Chapter 4 - The Blood Hunt - On the Edge of the Abyss
-Nagash's arrival in Athel Loren stirs up quite a bit of trouble. Nobody trusts him at all, and very few are willing to consider an alliance with a creature as megalomaniacal as the Great Necromancer. Malekith outright says they should kill Nagash and transfer the Wind of Shyish to a more pliable host. Nagash, believing that an alliance is inevitable and totally uncaring what the mortals think, decides to sweeten the offer. He promises a gift to the Elves in exchange for considering his alliance, the killer of Tyrion and Alarielle's daughter Aliathra. Mannfred, upon hearing that, immediately begins to make plans for taking Arkhan the Black's place once he is dead, only for Ashigaroth to dismount him forcibly and Nagash to freeze him in Amethyst magic. What Mannfred failed to recognize was that nobody actually knows Arkhan killed Aliathra beyond him, Nagash and the girl herself, but everybody knows that it was Mannfred that abducted her and tortured her brutally. Nagash's gift and alliance are accepted, however the alliance is immediately divided. None of the Council of Incarnates can agree to a plan on what to do about Archaon and the End Times. Each advances their own plans, but in each case at least one Incarnate will not agree to the plan of another.
-Meanwhile Archaon dispatches the Bloodthirster of the Third Order, the Third Order being those warriors who hunt down those who have insulted, displeased or directly inconvenienced Khorne, Ka'Bandha and the Blood Hunt to Athel Loren with one goal; kill Karl Franz and claim his skull for the Blood God.
-As punishment for Aliathra's suffering and death Mannfred is bound into the Oak of Ages which will over the centuries excruciatingly sap his unlife away to feed new growth in the forest. He receives a visitor though, Vlad von Carstein who has been resurrected by the power of the Von Carstein Ring. He tells Mannfred that he pities the fool because Mannfred is exactly like Nagash in that both are tyrants who cannot conceive of anything greater than themselves, and that fate is not kind to men like them. Vlad leaves Mannfred to his fate, however another watches from the shadows. Be'lakor. The First-Damned approaches Mannfred who barters his freedom for a piece of information; he reveals that Lileath is in Athel Loren (Mannfred recognizes her as Ladrielle whom he learned is also called The Lady of the Lake, ergo Lileath is also The Lady), Be'lakor accepts the exchange and frees the Vampire who immediately flees Athel Loren.
-Outside Duke Jerrod confronts Lileath who admits the truth about her nature and of Bretonnia. Bretonnia was forged to be a weapon in the End Times and for the purpose of breeding those heroes that would protect the Haven when it was created during the Rhana Dandra. Needless to say Jerrod does not take kindly to the knowledge that his entire belief is a lie and his home is nothing more than a forge. Unfortunately Be'lakor is listening and learns of the Haven, however his greed makes him strike out at the two in an attempt to abduct Lileath. Jerrod fights valiantly but is bested, however Be'lakor did not realize that the forest spirits could see him and alerted the Everqueen the moment that he set foot in the glade. She could not get there in time, but Malekith and Tyrion do. The Incarnates of Shadow and Light team up and smash Be'lakor, taking the ancient Daemon prisoner to interrogate him.
-Be'lakor, deciding that he is screwed no matter what and that by talking he might hurt Archaon's plans, reveals the true intent of Archaon and the Chaos Gods. The Gods want the world gone and Archaon's plan is to unravel it all; underneath Middenheim there is a twin to the Polar Gates in the Northern Wastes that Archaon is planning to activate. Teclis realizes what this means, it was theorized that the only reason the world survived the first gates opening is because an equilibrium was created between Order and Chaos, but if a second gate is opened that equilibrium will shatter and the world will be sucked into the Realm of Chaos to be unmade. The Incarnates decide that they must go to Middenheim, but they cannot see how as the City of the White Wolf is leagues away and the Forces of Chaos between them and there are legion. They take a recess to consider the idea properly, but their final act is to seal Be'lakor in a ruby from Alarielle's crown where he will be trapped until one of the Dark Gods pities him enough to let him out.
