The winds lashed the heavy droplets of rain sideways into the tower wall.

The weather in Stromdorf was never good. In fact, it was unseasonably wet all the time. Professors and experts maintained that it’s unusual positioning between the three rivers Ober, Tranig and Teufel explain its unusual weather.

For the people of the small market town, it was a way of life. The Stromdorfers were tough, resilient and a little miserable. None more so than the local magistar.

Michael Arden Lowweather Edwin Konrad was a cruel man. The type of man who takes his responsibilities and bureaucracy seriously. A miserable man, full of hate and disappointment that his early potential had never developed into a recognisable talent. Stuck in a dead-end job, in a dead-end village his own disappointment turned in on him and made him a fastidious lunatic. He was the sort of man who was referred to as Mr. Konrad or just Konrad to those he’d known for a certain amount of time. They weren’t friends, merely long-standing acquaintances.

It was only when he met a woman while wandering along the banks of the River Ober that his life changed. She was beautiful, kind and honest. Her jet black hair cascaded upon her alabaster white skin, punctured with two emerald green eyes. From the moment he met her, he knew he had to marry her. The two became close and for a while love blossomed.

Konrad and Lilith were married in Stromdorf. Even the rains stopped for the day of the union and for the first time in his life Konrad was happy. The two exchanged customary marriage gifts. She wore a ring of burnished gold and he an amulet with his initials upon it.

But as is the way with tales such as this, the happiness would not last. Life in Stromdorf remained hard, and slowly Konrad’s true nature seeped into their relationship. Arguments, strife and misery followed and not even the birth of twin boys helped. Konrad turned to alcohol to dampen his poor spirits and this in turn lead to violence.

As the twins grew older they began to feel Konrad’s wrath too. Ryland was the more confident brother, the one who stood up to their father and the one that was beaten the most. Michael was a quiet, sensitive boy who always tried to help his mother and often agreed to go along with his father’s wishes to avoid trouble.

This way of life continued for years, until the tenth name day of the twins. Outside the weather was particularly bad, even for Stromdorf standards. The doors rattled and the windows shook as a rampant storm took control of the streets. Ryland and Michael Jr. sat at the dinner table with their mother when Konrad burst in through the door. It was clear he’d been drinking and his eyes were as wild as the storm outside. Without a word he removed his belt and began to whip the two boys.

“HAPPY NAME DAY,” he bellowed. “I’M GLAD YOU’RE ALL SO HAPPY.”

“What’s wrong dear,” asked Lilith in little more than a squeak.

“STUPID MAGISTRATES COURT!” he screamed, tears streaming down his face. “THEY DON’T KNOW REAL TALENT.”

Michael took the lashes from the leather belt without a sound. But Ryland could take it no more. He waited for the right time. For the mistake. Then he acted.

Konrad brought the belt down with ferocious force towards the taller twin. As lightning flashed outside Ryland caught the belt and yanked it free of his father’s grip.

“No more,” he said in a low, dangerous voice.

“WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?” bellowed Konrad.

“You know who I am,” said the boy. “Say my name.”

“Ryland,” replied Konrad.

“No,” shouted Ryland. “Say my real name.”

The rage had disappeared from his voice now. Instead of anger, he looked scared. Michael watched on and silence fell over the tower home of the Konrad’s. The tension was palpable and his father looked like he was crumbling under the weight of Ryland’s words.

“I don’t know what you mean,” whimpered Konrad finally.

“SAY MY NAME!”

“I don’t know who you are,” cried the father.

He fell to his knees and sobbed uncontrollably.

With the belt in one hand Ryland reached behind him and pulled out a peeling knife and approached the wretched man.

“Don’t do it Ry,” Michael said meekly.

“I’m tired of it,” replied his brother. “It ends, now.”

“Do it Ryland,” snapped their mother in an unusually harsh tone. “Finish it.”

“He’s our father,” cried Michael.

“Not for long,” said Ryland in a voice as cold as ice.

The little boy brought the knife up and with a scream plunged it into Konrad’s neck. Crimson blood spewed from the wound and the old man’s face turned white.

“STOPPPP!!” screamed Michael.

A blinding white light erupted from the tower top. Bricks scattered to the ground below as smoke rose in the opposite direction. In the former living room of the Konrad family there lay two lifeless bodies. Mr. and Mrs. Konrad lay unmoved upon the charred floor. Next to them stood the twin boys. One covered in blood holding a knife, the other whose eyes burnt white with a whisp of smoke leaving his hands.

***

Years later two young wizards named Michael and Konrad joined the ranks of the Shadowmancers. The two never spoke and kept to their studies of the grey wind of magic. Similar in appearance Michael was smaller with palid skin. Konrad meanwhile had a full beard and an aged face.

Both wizards excelled in classes, but avoided contact with one another. The other members of class had heard rumours that they were related, but could find no evidence of a link other than their similar appearances. A young travelling wizard called Konrad Mauer spoke of his namesake “Shadowmancer Konrad is one of the most powerful and influential wizards of a generation. If he focuses his studies and learns to control his bouts of rage he could one day ascend to Grand Theogonist.”

Whether or not he could have risen that high is consigned to being historical curio, as exactly five years after starting training he left the Guild of Shadowmancers. Rumours persist of his betrayal and fall to the ruinous powers of chaos, but no evidence has revealed itself.

Even more strange is that Shadowmancer Michael also departed soon thereafter. It is thought that overwhelmed with the stresses of learning magic Michael simply returned to Stromdorf for a quiet life in the storm-ridden village.

***

Over a decade after his departure the former Shadowmancer Konrad resurfaced in the Northern Wastes around the City of Kislev. He was found by the city guard and his formerly muscular body had shrunk to little more than a slither. More terrifying was his face. The formerly aged man was covered in scar tissue and strange mutations. His only clothing a loincloth and a necklace with the initials M.A.L.E.K. upon them.

With a blanket wrapped around him, he was escorted back into the City. No sooner had the gates shut inside that the frail man suddenly burst back into life. He fired bolts of energy from his hands that raized the area around the main gate. He simply laughed as people ran screaming from his onslaught.

He then burnt the gates to the ground and beyond a tear appeared in the fabric of the air and daemons poured forth through the undefended gates. The conquest of Kislev would have been thoroughly successful had Elector Count Marius Leitdorf and Emperor Karl Franz not been in the City resigning the long-standing Peace Treaty with the Ice Queen.

Leading an impromptu counter attack they drove the daemons back out of the gates until only one remained.

“Speak your name sorcerer!” demanded the Emperor.

“I am Lord Malek, the All-Seeing,” he replied. “You will bow before me.”

“I am Emperor Karl Franz,” he boomed. “I kneel to know man.”

With that that Emperor brought the Hammer of Sigmar down towards the evil sorcerer. But it never struck its target. A bubble of glowing purple energy formed around Malek and deflected the blow. Then vines shot from the ground and wrapped themselves around the arms of the Emperor and the Elector Count.

Casually Malek strolled in front of his defenceless prey. Beyond them an entire regiment of Averheim Greatswords waited, ready to attack.

“You are beyond help now,” drawled the sorcerer. “Your titles and your weapons are no use against me and my Master. But the time is not right. Not yet.”

He then drew a symbol of purple energy in the air in front of him and blew through his malformed lips. The symbol split in two and marked the chests of the two incapacitated men. Malek then reached down and pulled the helmet and crown from the Elector Count and with a wave of his hand transformed it into a black and gold mask, which covered his entire head.

He leant in until only the two men could hear his words and whispered.

“He is rising.”

He gripped the amulet around his neck and with a CRACK, he disappeared into thin air.

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