Across the Mortal Realms a thousand battles raged. Gone was the Age of Chaos, an aeon of oppression and fear that saw the peoples of every realm subjugated and enslaved. That long night ended with the breaking of Sigmar’s Storm, for the God-King’s crusade was so violent it shook the stars themselves. It marked the beginning of the Realmgate Wars.
Chapter One: Tempest Unbound Edit
Thunder in the Vault Edit
The Battle of Burning Skies was a conflict so legendary that its aftermath has rippled throughout history. On that tumultuous day, gods and mortals alike united under Sigmar’s banner, fighting like lions against the hosts of the Dark Gods. Their battle lines surged beneath a sky blazing with mind-shattering energies. Sigmar himself met the mightiest daemon lords in personal combat, one by one, for they were too proud to unite their blades against him.
And in those duels he defeated them, each in turn, while the battle raged. He bested An’ggrath in combat, burned bright through the mire of Feculox, and resisted the intoxicating allure of Luxcious. Not even Kiathanus’ cunning could halt his fury, for the Lord of Change found his magics impotent against the purity of Sigmar’s soul.
At the last, Sigmar’s ascendancy was brought to a crashing halt by Archaon, Exalted Grand Marshal of the Apocalypse. Tzeentch wrought a great illusion that saw Sigmar hurl his hammer with all his might – but not to smite Archaon as he had intended, rather directly into a rift between realms. The artefact hurtled across time and space, ripping through reality in a series of world-splitting booms.
Without his hammer, Sigmar soon spent the thunderhead of his wrath.The daemon hordes battered against the God-King and his armies, wearing him down and slaughtering his people. After that cataclysmic loss, Sigmar was forced to retreat from Archaon’s armies, and his people with him. They made haste to Azyr, where he sealed them away for many centuries.
The divine hammer, Ghal Maraz, finally came to rest in far Anvrok, deep in the mountain-clustered realm of Chamon. There, the weapon languished for aeons, for the scions of the Dark Gods could not look upon it. It was the sorcerer Ephryx who eventually harnessed Ghal Maraz, constructing a great siphon-structure around it. With the coming of Sigmar’s Storm, the walls of this eldritch fortress were cast down, and the whereabouts of the Great Shatterer became known. The God-King sent twelve Stormhosts to retrieve it, Vandus Hammerhand at their head.Though few of these crusaders survived the quest, the Stormhosts found Ghal Maraz. In breaking the daemon cabal that sought to steal the hammer away forever, Vandus claimed the relic for its rightful owner once more. Yet his duties were far from over... 2.184
Deep within Chamon glittered the spined sphere, Golgeth. Hanging heavy in the firmament, Golgeth was an orb so dense it drew arcane energies to it. It attracted lost magic as a lodestone attracts splinters of iron, and its surface was so saturated with arcane energies it was inimical to life. Inside Golgeth’s core, however, a hidden world thrived.
The Undervault within attracted time as well as magic, and gravity fluctuated as the arcane energies interacted. A few brave peoples made their homes within Golgeth, settling upon a vast disc of metal ore known as the Anachron Plateau. They were kept safe from the destructive aether of Golgeth’s exterior by the density of the time inside – where several years would pass in a neighbouring realm, a single day might pass on the plateau. They lived simple lives, carrying hourglass sand from the Well of Time or farming the algae upon the mountain of fool’s gold in their midst – Mount Kronus.
Slowly, subtly, Chaos came to the Undervault. Unable to penetrate Golgeth’s barrier of time, it invaded not as an all-conquering horde, but as an insidious threat that slowly corrupted the people of the plateau.
After the Battle of Burning Skies, the Dark Gods were displeased with the four greater daemons who had acted as their generals. Though Archaon had forced Sigmar to retreat to Azyr, the Everchosen served all the Chaos gods and none at all, so no single deity could claim the victory. This did not sit well with them, and they punished their generals according to their natures.
The Lord of Change, Kiathanus, was dealt perhaps the harshest fate of all. By breaking his daemon servant’s truename, the Great Architect, Tzeentch, unbound the very soul-stuff of his minion, casting the nine syllables across time and space to bind them to reality as magical sigils – one into each of the seven accessible Mortal Realms, one spinning into the void, and one into the Realm of Chaos.
Each far-flung site of this ninefold prison shimmered with a fragment of sentience. The first syllable of Kiathanus’ true name was hurled into Chamon, where it fell to rest on the Anachron Plateau. The people there came to revere the site, for part of the daemon’s essence whispered secrets to them in the night. Before long, they had begun to worship the whispers as the voice of an oracle, and raised a great goldenstone statue above the sigil.