-Teclis meets with Lileath, who became strangely cold in the meeting, and learns that she never believed the End Times could be won and that the Incarnate plan was never meant to work. However what comes next is the greatest blow; Lileath can no longer sense the Haven in her mind and believes that the Chaos Gods have found it and devoured it. Every sacrifice that Lileath has made and tricked Teclis into making becomes worthless in her eyes.
-The next morning Duke Jerrod and the Bretonnians leave, saying they will not fight alongside the manipulative Elves or their false goddess. Franz begs Jerrod not to go, but once again Bretonnia proves it has more "honour" than intelligence. Vlad von Carstein does tell Jerrod however that Bretonnia has not fallen entirely to the Skaven uprising, Gilles le Breton and Abhorash the Blood Dragon have allied and are fighting against the hordes of Chaos as best they can along with the Red Duke and what remains of the Drakenhof Templars. He advises Jerrod that he might still be able to get there and make a small difference.
-Meanwhile Imrik, Naestra and Arahan and Durthu are holding back the Beastmen hordes that regularly assail Athel Loren, but the arrival of the Blood Hunt and Ka'Bandha sees the battle turn in Chaos's favour quickly. The Blood Hunt enters Athel Loren and makes their way to the King's Glade to find Karl Franz, and as a side-benefit the other Incarnates. The Battle of the King's Glade is perhaps the most epic of the End Times thus far as a horde of sixteen Bloodthirsters attacks the Council of Incarnates; the battles sees each Incarnate tested greatly and many Bloodthirsters banished back to the Forge of Souls. However when the odds turn against them due to the unwillingness of Ka'Bandha to die Teclis is forced to create a miracle; no matter the cost. Lileath volunteers her divine blood and soul to give the Incarnates the chance they need, allowing Teclis to murder her to use her holy blood to fuel a spell that teleports the Incarnates and their armies right into the heart of Middenheim. Unfortunately for Teclis his destination sees him land directly in front of Archaon who swiftly captures him. The Last Battle of Middenheim, the final battle of the Warhammer world begins.
-Each of the Incarnates and their armies are scattered across Middenheim and separated from each other. They do not waste the element of surprise however and lay waste to the Chaos forces that are caught off-guard by them, though the Archenemy rallies eventually and begins to give as good as they get. Caradryan and Nagash unleash their armies against the hordes, Nagash supplementing his by snuffing out the lives of every slave in Middenheim and adding them to his zombie horde, while Alarielle and her host fight against Hellebron and the Blood Cult who have taken up residence in Middenheim and sworn allegience to the Blood God. Vlad von Carstein joins with Alarielle as does Balthasar Gelt and the Dwarves of Zhufbar, the three forming a force that starts to gain momentum in the battle. Mannfred von Carstein has also arrived in Middenheim and is planning on murdering Vlad. Tyrion and the Emperor fight against the Skaven and inflict horrific casualties on the ratmen, destroying the Verminlord in command of a great deal of the Skaven in the city. As the Incarnates fight none of them realize that Teclis's spell carried along one other army, an army that have been in waiting since their leader united them. The Beast WAAAGH! which is led by none other than Grimgor Ironhide.
