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  1. Grumpold

    Epilogue

    Epilogue Three days later, the vanguard of the army left the city under the command of Sheriff Albertus, Freeguild General of the Free Army of Montalban. With him he had the Greatswords, the Handgunners, the Demygryph Knights and some regiments of Halberdiers. A detachment of pistoliers from the mercenary company of Nimyard rode ahead of them, scouting the road. Albertus knew Captain Nimyard from the days way back and Nimyard owed Albertus a favour. Three days after the vanguard, Stadthouder Adriaanus Manstien would march out with the main body of the army. Manstien would take to the field on his War Griffon in full ornate battle plate. More regiments of Halberdiers would accompany him as well as the city's Hellblaster artillery train. Also going with him was Bert. Bert was pulling his Rex Diem float, on top of which they had placed the Hurricanum and the Luminark. Nostro, who was recalled as Battle Mage of the Free Army of Montalban, was standing on the float relishing his new position and polishing up his beloved machines. In front of the army column, soldiers carried the relics of Holy Michael the Hermit, patron saint and saviour of the City of Montalban.
  2. Chapter 7 – What is Freedom? For the first few weeks after the events of the festival, Montalban lived in fear of the Knights Excelsior coming back. They had promised to return and kill every living being in the city. The mood in the city was of that of complete anguish and every day funerals were held for those who had been slain by the Knights Excelsior and for those who perished in the panicked stampede that followed their attack. Stadthouder Adriaanus Manstien was a changed man; that much was clear to everyone. For the first two days after the carnival he had not said a word, nor had he left his cabinet room in the town hall. When Albertus came to report to him the number of casualties among the guard, the citizens and the festival goers from outside town, Manstien decided to visit every family affected and to attend every burial; from the elaborate funeral processions of the wealthy to the mass burials of the destitute. It was as if he wanted to bear witness to every single injustice done. When it became clear that the Knights Excelsior were not returning any time soon, the mood in the city began to shift from fear to anger. People started to discuss what had happened and soon people argued that Montalban was meant to be an example to the other free cities. An example of what it means to be ruled over by Sigmar. Slogans began to appear on the walls of public buildings “Sigmar is a liar” and Manstien was now increasingly accosted by citizens who grew bolder by the day and wanted to know what he was going to do about it. The answer to that question came soon enough. A month after the carnival, large groups of refugees appeared before the walls of Montalban, bringing with them tales of a large battle where the forces of Sigmar had been defeated. Now it became clear why the Knights Excelsior were forced to abandon their slaughter at the carnival and had left the city in such a hurry. Many openly said the knights deserved what had been coming to them. Manstien and Albertus understood this meant only one thing: war was coming to Montalban. When shortly after the first refugees showing up, a messenger arrived from the city of Hammerhal on horseback, they knew the game was up. The messenger carried a summons from the Lord Veritant of Hammerhal, to assemble the army of the free city of Montalban and to march immediately to the aid of the forces of Sigmar. Manstien called a meeting of the town’s consigniliari to discuss the summons. But the meeting was short-lived as the consigniliari refused to endorse the summons. Feelings of anger ran too high in the city and they did not want to risk a popular uprising. It was up to Manstien to order it, he was the Stadthouder and he had the ultimate say. The consequences of this decision would be on his head. After the council meeting, Manstien sat with Albertus in his cabinet room. They had to come to a decision. “We cannot escape this war, Albertus.” Manstien began. “Yes, I know, my Lord.” was his reply. Manstien watched Albertus in silence for a moment. “What else do you know, Albertus? Nothing ever seems to bother you. They slaughter your guard and still, you do not speak out.” Manstien drew his chair closer to the cabinet table. “You know, Albertus, I know nothing of you when I come to think about it. Tell me, and do call me Adriaanus, where were you before you became Sheriff of this city?” Albertus looked at Manstien. “I have been to see Nostro when the Knights Excelsior were in town.” The comment took Manstien by surprise and now he raised an eyebrow. “Ah I see, and what did he tell you?” Albertus shrugged “That war was coming. That we would soon be in an awful lot of trouble. That something bad happened in Shyish and that we had agents of chaos in our town.” Manstien couldn't believe what he was hearing. “And you did not think it proper to tell me this?” Now Albertus drew nearer to Manstien. “Adriaanus...war is always coming...we are always in trouble. There is always something bad happening in Shyish, or Ghur, or Chamon or wherever. And there are always agents of chaos running loose in