Submitted by Rob W. of MD
On the Trail to Amasya
Madrax Kane sat his manticore on the side of the trail the Gorehorde Pilgrims used to make their way through the Realm of Ghyran. Sweat ran in rivers down his chest. A biting fly worked at the back of his neck. After the dry harsh heat of Ashqy, the humidity of jungle they now found themselves in was almost unbearable.
SMACK! The fly left a smear of blood on his hand that he licked away.
“Careful, some might consider that blasphemy here.”
Madrax grunted a laugh “I doubt that fly was a faithful Grandchild”
Noxious Bilerot, Lord of Afflictions chuckled. A wet crackling gurgling sound.
They had found Noxious Bilerot two days after passing through the Realmgate. He had lived in Ghyran his whole life. His tribe of Maggotkin had tended Grandfather’s garden for generations. Their cultivation of rot and decay was a wonder to behold. Their dedication to Nurgle was unfaltering. When the Gorehorde’s scouts found him on the side of the trail, alone and bleeding, he was tenderly caring for a colony of maggots that was eating the rot from a festering wound in his side. Bilerot proclaimed that when he died his rot would birth a great forest of decay that would bolster the beauty of the entire realm. However, he did not die there on the side of the trail. The Ruinous Powers smiled upon Noxious Bilerot. The maggots cleaned the wound and grew into the flies that now buzzed around the both of them.
The army that Noxious was a part of had been destroyed. They had been ambushed by a great many Orruk’s. What made the battle so one sided is that an Orruk fist had never been in that part of the Realm. Their presence was completely unexpected. So, when Noxious and his companions stumbled upon them the Orruk smashed them to pieces. Noxious rambled about how a fog came over the field of battle and the only thing that saved him was his rot fly.
They were slowly making their way to the interior of the realm. The Realms Edge was a tangled jungle of huge trees and vines with undergrowth so thick a man vanished from site if he strayed from the path. Violent magical storms raged every day, hurling arcane energies in all forms above the canopy or bursting from the ground. Once a huge purple skull threatened to annihilate half his host. If it were not for the combined powers of the Slaughterpriests chanting madly his entire crusade could have been undone before it even started.
And a crusade it now was. He may have led the Gorehorde through the Flamescar Realmgate to Ghyran to find Qarang Sarn. To fight beside him, to learn from him. To grow as a faithful disciple to the Blood God. He did not need to find him now. He knew he was going to Amasya. He had never heard of the ancient necropolis before Bilerot told him of it. At the time he did not care. But as Noxious Bilerot told Madrax of the ruins of Amasya; how a Temple of Skulls once stood, and fountains of blood flowed to honor Khorne, and how the Grandfather’s garden grew around
the temple from the offerings of body and blood. How Garden and Temple coexisted in perfect chaos, a true tribute to rot and rage. Madrax knew that coming here was not mere chance, not a mere whim to meet a great Lord of Chaos. No, this was divine intervention. Khorne himself set him on this path. To bring glory back to Temple and Garden. Noxious admitted that Temple and Garden could just be a myth, but they both agreed that it should be, and it would be if they had anything to do with it.
The armed host of the Gorehorde had past. Madrax and Noxious now watched the tribespeople move past. Crag Gorespittle was carrying two small children, a boy and a girl. He was telling them with great zeal how Korghos Khul killed the Daemon Prince of Orb Infernia. Crag always had time for a story with the little ones. They would grow hard, strong and brave under his tutelage. The boy might grow to be a great orator of Khorne in his own right while the girl would certainly bless the tribe with many strong warriors. He looked at the faces of the tribespeople as they past. Women of childbearing years known as he Mothers, children not of age, slaves, captives and overseers. One of the older boys, not quite old enough to start the Trial of Skulls, oversaw some captives. The miserable lot was chained by the neck. This group of sixteen were headed to the alter tonight. A great honor for the young man to hold. Madrax did not see old faces. The old had no place in Khornate society. There was no such thing as an old warrior. Everyone dies in battle. Even the Mothers rode in battle to die honorably once their motherly duties were over, aside from the Elder Mothers of course. Those eight women managed the tribe.
An outrider was approaching quickly from the head of the procession. The man tumbled out of his saddle before the horse had fully stopped and knelt before Madrax.
“MY LORD! We have spotted the enemy!” the man panted heavily. “a large column of Seraphon is moving along the edge of a swamp less than a league from here! They did not see us.” he finished proudly
“Very good.” Madrax turned to Noxious. “These could be the bloodless lizards who destroyed your host. Care to take a look?”
Without waiting for an answer Madrax heeled his manticore. With three beats of its wings it was soaring above the heads of the tribespeople. He paused to tell the Elder Mothers to stop and make camp. Noxious caught up as Madrax was deploying a rear guard to protect the tribe. With that done they both flew to the front.
The flight was short. They landed in a small clearing where a vanguard of heavy cavalry was forming.
“My Lord,” the Skullhunter from the lead unit of skullcrushers approached. “Khorne has granted us a great opportunity to claim many heathen skulls today.”
“Where are they?” Madrax demanded gruffly.
The Skullhunter turned his juggernaut and led them to the edge of the clearing where he dismounted and started down a narrow path through the trees. Madrax and Noxious also dismounted and followed. Abruptly, their guide got down on his stomach and squirmed through a small hole in the undergrowth just in front of them. The Lords did the same.
Vorak was there on the other side of the hole, up a short incline. Hunkered down and hidden behind a long, low hill he was peering intently across a large expanse of tree dotted hillside. About a quarter mile way was the column of Seraphon. It was a fairly large host moving parallel to the Gorehorde’s path heading to the interior of the Realm.
“Report.” Madrax demanded of Vorak.
“They outnumber us by half, at least. Nothing we can’t handle.” Vorak said with wry smile.
“What do you propose?”
“We have them outmaneuvered already. If we attack the tail end of the column, they can only turn one way to face us because the swamp denies them a left-hand turn. Once they commit the front of column we hit them from the flank.” Vorak expertly deduced the tactical situation.
Madrax nodded in approval. The Hunter had left and was now leading Roc Shatterhammer the Skullgrinder of the Gorehorde and Crag Gorespittle up the low hill. When they arrived Madrax laid out the plan.