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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Objectives, Locations, Spoils & You

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

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

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

Skoga Grakk – Nagaskahip PRIMARY, Teselli Alari & Gorkoyuk SECONDARY

Delegation – Azyrhol PRIMARY, Yol Grimnir & Grung Esik SECONDARY

Varanpact – Isik Kulesi PRIMARY, Karanlik Saray & Rahipmezar SECONDARY

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

Reclamation – Rahipmezar PRIMARY, Nagaskahip & Azyrhol SECONDARY

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

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

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

Capture Objective = Low Yield, Defend Objective = High Yield

Capture Neutral = High Yield, Defend Neutral = Low Yield

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Skoga Grakk Intro – Wapkagut

Some weeks ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“SKOGA GRAKK!”

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

“SKOGA GRAKK! SKOGA GRAKK! SKOGA GRAKK!”

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

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Reclamation Intro – Mithridates Alti

A Battlefield outside Amasya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And in the meantime-”

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

“And you?”

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

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

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

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War Story – The Kriegsrat

Submitted by Paul B. of WV

The Kriegsrat

Dramatis Personae

  • Oberon Brightblade, Lord-Celestant

  • Titania Thundersworn, Lord-Arcanum

  • Faustus Dawncaller, Lord-Relictor

  • Wolfgang Skysplitter, Lord-Ordinator

  • Sabine Wolfsoul, Knight-Zephyros

  • Klaus Starstrike, Knight-Venator

  • Alveblade Runeshaper, Knight-Incantor

  • Günter Stormcaller, Knight-Heraldor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Da Big Eat Intro – da Maw dat Walkz

Among the “Big Eat”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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