Warhammer: Archaon - The Final Battle
As I read Warhammer: Archaon I will post the details here so that all can see how the final battle for the Warhammer World is fought. Hope you enjoy;
Chapter 1 - The Battle of Averheim
-Averheim is the last city of the Empire, everywhere else has fallen apart from scattered villages thathave yet to be raped and pillaged by the hordes of Chaos. Karl Franz has led humanity's last defenders, including the last knights of Bretonnia and the Dwarfs of Karak Kadrin and Zhufbar who are led by Ungrim Ironfist (now the Avatar of Aqshy), to Averheim with Ludwig Schwarzhelm at his side to make their last stand.
-Archaon, incensed by the Daemon's mocking "aid", beheads Kairos Fateweaver and sacrifices the Daemon's corpse, and presumably his essence, to summon Ka'Bandha to aid him instead. He prepares to march on Averheim and prove Sigmar as a lie once and for all.
-Vilitch the Curseling and his army siege Averheim for days, but are unable to crack the now Dwarf-reinforced walls. Franz leads a sortie using his new powers and destroys the majority of the Hellcannons that are present in the Chaos forces, and as Vilitch chases down Franz in a spiteful attempt to stab him in the back he becomes trapped in the Realm of Tzeentch where a Daemon, for whatever reason, decides to answer the prayers of Thomin, Vilitch's enslaved brother, and make him the dominant of the pair. Vilitch becomes a mindless mute enslaved to his now restored brother's will.
-Archaon arrives, with Ka'Bandha of the Third Order, Skarr Bloodwrath, Valkia the Bloody and Scyla Anfingrimm with him. They assault Averheim brutally and manage to crack the defences and enter the city. As the defenders retreat they reap a bloody tally but are forced back nonetheless. Franz and Duke Jerrod of Quenelles decide that the battle is lost, but they will make one last charge and take Archaon's head so that the enemy's victory will be hollow. The charge is mighty and many epic battles are fought, Ludwig Schwarzhelm and Valkia the Bloody score a mutual kill on each other and Duke Jerrod of Bretonnia cuts down Skarr Bloodwrath in single combat; while Archaon and Karl Franz meet at last and begin their own duel.
-Prior to Archaon's arrival Franz sent out a message to Nagash requesting an alliance. Needless to say Nagash refused and killed the messengers, but Vlad von Carstein keeps his promsies (from Glottkin) and takes the Drakenhof Templars to aid Averheim in his capacity as an Elector Count. Balthasar Gelt goes with him and flies ahead of the Vampires to reach the battle quicker. He arrives and supports Ungrim and his Dwarfs against a massive attack that sees Ungrim best Scyla Anfingrimm and send the ancient spawn falling to an almost certain death. Gelt rejects the necromancy that Vlad corrupted him with and restores his connection to the Wind of Metal and after some internal debate, becomes the new Avatar of Chamon. He begins a spell that no Metal Wizard has ever dared perform; The Crucible.
-Archaon and Franz duel but a lucky strike sees Deathclaw stunned and Franz ripped from the saddle. (This part I am unsure of, but it seems that Archaon rips the Wind of Heaven from Franz and sends it away) Before the Everchosen can kill the Emperor, Gelt's spell kicks in and the entire Dwarven force is teleported right into the heart of the Chaos army. Ironfist duels Archaon and forces him back, allowing Gelt to create a giant wall of metal from the weapons and armour of the dead that gives the defenders of Averheim a chance to retreat and make a new stand elsewhere. Ungrim Ironfist and the Slayers remain behind to buy them time, and die gloriously against the horde.
-Vlad arrives too late to Averheim and leaves as he sees the Wind of Aqshy leave it's falling host and head off to parts unknown.
Thanks for doing an in-depth overview; I've had a skim through (I admit, I really wanted to read the end - sue me).
Malekith getting killed by a ceiling gets the award for Most Disappointing Death.
Chapter 2 - The Land of Night - The War for Sylvania
-Nagash continues to convalesce in Sylvania, the Black Pyramid of Nagash now sits where the Nine Daemons did, and while his power grows, his army has been swelled with tens of thousands of northmen who recognized the threat of Nagash even as Archaon ignored it, many came to Sylvania, none escaped. However the Mortarchs are still at each other's throats, especially Mannfred who chafes at the enforced servitude to the Great Necromancer. None dare challenge Nagash openly, for he has become the single most powerful being short of the Chaos Gods.
