The Bleed rolls slowly across the landscape, a shifting tide of transformation as the Realms struggle against each other. Walls of water roll like glacial tidal waves, desert crags erupting from brassy forests like broken bones. They fight for dominance like two alpha beasts, unimaginable strength pushing for every inch of ground. From deep within, the bones of the earth groan at the pressure, and the titanic dragon trapped at its heart writhes in its slumber.
Across the Wilds, six coalitions of warriors and mystics, explorers and treasure seekers wake into action. They rove across the landscape, each possessed by a will to shape this land as they see fit. With every conflict, the blood they spill makes that will manifest. With every inch of ground explored, the land becomes their own.
The War of the Bleeding Wilds has begun.
This is no threat, but a warning. You hunt those who protect our young, whose very being is integral to the wardings of our Underbough. These are sentient beings; their words echo through the ages with wisdom. They are our kin, and our protectors. We will have no choice should you continue on this path. This way leads to war.
Scarcely had the words fallen from the lips of the Diplomat Tarascon before they took root into something greater. Envoys copied them to birch-scrolls and tablets. They were echoed across the bow of the Stormdancer. To many, they became a challenge: the first true hurdle of the hunt. To the dwellers of the Sepulchre, they became a promise. And to the waterlogged dead of the Fisher Kings, they became a thorn of unease that had firmly lodged under their spectral flesh.
Perhaps it was in the nature of the dead to take seriously others afflicted with the same curse. But as they drifted through the undergrowth, preparing to close the Reavers’ pincer around the sprawling barrow, they felt the burgeoning energy of good men moved to war flickering electric in the air. It was going to be a long night.
As the forces of the Stormdancer began to amass, the Underbough’s envoys faced their own predicament. The reported dragons were nowhere to be seen. Ar’lyn of the osseous All-points Legion led their Bonereapers through the deeper burrows, whilst a contingent of Umharian Idoneth swept the caves nearer the surface. That the Weeping Cavern was a tomb was becoming increasingly apparent, with dead ends and stairs that led to nowhere, all to misdirect intruders with more nefarious intentions – and it was not helping them now. So when Ar’lyn’s company did stumble upon the first of the zombie dragons concealed within, they burst into its chamber unexpectedly – sending it into a frenzy.
Explosions rocked the barrow as the first dragon burst upwards in a sweep of dust and the clamour of clattering bones, breaking through the top of the cavern – and into a sky full of ships.
The infamous orruk Kaptain Mogrum sent his crew with his beloved sky-ship, the Cleavermaw, to lead the Stormdance Reavers’ vanguard. The eponymous Cleavermaws let rip a volley of explosions as their prey spiralled into the sky before them. However, the drake’s arrival had been too sudden, too unplanned; the creature slipped past the ships and off into the night, completely out of sight. Near the hole blasted into the cavern’s peak, dark aelf corsairs in armour of hammered iron and bronze dropped from smaller ships to infiltrate – though any hope of a quick and easy victory were dashed as dark wolves as slick as shadows roamed below, ready to consume the oncoming attackers.
The young necromancer Cyprecht Detris, his heart full of his leader Drakenot’s passionate parental fervour, tore through many of the corsair band, raising two more dogs for every lupine form sent splattering across the cave floor. Each of these lost dragons must be shown their leader’s fierce and baleful passion – many of the Underbough warriors truly believed that through affection, these dragons could yet be saved, and that strength granted them the frenzy of the truly zealous.
Perhaps this was the energy that had been precipitated by the uneasy Fisher Kings. Perhaps it was simply the anticipated start of a long and bloody war. But whatever concerns they had came much too late – the fight for the dragons had begun in earnest.
Cyprecht Detris faces down the Reavers.
A great pack of orruks led by the Da Grim Fangs and Beergutz’ Big WAAAGH!!! smashed through the skeletal forces that had been erected around the cavern entrances, drawing the Underbough out from their subterranean vigil and suffusing the passages with the beating energy of the greentide. Far below the earth, a soft rumbling emitted as the second of the dragons began to stir.
Unbeknownst to the Reavers, this zombie dragon had already been found by the vampires of the Umberspire Inquisition. Their investigation had proved fruitful even as shots were being fired miles above. Wary of the sounds of oncoming attack, they had been waiting in the shadows of a convergence of tunnels to launch an ambush, should anyone stray too close. Their worries were not unwarranted as a truly gargantuan troggherd descended into the barrow, hell-bent on finding delicious bone prey. The Reavers’ Mad Hatterz were formidable and truly in their element below the dank earth. The vampiric ambush struggled to both figuratively and literally sink their teeth into the oncoming troggoths, and their rampage may well have reached their target if not for the Soulblight buying precious time for the dragon to awake.
Da Mad Hatterz descend into the Weeping Cavern and find themselves surrounded.
As the fighting swelled, a great scream erupted from the caves. The second dragon, distressed at the noise and still grappling with its recently born reanimation, squeezed itself through the passages, sending ancient rubble and clumps of earth raining down on the close-quarters fighting. Troggoths were picked off by a great snapping skull, hungry but no longer in possession of a stomach; ferocious, but no longer in possession of its fire. However, it was too soon for the vampires to breathe a sigh of relief.
In a wreath of warpfire and the whistle of an explosion, a great tide of skaven burst into the deep caverns from the other side. Skweekit and his Laughing Rat pirates charged towards the troggs of Kap’n Toxis. However, upon seeing a greater foe in the enraged and alarmingly close zombie dragon, the two pirate captains caught each other’s eye. If either were to survive this day, they would have to work together, despite their coalition’s hostility. The warriors shared a nod of unspoken understanding before charging side by side.
Above the earth, it was Necromancer Drakenot themself that heard the panicked screams of the dead. As they travelled swiftly from one battlefront to another, they let out a burst of fell death magic, channelling it through the roots of trees and plants and into the cave, desperate not to lose the zombie dragons before they were able to arrive. As Skweevit and Kap’n Toxis faced the rampaging dragon, they witnessed weaves of magic in amethyst and jade infuse into its very bones, healing the injuries it had sustained. The collective forces of the Stormdance Reavers were quickly forced to retreat as the wild dragon reached the height of its power, grinding everything it could sink its claws into under a mountain of undulating keratin and bone.
The dragon, however, was now alone; its prey was quickly escaping, and the din of war was driving it mad. It, too, shot forth from the barrow, following the path of its predecessor in fleeing to safety.
