Warlord Skretch, undead captain of the Skabrus

The Skaven rat-lord known as Skretch, Warlord of Clan Skurvy, was once a prosperous piratical mastermind. But his luck ran out when his flagship was swallowed up by an Orb Leviathan, having mistaken its bioluminescent lure for a haul of warpstone. With verminous desperation to survive, the trapped Skaven ate the giant beast from the inside out, but were asphyxiated before they could escape the sea monster's husk. Discovering its drifting cadaver, Count Noctilus cast a mighty Necromantic ritual to raise the Orb Leviathan, but also inadvertently brought Skretch and his crew back to life too![1a]

History

The Skaven warlord known as Skretch was once a prosperous piratical mastermind. Skretch had backstabbed his way to captaincy over the corpses of his former allies. He and his vermin-infested fleet were the scourge of the Tilean coastline, raiding from the Skaven city of Spineport to Sartosa and back in search of slaves and treasure. Then came a fateful encounter that set Skretch spiraling into darkness and undeath.[2a]

The Skaven have always had a fascination with the crystallised form of Dark Magic known as warpstone. The rat-men obsess about it constantly; to them it is a drug, a delicacy, a gateway to power, and an engine for their eldritch magics all rolled into one. No matter how much gold Skretch amassed or how many Skavenslaves he put to work in the rotten egg stink of his brass engine rooms, only the sickly green-black glow of warpstone could calm his skitter, violent moods. It was because of his unquenchable lust for warpstone that Skretch commanded his ramshackle fleet to seek out the fabled Galleon's Graveyard; a place so rich in power it positively reeked of crystallised magic. In a way, Skretch's quest was successful.[2a]

The night before Geheimnisnacht, Sretch's sharp-eyed rat-slaves saw a lambent green glow in the mists ahead. Ordering full sail, Skretch rubbed his claws in glee; surely this was the light of a large warpstone haul ready for the taking? As they neared the green glow up ahead, a pair of bulbous eyes blinked open, and a cavernous maw gaped, filled with hundreds of teeth the length of bowsprits. It was a titanic Orb Leviathan, a sea monster many times the size of Skretch's largest warship. A bioluminescent lure dangled from its massive broad head, glowing a bilious green.[2a]

The carnaged that followed was incredible. The panicking Skaven unleashed every weapon they had at the fell creature, their rickety brass doom engines and Warp-Lightning Cannons sending livid beams of unnatural energy into its flanks. Ultimately they only angered the beast. The Orb Leviathan went into a gnashing, thrashing frenzy until all that remained of Skretch's fleet was matchwood and bobbing spheres of crackling brass. The Orb Leviathan saved Skretch's flagship for last, opening its vast maw so wide it bit the vessel clean in half.[2a]

Miraculously, though Skretch's flagship was crunched into pieces, most of the Skaven crew were swallowed whole and hence survived. In the darkness of the beasts gut, Skretch's army of rat-warriors skittered and screeched; they were down, but certainly not out. In the foetid darkness the rat-men fought back, devouring the sea monster's heart and gnawing at the beasts insides until it was little more than a fleshy shell. The beast eventually shuddered and expired with a great sigh.[2a]

Despite their efforts, the exhausted ratmen were still trapped inside, asphyxiating in the nauseous stench of the sea monster's bile. One by one, the Skaven wheezed their way into the afterlife, futile curses upon their twisted lips.[2a]

As is the way of all dead things in the Great Ocean, the corpse of the great sea-beast eventually washed up in the Galleon's Graveyard. There it was discovered by Count Noctilus, who saw great potential in such a monstrous guardian. Noctilus cast a mighty necromantic ritual; a spell so powerful that it not only a semblance of life into the mighty Orb Leviathan but, unbeknownst to the Count, also brought the rotting Skaven within its gut back from the clutches of death.[2a]

Perhaps it was the sheer amount of warpstone Skretch and his rat-men had ingested over the years, or it was their frantic drive to succeed, but something of their treacherous character remained intact even after their dark resurrection. In the stinking, red-black secrecy of the monster's gut, the unliving Skaven worked ceaselessly under Skretch's direction, marshalling the wreckage of their fleet and rebuilding deck, scaffold and engine so that the sea-beast itself became their vessel. When they felt the call of Count Noctilus begin to take hold of their Undead minds, the Skaven sounded their great warpstone Screaming Bell, mounted atop the sea monster's flat cranium, to drown out his necromantic magic. Their ripped aside great curtains of the beast's rotten skin and opened fire with the very same Warp Lightning Cannons that had once been the pride and joy of Skretch's own flagship.[2a]

Count Noctilus was impressed. The Leviathan-ship, christened the Skabrus by its master Skretch, seemed to pose a genuine threat to the mighty Bloody Reaver. The fact that the monstrous beast now clearly belonged to its last meal was weighed against the chance for winning an unusual new ally. Calling for a parley, the Vampire met Skretch face to rotten face and struck a bargain - as much warpstone as the Skaven captain desired, in exchange for eternal servitude in the Dreadfleet.[2a]

Skretch knew a good deal when he saw one, and readily agreed - at least for now. So it was that the monstrous vessel known as the Skabrus was born; its captain a corpse within a corpse, and its unliving crew as verminous, callow and vicious as ever.[2a]

Sources

  • 1: White Dwarf Issue 382
    • 1a: pg. 27
  • 2: Dreadfleet
    • 2a: pg. 62-63
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.