Objectives, Locations, Spoils & You

As the eleventh hour draws near, we wanted to take a minute and give you a crash course through the nitty-gritty of how winning the campaign works- and finally reveal the map of Amasya (finishing touches courtesy of NEO Duncan H.):

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As you can see, there are 9 Locations, every one of which is strategically important to different coalitions. These are broken down as follows, and distributed both narratively (capturing every coalition’s primary objective is their main purpose for being here) and strategically; no location is repeated more than twice for balance:

Big Eat – Gorkoyuk PRIMARY, Karanlik Saray & Grung Esik SECONDARY

Skoga Grakk – Nagaskahip PRIMARY, Teselli Alari & Gorkoyuk SECONDARY

Delegation – Azyrhol PRIMARY, Yol Grimnir & Grung Esik SECONDARY

Varanpact – Isik Kulesi PRIMARY, Karanlik Saray & Rahipmezar SECONDARY

Horde – Teselli Alari PRIMARY, Isik Kulesi & Yol Grimnir SECONDARY

Reclamation – Rahipmezar PRIMARY, Nagaskahip & Azyrhol SECONDARY

When reporting battles, PAY ATTENTION TO THE OBJECTIVES- IT’S WIN OR LOSE.  When reporting closes at 11pm EST on Sunday, June 2nd, the winners will be judged as follows:

Total Victory – Capture 6 or more locations
Strategic Victory – Capture all 3 of your coalition’s key locations
Tactical Victory – Capture your coalition’s primary key location
Pyrrhic Victory – Capture one of your coalition’s secondary locations

Capturing and defending locations is also important for your Spoil yield:

Capture Objective = Low Yield, Defend Objective = High Yield

Capture Neutral = High Yield, Defend Neutral = Low Yield

Taking and holding your objectives will pay more Spoils to your faction the following campaign day- but there’s also a benefit in raiding locations which are not one of your three objective locations, as they’ll pay a higher number of Spoils on the turn you capture them than one of your objective locations- but you shouldn’t feel obligated to continue reporting there after you’ve captured it.

Going into Turn 1 on May 31st, every coalition will begin the campaign with 30 Spoils and have already captured the following locations:

Big Eat captured Karanlik Saray
Skoga Grakk captured Gorkoyuk
Delegation captured Grung Esik
Varanpact captured Rahipmezar
Horde captured Isik Kulesi
Reclamation captured Nagaskahip

Farming Spoils is important, as we’re asking for the following Allegiance Abilities to be in effect at every #AnimosityI event. These are intended to add cinematic flair to your army; for list-building purposes, expect to never have fewer than 20 Spoils on any given campaign day.

Hero of Yore – You may purchase any number of Command Traits and Artefacts that would normally be available to any HERO, either from the Grand Alliance allegiance abilities, your Battletome’s allegiance abilities, Malign Sorcery, and your Coalition. You may purchase your first trait or artefact in this way for 1 Spoil, doubling the cost for each subsequent trait or artefact. Your second trait or artefact will cost 2 Spoils; your third will cost 4, your fourth 8, and so on.)

Arcane Power Untold – You may choose to purchase Endless Spells normally available to you using Spoils; if you do so, disregard their Matched Play points values. Instead, Endless Spells will cost a number of Spoils equal to the first number of their points value, or first two numbers if the Endless Spell costs more than 100 points. This also applies to Magmic Invocations and Judgements of Khorne. (example: a Skaventide Bell of Doom costs 40 points, and thus would cost 4 Spoils. However, a Skaventide Warp Lightning Vortex costs 100 points, and would therefore cost 10 Spoils.)

Friends Among Foes – You may choose to field any faction in your Coalition as an ally, even if you would not normally be allowed to select that faction as an ally.

Strange Bedfellows – You may choose to replace a unit’s faction keyword (example: Wanderers) with another faction keyword (example: Stormcast Eternals) for 6 Spoils. Add +2 Spoils for every 5 models in this unit, +3 Spoils for every 5 models with 2-3 wounds per model, or +2 Spoils for every additional model with 4 or more wounds per model. This also changes that unit’s Grand Alliance keyword to match their new Faction keyword.

