The first battle in the All-Gates campaign was but a brief skirmish – now the heat gets turned up with a massive attack on a fortress of Nurgle involving Treelords, monsters, plague daemons… and a goddess.
The Story So Far
For four hundred years, the fortresses around the Genesis Gate had been ruled by Nurgle’s most worthy heroes – Daemon Princes, favoured Great Unclean Ones, and the most vaunted of mortal champions. Each had added to the defences, creating what became known as the Ring of Corruption, seven vast strongholds standing over seven vast gates. Inside their walls lay the Dripping Fortress, the central keep floating over the Genesis Gate, ruled by the Glottkin.
The Glottkin had been troubled by premonitions and dreams sent by the Plague God, and they knew trouble was coming. They visited each of the fortresses around the Ring of Corruption, ensuring defences were solid and guardians mustered. However, rivalries were evident among all of the commanders.
The Glottkin blamed the Skaven of Clans Pestilens for their fall from Nurgle’s favour, believing them to be responsible for the escape of Alarielle long ago, and they were right to be suspicious, for Verminlord Sepskirk the Foul had been whispering promises of power into the ears of Plague Pontifex Skroglitch Twistspine that would set the Clans Pestilens against the rest of Nurgle’s followers.
The combined Sylvaneth and Stormcast assault on the walls surrounding the Genesis Gate was soon in coming. All seven fortresses of the Ring of Corruption were attacked simultaneously, Alarielle using her magic to disperse the poisonous air that wreathed their towers.
The greatest battle was at the Hornspire, the largest of the outer fortresses and, as the Sylvaneth and Stormcasts approached, the Glottkin unleashed their reinforcements – however, of the promised Skaven of the Clans Pestilens, there was no sign…
This is a big battle over a fortress wall (always good for excitement), plus it is the first appearance of Alarielle in the All-Gates campaign!
Lord of Plagues
Blightkings x 10
Chosen x 10
Chaos Warriors x 36 (three units of 12)
Nurglings x 9 (three units of 3)
Plaguebearers x 30 (three units of 10)
Skull Keep x 3
Dreadhold Wall Sections x 10
The forces of Nurgle have marshalled their best mortal defenders and enjoy not only daemonic support, but a Slaughterbrute as well. But will it be enough to hold back the assault?
Knight-Venator (Tornus the Redeemed)
Retributors x 5
Judicators x 10 (two units of 5)
Alarielle, the Everqueen
Son of Durthu
Treelords x 2
Kurnoth Hunters x 12 (four units of 3)
Tree-Revenants x 10
This combined Sylvaneth and Stormcast army has brought together the very best of both forces. Not only is the Celestant-Prime present, but Alarielle herself has entered the battle! This, combined with the monsters and hard-hitting shooting units, will give the forces of Order a decent chance of taking the walls.
In principle, this Battleplan is a simple one – the forces of Nurgle are behind their walls, and victory will go to the army that manages to capture and hold onto the three Skull Keeps in no man’s land.
However, the forces of Nurgle are vast and the Ring of Corruption is packed with reinforcements (except those pesky Skaven – where did they get to, eh?), and units wiped out can be recycled during the battle.
In addition, the poisonous fog from the Great Unclean One Pustrol is still floating around the fortress, and it will begin poisoning Sylvaneth and Stormcast units over the course of the fight, sparing only those closest to Alarielle.
The forces of Nurgle sighted the advancing Stormcasts and Sylvaneth from a distance, and the garrison was well prepared for the assault as they lined the walls of the Hornspire. Reinforcements had already been called for and, despite the furious battles already happening elsewhere around the Ring of Corruption, the Lord of Plagues at Hornspire was confident his summons would be answered.
As Alarielle led her army closer to the walls, his confidence turned to a quiet hope the reinforcements would arrive in time…
Battle Round One
The Hornspire was wreathed in a poisonous fog that choked the Stormcasts, but Alarielle gestured with the Spear of Kurnoth, and the worst effects were driven back in a sphere centred upon her. She saw the forces of Nurgle were well ensconced behind their walls, and was reluctant to give them more time to react to the presence of the Sylvaneth. With a loud cry, Alarielle gestured her army forward, keen to take the towers early in the battle.
