This week, we have a climactic battle in the Realm of Life in store – the Battle of Blackstone Summit…
The Story So Far
The Lady of Vines, carrying Alarielle’s seed pod, had almost reached her destination, where the goddess could be planted and reborn into a more warlike aspect suitable for fighting the forces of Nurgle. However, Blackstone Summit, the burial site of ancient heroes, had already been conquered by Torglug the Despised and his Rotbringers, and they formed a cordon blocking the path of the Lady of Vines and her bodyguard.
The Rotbringers had been joined by a large contingent of Nurgle daemons, led by a Great Unclean One – the forces ranged against the Lady of Vines were formidable, but the God-King Sigmar was watching and into the battle he hurled his most favoured of servants…
This is a stand-up fight that sees the Lady of Vines try to force her way through a cordon of Nurgle daemons and mortals – never an easy proposition at the best of times.
Lord of Plagues (Torglug the Despised)
Great Unclean One
Blightkings x 10 (two units of 5)
Chaos Warriors x 24 (two units of 12)
Plague Drones x 8 (two units of 4)
Plaguebearers x 20 (two units of 10)
Overall, this is a fairly compact force (we have certainly seen larger from the armies of Nurgle), but the presence of the Blightmage and Great Unclean One will ensure a constant stream of summoned daemons, while Torglug and his Blightkings will be enjoying the benefits of the Foulblessed battalion rules. This army may not have a finely tuned cutting edge for dishing out the damage, but it will be very very hard to shift. To make things even worse, Skarbrand’s recent victory on the Realm of Life has granted Torglug an extra Wound as a Triumph.
Lord-Castellant (Lorrus Grymn)
Liberators x 10 (two units of 5)
Retributors x 10 (two units of 5)
Protectors x 5
Decimators x 5
Judicators x 10 (two units of 5)
Branchwraith (Lady of Vines)
Tree Lord Ancient
Tree Lords x 2
Treekin x 4
Dryads x 30 (three units of 10)
This is a very similar combined force to those used in the previous battles within the Realm of Life – with the addition of none other than the Celestant-Prime!
The goal of the forces of Order in this battle is to get the Lady of Vines through the Nurgle force and on to the burial ground where Alarielle can be planted. They will benefit greatly from the two battalions they have formed (Grymn’s Brotherhood and the Heartwood Guard), but those battalions are defensive in nature – great for keeping the Lady of Vines alive, not so hot at breaking through Nurgle forces before they summon reinforcements. Hitting the Nurgle spellcasters will be key (though not easy, as one of them is the Great Unclean One).
The Battleplan also gives the Lady of Vines additional levels of protection, allowing her to survive multiple Arcane Bolts, but she will still have to cross the best part of six feet of tabletop…
While the forces of Order had spread themselves out to form multiple waves with the Lady of Vines safely behind several ranks, Torglug ordered his army to form a tight, solid block of diseased flesh that would likely block any attempt to break through.
The heavy hitters of the Stormcasts, the Paladins, all deployed on the left flank, along with a Treelord and the Stormcast command staff. However, Torglug was wise to this ploy, and placed not only himself but the Great Unclean One to face them.
Battle Round One
With a cry from the Lady of Vines, the forces of Order surged forward, eager to get to grips with Chaos and carve a hole in the opposing army.
Knowing they would be forging the brunt of the assault, Lord-Castellant Grymn shone his lantern upon a retinue of Retributors, strengthening their armour. The Lady of Vines and Treelord Ancient tried to throw up Mystic Shields to further protect the advance, but their castings were too hurried and both spells failed.
Seeing the Nurgle followers so close together, the Knight-Vexillor unleashed the power of his standard with some glee. A comet plummeted from the heavens to crash within the Chaos force but, after the smoke cleared, only a couple of Chaos followers had fallen and the intended target of the comet strike, the Blightmage, was completely untouched.
Undaunted, the leading elements of Stormcasts and Dryads charged.
The Retributors hit the line of Chaos Warriors like, well, a hammer, killing five instantly and forcing another three to turn tail and run. On the other side of the battle line, Liberators made nearly as good an account, killing three more Chaos Warriors with no loss. However, while Dryads and a Treelord clashed in the centre, the results were fairly inconclusive with Sylvaneth grinding against Plaguebearer.
Magical energies surged from the army of Nurgle, with a Plague Wind from the Great Unclean One wilting a Dryad and the Blightmage hurling an Arcane Bolt of filth at a Retributor.