Above ground, Drakenot was drawing closer to the barrow. In order to protect their path, several seasons of Sylvaneth joined together in a great forest, fighting back the invaders. Those of the Emberheart Glade and the Winter Wold overwhelmed the Reavers fighting in the trees, and thanks to the quick thinking of the Emberheart tree-revenant, the conglomerate glade broke through their rearguard to deliver Drakenot to the caverns.
The Reavers had been forced into a retreat by dragon and ally alike, but Drakenot was restless. Two of the creatures had fled altogether, though they could still sense one more presence clambering towards the surface. They met the lumbering creature in the broken top cavern, and with hushed tongue and gentle words, Drakenot convinced it to listen. It was not the pack of bone-drakes the Necromancer had hoped for – the Stormdance’s intrusion had unfortunately seen to that – but none of the dragons had died, and one had been taken under their wing. Together with the calming words of Leherghiest and his nighthaunt, the group of undead were able to calm the panicked creature and impart the promise of shelter – and their sacred quest, to restore the young to life. As the light of Hysh broke over the shattered barrow, the Underbough quietly celebrated a narrow victory, and the preservation of the lives of the undead.
Underbough Sepulchre Victory
Soaring tall above the swamp-choked badlands, the dramatic mountain peaks stood like dagger teeth piercing the sky, their ruddy red colour the blood of a fresh kill. It was a stark and haunting land, evocative and filled with legends of ancient heroes fighting mighty and bloody battles upon those slopes. A primordial wellspring of Ghurish energy suffused the heights. Yurek Malenkon had sent word to the Underbough Sepulchre of the feral, predatory effect it had had in his undead soldiers. Already, fresh blood had been spilt and bones had been sundered along the mountain range. Soulblight pirates under the flag of Captain Palyras, supporters of the Nashwan Cabal, had attacked a column of Ghalbakk’s Company mercenaries led by Grik Mookshield and Salthar. Underbough reinforcements fell upon both sides. Kumaya’s wargrove slammed into the churning battle lines, while Melesis Daggerheart danced a path of red ruin among them. The scent of blood in the air would not go unnoticed, however. In an explosion of snow and shattered bodies, a hideous bonedrake burst from the mountainside into the fray. It’s armoured form a composite of the remains of the countless monsters and heroes that had fought upon this bloodied mountain, the beast brought many low with its scything claws and horrid teeth. It was Drazgul Kel, the knight of shrouds, that would finally stop this rampaging beast. The ghast-prince called upon the spirits of the slain whose mortal remains bedecked the form of the bonedrake, rising them like a bitter tide of ghostly steel. With the beast slain and their foes routed, the warriors of the Underbough were at last able to reach the peak of the mountain. There, they discovered an ancient shrine to a fallen warrior. Magical treasures lay around the grave, yet upon the shrine itself one relic shone with a dark and consuming power. Though the mountain had not held the Infusions they searched for, they had found a mighty new weapon in their struggle.
Tales had run abroad and aground of the Lighthouse Keeper’s Wyrmcompass. A relic treasured since the Age of Myth, it was passed down from parent to child for centuries by the wardens of Hawksfall. The Wyrmcompass carried both a dangerous burden and the key to a colossal fortune, for it was said to point infallibly towards dragonmetal, and, thus, to the heart of the great beast herself.
Such a lure was unerringly placed to draw the distinct tastes of two old and bitter rivals, Acquisitor Ghalbakk, Profiteer-General of the Right and Honourable Acquisition Company of the Free City of Fairwater, and Captain Castian Storm, Fleetmaster of the Black Ark Stormdancer , eponymous admiral of the Stormdance Reavers, and self-styled bane of the Great Dragon.
So began the last battle for Hawksfall Tower, most fittingly for a contest between land-swindlers and sea-wolves, with a broken contract.
Perhaps the wavering Fairwater hires had been swayed by the abundant printed persuasions of the Skaven Captain and ‘Trade Pioneer’, Master Moulder Killax. Or perhaps these small-time city dark aelves lost their bottle when they heard that Captain Castian Storm was moving to take command against them in person. Either way, the mercenaries turned their colours, along with certain unsavoury recruits they had acquired on the way, providing the Reavers with a ready-minted holding party below Hawksfall.
The Reavers acted swiftly to consolidate their advantage. Captain Lomíl’s Sea Spear and the flagship of the Keystone Acquisition Company soon guarded Steelheart Bay, supported by hidden but dread reserves. Others among Captain Storm’s aelven kin assisted the advance fleet by covert skill, the deadly stealth of Prince Ulthorn complemented by the eel-borne crossbow potshots of the Idoneth sniper Prismanta.
The wild report of a hobgrot grenade announced that the Reavers would by no means have matters all their own way. Not long afterwards, the Corsair vessels deployed by the Black Ark Stormdancer reported fierce resistance from a band of aelves in Kharadron vessels. Their mocking claims to be the only true ‘Reavers’ here fell upon the pirates, along with a hail of makeshift artillery, much of it Squig-based, from separate air-vessels teeming with Gloomspite.
With the landing of the Stormdance Reavers successfully staggered, the Company appeared to commit its main strength against Hawksfall. In overall command, at least nominally, was the trade envoy and ‘Herald’ Zhuzol Zhath. Zhuzol had a strong combined force of both the Company's infantry and cavalry at his disposal, both of them further stiffened by the terrifyingly regular Ossiarch Legion under the unproven Iscarneth aelf prince, Daloneth. At the same time most of the river-dwelling Yvar-Hain Idoneth, allies of Fairwater for now, and with a particular grievance against Captain Killax among the enemy, fell upon the mercenary defectors to surgical effect. Yet Zhuzol’s attempt to storm the lighthouse was held back for just long enough by a vast and pustulent wandering Varanguard of Nurgle, before an eel-rider and a Bull-Centaur overcame him together.
A Knight of the Black Grail clears the way for Reaver ‘sea-squires’.
