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Far away, in the surrounding small towns of [[Talabecland]], they too read the signs of impending doom - milk turned to blood, bestial images appeared in the flames of hearth fires, and ominous and ill-shaped clouds rose over the "dark place" - a notoriously wild part of the Great Forest. Hastily scrawled warnings had already been sent from the [[Celestial Order|Celestial College]], the Grand Astromancer having read grim portents in the Great Astrolabe. Cog-driven [[Mechanical Pigeons|mechanical pigeons]] and [[Courier|couriers]] on lather-whipped steeds had raced to deliver the dire message. With great haste, [[Kurt Helborg]], Grand Marshal of the [[Reiksguard]], mustered an army to meet the threat. With each hamlet or small town he passed through, he saw his force grow - a regiment of [[Empire Halberdier|Halberdiers]] here, some [[Militiaman|militia]] there. [[Empire Huntsmen|Huntsmen]] arrived out of the wild to join the army. Already his train was long and included [[horse]]-drawn artillery pieces, the clanking [[Steam Tank]], ''Conqueror'', and many regiments of state infantry. Representatives from each [[Colleges of Magic|College of Magic]] accompanied the force; though soon there was little need for portents or the directions of astrolabes, for a towering column of swirling black clouds stretched up from the forest floor and reached far into the heavens. It writhed out tentacles of vapour like some living beast, and no man that looked at it could remain unafraid. After a march of three days, the coalition of Imperial troops was ready to enter the roiling black fog that now engulfed the Six Spikes.{{Fn|1b}}
 
Far away, in the surrounding small towns of [[Talabecland]], they too read the signs of impending doom - milk turned to blood, bestial images appeared in the flames of hearth fires, and ominous and ill-shaped clouds rose over the "dark place" - a notoriously wild part of the Great Forest. Hastily scrawled warnings had already been sent from the [[Celestial Order|Celestial College]], the Grand Astromancer having read grim portents in the Great Astrolabe. Cog-driven [[Mechanical Pigeons|mechanical pigeons]] and [[Courier|couriers]] on lather-whipped steeds had raced to deliver the dire message. With great haste, [[Kurt Helborg]], Grand Marshal of the [[Reiksguard]], mustered an army to meet the threat. With each hamlet or small town he passed through, he saw his force grow - a regiment of [[Empire Halberdier|Halberdiers]] here, some [[Militiaman|militia]] there. [[Empire Huntsmen|Huntsmen]] arrived out of the wild to join the army. Already his train was long and included [[horse]]-drawn artillery pieces, the clanking [[Steam Tank]], ''Conqueror'', and many regiments of state infantry. Representatives from each [[Colleges of Magic|College of Magic]] accompanied the force; though soon there was little need for portents or the directions of astrolabes, for a towering column of swirling black clouds stretched up from the forest floor and reached far into the heavens. It writhed out tentacles of vapour like some living beast, and no man that looked at it could remain unafraid. After a march of three days, the coalition of Imperial troops was ready to enter the roiling black fog that now engulfed the Six Spikes.{{Fn|1b}}
   
During those three days the Beastmen feasted and the surging winds carried the raucous howling of their blood-orgy far, stirring many dark creatures. The skies above the Six Spikes appeared to crack apart, revealing a growing black hole through which no stars could be seen. Nearly blind to the [[world|mundane world]], [[Cygors]] saw the amplified outpouring of [[magic]] from the Six Spikes as a glowing beacon, and the enourmous beasts pushed a path through the forest to join the throng. Like sharks to blood, the growing [[Storm of Magic|arcane storm]] attracted wild packs of [[Trolls]], [[Jabberslythe|Jabberslythes]] and the [[Giant Spider|Giant Spiders]] that roamed the woods - all drawn by the magical summons.{{Fn|1b}}
+
During those three days the Beastmen feasted and the surging winds carried the raucous howling of their blood-orgy far, stirring many dark creatures. The skies above the Six Spikes appeared to crack apart, revealing a growing black hole through which no stars could be seen. Nearly blind to the [[world|mundane world]], [[Cygors]] saw the amplified outpouring of [[magic]] from the Six Spikes as a glowing beacon, and the enourmous beasts pushed a path through the forest to join the throng. Like sharks to blood, the growing [[Storm of Magic|arcane storm]] attracted wild packs of [[Trolls]], [[Jabberslythe]]s and the [[Giant Spider]]s that roamed the woods - all drawn by the magical summons.{{Fn|1b}}
   
