Pinned The Fight for Avras - General Discussion Thread

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    • WastelandWarrior wrote:

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      After the feast of tender elven flesh had been properly enjoyed by the hulking beasts and ironclad followers of Akaan alike, Krastorax was taking a moment of gluttonised respite to savour his great victory, when the irritating nagging at the edge of his consciousness once again manifested. "The damned sorceror meddling in my mind again"

      Try as he might the great beast could not banish the powerful mind of Asmund from penetrating his thoughts. This time the twisted features of the sorceror himself came into his minds eye, an abomination of a creature, once a proud magical scholar, now bound to a beastly form after a terrible occulistic rite gone wrong.

      "You have done well Krastorax, but there is much work yet for you to complete in the name of the Father" Instructed the sorceror, the words forming in his mind without any movement of the corrupted face in the vision. "Travel to the Iron Road, there you will encounter a movement of the Infernal Dwarfs, you must break through their supply lines to deny support to their allied forces, weakening opposition in the fight to come"

      The vision faded and receded as quickly as it had arrived. Krastorax did not enjoy taking orders from the spellcaster, however he had proven himself many times before, to have knowledge that helped Krastorax to prevail in battle, something which was of paramount importance to the proud beast. With a single deafening, roared command, the ancient Feldrake tore the attention of his horde away from their rabid flesh devouring.

      Gigantic clawed feet stomped the ground as he wheeled Southwest toward the Iron Road, his menagerie of murderous beasts and warriors only a few paces behind.

      The Game: Battleline, Breakthrough

      Once more the visions and arcane advice of the sorceror allowed Krastorax's forces to get the drop on his opposition, racing across the field of battle towards the diminutive Infernals without any fear before they could even load their foul machines of war.

      Flayers throwing themselves selflessly in the path of the Kadim titan at the will of their master, who they feared much more than the flaming beast would distract the creature long enough for Krastorax and his Elder to try and get to grips and douse the collosus' flames for good

      The titan could not control its savage nature, springing the trap. The guns of the Infernals sing out across no mans land strongly however taking down one of Akaans devoted and wounding another gravely.
      The knights of Kuulima didn't fare much better against the flintlock shot of the dark dawi, two of their number ripped from the saddle
      After weathering the storm of lead, Krastorax bellows the order to charge, an order which the Chosen of Akaan are more than happy to obey. Spurring their Karkadan through another hail of burning lead, they crash into the offending gunmen, but not without losing one of their number to the hail of fire.
      Krastorax himself thunders across the ground between himself and the Titan, his elder and the Knights of Kuulima in lock step, the wall of scale and steel crashes into the infernal monstrousity but its otherwordly protection somehow deflects a number of sickening strikes, leaving the creature free to hack down three knights in response. The Chosen of Akaan, hew down six of the citadel guards, crushing their stunted frames beneath ironclad hooves, however in spite of the heavy casualties the gunmen do not falter
      Seeing the opportunity created by his brave citadel guards, the Overlord barrels into the Chosen knights, his Onyx hammer held high, his prophet uttering fell magics, dessicating the steel protection until as dry as tinder. The dreaded hammer sets blaze to two of the knight leaving only the champion to flee for his life
      The supernal protection of the Titan falters and Krastorax deals a flurry of bone crushing strikes, banishing the beast from the mortal realm
      Buoyed by the slaughter of the titan Krastorax and his Elder plow into the Daemon bound flame gouter that had incinerated a number of his best warhounds earlier in the encounter. While Kuulima's knight champion decides to show the gunmen who is to envy in close quarters death dealing, to avenge his fallen comrades.
      On the right flank, the fallen and chimera set to divert the overlord's retinue from the Pack of Feldraks
      The fallen sell their lives cheaply, leaving the chimera to a similar fate
      Determined to see the end of the ranged threat Krastorax thunders into the Titan mortar while the Elder eyes the flanks and rear of the Overlord's guardians and Kadim incarnates respectively. The mortar crew proves no match for the mighty Feldrake as he turns them into a pile of viscera and splintered armour, rent as if paper.
      The overlord commands his incarnates to block the path of both great beasts, buying some time for himself and his personal retinue
      With great malice, both Feldrakes plow into the incarnates, hatred raging through their veins for the flying creatures of flame
      The lives of the fallen and chimera were sold in vain, the overlord covered more ground than the feldrk pack had expected and decimated their ranks with the foul Onyx hammer, leaving them decimated and fleeing for their lives.
      Just in the nick of time the ranks of armoured warriors come to the aid of Kuulima's champion, dispatching of the gunmen in summary fashion, while breaking through the line to complete their mission.
      The gaze of the Overlord averted, the Feldraks confidence swells and they rally their resolve, perhaps more afraid even of their masters wrath than that of the terrible Onyx hammer.
      The day had been won, Krastorax's men had fought hard but the Dwarf Overlord had been more of a threat than expected, decimating some of his best fighting units. Still, the supply lines had been broken and more warriors were always ready to march to the aid of the Ancestral beast, for the chance of shared glory in the eyes of their patron deities.
      Display Spoiler

      A new report for the glory of the Dark Gods! Krastorax marches inexorably upon Avras, who will feel his wrath upon this day!
      Take a look at my painted army so far. Feel free to share a pic of yours!

      Pics of my ever expanding warriors army

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      The post was edited 1 time, last by WastelandWarrior ().

    • I cant for the life of me understand how to work this Spoiler thing! I either get everything I write in one spoiler or seperate spoilers appearing from nowhere.... anyway, the above post is another narrative Batrep. Should get some painting done tonight too so the WDG points might get a little boost
      Take a look at my painted army so far. Feel free to share a pic of yours!

      Pics of my ever expanding warriors army

      WastelandWarrior Painting League 2019

      WastelandWarrior Painting League 2020
    • Let's get the ball rolling with some backgrounds!

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      Ashaziel Hellspeaker

      The Listener. Corsair Seeress. Lady of Lore. The Blackfire Princess. High Librarian.

      Many are the titles Ashaziel is known by. Not always was it so, however. Once a meek librarian in Asfada, Ashaziel’s life changed when she was happened upon by a young elf with a vision that would shape the rest of her life.

      As the vision grew about her, so did her own ambitions. The one thing Ashaziel had ever yearned was more. More knowledge, more wisdom, more understanding. The fabric of being was a thing waiting to be learned, and she needed to be the one to uncover the secrets. Her personal library had swollen into enormous proportions, and she was gathering acolytes and apprentices about her to help manage this vault of lore.

      The understanding she was accumulating through her endless studies and her naturally keen and observant mind lent her quite an eye for strategy as well, which went not unnoticed by the visionary now styling himself Sovereign. Soon she was leading expeditions at the head of her own army, procuring wealth, slaves and, most of all, new tomes and scrolls for the Angraith city-state’s Library that had been formed on the foundation of her personal collections.

      Unknown to most, Ashaziel has a quiet partner guiding her search efforts: a lesser daemon from the immortal realm she summoned and bound half by accident during her youth while she was taking her first deep dive into the occult. Balcerus follows his mistress everywhere, unseen, whispering infernal secrets and lending glimpses of faraway places and happenings.

      In addition to her tactical mind and vast knowledge, and maybe most importantly of all, Ashaziel holds the title of Master Sorceress, demonstrating her formidable power in the arcane arts. On the battlefield she wields the weaves of magical energies as weapons, bolstering her troops with unnatural prowess or laying waste to enemy formations with lashes of raw magical power. Her coven of apprentices helps her channel the vast energies required to affect hundreds of troops at once, and march alongside her to the thick of battle.

      “Mistress”, the letter began. “Things are now in motion that cannot be reversed. Imperial cannons roar day and night at the gates, and the mountain clans have been roused from their Holds.”

      Ashaziel raised an eyebrow at that. The humans had been surprisingly swift in convincing the beardlings to their cause. Mayhaps a time more opportune would never come…

      “The Undercity is restless. Verminous war bands have gotten larger and bolder in their raids of the Equitaini holdings. Something stirs in the shadows, of this I am sure.”

      This was not anticipated. True, the Sonnstahl offensive Ashaziel had known was coming had been more determined than predicted, but the rats had ever been but a side note in her planning. What had stirred the craven swarms into such brash action?

      “The dead are now marching openly in the streets at night. The Vampire Queen must be sensing a real threat to expose her hand thusly. The shambling hordes seem effective enough in quelling the unrest within the city, for now.” The letter was signed simply “Stillhand”.

      The time had come. A letter Ashaziel had prepared in the top drawer of her desk, bound in silk and sealed in wax, appeared in her hand almost as if by itself. It contained a proposal to join in on the Sonnstahl offensive to take the city.

      Ashaziel needed access to the Great Library of Avras, and the Black Sun would benefit greatly from new trade connections the city could offer should there be a change of regime. Correspondence had been running hot with many princes and princesses of the Republic of Dathen, whose support would be essential for the realization fo the coup and maintaining order under the new rule.

      She was ready to light the fuse to the charge of schemes that had been in the weaving for months.

      “Balcerus!”, Ashaziel called to the empty room. A deep voice, echoing as if from a well, replied from thin air, “Mistress?”

      “I need you to relay a message to Stillhand, urgently”. A small winged daemon materialized on the desk, crouching, at eye level with the tall, seated elf. “And what shall we say to him, Mistress?”, the daemon inquired in a rumbling voice, licking its fangs with a long, forked tongue.

      “Tell him to proceed”. The daemon blinked its yellow eyes a couple of times before bursting into booming laughter. “Finally!”, the thing exclaimed, licking its lips again.

      In Avras, Tichaerion Stillhand was enjoying a simple meal in his quarters when a whispered voice uttered in his ear one, unmistakable word. Chills went down Tichaerion’s spine, and he set down his knife, straightening.

      He arose, and started navigating the maze of palace corridors with purpose. Soon he was standing in front of a door, similar to the one leading into his own quarters, and gave it a quick rap.

      Some shuffling from inside, and a tall but flabby man in extravagant robes opened the door warily. “Lord Councilman”, Stillhand greeted the man, who replied in unmistakeable Equitan accent, “Master Tichaerion, what could you possibly want this late in the afternoon?”

