The Gorehunt Saga (fluff for Ashborn) - Warhammer 40K Fantasy
 

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  1. #1
    Benevolent Dictator CaptainSarathai's Avatar
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    The Gorehunt Saga (fluff for Ashborn)

    A while ago, Ashborn asked me to write up some fluff for his blue ogres (seriously, they're blue, they look awesome and you guys should check them out). His other main army is the Gorehunt Tribe WoC, and although someone else is already working on the fluff for them, I couldn't help but use them as narrators for this story, since one of the centerpeices to the army is a StoneHorn carrying his Warshrine on it's back.
    I hope you like it Ashborn, sorry I took a little while to get it written out. As usual, anything that needs changed can be fixed up.
    Part 1. The FrostGuts

    Yselte buried the axe-head into the cutting stump and looked at her hands. She had been chopping firewood all afternoon, and the blisters on her hands had swollen and burst hours ago. The haft of the axe was a mess of slimy gore. A few feet away, her mother was scraping a stretched hide. She envied her mother for being able to sit, and simply draw the bone-knife across the leather, but knew that it was dextrous work. A young girl could not be trusted with something so important, and chopping firewood not only built up her strength, but also gave her good practice with an axe. But still, her hands were sore,
    “Why have you stopped Yselte- you’re hands? Remember child, ‘Blood for the Blood God’”
    Yselte turned her eyes northward to the roiling skies, “and skulls for the skull throne,” finishing the blessing for her mother. Her father had been away on the longships for two months now, carrying the judgement of their fierce god to the soft wastrels of the South, and doing his part to ensure that the Gorehunt Tribe would remain in Khorne’s favor for another season.

    As she reached a raw hand back towards the axe, she saw a trio of dark shapes cresting a distant drift of windblown snow.
    “Mama, Gormach is back from the hunt!”
    Yselte’s mother stood up from the tanning rack and squinted into the snow. When she saw Gormach and the other boys crest the next hill, she crossed her arms and waited patiently,
    “Get the fire ready in the yurt, Yselte, it looks like they’re carrying a meal.”

    With a fire burning, Yselte heard her brother and the other hunters crunching through the snow. Yselte and her mother lived in one of the outer yurts. It had been difficult for her mother to have children, and Yselte’s older brother Gormach was still barely thirteen winters old, too young to be a proper warrior, and therefore, Yselte and her mother were not yet welcomed into the circle of War Kin at the center of camp. She ran outside and hugged her brother.

    Gormach’s shirtless torso was streaked with blood, and he had a bitter gash on his shoulder. Two youths behind him each looked worse for wear, and Gormach carried the lifeless body of a fourth over his shoulders. He dumped the cadaver onto the snow,
    “Jorund” he grunted at the body. Yselte looked at it – great hunks of flesh had been ripped from the bone, and the head was only a lumpen sack of bone and gore. He had been her friend, only half a year older than her brother.
    “How did he die” her mother asked,
    “Like a Gorehunt – with an axe in his hand,” one of the boys replied, Tyrgulf. His right arm hung limply at his side.
    “That is good,” Yselte’s mother replied, “at least he died well. I cannot say the same for you three,” the survivors tried to look away from her darkened eyes, “take the body to his mother, and tell her why you have returned when her son did not”
    Yselte looked down at her hands as the boys stepped forward to lift Jorund’s remains – they were still covered in blood, hers, her brother’s, and Jorund’s. She stepped forward to Trygulf and put her small hand on his handsome chest. When he looked at the bloody handprint, Yselte felt herself blush,
    “For the strong hunter, who came back when Jorund could not,” she managed.
    Trygulf’s mouth twisted with a smile, and he hefted the corpse over his shoulder with a grunt. Yselte watched the two boys walk off to yurt of Jorund’s family, and then fathered her mother and sibling inside.

    “We need to move camp by nightfall tomorrow, mother,” Gormach was saying, “We saw them out there – the blue ogres have returned. They killed Jorund, we didn’t stand a chance, we came back to carry the warning.”
    Yselte looked at her son from across the flames, “it only takes one to carry a message,” she looked at Yselte and back at Gormach “Hylan was the youngest. You and Trygulf should have died as men”
    Yselte was confused, Gormach had been hunting to the North, but the Ogres lived to the South, with the other weak things,
    “Blue Ogres? Why can’t hetman Solaus turn them away?”
    Gormach looked up from his bloodied shoulder, “Because Solaus’s great grandfather brought them here!”
    Yselte was even more confused. Were they Daemons? “Then Solaus must know the banishing curse to send them back.”

    Yselte’s mother was already beginning to pack away their few belongings, but she looked over her shoulder at her daughter,
    “They’re not Daemons. They’re not Ogres either. Two generations ago, Solaus’s grandfather Gurrier led the yearly Great Hunt to the South, into Ogre-country. He wanted to bring back the largest kill since Kurran began the tribe, to take over the tribe from the chieftain. The hunt marched to the Ogre Stone, and set their camp. From there, young hunters, much braver than Gormach, hiked over the mountains to attack the grazing herdbeasts of the Ogres and drag them back to prepare for the feast.