towns like Montalban. Are you that naïve?” Manstien looked at Albertus sharply. “You have not answered my question, Albertus. Where were you before you became Sheriff of Montalban?” “I was once a soldier in Azyr. I left Azyr and I joined a band of rogues that fought its way throughout the realms.” Albertus told him. “So, you were a deserter, Albertus. A rebel turned mercenary. You deserted those who protect us and ensure our freedom. You have forsaken your oath to Sigmar himself.” Now Albertus hissed back at Manstien: “Is a slave free because his master protects him from the beatings of other masters?” Manstien sat in silence. Albertus had a point. All the freedom the city had right now, was to choose who was going to give them a beating. Sigmar and his zealots or the forces of chaos and their gruesome armies. He could make a choice between those two evils but could you call that freedom or even a free choice? “I have made a decision, Albertus.” Manstien suddenly exclaimed. “We will call the free city army up, all of it. Every man, all the machines, all the animals and even Nostro with his devilish contraptions. I will go as well and you, you will be its general. But...the people of Montalban will decide who we will fight. Will we join the forces of Sigmar or will we rebel and fight anyone who wants to invade our lands, whoever they may be.” And so the next day Manstien made his decision known to the citizens of Montalban. That war was coming, was now clear to everyone. But what was best for the city? Every fighting man had a vote on whether to join the forces of Sigmar, who had only recently tried to annihilate them, or rebel against the summons and face on their own whoever that may be. There was much debate in the city and on the morning of the vote, long queues of men formed up before the town hall. Manstien and the city's scribes were seated outside behind a long table in front of the town hall. Each man walked up to the Stadthouder and gave him his vote. In the evening the tally was made in front of Manstien, Albertus and the consigniliari. The result was read out to the gathered citizens. Montalban had decided to rebel.
  3. Chapter 6 – The Woes of Montalban No longer able to contain themselves, the Knights Excelsior jumped screaming from their stand and began to hail blows upon the festival goers. They smashed their hammers on everyone within their reach and pushed against the crowd with their shields. Laughter turned into screams of horror and anguish as they hammered upon the spectators all around them. Those bloodstained from the March of the Blood Reavers earlier on, were now splattered with the gore and brains of the people next to them before they themselves were bludgeoned down, holding their heads and staring in horror at the sight of their own blood. The laughter in the crowds faded way as they began to notice that something was seriously wrong. First, a few seconds of confused silence, while they listened to the shrieks of the dying. Then the realisation of what was happening. A single scream pierced the silence and within seconds the whole square began to howl in panic. “The Stormcasts are attacking us! They are butchering us!” they screamed and then the panic started in earnest. A bloody scene of chaos unfolded as thousands of revellers scattered falling left and right, only to be crushed and trampled to death where they lay. The Halberdiers guarding the spectator stands could not believe what was happening. As they witnessed their families, neighbours and friends being attacked, they reacted instinctively. They began thrusting their halberds towards the Stormcast to try to stop the onslaught and allow people to escape. But then the Knights Excelsior began to direct their attention towards the Halberdiers guard. Bert watched incredulously from his float, desperately trying to understand what was happening. “Why didn’t the Stormcasts find what I did funny?” he thought. He heard a few Liberators screaming at him “In the name of Sigmar, die! Die you chaos spawn!” as they tried to climb on to the float. One managed to get over the side of the float and smashed Bert's foot with his hammer. Bert jerked his foot away in pain. “Ow! That hurts!” he screamed. And then Bert got angry. He grabbed the Liberator by the head, hauled him up and threw him with all his force against the line of Stormcasts surrounding the float. Bert clambered off the float and kicked the shield of another Liberator as he dismounted, sending the warrior sprawling back against the Lord Veritant standing behind him. Whilst this was happening, Albertus had jumped off the other stand and raced towards Manstien who was lying in a daze at the bottom of the ladder. Albertus hauled him up like a rag doll and shouted to a couple of halberdiers who were watching dumbfounded what was going on at the other side of the float. “You, and you, come here! Take him away, Take him to the town hall! Put him in his office and lock the door! Stand guard and let nobody in!” The guards looked at him in surprise. Albertus threw Manstien in their hands. “Do it now!” The halberdiers caught Manstien and dragged him away to the town hall. Albertus snatched up a halberd lying on the ground and ran around the float to where the halberdiers were fighting a losing battle against the Stormcasts. Luckily for the halberdiers there were only thirty of them. A group of strong men from the March of the Blood Reavers now joined the halberdiers. They also had family and friends amongst the victims. Armed with halberd and spiked clubs they tried desperately to contain the Knights Excelsior from pursuing the festival goers. But the Knights were determined to break through their lines so they could cleanse the city of the foul chaos spawn that lived here. Albertus shouted “Stop! Stop! Stop this madness. Parley! Parley!”