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  1. Hello Stronghold! Seven days ago Artis Opus launched our first Kickstarter and our company with our ‘Series S’ kolinsky sable brushes. You may have seen our advertisments elsewhere. We thought we’d take the opportunity to post here, introduce ourselves, and give anyone interested the chance to ask questions (although you’re more than welcome to ask on Kickstarter too!). We’ve worked with some of the best artists in the industry: Angel Giraldez Andy Wardle Gareth Nicholas Neil Hollis Richard Gray We set out to make a superior product, using only the finest components and featuring small but significant alterations to make a brush which not only gives you the best tool for the job, but is a pleasure to use! Our brushes feature a full-bodied belly, with slightly longer hair than standard. It sounds a little odd but they hold more paint than other brushes of their size as a result of this. This means less trips to the pallet, faster painting, less paint drying on the brush and better performance. It’s not only our head that is full-bodied; our handle is also a couple of of MM wider than most brushes. This change is quick to adjust to, and although small has a two significant benefits; the first is increasing brush controll and grip, the second is alleviating ‘painter’s cramp’, stiffness, and being generally more comfortable. This should be particularly noticable for anyone painting longer than 30-40minutes. Link to our Kickstarter here If you have any questions please feel free to ask, we’ll endeavor to reply as soon as possible! Byron, Artis Opus Co-founder If you recognise my name it'll be from a couple of Ogre armies posted here about 5 years back .
  2. Karak Norn Clansman

    Rank & File Tjublings (15mm) Out Now!

    The tall host of Zhurem-Zhalkazinulbar marched out with heavy steps, hate and greed writ upon their bearded faces and devotional mysticism evident in their dark voices as they sang their hymns and dirges and recited their mantras and mouthed their fervent prayers. The omens had been good, and due sacrifice in blood had been offered up to the altar fires. The fickle gods were now all on their side, and this true knowledge made every man beam with haughty pride and cruel confidence. Their demeanour was that of conquerors, and they wore their hammers and axes, their shields and blunderbusses, as a race of born rulers. All did so, except for the shamed warriors of the death's mask. Pariahs and shunned outcasts, they were nought but slaves, and they made for a grim appearance on the battlefield as the great army deployed in deep formations. On the other side stood the enemy, all filthy, lowly and inferior, a tribe of savages to be trampled underfoot. The warriors of the tall host knew this, for they relished in the slaughter to come. And they raised their battlecry, with a roar alike thunder on high: “Hat or die!” _________________________________________________ These 15mm models are out now! Order your Tjublings here: Also on Etsy and on Blogspot. Priced upon release at €2,5 per each kit of 4 Tjublings (or 3 command models), they are also available in a Maniple bundle of 20 rank and file plus 3 command models for €13. Sculpted by Tobias Torstensson (tjub) and spincast in metal by Hysterical Games. Sold unpainted and unassembled. Remember that miniatures in smaller scales than 28mm are perfect material for adorning your luxurious monumental architecture.
  3. Gareth


    Welcome to The Stronghold! Feel free to introduce yourself here
  4. https://www.warhammer-community.com/2017/12/24/new-champion-revealed-fungoid-cave-shaman/
  5. Brork Bonegut

    Progress Report 11/30

    Hey y'all. No pics for now, I'm actually on break right now. Just an update as to my progress. I've finished the basecoats on the horns and the leather. I've got 1 coat of metallics on 3 of the Mournfangs but dang painting metallics is slow because the paint just doesn't cover well. Once I've finished the metal basecoats and touched up where I need to, I can start washing and highlights! I've also built my Frostlord on Stonehorn (keeping the rider separate) and will probably prime them tonight. I'm torn on how to paint the horns though. I don't know how to get a good result, so I'm considering painting them as ice. I also want to paint the Stonehorn like a fierce animal from real life, like an Ussuri bear, a Wolverine, or a Badger. Wow that was long winded. Thanks for reading! - Bonegut
  6. Karak Norn Clansman