-Annoyed by the dead's innate immmunity to his contagions, Nurgle orders Sylvania destroyed. A mighty host of Daemons, containing three Great Unclean Ones, is sent to end the Undead threat. Leading this force are two of Nurgle's newest champions, the Countess Isabella von Carstein who has been resurrected by Nurgle and paired with a Great Unclean One in her soul, and The Nameless who has defected from Nagash after realizing the First Necromancer will never tell him just who he is (he has also possessed Luthor Huss, and since it's pretty frigging obvious that he is Drachenfels, i'll be referring to him as such from now on.).
-The Battle of Grim Moor sees tens of thousands of zombies under the command of Mannfred and Luthor Harkon clash with the Daemon army, at first things go well for the Vampires as Mannfred slays a Great Unclean One single-handedly but the battle eventually swings in the Daemons favour as Isabella shows how formidable she has become by killing three Vargulfs in as many seconds, and Drachenfels usurps command of the Undead army. Mannfred and Harkon are forced to retreat as their army turns against the, though before he can escape Isabella fatally infects Ashigaroth the Gorger-Upon-The-Meek, forcing Mannfred to expend a lot of energy healing his mount to ensure his own survival. The Vampires retreat to the Dead and Buried, an old pre-Von Carstein inn that will serve as their last stand.
-The majority of Nurgle's army heads south towards the Black Pyramid, but Isabella and Drachenfels remain behind along with one of the Great Unclean Ones (who wants to kill Mannfred and avenge his fallen brother) and lay waste to the Dead and Buried. Vlad and the Drakenhof Templars arrive just in time to reinforce the inn, and together the Mortarchs and what remains of their forces make a stand against the rotting horde. Slowly but surely the last of Mannfred's vampires and the Templars are killed, along with Harkon's loyal second-in-command Captain Drekla, though Drekla's sacrifice gives Mannfred and Harkon the opportunity to kill the second Great Unclean One. Vlad attempts a break through but is abandoned by Mannfred who flees rather than face Isabella, Harkon attempts to catch a ride on Ashigaroth but is left behind by the youngest Von Carstein and killed by Isabella.
-Vlad faces Drachenfels and is nearly beaten, due to the "gift" of Otto Glott's blood that is killing him from the inside. Desperate, Vlad attempts a last gambit, he taunts Luthor Huss as a coward who has allowed Drachenfels to control him and then summons as many undead as he can, which Drachenfel's prompty steals control of; however doing so opens the tiniest crack in the mental cage he has imprisoned Huss in. Together Huss and Vlad smash the cage open, and the resulting outpouring of Huss's Sigmarite power annihilates Drachenfels entirely. Together the two fight off a huge horde in a battle the likes of which the world had never seen before and would never see again, but it comes to an end as Isabella arrives and slits Huss's throat before offering Vlad the chance to join her as a servant of Nurgle. It becomes apparent that the Daemon inside her is twisting Isabella's memories as she believes that Vlad thought of her as a pet. Vlad, who admits that he once thought he would pass through any darkness to be with Isabella, refuses as he will not become what she has. Incensed Isabella kills Vlad, who willingly submits to death.
-Elsewhere Archaon holds a meeting with a Corruptor Verminlord, instructing the verminous Daemon to recover a great artefact that is buried somewhere under a city that is not initially named, and promising an end that even the Dark Gods will shudder at if the artefact is stolen or misplaced. The Verminlord agrees and leaves to assemble the force that will do Archaon's bidding.
-Beaten, Mannfred returns to the Black Pyramid expecting to be killed for failing. However Arkhan, who is acting commander of the Undead army while Nagash convalesces, dispatches him to Silver Pinnacle to bring Neferata back into the fold. Neferata's fortunes have suffered greatly, Silver Pinnacle has been looted and ransacked by the Dwarfs, the Skaven and the Goblins, and her carefully built worldwide information network has been destroyed by the Skaven uprisings. With nothing left, she agrees to return on one condition. She wants Khalida. Since Arkhan told him to offer Neferata whatever she wants, Mannfred agrees.
