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About this blog

This is where I share my stories about the men and women, soldiers and civilians alike, that populate the Mortal Realms, and all of the small triumphs and tragedies they suffer that might otherwise be lost against the grand backdrop of the Age of Sigmar.

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The Death Watch- Brother Hugh

In the realm of Ghur, there is a ruined castle called Yarbrough, often shrouded in fog and rain. Nothing lives there anymore save the creatures of fen and moor, finding shelter from the elements within the ancient stone. When the wind blows, though, it carries the sounds of ancient horns with it, and when the sun shines it illuminates an inscription hidden in the walls- HmIAFD- that is, Hugh Macintosh and the Black Watch. Centuries ago, when the Age of Myth came crashing down, Tam Yarbrough was lord over Castle Yarbrough. His house had ruled the lands fairly and well for uncounted years, and he was rich and strong and well-loved. When news came of a marauding army of Orruks rampaging through the region, he wasted no time in rallying his retainers to war, marching proudly forth to the sound of drums and trumpets. A glittering host they were, a legion resplendent in the sun, going out to hold back the Greenskin storm just as their ancestors had held back the storms of Ghur. But this is not their story, nor is it Tam's. At the place known as Loch Haverforth the proud Yarbrough host met their match in the Orruk Warboss known as Tarlen the Evermighty, and it's said that the flowers on the lakeshore still grow red in their memory. Hugh MacIntosh was a strong, proud man, but no loyal soldier of Yarbrough was he. He was a bandit chief, having raided the rich and the poor of that land for many years and accomplished deeds of infamy before he found himself in Lord Tam's dungeons, awaiting the hangman's noose. When news came of Lord Tam's defeat, Castle Yarbrough was thrown into a panic. The Orruk host was marching inexorably towards them, and there was not enough strength to hold the walls against them. Tam's loyal retainers, the men he had left behind to defend the castle, lost heart and fled to meet their ends like fugitives or hunted animals. Hugh found himself a free man, released from his cell once again. He could have fled, or avenged himself upon the castle and its inhabitants for his imprisonment. Instead, he looked out upon the column of refugees that would fall victim to the Orruks, and his heart was strangely moved to pity. Gathering his boon companions around him, he declared that the end of the world had come upon them, and it was time for all true sons of Ghur to make their stand. Give him his pipes and a blade, he promised, and he would buy time for the women and children to escape. Wicked and dishonorable men they might be, but even the black-hearted must take their watch when it was demanded of them. Seven of them barricaded themselves in the keep and made ready for their doom. The Orruks were not long in coming, falling on the castle with a vengeance. Equal to their fury, though, were Hugh and his men, driving back the brutes with their two-handed swords every time they tried the tower. Still, it was not enough. One by one, Hugh's companions fell, until at the midnight hour only Hugh stood in the innermost keep, holding the last door. In the darkness, he played his pipes, their ghostly sounds echoing over the massed Orruk warhost and filling them with a primal dread. Had Boss Tarlen not been there, the horde might have abandoned their siege altogether. He bullied the Boyz into attacking, and as first light came they fell upon "da Lady from Hell" again. Hugh was filled with heavenly rage, and could not be moved- still, he was only one man, and he tired. And then came Boss Tarlen, twice the height of a man, armored in the stolen finery of the Realms. Hugh gave a final cry and leaped forth- and there his story ends. Only the Orruks remember his final stand, and what became of him. Still, it is telling that when Boss Tarlen was next seen, he boasted a scar from forehead to chin, and that he and his horde were forevermore afraid of the sound of pipes. ------ The storytellers call Hugh MacIntosh  the Black Watchman, Warden of the Storm, the Lady from Hell, the Herald of Cacophony, Orruk-bane, the Seventeenth.

