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Found 19 results

  1. Hey all, I'm Arvandus and I do short stories and lore videos on various Miniature games properties. I have done some Malifuax and Warmachine but my main focus has been Age of Sigmar since I am such a huge fan of the setting. If your interested, please check out my latest video on the Ironjawz! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDT_7nTiuXA&t=237s
  2. In which a storm in Ghur drives a traveler off his path and into the sanctuary of a far-flung church of Sigmar... The sound of thunder rattled the windows of the small church. Outside, rain relentlessly lashed its exterior, spattering off the old stones like bullets from a Freeguilder’s musket. Kneeling in prayer at the altar, the priest did his best to shut out the noise of the storm. He muttered his catcheisms as flashes of lightning illuminated the interior of the sacred space. As far as temples to Sigmar went, it was hardly the largest or the most illustrious, but its robust stonework had kept it standing out here in the wilds for long enough, and its simple construction and lack of adornment belied the faith it nurtured among the few who passed through its doors. A loud banging, different from the raging noise of the storm, shook the priest from his faithful reverie. The old man narrowed his eyes as the thumping on the front door of the chapel paused for a moment then continued again. He rose wearily to his feet, trying to ignore the pain in his back and the popping in his knees. In truth, he was probably too old for a role like this, a missionary priest in the hinterlands tending to the few faithful, but where else was he to go? With a grunt, he stood fully and began moving cautiously down the aisle, stalking past the rough-hewn wooden pews to the door. It did not do to rush. Even here, in the areas of Ghur purportedly under the control of Sigmar and his mortal allies, there were untold dangers that abounded on the lonely roads, and not all of them were beasts. The banging continued incessentantly as the priest finally reached the door. He paused for a moment, breathing deeply, and listened, trying to ignore the raging storm without. “Open up! In the name of Sigmar open the door please,” a muffled voice rang through the wood, “I’m fit to drown out here!” The priest paused for a second. It sounded human enough. That was no clear indicator of intention, mind. He hesitated a moment more then shook his head. Was he not a priest? Was this not his duty? To tend to the needy and tired that walked these roads. He could not turn his back on that through simple fear. With a weary sigh, he unlatched the bar that held the heavy door shut and swung it open. The rain and wind surged in, driving the priest back a step. A flash of lightning and once more the rumble of thunder quickly followed, and, as if urged on by the noise, a man tumbled through, sodden and panting. His long leather coat was soaked from the rain and the hat he wore was drooped low, though not enough to hide a narrow, weather-beaten face and a pair of piercing green eyes. “My thanks, father.” The stranger’s voice, while undoubtedly that of a Ghurite, was cultured and lacked the more guttural tone so common among the denizens of this realm. “The storms of Ghur are no laughing matter I must say.” The old priest struggled the door back close, shutting out the wrath of the weather and bringing a modicum of peace back to the chapel. He turned then and cast an appraising eye over the newcomer soaking the rough stone floor of his chapel. The stranger was a tall, handsome man, with noble, dark-skinned features bearing the telltale cast of a native of Ghur. Though his coat and clothes were worn, it was clear, even in the soft candlelight illuminating the chapel, that they were well-made, expensive even. An unadorned sword hilt emerged from the fold of the coat, matching in general the well-made yet functional attire of the man. The priest narrowed his eyes a bit at the sight of the weapon, but he made no move one way or another. In truth, if the storm-tossed stranger had wanted to hurt him, he would’ve been dead the moment he opened the door. Few thieves and murderers in Ghur were subtle creatures. The man looked at him, noticing the appraisal. “I’m sorry father, my apologies. Pieter van Detler, at your service.” The well-dressed man doffed his hat, spilling some water on the floor and he grimaced, “Again, my apologies. In truth, you are a lifesaver this fine night.” The priest smiled. “It is no problem, my friend. What is any church of Sigmar for, if not to provide succor for those in need?” The priest’s voice was thin and weary, though there was an undercurrent of steel there, the will of the faithful, that was impossible to avoid. It was easy for Pieter to imagine the old man, despite his wrinkled appearance and rough-spun robes, extolling the praises of Sigmar in some sermon. “A fine attitude father and one I wished more of us faithful shared. It was a stroke of good fortune that I stumbled upon your chapel. I had not realized there was much call for the word of Sigmar in these parts.” “Oh,” the priest replied, almost bashfully, “it’s about what you would expect these days. But there is a need. The light of Sigmar shines where it will.” He began to move back down the aisle towards the altar as he talked, exposing his back to Pieter for a moment. The old man waited to feel the shock of the blade driven into his back, but it did not come. He smiled. A decent man then, that was lucky. The newcomer cast his eye across the chapel. Simple pews, carved from thick, dark wood, stood in neat rows down the length of the building, leading up to the altar stone at the front. Iron sconces held a plethora of lit candles that brought their dim illumination to the room. Pieter looked at the priest, who had a simple, rugged air that matched the building itself. He was an observant man and he noted, rather offhandedly, that the priest moved with a strength and poise that his old frame hid well. A warrior-priest then. At least once. “What brings you to “these parts” then, my friend? Surely you have a good reason to be abroad on a night like this.” The priest settled into a pew, gazing forward at the altar in front of him. “Of course, father. Of course.” Pieter sidled down the aisle after the priest, still dripping water. With a quiet squelch, he lowered himself into the opposite pew, taking a moment to make the sign of the hammer as he looked at the altar as well. Much like the rest of the temple, it was a relatively rough thing, as would be expected, with a hammer and lightning bolt made of fine wood sitting atop a rough block of stone. Candles were lit around it, casting everything in a soft light. There was an undoubtable rustic charm to it all that Pieter could appreciate, even drenched and cold from the still raging storm. Could do without the shadows though, he thought idly, always better for these temples to be lit, especially on a lonely, weather-beaten road such as this. Still, any port in a storm. He looked over at the wizened features of the chapel’s attendant. “I am on a mission from Sigmar, as it were.” “Is that so, my friend?” The priest said, turning his head to face his guest. “A mighty claim, if ever there was one. It is good to know that I am not the only servant of Sigmar at work in this region.” He chuckled softly. Pieter smiled in return and flipped back one of the folds of his coat, revealing a small gold pin that gleamed in the candle glow. Lightning flashed, briefly casting the priest’s concerned face in stark light. “The Order of the Azyr?” The old man’s voice was hushed. The truly mortal templars of Sigmar were a rare breed and, even though they worked for the God-King, their presence rarely boded well, for it meant great evil was afoot. “Indeed,” said Pieter, almost wearily, “the Order of the Azyr.” He saw the concern in the priest’s face and raised a gloved hand in a calming gesture. “Nothing to worry you, father, or any of the faithful of Sigmar.” “That is good, my friend,” the priest said, though the tension was not completely gone from his voice, “though undoubtedly your purpose in this region is a dark one.” “I’m afraid so,” Pieter said, frowning for the first time since he entered the chapel. Nothing more was forthcoming as he looked back to the altar. Thunder rumbled and lightning flared once more, illuminating the altar. The candles in the church flickered for a second, as if caught in a draft. The priest looked back at the door, but it was firmly sealed. A draft. Unsurprising. As old as it was, the temple itself wasn’t completely weatherproof. He turned to face the templar again. The younger man was still staring at the altar contemplatively. Silence filled the church, broken only by the noise of the storm continuing to batter at the walls. “Father,” said Pieter softly, breaking the relative quiet, “do you ever have doubts?” “Doubts?” “Yes, doubts. In Sigmar. In his purpose, the mission, the ability to actually reunite the disparate peoples of the mortal realms.” “No, I do not,” the priest smiled wanly. “I served in the armies of Sigmar’s faithful, many years ago. I saw the passion there. The hope. I saw the Stormcasts. You cannot doubt Sigmar’s purpose when those warriors