      Stillhand painted his face with a polite, amicable smile. “My Lord, I am sorry to disturb your leisure, yet I believe we should discuss the matter of the undead patrolling the city. I am at a loss as to what to report to the Sovereign back in Angraith”. He flared out his hands apologetically.

      “You won’t report a word without leave from His Grace Fontaine!”, Lord Charleaux hissed, and pulled Tichaerion bodily into his chambers, closing the door behind them.

      The elf straightened his robes and said, “I may not be a Lord, yet I am enjoying a diplomat’s immunity, Councilman. You would do well not to forget that, my Lord.” The smile never faded from his lips.

      The Councilman grunted, waving his hands dismissively, and turned to a small table with crystal goblets and half a bottle of cognac. “Things are not that dire, ambassador”, Charleaux began as he poured a drink. “Yes, some sightings have been reported of the dead walking within the city walls, but nothing substantial enough to rile up the masses. The fireborn clans have answered the call to secure our position and their mercantile interests here, and I am personally preparing a letter to my cousin, Duke Lemagnonne of Fousierre, to lend his aid…”

      The Councilman was cut short by a garrotte suddenly pulled taut about his throat. Stillhand carefully pulled the flailing man farther from the crystals to keep him from shattering them.

      “I fear I cannot allow that, Councilman”, Tichaerion whispered as he felt the man slowly go limp in his embrace.

      He removed the Councilman’s sash and wrapped it around his neck, hoisting him up by a beam in the roof. He knocked over a small stool to lay under the suspended corpse to finish the scene, and proceeded to pick the locks on the desk drawers of the man. He perused the scrolls and half finished letters, pocketing ones he deemed needed not be seen by anyone, and left the room, fixing the lip of the lock with a splinter so that the door would lock behind him.

      He allowed himself a slight smile as he hurried back to his chambers. Soon, Avras would have all new rulers. Ambassador Tichaerion might well be considered for an elevation in status in such tumultuous times…

      Display Spoiler

      Ecaerhys Moonstrider

      A Prince of a younger generation of Black Sun nobles, Ecaerhys has been taught the importance of his position from a young age. His family, commoners by birth, were elevated to princedom during the wars that birthed the independence of the city-state of Angraith.

      Ecaerhys has devoted his life to serve as an example. He endured the rigours of military training, urging on his fellows through most dour of moments, earning valuable lessons in leadership early on in his service. Noble blood wasn’t exactly a hindrance, but he rose in rank due true merit, and went on to serve as a Captain for several years of campaigning at sea.

      A path was laid before him to gain command of an army, but he chose a different fate. At port after a successful foray into a kraken’s lair to procure eggs for the menagerie, he was met by Prince Thaul Ravenhart, High Beastmaster of the Black Sun.

      Together, they walked the underground maze of pens and enclosures, Ecaerhys awing at the sight of the various wonders of the natural world Thaul’s beastmasters kept and trained for service.

      There at last, at the great lairs high on the side of mount Agathys where a seemingly endless spiral stairwell had led him, Ecaerhys first saw a grown dragon up close. It was a deep green beast, regarding the princeling with amber eyes, glowing with intellect, and Ecaerhys was mesmerized.

      Without word or warning he reached out his hand, and stepped forth through the bars the size of an elf’s leg, and touched the jaw of the majestic creature. Thaul tensed at the sight, but noticed the beast’s breaths came steadily and relaxed, so did nothing to intervene. There was nothing he could do at this point if the dragon would choose to harm the young man.

      The serpent let out a deep growl, baring its teeth. Eacerhys withdrew his hand but stared up unflinching into those hypnotic eyes. The moment stretched agonizingly.

      Then, the dragon lowered its head to Ecaerhys’ feet, closing its eyes and growling softly. The young prince stroked the scales above the creature’s eye as it drifted off into a deep sleep. Thaul gasped, astonished, as he noticed the beast’s enormous chest heaving slowly as it rested aside this stranger.

      Thaul was decided. He would train the boy. One day, this one shall ride the skies at the Sovereign’s side.

      Years passed, and Ecaerhys and the dragon Gaurdagnir became inseparable. They lent their loyalties to this general and that, flying where the Sovereign deemed most necessary. Ecaerhys felt fulfilled like never before.

      The strive to excel had been heaped upon him by expectation of others. Sure, he enjoyed prestige few could dream of as one of only a handful of dragon riders in the Black Sun ranks, but would never gain the political leverage he would wield as an Exarch, a prince general.

      For the first time in his life, he was content. He had a purpose.

      And sure enough, a need of him arose once again as he was summoned to the offices of the High Librarian, one of the most accomplished generals of the Black Sun known as the Blackfire Princess. Rumor had it, the Corsair Seeress was planning something big…

      The scales on Gaurdagnir’s neck were cold to the touch from the ocean spray. He loved flying close to the water, skimming the tips of his wings in the surf.

      Some ways ahead Ecaerhys could make out the tall masts of Ashaziel’s fleet. Two battle ships and five frigates were escorting a huge cargo ship towards the south. It would be satisfying to see it swim deeper on the way back, laden with treasure and slaves.

      Ecaerhys urged Gaurdagnir higher, banking towards the flag ship ‘Eternity’. The golden coronas of the Black Sun glittered in the bright noon’s light, and the calls of the sailors on the ropes carried over the water.

      Gaurdagnir landed gracefully upon the aft tower, barely making sound save the wooden hull’s groan under his massive bulk. He breathed deep the salty, fresh air, the fish in his stomach weighing on his eye lids. He curled up almost like a cat as Ecaerhys dismounted, giving him a slap on the shoulder as he made his way to the captain’s cabin.

      Princess Ashaziel was, as usual, buried behind the piles of scrolls and tomes on her desk. Ecaerhys gave a bow as she raised her gaze upon him.

      ‘Prince Ecaerhys. How is the voyage treating your companion?” Ecaerhys smiled. “He loves the ocean, my Lady. If it were up to him I think we would do naught by fish and swim.”

      “Good”, Ashaziel commented, “We need him fit and ready for the trials ahead”. Ecaerhys nodded. “We make landfall in four days time?” Ashaziel confirmed, “Should the winds not fail us”. She continued, “We must find the Sonnstahlian generals as soon as possible, there are important details to iron out before any fighting gets done”.

      “We shall scout ahead, get the lay of the land ere the fleet arrives. If things have gone favourably the camps should not be hard to find.”

      Ashaziel nodded in agreement, lowering her eyes back to the page in front of her. “Enjoy the sea air while you can, Prince.” She smiled knowingly as Ecaerhys left the cabin with a bow.

      Display Spoiler

      Thalyn Lightbane

      As a free citizen of Angraith, it is expected of every to strive for excellence. Whatever craft they might pursue, they owe it to state and Sovereign to be the best they can be. For Thalyn, this meant service in the military.

      More than personal combat, Thalyn was ever intrigued by tactics and stratagems. He studied diligently in the Academy of War the many ways formations and maneuvres could turn the odds, even under dire circumstances, to the advantage of the astute and the disciplined.

      His build was far from impressive, a lithe, almost gangly youth, so of the many weapons he drilled with the spear and especially the halberd seemed a natural fit. Granting him reach and leverage, the polearms gave him room for thought in the thick of the drills.

      He trained rigorously to secure a place among the esteemed Immortals of the Undying Night, and went on to an exemplary service among them. Formation fighting suited his body well, and his interest in strategy soon led to commanding positions within the elite and eventually, a Captain’s post in a raiding fleet.

      Thalyn serves under Princess Ashaziel Hellspeaker, a kindred spirit in eagerness for more knowledge. Thalyn carries the Black Sun battle standard, styled with the Corsair Seeress’s personal sigil of twin serpents devouring eachother by the tail.

      Through countless conversations in Ashaziel’s cabins on dozens of voyages, it was discovered that Thalyn himself had the talent for magic. Having little interest in starting his career anew, he received some tutoring from the Blackfire Princess herself and learned a relatively simple illusion to create a shadowy mirage of rippling air around himself to make a hard target of him for snipers. With an enchanted ring gifted by the princess, he is now able to magnify the glamour to protect his troops in battle.

      The wine house was packed. Sailors, merchants, soldiers, all sorts came to the ‘House of Cups’ in the harbor, because often the imported wines from faraway lands first found their way here.

      Thalyn frequented the place for its location. As the captain of the ‘Wolf’s Tongue’ he was often needed in the port offices when on land. His wife and daughter lived further inland near the markets, but things were tense back home because of the endless campaigns that were eating up Thalyn’s time.

      Thalyn was lost in thought, swirling the last sip of a sonnstahlian gold around in his goblet. A slam of a burly fist against his table startled him and his hand shot straight for the hilt of the cutlass at his hip.

      “How’s life, you salty old cod?”, a widely grinning elf of impressive dimensions was inquiring of him as a stool groaned painfully under his weight. Thalyn smiled, relaxing. “You gave me quite the fright, you big bastard”, he replied. “I’m casting off with the first light. How goes your slaving, Acrael?”

      The big elf’s smile was crooked thanks to a scar on his chin. “Good, so long as you and your princess keep bringing in the merchandise”, Acrael said mirthfully, swallowing eagerly from the goblet in his fist. “I hear this haul is going to be a big one?”

      Thalyn shrugged, “bigger then in a while, should we survive it. We are headed into an actual war this time” Acrael raised an eyebrow. Thalyn smirked devilishly. “Avras, my friend.”

      Acrael rubbed his scarred chin a good while. “So the rumors are true, it’s happening?” Thalyn nodded, serious now. “Dathen is with us. The Seeress has pulled some major strings. From what I’ve heard, it’s getting bloody down there.”

      The slave trader raised his cup. “Blood and Iron!”, he toasted. Thalyn joined the toast, “Salt and Tears!”