The Death Watch- Sister Rebecca

In Shyish, there is a mountain range, the Day's End Mountains, behind which the sun seems to be perpetually setting. One of these peaks, Mount Hadreth, stretches far above the others, its top obscured constantly in an unearthly fog even while the air becomes almost too thin to breathe. Near the summit, there is a door, and behind it a stairway said to lead deep into the heart of the mountain. From there- although none had walked the stair in many generations by the end of the Age of Myth- the passageway led to a series of massive caverns, stretching throughout the roots of the entire range. Taken together, the people of that region know this as the Tomb of Eternal Life, where souls are said to reside forever beneath the world of the living in society with one another. It is forbidden that one of the living should enter the Tomb, just as it is forbidden that one of the dead should seek to exit and return to the living. But humans are weak creatures who cannot hold even to the rules they set for themselves. For this reason, the door must always be guarded, lest someone in their hubris might seek to be reunited with one they have lost. These eternal guardians maintained an unblinking vigil, keeping the door- already protected by mighty theurgy- safe by the strength of their arms and their faith in their cause. This ended, though, like so many other things, with the coming of Chaos. It had long been prophesied that when the end came, the guardians of the dead would descend to fight alongside the living. Thus, the commander of the watch, who was human despite her calling, led her comrades into battle against the great hordes of the Dark Gods at the foot of the mountain. For eight days and nights, the soldiers of the mountains struggled with legions of daemons and cultists, but the end should never have been in doubt. The door watch was wiped out to a soul, and the gate lay unguarded for many decades. During this time, though no mortal could yet penetrate the wards, daemons slipped in to trouble the dead, and malefic spirits came out to trouble the living. Thus was the balance of the world upset, until someone came to restore order to life and death again. ------ Rebecca grew up the daughter of a poor farmer, eking out a living in the foothills of the Day's End mountains. They lived constantly in the shadow of the Dark Gods- almost literally, since the followers of Chaos had built great iron fortresses on the heights to assert their dominion over the people below. Though they ruled the land, the overlords of the mountains contented themselves with their fastnesses, only sending out their tax collectors and enforcers to exact punishing tribute every few weeks. Thus, Rebecca's family was able to live in relative peace, and she was raised on the whispered tales of a time before enemies overran the mountains, when the heights were held by the guardians of the Tomb of Eternal Life. Even as a child, she longed to see the gate that led into the tomb herself- but knew that she could not. The Gate had long since been fenced in by the sorceror-lords who had taken Mount Hadreth as their private domain. In this day, they ruled over her hamlet, and from time to time misshapen abominations would wander down from the mountains to snatch one or two of Rebecca's neighbors away for whatever purposes the sorcerers thought to put them to. Rebecca was plain, and quiet, and quick to run, and thus she evaded the overlords' "tribute". Still, it burned at her, as it would burn at anyone, to see her friends and relatives stolen so unjustly.She made a quiet vow that she would one day give retribution to the sorcerers for all they had taken from her and her people. That day came sooner than she would suspect. In her seventeenth year, Rebecca was engaged to the love of her life, a farmer boy named Abraham. When the abominations came to exact tribute in the winter of that year, though, he tripped over a root- and was seized by one of the creatures.  Filled with a mighty rage, Rebecca grabbed a pitchfork and attacked the beast, stabbing it again and again until it lay dead. Consumed with the same anger, her fellow villagers joined her, hurling stones and trash and attacking with whatever came to hand until the invaders were forced to retreat. The village lay in a deathly quiet for two weeks- until news came that dozens of servants of the sorcerers, not just mutants but armored warriors, were descending to make an example of those who practiced defiance. There was nothing to do but flee. As nomads, living off of whatever they could scrape from the barren land, harried by sorcerous beasts, the villagers survived in hiding. As they went, they armed themselves with weapons from their fallen foes, striking back under Rebecca's leadership against individuals or small groups, repaying the sorcerers blood for blood.  When the other villages heard of their continuing defiance, some among them joined Rebecca's band, while others sent food and supplies in secret for the fight against the hated masters. Soon, Rebecca's band had grown to number in the hundreds, menacing the sorcerer's servants whenever they came down off the mountain. In response, the lords of the peak sent down their full strength, intending to punish the full region for daring to rise against the faithful of the Dark Gods. The might of the enemy's army was more than Rebecca's band could face in the open field, but desperation and cunning gave her a plan. Throughout the hills and ravines of that land, her warriors hid and struck at the enemy army as they passed. Where they could, they rolled boulders down on the heads of the enemy, crushing them or blocking their paths. They struck by night, poisoning food supplies, murdering pickets and setting fires in the brush and never, never coming to open battle. While this happened the sorcerers rampaged blindly, driving villagers who had remained neutral out of their homes- and into Rebecca's arms. Others, hearing what happened, openly supported her lest the sorcerers should pillage their homes as well. By this her army grew strong and well supplied, while theirs dwindled and starved. When she finally met them in battle, it was a rout- her soldiers drove both abomination and man before them, slaughtering both those who stood before them and those who ran.  With the army of the Dark Gods destroyed, all that remained to her was to overthrow the sorcerers themselves and cast down their fastness. Up the long mountain roads her army marched, fighting the daemons summoned against them until at last they came to the fortress itself. They had no siege, and they certainly had no sorcerers, but some among her troops knew how to work rock and dig stone, and it was not long before a breach was created. The end was almost an anticlimax. Rebecca's forces slaughtered the sorcerers and their apprentices, tore down their workshops, gave a merciful end to their experiments, and made obeisance before the Gate itself. But the Dark Gods never forget, and never forgive, and soon she would find herself assailed again. What Rebecca had faced to date, deeply personal though it might have felt, was akin to an autoimmune response- an angry red inflammation of the wound. On the scale of gods and empires, it meant almost nothing. Now that she had succeeded in toppling servants of any real importance, though, she had drawn malevolent attention. From all throughout the Day's End Mountains, the various lords of the high peaks rallied their hosts to war, joined by a legion of daemons sent from the Realms of Chaos to make an example. Taken together, the armies of Chaos massively outnumbered and out-classed Rebecca's troops. The battle against the sorcerers had been an uphill fight. This would be a slaughter, both for her partisans and for everyone living in the region. She knew of only one solution- to enter the Gate, descend into the Tomb of Eternal Life, and seek the aid of the spirits there. There were funerary rites, known to the people of that land but never to the foreign followers of the Dark Gods, that Rebecca now underwent, preparing her soul for the passage. She cut her hair and donned a funeral shroud, darkened her eyes with ashes, stripped off her shoes and bid a tearful goodby to Abraham. Then she went before the Gate, alone. To the amazement of everyone watching, it swung open, revealing the beginning of the Long Stair inside. Rebecca placed one foot in, then the other, then started down- but a few steps in, she looked back. The outside world was darkened, as though viewed through a veil of fog, and her heart clenched as she realized that this meant that she could never return to walk among the living. Steeling herself, she continued downwards. For a day and a night she walked without ceasing through gloomy, damp caverns, her way lit only by a candle, alone except for the drip of water and the echo of her footsteps. Finally, even as her legs screamed out for rest, she reached the bottom of the Long Stairs- only to be greeted by the sounds of battle. To her amazement and horror, she saw that the armies of demons she meant to fight were already here, waging war against the souls of the dead. Already a quarter of the Tomb had fallen and been corrupted by the minions of the Dark Gods, and even now the ancestral spirits of warrior kings led their hosts in desperate battles to hold back the defiling tide just a little longer. The spirits of the dead were perplexed by Rebecca's presence, seeing through her shroud to the mortal life that still flared within. She begged leave to plead her case before them, though, and after some consultation she was allowed to appear before the Synod of Fifteen, the council of the greatest souls in the Tomb. Here, she laid out the dangers facing her people, the crushing burden of Chaos, the slaughter that awaited them if no help came, the defiance they had cast in the teeth of the Dark Gods. To this, she added what she had learned from the ruins of the sorcerer's tombs- that a plot was afoot among the disciples of Tzeentch, to take the souls that fell in battle in the Tomb and weave them together into a monstrosity, an ur-eidolon of a million trapped spirits capable of shaking the walls of Heaven themselves. The Synod was divided. Half were for marching out into the realms of the living and facing the enemy in battle, while half feared abandoning their homes and suspected a trick by the Dark Gods to undermine their defense. Only the ruler of them all, the ancient king Xereus, remained pensive. He said that since the Synod clearly could not come to a decision, perhaps it was time to present the choice to the entire population of the Tomb to see what their verdict would be. This proved to spark no less controversy, however. Some of the spirits took up arms and were ready to follow Rebecca up the Long Stairs and to battle, while others were ready to kill her as an agent of the Enemy then and there. Most, however, wavered somewhere in between, afraid of leaving their homes but equally afraid of remaining to be fodder. Finally, a single voice broke the tumult. To Rebecca's surprise and grief, she saw Abraham standing before the masses. When he realized that he would be forever parted from his love, he said, he had thrown himself from a cliff- but now he would speak of her character, and in her defense. He told of how she had been the first to take up arms in defense of his people, how she had rallied them to her banner with her strength of will and courage, how she had cleverly lead the armies of Chaos to their doom, and how she now was prepared to sacrifice her own life to defend those around her. At this, others in the audience who had died since the beginning of the tide of Chaos joined in, adding their voices to the call for action to defend the people of the mountains. Finally, the ancient guardians of the gate came forwards. They had long stood their watch to make sure that the worlds of life and death remained separate- but now that a greater threat had arisen, that time had passed. It was time for the living and the dead to be rejoined- time to pierce the veil at last. At this, Xereus nodded. He would lend his support to the march on the surface, and together the living and the dead would liberate the world above from the grips of Chaos. But this, he said, would only happen on one condition- that Rebecca, who had lead the armies above, would shed her mortality and join the ranks of those below. With the love of her life dead, and her people facing destruction, the choice was not difficult. She assented, and at a stroke of his sword her living spirit was snuffed out. ------ Two days later, as the armies of the lords of Chaos stood poised to sweep over the region and slaughter its people, they were met with an army of spirits and an army of men, fighting in ranks together. The shattering defeat of the fell horde gave new heart to all who heard of it, and many in the lands around the Day's End mountains rose up against their once-invincible masters. Wherever these rebels arose, they were quickly joined by ghostly and living soldiers, fighting with fury and guile borne of decades or centuries of experience. It took years, but the whole of the mountains were freed, and remained free in their mountaintop fastnesses even against the legions that the Dark Gods sent to cast them down. But irony of ironies, Rebecca was not at their head, nor even in their ranks. When she had fallen beneath Xereus' blade, her soul had been snatched up by Sigmar, to join the ranks of his armies. Reforged, she was indignant, and then moody, prone to keep her own counsel and withdraw from the company of others, appearing alive only when she faced down the minions of the Dark Gods where she was terror itself. In his wisdom, Sigmar saw only one place to put her- the ranks of the Death Watch, full of misfits and outcasts and juggernauts like her. In Steelios, she found a companion that could ease her pain- someone who understood her anger at the gods, and abided by her refusal to swear allegiance to any. Now, she fights determinedly at his side against multitudes of foes across the Realms- but her mind wanders to Shyish, and the mountains of the Day's End, and the promise she made to King Xereus long before... ------ The storytellers call Rebecca the Beloved of Eternity, the Dusk Raider, the Denied, the Guardian of Death, the Nineteenth.
 

