Strife in Argent's Pass Prose in Westhammer | World Anvil

Strife in Argent's Pass

The skinks Yuqal’cho-ax and Kai’ax exited the gunsmith’s shop.   “The gunsmith tried to bilk us on our ammo just because we are Rangos. said we were strangers and couldn’t be trusted.” Kai’ax grumbled     “Everyone’s a stranger here, this whole damn town didn’t exist at all before the big silver strike.” Yuqal’cho-ax said.   “We were here first, the milk drinkers are the strangers here—”     The skinks stopped talking and turned their head at the sound of breaking glass down the street.   They ran to see the source of the noise and found they were not the only one. Many humans of varied garb, some goblins, and an elf were all gawking at the bruised and bleeding orc defenestrated from the local saloon surrounded by glass shards.   An mustached human wearing a clean brown vest and holding a razor exited the barber’s shop across the dusty street.   “See, that’s why I said buying them glass windows was a plum bad idea.”   He tapped his own wooden shutters, chuckling and went back inside to finish shaving his customer.   The orc was dazed and confused for a bit at all the people staring at him.   “AAARRRRGGGH, I ain’t no cheat!” the orc roared before balling up his fists and rushing back into the saloon.   “Still want a drink?” Yuqal’cho-ax asked.     “We bought got all our supplies. What else is there to do in town? Let’s go bend an elbow.” Kai’ax replied.     As they neared the saloon the dwarf barkeep was herding out a trio of orcs by brandishing a rifle at them.     As the orcs reluctantly made their way out, the aproned dwarf turned towards the skinks and raised his eyebrows suspiciously.     Kai’ax returned the stare and jingled his coins.     “You’ll need money to replace the window after that little fuss, and we are thirsty. We hear you got the boss whiskey here.”     The dwarf nodded curtly, not wanting to deny the quality of his whisky. The skinks occupied the card strewn table the orcs vacated from.     “The tension in here is thicker than dough.” Yuqal’cho-ax said softly in the Saurian tongue.     The saloon was quite crowded, but every drinking group was positioned to maximize distance from each other. Everyone eyed the other tables suspiciously. The feathered lizards got the dragon’s share of the hostile stares. By this point in their lives, the skinks were too used to this reception to care.     The bought a bottle of whiskey, and Kai’ax downed a glass and licked his lipped, satisfied.     “This is boss. Smooth fire.”     While no one other than staff talked to them, the two Skinks were good eaves droppers and over the next few hours, learned that Argent Pass had become a powder keg.     Estalians and Kislevite settlers were accusing each other of poaching livestock, the mining foremen and quartermasters were having ongoing arguments on who was embezzling whom, and the greenskins were getting in more fights with each other and the other races than usual. Lots of accusations of theft and denials of theft.     “We better high tail it before someone accuses us of nicking something.” Yuqal’cho-ax said.     The two skinks got up to leave. As if on a cue, a large ugly human pushed the saloon doors open angrily and shouted. “Those Rangos just stole my bronco!”     “We were here for almost three hours! We didn’t take nothing you mush-head.” Kai’ax said.   “Lying lizards, I’ll gut you and tan your hides inta boots!” the human replied.     Kai’ax had a hand on his pistol. Yuqal’cho began calling up the energy for a spell. Then a thin human black seemed to come from no where and interjected himself between the accusing human and the lizards.     “No, this is pointless Strife,” said the stranger.   “These two haven’t been near a horse since they stabled their mounts. They have just been buying wares and such.” He continued.     “He’s been watching us?” Kai’ax muttered softly in Saurian.     “Besides, even the most broken horses won’t accept a Rango on their back, that’s why they ride those giant prairie chickens,” said the dark clad human.   “Maybe the lizards wanted were hungry and wanted meat,” the ugly human accused.     The dark stranger flashed something shiny from his pocket and the big human flinched and he made the sign of Sigmar and then nodded fearfully. The dark clad human spoke again.     “Something is up, you are going to take me where your horse disappeared from,”   “Yes, inquisitor sir.”     The dark stranger turned to the skinks and pointed at them. They vaguely recognized his badge for the Order of the Silver Hammer.     “You. Youwill help me track.” The human said.   “Just because we’re Rangos doesn’t mean we know how to track.” Yuqal’cho-ax said.   “Do you know how to track?” the inquisitor asked.  I can” Kai’ax said.     The dark man whistled and fur clad elf, a stocky human miner who could have passed for a dwarf if he wasn’t shaved came towards them, and a middle aged man with a faded Confederate insignia on his jack all got up from a table and headed towards the inquisitor. All three were armed and looking expectantly at the inquisitor.     “These three need to clear their names. Together we will end Strife in this town.”     The four disparate humans, the elf and the two Rangos departed together, eying each other suspiciously the whole way.     * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *     The ground was hard, but Kai’ax had very sharp eyes. The odd makeshift party followed Kai’ax as he the light trail hoofprints from the ugly human’s barn.     An hour and a half later, they saw in the moonlight what looked like the silhouette of a skink in a trench coat scuttling about a dead horse killing it.     “I knew it!” said the ugly human who the skinks had since learned was named Brendan.     “I thought we were a hundred miles from the nearest settlement of our kind,” Kai’ax said.     “Something’s wrong.”     The humans opened fire with their irons, followed a moment later by the elf. At this range most of the shots hit air but two or three hit their mark and the figure dropped.     The party closed in. They saw three bullet holes in his trench coat. The elf spoke first.     “I don’t see any blood…”     The bullet ridden skink stood up and grinned in a way Lizardmen do not normally grin. The strange skink’s eyes glowed with a sinister red light. He fired a pistol into the chest of the inquisitor and the stocky miner.     A metallic sound rang when the inquisitor’s chest plate was shot. He was not seriously hurt but still knocked on his back. The miner just bled, he would die soon and it couldn’t be helped.     The rest of the party pulled their guns and opened fire. At this range it was hard to miss, but the evil figure shrugged off the bullets like mosquitos as his Rango features melted off like wax revealing the red skin and wiry frame of a vaguely humanoid daemon.     It discarded the tattered remains of his trench coat, the bullet holes were already closing on their own accord. The creature leapt high into the air, landing over twenty feet away from its attackers.     “You cannot stop me with your pitiful weapons!” the daemon hissed.     “It is Strife” the inquisitor whispered.     Yuqal’cho-ax tried to call on his magic but the daemon seemed to be hindering his ability to tap into the winds of magic. “I have silver bullets,” the inquisitor said while standing up and drawing a second pistol. He fired twice. He hit the daemon once in the ankle and the daemon and it bled oily black blood in a wound that didn’t close. Then the inquisitor pulled the trigger a third time with a clicking sound.   Despite being wounded, the daemon still moved surprisingly fast disappearing over the crest of a hill.     The skink priest turned to the inquisitor sharply.     “We are three damn silver mines and you only have TWO silver bullets!” he asked incredulously.   “How many silver bullets did you see at the local general store. By the by, the local gunsmith is a swindler and a cheat. I can’t count on him to make me silver bullets,” the human said.   “Ain’t that the truth? At least he is leaving an easy trail.” Kai’ax said pointing to the thick droplets of oily blood.     “How we are going to bring him down with lead belchers?” asked the elf.   “He fed on the conflict of the town, but it’s not a bottomless well. He’s not invincible, we just need to hit him several times to wear out his healing power.” the inquisitor explained.   “We need to all put a bullet in him at the same time.” Yuqal’cho-ax said.   “Why?” asked Brendan.   “Because we would be overcoming our strife.”     It was hours before they caught up again to the daemons, but they managed to catch up to him. The daemon fired as they neared by he missed and apparently for all his unnatural power and cunning, he was using an ordinary gun and only carried six rounds on him. His fingers extended into claws and the daemon snarled.     The inquisitor took command.     “On three!” “THREE!”     The party all fired.     As the bullets struck home, the daemon shuddered violently and melted into the midnight shadows on the ground leaving nothing but some tattered cloth, an empty pistol, and a sack of pilfered items.    I’ll be baaaaacck…” hissed a voice from the shadows.

Cover image: by Paul1748