The next battle in the Realm of Life is upon us, and this is where things start getting a bit convoluted behind the scenes…
The Story So Far
The Stormcasts were not the only ones looking for Alarielle, Lady of Life. The Verminlord, Vermalanx the Corruptor, was also searching for her. He was gearing up to take best advantage of Nurgle’s impending total victory over the Realm of Life, and knew Alarielle was the key to this victory. The trouble was, no matter how sneaky Plague Priest Kratsik and his Pestilens Skaven were, they just could not find the Athelwyrd, the Hidden Vale where she lurked.
Vermalanx was not to be deterred though, and he figured out that if his forces could not find her, he would need Alarielle’s own followers to do it for him.
So, Vermalanx enlisted the heklp of Skurrik, Grey Seer and famed vivisectionist. The Grey Seer crept into Nurgle’s own manse and purloined a sacred urn, filled with the ashes of a mighty Treelord from aeons ago (Durthu? We don’t know!). Vermalanx then passed these ashes to Plague Priest Kratsik who burned them in his Plague Furnace.
With things so far?
The result of this was a rolling tide of rot-smog, so potent it actually dissolved reality. Knowing that the Sylvaneth would not be able to tolerate the rot-smog spreading into the rest of the Jade Kingdoms, Vermalanx got Kratsik to set up the Plague Furnace in the Glade of Horned Growths, and waited for the response. His plan: grab an important Sylvaneth, and get the information he needed for the location of the Athelwyrd.
For their part, the Sylvaneth were suitably galvanised into action – the arrival of the Stormcasts had shown that the forces of Nurgle could be beaten and far enough away from the still blaring Dirgehorn, they were free to act.
The Battle for the Glade was about to begin, but there were stirrings from a nearby Realmgate…
This is another fight with four separate armies (though arranged into two forces); Rotbringers and Pestilens versus the Sylvaneth, with a dash of Stormcast.
Blightkings x 10
Plague Furnace (with Plague Priest Kratsik)
Grey Seer Skurrik
Plague Monks x 40 (two units of 20)
Plague Censer Bearers x 5
Vermalanx is too smart to get involved himself in this battle, but the Rotbringers will give the Pestilens a nice shield, and if those Plague Monks can get into battle while supporting the Plague Furnace, they will be able to do a fair degree of damage. Grey Seer Skurrik is just the magical icing on the rat cake.
Branchwraith (Lady of Vines)
Treelords x 2
Treekin x 4
Dryads x 32 (two units of 16)
We have seen these Sylvaneth before in past battles, though they have some Treekin reinforcements to counter the Plague Furnace and Grey Seer (not to mention the Blightkings!). However, what is Lord-Celestant Gardus doing there? He certainly is not starting on the battlefield. We’ll have to see what happens next…
The Pestilens Priest made sure his Plagueclaw Catapult was deployed well behind the front line while concentrating the bulk of his force opposite the Realmgate. One unit of Plague Monks was dispatched to the other side of the battlefield to try to flank the oncoming Sylvaneth. They must have been quite dismayed to see two Treelords stalking towards them…
The rest of the Sylvaneth positioned themselves to swarm forward, intending to claim the Realmgate and then smash the hated Plague Furnace.
Battle Round One
Nurgle’s foul diseases still permeate the Realm of Life, and both the Treelords and Treekin wilted under their infections. Grey Seer Skurrik shouted at the nearby Plague Monks, warning them of dire consequences should they even think of running, while casting Mystic Shield upon the Blightkings. Meanwhile, the Realmgate crackled with malignant energies…
Plague Priest Kratsik, from his Plague Furnace, blessed the Plagueclaw Catapult with filth, and the battle commenced with the war engine hurling toxic waste high into the air, to crash amongst the Dryads. Most of the Dryads were smashed apart by the missile, while the nerve of the rest broke and they ran from the battlefield.
The Sylvaneth advanced steadily, while the Treelord Ancient cast a Mystic Shield upon the Treekin before reaching out with his Tendril Staff and swiping away three Plague Monks. Though the armies were much closer now, the Sylvaneth chose not to charge (every single one of them failed their charge rolls!).