      "You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?" -Death
      Phae's Pointy-Ear Blog: Elves in a Corner
    • IV: We were in the area beneath one of the main bazaars in the district of the bridge. Hopefully, at least. I've only been here once before. Zyloc kept ahead, moving quietly for someone so big. He was like a predatory cat. He snarled, turning his head toward an unseen foe down a black pipe. Rats were rushing in a mighty stream beneath our feet. It was impossible not to step on a few of the things. The warrior raised his knife, and tossed it. The corpse of a ratman fell upon the smaller creatures, who began scurrying around and over it, some even started gnawing. Zyloc pulled free his knife, looked at me. "The ratmen are down here. Be alert." I growled under my breath. I looked to the others, who drew their swords and knives, slinging their bows about them. "They come..." he whispered, tossing his bloodied knife to his left hand and drawing his longsword with the other great fist. The creatures, smelly, rabid, diseased, charged us. They screeched. The rusted swords of the things scraped against our steel and iron. I cut one down through the neck. We had trouble here, as their number began to press upon us. "Go!" Zyloc called. We ran, a few of us loosing a few arrows as we ran back down the passage. I turned. We ran for what seemed like miles down the sewer tunnel, up to our waists in sewage. That's when we came upon Zyloc, covered in gore and sewage water. He held onto a ladder and I grasped his arm. I could here them coming for us. We started climbing up the ancient ladder. I could here Stephanie screaming at the opposite end of the chain, they got her, dragging her beneath the disgusting water. I would cry later. Zyloc opened the grate and slid out. I after him. We gathered. The ratmen charged up the ladder, but Estaban chopping it in with his axe before another dropped the grate down. We all stood upon it. They battered it a few times. After twenty minutes they stopped. We were beneath a morning sky, purple, pink and dark blue. I began to weep. I had known Stephanie for a while. The others wept. Most, including Zyloc, just solemnly stared a thousand yards away. We were in the city, thankfully I could see an infirmary around the corner. We turned the corner to enter. Wounded Avras soldiers were laying upon bloodied cots all around. A nurse ushered us into a room where we were all seen by a doctor and nurses began tending to our wounds, taking our gear off and wrapping us up like mummies. I was shaken, we all were. It helped sell that we were mercenaries working for the city's defense. I made up some story about the new mercenaries slaughtering us, and how I had known those people for years. Stephanie's untimely demise helped a bit. I sobbed like a babe. The nurse comforted me. After an hour passed I was given a wooden bowl of bacon, fries and eggs. I wasn't hungry but I ate it anyways. Might as well, being where I was. We could not have found a damn infirmary at a better damn time.

      I saw Zyloc across from me. The man waved away his food and demanded ale of which with his wounds the nurses were opposed to giving him. It made us smile, the man was definitely a northerner. I rolled over, desiring a beer myself. Or maybe a smoke. One or both. I asked. They brought me a roll of some leaf used to relax. It helped, my panicking slowed at least for the time being. I have hunted man and beast. The undead scared me, yes. I have never been assaulted by one of the fabled ratmen. Their pox-ridden bodies squirming together like an orgy of matted fur, sweat and bloodshot eyes. I would never forget seeing Steph's final scream before she was dragged beneath the water to who knows where.

      I forgot why we infiltrated the city. I just wanted to sleep. Zyloc gave me half his ale, which definitely helped.

      (A fun campaign, they said. Hope you're all enjoying these snippets thus far. I can't write it up as much as I'd like to. I am trying to convince my brother to play a small skirmish with me lol.)
    • WastelandWarrior wrote:

      After the bloody encounter with the Infernals, the destruction of their dread warmachines and the regrouping of his scattered forces, Kratorax and his horde pressed Southwest for days, following the path of the Iron Road with sights firmly set on Avras. With so much troop movement going on in the usually quiet and barren steppe, Krastorax could only imagine how much bloodshed could be had at the epicentre of this war, a thought which greatly pleased the bestial colossus, causing his craggy, scaled features to draw into a hideous snarl in perverse anticipation of such carnage.

      The days passed without event as the monstrous troupe marched inexorably on their destination, even Asmund had not imposed himself upon Krastorax's consciousness since prior to the clash with the Dawi. Things were too quiet, mused the Feldrak Warlord, who was a more suspicious creature than his brutish appearance belied, you don't survive centuries of conflict without some degree of wariness!

      As evening passed into dusk, Krastorax's feeling of unrest was growing, feint alien scents on the light breeze, the impression of shifting shadows darting away behind rocky outcrops at the edge of his periphery. Something was out there, he knew it. The ancient beast dropped back to his feldrak lietentants to order the tightening of their formation and readiness for conflict, not that any of his battle scarred herd of brutes were ever unready for conflict!

      The last dying rays of the sunset disappearing over the horizon, the attack came, skittering hordes of filthy verminous warriors pouring from the surrounding crags, insidious glowing projectiles hissing through the darkening sky. Once more to battle, once more to claim glory in the eyes of the ancient gods.

      The battle: Frontline Clash, Secure Target

      Krastorax's thunderous warcry echoed deafeningly across the steppe as his battleline spread to face the oncoming Vermintide.

      Krastorax's intuitions and keen senses had saved his forces from a deveastating alpha strike, as two huge wheeled contraptions covered in jutting spikes cracked forks of lightning across the field of battle, scorching the earth but falling just short of their line
      Blocks of fetid robed ratmen rushed forward with abondon, unfazed by the proximity of their towering foe, foaming at the mouths in anticipation of the coming melee. Krastorax ordering a disciplined battle line to form, sending his hunting dogs to blosk the path of flanking interlopers.
      The dread lightning contraptions however were now fully in range, a huge blast from the rightmost machine striking the Elder Feldrak square in the chest, scorching a huge wound across the torso of the great beast. Howling in fury he charged headlong at the thing, his axe flailing like a beserk maniac, reducing the machine to a pile of splintered detritus. Seeing the fury of his lieutenant, Krastorax, not to be outdone, piled headlong into the other device, gouting flame from his maw and setting about the great wheel, his enchanted blades carving through it like butter. Both colossal Feldraks momentum carried them straight through their quarry into the unsuspecting ratmen beyond
      Kuulimas knights and the fallen to the left centre of the formation and Akaans chosen to the right, take the cue from the general and join the fray, obliterating the plague ridden vermin who were so keen for early engagement.
      The sneaky rats however had anticipated the eager charge of the chosen knights. The foul, pestilent warplatform and his devout guard run through the chimera without breaking stride, barreling into the Karkadan riders, catching them off guard as they feast on the carcasses of the slain, slaughtering them to a man.
      The honourless Mage atop the great tolling bell conjured a spectral glowing swarm of rats, spewing forth from outstretched claw to envelop the Elder Feldrak and the weapon team he was engaged with, clawing both gigantic beast and rat alike down to the field, bloodied and twitching their last for this day.
      Krastorax and his hounds see of the last of the flail wielding Vermin, stomping their lifeless forms into the dirt while the surviving Knights charge headlong at the cackling magister and his vermin cohort.
      The Ancestral Monstrousity oncemore brings his fury to bear, silencing the leftmost warmachine but falls short of energy after the extertion of so much slaughter in such short order and fails to come to the aid of the knights, whose prowess didn't match their fervour, pushed back by the weight of bodies of the vermin sorceror's personal guard.
      The magister, howling with glee, issued bolt after bolt of sorcerous force at Krastorax, a flurry of dark energy which would surely have toppled a lesser creature, causing the Monstrous General to fall back and save his hide for another day.
      The remaining knights and fallen sell their lives in service of their feldrak overlords, holding back the swarm as the sun begins to creep over the horizon
      At the last the Pack of feldrak swoop in on the objective. With the the dawn breaking and the vital resources lost the remaining vermin scatter away. Once more Krastorax and his beasts stood victorious, with Avras just over the horizon however the real war was yet to begin!
      Another day, another fight for Krastorax and his Grim entourage of bestial butchers.
      Take a look at my painted army so far. Feel free to share a pic of yours!

      Pics of my ever expanding warriors army

      WastelandWarrior Painting League 2019

      WastelandWarrior Painting League 2020
    • The Elvish Princess Morghana joins the Fun

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      Princess Morghana was upset; those filthy, useless traitors in Avras! She had an agreement with them. An agreement which apparently was worthless now. She stared down to that shaking piece of misery bending to her feet and spit out. The ambassador she has sent to Avras a couple months ago was kicked out – they laughed at him, fooled him and made fun of the City-State of Drozkguhl. “Anchorites” and “Peasant-Elves” from oversees, they were insulted; from the Darkwoods of Silexia, the almighty powerhouse of Drozkguhl under the Reign of Family Darkheart since over six centuries now…

      The family business – arms and slave trade – quickly flourished under the lead of House Darkheart, even though it’s a quite young noble house in the world of the elves; they quickly found their place in the world. Not entirely arms-in-arms with the other big Dread Elf Families, sometimes even being at war with them when they are treated unfair in parceling territories for pillaging and the “protection”-business for international trade routes. It became a wealthy family, wealthy and therefore as well strong in military. Even though they always prefer trading and charging protection money rather than conquering and killing. A fact which might have prompted the leaders of Avras to refuse the requests of family Darkheart… What a mistake…

      The youngest Daughter of King Merlyn, Princess Morghana, was in charge of the oversee operations in Avras, maybe the council there thought she is not powerful, not strong enough. A small, young woman of slight build, looking as if she just turned 20 in the eyes of humans (in fact with her 83 years she still can be called a teenager in terms of elven-life-spans), with black, short hair and a big ugly staff she can barely carry. But what most people or creatures don’t see, Morghana is a true natural talent with magic, even in her young years. And with chaos. Sometimes it seems as if the winds of magic channel this young elvish lady, and not the other way around. She knows that, she feels that, and very often lets it happen up to a certain limit which she usually recognizes on schedule. If she lets that point pass and chaos and magic completely overwhelms her, its unpredictable what can happen. Some years ago when Morghana was even younger, her father and mentor in magic allured her so much that she completely lost control; triggering a large explosion, she killed several cultists in the same training room and then she suddenly disappeared – teleported, or traveled through the realms of chaos via wormholes she opened – and appeared in an ancient city state in Taphria, devastaded a whole army of an undying dynasty king and looted his belongings; the powerful Staff of Death among other things, which she carries with her since then. It is said that she can awake the dead, and heal foredoomed people with it; a skill she does not use very often. She prefers the other way around, bringing the living to the dead.

      And now Avras kickted out her ambassador and refused to tribute to the House Darkheart, to her, the youngest daughter, powerful Princess Morghana. She will raze this city, she will destroy it completely… or even better, she will slaughter the council, destroy their trade routes, terrorize the citizens and wait for Avras begging mercy, begging them to be allowed to pay her for “protection.