 
Many more Beastmen and fell creatures of the forest answered the call. The Bray-Shamans clambered atop the Six Spikes, the black pinnacles of rock which stabbed high into the growing storm. From there, the horned sorcerers could better immerse themselves in the rising flow of otherworldly power. They sensed the approaching army of [[men]] and, furthermore, they perceived that if they could remain on their lofty perches, the darkness would grow. The shamans heard whispers from the ever-increasing Winds of Magic, promises from the [[Dark Gods]] of a return to the [[Time of the Beast]], when their kind openly ruled, and the pink-skins lived not in towns, but in caves, not daring to raise up buildings or clear the woodlands. The Beastmen howled and scraped their hooves in anticipation of battle and a hope of gaining their rightful ascendancy - ruling supreme over a new age of darkness.{{Fn|1b}}
 
Many more Beastmen and fell creatures of the forest answered the call. The Bray-Shamans clambered atop the Six Spikes, the black pinnacles of rock which stabbed high into the growing storm. From there, the horned sorcerers could better immerse themselves in the rising flow of otherworldly power. They sensed the approaching army of [[men]] and, furthermore, they perceived that if they could remain on their lofty perches, the darkness would grow. The shamans heard whispers from the ever-increasing Winds of Magic, promises from the [[Dark Gods]] of a return to the [[Time of the Beast]], when their kind openly ruled, and the pink-skins lived not in towns, but in caves, not daring to raise up buildings or clear the woodlands. The Beastmen howled and scraped their hooves in anticipation of battle and a hope of gaining their rightful ascendancy - ruling supreme over a new age of darkness.{{Fn|1b}}
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[[Category:The Empire]]
 
[[Category:The Empire]]
 
[[Category:Skaven]]
 
[[Category:Skaven]]
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[[Category:Talabecland]]
 
[[Category:S]]
 
[[Category:S]]

Revision as of 03:22, December 31, 2018

Slaughter at the Six Spikes

Deep in one of the most dreadful vales of the Great Forest, a place overridden with predatory monsters, there is a miles-wide clearing hidden by dense groves of gnarled and sickly trees. No paths lead to this darksome site, so to reach it requires hacking through the undergrowth of thorn-ridden brambles. So quickly does the entangling brush grow back that it could cover up the passage of an army overnight. If a traveller were to persevere, they would stand on the edge of a wide open expanse, once encircled by the Six Spikes. Rumoured to be the fallen splinters of the moon Morrslieb, each spike was made of single hunk of meteoric black rock, and together they appeared as the jagged fangs of a gaping maw, or perhaps a ring of gigantic spearpoints. Greenish mist rose from their rough surfaces like steam, and even under the light of day the spikes seemed to absorb light rather than be illuminated by it, their unnatural darkness overpowering the sun's rays.[1a]

The Six Spikes were sacred to the Beastmen that roamed the Great Forest, a gathering point for foul rituals. It was known amongst the warherds that when the light of the fully waxed Morrslieb struck the obsidian columns, the spikes would whisper dark secrets to the Bray-Shamans and that if enough blood washed the base of the Six Spikes, a mighty gift of power untold would be given to the true children of Chaos. Many herds had come to pile the severed heads of the foe against the base of each spike, but no gifts were ever bequeathed in return. That is, until the ratmen came...[1a]