As the army advanced, arrows and bolts from Judicators and Kurnoth Hunters rained towards the defenders, but most missiles simply bounced off the corroded metal wall as the Warriors of Chaos huddled behind them. The Lord of Plagues took a chance and peered down from the ramparts, only to quickly duck back again as he saw Knight-Venator Tornus the Redeemed loose a Star-fated Arrow towards him. The arrow thudded into the wall and exploded, showering the Lord of Plagues and his warriors with chunks of metal.
Cursing the Knight-Venator, the Lord of Plagues saw the Sylvaneth and Stormcasts were intent on taking the Skull Keeps. Raising his axe high above his head, he ordered his force to leave the walls and fight for the towers.
A battle quickly erupted around the centre tower as the Slaughterbrute swung down from the wall and bounded into the approaching Treelords. He managed to scratch on but then the Spirit of Durthu strode forward to swing the Guardian Sword in a mighty blow that decapitated the Slaughterbrute.
Chaos Warriors rushed into the fray, picking their way over the corpse of the Slaughterbrute, but their swords and axes proved deadly to the Spirit of Durthu, who roared in pain as the many blades found their mark.
Battle Round Two
The poisonous fog billowed over the walls, wrapping around any Stormcast or Sylvaneth who was not in the protective bubble around Alarielle. Two Judicators fell to their knees, clutching at their throats as the poison spread through their bodies.
The battle was now becoming truly vicious as the two forces closed in on one another. Alarielle gestured at the Blightkings who had descended form the wall, casting a spell of Metamorphosis. Two of the Blightkings screamed in terrible pain as verdant branches and leaves sprouted out of their skins to create shrubbery that immediately blossomed with vibrant flowers. The Kurnoth Hunters turned their great bows to the Blightkings, adding their weight to the assault, and another Blightking fell to their massive arrows.
The Stormcasts were keeping pace, the Boltstorm-armed Judicators holding their ground to unleash a terrifying torrent of fire into oncoming Plaguebearers as Tree-Revenants moved to block a charge from the daemons.
On the right flank, Sylvaneth fought Chaos Warrior for possession of the tower there, a Treelord leading Great Scythe-armed Kurnoth Hunters in the attack. The scythes were truly lethal, making a mockery of any armour the Chaos Warriors wore, reaping five Chaos Warriors and a Blightking. This was too much for four of the Chaos Warriors, who fled from battle only to be cut down by the cruel Blightkings on the direction of the Lord of Plagues.
The battle for the tower on the left flank had also been joined, as a retinue of Retributors smashed into more Chaos Warriors, their great hammers flattening four of their enemies into the ground. However, here the nerve of the Chaos Warriors held, and their axes brought one Retributor to his knees before he was dispatched back to Sigmar.
In the centre, the battle tilted heavily to the Sylvaneth as the Spirit of Durthu, a Treelord and a small group of Kurnoth Hunters finished the last of the Chaos Warriors they faced. The way to the central tower now appeared to be open.
From deep within the Hornspire, a trumpet sounded and, hidden from the Sylvaneth, the first of Nurgle’s reinforcements arrived. Running flat out for the walls, a unit of Chaos Warriors tried to keep up with another Slaughterbrute.
Alone on his section of the wall, a Blightmage peered down at the swirling melee below and saw the greatest threat stagger before him. The Spirit of Durthu had been badly wounded by the Chaos Warriors it had fought, but even now the injuries inflicted were beginning to heal from the benign presence of Alarielle.
Chuckling to himself, the Blightmage raised his staff and sent a powerful Arcane Bolt downwards, the magical energy striking the Spirit of Durthu square in the chest and causing the Treelord to reel under the impact.
Seeing an opportunity, a tumbling horde of giggling Nurglings flowed towards the Treelords, but each of the little daemons was intent on bringing the mighty Spirit of Durthu down. While the Treelord Ancient tried to stem the tide, the Nurglings just flowed round him and started to climb the Spirit of Durthu, levering aside broken bark to get inside.
Utterly infested with Nurglings, the Spirit of Durthu gave a long, low moan, before crashing into the ground.
Around the tower on the right flank, Plaguebearers had reached the front line of the forces of Order and began hacking at the Tree-Revenants with their Plagueswords, forcing the Boltstorm-armed Judicators to draw their Warblades and support their Sylvaneth allies.
Only one Tree-Revenant fell to the daemons, for the loss of several Plaguebearers – but then reality blinked, and suddenly the Tree-Revenants were facing more daemons of Nurgle than had originally leapt down from the walls.
