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When destruction

comes, when the


world ends,
I would face my
doom with my
people beside me.
We stand as one
against darkness,
earthquake, and
storm. Dhunia
will remember our
courage even after
our bones are dust.
Madrak Ironhide

Credits
HORDES
created and designed by
Matthew D. Wilson

Lead Designer,
HORDES
Jason Soles

Designer, Devastation
David Carl

Project Director
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A World in the Balance

Choices often come with unintended consequences,


and doubly so for those choices born of desperation. A
decision made under duress, in the heat of the moment,
can lead to exactly the end it was meant to avoid. Such
is the story of Madrak Ironhide and his choice to wield
the ancient and terrible axe Rathrok in a desperate bid to
save his people.
As the power of the axe stirs and grows with each bloodsoaked battle, the Devourer Wurm turns from its eternal
battle against Menoth in Urcaen and casts its gaze upon
the world of the living. Sensing its masters desires
Wurmwood, the Tree of Fate, carefully manipulates events
from the shadows, preparing to enact a ritual that will part
the veil and unleash the Devourer Wurm on Caen. Amid
these climactic events, legendary warlocks rise to the
crisis, tapping heretofore-unknown inner reserves so they
might avert the apocalypseor perhaps hasten it.

As old heroes become new again, the wild factions of


Immoren cast aside all pretense of hiding in the shadows
and reveal the true extent of their might. Previously
unseen gargantuans descend upon the battlefield, their
footsteps shaking the earth as they heed their warlocks
calls to slaughter. Whether it be the crackling electrical
fury of the savage Storm Raptor or the multi-headed,
acid-spewing nightmare that is the Desert Hydra, these
fearsome warbeasts will rock the very foundations of war
within the Iron Kingdoms.
When the end of the world is at stake, nothing is offlimits. Unleash the full extent of your fury and know that
Devastation is at hand!

Table of Contents
The Key Turns. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Theme Forces. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Trollbloods. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Circle Orboros. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Skorne. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

4
18
20
30
38

Legion of Everblight. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Minions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Model Gallery. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Painting Guide. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Gate Opens. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

48
58
70
72
75

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First printing: June 2015. Printed in China.

HORDES: Devastation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ISBN: 978-1-939480-83-5. . . . . . . . . . . . PIP 1062


HORDES: Devastation Hardcover. . . . . . . . . . . ISBN: 978-1-939480-84-2. . . . . . . . . . . . PIP 1063

The Key Turns


The Shard Spires, Early 609 AR

Sheets of snow, stone, and ice flew through the air as the
mountainside erupted in a burst of pent-up fury. A bestial
roar echoed from peak to peak, threatening each slope with
avalanche. Clouds of displaced snow shrouded the newly
formed hole, and the hulking shape that arose from it came
out swinging. After searching for more than a week among
the frozen northern reaches of the Shard Spires, Hoarluk
Doomshaper had found the first of the glacier kings of
the north, cousins of the mountain kings awoken in the
Wyrmwall. As anticipated, the ceremony of awakening he
had invoked in the south had roused other ancient trolls
from their prisons, eager to be free.
During his travels, Doomshaper had recruited two dozen
kriel warriors and a handful of skinners from the northern
tribes. Though seasoned and battle-ready, they fell back
now, falling over one another to put distance between
themselves and the troll legend pulling itself into the
world. The old shaman found their panic aggravating but
understandable; they could not have stood against such a
creature even had they tried. Doomshaper did not flinch
as a boulder hurtled past him and left a long gouge in
the snow. Beside him, Mulg rumbled and stood equally
resolute, smashing his reinforced club into the ground in a
display of dominance.
As the glacier king emerged from the hole, its massive
knuckles unceremoniously crushed one of the ancient
krielstone markers that had mystically bound the
slumbering trolls as much as their chains. A telltale scar
running down the beasts face matched descriptions from
old legends of a far-northern troll king called Winters Maw
that had raged against the trollkin intruding into its domain.
Though in some ways the glacier king resembled the
mountain kings of the southern ranges, it was unmistakably
marked by the endless winter of the frozen north. Icicles
taller than a man hung from its chin, and a mound of ice
and snow upon its back reached toward the sky. The already
frigid temperature of the surrounding air plummeted as a
deeper cold radiated from the beasts skin. The trunks of
nearby spruces cracked and split.
Doomshaper set his teeth. If he could reach the beast and
lay his hands upon it, he felt certain he could bind its will
as he had done with the mountain kings. Without a battle
raging about them to serve as a distraction, however, such
a feat would prove difficult. He gave a mental command to
Mulg, and together they advanced into the fray.
A burst of icy wind tore over the pair, partially numbing
their limbs and inflicting frostbite in seconds. Cold! Mulg
bellowed in Molgur-Trul, and the runes carved into the

stones upon the dire trolls back flared. In the next instant,
the winds that besieged them dissipated under the influence
of Mulgs power.
Doomshaper narrowly avoided a crushing blow from the
glacier king, though the glancing impact knocked him
off his feet. Mulg howled and struck the slow-moving
fist with his banded club, shattering several of the great
fingers and causing the enraged creature to draw back its
arm in surprise.
The crack of stone splitting filled the air as rock and snow
exploded from the nearby slopes to reveal two more of
the primal trolls. These were slightly less immense than
Winters Maw, but seeing the three together chilled the
shamans blood.
Doomshaper stood, drawing on Mulgs anger and vitality,
and resumed his advance. If the first gargantuan were
allowed to gather its wits, there would be no chance of
stopping it. If he could tame this, the greatest of the glacier
kings, the others would submit.
Again the troll king drew back its fist, eclipsing the waning
sun, and struck. The fist shot past Doomshaper toward
Mulg behind him. A howl of rage and the snapping of
bones sounded as the fist slammed into the craggy dire troll.
Looking through Mulgs eyes, Doomshaper experienced
being hurled back several yards in the air before tumbling
end-over-end in the snow.
With Mulg down, gusts of frigid wind began to circulate
again around the towering form of Winter's Maw, followed
by a sudden, intense snowstorm that all but blinded
Doomshaper. Mulg disappeared from view, and the shaman
stepped forward blindly, reaching for the space where the
glacier kings knee had been.
A fist emerged from the blizzard to seize Doomshaper
with enough force to crack his ribs, and he was lifted high
above the earth. He struggled futilely against the glacier
kings grip. His shattered ribs threatened to pierce vital
organs, and he had no choice but to shunt the damage to
Mulg, adding to the injuries the troll had already sustained.
Doomshaper achieved the contact he sought with the great
troll, but pain prevented him from focusing. Darkness
threatened his vision.
The face of the glacier king emerged from the vortex of snow.
Its maw unhinged, exposing the gateway to a bottomless
hunger, and from the beasts throat issued a roar worthy of the
legends. Spittle flew from great tusk-like yellowed incisors,
and the sheer force of the sound rattled Doomshapers
teeth. His eardrums exploded, and the roar gave way to an
incessant ringing. Disorientation overtook him.

He drew on his last strength to lash out with Willbreaker.


The mystically augmented staff splintered one of the
massive incisors. Doomshaper felt rather than heard a
second roar, and the glacier king shook him mercilessly.
Willbreaker slipped from his grasp and tumbled down to
clatter against the beasts teeth before disappearing into the
yawning darkness of its mouth.
Doomshaper stared unblinking into the trolls eyes
and reached out to its mind with his own. He radiated
confidence into the mind of the glacier king, subjecting it
to the power of his will. What ensued was not unlike the
Tohmaak Mahkeiri, as their minds joined and he immersed
himself in the hunger and rage of Winters Maw. In his
minds eye, Doomshaper saw flashes of images, memories
of Winters Maw clashing with other beasts of the steppes
or devouring them afterward. He called forth the memory
of feeding his own hand to Mulg in a bid for the dire trolls
loyalty, showing the glacier king that all trollkind shared
the same blood, a kinship more powerful than anything
else on Caen. The bloodlust etched on the trolls face
shifted in puzzlement as it squinted at Doomshaper, and
the blizzard swirling about its shoulders died down.

Well met, Winters Maw, Doomshaper said. He issued a


mental command, and the creature placed him back on the
ground. The bond was forged.
The other glacier kings were closing on Mulg to tear him
limb from limb. Doomshaper commanded Winters Maw
to intervene. With a roar, the glacier king placed himself
between his troll brethren and the dire troll, hitting his chest
forcefully and baring his teeth. The others stepped back
and slumped slightly in submission. Doomshaper took the
opportunity to touch the other two, and within moments all
three looked down at his tiny form with anticipation.
The kriel warriors who had fled to a safe distance now crept
back, gaining confidence at the sight of Doomshaper standing
unharmed and defiant. Mulg returned to the shamans side,
limping and dragging his club in the freshly fallen snow.
The blow he suffered at the hands of the gargantuan had
been tremendous, but his natural regenerative powers were
already at work, accelerated by Doomshapers urging.
Above, a glacier king tore a boulder from the mountainside
and shoved the rock into its eager mouth. They would need
real food soon, but at least the first step toward taming the
kings of the north was complete. With Winters Maw at his
side, the rest would follow.

