Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Massacre on the Old Silk Road

Tim (Daemons of Chaos) vs Gill (Tempestrians)

Rachel d’Astatic brought her horse to a stop and sniffed the air, raising her slender hand to halt the column of Tempestrian knights behind her. There was something very wrong here, even if she couldn’t put her finger on exactly what it was. Bearing the army battle standard, Ford galloped out of position and came up alongside her. “What is it your majesty?”
“I’m not sure,” replied Rachel, the Merchant Queen of Tempest Falls, “but I feel a sliver of ice chill in my bosom as though part of me is responding to something up ahead, lying in wait. Send word back along the line to deploy the archers from their carts and unhitch the catapult. Move it into position on that rise.” She pointed. “I saw a watchtower in the trees a hundred yards over to the right. It looked deserted. Order a battalion of archers to garrison it and to watch ahead for enemies.”
“Yes m’lady.”
“Where is Methuselah?”
“Ranging wide on his hippogriff, scouting the forest.”
“Sound the horn,” said Rachel. “Summon him back.”
“Yes m’lady.”

Ford cantered back toward the column but Rachel did not watch him go. She was thinking about Methuselah and of the doubts she had felt lately; the questions in her heart about this man she was married to, who she was meant to love, that had no answers. More and more lately, she couldn’t quite recall the moment when they fell in love; the reason that had drawn them together. And another face loomed darkly in her dreams that she could not identify – a tall pale skinned man with strange flickering eyes.
She shook her head to clear the ruminations. This was no time for such luxuries; not when danger loomed; especially when their mission was so critical.
The road ahead led to Malko, capital of New Sylvania, the capital of the Empire’s presence in the Border Princes and the only ally they had within reach in the war against the encroaching darkness in the south. This trip was to be the first meeting between Rachel and her New Sylvanian counterpart, Marcus von Drak. If talks went well, and she anticipated they would, then their realms could join in a great chain of resistance against the encroaching tide of evil. Together they might be unstoppable.
But what was this sliver of ice in her chest that boded ill? What grave forces lay in wait ahead?
Rachel had no idea.
And then they came. All along the edge of the road up ahead and to the right, the foliage crashed apart as a huge throng of Daemons came surging through: Bloodletters, Horrors, Flamers, and flitting through the dense cloud cover, the unmistakably terrifying sight that could only be a mighty Bloodthirster.

The Bloodletters led the charge, sprinting down the slope onto the road ahead of them, at the forefront of each fork of their throng, a huge Juggernaut, each of them a mount for a devastatingly powerful Herald of Khorne.
At Rachel’s command, the archers let fly but a flitting shadow at the edge of her field of vision made the merchant queen pause. Crossing the road ahead of them and ghosting between the trees on the other side, zooming round to her force’s flank, came a cluster of revolting, but also somehow beguiling Seekers of Slaanesh: Daemonettes mounted on sleek steeds every bit as fast as a flock of birds. They were in danger of ripping the flank out of her advance party and Rachel cried for her men to take them down as a priority.
Arrows flew, taking down one of the Seekers as they vaulted the undergrowth but they were simply too fast. They charged into one of the archers units, hacking them down and sending them fleeing with their vicious claws, then crashed through into the Greatswords that Marcus von Drak had sent to guide the Tempestrians into Malko.