Castian Storm seized the chance and ordered an immediate counter-attack by those Reavers that had managed to land. Knights of the Black Grail carved an opening for their sea-borne ‘squires’. A party of the increasingly wide-famed ‘Chainbreakers’ under the fierce warrior woman Ravensworn swatted aside Company Ogors as if they were nothing. Reaver Gloomspite hamstrung a platoon of Ghalbakk’s own Kruleboy lifeguards, though to Castian’s disgust if not surprise they found no sign that the Profiteer-General himself was present. A troupe of the Company-sworn Bloody Handed Dancers of Khaine met a fittingly bloody end at the hands of the Khornate Thresher King. The Lord of Slaanesh Vigo, infuriated by the conflict’s pointless prelude of diplomatic niceties, hurtled up and down Hawksfall’s spiral stairs in lethal delight, slaying any on either hand who neared him
The last stand of the Bloody Handed Dancers
Both Storm and Zhuzol knew, however, that neither raiding force had come here merely to tussle over the tower. It was Captain Storm’s various specialists who made the most determined efforts to obtain and remove the Wyrmcompass of legend. Cap’n Clink Keyholdr was hampered in his endeavours by a complex dissension among Fyreslayers. The knightly Suns of Behemat loftily extracted a horrified young girl from the tower, apparently under the impression the Compass was a ‘damsel’ in need of rescue, and thus became accidental guardians of the late lighthouse keeper’s granddaughter.
The renowned Orruk Cleavermaws indeed succeeded in carrying off a lightning smash and grab, and bearing something of import to Castian. He held in his enraptured grasp the stone compass he had heard of, tortured and haunted by the long memory of Maudra Ra’s proximity. Yet it lacked any Dragonmetal: indeed any needle whatsoever.
Then the whole Lighthouse plunged into withering, unforgiving verdant flame.
The Reaver Ossiarch legion known as the Frostfire Exiles had made its move at last, surging from the seabed with borrowed Skaven devilry to wreak catastrophe upon the foe, but brought it instead in the main to Hawksfall itself. As the Company fell back in utter confusion, only the Mortisan Atropheks convinced, or compelled, young Prince Daloneth to stand and persist, and as the lighthouse crumbled around the last living soul left in it, to his astonishment the Prince caught a glistening silvery needle, hitherto stowed in the now disintegrating rafters.
As Company Ossiarchs held Reaver Bonereapers, the Prince spurred his steed of bone to make his escape – but found his way barred by a tall, lone, weary-eyed blade. Captain Castian Storm.
Bound in honour as he felt to dismount, the Iscarneth prince was almost instantly disarmed, the needle within the Ulguan Captain’s grasp. But Castian lacked the leisure to search his conquered adversary before eels, allopexes, wolf riders and bull centaurs charged back as a body to the prince’s rescue, and the Captain’s apparent doom. With a look of utter parting disdain, Storm leapt from the cliffspurs into the waters of Steelheart Bay below.
An hour or so after the battle, still soaked but warm with fury, the Captain paced the quarters of his Ark with his most dire emphasis yet. Hawksfall was a useless shell, the Company come and gone, and Ghalbakk had just denied him his heart’s desire without even deigning to do so in person
Perhaps the only scene that could then have consoled Castian’s turbulent heart was taking place in Ghalbakk’s command tent upon the Weirdrock. The Kruleboy slammed his massive, gnarled, clawed, silken sleeved fist down upon the needle the aelf prince had brought him, kinking it. ‘No compass body?! This thing is ‘ardly more use than any common Dragonmetal sample!’
Dismissing his junior commander with a flail of his arm too angered to be effective, Ghalbakk mused alone and alone reached a conclusion that would truly have gladdened his aelven rival. ‘That shows it. Want a job done proper, do it y’self…’
The tips of ruined buildings rose like broken teeth from the smooth, ruddy surface of the Copperwater. The flood-lake was fed from the distant Verdigris Falls at one end, and slowly drained down to Lake Lapis at the other, yet the colour and the off-putting scent of copper were wholly its own. The lake-choked ruins were not keen to give up their secrets. Grasping, skeletal hands rose from silt, clutching at any that tried to explore the ruins below. It was a lake of the dead. No fish swam in its water, to the chagrin of Alaab the Whaleeater. The only thing that seemed to thrive there were ghastly, blue-quartz crayfish, burrowing creatures that feasted on the dead trapped in the copper silts of the lakebed. Not that that mattered to the ogor Gigglegrin, whose gluttons had scooped up the creatures with glee. Together with the changeling Beakbender, they had combed through the silt of the townbed from end to end. It was a capering horror that made the discovery, one of the teetering masses called forth by Beakbender’s disciples. The daemon had been thrown deep into the lake by a laughing ogor, and there it found the ruins of a cathedral. Skeletal creatures, strange amalgams of mismatched bone, had torn the imp to pieces, yet were no match for the furious charge of the glut of ogors that followed Beakbender’s direction. Diving deep into the waters, shielded by a curtain of rushing air, the Seeker found a hidden crypt sealed by magical wards. Potent as they were, they were nothing to the Lord of Magics, and with a wave of his hand Beakbender opened the hidden vault. Distantly, Tzeentch smiled at his curious child.
‘They shall fear me, yea, even unto and beyond my final sleeping, and shall lay chains of ignorance upon my beauteous shapings! Then will come the clear of sight, the free, unleavened by mercy, and the unbelievers of air and earth shall clod themselves into their path, for fear of learning the true meaning of powers undreamt…’
Translated carven ramblings upon one of the sarcophagi of Radagandron the Mad
The time had come round, the prophecy was to be revealed, and the rebels against the stars known as the Cult of the Burrowing Fang advanced upon the lake of the Tainted Depths, determined to free the magics there wantonly bound. In their way stood only a subordinate and divided, but stoically determined detachment of the newly expanded Skyguard of Barak-Drak.
The queasy air, the sullied, mired surface, the dreary islets, the louring humid skies, all seemed taut, expectant, almost sleepily eager, aware of a great stirring to come.
When it came, it came to every ear, drowning out cicada’s screech or geyser’s burble. It was the bellow of the immense Baamu, a Doombull of a stature rarely seen in the Realms. The Slaughterhorns were marching, and they did not do so alone.
Lesser ungors heaved alongside human and skink cultists to hurl rickety paths of interlocking pontoon bridges into position. As these strange, foul-smelling islands of artifice, salvaged wood and overstretched hide came to outnumber the true rocks and outcrops of the lake, a drifting morass of unnatural mists veered dreamily ahead of them. The Nighthaunt of the Burrowing Fang, unique among their strange alliance, had no need for makeshift, shoddy, mortal constructions to wend their way straight for the Mausoleum of Radagandron.
