As the All-Gates campaign thunders to a close, Sigmar launches a desperate last strike in the Realm of Fire, but Archaon was expecting this and already has a plan…
The Story So Far
If the Realm of Fire could be closed off from the Allpoints, Sigmar would deliver a powerful blow to the Blood God. The Brimfire Gate lay in the daemon-haunted wastelands of the Fellbarrens, a ruined land plagued by constant war and marked with blazing skullpyres as far as the eye could see. Khorne himself had raised the Brass Mountains to encircle the All-Gate then cleaved a chasm through them with his sword, creating the bottomless Black Abyss spanned by a single bridge that led to the Pyrevault Redoubt. Sigmar had sent his armies to claim the Brimfire Gate many times before, but had failed in every instance.
Since then, the defences of the Brimfire Gate had increased, becoming a succession of castles nested within one another. An army breaching the walls of the Pyrevault Redoubt would merely find themselves facing the much higher walls of the Keep of Skrathax. Breach those, and they would face another, yet higher, wall of another castle. And at the centre of them all, the monolithic arch of fire that was the Brimfire Gate.
While Sigmar could hurl his warriors into battle in any Mortal Realm on bolts of lightning, the fortresses around the Brimfire Gate were studded with brass skulls, magebane wards and the blessing of Khorne himself, making them resistant to this ploy. Instead, waves of Prosecutor Strike-Teams were dispatched to take the outermost defences and open the way through them.
Sweeping in attack waves, and at great cost, the Strike-Teams made a path through the defences of seven fortresses, only stopping when they reached the last and mightiest – the Great Skullhold. However, while the Brimfire Gate was in sight, there was a major problem.
Skarbrand had been bound beneath the flaming arc.
Who needs a huge army, when you have Skarbrand to guard your most valuable possession? Despite being backed up by a handful of Bloodbound and Flesh Hounds, the Stormcasts have taken many casualties in their assault upon the fortresses, and must rely on Prosecutors to get the mission done.
Forces of Khorne
Bloodreavers x 40 (two units of 20)
Flesh Hounds x 10
Faced with lightweight Prosecutors, even the Bloodreavers must be fancying their chances in this battle. So long as Skarbrand remains bound by his chains of course. It would be awful if he broke loose…
Prosecutors x 18 (six units of 3)
For once, the Stormcasts are not going into battle loaded for bear, and must rely on two Strike-Teams. They are extremely fast and agile, but that may be of little account if they find themselves going toe-to-toe with Skarbrand himself.
Victory for the Stormcasts is simple in this battle – get a model next to the Realmgate at the end of any round (or wipe out the Khorne force, but I’ll leave the jokes to others…). If they cannot do that within six rounds, Khorne gets a major victory (or a minor one if Skarbrand is a casualty).
There are, of course, some complications for both sides.
For a start, Skarbrand is really upset right now, and re-rolls all failed hits. On top of that, while he remains bound by his chains, he ignores all wounds on a dice roll of 5 or 6.
While he remains bound? Well, to begin with, Skarbrand is held by chains that limit his movement to an 18″ radius from the centre of the table. However, the Prosecutors can duck into Skarbrand’s reach (a risky prospect!) and try to break those chains. If they succeed, Skarbrand breaks free and is then controlled by the Stormcast player, much to the chagrin (and pain) of the remaining Khorne forces.
The Prosecutors fanned out as they approached the Brimfire Gate, the Hallowed Knights taking one flank and the Stark Hammers taking the other.
Undaunted by Skarbrand’s raw rage, Bloodreavers and Flesh Hounds bounded forward to meet the Stormcasts, led by the Exalted Deathbringer. One unit of Bloodreavers hung back around the Brimfire Gate, under no illusion of what would happen to them should a single Stormcast get past them.
Battle Round One
The forces of Khorne continued their headlong rush, joined by Skarbrand as they raced to be the first to send a Stormcast back to Azyr.
The Knights-Venator and -Azyros barked orders to their Prosecutors, who executed them with grace as they began to manoeuvre to strike the chains from Skarbrand while holding back the worst of what the Blood God could throw at them.
Swooping down, the Prosecutors unleashed a torrent of javelins and hammers, but the smoke billowing out of the Brimfire Gate made the picking of targets difficult, and many missiles missed their targets.
As they touched down, the Prosecutors began attacking the brass chains that held Skarbrand in check, Grandhammers smashing great chunks of metal. Though the chains held, they had sustained noticeable damage.
Battle Round Two
Taking advantage of their speed, the Prosecutors adjusted their formations, with some leaping ahead to harass and confuse the Khornate force, while others continued to smash Skarbrand’s chains.
A handful of Bloodreavers and Flesh Hounds fell to the ground as hammers and javelins began to find their mark but, other than those casualties, the Khornate warriors and daemons were untouched and now the Stormcasts were within easy reach.
Then, raising his massive Grandhammer over his head, a Prosecutor-Prime of the Stark Hammers brought his weapon down upon the brass chains in a blow that sent lightning crackling for yards in every direction. This was quickly followed by a terrible raw of pure fury – Skarbrand had been released.
Perhaps not realising that Skarbrand was now free, Bloodreavers continued to race forward, and their let loose savage warcries as they ploughed into the nearest Prosecutors, out-paced only by the Exalted Deathbringer.
