Across the Mortal Realms a thousand battles raged. Gone was the Age of Chaos, an aeon of oppression and fear that saw the peoples of every realm subjugated and enslaved. That long night ended with the breaking of Sigmar’s Storm, for the God-King’s crusade was so violent it shook the stars themselves. It marked the beginning of the Realmgate Wars.
- 1 The Heldenhammer Crusade
- 2 The War of Lost Time
- 3 The War for the Jade Kingdoms
- 4 Duardin Front
- 5 Death Front
- 6 War of the Flameworlds
- 6.1 Chapter One: New Wave
- 6.2 Chapter Two: Of Plague and Fire
- 6.3 Chapter Three: The Unreachable Mountain
- 6.4 Chapter Four: The Tauroi Achpelago
- 6.5 Chapter Five: Land of the Chained Sun
- 6.6 Epilogue
- 7 Orb Infernia
- 8 The Scabrous Sprawl
- 8.1 Chapter One: Vengeance incoming
- 8.2 Chapter Two: Harsh Awkening
- 8.3 Chapter Three: The Great Green Torc
- 8.4 Chapter Four: Children of the Sprawl
- 8.5 Chapter Five: Battle for the Torc
- 8.6 Chapter Six: The Titan Rises
- 9 Timeline
- 10 Sources
The Heldenhammer Crusade
Main article: The Heldenhammer Crusade.
The War of Lost Time
Main article: The War of Lost Time.
The War for the Jade Kingdoms
Main article: The War for the Jade Kingdoms.
Chapter One: Of Oaths & Fire
They came from Below
Since the Age of Chaos, their holdhad been assailed many times. The lords of the Vostarg were rightfully proud of their triumphs, and over the centuries, they had slain rampaging monsters, turned back invading armies and overcome unnatural plagues. These proud sons of Grimnir believed wholeheartedly in the impregnable defence of their hold. Always, when the lodge marched out to war or began a quest for ur-gold, they knew the magmahold of Furios Peak would hold fast, and that their volcano stronghold and forge-temple would await their victorious return.
When the ratmen came, they did not arrive beneath ominous storm clouds or to the fanfare of brass trumpets. Instead, the skaven came creeping from below, slowly, stealthily, and hidden beneath a guise of shadow. Small tremors were ignored, for Furios Peak was an active volcano, her rich magma flow powering the forge-temple. The grumble of her shifting earths long hid the insidious infiltrators as they gnawed their way inside. Far below the brightly lit halls and workshops, a system of tunnels was bored upwards from the black fathoms of the deepest underworld.
The skaven attacks were launched with a sudden frenzy. In a matter of days, a living tide of ratmen had swept from concealed tunnels to overrun the lowest mines. As inner vaults were closed and the Fyreslayers marched into the belly of their stronghold, further disaster ensued. Long had the skaven prepared, and as soon as the duardin counterattack began, additional tunnels were opened on higher levels of the underground fortress. 2.46
So did the verminous hordes raid that which the Fyreslayers valued most, their ancestral tombs and forge-temple.The skaven had timed their attacks perfectly, for the guardians of those sacred places – the Auric Hearthguard – had been called away to join the fight many levels below. It was a callous move, using thousands of their own kind as bait, but to the skaven hierarchy, such a price was cheap.
The patriarchal leader of the Vostarg was the Runefather Bael-Grimnir. Naturally, he was in the thick of the fighting, atop his Magmadroth at the bottommost level in the mines, when he heard of the attacks upon the upper levels. Cursing, Bael immediately sent forth all his Runesons. The battle to slay the skaven was long and hardfought. Fighting took place in cramped corridors and along twisted mine shafts, but at last, all the breaches were sealed. 2.47
By ancient tradition, the Fyreslayers have a unique hierarchy within their lodges. The Runefather is the leader, the patriarchal ruler of the magmahold. His chief councillor is the Runemaster, who resides over the forge-temple and Zharrgrim priesthood. Standing apart from both these offices are the Grimwrath Berzerkers. They are champions, best able to channel the martial power of Grimnir from gleaming ur-gold runes.
In the Vostarg lodge, the most battle-scarred Grimwrath Berzerker was Arngard. Known as ‘the Fearless’, Arngard had argued against blockading the invaders’ tunnels, instead loudly suggesting that they launch an immediate assault; the skaven must be traced back to their lair. Knowing that ‘attack’ was always the Grimwrath’s advice, the Runefather had withheld judgement, commanding that a fullr eport of the damages to his hold be given to him before any further action.
Vostarg lodge had a proud history, and was led by a long and glorious lineage. It was the only lodge to retain the name of the original Vostargs, and its leader, Bael-Grimnir, was descended in directline from Zhafor-Grimnir – the father of victories who first founded Vostarg. Zhafor learned the craft of war from Grimnir before his cataclysmic battle with Vulcatrix, for at the dawn of the Age of Myth, the gods themselves had walked amongst the duardin, guiding their children.
There was no doubt that Runefather Bael would order a retributive strike –no foe could assail his ancestral home with impunity – but he was wary of letting his emotions overrule his duty to hearth and hold; their protection was paramount. However, the unspeakable had happened – his son was missing, the forge-temple had been raided, and the interred ur-gold of the honoured dead had been stolen. The response would be swift and merciless.
Despite his Runefather’s command to wait before pursuing the skaven, Arngard had disobeyed. None could dissuade Grimnir’s will. Gathering a fyrd of Vulkite Berzerkers, the Grimwrath Berzerker had ventured down the skaven tunnels, ordering them to be sealed behind him.
Arngard had taken with him Turgon, the Battlesmith, for it was his task to witness battles and remember them, reciting them later in the Great Hall. Yet his memory alone would not serve, for like all duardin, the Fyreslayers keep records of deeds and oaths stretching back to time immemorial. Thus, after each battle, a Battlesmith will chiseltales of heroism, death or vengeance into runes on the back of his Icon of Grimnir, forged by his own hand. So had the Vostarg marked their deeds since the magmahold was first founded, the icons of former Battlesmiths lining the many halls, the lodge’s glories remembered in unyielding metal. 2.48
Death under the Mountain
With Arngard at their fore, the Vulkite Berzerkers plunged deep down through crudely cut tunnels. Time and again, the duardin turned a corner or entered a larger excavation to find themselves looking down the barrels of devious ratmen war machines. Cursing and screaming oaths of vengeance, the Fyreslayers charged through sheets of warpfire, clouds of poisoned gas, and the hail of warpstone bullets. Some fell, but time after time many shrugged off their wounds in their fury to close upon the skaven. Brutal axe blows followed, and when they ended, no ratmen remained.
When, at last, Arngard reached the end of the labyrinthine tunnels, he stepped forth into a skaven lair. Although their tunnelling work and excavations were of inferior quality, the sheer magnitude of the underdwellings was eye-opening to the duardin, who never suspected that vast armies were secreted beneath them. How long the ratmen had been gnawing under the roots of the volcano was unknown, but here they had produced countless tunnels, warrens, breeding pits, and more. Most of the lair seemed empty, however, although all signs pointed towards a very hasty and very recent departure.
Onwards pressed the duardin army, moving with speed through tunnels far below the deepest mines. Powered by his blazing runes and his matchless anger, Arngard led his troops, hacking down any foes they encountered. The skaven were fast, normally able to scurry down their rough-hewn tunnels with a speed the Fyreslayers could not match, but the ratmen were loaded down with plundered treasures. Arngard and his warriors had just reached the tail end of the fleeing army as they all spilled out of the tunnels and into a vast cavern – the underlair of the largest skaven contingent, Clan Rictus. 2.52
It was not one skaven army that Arngard assailed but many. Clans Grimus, Skur, and several lesser factions all toiled beneath Rikfang, a warlord and Gnawmaster of Clan Rictus –the largest of the clans beneath the Cynder Peaks of Aqshy. It was Rikfang that led this horde with the unholy blessing of great Kratterklaw. Clan Grimus, wishing to move upwards in the hierarchy, had sought to steal glory by seizing duardin captives to sacrifice to the Verminlord. Now they had instead brought many Fyreslayers and a raging mad Grimwrath Berzerker into Kratterklaw’s cave-lair.
Although the duardin were pushing deeply into the clanrat ranks, Warlord Rikfang knew it was only a matter of time before their bloody assault slowed, weighed down by the numberless hordes. With that problem contained, Rikfang turned his attention back to the plunder. The bound duardin struggled against their bonds, the gold pounded into their flesh gleaming. Warlord Rikfang would have liked nothing more than to devour these duardin, gold and all. He dared not risk it. Driptail was an incompetent and he would pay with his life for attempting to steal Rikfang’s glory, but he had delivered the sacrificial victims that Verminlord Kratterklaw demanded.
Perhaps if Rikfang’s attention had been focussed less on the failings of his underlings, he might have noticed the signs: the vibrations and the rising heat. The northernmost wall began to glow, growing progressively brighter before the stone sloughed away as the rock turned molten.
Runefather Bael-Grimnir had arrived, his Magmadroth bursting through the glowing red tunnel, roaring its reptilian challenge. Behind him came the full might of the Vostarg lodge, including many ranks of Hearthguard Berzerkers, and Runesmiter Dhurgan, who had channelled the tunnel-boring magma.
The skaven still held a large numerical advantage, but to Warlord Rikfang’s experienced eyes, it would not be enough. The newly arrived foes were already wreaking havoc amongst the clanrats, and the warlord could see skaven banners topple or flee as the duardin line advanced.
As the Runefather hacked his way deep into the massed clanrats, angling towards his captured son, a new threat presented itself. Unfolding its gangling limbs from the gnawhole at the cavern’s rear came the monstrous form of Verminlord Warbringer Kratterklaw. The armoured rat-daemon waded into the fight, every blade-swing and tail-lash felling Fyreslayers in sprays of blood. Kratterklaw pressed swiftly forwards through the battle, closing on the kidnapped duardin. 2.54 y 2.55
The skaven hordes surrounding Arngard and his contingent had seen the new attack. They realised they were trapped between the unstoppable Grimwrath Berzerker and his axe-wielding duardin, and the tight ranks and deadly magmapikes of the Auric Hearthguard. Through it all stomped Bael’s Magmadroth, along with several others ridden by Runesmiters, all were driven by a burning desire to slay those that had stolen from them. Even Fyreslayers burned by blackfire or stabbed by poisoned blades shook off seemingly mortal wounds to drive forward, axes whirling relentlessly.
Amidst the acrid smell of warplock gunpowder and burnt hair came another odour – the skaven musk of fear. As more ratmen turned tail, the battle became a slaughter. Everywhere, Fyreslayers laid about them, wielding axes in killing arcs. They sought their gold, the captured warriors, the missing Runeson and their honour. Each axe stroke exacted a small measure of revenge, but more was yet needed – none might attack the Vostarg and live to tell of it.
With his verminous patron looming over him and his sacrificial captives in claw, Warlord Rikfang opted to escape rather than face such blood-mad opponents. The warlord, his Redclaw Stormguard and Skrryzik all fled for the gnawhole, following the hissed orders of the Verminlord himself. They bore with them the duardin they intended to sacrifice to great Kratterklaw, for there was no time to complete the ritual of gold-gnawing here and now. Amongst those taken was the bound Runeson. The Verminlord was the last to step through the crackling portal of the gnawhole, which sealed with a sucking pop behind him. Hundreds of skaven –the hapless Warlord Driptail amongst them – were left cut off and utterly doomed. Poor, luckless Driptail met his death just moments later, never seeing the hoped-for reward for his cunning raid. Nor did he see the azure bolts blast down from the cavern roof, their impact leaving behind golden armoured warriors, still crackling with sizzling energies. The Stormcasts had arrived. 2.55
A bond made of Gold
Lord Sargassus’ eyes were adjusting to the dim cavern quickly enough to know that his strike force was not in the magmahold’s Great Hall. He had been told of the magnificent stone craft of the Fyreslayers and the thousand braziers and magma-streams that lit their strongholds, yet this cavern was dim, dank and smelled of animal droppings. It was lit only by the sickly luminescent glow produced by decrepit machinery of dubious purpose. They had arrived just at the end of a battle, for everywhere lay dead and wounded, both duardin and mutated ratmen.
Eager not to appear as enemies, Lord-Celestant Sargassus stowed his hammer, climbed down from his Dracoth’s back and held both hands upward, the sign of parley. To ensure all saw him, Sargassus bade his Knight-Heraldor to blast three times upon his battle-horn, the clarion call echoing off the walls of that subterranean chamber.
Despite these efforts, a lone Fyreslayer stormed forward. In his rune-rage, his shouted warcries were in a language unspoken since Grimnir walked the lands. The words were unintelligible to the Stormcasts, but his battle-crazed intent was clear. In height, the crested duardin warriors were barely past a Stormcast Eternal’s midriff, but their arms rippled with muscles. Pierced, runes glowing, and bleeding from a score of wounds, the battle-crazed Fyreslayer would have cut Bandus Skybound in two had the Knight-Azyros not flown quickly out of range. Bandus unshuttered his celestial beacon, lifting the arcane lantern high so that its blinding light hovered above Lord-Celestant Sargassus, who held his hands out for peace.
The Judicators, seeing that their Lord-Celestant was about to be assaulted, nocked arrows, but then, the Runefather atop his Magmadroth gave a bellowing command. All the Fyreslayers, even Arngard the Fearless, halted at his echoing shout. 2.70
With the skaven rift-passage snapped shut, Bael-Grimnir knew the ratmen were gone beyond his reach, at least for the moment. All his focus was now directed upon this new threat. He knew Chaos. In the Cynder Peaks it came in many forms – beastmen, corrupted humans, daemons and monsters beyond count. These interlopers in their gleaming armour did not have that feel. These intruders had lain down their weapons and called for parley. Bael felt duty-bound to at least hear them out before slaying them. 2.71
The negotiations were brief, largely consisting of various members of the Zharrgrim priesthood inspecting the payment gold. Bael still raged over the loss of his son, but he could not ignore this opportunity. When the Zharrgrim gave their approval to the Runefather, he swore aloud an oath in a voice that shook the cavern. The Fyreslayers would lead Lord Sargassus and his Heavenhost across the Zhulghar Mountains, taking them to Bloodkeep.The Runefather agreed that the Fyreslayers could even forge a path underneath that stronghold, bypassing the outer fortress walls.
Since the coming of the Age of Chaos, there was no place in all of Aqshy that evoked greater fear than Bloodkeep. Once, the fortress had been the most formidable stronghold of a great nation, yet the coming of Chaos destroyed all. So total was the devastation that the tribes that wandered the Fireplains had lost all memory of the grandeur of their former kingdom, knowing it only as the nameless ruins of some past existence.
Over time, as the Chaos powers vied for control of the Mortal Realms, Khorne declared Aqshy as his and his alone. Upon the site of the former fastness, his minions constructed a citadel, the ruling seat from which Aqshy would be dominated. A series of new walls were raised that overtopped the fortress of old. Slaves toiled beneath daemon lashes. Eight concentric rings they raised, each wall mightier than the last. Built of brass and skulls, it seemed a thing grown from out of the Realm of Chaos itself. It was a conqueror’s castle that oozed the blood of those it had defeated. Bloodkeep had never fallen, and the armies that marched forth from beneath its walls had never returned defeated.
The Fyreslayers asked no questions, seeming not to care why the Stormcasts might wish to enter a fortress from which only death and destruction ever emerged. Nor did they point out the folly of so small a force assaulting the vastness of Bloodkeep. Although Lord-Celestant Sargassus was leading the entire Heavenhost Warrior Chamber – over three hundred Stormcast Eternals – the Bloodkeep had broken besieging armies whose warriors numbered in the millions. For their part, the Hammers of Sigmar knew nothing of the duardin’s burning grudge against Clan Rictus, for the chamber was focussed solely on their own mission. 2.72
Within hours of arriving, Lord-Celestant Sargassus and the warriors of the Heavenhost were led out of the cavern. It was a long journey up from the deep underground. The Fyreslayers bore away their dead, chantinggrim dirges of death and vengeance. Summoning his magics, Runesmiter Dhurgan called forth magma streams to melt through the rock as the Fyreslayers exited the crude tunnels beneath their hold. The great magma chamber at the heart of the volcano was siphoned, its molten rivers used both to fill in the former skaven dwellings and to fuel a solemn cremation ceremony.
The Stormcasts were taken underguard to the Hall of Kings whilst the sacred and secretive ritual ceremonies for reclaiming the dead’s ur-gold took place. Only after making vows of seeking and retribution in the Fyreheart Temple did Runefather Bael-Grimnir reappear. He would lead the Fyreslayers himself, leaving his eldest remaining Runeson to sit upon his throne until he returned. Bael had chosen a large and formidable force to accompany the armoured strangers to Bloodkeep, for the journey across the Zhulghar Mountains was full of dangers, including monstrous creatures and roving warbands seeking skull-offerings to appease their lords.
Under the Cynder Peaks the Stormcast and Fyreslayer army marched, emerging from a fortified gatehouse and crossing the Blackiron Bridge before ascending Runestruck Pass to take them over the mountains. None marked the strange eyes that watched them, following their journey. 2.73
Abush on Runestruck Pass
Although several beasts threatened the column of Stormcasts and Fyreslayers, the creatures had backed off, unwilling to attack an entire army. So the journey to Bloodkeep continued for days, passing into the Valley of Zorn and back up onto what the Fyreslayers called Runestruck Pass. The eyes that marked their travels remained unseen.
A number of opportunistic Verminus clans had spies throughout the Cynder Peaks and Zhulghar Mountains. Their tunnel network ran everywhere, stretching from gnawholes opened up deep below the unsuspecting magmaholds of the Fyreslayers. The skaven sought warpshards, but the ratmen were also drawn to the same gold that the Fyreslayers coveted. Both the Clans Skryre – the weapon-makers – and the ruling Masterclan of horned mage-rats paid high prices for duardin captives, dead or alive.
Although it cost the lives of many clanrats, the skaven succeeded in luring several Khorne Bloodbound warbands to follow them up the pass. They did this under cover of a moonless night, to avoid the aerial patrols of the Stormcast Eternals. Then the skaven forces lurked close by, eager to take advantage of the inevitable battle.
When Bael’s Magmadroth gave a low, rattling growl, the Auric Runefather signalled that trouble was ahead. Hehad learned to trust Flamespitter, for the beast could taste the air with its forked tongue, scenting prey from a long distance. At that point on the Runestruck Pass, the trail was broad and rocky. The Fyreslayers and Stormcasts had their left flank secured by a steep drop down the mountainside, while their right flank was at least partially protected, for the rocky incline there was steep, impassable to all but the most agile of creatures, and even they would be forced to pick their way slowly down the slope. 2.76
Up the path from the opposite direction came the clanking trudge of armour. These were Khorne Bloodbound – savage warriors who roamed the lands, seeking worthy skulls to stack before the pyres that surrounded Bloodkeep. Howls of fury went up as these feral hunters sighted prey.
Battle was joined just as dawn’s first fiery rays slanted over the horizon. Their foes, Blood Warriors, stood as tall as the Stormcast Eternals, and towered over the duardin. The Khornate warriors did not entirely eschew armour as did the Fyreslayers, but wore only partial cover; some sported warped helms that melded with their flesh, others daemon-faced plates or heavy couters designed to inflict damage as much as to protect from it. Rushing through several volleys of incoming fire, the enemy closed quickly, calling out their hated warcry. 2.77
As soon as the Khornate warriors were amongst the foe, the skaven unleashed their own ambush. Secreted high in the rocks above, Warplock Jezzail teams discharged their long rifles, sending down deadly warpshard bullets. Accurate shots from these powerful weapons could penetrate sigmarite armour, while missed shots shattered rock, spraying shrapnel in all directions. To the rear of the Fyreslayer column came a swarming horde of clanrats, their clan symbols emblazoned upon shields or hung from tattered skinbanners. Weapon teams prowled in their midst, sending gas globes arcing upwards or spraying out bursts of warpstone bullets. Hulking above all were Stormfiends, heavily muscled monstrosities with arcane weaponry and fangs the size of rapiers.
At that moment, whirling metal hammers upon the ends of thick chains, Wrathmongers spun bloody paths through their own battle lines to assail Fyreslayers and Stormcasts alike.These were not just corrupted human tribesmen, but something far more. Swollen with daemonic powers, these enraged warriors oozed out a red mist, causing all those nearby to enter the same mindless battle fury.
Arcs of blue light streaked up to the Heavens as casualties began to mount amongst the Heavenhost of the Hammers of Sigmar. Prosecutors lifted high above the pass, soaring upwards to engage the jezzail teams. Despite their careening and zigzagging, however, several of the winged Stormcasts were struck, plummeting down and crashing amongst the rocks. Those that closed, however, fell upon their foes without mercy, slaughtering the skaven and hammering down even those that turned tail, flung aside their long weapons and attempted to flee back into the cover of rocky outcroppings.
Lord-Celestant Sargassus himself led the countercharge that sought to destroy the flail-whirling menaces. Urging his Dracoth to smash a path through the reeling Blood Warriors, the leader of the Heavenhost spearheaded a group of Stormcasts that pushed into enemy ranks. Arngard had also marked the danger, instinctively carving a bloody path towards the greatest threat. Unfortunately, neither Fyreslayer nor Stormcast knew the true nature of the red mists rising before them. 2.78
Khorne craves slaughter and cares not who is slain, only that the blood flows freely. Once in the red mists, Lord-Celestant Sargassus felt power surge through his limbs. His hammer smashed a Wrathmonger’s chain, sending its heavy weight careening off into the battle. With a single blow, the Lord-Celestant crumpled his foe, but he could not stop there. Over and over, he pulped the gory remains into the ground, before driving on into the next-nearest combatants – a groupof Fyreslayers – with his hammer. Sargassus was an unstoppable force.
Arngard the Fearless ducked beneath a wrath-flail, using his greataxe to cut the Wrathmonger down. He too inhaled deeply of the red mist, and his course took him crashing through the shieldwall of Liberators. Unable to distinguish friend from foe, he rent open half a dozen, sending many flashing back to the Heavens.
