Having finished the Godbeasts book in the last battle, we are now taking another tour of the Mortal Realms to see what else has been going on, before diving back into the main storyline with All-Gates. In this battle, a Flesh-Eater Court has caught the Stormcasts in a trap!
The Story So Far
Though Archaon had taken the Godbeast Ignax, the forces of the God-King were still hitting the Realm of Fire hard. More Realmgates leading back to Azyr were being captured, strengthening the Stormcast armies and allowing them to strike further into Aqshy.
One such force was headed to liberate a newly discovered Realmgate in Voldyr Keep. However, their approach had been watched by the minions of the abhorrant Marrowthirst, and they quickly scampered back to their lord and master to report the invasion. The Ghoul King ordered the Marquis Retchbile to gather his forces and, as one, the Flesh-Eater Court moved to intercept the Stormcasts.
Marrowthirst allowed the Stormcasts to make it all the way to the ruined Voldyr Keep before unleashing his forces. Dreadfully outnumbered, the Stormcasts quickly realised the magnitude of the army they faced, and they started to retreat, only to find the rest of the Flesh-Eater Court materialising from the shadows behind them.
Faced with no good choices, the Stormcasts abandoned their quest to liberate the Realmgate and attempted to break out of the trap.
The Stormcasts are quite seriously outnumbered in this fight, and the Flesh-Eater Court is not going to be pulling any punches.
Abhorrent Ghoul King on Terrorgheist
Crypt Infernal Courtier
Crypt Ghast Courtier
Crypt Horrors x 6 (two units of 3)
Crypt Ghouls x 60 (three units of 20)
Crypt Flayers x 12 (four units of 3)
The Flesh-Eater Court has the numbers with its Crypt Ghouls, but has not been shy about bringing the heavier boys along in the form of Crypt Flayers and Horrors. These have been assembled into two battalions, the Deadwatch (Crypt Flayers forming the king’s bodyguard, able to pile in and attack in the hero phase) and the King’s Ghouls (Ghouls and Horrors led by a Ghast Courtier, able to make long-reaching pile-in moves and ignoring battleshock while in their own territory).
Liberators x 35 (seven units of 5)
Judicators x 10 (two units of 5)
Prosecutors x 9 (three units of 3)
The Stormcasts clearly were not expecting trouble with this Realmgate, and a Flesh-Eater Court this size is quite a surprise. The Stormcasts have a fair number of Liberators with them, but they left the Paladins at home for what was supposed to be a routine mission…
This is a fairly easy Battleplan. The Stormcasts set up in the middle of the table, with half the Flesh-Eater Court deploying around them. The rest of the Flesh-Eaters appear at the start of the second round, allowing them to counter any early thrust the Stormcasts make.
To win, the Stormcasts need to exit the table from one of the four corners, the gradient of their victory (or the Flesh-Eaters) based upon how many manage to leave.
As this battle takes place in the Realm of Fire, we will be using the Brimstone Peninsula Time of War sheet, ignoring the Blood Geysers rule.
The Stormcasts deployed in a standard formation designed to repulse an ambush – Liberators forming a shield line around the sides, with Prosecutors in the middle ready to break out, and Judicators sandwiched between them to provide support.
The Flesh-Eater Court appeared quickly enough, moving out of the shadows to reveal bloodthirsty Ghouls and Crypt Horrors, led by an Abhorrant Ghoul King atop a massive Terrorgheist.
Battle Round One
The Flesh-Eater Court wasted no time as they sprang forward, eager to rip the Stormcasts apart. The Ghoul King proved himself no coward as his Terrorgheist landed right in front of two retinues of Liberators before opening its maw to unleash a deafening screech. Three Prosecutors fell to the ground, clutching their heads before disappearing in a flash of blue light that bolted up to Azyr.
Then the Flesh-Eater Court charged, with only the Varghulf Courtier too slow to reach a Stormcast. Despite their diminutive size, the Crypt Ghouls held no fear as they leapt up to claw at the Stormcasts over their shields.
Despite losing one of their number as they rushed the Stormcasts, the Crypt Horrors quickly proved lethal, slaying three Liberators in seconds. However, the Stormcasts facing the Ghoul King knew how to defend themselves against beasts such as the Terrorgheist, and they drew their shields tight, losing only one Liberator to the creature’s claws while a single Prosecutor was wounded by a swipe from the Ghoul King.
Two Liberators were dragged down to the ground by Crypt Ghoul, but their comrades quickly stepped in and started hammering the Ghoul King’s followers.
As the Lord-Relictor called upon the power of the God-King to blast the Terrorgheist with a bolt of lightning, a retinue of Liberators led the break out as the Stormcasts began to flee to safety.
On the other side of the battlefield, the Lord-Celestant led a retinue of Liberators out of the trap, Judicators keeping pace as their Skybolt Bows peppered the Ghoul King at range.
As the Boltstorm Crossbow-armed Judicators shredded Crypt Ghouls, Liberators tried to batter the Ghoul King and his Terrorgheist back, but the beast managed to snap one in two with its wide jaws.
The Lord-Celestant diverted briefly from his flight, activating his cloak to send a hail of celestial hammers into a Crypt Horror, before charging into their backs. However, the Crypt Horrors sensed his approach and whirled round, tearing the Stormcast commander apart before he could do much more than raise his sword. The nearby Liberators moaned as they saw their leader defeated so easily.
Battle Round Two
The Stormcasts had suffered losses early in the battle, but they had begun to break out, with several paths open to them.
Standing high on the back of his Terrorgheist, the Ghoul King called for more of his followers to come out of the shadows, a cry that was quickly taken up by his courtiers. The Stormcasts were dismayed to see the summons answered, first by Crypt Horrors moving to block the retreat of Prosecutors.