      “TO ARMS”, she shouted, with a magical voice echoing the whole city-state. “MOUNT MY DRAGON, WE GO TO WAR!”
      Current project: Tits and Elves
      da_griech's painting league 2020

      The post was edited 5 times, last by da_griech ().

    • The ambushing Chaos Warriors have been ambushed by Princess Morghana

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      The smell of dust and smoke was in the air, the horses and beasts were anxiously. This was a little unexpected to Princess Morghana and her troops – it seems as if Avras forfeited with several fractions, not only with the Dread Elves. With every step they came closer to the city, the noise leven raised and the air smelled somehow more and more “dirty”. When they were only several miles away from the city, the scouts which the princess sent out came back.

      “War is already waging; an army of humans besieges the city, while some shock troops of Warriors who carry the mark of chaos is about to ambush them. They are about to attack the humans within the next couple minutes. How shall we proceed? Waiting and watching how those fools kill each other?”, the leader of the Riders reported to Morghana. A smile went over her lips. That turns out to become interesting… “The foe ouf our foe is not our friend, but it might be fun to play with them nonetheless. Ambushing the ambushers sounds like an idea which Nabh would like. It should be easy to slaughter those barbarians, and eating their hearts and bathing in their blood will motivate our troops even further for the attack to Avras. Get ready for battle, and bring me the heads of their leaders!”

      The troops Princess Morghana chose for this raid consists mostly of Nabh-cultists; a big horde of half-naked whitches and a big horde of executioners, which was joined by a Nabh Standard Bearer and an Assassin, skilled to murder enemy characters. The rest of the ambushing shock troops basicly consisted of shooty Dark Raiders, Raven Cloaks with a second Assassin and 3 Dread Reapers. And of course Morghana herself will join the fight from the back of her dragon.

      The Chaos Warriors were pure brute force, crusher knights, a big Horde of well-equiped Warriors and a big Chosen-Warrior-Unit, accompanied by a Chariot and two units of Fallen (probably cheap sacrificing units). An Equipped-up Chosen Lord and a Sorcerer which was skilled in Alchemistic Magic “hid” in the Warriors, while the Army was led by an Exalted Herald, specialized in Occultist Magic.

      Unfortunately they noticed quite early that Elves plan to ambush them, and reacted faster than Princess Morghana hoped; they opened the battle with several magic missiles to the Raven Cloaks, which were however quite lucky. It was time for a counter charge: The battle Plan was to decimate the Mounted Knights on the right flank so that they would be effectively useless when they charge anything (including the Cloaks who carried Great Weapons and the Assassin). Morghana herself ordered her Dragon up to that flank to fully concentrate fire; two of those beasts bite into the dust.

      But what was that, they charged – herself? How foolish.

      The rest of the DE army tried to avoid fights up to that point and shoot the Warriors instead; charging would be risky, as failed charges would mean the warriors could charge themselfes, and a higher agility of the opponent would be devastating for the fragile elves. Princess Morghana soon realized that the two knights are potent to give her a really hard time, especially as her dragon seemed to be quite sleepy. Her Weapon, a reaping blessed by Moarec, neigher helped out as the armour of the warriors was just too strong.

      And now also the Exalted Herald joined the fight… this was enough, Morghana forced this child of Chaos to a duel, which then went on over 4 rounds.

      In the meantime the cloaks and the assassin sneaked to the Back of the two knights, charged in and murdered them.

      Which supposingly threatened the Herald so much that he gave up the duel and fled from Morghana – just to run directly into a large cliff to die (difficult Terrain)… Finally the beast was dead, the ward saves kept it alive over almost 8 combat rounds, but it did not do much woulds to the Dragon either.

      In the mean time the whitch elves got charged by the warrior knights with the two chaos characters and beaten up, just to receive a counter charge by 30 executioners with BSB and assassin, which – well, executed the whole unit even before it could strike. Only the Chosen lord survived, but rather chose to flee before facing sure death. So the Executioners reformed to execute the Fallen as well… who did in turn at least manage to kill one of the Assassins.

      The battle was over, only the Chosen Lord was alive and snacked a dread reaper before he vanished in the forests. Besides that, the DE army lost two units of Dark Raiders, and the Raven Cloaks were heavily Decimated. Also the Dragon was heavily wounded, he was alive, but he will need some rest.

      “We bring you the Head of the Herald, and the Head of the Chaos Sorcerer, Mylady.” The Cult priest with the Battle Standard handed over the trophies to the Princess. “On our side the only really painful loss was one of our Assassins; The Raiders we can replace easily, and Dread Reapers we also brought plenty as well.

      So the Battle ended 17-03 in the favor of the DE, +2 victory points for 2 killed characters, -1 victory point for one lost character.
      Current project: Tits and Elves
      da_griech's painting league 2020
    • Finally back from camping with the family.

      The rangers guild of Clan Treacwood from the Maidens are marching to Avras!

      Ranger Joar Thorlindur
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      (not painted for campaign)

      As a leading member of Clan Treacwood’s rangers guild, Joar Thorlindur is a respected and accomplished traveler, scout, and warrior. As a beardling, Joar spent most of his growing years patrolling the peaks and valleys of the Maidens to protect and solidify the Treacfort’s power in the region. Every chance he found to move beyond his patrol boundaries to explore the outer regions of the clan’s territory he took to satisfy his wanderlust and curiosity. Joar had a natural gift with animals and as he became increasingly skilled in husbandry he earned important clan responsibilities. During a period of time Joar was solely responsible for the development of the clan’s most sturdy herds of mountain ponies. Despite his respected name and skills Joar Thorlindur is as introverted as a dwarf greybeard can be. With his life full of long patrols and honed skills with animals Joar grew comfortable away from others and grumbles at the thought of arguing with other dwarves rather than spending the day out in the wilderness drinking ale with his animal companions. Unsurprisingly, he is nigh seen without his closest comrades Brewski; his favorite steed, and Bowowski; his tenacious squirrel-hound. The three of them regularly wander back and forth among the Maidens doing their duty while avoiding all unnecessary contact with the more sociable dwarves.

      Like many of his brothers and sisters in the rangers guild, Joar dedicated his professional life to the care for the regionally-famous Thunder Pines. His commitment to the conservation and responsible harvesting of the tall copper-colored trees made him a reliable, albeit unsociable, dwarf of the clan and was a large part in his newest responsibility of leading Clan Treachwood’s small army in the siege of Avras. The clan elders were confident that Joar Thorlindur’s careful mind would lead the largely ranger-supported force to victory even with their legitimate concerns about his inspirational qualities as a general. Regardless, Joar’s understanding and commitment to Clan Treacwood’s valuable resources made him qualified to stake the clan’s economic power in the timeless city. Even with his cranky demeanor and unappreciated odor of musty animal hides, Joar plans to confirm future economic considerations with the men of Sonnstahl, secure the exotic-timber market, and to introduce Avras to the marvel and beauty that comes from the Treacfort’s natural resources.

      Agneli Gudhsten
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      (not painted for campaign)

      By dwarven standards, Agneli Gudhsten is a young and unseasoned stone mason by trade. Although he is long-in-beard, he has rarely left the underground portions of the Treacfort as he has spent his life meticulously carving stone for the beautiful and stout structures of Clan Treachwood. Agneli fondly remembers a time when he was just a beardling of his great grandfather telling fireside stories of Avras to him and his family. As a personal pilgrimage, great-grandad Gudhsten had traveled to the city long ago to study and appreciate the ancient and symbolic imagery hidden in the city’s architecture and overall layout. Since those days, Agneli loved architecture, studied every tome dedicated to the art, was inspired to create what he envisioned from what he heard in stories, and wished for the chance to see Avras the way that his great grandfather had.

      When the call to arms was sounded throughout the Treacfort, Agneli clearly recalled his great grandfather’s challenge to all of his progeny to go to the famous city if they ever had the chance. Even as a member of the Holdsfolk he eagerly volunteered alongside the ranger guild as they prepared for battle. His zeal was admirable, and he intensified the inspiration of the small army as he parroted his great grandfather’s stories of the magnificent city around the campfires each night of travel. In his excitement before even reaching the city’s walls he had already filled an entire sketchbook of key and cornerstones that he felt inspired to create after the campaign. The commanding greybeards saw the value that Agneli had among the ranger troops and gave him the honor of bearing the force’s main battle standard. As one of the only members of the Holdsfolk in the force, Agneli Gudhsten proudly marches at the front of the clan as he eagerly awaits to see the aesthetic glory within the walls of Avras with his own eyes.

      Engineer Olaus Berglund
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      Olaus Berglund is an average hard working dwarf that doesn’t boast a great name, glorious feats, or an illustrious ancestry. However, he has earned the admiration and friendship of a small circle of rangers as one of just dozens of engineers among the rangers guild. Through his hard work and efficiency, Olaus long ago earned the responsibility of maintaining the guild’s uniquely crafted bolt throwers. Because the compact machines are constantly being packed in and out of the most rugged terrain of the Maidens on mountain ponies they require the masterful repairs and maintenance of Olaus. Interestingly, through Olaus Berglund’s regular travels to ranger camps to provide machine maintenance in the field he has also vigorously dedicated himself to keeping and creating an accurate set of maps. Thus, Olaus is a quiet but notable contributor to the rangers guild as his expertise in the engineering of the bolt throwers alongside his mapping skills allows members of his guild to travel further away from the Treacfort than if they utilized more traditional bolt throwers or kept to only their known-trails.