It was Auric Runefather Bael and Lord-Relictor Thunos Blackheart who brought sense back to their rage-filled comrades. Bael commanded his Magmadroth to belch forth a sheet of liquid flame, and a cloud of fire rolled across the battlefront. Sargassus rode through the scorching heat unharmed, thanks to his sigmarite plating, but the red mists were burned away, along with the foe. Thunos Blackheart brought down arcs of searing lightning that hammered the enemy all around Arngard, but one struck his fyrestorm greataxe. In an instant, ripples of blue current snaked over the Grimwrath Berzerker’s body. With runes glowing, Arngard withstood the jolt as the ability to tell friend from foe returned to him.
A wave of Khorgoraths fell upon the remaining Liberators, the sounds of their mighty fists pounding against the shield wall echoing across the mountainsides. With the Liberators’s hields dented and knees buckling, it would only be a matter of time before the crimson brutes broke through, allowing the last wave of Blood Warriors to claim their trophies. Arngard arrived just in time, alongside Sargassus. The greataxe of the Grimwrath Berzerker reaped a wicked toll amongst the hulking Khorgoraths, while the Lord-Celestant blazed with celestial energies, his Dracoth roaring in fury. The battle lines of the Fyreslayers and Stormcasts stabilised.
In the rearguard, the Vulkite Berzerkers withstood the clanrats, countercharging them. Bladed slingshields were hurled, cutting down ratmen before being pulled free and used in the ensuing engagement. Unable to use their numbers to outflank in the pass, the skaven hoped to hold the duardin in place long enough for their weapon teams to move into position and lay down punishing fire. 2.79
Goading his Magmadroth forward to bite downon a Blood Warrior, Auric Runefather Bael-Grimnirtook his place on the front line, fighting alongside Lord-Celestant Sargassus. Before them, the Chaos forces began to fall.
The skaven were pressing against the rearguard. Several Warpfire Throwers wreaked havoc, but the Prosecutors, having disposed of the jezzail teams, were able to swoop down and target the ratmen weapon teams. With their best hopes of destroying the duardin slain or driven away, it was not long before the skaven line crumbled, scurrying away with great speed.The Prosecutors dived down, scattering the remnants further.
The Khornate warriors fought to the bitter end, the last slain by Lord Sargassus himself. Once more, the Runestruck Pass was open, and once again the armies continued their fateful journey to Bloodkeep. This time, however, each marched alongside the other with a newfound respect for the allies beside them. 2.84
Chapter Two: Absolute Carnage
The Runestruck Pass wound out of the Zhulghar range to the Fireplains below.Looking over that flat land was a last bastion of the high lands, the Greatiron Tor. This final mountain stood apart from the Zhulghar Mountains, and for centuries had served as a stronghold of kings, but in the Age of Chaos, those rulers of the plains were all vanquished.So completely did Chaos conquer the once-proud nations of the Fireplains that their nomadic, ragtag descendants know not even the names of those former empires, understanding not a whit of the former glories from which they long ago proceeded.
The Greatiron Tor, however, still stands,although it too has been corrupted.After changing hands many times, the peak, and all that could be seen from its summit, were claimed in the name of Khorne. The once-majestic sides of the cliff-faced edifice have turned sinister.The imposing rock wall now leers with cruel faces and the foul marks of the Dark Gods. The waterfall which graced the summit now pours forth the blood of the lands, for the dominating power of Khorne will not cease draining Aqshy’s lifeblood until that realm is naught but a mirror of the ruined landscapes of the Realm of Chaos.
The valley between the Greatiron Tor and the Zhulghar Mountains was once fertile, rich in nourishment. Now, it is the Valley of Skulls. To win Khorne’s favour, warriors must incessantly make offerings. Countless years of violence have left vast skull piles, bleached white by the blazing sun, piled high against the mountainsides like snow drifts.This sight greeted Lord Sargassus and his Heavenhost. True to his oath, AuricRunefather Bael-Grimnir had led the Stormcasts through the mountains.The second part of their agreement included showing the Stormcasts a secret way inside. 2.160
Long ago, when there had been frequent alliances between the races, the duardin had helped tunnel underneath the massive fortress that sat atop the Greatiron Tor, excavating deep dungeons and secret passages. Although the human tribes had long forgotten,the Fyreslayers had not. Long years,and millions of skulls, had buried those entrances, but it was no matter. Using the magma-channelling powers of Runesmiter Dhurgan, the Fyreslayers planned to bore into the core of the mountain, emerging beyond many of the outer curtain walls.
To reach the base of the Greatiron Tor was a grim journey. Awaiting nightfall,the armies marched out of the rocky cover at the foot of the mountain trail,passing through the near endless piles of bones. Scattered amongst the bleak trophies were the horns and skulls of massive creatures – some so large that the Magmadroths could pass througha vacant eyehole. Here and there were outlandish bone-wrought monuments raised to honour the brutal god of battle. There were many signs of just how infused with Chaos power the landscape had grown, for there was no shortage of foul creatures feasting upon the stacked remains. Not all such beasts retreated before the oncoming army,and some were so large it took entire Fyreslayer fyrds to hack them down.Based on the triumphal roars from the distance, there were other, even larger predators hunting the Valley of Skulls.Undoubtedly such commotions were commonplace, for they did not draw any attention from the stronghold atop the summit. At last, they reached the Greatiron Tor’s base. 2.161
Since they first struck their deal, the leadership of the Vostarg lodge hadbeen awaiting the rest of the proposal.None could sense ur-gold better than Runemaster Vaegor, and he had surmised that the Stormcast Eternals had more of the substance about them than was originally proffered.
The Vostarg lodge, like all Fyreslayer lodges, sought gold tirelessly. They mined for it across Aqshy and all over every Mortal Realm. When they could not find the precious metal embedded in rock or soil, the Fyreslayers would hire out their axes, selling their very lives to obtain more gold. All was not,however, as it seemed.
Runemaster Vaegor sensed a large sum of ur-gold upon the Hammers of Sigmar. Fyreslayers were well known for their skills of negotiation. It was perilous to bargain with them, for they took every nuance to heart and angered quickly. It was deadlier still to cheat them of their due, but there was no trial too severe, no test of courage or mettle too dangerous to dissuade them from a well-paying task. If it was possible to succeed, there were no risks that Fyreslayers would not dare.
When Lord-Celestant Sargassus broached the subject, wishing to hire the Fyreslayer lodge to aid their mission once inside Bloodkeep, RunefatherBael heard them out. To attempt to besiege such a fastness with so few troops would have been suicide, and the Fyreslayers were not a death cult– it was their mission to reunite their people with their lost god. However, as Lord-Celestant Sargassus explained, it was their mission to enter Bloodkeep,sever the mystical Brass Chain and escape with it, not to conquer the keep.And they had much gold with which to pay. Bloodkeep had long been the seat of rule for kings, tyrants and daemonlords. As a symbol of power, it was coveted by the mightiest of Khorne’s minions, a prize that only the most bloodthirsty might seize. For the last millennium, however, Bloodkeep had also served as a prison to Skarbrand. He was the Exiled One, and slaughter incarnate. Skarbrand’s wanton violence did not concern Khorne, who cared not from whence the blood flowed, but Archaon grew weary of his own armies being devastated by the Bloodthirster’s rampages. Beseeching Khorne’s aid,the Everchosen intimated that even the Blood God’s armies could not triumph if a rebellious greater daemon was annihilating them. Khorne, pleased at an opportunity to further chastise his insubordinate son, agreed to keep Skarbrand out of Archaon’s path. Thus was forged the Brass Chain, to bind the daemon until his rage was required. 2.162 y 2.163
None shall stay his wrath
The ground grew hot, glowing as if lit from beneath. Swelling upwards,it burst in a wave of magma, spilling throughout the innermost courtyard deep within Bloodkeep. For a moment nothing could be seen in the smoking hole below save the glowing rock.Gasses filled the air and the magma bubbled as it cooled, going from vibrant orange to a carpet of dull red. Then something rose from the darkness.
Out from the tunnel scrambled a Magmadroth, a mane of fire crowning its head. With a roar of challenge, the beast unleashed a roiling cloud of flame that engulfed the Skullreapers now running towards the intruders. On the fire-lizard’s back was Auric Runefather Bael, and his axe trailed flames as he clove a path through the swarming foes. Winging out of the hole came Prosecutors, hurling celestial hammers and stormcall javelins, driving back the warriors rushing to counter-attack.Side by side came the Liberators and the Vulkite Berzerkers, their shields held high. The clear notes of the Knight-Heraldor’s horn rang throughout Bloodkeep, but that sound was soon overwhelmed as skin drums and brazen trumpets called forth the defenders.
It had been over two hundred years since any enemy had dared to assail Bloodkeep. The Slithering Host, led by the Daemon Prince Vyletongue the Sinister, had sought their lost god within the great fortress, but found only death and defeat. Now, the Khornate legions ran to the ramparts,only to learn that the foe was already within the walls. The garrison soon came howling, frothing at the mouth with bloodlust, eager to destroy the invaders that dared enter their domain.Chained beasts were unleashed, and they loped or stalked towards the battle, eager to join in the slaughter. 2.166
Despite the armies descending upon them, the Stormcasts were fortunate.The tunnel had brought them directly to their destination. Only the Conqueror’s Gates barred them from entering the Brassheart – the central tower where lay the chain they must cut and steal.
Celestant Sargassus led a spearhead towards the Conqueror’s Gates. That barrier was made from the melted slag of broken portcullises and the crowns of defeated kings, emblazoned with symbols of Chaos. Before the gates stood the Crimson Guard, elite Skullreapers that had fought their way to that honoured position. With armour that oozed blood, and a hate that was insatiable, they would not be broken.The two sides met with a thunderous clash. So great was their urge to kill that even those Crimson Guard dealt mortal blows used their last breaths to strike back. Many beams of light flashed up to the heavens. However, with Lord-Relictor Thunos upon one flank and the Knight-Azyros Bandus upon the other,Lord Sargassus and the remainder of his Heavenhost clove a path to the Conqueror’s Gates.
Three times Lord-Celestant Sargassusstruck the gate with his sigmaritehammer. Each blow was accompanied by a thunderclap, yet the gates held. Sargassus stood high in the saddle,calling Sigmar’s name as he struck and,whether at this demand, or because the earlier blows had weakened it, the gates shattered. At their collapse, a magic sigil drifted out from the broken metal and disappeared through the ceiling – an event that, unbeknownst to the Stormcasts, would have dire ramifications upon other realms.Ere Sargassus could take a step into the Brassheart, however, a hellstorm descended upon the Stormcasts.
Skarbrand had returned. 2.167
A towering Bloodthirster, Skarbrandwas rage beyond sanity’s limits. His sole purpose was to drown his sins in the blood of the slain. Against the Slann Starmaster in Ghyran, the greater daemon had been denied his kill,magically transported back to the site from whence he had come. Skarbrand’s unquenchable anger was further fuelled by the sight of his hated prison.However, the spell that returned him did not place him in the Brass Chain.
Unchecked, Skarbrand would have struck out at the sun. Yet when he looked out of the broken gateway of the Brassheart, he saw invaders. Skarbrand bellowed in rage. Striding through the burst gate, the greaterdaemon’s first axe, Slaughter, cut down a rank of Liberators, the blazing blade making a mockery of their shield wall.Simultaneously, Skarbrand brought down his other weapon, Carnage,cleaving Lord-Relictor Thunos from head to crotch, the two sides falling apart in a shower of spilled innards before disappearing in a flash of blue.
Lord Sargassus cursed the delay at the gates, knowing the task to secure the chain was now nigh impossible.They had been so close, but the Lord-Celestant would not give up, not yet.This task had been appointed to him by the God-King himself. His Stormhosthad been tasked with severing theBrass Chain and stealing it back to the Heavens. If they could accomplish it, Sigmar would have the power to entrap Skarbrand, thus gaining a great advantage against one of the BloodGod’s most powerful greater daemons.There were indirect benefits as well –left unbound as he was, Skarbrand’s rampage would wreak havoc upon the Chaos forces of Bloodkeep and beyond.Such disruption would keep the eyes of Khorne and Archaon from the works of Sigmar’s own armies. They might never have a better opportunity to wreak havoc on their enemy.
Determined to do his part, Sargassus rode at the Bloodthirster. Leaping to avoid Skarbrand’s blows, his Dracoth dashed through the shattered gate,entering the Brassheart. It was a fell place, dripping with blood. In coiled loops, the chains lay piled within the eight-sided tower. Ranked Bloodletters guarded the mighty links, the daemons forming ranks and hissing their hatred as they advanced. With a flash of wings,Bandus landed at Lord Sargassus’ side.He would not fight alone. 2.168
Against Skarbrand,no shield wall could stand. His advance undeniable, the greater daemon strode the battlefield like a fiery avalanche of destruction. Side by side, the Fyreslayers and Stormcasts sought to hold before that onslaught, and side by side they were hewn down.The retreat to the magma tunnel had turned into a rout. All might have perished had not Lord-Celestant Sargassus returned. While Bandus, the Knight-Azyros, cleared a path of retreat with the searing light of his celestial beacon, Sargassus blazed his own way, slaying all before him until he stood beneath the towering daemon. Dodging and parrying in his saddle, the Lord-Celestant used all his skill simply to stay alive against the maelstrom that was Skarbrand. Shining like a star beneath a fiery cloud, Sargassus would surely have fallen were it not for Arngard and Runefather Bael stepping up beside him. Loud rang that clash of arms. With weapons sparking, the trio deflected blows that would have lain waste to regiments. Only when all their troops had fled into the tunnel did they too turn. Battered and bleeding, they escaped, magma sealing the way behind. Earth-shaking bellows of frustration and the tumult of continued combat haunted every step through that tunnel. Stating the oath-honour of the Vostarg lodge, Bael-Grimnir would not accept final payment. The task, he said, was not yet done. 2.175
Chapter One: When cometh Death
Lords of the Dead
It is said that, in the end, all things go to Shyish. It is the terminus, the ultimate, the final destination, a realm full of cessation and finality. Even the winds that sweep the Mortal Realms must end their journey, and whether by defiant last gust or whispering final sigh, all expire in Shyish. Although the realm’s lands are myriad and varied, all are haunted. For it is in Shyish where the gates to the underworlds reside,accessing every netherworld that ever was, or ever will be. There, the spirits of empires long forgotten can still be found, if one knows where to look.
During the Age of Myth, the realm of Shyish was dominated by the Wars of the Dead, an era of battle when Nagash led his Mortarchs to claim lordship over the lands of the dead. Those who did not submit to the Father of Necromancy were consumed by him. Shyish was not only a realm of spirits,however. Those who lived their lives upon the mortal spheres of Shyish were also subjugated, forced to worship Nagash as a god or be hunted out of existence. Yet all was to change after the first invasions that came with the dawning of the Age of Chaos...
The anarchic and impassioned Dark Gods were diametrically opposed to Nagash, their only similarity being that none wished to share power. So began a devastating series of wars that turned the kingdoms of Shyish into battlefields.The campaigns were evenly matched,for Nagash and his Mortarchs were formidable foes, and they also had an alliance with Sigmar and his pantheon.It was not until Archaon and Tzeentch conspired together to drive a wedge between Nagash and his alliance with Sigmar that the Chaos forces truly gained the upper hand. 2.94
After the War of Heaven and the Underworlds, Nagash’s power was greatly reduced, leaving him easy prey.Realm-tunnelling skaven unravelled Shyish’s defences, and the War of Bones culminated in the destruction of the great stronghold of Nagashizzar.Thought slain at the Battle of BlackSkies, Nagash instead reformed anew,aided by his Mortarchs. Centuries later,when Sigmar opened the Heavens andsent forth his Stormcasts, the Chaos Gods believed Nagash long defeated. His armies had been trapped by Archaon in the Cage of Bones, and were not considered a threat. However, Nagash was growing in power, absorbing the influx of dead from countless ongoing wars. The first step for Nagash in putting his shattered kingdoms back in order was to find and reunite his lieutenants,his wayward Mortarchs. 2.95
The Razing of Nulahmia
The battle to clear the Queensroad had been long and difficult. In the end, it had taken the Lord of Slaanesh Lascilion himself, and his elite Amethyst Guard, to break the dead gathered at the avenue’s northern end.Sliding off the back of his serpentine steed, Lascilion landed on the skull studded street. To better savour the sights, sounds and smells of the burning city, he took off his plumed helm and turned full circle, taking it all in. There was the lick of flame, the stench of rot,and the wailing screams of pain from the dying. It was a fine reward for his hard fighting.
The battle was far from over, but Lascilion needed a respite. The Lord of Slaanesh was not wounded or tired,for he was gifted with strength and endurance that could best a dozen men.Rather Lascilion occasionally grew despondent, and could only reinvigorate himself by indulging in sensations of agony, so he allowed himself to revel in the city-sacking.
Since the walls of Nulahmia had been breached, the fighting between Chaos forces and the dead had grown fiercer,now sprawling out along streets and within colonnaded buildings. Only the temple district remained standing, and at its center, raised upon a hillock, stood the palace of the queen herself.
Of the twelve Chaos commanders Archaon had tasked with discovering the hidden city of Neferata, none of theothers had Lascilion’s ability to sniff out excess. The indulgences of the vampire queen were so lavish they seemed to Lascilion like a perfume, leading him and his legion through the illusions that enshrouded the kingdom. While the city burned around him, Lord Lascilion looked up upon the hilltop palace; soon it, and its queen, would be his. 2.96
Meanwhile, from her palace, Queen Neferata watched as fires raged across her ruined city. Above her, half-seen spirits flickered in and out of the spectral beams that protruded upwards from the braziers of lost souls, the beacons basking all nearby in eerie green-tinted light. Although she had expected Lord Harkdron to fail, the vampire queen was startled with the speed with which the enemy had broken through his defences. She focussed her eyes to red gleaming slits as she used her enhanced sight to peer through the darkness and smoke. She saw the all too-familiar armored shapes crashing through the ranks of her legions. Chaos Warriors. Yet the attackers were no tall mortals...Pale, lithe shapes danced and twirled through the close press of combat – claw-armed Daemonettes.A shudder involuntarily ran through Neferata. The handmaidens of Slaanesh had come calling for her before.
After crashing through the main gates,the enemy swept through the city’sskull-paved avenues. The Chaos forceshad broken all the cohesive defences,save around the temple district. OnlyThrone Mount – the large, flat-toppedhill dominating the centre of Nulahmia– was still defended. The discipline ofthe invaders had broken down, however,and they had lost all momentum.Battering down doors and burningas they went, they despoiled the city,burying it in wanton acts of violenceand cruelty. Nulahmia had beenfabulously wealthy, its citizens spoiledby their ever-living queen. Now all wasconsumed in a gluttony of destructionand degradation. 2.97
Having let his army scatter through thecity, plundering, Lascilion knew it wasonce more time to grab the reins. Theunspeakable acts of destruction anddepravity unleashed upon Nulahmiawould have whetted his troops’ appetitefor the excesses to come – much couldbe done within the lavish palace of thevampire queen. It promised indulgencesnever before enjoyed.
On Lord Lascilion’s command, aDaemonette blew trilling blasts upon awrithing horn. Answering calls echoedthroughout the city, rallying pointsfor the packs of ravagers to gather, andreform into a coherent army. Lascilionhad seen the lightning strikes. Indeed,it was those bolts that had shocked theLord of Slaanesh out of his swayingreverie. He did not know what theymeant, but he had an ill foreboding.Mounting his snake-daemon, hemotioned the Amethyst Guard forward.
All across the burning city, theStormcast Eternals slammed straightinto battle. Black-streaked lightningbolts hammered into the Nulahmianbackstreets, hurling Lascilion’sstraggling followers from their feet.Striding from amidst those arcingenergies came the Anvils of theHeldenhammer, firelight reflectingfrom their expressionless masks as theywaded into the scattered foe.
Slaaneshi warriors gave ululatingshrieks of joy at this unexpected chancefor violence, but their cries were shortlived.Sigmarite hammers slammeddown on horned helms and crushedbreastplates with thunderous swings.Perfumed gore spattered the tumbledwalls and scorched cobbles of the backalleys. With wordless efficiency theStormcasts eradicated their victimsbefore redressing their ranks andbeginning the advance.
At their head rode Lord-CelestantMakvar upon his noble Dracoth.Sigmar had despatched Makvarwith the sole intent of securing adiplomatic link to the Mortarch ofBlood. The God-King had effortlesslypierced the veil of illusion hangingabout Neferata’s capital, deploying hisStormcasts with expert precision tocatch the Chaos invaders from the rear.Makvar intended to make the most ofthe advantage he had been given. Hewould drive a path through the foe tothe ornate palace that rose atop a hillat the city’s heart. There, surely, thetoweringly vain Mortarch of Bloodmust await him.
As they advanced, the StormcastEternals cut down every invader theyfound. Rampaging Chaos Warriors,blood-muzzled warhounds, cavortingdaemons: all fell beneath the flashingskybolts of Makvar’s Judicators. 2.98
At the summit of the Throne Mount,Neferata garbed herself in her gear ofwar and summoned her abyssal steed,though the vampire queen viewedfighting as a last resort. Her agents– both undead and mortal – hadpenetrated every kingdom of Shyish,bringing reports, captives, and convertsback to Nulahmia. She had heardrumour of these storm-knights, andshe knew they sought Nagash and hisMortarchs to parley. She longed to treatwith them herself; she could not saveher city, but perhaps, Neferata thought,she might gain powerful leverage. Noman that breathed could resist her, andNeferata coveted the idea of wrappingan alliance with Sigmar around herown needs, especially if she could doso before her fellow Mortarchs ruinedeverything. In the meantime, she wascontent to let Lord Harkdron lead fromthe front. If it did not go as planned, herescape was prepared. 2.99
To ensure he had gained his adversary’sfull attention, Lord-Celestant Makvargoaded his Dracoth mount forward.The beast breathed an arc of searinglightning which ploughed into theranks of the Chaos Warriors as theyfought their way up the hillside. OnMakvar’s flank, Kreimnar, the Lord-Relictor, called to the skies, summoningforth his own celestial strikes.