    “When the Ogres discovered their great beasts missing, they rallied their tribes and made for the Ogre Stone. The battle raged for three days, and many brothers and fathers of the Gorehunt were lost. But on the second day, the Blood God was pleased, and Gorehunt stacked the fresh skulls of Ogres until they buried the Ogre Stone, and they split open the ribs of the fallen as a feast for the crows. With a glut of meat for the feast, the Great Hunt returned to the tribe.

    “One pale moon later, a tribe of Ogres marched North, past the Ogre Stone. The chieftain led the warriors of the Gorehunt into the snow, and they bit their axes and howled their warcries, and the Ogres marched around them, turning their backs. Old Gurrier called out to the Ogres, and walked to speak with their fat leader. He returned saying that the Ogres did not want to make war. They were seeking something, ‘a world without a Maw’ he said, but he didn’t know what that could mean. Too afraid to fight, Gurriel convinced the Chieftain to let them pass.

    “Young hunters followed the Ogres however, proving themselves in battle against the stragglers who fell behind, and dragging the carcasses back to hang high upon the spires to Khorne. Your father brought back two large, fur-covered Ogres, dragging them alone after they killed the rest of the party. He was a braver warrior than Gormach, a true warrior. But the Ogres soon ventured further North than even we dared to go, and the last hunting parties said that they saw the Ogres disappearing into a blizzard, leaving nothing behind but a trail of frozen and butchered Ogres, and footprints in the snow.

    “Years later, the coward Gurrier was gunned down in battle by the weaklings of the South, as he deserved. With him, almost all memory of the wandering Ogres died. But it was not long after that they returned. On the night of the season’s fiercest blizzard, they marched out from the snow to lay waste to the camp of the Gorehunt. Man and woman stood side-by-side to fend them off, and it was only when the storm abated that the attackers retreated, leaving burning yurts and half-devoured bodies behind them. They were different now though – their skin was blue, like a frozen man’s, and their hair had turned pale and white. Their blood was colder than an ice river, and their breath frosted like a cold morning.

    “Solaus will not speak of them, just like his father and his father before him, except to say that they call themselves the Frost Guts Tribe, and that their leader is a great Ogre named Fjaldur IceEater. Others with the gift of omens and visions speak more, and say that they are the same Ogres who passed by the camp those many years ago, and that as punishment for Gurrier’s cowardice, the gods took them into their realm and remade them, as a curse upon the Gorehunt forever more, doomed to appear on the coldest of winters to slaughter us or drive us across the wastes.”

    Yselte’s mother looked at Gormach, who gazed forlornly at the flames, “remember Gormach, the gods do not forgive at coward,” and turning her attention to young Yselte, “and the women should not suffer a weakling.”
    The siblings nodded sullenly, as their mother continued to chastise her son, “Next time, I expect you to return with a trophy, or not to return at all – that is the way of the Gore Hunt.”

    Last edited by CaptainSarathai; January 8th, 2013 at 09:45.
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  3. #2
    LO Zealot AshBorn's Avatar
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    Just awesome man. I'm glad you incorporated my other Tribe! That is fantastic. I love the story being told and everything.

    You made me want to read more and more lol.

    I'm going to have this copied into my army lists and such that I take to my Hobby Stores. I'm always going to post it to my Frost Guts Threads across Librarium and the Ogre Stronghold.

    You do great work. I never could have done this. Thank you again!

    **Ill credit your name at the bottom of it, wherever it is posted.
    Last edited by AshBorn; November 29th, 2012 at 23:20.

  4. #3
    Benevolent Dictator CaptainSarathai's Avatar
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    Are you still getting your GoreHunt fluff elsewhere? I was actually thinking about where the story might go next. My WoC army doesn't have fluff yet, believe it or not, and I was thinking of tying it in with this.
    Part 2 would be Gorehunt-specific fluff (which I would just skip/abbreviate heavily if you have fluff already). Yselte's father would come home to find the village wrecked, his wife and son dead, and daughter missing. The Frost Guts would have moved on by a few days. They'd find out that Tyrgulf fled the village with Yselte (saving her life) and call him out as a coward, and pursue the child out into the wastes to vent their grief and rage on him. The pair escape with their lives, and it drives Yselte's father mad with grief. He taps into this rage and uses it to fuel his rise through the ranks, killing the Tribe's chieftain when they have a disagreement over whether or not they should stop the futile quest for vengeance against the Frost Guts. In this way it would sort of expand more on both armies, with the Frost Guts wandering the globe through some mysterious means, and the Gorehunt constantly nipping at their heels. The Gorehunt would always show up to the aftermath, in time to take the blame and face the misplaced reprisal attack from the locals. Perhaps over time this constant, mounting rage, wears down the father's sanity, until he declares a state of perpetual 'Great Hunt', the army a tireless mass of trophy-taking, blood-crazed fanatics scouring the globe for something that they will never find.