fight alongside you.” “That’s fair, father,” Pieter straightened up, “it’s just so much sometimes. How can one man, one god as it were, handle all of this?” He swept his hand out and though he only gestured around the temple, the meaning was clear. “His reach is far, friend. You know that as well as I do. Even here his light shines upon us.” It was a bland turn of phrase, but a common and comforting one. The priest smiled, evidently pleased with his ministrations, and leaned back into the pew. “Indeed,” Pieter replied, “after all, you are here are you not? It’s a bold posting, though perhaps not surprising for a man of your years and experience, Father Reichenbold.” The priest tensed a little, but did not move much. “You know my name?” Reichenbold’s voice was slightly softer now, more cautious. “Father, please,” Pieter shrugged, “did you honestly expect that the Order of the Azyr would send one of its own abroad without letting them know the name of a potential ally in the area? That being said, it was fortune that led me to your door, I was completely lost in that storm.” “Ah well, that does make sense, my friend.” Reichenbold rolled his shoulders and looked up at the altar. “It is a rough place, to be sure, but I find it fulfilling. In many ways, it feels simpler out here, easier to connect with the people than it does back in Azyr.” “I can only imagine,” the witch hunter said cheerfully, “I’ve never stayed overlong in Azyr, though I dearly wished to. Loved the stars.” He sighed before continuing, “Native of Ghur myself, that’s why the Order sent me here for this.” There was another pause, letting the noise of the storm filter in. “And what is this, my friend?” the priest inquired after a moment. The younger man said nothing for a moment, fixing his gaze on the altar. “Murders, father, foul murders. A large number too,” Pieter’s voice was free of any levity, cold and severe. Gone was the more salubrious behavior of only a few moments before. “Travelers missing and some pilgrims gone. They’re what got the eye of my superiors. Protecting Sigmar’s faithful is always our priority, even out here.” “I’ve heard of no murders?” There was genuine concern in Reichenbold’s voice. “Ah, that is the problem. They’ve been quiet, subtle, extremely dangerous. We would never have known were it not for the fact that one of those pilgrims happened to be an old friend of the Grand Theogonist herself. When she failed to arrive in the Azyr two weeks ago, higher powers took notice. I’ve been on the hunt ever since.” “Terrible,” Reichenbold said, “It’s hard enough out here without some foul cult at work. If I had only known, I would’ve tried to do something.” “A cult, yes,” the templar said absentmindedly. He shook his head and continued, “Not surprising you would want to help, father, considering your service. One of the heroes of Mountenbach Ford, are you not? The Astral Templars themselves honored your fellows and you after that battle, if I don’t miss my mark. High praise, the Stormcast give it to us regular mortals so rarely.” “That was a long time ago, my friend.” “A long time ago, but I bet you could still swing your hammer with skill if need be? Pity that these murderers only have to face me, rather than your wrath, even in your retirement.” The priest chuckled. “You’re too kind. Though I could still swing the hammer, I will admit. A necessary skill in Ghur, even in... retirement.” “Of course,” said Peiter, sitting up. “Tell me father, what were they like? The Astral Templars, that is. I’ve not had the chance to meet one yet.” The priest nodded. His eyes lit up and he gestured excitedly with his hands. “Amazing, my friend. Stunning. The God-King’s will made manifest, clad in gold and full of the storm’s fury.” The thunder rumbled outside and lightning flared again, as if in acknowledgement. Pieter whistled, easing back in the pew and staring up at the ceiling of the chapel. “Imagine that.” The two men sat in silence for a while longer, Pieter looking up at the rafters, Father Reichenbold looking ahead at the altar, occasionally casting furtive glances at his guest. “The Astral Templars are clad in purple.” The witch hunter’s voice was cold and severe again. The priest grunted in response. “Ah, of course they are. My old mind forgets these things. They were indeed giants in purple armor.” “And the battle where they honored Father Reichenbold was Turtleshell Ford. There is no such place as Mountenbach.” The priest was silent. Thunder rumbled. “Are you going to lie about forgetting that too?” “Father Reichenbold” rose to his feet, his knees popping, though the look on his face betrayed little pain. Pieter rose as well and the two men faced one another in front of the altar. “No, I think there’s no point in that petty indulgence.” Gone was any genial tone in the priest’s voice, replaced instead by that underlying steel. “Good. I dislike pretences, despite my profession.” Pieter’s hand drifted to his sword. “And where is the real Father Reichenbold?” The priest chuckled darkly, shifting his hands within the flow of his rough robes. “Dead for months. I drained his body of blood and buried him behind the chapel.” The priest gestured lazily past the altar. “If it makes you feel any better, he was a fighter to the end. I appreciated that. So did my god.” “Did you honestly think no one would notice?” Pieter’s voice was calm, his hand now firmly upon the hilt of his sword, though he did not draw the blade. “Honestly?” The priest responded, “I really did not. Your Sigmar is weak, templar. He betrayed these realms, cast them aside and sealed himself away and let the darkness take us all. Even now, even with his vaunted heroes and his “devoted” servants, his light falters. It has no place here, that much is for sure.” “And yet here I am, a Ghurite, fighting for Sigmar.” “You are twice a traitor then,” the old man shrieked, “to serve the coward-god that betrayed your people!” “Sigmar saved my people, murderer.” The priest snorted derisively. “Saved them? By tying them to his yoke? Placing them under the lash of his pampered Azyrites that rode out the hell of Chaos invasions in luxury? Some salvation. This is what you sacrifice your heritage for?” Pieter said nothing and the priest continued, filling the void with words, his voice becoming more and more zealous with each venomous utterance. “I serve an older master, one that did not abandon these lands like your foolish God-King. One that nurtured the people of these hinterlands, protected them from the foulness that threatened them all. What has Sigmar done here that equals that? Where was he, when the servants of the Dark Gods were baying at our borders? Your Father Reichenbold, the hero! The fool more like! He thought he could push Sigmar on us, as your priests always do. He was wrong. His blood was like wine on the lips of Onholt. Each of those travelers died screaming. All of their blood nourished my god, renewed our pacts, guaranteed our continued safety from all that would threaten us.” The priest smiled, drawing a wicked looking sickle with a jagged edge from the folds of his robes. There was madness in his eyes as he stalked towards the witch-hunter. “And the best part, lackey of the coward-god? Onholt is always thirsty.” The priest lunged forward with a yell, swinging his sickle downwards. Pieter’s thin blade, thrice blessed by the Grand Theogonist herself, emerged from its scabbard in the blink of an eye to intercept the vicious weapon. The templar lunged into a riposte, but, as he suspected, the priest was far from the frail old man he appeared, rolling backwards on his heels and smacking the thrust aside. His robes fluttered and flapped like the wings of some ragged vulture as he struck again and again, and Pieter was hard-pressed to knock the brutal slashes askew. As the priest’s robes fluttered, Pieter glimpsed the sinuous tattoos that decorated the old man’s arms, drawn in what appeared to be long-dried blood. Undoubtedly they were responsible for the unnatural strength and vigor the fanatic displayed. It was supernatural, the unsavory gift of whatever petty godling had chosen this man as its champion. In the abstract part of his mind that was not immediately occupied with fighting for his life, Pieter pitied Father Reichenbold for having to face an opponent like this. Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled once more as the two figures danced back and forth in front of the altar. Their blades skittered and clanged off one another, each man showing superb skill in the duel, but it was the priest of Onholt that seemed to be gaining the upper hand. Each strong blow drove Pieter back towards the wall of the small chapel, rattling the steel of his sword and threatening the sturdiness of his guard. Every couple of strikes, the sickle’s jagged blade nicked the witch hunter’s body, drawing small amounts of blood, sapping his strength with each slice. “I will offer up every last drop of your blood to Onholt,” the old man shrieked, cutting low with his sickle and forcing Pieter back once more, “He will drink it all!” Like a great cat of the Ghurlands, the priest pounced forward, throwing himself bodily into the templar, his weapon hooking the blessed blade out of the way. Pieter stumbled backwards and fell, cracking his head against the wall even as the sickle opened up a wide gash across his front. On his back, groggy from the blow, the templar struggled as a wrinkled foot in a grimy sandal slammed down on his chest to pin him in place with that same, unnatural strength. He grunted as the priest pressed down on the wound. “You were foolish to come here alone, lackey of the coward-god,” the old man drew back his sickle for a killing blow, and a flash of lightning backlit his hideous silhouette in Pieter’s eyes. Defiant despite the pounding in his head, the witch hunter spat his words up at the fanatic poised to execute him. “The servants of Sigmar are never alone, heretic.” There was a loud snap crack followed by a flash, like that of lightning, and the tang of ozone filled the room. The priest of Onholt wheezed violently as a bolt of light plucked him off his feet and sent his wizened form smashing with bone-crushing force into the stonework of the temple’s back wall. With the pressure lifted off his chest, Pieter rose unsteadily to his feet, just in time to see the large form sliding out of the shadows by the door of the chapel. The mighty figure cast back his cloak of woven black beast-fur as he strolled down the aisle towards the witch hunter, revealing the purple armor of the Astral Templars underneath. “Brother Tarkus, I was beginning to wonder if you were here at all.” Pieter said, touching the swelling bump on the back of his head gingerly before bending to retrieve his sword. “That took you long enough.” “I could say the same to you, van Detler.” Tarkus’ voice echoed from within his helm, and though it was well-spoken, it bound the roiling power of the storm in its words. “I had to be sure,” the witch hunter said, walking over to the corpse of the zealot. A look of surprise was still plastered on the old man’s face, though the appearance of shock hardly detracted from the spectacle of the dinner plate sized hole in the fanatic’s chest where the bolt had impacted. “Again,” Tarkus rumbled, “I could say the same.” Pieter looked up at the Stormcast, struggling to keep the vague sense of annoyance off his face. “You almost sound disappointed, Brother Tarkus.” “I am, van Detler. I expected him to be a demon. Or a magus of the Dark Gods at the very least.” “No,” Pieter said, kneeling down next to the corpse and lifting up an icon on a chain around the man’s neck. It depicted a sickle and a drop of liquid, undoubtedly blood. “It is sad to say, my noble hunter, but the evils of the mortal realms are just as likely to be rooted in mere men as they are to be the work of the Dark Gods and their ilk.” “But he was ensorcelled in some way?” “Oh yes,” Pieter said, holding the icon up to the light and examining it closer. Crude characters in the tongue of Ghur decorated its outside. “A follower of Onholt, an old god obsessed with sacrifice and blood. Perfect for Ghur, in so many ways. The Order thought his followers had long died out, but clearly that is not the case.” The witch hunter stashed the icon away inside a pouch at his waist. “They call Onholt “The Drinker”. Pleasant title, seems fitting.” “Not the Blood God then?” Tarkus seemed doubtful. “No, not the Blood God. Similar perhaps, but not the same.” The Stormcast shrugged slightly in response. “One evil seems much like another.” “If only that were the case, it would make the Order’s job much easier.” The cuts Pieter had suffered were not deep, even the one on his chest, but he winced in pain as he stood. “I’ll need to investigate his quarters. There may be more of his cult hereabouts, helping him commit his sacrifices. We might also give Father Reichenbold a proper funeral, if we can find him. He deserves far better than a shallow grave in the hinterlands of this realm. Probably need to tend to my wounds too, we don’t all bleed starlight.” The man began to move towards the door at the side of the chapel leading to the priest’s personal abode. “I don’t bleed starlight,” Tarkus said almost petulantly, calmly reloading the crossbow in his hands as he looked down at the crumpled form of the zealot. “Was it true what you said, van Detler? About the doubts?” Pieter paused and turned back to the Stormcast. The armored giant, veritably charged with the power of the Azyr now that his presence was revealed, was intimidating, especially when it came to questions of faith. Wild as they were, the Astral Templars were no less devoted to the God-King than any other Stormhost. “Yes, Brother Tarkus. It is true,” Pieter sighed, “Was that what stayed your hand for so long?” “No,” the Stormcast replied firmly, “I told you I was waiting.” “It is natural for men to doubt, Brother Tarkus. To fear. I feel that this man,” he gestured towards the ragged form of the zealot, “was driven towards Onholt by his doubts more than anything else. The difference between him and I though, is that my doubts give me purpose. For what is doubt if not the trappings of hope? One does not exist without the other. I believe in Sigmar, in his will, and his mission. That I worry it can be achieved at times only drives me harder to assure that those doubts do not become a reality.” The Stormcast said nothing, but nodded slowly. Thunder rumbled again outside, rattling the church’s windows, as if in affirmation of the witch hunter’s statement. “Now, I think that’s enough matters of the spirit for the day, don’t you?” Pieter said, continuing his walk towards the quarter’s door. “We have work to do.”
  3. “Ghyran, Realm of Life, home to the children of Alarielle, cries out in pain. Our once great glades wither under the march of the dead, a blight spreading outwards from the Ancient One’s host with each new moon. At the same time, life abundant seethes in the wake of the Foetid Fellows, the Bilespreader come again to his favourite playground. Our rangers rush to intercept both forces, prayers to the Goddess spilling from their lips even as they fall to the blades of their foes. Still they fight, dancing side-by-side with the dryads and the sylphs, their lives buying just enough time for the rest of the Emerald Eyrie to assemble. Soon, our clarion call will ring through the trees. The cycle of nature is broken. Balance must be restored.” * She emerged from between the trees and her light was like the coming of spring on a cold winter’s morning. Far below, the forest was a patchwork of withered glades and walking dead, but she had only eyes for the abomination sailing towards her on ragged wings and the entourage of monsters flapping in its wake. Here was the architect of the forest’s plight, the one for whom the puppets swarming below staggered and danced. Its unnatural presence rolled across her, a shadow over her soul, and then it crashed into the Green Finger. Rock crumbled. The mountainside shook. The delicate weave of life magic in which she hung rippled, sending shivers down her arms, and for one dizzying moment, she felt the nature of the creature and its blasphemous mount like poison through her veins. The once noble wyrm swung its head to regard her through eyes like amethystine marbles. Staring into them, she saw nothing. Then she was amongst it, the winds become pale flames under her touch, a prayer to the Goddess on her lips as she cast back the fell bats and turned her hands on the soulless monster in the saddle. Once more, the winds lurched. Though she couldn’t hear the creature over the gale, she could see its lips moving, and where her pale fire leapt, bolts of amethyst sprang forth to meet it. The monster’s gaze burned into her until she could not resist it. Her ears filled with the screams of the dying, her hair with the wordless roar of the wind. And the unblinking eyes that stared back at her from that long-dead face did so with the detached curiosity of a mortal about to pin and dissect a butterfly. Read more about Tale of Instahammer
  4. They are watching us. From the moment we crossed over into this fecund place in search of it, I knew eyes on me, felt its attention shift, infinitesimal speck by speck, a vast consciousness like the hive mind of a colony of wardroth grubs turning its antlered head our way. Even now, it tracks us through the tumbling vales, and what it sees, it wishes to destroy. It dreams of ending us, of trampling us, of impaling us on those magnificent horns, of returning us to the soil and the wind. The mortal coil! Is this what it feels like, to be studied, to be read? Is this what my subjects experience, when I look for the secrets in their skin? We came for a book, but already I have gained something far greater: wisdom with which to fill a tome of my own! Of course, such a text will warrant the finest materials. A bolt of buckskin shall do nicely. Or, failing that, a ream of aelfhide. I shall weave a placeholder from their hair! Her song holds no sway in these old trees. They stir with a different sound. Stop running, child, and you may just hear it: the wind in the boughs, like the billowing of vast wings; its keening shriek, like that of a beast in pain. You may yet hear it, if you just stop running. You may yet sing with them. Yes, little princeling. Catch your breath and raise your voice and sing with the children of the night, even as they catch you. A choir of screams, in harmony! "Awake, O dead! Crawl from your mountain tombs. Once more, the dispossessed have cause