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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Solitude of life, fury of beasts

As we begin to wind down our location features, we visit two outlying districts of the city which yet still reflect the temperament of the deities they were raised to pay tribute to…

Teselli Alari, “Alarielle’s Solace”

In the Age of Myth, this was an arboreal suburb of Amasya, primarily occupied by Sylvaneth and what are now Wanderers. Now, it has been almost completely overgrown, buildings and parks turned into trackless forests by the passage of years. Only the strongest mortal constructions remain, and even these are under siege by the sea of green. One day the forest will have its due.

Once, the community was centered around a leafy temple to its patron goddess, where the mortal races could come to honor and worship her. In the course of more than five centuries, though, the trees and vines beloved to Alarielle have undone much of what was wrought in her name- the mighty amphitheatre has been turned into a woody hollow, the altar split apart by the trunk of a massive oak, monuments and images washed away as the forest performs truer worship than even the Wanderers ever could.

The pattern of the streets has long been subsumed, but some of the major intersections can still be identified by the proud waystones and statues that stood at their center. Each of these ancient monuments still crackles with power, which has driven off all but the hardiest roots and shoots and kept them intact throughout the years. Though the plants hate them, they have not yet been able to overcome the inbuilt defenses, and thus the stones still stand- but their power is finite, and left to their own devices they will crumble along with everything else before the relentless tide of green.

The heart of the forest has always been the tree called Hyperion, a giant goldwood pine stretching five hundred feet into the air. In Amasya’s heyday, the tree was revered by the Sylvaneth as a direct manifestation of their goddess- this reverence has continued among the spites that are now the sole inhabitants of Alarielle’s Solace. At night, they swarm like fireflies around Hyperion, bathing it in their luminescence. Few, if any, have seen this and lived to tell the tale, though- the spites have grown mad with abandonment, and would readily strip flesh from bone or bark from stem of any who dared trespass in their sacred grove.

Gorkoyuk, “Gorkamorka’s Pits”

On the fringes of the city, this coliseum and menagerie stood as monument to the power of Gorkamorka, a sort of temple to the Twin-Headed God where his worshippers could bring him their trophies from across the Realms. Beasts of every possible description and talent roamed freely through the pits, and their keepers eagerly awaited the times when two or more would come to blows. Though the keepers may have abandoned the pits long ago, the walls are deep and sheer, and it’s easy to imagine something surviving still trapped inside.

When the Pantheon was united, the fringes of the pits served as part casino, part racetrack, part open-air bazaar. Hundreds if not thousands of people of every possible race and description gathered to bet on the fights to come and their results, to hold various and sundry sport of their own devising, and to buy and sell away from the constant danger of the Palace of Shadows and the watchful eyes of Azyrhol. Now, it is merely a threshold- whatever fences or walls kept spectators from falling into the beasts’ lair have long since crumbled away, meaning that walking too close to the edge is a precarious course indeed.

The pits themselves are host to teeming wildlife of all kinds, as well as the apex predators that feed upon it. Descending into the depths is a profoundly dangerous move- it is difficult to quickly ascend back up the pit walls, and once on the ground the thick underbrush makes it hard to spot potential threats before they become urgently important. If there is a reason to walk this earth beyond bravado and the thrill of the hunt, it is in search of the ancient warding-amulets left behind by the architects of the pits, crude but effective guards against mighty beasts such as rule this sunken land.

During the Age of Myth, it was believed that the pits served as an effective containment for its inhabitants- rage as they might, the fearsome creatures could not escape to trouble the rest of the city. While there were monster-hunters and followers of the Twin-Headed God patrolling the fringes, this was maybe almost true- now that they have gone or been exterminated, though, this has been shown for the lie it always was. There are caverns beneath the pits, some flooded, some dry, by which particularly clever or stupid but lucky creatures may make their way into the Ur-River or the depths of other parts of the city. Even the beasts are wary of this place, though, for in its lightless depths dwell the albino rockwyrms, ever ready to leap out and consume the careless and the bold.

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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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Places of Light and Shadow

In today’s installment of our expanded location descriptions, we visit the holy repositories and citadels of Teclis and Malerion, each a testament to aelf culture and the terrible secrets kept by the gods of aelfkind.