-Meanwhile Isabella's army grows as it marches across Sylvania. Krell and his forces are dispatched to weaken the army and remove the final elements of Sylvania from Nagash's forces, under Arkhan's orders Krell spends the lives of the blood-mad Vampires and Varghulfs and Vargheists as carelessly as he can so that their insanity will not disrupt Arkhan's carefully drawn battleplans, though the Daemonic army is bloodied and battered from the constant attacks. Arkhan comes to the conclusion that Isabella is the anchor of the Nurglite forces as the Daemons corruption spreads only when she is near.
-The Battle of the Black Pyramid begins with Arkhan arraying a vast army before the Isthmus of Death. He grants Neferata and Mannfred control of the Tomb King Legions, but commands Krell to wait at the centre of the battleline with their secret weapon; a legion containing hundreds of Morghasts. The battle is immense, thousands of Daemons and Undead clashing against each other and many acts of dark heroism are undertaken. Isabella approaches the Black Pyramid under the protection of three Great Unclean Ones, though one is lost when a Terrorgheist tears it's guts outs. Arkhan is convinced that victory is at hand, but he does not know about the third army that has come to Sylvania.
-The Skaven, under the command of Ikit Claw, have been tunnelling under Sylvania since before Isabella arrived. The Verminlords have charged him with tunnelling into the Black Pyramid, though the lake of Death Magic above makes it challenging as even a single mistake sees a tunnel flooded with liquid death and hundreds of burrowing teams lost.
-As the battle rages on Nagash awakens, sensing the taint of Chaos on his doorstep, takes command of the army. As the Army of Blight reaches the centre Krell unleashes the Morghasts who annihilate entire tallybands before committing to their objective; clear the way to Isabella von Carstein. Confusion in the Daemonic ranks due to trickery from Nurglings sees Krell's Doomed Legion destroy many tallybands that should have been better prepared and repel an attack by a pack of Beasts of Nurgle. Arkhan unleashes a torrent of Amethyst magic shards that decimate the Plague Drones keeping the Morghasts from Isabella and hundreds of Plaguebearers; and had the last of the Great Unclean Ones not shielded Isabella with his own body, an act which cost him greatly, the battle might have ended there. As the battle swings in favour of the Undead, Nurgle tips his cauldron through the cracks in reality and allows the contents to rain over the Siege of the Black Pyramid. The rain badly damages the Undead and the pools it creates drag hundreds to oblivion while also restoring many of the fallen Daemons back to fighting shape. The undead are stymied by the rain though Krell pushes through in an attempt to take Isabella and Scrofulox the GUO down. Arkhan joins the battle at last and restores many undead to battle, but his ordered plan is ruined. Krell faces Scrofulox and manages to match the Daemon, but is troubled when Isabella joins the fight and is swallowed whole by the Great Unclean One after Isabella mortally wounds the ancient wight. Arkhan quickly strikes at Isabella while the Morghast Archai attack Scrofulox; the Liche King and Isabella fight brutally but it is the vampire that begins to take the advantage, but before she can kill Arkhan a voice rings out across the battlefield. Nagash has arrived.
-The Great Necromancer's voice rings out across the battlefield, cowing even the Daemons momentarily, and Nagash appears at last. He quickly annihilates the better part of the Daemonic forces, while many of Nurgle's followers decide that Nagash is not their problem and focus on the Undead troops rather than dare to face the First Necromancer in battle. Isabella stands her ground, though Scrofulox flees in terror rather than die fighting a being he rightly recognizes as being far more powerful than him. Nagash sees Isabella and realizes why he could not resurrect her, apparently he planned on keeping his word to Vlad but Nurgle had already claimed Isabella, and demands to know why she challenges him. Isabella reveals that she is not here to challenge Nagash, but to distract him. Suddenly a massive explosion rocks the Black Pyramid.
-Ikit Claw's forces have arrived at the Black Pyramid and begin planting warp-bombs at precise points across the entire structure, while being assailed by the necromancer Varisoth and his spirit army. Ikit Claw teleports away once the bombs are placed, leaving his army to die as the Black Pyramid is finally destroyed completely.