However, they were soon joined by Crypt Flayers moving to cut off fleeing Liberators on opposite sides of the battlefield.
One pack was led by a Crypt Infernal Courtier, a creature that could not wait for his minions to assemble themselves into a battle formation. Sweeping forward on his wide wings, the Courtier landed within ruins to attack the Liberators making their way through them. Though the Stormcasts reacted quickly and wounded the Courtier, he would not be driven off.
Meanwhile, the Crypt Ghouls gathered in number, with enough pouring from the surrounding shadows to more than offset the losses the Stormcasts had inflicted upon them. Very soon, the lead Liberators were completely surrounded.
Terrifying shrieks resounded across the battlefield as the Crypt Flayers and Terrorgheist took their toll on the sanity of the Stormcasts, with both Liberators and Prosecutors falling to the ground as they clutched their helmets in a vain attempt to keep the murderous screeching out of their heads.
Everywhere, the Stormcasts ran for their lives, Crypt Horrors and Ghouls snapping at their heels. Only the Judicators kept a measured pace of retreat, continually picking off Crypt Horrors and showering the Ghoul King with Skybolts as they went.
Battle Round Three
The number of minions at the call of the Ghoul King seemed limitless as yet more arrived on the battlefield, hungry to taste Stormcast. The Terrorgheist turned round to unleash another shriek at the nearest Liberators, but the Skybolts of the Judicators had taken a terrible toll, leaving the monster badly wounded. Opening its maw, little more than a pathetic mewl emerged.
The retinue of Liberators had made it to a nearby woods where they sought protection, but their Prime had a nasty feeling they were simply being shepherded into a killing ground by packs of Crypt Ghouls.
His fears were confirmed as the Crypt Ghouls gave a collective shriek and scampered forward. The fight in the woods was brief but vicious in the extreme. Not one Liberator would walk out.
The Lord-Relictor had seen the fate of the Liberators but was frustrated in his attempts to help them as he realised he was being stalked by a pack of Crypt Flayers. Taking cover in the closest ruins, he quickly found himself fighting for his life as the creatures charged him.
Meanwhile, the Skybolt-armed Judicators and the Liberators they had been tailing were caught in the open by a combined force of Crypt Horrors and Flayers, led by the Varghulf Courtier. Though their Sigmarite armour proved strong, there were simply too many enemies around them and they began to fall.
Faced with such a bloodthirsty and terrible foe, the nerve of the Stormcasts broke and all across the battlefield, men fled from their retinues in the largest rout yet seen from Sigmar’s warriors.
While those running would likely be caught alone in the dark and torn apart by minions of the Ghoul King, there were now few Stormcasts still fighting on the battlefield and little semblance of order or tactical planning. In desperation, the Lord-Relictor called upon Sigmar to heal himself of the wounds inflicted by the Crypt Horrors in the ruins, and then ran as fast as he could.
A single Prosecutor-Prime had survived the carnage, and his wings carried him high over the woods. Just one more leap, and he would be out of the Voldyr Keep and safe.
While the Liberators they had been supporting had fallen, the Judicators were still fighting hard, and their Warblades gutted a Crypt Horror as it lunged forward. Despite being painfully outmatched, the Judicator-Prime gritted his teeth and forbade any of his men to run.
Battle Round Four
The wounds covering the Terrorgheist of the Ghoul King began to knit and heal as it searched for more prey. The Ghoul King himself surveyed the battlefield and saw the Stormcasts were all but defeated, and he was pleased.
But still more of his minions raced out of the darkness to finish off the last of the defenders.
The flight of the Prosecutor-Prime had not gone unnoticed, and the Crypt Flayers abandoned the Lord-Relictor to pursue the fleeing Stormcast. They raced through the air to reach him, the Prime just having time to turn around before their claws shredded him mid-flight.
This had not relieved the Lord-Relictor, however. As he watched the Crypt-Flayers chase down his Prosecutor, he became aware of dozens of glowing red eyes watching hm from the darkness. He was surrounded by Crypt Ghouls.
His end was quick but brutal.
Only the Judicators were left fighting now. Far from safety, they were nevertheless determined to make the Flesh-Eater Court pay for every Stormcast that had been slain on this day.
However, bravery alone will not triumph in the dark. All too soon, they had been dispatched back to Azyr with their brothers.
This was a dark day for the Stormcast Eternals, for the Ghoul King Marrowthirst had now claimed Voldyr Keep for his own.
That was less of a battle and more of a horror story!
You can just imagine how the Stormcasts felt as more and more ghoulish creatures emerged from the darkness, and what the Lord-Relictor must have been thinking as he realised he was being watched by way too many Crypt Ghouls to fight!
The Stormcasts were completely unprepared for a stand up battle, and it showed. While they came close to making actions that would count (the Ghoul King and Terrorgheist were reduced to just a single wound at one point, and had the Prosecutor-Prime managed to make it off the table – just getting a single double turn would have done it – the Flesh-Eater Court would have walked off with just a minor victory), they had no hard-hitting units in this fight. Just a couple of retinues of Retributors would have made all the difference, and Decimators would have had a whale of a time, but Sigmar had not seen fit to dispatch them.
As for the Flesh-Eaters themselves… well, they may not have a huge amount of armour, but they can certainly dish it out! There is a really good feeling of fighting against the clock when facing them, as they will constantly bring more and more models to the battlefield, leaving you only with the options to wipe them out in one good, hard hit… or run!
The Story Continues…
Next time, we are going to be seeing what the Flesh-Eater Courts are up to in Chamon, the Realm of Metal!