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”
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..."
**Written by CaptainSarathai @ Librarium Online**
--------------------------------------------------------Created with BattleScribeCode:+++ Twin Swords (3500pts) +++ +++ 3500pt Warriors of Chaos 8th ed Roster (Standard)) +++ Selections: Warriors of Chaos 8th ed (Standard) Selections: + Lords + * Azyzael - Sorceror Lord Disk of Tzeentch, Level 4, Lore of Metal, Mark of Tzeentch * Gifts of Chaos (50 p) Chaos Familiar * Magic Items (100 p) Charmed Shield, Talisman of Endurance + Heroes + * BSB - Exalted Hero Army Battle Standard, Mark of Tzeentch, On foot * Magic Items (50 p) Enchanted Shield, Warrior Bane * Twin Sword - Exalted Hero Halberd, Mark of Tzeentch * Daemonic Mount Barding * Gifts of Chaos (25 p) Burning Body, Soul feeder * Magic Items (50 p) Talisman of Preservation * Twin Sword - Exalted Hero Great Weapon, Mark of Tzeentch, Shield * Daemonic Mount Barding * Gifts of Chaos (25 p) Poisonous Slime, Third Eye of Tzeentch * Magic Items (50 p) Armour of Destiny + Core + * Chaos Warhounds 5x Chaos Warhound * Chaos Warhounds 5x Chaos Warhound * Chaos Warhounds 5x Chaos Warhound * Chaos Warriors Musician, Standard Bearer * 18x Chaos Warrior 18x Halberds, 18x Mark of Tzeentch, 18x Shields * Magic Standard (25 p) Banner of Eternal Flame * Chaos Warriors Musician, Standard Bearer * 23x Chaos Warrior 23x Mark of Tzeentch, 23x Shields + Special + * Chaos Knights Musician, Standard Bearer * 12x Knight 12x Ensorcelled Weapons, 12x Mark of Tzeentch * Magic Standard (50 p) Blasted Standard * Chaos Warshrine Mark of Tzeentch * Chosen Chosen Champion, Musician, Standard Bearer * 18x Chosen 18x Great Weapons, 18x Mark of Tzeentch + Rare + * Hellcannon 3x Chaos Dwarfs * Hellcannon 3x Chaos Dwarfs