-Nagash goes berserk as he sees his place of power destroyed and unleashes a massive wave of magic that eradicates the entire Daemonic army, Scrofulox is destroyed in the wave and Krell's remains restored. Isabella survives but is monstrously wounded by the blast and forced to retreat back to Nurgle's domain. Nagash then realizes his mistake, with the Black Pyramid gone he can no longer harness the great Death Magic of the world and he has just expended all the power he spent months gathering; he is now just a mighty mortal again, no stronger than any other Incarnate. Forced to readjust his plans, (it is revealed here that the idea to harness Death Magic came from Teclis who visited Nagash in the void and offered him an alliance between life and death, which Nagash refused), he resurrects Arkhan, Krell and Varisoth and marshals his army together. Granting control of Sylvania to Neferata, an act which makes Mannfred seethe with rage, Nagash leads his army towards Athel Loren, to seek an alliance with the other Incarnates, an act that incenses Nagash but one that he can no longer do without.
Chapter 3 - Hope Reborn - The Battle of Athel Loren
-With the coronation of Malekith the Eternity King the Elves are at peace for the time being. The Dark Elves and the more militant of the High and Wood Elves fear and respect Malekith, and the High Elves and Wood Elves love Alarielle (while the Dark Elves have learned to respect her). However the forest itself is divided, the majority of the forest spirits honor the ancient pact and follow the example of Durthu the Ancient, but a growing number side with Coeddil the Mad and Drycha the Briarmaven who want the Elves gone.
-The war begins as Chaos flares again in Athel Loren, the Vaults of Winter burst with thousands of Daemons that assault large swathes of the forest. Several cities are lost and even more savaged with many Elves falling in the defence. At the Tree of Woe Morghur, also known as accursed Cyathanair, is reborn and leads a renewed Beastman assault against the Elves, Morghur himself corrupting many with his warping touch. As Athel Loren faces the forces of Chaos yet again, Drycha breaks the binding stones of the Wildwood, allowing Coeddil and the dark spirits of the forest to roam free again, the cruel Treemen shatter an army of Wood Elves but their attack is blunted by Alith Anar and the Shadow Warriors. The battles rage on but the resentments between the three factions of the Elves cause as many casualties as the enemy, though the asur refusing to cooperate with the druchii or the asrai trusting nobody but themselves; this is due to the fact that Malekith and Alarielle are not setting a good example as neither trusts the other, however the two take to the field and prove their worth as the Incarnates of Ulgu and Ghyran, as does Lileath who has joined with the Elves fully and fights on the frontline.
-Meanwhile Teclis and Malhandir have joined forces and are carrying a burden towards the Oak of Ages, Teclis is being guided by the spirits of Eltharion the Grim, Archmage Bellenaer, Korhil of Chrace and Finubar the Seafarer.
-Other issues for the Elves arise from Hellebron, who survived her injuries in Khaine and has restored the Cult of Blood, which swells with members from the Asur and Asrai. She fights fiercely in defence of Athel Loren, but spends her followers lives like cheap coin, Malekith's refusal to check her influence leads to a battle where after slaughtering their way through the beastmen warherd, Hellebron's followers savage the Asrai force that was fighting them and kill half of the Elves there. Forced to concede the point, Malekith allows Alarielle to strip Hellebron of everything she has and exile her, and disband the Cult of Blood. This however allows Be'lakor, who has plans for Athel Loren, to convince Hellebron to swear allegience to him instead, Hellebron's bitterness over her fall is enough for Be'lakor to win her service.
-Meanwhile the Wind of Aqshy, now loosed from the dead Ungrim Ironfist, travels across the world seeking a host. Many sorcerers attempt to harness it only for it to pass them by, or worse notice them and destroy them utterly as they fail to contain it's power. Egrimm van Horstmann makes hundreds of sacrifices in the tunnels underneath fallen Altdorf, but even he can only contain Aqshy for a second before the magic destroys him from the inside.
-As the Elves fight their battles alone, the survivors of Averheim arrive at Athel Loren after surviving Orc and Ogre attacks as well as Chimaera packs in the Grey Mountains. Balthasar Gelt has been accepted by the Dwarfs as their leader, as many believe him to be the reincarnation of Grungni due to the ancient and forgotten runes flaring to life in his presence. Karl Franz, now stripped of Azyr by Archaon's hand, is still a mighty force as traces of the magic linger and is leading the way as he is the only one who actually wanted to come to Athel Loren. Behind them marches a massive army under the command of Skarr Bloodwrath, resurrected from his death at the hands of Duke Jerrod, who plans to burn Athel Loren to the ground. Be'lakor pleads with him to stay his hand for now as the First-Damned's plan requires perfect timing and the element of surprise, but Skarr is too insane to listen and assaults the forest. Because the army under Franz have not harmed the forest, no cutting down trees for firewood (etc), the spirits have left them alone; Bloodwrath's forces are not so smart and soon they are attacked by every spirit for leagues. Be'lakor's plan is ruined, but he begins to redraw them.