The Tribute of Blood

The Skaven sought to undermine the Six Spikes, dropping the great stones into the Under-Empire for their own greedy consumption. The nefarious ratmen had long spied upon their prize, timing the Beastmen migrations. They knew that by acting quickly, the stones could be pilfered long before any herd returned. In their wanderings, the Beastmen regularly left the Six Spikes unattended for many erratic cycles of Morrslieb, but at the urgings of his Bray-Shamans, Beastlord Brrak Gorehorn had been convinced to return to the site. Pushing through the razor-sharp brambles, the warherd arrived in time to see the great stones covered in guide ropes, and multitudes of ratmen straining to shift the rocks into tunnels below. Enraged at the violation of their sacred grounds, Brrak Gorehorn led his warheard into battle - but it was no real battle; it was more akin to butchery.[1b]

Stunned at the fury of the sudden assault, the Skaven could not retreat, as their underground tunnels were packed, teeming with the slave labour needed to halt the massive monoliths. The Beastmen slaughtered the Skaven in numbers beyond count, hunching into the underground passages to continue the mauling. Morrslieb, which had been sliver-thin the previous night, rose now, mysteriously full, shining its green-tinted light on the carnage below. The Bray-Shamans, their fur bristling in anticipation, ordered the offering begin. Piles of mangled and blood-matted corpses were stacked against the Six Spikes. Thus began a grim ceremony which lasted for three nights and three days. Awash with quantities of blood as never before, the Six Spikes emitted clouds of veiling dark which, picked up by the rising wind, began to cloak the Great Forest in a mist of gloom.[1b]

The Storm Gathers

Far away, in the surrounding small towns of Talabecland, they too read the signs of impending doom - milk turned to blood, bestial images appeared in the flames of hearth fires, and ominous and ill-shaped clouds rose over the "dark place" - a notoriously wild part of the Great Forest. Hastily scrawled warnings had already been sent from the Celestial College, the Grand Astromancer having read grim portents in the Great Astrolabe. Cog-driven mechanical pigeons and couriers on lather-whipped steeds had raced to deliver the dire message. With great haste, Kurt Helborg, Grand Marshal of the Reiksguard, mustered an army to meet the threat. With each hamlet or small town he passed through, he saw his force grow - a regiment of Halberdiers here, some militia there. Huntsmen arrived out of the wild to join the army. Already his train was long and included horse-drawn artillery pieces, the clanking Steam Tank, Conqueror, and many regiments of state infantry. Representatives from each College of Magic accompanied the force; though soon there was little need for portents or the directions of astrolabes, for a towering column of swirling black clouds stretched up from the forest floor and reached far into the heavens. It writhed out tentacles of vapour like some living beast, and no man that looked at it could remain unafraid. After a march of three days, the coalition of Imperial troops was ready to enter the roiling black fog that now engulfed the Six Spikes.[1b]

During those three days the Beastmen feasted and the surging winds carried the raucous howling of their blood-orgy far, stirring many dark creatures. The skies above the Six Spikes appeared to crack apart, revealing a growing black hole through which no stars could be seen. Nearly blind to the mundane world, Cygors saw the amplified outpouring of magic from the Six Spikes as a glowing beacon, and the enourmous beasts pushed a path through the forest to join the throng. Like sharks to blood, the growing arcane storm attracted wild packs of Trolls, Jabberslythes and the Giant Spiders that roamed the woods - all drawn by the magical summons.[1b]

Many more Beastmen and fell creatures of the forest answered the call. The Bray-Shamans clambered atop the Six Spikes, the black pinnacles of rock which stabbed high into the growing storm. From there, the horned sorcerers could better immerse themselves in the rising flow of otherworldly power. They sensed the approaching army of men and, furthermore, they perceived that if they could remain on their lofty perches, the darkness would grow. The shamans heard whispers from the ever-increasing Winds of Magic, promises from the Dark Gods of a return to the Time of the Beast, when their kind openly ruled, and the pink-skins lived not in towns, but in caves, not daring to raise up buildings or clear the woodlands. The Beastmen howled and scraped their hooves in anticipation of battle and a hope of gaining their rightful ascendancy - ruling supreme over a new age of darkness.[1b]