to march upon the forests of the aelves: my cause! No root nor branch nor witch-forged blade will spill your blood this time..." * I hear it then: a tapping, the patter of fleshless fingertips between the stalactites. Overhead, blackness, impenetrable except for that sound and something else, almost inaudible, a keening pitch. Scree scatters before my boots, the darkness a precipice over which I dangle, every step my last. One more. Up ahead, a glimmer of light. One more. The entrance is in sight. One more. They are waiting for me, outside, unpacking the camp by torchlight and the glare of the zephyr spites. One more —Wait. Silence has descended over me like a fresh darkness. What of the tapping? Nothing, just that whine, needling into my ears, growing higher, cutting sharper. The dead wolf’s bite didn’t wound so deep. My groan echoes around me. The blackness swallows it utterly, then spits it back in a scrabble of scratches and the flutter of wing beats. I imagine a mainsail filling over and over with competing winds, impossibly vast in the shadows. Run run run —My every footfall kicks pebbles and stones, glottal pops marking my flight. One more step. A smell washes over me, a rotting tide. One more step. The entrance looms before me, my exit now, and I make out the silhouettes of my comrades, moving about camp. Is that their laughter I hear, or have I gone mad? One more step — * See how quickly they die, how easily they rise again? Necromancy, a written art, its secrets consecrated in blood, His Word made flesh. For the longest time, that was all I saw; runes and languages that sought to confound me even as I learned them. Never did I stop to study that on which they were written. Their medium: human skin, gut for binding, and flesh of a different kind, sprouted from the sodden earth, grown into great forests before being hewn and pulped. That flesh is silent now, but in fair Ghyran, it still sings, the very wind whispering with untold secrets, a shiver down my spine. So I walk that land, and beneath those trees I read again, my fingers teasing stories from the throats of sylphs and the aelves that dance with them, my tongue the sorrow that defines their tales. What more could the undying ask for than that: Nature, a book that never ends! Such a shame that they won’t stop screaming. How is one supposed to read, surrounded by such a racket? Read more about Tale of Instahammer Werble-1C267E295.MP4
  5. “Do you feel it, Neferata? Do you feel the silent angles of the Corpse Geometries growing sharper about you? The charnel mathematics of Usirian have drawn you here...” This week, I Am Reading: Neferata: The Blood of Nagash by Josh Reynolds. The book continues pretty much directly on from The Rise of Nagash trilogy by Mike Lee so of course I got stuck straight in. What did I think? If you’re in thrall of the Queen of Mysteries, this is a must-read, offering a first-person glimpse into the mind and machinations of the First Vampire and her movements post the fall of Lahmia. The narrative focuses on the kingdom of Strigos and weaves Neferata's fate alongside those of Ushoran, W'soran, and (to an extent) Abhorash, as though the four weren't inextricably linked already. The fact that they have found each other again, despite having scattered after the fall of Lahmia, is called out and goes on to set up the theme that all are one with Nagash, symbolised over and over across the book through the black sun and the Crown of Nagash. For me, this is a story about free will and identity. "Neferata pushed herself to her feet. The voice of the crown — Nagash's voice — was back, smashing at her doubts and worries and fears. For an instant, she wondered if this was how others felt when she turned her gaze upon them." Don't let that fool you — there's intrigue and bloodshed aplenty. The rough'n' ready Strigoi warriors offer a satisfying foil to Neferata and her handmaidens. The ladies get their fair share of action, and when their claws are out, Neferata's enemies die. Flashbacks illuminate what happened to Neferata between the sacking of her city and her arrival at Strigos while conveniently introducing us to the origins of each of her closest handmaidens. My favourite thing about the book? Any book or story offering insights into how the First Vampires think and act is a must-read for me. Neferata lives up to her reputation as a manipulator, coercing warlords and sweet-talking the Lord of Masks as though they were chess pieces, but we also see Abhorash and his get (including some familiar faces!), Ushoran and the madness that slowly envelops him and his doomed bloodline, W'soran, hiding in the dark places beneath the mountains like a hungry spider... For acolytes of W’soran, the story also sets up the sequel, Master of Death. (Review coming soon.) Haven't read Neferata: The Blood of Nagash yet? Order a copy, turn down the lights, and dive in...
  6. Version 1.0.0

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    The armies of Efengie have been drawn into a war between the neighboring nation-states of Kytos and Lamellia; a war fought on both land and sea! This book includes a 2-player Narrative Linked-battles Campaign, 3 custom Allegiance abilities to represent the nation-states of Kytos, Lamellia, and Efengie, 5 Narrative Battleplans, 6 Legendary Artefacts of Efengie, and 1 rules expansion to add naval warfare to your Age of Sigmar battles. Plus, lots of fiction and pictures chronicling five months of narrative events! This is the fifth book in this series, you don't need the others (in fact, there's a fluff recap page at the beginning of this one), but if you enjoy this one, you may also enjoy the rest. Book 1 Book 2 Book 3 Book 4
  7. Introduction One of the things I really like about the latest Warhammer 40,000 releases for 'The Gathering Storm' is the idea of a Triumvirate. This was a word I had not heard before and as well as sounding very cool I also liked the meaning behind it: I have also recently been thinking about backstory writing for my Age of Sigmar mixed Order army, and as I recently finished my third centre-piece model for the army (A Freeguild General on Griffon), it seemed the perfect chance to add my own "Triumvirate" into my army. The Roots of the Story: When Age of Sigmar first came out, I put together a backstory for my army called 'Siegfried's Desperados'. I had a blog on Dakkadakka which was quite popular at the time, perhaps because it was one of the safe havens away from the heat the game was getting from some disgruntled veterans (especially on Dakkadakka). You can check out the thread here if you are interested: https://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/663727.page To summerise, the initial background I created for my army was that they were a mercenary outfit (called the 'Desperados') operating out of Azyrheim. I wanted to add a bit more grey and a bit more low fantasy into the backstory (as it was something Age of Sigmar didn't really have at the time), so I came up with some hooks and ideas of the dark side of aelven society in Azyrheim (lots of intrigue and assassinations among the nobles), the ideas of slums in the city, and that a mercenary outfit might employ a necromancer in their ranks. This was also an excuse to add in Aelves, Duardin and even Death into my army which was all a lot of fun to play with before the General's Handbook came out. But since the General's Handbook came out the narrative and story behind my army has taken the backseat. I have been focusing a lot more on Matched play and my narrative outlet has been with Hinterlands. As the recently finished Freeguild General on Griffon was meant to be Siegfried Stormhart once more, I thought it would be fun to update the story of the Desperados, and so the Triumvirate was born. The Triumvirate of Mistmire; Master Geppetto, Siegfried Stormhart and the alchemist, Massym Al-Izzar Creating a Triumvirate: I want to throw out the question to all of you, what cool Triumvirates could you add into your collection? All you would need are the following: 1. 3 Cool Models 2. A Cool Story that connects them For me, I had my 3 Centrepieces. The Griffon, the Steamtank and the Hurricanum. I wanted them to have some sort of purpose other than being in an army together, so I decided to bring back the old Necromancer I used to run in the Desperados pre-GHB. He goes by the name 'Cornacaprious'. I decided that he has since betrayed the Desperados, and has resurrected an ancient vampire (with the title of the "Blood Queen"). This gives me a reason to finally paint my Neferata model and also gives the triumvirate a goal to accomplish (they of course seek to kill both the Necromancer and the Blood Queen). So with the scene set, I put together a 4 pages as if they were from a campaign book and detailed my Triumvirate of Mistmire. I would love to hear what you think, but more importantly I hope this inspires you all to go off and create a Triumvirate for one of your armies too. My Triumvirate:
  8. Currently there's a warhammer fiction humble bundle going, some aos and warhammer fantasy stuffs. Its really good value and its got the first audio drama from the hunt for nagash series which is really good. 15 bucks for a few full novels and omnibuses as well as 3 audio dramas and a bunch of short stories.
