred growled, none too pleased by the Grandmaster's heckle. "I am pleased that everyone has gathered here to witness the pinnacle of our kind's history. You all know what awaits us. The return of our master and the First of the Necromancers: Nagash the Undying!"

The entire crowd began to murmur and whisper amongst each other. Not only did he confirm their suspicions, but he was also declaring with absolute certainty. The reactions of the crowd were…mixed. Like Neferata, most did not wish to serve their lord and were content with the power they had and lording it over the people that served under them. On the other hand, the more vocal supporters, like the Necrarchs, showed eagerness to pledge fealty to the master of undeath.

Of these Necrarchs, Zacharias the Everliving, made his way through the crowd and spoke, "If what you speak is true, Count Mannfred, then how do you propose this plan would come to fruition?"

Mannfred simply laughed under his breath and said, "Allow me to introduce you to my newest friends…"

Stepping to the side, the crowd stood witness to Mannfred's newest guests. To say they were horrified was a complete understatement of their existence. First, it was the sensation that fell through. Neferata felt it before, but now it was palpable. She could see the other guests were recoiling as well. They felt the fear striking down on them just as she did. Those who did not found their hands moving to the hilt of their swords. Close beside her, Naaima moved her hand across her mistress' belly whilst sliding her weapon from underneath her forearm. Even the savage Strigoi backed themselves into a corner as one, barking mad like dogs.

Oddly, the only ones to not be afraid of were Walach and his Order. Of course, they were reputed to be brave and never one to back away from a fight. Yet, it was rather uncharacteristic of them not to even pull out their swords in the face of these new entities.

And then they came. Pouring from the doors were hellish creatures that were not meant to exist. The first to come pouring through the doors were small tannish creatures with spikes jutting from the shoulders. Nimble and wiry to the eye, yet no less a threat to the uninitiated. Next came the larger and more brutish of their kinds. They were hulking masses of muscle and savagery; their heads being literal skulls with sunken amber eyes.

Flashes of purple light almost blindsided the crowd as a gaunt purple creature towered over the nearest group before joining the rest of their ilk.

The aberrants seem to come worse than the last as horrific creatures of flesh and metal. Ranging from hideous brain-like arachnids to giant skeletal beings to ogres with cannons grafted to their limbs.

The smell of brimstone was in the air and overpowered the court's nostrils. The foul smell made the scent of corpses seem like a fresh bed of flowers.

Neferata, already on edge with Mannfred's latest schemes, stood from her seat and exclaimed, "What is the meaning of this, Mannfred?!"

"Calm yourselves, my dearest guests." Spoke Mannfred. "For they are friends from the other side."

"You summoned the daemons of Chaos?!" Neferata recoiled. Hearing this, the undead were in an uproar and quickly raised their weapons and bared their fangs. Likewise, Mannfred's infernal servants were ready to cause chaos as they responded with claw and fang.

It was only when Walach intervened and said, "Hold!"

By his command, the Blood Dragons quickly moved and stood between the vampires and the infernal beasts. Though instead of facing the daemons, the knights faced their undead brethren; swords raised against them.

"What is the meaning of this?!" Zacharias demanded, hands glowing with necromantic magic.

"Silence your tongue, Necrarch!" Walach snapped. "Mannfred desires to explain himself. So save your breath."

The vampire aristocrats were now silent, but brewing tension remained as they felt uncomfortable around this monstrous host. Neferata felt nothing but disgust as not only did Mannfred have a host of daemons behind him, he had now apparently earned the loyalty of the infamous knightly order. Mannfred had an air of confidence flushing over him as he stood proudly and said, "Honored guests, be not afraid of these otherworldly beings. For they do not serve the Powers of Chaos. Indeed, from what I have been told, they hail from a place known as 'Hell'. And they very much prefer to be called by the moniker, 'demons'."

"What difference would it make when they are the same breed of evil?" Neferata spoke in defiance; her guards now surrounding her for her safety.

"Because we do not serve pretenders." Outspoke a demon. "Nor are we chained to this world's tethers."