      As the battle force prepared for the march towards Avras, it was expected that Olaus the engineer would accompany his battle brothers and sisters in order to keep their war machines in prime condition. The gem and steam powered machines are incredibly important to the rangers guild as they provide the ability to set up artillery defenses anywhere across the slopes and valleys of the mountain range at anytime without the creation of long term structures. This made them an obvious first-choice to take on the long march towards the great city. But Olaus was individually enlivened at the prospect of mapping new lands not just for his personal collection, but for the libraries of Clan Treacwood as well. With a pair of mountain ponies burdened with ink and stacks of blank paper Olaus Berglund cheerfully marched in the dwarven column knowing that although he lacked a famous ancestry or glorious feats to back his name, he would be useful, provide support to his comrades, and explore new lands for the good of the clan.
    • V: I felt disgusting. I've been in this makeshift infirmary for a few days now. Guns have been hitting the walls hard, not a moment goes by in which you cannot hear the booming. The infirmary has filled since my mates and I have entered, I'm healed up. Gregor has been praying night and day. Zyloc and Vuth went off to the rougher part of town for both information and recruitment into our little band. I winced as a nurse looked at my leg, which was still healing. A rat cut it with a knife, and it got scraped against the stone coming up out of the hole. I told her it was an Imperial sword and the scrape was from falling off the wall after. She believed me, poor lass. These people had no idea what swarmed beneath them. A dwarf with a white crest of hair waddled in on a crutch for support. "Steam man! What's up?" he called to me. I have never met a dwarf before.
      "I am fine." I said as the nurse changed my bandages.
      "I hear you've got yourself an outfit of rogues." I nodded. The nurse smiled, left a cup of water by my cot and left the room. The dwarf watched her leave. "I want in.
      "Eh? You know what we are?"
      "Aye. I've met your lads on the way home from the tavern a few blocks away. I had to get out, see. I can't stay in one place too long cos I get mighty antsy. Anyways, I ran into em at the tavern. A wiry man in black and some savage came in, I recognized em and we started talkin'. I said I was interested so they sent me to you. I'm a ranger of the Holds, or was. Came here to make some money for myself." He crossed the room, hobbling a bit, and sat upon a box of medical supplies. "So what be the plan, lad?"
      "I am figuring that out. Right now my mates are recuperating. We got hit hard by ratmen a few days back in the sewers."
      "I could've told ye not to go down there. The furry turds have been sprouting like weeds in areas of the city. Undead too. I've been staying here for months, have fought my fair share. You have my axe, lad. I'm Om." He grunted a greeting. I nodded back and stood up, stretching a bit.
      "I could use exercise, c'mon." I walked out. Met Cat outside, another girl in the outfit. Young, elf-like. Prefers to stick to the shadows in a fight. I introduced her to Om and we wandered the deserted market. Save for the corpse and wounded wailers in and around the old tavern the whole block seemed dead. A crying man with a bandage over where his eyes would be reached out to me. He screamed. I could not help him. Will never forget his face, as much as I desire to. We ran into Vuth who was hanging out in an alleyway. He told me a few Avrasian guards pressganged some of the people in the tavern to militia service, Zylock included but he got out through the nearest window and climbed down a three story wall. I breathed, irritated. Hopefully I'd see him again. Vuth pointed out the group of drunks and young lads being escorted by guards to the Avrasian military garrison's base in this district. We tailed for a bit. Cat ambushed and took out the right rear guardsman, I the left. Vuth snagged Zylock out of the column and Om, up on a rooftop, tossed a bottle at the head of one of the frontmost drunks. He got mad, a riot broke out. The surviving guards tried to fight, but we got our favorite barbarian back.

      The day wound down. I had gathered everyone in the deserted shop next door to the tavern, where I said we should make our move tonight. Kill a few bridge guards, open a door for the Black Birds to get in at least. There've been rumors that northmen and elves have started marching on the city. We had to get our people inside, at least. It would be a lightning strike maneuver.
    • And the flood of fluff continues!!! So you have seen the models, lets give em some character shall we...

      *Warning* These were much longer than I originally intended so please get yourself a drink before attempting them! Please also bare in mind that this is written by me aka a complete noob when it comes to writing, so if it reads like a 4 year old wrote it please bare with lol

      Toby the Half-Zombie Necromancer
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      As he searched through his third waste bin of the day, Tobias was left seriously pondering his life choices. He had travelled to Avras in search of wonder and achievement, from a local village not too far south, and with dreams of joining the ranks of the Equitaine bowmen and representing his beloved nation in many battles to come. Truth be told, he knew he was never the BEST archer, but he also had a bit of personal interest in arcane lore so maybe that could help him out a bit, he thought. However, one thing he didn’t expect was to not even make the cut at all, even in the peasants levy! Surely the great Kingdom needed all the numbers they could get with the growing threats from all around them – if the rumours were to be believed. But, sadly, his skills were not needed in any regard and the rejection had forced him into a bit of a stupor, roaming the slums of lower Avras attempting to pick up any work at all – rather than go back to his home as a failure.

      ‘Oooh a banana skin – breakfast is served!!’ he gleefully thought to himself, as he continued to rummage for scraps of anything edible after more than a day with nothing to eat.

      The memory of finding that tasty banana skin was some months ago now, however, and long had he lost his hope of ever finding anything meaningful to do with his existence, but still he continued because, ya know, what else would he do? He was still searching through waste for food, mostly failing, and passing his time wandering around being ignored by almost everyone around him.

      Today, as he turned down a cobbled alleyway, he heard a window open suddenly above him and before he even had the chance to look up to react to the noise, he was drenched in a slimy liquid that he was pretty sure was ‘not clean drinking water’, but instead a rather gooey brown substance. He stood there in a moment of shock (and sadness) before wiping the surprisingly lumpy remnants off his head and shoulders, trying desperately to avoid vomiting from the new smell that had instantly started to resonate itself from his already stained, stinking clothes. Anyone looking at him closely enough, which they weren’t, would have seen a single tear begin to fall down his cheek from the corner of his eye, before he continued his aimless task of walking through lower Avras with no real direction or purpose, other than to just keep going…

      A sharp gust of wind blew down the next alleyway he passed and with it came a crumpled-up bit of paper that flew into his chest and got stuck to the mess that had fallen on him not a moment ago. He stopped to ‘unstick’ the bit of paper and disregard it, but as he picked it up ready to throw it away, he noticed some writing on it as well as a large reward sign at the bottom of the page – 500 gold! That would be enough to put him up in a hotel for a week with water, meals, a few jars of ale to go with it and maybe even entry to the local ‘evening entertainment’ hostel down the road - “Jubblys”. If he played his cards right and was not too picky about the ‘company’ he might even be able to get some of that ‘special’ entertainment he’d heard about for himself as well. His eyes lit up at the thought and he continued to read:

      “Volunteers for experiments wanted at the Citadel”

      “Reward: 500 gold and continued work if successful”

      This was too good to be true! Continued work meant the chance of returning to a better lifestyle and maybe even one of the better quality ‘entertainers’ at Jubblys would then be within reach! He wiped another chunk of brown mess from his face (which had been slowly making its way down the side of his head and had arced inwards) and for the first time in months, drew a smile. This was the breakthrough he needed and the change of fortunes that he deserved! He puffed out what little mass he had on his starved chest and strode purposefully towards the directed location with all hope and ambitions restored.

      When he arrived at the large, looming doors of his destination, his hope and excitement turned quite quickly to hesitancy and anxiousness, as the realisation of the word “experiment” and the phrase “IF successful” dawned on him. Maybe this was a bad idea. He knew nothing about where the poster had come from and had not seen it before. Suddenly this raised a whole new bundle of questions like ‘why was the reward so high?’ and ‘what even was the experiment?’, but before he had time to go through everything in his head the doors in front of him quickly opened and two large, burly men grabbed him from either side and picked him up to carry him through some hallways and into a large, circular, white room with bright lights all over the ceiling.

      In the room was a rather technical looking piece of apparatus attached to the wall on the left and a darkened mirror on the right that was built into the wall.

      The men continued to carry him in and dumped him onto a central bed that had some very bulky looking straps attached to it, which the men quickly fastened around his body to keep him securely held and unable to move. He had not even had a chance to look at his abductor’s faces at this point and before the thought even came about it was all too late as they had now left the room and slammed the door shut. Almost immediately afterwards the bright lights went out and were replaced with a dimmed green glow that gave the room a very menacing tone. As you can imagine, Tobias’ hope had completely disappeared and he was thinking about nothing more than fear and dread of what was to come… although the bed beneath him was a step up from last night’s street cobbles! But now was not the time for dwelling on previous sleeping arrangements, he had to escape, or at least figure out what was going on.

      With a few loud and desperate shouts of “HELP!” and some futile attempts to get out of his bindings, some time passed with no sign of anyone or reasoning behind the rough introduction to the residence.If this was the experiment that he’d read about surely what it was would be explained to him first, wouldn’t it? The dimmed green lights were now starting to hurt Tobias’ eyes, his right one in particular, and he began to develop a sharp pain in his head, with a relentless ringing accompanying it. Then, the lights switched back to bright white and the door from behind him opened slowly.

      “Hello sir” muttered a voice from the doors direction, “Thank you for volunteering for our experiment, your payment will be granted on completion of the tasks we have before you”.

      “W-who are you!?!” cried Tobias angrily. “Get me out of here, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME!!!?”

      “Please calm down, Sir, your temper may affect the results of our tests…,” replied the voice, in a rather unconcerned tone, as he heard footsteps approach the bed.

      “Tests!?! What tests? Who are you!?!?!” shouted Tobias getting increasingly agitated and confused by the lack of answers he was being given.

      The man drew up alongside the bed allowing him to see that he was wearing large goggles that covered most of his face, and a lab coat suggesting he was a researcher of some kind. He unhooked the machine from the wall and wheeled it over to Tobias’ position. He flipped a rather oversized switch and a loud booming started to fill the room – and Tobias’ head!

      “Please relax and close your eyes, the tests will be completed very shortly,” said the man, very slowly and very calmly.

      “No, I won’t… Get me… outta… here…,” Tobias said drowsily as the noise started overpowering him and sent him to sleep.

      “What about this one then, please tell me at least something different has happened to him?”

      “… I’m afraid not.Despite the innate power we detected it doesn’t look like there’s been anything of note to suggest progress.”

      “Damnit!It’s been long enough, we’ll need to move onto the next batch.Have them all tossed into a pit outside the city – as far away as you can arrange.I really thought this one would be special.”

      Tobias’ vision returned to give him a somewhat welcome view of the night sky, but within moments he could tell that something was different.His focus was not as he would expect it to be and so he brought his hand up to his face and felt around to find that his fingers went far too deeply into his right eye socket! His eye was gone!

      Despite the surprise this presented, Tobias didn’t feel his body convulse in panic as much as he thought it might but nonetheless he bolted to an upright position to find that he was not strapped down on a bed anymore – the night sky not being nearly enough of a giveaway to make him realise that already.