Rachel directed her knights into position to take down the Seekers of Slaanesh and overwhelmed, the Seekers succumbed to the weapons of humanity. But too late, Rachel realised the true purpose of the attack. The strike of the Seekers had been as much distraction as gambit. The Bloodletters were on the battle line! The Tempestrians had missed their chance to bring them down at range before they closed!
The Bloodletters hit the knights as they galloped forward to meet them, screaming their hatred into the darkening air, with the Heralds at the fore, pulverising the front line of the knights and driving them back. Cries of fear broke out in the otherwise stalwart men. This assault was like nothing they’d faced before. The swords of the Bloodletters cleaved their armour like it was immaterial. Roaring, the Bloodcrushers reared and dropped, stampeding their enemies. In the centre of the battle, the diabolically infamous daemonic creature, Skulltaker, whirled, swinging his sword in a vile whirlwind of decapitation.
Rachel tried to steady her horse, calling for the men to remain calm; tried to steady her own nerves sufficiently to draw upon her sorcery. Twirling incandescent Flamers, their forms constantly shifting, sent torrents of fire into her bowmen. She could see them faltering, preparing to flee, but to their credit, they held firm.
Where was Methuselah?!
Then the cry came from his mighty Hippogriff, and plunging from the dense cloud cover, Methuselah plummeted down on the battlefield, hit the ground for the briefest of seconds, then charged at the cascading Horrors cavorting towards him. Before he could reach them he was engulfed in flame from all sides and Rachel screamed his name, all doubt in her feelings for him gone. The daemons were on him, scratching at his steed; almost ignoring the king himself in their haste to rob him of his mobility. The Hippogriff went down and suddenly Methuselah was lost from Rachel’s sight.
She was terror stricken. For the first time since this war had begun; with all their victories; this was the first time that she’d felt real panic. She had long sensed a deeper power within her, begging to be tapped, scratching at her subconscious; needing her to give in to its seduction. And never before had her power been this sorely needed. She started to summon it, not realising she was connecting to the Chaos Vein deep beneath the Border Princes and her hair began to lift as the power shot through her body.
But that gave her pause. Was this really the worst it had ever been? She had a memory... She had a memory of fighting alongside a tall man she could no longer picture; fighting for her life and the very existence of her beloved kingdom. But why did those memories falter? Why couldn’t she remember such a pivotal battle? Who was this dark figure she fought with and why did she appear to be battling against Methuselah in this vision?
She shook the memory as the last of the Empire Greatswords was hacked down, drawing on this forbidden and lethal wellspring. The dark magic of the Chaos Vein surrounded her and she drew it into her hands to be sent forth as flame. The kiss of Chaos weedled in, trying to taint her, but her purity and determination protected her without her even realising. Before she could get an inkling of the rot that was trying to seep into her soul the gargantuan Bloodthirster, Greater Daemon of Khorne took to the air and sailed toward her.
All around her the Tempestrian battle line was in tatters. Almost everyone was dead! The Bloodletters sprinted up the slope toward the watchtower, engaging the guards the archers had posted at the door and they tore through them as easily as they’d torn through the rest.
Methuselah was nowhere to be seen, still buried beneath the writhing mass of the horrors as more Bloodletters and a huge Daemonic Beast closed in to finish him off.

The Bloodthirster glided across the road, there where it was widest, roaring in exultation at its victory, circling its great brass axe.

Rachel unleashed the dark magic at her command, blasting it at the oncoming Greater Daemon, screaming as she did so. There was no one left. There was only her. But the fire did not stop it. If anything, the Bloodthirster thrived on it.
It’s great hooves came down on her horse’s neck, crushing the bones and knocking her to the ground. She struggled on hands and knees to get up as it punched its axe into the steed’s flank and ripped it casually in half down its length. Then snorting, steam issuing from its burning nostrils, smoke pouring from its back, the leviathan strode after her, even as she crawled away, her head ringing, desperately trying to focus her mind; to cast some kind of incantation of defence if not attack.
The jolt to her head had sent her mind reeling but despite the imminent danger, she wasn’t seeing the here and now. She was seeing some other place; some other time. The tall stranger was lifting her into his arms. She was on the verge of death; her life slipping away; and he was weeping – this man whom she could not place. He was weeping as he kissed her gently on the forehead then carefully exposed his neck.
The Bloodthirster was on her and suddenly the world was only a series of terrible sensations.
Its massive clawed hand was round her lower leg.
She was swinging up into the air.
Cries of misery and death and bellows of inhuman victory were all around her.
The sky was turning red. The clouds were boiling.
Something inside her cracked.
There was heat everywhere.
Then the grip on her leg released and she was thrown through the air.
Higher and higher.
Trees passing below her madly spinning body.
The road.
More trees.
Rachel tried to reach out but her body was flailing out of control.
Faster and faster.
Until the trees came up around her too fast.
Far far too fast.
Nothing she could do to save herself.
All of them were dead.
And she couldn’t even—

1 comment:

  1. Awesome battle report! Full of drama and crucial events! This might generate a big twist in your overall narrative. One other thing that I liked was the way you put the scenery. Love those fences and walls!