The people of the Anachron Plateau had learned of many wondrous things simply by asking the Truthsayer statue, for whilst Kiathanus was robbed of his true name, he had no recourse but to tell the truth whenever he was asked – a singular punishment for a duplicitous Lord of Change. But there are many sides to each truth, and the daemon knew them all. With painstaking care, Kiathanus tailored and twisted his answers to tell the people the angles of truth that would serve him best. When a warrior or seer sought arcane power, he steered them through a series of Realmgates to the very lands where his name-sigils were bound. Over generations uncounted, he set the tribes that sought out and drew power from these sites against each other. Rivalries turned to feuds, feuds to vendettas, and vendettas to open wars. As the death tolls spiralled higher, the wise men and women of those peoples placed the blame upon the mystic symbols they had once treasured, and bade their warriors break them apart.
Over the centuries, seven syllables of the daemon’s true name flew free into the aether, eventually gravitating towards Golgeth. Hissing with raw magic, they melted through its metallostrata one by one, leaving strangely-shaped canyons in their wake. Eventually, they burnt through to the core. They united with the first sigil, and orbited close around the towering Truthsayer statue, reuniting Kiathanus with most of his true name – and in doing so, all but freeing him.
Only one sigil remained missing when Sigmar’s Storm broke – that which was seared into the Conqueror’s Gate of Bloodkeep. Though he realised it not, in smiting that sigil, Lord-Celestant Sargassus Heavenhost had freed the last piece of Kiathanus’ soul.
The sigil winged through the void, burning through the barrier of time that surrounded the Undervault. In a matter of days, Kiathanus would learn his true name and thereby reclaim his power. Not only would a great evil be released, but one with knowledge torn from the Mortal Realms, the Realm of Chaos, and the void besides. One who claimed Kiathanus as an ally would have all the knowledge he needed to unlock the secrets of the Mortal Realms – and thereby ensure their conquest. 2.186
Sigmar had witnessed the last sigil of Kiathanus’ name drawn across the void to Golgeth, and foreseen the chaos that would follow in its wake. To the Anachron Plateau he hurled the Hammers of Sigmar, for they were already thrice-proven in battle.
The Stormcast Eternals felt the pull of Mount Kronus from the very moment they blasted from the aether. At times, the dense gravity made even walking an arduous trial. They felt the effects of the Well of Time upon them, too; as that yawning pit breathed in lost hours and wasted days, they found their limbs moving slower, as if they marched through spoiled honey. Whenever the Well breathed back out, spewing temporal cancellations and swathes of spare time, they found they moved with blurring speed.
The Stormhosts’ tumultuous arrival did not go unnoticed. The Gaunt Summoner called the Watcher King– though only Archaon knew his true name – observed them from the Temple of the Truthsayer, a bastion at the foot of Mount Kronus. Fearing his plan to harness Kiathanus’ full power was in jeopardy, he spoke words of conjuration that echoed from the mountainside. From every cave came a horde of Tzeentch’s minions, all giving praise to the Changer of the Ways.
The daemons of Mount Kronus had been bound to its defence for many generations. The people that had consulted the Truthsayer had grown powerful long ago, but they also became greedy, as all men do. They had asked the Truthsayer of the arts of daemon summoning, thinking to bind the creatures to their will so they might never need to labour again. Atfirst, their scheme was successful, but the daemons of Tzeentch revel in the undoing of mortal artifice. It was not long before the roles were reversed. The daemons enslaved all the peoples of the Undervault, forcing them to take up sword and shield in the name of Chaos.
It was these daemons and vast warrior tribes that surged forth to bar Vandus’path. Capering and whirling, the Pink Horrors that had answered the Watcher King’s call surged in a kaleidoscopic blur towards the Hammers of Sigmar. Warpfire belched and spat from their tube-like fingers, riddles spilled from their lips, and discordant ditties erupted from strange mouths that grinned and gaped from within boiling daemonflesh. 2.187
Wherever a Judicator’s arrow sizzled into blast a Pink Horror apart, two Blue Horrors would clamber from the fleshy ruin of their predecessor, grumbling and moaning about the unfairness of it all. And so the army grew even as it gathered momentum.
With a roar that shook the heavens, the Hammerhands’ Devastation Brotherhood met the wave of Tzeentchian grotesques head on. The first few ranks of Stormcast Eternals were consumed by billowing clouds of warpfire, turning to statues of blackmarble, clouds of bubbling froth, even glowing strings of hermetic symbols. Lord Vandus had warned them they would fight against fiendish magic such as this, however. The remainder of the chamber’s warriors gritted their teeth and prepared to fight to the death. 2.188
Lord Vandus watched Ionus Cryptborn stand unmoving, arm raised to point imperiously into the distance. Since his death to a Chaos axeman and his subsequent Reforging, the Lord-Relictor had become even more inscrutable, speaking in riddles if he deigned to speak at all. But here he seemed frozen as if in ice.
