Saturday, July 6, 2013

Stone Falls - WHFB - The Night Lord Cometh

Finally we have the tale of what lies buried beneath the Stone Falls

Torchlight illuminated the rough granite walls of the cavern. Lukas' congregation moved aside as he stalked past them. His black robes dragging through the spilt ichor of the arachnids who had until moments ago made this cave their lair. “Put those corpses in the ante chamber, the fallen shall still serve the Night Lord” he barked.

As his followers hauled aside the remains of man and eight legged beast, Father Lukas Gistofarian snatched a torch from the hands of a stooped man, Lukas recalled the man, Pioter had come to their group from the alleyways of Nuln. A life in the powder choked slums of the Engineer's city had robbed Pioter of health and livelihood but here in this group all were equal under Lukas' tuition and guidance.

Lukas held the torch aloft and with a gnarled hand scrapped the lichen from the ancient stone work. Runes from ages past marked the worked stone, a door concealed in the natural rock. Lukas whirled around, his men looking at him expectantly.
“Bring the tools and get to work. This is what we seek brothers, the Night Lord's resting place!”

Robed men from all walks of Imperial life toiled at the door. Their tools breaking the seals set in place centuries ago. Hired blades from Marienburg looked onwards, looks of amusement and contempt directed at the fanatical group. Lukas cared not for the opinions of the mercenaries, as long as they defended his men while they were at task. Their ignorance at the significance of this find would soon be resolved when the Lord of Eternal Shadow walked this world once more.
Stale air filled the chamber as the seals broke. Escaping gases from an ages confinement caused a fit of coughing and retching amongst the mercenaries. Now his followers sneered and shared knowing looks. The hired swords may be hardened individuals, but the constitution to consort with that required of Lukas' flock was beyond them. As a pair of heavy set men in tattered clothes shoved the doorway open, Lukas stepped into the darkness drawing his enchanted dagger.

A massive chamber cut from sand coloured stone opened before him. Four thick slab sided pillars supporting the ceiling and dust caked webs hung between them like funerary shrouds. Father Lukas stalked I, drawing a length of twisted black ironwood from the confines of his vestments. Muttering arcane words under his breath, the wand responded and emanated an otherworldly purple light.  

Leading his men, Lukas forged on through these forgotten chambers. Passageways were lit with torches and oily smoke trickled into rooms where the walls were decorated with faded scenes of battle. Images of crude towns set to flame and legions of skeletal warriors marching to war were seen by living eyes for the first time in this age. A well or pit of sorts dominated the centre of the next large chamber. Clicking and scraping noises echoing up from its Stygian depths. Brave or foolhardy men clambered to peer over the bricked edge, one dropping his lit torch into the darkness. The group strained their vision to follow the fire's descent and as it finally hit the bottom far below the men recoiled. Something moved in the depths, undulating past the patch of fitful illumination, something old and terrible, better left to the subterranean world than be seen by the fragile minds of the surface. Even the horrors witnessed and committed by these men were paltry in the presence of what they failed to comprehend below.

Lukas considered stealing a glance but caught himself. He needed his wits about him as unknowable threats could conceal themselves anywhere in these forgotten halls. “Away from there you fools” he cried, his words breaking the bewilderment of the men. “We do not seek what lies below. Our liege will be in an elevated chamber as befits his station in command of the Berserker's legions. Away from there and search these other passages.”

