Well, this is it, this is the big one, the culmination of the campaign in the Realm of Life. The Athelwyrd has been found and Alarielle uncovered. There is only one thing for it – we’ll have to have a massive battle!
Settle in, as this one is an epic…
The Story So Far
The Stormcasts had come a long way (especially their leader, Lord-Celestant Gardus), but their quest in the Realm of Life was coming to an end. They had found the entrance to the Athelwyrd beneath the River Vitalis, and Alarielle was within. However, she was not happy and the Stormcasts were confused when they were first attacked by the Sylvaneth. Asking why she was angry, the Stormcasts were answered by Alarielle simply pointing over their shoulders.
The forces of Nurgle had been watching the Stormcasts and had managed to breach the Athelwyrd themselves. They had amassed a gargantuan force and were marching to end the War of Life once and for all. There were not just daemons in this horde, but Rotbringers, Pestilens Skaven and Beastmen, all bringing a tide of filth with them to pollute Alarielle’s sacred vale – the entire Grand Congregation of Nurgle…
This battle would be pivotal in the War of Life…
This is a big battle. As in, Really Big. Both sides are throwing everything they can into this fight, and the largest battle we have ever done in Age of Sigmar – totalling close to 300 wounds on each side!
The Grand Congregation of Nurgle
Great Unclean One (Bolathrax)
Maggoth Lord (Morbidex Twiceborn)
Verminlord Corruptor (Vermalanx)
Herald of Nurgle
Plaguebearers x 24 (three units of 8)
Plague Drones x 6 (two units of 3)
Nurglings x 9
Wargor with Standard
Bray Shamans x 2
Ungors x 28 (two units)
Gors x 40 (three units)
Bestigors x 10
Minotaurs x 6
Blightkings x 10 (two units of 5)
Chaos Warriors x 36 (three units of 12)
Plague Monks x 40 (two units of 20)
Plague Censer Bearers x 5
Well, that is quite a list! If the Nurgle forces in Kill the Beast were frightening, the Grand Congregation is a nightmare!
As they won their last battle, the forces of Nurgle received a Triumph, in the shape of a Talisman of Preservation which was given to Morbidex Twiceborn. For this fight, the Maggoth Lord would ignore all of his opponent’s Rends…
Liberators x 25 (five units of 5)
Retributors x 10 (two units of 5)
Protectors x 5
Decimators x 5
Judicators x 10 (two units of 5)
Prosecutors x 9 (three units of 3)
Alarielle, Lady of Life
Branchwraith (Lady of Vines)
Treekin x 4
Treelords x 2
Dryads x 32 (two units of 16)
The forces of Order are heavily outnumbered (very, very heavily outnumbered), but they have some points in their favour. You cab be sure Sigmar himself will be watching this battle, and he is ready to send reinforcements in, and Alarielle (the main target for the Grand Congregation) is incredibly tough to kill. On the other hand, so is the Glottkin, though twenty Paladins is nothing to sneeze at, and the Knight-Venator will be hunting the Chaos general(s) with a very special arrow. Still, the Stormcasts are not going to expect to win this one unless the Lord-Relictor is praying very, very hard…
Most of the models were actually set up on the table a couple of days before we played, as we figured this battle would take somewhat longer than usual. Upon arrival, the players jiggled their units around a little but we quickly got down to it. Cannon fodder to the front, fast units to the flanks, with the generals buried well within their own armies… no grand strategy there, more am intention for ‘battle management’ once the hostilities start!
Battle Round One
The forces of Order allowed the Grand Congregation to advance further into the Athelwyrd before striking, as the storm front that marked the barrier between the energies of Order and Chaos rolled towards the Stormcasts.
Among the Nurgle followers, spellcasters chanted their arcane rites to protect Morbidex Twiceborn as he led the vanguard, but there was something in the air as three successive wizards failed – in the end, a lone Bray-Shaman managed to throw up a Mystic Shield around the Maggoth Lord.
As the Grand Congregation advanced, plant life all around the Athelwyrd began to wilt, and the diseases started to spread among the Stormcasts, with Liberators feeling distinctly pale. Then, from above, Nurglings started raining down in a deluge, aiming straight for the Knights-Vexillor and Venator.