Isik Kulesi, “The Tower of Light”

Ancient place of study, in gentler times Isik Kulesi stood highest in Amasya’s skyline, proudly illuminating the streets in day and night. Here, students of the arcane came to learn, to study, and ultimately to teach and practice their art under the benevolent supervision of some of the greatest sages of Ghyran and beyond. In these days, much of the tower’s upper floors have fallen into ruin, subtle architecture ultimately unequal to the tide of years and perhaps the influence of more malevolent beings as well.

The grounds of the Tower are scattered with stone, all that remains of the pinnacle that fell calamitously into the Ur-River during its long abandonment. Much of the topmost floors was lost into the waterway, but much still lies half-hidden by overgrown lawns and gardens. The vaults once held within these upper floors shattered with the fall, their containment breaching and allowing the strange energies of the devices and artifacts within to leach out again. Creatures and vegetation around the riverbank have grown unusually active of late, manifesting peculiar and unnatural tendencies- but this is nothing next to the monstrosities that occasionally crawl out of the Ur-River itself, bolstered by now-untamed power.

The study halls that made up the base of the tower are less damaged, though only just- rain, roots and wind have destroyed all but the most resilient of the furnishings, and ruined the tower’s once-magnificent libraries. Still, the eldritch defenses of the library sometimes flare into life all the same, and the empty rooms and halls can at times be seen to spark with life and energy years after they should have fallen silent and cold. It would be dangerous to venture into the Tower, and yet if the wards are still active there must remain something worth protecting.

There are dungeons beneath this place of learning, secret and built to last until the end of time- places of storage and imprisonment set down by master mages of ages past, perhaps even with aid by Teclis himself. What is imprisoned here is unknown, save to a few, but widely speculated upon- dragons, demigods, daemons, devices of malign and rarely surpassed potency no doubt. If the damage dealt by the collapse of the upper vaults has been severe, the consequences of these lower vaults being broken would be cataclysmic. Fortunately, there are few with the arts and patience remaining to try and breach the depths.

Karanlik Saray, “The Palace of Shadow”

Standing opposite the Tower of Light, in Amasya’s heyday Karanlik Saray ate up its sibling’s illumination as quickly as Isik Kulesi threw it out. This foreboding construction is gloomy even beneath a noonday sun, and perpetually hides secrets within its shadows. Most pious folk avoided the temple during the Age of Myth- though its residents were sanctioned and in some ways respected residents of the city, they were never loved, and there was always someone telling stories of a friend or relative who ventured inside, never to be seen again.

The palace itself is deliberately ominous- beyond its unnatural darkness, monstrous and alien beasts of ebony and ruby crouch on its parapets, watching and judging all who pass beneath their gaze. Though these stone beasts are inanimate- as far as anyone knows- there are a multitude of openings through which one could watch and not be seen, hunting without spooking the prey. The hallways and chambers themselves are immaculately clean, save for five centuries of dust, but on close inspection traces of dried blood can still be found in some of the gutters. Walking the halls, one cannot escape the feeling of being livestock wandering a slaughterhouse.

Outside, the district immediately adjacent to the palace was the center of vice and iniquity in the city’s halcyon days. Though the city was built for pilgrims, many of they that came had mortal needs and desires, and saw no contradiction in partaking of the multitude pleasures of the flesh in the evening and shriving their sins in Azyrhol the next day. Sitting in Karanlik Saray’s eternal shadow, these streets were easy to get lost in even when they were filled with life- now that Amasya is dead, it seems that they have taken on a malign intelligence of their own, and take cruel joy in leading travelers of any description astray.

The city’s dockyards form the final curtain between the vice district and the Ur-River itself. These wharfs were once thronged by merchants and pirates alike, as they returned from a season of plying their trades. The air stank of fish guts and tar, and it was said that if anything could be found in Amasya it would be found here. Today, though the docks are unstable and in many cases have collapsed altogether and the smells of industry have been replaced with a constant deathly stench, there are still many treasures hidden among the ruins. The erstwhile treasure seeker will proceed at their own peril, though- the half-flooded streets and sewers are full of beasts natural and unnatural, and it may be that the murky waters have a life of their own…

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Burial Grounds of Ancient Dead

Next in our series of expanded location descriptions, we’ll explore the unbeating heart of Amasya, a rising necropolis of pilgrims and faithful servants.