So there you have it! We want to thank all the support and energy you guys have put into this so far, and thank you for your patience as we’ve been pulling it together on our end. Also, for any registered NEOs reading this, please expect an update email tonight. Thanks again!

 

Skoga Grakk Intro – Wapkagut

Some weeks ago

Like a mortuary shroud pulled across a cadaver, the night sky had disappeared, lost in a bank of fog. Pounded into muck by the iron-shod tread of two belligerent adversaries, the battlefield had once been a meadow, its gentle, babbling creeks now choked with blood and mangled corpses.

Impatient, Wapkagut tapped out a beat with his foot, his toes slapping against a puddle that was more effluvia than mud. The fight had been a proper scrap, but even an Ironjaw could see it wasn’t going well. It had been a meeting engagement, not a pitched battle.On the warpath, there was little which could impede the momentum of a Ironjaw brawl and a Beastclaw Alfrostun- yet a wall of insensate Blightkings and a thundering counter-charge of Khornate Juggernauts were among them. Now those same foes lay slain about the warchanter, bodies heaped atop the orruk dead they’d killed only moments before.

Wapkagut grunted out percussion notes under his breath, his thick, his stikks shaking in his twitching grasp. The greenskin’s need to bash something hung in the chill pre-dawn air like a static charge.

Just as Wapkagut and his ‘ardest boyz made to take the Chaos lads with them, the sky- clear as a winter’s night, until that moment- seemed to fall and crash into the bloodied waters of the meadow. From the burning light came steam and mist, even as the forest upon the valley’s mountains seemed to close in about the clashing armies. The sound of furious combat grew muffled and distant, and Wapkagut had been left with nobody to krump, the foes he’d been at grips with moments before disappearing into the mist.

Confused and angry, some of his Waaagh! had found their way back to Wapkagut through the mists. As what remained of the Sovanheng Alfrostun came up behind him, the mist began to freeze and fall, melting as it settled on the still-hot bodies of the recently slain and adding to the bloody quagmire.

The Sovanheng Frostlord gave a bellow of alarm and urged his Stonehorn forward as four figures emerged from the mist before Wapkagut- only to yank back the reigns at a snarl and a raging glare from the Warchanter. Looking back to the strangers, the warchanter sized them up, the cunnin’ of Mork piquing the greenskin’s curiosity.

One was of the sea-aelves, a Tidecaster of the Isharann; another, a splinter-git Branchwraith, the type to turn an orruk’s entrails into extrails with a screeched incantation. Beside them was a small lizard-creature bedecked in feathers: a Starpriest of the Skink breed, and behind him, a Sunblood of the ‘ard Saurus breed. Wapkagut grunted in acknowledgement and stood his ground.

The Branchwraith’s voice was stern and sharp; the creak of old branches, swaying in the wind. “You trespass upon a glade sacred to the Gnarlroot, yet the Old King decrees our interests align this day.”

Her voice thin, fleeting like an ocean breeze, the Isharann’s words were clipped, unsteady- as though speech were not familiar to her.  “It same with enclaves of deep and constellations above. We are all share common purpose.”

Wapkagut snorted, and spit on the ground between them. “You ‘ear it too, dat it? Da big hole, were da drummin’ echoes?”

The Brachwraith and the Tidecaster nodded, while the Skink chirruped in agreement. The Sunblood behind him looked away, appearing distracted, agitated, as if listening to a sound that couldn’t be heard. Wapkagut could relate.

“It is a forgotten place, barren and hollow.” The Starpriest intoned, “a monument to death in the realm of life, yet discarded even by the king whom cannot die. It is a gnawing place of black and white, emptiness in the shape of civilization.”

“We’z gonna knock it down, we iz,” Wapkagut barked, his patience for talk wearing thin. “Me an’ da lads, we gonna wreck it good. We gonna crash and bash, stomp an’ smash, ‘til they iz nothin’ left ta kick no more! Den we gonna toss all da rubble into da hole an’ shut it right up.” The twitching Ironjaw leaned forward, beady eyes narrowed, darting between the newcomers. “You’z lot in?”