Vandus swept his hammer low to drive a knot of Horrors from his path, his Dracoth Calanax tearing apart a pair of leaping flame-creatures with tooth and claw. The Lord-Celestant scanned the horizon, seeking out the foe powerful enough to paralyse one of Sigmar’s chosen. A cloud of warpfire billowed towards him, but Calanax was already leaping sidelong, and the mutagenic flame roared past. Nearby, a Protector’s glaive slashed a daemon in two, streams of its ichor rising like glittering rainbows in the air. Behind it, atop the temple’s fulcrum, was an unnaturally thin figure wearing a helm clustered with staring eyes. For a moment, Vandus met the creature’s gaze.
A thousand visions came upon Vandus at once, each more confusing than the last. He struggled to comprehend the messages and prophecies within, but it was as futile as trying to count the motes of dust in a raging tornado. The rush of vivid hallucinations whirled past with hurricane force, and Vandus was suddenly alone in a grey wilderness.In his heart, he knew he was trapped at the end of time itself.
Vandus set off at a march, hoping to find something, anything, in the empty vista. Minutes stretched into hours, then days, then years. All the while Vandus was haunted by the unfulfilled duty he had left behind. Desperation dogged his every step, and he began to see mirages, a thousand eyes staring at him from every angle.
A flicker on the edge of vision. Slowly, coalescing from the nothingness, a spectre of blue light hobbled towards him. It leaned in close, seeming to peer at Vandus like a myopic old man. His face was wrinkled and gaunt, but Vandus recognised him nonetheless. It was Lord-Relictor Cryptborn, aged to the threshold of natural death. His face resembled the skull mask he once wore to battle. Vandus stumbled back, feeling the effects of the time-spell redoubling upon him. His spine ached, bending him double as his muscles weakened and his mane of hair thinned.
As eternity stretched on before him, Vandus fought off the panicked notion he was running out of time. He clung to the fact he was of the Hammers of Sigmar, those who would not fail.
Blazing conviction took hold of Vandus,and he reached into the spectre oflightning that squinted at him. It stoodupright with a start, the blue light ofits incorporeal being blazing bright.Vandus called out his Lord-Relictor’sname, and the wraith-form becameeven more defined, more corporeal.It peered at him again, and resolvehardened in its gaze. Before long,Ionus Cryptborn stood whole again,untouched by the aeons. The Lord-Relictor spoke words of the storm, andthe Watcher King’s spell was broken. 2.189 y 2.190
Vandus came to as if shaken awake.Where a century had dragged pastin that timeless realm, but a fewgrains of sand had trickled from thehourglasses of Mount Kronus. Battleraged all around; the flame-creaturesthat Calanax had torn apart were stilldissipating and the arc of rainbowdaemon-blood finally splashed to theground. In that brief flash, the battlelines had crashed together. Prosecutorsduelled soaring Screamers in thehigh mists, the Stormcasts’ meteorichammers blazing out even as thewarping maws of the sky-rays burnedthe wings from their foes. Liberatorschanted war-hymns as they lockedshields, a horde of screaming warriorssmashing against that impenetrablebarrier before the Stormcast Eternalsthrust their warblades through the gaps.Behind them, Judicators climbed atopridges of jagged ore to send volleys ofshockbolts slamming into the ChaosWarriors pressing on the Liberators.The tallest of the Judicators, KhostosBale-eye, raised his ThunderboltCrossbow and hurled a crackling, twintailedbolt of force. It detonated amongsta formation of armoured knights,sending the elite warriors flying. Stillthe mortals advanced, their chantinga bass rumble under the shrieks of theTzeentchian vanguard.
Vandus took a deep breath, spurringCalanax to rear up high. He called forhis carefully marshalled reserve to jointhe fight. Circumventing the shieldwall, he lunged for the enemy’s exposedflank. Behind him, his DevastationBrotherhood charged as one, its wingedheralds clearing a path so their fellowsmight take hammer, axe and glaive tothe exposed side of the Tzeentchianarmy. Their charge was as unstoppableas a raging thunderstorm, and daemonsand Chaos Warriors were swept away asthey crashed deep into the foe.
Lord-Celestant Hammerhand cried inraw exultation as Calanax rode downa hulking Chaos Lord in the shadowof the temple’s fulcrum. They hadweathered the storm. The many-eyedmage was nowhere to be seen, whilstatop the mountain, the giant idol of theTruthsayer was in clear sight. 2.190
The Thruthsayer's Temple Edit
The Watcher King rode his disc ofTzeentch on tendrils of pure magic,hurtling through the sky towardsthe looming ruin at the ore-strewnbase of Mount Kronus. To the GauntSummoner, it represented not onlyescape, but retribution. The daemonsand warriors he had thrust into thepath of the Stormcast Eternals hadbeen found wanting, for the force ofthe newcomers’ assault had battered apath through the horde with shockingefficiency. It was time to rely on otherpacts – even if it meant calling in oathsof fealty sworn aeons before.