Behind the first line of Baamu, came two more forces equally fearless of damnation or corruption. There were the peculiar Shepherds of Sarros Falneak, more beasts marshalled by humans more bestial still. And last, slowest, most unyielding, sludged the Maggotkin of the Great Unclean One Amadeus Wretch. The Shepherds were the first to learn the dangers of the Tainted Depths, the edges of their lines drawn into the mire through the trickery of local Tzeentchian daemonkind. Their losses were insignificant, but the wrath of Sarros truly roused, as doubtless the Changer had intended.
It was at this late hour that the Mausoleum’s reluctant, desperate, waiting defenders began to show their hand. Determined to defend Barak-Drak by preemptive assault, the Stormcast warriors of Loraia Cometstorm launched themselves upon the tail of the Nurgle host, as swift as their foe was lumbering. The Skyguard had attracted warriors as various and unexpected as had the Cult, and human scouts sworn to the Ruinous Powers collaborated with mischievous Gloomspite under the unlikely Chief Endrineer Boomer to impede the Cult’s advance through lake, islet and marsh.
The attackers still had the Depths themselves to conquer quite as much as the Skyguard to overcome. Saint Lothar turned the wrath of pure Shyish to purge away necromancy, apparently unconcerned by his shrieking Nighthaunt comrades. Meanwhile the Skyguard’s valorous Grot cavalier Sir Zigbin, fighting along Sigmarite demigryph knights, was forced to turn aside swiftly to assist Dispossessed friends lured into an arcane trap and a Kruleboy ambush, whether by the isles’ doing or the Cult’s seemed altogether uncertain.
A full scale counter-assault was undertaken by one of Barak-Drak’s most alarming champions, the Vengorian Lord Marius the Gilded. The Soulblight had in his sights a ramshackle Skaven fortification on Ironholt, having perceived from the air the polluting ritual that the vermintide was attempting with Maggotkin assistance. Marius and his Blood Knights took the briefly raised ‘Rotfang Citadel’ after hard fighting, the dispatch of both the ratmen and Plague worshippers’ commanders by his own accursed hands, and many infected wounds struggling with the dark regeneration of his being, but he could not stop the incantation the diseased cultists had begun to unwind.
The Cult was unquestionably by now moving upon and encircling the Mausoleum, with the forces of Amadeus Wretch especially swollen and unstoppable, while weaknesses began to become evident in the traditionally iron discipline of the Skyguard. Proud soulblight assigned to vital points of defence preferred to lunge out in search of glory and satiation. Fyreslayer berserkers were outmanoeuvred and surrounded. The half-legendary Errant-Questor Améline the Anvil rallied the defenders’ spirits for a time, but her actions were oddly wilful and eccentric, with rumours aflight that she was even trying to protect one of the Cult’s leading hierarchs, the Melusai Scathspeaker, from harm.
Loraia Cometstorm and the wounded Vengorian Marius, along with the highest ranking allied commander of the Skyguard, King Leopold of Ventoleo, assumed joint charge of what must follow. Their resources were insufficient and their survivors now threatened by wholesale massacre; the blasphemous rituals unlocked by their foes were spreading more and more beyond possible control; the pall of Nighthaunt mingling upon every breath was stretching the rankers’ endurance past mortal capacity.
A rearguard it must be then, and a valorous and glorious one. Améline , eager to clear the latest confusion upon her reputation, was first to volunteer, then the Crusading forces of Ventoleo. Cometstorm herself assumed logistical leadership, urging the wounded Marius to conduct the rest of the Skyguard forces to safety. Together Stormcast, noble ghouls and Dawnriders swept the cultists aside long enough to hold a fighting retreat of superb discipline.
That did nothing, of course, to diminish the triumph of Baamu and Amadeus Wretch, as they smashed every tomb, broke every seal, and gloried in the outpouring of magic worthy to honour the Great Mother, warm the Grandfather’s ever-generous heart, and free once and for all, some instant not quite yet but doubtless now ever closer at hand, the great, scaled Queen of Air and Fire.
Cult of the Burrowing Fang Victory
The impossibly dense tangle of briarwood choked the fen, steely-thorned and poisonous. For days, the exploratory forces of the Cult of the Burrowing Fang had struggled to make inroads with little progress to show. Dendaelien Vipertongue knew that time was of the essence. He had seen for himself the Stormdance crews of Celtavyr Solas and Lord Vigo laying plans for a forward outpost in the region, though they had made little more progress than his own forces. His scouts had quietly cheered when a massive serpent rose from the mire to smash their pole skiffs, and though they had quickly been silenced when it was crushed by a boulder dropped from their flying comrades, it had seemed at least for a time as though the Serpent Gods were directing their steps. The expedition was taxing on all of them. Predatory plants moved easily through the tangle, and had claimed several of his soldiers before Beastlord Tahkar’s Slaughthorn tribesmen drove them off with flaming brands. Since then, they had travelled in a convoy ringed with torches. Alkas Dreadrender was the first to spot the temple rising from the mire, a crumbling ruin from some forgotten age. His forces made haste, yet they were not alone. On the steps of the temple, the skaven assassins led by Geki struck, sliding from the bog and bringing many beastmen down with a hail of poisoned blades. Yet this close to their goal, Alkas would not be denied, and rallying his forces they pushed the skaven back into the swamp. Taking the temple, the beastlord discovered an ancient headdress resting upon an altar, yet no sooner had he seized this prize then the temple began to shake, its foundations crumbling. A ghostly figure appeared before the Cult explorers, wailing vengeance and curses upon them. Fleeing the collapsing structure, they had escaped with their lives and their dubious prize, yet now carried the curse of the vengeful spirits of this land.
The Grand Library of Barak-Drak now rests in the putrid Dungmoot, having sheared off from the main body of the Skyport as it crash-landed. Despite not wishing to set foot in the Dungmoot herself, Nashwar wasted no time in sending her Cabalists to seize the Skyport’s jettisoned wealth of knowledge.
Havard Erkansson and the Bugmansbur Twins, Saga and Runar.
Hammerhal Jonns coordinated the effort, personally sorting through the books alongside his Duadrin. Desperate for information about the Dragon, they sought tomes that were contemporaneous with the fall of Maudra Rua. These tomes were then loaded up by Loonboss Squidgit and Dr Chungus onto great hammocks slung between the horns of the ogor’s mounts.
During this methodical strip-mining of the tomes, Straszyc set about on an altogether different duty. With no corporeal form, the nighthaunt was incapable of loading books en masse. Instead they set about haunting the tomes that Hammerhal Jonns discarded, secreting away patient banshees in order to harass the Skyguard, should they ever arrive.