The Key Turns

Though Willbreaker was lost to the belly of the first glacier


king, Doomshaper found inspiration amid the shattered
remnants of the krielstones that marked where Winters
Maw had been imprisoned. Beneath his hands he felt the
thrumming of Dhunian power, still potent after millennia,
and he used his cunning and lore to bind that power
into a weapon. He leaned on the new staff as he walked,
and Mulg trudged alongside him with his usual scowl.
Doomshaper was forced to expend some of their limited
food supplies to facilitate the dire trolls recovery, yet
Mulg still hungered.
How much farther until we reach the Khadorans?
Doomshaper asked the trollkin skinner beside him.
Hundreds of northern pines and a mountain of stone had
disappeared down the gullets of the glacier kings, but this
had barely curbed their hunger. The gargantuan trolls eyed
the kriel warriors hungrily. Doomshaper kept them locked
down with his will, but it required close attention.
Just beyond these peaks, the skinner said, pointing up
the slope. Doomshaper could hear the anticipation in the
trollkins voice. Theyve had this coming for a long time.
For years, nearby kriels had clashed with a Khadoran
logging community on the fringes of their territory. When
game to feed the glacier kings came up scarce, the trollkin
had suggested turning that insatiable hunger on their
longtime enemies. Doomshaper well understood that
impulse and was more than willing to assist his northern
kins vengeance.
The group topped the rise, and before them a little-used
path wound down the mountain to the frozen tundra
beyond. A short distance from the mountains base, curls
of smoke rose from the chimneys of the Khadoran town the
scouts had identified as Daliskov. A stout wall encircled the
holdings, punctuated by several watchtowers.
It is not Ceryl, but its a start, Doomshaper said under
his breath. As they hiked downward, he imagined the
gargantuans casting down the meager walls and falling
upon the towns inhabitants, stuffing them into gaping
mouths one after the next and ending their screams with a
satisfying crunch that splattered the streets with blood.
Movement caught his attention. To one side of the path,
perched on an outcropping of stone and balancing on one
clawed foot, stood a battered jack that appeared to have
been cobbled together. Unlike most warjacks, this one lacked
arms, its engine solely committed to driving its long legs. Its
chassis was a faded red where rust had not overtaken its
surface. A series of ropes and buckles held a bedroll and

several satchels to its frame. With grace uncanny for its


size, the jack bounded over the rocks, each step marked
by the scrape of steel on stone. Doomshaper recognized the
machine as the one called Scrapjack.
Stop, a voice commanded, and a hunched figure draped
in layers of threadbare clothing now blocked the path. She
had an air of preternatural antiquity about her that seemed
potent even against the backdrop of the Shard Spires. Each
of her fingers extended into a steel talon, and a crow perched
on one of the pipes protruding from the warcaster armor
buried beneath her garments. Although he had never met
her, Doomshaper knew enough lore to identify Zevanna
Agha, also called the Old Witch of Khador.
Step aside, Doomshaper said, his voice rough and
threatening. The children of Dhunia do not answer to the
likes of you.
Do you expect me to valk avay and leave Daliskov to you?
She cackled. If the presence of the glacier kings daunted her,
she did not show it. Your plan I vould reconsider. Tragedy
avaits those you left in the south. If you hurry, perhaps
you can save them. Perhaps. She made a clucking sound,
and something between a scowl and a smile tugged at her
wrinkled face. Children of Dhunia? Also of the Vurm,
vhich does not hesitate to devour its young.
Though Doomshapers expression remained unchanged,
he felt the impact of the Old Witchs last words. This
mention of the Devourer Wurm was unexpected and
unsettling. He reminded himself that the crone was known
for her cryptic speech. He said, I have no time for your
riddles. Speak plainly or be gone.
The Tree of Fate vishes to reclaim vhat it views as its own.
The axe of Horfar Grimmr vill bring the ruin of your people.
Perhaps mine also. She clacked her talons along the staff
she carried. You could change this.
I have heard enough, Doomshaper said. Behind him,
grumbles issued from the glacier kings as they sensed
his anger. I will not be dissuaded by your threats or
prophecies. How many of your own people have you sent
to early graves with a few words?
Believe vhat you vish. She looked down the mountainside
to the distant town of Daliskov. Leave this place. Go back
to the desert sands vhere your people need you. I vill not
varn you again. With that, she blinked out of existence
only to reappear farther down the mountain, Scrapjack
standing beside her. For a moment, she held Doomshapers
gaze, then she and her machine walked out of sight behind
several boulders.
What was that about? the skinner asked. Doomshaper
only shook his head. The Old Witch was not to be trusted.

Whatever advice she offered, she worked toward her own


ends. Even so, he couldnt help but wonder how much truth
lay in her words.
What of the town? asked one of the kriel warriors.
Doomshaper hesitated. We proceed as planned, He
said after a moment. He would not allow a figure out
of Khadoran folklore to influence his actions. For too
long the empires of men had pushed his people to the
fringes, treating them as inferiors. They would pay a
price in bloodnot once, but many times. This town was
meaningless, only the first of many he would erase. He
would not back down at the demands of anyone speaking
on behalf of his enemies, even Zevanna Agha.
Doomshaper looked up to the gargantuans looming
above. One of them sucked on a boulder discontentedly.
The glacier kings still hunger," he said, "and it would not
do to let the transgressions of the people of Daliskov go
unanswered.

Western Wyrmwall

Kromacs muscles strained as he hauled himself up the


cliff face. Above, the granite sheet ascended into the night
sky, and sharp stones waited below to receive his fall. His
fingers slid over the surface in search of new handholds, the
cuts on his palms leaving smears of crimson.
A burlap sack hitched to his belt slid back and forth over his
thigh like a pendulum as he climbed. Like the stone under
his palms, the bottom of the sack was a dark red. A trickle
of blood filtered through the bag and fell into the yawning
darkness, one drop at a time.
The three moons looked down upon him like pale faces.
Calder, the largest, shone as a blue-white half crescent.
The speckled red-brown Laris was nearly full, as was pale
green Artis, the smallest of the three. Already the pull
of the upcoming lunar conjunction threatened to drive
Kromac into his bestial form. He had not undergone a
transformation since his defeat at the hands of the trollkin,
and despite the physical demands the ascent placed on
him, he resisted the urge to transform now. The shame
of his failure clung to him, and he did not wish to draw
upon his connection to the Wurm while unworthy. In a few
weeks time, however, the three moons would be full, and
the Beast of All Shapes would be upon him regardless of
his resolve.
Handholds crumbled beneath his fingers and the winds of
the peaks threatened to rip him from the cliff, but he would
not be shaken. At the edges of his vision, a hooded figure
appeared beneath the shadows of distant rock faces. The
suspicion that Cassius watched spurred him to overreach
and to try unstable handholds, and one time he was left
dangling by a few clawed fingernails.

Finally he hauled himself over the lip of the cliff, his chest
heaving. At the top of an incline littered with boulders and
the occasional stunted pine loomed Cassius, and behind
him, Wurmwood. The ancient trees roots wrapped about
loose soil and stone, and the many bones hanging from its
limbs clattered in the wind.
Kromac removed the burlap sack from his waist and
emptied the contents at Wurmwoods base. A dozen human
hearts and a smattering of other choice organs landed in the
dirt, looking like slick and spoiled fruit in the moonlight.
The Tharn dropped to one knee and uttered words of
greeting and respect in Molgur.
You have returned, Cassius said, his hooded form gliding
between the sentry stones, though without the axe of
Horfar Grimmr. His eyes were empty, two extinguished
coals wrapped in pale skin.
Forgive me, Oathkeeper, Kromac said, feeling his shame
keenly. I was thwarted.
Cassius' voice was deep and resonant, as though his words
carried from the bottom of a well. You underestimate your
foe. The trollkin are also children of the Wurm.
In Kromacs memory he saw himself closing on the axe only
to be tackled by one of the trollkin chieftains lieutenants,
the two of them brawling across the ground until they
went together over the edge of a cliff. The lieutenant was a
powerful warrior, and by the time Kromac narrowly bested
him, the opportunity to confront Madrak had been lost.
Kromac clenched his fists, his claws cutting into his palms.
I will not disappoint you again.
You were named champion of the apocalypse. You must
prove worthy. You will have your chance, and soon. Events
converge to offer a chance at redemption.

You were named champion


of the apocalypse. You
must prove worthy.
I will take the axe from Madrak Ironhide after I have taken
the heart from his chest. Kromacs blood stirred as he
spoke, his primal side straining like a collared beast.
You must wield the axe of Horfar Grimmr. The statement
was made with cold certainty, the matter decided. World
Ender nears the completion of its purpose in the northern
Bloodstone Marches. Step forward when the time is right.
Rise now, and go.
Kromac stood. His muscles ached from the climb, and thin
rivulets of blood flowed over the knuckles of each clenched

The Key Turns


fist from the wounds on his palms. The blood pattered at
his feet, where the gnarled roots of the Tree of Fate wrapped
around the hearts offered as tribute. His blood, too, was
pulled in by the roots.
A mist rose from the ground, swirling and growing thicker.
The forms of Cassius and the Tree of Fate disappeared in the
wall of fog. The calls of birds Kromac knew to be native to
the Glimmerwood sounded from unseen branches. A sense
of disorientation lingered as he steadied himself. When
the fog burned away, he stood in a ring of standing stones
hundreds of miles from where he had been moments before.
Kromac took only a moment to consider his course. Several
Tharn tribes loyal to him resided in this region. He would
gather them and see the will of the Beast of All Shapes done,
even if it meant his end.

Northern Bloodstone Marches

Madrak sought out Kargess across the gathered crowd and


smiled. Despite his misgivings about returning to his exiled
people, it was beyond good to see her. She smiled back, but
there was something reserved in her expression. He felt the
familiar ache in his chest grow heavier even as the axe on
his back pulled at him. He had not been a good mate lately,
or a good leader for these kin. He had done the best he
could, but his failures weighed heavily upon him.

From somewhere nearby he


heard the sound of a baby
crying and he smiled. Even in
times of war there was new life.
They stood in the largest space in the newly built village in
the Bloodstone Marchesits great hall. The hall was secured
within what Calandra called the inner village, protected
by a high stone wall and battlements. Most of the half-built
main community sprawled beyond the inner village. Even
here lay evidence of fresh construction, yet the space had
been made as festive as possible to welcome Madrak. A
large fire was at the center together with what ale and food
had been gathered for the feast. The hall was packed with
champions, elders, lesser chieftains, and other leaders of the
United Kriels, but Madrak had eyes only for Kargess.
He went to where she stood apart from the tumult, accepting
welcoming claps on the shoulder and greeting old friends
as he made his way. She held her hands out to him and he
clasped them eagerly, leaning in to touch foreheads. He had
been away too long. For a moment he breathed in her earthy
smell, and the noise around them faded into background,
but then she pulled back.