The Watcher King chanted words ofpower, his many eyes weeping bloodas he stared intently at a single pointin space. A shimmer in the air becamea lesion, then a gaping wound. Witha howl of pain, the Gaunt Summonerripped open a Realmgate long sealed.
The summoner’s call was heard inthe reaches of the Realm of Chaos,and the scions of the Dark Gods burstinto view. First to emerge was Slishy’sCavalcade, a carnival of sinuous beastridersand charioteers born from purelust for the hunt.
The Gaunt Summoner gestured towardsa crackling pocket of loose time, andhis daemon allies charged through it,accelerating to blurring speed. A highpitchedskirling of hunting horns, andthe daemon chariots hurtled into theranks of the oncoming Hammers ofSigmar. Gracefully curving blades laidopen breastplates and greaves to scythethrough the flesh beneath; the ridgedclaws of the lithe she-daemons atopeach construction reached down topluck Stormcast heads from necks withthe ease of children picking flowers. Intheir wake leapt Slaaneshi riders, laying open throats and plunging daggers intoeye sockets whilst the Stormcasts –still stuck in a slower timeflow – werepowerless to resist. 2.191 y 2.192
Vandus swiftly changed tactics todefend against this new assault. Heordered his Prosecutors to stand closeto his side with their wings spreadout behind their backs, obscuring thefissure that spread out behind them.Sure enough the cavalcade, still movingwith uncanny speed, burst throughtowards them.
At the last moment, the Prosecutorsleapt backwards. Cackling at theirprey’s attempt to evade, the daemoncavaliers hit them full force. Many aProsecutor was slain by cruel blades, butin letting their battle-lust control them,the Slaaneshi daemons had chargedheadlong to their own doom.
Vandus’ luminous sky-warriors tookflight, floating gracefully above thecrevasse even as the writhing daemonsplummeted into the depths. There, thefiends would remain until the end ofdays, always falling, yet never meetingtheir final release. Vandus looked to theskies as lightning blazed down from theclouds to coalesce into ranks of shiningwarriors. A shouted command, and hisHammerstrike Force battered the rest ofthe cavalcade into oblivion.
More of the Watcher King’s alliesmarched into the fray – this time slaintribesmen of the Anachron Plateau,dragged back through a temporalanomaly to fight once more at theGaunt Summoner’s behest. Warriorspushed forward in tight-packed ranks,heavily armoured Chaos Knightsgalloping in slow motion throughthe glinting scree at their side. IonusCryptborn was quick to react, raisinghis relic standard high as a sign for hisPaladin allies to form up in the pocketof accelerated time formerly occupiedby the Slaaneshi daemons. Stormsummonedenergies flashed, blastinga path through the enemy to fell theManticore-riding Chaos Lord at theirheart. As their brothers below sought towithstand the tide of foes, Cryptborn’sAnnihilation Brotherhood movedlightning-fast up the slopes. Only whenthey were directly above the Realmgatedid the Retributors take their weaponsto the mountain in a pounding tattoo.An entire cliff face came away, bouldersburying Anachron tribesmen andRealmgate alike.
The Watcher King was already summoning more aid from his allies in the Realm of Chaos. This time, however, it was to cost him dear. 2.192
Upon the Timeless Peak
Surveying the battle from high above,the Watcher King called upon afearsome entity indeed – Skarbrand,Bloodthirster of Khorne. Sketchingsymbols in the air, the Watcher Kingopened a doorway through the aether,a channel of time-rich energy thatcould speed the greater daemon’spassage to Mount Kronus. Throughthat portal came a burst of crimsonflame and a bellow of raw, immortalfury. It blasted the Gaunt Summonerfrom his fulcrum, the intensity of theemotion causing his mind and bodyto spasm. He leapt back onto his disc,eyes blood red. Ripping an ensorcelleddagger from its spine-sheath, he rodea wave of liquid magic towards theProsecutors fighting below.
The winged Stormcasts were raininghammers of energy down onto therot-fly daemons circling up towardsthem, and they were not expecting anattack from the rear. Pink froth spillingfrom his maw, the Gaunt Summonerslammed into one of the Prosecutors.He all but bounced off his enemy’sbroad back – until he sunk his dagger’stip into the gap under his victim’s helm.