Emerging from the sea of demons and standing next to Mannfred was a corrupted warrior. He stood impressively tall - taller than Walach - and decked in earthy green armor that reminded Neferata of the famous Tilean Pit Fighters. His skin was pale white with corrupt veins seeping from underneath the chest plate protecting his left side, which had a red glow on it. Strange symbols were etched across his armor, with a few significant ones such as the belt buckle. Two pauldrons covered his shoulders, though one larger on his left shoulder with heavy armor down the arm. Two pairs of horns protruded from his bald scalp; the largest curving upwards while the smaller ones curved downwards to the side from the back, with a row of spikes going down the center of their forehead. And though a mask visibly covered his entire mouth, the upper half of his face was exposed to reveal a humanoid skull, with red eyes glowing from their sockets.

Neferata felt wariness in confronting this demon. Even so, she stood with dignity and spoke, "And you? What are you? Their leader?"

"An enforcer." He said. "A marauder, if you will. Taking another's place in his absence."

"And where is your master?" Neferata further inquired. Before the marauder could say further, Mannfred interrupted and said, "That is a surprise making its way… eventually. Rest assured, he will arrive soon. Now please, give our new visitors the same courtesy as guests. They will provide plenty of entertainment throughout your stay."

"Subjectively." The Marauder murmured, earning a subtle glare from Mannfred.

"Regardless of your feelings, the Hell denizens will contribute to the return of our master. As they will provide us with the means to crush the Empire! And all that repelled Sylvania from its true glory! But enough of that! More wine!"

The crowd cheered, though, mostly for the wine. As for Neferata, she did not feel content with these 'demons' around. Quite so, she was deeply disgusted. Not only did the world have to contend with the Forces of Chaos in the North, but they now have to deal with another otherworldly force that was beyond their understanding. They were now trapped between plague and pestilence. And to think Mannfred von Carstein couldn't have sunken so low with his ego, she thought.

Neferata watched as the demons began "mingling" with the vampires. The fact that wine was quickly and freely given by human servants seemed to have alleviated the latter's troubles a bit. The Blood Dragons, likewise, sheathed their weapons and dispersed to join the crowd once more; their grandmaster was nowhere to be seen. Already, some nobles have begun rubbing shoulders with these hellish creatures, even taking an interest in their abilities and resourcefulness.

Her faithful companion, Naaima, leaned to her ear and whispered, "This does not bode well."

"So I have noticed," Neferata grumbled. "I cannot for the life of me fathom the madness overtaking Vlad's bastard heir. However, this is a delicate situation that we must handle carefully."

"Your orders?"

"For now, we will do nothing," Neferata answered, "And if we are given the opportunity, gather as much intel as possible. We must know more of these anomalies as soon as we can."

Naaima firmly nodded. Neferata kept her eyes on the heir of the von Carsteins, which quickly changed as she noticed the marauder staring directly at her. Those burning eyes bore through her and it unnerved her quite well. Thankfully, it was not long until Mannfred said something to the demonic warrior, gesturing him to follow outside the banquet. The urge to follow them was quickly repressed by her need to remain covert, remaining in her spot and passing herself off as unaware. For now.


The event had gone accordingly as planned, Mannfred reflected. So for the fact that he was slighted by the disrespect of a few guests did not bode him well. One of which was now walking beside him to discuss other matters.

"It is unwise to speak ill of your host."

"I do not serve you."

"But your master does." Mannfred discouraged, his disdain made clear. "So best you wizened up. Unless you wish to be disciplined."

The marauder growled lowly to his displeasure but kept quiet. It did not help that the marauder reached six-foot-eight compared to Mannfred's humble six-foot. The only relief the vampire lord could find was that the warrior was subservient to him in some capacity.

"I thought so." Mannfred sneered. "Speaking of which, any news from your lord? I am growing impatient with his lateness."

"He has reclaimed an artifact from the walking vermin." Answered the Marauder. "Though, I am to inform you that he is now making his way to Bretonnia to aid the Liche."

"Good tidings, indeed," Mannfred said in good spirit, before turning downcasted by the latter news. "But I seriously doubt Arkhan would need such help."

"From what I have gathered, the Liche is dealing with betrayal by a human necromancer known as Heinrich Kemmler."

"Hmmm. Kemmler." Mannfred said venomously. Almost as if the name was a curse. "Will your master succeed?"

"My lord is a master of war. His craft is unparalleled. He will make short of this treachery."


