With all out war taking place in the Realm of Life, we are going to quickly hop back to the Realm of Fire as events there are going to have an impact across the Mortal Realms…
The Story So Far
The day started well enough for the Fyreslayers of Vostarg Lodge, and they regarded their stronghold as all but impregnable – they had, after all, recently beaten back a massive Bloodbound army (see this battle here: At The Threshold).
However, the Skaven of Clans Rictus (led by Warlord Rikfang) were ever sneaky, and they launched an attack from below, tunnelling into the bowels of the Fyreslayer stronghold. Before a solid defence could be mustered, the Skaven had plundered the vaults of the Fyreslayers, taking massive reserves of ur-gold and, worse, had captured the Runeson of Bael-Grimnir.
The Runeson had been taken to the Verminlord Warbringer Kratterklaw, to be sacrificed in a foul rite that would grant the Verminlord ever more power. The Fyreslayers would have to move quickly in order to rescue their beloved hero.
The Fyreslayers have a real fight on their hands, but if they can concentrate their efforts against the Verminlord Warbringer alone, they might just be able to whisk the Runeson away from the noses of the Skaven.
Verminlord Warbringer (Kratterklaw)
Stormvermin x 20
Clanrats x 40 (two units of 20)
This is a small (as Skaven armies go) but solid force. Overall, there are not too many ‘special’ units but the Warlord and Stormvermin make for a very powerful combination and while the Verminlord is likely to have his attentions locked firmly on the rites to sacrifice the Runeson, he will make for a potent opponent for any Fyreslayer that gets through the horde of rats.
Runefather on Magmadroth (Bael-Grimnir)
Runesmiter on Magmadroth
Hearthguard Berzerkers x 5
Auric Hearthguard x 5
Vulkite Berzerkers x 20 (two units of 10)
Between the two Magmadroth riders and the Grimwrath Berzerkers, it is clear the Fyreslayers are not messing around. However, they are painfully outnumbered and the Verminlord is likely a match for a Magmadroth rider, especially if the Duardin has been wounded getting to him. This is likely to be a very, very bloody battle for the Fyreslayers, whether they are triumphant or not.
In this battle, the Verminlord will be conducting a slow sacrifice of the Runeson that will grant power to nearby Skaven units and, once the Runeson loses his last wound, victory will go to the Skaven. If, however, the Fyreslayers can kill the Verminlord before this happens, they will be able to rescue the Runeson and beat a quick retreat.
Furious at the kidnapping of the Runeson, the Fyreslayers deployed aggressively, keen to take the Skaven apart. However, the Runefather was not present – riding his Magmadroth, he led a retinue of Vulkite Berzerkers down winding tunnels to flank the rats.
The Clanrats were less confident, as they were ordered into positions either side of the Stormvermin, ever conscious that they were present merely to stop any charges into the elite rats. The Verminlord remained by the Runeson, and started the ritual that wuld drain the Fyreslayer’s very essence.
Battle Round One
Magical pyromantic winds blew through the Fyreslayer’s strongholds, causing the weapons of all combatants to glow white hot (this was from the Time of War sheet, and granted a +1 bonus to all wound rolls – however, it was also the only time the winds blew during the entire battle!).
As the main force of Fyreslayers ran towards the Skaven, axes at the ready, the Runefather burst onto the battlefield from a hidden tunnel, leading his Vulkite Berzerkers.
Pausing only to let his Magmadroth breath a stream of lava onto the nearest Cklanrats, immolating five of them immediately, they charged into the Skaven.
The fight was short and vicious and while one Vulkite Berzerker fell to a Skaven blade, the few Clanrats that survived the onslaught broke and ran.
This was exactly what the Stormvermin had been waiting for. As the Verminlord enacted his ritual, passing some of the Runeson’s essence into the Stormvermin, as well as cloaking them with a Mystic Shield, they moved to block the flanking force then charged.
The Skaven Warlord bounded in as well, but he was too late. Empowered by the Verminlord and with white-hot weapons to hand, the Stormvermin cut through every last Vulkite Berzerker and started to eye up the Runefather greedily.
Battle Round Two
The Verminlord continued to drain the life out of the Runeson, and the Stormvermin benefitted from Mystic Shields from both him and the Warlock Engineer, the magical barriers containing so much power they were almost visible to the naked eye, causing the Stormvermin to shimmer and distort.
Deciding the Stormvermin had things well in hand with the Runefather and his Magmadroth, the Skaven Warlord opted to take a more ‘supervisory’ position closer to the Verminlord.
As the remaining Clanrats on the other side of the cavern pulled back to put more space between themselves and the oncoming Fyreslayer force, the Stormvermin attacked the Runefather. He was quickly pulled off his Magmadroth as the beast was butchered, and it was little consolation that one Stormvermin died screaming as it was bathed in liquid magma.
Seeing their Runefather fall, the rest of the Fyreslayers ran, forming a powerful grudge against the Skaven as they went.
Battle Round Three
The Auric Hearthguard and Runesmiter advanced as all other Fyreslayers ran. This moved the Hearthguard into range of their Firepikes, and bolts of lava flew across the cavern to land within the ranks of the Clanrats. Three were burned to death immediately and another two decided that this battlefield was not the healthiest place to be, and ran. However, these attacks seemed to spook the Runesmiter’s Magmadroth, and it refused to charge into the Clanrats. Seeing a weakened flank, the Grimwrath Berzerker started to run towards the Stormvermin.
