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NIGHTHAUNT: The Garrison Of Nacht'Tor This thread is a dedicated painting and hobby log for my nighthaunt procession. The army is split into three main portions, the Shade-Host, the Garrison, and the Dutchy. This thread was created years ago and so it is now under construction to reflect the refined lore for my army. A DOOR TO THE UNDERWORLD In the realms of Ghyran, on the north western frontier, is the budding free city of Fendale. The bustling city arose within the ever mist shrouded Shade Fen. In the midst of this fen exists a minor realm gate to the Realm of Life's antithesis , Shyish. Twisted vines and dark flowers cover an arch of stone that some argue was a natural formation while others suggest it was raised by someone in the Age of Myth. Regardless of the truth, this minor gate offers a direct connection with other mortal kingdoms in the Amethyst realm and the exchange of goods and cultures that comes with it. While the gate can only allow five or six men to march abreast, it is large enough to allow the passage of wagons and riders. This fact quickly saw the outpost settlement built nearby to grow and thrive into the current Free City of Fendale. The dangers of living on a gateway to death itself was not lost on the founding pioneers. The realm gate exists deep in the moors of the Shade Fen, which has caused the city of Fendale to build causeways to the gate. In the early days of settling incursions from Shyish were rare but serious, and a stalwart family of noble bearing took it upon themselves to secure the gateway as well as the potential profits that controlling the Shyish side of the gate could entail. The family Holsstok led the expedition into Shyish to raise the castle of Nacht'Tor. For generations the keep stood upon grey hills surrounded by the deep and haunted moors that stretch out for leagues to the south and east, and a dark highland to the north and west. Rumor suggested the endless expanse of wood that merges into the moor was called The Harrowmark by those who live there. Reports of Outriders into the highlands told of burrowing beasts and countless undead, as well as an endless march of skeletal undead off toward what they deemed the edges of the Amethyst Realm. Trade with sky ships from The Harrowmark, as well as other dotted mortal kingdoms and even some Skeletal Lords, proved to be extremely lucrative. This enriched both the Holsstok family and the Free City of Fendale beyond the gate in Ghyran. Likewise, the goods traveling into Shyish could potentially have turned the tide for the people of The Harrowmark or the highlands to the north, yet the attentions of Nagash would be drawn to the keep and the Free People's intrusion. While the existence of Nacht'Tor and the Free People flowing into Shyish had not escaped notice, their machinations were paltry and mortal affairs in comparison to the larger game. If it were not for the gateway being used by Sigmar's agents to infiltrate the realm of Shyish as the Black Pyramid came closer to completion, Nacht'Tor might have escaped the judgement of Nagash. Unfortunately, the family of Holsstok bore the Twin Tailed Comet of Sigmar upon their crests, and no agent of the God-King would be denied passage through their gates. Vangaurd Hunter raids on the skeletal processions, seers and agents probing Shyish looking into Nagash's activities, and in some cases chambers of Stormcast marching through the gate of Nacht'Tor brought upon the castle and the Holsstoks, Nagash's justice. THE DOOM OF NACHT'TOR Nagash sent from the north a skeletal legion to lay siege to the castle. Though they were large in numbers, the rattling legion of the wight king who had been sent to seize the gate had little in the way of magical or monstrous support. The Holsstok Outriders reported to their Lord, the Duke Aldrik of the approaching army yet they were confident. The castle had staved off ambitious necromancers, dark creatures of Dark Moor and incursions from the Harrowmark in the past. The walls and corridors of Nacht'Tor were spell warded against the infiltration of geists and other spirits by the Duke and his mage circle. Spurred by this confidence, the duke's son Marquess Arnold Holsstok roused the riders of Nacht'Tor to go out and meet the enemy in the open highlands before their horses would be useless amid the moors immediately around the castle. With Lord Aldrik remaining behind to hold the castle in his old age and with spell instead of blade, the Knight-Hosts of Nacht'Tor sallied to meet the over matched skeletal forces approaching from the northern highland plains. No sooner had the riders of Nacht'Tor cleared the foothills and tangled mire of Dark Moor, did beasts and creatures of the night detach themselves from the twisted limbs of swampy trees. Vile flesh eaters, dead walkers, and winged things bristling of fur and