With his skull-mask helm and relictoppedstave, Kreimnar hardly lookedout of place in this macabre setting. Allof the Anvils of the Heldenhammerwere grim of aspect, for their Stormhostwas created under foreboding portents.Even their armour was ominous,absorbing light rather than reflectingit, resulting in their recognisable sableplate. It was said that the mien of theStormhost was similarly overcast.Around the Sigmarabulum, whisperswere heard when the Anvils of theHeldenhammer were away at war.Although it was known each was ahero of ancient times, many madesinister predictions for those legendarywarriors, supposing their future fatesmatched the omens of their creation.
The Stormcast Eternals were not theonly threat to Lord Lascilion and hisChaos forces. It was at that momentthat the undead unleashed their owncounter-attack. Upon the back of azombie dragon, Lord Harkdron arrived,landing upon the ruins. With everybeat of its tattered leathery wings, thecreature wafted a noxious charnelhousesmell over the invaders. At itscroaking roar, the portcullis gates thatlined the bottom of the Throne Mountwere raised. Out of those dark corridorslurched the animated remnants of lostages, the contents of catacombs filledwith the dead of countless generations.The streaming columns of bonewarriors and deadwalkers advancedupon the intruders, Stormcasts andChaos alike.
Thus did the battle for the ThroneMount become a complicated,convoluted affair. Warriors of threedifferent armies wove in and out ofthe ruined and burnt-out buildingssurrounding Nulahmia’s central hill.Lord Harkdron’s legions made nodistinction between the StormcastEternals, Chaos Warriors, orDaemonettes – they were all invaders.As she advanced down the hill, Neferataused her necromantic powers to directthose undead nearest her to attack onlythe Chaos forces. She wished to spareSigmar’s knights, for she anticipatedthem seeking alliance, not war.However, Lord Harkdron was too far offfor her to give him similar direction, soshe could only seethe while the undeadbeneath his will continued to attackindiscriminately. 2.102 y 2.103
Lord-Celestant Makvar called for ashield wall – the Liberators lockingtheir shields into a barrier of sigmarite,while the Judicators behind pouredout deadly volleys. Rank after rankof skeletal warriors disappeared,dropped by that fiery fusillade, yet onthey came, mindless flesh and boneautomatons still driven by Harkdron’swill. When, at last, the undead wadedover their own fallen and pressed closetheir attack, rusted blades bouncedoff the Stormcasts’ shields. While theLiberators brought their own heavyhammers and blades to bear, theJudicators kept loosing shots, targetingthe skeletons upon the raised road thatled up the Throne Mount.
Lord Harkdron raised and reformedthe battered and crushed skeletonsfalling in droves before the Anvilsof the Heldenhammer. Even so, thevampire’s necromantic magics could notkeep pace. Inexorably, the shield wallsadvanced, crushing underfoot thosedead warriors already dropped.
In the streets below, the Daemonettesparted ranks, allowing sinister chariotsto pass through. Pulled by strange, lithecreatures, the spike-wheeled chariotsmoved at astonishing speeds. Two ofthem, side by side, filled the street asthey hurtled towards the undead. Thechariots’ impact sent up the soundof cracking bone, like the sound ofheavy feet crunching fallen branches.As the reanimating magic coursedthrough shattered bones, the brokenskeletons rose once more to rejoin thefight. Another squadron of chariotssped past, their scythes and spikedwheels ensuring nothing but a carpet ofwrithing limbs remained.
Attempting to draw attackers fromthe assault upon the Throne Mount,Harkdron flew over them on his zombiedragon, landing near the batteredObelisk of the Underworld. Built todraw upon the powers of Nagash’sBlack Pyramids, the monument helda reservoir of untapped necromanticpower, even though the pyramidswere long destroyed. New legions weresummoned from ancient crypts, butdespite their numbers, the snippingclaws of the Daemonettes continuedto cut through the endless ranks.Harkdron himself would have been indanger but for the arrival of a swirlingstorm of spectral warriors. The air grewchill and a feeling of dread fell over all. 2.103
Neferata looked up from the slaughter,letting her dread abyssal feast upon thehacked remains of the Daemonettesbefore they faded into the Realm ofChaos. The daemons had slipped anddanced their way through the undeadlines, seeking Neferata, calling outher name. As inhumanly fast as thedaughters of Slaanesh were, the vampirequeen was faster still.
Across the burnt ruins of Nulahmiaa black cyclone spun, darker thanthe night itself. From its whirlingcentre flew spectral warriors, ghastlyapparitions of greenish mist. Thoughthey appeared ephemeral and wisplike,their blades were all too lethal.Stormcast Eternals and undead fellbefore that swirling ghoststorm, but itwas the forces of Chaos that paid thehighest price. A bow wave of purestterror swept ahead of the cyclone, andwhere it passed, nothing but bonesremained – bones that soon arose torejoin the fight, but on a different side.
To some, the chill upon the battlefieldfelt like their impending doom.Neferata, whose learned eyes coulddiscern amethyst magics, watched thearcane energies swell like a bloatingcorpse. This immense uprise innecromantic power gave her pause.Neferata had thought no aid wascoming – either that none of herfellow Mortarchs had felt the call ofthe spirit beacon, or perhaps that nonewere willing to overlook her previousbetrayals. But this magic stormwreaking havoc across the battlefieldfelt mightier than the eldritch imprintof any of her fellow Mortarchs, and itwas all too familiar.
Although he could not see the coilingtendrils of necromantic sorceryslithering around him, Lord Lascilion’sunnatural senses could still feel them.He sensed the enormity of the newfoe taking the battlefield. Decidingto make one last push to claim hisprize, the Lord of Slaanesh drove hissteed to climb straight up the wall,bypassing the cutback trail that woundup the Throne Mount. Winding withsinuous grace, the daemonic snakebeastslithered upwards, avoiding theregiments of skeletal warriors thatdefended the roadway.
With Lord-Celestant Makvar at thefore, the Stormcast Eternals hadground through the Chaos rearguard,advancing to the base of the ThroneMount. At last, they saw the vampirequeen, for she sat atop an osseous steedperched on a broken rampart halfwayup the hill. They saw the creeping,snake-like menace that closed uponher, crawling closer while she remainedunaware. On Makvar’s command theProsecutors took flight – their Primehurled a javelin a great distance, yetstill it fell short. They were too late tointervene. However, a single spear ofazure lightning split the sky, strikingjust before Neferata. In the bolt’s searingwake stood a winged warrior. 2.104
Across the ruins of Nulahmia, the battle raged. Neither undead nor minion of Slaanesh knew the meaning of mercy, and the Stormcasts of the Anvils of the Heldenhammer were no less relentless. Against this backdrop Huld, the Knight-Azyros,delivered his message seeking alliance to Neferata. Even as Huld spoke, the shrieking vortex of spirits swept down upon Nulahmia like a spiteful storm.
With every new death the bow wave of bleak sorcery swelled, until Neferata knew with dread certainty who commanded it. Only one being had might enough to wield such unbridled entropic energies, and now she realised that her hopes of his banishment had been foolish indeed. At this revelation the Mortarch slipped from her saddle and knelt amid the ashes of her vanity. Ignoring the battle that still raged around her, Neferata submitted absolutely to the will of her much-displeased master.
When the Mortarch raised her head and opened her lips once more it was not her own silken tones that issued forth, but the stentorian boom of the Great Necromancer. Nagash demanded that the knight of Sigmar repeat his offer of allegiance and this Huld did, his voice never wavering though he spoke to fear itself. Then he waited, the clangour of battle ringing all around, as Nagash considered his response… 2.119
War of the Flameworlds
Chapter One: New Wave
Under blazing stars
In the midst of Aqshy’s cosmic sprawl lay a series of sub-realms known as the Flameworlds. The searing passion of the Realm of Fire’s denizens had seen war consume these surreal domains many times over, but throughout their history there had been nothing like the campaign waged by Sigmar against the forces of Chaos.
The largest of the Flameworlds was a vast disc-shaped kingdom known as the Ashlands, of which the Brimstone Peninsula was but a small part. Not one, but sixteen land masses floated upon the Ashlands’ ocean of burning acid, waters sailed only by the hardiest of beings in magically protected ships. Long had the Ashlands been ground beneath the heels of the Dark Gods. Though their edges were blackened and poisonous, their inner regions had been famously populous and fertile. Their people were potent, and the wilderness once harboured nomadic families beyond counting. Now, however, the lands were wretched, barren places, gore-splashed hunting grounds for the Bloodbound worshippers of Khorne.
Even the land itself had been brutalised and broken apart by the strange erosions of Chaos. The peripheral regions of the Ashlands had split away, wrenched from land and sea alike to hover in the cosmos beyond.
With the winds of Chaos howling about them, these islands achieved a kind of aggressive sentience. Vast pinnacles of warpstone-laced rock pushed from each island’s edge, giving them a bullish appearance and a dangerous aspect. Corrupted by Khorne’s own rage, these land masses crunched into the nearby domain of Asphyxia with every seasonal cycle, allowing warherds of monstrous bullgors to spill across.Together, these predatory islands were known as the Tauroi Archipelago, and the fate of their once-strong cultures hung by a thread. Where joyous bonfires once burned bright, the natives now skulked by candlelight in the deepest of caves. 3.17
Visible from every point of the Ashlands was the Unreachable Mountain. Dozens of expeditions had made futile sorties towards that distant peak; whole empires had bankrupted themselves in attempts to mine the veins of red quartz that glittered on its slopes. After the tumultuous time of the Firequake, such seekers found themselves no closer to the peak each day – some were even further away.
On the Unreachable Mountain’s shoulders was a henge of crimson stone. It was said that any who entered it would find their most powerful emotion magnified a hundredfold, bleeding out across the peak and into the Ashlands below. On the hottest days, a vision of this monolithic henge shimmered above the island of Asphyxia, a mirage that some believed led to the mountain’s peak. That vision had once sat upon a high cliff, but that cliff too had been eroded by the lashing gales of magic that haunted the land. After this, the fabled portal hung in the air, making the Unreachable Mountain’s name ring truer than ever.
All the Ashlands suffered under the cruel dominion of Chaos, but the highest toll was paid by the Scarred Isle, a land scoured of all native cultures but for a handful of Fyreslayer lodges too stubborn to retreat. Hovering in the skies above the Scarred Isle was the crescent-shaped Land of the Chained Sun, where many Fyreslayer lodges made their homes. Above their holds was a searing sphere of colossal size, an orange-yellow giant named Ignax that was so bright that any who gazed upon it were rendered blind. It had been the ancestors of those Fyreslayer lodges that made a bargain with Grungni to forge the god-chains and entrap the sun. Indoing so they ensured it would never set. Legends said that when the cursed night fell upon the Flameworlds, the fire of Aqshy itself would go out. The Runesmiters of the Fyreslayer lodges had long prepared for that day, hoping their runecraft could prevent it.
Glinting above the Ashlands was Orb Infernia, a cadaverous once-world claimed by daemons and fiends. Though the diamond-hard lands of that immense sphere remained whole, the briny sludge upon which they once floated had long boiled away, leaving a patchwork of landmasses held together only by memory – that, and the intensity of the hatred between the four Daemon Princes that ruled its mainstay continents. No mortal had trod the surface of Orb Infernia for a thousand years. It was said that should the daemon legions of that hellscape find a way to cross the cosmic seas, the subsequent invasion would see the Flameworlds subsumed within a single day of blood. Few realised how close to reality that eventuality had become. 3.18
The lordy and the cruel
The battle for the Ashlands began with an escalation of the dread rivalry first seen in the first days of the Age of Sigmar, the ongoing war between the ordered phalanxes of Stormcast Eternals and the unruly hordes of Khorne-worshipping Bloodbound. As time slidby, the battle spread from the Brimstone Peninsula of the Scarred Isle to Pumys, Asphyxia and beyond, eventually reaching the Land of the Chained Sun. Not even Sigmar himself realised that rivalry would form a crucial part of his great celestial crusade, setting in motion a course of events that would change the fate of all the realms.
Though the wars unfolding across this landscape were battles of physical strength and endurance, the most insidious of threats was all but invisible. A strange curse had taken root amidst the Flameworlds, sent by a power far subtler than the Blood God Khorne, but no less horrific.
The hinterlands of Asphyxia once teemed with populous nations, and a few were still left, for they fought with indignant fury and rugged determination against the Khornate warbands that attacked them. Even Sigmar was impressed by their resilience and warrior spirit. Thus he sent his Hammerhands, first amongst all his Strike Chambers, to save those mortals from the Goretide as its rapacious hordes swept over the lands.
After their massacre at the hands of Archaon and his Varanguard, the Hammerhands were greatly reduced in number. Most were still being Reforged, and Lord Vandus was amongst their number. Only the Paladins of that order proved stalwart enough for a swift Reforging – they, and Lord-Relictor Ionus Cryptborn, whose order was said to be one with the shadow of death. A mere fourscore Hammerhands emerged from the crackling bolts sent to Aqshy, but nonetheless they were a potent symbol of Sigmar’s determination to tear the Khornate armies apart. 3.19 y 3.20
Sigmar had no wish to send the Hammerhands to a fight they could not win, and so sent eight other Stormhosts into battle alongside them. Foremost were the Tempest Lords. Resplendent in blue and white, these nobles were keen to break the hordes assailing Asphyxia and thus save its peoples.
They did not have to wait long for their chance. As soon as the Bloodbound armies saw bolts of divine lightning arcing down to the open wastes, they massed towards them, many forgoing their butchery of the Asphyxians to engage stouter foes instead. The Stormcasts let them come. If they could unite with the remaining tribes of that embattled land against a common foe, victory would be well within reach. 3.20
The fires of wrath
The Stormhosts that descended to Asphyxia’s heart were embroiled in battle within minutes of their arrival. Those who emerged further away quickly took up formation, and made a forced march towards the crashing battle-lines in the distance with voices raised in prayer to their God-King. They passed many ashen statues as they advanced. Some were broad-shouldered with elegant pinions upon their shoulders, some vulture-winged wretches reaching for a salvation that would never come. Strange keening moans filled the air. Some of the Stormcast war-songs faltered, their surety robbed by the sight of the secursed souls in their ashen prisons, but the hosts marched on nonetheless.The sight of the crimson and brass-armoured hordes spurred them on; there was war to be made here, and in great measure.
The legions of Khorne met this new challenge with cries of bloodthirsty joy. Since the opening of the Gates of Azyr and the destruction of Khorgos Khul’s pyramid of skulls, an escalating conflict had raged between Sigmar’s armies and the innumerable hordes of the Goretide. There was no escape from it. Even in the remotest and most desolate regions of Asphyxia, the din of war was audible as a dull roar that persisted at all times. The ground had become black with congealed blood, and the only relief from the dark stain of violence was the bright orange-yellow of magma rivers that seared their way towards the sulphuric seas.
So thoroughly had war claimed Asphyxia that none other than Valkia the Bloody, Consort of Khorne, had been drawn to its battlefields in search of worthy disciples. She soared upon the thermals of volcano-born rivers and burning heaps of the dead, her dark wings casting flitting shadows on the duelling champions below. Where a warrior in service to Khorne fought exceptionally well, the Gorequeen would swoop down to pluck them from their mortal lives and claim them for her own. Where a champion of order proved powerful in body as well as mind, she would dart down to fling her spear, Slaupnir, into their chest. The force of her sudden strike was usually enough to tear out the victim’s heart. 3.25 y 3.26
The better part of the warriors Valkia claimed came from the Redblade Riders, a blood-soaked vanguard of mortal cavaliers ranging from Chaos Knights to Mighty Skullcrushers upon Juggernauts of daemonic brass. Such was the carnage they meted out that Lord Cryptborn had marked the Riders for death on the first day of battle. He had been seeking a confrontation with that mounted elite ever since, and he was not to be disappointed.
While the Stormcast Eternals had found a people wasted and slow rather than the rugged and proud tribes they had anticipated, the Goretide was still strong indeed. Their champions were a match even for the Annihilation Brotherhood fighting as Cryptborn’s personal guard. On the day the two forces clashed, the bloodshed was so intense the air filled with crimson mist.
The heights of savagery seen on Asphyxia drew the eye of dark powers, and their gaze spurred the carnage on in turn. Over time the eight Stormhosts sent to Asphyxia became seven, then six. The onslaught slowed not at all. 3.26
Week by week, the fight for Asphyxia ground on until the corpses strewn across the landscape were heaped like grisly snowdrifts. Word spread of the gruelling intensity with which the war was waged, and ever more Bloodbound took their blades to the fight. Rivers of gore flowed into the magma streams that crossed the land, swathing every battlefield with a red fog. The daemons of Orb Infernia looked on through spells and scrying devices, massing their armies and searching for a way to plunge en masse into the tumult.
The Daemon Prince known as Lord Skinskein saw an opportunity to repay an old debt. On the Scarred Isle, he appeared before Khorgos Khul in a vision of crimson droplets. Lord Khul had returned to the Brimstone Peninsula in search of his nemeses, the Hammerhands, but had not found them. Skinskein was quick to tell Khul that the Hammers of Sigmar fought upon Asphyxia, though he did not mention that Vandus was absent. He promised Khorgos that were he to attack from one flank, Skinskein would arrive from the other to prevent the golden hosts’ escape. This time there would be no reprieve for the Hammerhands, and Khul could finally claim the immortality long denied him.
So began Khul’s hurried march across the Ashlands. Though his vast legion used the Brinegate at Mordacious Sound to swiftly cross into Asphyxia, the gruelling marathon still saw many Bloodreavers left for dead. Paying little heed to the flies that harried his minions, Khul put these deaths down to weakness. The truth was far stranger. When Khul searched the corpsefields of Asphyxia for the telltale gold armour of his foes, the struggle for that land still raged fierce. The surviving Redblade Riders struck the Stormcast battleline for what seemed like the fiftieth time, the Strike Chambers fighting exhaustion as well as their fierce adversaries. Khul smiled as a score of blue-armoured Victrian Liberators went down under the intensity of the assault. The flashes of soul-light soaring towards the heavens were pleasing to witness indeed – even more so than the sight of Asphyxians being torn apart by the axes of Khul’s Bloodreaver vanguard. The warlord felt his black heart leap when he saw the golden Hammerhands in the melee. Yet within hours he was fighting for his life. His daemon allies had not closed the trap as promised, but abandoned him instead. 3.27
Chapter Two: Of Plague and Fire
Curse of the Rotbringer
With Lord Khul came not only the infamous Goretide, but also the Skullfiend Tribe and many more of their ravening kin. Massed charges dashed apart the lines of Liberators and Judicators that formed up on every rise and ridge. Raw muscle and frenzied abandon were the weapons of the Khornate hordes, all higher thought pushed aside by the flow of pure battlelust. For a while, their sheer ferocity was such that entire retinues of Stormcast Eternals were sent blazing back to Azyr. But in the Bloodbound’s singular strength was also weakness, for those with a mind for strategy can soon turn the berserker’s rage against them.
Over long and bloody days of conflict, the Tempest Lords learned to make use of the Redblade Riders’ overconfidence. Lord Victrian called out strident commands at the crux point of each charge, his Dracoth Razareph darting through the foe to strike wherever the fighting was thickest. The Prosecutors of Victrian’s vanguard wing took the field on foot, braced as the centre of the Tempest Lords’ defensive battleline. They shot skyward at the critical moment to let the surging Khornate cavalrymen pass by at the gallop. Only then did Victrian drive home crushing envelopments that saw the Khorne warbands cast into the black ash, helms caved in and skulls crushed by well-aimed hammer blows. Many Victrians counted their twelve-tally in a matter of minutes, each Tempest Lord to pass his threshold feted with a chorus of cheers.
The Hammerhands did not fare so well. Though physically indomitable, their Paladin conclave numbered only a few dozen. The crashing tides of bladesmen that broke against their bulwark were gradually wearing them down. When a retinue of Cryptborn’s Decimators unwittingly exposed their flank to the Skullfiends reaping heads from a nearby drift of corpses, the Lord-Relictor called a warning – but Ionus had paid a strange price for his last Reforging. His once strident tones had been reduced to a deathly rasp, lost amongst the clamour of war. Cryptborn mustered the storm-spirits with a thought and flung them into the enemy, but the violence only spurred the Skullfiends on. Khorgoraths fell upon the Decimators by the dozen, awave of Skullreapers charging in their wake. Overmatched, the Paladinswere torn apart. Decimator-Prime Occus fought to the last, taking limbs and heads with every swing – but to Cryptborn’s horror, Occus too was caught by the Skullfiends’ charge and pulled apart in a burst of blue light. 3.47 y 3.48
Above the battlefield, the strange flies flitting through the sweltering air were thickening into swarms to rival the clouds of the Tempest that thundered overhead. They wound like black rivers through the sky in every direction, to every horizon. Tiny insectile faces leered as the daemon insects descended to land on the exposed skin of Khorgorath, Bloodreaver and Asphyxian alike. Abdomens like swollen thumbs jabbed their wet stingers into warm flesh.
For the most part the Stormhosts, clad head to foot in blessed sigmarite, proved inviolable. Here and there, a warrior spasmed and fell, clawing at his mask as the daemon flies wriggled through eyeholes. Those unfortunate enough to feel the curse’s bite found the strength flowing from their bodies like wine from a broken amphora.They fought on valiantly, but were soon slain, blades battered from hands and wasted bodies hacked down by foes quick to take advantage. Even the Khorgoraths felt the plague take its toll. Cryptborn’s Retributors closed in, hammers raised. One by one the monsters were blasted to cinders, despatched as easily as if they had been no more substantial than the ashen statues that dotted the landscape. 3.48
High above, the relentless beat of Ignax seemed to wane as Bloab’s plague spread far and wide. Glimpsed from the corner of the eye, the solar orb seemed dimmer, appearing less like a flaming star and more like a vast orange sphere wrapped in the coils of a titanic serpent. Few amongst the badly depleted Stormhosts and their Bloodbound enemies had the time or inclination to notice the change.