  9. I've finished the third Efengie Campaign book. These books are put together from the battleplans I use for the Age of Sigmar Game Days that I run more-or-less monthly at my FLGS. In this one (as with the other two below) we've got five battleplans, a campaign system, and some fun little stories about what went down. In the aftermath of the Coalescence War of the Ring, Sigmar's followers have been convinced of Efengie's strategic value. Follow the story of Sigmar's invasion, interlopers from the grim darkness beyond the Eye of Terror, and an epic power struggle with Colossal Red, the Queen of the Monsters. In this book, I made some changes to the Clash of Empires battleplan framework. The biggest change for anyone playing through the campaign book is that each battleplan now has two different battlefields with different secondary objectives. This fits in really nicely with the campaign system since now the winner of each battle gets to choose the battlefield for the next one. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy the book! Also, here are links to the first two books if you want to get the whole story so far.
  10. Version 2.0

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    The first book of the Efengie Campaign series contains 5 Battleplans based on Warhammer World's Clash of Empires framework. It also includes Time of War rules for battling in the Vale of Efengie. But that's not all, each battleplan includes a fluff piece storying the event at which it was originally run, and there are also 2-player narrative campaign rules, and a map campaign for use with the General's Handbook map campaign rules! There are now 3 Efengie Campaign books! Book 2 - Through the Deathgate Book 3 - Coalescence Aftermath
  11. Version 1.0.0

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    In the aftermath of the Coalescence War of the Ring, Sigmar's followers have been convinced of Efengie's strategic value. Follow the story of Sigmar's invasion, interlopers from the grim darkness beyond the Eye of Terror, and an epic power struggle with Colossal Red, the Queen of the Monsters. Play through the action in a five battleplan two player narrative campaign. Book 1 Book 2
  12. Continued from the previous entry Borne to the Battlefield Lightning struck all around Du'Gall's warband as Stormcast began to materialise. Du'Gall's did not have the numbers to face a full stormhost but it seemed that their arrival was as disorganised as his own. This however did not stop them from attacking his warriors. A gryph hound used its beak to tear the throat out of a blood reaver, who fell, spitting gore. Liberators and Du'Galls chaos warriors fought, hurling blows against each others shields. Du'Gall let his reaper blade split a Liberators helm. The demon within revelled in the slaughter. Worthy foes! A shame the hammer god will not allow their skulls to take their rightful place on Khorne's throne. Du'Gall tried to keep focus as the blood haze began to cloud his mind. The demon weapon allowed him to stand against almost any foe but was insatiable, always demanding more slaughter no matter the cost. Du'Gall did not allow the weapon to take control, asserting his will and surveying the small force of Stormcasts that had materialised amongst his forces. They were gold armoured, liberators for the most part, with shields of solid sigmarite and strong hammers that they wielded with skill and finesse. With the liberators were colourful gryph hounds, the beaked hounds were darting in to nip at his reavers and warriors. Du'Gall did not lament the loss of his reavers they were bogging down the stormcast with their berserk attacks while his black armoured chaos warriors gathered around him. The black armoured warriors of chaos, bear the favours of their gods, Occasionally these favours did far more harm than good A clear noble voice rang out from among the Stormcast. "Rally brothers! Come together while I serve as a beacon for the rest of the host!" The warrior wore gold plate and bore a warhammer, like his brethren, but his skull mask and bone filled banner set him apart as their leader. Du'Gall signalled to his chaos warriors. "Engage the liberators, keep them away from their priest while i take his skull," His warriors moved to obey, forming a short shield wall as they closed with the liberators who did the same and the two walls met, blows stifled by the reduced space and shields. Du'Gall edged past the entwined shield walls, straight towards the Lord Relictor. "Oh Sigmar!" The skull masked stormcast cried "Let your lighting cleanse this filth!" He raised his reliquary, lighting flaring around it as he gathered his power. Du'Gall spat at the obvious display of magic and charged. He rammed his shoulder into the Stormcast disrupting his preparations and the lighting fizzled out. The stormcast swung with his hammer and caught Du'Gall in the side. The plate buckled and the Chaos Lord felt his side bruise instantly. Du'Gall backed away and circled trusting to the greater reach of his reaper blade and he finally let the blade free. No more strategy was required only combat. The demon blade keened in his hand carving through the air, as he threw a series of rapid thrusts at the lord relictor. The relictor took them on his armour, bulling in and roaring as he swung his hammer high bringing it down in an overhand blow. Du'Gall dropped the reaper blade and stepped into the swing of the hammer, blunting its force as lighting crackled from its head. With one hand he gripped the handle of the hammer, the holy weapon fizzing and crackling in protest as with the other he drew his trusty sword, and hacked into the back of the relictors knee. The sword blade bit through the chainmail and cleaved tendons and the relictors leg buckled as he grunted in pain. Du'Gall rammed the guard into the relictor's chin before swinging it around and back hard into the relictor's skull mask. The sigmarite mask was torn away and the unnaturally square features of the the relictor were bloodied. Again the relictor tried to call upon the lightning of his patron god, but Du'Gall rammed the cross guard into his jaw and while the relictor spat teeth and reeled, Du'Gall picked up his discarded reaper blade. He lifted the point under the Stormcast's chin holding against the Demon blades desire to gut the Relictor there and then. "Why are you here? What does your god hope to find in this realm of death?" The relictor's response was to spit a gobbet of blood onto Du'Gall's cuirass. The chaos lord chuckled before thrusting the blade into the stormcast's neck and through his spine. As the relictor's head rolled free of his shoulders he dizzolved into blinding lightning and Du'Gall turned to assist his beleaguered Chaos Warriors. The stormcast would hold their tongues, it was only fair that he remove them from their heads. Du'Gall Lord of Chaos With the rest of the stormcast returned to Azyr and the Gryph hounds slain. Du'Gall gathered what he could find of his horde. "This realm of death holds the secret to the end of the path to glory. Others covet it and will seek to stop us. They will feel the might of those blessed by Khorne. We were strong enough to survive the age of chaos, not shut up in their realm with their coward god, but out amongst the slaughter and death. We shall be rewarded and none shall stop me from claiming what I seek," If his men knew what he meant by and end to the path many would have tried to slay him there and then, but as things were they cheered and set out, searching for any other members of the warband, lost in the realm of death Next time.. The dead deal with intruders
  13. I have officially completed the first Efengie Campaign Book! This is the culmination of about six months of running themed Age of Sigmar events at my FLGS. It came about because I was creating battleplans for the monthly Age of Sigmar Game Day (like a tournament, but more casual) at my FLGS. In order to establish a narrative and give the events fun story-oriented stakes, I decided I would write a fluff piece after each event to describe what happened, and slowly flesh out the ongoing story of our not-quite-campaign. Efengie was the old tongue-in-cheek setting for my local store's Warhammer Fantasy campaigns, which we ran on a regular basis for roughly 10 years before Age of Sigmar was released. The store owner drew the original map (I drew this one myself) based on the layout of the store, which resulted in us having locations like Fort Snack, and Mount Cola. The Port City of Bludor was literally a blue door that was adjacent to a particularly flood prone area of the back storage area. Some, like the Trade City of Register or the cities of North Couch and South Couch didn't make the cut because they were a little too silly. I have given that setting a makeover to find it a home in Ghyran. This book includes five battleplans built on the framework of Warhammer World's Clash of Empires. It includes two new Time of War rules representing the Vale of Efengie as well as the Gates of Eucebium, a ring of ancient Realmgates erected by the Wanderers. It has plenty of fluff and photography from the events to round it out, and also includes a Map Campaign for use with the General's Handbook map campaign rules. Enjoy!