La Maisontaal, Bretonnia

The sacred vault that housed the most powerful relics and artifacts rocked as bursts of necrotic magic flung and blasted outside its walls. Were it not for the growing darkness, one would see the holy grounds desecrated by mounds of corpses save for the few fires lighting in the night; both fresh and decayed. The secrets of the vaults were just within Arkhan's reach. The Liche King recoiled in pain as a blast of magic struck his chest. Arkhan took cover behind a corpse mound, raising them to take the full brunt of the magical energies. His enemy, likewise, raised his own and met with Arkhan's puppets with unyielding obedience. Both enslaved armies fought in perpetual stalemate. Any lesser necromancer would have crumbled were it not for the fact that Arkhan's enemy was Heinrich Kemmler: the Greatest Living Necromancer of the Worlde.

"Traitorous worm!" Cried the enraged Arkhan. "You think standing in the way will stop the procession?! You would only delay the inevitable!"

His opponent laughed at his proclamations. "Fool! You talk as if you wouldn't have done the same to me! That I am some means to an end! And you the clever one! But you presumed too much! I too want what's in the Vault if only to destroy what remains of your master's trinkets! Condemn him to an eternity of suffering between realms in the name of my dark masters!"

Arkhan seethed with anger, corrupted magic flowing within him. "Insufferable nuisance! Once I take your soul and restore my master to his glory, your gods will know fear!"

"Better this world fall to Chaos than be a slave to that skeleton!" Kemmler decried. Both masters of death shot out beams of death. Around them, a tide of corpses washed and waned with cacophonies of steel and axe meeting chainmail and flesh. In that battle, the tide would soon go in Kemmler's favor. Entering the skirmish, a mighty wight in blood-coated plate mail appeared. Long has his flesh decayed under the cursed armor, now held up by his bones and dark magic. His presence was announced as his shadow loomed over the sea of corpses. Huge and mighty was his stature did his Black Axe find reach in his unnaturally strong hands; swinging into the undead masses with ease and efficiency.

"KRELL!" Cried Kemmler. "Protect your master! Kill the Lich! Hurry!"

"Yes, master."

Alert, the wight known as Krell had his sights on the disciple of Nagash. It mattered little to the wight as he forced his way toward Arkhan; cutting swathes in his way. Kemmler smiled with glee as his champion made his way through, with the Liche King now focusing on the approaching Wight with extreme wariness. Even with his mastery of magic and experience in close quarters, Krell's sheer size and superior strength of arms would decimate the Liche King completely. Summoning Skeletal Warriors to his side, Arkhan ordered them to attack the wight to slow him down, summoning a beam of death to hurriedly whittle at his defenses. The magic struck Krell's chest but the wight was undeterred, resisting it whilst cutting down undead attackers. Kemmler supported his champion with a barrage of deadly spells thrown in Arkhan's way, keeping the latter distracted from engaging further.

Overwhelmed and with little room for offense, Arkhan had no choice but to back away from the fight, summoning more of his minions to protect his flank. But the wight lord had already gained speed, charging through the skeletons like a bull. With his axe raised, Krell was within reach. Desperation consumed Arkhan as he pulled out his sword to defend his unlife. But just before the axe could fall, a portal of fire and oblivion appeared. And out of it, burst a hand of demonic origins, carrying with it the legendary Fellblade.

The accursed weapon locked blades with Krell's mighty axe, pushing him even with his feet dragging into the dirt back as a mighty demon stepped out. His crimson skin and violet aura shone brightly even in the dark. A towering figure of dark power, the demon managed to stand taller than the already imposing wight by two heads. Arkhan looked up to find Mannfred's newest partner, Aeligor, pushing the wight with effortless strength. So much, Arkhan mistook the demon for giving a light shove. Even so, Krell stumbled back in surprise at Aeligor's strength. Entering the field, a ring of fire was formed around them; repelling any interferences from either side of the undead.

"Your timely arrival was much needed, Aeligor." Arkhan spoke in gratitude, standing beside the sta

"I came here as soon as I could." Aeligor replied, flashing the weapon to him. "I take it the partnership ended?"

"The monastery is within reach." Arkhan informed. "Just one more obstacle that needs removing."

"Then leave this to me." Aeligor grinned. "Hold the blade. I have no need of it."