      He looked around at his new surroundings and once again felt no shock whatsoever to find he was in fact sitting upon a mass of other human bodies. Attempting to focus on them with his new vision, he noticed that most of them were heavily decayed and missing limbs. His head pounded and he fell back to his original horizontal position while holding his head in his hands, to quell the pain. After a few seconds of complete confusion, the floor beneath him, if it could be called that, started to shift, and he got flung onto his side and onto another one of the bodies he had been laying with. Then, as he watched, that body started to move too! What was going on!?! He quickly rushed to his feet as he saw all of the dead, decaying bodies get reanimated around him, and all of them seemed to be jostling with each other in the same direction, albeit very slowly and awkwardly as frail bodies possibly could. Before Tobias could make sense of the situation he suddenly felt something drop from his own person onto the floor, with more signs of limbs moving deeper in what he’d now established was some sort of pit. As he looked down towards the mystery object he noticed his body had become discoloured, not that he considered himself overly healthy to begin with.When he finally identified what had fallen from him amongst the writhing mass of things around him he crouched down to pick it up, noticing that it felt very soft and squidgy. What on earth could it be!?!? After studying it for several seconds it became all too apparent and struck Tobias with the full realisation that something had gone drastically wrong – it least from his point of view that was. It was an organ – liver-shaped it seemed, not that he was an expert by any means. In disgust, and resolving it probably wasn’t much use to him outside his body, he threw it down to the floor and reached for where it had come from on his body. He was not wearing any clothing on his torso anymore, and when he attempted to feel his side, he felt only tissue covered bone, no sign of any skin smoothing it over. He felt his body convulse and immediately threw himself forwards, now free of the bodies that had pushed past him, and vomited a red bloody mess onto the pit floor. It took him several minutes to then overcome his body’s pulsing to then look at his side to confirm the infliction that had befallen him. He was a decaying body!!! He was like all those reanimated dead people that he had moments ago been piled within! Could he be… He was… he had to be… DEAD!?

      But how come he was not like the others, aimlessly being pulled in a single direction?Why was he different to them??? The experiments! It was the only reasoning he could give himself at that moment of madness as he desperately grasped at some of the other animated corpses without getting any reaction. He changed his attention to the direction the horde of zombie creatures were now heading, and saw a figure just over 100ft away from him with a white glowing aura around him, chanting words in a haunting fashion that Tobias sensed were in his head rather than being heard through his ears, if he still had ears. With seemingly no other realistic options, he headed over towards him to see if he could get some clarity on the situation – was this the man in the goggles from the experiment? – he didn’t think so.

      On his approach, he saw the man’s features clearer – quite hideous – and then turned his gaze towards Tobias and the chanting stopped. At the same moment that they locked eyes, the zombies around him halted and all of them began shuffling in an eerily creepy fashion towards him instead. He was soon surrounded. Within a few seconds the horde had encircled him and closed off any routes of escape. Tobias looked around, feeling a dull ache that he thought might have been fear, and he became desperate to know what his fate would now hold. He went to look back at the man that was seemingly causing the whole commotion – but he was gone! He had only looked away for a second and the man was now nowhere to be seen!

      Almost immediately afterwards, he felt a breath on the back of his own decaying neck, breathing slowly and dominantly down on him from behind. He turned around and, without flinching or giving anything away, the figure spoke:

      “Now this is interesting” the man said with a deep, husky voice and dark tone, “What exactly do I have here…?”

      “W-w-what?” replied Tobias, not really knowing what to say. Also he noticed his own voice was rather different to his usual sound, giving off a croaky and more stuttered vibe. He put this down to him being petrified of the situation most likely, and besides, didn’t really have time to think about it before the man in front of him disappeared once again – only to re-appear behind him to continue speaking.

      “You are not like the others...” He paused, almost like he was doing it for dramatic effect, which Tobias thought was definitely not needed as he deemed the situation already dramatic enough! The man continued, “You seem to have some resistance to the energies here… yet you are dead… what are you?” he asked.

      “W-what am I!?!? I-I-I don’t know…” Tobias responded, bemused and really not helping the situation but still unsure of what the hell was going on.

      The man moved backwards, but it seemed he did not walk, but glided across the floor to a distance of about five metres. “I think I should dispose of you before you cause me any complications…” He said, curling his hands around a newly formed ball of energy, apparently shaping his body to aim towards Tobias.

      “NO! STOP!!!” shouted Tobias as he cowardly raised his arms in some sort of attempt to protect himself.

      And then something even stranger happened…

      As Tobias raised his arms the ground in front of him began to rumble and more of the dead rose up quickly, instantly forming a sort of shield wall in between the man and himself. Not only that but the other zombies surrounding him seemed to be resonating towards him and crowding him – but not as before. Unlike before where they had crowded him in a threatening manner, they seemed to now be looking to protect him and as the man shot his ball of magical energy at him, he instead hit the zombies that were acting as a barrier in front of him. The bodies hit were instantly incinerated, more replacing them to come to his aid and they created another barrier to protect him once again. Tobias looked up from his cowering position to see the man come out of his attacking stance and, while looking slightly puzzled by the horde’s behaviour, started chuckling to himself.

      “Ha Ha Ha. It appears we may have a use for you after all…” The man laughed. “What is your name creature?”

      “Urghh… my n-name!?” He had to think for a minute, which was strange as this was possibly the only thing Tobias did know with regards to everything that had been going on.

      “M-my name… is T-Tobi-*cough*“, he was halted as a piece of skin fell into his throat which he inadvertently swallowed right at that moment and stopped him speaking.

      “Toby ay. Well Toby, My name is Darius von Hesselink. You will give yourself to me and my family and serve us in our plight to protect the Queen and bring down misery on all those that insult her name!”

      “O-oh… OK S-sir!” He murmured. Getting up from the floor and pushing away some of the dead that had stayed relatively close to him, in an attempt to get some personal space back.

      With that, Darius vanished once again, only to appear several hundred feet away in a matter of seconds. The chanting resumed in the same disturbing manner from before – and more dead bodies started emerging from the soft ground of the pit floor around Toby’s position. The zombies around him reverted to their initial motions and continued walking towards where Darius was leaving Toby to think about what had just happened!

      “What the hell have I got myself into” he thought; and then, grabbing a ripped, discarded cloth from the floor to use as a sort of robe to hide his now disfigured body, he followed the mass horde because, ya know, what else would he do?.

      Sophia von Hesselink
      Display Spoiler
      Sophia had been listening to Cedrick Cowall drivel on for over an hour about the problems and difficulties he had been having to acquire the “resources” that the von Hesselinks had recently demanded from him. He was a stout fellow that dressed rather poorly for a wealthy man who governed a small town – wearing a very worn, cloth top that could once have been called white, but was now stained a dark grey underneath the arms and chest by what Sophia could only assume (and hope) was sweat. Also, Sophia had noticed Cedrick still had remnants of his lunch residing in his large, black, bushy beard and - as he continued to whine about the hardship of his menial everyday tasks - Sophia noticed what seemed like some sort of condiment drip down to stain his shirt further.

      Sophia, on the other hand, could not have been further in appearance from the chubby figure sitting opposite her. She was fair skinned, with beautiful blonde hair. She had very symmetrical facial features and sharp red lips. She wore a long immaculate white/pink gown – that was not stained by any food substance she may have had in the last few days – accompanied by an even longer black cloak to cover herself when she went outside. On her torso, she sometimes wore a red and silver breastplate as a mini suit of armour, which even made her elegant looking on the battlefield. Today however, she was just on ‘trade duty’ so no such attire was needed, especially with this clumsy oaf, she thought.

      As the most presentable of the von Hesselinks, she was often sent to represent the family on urgent or political matters and a meeting of this kind was common place for her. Mostly it would involve simply visiting one of the marked villages or small towns to pick up ‘merchandise’ in the form of dead bodies and packets of blood – and on occasion, desperate humans wanting to be ‘turned’ to one of them – which she regular refused, choosing to simply take a meal instead! She wasn’t fond of going into the town on duty but was happy to undertake such necessary tasks as she knew she was the best vampire for it. Also, she did it out of respect and love for her darling Darius von Hesselink – the leader of their family and the one responsible for turning her. As well as the bond they shared through being turned, they had something more than that, a love for each other. They were soulmates and were destined to spend the rest of eternity together – at least that’s how Sophia saw it! So, when she did have to undertake these tedious tasks for the good of the family, she simply had to think of Darius and her focus returned. By now though, she had stopped listening to what the portly mayor was actually saying and was growing rather bored.

      “How interesting” she said interrupting him in a tone that was anything other than interested. “So where is our cargo? I wish to leave this dreary town rather soon”.

      “Ummm… well… you see, we d-didn’t quite make the whole shipment this time. But, it wasn’t our fault! You see, the rats… they have been more troublesome than ever a-and – not that we can’t handle it – but, you see, they have been hijacking the roads- “

      “Enough fat man!” She shouted very sharply, instantly halting Cedrick’s bumbling excuses. “Where is the cargo!?!” she continued with a harsher, quite scary tone that did not seem to agree with her striking figure.

      As she spoke, her faced seemed to turn to a darker grey colour and her eyes became fixed on Cedrick, her pupils focussing and staring at him as she rose up and leant towards him, seemingly towering over him as the lights in the room became dimmer. Sophia was now not giving off the elegant tone of a beautiful women, but more of a horrifying creature about to strike. The walls seemed to close up on Cedrick and he stumbled off his chair and onto the floor – always very aware of the gaze of Sophia.

      “Yess, w-well, obviously we have it… y-yes.” He mumbled, shuddering as he did. “It’s in the courtyard… next to the church my lord- errgh, lady! Yess, my Lady”

      As he quivered with fear on the floor, wondering what was next and if he had managed to blag his way out of the horror that any bad news was sure to entail, he closed his eyes momentarily, in an attempt to avoid eye contact and deny the situation he appeared to be in. He then opened them again – one-by-one just to be sure – to see she was her original beautiful, unintimidating self and sat in her previous position in the chair.

      “Excellent Mr. Cowall. Please do take us there now…” she said calmly and somewhat seductively, encouraging Cedrick to return to a false sense of security – which of course the simple minded fellow did.

      “Yess, m-m’lady, of course. Right this way” Cedrick replied and rose back once again to his feet and, in chivalrous fashion, walked over to Sophia to take her chair and help her up. Sophia accepted Cedrick’s help – despite not in any way, shape or form needing it, but complying to tradition nevertheless; and Cedrick escorted her out of the main entrance and onto the pathways of the town.