  14. This is the same story posted earlier but I can not seem to edit mistakes I caught on subsequent proof readings. So here is an edited version with some grammer and readability improvements. Alarik stepped out of the realmgate onto the soil of Ulgu, his retinue close in step. Having so recently been among the purifying light of Sigmar's kingdom, the sudden and complete blackness of Ulgu blinded him. His eyes desperately grasping for light as they struggled to adjust. After a few moments he could make out some blurry shapes within the small halo of ghostly violet light emitted by the realmgate. The blasphemous realm immediately wore on his nerves. The shimmering white and gold armor of Alarik's host had so often seemed to him a radiant manifestation of Sigmar's fury. In the deep darkness of the shadows realm however the glittering armor and shimmer of storm infused magic of Alarik's host seemed little more than a dim candle in a vast, uncaring night. As Lord Relictor Balhoth stepped from the realmgate Alarik's eyes had adjusted as much as could be expected in such a place, and he peered back to meet Balhoth's gaze. Balhoth looked somehow more powerful in this domain. In a realm that so drained Alarik with its hidden and wretched nature, Balhoth seemed to emit an aura of hidden arcane potency just out of tangible sight. "How fitting for a dark and brooding land to welcome such a dark and brooding man, how dramatic." Alarik scoffed to himself. Despite Alarik's distrust and subtle mockery of the macabre nature of the Relictor, Alarik could not deny the power of his presence. Like most Lord Relictors, Balhoth was adorned from head to toe in dark Sigmarite armor, adorned with bones and sinister looking charms. Grandiosely segmented into gold trimmed plates forming a formidable aegis around each limb of Balhoth's towering figure. The suit of armor was crowned with a menacing skull masked helm the expression of which seemed to both embrace and mock the threat of death. For a moment Balhoth's pale, skull visaged helmet appeared to glow with an ethereal light which defied reason in so dark a place. In contrast to the ghostly countenance of his helmet The Lord Relictor's black armor plates seemed darker and reason was betrayed once more by Balhoth's appearance as tendrils of black mist appeared to leap chaotically around Balhoth's silhouette. A disturbing aura of death and night that licked hungrily at the darkness that enveloped the Stormcasts. The dark and deathly aspect Balthoth had been possessed by frightened Alarik. A feeling he had all but forgotten since his reforging. Alarik feared he was about to witness the betrayal of the Lord Relictor at the hands of some terrible gift of power and madness granted by Ulgu itself. Alarik squinted, focusing more intently on the Lord Relictor. Alarik hoped to will Balhoth into a less blasphemous form of existence. As equal measures of fear and anger grew in Alarik, his attempt to focus on Balhoth and center his thoughts seemed to work. To Alarik's surprise and relief the shadow tendrils and ghostly glow of Balhoth's mask began to disappear and Alarik immediately began to distrust his senses in this world. "What a wretched place." Alarik cursed aloud, still facing Balhoth. "I met no resistance coming through the gate Balhoth and it worries me." "I expect frontal assault is not the way of this realms denizens." Balhoth offered in reply."I know little of this realm Alarik but I fear we may miss the brutal honesty found in the frontal assault of a Khornate horde." Balhoth continued grim but resolute."None have returned from this realm, it is unlikely our rescue mission will end in anything but death." Alarik frowned inside his helmet, glad the rigid facial features forged in the mask of the his helm hid his repulsion at the sad truth of Balhoth's declaration. Why did he ever hope to find comfort in the words of the Lord Relictor? Balhoth was seldom wrong but even more seldom was the Lord Relictor comforting. Cold, tactical truth was his fluency. A fact which Alarik almost hated as much as he valued it. "Pleasant thought Balhoth." Alarik returned." If I get frightened I will dream of the bloodied platues of Aqshy." Despite the forced levity in his words Alarik knew the chances of finding Halvir were slim but why had the God King created him if not to venture into such places and bring hope to those in opposition to the dark pantheon. He knew it was not a mission forged in the cold, calculating reason that so endeared his Lord Relictor to him, but a need to find his lost comrade that burned within Alarik. Some memory from a forgotten life, just out of reach that drove Alarik's desperate foray into Ulgu. Ulgu hid it's secrets as if sentient and maniacal, adding the fate of any who dared tread its paths to its many secrets. As Balhoth had so poignantly stated, those that had entered Ulgu had never returned from its insidious clutches, but his brother in war would not be left alone in this cursed place to die or worse. The Stormcasts had arrived. Just as Lord Grufflz told Rulk they would. "He is so smart smart he is." Rulk thought to himself. The skaven commander known as Grufflz had seen one of the stormcasts dragged off into the darkness by a dark figure the skaven forces only knew as the broody one. Grufflz did not know much about the broody one but he had been seen sporadically in the region lately. Up to no good Grufflz was sure of, which made Grufflz respect the broody one. it takes brains to scheme and made things so much more interesting. Rulk drooled and snorted in excitement , whispering to himself. "Storm bullies so dumb dumb getting caught by broody one. Lord Grufflz will skewer them. So glorious." Rulk could see the Stormcasts adjusting to the darkness. They seemed so slow to move and adapt to him. He wondered how they ever had success fighting when they moved so slow. Remembering his duties Rulk let out a low hiss to signal to his troops nearby it was time to draw the Stormcasts into the darkness. To prepare for Sigmar's intrusion on Lord Grufflz bounty. The broody one after all was know to attract warpstone some how. Expecting the Stormcast to arrive in search for their kidnapped companion Lord Grufflz had cunning had his force hedge up the foliage in some areas. The terrain was chocked with this wooden vines. With some manipulation by Rulks men the only clearing in the vines would decide the path of the Stormcasts without them knowing it. "It needs to look natural, and smooth smooth. We need to give them a path without them knowing we doing it." Grufflz had explained. The next part of the plan was Rulk's favorite. He grew giddy as he remember Grufflz commands. "Remembers cunning ones, stay low low and hidden. Push their feet so softly. Bring them to us. If they wander nudge them here and nudge them there. The are large and blunt, they will not notice you." Such an exciting command to sneakily force the path of the Stormbrutes. Nudge them ever so slightly off course without them noticing. Rulk reveled " So much fun can be had in the dark. So much tricky tricks." Rulk wondered to himself why Lord Grufflz had passed on participating in such an exciting sneaky challenge."Other things he need be doing. So smart, so important." Rulk of course did not realize he had been sent on what could likely turn out to be a suicide mission. If Alaraki did notice the skaven skulking in the darkness he would end them as he sought to end all followers of the chaos pantheon. To Be Continued..... (I will update a narrative version of the battle report when I get a chance)