. The Lord Veritant saw Albertus and called him out. “You and your demon rituals, you will pay for your blasphemy with your life! We will cleanse this chaos infested city and avenge the insults on our Lord Sigmar!” Bert, suddenly appeared next to Albertus, armed with two large clubs in his hands from the Reavers. Bellowing out a war cry he threw one club at the Lord Veritant. The Lord Veritant stepped aside as the club flew past him, missing him by a whisker. At that moment, a trumpet sounded from above, and a lone Stormcast Prosecutor with a horn descended and landed behind the Stormcast line. The Lord Veritant shouted orders to form shieldwall as he made his way to the Prosecutor. The two battle lines parted a few yards away from each other and the halberdiers tried to catch their breath. The Lord Vertiant could be seen arguing with the Prosecutor, and after a short while, he returned to the battle line. He shouted some orders which Albertus could not understand, and the Stormcast Liberators suddenly changed formation into column. Protected on all sides by their shields, they began to fall back towards one end of the city square. Germanus Graghus turned around and pointed at Albertus: “You are a marked man! And this city will soon feel the wrath of Sigmar! We will be back to finish this job once and for all!” Some of the halberdiers started jeering. Albertus shouted “Stop it! Shut up! Let them go! Let them go!” And so, the Knights Excelsior departed the city of Montalban, inexplicably and as sudden as they had shown up. The Stormcast Prosecutor rose up and flew away. On their march to the city gate, the Knights Excelsior did not meet a single living soul. The streets were deserted, and the city gate was wide open. The column of Stormcasts set off through the gate, on the road in a forced march. As news spread that they were gone, thousands of festival goers came out of hiding and many left the city immediately, back to the villages and small towns where they had come from. But a lot of them went back to the square trying to find their missing family members amongst the piles of battered corpses all over the place. When they recognised their loved ones, they broke down in agonised cries and tears as they held the mangled remains of their loved ones. A solitary figure pulled the float, the Rex Diem, away from the square. It was Bert. He dragged his bloodied foot behind him, limping from the hammer blow that had smashed it. They had hurt him and the people who were kind to him. They had taken away his right to be king for a day and he could not understand why. Inside him grew an anger at the sheer injustice of it all.
  4. Chapter 5 – King for a Day On the morning of the carnival procession, thousands of festival revellers started making their way to the main market square to see the The Burial of the Sardine. The city guild of carpenters had built two large spectator stands on either side of the square. One was for the Stadthouder and the consigniliari of the town, the other for the Lord Veritant and the Knights Excelsior. Manstien had send a herald to the barracks days ago with an official invitation to come and watch this unique event as the guests of honour. The Lord Veritant had yet to send a reply. As Manstien, the consigniliari and their families arrived to take up their spaces on the stand, a loud murmur rose from the crowds at one end of the square. The Knights Excelsior were coming! The Knights marched up to their tribune stand, ascended the steps and took their places. “Thanks for letting me know” Manstien thought wryly, but he understood by now that manners and protocol were not particular strengths of Germanus Graghus. What he did not like was that they had brought their warhammers and shields with them. A Stormcast warrior can never be seen without them he mused, but still it was unsettling. Below Sheriff Albertus gave instructions to the units of Halberdiers who were tasked with guarding spectator stands. More Halberdiers whose job it was to control the crowd also stood alongside the procession route. Once everyone knew what they had to do, Albertus joined Manstien on the stand. Soon trumpets blared at one end of the square and the start of the procession came into view. First to be brought out were the bones of Holy Michael the Hermit, the legendary founder of the city. The relics were carried in a heavy altar which was held aloft at each of its four corners by representatives of the city's guilds. The group marched slowly whilst singing hymns to revered saint. Holy Michael’s skeleton stood upright on the carriage, wrapped in his hermit habit, his skeletal arms clutching a large pole which was topped by a golden warhammer. Holy Michael could speak the tongue of the demigryphs so he bore the wings of a cup demigryph. As the carriage passed, festival goers dropped