The Knight-Venator was aided by the Knight-Azyros, but nearby Retributors were too late to save the Knight-Vexillor from an ignoble death of being buried by Nurglings.
All along the line, the whole Stormcast line withdrew to match the rolling storm front that continued to move towards them, but there was cause for good news – high above their heads, another detachment of Stormcasts had finally ended the reign of Pupa Grotesse (see last battle, Kill the Beast) and the waters of the River Vitalis were now running pure.This robbed the Grand Congregation of a little of its power and would bolster the morale of Stormcast and Sylvaneth alike.
Battle Round Two
Following the ever-advancing storm front, the Grand Congregation continued to race forward as quickly as their ailments would allow, and the distance between the two forces was rapidly shrinking.
Among their rear lines, the Great Unclean One Bolathrax shouted for the Bestigors to hold their ground, reminding them of the consequences should they flee, while nearby a Gor succumbed to the fumes leaking from the Blightkings. The spellcasters of Nurgle had still not quite found their stride, though they managed to throw another Mystic Shield up around Morbidex Twiceborn and a Shield of Thorns on Plague Drones.
Morbidex Twiceborn was in the clear lead among the Grand Congregation, but pulled his Maggot up short when he realised that he had pulled too far ahead of his followers (failed charge). On the other side of the rocky outcrop, a large pack of Warhounds charged the Liberator line, but were quickly dispatched.
The storm continued to roll towards the Stormcasts, vastly shrinking their territory, driven on by the foul curses of the Plague Priest atop his furnace. Not dismayed by this, the Knight-Heraldor blew his horn, shaking a nearby forest and killing a few beastmen and a Plaguebearer, while the Sylvaneth took this as a sign to attack.
They surged forward to attack the Maggoth Lord who had separated himself from the rest of his force, with one fast-moving Treelord putting on a spurt and reaching the accursed Plague Furnace – if it could destroy this contraption, the Grand Congregation would lose its only priest and the forces of Order would be able to push the storm front back towards the Chaos line.
The Plague Furnace had already been rocked heavily by the strangleroots of the Treelords and was damaged further by the Treelord who rushed it, though the attendant Plague Monks managed to wound the great monster when they retaliated.
Morbidex Twiceborn fought bravely in the centre of the battlefield, ever mindful that the Protectors and their wickedly sharp glaives were moving ever closer to him. However, the Dryads, Treekin and Treelord Ancient served to disrupt their attack and few wunds were dealt on either side.
On the rear line, the Retributors dispatched the last of the Nurglings that had fallen from above, their chagrin over being used for pest control now some what mollified.
Battle Round Three
As the storm front reversed and moved back towards the Chaos lines, the battle was beginning to really get going. Magic surged from the Grand Congregation, and Drayds and Treelords both were struck by Arcane Bolts, while Vermalanx benefited from the Mystic Shield of a Bray-Shaman. Around the Plague Furnace, the Plague Monks were whipped into a frenzy by their priest, and there was a great cry as the forces of Chaos charged right across the front line.
With a crash of splinters, the Treelord wrecked the Plague Furnace and then crushed its priest underfoot. The Plague Monks surrounding him were so frenzied they did not even notice as they pulled the Treelord down and gnawed him to death. Not far away, the Plague Censer Bearers whirled into battle and tore apart two Treekin.
On the far left flank, a brute unit of Bullgors charged the Liberators holding the woods, and the trees proved no barrier tot he beastmen’s massive axes. The Stormcasts were wiped out almost to a man, with just the Liberator-Prime left standing.
Sigmarite shields proved stronger on the opposite flank as Vermalanx charged into warblade-armed Liberators, and the Stormcast line held.
Morbidex Twiceborn was beginning to suffer wounds which were slowing him down, but the Dryads who had assaulted him finally broke and ran, desperate to get away from the carnage.
As the storm front moved back towards the Stormcast line, Alarielle tossed a small acorn at a unit of Bestigors that had managed to push through the Stormcast line to get close to her, and it immediately sprouted vines that strangled all of them in seconds. She summoned up her full magical strength, hurling an Arcane Bolt at Morbidex and covering the Treelord Ancient in a Shield of Thorns. A further bolt from the Ancient put Morbidex on the back foot and left him reeling. When Lord-Celestant Gardus twirled his cloak and sent celestial hammers into the Morbidex’s face, the Maggoth Lord finally went down, to cheers all along the Stormcast line.