It is good to see you, she said, but how did you arrive?
Rumors are multiplying in the village, each more unlikely
than the last.
He shook his head. I cannot say. We had just come down
from the Wyrmwall Mountains, with weeks of travel still
ahead of us, when we were swallowed by a fog. Then we
were in the Marches and Calandra was greeting us. He
squeezed her hand and gave her an apologetic look. I
should find Grissel. There is much to discuss. Things have
changed since I left.
Kargess nodded. Indeed they have. But Grissel can wait.
She will see you later at the feast. Take a moment to rest.
You can be spared for a few moments.
Madrak nodded and followed his mate to their new
dwelling, one of the small buildings attached to the defensive
wall of the inner village. It looked familiar even though he
hadnt seen it before. He saw Kargess in the details: the
arrangement of the furniture, the cloak laid across the back
of a chair, items salvaged from their old home. Her own
armor and weapons hung, cleaned and ready, in a place
where she could readily seize them. He wondered what she
had faced in his absence. He took a moment to rinse his face
at a washing bowl. From somewhere nearby he heard the
sound of a baby crying and he smiled. Even in times of war
there was new life.
As Madrak dried his hands he realized the sound came from
another chamber of their hut. This was not a surprise
children in a kriel were a communal matter, and Kargess
had always dedicated herself to the well-being of the kriel,
including caring for the young. He hoped to have his own
family someday. Perhaps once Rathroks claim on him was
satisfied.
Kargess returned carrying a young trollkin, less than a year
old. Madrak eyed the bundle with amusement. Whose
little one are you looking after today?
Ours, Kargess said softly.
Madrak opened his mouth but the words would not come.
Surely he had misheard her.
Kargess smiled. Say hello to your son. She handed him
the shifting bundle, and he cradled the child in his arms
with a gentleness that felt both unfamiliar and natural.
He looked down at the swaddled form, and a pair of large
and curious eyes peered up from a pale blue face with
full cheeks.
A tiny hand reached up and groped at the growths on his
chin. I have a son? Madrak asked, his voice thick. He'd
held his share of young trollkin. Hed taught several how
to fight and instructed them on the kriels traditions, but
holding his own son brought with it a sense of wholly

unexpected pride. He and Kargess had just decided to begin


their own family when the Thornwood was invaded, and
they had put off that dream amid the tumult. He thought
back to how long he had been gone. His son had been
conceived during those last weeks before he left to find
Doomshaper, to distance himself from his people before
Rathrok brought them greater harm. As he looked into
these wide eyes, old fears resurfaced. Here he held a piece
of himselfhis futureand at the same time the axe of
Horfar Grimmr hung from his back like an ominous weight
anchoring him to a destiny fraught with darkness.
I have been calling him Dag, Kargess said. An old name,
from a Molgur-Trul word for day. There will be time to
decide if it sticks or if another is better suited.
A good name, Madrak said, looking at his child. Was he
an albino like his father, or only pale? He was not sure.
Kargess stepped close and placed her hands on Madraks
elbows so the baby rested between the two of them. Grim
wanted to tell you, but I insisted he wait so I could give you
the news myself. I was hoping it would be sooner, but we
are together now, the three of us.
His mates words echoed in his mind. Yes, they were
together, and while he should rejoice, his apprehension
was stronger than ever. He had left those he cared for to
spare them the horrors that followed him. He had sworn
he would not return before ridding himself of the accursed
weapon, yet here he was, still in its possession, putting his
kriel at riskand now his son as well.
Kargess leaned forward and their foreheads pressed together,
initiating the Tohmaak Mahkeiri. Rather than meeting her gaze
and completing the bond that would allow them to peer into
each others mind, Madrak pulled away.
What is it? she asked, collecting Dag from his arms. You
look every bit as tired as you look happy to be a father.
What happened while you were away?
Later, Madrak said, shaking his head. He placed his hand
on the bundle and a small hand gripped one of his fingers.
In one sense, nothing has changed. In another, everything.
Later, then. She studied his face for a long while, then
said, We should prepare for the feast. Your people wish to
speak with you. Their chief has been missed.

It has been too long, Grissel said as she and Madrak


embraced. We send you off to retrieve Doomshaper and
instead you return with half the Wyrmwall! The entire
village has been going on about the mountain kings.

The chieftain who walks with legends, Horthol said with


a grin. He stepped forward to clasp forearms with Madrak.
Congratulations on your son. I am sure he will grow up to
be every bit as impressive as his father.
My son! Madrak smiled. Thank you. It is good to
be in the company of old friends. He then explained
Doomshapers quest in the north as the three of them stood
inside the entrance to the newly erected feast hall. Massive
pillars hewn from trees dragged from the mountainside
braced the impressively high ceiling, and the fine masonry
of the walls held in the warmth of a central fire over
which roasted two desert oxen. Every notable champion
and chief was present, and the cadences of conversation
and laughter filled the hall. It had been a long while since
Madrak had felt such warmth, though he couldnt bring
himself to relish it. He looked from Horthol to Grissel and
considered what his return might cost them.
Grissel caught his eye and said, Do not seek troubles that
are not already yours. It was an old saying. She continued,
There is much to do, but many to share the burden.
He nodded. This is true. Beyond the open doorway, the
mountain kings roamed in the encroaching dark, eating
stones and trees. He waved vaguely in their direction.
Keeping such creatures under thumb takes its toll on the
mind, but the march is over. Thank you both. I knew I could
count on you to keep everyone together.
We had help, Grissel said. You were right to send Calandra.
Without her, I dont know if we would have made it out of
Crael Valley intact. Gunnbjorn has also proven invaluable,
though we practically had to drag him from Skarleforth
Lake before he would retreat from the skorne. He has done a
commendable job organizing the camps defenses.
Madrak looked to Gunnbjorn, seated beside Grim Angus at
the raised table. The trollkin caught the chieftains glance
and raised a mug of ale in salute and Madrak nodded in
acknowledgement.
Indeed, you have done more than I could have asked for,
Madrak said. I am lucky to count you among my kin. It is
remarkable what you accomplished here in so short a time.
Dont let him forget it, Kargess said as she approached
the three of them, young Dag in her arms. Come, she
said, taking Madrak by the hand. Others want to speak
with you, and I am sure you are hungry from your travels.
Madrak nodded to Grissel and Horthol and started across
the hall. He stopped every few paces to embrace kin who
greeted him. Now and then someone would thrust a mug
into his hands, and by the time he reached the raised table at
the front of the hall he had drained several. Horthol, Grissel,
and Calandra had joined Gunnbjorn and Grim, and the five

The Key Turns


were talking at a fast clip when Madrak and Kargess joined
them. Already plates of meat were being passed, though the
slices were thin and few. The feast looked hard-won.

What is it? Kargess asked, looking into his eyes. He


could not abide the thought of telling her his mind was
not his own.

I examined the fortifications when I arrived, Madrak said


to Gunnbjorn. You have done a fine job strengthening our
position. He looked around him at the construction of the
hall once again. All of you. You have done much to make
this a new home.

Nothing, Madrak lied. As Horthol said, there will be time


to talk later. Let us enjoy the feast. While we can, he thought.

Even so, there is so much more to do, Grissel said. This


land sustains life only grudgingly. The soil refuses anything
but weeds, and even those do poorly. Every skinner and
hunter is out looking for game, but what they bring back
barely sustains us. We must find other solutions.
Gunnbjorn nodded. Other supplies are scarce as well. We
may have to raid the farrow or even the skorne, though we
are not eager to provoke them.

You spent so long away from us, Kargess said later, when
they had returned to their hut. Yet your mind seems no
clearer than when you left. At the opposite end of the
room, Dag slept in his cradle, and she spoke softly so as
not to wake him. Madrak faced away from her, leaning
against the door frame, and she eyed his back wearily. He
had seemed distracted during the feast, and he appeared no
better now that they were alone.

The faces at the table looked to Madrak. They all had


questions. They wanted direction, and they looked to
their chief to provide a path forward. He couldnt see it.
Beneath the table, Kargess gave his hand a squeeze, which
he returned. She was the bedrock beneath the shifting sands
upon which he had been walking of late. He felt the faith
she had in him steady his footing once more.

It is the mountain kings. Even at a distance, I bear them in


mind. I cannot command them from here, but I must work
to remind them of my previous orders, to keep them from
descending. It is exhausting.
She couldnt recall ever hearing him sound so tired. I am
sure that is a strain, but there is more, she said. Do not
shut me out. Tell me, what truly troubles you?

There will be time to discuss such matters, Horthol said,


sensing his friends mood. For now, let us celebrate new
beginnings and the reunion of friends. He raised a mug.
Ale sloshed over the top and down his arm. To Chief
Ironhide. To Dag, heir of Ironhide! He will earn his own
axe soon!

Madrak shook his head as he turned back to her. I failed,


he said after a time. That which I sought to cast off remains.
The curse is not broken.

The others laughed and joined his toast, as did those at the
long tables that stretched the length of the hall. Hundreds
of mugs rose and were promptly drained. Mixed feelings
assailed Madrak. He could not deny the gathering did his
heart good. Yet despite the joyousness of the occasion,
Rathrok remained an uninvited guest. He thought back to
his recent battle against the druids, to how he had nearly
given himself over to the axe in a fit of blind, psychotic
rage. For one brief moment afterward, he had thought
himself free of the axe. But the respite had been fleeting,
and once again he had found the weapon waiting, still
bound to him.
Without warning, Madrak saw the central fire and the
various sconces go out, plunging the hall into semi-darkness.
Down the lengths of the halls tables, each laughing face
was caked with blood and bulging with putrefaction. Each
laugh, joke, and boast melded into a cacophony of pained
groans and screams. Only when Madrak began to stand
and Kargess placed a hand upon his shoulder did the room
return to normal.

10

Put it out of your mind. The important thing is you have


returned. Your people need you, Madrak. I have done my
best to hold them together, as have Grissel and the others,
but they have been through a great deal.
Yes. Grim told me of the hardships. Even so, my presence
can bring nothing but misery. It was cowardly for me to
return. I wanted to come home, but we have no home now.
Not truly.
She let that stand for long seconds and then said, You
sound as if you are considering leaving again. You are
talking yourself into the wrong course. Your desire for
homecoming was right. Your heart knows it. Your people
have lost their friends, their families, their homes. But they
still find harmony in kith, kriel, and kin. Do not deprive
them of their chief again.
Too many have fallen on my account. There was
desperation in his words. She knew she was seeing a side
of him he would never reveal to another. She recalled the
look of horror that crossed his face at the feast. Whatever
haunted him had found its voice on the road and whispered
louder than ever. She hated the axe he bore, but it was too
late for such regrets.

It is not just dreams any longer, is it? she asked. The


nightmares find you even when you are awake.
He nodded. If you saw the things I have seen, you would
understand why it is best I leave.
No. She said it flatly, authoritatively, but with no anger.
He looked up, startled. Kargess continued, It is of no use.
You cannot leave your family. Even were you to walk away
from us, I would find a way to stand beside you. What did
going off on your own accomplish? I know you had to try,
but stop punishing yourself. Everything you have done,
you have done from a desire to do right by your people.
Perhaps there is a curse. Even so, it does not follow only
you. It affects us all.
He stared at her slack-jawed. I had not considered this.
Let us say troubles are drawn to us, and Rathrok is the
cause. So be it. We will face them together. Your fate and
that of your kin are one. We will fight, and if need be die,
together. Let your people support you as you have fought
for us. Let me stand at your side. Whatever burdens you
bear, you do not face them alone. She took his hand in hers.
Thank you, Madrak said as he took her in his arms. Your
words are true. We must stand united. Together, perhaps we
have hope.
There in the darkness, Kargess finally felt that Madrak had
come home at last.