-Coming to a great chasm Balthasar Gelt stays behind to buy the rest of the army time to reach the Elves. The Dwarfs refuse to abandon him and stay as well, while Franz and Jerrod split the army and take off in multiple directions to better their chances of finding help. Bloodwrath arrives shortly after and charges the chasm wall that the Dwarfs have prepared for battle; the ensuing fusillade kills thousands of the Skaramor tribesmen and a magic assault from Gelt sees Bloodwrath and hundreds of others turned into golden statues. However a dark miracle occurs as Khorne rises from his throne and slashes the mountain that the Dwarfs are using, breaking their battlelines, and personally undoing the petrification of Bloodwrath and his followers. The berserkers charge the Dwarven line and wreak havoc, however the Dwarfs refuse to give ground and hold the berserkers in check; many are killed on both sides and only the Dwarfs legendary stubborness and Gelt's immense power keep the northmen from victory. Help arrives in the nick of time as Caradryan leads a large Phoenix Flight and an army of the Phoenix Guard to help. The Skaramor are butchered in thousands by the fires of the Phoenixes, though Bloodwrath refuses to be cowed and meets Caradryan in single combat. The bloodmad warrior kills Ashtari, Caradryan's ancient Frostheart Phoenix, but is killed by the Elf Lord for his efforts; but before Caradryan can escape he is set upon and swarmed by the berserkers. In what appears to be his last moments he prays to Asuryan, now dead and gone, but his prayer is answered by the Wind of Aqshy which takes Caradryan at it's host and resurrects Ashtari as a Flamespyre Phoenix. Caradryan's new magic breaks the Skaramor assault utterly and sees all the Khornate Warriors killed.
-Be'lakor, in response to Skarr Bloodwrath ruining his initial plan, goes with his next plan. He meets with Drycha and Coeddil, preying on their hatred of the Elves and their foolish naivety that Chaos will leave the forest alone once the Elves are gone to sway them to his side. Next he finds Naieth, former chief spellcaster to Ariel, and tricks her into revealing her dream self to the Eye of Sheerian as she observes Archaon and in turn to the full gaze of the Dark Gods. The spellcaster's soul is devoured and her body is warped into a Daemon gate that allows hundreds of Slaaneshi forces to spill into Talsyn. The Eternal Glade and the Oak of Ages are now at risk, and with them the Weave that holds the world together.
-Three armies converge on the Oak of Ages; Be'lakor's Daemonic army, Hellebron and her Cult of Blood, and Drycha and Coeddil's spirit army. Malekith, Alarielle and the twins Naestra and Arahan lead the defence. The twins face off against Hellebron, whose madness has infected her army and turned them into little but blood-drunken savages whose only strength comes from their refusal to simply die. Malekith and his forces face the Daemons, Malekith however is only half-taken in by the battle and is keeping his mind on the shadows, thinking that there is a presence there that he will need to deal with when the time comes. Alarielle and her forces face Drycha and Coeddil who believe that with her death, the Elves will fragment and allow them to take the forest back for themselves.
-Meanwhile Teclis has reached the Oak of Ages, his unknown plan nearly completed. He finds Ariel/Isha's bones and prepares to use them in another gambit that could see the battle for Athel Loren ended, but if it fails the battle for the world at large will be lost.
-As the battle rages Coeddil charges the centre of the Everqueen's army and tries to kill her, only for Durthu to intercede and face his ancient brother in one last battle; a battle that he wins by piercing Coeddil's heart with his blade. Malekith faces down multiple Keepers of Secrets, including the legendary N'kari whom he defeats easily and sends screaming back to the Forge of Souls. As he sees Alarielle's line beginning to buckle under Drycha's attack Malekith moves to reinforce her, however the moment he has been waiting for arrives as Shadowblade drops from the forest canopy and attempts to kill the Eternity King. Having known this moment would come from the moment he exiled Hellebron, Malekith dispatches the Assassin and sends him falling to his death from Seraphon's back. As he arrives at the Everqueen's forces Malekith is pinned in place by vines controlled by Drycha, who leaps at him and prevents him from coming to Alarielle's aid.