Meanwhile, tendrils fvrom the Treelord Ancient’s staff snaked out to strangle the Plague Censer Bearers, much to the relief of all Sylvaneth near the centre of the battlefield, while more Liberators moved in to assault Vermanlanx, giving the Verminlord a serious pummelling that left him vulnerable.
However, the Glottkin had now entered the fray, taking the place of Morbidex in the centre – and they intended to push forward all the way to Alarielle, who was now just in sight of them.
The battle was raging across the entire Athelwyrd by now, but the Glottkin turned out to be the mere harbinger of the second wave of the Grand Congregation, and the next enemies to approach the front line were far more heavily armoured…
Battle Round Four
The storm front moved towards the Stormcasts yet again, greatly diminishing their territory, and Sigmar’s faithful were all too aware that Nurgle-worshipping Warriors of Chaos were now about to replace the Brayherds and Pestilens they had been fighting up to now.
Bolathrax moved his great bulk a little closer to the front, seeing no real need to get involved himself while his minions were performing quite adequately. However, the Great Unclean One did see an opportunity to hurl an Arcane Bolt at the Treelord Ancient duelling with the Glottkin, killing it instantly.
Plague Monks rushed forward to where the Bestigors had fallen, intent on being the next to grab the chance to strike directly at Alarielle. However, the leadership of the Hallowed Knights had vowed to protect the Lady of Life and stood in their way. The result was… predictable.
Vermalanx was finally sent back to the Blighted City with one swipe from a Treelord but, in the centre, the Blightkings approached. Their Sorcerer had enchanted them with both Mystic Shield and Miasma of Pestilence and so when they hit the Dryads and Protectors fighting the Glottkin, none were left standing.
There was now only a thin line of Stormcast officers standing between Alarielle and the rolling mass of the Glottkin and Blightkings. Sensing the desperate fight to come, the Lord-Relictor prayed hard and managed to push the storm front back a little, while Alarielle hurled an Arcane Bolt at the Glottkin and lowered a Mystic Shield over Lord-Celestant Gardus.
For his part, Gardus raised his hammer high and called upon the God-King for aid. Sigmar was listening and, with a flash of lightning, a new unit of Judicators and Protectors appeared behind him, ready to fight for the remaining purity of the Athelwyrd.
On the right flank, at least, things were starting to go the Stormcasts’ way. With Vermalanx gone, the Plague Drones were falling quickly and Plaguebearers were proving not much more of a match. A strong unit of Chaos Warriors were approaching, but a unit of Retributors held their hammers ready, eager to smash them apart.
On the other side of the battlefield, the Bullgors had finished off the Liberator-Prime in the woods and had rushed out to face the massive hammers of more Retributors. The fight quickly became viscous as Retributor and Bullgor hefted some of the biggest weapons on the battlefield at one another. The Retributors paid dearly in this fight, but the Bullgors were coming off slightly worse.
However, whatever the Stormcasts did, there seemed to be nothing that could halt the approach of the Glottkin and their Blightking followers.
Battle Round Five
For once, the storm front held its place, and the Stormcasts took advantage of the momentary confusion this caused among the Grand Congregation to launch a counterattack.
Skybow-armed Judicators moved forward just far enough to get Bolathrax in view, before sending lightning missiles arcing across the Athelwyrd. Though they only scratched him, it was enough to convince the Great Unclean One that he had already waddled a little too far forward.
Lord-Celestant Gardus led the charge forward to bring down the Glottkin, but the Lords-Relictor and -Castellant were both intercepted by the Blightkings and could not aid him in the fight.
Despite his bravery and the hideous wounds the Glottkin had already sustained, this was a fight the Lord-Celestant could not win, and he was tossed away casually by the beast. However, a Treelord was close enough to attack while Gardus distracted the Glottkin, and it struck the brothers hard, leaving them reeling (the Glottkin were by now down to just three wounds!).
The Lords-Relictor and -Castellant fared better, having dispatched all but one of the Blightkings, but now they too stood before the Glottkin.
