The Fyreslayers have made a foray into the Realm of Death – what are they going to find there?
As it turns out, it is literally raining zombies!
The Story So Far
The Vampire Queen Cyssandra ruled a sprawling subterranean kingdom within the Realm of Death, inflicting endless horrors on the Gloom Tribes in her reign of blood. With precious few other choices, the Gloom Tribes eventually handed their stores of gold to the Greyfyrd Lodge in return for ending Queen Cyssandra’s rule once and for all.
This offer was accepted by Runefather Hursgar-Grimnir, and he quickly gathered a force to march into the underworld realm of forsaken ruins and the walking dead. All had pledged an oath to attack the Overlord Bastion Cyssandra called home and restore a measure of peace to the region.
From her Bastion, Cyssandra watched the progress of the Fyreslayers with pleasure, savouring the nightmare they would soon face. As they approached, her cabal of necromancers began raising large numbers of the dead and, with a screech that shook the entire cavern, her Terrorgheist took to the air, even as zombies tumbled from the darkness in a constant rain of corpses.
Two medium-sized forces are being used in this battle, but enough special units are present to keep things interesting!
Vampire Lord (Cyssandra)
Necromancers x 3
Crypt Ghouls x 20
Zombies x 30
Skeletons x 40 (two units of 20)
Aside from the Terrorgheist and, of course, Cyssandra herself, this army does not have many hard-hitters. However, those Necromancers will be able to ensure a constant wave of undead hits the advancing Fyreslayers and, so long as they can be protected, the undead will retain the upper hand.
Runefather on Magamdroth (Hursgar-Grimnir)
Runesmiter on Magmadroth
Hearthguard Berzerkers x 10
Auric Hearthguard x 5
Vulkite Berzerkers x 30 (one unit of 10, one unit of 20)
Aside from a handful of Heroes, the Fyreslayers are coming loaded for bear, with every model in the collection! While they are superior fighters compared to the undead, plus have two nasty beasties compared to Cyssandra’s one, once a Fyreslayer is dead he usually stays that way – this battle is going to be an exercise in managing casualties until they are able to assault Cyssandra’s Bastion.
This battle sees the Fyreslayers picking their way through the gloom, gradually encountering more and more undead as they push forward. Cyssandra starts the battle holed up in her Bastion and, if all goes ill for the Fyreslayers, may not need to appear at all! This means the Fyreslayers have the advantage of engaging the undead piecemeal, but the summoning capabilities of the Necromancers may be enough to shift the balance.
The Fyreslayers will gain a major victory if they can end the reign of Cyssandra while they still have at least half of their models on the table – otherwise, it will be a minor victory. For her part, Cyssandra gains a minor victory for wiping the Fyreslayers out; a major victory if she can do so without making an appearance!
With the Vulkite Berzerkers leading the way, the Fyreslayers moved cautiously into the darkness of the cavern.
The screech of the Terrorgheist echoed from the blackness, but the Duardin could detect no movement as they slowly moved forward. Hearthguard retinues flanked the Vulkite Berzerkers, with Runefather Hursgar-Grimnir and the Runesmiter following up on the backs of their huge Magmadroths.
Battle Round One
The Vulkite Berzerkers moved ahead, using the flames of their Magmapikes to help light the way. One cried out ‘movement!’ when he saw Skeleton Warriors staring back at him from a sickly growth of vegetation. Behind them, he spied the human form of a Necromancer, already starting to chant foul verses to summon more undead to his aid.
Runefather Hursgar-Grimnir ordered the Duardin to maintain a Steadfast Advance, even as the Battlesmith regaled the retinues around him with stirring tales of how the Lodge had defeated hordes of the dead in ages past. Then, with enemies sighted, the entire Fyreslayers warband bellowed their warcries and raced ahead, the Runefather urging his Magmadroth on to lead the way.
Bright, fiery light lit up the cavern briefly as the Magmapikes burned the front line of Skeletons away, then the Runefather’s Magmadroth opened its maw to unleash a torrent of flame upon them, vaporising bone and setting light to the trees.
Runefather Hursgar-Grimnir prepared to urge his Magmadroth forward into the remaining Skeleton Warriors, but was cut off by the over-eager Auric Hearthguard who raced in front of the big beast to reach the undead. Cursing the younger Duradin, he prepared to make the charge once more but, with a bellowing cry that shook the entire cavern, the Grimwrath Berzerker raced forward, causing the Magmadroth to rear up in alarm.