Northern Khador, South of the Shard Spires

Along the outer walls separating the town of Daliskov from


the frozen tundra beyond, alarm bells were ringing. The
towns defenders rushed to its defense, only to meet their
doom at the hands and maws of the glacier kings.
Doomshaper grunted in approval as another section of the
towns walls crumbled under the assault. The crackle of rifle
fire had surged when the first troll breached the defenses,
but now the shots came in sporadic bursts. Through the
whole gruesome scene he thought of the Old Witchs
demands to stay clear of the town. He hoped she watched
from some remote perch, vexed at his defiance. For too long
the kin had bowed to threats.
Once the glacier kings were past the wall and into the towns
streets, the kriel warriors of the north surged through the
gap, eager to cut down any remaining Khadoran defenders.
People were screaming and fleeing their homes while
soldiers sought to provide covering fire. Doomshaper
followed the glacier kings through the gap with Mulg
lumbering at his side. The persistent call of birds hung on
the air. Handfuls of crows stared down in judgment from
their pearch atop a battered, leaning watchtower. Such birds
were sometimes the old crones eyes, Doomshaper knew.

Look on all you like! Doomshaper shouted to the crows.


He pointed the tip of his staff in their direction. Your
talons have no power here. The hunger of the Shard Spires
has come for those who would trespass on kriel lands.
He treaded through freshly fallen snow left behind by the
glacier kings. There was little blood and fewer wounded;
the appetites of the great troll legends did not allow for
prisoners. Ahead, a church topped with a bronze Radiance
of Morrow ruptured into a hail of splinters as a glacier king
drove a fist through the roof and proceeded to devour those
huddled inside.
Shots rang out, and a bullet tore past Doomshapers head.
A handful of Winter Guard huddled in the skeleton of a
building worked to reload their rifles. Doomshaper gave
Mulg a mental command and the dire troll charged, bellowing
in rage at the attempt to harm his master. A wide swipe of his
club splintered the remains of a wall and caught the nearest
guardsman hard enough to shatter the mans ribs and send
him crashing into his comrades. The tangle of soldiers flailed
in the snow, panic plain on their faces. Those posted here
were inexperienced and complacent, distinct from Khadoran
garrisons closer to contested borders. It had been years
since the inhabitants of this region feared the nearest kriels.
Doomshaper doubted they would feel so secure after this.

Your words are true. We


must stand united. Together,
perhaps we have hope.
Mulg brought his club down and crushed the remaining
Winter Guard. The dire troll huffed, exhaling clouds of
vapor into the cold air as he looked about for further threats.
Overhead, the call of crows sounded again. Hundreds
perched on the shattered structures and hundreds more
circled above the heads of the glacier kings. Clouds of black
wings approached Daliskovs shattered walls from the
distant mountains, growing more distinct as they neared.
A pair of crows dived for the shamans head, striking
ineffectively with their beaks before returning to the
sky. Others streaked past Mulg, who swatted at them in
aggravation. The glacier kings, too, were beset by beaks
and talons, more a nuisance than a real threat, though
the concentration of birds suggested something greater
at play. Doomshaper felt a prickling of unfamiliar magic
along his skin.
The sky went black, the sun no match for the myriad wings
gathered above. Without warning, the crows descended to
envelop those beneath them.

11

The Key Turns


The Old Witch seeks to deter us, Doomshaper shouted
to Mulg over the din of the crows, but she knows not our
strength! He turned to one of the pygs who assisted in
bearing his scrolls and pointed sharply at one of the smaller
tubes. Quickly! We must unravel her efforts. No, the one
below that!
The pyg adjusted his grip on the tied bundle, extracted
the scroll Doomshaper demanded, and thrust it into the
shamans hand. With a twist, the parchment unfurled to
reveal an old rubbing taken from a long-destroyed stone.
Doomshaper held the scroll high before him and read the
words in a booming voice. Runes blazed into existence
and orbited the staff he clutched in his other hand. He
raised his voice higher, as though the words would beat
back the cloud of crows. Then he, too, was enveloped, as
was Mulg. Soon there was nothing on the wind but the
shrill calls of crows.

Each swirling column of crows drew in on itself and then


exploded outward in a rush. Birds scattered in every

12

direction, reeling and diving to avoid one another. Then


they streaked toward the horizon, a streaming dark flock
heading south.
Doomshaper, Mulg, and the glacier kings were nowhere
to be seen. The kriel warriors looked about in confusion.
Then a series of metal barbs erupted from the ground to
skewer them. The warriors cried out as the metal punctured
their legs and pierced their torsos. Those not killed outright
struggled to free themselves.
The whistle of escaping steam echoed in the shattered town.
Scrapjack darted into the street seconds later. Its two long
legs pumped furiously, pistons hissing, before the machine
crashed talons-first into one of the impaled trollkin.
The old woman followed close behind. She slashed through
the invaders with her own blackened-iron talons, easily
stepping aside from the downward stroke of an axe before
driving her blades between a different trollkins ribs. Within
minutes the remaining trollkin hung limp from the barbs that
held up their bodies, and the town was quiet once again.

The Bloodstone Marches

Calaban kept a low profile, moving among the arid hills


that bordered the northwestern reaches of the Bloodstone

Marches. The heat and dry environment left him distinctly


uncomfortable, but he tried to ignore the itching between
his scales. The warlock was grateful the timing allowed
him to carry out the rendezvous under cover of darkness.
Maelok moved alongside him, the flames of the various
candles crowning his head burning low in the dark. A
handful of undead bog trogs shambled behind them with
glassy eyes. A single gatorman bokor with unwavering
loyalty was the only living being in the entourage.
Regardless of the outcome, the even meeting was an act
of treachery. Calaban could ill afford to bring anyone who
might inform his temperamental leader what transpired
among them.
Since the Blindwater Congregation started traveling through
the hills, trees and waterways had become increasingly rare,
and being out in the open made Calaban feel exposed. He
cursed Barnabas for his insistence that they travel to such
a miserable place on nothing more than the visions of the
death charmer Jaga-Jaga.
An unlikely opportunity had presented itself. An army
of farrow converged from the west toward the same
destination as their own, led by warlocks Calaban had
fought before. Despite earlier skirmishes, the bokor
thought he might have a kindred spirit in the opposing
camp, a human advisor to the farrow warlord who desired
this conflict as little as Calaban did. Whether the human
held enough sway to alter the farrows plans remained to
be seen. Calaban had risked much to arrange the meeting,
relying on discreet messages carried by enslaved spirits. To
this point his efforts had gone unnoticed by rival bokors;
he could only hope his luck held.
Such risks were necessary. While Calaban had so far
weathered Barnabas crusade for godhood, the time to seek
the safety of the shallows had passed. The roaring falls of
the warlocks ascension neared. All that remained was to
avoid the rocks below the plunge. To openly suggest they
veer from the course would result in punishments worse
than death. Calaban knew he must take a more circuitous
and ambitious route.

Even as a degree of excitement stirred within him,


Dr. Arkadius questioned his own judgment. As a man of
science, he had been reluctant to listen to the strange swamp
spirits that had visited him over the past several nights. The
majority of his previous contact with gatormen had been
hostile. He remembered the clash in the Marchfells not long
ago, when he very nearly lost his life fighting alongside
Lord Carver. Despite this, when the latest swamp spirit
came calling, his curiosity got the better of him.

His finger traced the trigger of his combat syringe as he


stared out into the dark. A pair of war hogs flanked him
and several gun boars waited atop a nearby hill. Targ stood
at his back, quiet as always. Now and then the pistons of
the war hogs mechanical arms let out a hiss that sounded
unusually loud in the nights quiet. In the distance, a faint
glow like that of candles winked at him, and as the light
drew closer several forms took shape.
A trio of gatormen walked at the fore, a dozen smaller
figures shuffling behind in the flickering candlelight. His
two war hogs bristled, but Arkadius mentally held them in
check. He recognized the leading masked gatorman as one
of the opposing leaders involved in the Marchfells dispute.
He recalled that this one had invoked powerful magic,
summoning an enormous malevolent specter that nearly
caused the death of Lord Carver and Arkadius both. He was
not certain he had implemented sufficient precautions for
the meeting.
Greetings, roskaahn. I did not think... you would come,
the masked gatorman said in a rasp, struggling with a rough
version of Cygnaran ill-suited to his anatomy. Arkadius
knew the literal translation of the Quor-gar term to be pink
skin but did not take offense. I am Calaban... bokor of...
Fenn Marsh tribes. The stench of decay emanated from the
gatormans allies, most of whom appeared undead. While
not surprising, this fact did somewhat unsettle Arkadius.
He felt at a disadvantage fighting against such creatures,
given the majority of his expertise relied on living tissues.
I am Dr.Arkadius, he replied, also in Cygnaran. I know
your tongue. You may speak freely. He found himself
considering gatorman anatomy and the myriad distinctions
between these creatures and the farrow he often had under
his knife. The reptiles were an impressive canvas, though
their biological systems were less sophisticated than those
of mammals. Impressive as their anatomy might beand
clearly they were nearly perfect killing machinestheir flesh
was less mutable. Nonetheless, he imagined schematics for
mechanized jaws and enhanced limbs as they spoke. Aloud
he asked, You have matters to discuss?
Indeed. The bokor turned his head to the side, eyeing
Arkadius with a single yellow orb. The same trouble
plagues us both. Our lives are bound to leaders with large
dreams but small minds. These lords think they lead, while
in truth we control the waters flow. Our armies pursue the
same prey. We are destined to butcher each other fighting
over scraps. To what end?
Arkadius nodded. Upon answering Carvers summons for
the current campaign he had vehemently expressed concerns
on the matter, only to be silenced. Every farrow that Lord
Carver expended in this foolish battle was a lost resource
better employed elsewheresuch as in his own work.

13

The Key Turns


Cautiously he said, I do not have the ability to control
Lord Carver. With his newfound interest in Helga the
Conqueror, Carver was proving even more intractable than
usual. His desire to prove his fighting worth to his potential
mate took precedence over all other concerns.
Barnabas is similar, Calaban hissed, the name seeming
to evoke frustration within him. He seeks slaughter
regardless of the cost. He will hear of nothing else.
If neither of us can influence these events, then it seems
we are at an impasse, no matter how reasonable we each
might be, Arkadius replied. I fail to see the point of this
conference.
This is not an impasse, but a crossroads, Calaban said.
A sound that might have been laughter stuttered from the
bokors maw, but the creatures eyes remained devoid of
emotion. We must see Barnabas struck down. You must see
him struck down. Slay him, and under my command the
Congregation will withdraw and leave you the spoils.

