Hello, Heresy. I don't know how far I am going to take this story, this is a little experiment for me, since I don't usually write fantasy, but I want to get better at writing it. So I suppose this is a test to see how well and far I take a fantasy story. I hope you guys like it
Also, this isn't necessarily a Chaos vs. Empire story, this is just how the beginning starts
Chapter One: The Battle of Pale Pass
The scent of burning smoke, loosed from a couple hundred muskets, was the first thing Bjorn awoke to inside the camp of the Alle’ Tribe. A light snow fell upon the tall and narrow mountains of the Pale Range, thin avalanches fell from rugged peaks with every thunder of cannon and shot. The dense collection of tents and old wooden cabins were ablaze, slaves swarmed the sites of fire with water filled buckets beyond counting. Yet the screams of men was still fresh in the wintry air, a whimpering noise amplified by all the horrors the technology of the Empire could riddle a man to.
Bjorn made to stand, a slow maneuver in his thickened armor of burnished brass and ordinary steel. He had slept through the beginning of the battle. He stood hunched in his ordinary tent, grabbing his blackened mace and a thick long sword lying by the entrance. Three barbaric looking individuals, half naked in the chill, rushed past him with shields and axes in their hands, screaming filth to the Gods above. Bjorn staggered out of his tent after them, dismissing his drowsiness with rapid blinks. He shook off the cold and searched around the camp, noticing the absent warriors that should have been gathering their arms an hour ago. He instantly knew where the fighting would be thickest and he set a steady pace toward the wooden palisade that protected the camp.
Lief’s bellowing already reached beyond the fighting when Bjorn neared the palisade, manned by nearly a hundred arches on the walls. “You see, men, Bjorn wasn’t scared to fight, he’s just a lazy sea dog!” A chorus of grumbled laughs rose up from the defense.
Two hundred knights of Chaos and Marauders surrounded the wooden wall from on the ground. Slaves were running to and fro, trying to repair the smoking breaches left by an accurate cannon shot. Musket fire slew many of them, but the slaves ran in great hordes around the warriors of Chaos. Bjorn caught a glimpse of their attackers through one such breach, a long formation of swordsmen marched toward them under the beat of a battle tune.
“Welcome, Bjorn!” Sigurd’s armored gauntlet found Bjorn’s pauldron.
“Come to fight?” Loki wheezed maniacally through the slit in his helmet. “The enemy seem twice our number.”
“We’ll defeat them.” Bjorn stated, raising his voice enough for most of the Chaos Knights to hear. “Such is our way, we’ll slay the Gods’ foes as we always do, as we always have!”
Lief’s whip cracked in the air, someone screamed in agony. “Archers, keep up your fire!” He turned around on the battlements, his iron finger pointed down to Bjorn and around the crowd of Knights. “They’re bringing up a battering ram! Don’t let them hole us up in here! Get out there and the skin them alive!”
Rancorous jeers and savage cheering echoed among the Alle’, weapons thrust into the air all around him, everything a man could possibly dream of for killing. The slaves toiled around the mechanism that opened the gates to the fort. The wooden doors struggled to open against the mounds of fresh snow, but eventually the opening crack widened enough that the Alle’ became encouraged, and then charged into the snowy rift of the mountain pass.
The archers on the wall covered the charge of their fearless comrades as best as they could. A hundred arrows loosed in timed intervals, thwacked into swathes of musket and swordsmen, their stricken numbers collapsing on their bellies and knees in various positions. Cannon fire roared around the palisade, creating a dozen more breaches along the main gate and neutralizing a score of bow men. A volley of musket fire bristled on the flanks of the Empire’s frontline. Asrod was the first to fall, blood sprayed from his wounds onto the snow, the first of about a dozen to succumb to their wounds.
“Khorne!!!” Loki’s mouth was filled with froth, bellowing as loud as his lungs could manage. The Alle’ took up his cry, sprinting through the snow toward the still marching center of the Empire’s forces.
More iron balls projected with smoke and fire hammered into the warriors of Chaos. Blood spilled. More warriors fell into the snow. After the second volley, the forces of the Empire state troops sounded their horn and their swordsmen charged forth. They were galvanized at the sight of blood, the sight of indomitable Chaos Warriors collapsing under their fire power. Bjorn laughed at their folly as they collided into the Norsemen.
Blades flashed between the giant Norsemen and the mortals of the Empire, quicksilver slivers that danced back and forth, hacking and hacking, attempting to find weakness in each renewed attack. The Alle’ cleaved through the first ranks with unbelievable ease, battle axes cracking and splitting and pole arms impaling. The swordsmen of the Empire simply swarmed their enemies in retaliation. Every strike parried by a Knight left him vulnerable to several attacks from other directions. Men bled on both sides, died in the span of breaths, but still the battle raged on.