Battle Round Two
Seeing their chance, the Sylvaneth stole the initiative and surged forward. The Treelord Ancient maintained his Mystic Shield upon the Treekin, while the remaining Dryads took position around the Realmgate.
On the far side of the battlefield, two Treelords charged the Plague Monks who were skulking in the woods, trying very hard not to be noticed.
The melee there was very short, but very bloody,. With barely a scratch between them, the Treelords wiped out the Plague Monks.
Closer to the Realmgate, the Treekin charged the Plague Furnace and the Plague Monks pushing it. However, one got caught up in the mists that permeated the battlefield and disappeared, never to be seen again…
While the Treekin managed to slaughter four Plague Monks and damage the Plague Furnace, they paid a heavy price for doing so. Its massive censer swung forward, killing one Treekin instantly. This, combined with the mysterious disappearance of its comrade, caused another Treekin to break and run.
The Realmgate proved to be as corrupt as the woods in the grove, and one Dryad succumbed to Nurgle’s diseases. Thinking the Plague Furnace was fully capable of handling the lone Treekin and Treelord Ancient, the Blightkings turned aside and pounded towards the Treelords in an effort to save the Plagueclaw Catapult. Though one was lost to the mists, the rest reached the first Treelord and started hacking away.
Though the Blightkings stumbled under the stomps if the Treelord, they managed to wound it, though the Sylvaneth managed to kill three of their number and force a fourth to run.
The crew of the Plagueclaw Catapult, satisfied that they were safe for the moment, let fly with another glob of filth, this time striking the other Dryad unit. Casualties were again very high, but this time the few remaining survivors held.
Battle Round Three
The Realmgate pulsed with eerie lights before, with a flash, a lone figure stumbled through into the Realm of Life – it was none other than Lord-Celestant Gardus, last seen diving into the Gates of Dawn to destroy them!
Gardus had spent a long time in Nurgle’s own garden within the Realm of Chaos, and had managed to learn information vital to winning the War of Life. He just had to survive…
Note: It was only at this point that the Pestilens player was made aware of the full victory conditions of the battle!
Realising immediately how important Gardus was, the Treelord Ancient covered him with a Mystic Shield, while the Lord-Celestant hurled a magical hammer at the Plague Furnace, cracking one of its supporting beams.
The Treelord Ancient charged the Plague Censer Bearers, stomping two of them into the ground, while the second Treelord rushed the Blightkings to support his brother. Togetehr, both Treelords were seriously wounded by the Blightkings, but there were few of Nurgle’s soldiers left…
The Plague Furnace moved into contact with the Treelord Ancient, seriously injuring it with one swing of its giant censer. The nearby Plague Monks broke from combat, claiming they needed to avoid contact with the Treelord Ancient in order to cut off the escape of the shiny man in the silver armour, but the battle was done.
Lord-Celestant Gardus had managed to survive to carry his vital message back to the Hallowed Knights, but the Sylvaneth had suffered too many casualties to continue their assault on the Plague Furnace. The rot-smog would continue to bellow out, and now the Sylvaneth’s only hope was that the Hallowed Knights could drive Nurgle’s forces out of the Realm of Life.
That was a nicely short battle, though even with just three turns a great deal happened (always seems to be the way with Age of Sigmar!). The Sylvaneth could have made a more convincing showing if the Plagueclaw Catapult had been a little less potent early on in the battle, but they managed to hold out long enough to create a cordon around the Lord-Celestant when he appeared.
On Nurgle’s side, the Blightkings were as potent as ever, and Plague Monks caught on their own (by two Treelords at that!) died in a predictable manner. However, when backed up with a Plague Furnace and Censer Bearers, Clan Pestilens was a serious force to be reckoned with.
The Story Continues…
So, Lord-Celestant Gardus is back (huzzah for the hero!), and he has some good news – while fighting his way through Nurgle’s own garden in the Realm of Chaos, he managed to discover the location of the Athelwyrd, Alarielle’s secret hiding place. This information was in Nurgle’s realm all along, but only someone of pure spirit would be able to find it (Gardus qualifies).
Lord-Celestant Gardus is now mustering his Stormcasts to make their way to the Athelwyrd, but Vermalanx is close – hidden, but very close – and he now knows exactly where the Stormcasts are heading…