Waves of green fire rippled through the sky, dancing and shifting. They burned at the edges, deep purples and poisonous blues curling into fractal tongues of flame. The colours washed across the black and rocky shore. They played over the featureless faces of stone that stared out longingly to the sea. Empty eye sockets came alive in the shifting lights, the shadows carving monstrous roars or mirthful grins across the cold granite in a flash, before leaving it lifeless again. The aim hummed, a resounding presence just behind the eyes and just beyond the edge of hearing. At times it was like the chittering of thousands of alien birds, or the static screech of tortured metal. At others it was a deeper chorus, the growling of caged thunder, as if the stone heads that lined the island in their hundreds were chanting together in the language of earth and salt and fire.
The battle for Ashrak Bastion was renewed with the brazen roar of trumpets across the barren hillside before the walls. Lancers bearing the sigils of the Blades of Colbain thundered forward, smashing through forward pickets guarded by the Mooncalled as if they were nothing. The Shields of An’avon had arrived in force. Saurus and lumbering Kroxigors from the Seekers of Tlanxla and the Shedscale followed close behind the cavalry charge. The momentum of the seraphon carried through storms of doomrockets and the screaming eldritch fire of the skull catapults that had been hastily assembled on the partially collapsed curtain wall, making for the breaches. Amongst them strode the gleaming armoured forms of the Ivory Hammers, their weapons raised in Sigmar’s name and a blizzard swirling around them like a halo of ice. From the harbour side, several gorgons rose up to make their own assault, spreading the defenders thin. Where the fighting was thickest, the vampire Kataja roared and spun his sword like a reaper’s scythe, collecting a hefty toll of gloomspite before the gates of the citadel. His challenges echoed from the broken stone, and suddenly hard-pressed defenders rushed to hold the line. Yet all of that was by intention, meant to draw the guard. Beneath their feet, the true assault began in earnest.
Attacking from the tunnels dug by the Drossforged’s hardy miners, Khan Obedji and his erstwhile allies struck. Skaven bombs and Varanite explosives rocked the foundations of the citadel, blasting through tunnel walls and into the Bastion’s dungeons. Noxious nurglites charged first into the breach, a forlorn hope trailing caustic slime behind them. Xira Forgecaller’s vanguard were hot on their heels, fighting with blade and fire with equal zeal. Warmagics flashed and burned in the shifting darkness, a purple sun leaving amethyst forms frozen in its wake. The Drossforged were joined by the second half of the Shields’ forces as well, the Lion’s Fang and X Fretensis fighting back to back through the broken tunnels. Blood priestess of the Shadowsong, chanting Khaine’s name, Fateless spirits and stormcast guardians followed in their wake, splitting off to fight room to room in the claustrophobic cells. The explosiveness of their arrival and the ferocity of their charge caught the defenders by surprise, driving them back towards the stairwells leading into the citadel’s heart, and for a moment it appeared as though the retreat would turn into a route.
The first and only warning the attackers received of their impending danger were the rats. Bloated and distorted, the vermin came skittering down passageways and squeezing through fallen masonry towards the newly opened tunnels, trying to escape out the way the assault had arrived. They leapt and bounded, ducking beneath weapons and shields, not attacking but running as fast as they could towards the exits. Then the first of them exploded. Roiling in unstable chemical reactions, the creature burst into a cloud of retching noxious fumes that attacked the eyes and throats of every living creature in the tight tunnels around it. Like popping kernels of corn, more chemical bursts followed the first in a few irregular moments, then in rapid succession. Following this signal, a rain of poison wind globes began to pour down into the dungeons, thrown from staircases and dropped down murder-holes from the levels above. Into this miasma marched the skeletal Knights of the Vale, who had no eyes to burn or throats to close. Their armour and shields were bedecked in strange purple blooms, and as the beleaguered and near-blind duardin vanguard struck out at them, they burst in a spew of toxic corrosion. While the hearty duardin might have endured the poisonous Nosniff Caps on their own, the merciless rise and fall of the wight-blades behind them left few survivors.