Only when the plague took physical form did its true threat become clear. From a wall-like mass of daemonflies emerged a new Chaos host, not of Khorne, but of Nurgle. An oily laugh rolled across the land as Bloab Rotspawned came to the fore upon his long-limbed maggoth, the ensorcelled bells hanging from his harvestman’s scythe pealing a death knell. A mass of swollen-bellied followers, each three times the weight of the Asphyxians gagging before them, swept their scythes and flails through those brave enough to resist. Above them, elephantine rot flies bore daemon riders high, each Plaguebearer diligently tallying the diseases that spread throughout the battle-lines. Rotspawned’s army was slowly overtaking all before it, stifling the fires of battle with a blanket of pestilence.
With his Retributors forming a golden barricade around him, Ionus Cryptborn searched the skies for signs of aid from the heavens. A winged figure hovered close, but rather than inspire hope, it struck hatred into his heart.The legendary Gorequeen, Valkia the Bloody, glared imperiously down before raising her arms to the sky.
The Gorequeen called out for Khorne to burn away the curse-plague robbing the strength from the land. High above, a red dot glimmered in the sky as if in response. Ionus’ warriors turned to him, yet Cryptborn kept his peace, shaking his head when they asked if they should intervene. He was no stranger to dealing with dark powers, and here he sensed an opportunity to turn one against another. When Decimator-Prime Malascon protested that Lord Vandus would have attacked instead of standing by, Ionus simply replied that Vandus was not there.
Closer and closer came Bloab’s diseased grotesquerie, the Putrid Blightkings at its fore happily trading wounds with those Bloodbound crazed enough to attack them. The surviving Hammerhands were deep in the enemy lines, and with the arrival of the Rotbringers, they were faced with a terrible choice – retreat in disarray, or be slain and return to Azyr in disgrace. Still Cryptborn scanned the skies. Then the clouds of the Tempest thundered. 3.51 y 3.52
A column of lightning blazed down not a javelin’s throw from Ionus. It did not vanish in the manner of stormlight, but burned on. Within it, a heroic figure blazed down on pinions of celestial energy. A host of winged Hallowed Knights sang their warcries around him, voices raised in harmony. Just when the hour was darkest, the Celestant-Prime had come. Clad in silvered raiment with the Great Shatterer in his hand, the avatar of the God-King descended. The scions of the Dark Gods, be they frenzied or foul, could not look upon him, and they turned away in pain. With Ghal Maraz, the Celestant-Prime pointed at Valkia, drifting towards her with eerie majesty as his Prosecutors charged to attack.
One of the winged knights that had descended alongside the Celestant-Prime cried out in righteous anger. Leaving his fellows behind, the raging Knight-Venator shot like an arrow towards the foe – not the scions of Khorne, but Bloab and his Rotbringers. The hunter drew his bow and let fly a shaft, straight and true. It sizzled through the swarm, but one of Bloab’s foetid bodyguards hurled himself in its path at the last moment. Impaled, the warrior fell back dead as stone.
Bloab Rotspawned’s eyes widened in horrified recognition as his witch-sight revealed the identity of his assailant.The winged archer was a reincarnation of an old victim – the guardian of the Lifewells once enslaved to Nurgle’s service as Torglug the Despised.Somehow, Torglug had been given new life, Reforged as a pure-bodied servant of Sigmar. He had become the epitome of holy wrath, and the need for revenge flared around him like an aura.
Bloab commanded his Plague Drones to attack, and a score of the things took their blades to the Knight-Venator. Despite being engaged in a dizzying aerial duel with Valkia, the Celestant-Prime caught a glimpse of Tornus’ predicament. In a blur of light, the celestial demigod and his Prosecutor escort abandoned their assault upon the Gorequeen and shot across the sulphurous wastes to fall upon the Rotbringers with grim fury. Their weapons blazed white as they smashed Blightkings apart like sacks of rotting offal. So bright was the beacon of the Celestant-Prime’s fury that the Tempest Lords and Lions of Sigmar used him as their rallying point, redoubling their attack on the Bloodbound hordes and allowing the Hammerhands to regroup. United by the avatar of Sigmar himself, the Stormhosts proved unstoppable.Though many Strike Chambers paid a high price in lives, the Chaos armies were broken and scattered to the winds. But the battle was far from over. 3.52
Clash in the Pyroclasm
Dusk turned to dawn, and as the surging tides of war devolved into scattered clashes, the living cinderclouds that had haunted the horizon swept across the landscape. Everywhere the hungering pyroclasm passed, it turned hard-fought conflicts into tableaux of ash. It made no distinction between Stormcast, Rotbringer or Bloodbound tribe. All it caught were forever preserved in the act of smiting, parrying, or thrusting their blades forward, a collection of morbid statues forever testament to the wild magic of the Asphyxian firestorm.
On rushed the pyroclasm in a wall of embers and stinking flame. Its roar was that of a hundred starving chimeras. Only the Asphyxians, who had appeared so weak, were left entirely untouched. Tattooed tribesmen laughed maniacally as the firestorm feasted on burned flesh around them.
Shining in the midst of the mayhem was the Celestant-Prime. Every swing of Ghal Maraz smashed Rotbringer warriors in all directions as he sought Bloab, but the firestorm clouded even his star-blessed sight. The sacred warrior raised his sceptre, and the tumultuous skies hurled a meteor in aspiral vortex of energy. It struck home, annihilating a knot of Chaos Knights.Then the Blood God replied in kind.
The red fireball that Khorne had sent to Asphyxia smashed into the Tempest Lords with explosive force. Whole retinues of Stormcast Eternals blazed back to Azyr in an instant. In the crater was a silhouette, the shadow of a monstrous daemon. Skarbrand leapt from the flames into the reeling Victrians, and the killing began anew. 3.53
The raw, hellish anger emanating from Skarbrand washed across the warriors of Asphyxia, driving them into apoplexies of rage. The daemonflies and the plague they had borne were burned away in an instant wherever the Bloodthirster trod; even the Tempest above thinned in his wake. Strength surged anew through every muscle and limb of those who beheld his bloody rampage. Warriors, elders, even the stricken were caught up in the wave of savagery, wildly attacking everything in reach. A rare smile creased Valkia’s lips. Her ploy to banish Nurgle’s curse with the power of pure rage was working.
Lord Victrian cried out in challenge, riding right past Skarbrand and smashing his tempestos hammer two-handed into the Bloodthirster’s jaw. Bellowing in outrage, Skarbrand turned from the Tempest Lords and stormed after Victrian with his eyes blazing red. Victrian rode hard towards the Rotbringers, spurring Razareph into a bounding leap right over the enemy battle-line. Skarbrand ploughed into the Nurgle worshippers like a battering ram driven into a haystack, but Victrianwas already wheeling back to join his men. As he surveyed the battlefield, the Lord-Celestant realised the howling flamestorm had left the Asphyxian natives untouched. Ordering his men to stay close to the tribesmen, he led his Victrians on the attack once more.
It was all too much for Bloab Rotspawned. Caught between the reincarnation of Torglug, the Celestant-Prime and the rage of Skarbrand, the sorcerer felt the claws of death reach close. He uttered a desperate incantation. Those daemonflies still crawling upon his skin swelled, bulged, and grew massively, each becoming a giant rot fly – even Bilespurter sprouted huge, membranous wings. The swarm took flight, and Bloab was borne away from danger. The black mass moved off towards the distant Flameheart in search of new lands to pollute.
Ionus called for his Paladins to regroup, but his voice was little more than a hoarse rasp. Already he had lost over half his force. To linger here was to die in vain, and there was much still to be done. Daemonfly swarms still buzzed in a haze on the horizon; left to roam unchecked, they would spread their debilitating plague to every corner of the Flameworlds. There was something else out there too, just visible amongst the lowering storm clouds – a mirage-like henge of red crystal, with a tumbled dais shattered in the ruins beneath it. A realisation struck Ionus. The henge was no illusion. It was a holy site, a way out, and the key to a victory over Nurgle and Khorne alike. 3.57
Fighting a desperate running battle against screaming Bloodreavers, Cryptborn and his Paladins finally gained the dais. The Lord-Relictor planted his reliquary upon the centrestone and whispered a dozen syllables. Not a single Stormcast Eternal heard his words, yet the Tempest above answered with a peal of thunder.
Down came twelve streaming bolts of lightning, a crackling net of energy so large it gathered the raging pyroclasm with the ease of a potter shaping clay. Whirled into an ash-choked vortex, the firestorm raged against its incarceration, but its power was nothing next to that of the divine storm. The net of lightning constricted until firestorm and combatants alike were whirled into the rising tornado.
The Tempest itself boomed in triumph as Stormcast Eternals, Chaos worshippers and Asphyxians were carried skywards. Even the roaring Bloodthirster Skarbrand was ripped from the ground, axes lashing out at those bodies hurtling around him as he spiralled ever closer to the shimmering henge above. Through the Hengegate the combatants went, disappearing one by one until nothing was left of the battle but a mile-wide crater of ash. 3.58
Chapter Three: The Unreachable Mountain
The Heights of Fury
In an explosion of arcane energy, the Asphyxian firestorm emerged from the shimmering heat haze on the far side of the Hengegate. It rematerialised above the Crystal Henge, the warrior hosts inside it still borne by the lightning-trammelled thermals. As Cryptborn had foreseen, the caged firestorm spent its energies in attempts to wrest free of the Tempest; those within its confines felt only searing hot winds, not the full flesh-melting effects of its hunger. Quickly it was drawn to the mystical peak’s snow-capped pinnacle, where it was funnelled towards the Flameheart by the etheric hurricanes that flowed towards that great gate.
Ionus stilled his mind, releasing his hold upon the Tempest. The lightning-vortex whirled apart, and as one the combatants from the plains were released. Lord Cryptborn’s timing was well judged. Though a great many worshippers of Chaos tumbled like ragdolls down the mountainside, and no few Stormcasts plummeted to their deaths, most survived the fall. In scant moments battle was joined once more.
The pyroclasm, released from the spiralling storm, turned the snowcapped peaks a golden yellow as it rose like a phoenix reborn into the skies. It was drawn in by the greater force of the Flameheart, inhaled by the vast Realmgate as a duardin elder might draw pipesmoke into his lungs. In his heart, Ionus rejoiced to see it leave, for it meant the firestorm’s predations upon Asphyxia were at an end.
Still the spectre of unbound fury haunted the Flameworlds. Amidst the thick of the mountainside battle, Skarbrand still rampaged on. He did not just cut down those Stormcasts within reach, he halved them, tore them bodily apart, or boiled their blood with bellows of pure wrath. Ionus had banished one evil, but had left another to run rampant amongst his kin. 3.99
Madness on the peak
Leaving Razareph to drag her master to safety, Cryptborn forced himself to focus on his plan. When he had spied the Hengegate portal, Ionus had realised its crystal pillars were similar in design to the Amethyst Dolmens of his deathly homelands. Those graven monoliths were psychic resonators that amplified grief, allowing the sepulchre kingdom’s heroes to be mourned en masse. Ionus’ hope was that the red henge could beused to magnify raw fury in a similar fashion – and in doing so, banish Bloab’s insidious influence from the Ashlands entire.
Whilst Lord Cryptborn had been dealing with Victrian, the Paladins of his conclave had turned their blades against the scattered warbands of Bloodbound. Despite the fug of anger infecting their minds, those redoubtable warriors maintained enough discipline to heed Cryptborn’s signal – three crackling bolts that formed a triangle of dissipating energy around his reliquary. Long-rehearsed battle plans came to the fore, and the Paladins fought into a wedge around their leader, fighting slowly towards the overhang of the mountain’s peak. The bloodied remnants of the Redblade Riders, robbed of their steeds by the whirling mayhem of the storm-vortex, charged headlong into their path. Their anger made them careless, however, and they were unused to fighting on foot. Their haste cost them dearly. Met by the sweeping axes of the Decimators on the edges of the wedge, the Redblade Riders died in droves. Though they pulled down a few Stormcasts as they fell, the thunderaxes of the Paladins hewed shield, flesh and bone with such deadly efficiency Lord Cryptborn did not even have to break stride. 3.101
The Paladins’ ascent did not go unnoticed, for Cryptborn ensured the corona of storm energy crackling around them flared especially bright. Seeing choice prey, Skarbrand hacked and stomped a crimson path to intercept the glorious few as they forged ever higher. The other Stormhosts stillin the fight also strove to gain the peak, united in their desire to lay low the beast Skarbrand and the Bloodbound disciples in his wake.
Up and up the Paladins climbed.Those of the enemy high enough on the summit to hurl themselves upon the Hammerhands were skewered on the glaives of Cryptborn’s Protectors and flung down the steep slopes with contemptuous flicks of the blade. When the overhanging peak was but a few steps distant, the Decimators of Cryptborn’s escort peeled away, allowing their Retributor brothers to come to the fore. Only then did the Lord-Relictor gain the mountain’s tip and speak. His fateful commands were heard by his Paladins alone.
Skarbrand drew closer still. Lightning hammers were raised high, corposant energy crackling atop them, before being brought down with pulverising force. The mountainside shook as if in fright, but the Exiled One came on. Thrice more did the hammers strike home. Then, just as Skarbrand’s headlong charge hit home, the tip of the mountain broke away and slid downwards in a cascade of snow and black stone. To the horror of the Tempest Lords far below, the surviving Paladins of the Hammerhands Chamber were carried away with it.
The magnitude of Cryptborn’s act became terrifyingly clear as a new thunder rolled across the mountain– not that of the Tempest, but of the avalanche. Many of the Bloodbound were lightly armoured and dextrous of limb, and they scrambled quickly before the snowslide, reaching the safety of jagged spars of rock that rose above the mayhem. The Stormcast Eternals, clad in heavy sigmarite war plate, were not so lucky. The avalanche buried the Stormhosts, leaving only Ionus and the unconscious Lord Victrian in safety. Scattered blurs of azure light blazed upwards from the grinding snowdrifts, each marking the death of a Stormcast. The Hammerhands fared worst of all, and only a handful of them survived; it was a terrible sacrifice, and the heavens shook in witness. But it was not in vain. 3.102
Head over cloven hoof, Skarbrand tumbled down the mountainside, his tattered wings unable to bear him aloft. Each rock and boulder that smashed into him fuelled his fury to greater heights, his outrage so profound it turned the snow to steam at his passing.
Had Lord Victrian been conscious to see it unfold, the last act of Cryptborn’s plan would have left him speechless, but only Valkia, winging above the avalanche, witnessed it in full. Skarbrand was borne straight into the midst of the giant bloodquartz megaliths, the snowslide’s grip finally broken by the white-hot fury of his inglorious descent. The daemon cast about himself, looking for a living soul to vent his fury upon, and found nothing but snow. He threw back his head and screamed in terrible rage.
Everywhere the effect was extreme. The force of Skarbrand’s wrath, already so powerful it could boil a man’s blood, was magnified a hundredfold by the crystal of the bloodquartz henge. Invisible tides of fury blasted out across the Flameworlds, concentric circles of raw emotion crashing like waves against every heart and mind. Louder and louder grew Skarbrand’s bellow, the pillars of the henge shaking until their outlines blurred crimson. Mortals across the Ashlands and beyond joined their voices in hellish chorus. A million throats were shouted hoarse as the communal roar of undiluted blood lust rose into the heavens. So loud and fierce was the sound that it lit a fire of fierce joy in Khorne’s brazen heart.
Eyes turned red, mouths frothed, and weakened limbs felt a savage mightsurge into them as Skarbrand’s cry reached an epoch-shattering crescendo.The bloodquartz megaliths shattered in a titanic detonation of glowing redshards, impaling the Bloodthirster with a hundred thick spears of crystal and banishing him in a cloud of blood-coloured mist. An impossibly fearsome wave of rage blasted further and further across the Ashlands, driven forth before the thunderous boom of the explosion. At its passing, the Plague of Atrophy was incinerated. Nurgle’s curse upon the Flamelands was lifted.
In the cataclysm’s wake came carnage.The fires of Ignax burned with skysearing intensity as every man, woman and child took up knives, cudgels, even sharp rocks. Shrieking in defiance, they fell upon their oppressors, and the blood of evil men filled the air. 3.103
Those closest to Skarbrand’s apocalyptic fury fared the worst, their skulls bursting in explosions of gore and shattered bone. The scions of Khorne strong enough to survive the apocalyptic wave of fury turned upon their tribemates, shouting the warcries of their brutal kind as they hacked each other into steaming hunks of flesh.
The Stormcast Eternals caught in Cryptborn’s avalanche felt the unnatural fury grip their minds. Its intensity was so powerful that for a moment it blotted out the god-given purity of their celestial souls. Held fast in their icy prisons, however, they were unable to fall upon their own kind. Thus were Sigmar’s warriors spared the ignoble horror of turning on their own.
Atop what remained of the Unreachable Mountain’s peak, Ionus Cryptborn chanted the meditative deathmantras of his order. When he sensed Skarbrand had been banished from the Flameworlds, he brought his consciousness back to the physical world. The Lord-Relictor gazed upon the aftermath of the battle, breathing a heavy sigh of relief – the deed was done. A shadow flitted above. From the skies came a jagged spear, hurled so hard it pierced Cryptborn’s breastplate and took him through the heart. Ionus died in agony, the cruel laughter of the Gorequeen ringing in his ears.
Some time later, Lord Cyrocco regained consciousness, emerging from the lee of a great rock and digging his Victrians from the snow so they could free the other Stormhosts in turn. Of Ionus Cryptborn, however, there was no sign. 3.104
Chapter Four: The Tauroi Achpelago
Fate of the candlemen
The hill clans of the Tauroi Archipelago were once the masters of both fire and water. Their menfolk hunted and killed the bestial predators of their domain by the light of giant conflagrations lit from dried evergreens and pine sap.The clans’ womenfolk raised extensive aqueducts, channelling the pure waters of the volcanic peaks to the arid plains of Asphyxia. For long centuries they lived a harmonious existence, but by the time Sigmar’s Tempest broke, those proud cultures had been reduced to scattered remnants.
One fell day the malevolent gaze of Khorne had fallen upon the Ashlands’outermost realm. All who lived there felt it in their souls as a shiver of hot fear. Within hours the lands splintered, quaked and broke away from the mainland as if struck by a godly blow. A great influx of bull-headed monstrosities assailed the islands, emerging from a rift in the mountains by the thousands. Fire was no longer an ally to the hill clans, but an enemy, for it attracted the Bloodscorch beasts in great number. The native peoples fought valiantly against these ravening beasts, but were forced to concede their lands, instead scraping a lowly existence from the caves in the high peaks. Soon the people dared not light even a cookfire; they had become masters of little more than the rags they wore and the barely edible fungi they could farm within their shadowy hiding places. When Sigmar’s Tempest came to bring salvation to the Ashlands, the Stormcast Eternals despatched to the Tauroi Archipelago found there was little of the native people left to save. 3.117
Last stand of the faithful
The Stormcast Eternals fared poorly in the first few days of their attack upon the Tauroi Archipelago. The Bloodscorch bullgors were horrifically strong, and all but impossible to break. Entire phalanxes gave their lives before the Lord-Celestants ordered the retreat. A new strategy was devised – to use the land and its people as the anvil, and the Stormhosts as the hammer.
With their Knights-Azyros leading the way, several Strike Chambers located the remnants of the hill clans, enclaves hidden in cave networks too small for a bullgor to access. At first, the rousing presence of the Stormcasts had little effect on those beaten down by the oppression of Chaos, for most amongst the hill clans had already given up. It soon became obvious the war for the Tauroi Archipelago was a battle of the spirit, not of the body; a battle that began without a single worshipper of Chaos in sight. On one side were the Stormcast Eternals, embodiments of Sigmar’s will to break the stranglehold of the Dark Gods. On the other was the crushing weight of years of oppression, and the terror inspired by the bullgor warherds – or rather by the prospect of becoming fodder for their gory feasts.
It was a battle the Tempest Lords were well suited to fight. Their stirring rhetoric brought clan after clan to their banners, each new throng guiding them through the labyrinthine tunnels to the next. Those they could not convince of a new dawn they galvanised with talk of a last stand – a final glorious crusade that would see them rise in magnificence one last time.
Down from their caves came the Candlemen, hundreds of tattered flagellants and armoured war-priests picking up the battle hymns of the Tempest Lords as they marched in step to the bloodstained valleys below. With his statue-crowned altar uncovered and placed upon its carriage, Arch Lector Veltahren rode down the gently-sloping aqueducts in splendour. It was an impressive sight, and it attracted the bullgor clans as surely as any conflagration on the open plain. 3.119
The horned beasts that bellowed and snorted at the end of the aqueducts stood as men, but their intent was animalistic and brutal in the extreme. The creatures were huge, each so tall and muscular they made even the Paladins of the encroaching Stormhosts appear childlike in comparison. Dustdevils whipped through the mountain passes as ever more beast-tribes emerged from their bone-strewn lairs. In their midst were cackling, goat-legged mutants and pot-bellied archers no bigger than men, but it was the bull-headed giants that strode through their midst that held the eye. Their broad foreheads were daubed with the dread rune of Khorne, their bellows and snorts uncannily like human voices booming praise to the Blood God.
Even the Tempest Lords were daunted by the sight. There were as many bullgors as there were Stormcast Eternals to face them, and the beastmen’s ghorgon kin would further tip the scales. Still, the war-songs of the celestial armies faltered not. To hesitate now would be to break the morale of the mortal clans, and the Tempest Lords had not been Reforged to cower in the face of danger. Instead, the Knights-Heraldor of the Stormhosts sounded the clarion call to charge. The ringing command was echoed from their brothers in the valleys of Bucephia, Lontz, Vulcse, and even the Vale of Bulls. Across the archipelago, Lord-Celestants led the charge, knowing that in doing so they were likely leading the celestial crusaders and their mortal allies to their deaths.