Brother Gaius

Gaius Publius had served in the Sixth Legion for almost three decades when the end came. He was known to his comrades as the Wolf, and it was rumored that in his infancy he had suckled at the breast of a she-wolf and raised himself out in the bitter hinterlands of Illyria. Certainly, he bore the pelt of a massive grey beast he'd slain with his bare hands during the Ghur campaigns, thus proving himself worthy and winning the honor of carrying the Legion's standard into battle. Hard bit and unflinching, he was the best scout and tracker in the Sixth, and he would boast in all the Legions. Thus, he was out on patrol when the end finally came. Unsurpassed he might have been, but even he could not have eyes everywhere, and those who might have been able to see the Ungors creeping through the forest failed in their sworn duty. The first he learned of the Sixth's plight was when he heard the desperate rallying cries of its horns, and saw the smoke rising over its encampment. Hurrying back, he found the Legion already destroyed, taken completely by surprise and slaughtered in its tents. There was nothing he could do but watch as beasts and cultists picked among the ruins. Worst was when he saw the Legion's precious standard clutched in the unclean hands of a Bray-Shaman, a trophy of victory. When at last the herd moved on to new targets he ventured into the field of ashes that remained- only to stumble over a relic of the Legion, a golden horn stamped with a VI and an image of an eagle in flight. This was a sign, he decided, a directive from the gods. The standard of the Sixth would fly again, and this trumpet would sound in victory before he would abandon his war against the beasts of the forest. For four long years he stalked the horned ones across the forests and fields of Ghur. He became known to them as the Hunting Wolf, the Red Hunger, for he fought with a cruel savagery and the bravery of a man who has nothing left to lose. As he fought he saw the provinces and cities of Illyria falling into ruin before the onrushing tide of Chaos, but this did not dissuade him. His honor was greater than to one people or empire- he had sworn himself before the heavens themselves, and he would die before he would lay down his sword. This faith kept his mind safe from the whispering temptations of the Dark Gods, but his body still suffered as the taint that was overcoming the Realms overtook him. His once-mighty limbs began to wither and tremble, and his eyes grew dimmer as he suffered from plague and malnutrition. If he could not fulfill his oath soon, he would die with honor unsatisfied, and though he did not fear the end he was afraid of that shame. Thus it was that he prepared his last desperate assault against the herd that had massacred the Sixth so long ago, now swollen to immense size.  He knew where the Shaman kept his tent and his trophies- all he had to do was live to liberate them. In the dark of the night, he prepared his tools- fire and confusion. The tinder-dry forest was prepared to burn, and he waited until the wind had shifted towards the camp before he struck a flame. Almost faster than thought the new inferno spread, burning brands soaring to land among the bray-herd. As the beasts panicked he blew the old horn of the Sixth, three blasts loud enough to wake the dead. Many among the enemy believed they were under attack, and in their alarm slew one another, even as the forest burned around them- and into this confusion strode the Wolf.  Slaying all in his path, he cut his way to the trophy-tent, seizing the standard and planting it defiantly before him. This done, he called out a challenge to the shaman to come and face the wrath of the Sixth Legion, the blood of ancient Herculia. The enemy answered, swollen by the power of his fell magics into a great three-headed chimeric beast, but Gaius Publius only laughed.  He had slain a wolf once, to win his honor, and that had been with his bare hands. Now he had a sword, honor redoubled, and no fear of death.   He danced with the beast beneath a fiery sky, parrying and weaving and biding his time- and he soon saw his moment. His enemy feared to be slain, and flinched when the fire grew too close- but he had long consigned himself to an honorable death of his own making. He set the wolf-pelt on his back alight, and plunged towards the shaman, a blazing wraith of legend- and it flinched back, afraid to strike, and in that moment its end was upon it. He struck again and again, Illyrian steel drawing tainted blood, until it fell dead at his feet, a mere wretch of a creature once more. And as the flames grew closer he laughed in his victory, and just as he was about to be consumed he sounded the horn of the Sixth again, to let heaven know of Gaius Publius' approach so that they might open their gates for the Wolf of Illyria. ------ The storytellers call Brother Gaius the Hunter, the Wolf-Skinned, the Untiring, the Survivor, the Sixth, the Wolf in the Night, the Flame of Wrath, the Sword of Vengeance, the Herald, the Sworn Companion, the Beast of Illyria, the Last Legionary, the Oathbound, the Shadow.

Randolph Carter

Randolph Carter

The Death Watch- Brother Holtz

Frederick Holtz grew up in the shadow of Sigmar himself. The son of a nameless courtesan in the pleasure-houses of Azyr, he was raised as a ward of the State in the prestigious Starhammer Academy, not far from the high palaces of Azyrheim. Starhammer was where the elite future soldiers of the God-King were raised, and in the course of his upbringing Holtz had the chance to see Sigmar three times when the deity came to speak to the students about their duties as the leaders of tomorrow's wars. He passed all his tests with flying colors, and seemed poised to take a place as a petty officer in the school's own military regiment, the Starhammer Guard- at the last moment, though, his request was refused, and he returned to the general pool of graduates.  Holtz spent a night alternating between fear and confusion, unable to understand why he had been passed over in favor of lesser students and wondering what his future might be now that his constant goal had been taken away. The next morning, a man came to see him. Missing an eye and three fingers, scarred and limping, he was clearly a veteran of hundreds of encounters. He introduced himself to Holtz as Templar-Captain Gregory MacDonald. He was the one who had pulled strings to have Holtz denied entry to the Guard, he explained. Though prestigious, the Starhammers were no place for a man of Holtz's talent and acuity. Instead, MacDonald offered Holtz a place in his retinue.   Over the next decade, Holtz would earn his rank as a full Templar fighting enemies all across the Mortal Realms, rooting out corruption and heresy behind the lines and crushing monsters that threatened Sigmar's nascent domain. When MacDonald retired, Holtz took up the mantle of Templar-Captain in his stead, and after his destruction of the Ghoul-Triarchs of Ghyran and their cult received a promotion- from Azyrheim itself- elevating him to the rank of Templar-Marshal. In this capacity, Holtz had a regiment of his own to command, and it amused him as he began to poach graduates of his old academy from the Starhammers to fill his own ranks.   Then, the Steelglass crusade was called in Chamon against a fragment of the clockwork legions of ancient Cypria. Suspecting Chaos corruption among the metal men, Holtz attached his regiment to the crusade, seeking to destroy whatever taint existed among the ruins. It was some of the hardest fighting that the Templar-Marshal had ever encountered. The enemy seemed to have planned for their every move, every stratagem, and his soldiers were often thrown into combats that would tax ten times their number.  Holtz was unsurprised when evidence of Tzeentchi corruption was found among the clock-men and in the ruins of the great libraries they fought among, though he was perplexed as to why it was never his men who did the finding.   As the Crusade reached its apogee, it approached one of the last great intact libraries of the ancient Cyprians. Its leadership called for the total destruction of the library to ensure the removal of all taint from the region. The night before the offensive was to begin, however, Holtz had a dream of a great beast buried under the library, thrashing against its chains. Waking suddenly, he was gripped by a horrible suspicion. His tomes confirmed that Cypria had waged long wars against Tzeentch at the time of the fall of the realms, serving as one of the Changer's most stalwart foes. Why, then, would there be evidence of taint among their defeated enemies?
  Rousing his men, he sent a messenger to the crusader lords asking them to delay their attack until he had had a chance to discern the library's true nature. A reconnaissance in force showed that much of the interior of the library was covered in warding runes, seals against the demonic. Holtz's pulse quickened as he sensed the malevolent presence lurking under its floor. The library was a prison for a powerful daemon, and if it was destroyed... At that moment shells from the crusade's artillery began to fall among the regiment. The attack had begun.   Almost from the moment they left that place, Holtz's troops found themselves under attack- not by the Cyprian legions, but by the crusade's own forces. Advancing to the trenchline surrounding the library-mountain, Holtz found that his soldiers had been declared traitors by the crusade's leadership and ordered to be killed on sight. With the power of his oration and his reputation, Holtz convinced the gunners at the front lines to stand down and allow his men to pass.   The artillery park was more difficult. It was commanded by the Bluefeathers, the personal regiment of General Kraft of the crusader lords. Here, the Templars had to fight doggedly, disabling the artillery pieces one by one. When he captured the Bluefeather commander, General Kraft's son-in-law, Holtz knew the truth. Heinrich Kraft bore the secret mark of Tzeentch on him. Steeling himself, Holtz and his soldiers attacked towards crusade headquarters. At first, the Templars faced human soldiers of the generals and lords' personal guards- but as they pressed closer to the command chamber, these became twisted by the power of Chaos, and their attacks sorcerous and strange.   The command tent itself held the final horror- every general of the Crusade, their eyes lit by a strange blue glow, hands crackling with arcane lightning. At their head was General Kraft, whose visage had begun to twist into that of a daemon. He laughed when he saw Holtz. The Templar-General had failed, he said, and now he would erase one of the legacies of ancient Cypria and deal a blow to the plans of Sigmar the Deceiver. On the contrary, Holtz replied. He had stymied Kraft's aims. The library could not be destroyed now that the guns and soldiers of the army no longer obeyed the General, and Kraft and all of his conspirators would die.   At this, his men opened fire, tearing the General and his fellows to shreds with a hail of gunshot- but Kraft alone did not fall. Holtz misunderstood Tzeentch's aim, he said. True, the daemon might stay imprisoned, but its clockwork wardens were destroyed... and so were Holtz and his regiment.  At this, the tent and its surroundings exploded in blue fire, consuming Holtz and most of his soldiers. In the aftermath, the Steelglass crusade came to a halt, as the survivors limped back to friendly bases and regrouped, bereft of leadership.   Still, Holtz had done a great service for the forces of Order, preventing the release of a daemon-prince and the opening of a portal to the Realm of Chaos, and exposing the treachery of high-ranking officers in the armies of Azyrheim. For this, he saw Sigmar again, as he was reforged into an incarnate vessel of the God-King's mighty will and released into the world again to do battle in His name. Indeed, Sigmar had a special assignment for him- Holtz would join the Death Watch as an unflinching agent of the God-King, and there keep watch over his fellows even as he was responsible for rooting out evil in the Mortal Realms.   Surprisingly, Lord Celestant Steelios did not object to this- indeed, he's said to have laughed for hours when he heard about who was being assigned to his command. It has been almost a decade since that day, and Holtz continues his watch- ever ready, ever vigilant, ever eager in his war against the enemies of Sigmar.   ------   The storytellers call Brother Holtz the Black Templar, Sigmar's Fire, the Holy Warrior, the Watchful, the Eyes of Azyr, the Sixteenth.  

