Tinkerer Sniggles stood restlessly on the veranda of his workshop, his furrowed forehead dripped irritating beads of sweat onto a large goblin nose. As the relentless Barrens sun beat away what remained of the shade offered by his rudimentary, leather-roofed porch he anxiously scanned the horizon.
Sniggles was expecting trouble, a whole heap of trouble, but from what and where he could not say. It was the not knowing that was driving him mad.
He should be at the Samophlange right now, checking on progress for The Venture Company. Pah! The Venture Company, the very same that had posted him to this forsaken outpost.
‘Life should be easy,’ thought Sniggles. The operation was progressing well, despite the attentions of the odd nosey orc or troll. Thankfully his employer had seen fit to provide a substantial guard and concerted efforts by the Duratonians to disrupt proceedings were on the wane. Or at least that’s what he had thought.
But the discovery this morning had shook him up bad. It wasn’t uncommon to find a guard or two with sword or axe wound, or even a careless Tauren savaged by raptors. But the poor fellow that had been dragged back this morning was something else entirely.
That he was dead was beyond doubt, it was the manner of his death which had proved most shocking. Venture Company workers were fit and highly trained, they had to be, the work they did was not for the weak or feeble. But this individual looked as though he had been afflicted with a terrible wasting disease.
His workmates had sworn blind that he was right as rain that morning, so this rot that had affected him so swiftly and so surely could not have been natural. It was though his entire form had been eaten away by death and time. And the look on his face! Sniggles shuddered at the thought. Something is out there, he thought. Death is stalking us and we must be prepared.
With renewed purpose he turned. He must start to prepare. ‘We must increase patrols,’ he thought.
As the sun began to fall, he confidently stepped inside, determined to put his plan into action and exorcise the underlying mutterings of fear that had begun to ripple through his workforce. ‘Fools!’ The word escaped his lips. His anxiety was passing and his anger rising. ‘We will double the guard.’ Nothing can be allowed to stop us.
‘Fools indeed’ rasped a voice. Sniggles quickly looked up and as he did the colour instantly drained from his face. His knees weak with fear, the overseer fell to his knees and an involuntary trickle of warm liquid pooled about the openings of his trouser legs, ‘wha? Who? Help!’ he begged in a pitiful squeak. ‘Spare me.’
The intruder grinned and as fetid breath manifested words of arcane power, without mercy, the tinker was immolated in wreathing swirls of flame. As he burnt he ran, catching the silk curtains that once offered his workshop some privacy and when the goblin’s blackened form fell to the ground, the building took light.
Such displays of heat and light rarely go unnoticed and Venture Company workers rushed to the scene. Confused and unprepared they cried for water to tackle the blaze. ‘Where is Sniggles’ shouted one. ‘He must be inside’ shouted another.
‘He is no more!’ boomed the voice of death.
A hush ascended as the mass of workers regarded the deathly form that emerged from the building. That death himself, clad in his robes of wonder, should address them in such a fashion would be unsettling enough. But the large boulder-like form that stood behind him was terror incarnate.
‘Demons!’ yelled a guard. And he drew his sword. It was intended as a call to arms, but it was a vain gesture. At a single command from the deathly form, the infernal terror rushed forward. And as it trampled scores of workers, and threw countless guards, the ground became littered with broken bodies.
To those not cowering in dread, there was no choice but to flee. ‘The legions of hell are upon us,’ they cried. And as they ran for their lives, demonic words of magic rang in their ears and a fiery rain descended from the skies consuming all in hateful flame.
Few survivors dared to look up at their executioner. Those that did would forever be scarred with the visage of the abhorrent undead that had wrought such destruction.
As for himself, the assassin surveyed the destruction with an overwhelming sense of pride.
And as a large moon bathed smouldering bodies in a cold, unforgiving light, Corposant the Warlock, gathered the Samophlange and headed for Ratchet.