Bowing in deference, the Starpriest stepped aside, its brawny Sunblood companion heaving forward to take the skink’s place. Wapkagut could feel the Waaagh! energy charge about him, the army at his back ready to crash down upon the Seraphon like an avalanche.

Yet the Sunblood gave no challenge, and instead raised up his maul and shield. With an ear-splitting roar, Saurus crashed them against each other and snarled a bestial call to arms.

“SKOGA GRAKK!”

Wapkagut’s features turned from a scowl to a gleeful, rictus grin, and with a throaty bellow, he took up the battlecry, his morkstikk and gorkstikk punctuating with ground-shaking force.

“SKOGA GRAKK! SKOGA GRAKK! SKOGA GRAKK!”

An icy wind whipped up, the first real breath of an encroaching Everwinter. The Waaagh! had lingered too long, and now surged forward like some great, charging behemoth, stampeding over the spot their new allies had appeared to stand mere moments before. They gave no thought as to why the strangers wanted Amasya destroyed, or how this alliance would fare once it was. There was only the next scrap to be had; what came after, didn’t matter.

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Reclamation Intro – Mithridates Alti

A Battlefield outside Amasya

“Is this all that remains to me, then?” Mithridates Alti looked down at the shattered skull with disdain. “Scraps and skeletons. We were born for greater than this, our line and our city, but the heathen hordes are ever-tenacious.” He sighed, and cast the bone away to join its brethren littering the field.

Every day, the Khornate dogs dug deeper and deeper into his flanks, leaving scenes like this one as monuments to their passage. When they had marched from Shyish, the ranks of naked bone had seemed unending, the wreckage of a dozen civilizations fueling his war effort- but days upon weeks of encounters like this had left his still-mighty host somewhat reduced.

It was only to be the Sigmarites. If even them, this early. As he had originally conceived it, this was to be only the first step in his revenge against the mewling hosts of Azyr. Once the seat of his father’s power was reclaimed, then his hosts would fall upon the God-King’s poor, deluded sheep like the Undying King’s own sword. And now…

“It never goes according to plan, does it.”

“You would know.” Mithridates’ ally had learned humility at Nagash’s own hands, long ago, and now Reikenor taught the same lesson to any who sought to challenge the Lord of Death’s dominion over the hereafter- such as the same storm-forged warriors that now marched to claim his prize. His own objective, Mithridates reflected, was at best secondary in the wraith’s eyes- Nagash’s reaper was doubtless just as happy to reclaim Sigmar’s pawns sooner than later. But they had to reach the city first. “So tell me then, sorcerer-king, how are we to break through?”

“Armor means little and less to my chill touch. Let me ride out with my hosts against the Khornates- there will be a great slaughter, but not a drop of blood spilled.” If the wraith had had any face beyond a death grin, he would have sworn he was smiling.

“The Lord of Rage would go mad with it,” Mithridates admitted. “And yet, these are bold words coming after your humiliation by Nurgle’s chosen, and they march in step with the Bloodbound. All Sarn would have to do is turn aside a portion of his host, and you would be stalemated until the end of time… and his hounds would still be free to bite at our heels.”

“Do you admit defeat, then, fallen priest?”

“Never.” Mithridates smiled. “I only think that this is a poor battle for either of us to fight… neither of our hearts lie on this field, and we ought to save our strength for the real wars to come. It’s time for someone else to bear our burden. Come.”

It was not far, by foot or by nightmarish steed, from the edge of the battlefield to where the priest-king’s retinue had made camp. In the center stood his own splendid gold-and-turquoise tent, and inside there was a woman. When he was a mortal man, Mithridates might have thought first that she was beautiful- now that he had transcended his mortality, he saw instead that she was deadly, like a masterwork Duardin blade or a howling tempest. Her posture bespoke utter ease concealing absolute awareness, and her hands were clear paragons of the murderer’s craft. He dipped his head in greeting.

“Well met, Queen Aorii.” She smiled in turn. “I have a task for you.”

“Honestly, I wondered if you had forgotten us.” The Hag Queen appeared artfully unconcerned. “Even under the God-King’s thumb, my sisters have given more sacrifice to the Lord of Murder than we have since we joined your march.”