Two Prosecutors were torn from the sky as they tried to gain altitude to escape, the last too overwhelmed by the raging Bloodreavers to land any blows in return. Two more Prosecutors fell to the Exalted Deathbringers axe, but he in turn fell prey to the twin Celestial Hammers of the Prosecutor-Prime.
On the other side of the battlefield, the Flesh Hounds had caught up to the Prosecutors of the Stark Hammers, but these Stormcasts were better trained in the art of brutal melee.
Two Flesh Hounds were killed by quick thinking Prosecutors, and their shields protected them from the slavering jaws and talons of the attacking packs.
Battle Round Three
The Stormcasts were now engaged with the Bloodreavers and Flesh Hounds, but the Knight-Azyros knew they could not tarry for long – they had to keep pushing for the Brimfire Gate.
At the sound of his order, Prosecutors from both Stormhosts executed a well-practiced manoeuvre, taking to the sky while leaving their enemies confused and unable to retaliate. Soaring onwards, they flew to the Realmgate, hoping to put as much distance between themselves and the Chaos force as possible.
Three Prosecutors of the Hallowed Knights gained a great burst of speed from the thermals around the Brimfire Gate, and were able to translate that into speed, reaching the Bloodreavers protecting it faster than anyone else. They immediately set about spearing the Bloodreavers with their javelins and trident, but the Khornate defenders put up a solid defence.
Other Bloodreavers had begun to realise something was wrong, and they caught sight of Skarbrand thundering towards them. There was not mistaking the rage in his eye, and they raced back to the Brimfire Gate, suddenly believing the Blood God wanted them to hold it at all costs.
The Stark Hammers had suffered losses in battling the Flesh Hounds, but they had now dispatched one pack and left the other snorting in the dust left by their wings beating to carry them away and towards the Realmgate.
The few remaining Bloodreavers and Flesh Hounds had by now turned to give chase to the Stormcasts and, ever mindful of the raging Skarbrand just metres behind them, caught up to the slowest Prosecutors.
The first they reached was the Prosecutor-Prime who had defeated their Exalted Deathbringer, but despite their need for bloody vengeance, they could not land a solid blow. The Prosecutor-Prime brained a Bloodreaver with his Celestial Hammers for their trouble, and this was sufficient to force another to flee the battlefield.
The last two Flesh Hounds had raced after the Stark Hammers they had been fighting, but the Prosecutors were ready, and killed one of the hounds before it could leap up to drag them to the ground.
At the Brimfire Gate, Bloodreaver fought hard against Prosecutor, but neither side could deliver a telling blow and force the other to retreat.
Battle Round Four
Bloodreavers finally gutted the Prosecutor-Prime who had killed their Exalted Deathbringer, even as the Stark Hammers dispatched the last Flesh Hound.
The battle now hung in the balance, and casualties began to fall to the ground on both sides as the Bloodreavers and Prosecutors at the Brimfire Gate fought ever harder in an effort to defeat their enemies.
Flying just behind the Prosecutors, the Knight-Azyros saw more Bloodreavers were about to join those at the Realmgate. Despite having suffered many casualties in the battle so far, the Knight-Azyros knew they might still be enough to swing the fight in Khorne’s favour.
Dropping down to the ground, he opened his Celestial Beacon, and a ray of pure light lanced out to burn the Bloodreavers. They clawed at their own faces as they were burned were they stood, utterly destroyed by the purity of the God-King’s power.
Now, though, the Prosecutors of the Stark Hammers reached the Bloodreavers at the Brimfire Gate, and their presence immediately relieved the pressure on the surviving Hallowed Knights.
Skilled in exactly this kind of fight, they laid about the Bloodreavers with twin Celestial Hammers, while the Prosecutor-Prime swung his mighty Grandhammer. In seconds, half a dozen Bloodreavers lay on the floor, broken and bleeding, and the nerve broke among the others.
The pitifully few surviving Bloodreavers turned and ran, desperate to get away from the Stormcasts and find some dark corner of the fortress to hide within.
The combined force of Hallowed Knights and Stark Hammers had won the day and broken through the last of the great defences surrounding the All-Gate. Leaving Skarbrand to rage impotently below them as he was driven to find something – anything – to kill, the Prosecutors departed to enact the next chapter of Sigmar’s great plan for the Brimfire Gate.
This was a nice, short battle – plenty going on, but not too long to play!
At one point, I thought the Stormcasts were in real trouble, as the dared not get bogged down in close combat and their shooting was proving utterly miserable. On top of that, Skarbrand had not been released!
As it turned out, they managed to yank the iron out of the fire, but they sustained very high casualties in this attack.
And just my luck – I finally get to play with the absolute monster that is Skarbrand, and he never gets into combat! He had one chance to charge Bloodreavers (okay, that would have been a massive overkill, but still), and I fluffed the charge roll
* Sigh *
I bet I never get another chance to play him again in this campaign…
Still, the Stormcasts did manage to yank victory out of the jaws of (self-inflicted) defeat, and we are ready for the next battle in the Realmgate Wars!
The Story Continues…
The action really hots up next, as the Battle of the Brimfire Gate is about to begin…