      As she stepped outside and onto the rather muddy pathway leading to the church, she rolled her eyes in disgust, but continued forward nonetheless. It had been raining all day and the surfaces of the path had become soft and sodden, allowing her heeled boots to sink into the ground by an inch or so every time she stepped. Still, even in the faint light of the night sky she carried herself with grace. The same could not be said about Cedrick though who kept getting his feet stuck in thick puddles and tripped over after a few feet, collapsing into one of them and splashing mud around him. One rather large splash was heading right for Sophia’s face, but she showed her lightning reflexes and blocked the oncoming mud with her hand. She held her arm in place for a moment before slowly moving it back to her side and revealing a very judgemental expression aimed directly at the, now soiled Mayor.

      “A-a thousand apologies, my lady” Cedrick said almost immediately, before even helping himself back up. No words were needed from Sophia to encourage Cedrick back to his feet quite quickly and continue leading her to a cart that was, indeed, parked up by the church’s entrance.

      As they moved closer, Cedrick became noticeably more nervous and began looking around him as if he had lost something. Sophia halted herself, sensing something was wrong and drew her arms out of her robe in an aggressive stance. Instantly, her senses were proven correct as Cedrick lunged sideways, throwing himself to the floor and into the foetal position, only to be replaced by three tall and muscular figures, all wearing quite flamboyant black hats and matching black coats and boots – typical attire of Empire Inquisitors of central Vetia. After a quick glance, Sophia also noticed that each man had several weapons on their person and it soon became apparent that this was an ambush, laid before her by the cowardly Mayor who was still hiding out of the way and had now managed to crawl next to the stone walls of the church. The three men, about 10 feet away started to close in on Sophia, the outer two encircling her with a clear plan to surround their foe before striking. They stared at her, seemingly fearless and with a clear, almost arrogant goal to vanquish their enemy. Sophia found herself outnumbered, but certainly not outmatched.

      Before she could act, the central man drew his crossbow and fired it straight towards her. Using her superior agility and dropping her robe to the floor, she jolted to the right and away from the bolts’ trajectory. As the bolt passed by her she caught a glimpse of the hunter on the left, drawing both hands up from his sides and firing silver bullets at her with a brace of pistols. Jumping up and backwards she somersaulted herself away from the bullets and up onto a large stone tomb, now looking down at her attackers. As she was gliding through the air, she managed to maintain her elegance and landed softly on the ornate roof of the structure. Almost as soon as her feet touched the tiles, she looked up and reached her arms behind her back, grabbing her two golden, curved daggers and bringing them back in front of her ready to make an attack of her own. Her beautiful looks had now turned to a near wild expression, losing all her pale and quaint qualities and replacing them with a more feral, beastly look of anger and hate. She scowled down at the men, hissing at them and revealing two sharp fangs and with it her true vampiric form.

      Realising they had failed in their surprise attack the trio seemed to regroup with the crossbowman racing for cover behind the horses’ cart behind him and the outer two grabbing their melee weapons – one a sword and shield and the other a halberd – preparing themselves for a charge from the creature before them. As if to not disappoint the pair, she threw herself up in the air and towards the men, the moonlight reflecting off her dress and dazzling the inquisitors before she reached them. To compliment this Sophia recited one of her magical incantations, creating a mist of black smoke that surrounded her and aimed to distract her foe. As she landed, she slashed the dazed arms of the halberdier, forcing him to drop his weapon and with a few more quick fatal blows, stabbed him in the heart, lungs and stomach before finally slicing his neck. The man fell to his knees and as he impacted the floor the blood started gushing out of the lacerations left by the vampire and the now lifeless body continued it’s decent into the mud.

      The remaining combatant swung his sword, only to cut through the air and back to his original position. He pushed his shield forward into the black mist and managed to contact Sophia, but with little impact. However, that did now give away her position and he was able to use his skill to jab his sword for a second time, but now in the correct direction towards Sophia’s abdomen. His skills were no match for her though and she was able to cross her daggers and direct the sword away from her and into the ground. As the sword pierced the earth, the two came to a head and their faces came together almost touching. With another horrifying glare, Sophia roared a devilish shriek and plunged her fangs into the face of her opponent – one of her teeth piercing the Inquisitor’s right eye. In shock the man fell back and dropped his shield to put pressure on his eye and stop the bleeding, as well as trying to re-focus to find where Sophia was now standing. Unable to spot the vampire through the mist he began frantically swinging a newly drawn knife in a last-ditch effort to connect with her, but it was futile. She jumped once more into the air and down onto him, stabbing both daggers through his pointed hat and into the top of his skull. The force of the blow allowed Sophia to push his body into the ground beneath him and rip off his head, leaving it attached to the daggers. As she returned to an upright position she forced her hands apart and sliced through it, leaving it to fall to the floor in two pieces, next to the body that it used to belong to.

      Sophia looked around in the dark to seek her final adversary, but as she glanced towards the church she felt herself fly backwards and to the floor after being impaled by a bolt from his crossbow she assumed. With caution the man reappeared from behind the cart and fired another bolt into Sophia’s body lying now prone on the ground. After a moment of no movement from the vampire, the man lowered his crossbow and went to approach her to confirm his kill. As he got close, he raised his crossbow once again, reloaded with a silver bolt, just in case, and kicked the body to see if there was any response. Nothing. He pointed the crossbow at her heart as she lay there before him and put his finger on the trigger. Just before he could apply any pressure to fire his final bolt, another mist of black smoke enveloped him. The man jumped back and waved the smoke away only to reveal that Sophia’s body was now gone. Frantically, he began looking around for his bounty and as he turned he felt a presence behind him, breathing heavily down the back of his neck. He turned once again, but there was nothing he could do as Sophia let out another, more deafening roar and smacked the crossbow from out of his grasp, while grabbing his throat with her other hand. Sophia lifted the man up by his neck, squeezing as she did so, and looked down at her twice-pierced body. With her free hand she pulled the two bolts from her torso and her pale skin began to eerily grow back as if nothing had happened. She then looked up at the man, who was now turning a dark purple colour, gasping for air and scrambling at his throat in a hopeless attempt to release himself from Sophia’s grip. After a few more seconds of scrambling around Sophia tightened her grasp further still and with a crunch, broke the man’s neck. The once flailing body fell dormant and she threw the corpse on top of the other bodies and out of her way.

      Cedrick was stunned, watching the events in fear and he was realising all too late that this was not going to end well for him. In a desperate attempt to resolve the situation he crawled towards Sophia on his knees, mud continuing to splash around him and put his hands together in a praying motion.

      “P-p-please m’lady… I-I-I am sooo sorry for this. PLEASE forgive me.” He whimpered, recognising the lack of acknowledgment Sophia was giving him. “W-we have more dead we can give you, plenty in fact… and blood, yes lots of blood storage – we have been holding some back in our depositories, b-but we can get it all to you. No problem! All I need is a bit of ti-“

      “Ahem” Sophia interrupted the sobbing man before clearing her throat and waving her hair back in an attempt to get back to her elegant demeanour. This of course seemed somewhat ironic as her hair, face and previously immaculate dress was now blood-stained, but still she pulled it off.

      “Now, Mr. Cowall. That was not a clever thing to do” she continued whilst slowly walking towards the cowering bundle of mess that was Cedrick. “And here I was thinking that we had a good arrangement going and that we could trust you to deliver for us”.

      As Sophia reached Cedrick, she crouched down to whisper in his ear “Nobody betrays the von Hesselink family.”

      With that, she stepped back and gave off a deafening shriek as if she was calling something. Almost instantly, a huge 15ft beast leapt out of the shadows and started mauling away at Cedrick’s body.

      “Arrrrgghhhhhh!” he squealed for a few seconds followed by a ‘crunch’ – at which point a sudden halt of any noise whatsoever ensued and all that could be heard was the beast devouring the man’s carcass.

      After a few seconds the beast rose up from its victim, licked its blood-soaked lips and turned to face Sophia. The two stared at each other in what could have been considered as an uncomfortably affectionate manner. Sophia then approached the Varkolak lovingly, stroking its rotten, dirty fur on its back and continuing up to its mane. The beast had gone from feral to docile in an instant. Sophia put her head to the beasts and locked eyes to demonstrate their connection and to revel in what remained of their enemies. Sophia seductively licked some of Cedrick’s blood off the beast’s face and turned towards the cart of ‘goods’. She walked over and lifted the cover on the back to reveal merely a dozen recently deceased bodies and only two crates filled with jars of blood.

      “Hmmm, is this all?” she pondered for a moment “Darius will not be pleased…”

      Darius von Hesselink
      Display Spoiler
      Darius picked up his glass and leant back into his chair, letting off a sigh of frustration before taking a sip of his thick, bright red refreshment. He had been waiting for too long for his brother, Phillip, to arrive. After a few more minutes had passed he leant forward to place his glass back on the rather large, eccentric looking table in front of him and ‘relaxed’ back into his throne-like chair once again. The room he was in was similarly large and extravagant, with huge portraits and heads of great animals resting on the walls surrounding. Darius’ attire matched the grand look of the room, his very expensive red/black armour and robe combination shined as the lights of the table candles and room lanterns touched it. The only thing that did not match was his own looks. The years had not been kind to him and as the centuries had passed his face had become withered and tired looking, even as he’d slept. Adding to that his battle scars and pale, grey skin, meant that he was really a bit of an eye-sore even despite the fancy clothing and household he bore.

      “KLAGG!!!” He shouted with a ruffled, grainy voice.

      The very second Darius made a noise, a hunched up old-looking man, covered in a black robe hurried over to respond to his masters’ call.

      “Yessss, Sssire!” he hissed back, never making eye contact, looking down at the floor as he spoke.

      “I cannot wait for my wretched brother any longer, fetch me my dinner!” Darius demanded. With that, Klagg immediately shuffled to the back room, only to return holding a gloriously shiny silver tray and cover. Placing the tray down in front of his master, Klagg then withdrew the cover to reveal a soup bowl of watery red liquid, filled with large meat chunks floating and oozing with blood. “Your favourite Ssssire, as requessssted: Heart of Ssssonstahl man in brine!” and without needing a response he shuffled quickly back to the shadowy corners of the room, leaving Darius in peace to eat his meal.