The thunderous assault of the Stormcast Eternals shook the ground with its fury, wedge after wedge driving towards the bullgor warherds. The bestial armies did not stand idly, but lowered their heads and counter-charged with terrifying force. The largest of the horned giants bulldozed a path straight through the ranks of the Tempest Lords, the telltale blue energy of dead Stormcasts crackling skyward in their wake. Battle was joined in earnest as ordered lines were buckled and broken, reduced to heaving presses where raw strength alone would carry the day. Some of the rampaging bullgors were slain by hammer blows good and true, others pulled down by the flail-wielding Candlemen and beaten to a bloody pulp. For a moment, it seemed the valour of Sigmar’s armies might win out. Then the ghorgons waded into the fray. The four-armed monstrosities lashed about themselves with sickle-sharp claws and jagged blades protruding from their wrist stumps. Their fury was so fierce that blood could be tasted in the air. The berserker-beasts crashed on through the melee, stuffing headless corpses into their maws with a frantic, terrible vigour. The clansmen, their mortal frailty clear in the face of such lethal hatred, buckled and fled. In doing so they exposed the Stormcasts’ flanks to three stampeding hordes of bullgors. 3.121 y 3.122
Then came a miracle.
A sky-splitting boom rang out, concentric waves of red light cascading across the heavens. A feeling of intense rage inflamed every clansman’s mind to breaking point, forcing them back into the fight with shouts of bloodcurdling fury. For the bull-headed scions of Khorne – creatures already on the verge of rage-fuelled mania– the effect was far more dramatic.Thousands of grotesquely horned heads burst apart in spraying fountains of blood, bone and brain matter as the waves of Skarbrand’s amplified rage broke over the bullgor clans. Delirious shouts of victory burst from every clansman’s throat as the bodies of their monstrous enemies slumped to the ground. The scattered hosts of the hill clans surged forwards, bringing red vengeance to the remainder of the brayherds that had usurped their lands.Though they knew it not, a distant Lord-Relictor had reversed the course of their destiny. 3.122
Chapter Five: Land of the Chained Sun
Siege of the Crescent Isle
Sigmar’s hosts had meted out their vengeance across the Ashlands and beyond. Asphyxia, once the undisputed province of the Blood God’s hordes, had been assaulted with such unrelenting determination that its barren heartlands now belonged to the Stormcast Eternals alone. The Paladins of the Hammers of Sigmar had fought like heroes of legend, and one of Nurgle’s most fecund plagues was burned away when Lord Cryptborn turned the impossibly livid rage of the Bloodthirster Skarbrand against it. In the wake of that explosive event, the bullgor tribes of the Tauroi Archipelago had been slaughtered in one fell instant, their brains boiled by the sheer intensity of Skarbrand’s daemonic wrath. Over the next few years, the lesser beastmen of that splintered land were hunted to extinction by the clans they once called prey.
With the archipelago’s horned beasts no longer securing the edge of the Ashlands, the Bloodbound of Asphyxia had no way to halt the advance of the sigmarite-clad phalanxes ranged against them. Within a month, almost all of Asphyxia’s blood-mad usurpers were driven into the sulphuric seas. This in turn drained the rest of that landmass – the former hunting grounds of the mighty Lord Khul – of the manpower the Bloodbound needed to keep the forces of Order from consolidating their gains. The Ashlands natives rose up against their persecutors as never before, the leaders of each rebellion hoping the grip of Chaos would finally be broken.
They had reckoned without Archaon.
The mortal pawns of the Everchosen had been stymied, outmanoeuvred, even slaughtered by the Stormhosts and their allies. But they were by no means the only powers that answered Archaon’s call. The seraphon armies that had long destabilised Orb Infernia had been dispelled, sent back to the heavens as motes of celestial energy after their slann master Xen'phantica met his end upon Khorgos Khul’s axe. With the way ahead finally clear, Lord Khul passed through the God’s Eye of Nugatoria, his Gorechosen following in his wake. They emerged upon the Land of the Chained Sun. 3. 133 y 3.134
That land was already scorched by the fires of war. With the pulses of anger that drove the tribes of the Flameworlds into a defiant frenzy, the Solar Drake chained above the Ashlands had flared brighter than ever. Waves of raw firemagic blazed from Ignax’s flanks, so fierce they forced everyone under her gaze to flee deep into the earth or be incinerated where they stood. Once those sky-searing ripples of emotion were spent, Ignax’s flames dimmed, for even a godbeast can know exhaustion. Archaon judged the time right to takethe Solar Drake for his own, and in doing so, to cement his plan to attack the Heavens themselves.
The war for the crescent-shaped island beneath Ignax had started some time ago. When he bound the Truthsayer Kiathanus to his service, Archaon had learned that the sun above the Ashlands was in truth a vast godbeast. Even the most skilled of his Gaunt Summoners were unable to reach that hovering landmass, for it was protected by a number of potent duardin shieldrunes. With those abjurations warping any hostile magicks, a summoned portal was as likely to open in the heat of Ignax’s fires as it was upon safe ground.
Incensed, Archaon had sent the circles of his Varanguard to root out and kill the Fyreslayer lodges that made their homes on the Scarred Isle. It was perceived by some of his captains as a gesture of spite more than strategy, as a venting of temper that had only a slim chance of uncovering the key to the conquest of the crescent isle and the capture of the Solar Drake. Ultimately, it proved the right course, though only the Truthsayer Kiathanus knew why. 3.134
Archaon’s Varanguard were a force like no other. Each steel-clad rider was a champion of the Dark Gods, and no few had deadly mutations or reality-twisting powers. They rode to war on massive daemon steeds that looked from a distance to be armoured stallions, but at close quarters were revealed as something far more terrifying. Their number was dizzying, for Archaon had been claiming the best of those who fought in the names of the Chaos Gods for centuries. By the start of the Age of Sigmar, the Varanguard numbered in the tens of thousands.
Even the doughty Fyreslayers were no match for such elite foes. Though the duardin held out far longer than any had a right to expect, the fyrds were rooted out from their ancient strongholds and put to the sword. And still the Varanguard could not be everywhere at once. The Scarred Isle was massive in scale, and the Bloodbound tribes no longer scoured its wilderness for prey, for they had lost tens of thousands upon the Brimstone Peninsula. The Austarg lodge, a splinter of their Vostarg forefathers, was able to fight clear from the battles that were destroying their hold. They managed to escape the slaughter of their kin, though within a matter of days the Varanguard rode hard in pursuit. Just as the thunder of charging cavalry filled the air, the lodge’s Auric Runefather summoned the fiery lifeblood of the land and burned a molten tunnel into Lodestone Peak to escape.
A boulder-strewn mountain of magnetic rock, Lodestone Peak held fast any metal not blessed by the Runesmiters, severely hampering the armoured killers that pursued the Fyreslayers but slowing the duardin not at all. Deep within the peak was hidden the rune-portal that led to the Isle of the Chained Sun, a gateway that had not been used for centuries. Using his runecraft as a key, the Runesmiter Dorryc Claimblade led the last remnants of the Scarred Isle’s duardin through. The Austarg lodge had returned to the Vostarg heartland for the first time in living memory. After making their home anew upon the Land of the Chained Sun, the Austarg lodge joined that isle’s Vostarg holdings in formal ceremony.
Once settled, Dorryc Claimblade bent every hour to what he considered a holy task – the forging of Auriakh, the Father Rune of Binding. 3.135
Auriakh was an icon of ownership. The ancient duardin had used it to claim dominion over those magic-saturated lands that had sentience, or even a geomantic version of a soul. It had been found wanting during the Taming of Drakatoa, the great volcano of the Shimmerfalls, and since the resultant eruption it had fallen into disfavour. Its legend was pursued by Dorryc alone.
When asked why he worked so hard to create Auriakh, Claimblade said nothing, his expression turning so dark that none dared press the matter. He took great pains to hide the truth – that in secret he was working to perfect the counter-rune, a symbol he had already inscribed on two of the Grungni-forged chains that held Ignax fast.
Though the Runes of Unbinding had no chance of undoing Grungni’s magics alone, they were still blasphemies of damning magnitude. If the maverick Runesmiter had been caught he would have been sentenced to drowning in vitriol within the hour. But duardin have always been adept at keeping their secrets, and by the time Sigmar’sTempest struck, the hidden work was complete.
The Runesmiter’s dire plan came to fruition when Ignax was driven into violent spasms by the waves of rage cascading across the Flameworlds. The godbeast fought against her manacles with such passion that the tiny weaknesses introduced by Claimblade’s Runes of Unbinding proved critical.
Superheated by Ignax’s wrath, both of the rune-weakened chains broke with thunderous cracks. They fell like headless serpents amongst a cacophony of protesting metal, whipping past the great winches that held them in place to slam into the Scarred Isle beneath. They struck that sprawling landmass with force enough to gouge deep chasms in the ground.
Such was the immensity of the draping chains they bridged the gap from the Ashlands to the isle above.The Varanguard be held these godly fetters, each link the size of an Infernal Realmfort, and saw their opportunity. Mounting their sure-footed daemon steeds, they massed for war, and made their way up the gigantic chain-links to the unconquered lands high above.
Archaon looked upon the coming invasion with cruel approval. The Fyreslayer holds of the crescent isle were powerful foes, and together the duardin numbered in the millions, but still he felt confident of victory. Then, on the third day of battle, the heavens shook. Bolts of lightning crackled across the sky in bursts of blue flame, and meteoric strikes blazed bright as they struck each battlefield. Before the celestial light had faded, twenty full Stormhosts had emerged. Sigmar’s Dracothian Guard plunged into the fight, and the war escalated once more. 3.136
To bind a Godbeast
Though many of Archaon’s hosts had been intercepted by Sigmar’s finest, the Stormhosts could not prevent the invasion. A great many Varanguard fought their way into the hearthlands of the crescent isle. They were met by long-planned ambushes, Fyreslayers charging over the edges of long-dormant calderas and emerging from volcanic sally-ports to attack in their thousands. Hundreds of invaders were hacked from their saddles by the resolute duardin. The forward elements of those Varanguard armies were slain upon the arid earth, their corpses tossed from the isle’s edge.
But as more and more of Archaon’s champions fought their way clear of Ignax’s chains to enter the wider war, the Fyreslayers were slowly driven back. Worse still, a darker fate loomed, for Archaon had never intended his chosen hordes to fight unsupported. The Everchosen dug his spurs into the neck of his daemon steed Dorghar, and the chimeric beast gave screams from all three of its maws. From Orb Infernia, a hundred daemon armies joined their voices in reply, rejoicing in anticipation of the red work to come. When spiralling portals of purple unlight opened across the crescent isle to disgorge the daemon hosts of Orb Infernia, the Fyreslayer attack swiftly turned into a rout.
It was then that the Dracothian Guard fought their way into the blazing heart of the fight. The attack wave struck with such force the daemon hosts crumbled before it, hundreds of warpfiends banished before their masters could muster a counter-attack. The second wave broke all cohesion amongst the enemy, the Stormcasts’ Dracoths breathing lightning as one. The ensuing storm banished the daemons in clouds of ectoplasm wherever it struck home. 3.137 y 3.138
Each charge was the stuff of sagas, for the Dracothian Guard had been well-trained in the art of mass warfare. Wherever the line-shattering charge of the Lightning Echelon left the daemonhosts free to close upon their flanks, the Thunderwave Echelon would follow up with axes swinging. It was a glorious display of Sigmar’s divine might, but it did not go unchallenged.
Swooping from the skies came Archaon, hurling blasts of mutagenic fire. Dorghar roared in fierce bloodlust as he raked his talons through the Stormcast Eternals, clawing an entire retinue of riders from their Dracoth steeds. Where a Dracothian Guard spurred his mount into a leap, blade outstretched, Archaon whipped the Slayer of Kings in a flaming arc to claim his head. Wherever bolts of celestial energy were launched toward the Everchosen, the amber glare of the Eye of Sheerian dissipated them in mid-air.
Another crack of sky-splitting lightning struck, grounding this time not on the crescent isle, but on the immense chains that bound Ignax to its peaks. Three bolts of celestial energy were cast down. Such was their magnitude that many Stormcasts thought they were the fabled Great Bolts, most destructive of all Sigmar’s lightnings, but instead three gigantic Stardrakes materialised in their wake. Upon their throne-like saddles were Drakesworn Templars, each raising his lightning-wreathed weapon in salute. With a shout they arrowed as one towards Archaon.
Their charge was intended to be synchronous, but Archaon was a consummate tactician as well as a legendary warrior. Unfazed by the searing heat of the godbeast above, Archaon met the Templars one by one as he winged through the white-hot flares curling from Ignax. Dorghar tore the first Stardrake from the skies in a welter of blood. The second swooped to pluck Archaon from his saddle, but the Everchosen swung aside and slit the celestial beast from belly to tail. The third was simply shorn in two.
The isle-wide charge of the Chamber Extremis had dealt a grievous blow to the Varanguard, but with the Everchosen sending legions of daemons against Stormcast and Fyreslayer alike, their impetus was spent within the hour. Archaon would not be denied. 3.138
And so the Fyreslayers of the Chained Sun went to their last battle. Threescore Magmadroths lumbered amongst them, coaxed from their lairs in the Glowing Glacier and girded for war. Four duardin armies marched through the vales of the crescent isle, one to each of the Great Tethers that held the drake’s remaining chains fast. Grimwrath Berzerkers sang praise to Grimnir at the fore of each, their chants taken up by the thousands-strong columns of Fyreslayers in their wake. Where daemon host or Varanguard circle moved to intercept them, the forces of Chaos were soon broken by the charges of fire-crowned warriors, for when a duardin goes to meet his doom, only a fool stands in his path. The remaining princes of the daemon armies looked upon them with suspicion, but their attention was confined to their own battles against the Stormhosts. Even Archaon, his masterful mind aflame with the business of murder, did not guess their intent. Before the day was out each of the Great Tethers was in Fyreslayer hands, and the lava-fuelled steam winches that tightened Ignax’s chains clanked into life.
The ruddy light cast by Ignax’s flames became brighter and brighter as she was pulled ever closer. The stifling air heated to the point it could boil a man’s blood. Archaon, realising the Fyreslayer’s ploy, sent the fastest of his daemons to fall upon their garrisons. Scorpion-clawed beasts and spike-wheeled chariots of Slaanesh hurtled across the parched, heat-scorched lands, only to be met by a mile-long wall of lava sent from the magma pikes of the Auric Hearthguard. Gore-soaked armies of Khornate cavalry were hacked to pieces by duardin berzerkers alight with the fires of righteous rage. Still the winches ground on.
Rising above the carnage were the Runesons, braving the white heat of the lowering godbeast as their Magmadroths climbed claw over claw up Grungni’s chains. Daemon Princes soared after them on leathery wings, but those not met in battle by Volgrov’s brothers were intercepted by the Prosecutors hurtling from the Stormhosts below. Up and up went the Magmadroths, their hides impervious to Ignax’s fires, but their Runes on riders did not fare so well. One after another the duardin burned, flesh melting away to reveal blackened skeletons.
Only Volgrov Borrson, protected from the intense heat by the magic of the Rune Auriakh, made it to Ignax’s scaly hide. He placed the great rune, hammering it home with gusto, and let go. Within an instant he was consumed, falling as a blazing fireball into the void. But the deed was done. 3.139
The fires of Ignax grew so close to the Land of the Chained Sunthat the land itself burned. Chaos worshipper, daemon and Stormcast Eternal alike burned with it. The Fyreslayers had retreated underground, triggering ancient runes that made them immune to Ignax’s flames whilst those who dared trespass upon their land died aflame. Every soul upon the crescent isle that did not worship Grimnir was incinerated, banished or reduced to foul-smelling ash – every soulbarring Archaon, for the wards laid upon him would not see him slain so easily.
With Ignax’s wrath temporarily spent, Archaon made his move. Dorghar bore him around the zodiacal beast’s island-sized skull until Archaon could drive the Slayer of Kings into the monstrosity’s temple. The daemon trapped within the Everchosen’s blade clawed into Ignax’s mind, driving her to the very edge of insanity. She writhed in agony. The Great Tethers were torn, roots and all, from the crumbling earth – for in causing their lands to burn so deeply, the Fyreslayers shattered the crust of the island itself.
Trailing Grungni-forged chains behind her, Ignax flew roaring into the cosmic sprawl of Aqshy. Archaon rode triumphant in her wake, unaware of the rune glinting upon her flank, for duardin magic hid it from his sight. The Everchosen had won his victory – or so he believed. 3.148
Chapter One: The Seraphon strike
The Cursed Sphere
Long ago, Orb Infernia was a glittering sky kingdom whose proud people sailed Aqshy’s cosmic sprawl. Miners and artisans, the inhabitants of the orb traded with countless nations, and the rulers of Infernia were famed for the grandeur of their visits to the lands below. None now remember the names of those bejewelled kings. The Age of Chaos turned their domain into a daemon-haunted wasteland, its seas consumed by sorcerous beasts until its continents floated above an empty world held together by dark magicks.
Archaon gifted Orb Infernia to four of his most troublesome Daemon Princes, tricking each for his own dark amusement into believing the prize was theirs alone. Since that day, the orb has been an ever-burning battleground.
The jagged lands of Ghorddro were ruled by the Skinskein Lord, known for raising chalices of gore to Khorne in a palace hung with flayed hides. Glurtos the Flyking made his home amid the pestilent woodlands and festering valleys of Beubilos, while the daemon-sorcerer Zyrrak Mirrorkin wove his plots across the ensorcelled continent of Xzaratch. Then there were the ruins of Issthyss, fallen to fragments after the capture of Slaanesh. Even so, the Slaaneshi Daemon Prince Synnistra, and his followers, clung to the remains of this land, seeking their god amongst its island chains. Centred between the four princes’ lands was the vast continent of Nugatoria, above which once stood the God’s Eye, a Realmgate to the Ashlands below.
For an age the four princes had fought one another, their daemon armies spilling across the lands to break off parts of their rivals’ domains and make them their own. As the war went on, the continents themselves fought. Mountains were transformed into hateful stone giants, rivers of blood wrestled like mad serpents and fanged caves chewed up any foolish enough to enter them. Due to the devious plots and plans of the four princes, the war for Orb Infernia had more treacheries and twists than a sane mind could bear. 3.65
Over mortal lifetimes beyond count, the Slann Starmaster Lord Xen'phantica had sent his celestial hosts to ensure the daemon war never ended. Undermining the fragile alliances of the princes, the slann tricked the daemons by secretly assassinating their heralds or wiping out their vanguards into other lands, making each prince think another had betrayed him. Lord Xen'phantica also played upon the naked ambition of the princes, opening portals between their lands and presenting tempting targets ripe for the slaughter. Despite the daemon hordes outnumbering the slann’s seraphon many times over, the four princes were betrayed time and again by their own base natures. So it was that with the skill of an expert bladesman, Lord Xen'phantica kept his foes at each other’s throats, and ensured that the daemons remained distracted from the wars in the Ashlands below. 3.66
War of the Tetrarchs
Prince Zyrrak had spied a maddening pattern in Lord Xen'phantica’s plans. With every battle it seemed the slann tipped the geography of the orb itself, the lands shifting in an endless dance around the continent of Nugatoria but never touching its cursed shores. This was the key, Zyrrak realised. If the daemon armies could ally and claim Nugatoria together, their lands would at last align, and the God’s Eye reopen. Laying plots of his own, Zyrrak sparked a hundred wars across Infernia to draw the gaze of the slann. Under cover of this distraction, the Tzeentchian daemon then turned to bringing the other three princes to side.
With outright flattery, Zyrrak forged an alliance with Synnistra and his hedonists. He then made vile promises to Glurtos and Skinskein, offering bountiful fields to infect and skulls to harvest in the lands below. The final piece of Zyrrak’s plan was to build a spell-fort upon Nugatoria itself. Here the princes would gather, their fates hidden from Lord Xen’phantica until the time was right to strike.
For the first time in centuries, armies of the four Dark Gods marched side by side in the weeping crystal mountains of Nugatoria. Their vast hosts headed for the ruins of the God’s Eye among the Ghostglass Peaks. From beyond the veil of reality, Lord Xen’phantica beheld the forces of Chaos unified. A seach host set foot upon Nugatoria their lands heaved closer across the void, and the pieces of the God’s Eye began to shift, a pearlescent orb flickering above mountains of moaning diamond. The cold-blooded slann sent forth his seraphon, a celestial blade to cut the fabric of the princes’ plan before the gate to the Ashlands could be opened. Like embers cast from the sun, a rain of stars drifted down upon Nugatoria. From their glow, reptilian armies burst forth, falling upon the tide of daemons with tooth, claw and club. 3.67
The Chaos forces tore a blazing path towards the God’s Eye, each of the four dark hosts led by one of the princes’ chosen heralds. But Lord Xen’phantica was well versed in the weaknesses of his foes. As each army poured daemons into the shield-locked lines of saurus or tried to take down the roaring scaled beasts that barred their path, the seraphon made their move. Chameleonic assassins, their blowpipes spitting darts dipped in celestial venom, culled the heralds from the shadows. In one swift moment the daemonic advance faltered as the princes lost their eyes on the front lines, and each sensed betrayal by their brothers.
Lord Skinskein, ever rash, was the first to act. Despite a warning hiss from Zyrrak, he left the hidden fortress where his brothers sheltered and swooped out across the skies over Nugatoria. His echoing cry to the Blood God was swiftly answered in kind by a sea of gore-skinned daemons already boiling towards the God’s Eye.
As Lord Xen’phantica had predicted, the princes were joining the fray. With a flicker of thought the slann despatched a hero of his own to face the Khornate Daemon Prince. Oldblood Klaq-tor and his Carnosaur, Startalon, thundered out of a curtain of light. Under the mighty reptile’s claws, Bloodletters were crushed from existence, the seraphon champion slaying dozens more with sweeps of his sunstone blade. From high above, Lord Skinskein locked eyes with the saurus hero, his bloody wings snapping tight against his body as he dove down at fearsome speed.
In the passes that led up to the Ghostglass Peaks the other three daemon armies were faltering against the ordered ranks of LordXen’phantica’s legions. Despite the daemons’ vast numbers, in the narrow mirrored canyons the seraphon were able to cut them down one rank at a time until the ground was thick with smouldering daemonic remains.
