War Story – Battle at the Realm’s Edge, pt. 2

The conclusion of Madrax’ march toward Amasya- for now, at least…

Submitted by Rob W. of MD

Madrax had just finished pulling the shallow arrows from the manticore when the attack came. He was still dismounted when more than a dozen Seraphon warriors rushed at him and the manticore. He fought with Gore Drinker and killed two of them quickly. Three others pressed him hard and he was forced back. Turning aside a blow aimed at his head, he took another in the breastplate to gain an advantage and planted a boot in the stomach of the third while his sword was still raised. A parry and slash gutted one of the lizards and his fist shattered the snout of another. The one gasping for air from the kick was rid of his head and the one with the broken face staggered off while two more had a go. They fared little better; one landed a cutting strike on Madrax’s thigh before Gore Drinker split him from shoulder to hip. The other gave an arm to the cause before running off. He pivoted ready for more but the manticore had dealt with the rest. The arrow that pierced the side of its face was gone, but teeth shown through a ragged hole. He snapped the shaft of the deep-set arrow close to the beast’s hide and leapt into the saddle. It pranced to the right and tossed its head, shaking is great mane. The fighting and the pain from the arrows obviously had it riled up and it took flight with little urging. Madrax needed to see the disposition of the battlefield.

Fog covered the enemy entirely. He did not see the cavalry but rank after rank of bloodreavers were pouring over the long hill and into the fog. In their midst was the Warshine lumbering down the hill. He saw Arrgot Brak, striding near the Warshine, they stopped just short of the fog. The Warshine priest had just finished a ritual sacrifice and was holding a head high in the air. Far above Madrax saw Arrgot plant his Icon to Khorne. The Portal of Skulls opened with a tremendous lightning storm. He had not seen that happen before. The fog burned off in an arc racing out from the Portal. It revealed pure madness.

Near the hill, the cavalry push had stalled then stopped. A mass of juggernaut riding skullcrushers had formed a rough circle and were defending the marauders on all sides, many of whom now fought dismounted from behind the carcasses of their horses. Some skullcrushers fought on foot near them while rider-less juggernauts rampaged through the enemy, throwing lizards aside and trampling others. The Ironhorde knights and a single remaining chariot were forming for a breakout charge. Some bloodreavers were about 50 paces from the cavalry and now that they knew the peril the cavalry was in, they were pressing hard to reach that position. Could that be Roc Shatterhammer leading them? Madrax saw a great anvil smash a hole in the lizards ranks and knew that it was.

The rest of the bloodreavers were swarming over the ranks of aelves and lizards and were hacking a great swath through the enemy. Crag Gorespittle stood on a bronze and iron alter. Madrax had never seen such a thing. Where had it come from? Crag raised his hands and lifted his face to the sky. A giant axe erupted from the ground and plunged into the enemy. Blood flew in a spray from the carnage it caused as it tore a great rent in the enemy ranks, through which the bloodreavers poured. Lizard and aelf alike ran screaming from a huge bleeding bronze icon that

plowed its way across the battlefield. Near the swamp a horrible melee was in progress. The entire flank had deteriorated into chaos. There were no lines, no ranks, no charges or counter charges. Just a huge brawl. He banked the manticore that direction.

There were other things flying near him. Winged lizards with riders were heading toward the Crag and the alter. Huge boulders held in their talons. Madrax veered from his original path and intercepted the flight. He let the manticore do the heavy lifting. It used its claws and barbed tail to eviscerate the flying lizards. The riders plunged screaming to the ground. With the alter and Crag now safe, he turned his attention to the barroom brawl at the edge of the swamp.

As he got closer he saw that the brawl was a one-sided affair with the Gorehorde holding the upper hand. He also saw that the aelves held a strong position on a rocky outcrop that formed a headland into the swamp. Their lines were still intact there and the broken Seraphon were using that avenue to escape the murderous advance of the bloodreavers. If the aelves in the rocks could be dislodged, then the retreat could cut off. He landed in the middle of the brawl.

“GOREHORDE! RALLY TO ME!” He bellowed. “TO ME! TO ME!”

The Gorehorde fighting force near the swamp converged on his position. Once disengaged what was left of the aelves ran full tilt for the rocks. He quickly organized the remaining bloodwarriors, skullreapers and wrathmongers for a charge. He needed daemons for this attack, but they had not come even with all this bloodshed. He did not wait for the lines to be fully formed before he started for the spear bristling fortress of boulders.

Charge after charge crashed upon that terrible bastion. Not once was Madrax and the Gorehorde able to gain the rocky heights. Even when the bloodreavers and remaining cavalry overwhelmed the lizards and joined the attack the aelves held rocks. Half of the Seraphon were able to escape. By nightfall the aelves had reinforced their position and had anchored both flanks against the swamp forming an impenetrable semicircle of rock and steel.

Madrax stood on the long, low hill directly across from the rock fortress. Flights of burning arrows from there rained down on anything that moved in the valley below. The Gorechosen and Bilerot stood a few paces away. Madrax gave orders for all probe attacks to stop and to dig in for the night. They dispersed to their separate commands leaving Bilerot standing alone. He had lost around one third of his fighting force, but he would not allow the enemy to control the field. Arms crossed he waited for dawn.

But in the morning, there was no one to fight. Under the cover of darkness and burning arrows, the aelves had vanished from whence they came. Madrax could only assume that the bushwhacking bloodless heathens had no stomach for a real fight. Which was fine. He had better places to be.

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War Story – Battle at the Realm’s Edge, Pt. 1

Submitted by Rob W. of MD

Opening Sortie

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.

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War Story – On the Trail to Amasya

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.

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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.