“Then it’s good that you are here now. I have a task worthy of your mettle.” As Mithridates explained the Khornate threat, her eyes widened, and her cultivated nonchalance couldn’t hide her anticipation of the battles to come. “Can the Daughters of Khaine put the foe to flight?”

“Gladly. The cauldrons will sing with our victory.” And she left the tent without a further word for man or wraith- but when she was gone, Reikenor turned to his companion.

“When I asked to fight the enemy, your concern was that I would break myself on Nurgle’s warriors. And yet you spoke not a word of the Plague God to her.”

The last hierophant of Amasya shrugged. “I told you because I wanted to stop you from plunging into a battle that would tie you to a single point. I was silent with her because she can and will plunge as it pleases her, and I have no intention of dampening her enthusiasm. If she succeeds against the odds, she and her warriors will have proven their worth. If not, we have lost nothing but a noisy distraction- she will expend herself against the Horde, and when there is nothing left they will die. As do we all.”

“And in the meantime-”

“The march can continue.” Mithridates smiled grimly. “You will shepherd the Deathrattle and the Deadwalkers forward. Guard the flanks, and make sure that no one else can worry away at them before the host reaches the city proper.”

“And you?”

“Will be leading the van. It’s only right, that my Blood Knights should have the first taste of combat against the usurpers.”

“Mannfred’s Blood Knights.” Again, if Reikenor had had a face to smile it might have been smirking. “Not yours.”

“No.” Mithridates thought of all the motley forces he had begged, bribed and stolen for this army, none of whose loyalties were to him. “Not yet.”

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War Story – The Kriegsrat

Submitted by Paul B. of WV

The Kriegsrat

Dramatis Personae

  • Oberon Brightblade, Lord-Celestant

  • Titania Thundersworn, Lord-Arcanum

  • Faustus Dawncaller, Lord-Relictor

  • Wolfgang Skysplitter, Lord-Ordinator

  • Sabine Wolfsoul, Knight-Zephyros

  • Klaus Starstrike, Knight-Venator

  • Alveblade Runeshaper, Knight-Incantor

  • Günter Stormcaller, Knight-Heraldor

Laying low in a valley of Shyish can be found the bustling metropolis of Anvilheim, and at the city’s heart stands Himmelsplitter, a stormkeep of the Anvils of the Heldenhammer. Deep within its mighty walls is a room, barren of all décor save markings of the cardinal and ordinal points in the chamber’s center. Here stand eight mighty warriors, clad in armor of black and gold, and all helmless with one exception. At the cardinal points stand the Lords of this stormkeep, and at the ordinal points, the Knights.

Faustus Dawncaller raised his reliquary and tapped the pommel against the flagstones, calling the conclave to order.“Now that we are gathered, the Kriegsrat may begin.”The Lord-Relictor gestured toward Oberon Brightblade, who acknowledged with a nod.

“My thanks, Faustus.” Oberon said, stepping forward. “First, I would ask a moment of silence for our fallen brother, Lord-Veritant Amauth Ravenmane.” He held a mailed fist up to his chest, and those around him did the same. “Let us pray his reforging soon returns him to our number.” All present bowed their head in respect, comforted in the knowing their comrade would stand among them once more.

“And now, unto the business at hand.” Oberon looked at each of the others in turn. “We have received an entreaty from one Seneschal-General Monique von Helminger.” Faustus spoke up first. “Von Helminger? Any relation to the House of Stars general that lost his men and his own life at the Hammerhides?” Oberon nodded, “The very same.”

Producing the letter, Oberon read aloud. “With the authority vested in me by the Grand Conclave of Hammerhal, I bid you join the Sigmarsmacht Delegation in the grand undertaking that is the reconquest of Amasya, the hallowed necropolis.” The Lord-Celestant returned the letter to his belt as murmured conversation broke out among his compatriots. Oberon thought he’d caught a look of recognition from Titania Thundersworn as he read, but the Lord-Arcanum was now speaking in hushed tones with the Runeshaper. “We have a decision to make, brothers and sisters.” Oberon intoned, calling the council to order.