He seeks slaughter
regardless of the cost.
He will hear of nothing else.
Interesting, Arkadius said. The notion of internal treachery
within the ranks of the gatormen had not occurred to him,
though it was not surprising. He knew from his studies
that gatorman society obeyed an ordinarily rigid social
hierarchy, though when change transpired it came violently.
Still, he knew better than to trust Calaban. Gatorman beliefs
regarding honor and obligation were an unknown. Even if
those notions existed, the creatures might not feel obliged to
apply them to an outsider.
The individual before him did have his own interests.
It seemed logical that he might withdraw his forces after
usurping power, to preserve his remaining strength.
Agreeing to such a plan would cost the doctor nothing.
Success would mean reduced casualties and fewer setbacks
for his work; failure would leave the farrow in the same
position they already occupied.
Already he imagined broaching the subject with Lord
Carver, perhaps painting the reptilian leader as a prize to
prove his reputation to his prospective mate. The farrow
warlord was easily motivated by the desire for a worthy
opponent, and if Arkadius were to present the information
in the presence of the warlords subordinates, Carver would
have little choice.
Very well. I will see what I can do.

14

Maelok followed obediently behind Calaban as they headed


back to camp. From the open manner in which Calaban
ruminated on his plans to his living bokur, it was clear to
Maelok that his master considered him nothing more than
a helpless slave.
Although Maelok remained bound to Calaban, the integrity
of the mystical threads that dictated his actions was fraying.
For months he had mentally gnawed at these bonds. His
acts of resistance were minor and only gradually increased
in frequency. This rebelliousness included trekking into
secluded swamplands to practice magic without permission.
Together, these acts compounded into something resembling
defiance. His was a tenuous and untested freedom, secreted
away in his stilled heart. Now it seemed to him he must act
against his enslaver soon, amid the chaos of the upcoming
battle, before Calaban elevated himself to greater standing.
Not a word of this, Calaban hissed to the living bokor
at his side. We will make what use of the doctor we can.
If all goes well, we will consecrate my transition to leader
of the Congregation with the blood of the farrow leader.
Calaban did not turn back to offer the warning to Maelok
or the undead bog trogs behind him. For all his scheming
he was oblivious to the hatred directed at him from the old
enemy at his back.

The Bloodstone Desert

Void Seer Mordikaar traversed the barren wastes of the


Bloodstone Desert, and spirits of the Void followed him.
He had grown accustomed to their ceaseless wails as they
swirled about the edges of the gateway in reality that had
trailed him since his escape from the Void. From the time
he was cast from the battle at Scarleforth Lake by one of
the dirt mystic leaders, the rage of the spirits seemed more
palpable. The portal attached to him flickered and stretched
as if something large lurking in the Void longed to be set free.
The face of the cowled human who had banished Mordikaar
to the heart of the desert filled his mind, and each step he
took was accompanied by a promise of vengeance. The
cleverness of the dirt mystics actions bothered him more
than the discomfort of his current situation. He and the
mystic had met once before, outside the Castle of the Keys,
when Mordikaars inseparable link to the Void stayed the
mystics hand. This time, rather than seek to kill him, the
mystic found a different solution. Mordikaar still did not
comprehend the ritual through which he had been thrust
deep into the desert. He had felt a rush of unfamiliar power
and then the world simply vanished, to be replaced by
an entirely foreign environment far from the Army of the
Western Reaches.

The desert sun beat down on his withered skin. Multiple


sandstorms had assailed him in the last few days. He had
eaten littleonly the occasional lizard emerging from
beneath the sand at night. He was alone with his thoughts
and the wails of Void spirits.
His body had passed the point when most mortals
would have collapsed from exhaustion, starvation, and
dehydration. He could feel his blood pumping rhythmically
just beneath his skin and the slow burn of his muscles as
his legs continued to propel him forward long after they
should have stopped. To be skorne and a mortitheurge was
to be empowered to weather such hardships. Countless
skorne over the centuries had defied the elements to cross
equally inhospitable wastes under even harsher conditions.
But such travels required at least marginal supplies. With
no food or water, the challenge of the task multiplied. Even
mortitheurgy had limits.
Though Mordikaars body continued to function, it
resembled a dried husk. It began to consume itself for
sustenance, a process slowed only by the infusion of energy
provided by his will. He tottered on the edge of life and
death, a balance he was convinced relied on his inexplicable
link to the Void as much as on his mystical skill. He sensed
a slow trickle of cold energy flowing from the Void into his
shuffling form, a substitute for natural vitality. Something
in the back of his mind warned him not to become too
comfortable with this arrangement.
A familiar presence brushed his consciousness, and
Mordikaars ceaseless march stopped abruptly. In all the time
spent walking, he had encountered no one. And yet there it
was again, a distant prod of familiarity. Mordikaar blinked at
the horizon. At the edge of his vision, the form of a shambling
beast stood out amid the hues of the desert. As it neared,
plates of armor decorated in the red and gold of the empire
took shape, as did the lanterns swaying from curved hooks
that protruded from the beasts back and hung over its head.
Relief washed over the void seer as the beast known as the
Despoiler closed the distance. A product of countless hours
of experimentation, the beast was as much a manifestation
of the Void as a living creature. He could feel its life force
thrumming. Mordikaar drew upon the energy of the beast,
pulling stamina from its body into his own. The sense of
detachment he had been experiencing lessened. For a
moment he held the Despoilers gaze, admiring the loyalty
instilled in his creation.
We continue west, Mordikaar said, speaking to himself
more than the Despoiler. I have unfinished business
beyond the sands. With renewed vigor, he continued
toward the skorne fortresses he knew awaited him, the
Despoiler plodding after. The spirits of the Void screamed
behind him, their mouths echoing some inevitable doom.

Mordikaar stood rooted in the sand. He was looking


over his shoulder, his gaze tracing the edge of the Void
portal drifting behind him. A subtle distortion worked
at the portals rim. At times it seemed to elongate and
lean to one side, as if pulled by some inexplicable force.
The distortion had become more pronounced since he
first noticed it several hours earlier and the pull seemed
to originate from somewhere to the northwest. He had
never witnessed such an anomaly and felt certain it was
significant.
The vast desert sands had given way to hardpan, here and
there broken by rock formations. The void seer recalled
seeing these landmarks on his initial voyage into the west,
and he felt sure his current course would lead him directly
back to the Castle of the Keys, where he could continue
his work. If he altered his course and headed north, he
could find Tyrants Lash or one of the smaller outposts
in the region. Once he reported in and resupplied, he
could devote his attention to finding the source of the
irregularity. His mind turned to the extended ritual that
had been performed by the dirt mystics at the river battle,
and he wondered if the two were related. Despite the
narrow-minded opinions of his peers, Mordikaar knew
now that they had underestimated this foe.
The clatter of lanterns sounded, and Mordikaar turned to
see the Despoiler crest a dune. The struggling form of a
lizard dangled by its tail from the Despoilers fist, trying
in vain to bite its captor. From time to time the Despoiler
disappeared into the desert to return with a wriggling
morsel. Mordikaars pace had doubled since the beast
rejoined him, his health restored through the small influx of
nourishment the Despoiler retrieved.
Mordikaars lanterns glowed and the lizard thrashed as
it died. The void seer absorbed the animals vitality and a
surge of warmth flowed through his limbs. He then plucked
the lizard from the Despoilers grip and sank his teeth into
its neck. The flesh was tough and unappealing, but the
trickle of blood helped to satiate his thirst. As he ate he
considered his options, weighing his current path against
seeking the origins of the portals pull.
Mordikaars return to his former post would most certainly
see his time devoted to Makedas campaign through either
combat or the harvesting of more void spirits for the war
effort. The matter of the unidentified anomaly would go
unexamined, and this prospect vexed him. He felt a growing
certainty that he should not ignore whatever was affecting
the gateway to the Void. He had spent his life in pursuit of
tough answers.

15

The Key Turns


He wiped a smear of blood from his chin and looked in the
direction of the pull.
Come, Mordikaar said to the Despoiler, tossing the husk
of the lizard onto the sand. Let us walk our own path.
Neither Hexeris nor Makeda know where I am, and they
can do without me a little longer. He turned to follow the
tug of his portal, feeling immediate relief as he did so. The
sufferings endured on his journey were nothing against the
torment of questions without answers.

Northern Bloodstone Marches

Throughout the camp, trollkin worked to establish a


permanent holding. Their departure from Scarleforth Lake
and flight from the encroaching skorne had been bloody
and perilous, motivating the kin to put all their effort into
erecting a defensible home. Behind them, the mountains
bordering southern Ios loomed. Though the soil at the base
of the great mountain range was not as fertile as the string
of lands they had been forced to relinquish, the kriels once
native to the Thornwood and other war-torn regions hoped
they might carve out a life here.
Gunnbjorn had set about constructing defenses shortly after
their arrival. The inner fortress of the settlement stood largely
complete now, awaiting only finishing touches. The perimeter
comprised of wall segments interspersed with buildings
curved out from the mountainside to contain the feast hall,
a kuar dueling platform, and a number of workshops and
homes. The buildings making up this walls length served
as watchtowers, their tops broad and open to support the
positioning of thumper crews. The towers stood thirty feet
high, and occasional openings from which pygs could fire
their rifles dotted the face of each one. The sides of the walls
were sloped to ward off cannon fire, and trenches at the base
of each segment limited the options of assailants. Tunnels
burrowed into the mountain itself to unearth additional
materials as well as creating storage and refuge spaces.
A sea of stone homes peppered with the occasional tent
stretched out beyond the wall. At the edges of this outer
village, groups of runeshapers led by Janissa Stonetide
worked to build a secondary wall long enough to
enclose the entirety of the gathered kriels. This wall was
still largely incompletethe long sections erected by
different construction teams would eventually be joined,
but for the moment large gaps still separated them. In
addition to transporting stone from the mountainside, the
runeshapers sought out materials long buried beneath the
earth. Now and then they pulled a slab of rock from the
ground and guided it into place alongside slabs carved at
the mountain quarries.
A number of stonemasons worked to craft the stone to the
required specifications, their tools ringing out rhythmically.