Battle Round Three
The poison fog dispersed momentarily, allowing everyone to see what was happening across the battlefield.
The Lord of Plagues clambered down the wall to join the fight, blessing the Blightkings with a dose of Nurgle’s Rot as he went. This infection quickly spread, and a Kurnoth Hunter hissed as its foliage started to blacken and rot.
The Retributors of the Hallowed Knights dispatched the last of the Chaos Warriors they had faced, and had hoped they would now have created enough space for the Judicators to take the tower. However, a unit of Plaguebearers leered at them, daring the Stormcasts to leave themselves vulnerable as they entered the tower. Then, with a bellowing roar of challenge, the new Slaughterbrute climbed over the wall, looking down at the Retributors, who readied their hammers for more fighting.
No towers had been taken, and Alarielle could feel the chance beginning to slip through her fingers. While the forces of Order had enjoyed several victories on the battlefield, the towers were still out of reach and it was only a matter of time before a tidal wave of reinforcements from within the Ring of Corruption would overwhelm the Stormcasts and Sylvaneth. Raising the Spear of Kurnoth, she channeled Ghyran’s Wrath and every Sylvaneth on the battlefield was infused with the power of a goddess.
As Judicators on both flanks concentrated their fire on Plaguebearers, Alarielle could see that the forces of Nurgle were concentrating their reinforcements around the tower on the left flank – this was where the fighting but be at its most fierce. Deciding that she had been a bystander too long in this battle, and knowing the Tree-Revenants would have to take the opposite tower on their own, Alarielle urged her Wardroth Beetle on.
Concentrating on the Retributors, the Plaguebearers did not notice the ground shaking under the heavy footsteps of the Wardroth until it was far too late. Its antlers were lowered and they hit with such force that the daemons were instantly liquified, bursting apart in a shower of rotting offal.
Around the central tower, Treelords stamped on the Nurglings that rolled around their feet, knowing that they had to destroy the infestation before the tower could be taken. The Lord of Plagues took advantage of this confusion, and raced towards the Kurnoth Hunters, swinging his disease-ridden axe.
Seeing him approach, the Kurnoth Hunters grew great thickets around themselves, blunting the Lord of Plagues’ charge, before sweeping with their massive swords. The Lord of Plagues staggered back with a huge rent in his chest, but he only chuckled to himself and hefted his axe for another attack – the wound was already beginning to heal.
The assault on the tower of the right flank began to stall as reality blinked once more and Plaguebearers began appearing at a rate far faster than the Tree-Revenants and Judicators could destroy.
Battle Round Four
Despite having taken extremely heavy losses, the forces of Nurgle had managed to blunt and then stall the assault upon the Hornspire, and they took heart from the warcries of the reinforcements they now heard coming their way.
The forces of Order were still too close tot he towers for comfort though, and the Blightkings unleashed another wave of Nurgle’s Rot upon Kurnoth Hunters, even as the Blightmage hurled an Arcane Bolt at them. One of the Kurnoth Hunters reeled under the debilitating attacks, but refused to succumb to magic nor disease.
The Retributors remained steady as the Slaughterbrute leapt off the walls to crash among them. Once more, the Stormcasts were driven back from the tower they had been fighting so long for, and they were forced onto the defensive under the Slaughterbrute’s punishing attacks.
Time was now running out far too fast for Alarielle, and she knew the tenuous hold the forces of Nurgle had on all three towers had to be shattered – and quickly.
Calling upon the power of Metamorphosis once more, she directed the spell at the Slaughterbrute, which was suddenly wreathed in vines that sprang from the joints in its heavy carapace. The beast stumbled as it tried to force its way past the Retributors to reach the goddess, but Alarielle hurled the Spear of Kurnoth, piercing the Slaughterbrute’s skull and causing it to collapse motionless outside the tower.
On the other side of the tower, the Treelord Ancient hurled an Arcane Bolt at the Lord of Plagues, just as the Nurgle champion advanced upon the Kurnoth Hunters once more. The Lord of Plagues was slammed against the side of the tower and looked stupidly downwards as his rotting innards dropped from the open wound to pool at his feet. The last thing he saw was a Kurnoth Hunter’s sword swung hard at his neck.
The Kurnoth Hunters strode over the body of the Lord of Plagues and claimed the central tower in the name of the Goddess of Life.