    Oldhammer Miniatures by Andrew Taylor

    The below olschool models are all sculpted and sold (or to be sold) by Andrew Taylor, whose Facebook page you can visit here. Contact him there for more details. Orc Heavy War Chariot Funded by Kickstarter, to be released: Zoats Spellcaster: Warrior: Snotling in Mushroom Thicket Chaos Dwarf Asscannon & Crew Chaos Dwarf Petard & Crew Chaos Dwarf Axeman Chaos Dwarf Crossbowman, Standing Chaos Dwarf Crossbowman, Reloading The two middle ones in peak caps, drawing their crossbow strings:
  7. Slave Orc Heads of Ancient Times These heads are out now! Order your Slave Orc heads here: Also on Etsy and on Blogspot. Priced at €9 per each kit of 12 heads upon release. Cast in whitemetal by Czech Custom Made Miniatures, who went to unusual lengths with the mould in order to preserve texture on the heads. Size comparison, first picture of painted Orcs with bodies from other manufacturer provided by Bloodbeard, second such picture by Carcearion: Sculpts, for detail display purposes: _____________________________ Hobgoblin Slavedrivers of Ancient Times These scumbags are out now! Order your Slavedrivers here: Also on Etsy and on Blogspot. Priced at €9 per each kit of 2 Hobgoblins upon release. Cast in whitemetal by Czech Custom Made Miniatures. Size comparison, old Hobgoblin miniature courtesy of Fuggit Khan: _____________________________ Scarred feet trundled across the ashen wastes to the constant rattle of chains. Many of those feet had less then their usual number of toes. On high, the sun glared hot and dry, its blistering gaze only interrupted by billowing volcanic plumes from a distant stretch of young mountains. The land was ruthless, and so were its inhabitants. A whip coiled through the dusty air and lashed, yet again, hard across lumbering green backs that quickly were becoming flayed to the bone. Hardly a whimper escaped from the captives. Skylxys Wartface was not content with the response, so he struck once more, but this time aimed the whip at a single bastard Orc. The iron tip of the long, braided lash bit into the raw, crimson mass which was all that was left of the sod's muscles that covered his exposed scapulae. Bloody droplets flew from the impact and the eternal cloud of flies scattered from the sudden violence. This time, the lashing action got its deserved reply, and the hulking wretch stumbled to his knees and yelped in agony, grunting and panting. The hands of the Orc lost grip of his shovel and instead flew out sideways to cover his pained back, yet the shackles which bound the thrall's wrists together arrested the hands pathetically in mid-air. The sight bemused the grizzled Hobgoblin slavdriver, and Skylxus drank in the sight with all the glee that a weaker creature can muster at the utter subjugation of someone greater and stronger than himself. “My, my. Me knees be damned if it isn't Qurluk the great himself who grovels in the dust,” snarled Skylxus with a leer that twisted his kife-cut face. He reeled in the whip and nonchalantly juggled with a fat knife in one hand, tossing and spinning it with disregard for his own fingers' health. “Noo! Uh! NO!” wailed the slave Orc in protest. The high pitch was unbefitting for such a mighty creature, whose dark and gruff tones usually were the dread of settlers, nomads and beasts alike. Though the wretch's hands and feet between them only had enough digits for one full hand and one full foot, he scrambled to rise, knowing where such special attention from the overseers would land him. A savage kick in the small of his back sent the large Orc grabbling to the ground, flying flat on his starved belly. That violence was sweet to Skylxus, and he wanted no one to miss his moment of supremacy. “HALT! Hold yer steps you maggots, or I'll gut yer lousy skinbags and strangle you all with yer own intestines!” roared the Hobgoblin and planted his sandalled foot on Qurluk's messy back, pinning the brute more by fear than by weight. The slavedriver's few colleagues dealt out strikes, prods, pinches, kicks and lashes and yelled at their slave flock to turn about and face the head whipper. As always, the sight of the measly gang of Hobgoblins with spears and whips lording it over the many more and much stronger Orcs was an offense to the order of things as set down by the gods who had shaped the world. The situation was surreal and unthinkable, had not those devil tribes of Ashen Dwarfs figured out ways to make the most unbending, proud and wild berzerkers in all of the inhabited world yield under their yoke. Of course, to break the spirit of something as strong and independent as an Orc required a degree of crushing brutality and cruel finesse that very nearly broke the body unto death, but the lardy stunted ones had figured out just the right balance, as was evident in the enslaved Orcs' starved, shackled, torn and mutilated bodies... The miserable view of the slave Orc throng herded by the gangly Hobgoblins made Skylxus Wartface cackle with hoarse and rasping laughter. The imbecilles! Just look at their wretchedness! “As I said, if ye had the sense to listen, this here on the ground is THE great Manstomper heeself,” spat the slavedriver and performed a theatrical mock bow to his audience. “Ladeez and gentle-Orcs, may I present to you the mighty warlord, the fear of Humans and Orcs alike and the thunder of the steppes? The cleaver of two thousand skulls and the ripper of tents. The drinker of blood, oh my! The puller of monster claws and the crusher of families, the one and only Orc king Qurluk!” The other Hobgoblins sniggered and grinned between themselves. The watching Orcs stood dumb and lost in their shackles staring at the world from a little corner of their minds which their essence had retreated