The archvile planted the Fellblade into the ground, leaving it to Arkhan. Approaching with eerie calmness, Aeligor dodged the wight's great swing of his axe with ease; ducking and weaving from Krell's reach with graceful intuition. Thrice, did the wight strike before the archvile caught the grip of the axe with one of his larger clawed hands. Krell struggled to push the blade as Aeligor twisted his weapon out of the way with incredible ease. Arkhan felt strangely satisfied to see such a lumbering warrior fighting for his life while a mortified Kemmler looked on helplessly.

Krell took one hand and punched the archvile hard in the face. Aeligor did not seem at all phased, which made Krell even more angry and punched the demon harder. The archvile caught the hand, however, and channelled a burst of Hell magic throughout Krell's body. The wight let go of his weapon; staggered as the dark magic was being burnt away from the inside.

Exposed to his opponent, Aeligor took the opportunity and snagged the wight's leg with his tail in the distraction, flailing the latter around the ground in amusement. This went on for half a minute before Krell was thrown near the edge of the ring, severely damaged and too crippled to stand. Triumphant, Aeligor made his victory known by raising his enemy's weapon in the air, engulfing himself in violet hellfire before slamming the axe down to the ground with dramatic flair. The ring of fire suddenly expanded around the surrounding area, scorching both land and undead to ash. Kemmler - seeing the fire sweep across - managed to summon a magical protection circle around; protecting him from the unholy flames.

By the time the flames died out, only Aeligor, Arkhan, Kemmler and Krell were the last ones standing; the rest burnt to ashes from the hellfire. Kemmler's magic dissipated slowly as the wizened necromancer stood up from his spot. He nervously witnessed the archvile stand up to his fullest height, looking down at the human wizard with a look of contempt and apathy on its face. The demon stood where he was, though, as Arkhan approached with a calm but clear sense of entitlement; the Fellblade now within his grasp.

Kemmler rushed towards his champion, raising his staff only to feel a scorching pain from his palm. The necromancer dropped his staff to nurse his hand. The staff then levitated and flew toward the demon's hand. Powerless, Kemmler stood with what little dignity he had left.

"Fortune smiles upon me, Kemmler." Gloated the Lich King, "Your gods have failed you at the precipice of your glory."

"Get on it, with you damn skeleton!" Spat Kemmler, turning red with anger. "Kill me but don't expect me to kneel before your master! I am but one servant to the Gods! For there are many more before me! And many who will be more than happy to destroy you!"

Kemmler then pointed at the demon and yelled, "And you! The Gods know of your existence! Oh yes, they know all about you and your ilk! And when the End Times come, they will break free and wage war upon you!"

"War…" Aeligor uttered, grinning as he spoke it. "I like that."

"Enough of your babbling, Kemmler." Arkhan silenced. "Time to pay your dues."

Arkhan raised his staff and prepared a spell. Kemmler stood with a look of defiance on his face, ready to face his death; all while Krell desperately tried to stand up to protect his life support. Such fate was prevented, however, as the demon lowered Arkhan's staff, much to the surprise of both wizards.

"Lord Arkhan, if I may…" Aeligor announced, "Perhaps the wizard should be spared. A second chance, if you will it."

"W-What?!" Both necromancers spoke in bewilderment. Arkhan yelled in outrage, "Are you insane?! You want this waste of skin to live only to stab us in the back again?! Mannfred entrusted me that you would excel in war! Not incompetence!"

"Oh, you are mistaken, lord Arkhan," Aeligor argued, "I do not expect him to join our cause. But I am a sucker for second chances. And with a fair trial."

Arkhan grumbled at the prospect but cooled his temper to hear reason.

"How do you propose this to be handled?"

"Simple. Trial by combat."

"I-I beg to differ!" Kemmler protested. "I am far from skilled facing you, demon! This fight would be a one-sided victory for you!"

"Then 'trial by champion', then." Aeligor corrected. "Me against yours. Second round. If you accept, that is."

Kemmler, seeing his opportunity, smiled upon his chance and eagerly said, "Yes! I will gladly accept those terms!"

Arkhan, upon hearing it, grumbled at the thought of this ritual. "So be it. One. Final. Duel."

"Very well." Aeligor threw back his staff. "Make every moment count."

Wasting no time, Kemmler channelled all of his perverse magic into his damaged champion. The wight stood up, now reinvigorated with power flowing through him. The archvile then tossed the Black Axe back to its original owner. Krell's eyes burned with unholy green fires, menacingly dragging the blade across the ground with murderous intent, followed by his master laughing maniacally whilst approaching.