16

The cadence was oddly soothing, perhaps speaking to the


portions of the Dhunian faith deeply rooted to the earth.
Dire trolls traveled between the slopes and the construction
area, transporting enormous boulders. The incomplete
outer wall would serve as the first line of defense, to be
abandoned if warriors found it necessary to retreat to the
inner village and its more extensive protections.
In a cleared area within the outer wall, Grissel Bloodsong
supervised the training of able-bodied trollkin warriors
drawn from dozens of kriels. Lines of kriel warriors trained
here, driving axes and clubs into shields and stepping into
and out of reach with practiced footwork. Those present
had proven themselves in combat over the past months,
but Grissel insisted they keep in top fighting form. Though
many were veteran warriors, most were just now learning a
regimented style of formation fighting, borrowed from the
humans by Grissel and Gunnbjorn.
Hunger was rapidly becoming a problem. Game had been
scarce. A considerable portion of what the hunting parties
brought in was allocated to the dire trolls to keep their
hungermade worse by the demands of physical labor
from turning toward the trollkin working to finish the
fortifications. The warriors, too, had to be kept ready to
defend the hold. There was strength in numbers, but keeping
so many bellies full proved challenging. Now, with the return
of Madrak and his mountain kings, the strain was worse than
ever. There was talk of raids on farrow tribes to the south, if
it could be managed without provoking the nearer, betterdefended skorne.
Madrak had guided the hulking mountain kings partway
up the Iosan slopes to avoid unwelcome snacking, and
for now they seemed content to heft large stones into
their maws or uproot the occasional tree for consumption.
Thanks to the chieftains recent clash with Circle forces,
stories of gargantuans devouring trollkin and druids
alike circulated through the camp, and worries about the
bottomless hunger of the great troll legends circulated
with them.
Calandra Truthsayer considered the problem as she stood just
beyond the southern portion of the outer wall. She initiated
an extended divination, hoping to find hints about how to
add to the food stores. She cast a handful of small twig-like
bones to clatter in the dirt, then squinted at them closely. She
ran a thick finger over their edges, feeling a connection to the
land when she touched them. As with all types of divination,
the answers were cryptic. Though she had spent the past
hour casting and recasting the bones, she had yet to get to the
crux of their meaning. Ordinarily portents came easily to her,
but not since arriving at their desolate new home.
What say those old bones, Calandra?

The shaman looked up to see Janissa Stonetide approach,


her pickaxe Earthsplitter resting on one shoulder.
Although Calandra had limited interaction with the young
runeshaper, she had seen Janissas skill at manipulating
stone firsthand. Without her efforts, they could never have
made such rapid progress toward Gunnbjorns ambitious
plans for defending the settlement.
Nothing I can make heads or tails of, Calandra said.
They prefer to keep their secrets. She took a last look at
the scattered bones before gathering them into her hands.
How goes work on the wall? I see you have no shortage
of stone.
Raw stone isnt the problem. Its the worked stone thats
harder to come by, plus enough strong hands to place it
where its supposed to go. I could use some of Grissels
people, or a few of the dozens we have out scrounging for
food. Janissa planted Earthsplitter at her feet, leaned on
the haft, and sighed. Not that I begrudge anyone the need
to eat. But seems to me most of those hunters spend all day
roaming without anything to show for it.
Food is the issue at hand, Calandra said, distracted. Again
she cast the bones and examined the patterns, and again
she saw the same muddled meanings. Bounty, she said,
uttering the word as little more than a whisper. Nonsense.
Bounty?
Calandra grunted. At first I thought the pattern warned
of a stampede, but now it looks like bounty. I keep trying
to figure out if theres a location where we can find a herd
of something the hunters missed, but it keeps telling me its
already here. The signs are clearly wrong.

Calandra turned her attention to the inner wall and those


toiling along the top of it. Hey, Prag! she called to one of
the bushwhackers who kept a spyglass. Give me an eye on
that dust cloud!
The pyg snapped off a salute and took his spyglass from the
leather tube at his waist. He extended the telescoping brass
tube and placed one end to his eye before sweeping the lens
over the horizon.

As if to emphasize the lack of


food, an angry howl rose from
one of the dire trolls along
the partially complete wall.
Well? Janissa yelled up. Out with it!
Farrow, Prag called back. A lot of farrow. And bigger
pigs, too.
With a sinking feeling, the meaning of the bones became
clear in Calandras mind. Why the farrow would gather to
march against them in such a remote area was beyond her
understanding, but that didnt matter now. She and Janissa
exchanged a look. Calandra shouted toward the wall,
Raise the alarm! Tell Grissel theyre coming!
Stampede, Janissa said, hefting Earthsplitter onto her
shoulder. It appears your bounty is upon us. I suppose
work on the walls will have to wait.

As if to emphasize the lack of food, an angry howl rose


from one of the dire trolls along the partially complete wall,
and it threw its load of stone to the ground in a tantrum. A
nearby shaman settled it down by giving it a large strip of
dried meat. For a trollkin the meat might have been a meal,
but for a dire troll it was a paltry snack. Janissa looked at
Calandra with skepticism. If your windfall is on the way, I
hope it gets here sooner than later.
Calandra nodded, thinking how portents came in many
forms. For all she knew, the bones spoke of the feast the
mountain kings could enjoy if they devoured the gathered
kriels. Dismissing such harsh logic, she scrutinized the
signs once more, trying to look past obvious interpretations
for a better solution.
Janissa looked off at the horizon, taking in the harsh
landscape. Whats that? she asked, squinting and hooding
her eyes with one hand. Following her gaze, Calandra saw a
cloud of dust billowing in the distance.

17

Theme Forces
Hoarluk Doomshaper, Dire Prophet
Immovable Mountains
Warbeasts:Trollblood noncharacter warbeasts, Mulg the Ancient

Units: Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes, Pyg units


Solos: Pyg solos, Troll Whelps

Tier 1

Tier 3

Benefit: Models in the army gain +2ARM during the first


round of the game.

Benefit: You gain +1 on your starting roll for the game.

Requirements: The army can include only the models


listed above.

Tier 2

Requirements: The army includes Troll Whelps.


Benefit: Warbeasts in the army gain +2SPD during the first
round of the game.

Requirements: The army includes one or more units with


Advance Deployment .

Tier 4

Requirements: The army includes two or more


gargantuans.
Benefit: Reduce the cost of gargantuans in this army by2.

Kromac, Champion of the Wurm


Blood Price

Warbeasts: Circle non-character


living warbeasts, Ghetorix

Units: Sentry Stone & Mannikins, Shifting Stones,


Tharn units

Solos: Tharn solos


Tier 1

Tier 3

Benefit: Increase the FA of Tharn units and solos by1.

Benefit: Reduce the cost of light warbeasts by1.

Tier 2

Tier 4

Benefit: For each Bloodweaver unit or solo in the army,


up to one model in the army with Heart Eater gains one
corpse token at the start of the game. The same model can
gain multiple corpse tokens but cannot gain more corpse
tokens than it could gain normally.

Benefit: For each Sentry Stone & Mannikins unit in


the army, place one 3 AOE forest template anywhere
completely within 20 of the back edge of Kromacs
deployment zone after terrain has been placed but before
either player deploys his army. Forest templates cannot be
placed within 3 of another terrain feature including other
forest templates.

Requirements: The army can include only the models


listed above.

Requirements: The army includes one or more


Bloodweaver models/units.

Requirements: The army includes three or more light


warbeasts.

Requirements: The army includes one or more Sentry


Stone & Mannikins units.

Permission is hereby granted to create reproductions of this page for personal, non-commercial use only.

18

Zaal, the Ancestral Advocate


Exalted Legions
Warbeasts: Skorne non-character

warbeasts

Tier 1

Tier 3

Requirements: The army can include only the models


listed above.
Benefit: Increase the FA of non-character Construct
and solos in the army by1.

Units: Paingiver Beast Handlers, Skorne Construct units


Solos: Skorne Construct solos

Requirements: The army includes two or more Immortals


units.
units

Tier 2

Requirements: The army includes two or more warbeasts


with SPD6 or greater.
Benefit: Your deployment zone is extended 2 forward.

Benefit: Add an attachment to one Immortals unit free


of cost. This attachment does not count toward FA
restrictions.

Tier 4

Requirements: The army includes three or more


Construct solos.
Benefit: Construct solos in the army begin the game with
three soul tokens.

Saeryn & Rhyas, Talons of Everblight


Might & Magic

Warbeasts: Legion non-character

warbeasts, Zuriel

Solos: Blighted Nyss Sorceress & Hellion, Incubi,


Spell Martyrs

Units: Blighted Nyss Swordsmen, Hex

Hunters

Tier 1

Tier 3

Benefit: Increase the FA of non-character Blighted Nyss


Swordsman and Hex Hunter units and unit attachments in
the army by1.

Benefit: Nephilim warbeasts gain Advance Move. (Before


the start of the game but after both players have deployed,
a model with Advance Move can make a full advance.)

Tier 2

Tier 4

Requirements: The army can include only the models


listed above.

Requirements: The army includes one or more Spell


Martyrs.
Benefit: Spell Martyrs gain Stealth
round of the game.

during the first

Requirements: The army includes three or more different


Nephilim warbeasts.

Requirements: The army includes one or more units of


Blighted Nyss Swordsmen and one or more units of Hex
Hunters.
Benefit: Reduce the point cost of Nephilim Soldiers and
Nephilim Bloodseers in the army by1.

Permission is hereby granted to create reproductions of this page for personal, non-commercial use only.