into when cruel oppressors wrecked their pride, their sanity and sense of self. Some drooled, some had jaws hanging slack from excessive blows, while some few sported no jaws at all after some punishment or capricious whim. Such a pathetic gaggle of broken ones hardly cared to see one of their own, and a leader at that, sprawled on the sand and gravel like a heap of filth. For filth he was, and so were they, and they wished nothing but to be left alone, caring not for others and being still alive only because the gods had made the will for life strong indeed in all mortals. Oh, the degradation on display was sweet like honey to Skylxus' red eyes. “But is he truly your king?” asked the slavedriver harshly. The whistling of the wind, the snickering of Hobgoblins and the clink of chain links was the only answer. Skylxus set his whip and knife in his belt, bowed down and picked up a huge tool, holding it with trembling arms over his hat-crowned head. “No! He is Shovel the slave, property of the Temple of Kardrunnak in Zuppar and part of canal-digging gang Fifty-Four! and this dungfly has dropped his tool. Bloody useless! Mayhap he has pretensions of royalty to distract himself? Could that be why Shovel forgets himself? How can you be Shovel without yer shovel?” Upon raising this question, Skylxyus flicked the heavy tool down onto the head of once-Qurluk. The Orcish skull cracked audibly at the impact, and his head collapsed feebly to the ground. “But let's be understanding for once, shall we? The mistake is easy to make. For Shovel do look like Qurluk the great, but this cannot be! Shovel is Shovel, and no more than a tool.” The band of slave Orcs stood limply with hanging arms, blinking at the bewildering speech. The Hobgoblin slavedrivers, on the other hand, started to cackle among themselves. They were more clever than some dumb Orcs and caught that drift all right. All of them stepped forth, surrounding the lying slave on the ground, grabbing hold of him and turning him over so that all in attendance could see properly. “Since Shovel's face is such a source of trouble, let us relieve the poor fellow,” barked Skylxus Wartface harshly and drew his thick knife with impatience. His companions tightened their grips on Shovel and produced his head for ease of reach. And then, in that savage act of flaying, did the stark utter cruelty on public display finally reach through the apathy of Qurluk's kinsfolk, and a glimmer of primal fear and recognition of their own brutish treatment struck a chord in the jaded hearts of broken slave Orcs. And they cringed and bayed and whimpered, not daring to move a foot unless they, too, would receive a similar treatment. Yet the show was not over yet. When the slavedriver had finished carving into the weakly struggling head of Shovel, he grabbed hold of the skin and drew it off with both hands, planting a sandalled foot on the Orc's shoulder to brace himself. Blood glistened on the Hobgoblin as he raised the slack hide of Shovel's face to the skies and kicked the victim on his newly exposed face musculature. “Haha! And now he'll eat it!” cackled the slavedriver, and forced once-warlord Qurluk to devour his own visage and so become one of the faceless mass of slaves who laboured under the cruel dominion of the Ashen Dwarfs and their sadistic middlemen. Life was short and unforgiving and you had to enjoy what triumphs you could before someone ended you. Then the march went on as if nothing had happened. And that night, near the site of overlord Hashdrubael's newly started irrigation canal, Skylxus Wartface slept very well indeed under his ragged blankets by the crackling campfire. _____________________________ “Chop-chop, chop-fed! Drop-drop, drop-dead! Lop-lop-lop, lop off his head! We've cut off the heads of a thousand mountain Ogres, and the heads of a thousand-thousand sea Elves! We now want the heads of a thousand-thousand-thousand hillmen, and then the heads of a thousand-thousand-thousand-thousand steppe Orcs! One man has cut off the heads of a thousand-thousand-thousand-thousand-thousand marsh Goblins, for no man has ever drank so much wine as this man has of blood poured out! Chop-chop, chop-fed! Drop-drop, drop-dead! Lop-lop-lop, lop off his head!” - The Beheading Song, a marching song also popular among Ashen Dwarf children.
  8. From the new Warhammer Underworlds website:
  9. Updated September 25, 2017 2017 Tales of Sigmar - Moonclan Grots at Element Games Grand Slam (August) The Black Sun Weekly - Orruk Themed Kharadron Overlords (July) Garagehammer - Beastclaw Raiders (July) Rolling Bad Podcast - Bonesplitterz (July) Tales of Sigmar - Moonclan Grots Winner of Warhammer World GT Heat 3 (July) FaceHammer - Moonclan Grots at Warhammer World GT Heat 3 (July) Age of Sigmar Daily - Dread Maw (June) The Black Sun Weekly - Ironjawz at the UK Masters (January) CanHammer - Bonesplitterz (January) The Black Sun Weekly - Ironjawz vs Skaven Battle Report (January) 2016 The Black Sun Weekly - Year of Destruction (December) The Black Sun Weekly - Ironjawz (December) Heralds of War - Ironjawz (September) Tabled Podcast - Beastclaw Raiders (September) The Ninth Realm - Beastclaw Raiders (August) Garagehammer - Bonesplitterz (August) The Ninth Realm - Ironjawz (August) The Ninth Realm - Bonesplitterz (August) The Bad Dice Podcast - Beastclaw Raiders (July) FaceHammer - Bonesplitterz (July) Rolling Bad Podcast - Ironjawz (July) The Bad Dice Podcast - Bonesplitterz (July) Tales of Sigmar - Moonclan Grots at Bristol Smash (July) Bravery One - Ironjawz and Monstrous Arcanum (May) The Bad Dice Podcast - Destruction at South Coast GT (May) Bravery One - Ironjawz (May) FaceHammer - Ironjawz (May) HeelanHammer - Destruction Winner of South Coast GT (April)
  10. Gareth