    Part 3 would pick up with what happens after Tyrgulf escapes with Yselte. Most likely, I'd have her take her mother's words, "...and the women should not suffer a weakling," and vent her emotions on him before storming off on her own. This is where I would tie in another Chaos army from previous fluff. Technically, since my army is a mixture of Khorne and Tzeentch warriors, I should have her be abducted by Tzerack the Gatherer's horde, as he is a Tzeentchian Chaos Lord. I'd much rather see her captured by Tzer Khan, a mongol-inspired despot who resides north of Cathay. I would have a lot more fun subjecting her to his opium-fueled nightmare den of mutants and criminals, than have her following the more traditional Chaos Lord. Whoever ends up capturing her, they use her as entertainment - her childhood as a Gorehunt making her strong, and capable with an axe. She'd probably be used for sport, part gladiator, part concubine. The whole time, Tyrgulf would watch from the shadows, and eventually trade himself to Tzeentch in order to overpower Yselte's captors and have her as his own forever. In true Tzeentchian fashion, he is turned into a powerful Shadow Sorcerer but has no recollection of who he is. He attacks the camp. Recognizing him after so many years in captivity, Yselte thinks that he has come to rescue her, but without knowing who she is, Tyrgulf cuts her down with the rest. Her death breaks the contract with Tzeentch, and he suddenly remembers what has happened. With nothing left to give, he is approached by a Daemon of Khorne in the guise of Gormach, who offers another deal - all that Tyrgulf has left to offer Khorne is his blood and bones, as everything else was claimed by Tzeentch. So he gives these to Khorne in order to resurrect Yselte, becoming nothing more than a shadow, while she becomes one of Khorne's handmaidens (Vakyria model).
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  6. #4
    Benevolent Dictator CaptainSarathai's Avatar
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    Part 2. The Gorehunt

    Another bit of fluff for Ashborn, this time for his Warriors of Chaos project, the Gorehunt Tribe. Like the FrostGut, you can find links to a picture gallery and his army list in his sig. Hopefully you all enjoy this fluff - once again, trying to make characters that people can relate to, and show the more human/Norse side of a Chaos army. Names are all subject to change, as I haven't discussed them previously with Ash.
    The longhorn blew once more, to signal the return of the raiding party, but there was no reply. They had found the camp by the tendrils of cooking smoke that twisted up into the grey skies above. Chains of slaves followed behind them, to be offered to the Blood God, and behind the slaves, great beasts from lands beyond were guided, or pulled as carcasses through the snow, the warhounds snapping at them like horrifying sheep-dogs.

    Skahl knew there was something amiss even before the first of the horsemen came riding back from the site. He, and a few of the other men, broke into a jog, to greet the onrushing riders.
    “What news brother Gorehunts?” one of the footmen shouted as the riders approached. The fast cavalry rode by in a torrent of snow and snorting horses.
    “The camp is gone!” one of the riders shouted to the men on the ground.
    Skahl and the others broke into a run. A steep bank of snow hid their view of the camp, and they scrambled up it’s uneven side. Pausing at the top, they could see the scene of carnage laid out before them.

    Everywhere, the snow was churned to bloody slush. Camp fires, and war-fires, still smoldered. They had only missed the battle by a day, at most. Yurts were trampled, and bodies – pieces of bodies – lay strewn about in the crimson mire. Stahl turned around to see the rest of the warband taking up positions, in preparation for a possible ambush. He sniffed the air. Blood. And nothing more. He signaled that all was clear, and as one of the best hunters among the Gorehunt, they took him on his word. Skahl took a single look at his companions, and descended the hill into the wreckage of their homes.

    Skahl located his family yurt. On the outside of the camp, it would have been one of the first to be attacked, and only a few bone stakes marked where it had stood. Kneeling into the snow, he followed three sets of footprints out, away from the camp, towards where the battle would have been joined. If he closed his eyes, he could imagine his wife, and his son Gormach, making their way into the battle-line. The smaller feet would have been Yselte. When Skahl saw the smaller prints turn back towards the yurt, he almost managed to smile. Yselte – always stubborn and ready to fight. If only she had been born as son, she would have been as ferocious a warrior as any of the Gorehunt.

    Skahl followed the footsteps until the became confused with the dozens of other tracks leading towards the site of the battle. Bodies dotted the path, they had been routed – or had withdrawn to the campsite. Confused. Broken. Skahl fell to his waist in a deep snowdrift, only to pull himself out and carry on towards the battle. Others of the tribe watched as he led the way. He fell upon the pile of corpses, frozen stiff and stuck together with blood and the liquids of battle. On his knees, he dug through the mass, seeking any sign of the fate of his wife and son. There, near the bottom of the pile, he found them. Gormach first, his dead hands frozen to his axes, eyes wild. His lips were drawn back, teeth bared like a wild dog – he had died in a frenzy. Two layers of blood – the first, daubed in markings of fresh kills. Three, at least. The second layer was from the battle, and the countless deep wounds on his flesh. He had died a warrior. Skahl would be able to burn him among the honored dead, a proud, but childless father. Beneath Gormach, Skahl’s wife. She was no less battered than her child, and her axe was close by. Had Gormach fallen defending her? It would have been early in the battle, before the route, to be buried beneath so many other fighters. Skahl knew his wife would have been on the front lines, dragging Gormach by his scruff if she’d had to.