The Prosecutor’s cry echoed from theside of Mount Kronus. Moments later,a volley of sizzling arrows hurtledskyward from the Judicators below,but it was too late to save the wingedherald of Sigmar. The blade of changehad bitten deep, and its mutageniccurse was already causing the warrior’sflesh to swell and bulge. Above thelandslide triggered by Ionus Cryptborn,the Knight-Venator Ghodric Truebolttook careful aim. His arrow hit thetortured creature that had once beenthe Prosecutor, killing him instantly.A second sizzling arrow from theKnight-Venator’s bow hit the WatcherKing in the gut. The pain drove thered fug of anger from his mind. Amoment of stark clarity seized hold ofhim – Skarbrand had not answered hissummons. He had to escape, or face thewrath of Sigmar’s elite himself. A dozenProsecutors were turning towards him,but already skyborne Screamers wereswooping in to bar their path. A flickerof the newly-opened Realmgate, and theGaunt Summoner was gone. 2.193
Archaon arrives Edit
Though his might is unparalleled,surpassing that of the most vaunteddaemon kings, Archaon has neversuccumbed to the worship of one Chaospower in particular. Instead he seeks totake strength from them all, giving littlebut temporary service to his patronsin return – and the Dark Gods valuethe service of this mortal agent mosthighly. Not for Archaon the fate of themewling, mutated Chaos Spawn, northat of the diabolical Daemon Prince,powerful beyond measure yet bound toan immortality of servitude. The steelin Archaon’s soul is so strong he haswalked the Path to Glory for thousandsof years, leaving entire worlds dead inhis wake – and still his body and mindremain whole.
Whispers abound concerning Archaon’sformer life, for he never speaks of thetime before he became the Everchosen.Some say he climbed from the blackestvoid fully-formed, others that hewrought the ruin of the world thatbirthed him, shattering it forever incontempt for its weakness.
All the legends that surround theEverchosen agree on one aspect; thathe has crossed the sea of stars, seekingout the most priceless of prizes andclaiming them for his own. Amongstthem are the Armour of Morkar, whichcan turn aside any blade, the Eye ofSheerian, which gazes into the soulsof men, and Dorghar, the Steed of theApocalypse, a shape-changing daemonwith the power to consume souls. Inhis right hand he carries the Slayerof Kings, its jagged blade host to thedaemon U’zuhl. Though its allegiance isfickle, its potency is without question.
The greatest testament to Archaon’sskill is seen in his relationship withthe Dark Gods. Where a lesser warlordmight seek a quick route to unearthlypower by selling his allegiance – andperhaps his soul – to the Chaos Gods,Archaon has earned his supremacywith a sharp mind and a strongsword arm. His endless ambition andunquenchable thirst for conquestdrives him ever on, an unstoppableforce that cannot be turned aside byman, or daemon, or god. 2.195
Eyes blazing, Archaon looked up atthe Truthsayer he had long sought.It seemed so far in the past, thecataclysmic battle where Kiathanus hadbeen found wanting, but the Everchosenremembered every sword thrust, everyspray of blood. In this place, pastmistakes could be rectified, excisedfrom the stuff of time. Likewise, thefuture could be torn free, twisted intonew shapes, and set in stone.
Atop the peak of the mountain werethe baroque arches of the OracularOcculum. Above it was Kiathanus’prison, an immense statue carved inthe likeness of a Lord of Change. TheGaunt Summoners had long knownits location, but had sought to keepit from their master with illusionsand obfuscations – Chamon was vastbeyond imagining, and even a beingsuch as Archaon could not search itsevery peak and valley. The Everchosenhad always suspected one of theGaunt Summoners would lead himto Kiathanus eventually. He had notexpected one to open a gateway right tothe threshold of the daemon’s prison.
At a kick from Archaon’s spurs,Dorghar flew high over the Realmgate.The Steed of the Apocalypse roaredin fierce jubilation, for he could tastedestiny in the air. Shrinking beforethe beast’s splendour was the WatcherKing, one of the Nine, cowering back infear. The Gaunt Summoner had luredthe daemon hosts of the Dark Godsto this place in order to save himself –that much was obvious from the crashand bellows of battle on the plateau farbelow. In doing so, he had inadvertentlyrevealed his location to Archaon, formany a daemon herald had been boundto the Everchosen’s rule.
Below Dorghar, the Varanguardcharged headlong through theRealmgate by the hundred, someforming up beneath their lord andothers charging headlong at theStormcast Eternals. Archaon himselfhad not emerged from the Realmgateat the foot of the mountain – as muchas he wanted to teach Sigmar’s chosentheir place, he had not the time to jointhe fight against the golden warriorsbelow. Ultimately, those shining armieswere of little significance here, meredaemon-fodder in the greater schemeof things. The Everchosen had insteademerged near the mountain’s peak, farabove the Anachron Plateau. Kiathanuswas minutes away from regaining histrue name, and in doing so, rejoiningthe Great Game. Archaon planned tobind the Lord of Change to his will andhis alone, a pet seer with the secrets ofreality at his behest. 2.197
The Watcher King took flight, his discsteed not needing any encouragementto flee from Archaon as fast as it could.The blade-ridged thing was malevolentenough in its way, and the GauntSummoner cherished its company, butnext to Dorghar it was an insect in theshadow of a rampaging vortex beast.
