Alarik stepped out of the realmgate onto the soil of Ulgu, his retinue close in step. Having so recently been among the purifying light of Sigmar’s kingdom, the sudden and complete blackness of Ulgu blinded him. His eyes desperately grasping for light as they struggled to adjust. After a few moments he could make out some blurry shapes within the small halo of ghostly violet light emitted by the realmgate.
The blasphemous realm immediately wore on his nerves. The shimmering white and gold armor of Alarik’s host had so often seemed to him a radiant manifestation of Sigmar’s fury. In the deep darkness of the shadows realm however the glittering armor and shimmer of storm infused magic of Alarik’s host seemed little more than a dim candle in a vast, uncaring night.
As Lord Relictor Balhoth stepped from the realmgate Alarik’s eyes had adjusted as much as could be expected in such a place, and he peered back to meet Balhoth’s gaze. Balhoth looked somehow more powerful in this domain. In a realm that so drained Alarik with its hidden and wretched nature, Balhoth seemed to emit an aura of hidden arcane potency just out of tangible sight.
“How fitting for a dark and brooding land to welcome such a dark and brooding man, how dramatic.” Alarik scoffed to himself.
Despite Alarik’s distrust and subtle mockery of the macabre nature of the Relictor, Alarik could not deny the power of his presence. Like most Lord Relictors, Balhoth was adorned from head to toe in dark Sigmarite armor, adorned with bones and sinister looking charms. Grandiosely segmented into gold trimmed plates forming a formidable aegis around each limb of Balhoth’s towering figure. The suit of armor was crowned with a menacing skull masked helm the expression of which seemed to both embrace and mock the threat of death.
For a moment Balhoth’s pale, skull visaged helmet appeared to glow with an ethereal light which defied reason in so dark a place. In contrast to the ghostly countenance of his helmet The Lord Relictor’s black armor plates seemed darker and reason was betrayed as tendrils of black mist appeared to leap chaotically around Balhoth’s silhouette. A disturbing aura that licked hungrily at the darkness.
Disturbed by the dark and deathly aspect Balthoth had been possed by frightened Alarik. A feeling he had all but forgotten since his reforging. Afraid he was about to witness the betrayal of the Lord Relictor at the hands of some terrible gift of power and madness granted by Ulgu.
Alarik squinted, focusing more intently on the Lord Relictor. Alarik hoped to will Balhoth into a less blasphemous form of existence. As equal measures of fear and anger grew in Alarik, his attempt to focus on Belhoth and center his thoughts seemed to work. To Alarik’s surprise and relief the shadow tendrils and ghostly glow of Balhoth’s mask began to disappear and Alarik immediately began to distrust his senses in this world.
“What a wretched place.” Alarik cursed aloud, still facing Balhoth. “I met no resistance coming through the gate Balhoth and it worries me.”
“I expect frontal assault is not the way of this realms denizens.” Balhoth offered in reply.”I know little of this realm Alarik but I fear we may miss the brutal honesty found in the frontal assault of a Khornate horde.”
Balhoth continued grim but resolute.”None have returned from this realm, it is unlikely our rescue mission will end in anything but death.”
Alarik frowned inside his helmet, glad the rigid facial features forged in the mask of the his helm hid his repulsion at the sad truth of Balhoth’s declaration. Why did he ever hope to find comfort in the words of the Lord Relictor? Balhoth was seldom wrong but even more seldom was the Lord Relictor comforting. Cold, tactical truth was his fluency. A fact which Alarik almost hated as much as he valued it.
“Pleasant thought Balhoth.” Alarik returned.” If I get frightened I will dream of the bloodied platues of Aqshy.”
Despite the forced levity in his words Alarik knew the chances of finding Halvir were slim but why had the God King created him if not to venture into such places and bring hope to those in opposition to the dark pantheon. He knew it was not a mission forged in the cold, calculating reason that so endeared his Lord Relictor to him, but a need to find his lost comrade that burned within Alarik. Some memory from a forgotten life, just out of reach that drove Alarik’s desperate foray into Ulgu.
Ulgu hid it’s secrets as if sentient and maniacal, adding the fate of any who dared tread its paths to its many secrets. As Balhoth had so poignantly stated, those that had entered Ulgu had never returned from its insidious clutches, but his brother in war would not be left alone in this cursed place to die or worse.
The Stormcasts had arrived. Just as Lord Grufflz told Rulk they would. “He is so smart smart he is.” Rulk thought to himself.
The skaven commander known as Grufflz had seen one of the stormcasts dragged off into the darkness by a dark figure the skaven forces only knew as the broody one. Grufflz did not know much about the broody one but he had been seen sporadically in the region lately. Up to no good Grufflz was sure of, which made Grufflz respect the broody one. it takes brains to scheme and made things so much more interesting.
Rulk drooled and snorted in excitement , whispering to himself. “Storm bullies so dumb dumb getting caught by broody one. Lord Grufflz will skewer them. So glorious.”
Rulk could see the Stormcasts adjusting to the darkness. They seemed so slow to move and adapt to him. He wondered how they ever had success fighting when they moved so slow.
Remembering his duties Rulk let out a low hiss to signal to his troops nearby it was time to draw the Stormcasts into the darkness. To prepare for Sigmar’s intrusion on Lord Grufflz bounty. The broody one after all was know to attract warpstone some how. Expecting the Stormcast to arrive in search for their kidnapped companion Lord Grufflz had cunning had his force hedge up the foliage in some areas. The terrain was chocked with this wooden vines. With some manipulation by Rulks men the only clearing in the vines would decide the path of the Stormcasts without them knowing it.
“It needs to look natural, and smooth smooth. We need to give them a path without them knowing we doing it.” Grufflz had explained. The next part of the plan was Rulk’s favorite. He grew giddy as he remember Grufflz commands.
“Remembers cunning ones, stay low low and hidden. Push their feet so softly. Bring them to us. If they wander nudge them here and nudge them there. The are large and blunt, they will not notice you.”
Such an exciting command to sneakily force the path of the Stormbrutes. Nudge them ever so slightly off course without them noticing. Rulk reveled ” So much fun can be had in the dark. So much tricky tricks.”
Rulk wondered to himself why Lord Grufflz had passed on participating in such an exciting sneaky challenge.”Other things he need be doing. So smart, so important.”
Rulk of course did not realize he had been sent on what could likely turn out to be a suicide mission. If Alaraki did notice the skaven skulking in the darkness he would end them as he sought to end all followers of the chaos pantheon.
To Be Continued…..
(I will update a narrative version of the battle report when I get a chance)