"Fool! Such chivalry has cost you your chances of victory! And I, Kemmler - Greatest Living Necromancer to exist - will prove the consequences of such foolish actions! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

The mad wizard had lost all restraint and senses. His minion was at full power. It took every juice to enhance Krell to even the odds. Despite this, Aeligor remained serene at the display, much to Arkhan's perturbed wariness.

"Indeed." Aeligor concurred, distracting himself with a small fiery projection in his hand. "You truly earn that title. Just not the brightest."

"Not the brightest?!" Kemmler rebuked. "I have enchanted Krell to unimaginable power through years of mastered sorcery! And you have the nerve to say I am not the brightest?!"

"Well, my dear Kemmler…" Aeligor glanced up with boredom in his eyes. "Chivalry indeed saved you… for a few more seconds."

"Wha-?"

The archdemon's finger snapped, and Kemmler's body was split in half from the shoulder. Krell's embedded itself into the ground right where his former master was standing. Blood and guts fell and stained his axe as Kemmler's split toppled in different directions. Kemmler, helpless as he lay dying on the ground, silently muttered "Why?" back to his favourite minion, whose eyes now changed to an infernal red light. The wight coldly responded by ripping out his former master's head along with his spine from the body. Aeligor looked on, gratified by his own masterful ploy, while Arkhan's jaw dropped from its place; instinctively catching it with his hands.

"I-I…had not foreseen this." Said a bewildered Arkhan fixing his jaw up. "How was this possible?"

"Quite simple, dear Arkhan," Aeligor began lecturing, "A tap of my power was inserted in our fine wight. You can already predict how that went. Speak of the devil: how are you feeling, Krell?"

"More than better," Krell growled, rolling his shoulders. "Despite my gratitude for the sorcerer's magic for bringing me back, he outlived his usefulness. And I have you to thank for freeing me from his influence. I grew bored of his ramblings."

"Well said." Agreed Aeligor. "With all the obstacles out of the way, the abbey is ours to take. But first…"

Aeligor gestured the wight to give him the head. The archdemon caught it when thrown and looked straight into Kemmler's cold dead eyes. Through the milky white windows, he saw the Gods of Chaos sitting in their lofty prisons. All stared with angry and contemptious disgust, but could not lay a finger beyond their realm. And that only made Aeligor all the more eager to rub it in their faces with profound audacity and triumph.

"Witness me." Aeligor gloated, "Witness the power that you could have kept so long ago. The benefits of loyalty."

Finishing his chance meeting, Aeligor purified the skull by dousing it in hellfire. The flesh and blood burned away with nothing but a clean white skull left behind. Tossing it back to Krell, Aeligor ordered, "Keep it. The others might need evidence."

"Not a necessity, but it doesn't hurt to dispel naysayers." Arkhan noted, picking up the weapons and robes of Kemmler himself.

"Now then, to the Abbey."

Taking Arkhan's words, the three made their way to the abbey. Long had it been abandoned by its defenders - many of whom were now dead during its defense - that the three approached the vault at a leisurely pace. The vault door was enormous and heavily fortified to protect its relics. Aeligor, however, bypassed this with magic. Easily, the door melted to molten metal, cooling down immediately after. Inside, the three were greeted with many relics and artifacts in the storage. Some were magical in nature, others hidden knowledge kept in the dark. But none interested more than what the three sought after.

Resting on display was the final piece of Nagash's power. There, the powers of its black magic glowed and emanated from its contained form.

"Alakanesh." Arkhan muttered with great reverence, approaching the staff with careful hands. Slowly, he held his master's prized artifact with pride and joy.

"With the Fellblade and Alakanesh in hand, my master's return comes ever closer."

"Then let us celebrate fast." Aeligor urged. "Mannfred's guests await our return."

Soon, the archdemon summoned a dark red portal before them. Arkhan went in first, followed by Krell. Aeligor was the last to go, falling behind as he heard a scurrying behind him. With a glance over his shoulder, the archdemon noticed something hiding behind one of the shelves. It was quick, but Aeligor spotted the blue tabard before it hid away. Aeligor stood there for a moment, before deciding to simply enter the portal with a knowing smile.