Khan Obedji’s attack from below had been stopped in the chemical hellpit the dungeons had become. Survivors either fled back through the breaching tunnels, or emerged coughing and sputtering into the stairwells of the citadel where Runnoff troggoths waited to crush them. Only a small group, led by the Order of the Black Book and the Luxy Dogs, made it deeper, following a path they believed would lead them to the armoury. This makeshift alliance planned to magically bypass the vaults below and steal the arcane machinery within out from under the feet of the defenders. Yet as they unsealed the wards, it was not treasure by Viskhan Inkeyes and the Templars of the Burning Saviour that stood before them. The fighting was short and furious, Tzangor greatblades sweeping out in lethal precision against orruk plate. Vishkan rose in the vault’s center on winds of magic, sending sorcerous bolts of corruscating colours sweeping out over the would-be looters. Caradrya, her magics already taxed to bypass the vault, was hard-pressed to shield and counter the warping fires. While some few of Inkeyes’ eerie guardians were cut down by orruk blades, collapsing into empty robes and dust, it was clear this attack too had failed.
Upon the walls, the Wolves made their steel known, committing much of their reserve in a brutal show of force. Following battleplans drawn by Valkaara Crimsonforge, the counterattack across the inner bailey swept through the attacking lines. Savage warriors and goroan pitfighters charged into the gaps in the walls, meeting steel against the scale and claw of the seraphon. At the gatehouse, the Exiled Blades gained great renown, holding the entrance against the raging vampire and driving his assault off in single combat. Looming over the curtain wall, the gargants Junko and Mog Warstomper ran back and forth, dropping Wolves and Blackwing Corsairs into the fighting wherever it was thickest. Screeching ripperdactyls circled about their heads, peppering them with spears and claws, yet they fought through. Veithan and Kido Takara lept from the gargants’ back, charging headlong into the assault, and with that the second attack on the fortress was well and truly broken.
As the dust settled, Vishkan Inkeyes and his allies still held control of the tower and the artillery within. It had been a costly defense, but in men and fortifications. The walls, already breached, had come crashing down over the collapsing tunnels beneath the surface. The gatehouse had been held, but the fighting had reduced it to little more than a half-wall. The gargants mighty blows had smashed parts of the roof and upper levels of the citadel, leaving it vulnerable to attack. Yet the defenders had bought themselves time and the chance to dig in before the inevitable final assault. Khan Obedji raged at his own repeated failures, promising to the Gulping God to bring the citadel down or die on its battlements. Vishkan turned his attention to the arcane machinery within, fighting to bring it to bear before the attackers could regroup. The erstwhile allies of both sides looked inwards to the city. They knew this fight could not go on much longer, for as soon as the Black Forge was discovered it would be a race to claim it, and whoever held this citadel or its shattered ruins would have an immense advantage from the harbourside. Ice melted in blood and fire, and water rich in corruption swept out towards the sea. Green fire danced in the frozen air, crackling and humming. The final battle for Ashrak Bastion would come with the dawn.
Greenhall’s streets reverberated with the sounds of slaughter. The entire ward became embroiled in battle as Shadowsong Renegades met the Shields of An’avon. Carnage erupted in every corner of the labyrinthian streets; there was no safety, no respite, only blood and death.
The fighting had broken out when the ghoulish sorcerer king Valinar and his court of mordants began to capture unfortunate souls as fuel for a fell ritual to summon a great Chalice of Ushoran. If summoned, this object of pure death magic would spread delusion and death throughout all of Frorholm.
When the Shadowsong’s first scouts returned in the grip of madness, Klarieth suspected something was amiss, but it wasn’t until the clear and grim report of one of the Stoneborn Stormcast that the horror of it was realized. Declaring in no uncertain terms that this abominable ritual had to be stopped, Klarieth mustered all who were willing and able to fight, her wrath writ large in the shards of her mask as she vowed to stop the spread of this curse before the madness took root in the darkness they had claimed.