Days passed in the dark barrow, flickering torchlight failing to mark the passage of time. As his men worked at internal seals within the complex. Lukas made forays outside into the forest air,  word had come to him that the curious bastard Otto Mannfried was rushing about the area, spooked at portents and signs. Well so he should be, once the Night Lord was freed these hamlets and hovels within the Reikwald would burn. How dare they lay claim to the Darkthorn wood, when the Nightlord had ruled it with blade and an army eternal.
As the excavations continued, alcoves filled with tribute caskets were found.  Coins, gemstones and trinkets of past conquest were ignore.  The material goods were of little concern, let the sell swords who stood guard in the entry caves take their fill when the faithfuls work was complete.  They had found the last door at the end of a long stepped hallway.  Etched into the stonework was a massive knotwork design of ancient tribal design.  In the centre of the swirling mass sat a fanged skull, it's surface stained to an inky finish absorbing the torchlight.  Lukas screeched orders to his followers who burst into renewed action.  Picks and massive pry bars were hefted up the stone steps and labour on the door ensued. 
As Lukas supervised the work he was oblivious to what was going on further back in the complex.  Adventurers from Stone Falls had discovered the caves and the mercenaries within.  Negotiations had failed horribly at the ends of sharp blades and crossbow bolts.  The adventurers, an embittered trio had worked their way through the cleared halls dispatching Lukas' followers with extreme prejudice.  They had slaughtered the watchmen and their hounds in the pillared entrance.  The men in the well chamber had all perished to the adventurers magic and weapons, the scout in the group pinning a faithful brother to the very stone walls with the force of his arrows.  A pagan man of the forest split open clergymen who did their best to defend themselves with spear and tools.  The third invader, a man of luminous complexion flung bolts of arcane energy as his malformed homunculus cut apart Lukas' flock with its talons limbs. 
The screams of the dying echoed up the staircase alerting Lukas to the grisly demise of his men.  With panic he urged on the labourers.  Swiftly the intruders swept up the steps and set to murder. Lukas called on the power of his wand and ensorcelled the pagan druid with dancing blades.  As his followers bled upon the ancient flagstones a final burst of frantic action had the last standing follower break the seal on the final doors.  A gust of stale air exhaled from the doors, cold seeped into Lukas and the trio from Stone Falls.  The luminous mage fled as a crash of stone sounded within the darkness of the crypt, a heavy metal footfall followed and living shadow crept through the opening.  As the pagan and archer cautiously retreated Lukas turned to witness the resurrection of his Night Lord.  The heavy stone doors rumbled open and a figure clad in layered plate strode out. The towering warrior surveyed the carnage, his empty sockets pooling with living darkness.  Lukas squealed in delight as the arisen warlord took another step toward the interlopers but his euphoria was cut short as the ranger fired a lethal arrow into Lukas' sunken chest.  Lukas' voice devolved into a wet gurgle as blood erupted in his throat, his knees cracking as they hit the stone floor.  He looked pleadingly at the Nightlord but his silent call for help went unanswered as the ancient Wight moved on past, an unknown goal the priority of his reinvigorated undead mind.  When Lukas's skull split upon the cold flagstones his dying sight drank in the image of his risen sovereign ignoring the intruders and disappear from view as he descended the steps.  With the last of his vital fluids seeping away Lukas felt the final defilement as the adventurers gathered their resolve and looted the corpses of about them, his own fingers prised apart and the arcane tool pocketed like a common trinket.  With his final pulse of life Lukas heard the confused mutterings of these men, these living fools.  The Nightlord had been freed and now he would gather the rest of Morkhain's fallen court and these lands of men would burn once more.....
...Lukas peered through milky orbs, his mind working at a crawl to comprehend the scene before him.  He moved with faltering steps, his body now one amongst legion.  Across muddied ground stood a wall of scarred timber where tiled and patched roofs sheltered within.  Lukas rasped and worked his rigor stuck jaw, his groan echoed by those animated around him.  A mental push caused the entire horde to surge forward like pieces on a board.  Lukas understood now, he knew even as the mind that was his own faded away, that he would serve the Nightlord, now and until the Empire itself was ash.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Stone Falls - WHFB - The Hand of Sigmar

Today's prelude to the big game has been created by Joel over at The Brush of Doom , he will be commanding the men of the Empire.