down on one knee and clasped their hands together above their lowered heads. Manstien and the dignitaries followed suit but not the Knights Excelsior. They gazed in amazement at the passing skeleton. Then came the March of the Dead. A large column of procession participants all dressed in black robes onto which the bones and rib cages of the long dead were stitched on. Wearing skulls as face masks, many carried burial caskets with the skeletal remains of their long gone illustrious family members. Dancers representing the souls of the Montalbani people darted in and out of the column, resplendent in their long, green robes. They howled prayers to the gods of the dead to have mercy on the souls of their departed family members. As the column passed the stands, Manstien noticed how the Knights Excelsior opposite them appeared to become increasingly agitated. A few of the Stormcasts began to turn towards the Lord Veritant. “Do you think they are enjoying the procession so far?” he asked Albertus next to him. “Theirs may not be our idea of enjoyment, my Lord” was Albertus' reply. Manstien started to feel decidedly sick. This invitation of his was a bad idea he now realised. But too late. Next in the procession were the Guilds of the City; butchers, weavers, spinners and blacksmiths. All holding their guild banners high as they passed the cheering crowds. Then came the March of the Diseased. This large column commemorated how the city of Montalban, which was situated in the realm of Ghyran, was once struck, hundreds of years ago, with a devastating plague. When all the citizens had perished, legend told how Holy Michael the Hermit cleansed the city and founded it anew. Semi naked procession participants with grotesque painted boils on their bodies, wobbled on crutches past the tribunes, while holding animal entrails high up to the sky. They howled to the sky beseeching the gods of disease and pestilence to have mercy on their souls and bodies. At the rear of this column were the mutilated and poorest citizens, their bodies broken and twisted, disfigured by malnutrition and leprosy. Manstien saw several Stormcasts arguing with the Lord Veritant who remained standing still. Then came the March of The Blood Reavers, a column which commemorated how the city was almost slaughtered to a single soul by an army of blood thirsty marauders and blood demons. These men were the strongest and largest in the city. They were an awesome sight, dressed in animal pelts, spiked leather belts and bearing large spiked clubs. A rowdy lot, they threw buckets of foul smelling animal blood over themselves and the crowds shouting “We want blood! We need to see blood every day!” Unfortunately, in their enthiousiasm, some of them got carried away and started throwing blood into the Stormcast stand. Manstien's knees began to buckle. He gripped hold of Albertus who was standing next to him as he noticed the Lord Veritant's face turning as red as the blood that was splattered on his white battle plate. More procession floats passed by, some funded by the merchants of the city, others depicted the lives of famous city elders. Finally came the last act of the carnival. This was the float of the King for a Day. Since time immemorial, on the day of The Burial of the Sardine, the humblest citizen of Montalban was crowned Prince of the carnival and King for a Day. The stadthouder would hand over the chain of office to him and until daybreak the next morning the city was ruled by the King for a Day. This year the guild of the carpenters had built a large float in the shape of a merchant ship. It was placed on top of a sturdy, long carriage with many large wheels. When it appeared on the square, the crowds began roaring in joy. Hundreds of people pulled and pushed the float forward with ropes and their bare hands. On the sides of the vessel the words Rex Diem, King for a Day were written in large red letters . On top of it sat Bert and next to him stood his court jester. When Manstien saw Bert on top of the float, he whispered to Albertus “Holy Michael, he is even uglier than last year”. Bert was not an ordinary human. He was as large as a troll, three times the height of an ordinary citizen. Nobody could figure out if he was a giant or a troll. Many years ago Bert had arrived in the city and took up residence down town in the poorest quarter of the city. Bert couldn't tell where he came from but he liked Montalban and spent his days helping out where he could amongst the ordinary folk. People had grown to like him and considered him as one of their own. Each year they elected him as the humblest citizen for the festival. Bert was good natured, except when he was angry of course and in that event no building was safe from his enormous destructive strength. Sheriff Albertus would only dare intervene when Bert's rage had subsided. Bert sat on the float holding on to the sides as it rocked its way forward towards the stands. He wore a large wooden crown on his head, made from a barrel cut in half, and around his neck hung a large sign on which was written “Sigmar”. Manstien recognised the court jester as the city's resident poet, a man he thoroughly disliked. For official occasions he would write beautiful verses, but he was more famous for writing scandalous satires about Manstien and the other consigniliari. Manstien