Following the lead of Knight-Venator Tornus the Redeemed, the Kurnoth Hunters concentrated their arrow fire upon the Blightkings and Plaguebearers still battling around the tower on the right flank, seeking to give the Tree-Revenants and Treelord enough space to claim it.
Then, a massive bolt of lightning lanced down from the storm-filled skies to blast the ground just behind the walls of the Hornspire. When smoke and debris cleared, the form of the Celestant-Prime appeared, hovering above the wall.
Sigmar had sent his own herald to ensure the Hornspire fell.
This was all the encouragement the Stormcasts needed, and the Boltstorm-armed Judicators redoubled their efforts. Taking a step back, they unleashed the full weight of their firepower on the last of the Plaguebearers around the tower on the right flank, mowing them down in vast numbers.
The pitifully few Plaguebearers left could not hold back the fury of the Tree-Revenants who were finally able to sweep the area surrounding the tower free of Nurgle daemons.
Battle Round Five
Perhaps at the behest of Grandfather Nurgle himself, the poison fog returned with a vengeance, swirling across the walls of the Hornspire in great gusts that choked and gagged the forces of Order. A Kurnoth Hunter and Tree-Revenant both went down under its touch, their bark flaking off to reveal raw Heartwood before it passed.
Though the towers had begun to fall, the reinforcements from the Ring of Corruption were not about to let the hated Sylvaneth and reviled Stormcasts claim them without a fight, and they ran at full speed to the walls.
One unit of Chaos Warriors managed to catch up to the Celestant-Prime, and their swords and axes battered his armour. Then he raised Ghal Maraz, and Sigmar’s own hammer descended in a series of unstoppable blows that cracked armour and smashed bone. Half a dozen Chaos Warriors fell to the Celestant-Prime’s initial attacks alone, and another ran for his life, terrified at the naked and unleashed power of the Godking.
On the other side of the wall, more Chaos Warriors threw themselves fearlessly into battle against a Treelord, desperately trying to force the Sylvaneth back away from the tower. The Treelord’s great, sweeping blows knocked many of them off their feet but while many died, the rest were fanatical in their devotion to Nurgle, and refused to run.
On the far right flank, the Tree-Revenants occupied the tower they had fought so long for, a well deserved victory that gave them much needed respite from the battle.
However, the Chaos Warriors who had jumped down from the wall were dogged in their defence and they refused to yield the last tower, in spite of (or perhaps because of) their dwindling numbers.
Hunkering down behind their shields, the Chaos Warriors were hammered by the arrows of Kurnoth Hunters, strangled by the roots of the Treelord, and forced to bear wholesome life from the Metamorphosis of Alarielle. Every time one of them succumbed to the attacks of the Sylvaneth, another stepped forward to take his place, until less than a handful were left.
Time was pressing though, and Alarielle knew she was needed at the Genesis Gate if the All-Gate was to be taken. A large section of the Hornspire walls had been seized and it would be sufficient to allow her army to cross them.
They had done enough.
A minor victory for the forces of Order – those pesky Chaos Warriors right at the end just would not die!
Actually, despite the forces of Order having the upper hand throughout this battle (four Treelords and a Goddess of Life are a powerful combination!), they came very close not to winning at all, and it was only in the last two rounds that towers started to be taken. If the odd Nurgle unit here and there had held out just a little longer, the ending might have been very different!
The Spirit of Durthu falling to Nurglings was a bit of an embarrassment, but before that happened he had managed to slay a Slaughterbrute single-handed and finished off a whole unit of Chaos Warriors, so he certainly did his bit on breaking the line. For her part, Alarielle was kept back probably a turn longer than necessary, but I was a bit wary about sending forward into an enemy army after what happened when she last faced a Khorne warband!
As for the forces of Nurgle, their great weakness was that they had to leave their walls to contest the towers and while they had continuous reinforcements, they are not known as having the speediest of units, so the new units had limited effect. They soaked up the initial attacks from the Sylvaneth with Chaos Warriors (who are superb in that role, it cannot be denied) but I cannot help thinking it might have been better to send the Plaguebearers up front – the presence of the Blightmage would mean they could be summoned a lot closer to the battle than recycling them as reinforcements.
Still, the Hornspire (or, at least, a part of it) has fallen, and we will now be moving onto the final objective in the Ring of Corruption.
The Story Continues…
The assault upon the Ring of Corruption is now in full swing, but it is a tough fight. Will the forces of Order find the Key to Victory and succeed in capturing the Genesis Gate?