Synnistra was the second to abandon Zyrrak’s plan. No sooner had he revealed himself than a star-rain began to fall upon distant Issthyss.The Slaaneshi Daemon Prince cursed Zyrrak for a traitor, and for tricking him into weakening his kingdom. Without a backward glance Synnis traled his army home, his lands that had so briefly kissed the shores of Nugatoria retreating with him. 3.71
Khul the Conquerer
The gates of Lord Skinskein’s fortresss huddered and fell amid a shower of crimson sparks. Over the gate’s broken daemon wards, each powerful enough to banish a Carnosaur, Khorgos Khul strode unhindered. The daemons garrisoning the keep hurled themselves at Khul’s warriors and those Skullfiends that had followed in his wake, the two sides meeting in an eruption of scarlet rain. Blood fell thick and heavy upon the combatants from the bone-studded walls. Khul’s masked face turned to a crimson sheet of fury. Still licking their wounds from their failure to claim the Ghostglass Peaks, Skinskein’s army came at the Goretide piecemeal, their rage unfocused and their blades swinging wildly. By contrast, Khul’s army was a burning blade of hatred, its razor edge determined to exact revenge for Lord Skinskein’s empty promises – as a vision of blood upon the Scarred Isle the daemon had offered much, yet given nothing.
Across battlements and through tunnels the Khornate warriors fought. Slaughterpriests extolled the word of Khorne as they killed, Skullfiend Blood Warriors savaged daemons with their dripping blades, and Deathbringers laughed evilly with each mighty axe swing. For a moment it looked as if the garrison might stay the invaders when a dozen Skull Cannons rolled forward, their burning shot tearing holes in the Bloodbound’s ranks. Then Khul personally waded into the war engines, his axe carving through daemon-forged steel and banishing ruddy flesh. Finally, Lord Skinskein emerged, roused from his bloodwine rituals by the clamour. Without hesitation, the two Khornate champions charged each other. 3.81
Khorgos Khul gave the daemons of Infernia a simple choice – follow him or be destroyed. Like the fabled heralds of the apocalypse, Khul’s Gorechosen spread out across the war-wracked world. Their mission was to lead armies of annihilation against the seraphon wherever they struck, gathering daemon allies in the process. Into harsh Ghorddro marched Khul,Goretide warriors and Skullfiend tribesmen massing in his wake. Upon plains littered with brazen bones they brought down saurus raiding parties, for the sorcerous daemon-traps laid by the slann had no effect upon mortals. To the fractured Maze of Xzaratch marched Kyor Skullharvest, his blood-forged spear carving apart illusions and daemon servants alike. Wild with rage, Kyor fought through the spell-wards of the seraphon with the ease of a ghost passing through a wall. Meanwhile, deep in the festering swamps of Beubilos, Hagred Hammerfane cleared the continent of reptilian monsters.
The celestial poisons laced within the cursed kingdom had no hold over Hagred, and even the darkest grottos held no fear for him or his warriors. Finally, Guron Bloodfist vanquished the skink raiders of Issthyss. With his enscorcelled flail Guron smashed apart the brittle crusts of the floating islands themselves, sending countless seraphons pilling into the nothingness below.
From the Ghostglass Peaks, Lord Xen'phantica tried to counter Khul’s months-long conquest of Infernia, but the mortals were proving unstoppable. Daemonic defences were as nothing to them, and Khul’s army fought with aunity of purpose the Daemon Princes had never possessed. With each victory, more daemons fell in line behind the teeming Chaos armies, until the three surviving princes accepted that their destiny now rested in the hands of the mighty mortal lord. As the daemons united so too did their lands, the four kingdoms closing in around Nugatoria.
The vast mortal and daemon army marched into the mirrored canyons of the Ghostglass Peaks, and in response Xen’phantica called forth his greatest general. In a brilliant flash of light the Oldblood Klaq-tor took form within the pass, the huge celestial army of seraphon at his back ready to keep the hordes of Chaos from the God’s Eye.
The battle began just as Lord Xen’phantica had foreseen. As ever the princes drove their lesser daemons to the fore, boiling tides of Bloodletters, Daemonettes, Horrors and Plaguebearers hacking, dancing, capering and grumbling as they hit the seraphon lines. But like a rainbow tide breaking upon an azure rock, the daemons could not move their foes, and their armies found themselves caught in the confines of the pass. Seen from above it was if the ground itself had come to life, the battlefield hidden beneath hissing maws, blood-slick blades and grasping reptilian claws. 3.83
Over the heads of the daemon footsoldiers, huge beasts traded blows. The crews of seraphon artillery-beasts unleashed scintillating energy fire, each beam burning away dozens of enemies. Then, at the height of the conflict, Khul and his Gorechosen champions led the Bloodbound into the fray. To the seraphon’s surprise, the crystal walls of the canyon were as smoke to the human warriors, and they charged through them without hindrance. From all sides now the Bloodbound fell upon the saurus, thousands of Bloodreavers screaming with glee as they hammered the seraphon flanks.
Klaq-tor and his Carnosaur thundered forward to hold Khul’s advance, but at once the Khornate lord sensed a worthy skull to be claimed, and charged to meet the Oldblood in turn. At Khul’s side Threx Skullbrand planted his icon of Khorne, unleashing a coppery wind that cut across the battlefield. Again the eldritch energies of Orb Infernia took hold. Bloodbound corpses convulsed and hauled themselves to their feet, their eyes blazing red with Khorne’s rage as they hurled themselves into the fight once more. Nearby, Khul and Klaq-tor crossed blades, Khul’s Flesh Hound Grizzlemaw snapping at his adversary’s Carnosaur steed. In came the Gorechosen, Kyor Skullharvest spearing Startalon’s gut as Hagred Hammerfane bashed aside its great-fanged jaws and Guron Bloodfist swept out its legs with his heavy flail. As the Carnosaur fell, Khul leapt high, his axe taking Klaq-tor’s head in a shower of azure flame.
Comets rained down upon the battlefield as Lord Xen’phantica himself took to the field. For a moment the slann’s arrival seemed to turn the tables, for Dracothion had provided a celestial alignment to infuse the seraphon with greater strength. But in all his plans, the slann had not foreseen the power of Khul’s axe; the hateful weapon was a cursed thing that existed outside of reality. Seizing his chance, Khorgos hurled his weapon across the field, the massive axe spinning end over end. It passed through the slann’s stellar wards as if they were no more than cobwebs and buried itself in his ancient skull.
A strand of fate snapped as Lord Xen’phantica died. Across the realms, a thousand slann felt as if a piece of their souls had perished. As the starmaster’s light faded, the God’s Eye took true and terrible form above the battle. With a cold smile Khul tore his axe from the slann’s corpse and looked up into the gateway to yet another conquest. 3.148
The Scabrous Sprawl
Chapter One: Vengeance incoming
A Land in Thrall
The war for the Jade Kingdomswas all but lost when the StormcastEternals descended to break Nurgle’sstranglehold upon Ghyran. Thesylvaneth, those wild and fiercekeepers of the natural order, had giventheir all to defend the lands – andstill they had been found wanting.So potent was Nurgle’s influence thateven the intervention of Sigmar’sStormhosts could not stop the rotthat had spread across Ghyran’sendless kingdoms. Alarielle, herworst nightmares coming true, hadretreated from reality. The last seed ofher existence was kept from Nurgle’sputrid clutches only by a thin skeinof fate and the valour of a handfulof Stormcasts. There were kingdomswhere the sylvaneth died out entirely,such as the Scabrous Sprawl, whereonly a few souls yet resisted the fateNurgle had in store for them.
The Scabrous Sprawl was once theHarmonis Veldt, a lush continentaltract that sang with raw life force.Since the Age of Chaos, the Sprawlhad been scabbed over like the ravagedskin of a bloodplague victim. None ofmankind’s myriad cultures had everdwelt there for long, for the Sprawl hadalways been home to tribes of toweringgargants.
The lumbering goliaths of the Sprawlwere once content with a simpleexistence, for their sheer strengthallowed them to hunt the monsters ofthat land for food, and their doughtyconstitutions weathered the vagariesof a dozen seasons. When they neededto cross an inland sea or ocean toreach another tribe’s domain, theyswam there – or, in the cases ofthe largest of their number, wadedacross. When they wished to consultwith the Gargant King they climbedthe mist-swathed Realmgate of theGrand Umbilicus to the torc-shapedrealm that hung in the jade skies,indifferent to the glowing diaphonidsthat crawled their skin in search ofdaggerfleas. Every now and then,a tribe would die out, whereupon anew tribe of gargants would crawl,clean-limbed and dripping, from thechasm near Tor Crania. They huntedmassive war-beasts, brewed strong ale,took long naps at midday, and settleddisagreements by thumping each otheruntil both parties were satisfied. Noexternal force challenged this savagelineage, for they tended the cycle of theseasons as a farmer tends sheep, and inreturn the land itself empowered thegargants with elemental strength. 151
Then came the dark powers of Chaos. As the Plague God sent his legions forth to infect the Scabrous Sprawl,everything changed. The grounditself became sick as Nurgle ladled hisfeculent rains across the kingdom,and over the centuries, goldgrassmeadows became fields of crustedinfection brimming with pus-filledboils. Wherever the lands split open,the Plague God’s minions would burstout. First to emerge were the bestialscions of Nurgle, their brayherdsstomping and sloshing their way intothe hidden places of the Sprawl. Whentheir numbers could be disguisedno longer, the beasts took war to thegargant tribes. In time they ascendedthe stairs of the Grand Umbilicus to reach the hovering kingdom highabove – the Great Green Torc. Theland itself trembled in its sickness, andthe giants of both Torc and Sprawlbecame enraged. For many years theydrove back the bestial hordes withsheer muscle. But Nurgle’s ambition ispatient, steady, and strong, his devotedminions without number. Tribe bytribe the gargants were pulled downand hacked apart by rusted axes untilonly a few remained, and those wereforced into hiding. When Sigmar’sTempest broke, the gargant tribeslooked to the skies in hope. Yet thestorm brought with it not illumination,but darkness, fear, and war unbound. 151 y 152
The Parasite's Feast
Long had the swarms of the ClansSkryre burrowed and gnawed at theScabrous Sprawl. The warpstonehungryskaven had been tasked byArchaon with corrupting the soul ofthat land before Sigmar had launchedhis celestial crusade. Since then theSprawl had become a dangerouswilderness of sucking swamps and low,craggy mountains. It was lit not by asun, but by the luminescence emittedby vast swarms of diaphonids flittingabove it. Rather than brave predationfrom the native gargants that roamedthe Sprawl, the Clans Skryre hadbuilt vast walking city-warrens fromwhich to conquer its reaches. Knownas parasite engines for their rapaciousplunder of the living lands, thesemany-legged, segmented abominationswere powered by immense warpstonefurnaces fuelled by miner-claws anddeforestation maws. The chief WarlockEngineer of each monstrous enginecompeted with his rivals to create thebiggest and most powerful design,mining the subterranean riches of theSprawl and tainting it in the process.
The Drill-Stabber, a parasite enginewith an anatomy somewhere betweenthat of a giant rat and a mosquito, wasthe brainchild of Warlock EngineerWarpskreech. It bore a drill-proboscisas thick as an adult oak with which itcould suck the life force from the land.The Scrabble-Chewer, meanwhile, wasthe city of Warlock Engineer Vileskrit,and it crunched its way through thebedrock with massive mechanical jaws.
Dozens of these engines roamed acrossthe Scabrous Sprawl, but whatevertheir shape, they teemed with skavenfrom the Clans Skryre and Verminus.For years, the engines had followedgeomantic ley lines, digging down tothe warpstone-rich nodes beneath.In their wake they left subterraneanfactories and glowing craters, the landitself writhing in ruin at their passing. 155
The Long Night
It was no subtle force that Sigmarhurled into the scarred and suppuratingwilds of the Scabrous Sprawl. Chamberafter chamber of Knights Excelsior andCelestial Vindicators strode from thestorm into the darkness, hefting theirweapons and roaring battle-cries to thestorm above. These were bellicose livingweapons all, the focussed wrath of theCelestial Vindicators finding its equalin the merciless Knights Excelsior.
The entire force had been placed underthe control of Lord-Celestant Pharakis,the most experienced commanderof the Knights Excelsior. He was anuncompromising leader, and theCelestial Vindicators willingly lent theirstrength to him. It was Pharakis’ intentto push across the Sprawl and backagain, systematically exterminatingeverything touched by Chaos until eventhe land itself was scorched clean.
The Stormhosts marched upon thesites of geomantic power that dottedthe Sprawl and found themselvesconfronted by oceans of skaven andarmies of Nurgle-worshippers. Lit onlyby lightning, those first clashes werevicious and confused. Strike Chamberswere suddenly surrounded by skaventhat burst from burrows all aroundthem, while more vermin spilled frommonstrous mechanical cities. 157
Within hours of their arrival, theStormcast Eternals were beset on allsides, from Acrid Marsh to CruxisForest. Reinforcements flashed downfrom the lowering Tempest even asthe skaven swarmed around them inimpossible numbers, and the fightingintensified. Bolts of energy threw starkwhite illumination across terrifyingscenes of violence. Ratling guns andwarpfire throwers lit the gloom withlurid green light. Judicators loosedstrobing volleys into clanrat swarms,and Decimators swung glowingthunderaxes to cut apart several skavenwith a single blow. ThunderheadBrotherhoods deflected vivid greenjezzail bullets from their shield walls,only to choke and fall when hurledglass spheres shattered in their midstand filled the air with poisonouswarp-gas. Prosecutors soared abovethe fighting, their magical projectilesburning like comets through thedarkness to smash rampagingStormfiends from their feet.
Always there were more skaven, forwhere the Clans Skryre were pushedback, those of Verminus were quickto pour in. As the Stormcast Eternalspushed out from their scorched landingsites, they faced a never-ending tideof the foe. In the first days of theircampaign, with the exhortations oftheir Lord-Celestants in their ears andthe cacophonous blare of the Knights-Heraldor ringing out, the Stormcastsstill believed they could quickly throwback the enemy and achieve conquestof this land. Days became weeks ofconstant, bitter fighting, however,and the truth became clear; theskaven infested the Scabrous Sprawlin numbers that beggared belief, andthey would not surrender these landsso easily.
Even though fresh brotherhoodsflashed from the Tempest every dayto join the ever-growing war, newswarms of skaven emerged from thechasms they had gouged into the land.
A Verminlord Warbringer marchedamongst his scurrying underlings;wherever that fell daemon fought,Stormcasts flickered back to Azyrin bolts of lightning that lit theperpetual night. At Fort Septimus,Warlock Engineer Ziktsnitch hurledfive hundred Stormfiends into battleagainst the Celestial Vindicators, hisgambit inflicting appalling casualtiesas the mutated monstrosities unleashedtheir arcane weapons. Upon the lipof shuddering chasms, Lord-Relictorsflung bolts of lightning into the skavenwheelworks below until they crasheddown in green-flamed ruin. Across thescab-fields, the Celestial Vindicatorsmet the charge of Warlord Skuttklawand his Stormvermin, the two sidesavoiding mutual annihilation onlywhen the crusted ground fractured todisgorge a sea of pus. Everywhere, theScabrous Sprawl was lit by the fires ofbattle, and as the weeks passed, mightyarmies on both sides were ground tothe brink of oblivion. 159
Chapter Two: Harsh Awkening
The land writhes
Amidst the moss-grown ruins andfoetid swamps of the Scabrous Sprawl,the war ground on and on. Miredin mud and gore, shaken by seismicstirrings of the land beneath, thecombatants tore at one another. Billionsof skaven died beneath the hammersand bolts of the Knights Excelsior andthe Celestial Vindicators, but alwaysnew generations poured from thebreeding decks of the parasite engines.
Whole Stormhosts were slain to the lastby the terrible warp weapons of theirskaven enemies. So long did the fightingrage that more Strike Chambers flasheddown to join the war, some amongstthem those who had fallen on theSprawl and been Reforged.
Those warriors fought harder than any,their hatred of the ratmen leaping fromtheir eyes as sparks of lightning.
Lord-Celestant Pharakis claimed thehalf-submerged remains of the Castleof Scorned Hope as his command-post,sending out fresh attacks every dayin attempts to finally gain control ofthe sprawl. He had already discoveredthat the cost of assaulting the parasiteengines directly was simply too high.One had been felled, a dire thing thatresembled an enormous mechanical fleawith a rat’s tail. The assault had costhim several Thunderhead Brotherhoodsfrom the Celestial Vindicators, andsoured his relationship with theirofficers in the process. 173
Now, Pharakis used his Prosecutorsas aerial scouts to seek out freshgeomantic nodes across the land. Bycapturing and cleansing these magicrichareas, they hoped to banish thetaint of Chaos infecting the ley linesthat reached across the whole of theScabrous Sprawl. As each was located,the Lord-Celestants massed theirforces and attacked, either wrestingcorrupted nodes from skaven controlor cleansing the sacred sites with thestormcraft of their Lord-Relictors. Butthe skaven had designs on those sacredsites as well, and where their parasiteengines crawled and lumbered and dug,no Stormcast force could live for long.Deep in the Cruxis Forest, the Suck-Gouger swept aside over a hundred +++FALTA+++ 173 y 174
Wrath fo the World Titan
The war for the Scabrous Sprawl wasbecoming more desperate than ever.Behemat’s stirrings caused earthquakesto shudder through the land. Greatgnashing chasms split wide aroundthe giant’s imprisoned form, spewinggeysers of putrefaction that drownedcountless acres in filth. Mountainsrose slowly into the sky, twisting withdeafening cracks as the World Titanflexed his mighty knuckles. A new typeof thunder rolled across the land; theWorld Titan’s groans of pain drowningout even Sigmar’s Tempest. Everywherethe land shook, ancient ruins collapsingwhile brave warriors vanishedscreaming into hungry fissures.
Driven by the goddess Alarielle’swarning, Lord-Celestant Pharakishurled his forces into an all-out attackthe likes of which had not been seensince the war’s first days. Amongstevery chamber marched Lord-Relictors,grimly determined to cleanse thegeomantic nodes with celestial lightningor die in the attempt. In many cases,they would do both.
Seeing their enemies moving with suchpurpose, the skaven responded in kind.Verminlord Gnawsoul commandedthat the remaining nodes must be notonly be taken, but heavily fortified,and that the consequences of failurewould be too horrible to imagine. Thetectonic fury that gripped the land tooka terrible toll upon the parasite engines,seeing several destroyed altogetheras burrowing machines were crushedby landslides and stalking cities weresent sprawling by splitting chasms. Yetthe remainder ploughed on throughthe hellish earthquakes, disgorginggreat swarms of skaven to overrunthe Stormcast battle lines and poisonone geomantic node after another.Millions of skaven were devoured bythe churning earth, and the Stormcastsattacked anew, yet still the ratkin foughton. Soon, only the hills of Tor Craniaremained unclaimed by either side. 175
Around the Tor Crania, and alongthe banks of the River Nautilac, thefinal battles for the Scabrous Sprawlbegan to play out. Skaven in theirmillions advanced to battle, opposedby unflinching bands of StormcastEternals, each of which numbered nomore than a few hundred. As the landshook, so the last tribes of indigenousgargants downed their last barrels ofale and went to war, believing thatnow was the time their great grandsirewould rise to lead them once again.The lumbering creatures attackedboth sides at will, bellowing as theystomped their way across storm-litbattlefields. The legions of the DarkGods also redoubled their efforts asmayhem erupted around them. Sofar the Nurgle-worshipping hordeshad been content to pick their fightsupon the Scabrous Sprawl, for theirgod had other work for them atop theGrand Umbilicus. Now though, theRotbringers and beastherds diverteda portion of their strength to furtheroutnumber Sigmar’s beleagueredwarriors. Grandfather Nurgle andArchaon both sought to corrupt thelast pure geomantic nodes that wouldensure Behemat awoke not as a force ofnature, but as a puppet of Chaos.
Leading his men in a grand assaultbetween the Pillars of Geostasis, LordPharakis fought a furious battle. Allaround him, his Knights Excelsiorhacked and blasted, smote andslaughtered until hillocks of skavendead lay all around them. Prosecutorswinged down to his position, receivingclipped orders from their commandersbefore swooping away into the gloom.Overhead, Sigmar’s Tempest descendedonce more. Hissing silver rain fell insheets from the lightning-wreathedclouds to invigorate the StormcastEternals fighting for those final nodes.
Into this tumultuous war came BloabRotspawned. By the foul magic of theswarm had he travelled, braving thegateways of the Flameheart to comeat last to the Scabrous Sprawl. Nurglehad given Bloab a very particular taskto achieve there, and as soon as thesorcerer’s maggoth set foot upon thequivering soil, Bloab made straight forthe lightning blasts that lit the night.
As his reeking steed loped across thefestering wastes towards the fighting,Bloab Rotspawned sent his daemonfliesbuzzing away into the skies, havingwhispered very particular instructionsto his pretties first. 177
Away the insectile creatures flew,winding in swarms over the ragingbattles until they came to the Sprawl’sgeomantic nodes. There the creaturesbuzzed in foul clouds before descendingto claw, chew and defecate upon thesites the Stormcast Eternals had sorecently cleansed. In a trice all theStormhosts’ good work was undone.Bloab sought to infect the World Titanwith his Plague of Atrophy, and indoing so make sure that the godbeastawoke docile and ready for Archaon’stotal dominance. Already Ignaxbelonged to the Everchosen; if Behematcould be bound alongside her thenArchaon would have a force like noother at his command.
Bloab Rotspawned had been pursuedthrough the Flameheart, though he didnot know it. The Celestant-Prime hadalso reached the Scabrous Sprawl, andalongside him flew the Knight-VenatorTornus. Now those two mighty warriorssoared over the lands, sharp eyes takingin the desperate war that stretched tothe shuddering horizon.
The Celestant-Prime soared awayinto the darkness, a comet streakingthrough the firmament on a holymission from Sigmar himself. Tornus’route instead took him down into thepress of battle, following the foul stinkof his Rotbringer prey. He shot acrossthe Scabrous Sprawl like a thunderbolt,his star-eagle in close pursuit, overclashing battle lines of Stormcasts andskaven. Swooping clear of the flailingclub of a gargant tribesman, Tornuscaught sight of Bloab’s monstrousmaggoth punching and vomiting itsway through the battle. Using a tribeof gargants to shield him from view,the Knight-Venator nocked a cracklingarrow to his bow. Not too far ahead,his quarry was fighting alongsidemore of Nurgle’s foul followers, thecowled sorcerer exhorting a mass ofskaven to overrun a shield wall ofKnights Excelsior.