had heard several such songs in the taverns, disgusting tales about his person and his dubious ancestry. When the Rex Diem came to a halt in front of the spectator stand of the consigniliari, the roar of the crowds grew louder and louder “Rex Diem ! Rex Diem !” Suddenly a ladder was put against the sides of the float. The crowd pulling the float parted and cleared a path from the stand to the ladder. As Manstien began to descend the stand steps and walked over to the ladder the noise grew even more in intensity. From somewhere in the crowd, a large piece of heavy chain, painted in gold., was handed to him. He took it and draped it over both arms as he began to climb the ladder. Once on top. he took the chain and offered it to Bert who stood up. The crowd suddenly fell silent. Wobbling precariously on top of the ladder, Manstien began “ I, stadthouder Manstien, hereby offer you the chain of command. I hereby crown you, Bert the First, Prince Laus Stultitiae and King for a Day”. The crowd cheered as Bert took hold of the chain and put it around his neck. Bert then turned to the court jester who shouted something in Bert's ear. Bert raised his hand and the crowd fell silent again. “Me”, Bert began, “I hereby call myself Sigmar the Stupid the First. And now I will show how to greet me as your Lord Sigmar!” Bert turned around, lowered his pants and as he bent over, farted so loud both ends of the market square could hear it. Manstien sunk to a place where only people staring death in the eye inhabit. He had no blood left, no feeling, no other emotion that the sheer horror of what had just happened and the knowledge that his life was over. He must have fallen off the ladder. Somebody must have caught him. He was no longer aware of what was happening. The crowds surrounding him in the square convulsed with laughter. They had never seen or heard such an audacious thing in their lives. But amidst the laughter of thousands of voices, no one heard the enraged screams of the Knights Excelsior as Lord Veritant Germanus Graghus and his thirty Stormcasts leapt from their spectator stand, smashing their warhammers on the crowds below them.
  5. Chapter 4 – You have been warned In the week that followed the Knights Excelsior’s arrival, preparations started in earnest for the Laus Stultitiae, the big annual festival. Festival goers began to arrive in the city all looking forward to the celebrations and with plenty of money to spend. Street markets sprung up everywhere, taverns were full of revelers and across the whole city, houses and squares were decorated with garlands and banners. The festival was a celebration of the history and origins of the city of Montalban and on the last day of the festival, a large carnival parade would be held where, by tradition, the humblest of the citizens would be crowned King for a Day. The carnival was called 'the burial of the sardine'. None really knew how it came by that name. According to folklore, when the city was once besieged by a large Beastherd, the citizens of Montalban had been reduced to eating rotten sardines from the last fishing boat that made it into the harbour before the city was cut off. When it ended the carnival was created to celebrate their finally being able to eat something other than sardines. It was a nice story. The Knights Excelsior didn't take part in any of this, locking themselves away in the guard barracks, never opening the door to anyone. Even victuals had to be left at the gate, until suddenly a Stormcast soldier would open the gate and take the food inside without saying a single word. Sheriff Albertus would visit the Greatswords standing guard outside the barracks several times, during the day and night. But the soldiers could tell him nothing more than that they heard the Knights were holding weapon drills during the day in the parade square, singing hymns during the evening and nothing during the night. Only once was there an incident. Some drunken festival revelers had come in the middle of the night to the barracks, taunting the Knights Excelsior. “Oi, Stormcastie boy!”, they were heard shouting, “You lot you think you are tough, yeah? Well, why don't you come out and show it then! We here in Montalban ain't afraid of a bunch of peacocks like you lot.” Within moments the Greatswords ran over and started arguing with them. Soon enough there was a fist fight in front of the gate and when they all had thrown and received enough punches, the drunks melted back into the town hurling insults at the Greatswords and Stormcasts. But from the barracks came no response. The next morning, Sheriff Albertus decided it was time to pay a certain person a visit. He went over to the Greatswords guard and asked the captain and the sergeant to accompany him. When he was asked whereto, he said “nowhere, and that is where you have been if someone asks, nowhere, understood?”