-Be'lakor joins the battle and makes his way to the Oak of Ages. His shadows begin to infect the weave, causing reality to buckle. Upon sensing this Drycha finally realizes her hubris and turns to try and stop Be'lakor, but it is too little and far far too late and Malekith decapitates her when her attention falters (he refuses to embrace such a fickle being as an ally). Be'lakor continues to infect the weave, drawing the attention of the Dark Gods, but is stopped when an incredible light bursts forth from the ancient tree. Before he can resume his attack Be'lakor sees a knight emerge from the tree, exuding a bright and powerful light and a presence that causes the Daemons of Chaos to burn and waver. The knight reveals himself as Prince Tyrion, resurrected by Teclis using the Heart of Averlorn's magic and the divine bones of Ariel/Isha. Tyrion is now the Incarnate of Light and his very presence is anathema to Chaos, furthmore the madness is driven from the followers of Hellebron who beg forgiveness for their actions (mercy is not given and most are executed) bar Hellebron herself who flees swearing revenge, and the Daemons of Chaos shy away from Tyrion in fear. Be'lakor is driven off, the racous laughter of the Dark Gods ringing in his ears as he flees in shame.
-Victory is won, but at a cost. Half of the Elves who stood with Malekith and Alarielle are dead. The Daemons are chased by Prince Imrik, who is furious that he was not there for the battle, who harries them all the way to the gate made from Naieth's twisted body. Enraged by her desecration, Imrik annihilates the Daemonic stragglers and gives Naieth's corpse an honorable cremation, spreading her ashes among the forest. The Weave is stabilised, but it is still fragile and cannot be restored to it's former strength. The biggest concern is Tyrion though; nobody is willing to trust him. Malekith demands that Teclis explain his actions, which the Archmage does (and in doing so proves that Tzeentch has got nothing on him as a chessmaster) and reveals that he planned the entirety of Warhammer: Khaine. Tyrion was always destined to become the Avatar of Light, but had he become this while still saddled with the Curse of Khaine then the power of Hysh would have been corrupted and therefore worthless. Everything from the sacrifice of Aliathra to the corruption of Tyrion into the Avatar of Khaine, and the thousands of dead from Tyrion's rampage, was designed to remove the Curse of Khaine from him and allow Tyrion to assume his ultimate destiny. All but Malekith and Lileath are apalled beyong measure, Malekith deciding then and there that he respects Teclis for his ruthlessness and Lileath uncaring because the plan was hers and because she has done far worse. It is decided that Tyrion is necessary, though to ease the burden he vows that he has no interest in kingship of the Elves. Tyrion and Alarielle have a private conversation, their words are unknown, but it is clear that the innocent blood on Tyrion's hands and the destruction of the Heart of Averlorn have killed Alarielle's love for him.
-The next morning Caradryan arrives with the Imperial and Dwarven forces. The Incarnates meet at last and all three sides share their stories, from the destruction of the Dwarf-holds to the fall of the Empire to the sinking of Ulthuan. Teclis reveals his plan fully to all, explaining to the Incarnates exactly what their destiny is and how it can be achieved; though he admits that the Wind of Shyish was stolen before he could get to it and the Wind of Ghur is invisible to him at the moment. The sides agree to an alliance, however at night a new army arrives. Nagash and the army of the Undead. Mannfred von Carstein acts as his herald and reveals why Nagash has come to Athel Loren, he seeks to parley with the Forces of Order and ally against the Chaos Gods.
-Meanwhile Archaon's excavation is complete. Underneath Middenheim his forces have found something that Archaon believes will end the Apocalypse and destroy the world once and for all. He orders it to be activated by the sacrifice of the hundreds of slaves that have excavated it, and leaves to return to the field.
Yes! Thank you for doing this. Can't really afford an Archaon book right now and I just need to know what happens.
It sounds like I'm reading some shitty fanfiction cross over.