-Grimgor is revealed to be the Incarnate of Ghur and has united the Orcs and Ogres into a massive WAAAGH!, the former joining after Grimgor smashed in Greasus Goldtooth's head with the Tyrant's own mace. Caught up in Teclis's spell, for the Incarnates are bound together by destiny, Grimgor and his army rampage through Middenheim, the Wind of Beasts strengthening the Orcs like never before. In response the Verminlord Deceiver Darkh'dwel manipulates the Orcs into attacking Malekith and the Army of Shadow. Grimgor and Malekith's armies clash, both sides doing great damage to each other, while Grimgor fights Malekith and wins, but is caught by surprise when Malekith yields to him. Grimgor declares that "GRIMGOR IZ DA BEST!" only for Malekith to claim he is not, for Malekith is hunting a mighty Chaos Lord that is going to destroy the world, and how can Grimgor be the best if this world destroys everything? Grimgor decides that he needs to kill Archaon and allows Malekith and his Elves to join the WAAAGH!. Verminlord Darkh'dwel and his forces are annihilated by the newly allied Orcs and Elves, Grimgor hacking down the Verminlord before he can even flee three steps.
-Sigvald the Magnificent leads a massive host of Daemons against the Undead Legions led by Krell and Arkhan the Black. Krell singles out Sigvald for himself, his soul remembering the racial hatred that all Khornates have for the Slaaneshi. The battle is also joined by Throgg the Winter-King (who apparantly survived his encounter with Gotrek) who is leading an immense horde of Beastmen, Trolls and Chaos monsters. He has come to kill Sigvald who betrayed Throgg for being ugly and left him to die before coming to Middenheim. The two champions clash in an epic duel that pits Sigvald's speed and skill against Krell's ferocity and implacability; the duel sees Sigvald slashed across the face and permanently scarred and disfigured by the loss of an eye. The loss of his perfection drives Sigvald into an insane rage that sees him kill Krell and destroy his hands as he pounds Krell's skull to dust with his bare fists. He has little time to mourn the loss of his sword hand as Throgg brains the Geld-Prince with his club, and as a final insult pisses on his corpse before he challenges Nagash and is killed very quickly. Before Nagash can give his next orders Settra the Imperishable arrives seeming to be a Champion of the Chaos Gods. He singles out Nagash, but then reveals by decapitating a Dragon Ogre about to brain the Supreme Necromancer that he rejected the offer the Gods made him at the end of Warhammer: Nagash, for Settra does not serve. He declares that Nagash is a usurper and will pay the price for that, but Settra asks him to each the Dark Gods that the Great Kings of Nehekhara cannot be bought before charging into the thickest of the fighting. Nagash bemusedly agrees and heads towards the excavation pit, leaving Arkhan the Black to hold the line (a task that will see the Liche King dead).
-Alarielle and Gelt's forces continue to fight against Hellebron's. The Murder-Queen calls a Bloodthirster into the battle and then makes her way to Alarielle, as Hellebron is convinced that unless she kills the Everqueen she herself will be dead by Alarielle's hand. Only the intervention of Durthu saves the army from the Bloodthirster, the ancient Treeman easily dispatching the Greater Daemon, but this action leaves Alarielle open to Hellebron who engages the Everqueen in single combat. Though magically mighty beyond words, Alarielle is no swordmaster and is swiftly impaled. Using her Ghyran magic to heal herself Alarielle suddenly tries a different tactic; she heals Hellebron's mind of the insanity that has plagued it since before the Sundering. Though it lasts only a moment, a moment in which the Crone is stunned into silence as she beholds her blood-drenched life with sane eyes for the first time, Alarielle puts her blade into Hellebron's heart. Durthu destroys the Cauldron of Blood, an act that demoralizes the Skaramor fighting the Elven forces and sends them running. However their respite is short lived as Isabella von Carstein arrives with a massive army of Nurglite Daemons which immediately engage the Dwarven/Elven forces while Isabella herself goes after Vlad. The former husband and wife duel, though Vlad cannot bring himself to hurt Isabella and instead makes his choice; he grabs Isabella and forces the Von Carstein Ring onto her finger before hurling them both off the ramparts and onto a stake (as death will free Isabella from the Daemon that is possessing her). Vlad's sacrifice saves Isabella but ensures he cannot resurrect himself. Durthu, after hurling his sword like a spear and spitting a Great Unclean One on it, also sacrifices himself for others; he allows Alarielle to use his life energy to banish hundreds of the Daemons attacking them. Sadly the Ancient Treeman's sacrifice only buys them breathing room, but it is enough for Gelt to figure out what needs to be done. Gotri Hammerson takes command of the army and gives Gelt time to take Alarielle and head towards the excavation pit while the last Dwarfs in the world make their final stand against Chaos. However they do not stand alone for long as the White Dwarf Grombadil appears and summons forth the spirits of every Dwarf warrior to ever live, together the Children of the Mountains hold the line.