  15. Here is the latest entry leading up to our first game. The Pass of Hidden Hands Alarik stepped out of the realmgate onto the soil of Ulgu, his retinue close in step. Having so recently been among the purifying light of Sigmar's kingdom, the sudden and complete blackness of Ulgu blinded him. His eyes desperately grasping for light as they struggled to adjust. After a few moments he could make out some blurry shapes within the small halo of ghostly violet light emitted by the realmgate. The blasphemous realm immediately wore on his nerves. The shimmering white and gold armor of Alarik's host had so often seemed to him a radiant manifestation of Sigmar's fury. In the deep, uncaring darkness of the shadows realm however the glittering armor and shimmer of storm infused magic of Alarik's host seemed little more than a dim candle in a vast, uncaring night. As Lord Relictor Balhoth stepped from the realmgate Alarik's eyes had adjusted as much as could be expected in such a place, and he peered back to meet Balhoth's gaze. Balhoth looked somehow more powerful in this domain. In a realm that so drained Alarik with its hidden and wretched nature, Balhoth seemed to emit an aura of hidden arcane potency just out of tangible sight. "How fitting for a dark and brooding land to welcome such a dark and brooding man, how dramatic." Alarik scoffed to himself. Despite Alarik's distrust and subtle mockery of the macabre nature of the Relictor, Alarik could not deny the power of his presence. Like most Lord Relictors, Balhoth was adorned from head to toe in dark Sigmarite armor. Grandiosely segmented into gold trimmed plates forming around each limb of Balhoth's towering figure. The suit of armor crowned with a menacing skull masked helm. For and moment Balhoth's pale, skull visaged helmet appeared to glow with a ghostly light which defied reason in so dark a place. The Lord Relictor's black armor plates seemed to come to life, licking at the air in ethereal, black tendrils. Disturbed by the dark and deathly aura around Balthoth Alarik squinted,focusing more intently on the Lord Relictor, hoping to reason the sight out of existence. Doing so seemd to work and caused the shadow tendrils and ghostly glow of Balhoth's mask to disappear and Alarik immediately began to distrust his senses in this world. "What a wretched place." Alarik cursed aloud, still facing Balhoth. "I met no resistance coming through the gate Balhoth and it worries me." "I expect frontal assault is not the way of this realms denizens." Balhoth offered in reply."I know little of this realm Alarik but I fear we may miss the brutal honesty found in the frontal assault of a Khornate horde." Balhoth continued."None have returned from this realm, it is unlikely our rescue mission will end well." Alarik frowned inside his helmet, glad the rigid facial features forged in his the mask fo the helm hid his repulsion at the sad truth of Balhoth's declaration. Why did he ever hope to find comfort in the words of the Lord Relictor? Balhoth was seldom wrong but even more seldom was the Lord Relictor comforting. Cold, tactical truth was his fluency. A fact which Alarik almost hated as much as he valued it. "Pleasant thought Balhoth. If I get frightened I will dream of the bloodied platues of Aqshy." The Stormcasts had arrived. Just as Lord Grufflz told Rulk they would. "He is so smart smart he is." Rulk thought to himself. The skaven commander known as Grufflz had seen one of the stormcasts dragged off into the darkness by a dark figure the skaven forces only knew as the broody one. Grufflz did not know much about the broody one but he had been seen sporadically in the region lately. Up to no good Grufflz was sure of, which made Grufflz respect the broody one. it takes brains to scheme and made things so much more interesting. Rulk drooled and snorted in excited as whispered to himself. "Storm bullies so dumb dumb getting caught by broody one. Lord Grufflz will skewer them. So glorious." Rulk could see the Stormcasts adjusting to the darkness. They seemed so slow to move and adapt to him. He wondered how they ever had success fighting when they moved so slow. Remembering his duties Rulk let out a low hiss to signal to his troops nearby it was time to draw the Stormcasts into the darkness. To prepare for Sigmar's intrusion on Lord Grufflz bounty. The broody one after all was know to attract warpstone some how. Expecting the Stormcast to arrive in search for their kidnapped companion Lord Grufflz had cunning had his force hedge up the foliage in some areas. The terrain was chocked with this wooden vines. With some manipulation by Rulks men the only clearing the the vines would decide the path of the Stormcasts without them know it. "It needs to look natural, and smooth smooth. We need to give them a path without them knowing we doing it." Grufflz had explained. The next part of the plan was Rulk's favorite. He grew giddy as he remember Grufflz commands. "Remembers cunning ones, stay low low and hidden. Push their feet so softly. Bring them to us. If they wander nudge them here and nudge them there. The are large and blunt, they will not notice you." Such an exciting command to sneakily force the path of the Stormbrutes. Nudge them ever so slightly off course without them noticing. Rulk reveled " So much fun can be had in the dark. So much tricky tricks." Rulk wondered to himself why Lord Grufflz had passed on participating in such an exciting sneaky challenge."Other things he need be doing. So smart, so important." Rulk of course did not realize he had been sent on what could likely turn out to be a suicide mission. If Alaraki did notice the skaven skulking in the darkness he would end them as he sought to end all followers of the chaos pantheon. To Be Continued..... (I will update a narrative version of the battle report when I get a chance)
  16. They call Lady Sabine “The Black Widow of Betone” because she has lost so many husbands to the sands; but in Shyish, everyone knows death. Eobard’s mother told him that the desert kings have a saying; “Show me one more reliable than death, and I will lie at their doorstep”. Something might have been lost in translation, but she said that it meant if you can find someone to trust, hold onto them forever. And so when Duke Eobard met Lady Sabine, they were wed not long after. Now Eobard waited in the desert for his new wife’s trader friends to arrive. She had been sparse with the details, but demanded that he take a full ten-strong lance of his house knights with him to “be safe. The deathrattles have been bold of late.” She was quite a worrier his Sabine. With his Lady’s blessing, surely no harm would befall them. But who would deny a widow her worries? His knights chatted quietly behind him. They watched the traders’ faded black banner move closer across the blowing sands. He counted about twenty riders on horseback. Their fluttering black banner and robes made an elegant silhouette against the blood red of the setting sun. As they approached the ruins where he had made his camp, he hailed them with an exaggerated wave, but they made no form of reply. Maybe the strange foreigners didn’t hold to the same traditions as those of Betone. Though still, it was odd that they should pay no heed. “Paulo, Florence, please go welcome our guests,” he commanded with a smile. The two mounted their thoroughbred warhorses and rode off to greet the trading party. Eobard felt a soft hand on his face. He turned, startled. His mind raced searching for an explanation. How was this possible? His beloved stood behind him. She should have been miles away, safe in their manor, yet here she was. And her hand; her hand was chill on his cheek where it should have been warm. Unable to speak, he searched her face for a sign, an explanation, but she offered none. The soft caress of her hand turned into a firm grip, unbefitting for a Lady. She turned his head back to the desert; back to the black riders. He watched in a trance. His knights Paulo and Florence reached the black riders, but the riders showed no signs of slowing. Paulo and Florence looked at one another and drew their swords. They turned nervously to flank the riders and guide them into camp. Paulo tapped his shield with his sword to signal distress. These riders were not who they appeared to be. As they neared, Eobard inspected their livery, searching for any sign of their origin. They wore black tabards and dirty clothes torn from age. As the cloth moved with the breeze, he could see flashes of what appeared to be bone beneath the tears. “What is this?” Eobard asked, trembling. He felt a sinking despair. He tried to shift, to move, but her unnatural grip on him was overpowering. “I need more knights for my honor guard,” she whispered into his ear. “You were a promising lover, but will make a better lieutenant.” She pushed her fingernails up against his hauberk. There was a grating sound as they pushed through the finest mail money could buy. He felt her cold fingers puncture his flesh and crack through his ribcage. His eight remaining knights, alerted by Paulo’s signal, scrambled into their saddles. Disordered and unprepared for an attack, they lowered their lances and made their charge. While the knights screamed curses and battle cries as they charged, the score of black riders made no sound. Wood splintered against bone and flesh. Eobard watched as Sir Florence fell upon the riders from the flank with her sword. She smashed apart a skeleton rider’s arm bones and splintered its skull, but the rider continued undeterred. Her comrades fell around her. Eobard stared on unable to act. Lady Sabine’s grip on her husband became a push, leverage to rip his heart, still beating, from his chest. She sank her pearly fangs into it and drank deep. Then, raising it above her head, she began to chant in an ancient tongue. Her words conjured swirling mists of dark magic to the battlefield, decaying everything they touched, until everything was still and silent. The flesh sloughed away from Eobard’s bones. His knights lay dead on the ground. “Arise, my minions.” The clean, white skeleton that was once Sir Florence climbed onto her undead steed. Duke Eobard stood and turned his dead gaze to his new master. None spoke, but they obeyed.