Considering Fantasy background of the Wood Elves and Bretons etc got me into Warhammer, congratulations GW on finally destroying it. You've achieved it, not only figuratively in setting, but left a bad taste in my mouth.
DERP - scscofield
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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.
Chapter 5 - The Lord of the End Times - The End of all Things
-Archaon's horde is strong and possesses many Greater Daemons sent to stop the Incaranates from saving the world. Nurgle, Khorne and Tzeentch have sent their finest, although Slaanesh is not convinced at the wisdom of ending the world and as such has sent his most inept servant into battle. Arrayed against them are the last of the Forces of Order that are still organized, though some forces still fight in other parts of the world.
-Grimgor takes his chance and engages Archaon in battle right away, killing the Slaaneshi Keeper of Secrets Sslivox the Serpent as an after-thought during his charge. The Incarnate of Beasts and the Lord of the End Times clash, each of their power matching the other. Grimgor takes an advantage as with a mighty head-butt he destroys the Eye of Sheerian and cuts off Archaon's foresight permanently, but in response Archaon unbinds U'zhul the Slayer of Kings and allows the Greater Daemon's full might to become his as well. Grimgor fights valiantly but in the end he fells as Archaon decapitates him. The surviving Immortulz go berserk and take down many Swords of Chaos and Daemons before they fall, their heroism making even those who have suffered the depredations of the Orcs admire their skill.
-Malekith destroys both Lords of Change in a sorcerous exchange of power, while the Great Unclean One is killed as a massive pile of falling rock crushes him. The chamber is becoming unstable very rapidly. Seeing Teclis imprisoned Malekith urges Seraphon across the chamber, as with Teclis at their side the Incarnates have a much greater chance of victory, though the leader of Archaon's coven (who has taken Teclis's gear as trophies) kills Seraphon with a magical blast. The Black Dragon claims her killers with one final claw swipe beore expiring completely. Malekith frees Teclis and returns his gear.
-Sigmar leads the last of the Reiksguard into battle, slaughtering dozens of Northlanders and their Daemonic allies. Gelt and Alarielle follow in their wake, Gelt providing what support he can to their wargear while Alarielle heals what wounds she can, however the damaged weave is greatly affecting the Everqueen and weakening her considerably. Tyrion is forced to fight on foot as Malhandir is lamed by a bad landing, though his power as the Incarnate of Light sees many Chaos followers killed and Daemons banished. At the rear Nagash brings up a massive army of zombies to prevent the Incarnates from being flanked and/or circled.
-Archaon and Sigmar charge into battle with each other. Archaon has not had time to rebind U'zuhl and every second that passes sees Archaon forced to mentally wrestle the Daemon for control of his body and mind. The last Reiksguard and Elven troops die to Archaon's blade just before Sigmar can arrive, while Sigmar annihilates the last of the Swords of Chaos. The two champions meet, their mounts also engaging in combat with each other, and though at first they are equal, it is Sigmar that proves to be the greater warrior as he consistently wounds Archaon and forces the Everchosen to rely more and more upon the strength of U'zuhl and the speed of Dorgar. Archaon strikes at Deathclaw in an attempt to weaken his opponent, an attack that works and sees Deathclaw's throat slashed open. As the valiant griffon dies Sigmar is thrown clear, giving Archaon the chance to charge him on Dorgar's back. Sigmar does not relent and strikes Dorgar with a single blow so might that it sends shards of skull into the Daemon-steed's brain, killing it instantly. Both Archaon and Sigmar are grievously wounded at this point, Sigmar reveals to Archaon (whom he names Diederick Kastner, which was Archaon's true name as a boy) that he wanted to save the former Templar but it was Archaon's obsession with prophecy that saw him corrupted and damned, and that if Archaon had ignored the prophecies of Necrodomo he could have been the Champion of Light that would have seen Chaos banished from the world forever. Archaon, by this point unwilling to hear anything like that, attacks Sigmar one last time. In response Sigmar unleashes the full power of the Wind of Azyr, the lightning storm that erupts into being destroys the Slayer of Kings and sends Archaon falling into the abyss.