Nagaskahip, “Nagash’s Graveyard”

For many centuries, these cliffs and the necropolis at their feet served as the final resting place for thousands upon thousands of saints and sinners alike. The residents of Amasya had their burial places, but by far the majority of those were outsiders- pilgrims, who made their final trek to the city or had their bodies delivered to rest here, close to eternity. It is known that some did not wait for death to usher them into the tomb, and chose to seal themselves away in order to curry the Undying King’s favor, offering themselves prematurely in the hope of a better afterlife to follow.

The highest reaches of the cliffs are also the oldest- although many must have been buried at the cliff’s roots in earlier days, these must have been washed away by newer construction, their inhabitants all but lost to time. Far up the cliff face, the air grows thin and passage treacherous, as paths become worn away through the thousands of feet that came before. If there is any wealth to be had here, it is well hidden or well protected- most of the tombs have been picked clean, but some have a reputation for housing primeval terrors (as well as powerful treasures.) The Shrouded Men who once watched over the graves are long gone… or so it seems… but it still takes a strong heart to risk disturbing these ancient ones’ slumber.

Lower down, the tombs become more accessible, larger and more ornate, housing the dignitaries of a more tangible age. The cliff face itself has been refashioned in the shape of mausoleums, and in places replaced entirely by frescoes showing scenes of gods, champions and monsters fighting across the Mortal Realms. Inside the tombs themselves, there are shrines to the dead, commemorations of their lives and hints of the future each deceased hoped for for themselves.

While Amasya itself was alive, these places were guarded by mortal priests and soldiers- now that the city is dead, so too are they, and yet the wards around those laid to rest are newer and stronger than further up, and hence more dangerous. Too, as close as the tombs are said to lie to the Realm of Death, some whisper that there must be at least one powerful guardian stalking its depths.

Finally, at the foot of the cliff there is a sprawling necropolis- mortuaries, columbariums and field upon field of gravestone mark the humble last testament of those too poor to aspire to a place in the cliff. Walking among them, one gets the inescapable feeling that someone is watching- whether it be the benevolent spirits of the dead or something far more sinister is unknown, but speculated upon by students of this place. Whatever the presence, it pays to watch one’s step- there may or may not be a ghost, but the shadow-weed that thrives in neglect has grown fierce and hungry with its nearness to so much mortality, and is not averse to hastening a particularly troublesome or tempting visitor along that path.

Rahipmezar, “The Priests’ Tomb

The tomb of the Priests of Nagash stands opposite Nagaskahip, and between the two of them they frame the constant Ur-River. This place is- or was- not solely dedicated to the Lord of Death, as the necropolis has always been. Instead, it served as a burial ground for the members of any of the multitude of religions that flourished in the Age of Myth, safeguarding the souls of dead Priests. In latter days, though, as the tide of Chaos grew and the Pantheon fell into ruin the priesthood of Nagash occupied the central areas of the tower solely for themselves.

The grounds of the grand tomb are funereal, but immaculately kept- even abandoned for so many centuries, the passage of time does not rest on them at all, and one new to the city could be forgiven for thinking that their patrons had only momentarily stepped away. This is aided by the fact that there is nothing truly living within the complex- even the ancient yew trees that line the walkway leading to the entrance are, upon closer inspection, fiendishly clever replicas of glass, stone, and steel, and no birds nest within their branches. For all this, though, the berries are just as poisonous as those of the living plant.

The outer chambers of the tomb itself are somber and splendid, the graves of generations of priests of a multitude of gods enshrined with all possible pomp and ceremony. Amid the holy symbols of the entire Pantheon, the walls are lined with hundreds of thousands of tiny figures, lifelike apart from their size. Though few who’ve seen Amasya in its former glory yet live, it’s believed that each of them is a representation of someone entombed here or across the river. What is strange is that each figure looks carved by the same hand- and yet, there are tenfold more than any mortal could have made in all Amasya’s history.

Sealed behind the Great Gate, the inner chambers of the tomb hold only the high priests of the Basrahip and their closest disciples- in the final days of Amasya, this meant that this was exclusively the domain of Nagash’s followers. If one could pierce the ancient seals, if one could walk those deathly halls, the sense of foreboding would be almost palpable. Something stirs here, something ancient and wrathful, and it thirsts for vengeance long-denied to it.