“In which Realm would we be waging war, Lord-Celestant? Where does this hallowed necropolis stand?” inquired Klaus. “Ghyran, brother.” Oberon answered, looking toward Faustus as the Lord-Relictor began to speak. “I do not denigrate the import of this undertaking, but what would make it significant enough to pull us away from the wars high Sigmaron has already tasked us with?”

A grim countenance swept over Oberon’s face. “The Basalt Lord.” The torchlight itself seemed to flicker and dim as a sour mood settled over the room. All knew of Lord-Veritant Ravenmane’s defeat by the hand of the Varanguard named Qarang Sarn; some present had even fought alongside him the day he was struck down by the Basalt Lord. The battle had been bitter, but the Anvils’ defeat was sealed by his death- and Oberon declared vengeance soon after.

This time, Faustus took note of the Lord-Arcanum’s demeanour. “Lady Titania, do you have something to say?” She glanced at the Lord-Relictor, unable to read his expression behind the skull mask. “Speak, sister. You are among friends. What do you know?”

Titania stepped forward, and told the Kriegsrat of purging a soulblight coven and discovering texts of hide and blood which also made mention of the hallowed necropolis. She spoke to memories of her mortal life, of a holy city and the great diversity it held. She recalled a young leader, the son of a high priest, who betrayed Sigmar in his hour of glory. “I know not of whom these visions behold,” Titania explained, “yet I feel compelled to seek this sacred city.” Bowing her head in deference, she stepped back to her cardinal point. After a long moment, Oberon spoke. “Lady Titania, you shall indeed to go Amasya, with the full strength of your Tempest Chamber.” Looking to Faustus, he continued. “Lord Dawncaller, you will accompany her with a detachment Warrior Chamber. Lady Wolfsoul,” he turned to the Knight-Zephyros, “You will take your fiercest hunter retinues and keep track of Sarn.” Sabine crashed her gauntlet to her chestplate in salute.

“As for the rest,” Oberon raised his tone almost to a battlecry, “you will accompany me and cast down all who oppose the Seneschal-General!” His words were met with a unanimous, crashing salute.

“Steel yourselves! The Soul Wardens march to war!”

“Zebrech sie auf dem Amboss!” the Kriegsrat answered as one.

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Da Big Eat Intro – da Maw dat Walkz

Among the “Big Eat”

It was… deliciously frightful, the way all the ingredients came together, each individual piece melting and mixing into the greater whole as Sibyl and her patron looked on. The Maw would never let her touch the brew while it was under flame, of course. But years and years of faithful tasting and testing had granted her a certain… supervisory trust, and she was permitted closer than any other could have come without fear of joining the meal.

They had stopped amidst the carnage of their most recent battle, not because they were beaten but because they were hungry. It had become a sort of a ritual as their motley crusade drew closer to their goal- after every engagement, Da Maw would read the fates in her cauldron, and cast her blessing over all even as each band among them in turn carried their offerings for the soup. Against the somber backdrop of the legions of crows descending on the battlefield, the night’s meal began to take form.

Sibyl had already given her contribution unto the pot. Lord Swilric had visited her earlier, bearing with him a pair of organs- one, the heart of a Duardin, the other of a Man. “Ah, my lady.” His rough lips brushed the back of her hand, and her own heart fluttered. “Look- from the very leaders of the rabble themselves! Both lie still… and yet ours beat together.” She had blushed at that. It must have been no mean task to seek these trophies out- once, she might have been apprehensive about such a gift, but now she was ravenously grateful. It was all she could do not to consume them then and there- but it wouldn’t do to spite the Maw, so into the cauldron they went.

The twin hearts had been the most symbolic contribution, she was convinced, but as size went they’d been dwarfed by what came immediately after- a gaggle of the… well, she had once seen them as brutes, she admitted, but every day they were more alike to champions in her eyes. They had come bearing the great bones of the Duardin chief’s beast, heroically slain on the field of battle, and the Maw had cracked them open to marinate and add their marrow to the brew, turning it a deep brown.

And then- Sibyl smiled at the memory- there had been the Grot. Laden down with spider eggs, he had proudly declared his burden a present “from da Unbreakable”, only for the Maw to scoop him up with one bladed prosthetic and toss him in along with his gifts. He should have known better than to come so close to the cauldron… from far off, she’d seen the Boss Git, and he’d given her a smirking, exaggerated salute even as the eggs and their silk dissolved into the soup. He was a gentleman, and a scoundrel, she reflected.