19

Two Fronts
Outer United Kriels Village, Northern
Bloodstone Marches

Grissel whipped Resounder through the air again, connecting


solidly with the chest of the nearest farrow to send the creature
crashing into his fellows in a broken heap. She belted out one
fell call after another, and up and down the unfinished expanses
of the southern outer wall, her warriors held fast against the
invasion. The farrow were numerous but unorganized, and
the outer defenses, though incomplete, provided the kriel
defenders with bottlenecks to hold the opposing army at bay.
Fire! Gunnbjorns deep voice roared from atop the outer
wall. Show those mangy cutthroats what it means to take
up arms against the United Kriels! All along the structures
length sounded the crackle and boom of rifles, thumper
cannons, and mortar fire as those under Gunnbjorns
command let fly another barrage. Louder discharges rang
out from behind the warriors holding the gaps, where half
a dozen war wagons were firing their pounders over the
heads of trollkin engaged in melee. Farrow clutched at
mortal wounds as the shots found their marks, or were torn
apart and launched into the air by artillery fire. The trollkin
were holding and the farrow were taking casualties, but the
steadily increasing number of enemies amassing beyond
the walls made Grissel uneasy. This was no gathering of a
few opportunistic local tribes. Among the gathering horde
loomed the hulking forms of warbeasts flanking farrow
warlords that had yet to join the battle.
Conserve your ammunition, Gunnbjorn! she shouted.
She had never seen such an organized war effort from
farrowkind. Every time she thought the tide of pigs was
at an end, another band appeared. They numbered in the
thousands. Great gouts of smoke rose from large, strange
machines not entirely dissimilar to war wagons. The front of
each contraption was fitted with a churning wheel laden with
spikes, and occasionally a slow farrow was pulled beneath
the deadly cylinder to leave a streak of gore as the machine
advanced. Hundreds of farrow already swarmed the walls,
yet the majority of their number waited out of range of troll
cannons and firearms. Grissel believed they were probing the
villages defenses before mounting their main assault.
A pair of brigands leapt at her with their clubs. She evaded
the first, but the second scored a glancing blow on her
shoulder. She caught the offending farrow in the face with a
backswing, and one of the kriel warriors flanking her struck
down the other. The nearest brigands fell back to regroup
while pygs on the wall behind fired on them.
Grissel stepped back and turned, hearing her name called.
Do you think we can hold? Calandra asked, looking
harried.

I believe so. The greater question is how long before the


farrow cut their losses and run. Where are we with the
withdrawal?
Ive met some resistance of my own, Calandra said,
jerking her chin in the direction of trollkin warriors who
were setting up makeshift defenses around a cluster of
recently erected houses. Many of them are tired of trading
one home for another. Its going to take more than farrow
to convince them to pack up and hide behind the walls at
the inner fort.
Cant say that I blame them, Grissel said. She looked to
the gates in the center of the inner village wall. A steady
stream of trollkin were passing through, mostly the elderly
and those too young to fight. Grissel hoped to preserve the
outer village, but they were preparing to get everyone to
safety in case their defenses were overrun. In the distance,
she could see Madrak returning from the mountains with
the mountain kings. If she could hold back the farrow until
they arrived, the invading force might be shattered outright.
The two of them heard a shout and turned to see one of the
scouts from the western wall rushing toward them, the look
on his face eloquently expressing his alarm and disbelief.
The sight knotted Grissels stomach.
Gatormen, from the west! the scout exclaimed. Headed
straight for the western walls. Too many to count!
Gatormen never ventured far from their swamps. It made no
sense that they would strike out into the sunbaked wasteland
against the kriels. For a moment Grissel thought to question
the scout further, but the trollkins face told her everything
she needed to know. He was not just jumping at shadows.
She looked down the length of the wall toward the wider
gaps on the western side. She had directed all her warriors
to the southern side to combat the farrow, and the wall here
was more complete than elsewhere. Only a few scattered
groups remained to cover the rest of the wall, a fact that
had already been worrying her. She had expected some
of the attacking farrow to eventually spread out along the
perimeter to look for better points of ingress.
Now a second army was fast approaching, and there was
precious little time to reallocate warriors to stand against
the gatormen.
Get everyone inside, Grissel said, turning back to
Calandra. Were going to perform a fighting retreat. Tell
Gunnbjorn. Ill buy you what time I can. She clapped
Calandra on the shoulder and began yelling orders, hoping
to bolster the gathered warriors under her command. She
kept her voice steady, betraying none of the panic she felt.

21

Hoarluk
Doomshaper, Dire Prophet
Trollblood Epic Trollkin Warlock Unit
In his hands, our very history is a weapon.

DOOMSHAPER
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


5 7 5 4 13 15 8

Kriel Staff

POW P+S

6 13

Fury 7
Damage 16
Field Allowance
C
Warbeast Points
+3
Medium base

Feat: Blood of
Dhunia

Through decades of study


and deep introspection,
Hoarluk Doomshaper has
mastered the links between
troll and trollkin. By calling
upon the secrets of the blood,
Doomshaper unleashes the
true might of Dhunias
children, turning muscle to
stone and mending even severe
wounds as fast as the enemy
can inflict them.

While within Doomshapers control area, models in his


battlegroup gain an additional die on melee attack rolls.
When a model in Doomshapers battlegroup that is in his
control area is hit by an enemy attack, the attacker rolls
one fewer die on the attack damage roll. After the attack is
resolved, if the model in Doomshapers battlegroup was
damaged by the attack, it heals d3 damage points. Blood of
Dhunia lasts for one round.

DOOMSHAPER
Tough

Field Marshal [Hyper Regeneration] Models in this models


battlegroup gain Hyper Regeneration. (A model with Hyper
Regeneration automatically heals d3 damage points at the start
of each of its activations.)
Goad When a warbeast in this models battlegroup destroys
one or more enemy models with a melee attack during its
combat action, immediately after the attack is resolved this
model can force the warbeast to advance up to 2.

Kriel Staff

Magical Weapon
Reach

Critical Smite On a critical hit, this model can slam the


model hit instead of rolling damage normally. The model hit
is slammed d6 directly away from this model and suffers a
damage roll with POW equal to this models STR plus the
POW of this weapon. The POW of collateral damage is equal
to this models STR.

Hoarluk Doomshaper has cemented himself by word and


deed as an essential pillar of the United Kriels. Through
his exploration into the history and the blood of trolls,
he unearthed long-forgotten secrets; his indomitable will
tore legends from the krielstones of the past and brought
them roaring into the present, hungry and filled with rage.
Those who thought him mad were silenced as his most dire
predictions have come true. Many who once shunned him
for his radical ideals now beseech him for aid and seek his
leadership as enemies close in on all sides. Doomshaper
preaches a violent rhetoric embracing aggression and

22

Grissel Bloodsong

Spells
Admonition

Cost RNG AOE POW UP OFF


2
6

Yes No

When an enemy model advances and ends its movement within 6


of target model in this models battlegroup, the affected model can
immediately advance up to 3, then Admonition expires. The affected
model cannot be targeted by free strikes during this movement.

Implacability

2 Self Ctrl

No No

Repudiate

10

No Yes

Stranglehold

10

11 No Yes

Unminding

10

Yes Yes

While in this models control area, models in its battlegroup cannot be


knocked down, placed, pushed, or moved by a slam. Implacability lasts
for one round.

Enemy upkeep spells and animi on the model/unit directly hit by


Repudiate immediately expire. An enemy model maintaining an upkeep
spell that expired as a result of Repudiate suffers d3 damage points.
A model damaged by Stranglehold forfeits either its movement or its
action during its next activation, as its controller chooses.

Target enemy warbeast suffers 2 FURY and THR and loses its animus.
This model can cast an affected warbeasts animus as a spell as if the
animus belonged to a warbeast in this models battlegroup and in its
control area.

Tactical Tips

Field Marshal This includes this model.


Goad Because the warbeast is forced, it gains 1 fury point.
Critical Smite The slammed model is moved only half the
distance rolled if its base is larger than the slamming models.
Repudiate Because they expire immediately, upkeep spells and
animi that had an effect when the model/unit was hit or damaged
will have no effect.

the annihilation of all foes. Yet while his words are an


incitement to war, the shaman would sacrifice everything
to ensure his people endure. He has proven that victory
cannot be attained through peace, but instead requires
strength and ruthless ferocity.
Doomshaper has become a living repository of lore
rivaling even the omnipotents of the Circle Orboros. He
never slows in his search for hidden truths, particularly
those pertaining to the legacy of the trollkin people. This
hunt for lore has led him to knowledge of the Molgur
tribes of old as well as hints of the lost times of prehistory
when trollkin were the first intelligent race to walk Caen.
During a long lifetime of searching, he has scoured every
sacred site and spent endless hours collecting rubbings
from krielstones across western Immoren, accumulating a
wealth of ancient teachings.
Once he took it as a point of pride to carry these scrolls and
their protective cases on his person. Over time, keeping
even a limited selection of the most spiritually potent
writings has become an unwieldy burden. His role at the

23

SCROLL BEARER
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


5 6 5 4 13 13 8

Damage 5
Field Allowance
C
Medium base

SCROLL BEARER
Tough

Attached to [Doomshaper]
This model is attached to
Doomshaper for the rest
of the game. Each warlock
can have only one model
attached to it.

Scroll Bearer Once per turn during Doomshapers activation


while he is B2B with this model, he can use one of the following
scrolls. Each scroll can be used only once per game.
Scroll of the Call of Troqal While within Doomshapers
control area, each warbeast in his battlegroup can gain 0
fury when forced to use its animus instead of gaining fury
points equal to the COST of the animus. Scroll of the Call of
Troqal lasts for one turn.
Scroll of the Hand of Yolandi Enemy models pay double
the focus or fury point cost to cast or upkeep spells in
Doomshapers control area for one round.
Scroll of the Time of the Molgur While in Doomshapers
control area this turn, friendly Faction warrior models gain an
additional die on attack rolls. Discard the lowest die in each
roll. Scroll of the Time of the Molgur lasts for one turn.

24

forefront of the battles of the United Kriels necessitated


accepting assistance. A number of stout pygmy trolls
volunteered to help shoulder the legendary shamans
burden. Those taking on this task are loaded down with
enough scrolls and cases to rival the weight of equipment
borne by the most heavily armored kriel warriors. Even
this impressive collection pales in comparison to the
knowledge Doomshaper has committed to memory and
which would be lost with him if he perished.
Doomshaper has learned more of the connection between
trollkin and full-blood trolls than anyone before him.
Through his will and audacity, the might of the dire trolls
was joined to the kriels. This accomplishment alone saved
the lives of countless warriors who could not otherwise
have stood against the warjacks and beasts of their
enemies. Doomshapers connection with these great trolls
is a deep one. His reputation has grown such that his word
is law to all full-blood trolls, and his name commands
universal respect and fear from these primal minds. They
see him as a being greater than his size suggests, more of
a natural force than a person. In this simple assumption
they are wise, since Doomshaper serves as a conduit
for the wrath and protective ferocity of Dhunia. The
world is his vast and limitless goddess, and he
walks nowhere that she is not with him.

