The Curse of Perfect Memory
By: Fourtee
This story was originally submitted to Mythic!

“Take it out. Please.” The length of rusted, pitted steel in his side looked strangely innocuous as the bright late afternoon sun sidestepped the dense canopy overhead. The man moaned gently as the dwarf carefully slid the filthy sword of a knight of the Lord of Decay out and began to inspect the wound.

“It’s not so bad Lutz.” The dwarf paused. “We’ll have to wait and see.”

“At least if I die it won’t be like them.” Lutz looked pointedly at his companion. “Okri?” Okri nodded gently as he remembered the twisted bodies pooled in their own blood and filth in the village behind him, bones snapped and disjointed by the spasms caused by the foul contagion.

“Are you sure he’s dead?” Lutz poked his chin over to what looked like a heap of scrap metal ten yards away.

“It’s stopped moving after I cut all its limbs off. That’s all I can really tell.” A long silence developed as the two looked at the bodies all about them. Lutz grunted slightly as he turned his shoulder toward his companion.

“Wool-gathering, Okri? How unlike a dwarf!” A smile creased Lutz’s eyes though his mouth remained taut. Okri sighed.

“I was thinking of one of our first wanderings, back when Dieter was alive- in Badeldorf? I heard in Altdorf it was burned to the ground by the Bretonnians. Makes you wonder why we bothered.” Okri looked down on Lutz’s blank face and snorted in amusement. “You sons of Sigmar- you are so lucky that the past days of your life slip between your fingers like the finest sand.”

“That must’ve been thirty years ago. I was barely a man. You can’t expect me to remember every detail,” Lutz said testily, pulling his clothes tighter around him as his body grew taut.

Okri scowled and looked sternly at Lutz as he said, “Imagine, manling, never forgetting a moment of your life. Imagine.” Okri winced at Lutz’s dreamy face and unfocused eyes, the hand going for the faded canvas portrait in his breast pocket and flicked a disdainful denial with his broad hand.

“Oh yes, yes, the good times so clear, so true. Lotte’s face on the day you first saw her, the laughter of good friends, the tavern brawls you won and maybe even some you lost. But these are not good times for my people. Imagine, every injury done you, every harsh word, every defeat, every dead comrade, every horror, every humiliation etched in crystal in your mind’s eye to ponder on, not just for sixty, seventy years but for long centuries, eating away at you every day. You men wonder why we are so dour? Why we drink? Why there are those of us- the weakest, or perhaps the strongest, who shave their heads, ink their faces and go to find death? There is your answer.”

“Why? Why are you telling me this?” Okri shushed him gently.

“These are twilight times. One day, soon by our understanding of time, what is left of my people will seek refuge in the Empire as the last holds are overrun and our spirit will slip away with them. It will be the end for us, though you’ll hear no dwarf ever say it.”

“Nonsense. The old alliance holds. The walls of Karaz-a-Karak are as thick as your head.” Lutz blinked rapidly and held his arms tight across his chest as he shivered.

“It’s true, but it’s not the point. I want you to realize that I’ll never forget you.” Lutz laughed and spluttered, wiping the red stain in his palm down his sweat soaked tunic.

“Damn it all.” The dwarf shook his head sadly and Lutz closed his eyes. “What will you do now? Promise me you won’t go back to the village.”

“Oh, we’re not affected by this plague, manling.”

“But you’ll always remember,” groaned Lutz. Okri nodded. Lutz shook in despair as well as spasm. “I’m so sorry, my friend. Turn away. I won’t have this trouble you for the rest of your days. Turn away, please. Go. Go!” Lutz’s voice was strained and robbed of clarity by the unmoving muscles of his face, held in a fixed, pained grin.

“No,” Okri barked, his hard stare bored into Lutz’s eyes, unflinching, “I can’t. I will always remember. It is our way. It is our curse.”

“I’m just–going for a quick stroll.” Lutz tried feebly to get to his feet and stumble away. Okri grabbed the back of Lutz tunic and pulled him to the ground, standing over his juddering, soaked body.

“Can’t let–won’t—enough, go!” Lutz struggled to control his violently shuddering limbs, gasping for breath and against the pain as his skin split and he voided himself. Okri picked up his axe and stood over his friend. “Forget!” the word was torn from broken vocal cords, sounding more daemon than man. Okri shook his head mournfully. The axe fell.

“I will always remember.”

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