Next Chapter - The Age of Sigmar;
After the Realmgates were closed a great crusade was launched to rid the Lands of Azyr of monsters, Orruks and Skaven. None remained in the heavens save those whom Sigmar deemed worthy of sanctuary. Although his own kingdom and many millions of his subjects were safe, Sigmar looked down from his throne in the heavens to see the torment of the other seven Realms, watching as the edges o their realities blurred and began to sink into the roiling tides of Chaos. Sigmar would not allow the Mortal Realms to suffer the same fate as Mallus. The God-King called upon those still loyal to him and told them that a great work was to be undertaken, a work that they all would support or be named as Sigmar's enemies. None dared refuse, not even spiteful Malerion. Each of the Incarnate Gods gave a piece of their own power to the God-King, but even they did not know the reason why. Soon it would become apparant.
None gave more than the Smith God Grungni however. Although Grungni had given Sigmar the service of his people and the Six Smiths, he felt that his debt to Sigmar was far from paid. Seeing his lord's intent to free the Mortal Realms and knowing that the God-King had need of a weapon, for mighty Ghal Maraz had been lost along with The World That Was, Grungni set to work. Sigmar intended to recover Ghal Maraz, convinced that even the sundering of the world could not destroy the legendary hammer, so rather than a new war-weapon Grungni captured the Winds Celestial and forged them into a series of comet-headed thunderbolts, each one brighter than the most powerful flame. Now Sigmar could cast his wrath from the heavens, and soon the bolts would be put to the test.
Despite weathing blows that would level mountain ranges, the Gates of Azyr remained closed. Centuries of firepower had done little than weather the mighty threshold into the Realm of Azyr, yet the Chaos Gods were content to take their time. Nothing could leave the Celestial Realm, and they had all the time in creation to take their victory and savour it all the more. But Sigmar had not been idle these centuries, he had been working on a secret weapon, with new forges, armouries, barracks and secret laboratories being created all across Azyrheim. Calling upon Tyrion the Blind, his brother Teclis, and Malerion the Dark, the God-King wove a mighty web of sorcery and deception with the sole purpose of ensuring the the conniving Tzeentch, the only Chaos God for whom foresight and knowledge mattered more than corruption, could not see what was to come and warn his brother Gods. None could be allowed to know what Sigmar planned, for he knew that his plan to free the Mortal Realms from the subjugation of Chaos could only be achieved if his forces struck fast and did not falter with surprise on their side. But fortunately for Sigmar, the Gods of Chaos are fickle in their allegience, and the War of Wrath that was soon to begin would buy him the time he needed.
Khorne, Blood God, Rage Lord, War Incarnate was never a creature of loyalty or pacts. During the last centuries of the Age of Chaos when victory seemed all but assured, Khorne allowed his red gaze to be drawn to more worthy battlefields, and as usual it was his brother Gods that drew his wrath. A bloodtide was unleashed in the Realm of Chaos as the Daemonic Legions of Blood were unleashed in numbers never seen before. With fury they penetrated the Garden of Nurgle and the Crystal Labyrinth, slaughtering the servants of Nurgle and Tzeentch in their home-soil, while in the Mortal Realms the Blood Times began as the servants of Khorne turned upon all those that did not bear the Brazen Lord's mark and slaughtered them. Even Archaon could no longer control the slavering hordes of berserkers. None could stop the red ravagers of Khorne, not the remnants of Sigmar's alliance, not the Orruk rampage, not the arcane manipulation and trickery of Tzeentch or even the counter-attacks launched by the alliance of Nurgle and the Great Horned Rat. The skulls only slowed when the dogs of Khorne turned upon each other in their bloodlust, and for centuries only the rule of blood reigned supreme in the all the Realms of Mortals and Chaos.