. Both nodded. The three walked out of the city gate and headed up the road. After a half hour, they left the main road and took a path leading into the forest. Only then did the Greatswords realise they were heading for Haldor Hollow. Past the forest, the path led to a clearing where several ruins of farmsteads and barns stood. One of the farms was still looking inhabitable despite its rickety roof and broken windows. They knew this was where the old mad mage lived and they didn't like it at all. The old fool was crazy enough to turn them into a statue or even worse, a frog or a donkey. Albetus approached the door and shouted “Nostro, it's Albertus here. I know you are in there.” From inside came a voice “Of course it is. Do you think I'm blind? I 've got no money, you greedy leech”. “Oh shut up” Albertus answered as he pushed the door open. “You two wait here” he told the Greatswords and went in. Both Albertus and Nostro sat around a table peering into a glass sphere. Clouds seemed to swirl inside it, changing reds to blues to vibrant purples as Nostro muttered unintelligible incantations. Sheriff Albertus had not always been sheriff of Montalban. He was a man with a long past - a past which was nobody's business if he could help it. But with that past came a lot of experience and he knew the value of a mage of the Collegiate Arcanum. Even if the one sitting in front of him might have faked his diploma on the wall, as Albertus suspected. But papers don't matter on the battlefield, it’s the gift that mattered. Finally Nostro spoke. “I see a lot a trouble ahead”. Albertus snorted, “I could tell you that looking in a brick, you old fool. The city is full of trouble with the festival going on.”. Nostro took no notice. “No, I mean real trouble. You have trouble makers in town. Bad ones.” Albertus swallowed. He knew perfectly well who that was. That was why he was here. “What will happen?” he wanted to know. “Oh the usual,...violence, death, battle, and then some more.” Nostro sighed. “But there is also an agent at work, an agent of the ruinous powers”. “Who?” Albertus pressed. “I don't know. I can't see through the concealment wards”. Suddenly Nostro looked up. “Listen, I know where you came from and what is in your past. You're not fooling me with this sheriff malarkey. You are going to help me.” “How?” asked Albertus. “I want my Hurricanum and Luminark back”, Nostro answered, fixing him firmly in the eye. Albertus straightened up. “No way, read my lips, no way” he hissed back to Nostro. Nostro once resided in town as the well-respected mage of Montalban. He lived in one of the city wall’s large watch towers and was often found shouting to the heavens, practicing old spells and experimenting with new ones. But one day in high summer just before the harvest, one of the Hurricanum experiments went badly wrong. He unleashed the mother of all hailstorms on the surrounding countryside which ruined the crops in the fields. The farmers besieged the stadthouder in the city hall, beside themselves with rage, waving their pitch forks to all who tried to get near them. They demanded that Manstien threw the mage out of town. Eventually Manstien managed to appease them with promises of a severe reprimand, 20 lashes of the whip for the mage and even more punishment. Later he exploded with anger in front of the mage but did not carry out the punishment. The banishment eventually came later after another failed Hurricanum experiment. Nostro managed to land a comet out of the clear blue sky right in the middle of the town's animal menagerie, crushing several Demygryphs to death and barely missing the Stadthouder's battle griffon by a whisker. This time the Stadthouder needed no prompting from the shocked Demigryph Knights and he banished the mage out of town. Since then the mage had secluded himself in Haldor Hollow. “Something has happened, Albertus. Something very bad in a place called Shyish. You may not have noticed anything unusual but the air has changed and the forces of magic and evil are getting stronger every day now.” Nostro stared silently into the glass sphere, a look of despair creeping across his face. Albertus stood up. “Yeah sure, you're not intimidating me, you old fool.”. As he walked to the door, Nostro shouted after him. “Don't call me an old fool, Albertus, you are the fool here. Your past will catch up with you. And I tell you now: before this is over you will be on your knees here, begging me to get back to my Hurricanum and Luminark. You have been warned!” Albertus and the two Greatswords walked back to town in silence. They knew better than to ask him what had happened. Once through the gate, he beckoned them to come with him. They went up the steps of the city wall to the curtain wall and followed the wall to the large gate tower on the south side. They knew this was the old mage's tower. Once at the gate's tower door, Albertus looked around them and took a key out of his doublet. He turned the key in the lock and pushed the door open. Inside the room had remained undisturbed as it was left years ago when the mage was banished. “Follow me” he said to the two men. He swept a carpet aside and lifted up a large wooden lid in the floor. A dark staircase lead to the basement of the tower. A feint light seemed to come from down there. As the three gingerly descended the staircase, Albertus whispered “Holy Michael the Hermit”. Once down, in front of him stood the Hurricanum and the Luminark with its lenses and mirrors. But they were not still as they expected them to be. The Hurricanum was slowly whirling its parabolas on its own accord and the lenses of the Luminark were pulsing with faint green light. As Albertus locked the gate tower door behind him, he turned to the captain and the sergeant. “Remember, you've been nowhere”.
