Saturday, 28 April 2018

Thy Soul to Keep, Part 4

Lands of the Dead

"The wizard is right, Pieter of the Order of Azyr", the deep voice rumbled like thunder above the heads of the two men.
"Lord Ironfundson! My sword is yours to command", van Toorn bowed his head and drew the sign of Sigmar over his chest.
For his part, Kalyustar stared up, his porcelain mask reflecting the electric glow surrounding the massive Lord-Ordinator.
"We have let the trickery of this ancient Enemy fool us. No matter how, this Wizard saw through the veil of lies and misdirection. So, Witch Hunter, by Sigmar's Will, put your indignation aside. Many signs brought me here to secure what the Enemy seeks. Round up your men and join the Kharadron. There is digging to do".
A hint of frustration marred van Toorn's barked orders to the Wörtbaders and Free Companies mercenaries.
'What now, Soulchemist?' the voice came through with barely contained spite 'Will you serve under this half-soul?'
Kalyustar stood, his eyes fixed on the Stormcast. He would serve, no matter what the voice said. For now, Ironfundson was the only thing that kept van Toorn from putting a silver bullet into his chest.

The digging and mining had gone on for days, duardin and humans sweating under the pale Harrowmark sun to stash the Realmstone that laced the grounds around the Hurricane Bell. As the teams prepared for another day of toil, the Bell started to toll, the sentinels posted by Ironfundson atop the cliff pointing towards the west. An'sec, He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, had come, and brought the most unlikely of allies with him.

The Rotmoons swarmed around one of the Realmstone stashes, a manic Grot screaming orders in his high-pitched voice. The dead crawled out of their graves and secured another.

Van Toorn gathered all men he could and strode through a copse of trees, ready to intercept the advancing An'sec.

The Rotmoons waded through the Kharadron fire and some of the duardin themselves, but were met by Lord Ironfundson at the feet of the Hurricane Bell.

An'sec and his retinue of spirits charged forward, surrounding van Toorn and cutting him out from the rest of the human warriors.

Shooting from the hip, the Raido Othalas run to support Lord Ironfundson, but their numbers were matched by more orruks.

The Fancy Fencers and Wörtbaders mounted a stoic resistance around the fallen body of van Toorn. Look at his majesty, Soulchemist! A Grot was smart enough to see it... are you any less than a savage?

As An'sec's Balefire Blade had the best of the men fighting him, a shout erupted from Kalyustar's mouth "I'm not!". A barrage of arcane bolts hit the Knight of Shrouds.

With an anguished sigh, the shape of the regal spirit started to unraveled. Then, the band of gold around his finger glared. Dark light darted away and An'Sec reformed at the feet of the Hurricane Bell.

On the other side of the rocky outcrop, the Kharadron navigator joined Ironfundson and they finally managed to fell the Rotmoon's troggoth.

The last Wörtbader standing notched an arrow and let it loose, hoping it would be enough to banish the weakened spirit. An Arkanaut leapt down from the cliff, adding his shots and cutlass to the effort. With a chilling laughter, An'sec shrugged off both attacks and drained the duardin soul, replinishing himself.

An'sec's servants were drawn to the Realmstone stash watched by Kalyustar. Straining against the voice in his head, the wizard swung his staff and banished the spirtis.

The deranged Cave-Shaman stuffed a handful of mushrooms in his mouth. The spore cloud surrounding him coalesced in a huge maw and closed around Lord Ironfundson.

The fall of the Stormcast was hailed by a deafening Waaagh! scream and the Rotmoons rushed forward. An'Sec and the Cave-Shaman watched over the field with glee.

Kalyustar and the few duardin still standing retreated. The day was lost and only a handful of Realmstone could be saved.
So, Soulchemist... what were your little heroics worth for? What did service to Sigmar brought you?

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Thy Soul to Keep, Part 3

Clash in the Mist

Through the woods Kalyustar ran, the din of battle growing dimmer as the Red Mist muffled all sounds. 'The Hurricane Bell! There lies safety, Soulchemist!' this time the voice came through forcefully, a scream pushing against the unnatural frenzy that still threatened to seize the wizard.
The skull cliffs suddenly loomed over him. The eerie voice still ringing in his head, Kalyustar took the stone-carved steps two at a time. Once on the platform, well above the roiling Red Mist, the wizard's mind finally cleared and he took in the scene below him.

Both the Raidho Othalas and van Toorn's mob had scattered, unable to find each other in the mist, but still in the grip of unreasonable battle lust. Of the spirits that had fought them, there was no sight.

The air above the Hurricane Bell twitched, as if sucked into a Black Void that for a fleeting moment appeared at the edge of Kalyustar's sight. And then, next to the Wörtbaders, he caught a glimpse of red and yellow feathers and swirling cloacks. How could have Fernando and his men come back?

The Mist thickened again, aetheric shots rung through it and the Kharadron fell on the humans. Among the duardin, now fought a massive warrior, clad in sigmarite armour.

Can you feel it, Soulchemist? The energy pulled in by the ground around here. Draw it! Indeed, it felt as if sorcerous energies had started to flow around the Hurricane Bell. Kalyustar latched onto the stream and directed it at one of the duardin. In the blink of an eye, the duardin aged and then collapsed, as if time itself had been stolen from him.

The oaths of vengeance of the duardin mate and van Toorn's curses drawned a malevolent laughter in Kalyustar's mind. It was then that the wizard realised what was amis. He only had a chance, even if it meant facing the duardin and van Toorn down in the Red Mist.

As Kalyustar stepped down the Hurricane Bell, both duardin an human turned their pistols on him, the Red Mist hanging thick around their heads.

Suddenly, time sped up once again. In a rush of wind, the Red Mist vanished, and the duardin with it. A baffled van Toorn stood facing Kalyustar. In the distance, the last clashing of swords and hammers echoed as the two warbands felt the weight of years gone by.

"Hold, Witch Hunter!" cried Kalyustar "Can't you see? That Mist, and now this Void. They answer to the same master, one that is better not named. Would you let His work go unchallenged, just to see me tied to a stake?"
Van Toorn esitated, giving Kalyustar the chance he needed.
"He seeks what lies beneath these skull cliffs, for it gives great power. Let me help you secure it for Sigmar".
At that point, the voice returned. Is this what you really want, Soulchemist?