As we continue our tour of the Mortal Realms, we descend to the Realm of Fire where the forces of Khorne are holding an important bridge against repeated attacks from the Stormcasts, using one of the ‘historic’ Battleplans from the General’s Handbook. This time, however, Sigmar is not mucking around – he wants that bridge…
The Story So Far
The Emberport Realmgate in Aqshy could only be reached by crossing the Black Chasm Bridge, held by Daemons of Khorne who used the Realmgate to dominate the surrounding rich area of the Sunderflats.
After the capture of the Brimstone Peninsula and the Godbeasts War, Sigmar directed his Stormcasts to take the bridge and the Realmgate that lay at its end.
Eleven times Sigmar sent chamber after chamber to capture the bridge, and eleven times they failed, for the bridge was guarded by the Helfire Legion, its gatekeeper Khaaraks, a Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury.
When Sigmar’s lightning struck the bridge for a twelfth time, no warrior chamber emerged, but the Celestant-Prime and a single retinue of Prosecutors. This seemed a derisory force to send against the Helfire Legion and Khaaraks fumed against the perceived insult. As the Celestant-Prime dived downwards, the Bloodthirster was determined to avenge his martial pride upon this affront.
Though this battle takes place on a (relatively) narrow bridge, the forces of Khorne have mustered a veritable horde of daemons. The Stormcasts have rather… less in their force.
Daemons of Khorne
Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury (Khaaraks)
Bloodmasters x 2
Blood Thrones x 2
Bloodcrushers x 3
Bloodletters x 80 (eight units of 10)
Flesh Hounds x 5
The Daemons of Khorne have the full spread of units available to them, but they have been battered by fighting in the past and can only field minimum size units. However, this should be enough to overwhelm the Stormcasts, so long as they can bring their forces to bear.
Prosecutors x 5
Retributors x 10 (two units of 5)
The Stormcasts are dreadfully outnumbered, but they have a few things in their favour. First, Ghal Maraz starts the battle pre-charged. Second, the Daemons of Khorne will be coming onto the bridge piecemeal, allowing the Stormcasts to tackle them a little at a time. Finally, they are using the Hammerstrike Force Battalion, allowing the Prosecutors to bring the Retributors into battle exactly where they are needed.
The Stormcasts start with the Celestant-Prime and Prosecutors on one end of the bridge, with the Retributors ready to deploy via the Hammerstrike ability. The Daemons of Khorne begin with their Bloodthirster and the two Bloodmasters (what used to be called Heralds of Khorne), with one new unit from their army appearing every round thereafter. Whoever destroys the enemy army first claims a major victory (minor if their general is dead).
We will be using the Brimstone Peninsula Time of War sheet, and the Daemons of Khorne can roll on the basic Triumph table immediately because they have done so well on the bridge up to now. In addition, anyone getting too close to the edge of the bridge (except flyers and Retributors who stick close to Prosecutors) run the risk of falling off to their dooms!
As the Celestant-Prime and Prosecutors alighted upon the Black Chasm Bridge, Khaaraks rushed forwards out of the gates, his two Bloodmasters hot on his heels.
Behind him, the Helfire Legion stirred, all eager to rip the Stormcasts apart.
Battle Round One
The Stormcasts floated forward along the span of the bridge, carried aloft by their glowing wings. The Prosecutors hurled javelins at Khaaraks, but the lightning-wreathed weapons simply bounced off the Bloodthirster’s brass armour.
Then the Celestant-Prime pointed his sceptre at the oncoming daemons and the heavens opened, parting to permit the passing of a massive comet that ploughed into the bridge. The deamons staggered under its impact, but though one of the Bloodmasters was now running with a pronounced limp, the missile had done little more than anger Khaaraks.
Bellowing with rage, Khaaraks rushed forwards, intent only upon tearing the Celestant-Prime limb from limb.
Khaaraks’ whip snaked out to catch the Celestant-Prime across the chest, but the Stormcast’s armour held firm under the lash. However, the blow still sent him reeling, knocking him to the ground just as Khaaraks charged.
Desperately, the Celestant-Prime climbed back up, his wings beating furiously to gain altitude, but Khaaraks was much faster. A series of powerful swings from his axe knocked the Celestant-Prime back down, allowing the Bloodthirster to crush him with a single stamp. The Celestant-Prime’s armour burst apart and a bolt of blue lightning raced up back towards Azyr.
Battle Round Two
Having seen their champion felled so quickly, and mindful that more daemons were already entering the battle, the Prosecutors resolved to finish the Bloodthirster. Calling upon the power of their God-King, they watched as massive bolts of lightning struck the ground all about the Bloodthirster. When the flashes dissipated, two retinues of Retributors remained, hefting their massive hammers as they prepared to attack Khaaraks.
As they floated backwards, the Prosecutors once more hurled javelins and tridents at Khaaraks, and this time their aim was true. Bolts of lightning dug into the Bloodthirster’s flesh between his plates of armour, causing the daemon to roar in both pain and fury.
Grim-faced beneath their helmets, the Retributors swung their hammers in unison, bright flashes discharging from the heads of their weapons as the Bloodthirster was methodically pulped into oblivion before the Bloodmasters could get close enough to aid their general.
