Merry Christmas everyone and Happy Holidays! Today I wanted to bring you something a bit different to hopefully bring a bit of festive cheer. It is very much outside my comfort zone, but it was a nice exercise in writing for me and I hope it is a good read for you as well. Grab some Cocoa and a plate of cookies as you read my take on a Classic Tale of "A Christmas Carol" set in our favorite place, Warhammer Age of Sigmar. I present to you, A Sigmas Carol".
Sigmar glared out the window of Sigmaron his mighty fortress, watching the mortals below in Azyrheim move about the city. It had been almost seven years to the day since his return to The Mortal Realms and his war to recapture was still in its early stages. Looking at the Mortals below, however, Sigmar would never be able to tell there were mighty battles being fought throughout The Mortal Realms. Mortals and Demi-Gods alike where giving their lives to drive back Chaos, but below he saw Joy, Laughter, and Celebration, it irritated him.
"Humbug" Sigmar Growled with gritted teeth. "How can they Celebrate while we sit on a knife edge for survival against the denizens of Chaos?"
Sigmar knew the Mortals were creating a new tradition in honor of the first Lighting Strikes of Stormcast Eternals setting foot in The Realm of Fire. It was the eve of that mighty anniversary and one Sigmar saw as just another day with each passing year. The Mortals, Aelf, Duradin, and Human, chose to honor the day, and those leading up to it, with an event they called Sigmas. Sigmar didn't feel it was a good name at all, but it had stuck as the tradition began to take shape.
The Mortals would feast, exchange simple gifts, sing songs, and decorate every bit of space they could for the holiday and all sense of work ceased for a few days despite the war effort and its demands. As if on cue Sigmar heard a knock at the chambers might door.
Sigmar shook his head. It would be the Grungni asking permission for his Duardin smiths to partake of the festivities. Sigmar resisted this allowance every year prior. He needed his Stormcasts Reforged and their weapons honed by Grungni's smiths. War didn't end simply because of a silly holiday.
"Enter." Sigmar bellowed, but the door was already opening as The Duradin Smith-God strode purposefully toward him. Sigmar wasn't shocked by Grungni's forwardness, in fact, he very much liked this about him, but the sight of Grombrindal walking behind Grungni caught him off guard.
"You know why I am here Godling." Grungni said approaching Sigmar. "You have said no every year prior, but this year I will have my way!"
Sigmar sighed. "Without your smiths how will the army be reforged? What battles might we lose by taking part in this ridiculous tradition the Mortals have created."
"They created it in your honor!" Shouted Grombrindal before Grungni could stop him.
"I asked no such thing to be done. I asked for their support in the War against Chaos, not for this distraction." Sigmar responded cooly, tired of the played out argument.
Grungni stepped forward giving Grombrindal a sideways glance informing him to shut up. "Godling, you were Mortal once and you held traditions that I found silly, but they meant a lot to you and your people. Let them have this brief escape, they need it. Besides your armies are doing well and the souls returning from the field of battle have slowed to a crawl."
Sigmar sighed once more knowing to continue to resist was fruitless, shrugging he gave finally gave in. "Very well Grungni, let them have tonight and tomorrow off as the tradition has become."
Grungni smiled and began to leave, but Grombrindal held fast prompting Sigmar to raise an eyebrow inquisitively. "Is there something else?"
Grombrindal shifted from one foot to another uncomfortably for a moment. "Sigmar, my feasting hall is open tonight and I want to extend the warmth of my Hearth to you. Join us in celebration tonight."
Sigmar glared down at the Mighty Duradin Gormbindal shared a lot in common with Sigmar being from The World That Was and once being Mortal before coming to Godhood. However, their shared commonality would not persuade Sigmar. "While I allow this ridiculous tradition to grow it does not mean I like it in any way. Your offer is mighty, but I must refuse it as I hope to see this silliness become a memory in the future so we can focus on what matters. Defeating Chaos is the only thing that should be on our minds."
Grombrindal scowled clenching his fists dangerously. "Fine, do as you please." Growled the Duradin as he stormed out.
Sigmar saw a sadness in Grungni's eyes as the pair left, but it was no matter. Defeating Chaos was all that mattered. He turned back to the window as Celestial Snow began to fall. There would be a storm this night.
As night fell on Azryheim Sigmar brooded over the war table in his chamber, plans forming in his mind in his War on Chaos. A noise from behind caught Sigmars attention and he whirled around to face the unknown intruder but froze upon seeing who it was that stood before him.
"Forgive my intrusion." Whispered the Ghost of Karl Franz. The ghost stood there obviously weary.
"How are you here? You died defending Altdorf millenniums ago as my spirit entered your Mortal form that fateful day." Sigmar replied attempting to hide his shock.
"Just as you held on to the last remnant of our dead world so to did I cling to you and my old body. I am of your lineage after all. I have come to deliver a message." The ghost said.
"What would that message be?"
"Tonight you will be visited by three spirits. Heed their wisdom. To not do so would mean victory for Chaos and the death of another world."
"I will win this war against Chaos have not doubt, my armies will prevail!"