Indeed, the work was fast and efficient and the Cabalists were wary but not overly worried. They had spotters located throughout the dungmoot, and would receive word of the Skyguard’s approach long before their arrival.
Or so they thought.
As the Cabal was well under way with its plundering that an enemy skyfleet shimmered into existence above them. Shrouded by Aengellania ’s illusory magic, the shining ships of the Skyguard had sailed straight past the Cabalite spotters. Capitalising on the element of surprise, they unloaded their cannons on the waiting stonehorns and thundertusks, scattering them and killing many outright. Thankfully, the ever-paranoid skaven Grey Seer Shylvar had hidden warp-lightning cannons near to the library. Emerald lightning soon ripped through the flotilla, downing over half their ships. Looking to kick the enemy while they were down, Shylvar ordered his poison wind globadiers to move in and finish the job. The nearest wreck belonged to Curator-Magnate Havard Erkansson, whose thunderers were struggling to pull themselves from the sucking, filth of the dungmoot. With their ship slowly sinking, some unfortunates were dragged down to a putrescent grave. Others surfaced, gasping, only to take deep lungfuls of poison from the skaven’s chemical weaponry and be incapacitated, hacking up gobbets of their own lungs. Thankfully, most of those who escaped the slurry had kept their masks on, and managed to put up a hasty defence, but it was clear that they were outnumbered and about to be overrun.
That was, until Marrlë Ironteeth entered the fray. Seeing the duardin’s peril, he leapt upon the back of a greater daemon of khorne and, with a fistfull of its mane, forced it over the side of the skyguard’s airship. Together they plummeted towards the dungmoot, like a fiery, terrible comet. As they landed, the poison wind was flash-burned away, leaving the endrinsuited duardin unscathed, but setting many of the unprotected skaven’s fur alight. Charging forwards, Marrlë was soon joined by his host, who sent the skaven defence forces fleeing, lest they be hacked to pieces, and their skulls piled high.
Meanwhile, Havard set about rescuing his warriors from his sinking skyship before leading the attack force into the library itself. Within the cramped library, he found Hammerhal Jonns base of operations. Caught unprepared, it looked like the Cabalist duardin were about to be taken prisoner by the Skyguard, until a deafening shriek split the air. Straszyc’s banshees flooded out of their tomes, petrifying the attacking duardin and allowing Hammerhal Jonns warriors a chance to escape. Seeing that their allies were clear, the ghostly apparitions disappeared just as suddenly as they had arrived, melting back into their innocuous leatherbound homes.
Meanwhile, outside the Library, the Cities of sigmar forces of White-Branch the Krakensworn and Ishothea Cometcalld fought the Loonboss Squidgit’s Gitz and the Mawtribe of Dr Chungus, may of whom had yet to regain control of their colossal mounts. Battle lines quickly devolved into wrestling matches, with even the most lithe warrior struggling to keep their footing in the loathsome terrain. Finally Dr Chungus arrived on the battlefield, charging in atop his Stonetusk Stabcat, its horns still laden with its hammock full of books. Ishothea was caught unaware by the flanking charge, and while many of her men dived to the side, she did not have enough time to react, instead bracing her feet and raising her zweihander. She roared and swiped at Stabcat’s face, but the hammock intercepted the blow and split under the razor sharp blade, sending the hoard of books tumbling into the sodden bog. The stonetusk reared and slipped, allowing Ishothea just enough time to dive between its legs. Its course diverted, the potentially ruinous charge of Dr Chungus was averted, and Ishothea stood, unharmed and holding a volume aloft to the cheers of her soldiers, who redoubled their efforts against the remaining Cabalist forces.
By now the Cabalists were being beaten back, and as Hammerhal Jonns’ warriors left through a back entrance, they saw more skyguard ships hoving into view. The order to fall back was given, and the Library returned to the hands of the Skyguard.
However the victory was not absolute. Many of the books had been damaged beyond repair in the stinking filth of the Dungmoot. More worryingly, Straszyc’s banshees never ceased haunting the books of the Library, and though almost all the tomes were rescued in the end, the new Library of Barak Drak was forevermore an unsettling, foreboding place, where scholars would not venture into alone, and where the occasional student would be found dead in the morning, white as a sheet, and with their face contorted into a mask of pure terror.
Skyguard of Barak-Drak Victory
The vast, stinking mire of the Dungmoot spread far beyond the battle at the library. Dark fens lit by swamp gases and magnesium will-o’-the-wisps clung at the feet and trapped even the lightest skiffs that tried to pole across its smothering surface. It was cloying and humid, foul and leeching, its every surface designed to repel any that came close. For the skaven surveyors employed by Ghalbakk’s Company, it felt like home. In assessing the location, they had come to a surprising discovery. The vast fens had a strange, spiralling draw, like a tidal pull that wound towards the some unknown point. Not that Kankerfire had cared overmuch for the reasoning, so long as he could test out his newly innovated warpfire thrower. The journey towards this mysterious point had been difficult. Kaptains Mogrum and Toxis, flying the colours of the Stormdancers, had harried their every step through the swamp. It was unclear whether they were following the same geomantic draw, or simply harrying the Company’s travel. Each day, more rats were lost to scythejaw garials or chasing swamp phantoms into sinking tar pits. The Dungmoot extracted a heavy toll for its secrets, yet with each loss they drew closer to the hidden centre of this mire. There could be no mistaking it once it was found. Rising like a giant from the fen, a monolith stood tall. Its sides were carved with glyphs, and though many had faded from time and weather the unmistakable symbol of the Horned Rat stood clear to see. That was when the rest of the Stormdancer Reavers sprang their trap. Attacking from all sides, they pushed the skaven until their backs were to the monolith itself. Kankerfire’s warpfire throwers were put to the test, their gouting flames keeping the pirates at bay momentarily, until with a mighty crack the stone at his back shattered into flesh-stripping shards. Baron Grubwood brought Nurgle’s corrupting touch to the stone itself, breaking it apart and completing the skavens’ encirclement. Yet even at this final moment, victory was denied to them. Gnawholes opened around the shattered stone, and from them streamed the Company’s reinforcements. Zirgot’s grots appeared, flinging glass bottles filled with highly explosive gases. Then came the Company’s iron core, Zhuzol Zhath and his Infernal Guard, and in their midst strode Ghalbakk barking orders and firing shots from his pistol into the melee. In the face of this renewed assault, the Reavers were forced to reluctantly flee once more. Within the ruins of the monolith, a treasure horde awaited the victors. While magical treasures and weapons were passed from hand to hand, Kankerfire looked in awe at a simple-seeming staff that radiated with the will of the Horned Rat. This would serve well in the battles to come, yes-yes.
