Wednesday 20 April 2011

Necromunda Underhive: Medicine Man

by Jonathan Green

The flickering emerald flames of the fire illuminated just this one tiny corner of the vast sump-dome, drawing an eerie luminescence from the photo-reactive fungi coating the stalactites of ore-deposits suspended from the roof of the cavernous dome. They in turn cast shimmering, rainbow reflections on the oily sheen of the surface of the polluted lake where it lapped at the ferro-rockrete shore. The eerie copper-green firelight also under lit the Ratskin Shaman’s angular features, lending them an even more harshly cold and knife-like quality. The spiral tattoos on his cheeks seemed to swirl in the ever-changing light.

The shaman was clad in the garb of a tribal medicine man of the feral peoples of Necromunda. The rat bones strung to his ceremonial armour knocked against each other as he moved, the hollow sound eerily echo-amplified. From his waist hung the pelt of a giant rat, the same rat whose skull now adorned the top of his shaman’s staff. He had a pointed goatee of a beard and from his pierced ears hung tiny archeotech artefacts. Such relics helped him to commune with the Hive Spirits and here, in the uninhabited dome, in the ‘natural’ environment of the toxic waste zones of the Underhive, he could commune with those same spirits more closely.

Casting a handful of Scarlet Feng spores into the fire, the shaman began his invocation, as thick, foul-smelling orange smoke poured from the fire of burning fungus stalks.

‘Great Spirits of the Hive,’ the Ratskin intoned. ‘Once again our sacred lands have been desecrated by the hivers and evil drawn down upon us. Our hunters have become the hunted, slain by the Spider Daemon in its quest for fresh souls. Your humble servant, Quaking Dome, beseeches you to aid us now, o mighty masters of Hive Primus, the true Lords of the Spire. Send your terrible judgement down upon the defilers. Let the sacrilegious and the blasphemous know the wrath of your retribution,’ the medicine man chanted, throwing a handful of grey-black grit into the flames. Picking up his staff he rattled it over the now sparking purple blaze. ‘By the Hive Spirits, may it be so.’

Quaking Dome was suddenly aware of movement nearby. Looking beyond the fire he peered into the gloom over the lake. Sparkling diamonds eyes looked back at him. He felt the hackles on the back of his neck rise. At the same time he heard the rippling surge out on the lake of something moving towards him over the oily surface.

Raft spiders, hundreds of them, were gliding over the filthy water on spindly, crab-legs, their bodies white and glistening. Hearing a skittering sound above him the shaman looked up. Scuttling down the sides of the dome above him were yet more arachnids. These were covered in coarse black and crimson hair and were as large as dogs. The spiders moved as one, as if guided by one will. Then they stopped, every single one of them, none encroaching within the circle of light cast by the flickering fire. The shaman’s prayers had been answered.

Smiling like a snake, Quaking Dome got to his feet and walked unhesitatingly towards the mass of furry and slime-wet bodies. The arachnids parted before him and then surged in behind him to follow the shaman as he strode towards the tunnel that would take him out of the sacred dome and back towards the settlements of the hivers. Soon the desecrators would know what vengeance was, when the wrath of the Hive Spirits was visited upon them.

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