    Skahl pulled them from the ruin, dragging them clear. As he turned, he saw others approaching the pile, tracking footsteps and looking for their families. He bit back tears, Gorehunts did not cry, only blood, or frothing rage, could pour from their bodies – but his anguished howl pierced the darkening sky. Others joined him, finding only shattered dreams among the broken bodies.

    Skahl backtracked, picked up Yselte’s trail and followed it back to the yurt. Her body was not among the slain, what happened to her after Gormach and her mother sent her back? Footsteps circled the yurt. She had run, several times it seemed, towards the battle – only to be turned back. She had sat, perhaps to wait? Skahl saw a second pair of footsteps enter the yurt. New ones, not his family. Someone had taken his daughter, and dragged her from the yurt, out into the snow. He followed the marks for a short time, they led away from the camp, and the battle. His daughter’s warrior’s fate had been denied her. Skahl’s face twisted with rage. He tracked the intruder’s footsteps back the way he came. Across the camp. To Lyfig’s yurt. Lyfig was standing like a stone, dumbfounded.
    “Your son!” Skahl roared, shaking Lyfig from his stupor, “Your son, Tyrgulf. He is a coward. Deserter!”
    A crowd began to form, drawn towards the disturbance. Skahl wrestled Lyfig towards the approaching Gorehunts.
    “His son is a coward. The entire family – shamed! He has taken my daughter, dragged her into the snow.”
    Lyfig broke the hold, and scrambled to his feet, “you have no proof” he managed to say. Skahl shoved him back, and pointed at the tracks leading out of camp.
    “That is your only proof? Footprints? If you wish to shame my family, you’ll have to do better than that.”
    Skahl drew his axes, and lunged at Lyfig.
    “Halt!” a voice commanded from within the crowd. The hunters parted, and their chief stepped forward, “Khorne cares naught from whence the blood flows, but I do. Our warriors should be spared. There is vengeance afoot, but not among ourselves – you can settle this, after we’ve dealt with whoever attacked our homes.”

    Skahl rounded on the chief,
    “He shames the entire Gorehunt! How can you spare a man who’s own kin are a blemish upon the favor of our tribe? You would risk our favor with Khorne, for this man? For a coward?”
    Behind the chief, a hush fell over the tribe.
    “You challenge me, Skahl Ironmane?”
    Skahl’s eyes darkened, “if you stand between me, and avenging my family, I will kill you for less”

    The fight was brief. As Chief and Warrior struggled across the snow, the tribe descended upon Lyfig, holding him captive until the winner was decided. As the flurry of blows subsided, Skahl stood alone, bloodied, but victorious. With a roar, he raised the chieftain’s head into the air. Lyfig’s shout of defiance was choked with blood as the tribe fell upon him like a pack of hounds, tearing him apart in a frenzy of gory revelry.

    When the frenzy finally came to an end, the tribe looked to Skahl.
    “We camp here for the night, honor our dead.”
    The tribe nodded solemnly. “And what of the spoils of our Hunt?” called one man.
    Skahl looked at the glut of prisoners, and the train of beasts brought back for the feast, “Destroy them. We have no need for them now.”

    Skahl swalked towards the tribe’s warshrine atop one of their great herdbeasts, where the chief made his throne. He sat down and watched the men hack apart the slaves, offering each severed head and spray of arterial blood to the glory of their god. A short time later, two men approached, with a third held between them. Skahl leaned forward on his throne with a questioning look,
    “This man is a witch.” spoke the first,
    “Indeed, his treacherous magic burned Kurner alive, and boiled Welf from the inside”
    The man held between them looked as though they had beaten him savagely, but only managed a smile.
    “Then why do you not burn me, witch” Skahl asked the leering man.
    “Because I think we are men of reason, you and I, and hope we might make a deal” the wizard replied smoothly.
    “I do not make ‘deals’ with wretches such as wizards. If you have anything to offer, tell me where to find my daughter, and the son of Lyfig”
    The wizard closed his eyes, lost in thought, before opening them again, “The fates will not say.”
    Skahl kicked the man with a heavy boot, sending the trio nearly tumbling from the warshrine, “Then I will earn the favor of Khorne and he will make them speak!” he roared, “get this waste out of my sight, you should have butchered him with the others”
    One of the Gorehunts placed an axe to the man’s neck, preparing to execute him in his master’s presence and earn favor with their new chief.
    “Wait!” the wizard cried, “you say you wish to earn the favor of Khorne? I may be able to assist you there.”
    The executioner hefted his axe, “silence – you have nothing more to say to our chief, wretch”
    “But I know who has attacked your camp. And I know where they have gone.”

    For a second time, the tribe seemed to fall utterly silent. All eyes were on Skahl, and the wizard. From the ground around the warshrine, none could hear what transpired between the two men. Skahl waved the man away, and the wizard’s two captors dragged him off, to be chained in brass. Skahl stood atop the warshrine and looked over the assembled tribe, all eager to exact bloody revenge on the beasts who had slain their families. Skahl raised the longhorn to his lips and blew a single, keening note. The sounding of the Gore Hunt, and the tribe roared with approval. They would be marching to war.
    ...