  17. The serpent queen sat silent upon her golden throne, her mind lost to reverie and distant visions. In her thoughts she saw a place she'd long thought gone forever, and it was just as she remembered it. Great streets and promenades, market stalls and grand temples, once so busy and full of life, now empty and desolate. This was not the Lahmia she had known. The facade looked the same of course, every minute detail down to cracks in the flagstones was there, but this was merely an elaborate copy, a work of fastidious obsession from a mind inhuman and wild with longing for the glory days of the distant past. This replica of the great city - the work of hundreds of years of tireless undead labour - existed for no other reason than to satisfy the ego of an ancient adversary. "Neferata", hissed Khalida as she brought herself back to consciousness. The tomb queen's eyes flicked open behind her golden death mask and undead servants, sensing the will of their mistress, scurried forward to dote upon her. Khalida paid them little heed, they were merely handmaidens that saw the world as it was so long ago, when they had still been alive and were serving their queen in life. She idly watched as the skeletal maidens fussed about her, anointing her worn bandages with fine lotions and perfumes as though they were caressing the smoothest skin, manicuring her nails with honed precision though they had long since rotted away. After the fall of the golden age her people had been risen up from death against their wills. Whole dynasties of tomb kings and princes coughing back onto the mortal coil to fight and bicker amongst themselves once more. Only the strongest among them truly knew that they were dead, the others just carried on as they did in life, oblivious to the eternal rest that had been so cruelly robbed from them. This was the vile unlife that the great usurper had forced upon them so many aeons ago, his revenge against a land that had dared to stand up against him. With a mote of anguish Khalida remembered when she had first awoken into undeath, her final memory of life burned into her mind. Had those been crocodile tears dripping down Neferata's face that fateful day? Had that truly been sorrow in those eyes as she'd thrust in that bronze blade and forced upon her that cold vampiric kiss? Only the blessings of the great asp goddess had spared Khalida from the same cursed fate as her cousin and granted her a natural death… for as long as it had lasted. Where once there had been a great love between the two cousins, now there was only hatred, the self-styled queen of new Lahmia was a blight upon the mortal realms and she and Khalida had long been destined to destroy one another. There had been a time, at the end of all things as they had watched the old world fall, that she had thought it possible to reconcile with her estranged cousin. Then when she had eventually re-awoken into the mortal realms, the hatred had returned with a newfound fury. It burned within her mummified form, giving her strength, it gnawed at her very being, it defined her and she could never forgive or forget. Wordlessly Khalida found herself muttering a prayer to Asaph for strength and began to wonder, in this new land beneath the shadow of Shyish, could the old gods truly still exist? Since the fall of the world that was the liche priests had continued the rituals and traditions of old, praying to their lost pantheon of gods that may well have fallen alongside their old land of Nehekhara. In cruel irony it had come to pass that the only god they truly served now was the great usurper himself, deposer of Usirian as ruler of their underworld, Nagash had brought them back from oblivion yet again for his own malevolent amusement. Khalida felt her ancient lips curl and crack at the mere thought of the great necromancer. While she had a debt of blood to repay her cousin Neferata, her entire civilisation had a debt of the deepest destruction to repay Nagash himself. Now was not yet the time however. They would have their revenge, but better to play the willing slave for a few centuries more until the time was ripe for the asp to strike. Closing her eyes once more Khalida’s thoughts as always drifted back to the monster that had once been her cousin. There she sat in a perfect replica of her throne room from ages past, in a perfect replica of the great city she had defiled with the vile soulblight curse she'd brought into the old world. Bone cracked and ancient bandage dissolved into mere smoke as the mighty queen Khalida clenched her bony fist with quivering rage. Then she calmed. Such anger was unbecoming for royalty such as herself, and she had endless time to prepare her revenge, there was no need to rush this final justice. Behind her death mask High Queen Khalida smiled, Neferata might think herself at last beyond the reach of death... but Khalida had legions of it yet to wield.
  18. Sand. Anyone who is familiar with sand (that is to say the true Sand and not the false sand of peasants) can tell you that it is as pernicious as it is indestructible. It is carried on the Winds of Time, and with it the dreams and memories of bygone eras are drawn from the realms and consumed into oblivion… yet some of these relics and treasures of the past are carried on the winds and sands through the Stormwall of Regret and find themselves in the Sour Sea, and as often as not wash up on the beaches of the Endless Deserts where the tides inevitably return the sands. Most of these will be buried in the sand forever, almost forgotten, but not quite. As long as these relics exist there will be those that hunger for their return, pine for their loss, or are inspired by their memory. Druchii Corsairs who find the work of Privateering to be too… restrictive for their temperament will sign on with Captains and Fleetmasters of Realm Reaving Black Arks who will, if desperate enough, ply their trade on the Sour Sea. Most will troll the shallows for lost treasures that have not quite reached the shore, or hunt some of the juvenile leviathans and beasts that might be found in those waters. The truly desperate will risk a landing party into the desert proper, where the potential reward is magnified nearly as much as the risk. The lucky Captain will be the one with guaranteed coin in hand for very little risk – those who offer passage for those desperate individuals who would travel to the Endless Deserts for the chance of recovering that which was lost, be it a memory, a secret, an heirloom, or lost soul… The city of Bétone is home to a few of these pilgrims, but the small port of Desert’s End is as far as most of these wretches get and therein eke out an existence in misery as they search the desert until they are consumed by it. Orias Bloodthorn, Captain of the Wicked Mistress and Fleetmaster of the Blood Tithe found himself on just such a mission, ferrying a passenger to the Endless Deserts, to likely never be seen again. There were easier and cheaper ways to end your life, Orias thought, but shrugged as it offered him the excuse to wallow in his own indulgences. In truth, this task was beneath his station, but the majority of his black arks and corsairs were under contract to the Order Serpentis chapter that was controlled by his daughter Euryale, and he was unwilling to see her again under terms where he would be required to accept her command. His lieutenants could deal with her pettiness and spiteful nature. But as he looked out over the bow and across the roiling Sour Sea he knew the real reason he was drawn to these waters again and again was the weight of his own regrets and losses… It had been quite a while though since he had the opportunity to provide passage to the Endless Deserts, and he found the man to be of an odious nature and a strong will, quite unlike most of the desperate fools he had taken before. He remembered the man arriving abruptly at his table in a rundown saloon in some forsaken shantytown where his fleet had anchored for supplies. “Dreadlord Bloodthorn, I have business with you, “ the dark clad stranger spoke, in a low voice, but one that was clear and firm even in the noisy saloon. The use of the archaic honorific caught the Druchii’s attention and ire and he disdainfully shoved the wench in his lap onto the floor allowing him quick access to his weapons should they be needed. Satisfied for a moment that he had not stumbled into a trap, he looked the man in the eye and replied “Fleetmaster is the word you are looking for. The fact that you recognize my flag marks you only as a well-informed spy. Take your information to Nemeth my spymaster and he will see that you are paid for whatever information you…” The man cut him off, “You misunderstand me, Fleetmaster. I am no spy, merely a traveler seeking passage across the Realms. Allow me to more properly introduce myself. I am Chairophon the go-between, and I am required to travel to a very dangerous place where very few have gone, and even fewer return, and I believe you know exactly of where I speak…” Orias indeed knew exactly where this Chairophon needed to go, and agreed to the passage. But there was still something unsettling and nagging at the back of his mind that something here was not quite right, and maybe even something he couldn’t remember… Regardless, he shook off the sensation of rising dread and roused himself from the foul humor by barking insults and orders to the elves on deck, and shouted to a nearby officer as he strode back toward the bridge, “Ready the passenger, we’ll make harbor by nightfall, and we may as well take a troll the north shallows for our troubles…”
  19. I'll post AoS specific shows here but Combat Phase weekly wargaming podcast has had two BL authors on to discuss their various pieces of fiction out so far, and what's coming. David Annandale on ep 138 and David Guymer ep 135. Also ep 128 Contemporary AoS had guests from two podcasts: Heelahammer and Mortal Realms. Guy Haley will be back on the show in May to discuss his AoS fic. You can listen to the show at www.combatphase.com or also on iTunes.
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