Bloodcrushers, led by a Skullmaster, pounded out of the fortress, even as a Skull Cannon appeared behind them. The Skull Cannon was wreathed in black smoke as it launched a hellish projectile at the Retributors, claiming one of them immediately.
Led by the Bloodmasters, the Bloodcrushers charged into the Retributors, their Juggernauts crushing one Stormcast underfoot.
The speed of the Khorne daemon cavalry staggered the Retributors and one of their retinues was quickly wiped out in the charge. The second retinue moved up to take revenge, crushing two Bloodcrushers flat with their hammers, but then reality blinked and they reappeared right in front of the Stormcasts.
Battle Round Three
Gaining altitude and distance, the Prosecutors kept in tight formation.
They continued to rain javelins and tridents upon the Khornate daemons, claiming a Bloodmaster as its attention was focussed on the Retributors.
Once more, the Retributors concentrated their attacks upon the Bloodcrushers, and once again they slew two of them and badly injured the third. However, the last Juggernaut managed to stomp yet another Stormcast into the bridge.
As two Bloodthrones emerged from the fortress alongside the Skull Cannon, the Skullmaster spied the Prosecutors raining death upon his daemons and urged his Juggernaut to chase them.
However, the daemonic beast was far more interested in the closer Retributors and, ignoring the curses of the Skullmaster on its back, it charged.
The Juggernaut ran down on Retributor, while the Hellblades of the Skullmaster and Bloodmaster claimed two more. For their part, the Retributors finally managed to destroy the last Bloodcrusher and wound the Bloodmaster, but they were now pitifully few in number.
Battle Round Four
A horn sounded from the fortress, heralding the arrival of more daemonic reinforcements, and the baying of Flesh Hounds was heard across the bridge.
Feeling confident, the Bloodthrones and Skull Cannon gained speed, all intent on claiming the lives of the Stormcasts who had the temerity to attack their bridge.
The Retributor-Prime stood his ground, though he was starting to look seriously outnumbered, and his hammer knocked the Bloodmaster flying. However, the daemon recovered quickly, and its Hellblade sliced through the neck of the Retributor-Prime, sending him back to Sigmar.
The Bloodthrones clattered forward as they bounced over the rough surface of the bridge, but only the Skull Cannon had enough speed to reach the Prosecutors. Having seen it coming from some distance, the Prosecutors took to the air as the Bloodletter crew raged with futility from below, then hurled their javelins and tridents downwards, smashing the daemonic war machine utterly.
Battle Round Five
Hoping to tempt the Khornate daemons into a foolish rush that would spell disaster, the Prosecutors moved to the very edge of the Black Chasm Bridge, their wings holding them safely above the lethal drop.
The Skullmaster was the first to reach the Stormcasts, its Juggernaut crushing one under its iron-shod feet as the Skullmaster’s Hellblade claimed another.
The Prosecutors fought hard against the Skullmaster, forcing the daemon back, but they had been distracted from the oncoming Bloodthrones. With shrieks of fury, the daemonic chariots thundered into the Stormcasts.
Battle Round Six
A desperate fight at the very edge of the Black Chasm Bridge erupted. The Skullmaster leaned forward over his Juggernaut to snatch the life of the Prosecutor-Prime with his black sword, but savage thrusts from the two trident-wielding Prosecutors sent the Skullmaster back to Khorne.
It was to no avail. The Bloodthrones smashed into the last Prosecutors before they could regain height, and the final bolts of blue lightning rocketed up from the battlefield, carrying the souls of the Stormcasts back to Azyrheim to be reforged anew.
The Black Chasm Bridge was to stay in the hands of the Blood God.
Well, that was utter carnage!
The one thing I had been fearing for the Celestant-Prime – being charged by a nasty beastie – finally happened. The Celestant-Prime is a bit of a glass hammer and, so long as you retain the initiative, he normally does okay, laying any foe low with Ghal Maraz. However, if he is caught on the back foot… well, things do not go so well, as Save 3+ and just Wounds 8 means he cannot take a savage attack.
And that is exactly what the Bloodthirster delivers.
Once the Celestant-Prime was out of the picture, the Retributors took over, and they made very, very short work of the Bloodthirster. However, it seems as though they had forgotten to put all of their armour on for this battle, as they made very few saves (the mortal wounds dished out by Bloodletter heroes and charging Juggernauts really did not help either).
With the Retributors gone, it was all down to the Prosecutors and their ranged firing. This might have just worked if the Bloodthrones had not made it so far along the bridge so early. If the Bloodthrones had not appeared (a really big if, they were always going to pop up early), then the Prosecutors might have stood a reasonably chance of whittling down the likes of Flesh Hounds and Bloodletters.
So, the moral of the story? Don’t rush your general in on turn one…
(You would think we would have learned that by now).
The Story Continues…
Next time, we have a fairly special battle – Alarielle has awoken and, it turns out, she is quite annoyed. The first target for her wrath will be the Khorne Bloodbound as she leads a force of Sylvaneth into the Realm of Fire to give them a good kicking.