Seeing the Auric Hearthguard engaged with the Skeletons, the Vulkite Berzerkers put on a burst of speed, and sped for the lone Necromancer deeper within the woods.
As they neared the wizard, the Vulkite Berzerkers hurled their shields, several burying themselves deep into the Necromancer’s body. Painfully, he straightened up, ready to hurl spells at his attackers, but the Duradrin were quicker and an axe buried in his head put an end to any plans of retaliation.
Skeleton Warriors were smashed apart by the Grimwrath Berzerker, but the trees they were taking cover in broke the charge of the Fyreslayers, and many were left standing. Even as they fought, some of the broken Skeletons on the ground started knitting together and standing up to fight once more.
A member of the Auric Hearthguard was the first to fall to the spears of the undead but, seeing the Skeleton Warriors had been greatly reduced in number, Runefather Hursgar-Grimnir ordered his force to swing left to proceed deeper into the cavern, letting the Auric Hearthguard and Grimwrath Berzerker finish off the few remaining Skeletons.
Battle Round Two
The Hearthguard Berzerkers took the lead this time, already angry that they had missed out on the first clash against Cyssandra’s minions. Their determination was rewarded as spied more movement in the gloom in the shape of Crypt Ghouls and the massive Terrorgheist, all clustered around an Ophidian Archway. Skulking behind them was another Necromancer, one clearly keen not to meet the same fate as his comrade.
Seeing a more powerful target, Runefather Hursgar-Grimnir grinned as he waved the rest of the Fyreslayers onwards, listening to the Runesmiter’s boasts as the two Magmadroths advanced side by side.
The Hearthguard Berzerkers were closer, however, and they rushed the Crypt Ghouls, their axes keen and ready to sever limbs and heads even as the Magmadroths immolated three with spouts of lava.
The Hearthguard then set to work with their axes, hewing their enemies and buckling the line. When they had finished their first flurry of attacks, six Crypt Ghouls lay dead at their feet, while another four scampered back into the darkness. However, one of the Fyreslayers’ own number had also fallen.
Battle Round Three
Corpses began falling from the top of the cavern, striking the hard rocky floor in a disturbing splatter. Horrifyingly, the bodies began to stir, ignoring broken bones as they staggered to their feet – it had started to rain Zombies!
From the lofty reaches of her Bastion, Cyssandra surveyed the course of the battle through the eyes of her minions. The Fyreslayers had enjoyed a string of successes, but now the Vampire’s own creatures were beginning to gather in force, and she was certain they would be whittled down long before they laid eyes on her fortress.
Taking temporary control of the Necromancer, Cyssandra empowered the Crypt Ghouls with the Bloodfeast, turning them into ravening maniacs seeking only to feast on Fyreslayer flesh. The Necromancer shuddered as the will of his mistress departed, but he retained enough wits to raise a fresh unit of Skeleton Warriors from the bones littering the cavern, summoning them to form a wall of bone between himself and the Fyreslayers.
Taking a few steps forward, the Terrorghiest opened its wide maw and shrieked, the unnatural sound threatening to burst eardrum and boil brain. However, the Hearthguard Berzerkers were staunch in their defence, and they shrugged off the worst effects.
It then rushed the Hearthguard Berzerkers and between it and the Crypt Ghoul, Duardin began to fall at an alarming rate. The ominous presence of the spirits surrounding the Ophidian Archway broke the nerve of one of the Hearthguard and, shamefully, he ran for the cavern’s exit.
Seeing quarry still fighting and eager to get to grips with Cyssandra herself, the two Magmadroths lumbered forward while the rest of the Fyreslayers sprinted to keep up.
Shaking the ground with its heavy footsteps, the Runesmiter’s Magmadroth thundered towards the Terrorgheist, lava erupting from its open jaws to stream over the heads of the Hearthguard Berzerkers and immolate the last of the Crypt Ghouls. Now they could all concentrate on the Terrorgheist, the most fearsome of Cyssandra’s pets.
As the Runefather’s Magmadroth crashed into the newly raised Skeleton Warriors, smashing them apart in a shower of bone splinters, the Runesmiter’s Magmadroth and Terrorgheist fought tooth, nail and claw, the Hearthguard Berzerkers desperately trying to keep from getting crushed underfoot by the two massive beasts.