    Stronghold IX

    Stronghold version 9 is here! You'll likely have noticed there's a brand new home page - a Destruction hub not only showcasing content hosted here at the Stronghold, but also linking you to the latest and greatest Destruction content from all corners of the web including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, Warhammer Community, AoS podcasts and more! The Stronghold forum has changed quite a bit too. The mass migration of the wargaming community to social media in recent years has admittedly had an impact on it (the internet is a very different place since I launched the Stronghold 13 years ago!), so I've downsized it to a more convenient and homely single page of topics with a simple set of filter switches, so you're free to pick a default display of your preference of topics whether that's Age of Sigmar topics, the archive of old-school Warhammer Fantasy topics, topics about other games etc, or any combination of the three. Speaking of social media, be sure to join the Stronghold's Destruction Grand Alliance Facebook Group if you haven't already - it's currently nearing 700 members and growing fast! The Stronghold Twitter account has also grown a large audience lately with over 1000 followers - so if you're a Twitter user looking for your daily Destruction fix, go ahead and click on the follow button! I've also teamed up with Ben Curry's The Grand Alliance Community to share links to their Destruction topics directly on the Stronghold home page. Plus, I've set up a new Stronghold Pinterest page with the aim to build a vast gallery of links to inspiring Destruction miniatures around the web. 646 image links have been pinned so far, so there's plenty of cool minis to take a look at over there already Stronghold dice are on the way! If you're interested in purchasing some when they arrive in early 2018, see the info I've posted in the brand new Stronghold store. Lastly, I sill have some cosmetic changes in the works to add a bit more Destruction flavour to the site, but after that I'll get back to creating new content for the YouTube channel, and I'll be streaming over on Twitch later in the year too Cheers and enjoy! Gareth
  11. Posted over on the Warhammer Community blog today: https://www.warhammer-community.com/2017/09/22/the-armies-of-firestorm-stoneklaws-gustompas-sep22gw-homepage-post-4/
  12. Gareth

    Warscrolls Database Updated

    I've updated the warscrolls database here at The Stronghold to include all the recent Destruction warscroll compendium changes. Additionally, I've added some new features - handy download links on the list of warscrolls and recommended base sizes. I've also laid the groundwork to integrate all Destruction battalions in the same warscrolls database - those will be coming soon!
  13. Anyone thinking of getting the new map-based campaign system? It's up for pre-order this weekend: https://www.warhammer-community.com/2017/09/17/firestorm-the-armies-of-the-great-cities-and-the-elite-of-the-death-guard/
  14. Gareth