Lying in his bed unable to sleep and watching the heavy curtains stir at the window Theogonist Otto Mannfried considered all of the small differences he had observed of late. The air felt thicker somehow the fine food and wine he had grown accustomed to in his piety was tasting off, and the ravens that lived in the Chapel were restless and aggressive.
Assuming that it was just his tired mind seeing patterns where there were none, Otto tried to tell himself that he was being overly vigilant of things that held little consequence and that he should, in fact, be focusing his attention on his work as Head Inquisitor of the Riekwald Forest.
Unfortunately, over the next few days the sensation didn’t go away and instead intensified notwithstanding Otto’s best attempts to ignore it. It instead began to sharpen into an acute feeling of displacement, a persistent pressure in the back of his mind.
Despite his intuition’s insistence that there was some significant disturbance in the normal rhythms of his life it wasn’t until a visiting Sigmarite Seer Sister made a passing comment that be began to pay it any credence. She too had noticed an odd taste to her food and a sinister shiver in the air. Otto had long ago learned not to dismiss the observations of the Sisters and this combined with reports of unexplained phenomena in the surrounding villages was what finally spurred him into action.
A visit to the Wizard’s College in Altdorf was swiftly arranged to consult with the great Gunther Schwarzenhertz. As it happened the visit could not have been better timed as Gunther was preparing his order for an "upcoming struggle" that would test the steel of the Empire, the power of the mages, and the faith of the priests. The final criteria of this supposed struggle made Otto uncomfortable but he made no mention of it to any of his brethren lest they consider him wavering in his devotion.
The Wizards of the Amber Order had heard through the beasts of the forests that a great evil was awakening and calling the allies of dark to his side. The ancient records spoke of a powerful Vampiric evil known as Ithric, His body immune to the holy water, sacred symbols, and silver bullets forged in the Chapels of Sigmar. Otto knew that centuries ago Ithric had been banished from the realm by the most powerful witch hunters of the age. Thereafter, the Light Order had established a silent sentry to guard against Ithric's return. They were charged to wait, to watch, and if necessary cast this abomination from their dimension forever. Reports from the watch spoke of disturbances of Ithric’s known hunting grounds and Gunther pleaded with Otto to join forces with him to seek out the source of the evil and put to rest whatever had awoken. Otto hesitated, asked for time to gather his thoughts and his forces. But really he had to change his breeches.
Upon returning to his chapel, Otto was greeted by his priests who had received a call for help from Marienburg. The rumours had reached the great trading seaport and the merchants were refusing to travel through the Reikwald forest. The call for help spoke of great rewards for all who answered. Otto's cunning mind put the two together. He can join the crusade of Gunther, continue to gain power and influence while expanding his inquisitorial reputation, AND get paid handsomely...not that that was a consideration given his vows of poverty.  

Tomorrow will have the introduction of the last force, my Vampire Counts.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Stone Falls - WHFB - A Master of the Black Arts

The next tale in the lead up to Saturdays game comes from Ryan, who will be my ally in command of the joint Vampire Count forces.

Ithric had always wanted to go one step further that his peers. He dreamed of a life beyond the horizon, going further, discovering more, experiencing everything that life would have to offer. It was unfortunate for him that the lottery of this world had drawn him as a farmer’s second son who would forever live under the shadows of his betters, toiling until the grave, or so was expected of him.
His curiosity with texts and arcane knowledge was piqued in his youth when a travelling nobleman was in the area. Though he was forbidden to interact with the entourage, he waited until night fell and snuck inside the carriage while it was empty. Discovering books of old sorcery and mystic science that he did not fully appreciate, he was immediately enthralled by the potential that was enclosed in the pages.
The theft of the books sparked an outrage that lead to a witch-hunt, and Ithric had to think fast. Not entirely sure of where he got the idea from, he framed another local child who was summarily burnt at the stake. That boy’s face would be present in many nightmares throughout Ithric’s early adult years.
While having to work on the farm during the day, his night forays into noble libraries near and far developed his roguish talents and further expanded his secret cache of knowledge. One night as he snuck out he unwittingly passed a pack of bandits who would later sack his town. Upon his return vengeance burned in his heart, the skies split, and the dead rose. The bandits were not expecting a follow up attack; and while many of their number fell, they were hardy men and Ithric was a novice in the practical arts of his chosen career. He was nailed to a tree and left for the wolves by the remaining bandits.
His sorcery, though amateurish in execution, had a raw power behind it that drew a nearby vampire’s attention. He found Ithric’s broken body barely clinging to life and gave him the blood kiss; one could always use young and talented followers. The vampire had underestimated the young acolyte though, and as is the way of their world the student eventually betrayed the master once he had learned all he could.
The blessing of vampirism had invigorated Ithric, and his necromantic arts had progressed dramatically. The winds of magic blow in strange directions however, and many years later his activates drew the witch-hunters. His library was raided and burnt to the ground. He was gravely wounded, and fled to the south. Vampires are hard to kill and they never forget.
Many centuries passed, Ithric learned many arts from both living and dead - knowledge almost never obtained willingly from the subject. Ithric always knew however that one day he would return to his home, a sleepy hamlet now known as Stone Falls….