-The rift expands again, taking the Daemons into itself to fuel it's growth. With Archaon defeated the Incarnates gather together and start trying to seal the rift. To compensate for the loss of Caradryan and Grimgor, Teclis takes both the Winds of Ghur and Aqshy into himself, an act that will kill him before long. The six Incarnates actually begin to succeed, the rift shrinking in response to their power. But another figure enters the chamber, Mannfred von Carstein who decides that he would rather be the right hand of anarchy than a slave to mindless order (though he is still sane enough to recognize that the Dark Gods are influencing his choice). He stabs Balthasar Gelt in the back, killing the Wizard and in one stroke, dooming the world. The spell breaks in response to the loss of Chamon, Teclis tries to reclaim the wind but even he cannot hold three Winds of Magic within himself and is burned to ashes. The Incarnates are stripped of their power by the rift, though Tyrion recovers quickly and brutally executes the now blind and half-mad Mannfred. Nagash is unmade as the Wind of Shyish is sucked from him while Malekith, in an unprecedented act of selflessness, pushes Alarielle out of the way of a falling rock that would have killed her only to be crippled as the rock crushes his legs. Sigmar moves to aid Malekith but is tackled by Archaon who has clawed his way back out of the abyss, the two begin to fight for control of Ghal Maraz and fall into the abyss.
-Tyrion aids Alarielle while Malekith sardonically laments the fate of the world. Tyrion and the Everqueen state that they have had their chance and they have failed, and that there is no point in fleeing because soon nowhere else will exist anymore. The two hold hands (a beautiful image) as the rift of Chaos grows and grows until it swallows them and Malekith, who rages as he plunges into oblivion.
-Outside Neferata flees the destruction of Middenheim, Arkhan the Black stays behind to buy her a few more seconds and says that though they have failed he can sense something has happened, something he calls a last roll of the dice, for the hope of something better. Neferata admits that Arkhan is the only man she has ever loved, and uses her brief reprieve to return to Sylvania (where the last humans and the Halflings have taken refuge) and make peace with her sister Khalida. The two queens spend their final moments leading the last forces of Order in battle against Chaos. (This is from the novelization by Josh Reynolds)
"And so the mortal world fell away into oblivion. The gnawing rift at the heart of mankind's domain devoured reality. Slowly it spread at first, but then with the hunger of ravening wildifre. Invigorated, great polar rifts slipped their ancient bounds and joined their younger sibling in its feast. The peoples of the world beheld their doom and screamed in despair. No two watchers beheld the same vision. Some saw skies riven with fire, some looked upon an ice-cold maelstrom of stars, some saw colossal tentacles and fanged maws that drolled the molten stuff of Chaos. Perhaps the Dark Gods raised their champions to daemonhood from the battles that raged amongst the flames. It matters little, for the truth of those hopeless wars are lost. The Oak of Ages was swallowed last of all. Mournful dryad-song echoed under livid skies as Athel Loren perished. With its destruction, the Weave that bound time and space together thinned and stretched. Twisted by unnatural energies, it dissolved entirely into nothingness. That terrible act of uncreation might have taken the blink of an eye, or unfolded across millennia. The Dark Gods were not fettered by the flow of time, and they let it pass unmarked. Already tired of their victory, they turned away from the ruin they had wrought and began the Great Game anew in other worlds and other creations. In doing so, they paid no heed to the tiny speck of light tumbling in the infinite darkness - the glowing essence of what had once been a man. Through the storm of nothingness he fell, adrift for aeons upon unseen tides. Then came a glimmering orb, a fiery world-heart grown cold as the abyss. Desperate, the figure seized upon the sphere with a grip that could shatter mountains. he stared into the void, and from the darkness, the void stared back. The figure clung tight, marshalling his faded strength. He reached forth his hand, and a miracle took shape.
And what of tomorrow? What of tales yet to be told, and the cycle of the stars? These truly were the End Times.
But they were also the beginning."
And with that, the story of the Warhammer world and all those who inhabited it comes to a close.
I still can't quite believe they've gone ahead with it and ended the world, killing off virtually every single hero and villain as they go.
I still don't know what this means for 9th Ed. I mean, I'm sure all the units will still exist in one form or another, rumours of united Elven armies and the like. But what about all the dead characters. Just how big is this next edition rulebook going to have to be, to give even a brief run down of the End Times and set up the new world.
Dammit what's the new world going to be like! Has anyone lived? So many damn questions!
Even though I don't play Fantasy I seriously enjoyed this writeup. Thank you @Lord of the Night !
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