Bjorn’s black mace cracked open a helmet and drank deep on a well of blood. His knee swept aside his first kill even as his sword thrust downward in an overhead strike. The squelch and tearing of flesh beneath cold steel and iron soothed the Chosen of the Gods. He struck again and again, cracking bones, spraying blood, all while accepting any pathetic blows against his own armor.
Bjorn ducked under a clumsy strike, brought his sword upward in an uppercut that sliced apart a man’s face. His mace left a heavy dent in a state trooper’s chest, bouncing backward to crack against another’s jaw. Several men rushed into his guard, attempting to bring him down. He withdrew one step and brought both of his weapons into a counter attack in the shape of an ‘x’. The mace cracked several bones in a puny mortal’s neck, his blade spliced through the meat and bone around the temple of another. A stern kick sent the last of them sprawled in the snow, his sword flipped in his grip and killed him with a simple lunge.
“Sigmar!”The chant of the Empire’s soldiers echoed across the field and Bjorn felt his heart race in anguish.
“Sigmar!!” Bjorn’s weapons quickened in his grip, struck dozens in the span of a couple breaths, killing with reckless abandon.
“Sigmar!!!” Bjorn bellowed his earsplitting scream like a maniac, driven into a feral rage along with the rest of his kin.
The rest of the battle happened in a flash, all Bjorn knew was the blood curse, cutting, disemboweling, and decapitating in the most horrific ways he could imagine. All around him, the Alle’ were in a similar frenzy. Quick blades suddenly became hammers in their masters’ hands, pummeling and crushing until only a tide of bodies and gore that caked them was all that remained for several feet around the warriors of chaos. The proud, defiant cries of Sigmar soon degraded into horrific screaming and pleas for mercy. The sound of retreat echoed across the field and the swordsmen broke in droves. The musket men on the flanks were tasked with covering the retreat, but their bowels had turned to water at the sight of the Alle’. They sprinted to join the fleeing masses, across the other side of Pale Pass.
The sound of several dozen hooves crushing through snow and decayed rock carried over the battlefield. Pale Pass trembled in the coming storm, her erratic winds covering whichever direction they approached from. Loki was the first to glance up from his spoils—taking, from gathering steel that could be smelted down to forge real armor and weapons. He shouted across the field, alerting the rest of the Alle’ scattered about the battlefield, likewise scavenging. All of them looked up from their tasks, stomping through the floor of gore splattered corpses to gather in a circle from the approaching banners cresting the Empire’s side of the field.
The approaching flags billowing on the wind were of Sigmar’s faith, burning with licking flames alongside the pristine banners of the crimson eight pointed star. The riders themselves were a cavalcade of bloated knights, festering with pox and other diseases. All of them were caked in gore, from the hooves of their steeds to their bulging guts. Their leader rode on a massive steed and a large scythe in one hand, his war helm cradled in the other. The circle the Alle’ made tightened as the column of steeds made to surround them, riding in a Cantabrian circle around their raised weapons.
A guttural bellow forced the circular motion of the steeds to grind to a halt. “Halt!” The champion who issued the command stuck his scythe into the white earth. His face was a gnarled, sickly green thing, hidden beneath a bushy beard. Rotten teeth revealed themselves in his mouth in a humorless smile. His gaze instantly caught Bjorn’s. “Where’s your master?”
Bjorn grinned lopsidedly. “The Alle’ only answer to the Gods above, but if you seek our champion, he is occupied with matters of war. Relay your message to us, and we shall gladly tell him.”
The Calvary Commander grunted, snarling. “And who are you to say such a thing to a champion of the Gods? I am Grom, a chieftain of the Aedui.”
Bjorn acknowledged him with a nod. “I am simply called Bjorn. I am no Chieftain, but I do have much respect among my peers.” He removed his helmet, a thing of many horns and iron. A pallid skin man with a neat blonde beard and short, unkempt hair regarded Grom with assessing eyes.
A flame wreathed banner toppled to the ground, the chosen of Nurgle remained silent. Whether because he felt insulted, Bjorn could not tell.
“Fine.” The pox festered champion cracked his neck, eyes narrowing in resignation. “The Aedui have ransacked the mortals of Sigmar’s camp while they were called to battle. With no place of respite to return to, the army that has besieged you in Pale Pass is now running for their lives further down the foot of the mountain, along the Leipzig River.” He cracked into another wide grin. “Tell me, Brother Bjorn, do you feel like hunting?”
Bjorn shrugged his shoulders, as if weighing the merit of his words. Then he returned the smile with a predatory glint in his eyes. “Of course. Dispatch a slave to Lief! Tell him we have gone hunting for the rest of the day! Gather the horses!”
“There they are!” Sigurd laughed quietly from the edge of a steep hill overlooking the foot of the Pale Pass.