The Steed of the Apocalypse hurtledafter it, first one daemon maw thenanother snapping closed a hand’sbreadth from the Watcher King.The Gaunt Summoner cried out oneincantation after the next, a shieldof warpflame flickering in a haloaround him as he plunged throughthe arches of the Occulum. Archaonflicked out killing fires from his blade,each near-miss turning a pillar orstatue to glittering ash. The WatcherKing, bobbing and weaving under thegoldenstone idol, prayed for Kiathanusto break free as Dorghar crashed bodilythrough the ancient ruins behind him.
On the mountainside below, a newlysummonedhorde of Tzeentchiandaemons blinked and muttered,startled at having being summonedso suddenly from their labours in theCrystal Labyrinth. The war horns ofthe Varanguard sounded close by, andthe daemons had barely the time totake stock of their predicament beforethe first of the armoured hell-knightsslammed into their midst.
The tableau that followed was one ofutter destruction. So many Tzeentchiandaemons were banished by sheerviolence that Kiathanus, forced to watchfrom the prison of his oracular idol,shed quicksilver tears of frustrationat not being able to affect the fight inperson. Warpflame flickered as thefirst wedge of the Varanguard plungedonward, each hell-forged lance spittinga Pink Horror through its central massand slicing into the ranks behind. Nosooner had each maniacal daemonsplit into two than the hulking steed ofthe Varanguard lancer came crashinghome, bowling over the sour-facedBlue Horrors that sprang up in theirpredecessor’s wake, and trampling theminto the hard, jagged stones with a seriesof loud pops.
A gauzy river of blue fire wound fromthe Watcher King’s outstretched hand,yanked downwards by pockets ofrogue gravity and caught shimmeringin the air by bubbles of dense time.Wherever it touched the mountainsideit coalesced into a cascade of interlocking,fleshy crescents that rose up as Flamersof Tzeentch.
Lorgore the Cruel, storied tyrant ofthe Swords of Chaos, motioned forhis second wedge to ride hard upthe mountain even as flame-formeddaemons hurled torrents of puremutating energy towards them. TheVaranguard raised their shields, butthree fell nonetheless, flesh runningaway in ribbon-like streamers thatfloated upon the wind to spell outinventive obscenities.
The rest of Archaon’s cavaliers drovetheir charge home, each steed’sarmoured head lifting high to hurl thefire-daemons into the air. Laughingmadly, those riders in their wake caughtthe Flamers on the tips of their blades,impaling their spongy torsos withsuch force they simply burst apart inmulticoloured strings of viscera.
Again and again the Varanguardcharged, revelling in their own powerand their freedom to slaughter theminions of the Dark Gods. Morewarbands marched from the Realmgateatop the mountain; pallid brutes withsoot-black breastplates holding in theirwobbling guts, blood-crazed madmenand three-eyed curselings from beyondthe void. Every one was hungry for thekill, and they took blade and axe to theTzeentchian daemons the Watcher Kinghad summoned to defend him.
High above, Dorghar swooped. Fromhis back Archaon reached out witha beckoning finger, leaning over ashis steed’s dive brought him close tothe Watcher King. He plucked theerrant sorcerer from his flying disc bygrabbing the nape of his neck, his griptight enough to silence any spell thesummoner might seek to cast.
The mountainside grew bright, for thelast syllable of Kiathanus’ true namewas growing larger and larger as itapproached, rocketing down throughthe Undervault to join the sigils floatinglike a halo around the goldenstone idol.
At a command from his master,Dorghar snapped his wings hard andshot like a hurled javelin towards thesigil, the fires of raw change lancingfrom his centremost head to consumethe arcane symbol entirely. And then, ina thunderous blast of sound and light,the Stormcast Eternals burst from theRealmgate onto the glittering peak ofMount Kronus. 2.199
The Battle of Kronus Peak Edit
Weapons still dripping with daemonicichor, the Hammers of Sigmar emergedfrom the Realmgate at the peak ofMount Kronus. Their shoulders sagged,and their stride was slow. To fighta single daemon takes a toll upon awarrior’s sanity, but to take on hordeafter horde was to face a vision ofmadness that sapped strength from thebody and forever scarred the mind.
They could not allow themselves amoment’s rest, however, for they hadbeen created for just such a purpose,and the eyes of the gods were uponthem. If the God-King’s first Stormhostcould not overcome the dread legions ofChaos, how could those who followed intheir footsteps be expected to prevail?
The sight that greeted them uponKronus’ peak was mind-numbing inits spectacle. A vast goldenstone idoltwisted in the sky, multicoloured lightpouring from the cracks that spreadacross it. Beneath it an army of dreadcavaliers, each clad in the raiment ofthe Dark Gods’ chosen, rode down thelast of a daemonic host. Ectoplasmicblood drizzled from the mountainsidein a series of shimmering waterfalls,whilst eddies of wild magic blazedbright, some agitated by bubbles ofboiling reality, others trapped byhungry but invisible time-traps. Here,a knot of Varanguard were bornealoft by a pocket of anti-gravity, theirweapons cutting Tzeentchian heraldsfrom Screamer-hauled chariots. There,a bladesman was blasted backwardsby warpfire, then squashed bloodlessby the unpredictable densities of themountain itself.