Tornus drew back his bowstring,a celestial arrow aimed for Bloab’sheart. Before he could loose his shot, achittering figure crashed into him andknocked him from the air. The Knight-Venator crashed hard into the heavingground, feeling scab-like soil split athis impact. Atop him was a skaven inelaborate armour – Warlord Hakfang,yellow front teeth bared as he raised hisjagged blade for the kill.
There came a scream, and Tornus’ stareagleOspheonis struck the ratmanfull in the face. The bird raked atHakfang’s eyes, driving him back.Tornus sprang into the air with a cry ofthanks, kicking out to catch Hakfangunder the chin and send him sprawling.The Knight-Venator circled swiftly,his chittering attacker dismissed as hesought his quarry once more. But Bloabwas gone, lost in the melee. Tornuscursed as he began his search anew.Below him, the fight raged on, the tasteof blood and death heavy in the air. 3.178
Chapter Three: The Great Green Torc
The cycle corrupt
One end of the Great Green Torc embodies Rebirth. It is as pure and unblemished as a newborn cherub, the citadel upon it an architectural triumph of smooth alabaster. The soft, cool lands there are those least touched by Nurgle’s plans to claim the Torc as his crown. Should a traveller walk clockwise from Rebirth, they would see the tiny fronds and mycelial fungus of Springseed lead to sprouts and stalks of foul-smelling mushrooms.These shoots grow taller and stouter through the season of Naive Hope until they become the yellowish plants and straining saplings of The Blooming. This in turn gives way to the unbound fecundity of The Burgeoning, wheregrandiose orchards burst with overripefruit on the verge of rot. If the travellerwere to continue they would see thecolours of midsummer change throughthe mildewed golds of the Mellowingto the vibrant palette of the Reaping,then the season of Secret Remorse,where finger-veined leaves are tossedin the wind. On go the seasons to theDwindling, where frost creeps acrossthe land, and the Great Lack, a bandof greasy ice fields choked with bonewhiteforests. Finally, the journeyreaches its end with the season ofEverdusk, a morbid landscape of gravecoldtombs. Beyond that stands Death,and the Amethyst Gate, said to lead tothe domain of immortal Nagash.
Once, the greatest of gargants presidedover the Torc. They also ruled over theSprawl below, though they rarely lefttheir sumptuous homelands. They werenot alone there, for spider-worshippingtribes of grots lived in the web-strewnreaches where the Reaping’s sentienttrees turned to ice-clad forests.
When the brayherds of Nurgle came,however, gargants and grots alike wereput to the sword. Robbed of even themost foul-tasting nourishment by thediseases the brayherds spread across theland, the starving gargants descendeddown the Grand Umbilicus in search offood, only to find the Scabrous Sprawljust as infected. 3.187
Perhaps the spider tribes would havefared better had they allied with thegargants, but they were territorial, andwould not stray from Arachnia. Theyfound themselves forced into hidingwithin a few years of war.
Nurgle was not the only fell powerto lay claim to the Torc. Archaon,too, wanted that strange land underhis control as an asset in his waragainst the Heavens. His plan toharness Behemat was threefold.Though he despised the children ofthe Horned Rat for their weakness ofspirit, no other force could burrowthrough the earth with such speed.To awaken the titan Behemat he hadneed of the skaven’s eldritch earthgnawingabilities. Once the godbeastwas brought to wakefulness by theirwarpstone drills, Archaon wouldensure the World Titan’s placidity withthe daemonfly curse. He would thenbind him into eternal servitude byplacing the Great Green Torc aroundhis titanic neck. Archaon had learnedfrom his oracle, Kiathanus, that themagic of the polluted Torc wouldfill Behemat with Nurgle’s riotouspower, both ensuring his loyalty andincreasing his incredible strength.
This victory was well within Archaon’sreach. The Torc already belongedto the brayherds of Nurgle. TheScabrous Sprawl teemed with skaven,their infernal weaponry driving theremaining gargants into hiding amongstthe swamps and ruins of that land. Thegodbeast himself shuddered in agonyas he fought towards consciousness,chasms yawning across the land asBehemat ripped his giant limbs fromthe Sprawl’s rocky crust. Once theWorld Titan awoke and reared up tohis full star-scraping height, Archaonwould fill his mind with twisted halftruths,just as his body had been filledwith the pollution of the Plague God.
The Everchosen’s plan was to tell thedim-witted monstrosity that it wasSigmar who slew Ymnog, the Fatherof Gargants and Behemat’s zodiacalsire, during the Age of Myth – a factfree of the context that might justifyit. Despite Behemat’s allegiance toGhyran, the seed of hatred wouldflourish within him, convincing himto defend the Jade Kingdoms notagainst the Chaos scourge, but againstthe armoured invaders that rode thestorm. The placement of the Torcaround Behemat’s corded neck wouldcement the alliance between demigodand giant.
The capture of such a mighty godbeast would be an unfathomably powerful asset in the war for the realms. With the Eightpoints allowing Archaon to move his legions at will and a pantheon of godbeasts at his beck and call, the siege of Sigmar’s precious stronghold would not be long in coming. 3.188
The Torc assailed
The Hallowed Knights emerged fromthe afterglow of their celestial assaultin spotless glory, the burnished silverof their armour limned blue by thecrackling energies of the Tempestabove. At their head was Lord-CelestantGardus, he who had fought through theGarden of Nurgle and survived, thoughnone truly knew how. Thin beams ofpure light streamed from the cracks inthe heroic lord’s armour.
Together, the Hallowed Knights filledthe air with a cleansing presence thatburned away the omnipresent miasmaof Nurgle’s filth as a rising sun banishesthe fog of dawn. They raised theirvoices, shaking the foliage of Verdiawith their mantra – ‘Only the faithful!’
In stark contrast were the Anvils of theHeldenhammer. They stood immobilein the scorched aftermath of theirarrival, eyes closed and heads hungin silent prayer for supremacy in thebattle to come. After the initial flash oflight that saw them borne to the GreatGreen Torc, they became one with thedarkness, their obsidian-hued armourblending with the shadows so thatonly by the rims of gold around eachblack plate could they be picked out.Lord-Celestant Thaddeon ven Denstclimbed upon his Dracoth and rodeonto the smouldering side of a fallenoak, his sonorous voice rolling like bassthunder across the clearing. A silentsalute from a thousand blades, and hisGriefbringers too marched to war.
The first brayherds, oblivious to whatthe celestial bolts of light represented,had the temerity to ambush the massedStormcast Eternals as they secured theirbeachhead. They were swiftly put toflight – so many punitive volleys wereloosed from each Stormhost’s Judicatorsthat the bestial armies recoiled like aliving thing stuck by a needle-sharpblade. They melted away into the trees,long having mastered the beast-pathsthat wound across the seasonal domainsof the Torc. Shouting fierce praise toSigmar, the Stormcast Eternals hastenedin pursuit.
The beastmen resolved to let the twistedforests and their territorial denizenstake their toll before attacking again. 3.189
Their bray-shamans reasoned that ifthe newcomers could be led to the doorof the spider-worshipping tribes stillholding out in Arachnia, two foes couldbe set against one another.
The Stormhosts, intent on findingthe strongholds of their enemies andtearing them down in Sigmar’s name,were easily led. Engaged in a carefullyorchestrated running battle with nimbleungor skirmishers, they chased shadowsthrough the leafy drifts of Rottgeldbefore the denuded trees becameentirely shrouded with thick, stickywebs. There, the beastmen disappearedaltogether, fleeing via hidden paths.The Stormhosts marched on, hackingthe ropy cobwebs that barred theirpath until they were surrounded bygrey-white gossamer hung with bound,desiccated cadavers – the dead bodies ofbirds, of beasts, and of those who hadtrespassed before. 3.190
Trapped by the green tides
The web-forests of Arachnia, onceas silent as the corpses tangled intheir midst, burst into frenetic life.Everywhere, the Stormcast Eternalsfound giant spiders parting webswith their forelimbs to scuttle quicklythrough, the feather-crested grots upontheir backs shrieking in shrill voices asthey loosed arrows and stabbed jaggedblades at the Stormcasts. Greenskinswere skewered on the points ofsigmarite swords; giant spiders werepulped in explosions of stringy gloopby the swings of glowing warhammers.The Stormhosts’ enemies were skilledin the arts of ambush, however, and thedeath toll rose high on either side.
In the open field, the Stormcast Eternalswould have made short work of theirscrawny assailants – but with thickropes of web clustered all around, thespider riders had the advantage. Shieldwalls were of little use against foes thatdropped down from above, Prosecutorscould not take flight without riskingentanglement, and the Judicators foundit hard to use their bows to full effect insuch dense terrain.
Confusion reigned as fat-bodiedspiders dropped from the canopy toshatter the Stormcasts’ battle line,dagger-sharp legs jabbing through thegaps in their victims’ armour to sendsouls soaring back to Azyr in burstsof cerulean light. As the StormcastEternals turned to wreak their revenge,grot stalkers darted in and jabbedwith flint spears at the exposed backsof their adversaries. Then came themonstrosities that the forest’s grotsworshipped as deities – building-sizedArachnarok spiders that knockedspindly trees aside as they stormed intothe fray. Realising their predicament,the Lord-Celestants of both Stormhostsordered their warriors to mount afighting retreat. Slowly, the phalanxesfought their way backwards – only tofind all the paths to Rottgeld blockedby hordes of evil-eyed beastmen. 3.191
The Hallowed Knights had bought timefor the Anvils of the Heldenhammerto escape the web-strewn lairs ofArachnia, and in doing so had savedthem from complete encirclement.Thaddeon was determined to make useof the reprieve, his vanguard slamminginto the beastmen lines like a mailedfist driven into an unprotected gut.
At first the slaughter went well.Hundreds of bloated goat-mutantswere smashed apart and trampled bythe armoured assault of the Anvils’Paladins. Thaddeon himself took amighty toll, his tempestos hammerarcing out over and over to smashhorned heads from bubo-coverednecks. When his Warrior Chamberbroke free of the spider tribes’ trapand concentrated their force upon thebeastmen, they left a path open behindthem, the only obstacles the corpses oftheir vanquished foes.
Only hours later did Lord Thaddeonrealise the assault was perhaps goingtoo well. The beastmen were yieldingground on purpose, only sending inthose so riddled with disease that theyachieved little more than spattering theStormcast Eternals with unclean fluids.In doing so, they were leading theAnvils further and further away fromtheir kin, the Hallowed Knights.
The beastlords of the brayherdsreasoned that, if they could not slaytheir enemies by ambush, they woulddraw them apart, weakening them withlong weeks of strife before surroundingand overwhelming them. Their brayshamansdrove their bleating warriorsforward with surges of atavistic magic,each savage assault forcing the twoStormhosts further and further apartuntil the gap between them seethedwith muscular, mould-matted bodies.The air stank of mildew, sweat andrust, and crushed fungus and gorestrewnmulch made the ground slipperyunderfoot, but the Anvils kept theirheads. With their Liberators forming awide shield wall they pushed forward,hacking a path onwards and out ofArachnia. Each warrior was as grimlydetermined as the next, and those notin the front put their shoulders to theircomrades’ broad backs in order to lendtheir strength. 3.191
So began a laborious odyssey for theAnvils of the Heldenhammer. WithLord Thaddeon at their head, theydoggedly fought their way back theway they had come along the length of194the Great Green Torc. Their aim wasultimately to eradicate the bestial tribesfrom Arachnia all the way to CastleNeonatus, but as they found themselvesbeset upon all sides, their goal began toseem ever more remote. 3.191 y 3.192
When the beastmen were driven backby a running battle waged through theautumnal glades of Secret Remorse,sharp-eyed ungor archers sniped atthe Anvils from hiding places in bolesand caves. Most of the shots reboundedfrom sigmarite war-plate, but a fewfound their mark, and every warriorthe Griefbringers lost was a dolorousblow. When the Stormcasts were forcedto extend their lines to fight throughthe beast-tracks of overgrown Verdia,a strange chanting presaged an attackby looming cygors. The beasts hurledmoss-covered menhirs into their ranks,crushing those without room to evade.
The Anvils kept to their coursenonetheless, their Decimators hackinga pincer movement through the vinethrottledvegetation to dismember thehalf-blind cygor giants wherever theycould catch them. Ambushing Bestigorsburst screaming from hidden bivouacsto slam moss-bearded greataxes into theGriefbringer vanguard, and flickers ofblue light illuminated the canopy beforethe Stormcasts could drive them offwith a concerted counter-attack.
Despite his losses, Lord Thaddeon keptdiscipline amongst his retinues withstern orders and long-practiced drills.The Anvils fought grimly on throughthe grasping forests of the Burgeoning,axes and swords hacking down theTorc’s infected vegetation as often asthey carved into beastman flesh. Nota single warrior spoke of turning back,though many felt thoughts of retreatrise unbidden after every new ambush.Thaddeon had promised Gardus andthe Hallowed Knights they would bringruin to the beasts, and his warriorswould not make a liar of him. He wouldkeep that promise no matter the cost.
By the time the Griefbringers reachedthe wasted orchards of the ArborealKeeps, their numbers had been morethan halved. There, tangled in thevista of bone-white roots ahead ofthem, was the top of the winding stairthat led through mystic means to theScabrous Sprawl below. Beastmen wereboiling over it like termites surgingfrom a subterranean nest, bleatingand braying in grotesque glee as theysurged towards Lord Thaddeon’svanguard. There was no end to them.Girding themselves for a last stand,the Griefbringers prepared to sell theirlives as dearly as possible. 3.192
Chapter Four: Children of the Sprawl
Lords of the swamp
Across the Scabrous Sprawl the grandcongregations of Nurgle spread theirdiseases far and wide, for the peoplesof that land had fallen to plague, war,or despair. Even the twelve seasonshad been twisted by the Plague God’sunwholesome vision. The GrandUmbilicus, a Realmgate in the formof a dizzying pillar of stone and woodthat connected the Sprawl to the Torc,was firmly in the hands of beastmanbrayherds. Piled with moulderingtrophies and the captured weapons ofgargant tribes, the pillar was used as aherdstone in many of the beastmen’svile rituals. After every bacchanal, thehorned ones would send hundreds oftheir mightiest warriors up the mistshroudedstairs of the Umbilicus. Inmoments the magic of that Realmgatewould see them emerge on the Torcabove. It was those same brayherds thattook up their weapons as the lightningof Sigmar’s Tempest struck the Sprawlonce more. And yet they were not thefirst to meet the Stormhosts in battle.
Stepping from the afterglow of theirmeteoric strike, two Warrior Chambersstrode into the Sprawl’s lightning-litgloom. One was the Gleaming Hostof the Hallowed Knights, led by LordGardus’ spiritual brother, Silus theUntarnished. The other was the NobleDonatans, a chamber of TempestLords led by the former guild-kingDonatan Threccio. Lord Threccio was alegendary opponent of Chaos in mortallife; elevated to Azyr after his personaldefeat of the Ninefold Warlock. He wasaccustomed to fighting under flutteringbanners with highborn heralds toannounce his presence. Upon hisReforging, he was aghast to find thatnone of his former people had joinedhim, and that no-one had heard of hislegendary deeds. Resolving to win hisreputation all over again with hammer,blade and rousing speech, Threccionamed his warrior chamber the NobleDonatans and went to war in Ghyranwith his jaw set firm and his head high. 3.207
When the Gleaming Host made straightfor the sucking, stinking quagmireof the Sweatswamp, Lord Threccio ofthe Tempest Lords hastened to Silus’ side and queried his path. Silus repliedthat his Dracoth, Melchoristan, hadcommuned with the Great Drakehimself, and that their destiny laystraight ahead. Threccio’s nose wrinkledbehind his mask at the stench, secretlydisgusted at the sight of rank afterrank of silver-armoured Stormcastswading unhesitatingly into a morass ofyellowish liquid that looked and smeltlike acrid sweat. He ordered his men tomarch alongside them nonetheless. 3.207 y 3.208
Over hard days of travel, the landshuddered and shook as Behematstirred in his slumbers. Sinkholesopened and geysers jetted out hot filth.Lesser men would have turned backlong ago when Threccio’s Prosecutorsfinally came upon the gaunt, longlimbedgargants that made their homein the depths of the swamp.
When the giants realised there wereintruders in their midst, a greatbellow of alarm went up, and a knot ofwarpainted goliaths splashed throughthe mustard-hued mire to stomp andsmash at the trespassers with clubsmade from fallen trees. The TempestLords fought back hard, but only indefence – Threccio’s commands meantthat many a hammer blow was pulledat the last. The Stormhosts made hasteaway from the region, for the gargantsbore not the mark of Chaos, and bothThreccio and Silus realised they couldonly lose good warriors in a protractedbattle. Those giant sentinels they hadfelled came to their senses soon after,awaking with livid bruises on theirbodies and headaches worse thanthe fiercest hangover. By then, thearmoured interlopers were long gone. 3.208
The Battle of the Umbilicus
The Stormcast Eternals emerged fromthe Sweatswamp reduced in number,but with not a bowed head amongstthem. Traumatic weeks groundpast as the Stormhosts forced theirmarch across the bucking, seethingwilderness. The din of the parasiteengines reverberated in the distance, aconstant grinding that set the teeth onedge. The beastmen war parties thatroamed the land dared not challengethe Stormhosts in the open, for wordof their deadly prowess had spreadfrom the greatest bray-shamans to thelowliest of ungors. Instead, the hornedbeastlords of Nurgle sent their filthdrapedarmies to wait in ambush,infesting the woods around Tor Crania.Their plan was to strike only once, butwith horrendous force.
Growling Dracoths bore their riders tothe front of each phalanx as they closedon the Grand Umbilicus, each knowingthe eye of their celestial patron wasupon them. Knights-Azyros wingedhigh, lanterns raised. They scannedthe darkened skies, perturbed at thepinpricks of azure light flickering upfrom the Torc like shooting stars hurledbackwards in time. Their Stormcastbrothers, sent to cleanse that blightedsub-realm, were faring badly. Onlyby securing the umbilical Realmgatewould those upon the Sprawl buy theirkinsmen a chance of victory.
A strange buzzing haunted the cuspof hearing, its nature a mystery – untilat the witching hour of the seventhweek, the sound suddenly intensified.The skies filled with winding clouds ofdaemonflies, each a horizontal tornadoof segmented legs and diaphanouswings. They spiralled into a singlemass, a wave of fiendish insects thatbattered the Stormcast vanguard like ahurricane. At the centre of it all was aghastly sight – Bloab Rotspawned uponhis pox maggoth. Rotbringers shambledin their hundreds at his side. 3.209
When Tornus’ celestial arrow slammedthrough Bloab Rotspawned’s chest, thesorcerer and his maggoth burst into acloud of tiny insects, but the Stormcastswere ready. Hurling their stormcallerjavelins, the Prosecutors summonedchain lightning from the tempest above.The actinic fires burned every one ofthe flies to crisped ruin. Only a singledaemon maggot escaped the noticeof the vengeful Hallowed Knights,burrowed as it was in the corpse of anearby Blightking.
Leaderless, the daemon swarmdispersed – and revealed the armies ofbeastmen that had used Bloab’s attackas a distraction. Adding to the mayhem,over fifty gargants lumbered out ofthe swamps, belching monosyllabicwarcries as they vented their pentupfury on man and beast alike. Theground itself seemed eager to join thefight, and amongst every earthquakeand eruption of quicksand another slewof warriors met their deaths. The giantsseemed not to care who they fought,smashing Rotbringers, beastmen andHallowed Knights through the air witheach swing of their clubs. King Broddstomped rot-clad beastmen into themire wherever he saw them, breakingthe spines of the horned cygors in theirmidst with swings of his granite pillar.
Lord-Celestants Silus and Threccio ledthe counter-attack, each the spearheadof a thin wedge from their Stormhost– one silver, one blue. They battledto reach the Tor Umbilical againstoverwhelming odds, rot-bloatedbeastmen and horn-helmed warriorspressing in from all sides; withoutthe rampaging gargants breakingthe cohesion of the Chaos attack, theStormcasts would have been destroyedwithin hours. As it was, the Lord-Celestants turned the pandemoniumto their advantage, directing a shieldwall to guard their rear whilst leadinga concerted assault to batter their waythrough the throng. The Paladins ofeach chamber reached the peak of theTor on the twelfth hour of battle, andtheir commanders bade them raisehammer, axe and mace to hew downthe Grand Umbilicus itself. They mightas well have brought daggers to fell anelder oak. The ancient pillar of woodand stone was heavy with the weight ofaeons, and would not yield. Their attackhad consequences nonetheless. Seeingthese strange new intruders taking theirweapons to part of his homeland, KingBrodd, lord of the gargants, bellowed indefiance and stormed towards them. 3.211
Chapter Five: Battle for the Torc
Fury of the Sky-spiders
The Steel Souls, warrior chamber of Lord Gardus, were locked in viciouscombat against the spider-worshippinghordes of Arachnia. Every warriorfound himself fighting a teeming mobof enemies, but despite the greenskinsholding every advantage, the Stormcastsdid not contemplate retreat. Blurs ofpale light hurtled skyward with everyminute as the Stormcast Eternals paidthe price for their unwavering defence.Giant spiders dropped from the treesto bite as cunning grots stabbed flintblades into knee joints and necks.Scores of greenskins were slain, but thelight of the Stormcasts was slowly beingsmothered by darkness.
Determined to take a grievous toll, theHallowed Knights fought with everyounce of grit and passion they couldmuster. Their sacrifice had allowed theAnvils of the Heldenhammer to breakfree, fighting clear in stoic phalanxesthat pushed back the beasts tryingto entrap them. It was a hard-wonreprieve, but the protracted engagementhad subtler consequences that were yetto unfold.
