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Malign Portents: To Truly Excel

Ive been loosely following the stories being released for Malign Portents, and the latest "To Truly Excel was one of my favorites. If you have not been seeing these, or have not had the chance to read a couple, the link is below.

To see all the Short Stories

Exceprt via the Malign Portents Site

Malign Portents: To Truly Exel

The bloated, tentacle-limbed warrior’s head burst apart under Hyphor’s hammer. A putrid eruption of brain and bone splattered across the Liberator’s breastplate, blemishing its cream-white sheen. He smashed the dead thing aside with his shield and sought his next quarry – a horn-helmed brute wielding a rusted cleaver. That one’s spine was shattered with a backhand swing. Next was a grotesque with a leering, black-toothed grin, battered to bloody pieces, then a capering plague-sprite, crushed to paste beneath Hyphor’s boot. On all sides the wretches were dying too fast to count. Soon, the Stormcast Eternal was wading through a morass of torn and shattered corpses, and the last of the Nurgle-worshipping filth were attempting to flee into the coiling lash-fronds of the deep forest, scuttling back to their putrescent lairs like roaches exposed to sunlight.

Not a single one made the woodland edge. Though several of their own number fell to the heretics’ rusted blades, the Knights Excelsior cut their foes down with merciless efficiency, cleaving heads and shattering bones with every strike. Before long, the sounds of battle ceased, and all that could be heard were the driving rain and low growl of approaching thunderclouds.

‘That is the last of them,’ said Liberator-Prime Rygos, wiping ichor from his warblade. ‘For now, at least. Be on your guard. These forests crawl with the Plague God’s foul vermin.’

In truth, it had hardly been a battle worthy of the Knights Excelsior. The plague-ridden warband was a mere splinter of the great hosts that despoiled these lands. The filthy deviants had not even managed to breach Holmspear’s palisade walls, protected as they were by a sturdy ring of spitebranch trees. Caught between the hammers of the Stormcast Eternals and the foot-long thorns of the settlement’s fearsome natural barrier, the Nurgle worshippers had been swiftly disposed of. Flyblown bodies filled the perimeter trench, bobbing against each in a soupy quagmire of blood and slime. The rain continued to lash down. Soon the moat would overflow, spilling its rancid contents into the town’s streets.

‘The enemy is routed,’ shouted Rygos, striding across a narrow causeway that led over the trench and met the main doors of Holmspear. He slammed the pommel of his sword upon the hardwood. ‘Open the gate.’

They heard a shuffle of movement on the other side of the wall, and the gate yawned open to reveal a group of thin, sallow-looking humans dressed in tattered uniforms. The Stormcast Eternals tramped across the causeway and entered the town, where they were met with the overpowering stench of death and decay, the scent of bodies trapped together for days without food or rest or clean water. Holmspear was home to no more than a hundred souls, and it seemed barely a fraction of that number still lived. Corpses lay piled here and there amidst a tangle of root-carved shacks and modest stone cottages, covered only by a few pitiful rags.

‘God-King bless you, my lords,’ said the apparent leader of the town guard, a stick-thin fellow whose eyes were crusted with yellow grime, and whose hands trembled noticeably as he made the sign of the comet.

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