With the portal closed, the stranger slowly walked out of his hiding spot. His armor was torn and battered in the battle against the undead. His blue tabard revealed a unicorn's head over a fleur de lis. The symbol of Quenelles. Belonging to none other than the Duke himself, Tancred II.

A white cloth wrapped around his bloodied head wound. An injury caught on by an undead smashing his head over with a mace. Were it not for his helmet, he would have joined his brothers at the Lady's side. But fate decided otherwise.

The Duke sighed with regret, having lost his chance of ending the threat. Yet, his conscience spoke of making the pragmatic decision of staying hidden. Given his wounds, it was perhaps for the best. And in some ways, the death of Kemmler alleviated the pain of the innocent, even if that opportunity was robbed of him.

Bending down on one knee, he prayed to the Lady of the Lake.

"Forgive me, my Lady." He regretfully said. "I did not have the heart to strike at the precise moment. But I live another day to atone for that mistake. And I will repay it by gathering more allies against this enemy."

Turning away with renewed conviction, Tancred began to march his way out when he was ambushed by several undead skeletons. The Duke raised his sword with reinvigorated hatred, while the undead had spears and swords pointed at him. From behind, archers stood but kept their bows low to the ground. A standoff began, with neither Tancred nor the skeletons making any advances. Intense silence passed, giving enough time for the Tancred to analyze the equipment on them. Though old and aged in appearance, the gear was well-maintained and more ornate if he could best describe it. The undead stood with perfect form and stance.

Eventually, a new figure approached. It was obvious that this was the leader. What he did not was the woman figure it had on its bandaged body. She wore a beautiful golden mask which concealed only half of it, showing a shrivelled and dried face behind the broken half. She approached with graceful and fluid movement. This did not discourage Tancred from lowering his sword. To him, the undead were a plague upon the innocent. One cannot tell friend from foe with them for they slaughter indiscriminately against the living.

"Stay back, foul undead!" Tancred barked. "Though I am wounded, I am not so hesitant to drag every of one you down with me!"

Upon hearing his threat, the skeletons made theirs. Spearman and swordsman took a step close with weapons held high, while archers now aimed at the lone knight.

But the female undead raised her hand in protest; her followers lowering their weapons and standing upright. Tancred expressed confusion until the undead woman spoke up.

"I see you are ignorant of the ways of Nehekera." She said sternly. "But I am willing to ignore such a slight for the sake of the greater world. I am High Queen Khalida Neferher of Lybaras. And I am here on behalf of Settra the Imperishable as mandated by His Majesty."

Upon hearing this, Tancred slowly lowered his weapon to the ground. Reluctant albeit relieved somewhat, Tancred introduced himself.

"Duke Tancred the Second of Quenelles. What is your business here, High Queen?"

"We have common cause, you and I." Khalida answered emotionlessly. "So tell me, Duke Tancred: Where. Is. Arkhan?"


So there you have it folks! It's a change of scenery for once. Was getting tired of writing about Doom Slayer in Naggaroth. It's taking much longer than I had anticipated and felt more like a filler than it should be. Not helped that I was - and still am - decommissioned by health issues. So here's me writing the little shitstain Mannfred being up to no good as usual. And I finally got around to writing Aeligor, who I've been eager to get around for some time.

As for how things are, well, I completed my second round. It was actually immunotherapy this time around. Long story short, I had a blood transfusion. Got really sick and spent a whole month in the hospital recovering until June 2. Felt better and finally got around to writing again. Though, that last one ended up being a mess of things as I kept dividing my attention between revisions for the first four YJ chapters, a part two for the Boys, and a Kuroinu/WFB solo chapter that I intended to give up for adoption at another point.

And then it came back.

Less than three weeks, it returned and caused havoc on my lower back. I had to spend several days doing nothing but chugging down Tylenol just to numb the pain. And it only worked half the time. Other times, I couldn't even sleep because of the pain and ended up having sleep deprivation. It wasn't until recently that I started to sleep on the floor of my room near the foot of my bed that I was finally at peace.

Turns out, in a recent CT scan, the hospital discovered lymph nodes on my abdomen which is somehow pressing against my spine and that's what's causing me pain for this long. As of August 18th, I am currently waiting for a biopsy at the end of this month. After that, I'll be waiting for what my next solution is. For now, the pain has subsided thanks to some medication and methods I have been using for a while now.