    Monster Week Rules

    Games Workshop's Monster Week is over, and the Warhammer Community team have put together a handy summary PDF containing all the rules released throughout the week. You can download the PDF for free here!
  15. Karak Norn Clansman

    Alien Heads of Distant Times Released

    Contact: ofancienttimes (at) gmail.com Out now! Order your alien heads here (or by E-mail). Each kit contain 7 unique alien heads, priced at €7,5 upon release. The style is parodical. Made to fit 28mm miniatures. Part of the fun will be to find suitable bodies for the two larger heads. Cast in whitemetal by Custom Made Miniatures. Pictures of painted heads included for display purposes only. For scale and detail reference, see the original sculpts next to a Mantic Enforcer head: ____________________________________ The infamous stock-market shark was alerted by the approach of the bounty hunter within his cavernous office room, first by various sensor alerts, then by his own ears, which had been artificially grown in vats after that filthy whore bit them off with two nasty bites. He tapped a tiny touchplate on his armrest, and slowly his large padded chair swivelled around to greet the newcomer. It wasn't a pretty sight which lay back in the chair. Extensive synthetic skinplants and cosmetic operations had been carried out to make an old human appear as a young virile stud of man. It had looked genuine the first decade, but since then decay had caught up, and no amount of continuous treatment could any longer mask the faked impression of the skinplants and artificial hair mane. This pretension at style was exquisitely draped. Expensively clothed, but not clothed with style. The entire appearance of the mogul radiated a garish lack of taste. The old money laughed behind his back, and his lack of sophistication and culture made him the open ridicule of high society. Yet the Shark lacked the insight to catch any of this, and did not even understand that he was the one being scoffed and mocked in a thousand and one subtle ways. The loud-mouthed center of cocktail parties and skyglide cruises alike, he was more at home in his office making money with grubby sods than in the feasting places of the ruling elite. And he was more at home in brothels, vapour nests and drinking dens than anywhere else. This time, he received guests clothed, at least, so no one should complain. That wealthy wretch of a man drew a long pull off his smogstick, and took great pleasure in activating the facial microcanals that allowed the lilac smoke to be puffed out of his ears.”Well?” he bayed with an arrogant tone which he himself had never been aware of, but which all in his surroundings were at pains to endure. The long trenchcoat whirled as the the tall bounty hunter snapped to attention. Ceramic-clad highboots clanked together, pistol holsters moved and a long sniper rifle swayed on his back as he pulled off a mock salute under his broad-brimmed leather hat. “Goods. Delivery. As requested,” he growled in a soft, threatening manner which had made the bounty hunter the amorous attraction of girls across seven sectors, and the object of husbandly hatred across just as many. “Well, which one?” barked the stock-market shark impatiently. He had ordered a whole string of expensive heads served on a plate, and was not used to his underlings being so shy with words. It would take years to hunt down all his rivals, defectors and one-time business anchors in alien societies. So, which one of them was it that the bounty hunter had come to deliver? The tall whip of a man stood theatrically still for several moments, building tension and making his client's forehead throb with angry impatience. It had been several seconds already! Then, the bounty hunter opened his spacious trenchcoat and presented his goods hanging from hooks on the inside of the cardio-ferratic fake leather fabric. There were all seven of them. “Take your pick.”
  16. Gareth

    Citadel Paint App Out Now!

    The Citadel Paint app has launched on Android, iOS and Kindle: "The wait is over, and the Citadel Paint app is here! This app is the essential pocket guide for all painters, packed with guides, handy features, and more." You can download it now for free from your preferred digital store, and in doing so you'll be entered into a prize draw to win every Base, Layer and Shade paint from the Citadel Paint range!
  17. Gareth

    Changes Underway at The Stronghold!