In the midst of battle across the Mortal Realms, the mightest of Human, Orruk, Aelf and Duardin kind were transported away in a flash of lightning, for a greater cause than defiant suicide against the Chaotic hordes awaited them. Each of these mighty warriors, be they veteran or youngling, found themselves standing in Sigmaron, the Palace Among The Stars,where their trials were about to begin. In Heldenhall, the Hall of Heroes, each man and woman feasted for three days and three nights to build their strength for the hardship to come. In the Chamber of the Broken World barbarian and technocratic nomad were blasted apart by lightning over and over, that they made be reforged in a process that could last anywhere from a few heartbeats to centuries of agony for even time itself turned molten in the Forge Eternal. Not all would survive this process. Seven times seven are the Cairns of Tempering, where the body and soul of each warrior were blended with the Gifts of the Gods that would make them something never before seen in either The World That Was or the Mortal Realms, and to ready them for the final trial. Upon the Anvil of the Apotheosis were these warriors wrought into a new form, enduring the shockwaves from the last blessings of the World Hammer, each soldier awoke with a portion of the God-King's won power, the energies of the celestial heavens crackling through their very souls. And with this final step, the time had come for humanity to strike back. Vengeance had come.
Thunder rolled and twin-tailed lightning split the skies of all the Mortal Realms, each strike searing the air and scorching the ground. For an instant - less than a fraction of a mortal heartbeat, each bolt lit its surroundings with stark brilliance, but following each flash came a thunderclap and the battlecry of the heavens that shook the very ground. From the glare strode hulking shapes, the celestial lightning still crackling about their golden armour. Thus did the Stormcast Eternals enter the war, riding the very lightning bolts of their God-King, and with their first steps into the Mortal Realms a new age began, an age of vengeance and hope. The Age of Sigmar.
The disparate and oppressed folk felt something new.
In the Jade Realms of Ghyran, Alarielle felt the lands around her stirring. For the first time in an age, there was a wholesome feel to the breeze. In Aqshy, the tribes felt something rekindled, as if embers long buried had once again sprung to flame. In the savage lands of Gur, those with the keenest senses were the first to scent it - the winds were shifting. Everu living being in Shyish felt a chill, the unmistakable sign that Nagash once more strode the waking world. In the Ulgulands, the shadows parrted so that Sigendil, the High Star, could be seen beaming down. In Hysh, the symbolism of new beginnings and the return of reason sprouted everywhere. Even in the hard and unyielding lands of Chamon, where ephemeral whim was despised, the promising feelings solidified. In Azyr, where it all began, the heavens rumbled and lightning fashed as mighty Sigmar sent more hosts down into the Mortal Realms.
Rumours of the gleaming knights that rode upon thunderbolts sent from the heavens swept the Realms. Open rebellion against the Dark Gods was beginning for the first time in centuries. For the first time since the Age of Myth the desperate free folk felt something that they had not known before. They felt hope.
With the arrival of the Stormcast Eternals, the Realmgate Wars had begun. Though the Champions of Order had been hurled into battle by Sigmar, the God-King could not do this indefinitely. To unleash the whole might of the Stormhost Legions, the Gates of Azyr would have to be opened, a tactic that relied on those first brave knights being able to open the gates from both sides. The shock of their assault sent tremors that reverbated all the way into the Realm of Chaos itself. So unexpected was the initial attack that hundreds of the Warriors of Chaos were slain as they stood slack-jawed in amazement as the shining knights that strode from the lightning hacked them down like chaff. But the followers of Chaos were warriors all, and it was not long before they realized that a new enemy had at last come to challenge them. Bellowing battlecries feared since reality itself was young, they ran headlong at the enemy, eager to spill heavenly blood. All across the Mortal Realms did the Stormcast join battle, and everywhere deeds of legend were performed.
At the living portal in Ghyran, the Lord-Celestant of the Knights of the Aurora hacked down the ravager-lord and slammed open the Gates of Life; in the Igneous Delta Vandus Hammerhand, leader of the Hammers of Sigmar, slew Korghos Khul of the Goretide, the Destroyer of the Scorched Keep. Khorg'tan, Bloodthirster and The Living Rage, halted the first two strikes of the Stormcast Eternals at the Scintillating Portal, but fell to the relentless blows of the Celestial Vindicators and was sent back to the Realm of Khorne, bloodied and broken. When it became clear that the Gates of Azyr were the goals of these attacks, entire Daemonic Legions were dispatched to end this rebellion before it could begin, but Chaos was too late. When the Gates of Azyr opened thunder and lightning split the skies in every Realm, even the skies of Chaos were filled with the flash of heavenly energy, and the Stormcast Eternals in tens of thousands marched from Sigmaron and advanced to meet the oncoming hordes. The Stormcast had struck their first blow, but they were not alone.