    Ten years later, Skahl, Champion of Khorne, chained in fury, sat atop his throne. His Juggernaut snorted, and pawed anxiously at the sandy ground. For a decade, the Gore Hunt had been unceasing, a decade of marching, sailing, and war, in pursuit of the Frost Guts tribe who had slain their kin. Over the age, Khorne had heaped gifts of his approval upon the tireless Gorehunt tribe. Brass armor and Juggernauts from the Daemon-forges of Zharr. Hounds from the litters of Khorne’s own. Banners of brass, torn flesh, and flowing blood to mark their victories. But for ten years, the fates had remained silent about the fate of Skahl’s daughter.

    Today, the wizard knelt before him upon the sand. The heavy brass collar of Khorne locked around his neck, forcing an ever-flowing stream of blood to run from the chafed and abused flesh beneath it. The wizard had never complained, and although Khorne may have loathed magic in all it’s guises, the wizard had never once fallen from grace, and had even fought in battle alongside the Gorehunt. But now, he had run out of chances. If the fates would not speak today, then his head would merely become one more amongst the towers of skulls the Gorehunt had left in it’s wake.

    The wizard mumbled incantations and drew sigils in the sand. Skahl could smell the fear on him as he implored the fates once again, as he had every day. This time though, something was different. The desert air was alive with ozone, and an odor of brimstone seemed to rise up from the dusty ground. The sky above darkened, and the sunset lit it an ominous red. Rain pattered down upon Skahl’s iron armor, hissing and steaming. He turned his head just enough to see his wide pauldrons – it was raining blood. At last, the sky split with a loud crack, a portal to the realm of mad gods torn into the very skin of reality. Through it, Skahl could see Bloodletters blowing loud upon brass horns, heralding the arrival of a dark shape at their center.

    Valkia, consort – no, princess – of Khorne, descended into the bleak desert. The Gorehunt, even Skahl, immediately fell to their knees, and lowered their eyes. Valkia looked disdainfully at the wizard who seemingly summoned her, and in a flash his collar glowed red and molten hot, and he fell wailing to the sand.
    “Skahl Ironmane – rise.” she commanded in a voice that was at once beautiful and terrifying. In her, Skahl thought that he could almost see his wife, long lost to him. Many of the Gorehunt probably could, she was the breathing epitome of a warrior-queen.
    “I have not come to the summons of your paltry wizard, I have come only with permission of our master, the Lord of Skulls. You seek your daughter. The girl who was once your daughter still lives, but she is no longer your daughter – she belongs to Khorne. However, I have not come simply to tell you her fate, for she has fallen. She has left the service of Khorne for another, and as keeper of his handmaidens it falls upon me to make it right. And for this task, I am enlisting you. She was your daughter once, there could be no better servant to trust with this task. Your survival has only continued through your favor with Khorne, or I would have killed you myself for siring such a disgrace.”

    Skahl looked at the woman for a long time. This was connected to Lyfig’s son. He knew it – he had lost their tracks in the snow, and now – now he had once again forced dishonor not only upon the Gorehunt, but upon Skahl’s own kin as well.
    “Tell me where to find her, and I will restore or to Khorne’s will, or slay her myself,” he spoke to Valkia. The woman only laughed, a fierce and beautiful sound,
    “Tell you where to find her? No, servant, I will do you one better. I will lead you to her.”
    Last edited by CaptainSarathai; January 8th, 2013 at 09:46.
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    LO Zealot AshBorn's Avatar
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    Ahh awesome! I love it!

    You tied all the characters together that I needed in the story. Perfect. I'm going to post this in my thread and attach it to my army lists. Thanks man!

    The length is great. I wouldn't mind it even being longer if you get bored (that goes for the Frost Gut Tribe too!)

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    Benevolent Dictator CaptainSarathai's Avatar
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    Part 3. The Seekers of The Fates

    Quote Originally Posted by AshBorn View Post
    The length is great. I wouldn't mind it even being longer if you get bored (that goes for the Frost Gut Tribe too!)
    Good, because this one is 5 pages. It gets a little more complicated here - I need a reason to get the whole group down to Araby so that the Gorehunt can eventually fulfill their place in the official fluff - trekking into the desert on a suicide-march in search of glory for Khorne.
    --------------

    Tyrgulf staggered along, trying not to trip in the thick drifts of ash that blew across the Plains of Zharr. The Goblin at his side kneaded the gnarled end of a short cudgel in his bony hands, the motion far more of a promise than a threat – already, Tyrgulf had been battered for less. He had grown inured to the pain, learned to ignore the aching in his empty belly, the dull ache in his joints that could only herald starvation, and the agony of his swollen feet from weeks of endless trudging through the black volcanic ash of the plains.
    If only he could have toughened sooner. Why had they ventured into the South? Because he thought that food would be more plentiful out of the cold? Because it was difficult to find shelter from blinding snowstorms and bitter winds of the northern steppes? Because it was the land of the weak. Because Tyrgulf had been weak.

