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Battle of the Shard of Pestilence

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The Battle of the Shard of Pestilence was a fight between the duardin Fyreslayers and the Rotclaw skaven. It took place in Withertree Bog, a blight upon the ancient Gargant’s Plateau in Ghyran, that stretched for leagues around a warpstone monolith raised by Rotclaw priests. Driven to torment by its presence, the Arrak Woodkings called upon the Baeldrag lodge to cut out the deadwood that festered within their realm.[1a]

History Edit

The mighty Gargant’s Plateau groaned in pain. As Runefather Grumgen-Grimnir and the Baeldrag lodge emerged from the Tanglewood Realmgate, they could see that pestilence had infected leagues of the colossal giant’s tree-covered form.[1a]

Splitting their army into two forces, one led by Runesmiter Urglorm and the other by Grumgen-Grimnir, it was the Fyreslayers’ plan to storm the clearing around the monolith, known as the Shard of Pestilence, from different directions. Working their way through the writhing trees of the Tanglewood and up the side of the crumbling plateau, the duardin began forging paths through Withertree Bog.[1a]

Almost at once, the bogland reacted to the Fyreslayers’ presence. Dimly sentient mud sucked at their bare feet, while gnarled, plague-riddled trees clawed at them and spat fizzling sap. Cursing loudly, the two Fyreslayer forces hacked their way toward the pillar of warpstone. The Runefather was the first to reach the edge of the clearing, ordering his warriors to attack the pestilent congregation of skaven gathered at the structure’s base. Screeching in alarm, the Plague Monks stirred to action, hundreds of ragged shapes converging on the first Vulkite Berzerkers to charge into their midst. Closest to the shard stood a one-eyed Plague Priest, warpdust-flecked spittle dribbling from his mouth where he had been gnawing the foundations of the foul structure. Babbling with insane fervour, the priest called out to the Horned Rat, and the warpshard glowed brighter in response.[1a]

Heedless of the priest’s ravings, Grumgen pressed in against the skaven. His Magmadroth’s claws tore and crushed the ratmen, while his grandaxe soaked the ground with their putrid black blood. Around their lord, the Fyreslayers fought furiously. Hearthguard Berzerkers laid waste to the skaven, each sweep of their axes cleaving through tattered robes and scabrous flesh. Then, the shard pulsed once more, and the landscape around the duardin came alive.[1a]

Twisting roots, heavy with corruption, burst from the ground. Fyreslayers were dragged down into the earth, their cries drowned out as rancid muck filled their mouths. Aided by the magic of the shard and their manic priest, the skaven surged forward, claws and rusting blades seeking duardin flesh. Grumgen motioned forward his Auric Hearthguard to hold back the ratman charge with a volley from their magmapikes, but a toxic fog rolled forth, spoiling their aim. Censer Bearers moved among the skaven and, driven mad by the noxious fumes of their weapons, they scrambled toward the front line. Where the deadly clouds touched the Fyreslayers, flesh sizzled and blackened. The duardin coughed blood into their beards and fell to their knees from its killing effects.[1b]

Grumgen sought out these minions of the Horned Rat, fighting his way through the fog. With lungs well accustomed to the searing ash of the forge, the Runefather weathered the poison fumes. Then, as Grumgen lopped the head from another frothing skaven, he heard the furnace roar of another Magmadroth. Urglorm’s force had arrived. Now it was the skaven’s turn to suffer. With duardin warriors pouring into the clearing from two directions, the Fyreslayers tore apart the Plague Monks – not even the bog could slow their advance. Soon, Grumgen arrived at the glowing shard, his grandaxe ready to silence the chanting Plague Priest. Then, the base of the shard stirred, and what Grumgen had taken for a pile of corpses burst into life, revealing twin abominations.[1b]

Grumgen’s Magmadroth reared up before the first abomination, flaming claws fending off the skaven beast’s crazed assault. A thing of stitched bodies and far too many mouths, the abomination screeched and slobbered with mindless rage. The second monster shambled past Grumgen and into his Fyreslayers. A dozen duardin were ground to pulp under its bulk, while others were devoured by hungry maws or torn apart by dripping claws.[1c]