The other group of beast-hunters’ contribution had seemed a trifle… strange, to her, when she first saw it. It was no secret that the green-skinned and frost-skinned hunters had a fierce if jovial rivalry, and since the former had brought such a mighty offering she had thought that the latter’s tribute to the cauldron would be more than a single woman. But as they drew nearer she realized- it was not a Man, but an Aelf, and one who bore the marks of a priestess of their shadow-god no less. The hunters must have ranged far and struck fiercely to capture her- no wonder they thought the Hag Queen worthy tribute.

The camp stilled as she was drawn near to the cauldron- her eyes were wide, and she began to struggle, clearly realizing what fate awaited her. “No! Blasphemy! You fools- you cannot deny Khaine his due!” She was lifted bodily by the Ogors flanking her, to be dropped before the Maw. “For this, my temple will kill and kill again, until you are all tributes to the Lord of Murder!”

For a moment, Sibyl’s patron regarded the Aelf curiously, and then nodded. “Be purified”, she said in a basso voice. Then she struck, almost faster than sight, impaling the Hag Queen through the heart with one of her meathook-hands. The Aelf died instantly, face contorted into a furious expression, and the Maw nodded to herself again before plunging the bleeding corpse into the now-bubbling stew. At once, the broth began to foam and boil, and a pungent cloud wafted out of the cauldron and into the ranks of onlookers, carrying with it a heady scent suggesting sweat and offal. Sibyl’s stomach growled in an unladylike fashion, and she knew that she wasn’t the only one for whom the brew had already stoked a deep, gnawing hunger.

The Maw leaned over the edge of the cauldron, pensive, staring into its depths, and Lady Sibyl craned her neck to see as well- but all that appeared to her was broth and bubbles. Still, her patron seemed to find something more than that in the swirl of ingredients, because she smiled broadly and turned to the assembled.

“We continue da march!” A whoop escaped Sibyl’s throat, before she blushed and placed one hand over her mouth. Other members were not so restrained, though, and the camp echoed to their clamor. “We is gonna go to Amasya. We is gonna butcher all dat stands in our way, so da cauldron tells me. An’ dere, we is gonna find da maw dat will eat da wurld. And when we wins… when we wins, we is never gonna be hungry again.”

The Big Eat roared even louder then, but it was lost to Sibyl as the Maw turned and smiled benevolently on her, nodding. A spoonful of the brew was gone in an instant, followed by another and another, until she was lapping it straight out of her hands even as it ran down her cheeks into her decolletage. It was most undignified, but she could hardly have cared less- only her patron’s hand on her shoulder caused her to pull away.

“Good, eh? It gonna get better, though. When we gets to Amasya… den, den after da final battle, we is gonna eats da gods demselves, in da greatest feast da world has ever known.” The Maw’s words sent a shudder through Sibyl, and she closed her eyes, imagining the entire world swirling down into the pot, mixing together into one rich and creamy broth. It was… frightfully delicious.

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The hunting had been good, and a butchered sky-whale even now rested in their hold, but Angeja Brasshook had not donated anything to the stew, and she forbade any of her crew from joining in the festivities. So long as the pods and herds continued to follow Da Maw dat Walks, so would they… but it was one thing to be a member of the Big Eat, and another entirely to lose yourself in the Maw’s dogma like all the rest of the army. There was something unnatural about that filthy cauldron, something beyond the Maw’s natural charisma, and she wanted no part of it.

Besides… it was more than passing strange, wasn’t it, the way their leader dragged that ghoul around like a faithful dog, singing her praises. No, they would follow, unto the gates of Amasya and beyond if there was wealth to be had- but the Kharadron had always kept their own council.

War Story – Snotgrin and Bloodblossom

Written by Peter C. of Chicago

On the warpath toward Amasya

“Drum, drum, drum, drum, tum-tum, tum-tum, tum-tum, tum-tum!” The giggling speck of green wound its way through the marching horde, provoking mirth and derision in equal measure from the members of they that called themselves the Skoga Grakk. “Stab it, kill it, break it, smash it, murder mangle grab-an-bash it!”