The Shadowsong Renegades moved in force to stop King Valinar. In anticipation for the ritual, the Truesworn Cabal took it upon themselves to mark sections of Greenhall with Khainite wards in the hope they would contain the ritual magics, should they be unleashed. Battle was met when the Stormcast cavalry of the Knights Numinous ran down a force of chaos knights and some Iscarneth, for good measure. Their fellow stormcast of the Jade Tempest met a host of Sylvaneth in battle while the Stoneborn fought the warband of a chaos lord atop his manticore. Kherith’s Shade-Troupe encountered a powerful undead knight allied to the Shields, who Kherith defeated in single combat.
The ghoulish contingent of the Shields gave heed to nothing but fueling and defending the ritual site. King Valinar continued to sacrifice captives to increase his power, while ghouls of the Screaming Court and the Gloomcourt constructed the massive bone chalice to be used as the focus for the summoning.
Valinar had wasted no time and spared no magical expense in empowering the summoning of the chalice. The extra sacrifices and the magical tempering by both the Knights of The Purulent Keep and the Screaming Court had fueled the ritual to the point of instability. An undead host led by vampire lord Lucian Kazimir shambled toward Greenhall to defend the ritual site while Drosus Dragonsbane and his Fangs of Garm Held back the tide of Shadowsong. Drosus had schemed with a coven of chaos witches to taint the ritual with the magics of chaos, adding their particular cruel bend to the curse that was to be laid upon this land, yet making the binding even less stable.
The fighting reached a fever pitch as desperate Shadowsong warriors fought their way through a surging tide of defenders. So desperate had they become, Klarieth herself joined the melee. She arrived just as the Chalice began to take its final summoned form, and then with malice Valinar unleashed its power onto the attacking Shadowsong.
A thick red mist began to spread throughout the battle, the delusion of the ghouls claiming the Renegades, those weakest among them falling prey to mind warping power and turning them upon those who yet attempted to resist.
In the midst of this madness Klarieth felt the tug of madness begin to grasp at her own mind. It clawed and burrowed, seeking a path through her mental walls, when the shadows descended upon it in wrath and fury. Blood, in thick red droplets, began to fall from the sky, coating the ritual site in a fresh layer of crimson. Seeing it as a sign that their labors had paid off, the ghouls reveled in apparent triumph, before being swallowed by the massive jaws of a blood viper.
Klarieth wove the magical blood serpent through the undead lines with burning rage shining through the shards of her mask. Valinar saw the threat for what it was, and attempted to divert just enough of the chalice’s power to dispel it.The arcane duel flashed with unbound power, moments passing like hours in the sanguine maelstrom of this new hellscape. Her will like the iron heart of her god, Klarieth finally sensed an opening when the chalice’s chaos energies began to overtake the death magic. With a snarl, she commanded the blood viper to wrap itself around the fell chalice, squeezing ever more tightly until the terrible cracking sound of broken bone split the air like a thunderclap, and both chalice and viper collapsed into a wave of charnel gore that washed away the remaining undead.
Klarieth breathed a heavy sigh of relief as the blood rain cleared. She stood upon a broken chunk of the chalice and proclaimed to her followers that none could defy them in their cause and their actions this day proved that. Klarieth felt a fool’s grin spread across her face as the Shadowsong Renegades cheered around her. They had claimed Greenhall from out of the very brink of madness.
Things had not gone well for the Dross-forged since they’d ventured into the ward, and once again, the Mooncalled were to blame for it. What had begun as simple reconnaissance had become a siege. An Iscarneth lapdog of Sagradiel had placed a bounty upon the head of Sevvir of the Aurrannar, and Ichi of Clan Kyodai had come to collect.
Quite literally in over their heads, Sevvir’s Luxy Dogs had taken shelter with Kharadron of the Revenue Cutters. Fortunately, they’d stocked quite the safehouse in an old workshop; unfortunately, Sevvir had led the Mooncalled to its doorstep. Deprived of their airship, the Revenue Cutters could only hunker down and ride out the storm.
Unable to knock the workshop down and otherwise too large to be of much use, Clan Kyodai begrudgingly allowed the rest of the Mooncalled to attempt to claim the bounty. First, Skrek Skychaser’s innovative “plague claw trebuchet” rained filth upon the workshop, attempting to stink them out. When the grots and duardin proved annoyingly resilient, the Skorchfur clan tried their luck, to a similar result. With the situation growing desperate for both sides, the Mooncalled sent in the Beast.