"Have caution Might Sigmar. No all battles are on physical and not all worlds lost can be clung to. Heed their message to save us all." The ghost of Karl Franz pleaded before fading away into the darkness.
The hours passed and Sigmar let the conversation with his dead descendant pass from his mind. A bell tolled from the city below and a sudden gust of wind blew open a large window in the Chamber scattering papers from his War table and letting Celestial Snow blow about the room. Sigmar walked over to shut them back up but was stopped by the first messenger The Ghost of Karl Franz promised would come.
"And just who are you to make such a frigid entrance into my warm hall?" Sigmar growled as he closed the window with a slam.
"Come now, you do not recognize me? It has been years beyond counting since you thought of me, but I thought you would know me." The messenger replied as two ghostly wolves appeared from behind the figure.
"Ulric?" Sigmar said with awe.
"Whats left of me. It is taking all my will to cling to this form after what that Aelf did, but I come to bring you a message and guide you as I once did when you worshipped me as a Mortal." Ulric said flatly. "Come, time is short for me to give you this message. Take my hand."
Sigmar complied. Still shocked to see his long-dead god before him. As their hands touched the windows burst open once again letting the Celestial Snow envelop the pair. Soon all Sigmar could see what the blind whiteness of the Celestial Snow.
Suddenly Sigmars Vision cleared and he was standing in the center of a bustling city. Sigmar did not know the city well, but he knew which city he was in.
"Altdorf...but how?" Sigmar gaped at the buildings all covered in fresh snow from the night below.
"You ask far too many questions Son of Bjorn." Ulric replied. "This is the past, before The End Times."
"Why bring me here?"
Ulric simply pointed toward a group of people gathered in the square.
The pair walked over to see why the group had gathered. A royal wagon from the palace was handing out ale and roasted meat to the men and women, and small toy swords to the children. Sigmar watched as two young boys played Knight and Orc. They battled fiercely shouting the names of Sigmar and Reiksguard as they went about. The child playing the Orc dropped his guard for a moment and took the wooden sword to the army causing a slight bruise to begin forming. Sigmar knelt down to heal the wound instinctively, but as he reached for the child his arm passes through him.
"It is a vision Sigmar. We cannot interact with this world." Ulric instructed.
As Sigmar stood he was once again whisked away by Snow to discover he was in a new location. Sigmar froze being overwhelmed by memories and emotions. It was the home of his birth, The home of The Umberogen Tribe. Sigmar said nothing as he had no words for what he saw. The one women he ever truly loved was walking past him singing to herself. Ravenna was her name and due to a cruel twist of fate she was killed before Sigmars eyes in the past, but here she was whole and alive.
Sensing his thoughts Ulric spoke. "It is well before her death."
Sigmar watched as she busied herself with her task. She was wrapping different items in some simple cloth on a table outside her home. Once complete she carried door to door offering them as a gift to celebrate the coming of winter.
"She celebrates a holiday Son of Bjorn. Or is that a bit ridiculous?" Ulric Mocked.
"I-I was unable to prevent her death." Sigmar stammered.
"This isn't about death Sigmar, it's about life. She the joy she spreads and how the gifts she freely gives is lifting the burdens of those around her. There is still battles being fought, but this moment is what makes those battles worth the fight." Ulric said.
Ravenna turned suddenly and for a moment appeared to lock eyes with Sigmar and offer a smile, but as she walked toward him she passed through him as if he was a spirit to who she was really looking at, her brother.
"Take me home spirit. Your message is delivered." Sigmar demanded not taking his eyes off Ravenna.
"So be it son of Bjorn." Ulric stood still as snow whipped up around the pair to take them away.
Sigmar was alone in his chamber as the snow vanished from sight. He sat down with his head in his mighty hands.
Sigmar recovered himself quickly as the next hour or so passed, but he tensed as the bell tolled below once more. He stared at the window waiting for the next messenger. After a few moments, he let his body relax. Perhaps his ordeal was over. As he turned to go sit next to the roaring fire in his chamber he saw an unfamiliar Duradin standing by the fire.
"Are you the next messenger? You seem more corporal then the others." Sigmar questioned.
"Aye manling. I am. While I look whole I can assure you I am as dead as the others. The name is Bugman." The Duradin offered Sigmar a mug full of ale.
"My thanks." Sigmar said taking the mug and quaffed a mouthful. As he did the world began to spin
until all became blackness.
When Sigmar awoke he was in a great hall where feasting and merriment filled the atmosphere.
"Welcome to Grombrindal's feasting hall," Bugman said as he sampled a bit of ale from a discarded mug spitting it out. "Weak..."
Sigmar looked around to see all of Grungni's Smiths filling their bellies with Ale and Meat. There was a roaring hearth and sat by it was Grombrindal looking as sour as ever. He sipped on a mug staring into the fire.
"Why does he appear so Bugman? What has caused him to be so isolated when surrounded by so many others?" Sigmar asked.
"There is very few here who share his struggles and the one who could share his connection with has decided not to attend the feast," Bugman replied.