Both creatures sustained minor wounds, but none were deep or crippling as they continued to fight.
Battle Round Four
More Zombies fell from above, and while some were annihilated by the impact, still more rose to join the others already stumbling towards the Fyreslayers, rapidly developing into a substantial horde.
Thinking the Terrorgheist might be fighting at a slight disadvantage, Cyssandra once more dominated the mind of her Necromancer, channelling the power of the Bloodfeast into her favourite creature – now the Terrorgheist’s eyes glowed a deep red as it was both strengthened and quickened by her will.
The Vampire then idly raised a retinue of Skeleton Warriors to slow down the Fyreslayer’s Runefather before releasing the Necromancer. Seeing how close the Magmadroths were to him, the Necromancer then promptly used his own magical strength to raise yet more Skeletons before taking cover behind them, doing his best to look like bone in the hopes he would not be noticed.
The Terrorgheist shrieked at the Runesmiter, but he proved to be made of even sterner stuff than the Hearthguard and, with some semblance of fury and bloodlust, the Terrorgheist launched itself once more at his Magmadroth, Cyssandra’s Bloodfeast driving it with unrequited violence.
Magmadroth and Terrorgheist battered one another, cracking bones and shattering armoured scales, but neither could launch a telling blow. Tumbling out of the way of the Magmadroth’s claws, the Hearthguard Karl sprang to his feet and, seeing an opening, buried his axe deep into the rib cage of the Terrorgheist. The creature screeched again, this time in pain, and it backed away. However, it had clearly been dealt a crippling blow as rotting innards fell to the ground.
Leading the way, Runefather Hursgar-Grimnir led the Fyreslayers into the deeper darkness of the cavern, spotting another Necromancer and retinue of Skeleton Warriors deployed around a set of Arcane Ruins. The Vulkite Berzerkers followed in the footsteps of his Magmadroth, feeling that they were now getting very close to Cyssandra’s bastion.
The rest of the Fyreslayers followed up, the Auric Hearthguard pausing just long enough to launch a stream of lava from their Magmapikes at the Terrorgheist. Focused on defending itself form the Hearthguard’s Karl, the creature did not notice the incoming fire until it started burning through its wing membranes. More lava smashed into it, the final volley caving in its skull. The creature fell to the ground, and the Hearthguard Berzerkers roared as they charged onwards into the Skeleton Warriors that had assembled behind it.
However, their charge was a little disorganised and only two Skeleton Warriors were smashed by their axes.
Battle Round Five
The Fyreslayers continued to march into the darkness until, finally, they saw the immense structure of an Overlord Bastion looming ahead. Knowing their foe was close at hand, one of the Vulkite Berzerkers shouted out and pointed as he saw the sinister form of Cyssandra herself staring down imperiously at them from the highest reach of her fortress.
His Magmadroth spitting lava, Runefather Hursgar-Grimnir charged into the Skeleton Warriors that blocked his path, sending bones flying outwards in huge arcs.
Staring down contemptuously at the remaining Skeletons, his intense glare unravelled the magic animating them, and the rest simply collapsed tot he ground, now completely lifeless.
The Vulkite Berzerkers had created a new flank in the advance but their progress was disrupted by the Numinous Occulum they found in their path. Their hornblower out his instrument to his lips and blew a loud, harmonious set of notes that gathered the Berzerkers and directed them forward. Finding a horde of Zombies in their path, they charged.
Fully half the Zombies fell in this rush, the Vulkite Berzerkers shrugging off every injury dealt to them in their maddened fury.
Zombies continued to fall from above but they all hit the ground awkwardly, and none rose to carry on fighting. The Necromancer near the Ophidian Archway hurled an Arcane Bolt at the Runesmiter, while the other raised a new retinue of Skeletons to trap Runefather Hursgar-Grimnir before taking cover within the Arcane Ruins.
Cyssandra could see her minions were about to fail her, and knew it was up to her to reverse the Fyreslayer’s advance. Gathering her will, she empowered the Zombies with Bloodfeast, hastening their normally slow movements, while placing a Spiritblight upon the Vulkite Berzerkers, sapping them of their fighting skill. Not yet done with the Berzerkers, she called upon the ancient power of the Overlord Bastion and bright rays of ruby red light lanced out, vaporising two Fyreslayers in an instant.
Then, with a hiss, she drew her blade and left the Bastion.