Most of the mirth came from the greenskins. Most of the derision came from the Deepkin. The Seraphon and the Sylvaneth, if they noticed Snotgrin at all, were unruffled by the diminutive poet’s manic chanting.

“Free, key, earth, sea!” He darted between massive feet- boots that might have crushed him were carefully turned aside, feet and fins that might have joyfully stabbed him gingerly drawn away. The Orruks had no desire to incur Wapkagut’s wrath by harming the unusually eloquent grot, while the sea-aelves still remembered what had happened to the Namarti who had thought to shut Snotgrin up. It had taken hours.

“Scramble, bramble, up da tree!” Following his own advice, the greenskin made his way nimbly up the trunk of a mulberry tree, coming to rest in the fork of two branches. There he sat, surveying the army passing below him, feet kicking happily back and forth- until a knob of the tree detached itself and crept down towards him.

“Ichor.” The spite’s skin was barklike, and its eyes red and downright malevolent. “Chyme.”

“Flower, rain, dirt an’ mud. Power, pain, guts an’ blood!”  With that introduction behind them, the two settled into a companionable sort of silence for a moment, before-

“Thorns.” The spite- Bloodblossom- extended a single twiggy finger to point at the towers barely visible on the horizon. “Buds. Pus.”

“Maws gnash, claws slash, thunder crash, hammer bash!” The pair shared what might otherwise have been called a knowing glance, before turning back to the city in the distance.

“Roots.”

“Roots, shoots, stones, caves…”

“Rot.”

“Rot, hot burnin’ blaze!” Snotgrin began to giggle incessantly again, loud enough that some heads in the camp turned briefly towards him. “Da flames! Da flames!”

“Blossoms.” The spite’s face twisted into a vicious smile. “Flowers.”

“Blood an’ mud! Blood an’ mud!” Overexcited, the snotling jumped down, landing nimbly on the ground and dancing in a circle, whooping and hollering. “Blood, mud, snot and green!” Behind him the spite crept down the trunk, and then sprang deceptively quickly after the tiny green ball of energy. “Gore an’ guts, wipe it clean! Da flames! Da flames!”

And if any had thought to look closely at the shadows of the pair capering on the edge of the mob, they might have seen that the snot’s silhouette had two heads, and there were massive leafy wings spreading over the spite…

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Varanpact Intro – Irkut the Spineless

As war encroaches upon the hallowed necropolis, Varanpact figurehead Irkut “the Spineless” seeks advantage in the coming battle by any means… and reveals more than even a disciple of Tzeentch can comprehend.

Near Amasya

Eight of flesh, one of tree

From the gods of earth and sea

Four almighty hear our plea

Chaos’ grasp shall set us free

The music of Slaanesh rose above the Varanpact encampment, the rhapsodic, animating, maddening harmony of a thousand servants of the Chained Prince all rendering worship through voices and bodies and instruments of immortal bone and sinew. Even as the symphony swelled, it was met and matched by the constant, lonely wind of the valley that had dogged their path and filled the quiet moments for a week or more. Desire and despair, sensation and emptiness combined, all set in counterpoint in a perfect fugue of Realm and Empyrean to which the camp inexorably danced.

For Irkut Thousandeyes, it was all noise. What use was the dance, when the center was all that truly mattered? Mounted on his war-steed, he need not spare a glance for the daemonettes, nor the gibbering horrors that added their own insistent hoot-chirp-grumble to the mix. Like the carpet of vermin that swirled about their feet, the dancers would move or they would be crushed. The center was all that mattered.

And what a center! Flesh and bone, shoot and stem had been woven together, such that they who had entered his unwilling service as ten prisoners taken from the Skoga Grakk had become a single oracle, channeling counsel and warnings direct from the lips of the Gods. There were orbs of warpstone where their eyes once lay, and he wondered what it was the amalgam now saw- but only briefly. What was important, he would know soon enough, what was particular, he need never know. The center was all that mattered.

Let us see, let us see

Past and future your decree

All that is and what will be

Truth beneath reality

“Oracle!” His voice echoed over the camp, and he was pleased that the ever-present noise still muted somewhat. The center was what mattered. “Show me the future. Tell me what lies ahead in the city.”