Randolph Carter

Randolph Carter

 

The Death Watch- Sister Elizabeth

Elizabeth Reike-Woerlitz was always a precocious child, outdoing her peers both in the library and on the training yard. Like all the children of that family, she had been raised on the stories of the lost wonders of the Mortal Realms, and she took them to heart- burning to see every corner of the Realms with her own eyes. By the time she was of age, she was a noted scholar, artist and soldier, holding a well-deserved officer's post in the Reike-Woerlitz Freeguild. She spurned any talk of marriage, preferring to seek her fortune and future in the rough-and-tumble beyond the walls of Azyrheim. In her third decade, the great crusade across the Realms began, and she leaped at the chance to be one of its countless leaders. Victories in Aqshy and Ghur brought her to the attention of some of Sigmar's lieutenants, but it was her inspired assault on the Dogfort in Ghyran that won her real acclaim. She was chosen to lead an expedition into Chamon, to seek out the remnants of the Dispossessed and any uncontacted Fyreslayer lodges that might be found. Months of careful searching, though, left her empty-handed and frustrated. In her sixth month, though, she struck gold, or rather silver. To that point the expedition had skirmished with metal-skinned Beastmen, but seen no real battles- only vast, empty lead flats and iron mountains in the distance. This changed overnight. Her sentries brought her a Duardin, clad in the ruined scraps of a strange mechanical suit of armor and grievously burned by molten metal. He gasped out that he and his kin and their flying ship had been entrapped by a monster in the mountains, a gigantic argent wyrm that was roasting them alive, one by one. The creature was immune to shot and shell- perhaps, though, it might be vulnerable to mortal magic. Swearing to the dying fugitive to rescue his friends and crewmates, Elizabeth and the expedition followed his tracks double-quick across the plains. In the foothills, they saw what they were seeking- a vast caldera with steam rising like a volcano. Creeping to its rim, Elizabeth saw a massive Duardin airship, sealed to the ground by silver chains, and a huge cage containing dozens upon dozens of its crew. At the center of the caldera was a spring, and in that spring rested a massive dragon made of molten silver. From one long claw dangled a single Duardin, screaming as he slowly roasted in his armor to the monster's amusement. Mindful of the fugitive's warning, Elizabeth divided the expedition in two. The majority would go to shatter the air vessel's chains and break open the cage, freeing the prisoners and preparing an escape route. She would have the more perilous task. With her arcane halberd, Grimfire, and a few chosen companions, she would need to distract the monster away from the others for long enough that they could do their job. Bullets couldn't hurt the wyrm, but they could attract its attention. At the first salvo, it raged up the slope of the caldera towards her party, burning up the ground as it came. When it reached the top, she struck- a swipe and thrust of her blade grievously wounded the beast, and she dodged nimbly out of the way of its counterattack. Time and again, it struck, and any one of its blows would have ended her- but she was agile and quick-witted, and she knew how to keep it off balance. She hit it again and again, and Grimfire cut away at its scales and tore at its flesh. Every time it roared in pain, and every time the air grew hotter as it bled. Then it belched out a massive stream of burning metal, and though Elizabeth was not struck by the flames she was wounded by the flying debris.  The silver dragon loomed above her, pinning her fast with molten bonds that burned at her flesh. It laughed at her, mocking her for thinking that it, a creature older than the Realms themselves, could be defeated by her, a mortal. It would end her, the wyrm promised, and then perhaps it would encase her flesh in steel and make her its undying lieutenant. Her halberd would go into its treasure hoard, and her friends would be burned like the Duardin. Even as it said this, though, there came a great groaning from behind it- and Elizabeth saw the airship rising up, turning on the dragon, a gleaming hook planted at its bow. The wyrm swiveled in horror- and at that moment Elizabeth broke her restraints, plunging Grimfire into its heart even as the skyhook dug itself deep into the creature's metal flesh. In that moment, the argent monster died in a cataclysmic explosion of molten metal, burning Elizabeth horribly and staining the ground silver all around. ------ When she awoke, it was in the belly of the Duardin sky-ship. She could not feel her limbs, and her eyesight was clouded and indistinct. As she lay there, one of the crew, dressed in the finery of a sky-captain, entered and stood beside her. He introduced himself as Throndin Steelheart, the captain of the vessel, and her debtor. The wyrm's flesh and its treasure hoard were worth a dozen king's ransoms, he explained, and it was thanks to Elizabeth that he was here to exploit it. In exchange, the least he could do was make her whole again. While she had lain there, almost dead, much of her burned away by the heat of the monster's final blow, the Duardin had constructed a metal body to sustain and empower her. As Throndin spoke, her newly augmented mechanical body came to life, and her mechanical eyes focused with unnatural precision. She rose, half woman, half machine, ready to fight for her family and her god once again. ------ The storytellers call Sister Elizabeth the Iron Hand of Sigmar, the Neverforged, Conqueror of the Silver Wyrm, Skyfriend, the Bold, Queen of Battle, the Twelfth.