"It is me, isn't it?" Sigmar said already knowing the answer. This was no trip to the past, but the present happenings going on within his very realm.
Sigmar watched Grombrindal as he shut himself off from those around him becoming more and more irritated by the festivities around him. Festivities he was trying to embrace.
"If the present course continues then this festival will die as you wish, but so will some of the spark that keeps all these Duradin going." Bugman stated.
Sigmar kept staring at Grombrindal realizing for the first time how the stubborn old Duradin sought to connect with his past in any way he could and how Sigmar had been killing that past for The White Dwarf.
Bugman offered Sigmar another mug of Ale and without thought, Sigmar gulped another mouthful. The world spun and Sigmar awoke back in his chamber with no sign of the Bugman other than a barrel of Ale labeled with XXXXX.
Sigmar sat in silence waiting for the bell to toll from below once more and bring him the third and final messenger. As the bell peeled its notes darkness enveloped the room that event the roaring fire could not push back. A tall figure in black robes, wielding a scythe in one hand and an hourglass filled with ash in the other while a raven perched on his shoulder.
"You have come. Let's get this over with Morr." Sigmar said exhaling.
The spirit said nothing as he transported them through the darkness to their destination. After an eternity of darkness, they stood in the streets of Azryheim. People trudged through the snow filled streets hurrying to their destinations wearing grim faces and saying little if nothing to others they passed. The air was filled with brooding that weighed heavy on Sigmar. Celestial Snow fell from above, but its presence felt as if it was closing in on them.
"What has them in this state? Have we lost the war is Chaos winning?" Sigmar asked.
The spirit shook his head and pointed toward Sigmaron up above. Mounted to the great fortress was four heads of the mightest daemons Sigmar had ever seen. One representing each of the Chaos Gods. Above them, all staked on the wall was the body of Archaon himself as dead as the others.
"Have we won? Are we winning the war? Why is everyone so sullen? Show me someone who is happy about this I beg you!" Sigmar pleaded.
The spirit complied and took them outside of Sigmars chamber in Sigmaron. The door was open and Sigmar could see his future self-smiling as he overlooked the scene of people below, oblivious to their downturned mood.
"Does he not see that his people suffer despite these mighty victories?" Sigmar asked. "Who has sapped their joy?"
The spirit of Morr simply pointed at Sigmar, but not his future self, but at him directly.
"Me, but how? Defeating Chaos is my goal and there should be cheering in the streets at all fo this!" Sigmar shouted.
Morr wrapped them in darkness taking them to the great hall of reforging. Before him, Sigmar saw the Smiths reforging Stormcast at a rate that would exhaust even his mighty form. He strode out of the smithy to the chamber beyond he saw row after row of countless Stormcast reforged and ready for the next battle, but they were as machines. Each one was entirely void of emotion and presence due to countless reforging. On the far side of the hall, Sigmar saw a portal they were marching through directly to the realm of Chaos. The Stormcast where throwing themselves unendingly at the Chaos Gods very Realms only to be sent back, reforged, and march forth to do the same again in what seemed like only minutes. The cycle was unending and horrible to behold.
"How am I any better than them." Sigmar whispered. He was shocked that he had become that which he hated so much and his future self-appeared to be happy about it all. Relishing in his victory, but taking the very heart from those he fought to save.
"I do not wish to see any more spirit! Take me back! Sigmar beggingly shouted. The spirit did as he wished and Sigmar fell into darkness as he continued to shout to be free of this vision.
Sigmar awoke sitting bolt upright with sweat running rivulets down his head. He threw himself out of bed running to the window to see Celestial snow covering the city reflecting back the glow from Mallus. He dressed and ran out of his chamber grabbing the Barrell Bugman had left him the night before. He paused only as he saw Grungni ahead of him in one of the mighty halls.
"Grungni, what day is this?" Sigmar asked.
"Much to your displeasure it is Sigmas Day. I am off to talk Grombrindal out of his insane plan to launch a new campa-" Grungni said being cut off.
"Where is he?" Sigmar demanded.
"Still in his Feasting Hall, I am told." Grungni barely gave the answer before Sigmar set off.
"Have Sigmaron's entry chamber opened and invite all in for a drink, food, and merriment!" Sigmar shouted back as he headed to Grombrindal's hall without knowing if he was heard or not.
Sigmar ran on still carrying the barrel until he came upon his target. He took a few breaths and entered. Before him, he saw Grombrindal, the Smiths, and countless other Duradin surrounds Grombrindal in full battle gear.
"What is the matter Sigmar?" Grombrindal demanded.
Sigmar looked at the Duradin and smiled. "It is Sigmas day and I have this ale. I need friends to help me drink it if they are willing."
Grombrindal shifted uncomfortably as he did before, but this time he cracked a smile and let out a laugh and shouted. "The campaign is off until that barrel is empty at the very least! "Merry Sigmas one and all! "
I hope you enjoyed my attempt at an Age of Sigmar Twist on a Holiday Classic. Happy Holidays Everyone! Until Next time, Happy Hobbying!
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