The Gorehorde attack on the rear of the Seraphon column went according to plan, initially. Madrax led the cavalry in a devastating charge that completely crushed a hastily formed rearguard line. The ranks of lizard warriors reformed quickly but Madrax continued to push hard. Gore Drinker, Madrax’s Chaos forged daemon blade rent bone and pierced flesh. The manticore was tearing lizardmen apart with blood dripping claws. Outrider spears fell in a deadly rain of steel. The Skullcrushers wheeled and charged again, punching a hole through the line. The Ironhorde knights were right on their heels. It appeared as though his attack was about to roll the whole Seraphon column. Madrax stood in his stirrups and studied the land to his front. The main host of the Seraphon was turning to the right to form lines of battle. Just as Vorak had predicted the swamp prevented any other movement. They formed a line of attack but were not advancing. They just sat at the far end of the shallow valley. The remains of the rearguard were in full retreat to that line.
A strange stillness settled over the battlefield.
“Kane,” It was Noxious. He reined in his rot fly next to Madrax. “This is not right. This is what happened when my host was destroyed.” He pointed to their left at a bank of fog starting to roll in from the swamp. “There is death in that fog. We need to regroup.”
Madrax wheeled on Bilerot, however his derision for cowardice froze on his lips. Noxious Bilerot’s black eyes pierced Madrax. There was determination in those hard eyes, concern yes but not fear.
“Tell me, QUICKLY” Madrax demanded. The lesser lord knew his place and gave a quick account.
“During a fight with Orruk, we were flanked by a force of aelves that came out of a fog that looked just like THAT.” He pointed his sword hatefully at the fog to emphasize his point. “It was a trap.”
Well, Madrax considered, a trap must be sprung.
“Noxious,” Madrax spoke quickly. “find the Gorechosen in the clearing. Tell the Slaughterpriests to lead the bloodreavers in the center. The Deathbringers will take the heavy infantry and secure our left flank. Tell them to attack when the trap is well sprung. You make sure they come quickly. I will be hard pressed by that time I think.”
Madrax knew the gamble he just made. He was putting a lot of faith in his new companion as well as the rest of the Gorechosen. It was a prime opportunity for a coup. His infantry could have been spotted already, the enemy in the fog could be of any size. He felt a strange confidence though. Like everything was going to work out the way it was in his head.
He watched Noxious Bilerot fly off and disappear behind the hill. It was time. The fog was getting close to the edge of the swamp. Waves of mist seemed roll in as if on a rising tide. The tang of salt and the rankness of a wharf filled the air. A black shape broke the surface of the fog then
disappeared back down below. Madrax thought it looked like a fin. He swore he heard the tolling of a boat’s bell.
Madrax set his line of cavalry. From right to left in a wedge; Ironhorde knights, himself and gorebeast chariots formed the tip of the wedge, then the skullcrushers on juggernauts. The marauders were in the middle of the wedge to provide fire support.
He set of at a walk, then a trot. 300 yards, 200; halfway to the Seraphon line. The fog began to hasten its advance. Whoever, whatever was in command of the fog was certainly licking its lips at the sight of its trap being sprung.
“CHARGE!” Madrax bellowed as he spurred the manticore into the air.
The entire line lurched forward at full speed, heading for the enemy line. Madrax climbed then dove the manticore into the secondary ranks of the enemy. A chariot smashed through the front rank and plowed into the lizards reeling from a manticore suddenly appearing in their midst. Gorebeast tore limbs off and trampled the bodies to a pulp. The Ironhorde knights were with him as they drove deeper into the lizard line. To his left the skullcrushers were keeping pace. Marauder javelins rained down.
Then the fog crashed on them like a wave upon rocks. His field of vision was suddenly reduced to a few paces. Sounds of fighting rang out all around him. He pulled his lance out of the smoking hole in a Seraphon’s chest and Gore Drinker cleaved in half a lizard who leapt at him. He did not see any Gorehorde warriors anywhere around him now. Dark shapes raced above him. He wheeled the manticore in a circle. Seraphon had him surrounded and were closing in. A volley of arrows came shooting out from the fog. Strange fin-fletched arrows seemed to suddenly bloom from his shoulder and the manticore’s side. Only one arrow seemed deep in the manticore and one arrow stuck from its cheek. The one in his shoulder was lodged in his armor. Not too bad.
Suddenly a mass of black that had been circling above darted toward him. What materialized from the fog was nothing he had expected. He and the manticore barley dodged the massive jaws and tearing teeth of a huge shark like beast. He took to the air himself. A yard of steel shot past his face as he turned on the shark beast. He saw several riders. Heavy beats of wing brought him higher than the shark beast. Then he dove at it.