Torglug ordered a unit of Plague Drones to flank the forces of Order, making their way through a dangerous Sylvaneth Wood. Four Drones entered, but only three emerged…
The remaining three buzzed out of the wood, however, surprising the Judicators who had taken position on a small rise to rain constant fire over the heads of their comrades and down upon the Chaos line. One crossbow-armed Judicator fell to their attack almost immediately and the rest soon found themselves fighting for their lives.
With a howl, the Blightkings waded into the fight, slaying a Liberator and two Dryads as they tried to push past Chaos Warriors and Plaguebearers. Torglug, for his part, happily waddled into battle with the Retributors but found himself caught up in the brush of the Sylvaneth Wood. His attacks were hampered by branches and vines, and the Retributor-Prime took advantage of this to swing his hammer at Torglug, wounding the Chaos Lord.
The rest of the Retributors continued to pound away at the Chaos Warriors and Plaguebearers, but reality blinked and more Plaguebearers appeared, surrounding the Dryads and cutting them off from reinforcements.
Battle Round Two
As Lord-Castallent Grymn continued to shine his lantern upon the Retributors, the Lord-Relictor called upon Sigmar to heal their wounds, keeping them in the fight.
Meanwhile, the Knight-Venator had managed to line up his bow with the Blightmage, and fired his Starfated Arrow – the missile missed completely, much to the chagrin of the Stormcast who had hoped he could deny the Nurgle army of half its magical support with one shot.
On the left flank, the trees seemed alive as a Treelord rushed towards Torglug and the Protectors began picking their way through the Sylvaneth Wood.
The Protectors saw their chance and raced through the trees, losing one of their number to the cruel Sylvaneth Wood. They soon happened upon the Great Unclean One and stabbed forward with their glaives. However, the daemon’s hide proved tougher than it looked and they caused only a scratch which began to heal almost immediately.
Torglug reacted to the Treelord’s charge with a speed that seemed contrary to his immense bulk. His axe carved deep into the Treelord, crippling it, but the Retributor-Prime saw the danger and forced Torglug backwards, wounding him heavily with several heavy hammer blows.
In the centre, the Decimators waded into the Plaguebearers, their axes swinging in huge arcs and, between them and a Treelord close by, finished the daemons off.
The Great Unclean One completely ignored the Protectors at his feet and unleashed another Plague Wind, slaying a Liberator and healing Torglug, even as the Blightmage hurled Arcane Bolts at a Treelord.
The Plague Drones were a little wiser to the threat the Protectors posed to the greater daemon, and they dove in, hurling diseased skulls at the Stormcasts before charging, sending one Protector back to Sigmar.
On the other side of the battlefield, the Judicators managed to bring a drone down with their short blades, but the Nurgle daemons proved to be too much of a match, slaying two of the Stormcasts and forcing the survivors to run.
In the centre, the Decimators crashed into the Blightkings but, despite many strikes from the large axes, the armour of the Blightkings held firm, and only one fell. Torglug was beginning to feel the pressure from the Retributor-Prime as well, who landed several more telling hits with his hammer.
Battle Round Three
Casualties on both sides were beginning to mount up now, but the Lady of Vines’ advance had yet to be checked and her bodyguard of Dryads was still intact.
Close proximity with the forces of Nurgle was beginning to take its toll, and both a Retributor and Liberator finally succumbed to Nurgle’s Rot, while another Retributor, Liberator and a Treelord fell to a Plague Wind from the Great Unclean One. The Great Unclean One then vomited waves of bile onto the Protectors, melting armour and flesh and leaving only the Prime facing the daemon. Seeing that the threat had been more or less neutralised, the Plague Drones retreated from the fight to take position on a low rise behind the battle line.
The Judicators were suffering as well, from the second set of Drones that had managed to flank them. Two Judicators fell to their attacks and another two fled, leaving only the Prime to stop the drones rampaging through the back line and threatening the Lady of Vines.
However, not all was going ill for the forces of Order. In the centre, the Decimators were working well alongside the Treelord as they concentrated their attacks upon the Blightkings. The Decimators killed three Blightkings, the Treelord got another two, and a sixth ran from the battlefield, leaving precious few left.
While the Nurgle army was far from finished, its centre was now beginning to buckle, and both Stormcasts and Sylvaneth steeled themselves to make the breach wide enough for their forces to pour through.
The Lady of Vines was now close enough to lend her own powers to the assault and she hurled an Arcane Bolt at Torglug, but the Great Unclean One unbound it with contemptuous ease. Them the Knight-Venator lined up a shot against the Chaos Lord…
And missed. *
Fortunately, the Star-eagle managed to scratch Torglug, while the (frankly heroic) Retributor-Prime caused the Chaos Lord to stagger back under his hammer blows (reducing Torglug to a single wound!).
