Drifting, dreaming, mind fogged as though wrapped in cotton wool he could not remember when he last felt that sense of urgency that had driven him for months. He could not remember why he had been driving himself so hard, seeking, searching, questing…
Occasionally the fog parted for the briefest instant and a sliver of clarity came to him. He tried desperately to hold onto those moments but they swiftly slipped away. There had been a storm recently, and the distant boom of thunder had left him strangely agitated and re-ignited his struggles against the gentle cocooning fog. A taste of the lash had triggered a flash of anger but he was a slave, why should he object so to the crack of the overseer’s whip? A rough voice raised in mournful song had made him weep briefly but nothing quite seemed to cut through to him and shake him from his torpor.
He worked the mines, extracting much varanite for the Tzeentchian sorcerer who had ensnared him. He was strong and resistant to sickness so they worked him hard. The line between sleep and wakefulness was blurred by his condition but on this night the slave pens began to echo to the crash of distant thunder, louder than before, a terrific storm raged above ground and within the thunder he heard a voice calling. He heard a word, a name?
Without remembering moving, he was on his feet. Head cocked, turning trying to hone in on the voice he could hear in the faint echoes of the storm above. He moved around his small slave pen, uncaring of the pain as he banged against walls and bars seeking a better spot to hear. Driven by something beyond instinct, he knew he must catch the name.
“Sandal…. Sandalphon Barachiel” It was his name, he was sure of it, but with the onslaught of the storm the mine guards closed the double doors to the fortress built over the entrance to the caverns. Thick, magic-strengthened doors closed in the face of the storm and with that the thunder became a faint grumbling, and Sandalphon began to sink back into his mind fog.
Hunched over on the ground, he watched uncaring as a slight figure slipped between the bars of his pen. “My Lord, ” it whispered, “Let me help you”, but the prisoner was trying to remember what Sandalphon meant and why he should care. He hardly flinched as small hands reached to his neck, the dim light catching on bared steel and then in a moment he would remember forever, the knife cut through the fine chain that hung around his neck holding a spiteful looking amulet to his skin. As it fell away the shadowy figure caught it in a scrap of cloth and tucked it away in a pocket. “My Lord?” It whispered again.
“How long have I been here?” His voice was hoarse with disuse, but the focus was back in his eyes and they flashed a bolt of hot rage.
“Croop sent me when you did not meet us as arranged. You parted ways with our company 6 months ago my Lord. I’d wager that you have been imprisoned here for most of that.” The diminutive figure threw back it’s coarse woollen hood revealing a face more used to showing joviality than the serious expression it now wore.
“You’ve saved me from a thousand lifetimes of enslavement Halfling, call me Sandalphon. Are you alone? Are Croop and the Fighting Cocks nearby?”
“No Sandalphon,” he said stumbling awkwardly over the name. “Croop just sent me, we never thought that you would need any direct help of us. But in my travels through this den of ruffians I found your armour and weapons, I have them just outside this cell.” He turned and slipped back through the bars to Sandalphon’s cell and started to pass the armour through. “It has taken several trips to collect all this and carry it here, I worry that it may soon be discovered missing.”
“Worry not, dear friend, I shall soon give these scum something else to concern themselves with. Your name?” Sandalphon’s voice was growing stronger and his stance straighter and more intimidating as he secured his armour around him. The halfling finished fussing with the lock to the cell and the door swung open.
“Faldo, my Lord… Sandalphon, Faldo Barrel-Rider.” He gave a quick, short bow. ” I can lead you out by a quiet path, if..” His voice trailed off as Sandalphon drew his sword and held it up examining it in the dim light.
“No friend Faldo. There will be no quiet path out of this chaos-born dung heap for me. Do you know if the sorcerer is still here? Lights at the top of the tower?” Faldo nodded. “Good, he won’t catch me off guard again. Then I must ask one last favour of you my friend and then you can leave. I would have you free anyone else trapped in here, I heard singing some time ago, an old Rodrigan ballad, some of our people are here. If they yet live, free them all if you can and lead them to Croop and the Fighting Cocks. I’m sure you will escort them safely out of these troubled lands.”
The halfling bowed again, “My word on it Sandalphon, may Sigmar guide your path.” As he slipped away into the dark, the Stormcast Eternal called after him.
“I will make plenty of noise on my way to the sorcerer, you should find your path clear Faldo Barrel-Rider. When we meet again I shall thank you properly.”
Clad once more in blessed sigmarite armour and reunited with his warblade, Knight Questor Sandalphon Barachiel cooled his temper with a prayer to Sigmar. What he sought now was not petty vengeance for his humiliation and incarceration under magical bonds. Not even for the insult done to his memories, a sore point for any Stormcast. No, tonight would be about justice for those imprisoned with him and brutalised beyond measure by the Tzeentchian sorcerer and their minions.
Above him the thunder grew louder and he started to navigate the tunnels leading to the surface and from thence to the sorcerer’s tower. Finally, after six long months, the storm had come to the Mines of Tzkailloch.