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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The Gates of Forge and Flame

As we march into the final week before Animosity I, campaign team NEO Peter Charles has revisited and expanded upon @WarbossKurgan‘s location descriptions- giving you plenty of sandbox to play in this coming weekend. We’ll be posting them a few at a time over the next several days in the run up to the campaign, so be sure to check back…

Grung Esik, “Grungni’s Threshold”

Part aqueduct, part dam, part fortress, Grungni’s Threshold has stood sentinel over the upriver entrance to Amasya since the Age of Myth. The whole structure is imposing and beautiful in the way only Duardin construction can be- and it bears not the mark of any beardling craftsman, but the God of the Forge himself, for only a god would dare attempt to harness the Ur-River for mortal ends.

The dam itself is a seamless bulwark of unyielding rock, topped with a broad stone causeway many miles in length- wide enough that an army could march along it, as some in earlier times have. On both sides it is lined with the proud, unsmiling figures of a thousand revered ancestors, and some whisper that these were meant as more than sentinels. Either end of the dam is guarded by a gatehouse built in the shape of a snarling griffon, which could be opened or closed in time of need to keep unwanted guests off of- or on- the causeway.

The dam has been assailed before, and doubtless will again. While there were Duardin or Men or Aelves to defend it, it was never breached- so cunning were the defenses built into its mechanisms and depths, it could and did withstand the wrath of many great and fell beasts. Abandoned, though, and with its sluice gates partway open, it was infiltrated during the centuries of the Age of Chaos- not by any monster, but by riverine Troggoths, many of whom have now built their foul nests in its hallowed halls. If they could be cleared out and the defenses readied, it would once again be an impenetrable bulwark.

The mechanism to control the sluice gates is lost somewhere in the heart of the great works adjacent to the dam itself, into which a portion of the Ur-River is still diverted. If there were people left with the knowledge to operate it, the roaring waters could still be put to use in a hundred marvelous and terrible ways. Sadly (or perhaps fortunately) the Troggoths care nothing for the cunning mechanisms and industries that relied upon the torrent, and thus the river flows unimpeded and the devices sit dry and unused. Future occupants may have different plans.

 

Yol Grimnir, “Grimnir’s Road”

Just as its pair upriver, this combination highway, mustering ground and fortress defends the downstream approach to Amasya. Beautiful only in its functionality, in better days Yol Grimnir served to maintain Azyrheim’s control over the city, serving as a gateway by which taxes could be levied and trade routes kept open. At the dawn of the Age of Chaos, it rediscovered its role as a strong point, and served to defend Amasya until the last day. Now it stands deserted, but ready to be reclaimed by whoever wins their dominance over the city.

Furthest upriver stands the Unforged Gate, gaining its name both because it was wrought out of solid rock and because of Grimnir’s love of his orange-haired children. A massive bulwark stretching almost one hundred feet wide and half again as high, clever Duardin engineering meant that the gate could nonetheless be closed at a moment’s notice by the defenders. Its gate is dented but stands proud, having defied more than one siege in its day- but it was last closed by Mithridates Alti when he marched forth, to deny the Sigmarites the chance to follow in his wake. It’s sometimes said that the angry ghosts of the denied still haunt the works, ready to avenge themselves on the servants of Nagash.

Just downstream lies the Grand Mustering Grounds, from whence the legions of the city would march to war. Here it was that Mithridates Alti gathered Nagash’s warriors before the battle at the Allpoints, and here it was that he looked upon his ancestors’ city one final time before it was hidden from his sight. The mustering grounds are paved with massive stone slabs, and though grass has begun to grow in the cracks the stones themselves remain unmoved, as resilient as the Duardin that laid them. In happier times those who devoted themselves to Grimnir above all others chose to be interred on the edge of the grounds, from whence they could oversee all the musters to come- as a last gesture of defiance to the enemies he hated, though, Mithridates tore many of the old tombs and monuments down. It’s said that the spirits of those whose graves were so disturbed still stand watch, awaiting the final muster where they can avenge themselves upon their foes.

The furthest part that could be said to lie within the city, the Great Hub marks the boundary between Amasya and the Realms beyond. From here, roads stretched to every point on the map, bringing in pilgrims and trade in equally vast measures. In gentler times, a massive market stood here, traders seeking to sell their wares before paying their dues at the Unforged Gate. Center to this was a statue of Tyrion, casting his blessing upon the wayfarers before the perilous journey ahead of them- the traders are long gone, though, and the statue became a casualty of Mithridates’ final wrath as he left his city behind. All that remains is rubble, scattered across the flagstones.

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