“Listen, lads. Hear it? The thrum around us, every moment. That’s the sound of my zogging caverns being ransacked, you lazy gitz! Now get up there an’ stop them!”
Fungoid Cave-Shaman Drip Splatgizzard
Troggboss Mooneye gazed sightlessly at the dripping remains of the mutated cave-shaman absently as he sat, surrounded by the unlucky corpses of the tribe of grots that had once called this hidden grotto their home. This place, filled with something not quite like the touch of the Bad Moon, not quite the rot of Chaos, was scrambling his senses mightily. It flooded what passed for his brain with intoxicating loonlight, and he’d barely even noticed the reprieve he’d won, until Vhaskora of the Bloody-Handed Dancers had threatened to gut him if he didn’t stop swinging the strange little shaman around at nothing much in particular. They were planning to take him alive . Now he was little more than rags and viscera.
It had started in the pass above. Neither Ghalbakk’s mercenaries nor Nashwar’s Cabalists had expected to see the other here in such force, and battle had broken out quickly, fiercely, and quite incoherently. The sweltering light of Hysh above was blocked out by choking fumes as the Steamwrought Chuglords’ infamous train hurtled madly through the craggy valley, followed by The Ravenous , a towering cogfort captained by the illustrious ogor Prince Crudo Cinghiale, Conte of Carbognawr, its manifold cannons blasting enemy flesh and ancient stone indiscriminately. Ogors from the Chuglords, the Boar’s Tusk and the Coldcut Tribe swamped the dry valley with sweating, hungering flesh. They clashed with an endless swarm of verminous flesh, the skaven warlord Kraknaw Killjaw chittering hoarsely as he directed the vermintide. Ratmen from multiple disparate clans sworn to Nashwar’s cause spilled out of Killjaw’s gnawholes to gum up the cave entrances, preventing their foes from entering while keeping the passage clear for their allies, among the most formidable of these being the tzaangor Templars of Our Burning Saviour, their heavy plate resplendent in the sunlight despite the Chuglords’ fumes.
A disparate coterie of tzaangor templars, Brainpicker ogors and Santcha orruks journeyed deep into the maze of tunnels behind a tide of scabrous rats, congratulating themselves heartily, for their foes had been stymied before even reaching the caves. Better, they had only encountered the occasional cave squig, nothing close to the hordes of mutant grots and colossal squigs they’d been preparing for (though the ogors were thoroughly disappointed, having wanted to try the giant squigs’ meat, and peeled off to search for them alone.) If a few giant rats were lost to the cave-shaman’s crude traps along the way, so be it. The Cabal would have their prizes with even less effort than they had expected.
Or so they thought, until they hit a wall of troggflesh.
Troggboss Mooneye had taken a rather different approach to entering the depths of Morghur’s Moon: he had simply dug his way in from the other side. The cabalists found themselves opposed by a full moon-drunk troggherd, supported by lithe death-dancers of Khaine. Behind them, the shaman’s grotto had been thoroughly ransacked, the viscera of its former inhabitants smearing the walls and mingling with the crushed remains of priceless arcane artefacts. Freeguilders and duardin in the colours of fairwater were already carting away what remained of the grots’ mystical horde along with the wealth of dragonmetal they were extracting from the tunnel below. Deeply frustrated, High Templar Aethador called a fighting retreat, even as the belligerent troggoths waded towards them, laughing stupidly as they crushed squealing rats beneath their enormous, clumsy feet. The High Templar cursed himself: he’d elected to leave the Cabal’s own contingent of troggoths on the surface to bolster the defences of the cave entrances. Troggboss Mudglutt had even suggested digging into the cave, in his own way, and the Cabal leaders had ignored him.
If Aethador had his way, they wouldn’t be making that mistake twice.
Ghalbakk’s Company Victory
Tk’ya’pyk and Itza’Qua moved carefully across the rusty basin, their steps sure and light. Together, they had split the wide valley into a grid, their cohorts working in tandem to map this bizarre and dangerous landscape. It was slow and steady work. Volcanic vents rose from the ground, worked to pure metal by the heat and geological forces beneath their feet. At their tops, where the superheated minerals waters were belched forth on regular intervals, the vents were a polished and brilliant silver, fading to tarnished blues and blacks lower down, then the rusty red that carpeted basin at their bases where the impurities had been washed down. One wrong step could see the corroded basin floor crack beneath their feet, yet the skinks were deliberate creatures. They watched, and counted, and learned the timing of the eruptions. Though the two had not known each other before joining the Cult, and had felt the pull of the Coalescence differently, both had been drawn to this place by an unspoken sense of kinship. With a strange, almost dream-like familiarity, they ventured into the heart of the Smokestacks, and found what they had been searching for. There, as if he had been waiting for them, they met a red-coloured skink who bore no scent of the stars at all. Without a word, he took them deep into an underground cavern, and revealed a vast tribal village of fully coalesced seraphon. At the village’s heart, they found what they knew they had been sent here for - ancient slann artefacts, and the tools to create new spawning pools.
The wide plains of swaying grassland had seemed peaceful, almost idyllic to Dar Starborn and his scouts as they traveled its gently rolling hills. The flames of conflict that now blossomed across the Bleeding Wilds had not seemed to touch these wild-flower meadows. Their mapping expedition had so far been uneventful, yet if any of them had felt robbed of adventure the feeling would not last long. A bright red flare shot upwards into the sky. They all recognized the sign - a distress signal, sent up by survivors from the crash of Barak-Drak. Dar immediately sent word off to gather the other forces of the Skyguard in the area. However, he was not the only one to see the signal. With a piercing cry, a large winged saurian leapt from the long grasses into the sky. Another joined it, then another, until within moments dozens, then hundreds, of the feral Ripperdactyls circled above. Dar and his remaining scouts charged towards the source of the flare, and as they crested a hill they saw the smoldering crashsite below. A building-sized section of the skyport lay in the sloping grassy valley, kharadron survivors leaning from its sides and taking potshots at the swarms of Ripperdactyls that dove down towards them. Across the field, Brachanthyl Ivythicket was making slow progress towards the wreck, a moving canopy of thorny vines shielding the Skyguard troops that followed. They were not alone on the field, however. Flying the purple and black flag of the Stormdancer, a hunting party of Evangeline Riftborn, Brawen the Bloody Queen and Killax fought through the swarm of Ripperdactyls. For a moment, it seemed they would reach the ruins first. Then, the bloody mist that hung across the battlefield began to pulse and crystallize, and with a wet tearing sound the Khornate daemons of Prince Skarath burst forth and attacked the hunting party. Whether this Cabalite intervention was intended or simply drawn by the bloodshed, it turned the field into a slaughterhouse. Any attempts at regrouping and organizing a line were interrupted by the predatory Ripperdactyls, and so the melee swirled around the wreck. Relief came at last from an unexpected angle. Squigs rained down across the field, flung high into the air by Boomer and Havard Erkansson, latching onto the winged reptiles and pulling them from the sky. In this brief respite, the Umithil’s namarti scouts were able to reach the wreckage and safely extract the survivors, along with the precious endrinn components they possessed. Retreating to the cover of Brachanthyl’s thicket, the Skyguard were able to extricate themselves safely, leaving a frustrated Stormdance hunting party to do the same and an angry daemon to chase a field full of squigs.