      Darius did not hesitate, and with a faint smile he delved into his food. Not with the manner in which you would expect of a seemingly noble vampire though – as he became almost feral with lust for what he was eating. He did not even use the cutlery provided, instead choosing to reach into the ‘soup’ with his hands, grabbing the large chunks of heart and ripping them apart with his sharp fangs and teeth. As he did, he sighed once again, but this was not frustration but a release of pleasure! It was almost mesmerising to watch as he continued to ravage the meat parcels as if he had not had a meal for weeks, finishing the portion with haste and picking up the bowl to pour the remaining liquid down his throat. Finally, he slammed the bowl down and took a few deep breaths, while licking his lips to salvage a last taste, before calming himself down and returning to the much more subdued way he was used to. With the watery soup remnants dripping down his sodden chin, he looked around once again and sighed at the lack of his missing guest.

      With an obvious displeasure, he sank into his chair and waited while the grandfather clock in the background ticked away, which frustrated Darius even further. Just as he was about to call to Klagg, another one of his servants scuttled to his side and pre-empted him.

      “My Liege… I-I’m afraid I have some rather bad news…” the poor servant whispered to Darius, looking very worried about how exactly his news would be received. Still, reluctantly, he continued, “I-I have received word that your dear brother Phillip will not be joining us as he is… urghhh… otherwise engaged”.

      “Whattt!?!” Darius cried out in anger, grabbing the servant’s throat and lifting him up.

      “I-I am deep- *cough* -ly sorry, *cough* my l-lord” he struggled, knowing that he had even more bad news to give to his master: “I-I’m afraid *cough*, that is not all…”

      Darius threw his servant to the floor as he stood up out of his chair and bore over him menacingly. His messenger continued to relay the bad news even despite being flung about the room “I have news from Avras”. Darius’ rage halted immediately and his face now showed signs of concern rather than the fury as it did but a moment ago. “The Queen?” Darius said, almost sounding concerned and reflecting a completely different side to him than he usually displayed. Darius owed his vampire life to the Queen, who had turned him all those years ago. This was also where his affiliation and apparent concern came from, as even though they were not close anymore, the turning process was a rather personal and intimate one, leaving a connection between those involved. Hearing that there was news from Avras, where the Vampire Queen resided, sparked up these hidden emotions and brought Darius back to his raw, vampiric self.

      “Well!?! What news have you?!” He demanded, now starting to get agitated by the uncertainty concerning the Queen.

      The servant, Weaver, (who was still on the floor) continued to relay his information which, gladly for Darius was not quite as bad as the vampire lord had assumed. “I’m afraid there are rumours that her enemies have turned against her and she is out to defend her claim to the throne. She has called for all her affiliated bloodlines to come to her aid and defend the crown and her person.”

      Darius pondered on this news for a moment and returned to his calmer, yet frightening state. “Leave me” he said to his servants and the two went to vacate the room immediately. As they opened the doors, Sophia was standing there and walked through to sit next to Darius – not even acknowledging the helpers she passed. She walked through in her usual, elegant way and before sitting on the chair next to him, approached Darius to kiss him quite seductively and softly rubbed her face to his. As their faces touched, Darius’ eyes closed and he was filled with peaceful and loving thoughts knowing that they were partners for eternity.

      “My love, does something distress you?” She said lovingly, notably uncomfortable at seeing her companion upset. She continued in her soft and soothing manner: “I should hate for anything to trouble you…”

      “It is the Queen” Darius replied. “She is in need of our aid. We shall set our sights on Avras in the coming months” Darius said quite decisively.

      Sophia’s eyes rolled and she looked away despondently, as if the mention of the Queen had struck a nerve with her. “My dear, we do not need the Queen’s help to thrive. Yes we are not the power we once were, but we have established ourselves again and continue to grow” She pleaded, almost trying to dissuade Darius from his plan.

      “No, it is decided” Darius said defiantly, almost becoming angry before remembering who it was he was dealing with, suppressing the anger immediately. “Once I have finished my preparations here, we shall set off to Avras”.

      “As you wish, darling” Sophia said reluctantly. And as quickly as she sat down, she began to rise from her chair and walk to the door – but not before giving her lover another kiss on the cheek. Before she had left the room, Darius turned to her and shouted “And what news from Ashlawn” referring to the village she was sent to gain resources and negotiate with. “That can wait my love, we have important preparations to attend to…” Sophia said without turning to face her lord, and left the room.

      Once again, Darius was left alone to contemplate his next move, and this continued for some time. After realising that his current forces were pitifully small and would need reinforcing, especially as it appeared that he would be without the help of his brother Phillip – who had not travelled to him – or his son, Mattius, who (along with his cousin, Kelvin) had been sent on a mission to explore the Barren Mountains; he concluded that he would have to strengthen more locally before being able to be of any use to his beloved Queen.

      The house of the Von Hesselink’s was indeed, as Sophia suggested, returning to its former glory with the control of surrounding villages and towns. Their residence, Fangdor Castle, had been kept in pristine condition over the centuries – even during the time when the majority of the Von Hesselink’s had been forced to slumber – by their bloodline followers and servants. It was situated just north of Myra, where they had collected most of their influence and used as a constant supply for ‘resources’. This coupled with their self-declared ownership of some of the surrounding villages meant they were able to boast quite a high level of political status in the area and rule with significant power, somewhat unopposed. They were some weeks away from Avras, however, especially with the ‘company’ that they would be bringing in their army as it did not move very quickly.

      Darius stayed silent for almost an hour, pondering to himself over the best course of action to take, before getting up from his chair and leaving the room. From there, he descended a long flight of spiral stairs and into a basement area below the castle. As he reached the very bottom, walking on a rubbly grey path and down a dark cave-like corridor, he approached a closed, wooden door, with light showing from some of the cracks at the bottom of its broken boarded structure. Entering the room, he saw Toby, the families’ newly-acquired necromancer, who had an innate talent in raising the dead and magically infusing their bodies, even if he did not yet realise it fully. As the door crept open, Toby stopped what he was doing and turned to bow to the Vampire Count out of respect and authority. “My lord” he said obediently. “How may I serve thee?”

      “How are the preparations coming?” Darius commanded. “…and how is Vincent?” he added with a more caring tone.

      Vincent was his 2nd brother, and previously the head of the family. However, after several decades of warring with rival vampire families and empire armies sent to ‘save’ Myra and the residents there (with little success) Vincent had become very tired and in one of the last battles with the only remaining vampire family – the Drakko’s – he’d taken a near fatal wound which he could not easily recover from, forcing him into an indefinite hibernation, so far much longer than Darius’ own had been. Darius & Phillip had sworn to prevent any finishing blows to Vincent and while he himself had slain the opposing Drakko count to avenge his brother’s affliction and get him to safety, Phillip had taken over leadership of the decisive battle itself and – with no general to command their foes – he went on to win without question and subsequently rid the area of any competing vampire clans. With one of Vincent’s last acts before his impending slumber, he made Darius the new Count of the von Hesselink’s and gave him power of rule (something that Phillip has always questioned).

      “We are quite far away from full re-animation, my lord” Toby answered, “However, the body is very strong and if you wish we can bring him back in short bursts.”

      “No, we can save that for when the time is right, we will need his skills on the battlefield so save his strength and keep working on him” Darius said, thinking of the long road ahead. “Take him to the coach and prepare yourself for travel, we leave for Avras in the morn”.

      “Yes, my lord. Of course my lord” Toby responded, looking somewhat nervous at the mention of Avras. He started packing away his scrolls and tools on his desk and went to get some books from his bookcase before the door from behind him swung open with a bang!

      “Sssssire!?!” shouted a concerned voice as Klagg burst through the doorway, followed closely by Weaver, both of whom were very out of breath from racing down the stairwell to get to them as quickly as possible. “”O-outside!” He added, “It is an army of men. They have come to destroy the castle – and you!”

      “Hmpf” Darius grunted, almost laughing. But with everything that had gone on this morning he did not allow himself any frivolities and he ambled to the front gates to meet his challengers. As he raced up the staircase and to the front hall, with Toby shuffling closely behind him, Sophia met them ready to join her beloved outside.

      The three walked out to ‘greet’ the rebellious force outside, only to see a large rabble of villagers and townspeople all holding torches and pitchforks and, from the obscenities they were shouting, they appeared to be up for a fight! The apparent leader of the rioters came forward on horseback and called out towards Fangdor Castle with intent:


      Darius stood silent for a moment, somewhat bemused by the thought of a castle being impossibly torn, before turning to his battle comrades, all eagerly awaiting instructions. Instead, he stepped out – alone – onto the steps of his entranceway and slowly walked down. As he did, he flexed his grip on his enchanted blade of True Thirst and stretched out his undead muscles as if to limber up for the fight ahead. He halted suddenly and stood tall, staring at the man on horseback. After a few seconds of eye contact with his aggressor he gave out a loud and terrifying ROAR. As he did so, he exposed his large teeth and fangs, which seem to grow as the roar went on. The roar lasted an eerily long time but Darius was not through in his attempts to intimidate. He crouched down and drew a fist with his remaining hand, which started to glow. The ground started to shake and the angry rioters began to disperse slightly from their formations as cracks started to appear below them. Then, with a sudden crunching sound a huge crack appeared between Darius and the invaders. The trembling shook the rubble away and out of the ground rose a huge shrieking horror! The monster shook debris away and looked to compose itself before joining Darius in howling at the villagers. Immediately, almost half of the horde of peasants stood had turned tail and begun to run away in sheer terror, while the supposed general of the army had retreated to his front lines and into a regiment of armoured cavalry.

      That was the distraction that Darius’ lieutenant’s needed, as it had now given them enough time to get around the sides of the mob and create a three-pronged attack on them – Sophia with a Varkolak, and a unit of risen skeletons; while Toby had a large units of zombies and some spawn at his side. To add to his enemies’ woes, Darius commanded Toby to raise up even more zombies to head off the cowardly villagers who had already decided to flee. Within a few moments two more units of zombies were raised to prevent the escape path and truly envelope their foe.

      Darius was not one to be crossed lightly and he would see that these peasants would get their punishment for the insolence they’ve shown. This would not be a battle – but a slaughter!
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