  6. Chapter 3 – They are here Two days later, on a bright but chilly spring morning, Stadthouder Adriaanus Manstien, Sheriff Albertus and the consigniliari of Montalban stood waiting in the middle of the road, just inside the main town gate . The huge, forged iron gate was thrown wide open, its portcullis raised. The town's guard lined up in front of them outside the gate, on either side of the road leading into the town. Halberdiers on the left, Handgunners on the right. The company of Greatswords stood to attention on one side of the road inside the town a little way past the gate. The dismounted Demigryph Knights stood on the other side of the road facing the Greatswords. Stadthouder Manstien made the decision to leave the Demigryphs in the city's menagerie. They were nervous animals at the best of times and it would be one less thing to worry about. The Demigryph Knights, proud sons and fathers of nobel houses and wealthy merchant families, were not pleased about this decision. The Stadthouder knew he would have to grant a few of them a private audience later in his cabinet room. They were certain to protest their displeasure at having to stand like peasants and ordinary guards to meet the Knights Excelsior. The Stadthouder had already heard some of the grizzled Greatswords jeer at the dismounted knights opposite “Where's your coo-coo bird, son?” Every time Sheriff Albertus boomed “Silence in the ranks!” And so they waited. And waited some more. The Greatswords grew tired and began to lean on their Zweihander swords. The Halberdiers were put at rest and the hand gunners were allowed to put down their guns. Sheriff Albertus shouted up to the gate guard aloft the battlements. “Can you see anything?” “No my lord” was the reply. Some of the consigniliari began to complain. Another practical joke by the festival committee, they argued. Then finally came the cry from the battlements. “My lord, they are here!” A double column of 30 Knights Excelsior Liberators with warhammers and shields, marched briskly up the road towards the city gate. In locked step, they covered the distance in no time at all. Manstien could hear them singing a rousing marching hymn. “As I walk the valleys of Shyish, the lord Sigmar is my guiding light. My resolve, my strength, my righteous fury,...”. Their officer was at the head of the column , marching in silence. Manstien noticed they did not wear golden plate armour but white plate. Sheriff Albertus shouted orders to all around him. Sergeants and captains were redressing ranks and files. Drum rolls came from the far end of the files and the shouts of ‘present arms’ were heard getting ever closer. The Knights Excelsior slowed their pace and silently, they marched past the guard regiments. Under the gate they halted in front of Manstien, Albertus and the party of consigniliari. Stadhouder Manstien looked up to the Stormcast officer in front of him. Dressed in his ornate white battle helmet he stood at one and a half times the Stadthouder's height. The warrior was like a perfect white statue. Manstien's eye twitched nervously. “W..Welcome”, Manstien stuttered. “Welcome. The city and people of Montalban bid the Knights Excelsior welcome. May your stay with us be most agreeable.” The Stormcast officer in unblemished battle plate, decorated with leather scrolls fluttering in the draft, looked down at Manstien. Slowly he raised his arms and removed his helmet. The look on his face made Manstien wish he had kept his helmet on. Manstien looked into the face of the man like a rat hypnotized by a snake. The officer raised his gaze to peer over the heads of the welcoming party and across into the city. He took a long sniff of the air three times, once centre, once left and once right. Sheriff Albertus, who stood next to Manstien, kicked the shins of the Stadthouder. Manstien looked at him “Hmmm?” Then the Stadthouder remembered the young page behind him with the velvet pillow and a large golden key on it. He grabbed the pillow with both hands and held it up aloft to the Stormcast officer. “As Stadthouder of this city, I, Adriaanus Manstien, hereby offer the Knights Excelsior the keys of the city gate and the freedom of the city”. The Knight Excelsior finally answered, still looking over Manstien's head: “My name is Germanus Graghus and I am Lord Veritant of the Knights Excelsior.” He looked down at Manstien. “You can keep your key. We don’t use keys to enter a city.” Manstien was a bit startled. “It is just a symbol, my Lord Veritant.” The Knight Excelsior just nodded. “Thank you for welcoming us. Where do we stay?” Sheriff Albertus took the Knights Excelsior to the guards barracks. Luckily it was not far away. As the Stormcasts marched through the city streets, with the Greatswords behind them forming a guard of honour, the streets filled up with citizens eager to catch a glimpse of the fabled storm warriors of Sigmar. As they walked, shouts turned to murmurs and then to silence. Everybody was overawed by their presence and the aura of solemnity they projected all around them. Once the Stormcasts had entered the barracks, the doors were closed behind them and the Greatswords took up guard position outside the barrack's gate. Inside, Sheriff Albertus took the Lord Veritant through the building, explaining where he would find everything and when their provisions would arrive. The sheriff couldn’t help but noticing how the Lord Veritant seemed to sniff the air as he entered each new room. Finally the Lord Veritant turned around to him and said: “Thank you. This will be all”. “My Lord” answered Albertus. He took a slight bow, turned around and marched out of the barracks without even once looking back. Once Albertus closed the gate door behind him, Germanus Graghus, the Lord Veritant turned to his nearest Knight Excelsior companion. “This place stinks of chaos and every other foul thing to be found in the realms”.