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Stone Falls - WHFB - Bretonnian Intro

So in preperation for the big game this weekend, the players have been putting a bit of effort into introducing their armies.  Here is an extremely good tale from Wil who shall lead his Knightly forces against the undead hordes.

North West of Axe Bite Pass is a sparsely populated wooded area where only a few hardy souls live. They subsist by burning the forest to supply charcoal for the Empire to the West and for the Brettonian lords to the north. The stretch of land farmed by the charcoal burners itself is fairly lawless despite being wedged between these two human land.  

Old Blackfingers Krevan had been living and burning charcoal in this land for more years than he could remember. Though his wife had died some dozen years ago, he and his young daughter Ondine still survived by making sure that when outlaws and roving bands of Orcs ravaged the local area that they hid in a secret cave whose entrance was just obscured by a series of boulders in the local stream.  This hiding strategy had seen the two of them survive a series of attacks which had recently changed in nature. Where previously, they had been attacked by roving bands who made plenty of noise and were focused primarily on pillage, now increasingly the charcoal burners, especially those living close to the waterfall, were just completely disappearing in the night, leaving only their blood and a sign of struggle in their hovels.

Blackfingers Krevan was preoccupied about the safety of his daughter and was increasingly considering taking her north to find her a good serf-family to marry her into in order that she could be safe from this life in the woods and would guarantee that she could at least have a good bowl of onion soup to drink on holy days.  

It was because Blackfingers Krevan was these mulling on these concerns while burning down some stumps for the best charcoal that he missed the sound of horses moving through the forest. On hearing the snort of horses and smelling the sweat of unwashed men that Blackfingers dropped to the ground and tried to make himself as small as possible. Where was Ondine? The last time he had seen her she was undertaking the weekly wash of the cooking dish in the stream. Hopefully, he thought that she would have time to get into the cave, if only she could hear the horses over the sound of the stream.

The sound of the horses came closer and closer. Blackfingers realised that he was going to get caught if he did not move now. Maybe he could make the cave if he moved fast? He shambled to his feet and bolted for the stream.  Too late…. The riders must have spotted him and he heard shouts as several of the riders reined in their horses to turn and pursue him.

Blackfingers Krevan ran as hard as he could towards the stream. But it was futile, it seemed that this was no ordinary raiding band there were dozens of mounted figures chasing him. A mailed fist smashed his face breaking his nose and several of his remaining teeth. Blackfingers Krevan slipped to the ground unconscious.

He awoke when a bucket of water was tossed into his face. He ached all over and his nose was all pain. As he struggled to focus his bruised eyes he realised that he was surrounded by mailed figures, covered in blood and water he was completely at the mercy of the invaders.

One of the armoured bedecked men moved to interrogate him.

“Serf, before we hang you for fleeing from your liege lord Bois de Lyon and the Knightly Order of the Rose, you had better tell us everything you know about the disappearances in the dark…..”