The construct heaved, individual parts writhing around the great wooden beast that made up its center, before one of the creatures suspended on the periphery opened its mouth. “Seneschal, they call her. Starhammer and Commander and Queen, they honor her, but she bears only steel, and what she wields hangs by a single thread.”

“Yes.” The warhosts of the God-Who-Failed were as conniving as a sorcerer’s palace. “Tell me more.”

Light flared in another pair of empty eyes. “He strikes, and he hears, but where he strikes once he hears twice, and it drives him mad. We heard and we followed, but now we hear and follow the same voice but a different master. Coming, they are coming, earth and sea and green, coming to destroy.”

Irkut smiled. Had the beasts known that what he took from them would be their undoing? “More. What more do you see?”

A third struggled to escape its fellow parts, as though some remnant of individuality remained. “The great foe beheld a vision once, but he did not see this place. What is painted has become real, but what is real is just a memory. But memories stand grander than ruins, and this one towers. It was a hall, but now it is hollow. Yet even empty things may hold secrets inside, and this one is rife with them.”

Was this how Khornates felt, when they scented blood? He urged his mount to circle the oracle, peering into its distant gaze, waiting expectantly.

“What is known can be false, and what is closed can be open, and what is forbidden can be free- and so it has become. Once it was whole, but now it is crumbled, once it stood tall, but now it is stooped, once it was white, now it is stained. Drink a little, and it will teach- drink deeply, and it will damn, but damnation is only a danger to the weak.”

“And I am strong.” He bared his teeth, and despite himself his heart pounded in anticipation. “Continue.”

“Sixth and last.” This part was smaller, and had perhaps only been a child when it was fused in to the greater whole. Irkut had to lean in to hear its fading voice.  “From Heaven, his line fell, but death swallowed him willingly- and to what end? Only power, but he names it righteousness. He waited from dawn to dawn, and now he comes in darkness, blood within and blood without, and in darkness he will be met at last. And yet-”

“-not all who fall can rise.” The next piece of the oracle took up the phrase seamlessly. “Tombs within tombs, houses on houses, living stone to contain dead men. Once many voices sounded, but now only one is heard, and silence lays thick within the earth. He will emerge, and when he has come he will reap, and the last shall know joy and despair in equal measure. Know it to be true.”

They were speaking faster and faster now, and the words had barely entered Irkut’s mind when the seventh piece of flesh spoke.

“In darkness they have waited, and in darkness they shall be met- earth and sea, earth and heaven. A palace it is called, and a palace it remains, no longer fit for a king but perhaps enough for a priest- but which priest shall take it?”

“Enough!” The piece’s voice came to a halt. “Tell me of something else, something besides long-dead holy men.”

“Earth and sea, yet he is stone.” The eighth and final had an almost… sly look to it, and Irkut knew better than to believe he was seeing things. “He speaks, and they laugh, they speak, and he laughs, and yet they follow him the same. Why should they vary, when he has the gods’ voice? Wrath and ruin, he is coming, they are coming, but he comes in blindness and in ignorance.”

“Ha! Oh, Sarn… Aptly described.” His thoughts were drifting elsewhere when the Oracle spoke again.

“The center bends until the whole breaks.” The bound tree-beast holding up the other parts flexed and shook, and the whole oracle shook with it. “The center bends and strays, and the whole is lost. He sees all but cannot see himself, for he has not vision. Thousandeyes he calls himself, but he will be named Spineless, for he bends, he bends, he bends as he searches, and he hates, he hates, he serves what he hates…”

“He hates! Spineless, he serves, spineless, he hates!” All the parts cried out in unison, echoing through the camp, and like a thunderhead boiling out of a blue sky Irkut’s mood fouled.

“Tear it down!” Daemonette and horror alike leaped at his command, and the oracle burst into flame- but even as it died, it screamed after him-

“Spineless he bends, spineless he strays, spineless he hates!” But it was all noise, in the end. Let the accursed thing spit its invectives and curses. The center was all that mattered.

What will be, what will be

Truth will bind and set us free

Through fiery animosity

Nemesis’ sovereignty

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