High above it all, the titanic wingedform of Dorghar was silhouetted bythe light of an eldritch sigil the size of aportcullis. A blaze of warpfire shot fromDorghar’s maw, and the sigil shrankin the fires of change, altering in formand meaning until it became little more than a band of gold. The Everchosenstood upon Dorghar’s nape, hurlingthe broken body of a Gaunt Summonerto vanish screaming into the aether.Archaon then reached out to pluckthe diminishing sigil from his steed’swarpflame, sliding the twisted thingonto his wrist and taking it for his own– and in doing so, claiming Kiathanus’true name forever. 2.207 y 2.208
Lord Vandus cried out in denial, for hisshock at seeing Archaon in the fleshhad put aside all caution in his mind.At the sound of his voice, a gibberingknot of daemon-things turned, eyeswidening as they saw the StormcastEternals emerging from the Realmgate.They coiled and curled their arms,ready to send a tide of warpflameburning into the ranks of the Hammers of Sigmar. A single word from above stopped them dead. 2.208
Despite the ice of fear in his veins, Lord-Celestant Vandus Hammerhand metArchaon’s gaze. Here was his fatefulvision made real. He steeled himselffor the duel to come as the Everchosendived towards him. Calanax was fast;as Archaon’s behemoth swooped down,Vandus evaded a crunching impact thatbroke free a cliff-sized landslide of rock.
Most of the stone tumbled downonto the plateau below, while the resttumbled upwards into a vortex of antigravity.Above it, Dorghar took flightonce more with a screech, circlingaround the rising boulders for anotherpass. Calanax, seeking to strike backwhilst the beast was still coming tobear, reared up and spat a helix of stormenergy. The celestial bolt dissipatedupon Dorghar’s hide, leaving not somuch as a scorch mark.
Archaon laughed hollowly. Dorghar’sfoulest head, cast in the likenessof a Great Unclean One, turned tolook at Vandus and belched a cloudof raw disease. The miasma broke,and moments later Lord-Celestantand Dracoth alike were coughing upphlegmy black mucus. It was then thatDorghar dived, manic light in his eyes.
This time Dorghar caught Calanax bythe shoulder, yanking him from themountainside in a shower of gore andlifting him into the air. Vandus twistedin his saddle straps to level a swing ofhis hammer at the creature’s knee. Theblow struck with a loud crack, and thedaemon’s cry of pain could be heardfrom the mountain’s peak to its rubblestrewnfoothills. It released its hold,beast and rider alike tumbling to landamongst spikes of rough iron.
Dorghar came about again, hisTzeentchian head spitting a bolt ofpure change that missed by a finger’sbreadth. Another claw strike, andVandus himself was gored, a thick talonpuncturing his sigmarite breastplateto plunge into his torso. The Lord-Celestant blurted out a cry of pain, awelter of infected blood spilling fromhis mouth across Calanax’s neck. Fora moment Vandus thought of theCelestant-Prime, hoping against hopethat Sigmar’s avatar would join the fightand save his Stormhost from disaster.
There was a screech from above asDorghar batted aside Calanax’s bitingmaw, the beast’s talon all but tearing theDracoth’s jaw from his skull. Archaonwas content to watch as his steed wentabout his gory work. Standing nearbyatop an outcropping of rock, IonusCryptborn called out to the heavens,and a twin-tailed lance of celestiallightning arced from the clouds tostrike at Archaon’s helm.
Eyes still upon Vandus, the Everchosenreached up his fist at the last momentand caught the lightning bolt as it fell,twining the divine energy aroundhis gauntlet before squeezing itinto nothingness. 2.209 y 2.210
Vandus stood tall in the saddle,swinging the hammer Heldensenat Dorghar’s outstretched claw. Thebeast recoiled, but the runic weaponconnected nonetheless, tearing awayone of his claws in a spray of blood.
The third of Dorghar’s heads,wearing the dog-daemon face of aBloodthirster, bellowed with rage.Vandus’ senses seemed to burst, everythought shattered by the intensity ofthe sound. There was a tremendousimpact as Dorghar backhanded Vandusfrom the precipice, a contemptuousblow intended to send an unworthychallenger toward an ignominiousdeath on the rocky peak below. 2.210
Lord-Celestant Vandus discorporatedin terrible slow motion, his mutilatedremains blazing with blue energies.Every vein, artery and organ was visibleto the hosts below, glowing bright andunravelling as Azyr claimed its due.