Randolph Carter

Randolph Carter

 

The Death Watch- Brother Radek

This one is a twofer- look for an earlier post with the fate of Teodoric's line and the end of the Bogomils. ------ Austrasia and Illyria, like the other great empires of old, were ruined under the onslaught of Chaos, but elsewhere folk remained free of the taint of the Dark Gods by virtue of their mobility. Across the wide plains of Ghur, the horse-folk of the Ogatai had never settled the way their cousins the Bogomils had, and so when the end came they could simply ride away with their mounts and herds, leading the Marauders and daemons on a merry chase across the realm. For decades, they persisted in this way, proudly defiant and taking a fearsome toll in enemy skulls. Thus it was in the day of Radek Ogotai, known as the White Horse, whose word was his bond and who was marked by the Great Stallion those people worship with a pale crescent in the shape of a hoof. It was he who came to rule over the Ogotai upon the death of his father, even as the settled Chaos Lords of the Realms swore to destroy the ever-evasive nomads. On the night after he had drunk the mare milk and stallion blood that marked his ascent as chieftain, he had a dream. In it he saw his people chased by four horses- one red, one pale, one white and one bone.  Where the horses caught a man, they would trample and bite and tear at him, and in this way they were on the verge of destroying every Ogotai who still lived. In his dream, Radek saw another horse, greater and prouder than the four, rising from the earth itself, and he took the beast's reins and tried to flee on its back- but it bucked and stomped, and carried him towards the marauding beasts. Clinging to the steed's neck, he rode it against the four horses, lashing out with his sword and his steed's hooves until they were broken and in flight.   Waking, he understood. The horses were the Dark Gods, and though he had the power to save his people from their rampage victory did not lie in flight, but in attack. Calling his warriors together, he lay out a new plan- to turn around and strike at their enemies, to win wars in the Great Stallion's name.   Their horses that had stood them so well in the chase now became fierce coursers, and their hunting bows were deadly weapons against men. The lords of Chaos, long accustomed to pursuing, were utterly surprised when the tables turned, and routed wherever the Ogotai came upon them. Across three Realms the nomads carved a path of destruction, purifying the taint of the Dark Gods with fire and the sword. Indeed, so great was their disruption to the Dark Gods' continued conquests that other slaves to darkness began to gain hope, rising against their daemonic masters.   This would not do. A mighty army of mortals, beasts and terrifying creatures from beyond the realms of sanity was called together to crush the Ogotai in an iron band. Though Radek won victory after victory, he was slowly being encircled and trapped by the numberless legions of Chaos. At last, confronted with the inevitable end of his people, he cried out to the Great Stallion for deliverance. The Horse-Who-Is-God granted him another dream, of numberless eyes watching Radek and his people- yet as he moved, the eyes followed him, not the multitude around him.   He woke and knew what he must do. On the morn, battle was joined against a great horde of Chaos, and though his warriors struck and retreated again and again the iron tide did not stop in coming. Taking his bosom companions with him, Radek led another charge into the heart of the Marauder ranks, driving them back on themselves for a brief span. Then, as the charge began to stall and the Marauders rallied, he signaled to his soldiers to retreat- and with his closest friends continued to ride. Seeing their greatest enemy fleeing in a different direction, the champions of man, beast and God gave chase, leaving the rank and file confused. As the enemy formation began to scatter apart bereft of leadership, the surviving warriors of the Ogotai broke a hole, making their escape into the wilderness again.   For his part, Radek was brought to bear by no less than seven Lords of Chaos, who slew his steed from under him. Crippled and dying, he began to laugh- his enemies might have killed him, but they had failed entirely to best his people. The Ogotai would never die. Centuries later, when Sigmar's golden legions fell on the Mortal Realms, they found men and women of the Ogotai still riding the plains, still proudly defiant of all the Gods of Chaos and their corruption.   For his part, though, Radek was taken up in Sigmarite- a laughing storm, a bearer of thunder, a divine messenger once again bearing hope to the slaves of the Enemy.   ------   Brother Radek is called the Laughing Storm, the Bearer of Thunder, Hope's Champion, the White Scar, the Stallion’s Hooves, the Fourteenth.

Randolph Carter

Randolph Carter

The Death Watch- Sister Callie

This follows almost immediately on the heels of Brother Teodoric, below. Reading that one first will help to illuminate what is happening here. ------ Emperor Teodoric's death did not mean the end of Austrasia per se, but it did mark the end of his line of warrior-kings. With the marauding soldiers of the Dark Gods sweeping towards the capital of Aix-la-Donau, his queen had a set of difficult decisions to make. There were not enough soldiers in all the realm to man the ramparts of the capital, and the very splendor and beauty of the city made it a tempting prize for the greedy soldiers. To stay would likely mean to die. To flee would mean that they were well and truly broken. She fled all the same. In the years to come she would travel from castle to castle throughout the realm, fostering her children with various lords to strengthen their power and the family's chances of surviving now that their line was dispersed. The capital was sacked and burned to the ground, but the warriors of the Dark Gods were but men. Having taken their plunder, the horde largely dispersed, becoming more manageable bands of marauders. Austrasia held, but with Callisto aging and no clear leader among her children the realm faced another problem- succession. Fortunately, there was an answer in the Lex Teodoric, the corpus of law compiled by the old Emperor before his death. He had proclaimed that in the absence of a clear heir the counts would vote upon the next holder of the Iron Crown. Thus was civil war averted and a new ruler chosen to lead the continuing fight against Austrasia's great enemy. Decades passed, and through good Emperors and bad the realm carried on, though it lost ground to the marauders with each passing year.  Almost two hundred years after Teodoric's death, Austrasia was only a fraction of it once had been, a small island of flickering light in a sea of darkness. In the wake of the death of the old Empress there was to be a new election to decide on her successor- but almost from the beginning there was only one true winner. His name was Clovis, called Clovis the Wise, and he traveled from castle to castle speaking of a resurgence of power and a rebirth for the old kingdom. Many among the great and the powerful flocked to his banner, and many who might have doubted him were cowed. His appointment to the Throne was near-unanimous, and he was given the Iron Crown to great acclaim and adulation. That night there was a feast. Almost all the lords and ladies of Austrasia attended to do homage to their new leader and to hear his plans for the future. All watched with rapt attention as he rose, pledging himself to bring them all glory, and oversee a changing of ways. As these last words left his lips, a hush fell across the room, and then the screams began as the flesh of the nobles and their retinues twisted and deformed. Some tried to escape, and were cut down by flickering horrors manifesting from the walls.  Others saw what had happened and moved to attack the new Emperor- but with a wave of his hand and a burst of foul sorcery, these became nothing but mindless Spawn. Still others did him homage twice, and rose as his lieutenants and the minions of Tzeentch, the Silver Tyrant, the Feathered Serpent. That night Austrasia became the nucleus of a new Empire- one of Chaos and change, founded on betrayal. ------ Callie came of age cleaving to and cloven from her heritage. The ****** daughter of a nobleman, she grew up subsisting off of what she could forage out of his woods. Her mother had died when she was young, and it was some time before she learned enough to understand the significance of the one possession she'd been left- a bow, carved with the shape of a dragon at both ends and with runes forged into its surface. By the time she was seventeen years of age, she was a wild beauty, athletic and cunning and wise in the ways of the woods. She idolized her father, and dreamed one day of coming into his household. She heard the news of the election of a new Emperor who promised to restore Austrasia to its former greatness, and wondered what this would mean for him- what it would mean for her. She watched her father leave to the Election feast with bated breath, apprehensive and excited about the future and perhaps her chance of claiming a place in his armies and his court during the great offensive against Chaos. When he did not return for a week, she was curious. When he did not return for two, she was afraid. But when a man in skin-forged armor, glowing with painful green light returned, claiming to be him ascended, she was shocked and furious. She knew that Chaos was the great enemy, to whom no quarter could be given and no parley asked. To be betrayed like this... that night, after her tears of frustration had faded, she set out, scaling the walls of his keep in darkness. She found him in his study, alone, looking through ancient texts of malefic magic. He did not look up when she entered through the window, but only spoke. "I was expecting you, daughter. You have many questions. I will answer them for you... but shed your weapon. Do not be afraid. Let me love you." In that moment a great part of her wanted to kneel to him, to accept the love she had always been denied- but then her eyes were opened, and she saw the betrayer he had always been. Drawing her bow, the runes grew warm to the touch and the dragons' eyes glowed- and when she loosed the arrow it screamed its vengeance aloud. Her father fell, broken, and she realized a very great thing about herself and her weapon. The runes read "Callisto", and she had always thought that this meant herself- but now she realized it was the name of the great warrior queen, unmatched in archery. And if she could wield the bow as well... the blood of Iosephus Bogomil must flow through her veins. If what she feared was true, she was last of his line, his vengeance against his fallen descendants. Callie fled, but not far. Clad in deep forest greens, she searched out each of the traitors who had survived Clovis' remaking of the Empire, hunting the fallen implacably- a dark angel of vengeance. No succor would they receive from the hands of their kinswoman, no terms would she offer or accept. Striking seemingly from nowhere, she cut and cut across Austrasia, destroying what she would and leaving the rest for the crows. In the end only one enemy remained- the arch-traitor Clovis himself, the architect of betrayal, now crackling with the power of the Changer of Ways. Here was a foe that far outranked her in power, against which she had no chance of victory, let alone survival- and yet to accede to his rule would be the greater dishonor. On the eve of the final battle she clad herself in a pale bone funerary shroud, transforming into a winged avatar of death. Within the brightly lit and shifting patterns of Clovis' maze-like palace, this would be her best disguise. She slipped among the ruins of Teodoric's old capital, treading lightly and moving like a shadow, like a ghost on the wind. No mortal eye could have tracked her, and no mortal ear heard her approach. Yet for all of this when she entered the sorcerer's throne room she was trapped- ensnared by a spell she could neither have anticipated nor evaded. Bowing like a courtier, Clovis welcomed her into his presence. He hailed her resourcefulness and her cunning, proclaiming her a worthy heir to Callisto just as he was a worthy heir to Teodoric before him. She need only bend her knee to the Changer and Clovis would make her his bride, to rule by his side forever. Otherwise, she would die- and he would become the last bearer of the blood of Bogomil, just as he had long planned. It was her decision which fate would come to pass. But even as these words left his lips, he felt his sorcerous power suddenly falter- and what emerged from his arcane cage was not the woman he had entrapped, but a shining wraith. Her eyes blazed with malice, and the air around her was filled with a heavy presence, even as a multitude of voices screamed for vengeance and justice against Teodoric's traitor heir. When she spoke, her mortal voice was doubled and trebled by an undying chorus, and he was sorely afraid. "You are no worthy heir of Teodoric, Clovis Kinslayer. I who knew him better than any know that he would never have bent the knee to the Bringers of Ruin as you have, and he is ashamed that you bear his blood. Let our line be broken. Let the name of Bogomil and the name of Austrasia and the name of Clovis be blotted from the record of the world, now and forever to come-- so say I, Callisto Ironflight, the Undefeated, the Seeking Shaft of God!" At that she walked towards him, and where his sorcery met her spirit he had to give way, until she stood before him in her splendor untouched. "Let this empire and this people meet their end at last- and let our names be erased forever." At once her light leapt to envelop them both, and then the entire palace besides- and when it cleared away nothing remained in its wake but a shattered crown of iron. The immortal spirits of the Bogomils then returned to Nagash's realm, but Sigmar cradled her bruised soul in his mighty hands. As a father, he drew her up to Azyr, and there she rests and there she will serve beside him forever. ------ Sister Callie is called the Dark Angel, the Deathwing, the Voice of the Host, Heir to Callisto, Last of the Bogomils, the Seeking Shaft of God, the Iron Flight, the Eighth, the Faithful Daughter, the Blood of Queens.