boney growths launched an assault against the walls of Nacht'Tor directly from the mire. Despite this treachery, a few brave men with good positions can hold against larger and more fearsome foes. The guns of Nacht'Tor roared, and the Einhundert Greatswords held the walls with a tenacious will. The Duke Aldrik scoured the walls clean of climbing creatures with spell and word while upon the plains Marquess Arnold drove his men deep into the skeletal lines. The weight of their charge crushed bone and scattering ranks of the dead like leaves before the wind. The young Holsstok was a proud and ambitious young man, and only the sounds of the guns coming from Nacht'Tor slowed their headlong rush. He was brash, but no fool, and the Knight-Host of Nacht'Tor cut their way clear of the scattered deathrattle to ride hard back to the castle, its realm gate, and his father. The Einhundert slew ghouls and beasts by their hundreds, but gaps allowed beasts and other dark things to slip over the walls of Nacht'Tor. In the great hall riders being dispatched through the realm gate to warn Fendale and request reinforcement were pulled violently from their saddle, and dark creatures instead began issuing into Ghyran. The Castellan and his wardens sounded the horns to draw the attention of Duke Aldrik and his Einhundert. Brave freemen bearing Holsstok colors littered the ramparts the survivors were forced to fall back to the inner curtain wall as the Einhundert rushed back to secure the gate and reinforce the faltering wardens. The battle on the inner wall was as ferocious as it had been on the outer walls, as the much reduced garrison of Nacht'Tor had less wall to hold. The handguns and pistols of the defenders had long since run dry of ammunition, and it fell to halberd and blade to win the day. The final doom though had not yet come. Young Arnold's host met ambush and rearguard of the half dead hosts assailing his family's keep, yet the Knight-Host rode through them as if fired from a cannon. The outriders and Knights of the Holsstoks took wild glee in both the hunt and the thunder of hooves. Half starved cannibal beasts did little to slow their stampede home. Some were pulled from their horses to die or fight alone amid the moor, but most drove directly into the dark trails surrounding the keep to hunt the leaders of the rabid foe. Rising from the frenzied enemy the Courtiers of the flesh eating mob screamed challenge, with gruesome pennants that were mockeries of the black and gold of the Holsstoks own colors. A wild eyed beast who fancied itself a debauched king charged to meet the young Marquess, and the battle spilled all across the mirky paths of the Dark Moor. Within the castle, swarms of the craven seemed to thin and the men of Nacht'Tor dared hope they had weathered the storm. Yet into the courtyard strode rank and file of skeletal soldiers, remnants of the forces that had been arrayed upon the highland plain, and among them were two gnarled figures in amethyst robes bearing cloth covered mirrors. From his place at the door to the High Hall where the realm gate stood, Duke Aldrik was too slow to see the doom. Drawing back the coverings and raising the mirrors high the necromancers dashed them upon the courtyard stones with a soul chilling shriek. The wave of released geists and hungering spirits had been carried past the carefully crafted wards, and so flowed through the defenders in a rush. Hands gripped the hafts of halberds so tightly the knuckles popped as men died breathless and unable to even defend themselves. Duke Aldrik warded himself and those who remained of the Einhundert, but the swirl of spirit hosts plucked men from his defenses and dragged them screaming into swirling green light. The doom of Nacht'Tor had come, and the Duke Holsstok of Nacht'Tor and his Einhundert champions fought to the last gasp trying to reach the gate back to Ghyran, back to life itself. Though defeated he would not go quietly into death however, and with his last strength Aldrik cast one last bolt of arcane power into the key stone of the realm gate. Chunks of ancient mortar and stone flew from the arching passage between worlds. With a sickening crack and the feeling of chill air rushing past, all the fires of Nacht'Tor were snuffed out and the windows of the castle went dark for the first time in so many generations. Of the very few soldiers of Nacht'Tor who had escaped the doom into Ghyran, none could say what happened to young Arnold and his mounted host as they dueled the cannibal courts amid the misted woods of Dark Moor. All that the Free City of Fendale would know is that the gate to Shyish was sealed, and none from the keep nor any expedition that had gone that way would return. AS IT IS NOW When the realms were rocked by the Necroquake, the connection in the Shade Fen seemed to stutter to life. On particularly dark nights, the mists