Rays of waning hyshlight filtered through the stark, smoky crystalline growths that surrounded the ancient fortification, casting the dusty bones of its sentinels in an inky, shifting gloam. These skeletons had stood guard for centuries, their only directive to defend the forts. But they had never been expected to face more than a roving band of scrappers or a rogue clunker beast. To the approaching forces of the Cult of the Burrowing Fang, they were little more than a nuisance in their quest for ritual power. For indeed, each of these crumbling edifices was a site of significant geomantic confluence along the Verdigris Mountains, each bolstered further by the aetheric resonance generated by the bound body of Maudra Rua. A prize most worthy of the great Voice-Of-Embers. The old saurus clacked his weapons together and let out an almighty roar, goading his flock into action.
Warqueen Jahin of Orik’s Horde leads an assault on a group of ancient skeletal sentinels
But this conquest would not be so one-sided. The old forts might have been little defended, but their originator wouldn't give them up so easily. Necromancer Drakenot had scarce left their post watching over the eggs of the Underbough Sepulchre in many centuries, but now, their creaking roots took to the field once more. These sites of power were to play a vital role in Drakenot's grand ritual, and they would not see them defiled by this upstart beast, so shortsighted in his ambition. Of all the myriad rivals that had sprung up from the chaos of the bleed, this one might have been the most dangerous for Drakenot's noble cause. In his misguided quest to set fire to the stars, Voice-Of-Embers would free Maudra Rua, enemy to all Dracotheon's children. Including the little ones that Drakenot had given everything to protect.
This would be no grand battle but a series of running skirmishes, so scattered were the old fortifications the two armies sought to hold. The two vanguards clashed, the winged stormcast of the Guardian Legion raining death upon a horde of serpent cultists of the Burrowing Fang, herding them into the waiting embrace of the sylvaneth of the Birch and Poplar. Through foresight provided by Wight King Tarsus and a grot prophesier under his command, the forces of the Sepulchre raced to take points of strategic importance for the battle ahead. The Levvabakz Kruleboyz, the skeleton legions of the Broken Stag, and the macabre retinue of Drakenot themself bolstered the ragged defences of the forts higher up in the foothills, whilst deep in a boggy valley, upon a shadowed and crumbling site of power, a strange chant filled the stagnant air. The fell ritual of the necromancer She-Who-Unearths reverberated through the crystalline forest, causing the mineral trees to hum with power. Aided by the ulguan essence of a coven of melusae from the Cult of Khaine the Unconquered and defended by the might of the Fathomless Root, She-Who Unearths unleashed the shadow magic imbued deep within the crystalline growths, bathing the forest in a shifting maze of confounding mists and shifting shadows.
The Cult of the Burrowing Fang were not without their own tricks, however. While the Underbough forces were taking their positions, the various warbands who had sworn fealty to Voice-Of-Embers were gathering the panicked beasts running from the commotion in the hills, the Chaos followers of Lord Carnagros and the beastmen of Sarros Falneak leading the charge with vicious abandon. Those creatures not slain in the beastmen’s violent exuberance were shepherded back to Orik the Mind-Flayer and Veithan the WAAAGH-Mother who, through vile poisons and mutitative procedures, twisted the creatures into horrifying, rabid weapons of war. An odd menagerie had wandered into these shadow-imbued hills from either side of the bleed: stegadons and clunker beasts; great bears and sand-scurries alike. All were imbued with the alchemical inconsistency of Chamon and the untamed ferocity of Ghur in equal, agonising measure. And these creatures cared not for any mystical fog: they were set in a direction and charged heedlessly, disrupting all of the Sepulchre’s carefully laid plans in a stampede of pain and rage.
As monsters crushed the arboreal defences laid by father root and charged around the ritual site, She-Who-Unearths’ concentration broke, the power of Ulgu dissipating, the crystals returning to dormancy. Voice-Of-Embers roared again and sounded the charge, the bulk of the Cult’s forces taking up the warcry as they sought to take advantage of the disarray. The Underbough’s tricks weren’t quite used up yet, however. The Cultist forces clashed with the most obvious threat, guarding the end of a gully leading directly to the heart of the most potent ritual site, and Drakenot themself: the skeletal steeds of Wight King Tarsus and the nightmarish mutant skaven led by Kratch Many-Lives, hoping to quell their most potent opponents while Voice-Of-Embers made for the fortress beyond, hoping to end this war before it had even truly begun. This was just as Doctor Clovis had anticipated, and he launched stage two of his plan into operation.
Doctor Clovis watches from the shadows as his agents assassinate key cultist leaders
The gargants who had dug the gully, the Sons and Daughters of Death, set the earth to trembling as they waded into the back lines of the Cult’s forces, boxing them in even as they were toppled by sheer numbers. Hissing, Voice-Of-Embers fought on, his forces breaking through the Underbough defence with ferocious strength, their foes fleeing far too easily. The Saurus Prophet roared again as he cut the still-living head from Kratch’s mutant shoulders and punched through into the hills, ordering his cultist lieutenants to split their forces once more to take each of the fortresses, before realising, with some alarm, that none of his lieutenants were anywhere to be seen. In fact, each of them lay dead in the gully, as per Clovis’s plan. Assassins from both his own Everautumn Dynasty and the Cult of Khaine the Unconquered had made surgical strikes throughout the melee, wiping cultist leaders out and leaving the horde in disarray. Voice-Of-Embers Snarled and split the force himself, each group pressing into the rallying defenders of the ritual sites. Each were met with further ambushes by Clovis and Melesis Daggerheart’s forces, as well as grot scuttlings burrowing up from beneath the ground under Baron Krogg’s Command. Voice-Of-Embers made it through to the very walls of Drakenot’s fortress, the witchlight in the necromancer’s hollow sockets staring down at him impassively, before, with a snort of indignation, he called his forces into full retreat. His losses had not been so great, in the grand scheme of his legions of devoted, but his warriors were in disarray. There was nothing left to gain here. Let the old Wych keep their petty holdings. Voice-Of-Embers would see his ambition realised yet.
