Steel boots clanked on the obsidian stone floors and echoed in between the thirty-meter pillars which were always polished yet never shined. Darbakh pulled his battle regalia back from his head and dropped the tarnished gear onto a ragged Gnoblar porter who skittered around on asymmetrical feet. The Chaos Dwarf warrior walked at what his kind considered a brisk pace as he crossed the entire empty entrance hall toward a pair of iron double doors high enough to fit a stone troll.
Inside, he bowed deferentially before entering a brazier-lit chamber fashioned from jasper and tiger’s eye, paying homage to the area commander for that far northwestern corner of the Dark Lands. The commander, sufficiently aloof for such an elder, sat on a carved stone chair facing away from Darbakh. When the silence had hung over them for a few moments, Darbakh stood and spoke.
“My lord, we encountered the strangest of happenings on our way back to the fortress today.”
“I heard,” the commander replied in a flat tone.
Darbakh nodded out of habit even if the older man couldn’t see him. “The human cultists we caught in our territory didn’t survive, but we captured the daemon they summoned in their squalid camp. I present to you, fully subdued, a Bloodletter of Khorne for your-“
The commander’s interruption came fast and swift. “Insert a cannon in its rectum.”
For a few seconds, Darbakh paused and reflexively forced himself to yawn, as if his ears hadn’t picked up the sound properly. He couldn’t even mentally grasp the order given to him. “My apologies, commander?”
“Insert a cannon in its rectum,” the commander repeated.
Bushy brows furrowed in confusion, Darbakh mouthed a few silent words while trying to form a cogent response. “You want me to…” His voice trailed off while he wondered if the commander had suddenly gained a sense of humor. His assumptions proved incorrect.
“You said the daemon is subdued, so insert a cannon in its rectum and use it as artillery.”
Darbakh looked around to confirm that the two of them were alone before speaking out of turn. “My lord, if I may: there are likely more efficient ways of developing light artillery, and there are a plethora of tasks which we could assign to-“
“Cannon in rectum!” the commander said, interrupting with a measure of impatience which caused Darbakh to bow again. “Don’t question me!”
“Of course, never, my lord.”
“Daemons are tools to be used, and this one will be a cannon!”
I…yes, it will be done before dusk,” Darbakh said, working hard to keep the confusion out of his tone.
Retracing his steps from the great hall of the fortress into the foyer of one of many workshops, Gnoblar porter in tow, Darbakh approached a handful of members in his skirmishing party. His nephew, Garth, stood with half a dozen Hobgoblins aiming spears at a battered, crimson daemon of Khorne shackled to a small wagon. Garth looked to his bewildered uncle.
“What are our orders?”
Darbakh looked down and ran a finger along his long nose bridge, sighing deeply. He mumbled into the palm of his hand, causing his nephew to look at him in an annoyingly quizzical manner.
“What?” Garth asked, and received another mumble in response. “Uncle, I can’t hear you-“
“Put a cannon up its ass!” Darbakh exclaimed, still bewildered by the order.
Garth’s face pulled into a perplexed expression as well, though one of the Hobgoblins turned to look at them. The Greenskin’s face usually looked like a railroad map, but the various creases and scars pulled into an immature grin befitting a twelve-year-old.
The Bloodletter itself seemed less amused. “What mockery is this?” the de-horned, degraded daemon said while struggling against its shackles. For its resistance, one of the Hobgoblins struck hard in the side while the others carted it away. “I will cut every one of you to pieces! I shall not be-“
Another mocking jab from the Hobgoblins quieted the battered daemon, and the sounds died away while Greenskins carted away their victim. The two Chaos Dwarfs were left behind in the great hall; Darbakh just stared at a stone pillar and scratched his head.
“Uncle, I don’t think this is the most efficient use of a captured daemon,” Garth said.
“I know,” Darbakh sighed.
“There are a lot of tasks, more productive ones, we could assign to it.”
“We could probably use that cannon for another lightweight death rocket for the troops.”
“I know, whelp, I already said that I know!” A round of hellish screams rang out from the workshop, signaling how fast the Hobgoblins had gotten to work. Darbakh listened to the Bloodletter’s howl and winced, not because he’d imagined the immense amount of pain required to elicit such a reaction from a daemon, but rather because of another thought. “Somebody’s going to have to load that thing every time it fires.”