As far as updates go, I'm honestly kinda in the gutter given my health situation. I cannot tell for sure if I'll be better or not in the future. All I can do is hope for the best and expect the worst.

Anyway, from all that doom and gloom, time for another Q and A.

(Old)

Clown2107: Not sure how I could have nerfed him compared to YJ. I mean, dude chucked a giant sword into a Bloodthirster's face with a blood punch. Not to mention, wrestled like six bloodthirsters in that one chapter. Unless we're talking Morathi's little daydream sequence, of course. Then that was just that: A daydream.

Firetrail, bmanbeast57: It was Predator, actually. In Warhammer Fantasy.

Guest 02: Not really a fan-made cover so much as something I commissioned.

Oh wait, speaking of which, for those of you who noticed, I actually had the cover finally colored around the beginning of December. Proudest achievement, so far. :)

PastelBR: Honestly, I really want to get to those parts. I really do. And I also plan to bring the humans of Earth to crossover WFB to do some "cultural exchanges" at some point. It's certainly an idea I've been wanting to explore were it not for the cancer inside me.

Dontus: Yep. So worth it. And I'll do it again.

DUDESTOPLETMECHOOSENICKNAME: It's a daydream, bro.

StrikeForceHeroeTeller: Not all of them. And I plan to redistribute some for certain ships I had in mind. Like Imrik x Miao Ying.

Austin: Well, I don't think to go further consider what I wrote earlier. Still around as usual. Just having difficulties getting on track is all.

And boy, do I have plans to humiliate that woman in. So. Many. Ways. Just you wait...

And it was Predator. But honestly, I haven't been exactly of clear mind due to all the... medical procedures I had to go through. Maybe one day, I'll get around to it.

chowchow10181: Hey! Glad to know, brother! I appreciate you coming out with that knowledge! Hope you got your account back again!

Meinfischer-Bruh: Oh god, I thought I was the only one who had a heart-attack with that story. Almost dropped it entirely. I didn't, thankfully. Still got issues with a certain villain, though. But I'll have to get back to it since I haven't read the latest chapter for a while.

Inferno Polyphia: I'll be honest, I hadn't really considered the coloring as much. I initially got the B&W art for free at the time (was giving the artist exposure in other avenues on reddit). So by the time I went for color, I kinda just went for something simplistic and nothing too grand. It's definitely got that isekai energy going on, does it?

I'll probably commission another cover at some point. Something among the lines of Classic 80's fantasy movie covers or Frank Frazetta-esque art like Conan the Barbarian, Army of Darkness or He-Man, even. But for now, I am content with what I have.

Guest: Kinda leaning towards Ice Gobbos. Right after everyone gets up with Morathi's petty shit afterwards.

PaladinSans: No further comment.

Guest: There'd be a lot more, and a lot more epic and grandiose in some ways. And it's still a badass trailer to warrant a scene worth putting in the story.

Gamzo: Wait till they see what Earth has in store.

And boy, you are right on the money with Hayden. I've quite a few people having issues with his personality and I wholly agree with them. I absolutely hate writing his dialogue and I'm hoping he could stop being a mouthpiece for Doom Slayer post-Naggaroth arc. We'll see, eventually.

Well, hope that answered some of your burning questions. Appreciate all the reviews. And I appreciate reaching past 1400 follows and 1200 favourites as well! Before I go, let me go for a quick overview on the TV Tropes page. Not a lot, but some things worth correction:

Chainsaw Good - Doom Slayer didn't really talk when he killed Viktur. It was actually Hayden. That is all.

(New)

Gamzo: I'm not aware of the author drama but I have been reading the story. Great fic and I was glad that I never got to see the Baki-style injuries on the heroes before it got changed to something less gruesome.

Meinfischer-Bruh: For the record, I had something to do with that in fact. I actually spoke with Emerald about Mina Nori. There was no drama, mind you. We actually discussed quite a bit about Mina's character. Gave him some suggestions on what to do with her. Plenty of TV Tropes references were brought up because that was inevitable.