Unwilling to lose his men, Uhred the Beardless called upon the Dross-forged to lift the siege in Empty Heart. The Ossiarch Bonereaper Akatamáchitos Arouraíos and Lady Malef of the undead Hosts of Zagron answered, dividing and distracting the Mooncalled long enough to allow the skaven Askip and the Laboratory Mercs & Co. to breach a gnawhole into the safehouse, the enraged Beast snapping at their heels as the last of them vanished into the rift.
Their objective complete, Akatamáchitos and Lady Malef knew the time had come to withdraw when the horror of Vreech Maggottail’s creation beset them. A melding of necro-organ research and the strange mushroom magic of the Gloomspite, this vile creature Vreech’s Sanatorium was called the Father of Rats. Chewing its way into the ward like a parasite in an infected wound, its fungal network produced swarming rats, newly born, blind and ravenous.
Already losing numbers to this literal wave of rats, Akatamáchitos and Lady Malef were forced to quit the field. Empty Heart belonged to the Mooncalled.
“Blood spills across this frozen land, bringing us ever closer to the end. I suspect more and more that some power is pulling the strings, drawing champions from across the Realms. There is little I can do but continue my vigil.”
- Excerpt from the Emissary’s third missive.
Dracarion von Bal of the Ashyrian Dynasty surveyed the Eight Pillars. Of the island’s many derelict wards, the Pillars were hardly the most unpleasant. They appealed to Dracarion, yet he knew the Mooncalled would find nothing here: the place was already swarming with Blackwing Corsairs. Disappointed, he signaled his knights to withdraw.
Not far away, the Wight King Bregdar Felforge marched resplendent with the Blackwing’s prize bauble, the so-called “pendant of luck”, displayed upon his ancient breastplate. Perhaps it was fortune that favored Lissea’s flock, for their advance was met only with the tramp of their own boots in the muck. They could not yet know this, of course, and proceeded with caution. Sleekit Fang’s rat ogors, quite literally armed with warp-grinder drills, found stealth by moving through the buildings themselves, while the lads of Kommodore Deffgit buckled their swash and swaggered through the streets, albeit swathed in mist.
The ward soon secured, the real work began. Walking with Prince Osourn, Lissea beheld the ward’s namesake pillars and walked among them, seeing the truth of it: the many carvings of corvids were themselves an incantation, writ in the ways of Ghyr. She could not help but smile, just as the Great Gatherer smiled on her Corsairs. This curse of crows was theirs to claim, a stroke of luck and a good omen all at once.
Her discovery made, Jhaellarex and the grey seer Sharpwisker worked their corrupting magics, aided by Agathrix and the sorcerer known as Ranefer. The eight pillars bent and twisted as if in torment, and re-arranged themselves in a manner more pleasing to the ruinous powers.
The morning broke weakly above the looming monolith of Okkam's Tower, the thin light of Ulguan day filtering through the mist. The arrayed forces supporting each of the two generals eyed each other warily, as concerned about a knife in the back from a supposed ally as the swords of the enemy. They needn't have worried though; this fight was too important for something as trivial as petty betrayal. Within that tower was a crystal of malign and ancient power and each side had designs for it.
On one side, in support of the Khornate warlord Karovac the Vile, stood a combined force of Drossforged, Shadowing Renegades and Wolves of Agora. They hoped to unleash the Daemon bound within the crystal, subverting its bloodlust to their own ends. None expected this to go well for Karovac himself, but the bloody chaos that ensued would suit their purposes and provide ample opportunity to plunder the spoils and push towards the Fated Blade, their enemies distracted by the greater Daemon.
Opposing their claim was Arnagir Troll-King, the self-styled monarch joined by the Mooncalled, Blackwing Corsairs and Shields of An'avon. These uneasy allies understood little of the leyline ritual that the Troll-King sought to perform with the crystal, but it was surely a lesser evil than the unleashing of a Daemon so malign. Besides, troggoths could be herded and swayed; a Khornate Bloodthirster, less so.