The entrance into the mountain pass was wide enough for three hundred Chaos Knights on horseback to crest over the hillside join Sigurd, shoulder to shoulder. The deep snow muffled the combined noise of their steeds’ hooves. The scattered hundreds of the Empire’s forces, marching in exhaustion along the Leipzig River, just out of reach of the surrounding forests, could not hear them from such a distance. The banner men raised the flags of their tribes, both Alle’ and Aedui, toward the grey clouds above.
Grom hoisted his scythe beside Bjorn. “Spare no one! Brother Bjorn, shall we ride?”
“Aye,” Bjorn drew his blade, the rest of the Alle’ drew with him. “Show them that their deaths are on its way, boys!”
The cavalcade of Knights split the skies with their war cries, raising their weapons up and down as the Empire’s troops glanced over their shoulders, then began fleeing for their lives as they realized their approaching doom. Grom screamed something unintelligible and the Knights broke into a ragged charge down the hill. None of the Empire soldiers even attempted to make a stand for their lives, all they knew was to run as quickly as their legs could take them.
Bjorn shouted Khorne’s name as the charge found its way beside the untamed river. Dozens of men fell beneath the hooves of their steeds, he did not even need to swing his blade, so thick were the ranks of the chosen of Chaos. Mortal after mortal screamed to their deaths as they turned to fight too late, horses overwhelming and crushing them into the earth. Swords flashed and flails broke plate and bone, heads rolled, men fell with cold iron thrust in and out of their bellies. Soon the charge broke up across the snowy grasslands as the Knights individually sought their own glory.
Bjorn barreled over a man spinning around to bring his Halberd to bear, reared up on his horse, and then brought his hooves down on the man’s ribcage. He kicked his stallion into another bolting charge, brought his mace down on a man that had lost his helmet in a previous scuffle. He parried several other state troops trying to swarm him and knock him off of his horse. He thrust his blade into a soft throat and then Loki appeared, decapitating a man with a swing of his mighty axe. The last mortal turned to flee, but Sigurd cut off his escape root and slew him with a blow of his hammer across his face.
The chase was bloody, soon the combined might of the Alle’ and the Aedui left scores of the dead and dying by the river bed. Those who were wise simply plunged themselves into the frothing waters of the untamed river, never to arise again. Cheers of victory were fresh on the air, the bellowing of the united Norsemen a thing that trembled Bjorn’s flesh. Only the cries of their terrified enemies shouted with them as they were put to the sword.
Grom was bellowing to keep order in the celebrations. “Come on, you bastards, run the last of them down! Total victory is near!”
Bjorn made to join with him. “Alle’, attack!”
The Knights brought their steeds about for another charge, but were intercepted by a barrage of musket fire that knocked a dozen warriors from their horses. The back of Sigurd’s head exploded before Bjorn’s gaze, toppled from his steed as it made to bolt into the surrounding woods. Trumpets cried on the wind as reinforcing cavalry from the Empire swept from the forests, the pistols in their hands firing rapid volleys into the Norsemen. Wings of the Knightly Orders rushed in behind them.
Bjorn’s steed reared onto its hind legs, he fought to calm her before she could flee. “Rally, rally! Charge!”
The gun wielding mortals swept through the gaps left in the formation of Chaos Knights. Their pistols burst with smoke and fire, taking the Alle’ and Aedui by surprise, killing their brethren left and right, dispatching their steeds with a single shot. The Knightly Orders and the hundreds of Norsemen left from the attack charged into each other. Walls made with long lances impaled and shattered on northern flesh. Battle Axes and maces hit home as the Empire’s Knights galloped past them.
Bjorn sliced the head off of an incoming lance and threw his mace into the Knight attempting to claim his life. The force of the blow made the mortal sag, pulling his mount with him down into the white earth. His sword flashed in an arc, catching a Pistollier running circles around another Knight of Chaos square in the stomach. The upper body came free from the torso, the rest happily trotted along with its scared mount.
“Bjorn!” Loki and Grom came riding through the thick of battle, covered in gore, and bowled over two lesser horses beneath the bulk of their own.
Bjorn hollered in laughter. “It seems we have a battle after all! Loki, lead the Alle’! Grom, let us find a head worthy of taking!”
Grom’s scythe whirled around him like a storm of death, every swipe and overhead thrust splitting open armor and lopping off limbs. He took several blows from lances to the gut, but only seemed more determined to kill. Bjorn fought by his side, cleaving the head from mounts and treading over his fallen foes. Victory never looked so uncertain, a fact only made worse by the supposed head they would try to claim.
“Bjorn!” Grom called out, pointing skyward, above the forest tree line. “Gryphon!”
Bjorn slapped the Chosen of Nurgle’s pauldron. “Come on, let’s follow it!”