Charging out of the tangled edge of the clearing upon his flame-drooling mount, Urglorm called out a prayer to Grimnir. In response, a sea of runes blazed bright through the dense fog covering the battlefield. A moment later, it was followed by a thunderous war cry from a hundred duardin throats, and the Runesmiter plunged into the fray.[1c]

Under the sickly light of the shard, Runefather and abomination traded brutal blows. The monster tried to crush Grumgen under its bulk, but his Magmadroth pushed back with monstrous strength. While the two beasts wrestled with each other, dozens of mutated skaven mouths bit and tore at the Magmadroth’s hide, the beast’s lava blood burning away grasping tongues and misshapen teeth. From the back of his mount, Grumgen hacked away limbs and heads even as he parried barbed tails and lashing talons.[1c]

A burning missile slammed into the first abomination’s side, followed a second later by a dozen more. Out of the mist, a line of Auric Hearthguard advanced toward the monolith, their ornate magmapikes spitting flame. The abomination twisted around to face this new threat. Grumgen seized on the creature’s moment of distraction, hacking down with his axe. With a terrible tearing sound, vast portions of the beast’s stitching came apart and thousands of squirming blind rat-things spilled out of its body. Even as the foul tide of vermin washed over them, Runefather and Magmadroth ripped the abomination apart. Grumgen could not be sure the thing was dead, but it no longer seemed to pose a serious threat. Shaking blood and squealing rats from his beard in disgust, he looked back to see that Urglorm and the Fyreslayers had at last bested the other abomination, and that the battle was turning against the skaven. However, the monolith still pulsed with evil light and the priest had clawed his way up to its peak. From his vantage point, the priest continued to hurl deadly spells. Exchanging a look, Grumgen and Urglorm advanced.[1c]

The surviving Plague Monks had fallen back to the base of the shard. Close to the fell energies of the warpstone, their bodies erupted in boils, the power of the Horned Rat coursing through them. Screeching out their prayers, they fought all the harder, and dozens of duardin fell under frenzied blows. The Fyreslayers had their own god to call upon, however, and Grimnir’s spirit waxed strong. Runes glinting in the half-light of the bog, a ring of sharpened fyresteel closed in on the skaven. Grumgen set his burning gaze upon the Plague Priest atop the shard.[1d]

Attacking the monolith from the same side, Grumgen and Urglorm’s Magmadroths dug their massive talons into its base. Even though the corrupting magic of the shard burnt the lava beasts’ flesh, they set their mighty strength to uprooting it. Screaming and spitting, the Plague Priest threw corrupting curses and pox-spells down upon the Runefather. None found purchase upon his rune-covered flesh, however, as the blessings of Grimnir warded him against the foul sorceries. The Magmadroths rocked the shard back and forth until, like an infected tooth being pulled from a bloody mouth, it tore free from the befouled earth. Grumgen did not even have a chance to lay his axe into the Plague Priest, as the skaven was crushed beneath the toppling structure. Those skaven not killed by the falling shard fought on, their maniacal faith in the Horned Rat blinding them to their imminent doom, but they were soon destroyed by the Fyreslayers.[1d]

The Runefather looked again upon the battlefield. The poison fog was lifting to reveal a scene of carnage. There were hundreds of dead and broken bodies, and many of them were his kin, ready for the pyre. Turning to the Runesmiter, Grumgen bade him use his gifts to locate the gold the Arrak Woodkings had promised, the gold they had said would be scattered about the shard. But there were only the rotting remains of the abominations and the ragged bodies of Plague Monks. With a scowl fit to shrivel a tree right to its roots, the Runefather pronounced that their erstwhile patrons had broken their oath. Without another word, the Fyreslayers shook skaven blood from their axes and gathered behind their lord. One way or another, the Woodkings would pay what was owed.[1d]

Sources Edit

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