    The chain around his neck was heavier now – many of the slaves were gone, Yselte with them. They had not wanted Tyrgulf. He was scraggly, unfit for work, and not worthy enough for sacrifice. Captives around him whispered in tongues that he could not understand, but one thing was clear – any who were not taken by the end of this march, would die at the hands of their goblin captors. Trygulf and Yselte were taken in the night, ambushed, beaten savagely, and chained to the mile-long train of slaves-to-be. Some were sold screaming into the forges of the wicked dwarfs of the region. Others were carried off on roasting spits by Black Orcs and worse. Yselte had been bought with a lecherous grin from a Slaaneshi warlord, clad in pink and black silks, with a second pair of narrow eyes above his slit of a nose. Once unchained the young girl had fought with all the fury of a true GoreHunt, but she was overcome and hauled away. Tyrgulf felt guilty for failing her – he had tried to save her, fleeing from certain death at the hands of the blue Ogres, escaping into the unforgiving bleakness of the tundra, to live on shoots of grass and whatever carrion they could scavenge. He comforted himself with the thought that perhaps, as the pet of a warlord, she would at least be looked after and fed.

    The goblin at his side straightened. His lopsided ears twitched as he listened intently for some far off sound. Tyrgulf had learned a few things as a hunter – through the battered soles of his feet, he could feel the subtle vibration of the earth. Something was coming. A stampede.
    In the distance, at the front of the line, Tyrgulf could see a company of riders burst over an ash dune and descend on the goblin slave caravan. Many of the goblins broke and ran before battle was even joined, preferring not to fight the azure-armored horsemen. They would not get far – the horses were faster, and the riders more bloodthirsty. They leapt over the chain-linked column of slaves and fell upon the goblins in a cacophony of screams and great arcing plumes of gore.
    It was an ambush. Warriors seemed to simply materialize on the ashen ridges around them, charging down the slopes and tearing at the goblins. As they struck, it seemed that their limbs changed shape and took new form, flowing like liquid to become a shield here, a blade there, always in flux and never constant for more than a single strike. Tyrgulf had never seen men like these. At the front of the carnage were Warriors a head taller than the rest, dispensing death with long pole-arms. Their blue-lacquered armor was pristine, not a speck of gore upon it. No foes could come close enough to mar the surface with their inferior blood. The air around these warriors shimmered, and the long horns atop their helms seemed to writhe and twist like living things.
    Goblins were dragging the chain now, entangled between their former captives. The slaves themselves knew they were not saved, and tried to escape, hemmed in as they were on all sides. The chain around Tyrgulf’s neck pulled to and fro, he lost his footing on the ash and toppled to the ground. All around him was a wall of booted feet, a carpet of slaughtered goblins. He saw his taskmaster amongst the carnage – the goblin crawling away with his entrails clutched in his bony hands, his club forgotten amidst the chaos. Tyrgulf hauled hard against the chains, reached the club and pulled and strained towards the goblin. He would kill that little miscreant. For all the beatings, all the curses, for stealing him from his life and chaining him to this agonizing march through the lands of abyss- he would kill that wretched goblin.
    Sudeenly, from nowhere, a pack of hounds broke free from the wall of boots and pounced upon the taskmaster. Guts and gore flew up from inside the frenzied mass of fur, and the wolves rounded on Tyrgulf, fangs bared and snarling. They were not about to surrender this prize to one so low as him. He dropped the club, and scrambled away from the ferocious beasts.
    And with a trumpet blast, it was over.

    A voice called for the hounds to heel, and they fell silent. Out of the ranks of Warriors rode a great champion of the north on the back of an beast which seemed to have been pulled from the realm of nightmares. The rider had a massive blade strapped across his back, and armor so dark that it seemed to reflect the midnight sky. As he removed his helmet, Tyrgulf could see that his features were twisted and molded, like wet clay still being sculpted. On the right side, he had the face of a man – handsome, with dark eyes and hair. On the left side, the face was simply gone. There was no eye, and the mouth was a beak-like puckered maw of dagger-like fangs. The hair was not just hair, but twisted and coiled on itself like a mass of thin, black, serpents.
    “You dare gaze upon me, wretch?” the man spat. Tyrgulf felt as though he heard the man twice – once as he spoke, and again in the deepest parts of his mind. He cast his eyes down to the bloody ash.
    “Worthless. Weak. You bear the tattoos of a Northman. How do you come to be chained to such pathetic rabble? Are you too much a coward to fight?”
    Tyrgulf fervently wished that he could sink into the ash beneath him and disappear.
    “SPEAK!” the rider yelled. The sound echoed in Tyrgulf’s mind, crushed him behind his eyes and he could feel blood in his nose, taste it around his teeth. Thunder rumbled somewhere far off.
    Looking away, Tyrgulf saw another rider approaching. He looked exactly identical to the one standing over him now, except that the left side of his face was pristine, and the right was a whirling chaos.
    “What have you found here brother?” the new arrival seemed to croon.
    “A Northman. No. Less than a Northman – he is too pathetic to claim to be one of us.”
    The new rider grinned with one half of his face, “Pathos. Funny that he lacks the ethos to deserve it.” Tyrgulf’s eyes were fixed to the ground, but he could hear the metallic scrape of a sword slithering from its encasement.