Moving with lightning grace, Cyssandra joined her Zombies, who were already dragging one Vulkite Berzerker to the ground under a tumble of flailing limbs. Cyssandra strode through the melee, her sword flicking out to snatch the lives of another three Fyreslayers.
This was too much for two of the Vulkite Berzerkers, who fled for the cavern entrance.
Battle Round Six
The corpse rain continued, and Zombies fell all around Runefather Hursgar-Grimnir, trapping him and his Magmadroth.
Leaning low over the side of his beast, Hursgar-Grimnir swept the area around him with his long Latchkey Axe, cutting through every Zombie as if it were wheat.
In a concerted effort, both Necromancers and Cyssandra hurled Arcane Bolts at both Magmadroths, the beasts reeling under the impact of magic as it repeatedly hammered them. Runefather Hursgar-Grimnir’s Magmadroth, in particular, was badly hurt by his assault, and developed a noticeable limp.
Confident that the Magmadroths were now too wounded for the Fyreslayers to risk battling her directly, Cyssandra directed her ancient will to her Zombies, once more channeling the Bloodfeast through them.
As a Necromancer clambered up onto the top of the Arcane Ruins, hoping to keep out of the reach of Fyreslayers, Cyssandra and her Zombies tore into the Vulkite Berzerkers. While they were able to fend off the mindless swings of the Zombies, they could do nothing to stop the supernaturally fast thrusts of the Vampire’s blade, and three more Fyreslayers met their end at her hands.
Rallying, the Vulkie Berzerkers formed a hasty shield wall and, with a mighty roar, drove the Zombies back with one combined push. Staggering back from the blow, the Zombies had no time to react as the Berzerkers followed this up with their axes, and every Zombie was cut down – leaving Cyssandra suddenly very alone.
Finally freed of Skeletons and Zombies, Runefather Hursgar-Grimnir spied the enemy he had sworn an oath to end.
Runes glowing with powerful energies, Hursgar-Grimnir bellowed a warcry as his Magmadroth thundered towards Cyssandra, who had just started to realise how vulnerable she had become.
The Vampire Lady jumped back to avoid being trampled by the Magmadroth, but Runefather Hursgar-Grimnir had anticipated the move, and his Latchkey Axe swung down, narrowly missing Cyssandra’s neck. However, its edge bit deep into her shoulder and she cried out in pain and terror. Hissing back, she prepared to leap towards Hursgar-Grimnir to tear his throat out, but his Magmadroth quickly snapped its jaws round to close around her body.
With a shake and flood of lava, the reign of Cyssandra was ended.
That was a good battle – a really good one. The pace is spot on, with the undead appearing in drips and drabs to begin with, then slowly whittling the Fyreslayers down as the game progresses.
Despite the Fyreslayers managing to keep most of their units intact to the end (the Hearthguard and Vulkite Berzerkers both suffered the most), it nearly went ill for them, and both Magmadroths were heavily wounded by the time Cyssandra was slain. In fact, if Cyssandra had managed to dodge the Runefather’s attacks, she would have had a not unlikely chance to finish him off!
Two things really swung things in the favour of the Fyreslayers – the first was the Terrorgheist and its distinct lack of effect. It should have torn apart the Hearthguard Berzerkers (who, to be fair, did not entirely distinguish themselves in this battle either) and given the Runesmiter something to seriously think about – and if it had toppled him, then it would have been free to rampage around the rearmost units of the Fyreslayers. They would have had to pull back to deal with it, giving Cyssandra more time to prepare a robust defence.
As it was, the Terrorgheist missed with most of its attacks or watched them simply bounce off Fyreslayers.
The Fyreslayers also managed to get a double turn at exactly the right time (between rounds four and five). They did not kill a huge amount with it, but this allowed them to move their bulk of their force right into Cyssandra’s backyard, again reducing the time she had to summon reinforcements. When she was forced to engage the Fyreslayers, she only had the Zombies to properly support her and a series of (very) lucky strikes from the Vulkite Berzerkers finished them off perhaps a turn before they should have done.
Once again caught out, Cyssandra was then vulnerable to the charge of the Runefather.
Anyway, thems the breaks for an immortal! This is a really good Battleplan and, if you have Fyreslayers, I recommend you take an oath and try to finish off the Master (or Mistress) of Death lurking in the nearby cavern!
The Story Continues…
Well, the time has come. We are all set and now ready to embark upon the Godbeasts campaign. Archaon is back and he has a plan…