Underbough Sepulchre Victory
Perched on the thin branch of a scrabbly tree, the silver jay watched the bone-crafted machines along the lake’s shore pump away, winching cables that disappeared into the depths. Lake Lapis here was deep and dark, its cold waters silent. This was its favourite hunting ground, for the distant shimmers of light that came from the lake’s depths drew buzzing ore beetles that floated clumsily on the water’s surface. Lately, the lake had been busier than normal. A glut of ogors had appeared some time ago, seeking to reach the hidden depths of the lake, though their plan to drink it dry had done little. Others had come afterwards. The green banners of Ghalbakk’s company now dotted the lakeshore. A rickety goblin-made contraption looking like a fish made of wood, rusting iron and pine tar sat on the shore, being stared at and occasionally hit with a hammer by Alonysius the Inventor. Fish Oil Gang gargants watched their lines stoically, unmoving for hours if needed. They were not the only gargants to test the waters, as across the lake Hakai of the rival Stormdancers had wrestled an Incarnate from the depths of the lake. There had been a brief flurry of violence between the camps, as Vhaskora and Mooneye the Troggoth held off an attack by the pirates led by First Mate Tanner of the Keystone Acquisitions Company. The operation had become much smoother for Ghalbakk’s Company with the arrival of Leige-Immortis Basikon and his researchers. Able to withstand the cold and pressure, and with no need for considerations like air, they dived deep into the depths of the lake, charting wrecks and natural features of the lake’s depths. The discovery of a large aethergold deposit had pleased the Ossiarch commander greatly. It would greatly please the Profiteer-General and his backers in Fairwater, and win the Liege-Immortis his good graces. Even the kraken had not managed to spoil the good news.
A chill wind howled across the mountain passes, cold steel particulates scraping armour like sandpaper and scratching at eyes and throats. Kugok Thunderbeard scowled, and pulled his cloak tighter. A tower rose from the mountainside a short distance down the path. He did not recognize it, despite having traveled this path many times. The Bleed had made navigating difficult. His scouts and fellow Skyguard were spread wide across the mountainside. The Lumineth, Yenlaa and Emideri, waited a short distance back. He had been tasked with seeing them across this mountain range, yet also knew Admiral Breyla’s orders to search for lost endrinn components. It could be worth exploring. They had seen Cabal forces further down the mountains, an orruk and nighthaunt fighting against a pack of wild ghouls, and knew the Underbough had also sent explorers into the area. It would be a risk, yet a worthy one. They started down towards the tower, then drew short as a pale figure emerged from the doorway. Thrandrangur the Vale-Prince raised a hand, and too late Kugok realized the trap they had walked into. Thymopen’s Dawnriders rode out from behind the tower, charging across the uneven ground towards them. Cyprecht Detris’ pack followed, along with Vreeche Maggottail. The sudden assault was relentless, driving Thunderbeard’s rangers back towards the precipice of the mountain pass. The cathallar and stonemages with him threw up waves of defense, but soon even they faltered. It was there, pushed to the very edge, that they saw rising above the rocky slopes the airships of Admiral Ahaz Doursworn. Relief fire ranged down around them, driving off Zarkon’s Gheists and giving them a respite from the press. In strikes of lightning, Avarei Flamestrike’s stormcast joined the fray, creating a wall of crackling steel in front of the beleaguered rangers. Iron from the mountainside joined fire from the sky, as Sir Zigbin’s Dawnberg outrides charged down into the suddenly reeling Underbough forces. Jus-tin Steelmead fought blade to blade with High Templar Aethador upon the summit of the tower itself, while the fieldwork researchers sent by the skyport wheeled a broken hurricanum over the rise. The Underbough’s charge had become a full route, and as they fled the field the Skyguard moved to secure the tower. Seeing his allies safe and secure, Sir Zigbin took a moment to explore the tower itself. Deep below, in a strangely flowing geometric room, he discovered an ancient throne carved with runic dragon patterns. Pressing a hand to the stone, he leapt back as curving bands of light flowed across the lines of runes, and the bottom of the throne cracked apart to reveal a golden sword hilt in a scabbard of dragonscale. The Paladin of the Good Moon grasped the handle, and felt the power of the Good Moon flush through him.
The vastness of the wilds had only begun to be explored. In mountain passes covered in strange and arcane glyphs, savage orruks and skaven in yellow vie with a ranger captain and a stormcast general over a strange burial site. Wurrgog Prophet Durrgrogz and Vrogrog the ogor study a vast sinkhole, its secrets yet to be uncovered. Rollings hills covered in metallic pink blossoms stretch outwards, Zarek and Imoen on the trail of duardin survivors while a dark knight and the Cult of the Exquisite Sighs made inroad to its heart. Kalured Ravensight and Hagkrull ‘Eadeater look from shore at a ruined port, its secrets yet to be uncovered, the forces of their allies too spread out to make good on their efforts. There are secrets yet to find in these lands, powers that could shape the path of the war to come.
From every corner of the Wilds, reports have come in of strange openings and doorways into the earth, some naturally formed and some clearly crafted by powerful spells. Those who have seen them cannot shift them from their minds. Their dreams are taken up by darkened doorways, yawning portals into the shadowy depths below. Voices past the edge of hearing seem to call outwards, beckoning the hearer downwards. Answers, they seem to promise. Answers to questions not yet asked.
Time presses against the Bleed with relentless force. The magics of the Ur-River that have suffused the ground wither and are drawn off by the whistling winds. The colossal mind of the serpent bound at the heart of the Wilds writhes in its fitful slumber, thrashing against the ebbing of the tide that has so nearly brought it together once more. Tremors, deep in the heart of the realms, resound. Cracks form in the brittle, drying clay, cracks in the foundation of the realms, and the Bleeding Wilds shudder.