    Lightning crashed and a vortex of raw energy struck down from the heavens. Daring to lift his eyes upwards Tyrgulf could see a tornado of pure warp essence, and over it’s swirling top, what seemed a massive stone altar, torn from the earth itself. At the apex was a single, solitary figure. Slowly, the altar sank to the ash, and the man at it’s top stepped towards them. As he reached the edge of the altar, he did not step down to the ground, but merely floated a foot above the earth, as though he were still standing on the solid stone of his vessel.
    “Step away my Swords” he whispered. The sound of it hurt Tyrgulf’s ears – it came from everywhere at once, scratching inside his ears, as if a million disparate voices had uttered only the softest sound, but in their unison created a roaring chorus.
    “Gaze upon me, boy,” and Tyrgulf did as he was commanded, although he had lost any ability to do otherwise. What now hovered over him was no longer a man. More a Daemon. A third eye was nestled above his brow, when his human eyes were opened, it was shut, and when the pair below blinked closed, it would flash open as though it had no lid of it’s own. Two enormous horns stretched from his brow towards the heavens, creating a sharp ‘V’ with the angle of his face, down to a circular maw of fangs that seemed incapable of forming words. He had an altogether predatory and avian quality, his entire body seemed framed upon the thinnest and most brittle of bones. His fingers were jointed, but seemed to twist impossibly around his staff, glowing with witch-fires that stirred his armored robes in an unearthly wind.
    The man’s two eyes closed, the third at his brow blazing to life.
    “You have a destiny about you” Tyrgulf heard the whispers. From within the crowd of voices though, Tyrgulf heard many things regarding this ‘destiny’, but none of them loud enough to hear clearly.
    “I am Azyzael – Prophet of the Raven God. Today, you are Saved, Blessed by the whirling twists of fate which connect all things”
    Tyrgulf wanted to cover his ears and sink to the earth, the roar of Azyzael’s voice was deafening inside his skull. He could see the twins though, their mouths slightly agape, their faces literally twisted with unspoken rage.
    “You walk the path of a Sorcerer, boy, though you do not know it. Your tribe would not suffer a Witch in their midst. Not one so gifted as yourself. You are free,” the chains around Tyrgulf’s neck clattered open and fell to the ground, “join me- Apprentice

    The twins rushed forward to protest, but were met with a blast of force, “I said to step away” Azyzael raised his voice, and it seemed that the entire world shouted with him. Blood began flowing freely from Tyrgulf’s nose. “Round up the slaves, and take them to N’Quazarr,” Azyzael closed his eyes again, “they will not surrender the cannons today. Camp at the foot of their city, with tall pyres. On the third day, they will accept the slaves, and give us the guns.”
    “As you command, sire” the twins said in unison, shooting evil glares at Tyrgulf as they knelt before their lord. The ash stirred around them as Azyzael, Tyrgulf, and the altar rose into the clouds.

    Tyrgulf was cowed by the presence of Azyzael. They hovered above the Warhost, Azyzael supervising quietly as the twins formed up the slaves and the army of men. Tyrgulf had never seen so many Northmen gathered in one place. So many of them armored – favored amongst they gods. Azyzael was by far the most powerful man he had ever seen from the Steppes.
    “My sons do not trust you,” Azyzael spoke, “they do not have the gift of the Third Sight, they cannot see fate as I can. They fear that you will learn a great many things on our journey, apprentice.” Azyzael never turned while he spoke to him, but Tyrgulf could feel his new master watching him intently.
    “They are short sighted. They believe that this journey is one made only for riches. The truth of it though, would make them wealthy beyond their wildest dreams”
    Tyrgulf crept towards the edge of the altar and looked down at the army below, it was a dizzying height, “where are we going?”
    “Far to the South. To Araby – my home from long ago. There is a temple there. It stands as a vast mountain amidst an ocean of sand.”
    “You’re going to the Rock of Ragnar?” Tyrgulf asked. Azyzael hissed at the name, the sound like billions of fingernails scratching along a slate.
    “You know of the place then. The ‘Rock of Ragnar’. I should have known that you would call it that – raised as you were among the tribes of the Great Savage.”
    Inside, Tyrgulf was pleased, already he had impressed this new master, “I listened to the legends of our tribe. Ragnar is the spirit-father of all who worship the Blood God. He led an army of a million Daemons, and two million men, into the South to forge his kingdom. Khorne delivered him a throne of pure brass, and he raised the Rock of Ragnar around it as his fortress. They say that any faithful follower of The Blood God who survives to sit upon Ragnar’s throne, is granted one favor by Khorne, and immeasurable wealth.”
    Azyzael nodded, “Indeed. It is a hefty ransom”
    “Ransom?”
    Azyzael nodded again, his horns carving two trails through the smoky air, “Then you do not know the whole truth of the story.
    "Millennia ago, when this world was new, the Gods tore down it’s gates and sought dominion over all things. It had taken all the powers of the Four to topple the gates, but the world was unprepared for them, and soon they found that any one of them could easily claim it’s spoils for themselves. There was great strife as the Four fought amongst each other. Soon, only the Great Savage, your Blood God, and the Raven God that you call the God of Change, were fit enough to contest this world and the realm beyond. Rot and Pleasure were merely pawns to them.
    The Raven God took the people of Araby – my people – still only savage tribes, and bent them to the task of creating a single edifice. They called it the Soul Whisper, for it gathered the many voices of the Fates and unified them to one voice – a clear whisper of the undiluted truth. With this artifact complete and in his grasp, the Raven God would have control over everything that was, had been, and ever would be. He would be the ultimate power in this world and in the next.