On the right flank, results were becoming mixed for the Stormcasts. The Retributors had moved in with their hammers, but the shields of the Chaos Warriors proved remarkably resilient. Worse, a unit of Liberators had managed to break through the Chaos line to reach a Bray-Shaman and, eager to end at least some of the magical support the Grand Congregation had been enjoying, they attacked. However, it seemed as though the Bray-Shaman had learned some strange mystical fighting techniques as it survived their attacks and then sent two Liberators back to Sigmar!
The Glottkin attempted to hurl an Arcane Bolt straight at Alarielle, but she blocked the attempt with a contemptuous wave of her hand. However, another Bray-Shaman rushed to the side of Bolathrax and, together, they hurled Arcane Bolts at the Lords-Relictor and -Castellant, killing both with a single move.
The line thrown up between the Glottkin and Alarielle was getting ever thinner.
A unit of Chaos Warriors joined the Glottkin and surrounded the last Treelord, their axes making short work of the creature. Meawhile another unit of Blightkings rushed as fast as their fat bodies would allow them to join the Glottkin, but as they emerged from the Sylvaneth woods, two had gone missing…
The Knight-Heraldor had taken to hiding behind alien-looking trees, knowing that his constant blowing of his horn throughout the battle had marked him as a target.
Unfortunately, he was found by a Beastlord, Herald of Nurgle and a Wargor Battle Banner Bearer. His end came swiftly.
Battle Round Six
The Glottkin, joined by a fresh unit of Chaos Warriors flushed with their destruction of a Treelord, marched towards Alarielle…
Elsewhere on he battlefield, Gutrot Spume had been surrounded by Retributors and was finding himself distinctly outmatched. However, while the Chaos Lord was suffering, all eyes were on the fight developing on the Stormcasts’ rear line.
By now, the Glottkin was beginning to heal themselves. The Chaos Warriors and lone Blightking found themselves distracted by a single Prosecutor, and failed to notice when the Glottkin rushed the final Stormcast line, smashing into the newly appeared Judicators.
This was too much for the Judicators and the few that survived were forced to retreat with all speed. However, this opened the way for the Protectors to launch their assault. Finally, a unit of Protectors had a clear run at their favourite target – a big monster!
Alarielle tried to throw an Arcane Bolt at the Glottkin, but the brothers were ready and managed to unbind her casting. However, she then threw another acorn which immediately smothered the Glottkin and nearly strangled all three (down to just one wound!).
Then, finally, the Protectors charged. Twirling their glaives, they made short work of the last Blightking and the mortally injured Glottkin!
Alarielle had been saved, but the Athelwyrd belonged to Nurgle. Gathering what remained of their forces, the Stormcasts and Sylvaneth began the exodus from the secret vale and departed from the battlefield.
The Athelwyrd was lost, but the fight against Chaos could continue…
Well, that was a fight and a half!
The Stormcasts had absolutely rotten luck with the storm front and, even when the only priest on the Grand Congregation was killed (the Plague Priest on his furnace), there were still only two turns when the front moved away from them. This constricted their territory and took away their bonuses as the forces of Nurgle advanced.
Other than that, the Stormcasts put up a hell of a fight and managed to blunt most of the thrusts they faced. It took the Glottkin themselves to get close to Alarielle, and the brothers were only put down in the very last minute.
This was a minor victory for Chaos but, on the plus side, it also follows what happened in the novels (the Athelwyrd is lost but Alarielle survives), so we are all set to continue the campaign!
The Story Continues…
So, Alarielle has been found, fulfilling one of the Sigmar’s objectives in the Realm of Life, but in doing so the Stormcasts have made her vulnerable and destroyed the last region of purity in her realm. The Grand Congregation will not take long to regroup and Sylvaneth and Stormcast both must move quickly if they are to escape and gather their own forces.
While Alarielle lives and is now active in the Realm of Life, things look as bleak as ever…
We are going to be leaving this part of the storyline in the Realm of Life for a while, until we start the Balance of Power book and we see what the fate of Alarielle may be. Our next two battles are ‘out of arc’ and from various Battletomes (as opposed to the main campaign books), as we explore what else is happening in the Mortal Realms at this time. However, we’ll be back to the main storyline after that, as the Stormcasts go on the Quest for Ghal Maraz in Chamon, the Realm of Metal…