  7. Hello! And welcome to my review of the novel Warbeast by Gav Thorpe. I'd like to start off explaining why I have decided to write this review about two years after having read it. My interest in the Age of Sigmar universe was restored after the release of 2.0 and I immediately began digging into the wikis' and lexicanum to absorb all I had missed, especially everything pertaining to my lead faction : the Stormcast. I was thrilled to read all the Malign Portents shorts and to read about characters like Hamiclar Bear-Eater and Balthus Arum while being sad that the most famous named character from my host Thostos Bladestorm is perma-dead. To top it all off in all the list of all the characters with lore entries I read none of the awesome characters I read about in Realmgate Wars: Warbeast had entries. I have decided I cannot let this stand so I am here to regale you with the tales of Arkas Warbeast and Theuderis Silverhand. Ok so I am not going to drop the entire story here but I'm going to give a brief summary and then in a separate paragraph I will list a few spoilers that I feel are really interesting or at least they were at the time. The novel picks up right away with the instant striking of a lone Stormcast (Arkas Warbeast) a Lord Celestant of the Celestial Vindicators (the choppy ones) into Ghur in the middle of a tribe of bloodbound reavers who he proceeds to butcher. Whats interesting is Arkas has been sent to not just his home realm of Ghur but to the very lands he failed to defend from the Skaven (especially a certain Verminlord) centuries ago. The setting is Usungorod, a clear allegory to dark age Russia. The land is a frozen tundra and you can imagine the brillant colors of turquoise and red clashing among the white snow. You learn that The Warbeast chamber has been sent to reclaim a realmgate that leads to the realm of life. You also learn that they are only one half of the force meant to retake the gate which is held by the skaven who are attempting to use it to their own evil ends. The other half is a force led by Theuderis Silverhand of the Knights Excelsior stormhost. Theuderis is interesting in that he is formerly of the realm of metal and was a king who successfully repelled the chaos forces that attempted conquer his lands. Both these characters clash as do the tactics of their stormhosts ( it seems the Knights Excelsior have been retconned into brutal purists rather than strict disciplined by the book types). However they both have serious personal questions about their purpose and the wisdom and intent of their God-King Sigmar not least of which is motivated by their policy on discovered survivors. There are brutal, visceral fights, but the real heart of this book is the incredibly human depictions of the Stormcast especially Arkas himself. I love this novel and absolutely recommend you read it if you're able. It almost seems nostalgic to look back at a time before the building of the great cities or the assault on the allgates. Have you read this book? If so how did you like it? Lets have a discussion! Spoilers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Frost Queen of Kislev makes an appearance with some interesting revelations. The story takes place in a region of Ghur with particularly potent magic influence and the characters struggle against its influence on their minds. It is revealed that the Warbeast purpose are to die, confronting the overwhelming Skaven alone and sell their lives dearly as the more regimented Knights Excelsior coast on to the realmgate with the bulk of the Skaven drawn away. My favorite: Arkas used to be a Were-Bear when he was mortal. Whats more he still is. he thought his reforging had removed the "flaw" but he will live with the bear spirit inside him forever and he must learn to become one with the beast.
  8. So we're getting to crunch time. I got a pair of practice games in at my club last Thursday, Stormcast vs Stormcast. My takeaways from this was that positioning is super important and mortal wounds are the primary way to take down Stormcast. Having no real way to negate that, I suppose killing their mortal wound units is the only option. Best defense is a good offense and so on and so on. Lost game one when I didn't kill my opponent's Celestant with his whippy cloak, won game two when I used my whippy cloak and Relictor to kill his Celestant before he got to combat. I also used my prosecutors to tie down His Knight Azyros to avoid the mortal wound bomb.Hopefully I can remember this on Saturday. As for progress, I had a marathon session Friday and got the base armor color on all the remaining models, finished my first five Liberators and got basing material on the last five judicators. I followed that up by doing five more liberators today. Here's the finished models. So here's the total of what I've got left to paint before Saturday, minus the Liberators. Today's Goal: I feel I've hit a stride with these. Now that the colors are chosen and the methods of achieving them are understood, progress is moving forward at an excellent clip. I could see having my entire collection done in two weeks. Granted, All I have left after these is a Celestant on Dracoth, a Heraldor, three Retributors and three Prosecutors. I will attempt to take pictures of my games to do a full battle report. Stay tuned for more.
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