To Seize the Standing Stones

As his forces cut through the undergrowth, Kurt Helborg, a gifted commander of many victories, instantly appraised the battlefield. A tide of Beastmen was formed up in the clearing, and behind them were ragged towers of rock forming a circle of black oblivion so dreadful that it hurt his eyes to look upon it. Atop each of the six stones, in a nimbus of balefire, stood a cowled shaman. It did not take the augurs of his Battle Wizards to tell the Reiksmarshal that these must be the source of the supernatural storm. His commands echoed in the eerie silence as the Empire battleline formed - all efforts must be taken to destroy the stones and the Bray-Shamans atop them. And so the battle that became known as the Slaughter at the Six Spikes opened as a battery of Great Cannon spouted tongues of fire, their long-ranged shots hoping to smash the rock towers. Even in the gloaming, it could be seen that some of the cannonballs should have hit their mark, yet the heavy iron balls disappeared in a flash before making contact. Gunsmoke rolled down the Empire lines, along with prayers to Sigmar, Taal and all the gods fit to mention. There were powerful magics at work here and Kurt Helborg knew he must find a way to close with the mystic stones or face certain defeat.[1c]

In answer to the thunderous blasts of artillery, the Beastmen horde charged, cutting loose with a resounding roar of their own. Many of the Empire troops were veterans, warriors who had fought in the gloomy forests against Beastmen before - but never had they seen such an assembly, nor had they seen the foe so bloodthirsty. Interspersed between the oncoming ranks of Beastmen strode monstrous horrors - towering Ghorgons, their many mouths drooling in eagerness for the coming flesh-feast, obscenely shambling Chaos Spawn, seemingly sprouting new clawed appendages from their hunched masses, and the bull-headed and muscle-bound Minotaurs, their flared nostrils scenting their prey. A Great Spined Beast, a foul creature seldom seen outside of the Chaos Wastes, howled in its anguished anticipation of slaughter. The attacking waves were as ferocious as they were brutal. Some spell of madness was upon all the creatures of Chaos, for they fought with a reckless abandon and were oblivious to pain. Again and again the twisted beast-creatures crashed into the Empire lines, only to be repulsed with great losses. Yet each relentless attack left gaping holes in the bloodied ranks of the men, and there were fewer and fewer troops to fill them.[1c]

Breakthrough

The Imperial wizards sought to counteract the enchantments that lent further ferocity to their foes, but the Beastmen Bray-Shamans who opposed them had too much power at their disposal to be denied. Tapping into the pure flow of the Winds of Magic, the Beastmen not only fuelled their side to hellish fury, but also showered the Imperial lines with no end of foul spells - sending swarms of foul insects to savage the men of the Empire. No few of the brightly uniformed state soldiers fell to the ground writhing in pain as their bodies mutated in horrible ways, the bolts of dark energy hurtled from the pinnacle-mounted Bray-Shamans to clang their iron barrels with searing flashes. It was Gunther Bearhide, the Amber Wizard, who first took the battle to the enemy.[1b]

Using the abundant magical energy to transform himself into an immense Dragon, the wizard cleared a path with a gout of smoking flame before flapping his enormous wings in order to launch a flying attack at the top of the nearest monolith. There, the mighty jaws of the reptilian beast made short work of a shaman and, in a flash, it was no longer a Dragon atop the black pillar of stone, but once again the fur-clad Amber Wizard. Before he could take advantage of the nexus of power, however, a great calloused hand reached up to snatch at him. Gunther's cries of horror ended as he was bitten in twain and greedily devoured by a slavering Cygor.[1c]