    "The Great Savage could not abide this. He sent his greatest mortal champion, Ragnar the Unconquered, and an army of the savage beasts of the North and of Daemons, to topple the SoulWhisper. They cut a bloody swath through the South, but the armies of the Raven God slowed them, opposed them at every step. Soon, only Ragnar pressed onwards, a trail of blood in his wake. When he arrived at the Soul Whisper, he was too weakened to topple it down, so the Great Savage instead encased it within a throne of solid brass, where Ragnar sat to slowly await his death. My people wrongly admired his strength over his intellect, and came to worship him as a ferocious and terrifying god in his own right. They built a fortress shrine around him, encasing him for eternity in tons of rock. Ragnar did not die – but escaped. He became the first mortal to achieve Daemonhood, fueled by the terrified worship of all the tribes of Araby. Ever since, Khorne has paid a ransom to any who would sit upon the throne, so that they will not topple it and free the Soul Whisper for the Raven God.”

    Tyrulf listened, and sat back, “then what does the Raven God offer, if you choose to betray the Blood God?”
    Azyzael turned around, his fangy mouth twisted to fit the memory of a smile, “Power. Raw, unbridled, Power. And favor. To simply lay eyes upon the Soul Whisper is to instantly see all. To know, all. That alone is reward enough, but the power offered by the Raven God is unimaginable.”
    The air around Azyzael became turbulent as he considered it. Calming himself, he turned back to watching over the army below.

    “I have tried once, to claim that power for my own. I was a guard in the halls of the Rock. Much like you were a fooled believer in the power of the Great Savage, so too was I in His thrall. But I could see with my third sight, the vague outline of the Soul Whisper. Without knowing, I sought to investigate. And they cast me out into the desert. I was a witch, and I had broken their code. I had no choice – I faced the sea, or a journey North. I gathered few men around me. The Warriors you see below you with the horn-crested helms were my family guard, the only loyal servants to accompany beyond the borders of Araby. The rest though, I did not find them until I reached the North. Wanderers, disowned, cast out for being witches or changelings. A few tribes of the Raven God had heard tales of the Whisper and joined me, but many of those men saw me as their only true Savior. A prophet of the only god who cared enough about them to change the stars for their favor. Every one of them would die for me at my command.”
    “What about the Twins – they seem... less than obedient”

    Azyzael smile, “they are my children, and they are disobedient like all children. On my journey, the Raven God took the last of my physical strength, melted it off of my bones like wax, and shaped it into a single Champion, a reward for my loyalty. When I reached the North, and gathered my army, that one Champion became two – melted and split again. A perfect twin of the other. They are the same warrior, with the same memories, same habits. My ‘Twin Swords’. They have come to lead the Chosen guard in my stead, and the Knights. They could rule over the Steppes, and I have no doubt that they will try when I am gone.”
    “When you’re gone?” Tyrgulf asked.
    “Yes. I do not plan to return from this journey. That is why I have taken you as an apprentice. I have accepted many gifts from the Raven God, and when I uncover the Soul Whisper, my transformation will be complete – I will become a Daemon Prince, and the Raven God will call me to his side in the world beyond. The Twins will be left without my guidance. They are powerful warriors, and Tzeentch will gaze ever favorably upon their endeavors, for they are my blood. But I fear that they will rebel against Fate if they do not understand it. If you cut the head off a snake, the body will die. They are my body, but I am still their mind. Like all parents, I will not always be there to watch over my children. Learn well my apprentice, for if you do not – they will surely kill you as soon as I am gone.”

    Tyrgulf realized that below, the Warriors had begun to set up camp around the base of an enormous walled city, lighting huge fires and settling in as Azyzael had commanded. Had it really been so long? Was Azyzael manipulating time, or distance? Or both? Was that even possible? Tyrgulf had many questions for his new master. "Come, Apprentice," Azyzael whispered, "you have much to learn..."
    Last edited by CaptainSarathai; January 8th, 2013 at 09:49.
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    LO Zealot AshBorn's Avatar
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    Truly excellent Captain.

    I love it. I'm glad you explained the Twins, the general, and linked it into the GoreHunt. Mmmm... Now the GoreHunt tribe has a reason to war the Twin Swords... They hold the captor of Skahls daughter in their grips.

    By the way, awesome rendering of the Third Eye of tzeentch lol. I can never get rid of that item now (not that I'd want to). Then description of the hounds, the chosen, everything. You've outdone yourself on this one, its better than the rest! (not that the rest are bad, I just love this one the most). I'm going to start my project thread.

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