The two forces clashed at the foot of the tower, each side attempting to prevent the other from entering while making an opening for their own strike force to breach the tower. Karovac launched himself into the fray with wild fury, his greataxe whirling through the air as if it weighed nothing, rending flesh as it went. The warlord’s unstoppable force met an immovable object in the Troll-King, the great brute’s flesh reknitting as quickly as his foe’s axe could rend it. Heroes and rogues alike fought valiantly on both sides: from the ranks of the Wolves of Agora came a blazing inferno, the ice-heart Tuatha sylvaneth sacrificing their very bark to carry the flames of the Everblazing Buccaneers into the heart of the Shields of An’avon lines, only to be met by the Faded King and his Stormcast knights, breaking the charge. It appeared that the fight had come to a stalemate, neither side able to pass the other and gain entry. Until the Carrion Queen herself arrived.
Lissea was honouring a promise to join her newfound compatriot Jhaellerex to fight alongside them at Okkam’s Tower. She would be needed elsewhere, and soon, but her sudden strike broke Kavarok’s lines just long enough for a small joint task force of Blackwing Corsairs and Mooncalled to breach the tower. Her work done, Lissea vanished back into the early morning haze, and battle lines regrouped around the tower. Drosus Dragonsbane of the Fangs of Garm took this momentary reprieve to remind Arnagir of a bet they had made. Drosus was currently ahead of the Troll King in heads taken, and Arnagir bellowed in rage, launching himself back into the fray with renewed fury.
Within the tower, the taskforce were making haste up the seemingly endless labyrinth of staircases and dusty studies. One of them, the Kharadron Dailan, clutched a peculiar stone of skaven design inscribed with malign runes: the true name of another daemon, scried and inscribed by the Stormcast known as the Forgotten. Behind him lumbered the ogor Chungus, who clutched to himself a very precious book. Bound within its pages was the daemon whose true name was carved onto the stone. The plan was thus: secure the stone and prepare a ritual to bind Chungus’s daemon to the stone, allowing it to manifest under the task force's control. It would hold back any allies of Karovac who managed to breach the tower and, if the worst should happen and the crystal fell into the warlord’s hands, fight the freed daemon on even footing. They couldn’t begin until they were in proximity to the crystal, however: its own power was the final piece of the ritual. If something went wrong, they risked freeing the daemon, never able to summon their own. It was a risk they had to take. With their only guard being a small contingent of wolf rats herded into position by Sleekit Fang, they began their desperate gambit.
Below, the fighting grew fiercer as each side attempted and foiled ploys to gain the upper hand. When the undead Sentinels of Aten attempted to sneak aboard the Blackwing boats maintaining supply lines to the Troll-King’s forces along the southern coast, they were thrown back by Markela Vyrkos and her vampiric cohort, set to defend the fleet. In the centre of the fray, the violence only intensified: the Idoneth of the Exiles of the Harrowing Seas met Pyrrha Bloodrain and her Brass Horde in pitched battle, while the Cult of Khaine the Unconquered melted in and out of the shadows, killing as they went. Then came a booming, bloodcurdling roar from the tower entrance. A ragged cheer went up among Karovac’s allies as a greater daemon burst forth. They’d been successful. Or so they thought until it began to tear into their ranks, making its way straight for Karovac himself. Worse, the crystal was in the clutches of the enemy, the tower’s highest chambers now held by Dailan and his slavering wolf rats.
Arnagir Troll-King bellowed a victorious warcry and redoubled his efforts, the exhausted ranks of the Shields of An’avon, Mooncalled and Blackwing Corsairs rallying behind him. With the crystal chamber now in enemy hands and a greater daemon bearing down upon them, Karavoc’s forces finally broke, making a fighting retreat. The battle had been close. Even closer than Karavoc and his allies knew, for if the ritual in the tower had gone even slightly awry, the daemon would have been freed unbound. Even now there was much that could go wrong, for Festerat’s Doomstone, the stone that Chungus’s daemon had been bound to, was an untested prototype. Perhaps one daemon’s freedom had been prevented this day, but only time would tell if the same was true for another.