Randolph Carter

Randolph Carter

 

House Reike-Woerlitz

A change- not a brother or sister of the Death Watch, but a family of Freeguild. This is the chronicle of their most ancient history- in time, they will reappear in other stories. ------ Long ago- before the Gates of Heaven were shut, before the Gods were disunited, before the taint of Chaos reappeared in the world, deep in the Age of Myth when the world still lay verdant and untrampled, there were two men. One, Lars of the Duns, was a refugee from far Arcadia, fleeing political violence in that ancient land. He led hundreds of his followers with him to a new home in the forest, under the flag of the sturdy steeds that had taken them thus far. There, he founded a new realm- the Empire of the Green Horse, whose kings traveled from one steading to another carrying their court with them. For many centuries they flourished, creating art and architecture both primitive and beautiful. They were the Green Kings, and under their tutelage the hills bloomed and flourished, and the valleys prospered and grew verdant. But they came to an end, as all things must. No one is quite sure of what brought the Kingdom of the Green Horse to its finish. Stories are told of wandering Gargants, Orruk invasions, pacts with malevolent sorcerers, or a waking dragon living under the hills.  Only the Knights of the Last Flower, who claim descent from that land, can say for sure, and they keep that knowledge locked away for reasons fathomable only to them. When the kingdom fell, though, the survivors fled away from those hills, leaving them to become wildlands and impenetrable forests. The refugees reached a land between two rivers instead- there, they met the descendants of the second man. Not so far away, in the marshes and wetlands that dot and snake through that land, Connor Marsh made his home. A fisherman, an explorer and a hunter, he plied his trade across the waters, spreading his nets and feeding his family and friends off their bounty. As his reach expanded, he led them to drive out the grots, troggoths and waking dead that also claimed that land. Sometimes, he would make war on other families and villages as well. More often, he would trade and ally, marrying his daughters to their sons and his sons to their daughters. By this, he became not only patriarch but lord, chief over a growing sphere of influence stretching across not just the marshes but the twin rivers that formed their borders. In time, his family and his domain would be named after the greater of these two rivers. They would become known as the Reiks. The first meeting between the people of the rivers and the survivors of the Green Horse was not salubrious. The refugees foraged on lands long claimed by the Reiks, and when confronted refused to bow before the local powers. Again and again, the Reiks would confront the newcomers, and soon blood was shed throughout the region. The locals had the ground and their boats, but the men and women of the Green Horse brought weapons of bronze, and their steeds besides. As the battle between the two grew more pitched, one man- Gunter Worlitzer- emerged as leader among the survivors, pushing deeper and deeper into Reik territory as the seasons turned. It was only with their backs to the river that gave them their name that the defenders were able to make a firm stand against his army, using a blend of what they knew and what they had learned throughout the long years of subjugation. Over the centuries, successive generations of Reiks and Worlitzers would cycle between bitter, wary truce and total war. Many were the times that the twin rivers ran red with the blood spilled by their shores. Only rarely were the two families- the two peoples- willing to set aside their hatreds of one another, when both were threatened by a greater outside enemy.   The greatest of such incidents came with the advent of Warboss Goomba da Bonecrusha, known as the Mad Dok and whispered by some to be Boss of Bosses. He led a Waaagh! almost fifty thousand strong into the land between the rivers, slaughtering all he came across and setting what he could alight. Only after three weeks of smoke, fire, confusion and sacrifice, and the eleventh-hour arrival of the Knights of the Last Flower on the field, was the Mad Dok foiled at last.   Part of the blood-cost paid included most of the leadership of both families, leaving each in new, inexperienced hands. For a time it looked like these would retreat to their fastnesses, to plot and plan the resumption of the war between them- until the Grandmaster of the Last Flower came forth. He scolded the survivors for their lack of empathy towards one another, for their willingness to see the rest of their families and their lands destroyed for the sake of an ancient grudge. It was, he hinted, exactly this sort of infighting that had brought about the fall of the Green Horse so many years ago. He would not stand to see it again.   With his guidance a union was arranged between the de facto leaders of both families, overseen by the Knights. No longer would there be two factions between the rivers- forevermore it would be Reike-Woerlitz together.   ------   The ancient heraldry of House Reike-Woerlitz is the Horse and Rivers, and its motto is "We Prevail."  