Used to generations of oppression fromthe forces of Chaos, the spider tribeshad fought a guerrilla war, only tooaware of the fact that their kind wasslowly dying out. They had attacked theStormcast Eternals unreservedly in thehope that beneath the gleaming armourof each intruder they would find redmeat, for there was little left to eat uponthe Torc, and even their fungus farmswere tainted by the miasma of Nurgle’sconquest. The grot tribes were appalledto discover that whenever a Stormcastfell their body would discorporate,leaving behind nothing but the scent ofthe storm and a brief lambent glow. 3.221
The grot chieftain, Spiterakk, foundhimself facing a wedge of Liberatorsthat closed on his position with a coldand implacable fury. He fought with thejerky urgency of the coward, and even managed to lay low a few Liberatorsbefore they could surround him.Thinking this a brave display of martialprowess, the rest of his tribe fought onall the harder, shrieking as they ventedtheir pent-up fury on the intruders. 3.221 y 3.222
An engagement as massive as thebattle for Arachnia had not been seenon the Torc in living memory. Thegrots found the din of conflict awokesomething within them, a spiritualstrength they had subconsciouslyabandoned long ago. In their worshipof strange and shadowy monsters, theirtribes had neglected the call of honest,head-cracking thuggery representedby that colossus of battle, the deityGorkamorka. Here, amongst the roars,bellows and screams of conquest, theycommuned with that primal poweronce more – they had no choice, for itrose up within them like sap through aflourishing plant.
The Steel Souls were down to their lastfew men when Lord Gardus gave theorder to break off the fight. Graspinghis hammer two-handed, he smashed apath through the massing foe towardsthe curved edge of the Torc. TheHallowed Knights bulled through thepress, their struggling strides becominga run, then a sprint. Gardus shouteda command and the Stormcasts leaptinto nothingness, vanishing one byone into the lightning-lit clouds thatdrifted below the Torc. Watching wideeyed,the feather-garbed grot chieftainthrew back his head and let rip a shriekof triumph. Ten thousand greenskins,their voices raised above a whisperfor the first time in years, joined in –each screamed at lung-searing volumeas they revelled in the victory. Thelight of battle danced in every blackpupil and compound eye. Below, thestorm rumbled like the belly laugh ofGorkamorka himself as the greenskinssurged from the forest in a scamperingtide. The sky stampede had begun. 3.222
The Anvil tested
After the Grand Umbilicus hadcrashed down to the infected soil of theSprawl, the Great Cherub of the Torchad sobbed loud, opening a mouthmore cavernous than any gatehouse.Its drawbridge of a lower jaw drooledrivers of spittle as it gave voice to aterrible bawling.
The awful noise was loud enough toreach the Griefbringers in distantVerdia, but it dimmed their resolvenot at all. The beastlords of the Sprawlwere no longer able to send theirgoat-headed minions through theportal against the black-armouredStormcasts, and that was making acritical difference. Battling through thedefenders of the Arboreal Keeps, theGriefbringers found the forests beyondall but deserted. Though it took longweeks, they reached Castle Neonatuswithout losing another life. That ancientaelven fortress, perched upon theGreat Cherub’s brow, proved empty ofall but the screaming wail of the Torcitself. Given the signal by their Knight-Heraldor, the Griefbringers climbedto the alabaster curtain walls. Theymanned them not a moment too soon.
From the fungal shoots and fronds ofMycelia surged the last of the DarkGods’ minions to have infested theTorc’s reaches; a wave of beastmenand Chaos warriors. Having followedthe Anvils to the fortress, they drovehome a punishing assault. Hornedmonstrosities charged the castle wallsheadlong to smash home with stoneshatteringforce. Beastmen runningin their wake hurled spears at theJudicators trying to thin the herd,and here and there were rewarded byflashes of azure. Warshrines devotedto the Plague God called down rains of224filth that made battlements slick andrendered visibility a distant memory.Cygors hurled boulders the size ofDracoths, each direct hit shaking theancient structures to their foundations.The Torc, wounded and in flux, shiftedunderfoot – and an entire section ofthe castle slid away into the AmethystGate, carrying with it Lord-CelestantThaddeon ven Denst and Lord-Relictor Todenhavt. 3.223 y 3.224
The remaining Anvils of theHeldenhammer fought on in stoicsilence. With dozens of their finestwarriors gone, time was fast runningout. No matter how many of the foetidbeasts they struck down with sword,axe and hammer there were alwaysmore to take their place. Bereft of theirchamber’s leaders, the Griefbringersreverted to the tactics that gave theAnvils their name, forming up inindomitable shield walls to cover everybreach. Each Liberator vowed to standtheir ground, unyielding as the forgeslabsof the Six Smiths until they weresent back to Azyr on the point of a rustpockedblade.
The battle seethed upon the precipice,the rampant magic swirling aroundthat strange kingdom carrying with itblessings and curses in equal measure.When the Torc glowed bright, even themost grievously wounded StormcastEternals found themselves whole oncemore, invigorated by the energies ofRebirth. Tiny, scampering simulacraclimbed from the plague-wrackedcadavers of the enemy, quickly growinginto pale-skinned lesser beastmenthat took up the weapons of theirformer incarnations.
The battle became one of endurance,testing the sanity as much as the body,but the Anvils proved equal to the task.Though they lost more blades with eachfresh assault, not one of them gave in todespair. If they had to die, they woulddie well, their weapons and armourslick with the blood of evil beings.
Barely two score Stormcast Eternalswere left when the fungal spires ofMycelia began to shake on the horizon.The Judicators standing upon the castlewalls peered into the mist, but couldonly make out distant lumpen shadows.It was not until a screeching wave ofsound broke across them that theyrealised their deliverance was nigh. 3.224
On the Great Green Torc, theremaining Griefbringers redoubledtheir efforts as a wave of chitin andgreen-skinned flesh crashed intothe rearmost hordes of the besiegingarmies. A swathe of horse-sized spidersfell upon the reeling beastmen withstabbing claws and biting mandibles.Where ghorgons and cygors stompedand crushed the arachnids underfoot,vast Arachnarok spiders barrelled themonstrous beastmen to the groundand jabbed poisonous stingers intounprotected muscle.
After what seemed like an eternity, the endless host of beastmen was finally thinning out. Shorn of its bountiful reinforcements by the toppling of the Grand Umbilicus, the Chaos army was caught between the Stormcast Eternals and the greenskin spider-riders. The Torc’s strange geography meant there was nowhere for them to run.
The Griefbringers did not chargeforward on the attack, nor raise theirvoices in fierce joy, for that was nottheir way. Instead, they dug their heelsin all the firmer, killing the Chaosworshippers driven towards their shieldwalls with merciless efficiency. On andon went the slaughter, long hours ofbloodshed stretching into days until theground was six deep with the corpses ofNurgle’s minions.
Ultimately, the hammer to theStormhost’s anvil had not come fromthe Hallowed Knights, as planned infar-off Sigmaron. Instead it came froma source so savage, so vengeful, andso numerous there could be no escapefrom it. The wisest Primes amongst theAnvils wondered if that could have beenLord Gardus’ plan all along; to rouse thenatives’ ire, for in stirring the hornet’snest with their sacrifice, the HallowedKnights had unleashed a force withgreater claim to the Torc than any stillalive. It had proven a decisive move, forthe pent-up rage of the oppressed spidertribes had dealt the final blow to thebestial hordes.
The battle at the castle’s broken wallssaw the Griefbringers come back fromthe brink. Chieftain Spiterakk ordereda halt to the greenskin assault momentsbefore it reached the fortress, for histribe had been halved in number, andeven grots can learn that the enemy ofyour enemy is your friend.
Though it took a long and arduouscrusade to achieve, the Torc was rid ofNurgle’s foul worshippers. The healingprocess was swift once the Plague God’sbaleful influence was broken. The GreatCherub fell silent, and the natural cycleof life returned to its pure and primalroots as the Great Green Torc cast itshealthy glow once more. 3.225
Chapter Six: The Titan Rises
A Shattered World
Behemat had been roused to a state ofdemented agony by the drills bored intothe crux points of his earthbound form.Everywhere, cracks and chasms openedacross the land, splitting along theperimeter of mountain ranges to outlinethe titanic arms buried beneath. Peakknuckledhands, each so large it blottedout the stars, sent avalanches tumblingdown as they lifted slowly from theearth. One crashed down near FortSeptimus to crush the city-sized parasiteengine Scrabble-Chewer with theease a man might swat a bothersomeinsect. The land convulsed so hard itsent tidal waves rippling across SputalGulf, drowning the fjord tribes onthe opposite coast. Their deaths wentuncounted in the tumult.
The grinding roar of tectonic collisionsfilled the dust-choked air, makingcoordination between the armies ofthe Sprawl impossible. The Pillars ofGeostasis, staked through the WorldTitan’s earlobes during the ritual thatbound him under the earth, shookand fell apart, crushing hundreds ofthe skaven skittering across the lands.Forests of strange tapered trees wererevealed as the hair upon the titan’scolossal toes as one immense digitafter another burst from the lands ina series of juddering earthquakes. Thevast mound of Tor Crania began torise, its true nature as Behemat’s domedhead made clear when the Titansmawrchasm yawned wide to roar in pain atimpossible volume. It was a battle initself to keep from toppling into thefissures and cracks appearing acrossthe kingdom, and many a warrior met asudden and futile end.
Through the carnage came theswarming armies of the skaven, thegargantuan parasite engines in theirmidst sending bolts of sizzling warplightning into those Chaos warbandstoo slow to clear the way. Themasterminds of Clan Vrrtkin waved forward their most lethal war-hybrids –a bodyguard of three hundred cannonarmedStormfiends that lumbered tobattle around Verminlord Gnawsoul.Be they skaven or beastman, any intheir path were mown down in a hailof glowing bullets. Drill-tipped WarpGrinders bored through mounds ofrubble to launch surprise attacks;scything Doom-flayers and spikedDoomwheels careened downhill tocrush the Stormcast Eternals with theforce of rolling boulders. With Bloab’sRotbringers left leaderless, the skavenled the attack, focusing the genius ofClan Vrrtkin and the might of ClanMors as a single force. 3.233 y 3.234
Archaon’s plan to awaken Behemathad worked, for Sigmar’s attentionwas divided between Alarielle’s plightand the fate of his vanguard in theFlameworlds. But the near-omniscientDracothion was not so easilydiverted. Though Alarielle’s messageto the Knights Excelsior did not gounheeded, and though the HallowedKnights fought to the last with nevera backward glance, the Great Drakehad sensed that the Chaos forceswould outnumber the Stormhosts tothe point of desperation. So it was thatDracothion turned his form to starlightand rippled across the skies, hurling arain of meteors towards the war zone.
Behemat reached out to grab himwith a hand the size of an island, butthe Great Drake weaved nimbly asidein a shimmer of cosmic light as theTempest roared in approval. Amongstthe blazing energies raining from theheavens were the sons and daughtersof Dracothion. Wise minds and strongbodies burned with celestial fire asthe noble beasts manifested upon TorCrania. On their scaled backs they borefine cavaliers resplendent in silver andgold, their weapons raised to the sky asthey saluted their masters in the stars.
The Chamber Extremis had taken thefield, and with them came glory.
Slaughter at Tor Crania
Though the Stormcasts were takinglives with every thrust of blade andswing of hammer, the Skaven Warlordsand Warlock Engineers leered gleefullyfrom the viewing decks of their parasiteengines. Those jezzail teams and WarpLightning Cannons upon the tumbledPillars of Geostasis had a perfectvantage point to lay down enfiladingfire into the Stormcasts’ ranks.The skaven gunners fired upon theembattled slaves of Clan Mors withouthesitation, destroying great swathes oftheir kin in order to kill but a handfulof Knights Excelsior.
The Hallowed Knights fared littlebetter, for their assault had taken theminto the midst of the Rotbringers whohad once formed Bloab’s personalarmy. Though they blitzed throughthe beastmen that stormed down theshuddering hillside of Tor Crania, theiradvance had ground to a halt againstthe bloated Chaos warriors behind. TheHallowed Knights were eager to meteout summary justice upon the scionsof Nurgle, and were already famed fortheir willingness to die in a righteouscause. Yet here their sacrifice seemedfutile. They were still an impossibledistance from the prize they sought –the death of the World Titan himself.
Slowly, unstoppably, Behemat raised hisimmense head. Free of the hard-packedcrust that had held him slumberingbeneath the Sprawl, he looked upon therealm of Ghyran for the first time inmillennia, and grew livid. Gone werethe paradisiacal vistas of his prime –now he beheld only teeming parasitesand unbound ruin. Hill-ridged browsknotted, he gave vent to a mindnumbingroar of fury that shook eventhe trees of the Torc high above. 3.235
Time was running short. The KnightsExcelsior pushed free of the Chaostribes encircling them and followedhard on the heels of the ChamberExtremis as they smashed headlonginto the rot-slick cygors ahead. Oneby one, the cyclopean beastmen werebrought low. Stardrakes sank sabrelengthteeth into grey flesh, pullingeach cygor close so their Paladin riderscould land the deathblow.
The Stormhosts fought hard to gainTor Crania’s domed peak, each Lord-Relictor and Knight-Vexillor callingout to the storm as they began thesummoning of the Great Bolts. Mobsof gargants clambered dripping fromthe Titansmawr chasm to the south;their godbeast father retched themout in a great geyser of acidic salivathat hissed across the Chaos warriorhosts the Stormcasts were pushingback. The bilious tide dissolved anentire battle line of Nurgle worshippersand filled the air with a horrendousstink, but with that blessing came acurse. The gargants stormed towardsthe Lord-Relictors, smashing theirPaladin bodyguards to blurs ofdiscorporate storm-magic.
Just as it seemed the Lord-Relictorsand Knights-Vexillor would die anignominious death, Lord-CelestantImperius and his Drakesworn Templars swooped from above, their Stardrakesplucking the callers of the Great Boltsfrom the ground and bearing them highinto the air. The Stardrakes breathedbillowing thunderheads of celestialmagic before them as they flew, theazure storm clouds blinding gargantsand ghorgons alike with the blazingintensity of Sigmar’s judgement. 3.237 y 3.238
The Dracothian Guard rode echelon byechelon through the mayhem, Pharakisat their head. Their scaled steeds wereheavily built enough to slam aside thosethat tried to bar their path, yet dextrousenough to spring over fallen gargantsand tumbled rocks as they poundedalong the quaking ground. Up towardsthe summit they went, a shimmeringshield of energies raised before them bythe Fulminators in the vanguard.
Only when those mighty cavaliersreached the crest of Behemat’smountainous dome did they pull toa halt. At the roar of Lord Pharakis’Dracoth, every one of the scaled steedsexhaled a bolt of crackling energyat the same point atop Behemat’sskull, blasting a great crater that sentmolten gobbets of rock spraying inall directions. The Stardrakes of LordImperius’ Hammers Draconis, stillcarrying the Brotherhood of the GreatBolts, released them above the crater.
Such were the powers the Lord-Relictorsand Knights-Vexillor were callingdown that they hung suspended in atwelve-sided star of celestial magic. TheTempest came in low, lit from below bythe unimaginable energies called downby the storm-summoners.
The chanting of the Stormcast heroesreached a climax, and the Great Bolts– those very same spears of lightningwith which Sigmar had slain Behemat’sfather, the godbeast Ymnog – shotdown from above. Each was a pillar ofworld-shattering energy that slammeddownwards towards Behemat’s pate.The Lord-Relictors and Knight-Vexillorsshook with the effort of harnessingthem, screaming themselves hoarseagainst the Tempest.
They were found wanting. The GreatBolts struck at random, scorching milewidecraters in the Sprawl. One leaptbetween three parasite engines in turn,blowing each to pieces. On Tor Crania,their godly energies melted the stormsummonersinto steaming pools ofliquidised flesh and bubbling sigmarite. 3.238
So it was that Behemat’s skull was split asunder by Ghal Maraz, his mind blasted to nothingness by the stellar intensity of the Great Bolts. Down the godbeast fell, slumping slowly backwards to slam into the Scabrous Sprawl with the force of worlds colliding.This time the land was not his prison, but his grave.
Behemat’s death reduced that kingdom to utter devastation.Those skaven not crushed or burned to death by their own erratic creations scurried back through their gnawholes once more. A thousand leagues had been ripped asunder, chasms wide enough to swallow nations yawned across the land. Further afield, tidal waves pounded every coast, crumbling ancient fjords and grinding majestic cities to rubble. On the lightning scorched mainland of the Sprawl, the air was so filled with the dust of long-parched earth that no starlight would be seen in that kingdom for a thousand days and nights. Sigmar’s Tempest dissipated soon after the battle for Tor Crania ended in spectacular catastrophe. The diaphonid sky-swarms returned, but they shone their light upon only ruins.
The Hallowed Knights wept to see what had become of the realm they had come to save, praying as one for forgiveness.
The Knights Excelsior looked upon the destruction wreaked upon that once-fertile land, and saw that it was good. 3.244
To hurl back the Darkness
Chaos had claimed ascendancy over Order. With every senseless slaughter, with every nation conquered, the Dark Gods came closer to consuming the Mortal Realms entire. With the onset of Sigmar’s divine tempest, however, the light of hope blazed bright once more throughout the lands.
- Lightning over Baelghast - Amongst the corpse-strung skycaves of Baelghast, cerulean thunderclouds hurled nine full Stormhosts into battle against the monstrous hordes of Throgg.
- The Buthcered Kings - After breaking the Third Waaagh! of Garrados, the Bloodbound warlord known as Gorehelm turned upon the seven Nurgle-worshipping kings whose armies had helped clinch his victory. So much Chaos-tainted blood was spilt that day that the sentient quagmire known as Butcher’s Swamp was born.
- Azyrheim's Revenge - With Sigmar’s blessing, the Hosts of Azyrheim set out from the newly opened Gates of Azyr. Their armies sought red vengeance against those who had slain their peoples. In many cases, their justice was meted out in great measure.
- The Worlds Below - In the eerie silence of the Halls of the Dead, an alliance of duardin and Stormcast Eternals fought through armies of cannibal guardians and skeletal fiends, only to find themselves caught in the web of the Mortarchy.
- The Warrior's Lure - Aelven warhosts sent to primal Dhrund stacked high the skulls of horned shamans and tusked monsters alike. Less than an hour after the death of the gargants known as Bawler’s Get, the savage priests of Gorkamorka answered the challenge of the aelf trespassers en masse. 13
Curse of the Jade Kingdoms
From the seeds of conflict sown across the Jade Kingdoms, wars beyond counting grew to bloody fruition.Though Khorne sent eight times eight legions through the Gates of Chogkorr, and though Tzeentch sank his claws into those kingdoms richest in magical lore, it was Nurgle that committed the greatest hosts to conquer the Realm of Life.
- Blood in the Gloom - Whilst pillaging the Shaomel Labyrinth, the armies of Borrogh the Black Gut found themselves embroiled in battle against shadowy foes that could not be banished by strength of arms alone.
- Clashes beneath the Earth - Sigmar’s knights went in search of the sons of Grimnir in the magma-powered empire of the Burning Karaks. They found bitter war against verminous horde and duardin throng alike, but their quest to win the allegiance of the Fyreslayers led to a chain of alliances that have yet to be broken.
- Tide of Devastation - From the Gilded Fjords to the Screaming Stones, orruks seethed from skull-faced mountains and idol crags to fall upon the Chaos tyrants that had driven them from their ancestral lands. They had allies; grots snuck from spider-fissures, and hidden ogor tribes lurched from maw-like chasms and feasting caves to gobble down those too slow to escape. Many a Realmgate’s defenders were left crushed in their wake, the priceless portals claimed only by carrion crows.
- The Seventh War for the Allpoints - A vast confluence of portals that once led to every Mortal Realm, the Allpoints, vital to the plans of gods and men alike, was plunged into the most spectacular of wars.
- The Sigmarite Crusades - In the Slaver’s Wilderness, the Justicars of Azyr hunted evil warrior kings like beasts, whilst the Dracoth legions prowled the daemon graves of Chimeron. Meanwhile, in the Hanging Valleys of Anvrok, the Heldenhammer Crusade fought every evil the sorcerer Ephryx could muster.
Aid from the Heavens
When war raged across the bone-savannahs of Bagrhati, the might of Chaos seemed insurmountable, with warriors falling in droves beneath the blades of their relentless foe. Yet at the critical hour the seraphon descended into battle. They spoke not the tongue of men, but their hatred for Chaos carried a message indisputable and clear – they shared a common cause with the armies of Sigmar. 14
- 1 The Realmgate Wars: Quest for Ghal Maraz.
- 2 The Realmgate Wars: Balance of Power.
- 3 The Realmgate Wars: Godbeasts.
- 4 The Realmgate Wars: All-gates.
1 The Realmgate Wars: War Storm (novel)
2 The Realmgate Wars: Ghal Maraz (novel), by Guy Haley and Josh Reynolds.
3 The Realmgate Wars: Hammers of Sigmar (Anthology), which contains:
- Stormcast by Darius Hinks
- Scion of the Storm by C L Werner
4 The Realmgate Wars: Call of Archaon (Anthology), which contains:
- Beneath the Black Thumb, by David Guymer.
- Eye of the Storm, by Rob Sanders.
- The Solace of Rage, by Guy Haley.
- Knight of Corruption, by David Annandale.
- The Trial of the Chosen, by Guy Haley.
- In the Lands of the Blind, by Rob Sanders.
- Blood and Plague by David Annandale.
- See No Evil, by Rob Sanders.
5 The Realmgate Wars: Wardens of the Everqueen (novel), by C L Werner.
6 The Realmgate Wars: Warbeast (novel), by Gav Thorpe.
7 The Realmgate Wars: Fury of Gork (novel), by Josh Reynolds.
8 The Realmgate Wars: Bladestorm (novel), by Matt Westbrook.
9 The Realmgate Wars: Mortarch of Night (Anthology), which contains:
- The Prisoner of the Black Sun.
- Sands of Blood.
- The Lords of Helstone.
- Bridge of Seven Sorrows.
- The Beasts of Cartha.
- Fist of Mork, FIst of Gork.
- Great Red.
- Only the Faithful.
10 The Realmgate Wars: Lord of Undeath (novel), by C L Werner.