The inky veil of shadow hung heavy over the streets of Ashpole, Ulgu made manifest in the prevailing darkness where the light of Hysh could not pierce. Even at the height of day, the only signs of light anywhere were the longer shadows that stalked the thick mist, before turning nearly pure black come dusk.
Most would be dissuaded from entering this forsaken ward, made even worse by the bloodshed spreading all over Frørholm, but the spirit of exploration is not so easily crushed for those who dare such hazards regularly, or for those who don’t care if they die. Many such souls found themselves drawn to the ward known as Ashpole.
Klarieth and her Shadowsong Renegades took a particular interest in Ashpole, carrying forward their success from Greenhall. It was during this expedition into the twilight choked streets where Baldhren Ironheart and his duardin crew discovered a network of tunnels hidden underneath the shadow-cast streets. After a brief ambush by a group of Mooncalled grots looking for shinies to nick, and despite injuries sustained in the fighting, they pressed on deeper into the tunnels. The skirmish had attracted the attention of the Knights Numinous and the shade queen of House Umbraborne. Hearing the echoes of aether shots coming from within, they wasted no time in rushing to their allies' aid.
Down in the depths of the Ashpole passages, the darkness was all encompassing. Light could not shine more than ten feet in any direction before being devoured by the overwhelming abyss. The almost supernatural stillness of the hidden passage only added to the eeriness of the tunnels. The deafening, soul-chilling silence of the grave was broken by the sudden persistent echoes of aethermatic gunfire. Finding themselves surrounded by shadow daemons on all sides, Baldhren’s duardin began firing indiscriminately into the dark. Panic set in as the daemons closed the gap between them, yet when all seemed lost, the darkness was split by the arrival of the Knights Numinous. The charging knights were swiftly followed by House Umbraborne, and with a flash of blades the shadow daemons were banished back to the dark corners of the tunnels. Though they had bought themselves a moment’s respite, the shadows would soon be back, and so the explorers made a hasty retreat back towards the relative light and safety of the streets above.
As reports of the tunnels trickled back to Klarieth, she was intrigued. What secrets could be found in those deep shadows, and what treasures had they been conjured to contain? The appearance of the shadow daemons was set aside with an almost contemptuous familiarity. They were old, familiar friends and foes in equal measure. Though Ashpole had not yet been explored, Klarieth made note to keep those tantalizing tunnels in mind for the future.
Reimund Robinsson and his mob of misfits waited for their scout, Anemethys, to return before advancing deeper into the Knee. This sense of caution was not shared by their ally Zamos and his ungor warherd. Eager for a fight, the beastmen ranged ahead swiftly and silently. They had caught the scent of their prey, and knew them to be close.
The skink Starseer Tu’bok’s approach was nothing so aggressive, yet no less proactive; the Shields required material with which to build their redoubt, and the rubble of this ward would serve nicely. The demolition already decided upon, a plan was conjured and put in motion. Indeed, why simply destroy the buildings when they could be rigged to topple upon Gwenefyre’s enemies at the same time?
Tasking the curious little clockwork gremlin they’d found in Juddermark with guiding them, the Dross-forged supply runners Droriz, Kugi and Thognor ventured into the Knee themselves, reinforcements from Stonebrak’s rune throng systematically clearing the buildings behind them. Growing confident at the lack of resistance, Kugi excitedly passed news of their gremlin’s big find back down the line: a fat Shields caravan, encamped in the Knee, unable to take shelter within the cramped towers of Estgard.
Moving quickly to seize such an opportunity, Sevvir’s Luxy Dogs quickly gathered the Lamastian Exiles of Zhuzol Zath and Ned Blackpowder’s ogors to his side. Not a combat automaton and having no understanding of the current conflict, the gremlin made to introduce itself to the caravan guards, whereupon it was immediately and utterly obliterated by the sunfire impact of an Everblazing Comet cast down from the heavens by Knight-Arcanum Karnreia.