    Stronghold Version 9 is coming! I'm making a lot of changes to the site at the moment, so you may notice things starting to look a bit different around here over the coming days. There may be a few broken links in the navigation too, but don't panic - any broken links are temporary and everything will be linked up correctly once the reworking of the site goes live
  18. From the announcement: Source: https://www.warhammer-community.com/2017/08/31/breaking-news-studio-preview-from-the-nova-open/ I think they look really great, especially the one with the mask. Reminds me a bit of the old Black Orc Big Boss. However, I wonder why they decided to make a band of Ardboyz instead of Ironjaw Brutes.
  19. Available for download now over here: https://www.warhammer-community.com/2017/08/25/new-and-updated-faqs-forge-world-warscrolls-and-compendium-pdfsgw-homepage-post-1/
  20. Sharkbelly

    Spiderfang Venomclan

    Apologies if this has already been posted, but I just saw this on the GW website: https://www.games-workshop.com/en-US/Spiderfang-Grotz-Venom-Clan Not a bad deal!
  21. A mass of archive photos from both old Hand of Hashut (thanks to Timothy Colonna) and Chaos Dwarfs Online have now been uploaded and stuck in the Showcase section of CDO. Check them out for all things Chaos Dwarf, but beware that it's a lot of pictures for the computer to load! Carven Images: Hand of Hashut in Pictures, Courtesy of Timothy Colonna Carven Images: A Decade of CDO in Pictures (2007-2017 A.D.) These Carven Images are quick-salvaged ones, picked selectively by Admiral among our surviving pictures. The method is described in the CDO archive thread and active members expected to salvage their own images have on the large been bypassed. Aside from the above compilation threads, quick-salvaged pictures have also been uploaded to members' main hobby logs where at all possible, among the first posts. Do not delete! Last but not least, we have a very special writing competition cooking on CDO at the moment: Scribe's Contest XI: Temple Song Lyrics Described more in detail in the legal disclaimer, this competition will see one worthy entrant's song picked up by musicians. More to be revealed later on... Don't miss your chance to immortalize your songwriting!
  22. The upcoming Beastclaw Raiders start collecting box contents: 1 x Thundertusk/Stonehorn 4 x Mournfangs Priced at £50/$85 US
  23. Karak Norn Clansman