Ethereal winds swept across Shyish as crypts burst open, grave mounds were toppled and the Legions of Death rose anew. When Nagash emerged from the Starless Gate his intent was clear, to purge Shyish of the Chaos infection once and for all. From the depths of the Seven Abyssal Pits to the Skull Islands, from the Helstone Monments to the Desert of Bones, no lands of the dead were beyond the Amethyst Lord's rule. Casting an invocation of such titanic proportion that a tomb-chill was felt across all the Mortal Realms, all the unquiet spirits and restless dead of the Amethyst Realm were called upon. And they answered. Entire armies of the dead, each millions strong, rose up and assaulted the Chaos hordes from all sides. The dead marched to war once again. Though Chaos held sway over the land, the monuments of the dead felled and the cities of the living burnt and broken, they had underestimated the necromantic might of Nagash. Though the Dark Gods had blessed many of those that dwelt now in Shyish, they were simply outnumbered by an uncountable margin; a single Chaos Champion might butcher a hundred foes before being dragged down into a flurry of rusted knives. Yet even these dark heroics were wasted for the hundred slain would simply rise again, with the now fallen champion marching alongside them. Nagash and his Mortarchs led the way, winning the Slaughter at the Starless Gates and, with the unexpected aid of the Stormcast Eternals, retaking the Arch of Bones and casting the Bloodthirster Khar'zak'ghul back to the Brass Citadel.
In the Shadowlands of Ulgu the mists rose up around the armies of Khorne that had taken the realm for their own. When they disappated all that remained of some of the Blood God's most fierce warriors was shredded carrion. Yet this did not discourage those that came next, for the followers of Khorne scorned anything that would skulk int he fogs, and nor were they alone. Slaanesh, the Missing God, had been lost for centuries since before the Age of Chaos began, yet now there were signs of his presence in the Realm of Shadows. His followers, ever-loyal, marched in force upon the Shadowlands, intent on finding the being known as Malerion and rescuing their lost lord.
In Aqshy the Stormcast Eternals were not alone when they struck against the forces of Khorne. The flame-bearded Fyreslayers emerged from the mountains and joined the battle, for these dour followers of dead Grimnir were quite happy to lend their aid to the forces of Order, for a price. These Duardin prized the legendary Ur-Gold the centuries having robbed the descendents of the ancient Slayer Cult of their honour and love of tradition and oaths, and would fight alongside anyone who could offer them even the smallest bit of Ur-Gold. Even the Forces of Chaos...
In Ghyran after long years of suffering under the corruption of Nurgle, a new wind began to blow in the Realm of Life. As the Stormcast Eternals launched their offensive across the Realms, something began to stir in the hidden vales and glades across the Jade Kingdom. Ancient Treekin and their Dryad children rose up, massacring those followers of the Grandfather that were too slow to react to the monsters in their midst. The Realm of Life had not been bested yet, and once more the War of Life was renewed.
Yet it was these vicious and merciless attacks that ended the War of Wrath. As hundreds of his Daemonic champions came, crawling in shame, before the Gates of the Vanquished in the Brass Citadel, speaking the name of the Stormcast Eternals that had struck them down, Khorne turned his gaze from the Realm of Chaos and back to the Mortal Realms. Hesitant to join forces once more, for the War of Wrath had cut deep into the bonds of evil that kept the Chaos forces together, entire armies were being isolated and destroyed by Sigmar's champions. Never before had such a challenge to the sovereignty of Chaos been issued, and Khorne would meet it. Rising from his throne and gave a bellow so great that every realm shook and it echoed into eternity. A coppery wind blew across the Mortal Realms, and everywhere the the Mark of Khorne was to be found, it burned bright. If it was war that these bold upstarts wanted, then Khorne would show them the true meaning of the word.
And so the Realmgate Wars began, a conflict that would either be the salvation of humanity and it's allies, or the final victory of the Dark Gods over reality itself.