There was a collective moan of dismayand disbelief from the Hammers ofSigmar below; none could believe theirblessed leader had been so violentlyslain. Above the cries of horror,Archaon laughed loud, his deep bassvoice given the timbre of a dread stormby the raging magical energies ofKronus Peak. The Everchosen reachedinto the lightning that poured slowlyfrom Vandus’ insubstantial corpse,letting the spirit-energies play over hisfingers. Pink sparks leapt whereverArchaon’s touch threaded the stuff ofthe Lord-Celestant’s soul.
A long moment passed, and thoseenergies that had once been Vandusvanished into the aether. Anothermoment, and the Slayer of Kings tookCalanax’s head from his neck in a burstof blinding white energy. Dorgharscreamed in triumph, winging high torevel in his master’s supremacy.
On the slopes of Mount Kronus, theHammers of Sigmar fought on, butby attacking the mortal, daemon andVaranguard armies at the same time,the Stormcast Eternals had given themall a common foe. Ionus Cryptbornled brotherhoods of vengeful Paladinsin focussed charges even as LaudusSkythunder and Lord-CastellantStoneheart formed their conclavesinto tight battle lines. Their aim wasto divide the remnants of the WatcherKing’s host from the elite warriors ofArchaon’s Varanguard, hoping to breakthe cohesion between the two forcesand force one side to flight. But with theEverchosen glaring down upon them,not a single mortal nor daemon gaveany thought to retreat.
Thunderhead Battalions of StormcastEternals knelt in serried lines atopridges ideal for defence, their shieldslocked tight to protect the Judicatorsloosing volleys behind. The darkriders of Chaos rode headlong intothem, forcing a path through volleysof stormbolts. Some of Archaon’sVaranguard fell, but the others drovetheir lances home with such brute forcethey shattered the shield wall in a singledevastating charge, cutting down theStormcast Eternals behind with cruelblades and jagged axes.
Wherever the Hammerhands’ Paladinsswung their giant-killing weapons,nimble Pink Horrors would cavort andswarm, clambering limpet-like ontoarms and legs. Each kill left two moremany-fingered daemons to clutch at axehafts and glaive hilts. Gradually, thePaladins found their killing rampagelosing its impetus, and when theHorrors baited them into pockets ofslow time, their momentum stoppedaltogether. Prosecutors winged down toaid their stricken fellows, but they werescattered in blazes of blue energy by theswooping attacks of Dorghar.
Archaon, not willing to sully theSlayer of Kings with the blood of lesserchampions, hurled beams of mutagenicfire into the ranks of those who daredstrike his chosen warriors.
The battle ground on for another hour,but with Lord-Celestant Vandus sospectacularly slain and a full half oftheir number already blazing back toAzyr, the remaining Stormcast Eternalsfound their spirits failing fast, despitethe steadfast example set by IonusCryptborn and his Paladins.
Their foes, many of whom wereveterans of a hundred battles, felt thechange in the air. They redoubled theirefforts, their war shouts echoing fromthe tumbling slopes around them. TheVaranguard, having found a spar ofshattered gravity that stretched fromone precipice to the next, rode hardthrough the air to fall without warningupon Lord-Castellant Stoneheart as hefought for control of the Realmgate.The wanton butchery that followed sawthe portal in Archaon’s hands, and theStormcast Eternals shorn of any meansof escape save noble deaths.
And die they did, to a man. Every oneof the Hammerhands found a warrior’sdeath, blade or hammer in hand, theblood of the foe spattered upon theironce-spotless armour. Ionus Cryptborn,silent but for the furious blows of hishammer, was the last to fall. Their soulsblazed high, finding their way backthrough the void to be reforged oncemore in Sigmaron.
The message the defeated StormcastEternals carried with them was clear,and soon it echoed from every star thatshone in High Azyr.
Archaon was roused to war, and therewas no force in the Mortal Realms thatcould stop him. 2.212
The warrior woke with a sudden gasp. Strong hands flew up to clutch at a shattered skull, finding only undamaged scalp. Sparks danced across eyes of deep jade green as the warrior gradually sat up. He looked down at his sculpted form, unblemished skin and iron-hard muscles where once was suppurating, bubo-infested fat. The warrior felt a sense of relief so profound that he choked back a sob. With it came recollection. All the horrors that had been heaped upon him. All the horrors he had wrought himself. He felt the sharp stab of shame, quickly eclipsed by a far stronger emotion. Anger.
Rising from the ensorcelled altar where he had awoken, the warrior stood tall. As he did so lightning leapt from his body, drawing in plates of sculpted armour to gird him for war. He felt no surprise, only fierce elation as crackling pinions of crystal and light spread majestically from his shoulders, and an ornate huntsman’s bow appeared in his hand. The weapon felt good there, right in a way his monstrous axe never had. He knew not what miracle had given him this chance at redemption, but he was Torglug the Despised no longer – he was reborn as Tornus, Knight-Venator of Sigmar’s hosts. No longer was he Nurgle’s slave .Instead he was redeemed, a warrior of righteous vengeance. And he would make the Plague God pay dearly for what he had endured. 2.223