    Wall Relief Plates of Ancient Times Released

    Wall Relief Plates of Ancient Times: Four Reliefs and Triumph & Thralldom (sold separately) Four Reliefs Triumph & Thralldom These two different terrain decorations are out now! Order your wall reliefs here. Also on Warseer. Triumph & Thralldom, and Four Reliefs respectively, are two separate 28mm resin kits of 1 plate with wall reliefs. Both variants are upon release priced at £8 / €9 + plus postage, with bunch savings in place. Picture of miniatures (painted by me, Carcearion and Fuggit Khan respectively) are included for size comparison purposes only. The fine resin casting, by Zealot Miniatures, carries detail well, but the thinness of the plates made it necessary to drill holes through undetailed areas for mould support. These holes are easily filled in with modelling putty. It should be noted that these wall relief plates were very much sculpted with a ruler, but being an amateur I have not achieved perfectly straight lines. Customers might want to file and scrape away at the edges to make the plates fit whatever purposes they have in mind. Once cleaned, just glue these wall plates on to some block and adorn your terrain pieces! Size comparison: Four Reliefs Triumph & Thralldom Four Reliefs + Triumph & Thralldom (sold separately) __________________________________ Hunger gnawed in his gut, and his eyes were dry like desert sand, yet still Hamukk bore a smile on his hollow-cheeked face. He had done it! He had outsmarted the stunted masters with their log-thick arms and coiled beards. He had outran their stumped feet and cruel hands. He had hid, and he had sneaked. He had covered his tracks and kept one step ahead of their vicious lackeys all of the time. The jackals! The dogs! All outwitted. His long plight of labour and hardship was at long last over. Freedom would be his, and slavery but a rotten memory with which to scare his future grandchildren. Praise the gods! Hamukk, son of Bernu and Ishya, of the Human tribe Lakash, ran a calloused hand through his dirty, straight black hair. That hand had only three and a half fingers left. He shivered at the thought, yet smirked triumphantly at the certain knowledge that his captors would never set their brands and blades and tongs to him again. The thrill ran through him, blood rushing in his veins and feeding his hopes. And all thanks to a chance overhearing! That sun-scorched day would stay with him forever. That moment, when he stood chest-deep in the muddy river waters and harvested reeds with a burnt clay sickle, and the priestly acolytes walked past slothfully. Their conversation had for some reason raised his interest from the very start, and he had memorized every word of theirs. They had talked of a labyrinth, a place of darkness through which no man not chosen by the gods or anointed in blood by demons could pass. They had named the location, and it was not far off. Most importantly, they discussed rumours of long maze tunnels leading out to hostile tribal grounds with gates wide open and undefended. Thereupon the short, bulky acolytes had reaffirmed their faith in their foul gods by praising the deities for watching over the labyrinth. A labyrinth! He had trekked through mountain ravines all his life before being caught by the devious blockbeards from the lowlands, and he would take his chances with a mere handmade maze any day. The trick was to not walk in circles, he had decided. Hamukk had then and there determined that this was a sign from his people's gods, and had acted quickly, stealing provisions and torches in the night, running off into the windy wastelands, zigzagging through nigh-on lifeless terrain and walking in a long crescent toward the spot mentioned by the acolytes. It was indeed undefended, except for by some scorpions just inside the entrance. They had nearly been the end of him, but he had glimpsed them in the ruddy light and brought his flaming torch down upon the venomous critters, scaring off the scorpions and clearing the way. Fire truly was a stolen gift from the gods. It gave man power over beast, and man power over darkness. With his torches he had already made it through most of the maze, he was sure. There were costly relief carvings everywhere on the walls, painted in gaudy colours and covered with figures. The relief carvings seldom repeated and thus he had good reason to think that he had not gone in small circles more than thrice. In the light of his flame he could spot the accursed Dwarfs' conception of gods, goddesses, demons and myths. He spotted historical scenes of slavery, warfare and hardship, as well as great works undertaken, sorcery and above all atrocities. There was flaying and maiming and crushing, done by malevolent Dwarfs, usually against Humans and Goblins. They did indeed like to brag about their cruelties, didn't they? But those scenes no longer concerned him. He was no longer part of their malice and torture. His trusty torches would carry him through, like a beacon of the gods. Yet there was only one torch left now, and still there was no end in sight of the maze... The cocky smile vanished. Hamukk swallowed, and moved faster, more rashly than before. He stopped memorizing relief scenes for the sake of speed. The exit must be here somewhere! As the flames burned out their oily fuel, he ripped off his bandages, his headband, his loincloth and even loose hair to feed the fire. He could get other clothes later, but not another life. Steps clattered and echoed through the cool labyrinth, faster and faster. He blowed as much air as he dared into the dying embers, blowing up small flame tongues anew. Hamukk saw less and less of the richly carved stone walls around him, and relied ever more on his hands to guide him along the walls. The darkness was closing in. Damn...! The torch went out with a sputter and sizzle. Hamukk blinked at the coloured lights dancing across his retina. When they were gone, nothing remained. There was not even moonlight reflected in the corridor. Everything went solid black. Teeth clattered as the escaped slave fought a wild panic welling up from within. He began scrambling down corridors, hands shaking on walls to his left and right as he sought guidance. He slid past corners in a stumbling jog, panting and whining. He fell and rose, unseen bruises already aching on all limbs. He had to get out! He ran for it, ran hard, and crashed into a stone wall. The violent impact stole away his breath and senses, for how long he did not know. Hamukk eventually woke up on the smooth floor, or was he perhaps still asleep? It was impossible to tell the difference. His eyes gave the same report whether they were shut or open. Blackness, and nothing more. The man's head was strangely numb yet at the same time beset with sharp pangs of pain. Hamukk suspected that his headlong collision with the wall had damaged his mind. His nose was broken, and he had lost two of his teeth, worn by millstone flakes as they were. He prayed to three gods and seven goddesses, yet heard no response. Was he already in the netherworld? Was this the place of dust and darkness that all men feared to enter? How would the other spirits react to a living man among themselves? Or was he even still alive? Hamukk had no way to tell. For untold hours he sat on his haunches while his head spinned worse and worse. His thoughts turned into a maelstrom of confusion. At last, he reached the bewildered conclusion that demons were stealing away his mind. He rose up and swore heinously at them, uttering such foul words that men would have killed him for the insult. Yes. Demons! It was the demons! The former slave fell silent for a while. Then he whispered: "Reveal yourselves." And in the darkness, the eyes of all the relief figures on the walls lit up, like a nightsky of red embers. Watching him, uncaring. It was as if all the gods had convened to judge his soul, and found him a subject unworthy to even assemble court for. They stared at him. Forever. It was the final straw. Hamukk fell hard to his knees, warm blood trickling across the cold obsidian floor. He clawed at his eyes in madness. And screamed until his lungs burst.
  24. The technical issue has been resolved, everything should be running smoothly once more! Sorry for the wait, I was on my hols!

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