While the Battle Wizards of the Empire sought to turn the tide against the magical bombardment they were receiving, the Reiksmarshal did all he could to stave off disaster. A counter-charge by the Reiksguard Knights bought time for the regiments of Handgunners to reload and pour more fire into the bestial horde. All too quickly, however, a pair of Ghorgons, using their great bladed appendages like scythes, swept through a regiment of Halberdiers and threatened to roll up the right flank. Indeed, they would have done so if they hadn't stopped to gorge, stuffing mangled corpses by twos and threes into their maws; the cracking of bones and the cries of horror from those too wounded to escape was audible over the din of battle. Bringing up reserves, Kurt Helborg shored up the ever-tightening battlelines, but even fresh troops could only just hold back the attack. Reaching the Bray-Shamans atop the black stones was impossible.[1d]

They Came from On High

It was then that Balthasar Gelt, the Supreme Patriarch, arrived over the battlefield. Upon receiving the dire warnings from the Celestial Wizards, Balthasar had bound almost the entirety of the Imperial Zoo to his will, forming a squadron of flying beasts to bring aid to the battle. Mounted upon a Pegasus, he circled above the fray leading a menagerie including: a vast arrowhead formation of Griffons, a swift herd of Pegasi, a Manticore, and the pride of the Imperial Zoo, the mighty Imperial Dragon of Altdorf. Even through this unnatural gloom, it was obvious to Balthasar that he could not break the forces assailing the Imperial troops - they were too many in number. If he were to make a difference, he must attack the shamans atop the Six Spikes. So, with a mental command, he urged the monsters to dive. Several of their number were blasted with black energy bolts, plummeting downwards to crash in ruin. Those that survived swooped upon the remaining Bray-Shamans, clawing them off the spikes. Balthasar himself turned a Shaman to gold before tipping him off the pylon in order to land his Pegasus atop the jagged black rock. Immediately, the Supreme Patriarch felt magical energy coursing through him. Wasting no time, the greatest of the Gold Wizards cast a mighty spell at the surrounding Beastmen. A vast golden orb burst from Balthasar's gleaming staff, growing in size and brilliant lustre while it rolled towards the enemy. In its wake, it left behind a field of gilded statues, creatures of Chaos frozen forever in looks of agony on their bestial faces. The beleaguered men of the Empire cheered.[1d]

Suddenly freed from their mental duels with the Bray-Shamans, several wizards transported themselves atop the now unoccupied waystones. Soon fireballs crashed into the ranks of the Beastmen and lava bubbled from the ground beneath their hooves, consuming the mutated creatures in geysers of molten rock. Elsewhere, Ghorgons were buried alive under titanic hills levitated on high and then dropped in an avalanche from the sky. Panicked at last by the unrelenting magical onslaught, the surviving Beastmen fled towards the safety of the treeline, but none escaped the wrath of the wizards.[1d]

Observing the growing crack in the skies and hearing the dark lures of forbidden secrets whispered on the gusts of the Winds of Magic, Balthasar Gelt ordered the Six Spikes destroyed as soon as it was apparent that no single foe remained alive. Impervious to magic and repeated strikes from cannonballs, the black towers were finally toppled thanks to the guidance of Imperial Engineers and the muscle-power of hundreds of soldiers pulling together. The black rocks were buried in deep pits in the ground and sealed with powerful enchantments before the Imperial troops marched away from the foreboding area. As they trudged wearily back to the roadways leading out of the forest, the heaped funeral pyres of the dead sent up plumes of oily smoke. Naturally, the spying eyes of the ratmen observed all of this. Soon, they reasoned, it would be time to get to work breaking the magical seals. Soon the much coveted black rocks, and power untold, would be theirs for the taking.[1d]

Source

  • 1: Storm of Magic (supplement)
    • 1a: pg. 16
    • 1b: pg. 17
    • 1c: pg. 18
    • 1d: pg. 19

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