Meanwhile, things were not going well up on the dais, as the Runeson managed to struggle sufficiently to disrupt the Verminlord’s ritual. Seeing the Fyreslayers getting far too close for his own liking, the Warlock Engineer summoned warp lightning, but was too enthusiastic with overcharging it – a sharp explosion left him blackened and insensible. Stumbling, he retreated to the Verminlord on the dais.
Howling at the Clanrats to do something, the Skaven Warlord bravely hid behind a rocky outcropping. For their part, the surviving Clanrats spied the Hearthguard Berzerkers, and figured that so few Fyreslayers would not be much of an obstacle. They charged, and quickly regretted it.
Though one Hearthguard Berzerker was pulled to the ground under a multitude of blades and clubs, the axes of the rest made good account of themselves, slaying seven Clanrats immediately and causing the same number to run.
Seeing this, the Stormvermin faltered and decided to wait for a better target of opportunity.
Battle Round Four
With a great roar from both beast and rider, the Magmadroth-riding Runesmiter surged forward, surprising the Skaven with its speed. The Auric Runeguard followed and, before he knew what was going on, the Verminlord found himself battling the Magmadroth, hand-to-hand.
Meanwhikle, the last Vulkite Berzerkers, led by the Grimwrath Berzerker, charged into the Stormvermin, knowing they remained the greatest threat on the battlefield.
The Fyreslayers had the element of surprise on their hands, and as Stormvermin started to be slain, even the Skaven Warlord was caught in the swirling melee. However, the rats recovered quickly and their halberds found the hearts of all the Vulkite Berzerkers.
On the other side of the battlefield, the Herathguard Berzerkers finished off the last of the Clanrats but it was a hollow victory as the Stormvermin were still alive and the Fyreslayers did not have much to match them.
On the dais, the Verminlord was battling furiously against the Magmadroth, and was wounded even as his mighty glaive simply bounced off the scales of the lava beast.
In response, the Verminlord drew more power from the Runeson sacrifice and took it within himself, his muscles bulging with magical energy. Now empowered, the Verminlord struck out with a new series of attacks, beheading the Magmadroth and knocking its Runesmiter rider out cold.
Seeing his chance, the Skaven Warlord bounded out from behind his rock, towards the Auric Hearthguard. However, they were ready for just such a sneaky Skaven tactic, and cut him down before he could start swinging his own halberd.
Deciding the Grimwrath Berzerker was a little too much for them to handle, the Stormvermin fled from his axe, preferring to try their luck against the Hearthguard.
Battle Round Five
All seemed lost as the Verminlord pulled more power from the Runeson who was now weak and enfeebled – it was obvious he would not last much longer. The Verminlord directed the energy of the ritual into the Stormvermin and threw up a Mystic Shield around them for good measure.
The Auric Hearthguard courageously stood their ground against the Stormvermin but were quickly wiped out.
The Hearthguard Berzerkers led a counterattack against the Stormvermin but while they were able to lay four of the rats to rest, the others tore them apart. Now, only the Grimwrath Berzerker was left, and he was running hard for the dais, refusing to give up!
Battle Round Six
The hour was late, but the Verminlord was distracted from his Runeson sacrifice by the sight of the angry Grimwrath Berzerker heading straight for him and, in desperation, hurled an Arcane Bolt at the Fyreslayer. The Berzerker barely noticed.
Panicking, the Warlock Engineer stumbled over the casting of his own Arcane Bolt the, giving up on that, raised his pistol – and missed!
It was left to the Stormvermin to intercept the Berzerker, though they had been reduced to a fraction of their starting number. The few rats left scampered over to the Berzerker and while some distracted him, the others thrust their halberds into his back.
Staggering for a few steps more, the Grimwrath Berzerker saw the Verminlord plunge its glaive into the heart of the Runeson before he too succumbed to darkness.
I have said it before, and I will say it again – Stormvermin are hard! At one point in this battle, buffed by both the Verminlord’s sacrifice and the pyromantic winds, they were hitting on 2+ and wounding on 1+, and as tough as Fyreslayers can be, they are just not going to stand against that when the Stormvermin also have two attacks each with Rend -1.
The Stormvermin were the critical unit for the Fyreslayers to deal with in this battle (Clanrats are solid enough, but they melt quickly under attacks) and though the rats were whittled down to just six models, it was too little, too late and this, more than anything, is what spelled disaster for the Duardin.
However, the Fyreslayers kept on fighting, it has to be said. They could well have just given up in the fifth battle round, but they instead banked on the Verminlord fluffing his sacrifice roll for at least one turn and the Grimwrath Berzerker being able to take out the Stormvermin. The first did happen, but the Stormvermin were a leap too far. It is also questionable whether the Grimwrath Berzerker could have taken out the Verminlord in a single round of combat but if any Fyreslayer could do it, it was him!
And that is what great tales are made of. The great, final push failed this time, but next? Well, we shall see!
The Golden Rule is: Always keep fighting! You never know what might happen…
The Story Continues…
After the dust settled on this battle, the Fyreslayers managed to get their collective act together and flooded the Skaven-held tunnels of their stronghold with liquid hot magma, quickly ending the assault. However, they had lost a lot of Duardin (including a favoured Runeson) and much ur-gold, and it would take time for the lodge to properly recover.
Just at that moment, large metal-clad men appeared within the stronghold in a flash of lightning. The Stormcasts had arrived and they had an offer for the Fyreslayers…