Their cover blown, the Dross-forged launched their attack upon the caravan, only to watch as the ward itself was brought down upon their heads. Scattered, their momentum broken, they found themselves counter-charged by Knight-Captain Uther of the White Host. Attempting to rally his companions, Zhuzol Zath would realize the extent of the ambush as Zamos and Reimund Robinsson’s groups surrounded them.
It was then a Dross-forged duardin drifter, clad in rags and rusted armor, discarded his disguise and revealed himself to be Uhred the Beardless. “You have chos’n to fight for me, yet I would not see you die for me,” he rumbled, a gnarled hand offered in friendship to Zath. “Let us walk as broth’rs in battle. Together, Dross-forged, we strike as relentlessly as the hamm’r upon the anvil!”
As the dust cleared and the two sides pulled themselves from the fallen rubble, it was clear neither had taken a commanding lead in the region. With little to do but dust themselves off and swear vengeance across the ruined building, the two sides would need to find another path to claim the Knee.
The abandoned arena of Scathorg looked to be as good of a place as any already found. With large enclosed circular walls made of stone that gave a commanding view of the surrounding area and an icy mist that permeated through the air, the Old Bull of Tor Agöra could think of no better place to set up shop for the long campaign ahead of him. Unfortunately, Kul-Brimir and his wolves would soon find that this ward, once thought to be desolate, concealed many horrors which stood in the way of the Old Bull’s conquest.
The first scouting expeditions led by Vaalaalek the Conqueror and his blackwing raiders, supported by Sigurd Prow-Dancer and the Jitae, discovered a pack of troggoths lurking within the inner bowels of the arena. They did not take kindly to these upstarts causing a ruckus in their home and no creature in any realm fights as savagely as a troggoth denied his nap. The wolves soon found themselves on the receiving end of their anger. Through the skin of their teeth did the scouts escape with their lives mostly intact, and imbued with the knowledge that they are not the only ones to hold an interest in this arena.
For all their ferocity, the troggoths were just one of the many dangers lurking within Scathorg. Skirmishes raged on between seraphon and skaven, while Ashina the Huntress eagerly scoured for any prey she could come across in the name of excess and Valkaara Crimsonforge weaved her khornate war party through a path of carnage just getting to Scathorg.
Though these efforts to gain control of the arena were vital, the Wolves were cautious as to not spread themselves too thin, with many wishing to focus purely on the battle at Ashrak Bastion. Given this circumstance, Kul-Brimir commended those who had made efforts to take the arena and began to lay plans for a full takeover when the time was right.
Silken banners hung from the pavilion, their luxurious cloth soaked through by the chilling mists and rising steam. Warm water washed over Sagradiel, soothing loose the chill from his lean and muscular frame. The marble bathhouse had been an unexpected find, fed by some deep hot spring far below the surface. It must have been a wonder when the city was newly built. Elegant aelven statues in unfamiliar attire stood in the corners, untouched since those distant days, their beauty and craftsmanship unmarred by the ages. Wine from the vineyards of Wirenth, now lost, rested by his hand. His officers had been given a separate, lesser bathhouse to use. His aides had been told not to disturb him, on pain of death. He was alone at last, for the first time after months of close confines and irksome sea travel. It was as close as one could come to true peace outside of the Dominion.
Water dripped from the mouth of a gargoyle. It flowed over the grand facades of the buildings of Hightown. It seeped down the sodden wood of ancient gallows. It streamed across roads paved in cut stone. It bubbled out from cracks and crevices. It rose in thick vapors from shifting ice walls. It spat and boiled in the deep, hidden heart of the city. The Black Forge gleamed within the ice. Its rapid, feverish beat echoed through the city streets. It rose, unheard, through the ironshod feet of the city’s conquerors. It hammered like a pulse in their dreams. It echoed across the beaches, and rumbled in the unseen chests of the monoliths that watched the umbral seas. The feignlights high above skittered and danced to its rhythm, and below, the ice shifted and cracked. Deep ice, the primordial blue-green of glaciers, sheared and sloughed into darkness.
There was little time left. The Forge would soon be uncovered.