Randolph Carter

Randolph Carter

 

The Death Watch- Brother Apollyon

Brother Apollyon In the ancient city of Eistenpolis, greatest metropolis of all the fractured, squabbling principalities of the now-dead realm of Arcadia, Apollyon plied his trades as a humble smith and part-time soldier.  He lived, laughed and loved, earning a respected place in his community and raising a large, happy family. He was proud of his children, his neighbors, his people and his gods. When the trouble began, he was a voice of calm and an advocate for fidelity to Arcadia's pantheon and loyalty to Eistenpolis' citizens. He did not see the corruption slowly taking root among his friends and his neighbors, turning them against him. When the hordes of Chaos reached Arcadia, the city-states allied and drew up a massive army resplendent in their bronze and leather, many thousands of spears strong. Apollyon stood in the front rank, closest to the enemy. Just before battle was joined, though, half the army turned on their brothers in arms, slaughtering them by surprise. The Battle of the Crimson Fields, as it would come to be called, was a complete and total rout, and Arcadia would be utterly destroyed save for the fallen. Its people, its culture, and even its tongue would be lost to the sands of time, existing only as whispers on the wind and a now-barren blight on the face of Ghyran. Apollyon was one of the first to die. His soul was taken up by Sigmar, who reforged him into a Stormcast of the Anvils of the Heldenhammer to make war against his enemies. Still-grieving, Apollyon found what he thought was camaraderie and solace among the shared pain of the Anvils. He fought loyally and well in the titanic battles that marked Sigmar's return to the Mortal Realms, rejoicing in his ability to avenge himself on the enemies of the God-King. This came to an abrupt conclusion during the campaigns against the Children of Sigmar. In one battle, Apollyon's entire Chamber was slaughtered- all save he, who managed to fight his way free from an encirclement with a hammer in each hand. Recalled to Azyrheim, he found to his horror that his brethren did not await him. He was told the awful secrets of the Reclamation Engine, of the legions swayed to Nagash's service, armies that now counted his former comrades in their ranks. Twice-betrayed, Apollyon swore to never rest until he had made every one of the betrayers pay ten times over for their treachery. Painting his armor black, he donned a ferocious horned helmet to put fear into his foes' hearts when they saw him. Now, he is Brother Steelios' left hand, the Ninth, the Betrayed, the Black Legionary, the Heart of Darkness. Where other Stormcast go into battle singing praises to Sigmar, his battle-cry is always "Smite! Kill! Burn!" He exists not for victory, it seems, but for battle. Countless reforgings brought on by his manic pursuit of vengeance have left him a shell of the man he once was- the father and the smith are now all but dead, and all that remains is the berserker. Fortunately for him, the Mortal Realms are vast, and enemies worthy of his mettle are always in supply... The storytellers call Brother Apollyon the Black Legionary, the Heart of Darkness, the Ninth, the Twice-Betrayed, the Lash, the True, the Empty, the Father, the Smith, the Voice of Arcadia. (The Children of Sigmar and the Reclamation Engines are not my creations. I took them from here: https://descentintochaos.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/children-of-sigmar/)

Randolph Carter

Randolph Carter

 

The Death Watch- Brother Teodoric

By the time of the End, the Bogomil line had ruled over Austrasia and its surroundings for almost four centuries.   A family of ferocious warriors, they had carved out their own domain in Ghyran by fire and by blood, ruling over their conquered and annexed territories with an iron sword. By the time of Iosephus Bogomil, late in the line, the Kingdom of Austrasia was large and rich, and had a dozen tributary states sending a count's ransom in gold and steel every year.   Iosephus was a hard man, and during his reign he waged a dozen wars on every one of his borders, leaving any rival warrior-kings slaves or refugees. He built a royal capital of magnificence and splendor he boasted could not be found outside of Azyr itself, bringing in Duardin and Aelf artisans from all across the Mortal Realms to adorn his palace. To reinforce his family's future, he sired thirty sons and countless daughters with his mistresses and concubines, watching and testing each in turn to see who would prove themselves worthy of his crown of iron. A sickly infant and a feeble-hearted boy, nobody expected Teodoric, his youngest, to amount to much. Perhaps, if he was lucky, one of his half-brothers or sisters would keep him as a court attendant and eunuch, once they ascended to Iosephus' throne. Even as he grew in poverty and fear, though, a stubborn fire burned in Teodoric's heart. He was crafty, ruthless and long-sighted, and by the time he was a man he was strong as well. One by one, his siblings underestimated him and paid the ultimate price, until he and his half-sister Callisto faced one another across the field of battle, even as their father watched from the ramparts of his castle. Callisto was a noted archer, and Teodoric knew that her pride in her skill with a bow was unlimited. He also knew that to face her in pitched battle would be to lose- she had three times his number in followers, and was like to carry the day in a test of arms. Instead, he challenged her to a test of shooting. The target was the Bogomil family crest, suspended from a window of the highest tower of Iosephus' palace. Standing not too far below the wall, they would have to arc an arrow so that it flew over the ramparts to a target they could barely see. Callisto shot first. One of her arrows only tore the fringes of the crest, but two buried themselves in the dead center. She turned and bowed, smirking, to Teodoric, knowing that he would be hard-pressed to do any better. He nodded and drew his bow back, aiming at the sky... and then shot three times in rapid succession. One arrow buried itself in Iosephus' throat, one in his eye and one in his chest. The dead king slumped over the side of the ramparts and the iron crown tumbled from his head to the ground far below. In the face of the stunned crowd Teodoric simply walked over, placing his father's crown on his head and proclaiming himself the winner of the test. Then, before both armies, he bent his knee and asked Callisto to be his queen and rule beside him. They were wed that night, and enthroned the next morning. For forty years after that, he ruled even more fiercely and benevolently than his father, and the kingdom flourished like never before. In his twenty-first year, he decided that 'king' was too unworthy a title and 'kingdom' too paltry for his realm. Henceforth, he would rule over the Austrasian Empire, and be known as Emperor and Law-Giver. His prowess in battle and unflinching rule lead to his being known as Teodoric, the Fist of Empire. It was only in his thirty-eighth year of rule that the troubles really began. The borders of Austrasia had been almost at peace since Iosephus' campaigns- but now a horde of the peoples he had conquered, tens of thousands strong, appeared, lead by an impossibly gaunt man calling himself the Withered King. At first, Teodoric treated this threat just as any other barbarian invader, but this was to be his undoing. The fell magics of the Plague God ruined armies with a wave of the hand and reduced castles to ruins overnight. Within weeks, the Withered King had campaigned to the borders of Austrasia proper, and Teodoric found himself hard-pressed. He called upon his counts and his stewards and raised an army equal in bravery if not in size to the enemy. He met them at a place called Verden, beneath the boughs of trees just beginning to turn gold. There, the Withered King met him in parley. Surrender to the Plague God, he promised, and Teodoric could keep Austrasia and whatever else he could conquer besides. But the warrior king only laughed. He would never truckle to another, he proclaimed, be it man or god. He was a warrior, the bearer of the Iron Crown, and he would rule or he would die. So be it, said his foe. As his army formed on the other side of the field, though, Teodoric noted that it was not made of the barbarian warriors he had expected but poxy, bloated corpses. At that moment the Withered King turned. "All is rot and all is ruin", he intoned, and the flesh fell from the enemy's bones, replaced by clouds of stinging, biting flesh flies. Teodoric's warriors were caught utterly unprepared. Enemies of sword and sinew they were masters of, and their priests had prepared to defend them against conjured plagues- but they had no defense against such a swarm.  They could only panic, and die- all but their leader. Protected by the ancient magics of the Iron Crown and fueled by the same stubborn determination that had gained it for him, he pressed forwards through the storm, weathering a dozen pestilential bites. In the heart of the black cloud, he met the Withered King in battle, striking out with his ancient spirit-sword Joyful, said to have been forged with a Seraphon bound inside and immune to the rust and rot of the Plague God. The King's shields of filth and excrement were like smoke against his fearsome blade, and he pressed on to cleave his foe right in twain. At the moment he did so, an inky-black miasma enveloped them both- and when it cleared, both were gone. In their wake was left nothing of the army of the Dark Gods, and only a few of Teodoric's mortal soldiers- and Joyful, still shimmering fiercely in the light of a dying sun. Victory was short-lived. Behind the horde of the Plague God came thousands upon thousands of marauders, ready to do with blade and bow what had not been done with rust and rot. But Teodoric's act had given his people time, time to prepare and time to fight back. Austrasia would fall, but not until almost two whole centuries more of fighting and bleeding and dying had come to a close. For his obvious strength at arms and courage of spirit, the warrior king was taken up by Sigmar from the pits of the Plague God, and reforged into a shining Stormcast for his eventual return to the Realms below... ------ The storytellers call Brother Teodoric the Fist of Empire, the Warrior King, Ruler of Austrasia, the Rising Emperor, the Unlikely, the Unifier, the Seventh, Bearer of the Iron Crown, Wielder of Joyous, the Withered King's Bane, the Law-Giver.