At the time, I just came off watching some Disney shows, and there was this weird trend of giving female villains a lot of sympathy that - if you looked at a different - they were far from sympathetic. I brought up Reva from the Obi-Wan show which I found her character unsympathetic. She blames Obi for her tragic backstory, sadistically attacks innocent people, and her attempts to murder children lose all sorts of sympathy. The fact that she gets away with all of that in the end really got me irrationally angry. There's plenty of other similar characters like the female terrorist from that Johnny Depp film "Transcendence"; Karli from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier; Wanda the Scarlet Witch (though she was pretty cool killing the Illuminati in Doctor Strange 2); Cortana in Halo: Infinite and several other examples that I can't list for there is too much of them.

All in all, a villain getting away if it means a potential return is fine in my books. But a character who is not only forgiven for their heinous actions but is treated like some friend/messianic figure really grinds my gears. But I've pretty much moved on from that. I'm content with Mina's fate as it is. To a lot of readers, it may not be satisfying but getting maimed (especially with the primary limb) counts in my books. Also, Rakshas deserved such a shitty end. Fuck him.

Funnily enough, my name was brought up on the trivia page for that story. You won't see it, though, since my name was removed. I had no part in that nor was I aware of it. But it was pretty amusing to see myself mentioned, and it still brings up that Reva example I made. But with all that said, I was glad to speak with Emerald. Pretty chill author and I hope they return to the story once more.

Anonymous One: HELL NO. There is no way I can - and I never will - write a 40k story. I don't even have that level of knowledge to write it in fic form. You would have to give me at least fifty cups of caffeine and a week of sleepless nights to write just even one sentence involving some form of military/technology jargon to make it work.

Please, everyone, do not ask me to write anything 40k. It's never gonna happen.

Freeblade: I am penpals with several authors on this site, actually. The thing is, we do our own thing unless it's a critique. Rarely, a collab could be done.

And since you brought it up, I'm actually open to having a beta reader look through my WIPs. If anyone wants to contact me, you can PM me on the FF website or on Discord. Do not PM ME on the FF app because I won't know that you messaged me there. It's the app, I don't know why I can't see the messages there. Again, I'm currently open to some beta readers.

Bad Badger: Hey man, I had to use a fucking weird Shakespearean translator website to emulate that stupid English prose he does. Now, it's a bit clearer, though, good luck trying to figure out what he's saying in the first half.

Hellwraith45: Yeah, thanks for bringing that up. As I said, it was a WIP. Nothing in that first draft reflects in the final that you are reading now. And yeah, sorry for the withdrawal. Believe me, I want to fucking move on and get the story going elsewhere. I'm basically writing things on the fly as I go. Shit gets random as they come. And I try to make it work.

In regards to Valkia, yeah, you're right on that. I was trying to add some dimension to her character after finding out she was under "Complete Monster" on TV Tropes. And after some research, she only managed to kill one daughter instead of both (the other was poisoned by her then-husband who then took their child out of her womb) and a brother who wasn't really all that sympathetic. Also, love as a motivation is one of the ways that a villain can break out of the CM mold (though love can sometimes be twisted into a sickening act by a CM). I'll admit this kinda goes against what I said earlier about female villains. But the thing is, I don't plan on having her be spared of Doom Slayer's wrath (those hands are rated E for Everyone, after all). Same goes for Morathi but hers will be the worse in the long run.

As for "the" in Doom Slayer, it goes both ways. I'll be sure to mention it a few times, here and there.

Guest: Ehhh a little more complicated than running in fear, but Mannfred will definitely learn why the Doom Slayer is so feared.

Guest 2: As a figure of significant power, she will definitely regard him as a legendary figure in his own right. And that's about it.

Expert93: Oh, so you wrote this? Then why are you speaking your name in third-person? It's cool you wrote it. I'll check it when I can.

Guest 3: If I can get around to the greenskins. Eventually… T_T

Hellwraith: Hell yeah, Space Marine 2! Just hoping I can upgrade to a PC. Or a PS5 (which I doubt will happen).

Qwertyiop: I am fine. Thank you for asking. Just… really difficult with the relapses and all.

And well, even before the cancer came into my life, plenty of characters like Ungrim are still being planned to fight alongside the Doom Slayer. It's just been a really tough road for me, right now.

And yes, that includes Gotrek and Felix.

And finally, thank you all for your kind support through my dark times. It's been a tough year for me as it is. Even so, I try my best to keep my head above my shoulders. I've been trying to make progress with not only this story but others as well. ADD can really suck when you're not in control of your focus. If you want to beta-read, go for it. Thank you again, folks. See you when I'm back with another piece.