-Many champions of Chaos fight the Incarnates along the way to the excavation pit. Arbaal the Undefeated and his Flesh Hound face Caradryan and die together, while Tyrion faces Dechala the Denied One and kills her after an rapid exchange of sword blows.
-The Emperor and Tyrion fight their way to the excavation pit and join Caradryan and his Army of Fire. The combined armies of Heaven, Light and Fire crush the Skaramor defending the pit, even sending many of Khorne's maddest berserkers fleeing in terror; an act that incenses Khorne into intervening a second time and sending brass skull meteors to rain down upon the battlefield, killing indiscriminately. As the three Incarnates reach the Temple of Ulric, which leads into Archaon's excavation pit, Ka'Bandha arrives with the Blood Hunt and attempts to take Karl Franz's skull one final time. Before Franz, now no longer an Incarnate, can meet Ka'Bandha in battle Caradryan takes his place, believing that the Emperor cannot defeat Ka'Bandha. However he soon finds that Ka'Bandha is equal to any single Incarnate and after a heroic attempt, is killed by the Bloodthirster. His last act is to unleash the Wind of Aqshy into the Bloodthirster, who is charred into cooked meat yet keeps fighting. Tyrion and Franz continue to fight Ka'Bandha who is capable of holding them both off, while Caradryan's army loses the blessings he bestowed upon them and start taking heavier casualties as do the humans when Franz is struck from the sky. Suddenly a cry of WAAAAGH! is heard as Grimgor and his Orcs charge into battle against the Daemons along with Malekith and his Druchii, Gelt and Alarielle arrive shortly afterwards and join the battle against Ka'Bandha. The Bloodthirster proves to be the mighiest of Chaos's servants unleashed upon the world yet as even Tyrion's light cannot bring him down, though when Nagash manifests and personally engages Ka'Bandha in a duel it buys time for a miracle.
-The Emperor enters the Temple of Ulric and faces Azazel, Prince of Damnation. It is here that the truth of what happened at Altdorf is finally revealed. Karl Franz is dead and has been ever since Otto Glott's scythe pierced his heart, what rose afterwards was Franz's body but it was not his soul. Sigmar Heldenhammer has returned to his Empire after being trapped in the Wind of Azyr by Tzeentch after he left to return Ghal Maraz to the Dwarfs. Making short work of his ancient betrayer Sigmar covers Ghal Maraz and is restored to full power and becomes the Incarnate of Azyr again. He rejoins the battle and makes short work of Ka'Bandha, splitting the Daemon's skull in two with a single mighty blow.
-Together again the Incarnates combine their power and break down the barrier guarding the excavation pit along with Grimgor who is fully accepted into the alliance, the Black Orc's sole desire being to kill Archaon and prove himself "da best". The Incarnates, along with Seraphon, Deathclaw and what remains of their armies, fight their way through the Skaven armies guarding the tunnels. Though they do not realize it they are being followed by Mannfred von Carstein, who has taken Vlad's last piece of advice to him and finally chosen a side in the End Times that is not himself. As the Incarnates reach the artefact they find Archaon waiting for them with the Swords of Chaos and an army of Daemons from all four Gods of Chaos, and a growing rift into the Realm of Chaos that threatens to swallow the entire world. The two armies waste no time in attacking each other as the final battle of Warhammer begins.
Last edited by Lord of the Night; 03-20-15 at 02:50 PM.