Randolph Carter

Randolph Carter

The Death Watch- Brother Paulus

Brother Paulus The Vale of Illyria, now a blasted ruin on the face of Ghur, was once the heartland of a vast and thriving civilization, ruling for a thousand years with honor and justice over many peoples and many cities scattered across three Mortal Realms. Its strength and prosperity came from its laws, its liberty, and the unmatched steel of its legions. Drawn from the citizenry itself, these swore unending faithfulness to Illyria's glorious Consuls, its Senate, and its people. During the last war against Chaos, though, Illyria was sore pressed, as its provinces fell into ruin and its great works were torn down until only the Vale itself remained unconquered.   Here the last of the great Legions, the Ninth, made its stand under the command of their general Horatio Paulus. He defended the Eagle Pass, the only route that an army of any size could take through the forbidding mountains. For three long months Paulus and his troops held off countless sorties by the armies of the Dark Gods in one brilliant tactical victory after another, forming an unbreachable bulwark against their advances. When they fell it was not to spears or arrows but basest treachery. A cult to the Dark Gods had long festered unseen in the depths of Illyria, and now it rose, setting brother against sister, Senator against Senator, Consul against Consul. In the confusion, someone poisoned the Ninth Legion's supply trains. In a night, the Legion fell victim to Nurglish rot. Only Paulus, the Valorous, who had been warned in a dream, was able to escape the fast-spreading contagion.   There is a place where the Eagle Pass reaches its highest, where the walls of the pass grow so thin that only one or two men can walk abreast. Here Paulus made his stand, swearing to die in defense of his people and his beliefs. As the sun rose higher in the sky, he slew first the raised corpses of his comrades, then the foot soldiers of the Enemy, then rank upon rank of demons, standing atop a growing pile of bodies. Finally the great demon Kalathraxx came forth. He praised Paulus' bravery and his skill at arms, offering him an eternity in Khorne's legions if he would but bend the knee.   Paulus only laughed. It was better to die as a citizen of Illyria than live a thousand years as a slave to the Dark Gods, he said, and challenged Kalathraxx to come forwards and know the measure of a true soldier and a true Citizen. The demon struck, blindingly fast and unthinkably strong, and Paulus was mortally wounded- yet even as he died he gouged Kalathraxx's left eye from its socket.   Thus did the last Centurion of Illyria die, in defense of a city and a people already all but destroyed. For his devotion to duty and his faith in his cause Sigmar took his soul and reforged him into a shining exemplar of his will. He was bestowed upon Steelios and the Death Watch, for Sigmar knew that while the Lord Castellant had wrath and righteousness in equal measure the purest alloy was made when these were tempered by duty and valor. From above, he rains death and destruction on the enemies of the God-King, and brings hope to the oppressed who find themselves beneath the shadow of his mighty wings.   ------   The storytellers call Brother Paulus the Victor, the Centurion, the Elder Soldier, the Avenger, the Eagle of Illyria, Sigmar's Lightning, the Angel of Blood, the Faithful Servant, the Prosecutor of Justice, the Falling Star, the Fourth, the Valorous, the Dutiful Warrior, the Marauder’s Bane, the Rewarded.    

Randolph Carter

Randolph Carter

The Death Watch- Sister Ilos

This entry begins a new series dedicated to the Death Watch, an elite Stormcast (and pseudo-Stormcast) task force dedicated to confronting and eliminating monstrous and unholy threats to the armies of the God-King Sigmar that otherwise might stymie a campaign or threaten the peace of the reclaimed Realms. Its members are hand-picked from among the Stormhosts for their thirst for battle, their proven reliability, and sometimes for the unique perspective they bring, perspectives which sometimes set them at odds with other, more conventional rank-and-file. They are united under the leadership of Lord Celestant Steelios, the Once-Forged, in bringing the end to Sigmar's many foes across the Mortal Realms, in destroying those who corrupt and undermine the works of the Free Peoples, in venturing onto battlefields and facing enemies beyond the reach of mortal Man. They are the messengers of ultimate sanction, the guardians on high, the eternal sentinels, the Death Watch. (Yes, the name and the concept are both closely derived from 40k. Sue me.) Every entry in this series will give the history of one of the members of the Watch, particularly what made them viable candidates for Reforging and how they've fit in with their fellow Stormcast and Watch Members since then. Sometimes there will be pictures either pre- or post-reforging, but this is by no means a guarantee- writing comes much more easily to me than painting, much as I'd prefer otherwise. Without further ado, then: Sister Ilos Sister Ilos was once part of the warrior-nobility of the Maidenhood of Druze, in Aqshy, those fabled Amazons who for uncounted centuries watched over the hills and mountains of their fiery realm. As the foremost swordswoman among their number, she was chief of the Infernal Guard that watched over the Palace of the Immortal Flame and the person of the Resplendent Empress herself. Members of the Infernal Guard are twice sworn to wed only duty- but Ilos had a great love for the Empress, and she for Ilos, and together they broke her vows in secret, telling none and letting the world see them only as mistress and servant. So it continued for many years, the world knowing nothing of what passed between the two. But that was before Chaos, and the End. In the Age of Downfall, when the armies of Chaos spilled across the land, the mountain fastnesses of the Druze were assaulted by the legions of Saalazab, the Teller of Secrets. They campaigned throughout the Druze lands until only the Palace of the Immortal Flame remained unconquered. Seven times the foul legions of the Teller of Secrets spilled forth, and seven times they were repulsed by the powerful sorceries of the Resplendent Empress. On the eighth time, Saalazab himself came out and engaged in a mighty sorcerous duel with the Empress. To counter her arcane fire he whispered truths that the mortal realm could not bear, each time shattering some of the fabric of reality. Yet each time, the Empress sealed the rifts and repelled her enemy, wounding him terribly with her conjured infernos. But Saalazab only smiled and shouted the truth of Ilos and the Empress' deeds out loud.   Empowered by this broken oath, his magic rent the Empress in twain, and his minions spilled into the throne room proper. He offered the surviving Infernal Guard a choice- serve Slaanesh, or die. Disheartened by Ilos' betrayal, they threw down their spears and joined the ranks of the Chaos host- all but her. She angrily proclaimed that since Saalazab had taken her lover and her honor from her, he could take her life as well.  He only laughed, shattering the floor of the palace and plunging her into the caldera it was built above. She was consumed utterly by the flame, and thus did the realm of Druze die at last. Even in her dying, though, Sigmar recognized the purity of her soul and snatched it away from the Prince of Pleasure's clutches, reforging her into a champion of His divine will.   As a Stormcast, Ilos is gripped by a passion that burns hotter than the fires that first killed her, and seeks out the enemies of the God-King with a bloodthirst that would make a Khornate blush. Thus there was never any question of the Stormhost or the Chamber she would come to serve in- only Steelios, master of the Death Watch, had the temperament and the audacity to make full use of her talents. Thus she became third of the Watch, following only Steelios and his right hand, Brother Decius, in battle-honors and time spent in Sigmar's service.   ------   The storytellers call Sister Ilos the Flameborne, the Unburnt, the Crowned, the Fearless, the Sword of Righteousness, the Tongue of Wrath, the Salamander, the Ever-Faithful, the Unbending Defender, the Infernal Guard, Handmaiden of the Empress, the Trinity, the Shield of Truth, the Thrice Sworn, the Unmasked.

Randolph Carter

Randolph Carter

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