He crashed into the shark beast and a terrible melee ensued. The manticore had the shark beast with both claws and was tearing at it with its teeth, spiked tail jabbed in vicious uppercuts. The jaws of the shark could not reach the manticore but its tail beat at them furiously. A bluish aelf with a black topknot came at Madrax with a curved sward, but the blow was turned aside, and Gore Drinker drank the gore. A black topknotted head fell away into the fog. The beasts were unable to maintain flight and they all crashed to the ground. Madrax was thrown from the saddle. He picked himself up and slew another shark rider struggling to get up after being thrown from the battling beasts. He watched as his manticore disemboweled the shark beast. Victorious, it raised its bloody maw and roared.
On the flank
Vorak and Crag lay on the ground peering across the field from the same spot they had first observed the enemy. Now they watched the rear guard of Seraphon retreat from Madrax and the Horde’s cavalry. A fog had formed over the swamp during the brief fight. The delay of the rear guard had allowed the rest of the lizards to reform as expected but they did not advance to crush the smaller force. They just sat there; too far up the valley for an effective flank attack.
“That is unfortunate.” Vorak observed dryly.
Crag did not reply. He was not looking at the enemy line. He appeared to be watching something happening at the cavalry’s position. Vorak looked over in time to see that putrid Nurgle rotter flying toward the hill. He passed their hiding spot and headed back into the trees. Vorak and his companion slid back from the summit and proceeded to back through the trees. They found Bilerot in the same clearing as before. Now the Warshine dominated half the area and bloodreavers stood in ranks. The rest of the Gorechosen were standing around Bilerot.
“…and the rest of the Gorechosen,” Bilerot was saying. “will lead the bloodwarriors and the heavy infantry on the left.”
Roc Shatterhammer scoffed. “Kane again honors the Deathbringers.”
“And the priests.” Argot added. Arrgot Brak was the Bloodsecretor of the Gorehorde. He leaned against the staff of his icon.
“We all have our place in the Horde.” Snapped Exalted Deathbringer Heinryk Dreadspear. He leveled his giant spear at Arrgot. “You hold the highest honor among us.” He swung the point at Roc. “You have much to prove. Your trial may be complete, but if you want to do more than just make armor you will strive to bring glory to the Horde. Only in that will your accomplishments have meaning.” He turned to the rest of the Gorechosen. “You have heard Lord Bilerot. His words are the words of your Mighty Lord. Follow them.” With that he turned away and walked out of the clearing.
Vorak and Crag exchanged a look and wordlessly grasped each other’s forearm roughly. Vorak turned to follow Heinryk. The three Horde’s Deathbringers hurried down the line gathering the bloodwarriors, wrathmongers and skullreapers.
The sound of fighting echoed down the valley. Vorak climbed the hill and looked up the valley. Madrax and his command were driving deep into the enemy line. The fog raced across the field. It unnaturally turned against the wind and swept around to engulf the entire enemy host along with the Horde’s cavalry. It was time. He raised his arm and a horn sounded deep and mournful from behind him. That horn was answered by one, then two and three others. Soon a dozen horns sounded. Their long low wails echoed off the trees and reverberated across the valley. Bloodwarriors moved up to him and they all set off down the long slope as one. Vorak looked to
his right and saw the Warshine top the hill. Arrgot was next to it, keeping pace. He lost sight of the imposing alter as he and the other Deathbringers swung their command up the valley. A few moments later a flurry erupted in the distance, above the fog. A manticore seemed to be fighting a shark. As suddenly as they appeared the shapes fell back into the fog.
They were moving fast, and they covered the tree spotted ground quickly. Vorak led the way quietly into the fog. Zac Brak, Arrgot’s brother was the other Aspiring Deathbringer in the Gorehorde and he was right next to Vorak when they found the enemy flank in the fog. The aelvish bowmen were too surprised to put up much of a fight. Not that they could have against the superior prowess of his bloodwarriors. They were slaughtered.
A mass of dark shapes was moving across their front from left to right. Zac nodded at Vorak and he nodded back. With a roaring shout, they charged the mass. His hammer rose and fell smashing aside foes and his axe sent heads flying. He had no idea how big the force he faced was. He just kept killing. He felt the wrathmongers near. His fury intensified as if injected with the pure essence of the Blood God. Red rage filled him, and he became a whirlwind of death. An endless roar ripped at his throat. A spear tore the flesh of his arm and he laughed at the pain.
Suddenly the fog around them seemed to shudder and it took on a ruddy red hue. A bolt of blood red lightening shot across the sky, then another and another. Thunder cracked and rolled. The fog seared off the battlefield like water in a hot pan. Arrgot had opened the Portal of Skulls.