The forces of Order began to take advantage of the gaps in the Nurgle line and units raced through. A retinue of Liberators, the Gryph-hound snapping away next to them, rushed the Plague Drones atop the rise, while the Knight-Vexillor led two surviving Retributors against the Great Unclean One, though without much success. The last Protector managed to gore the daemon badly, but was killed when it rolled over him.
For their part, the Treekin managed to surround the Blightmage, but he proved surprisingly agile and managed to avoid all of their swinging branches.
* Regular readers will know of my tribulations with the Knight-Venator. On paper, he looks great, a real assassin who can hunt down enemy Heroes while leaving them few places to run. In practice… yeah, not so much. After nearly a year of using this guy, he has destroyed one Herald on a Bloodthrone. That is it. Honestly, in this battle he either failed to wound with all of his arrows, or just plain missed, and that is nothing unusual. The Star-eagle does more damage than the Venator himself. Consistently. And the Star-fated Arrow? That has worked once, against the aforementioned Bloodthrone. I am going to try the Venator in the Silver Tower – perhaps he will be happier in a tunnel. Maybe that is the problem…
Battle Round Four
With Stormcasts and Sylvaneth now penetrating the ragged Nurgle line, things looked good for the forces of Order – so long as one did not spend too much time contemplating just how few were left on the battlefield. In fact, the Dryad bodyguard surrounding the Lady of Vines was now the only contact unit left on the battlefield, and if the Nurgle forces could muster a counterattack, the Sylvaneth would find themselves hard pushed to respond.
Nurgle’s Rot continued to spread its contagion, consuming a Retributor and the Gryph-hound, even as the Blightmage summoned Plaguebearers to support himself – however, the Treelord Ancient was close enough to unbind his spell and the Blightmage was left to face the Treekin alone.
The Great Unclean One unleashed another Plague Wind, healing Torglug, wounding a Retributor and the Lord-Relictor, and killing three Dryads. Meanwhile, as the Plague Drones finished off the last Judicator, the Decimators killed the last Blightking.
By now, a great deal of attention was being placed upon the wounded Torglug, who still posed a serious threat to the Lady of Vines. She threw an Arcane Bolt at him, while the Lord-Relictor rained lightning down (reducing Torglug to a single wound once more!).
Then, the Knight-Venator stepped forward, spying a chance to finish off a critically injured Torglug…
Yeah, he missed.
This time, though, the Star-eagle was awake, and it was this noble bird that finished off Torglug, knocking him to the ground.
The Great Unclean One was now the major threat to the plans of the :Lady of Vines, but Sigmar himself had been watching this battle and now he hurled his favoured servant onto the battlefield.
Splintering trees as he descended, the Celestant-Prime had arrived.
Riding a wave of thunder and lightning, the Celestant-Prime took the Great Unclean One completely by surprise and Ghal Maraz savaged the greater daemon, even as the Treekin, on the other side of the battlefield, finally dealt with the Blightmage.
Battle Round Five
All across the battlefield, the tide had turned against the forces of Nurgle, and as Ghal Maraz continued to hammer the Great Unclean One out of existence, the rest of the Nurgle followers were hunted down and exterminated.
Last to fall was a single Plague Drone, trapped atop the central rise and quickly surrounded by Stormcasts and Sylvaneth.
Torglug came to just as the Plague Drone was dispatched to see the Lady of Vines move towards the seeding ground where Alarielle would be replanted. Then the Celestant-Prime swung Ghal Maraz at Torglug’s head so hard, it literally knocked the Chaos out of him.
Well, if the current rumours are true, we are going to be getting a new model for Alarielle very soon, which will match our place in the storyline completely! The Lady of Vines was successful in her mission and, despite hideous, hideous casualties, she has managed to bring the Goddess of Life from the Athelwyrd to Blackstone Summit where she van be reborn into a more warlike aspect.
The Celestant-Prime was a complete brute once more in this battle, but I remain very, very conscious of just how fragile he is. If the Great Unclean One had managed to get just a few hits in, the Celestant-Prime would have been returned to Sigmar very quickly.
As for the Knight-Venator… well, that was just business as usual, really. It is beginning to look like the only thing you can count on him to do is miss with his arrows…
The Story Continues…
With matters in the Realm of Life resolved (for now, though you can be sure Nurgle will have more plans for Ghyran!), we are going to take a little sideways trip to take a look at a new set of forces stirring in the Realmgate Wars – and we’ll be travelling to the Realm of Death in order to do so!