would rise from the undergrowth of the Shade Fen, and the ancient doorway would hiss and shudder before waning open like a soup bubble brought to existence in its thresh hold. It would take some time before any gate wardens or other brave or foolish souls would dare crossing that door way. They spent multiple cycles mapping out the patterns in its openings and closings before making the crossing. Those that crossed found a dead and ruined keep, the pennants and accoutrements of the Holsstoks longs since rotted away. The gateways of the keep remained intact, though the great doors and portcullises were shattered and their remains strewn about. The land about the forsaken place remained as it was remembered. Some claim they have seen apparitions of men still standing sentry upon the walls. Other wild eyed survivors survivors of larger expeditions lost through the gate claim they were assailed by an entire garrison of spirits as they passed the gateway, trapped behind ghostly doors and portcullises made of bramble and dead wood. Now the women of Fendale tell the tale of Nacht'Tor and the curse upon the Holsstoks. They say they are forever bound to garrison the gateway between Ghyran and Shyish, trapped in an eternal and desperate siege of their home where they fight imagined foes in their desperate last memories of life, to die again and again upon the ramparts of the cursed keep. They tell of the Marquess Curse to forever ride to the aid of his father and to always arrive just late. They speak of the ruined and fallow temple to Alarielle that stood in the keep, and of the tormented spirits of her devoted who had tended that place. The shadowy keep on the other side of the Shade Fen, is a story to frighten children in the Free City of Fendale, and one to frighten the most stalwart defenders upon the ramparts. THE SHADE FEN On the Ghyran side of the realm gate is a sprawling wetland known as the Shade Fen. This lowland forest is often shrouded in mists and is darker and more oppressive than other such locations in the realm of life. Early settlers commented that it was as if there was a dark force or influence over the region. Later pioneers would discover the realm gate to Shyish, and gate Wardens would conclude that the energies of death itself leaking into the realm of life was twisting the wood and swamp of the area. While the land isn't plagued or riddled with death, it is a dark fen full of decay as is the nature of such wetlands. On the inward side of the fen, is where the once outpost, now free city of Fendale now stands tall. Mages and Wardens have since overseen the construction of causeways and trails through the fen to the gateway. Those trails and their construction would be the prototype of what would later be created on the Shyish side by the Holsstoks. This breakthrough in taming sections of the fen for civilization would not have been possible without the aid of a resident sylvaneth grove. The dour tree spirits and aelven rangers allied with them were content to aid the budding city so long as the old aelven ruins on the outward side of the fen were left to their keeping. THE DARK MOOR On the Shyish side of the realmgate is what locals have always known as the Dark Moor. This region of Shyish was always more full of life, though twisted it might have been, which drew in dozens of mortal tribes and even small cities to its edges. The southern side of the Dark Moor blends almost seamlessly into an never ending wood known as the Harrowmark, while to the north and west the lands slope up into highland plains. The entire Dark Moor is then cradled on the east and north by a ridge of bleak mountains, and it is on one of the lowest of these hills that the gate into Ghyran sits. From this hill is where the expedition of the Holsstoks arrived and constructed their keep directly over the gateway itself, which was a near twin of the one in Ghyran. The magical break throughs in the Shade Fen allowed the mage circles and wardens of Duke Aldrik to carve stable paths through the Dark Moor and even into the edges of the Harrowmark. These roads and causeways were held together by Waystones and secured by the tireless patrols of the Holsstok Knight-Host. This lead to a flourishing of civilization in and around the Dark Moor. When the gate failed at the hand of Duke Aldrik during the fall, the Dark Moor descended into an even darker and oppressive nature. Cutoff from the winds of life from Ghyran, the Moor and the surrounding lands withered. Countless villages and small towns once protected by the Knight-Host fell into ruin, their occupants killed or driven off. Some towns and villages still cling to the Moor, and with the reopening of the gate after the necroquake, some flicker of hope has returned to the region. Expeditions from Ghyran have begun again, and trade has started to resume with Fendale on the otherside, though fitful.