The deep communion between Doomshaper and the


greatest trolls is more than a matter of loreit has changed
the shamans very being. When he entered into a pact with
Mulg the Ancient, offering his own hand for consumption,
Doomshaper learned to regenerate as trolls do. The life
and vitality flowing through him belies his age, allowing
him to shrug off brutal injuries. He has learned to extend
this tremendous regenerative power to the trolls under his
command, making them tenacious beyond belief.
Even before his emergence from the Gnarls to participate
in the greater struggles of his people, Doomshaper stood
as a figure both feared and respected among the trollkin.
His stature inspired confidence and loyalty, but it also
brought Doomshaper into conflict with a number of tribal
elders, all of whom he crushed or cowed into obedience.
Doomshapers war rhetoric and promises of retribution
for past wrongs inflicted upon his race enticed many
youthful trollkin to answer his call for blood. No longer
is Doomshaper content to merely react to challenges
presented to the kriels. Instead his plans revolve around
taking the fight to his enemies. Already he has set his
sights on several human cities within reach of the great
forests the trollkin call home. His ability to persevere and
his willingness to retaliate with brutal aggression turned
Doomshaper into a legendary figure that inspires fierce
dedication in the most warlike of the kriels. Doomshaper
restored to the kriels the confidence they had nearly
surrendered in the face of their many setbacks and
misfortunes.
The number of transgressions against the kin is numerous,
and Doomshapers list of grievances is long. His people
have been exploited and betrayed at every turn, driven from
their traditional homes and made welcome in few places.
For this reason, the Shaman of the Gnarls never ceased

searching for newer and greater weapons to add to his


arsenal. Without the ability to contend with their enemies,
the kin risk being wiped from Caen. His understanding of
this grim possibility motivated Doomshaper to search for
allies even greater than the dire trolls.
Through his dusty scrolls he looked back to legends from
the dawn of the world, when mountains walked and
when the earth of Dhunias body mixed with the Wurms
predatory blood to birth the progenitors of all trollkind.
Though his peers dismissed these legends as fanciful
myths, Doomshaper proved them wrong. He found
ancient markers specifying where the troll kings had
been imprisoned. Against the warnings of his ancestors,
he awakened and freed the mountain kings, saving them
from the twisted deprivations of the Tree of Fate. In doing
so Doomshaper unleashed beings as dangerous as they are
fearsome, but he knows that only such extreme measures
can reverse the horrors inflicted on his people. He works
to ensure that the endless hunger and anger of these trolls
is ever directed at his foes.
While other leaders among the kriels seek to make the best
of the hand dealt to them, Doomshaper does not accept
retreats or self-defeating compromises. His success in
locating the mountain kings sparked his desire to retrieve
yet more of their kind from slumber, to find other ways
to bring pain and destruction to his enemies. He would
like nothing better than to see the cities of the nations
of man tremble and fall and to hear their monarchs
beg for mercy. He intends to strike at them not only for
wrongdoings inflicted during his lifetime, but also for all
the strife between their races since the Menites brought
fire and sword to the Molgur kriels. A thousand terrified
screams are not enough to begin to balance the scales, and
Doomshaper is ready to release an avalanche of carnage.

25

Glacier
King
Trollblood Gargantuan
It is like the bones of winter itself grew muscle, sinew, and a bad temperament.

GLACIER KING

GLACIER KING

Immunity: Cold

SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD

Terror

5 15 5 5 9 19 4

Snacking When this


model boxes a living model
with a melee attack, this
model can heal d3 damage
points. If this model
heals, the boxed model is
removed from play.

Wind Thrower
RNG ROF AOE POW

12 3 14

Big Frosty Fist


POW P+S

L 4 19

Big Frosty Fist


Snowfall While within


3 of this model, friendly
models gain concealment
and friendly models with
Prowl gain Stealth
.

POW P+S

R 4 19

Fury 5
Threshold 6
Field Allowance
2
Point Cost
18
Huge base

Wind Thrower

Damage Type: Cold

Thunderbolt Enemy
models hit are pushed d3 directly away from the attacking
model. On a critical hit, the enemy model is knocked down after
being pushed.

Big Frosty Fist


Open Fist

Freeze A model hit by this weapon becomes stationary for one


.
round unless it has Immunity: Cold
2

Body

3
ir
it

in
d

sp

The awakening of the mountain kings chained beneath the


Wyrmwall reminded the world of the eternal hunger that
once roved the land. The north, too, has its kings of the
peaks, and they are no less insatiable in their appetites for
destruction than their southern cousins. Gifted by the hand
of Dhunia with an affinity for the elements that envelop
them, the glacier kings are the embodiment of winter and
the frozen north. Localized storms laden with ice and snow
swirl about their towering forms, streams and lakes ice

26

ANIMUS

Calandra Truthsayer

Cost RNG AOE POW UP OFF

Frozen Ground

2 Self

No No

When an enemy model without Immunity: Cold


ends its
activation within 3 of this model, the enemy model is knocked
down. Frozen Ground lasts for one round.

Tactical Tip

Snacking Because the boxed model is removed from play before


being destroyed, it does not generate a soul or corpse token.

over at their passing, and tree trunks explode in a hail of


splinters under the pressure of sap rapidly expanding in the
sudden cold.
Even after the imprisonment of the glacier kings by the
northern kriels, tales of the greatest among these trolls
circulated far and wide. Trollkin children heard stories of
Winters Maw battling giant mountain bears across the
Shard Spires. Around low-burning fires, accounts were
whispered of Icebringer devouring entire kriels. Some
shamans attributed the penetrating cold of the north entirely
to these primal trolls, saying that avalanches were caused
by the beasts rolling over in their sleep and that the harshest
storms followed their foul moods. Such stories persisted for
generations. Now the glacier kings walk the world again,
unearthed by Hoarluk Doomshaper after years of research
and many lengthy expeditions, and the harsh realities of the
creatures wild tempers outstrip any tale.
While their insatiable appetites had gnawed at these
gargantuan trolls in their cold, dark prisons, the lust for
battle also filled their restless dreams. Thousands of years
of anger carries them forward now in an avalanche of ice
and fang. Massive fists sunder mountainsides and flatten
villages while the perpetual snowfall surrounding them
obscures any forms alongside them. Howling gales whirl
about their shoulders and chill with the might of the
northern winds. The moisture in the air crackles as it freezes,
and the exposed hands and faces of enemies are quickly
enveloped by frostbite. Snow and ice blanket the ground at
the glacier kings feet, and enemies who lose their footing
nearby are promptly crushed to death or frozen solid before
being lofted into a mouth of jagged, yellowed teeth.
At Doomshapers bidding, these incarnations of winter
now descend from the most remote mountain peaks to hurl
themselves against the enemies of the kriels. One question
remains in the minds of many trollkin: who will attract the
attention of the glacier kings once these battles are won?

27

Dhunian
Knot
Trollblood Trollkin Unit
The road calls to us, and we walk it as one.

LEADER & GRUNTS

LEADER & GRUNTS


SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


6 6 5 4 13 13 8

Ritual Blade

POW P+S

Field Allowance
Leader & 2 Grunts
Medium Base

2
3

Tough

Magic Ability [5]


Heal (HAction) Choose
a friendly living model
B2B with this model.
That model heals d3
damage points.

Puppet Master (HAction


or Attack) Puppet
Master is a RNG 10 spell.
When it targets an enemy model/unit, it is a magic attack. You
can have one affected model reroll one or more dice of your
choice rolled for a command check, attack, or damage roll, then
Puppet Master expires. Puppet Master lasts for one round.
Wild Communion When a warbeast within 3 of this model
makes a Threshold check, you can have the warbeast reroll one
or more dice of your choice. Dice can be rerolled only once as a
result of Wild Communion.

Ritual Blade

Magical Weapon

The Dhunian knot is an old tradition of trollkin shamans


banding together to combine their mystical power and
thereby better serve a regions kriels as healers and advisors.
Those who join a knot commit to a life of wandering together

28

Nargessel, Shaman of the North

Tactical Tip

Magic Ability Performing a Magic Ability special action or


special attack counts as casting a spell.

between scattered trollkin villages. The current hardships


have prompted trollkin to value the concept of kin over all
else, and more shamans have chosen this path as a result.
When a knot enters battle directly, they call upon Dhunia
to heal the wounds of those on the front lines and also
manipulate the threads of fate. The guiding hands of these
shamans lend the strikes of kriel warriors a preternatural
precision, and enemies find their blades turned aside and
their footwork muddled at inopportune times. Even the
outcome of battles considered hopeless may prove more
favorable under the guidance of a knot.
The presence of the shamans is comforting to many, the
deep thrum of their chants instilling confidence and resolve.
They can bring a dire troll back from the edge of a rampage
or even magically compel others beasts to rise up against
their masters.
Later in life, Dhunian knots settle in a single village to serve
as healers and trusted elders, though recent events have
compelled even these older knots to join their kith in battle
when communities are threatened. Perhaps more than any
other trollkin, the Dhunian knot represents the undying
connection between all kin and the Great Mother.

Pyg BushwhackerTrollblood
Officer Unit
& Mortar
Attachment
The more firepower we give them, the happier they are to use it.

Captain Gunnbjorn

Tactical Tip

Tactics: Camouflage If a model ignores concealment or cover, it


also ignores concealment or covers Camouflage bonus.

Bushwhackers are now commonplace among the fighting


forces of the United Kriels. Captain Gunnbjorns efforts have
seen pyg combatants organized into increasingly effective
teams equipped with firepower to match.
Pygs fighting under militarized trollkin leaders now follow a
system of promotion similar to that of a traditional military,
complete with uniforms and insignia. Trollkin commanders

Attachment
[Pyg Bushwhackers] This
attachment can be added to
a Pyg Bushwhackers unit.

OFFICER

Advance Deployment

Combined Ranged Attack


Officer
Pathfinder
Tough
Granted: Combined Arms
While this model is in play,
models in its unit gain
Combined Arms. (When a
model with Combined Arms
misses an attack roll for a
combined ranged attack, it
can reroll that attack roll.
Each attack roll can be
rerolled only once as a result
of Combined Arms.)

OFFICER
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


6 5 5 5 13 12 8

Rifle
RNG ROF AOE POW

14 1 10

Hand Weapon

POW P+S

MORTAR PYG
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


6 5 4 4 13 12 7

Light Mortar
RNG ROF AOE POW

14 1 4 12

Hand Weapon

POW P+S

Officers Damage
5
Field Allowance
1
Officer & Mortar pyg 2
Small base

Slip Away (Order)


Affected models make a
full advance during their
normal movement this activation, can advance through other
models if they have enough movement to move completely
past them, and cannot be targeted by free strikes.
Tactics: Camouflage Models in this unit gain Camouflage.
(Models with Camouflage gain an additional +2 DEF when
benefiting from concealment or cover.)

MORTAR PYG

Advance Deployment
Pathfinder
Tough

Light Mortar

Arcing Fire When attacking with this weapon, this model can
ignore intervening models except those within 1 of the target.
Range Finder While B2B with another model in this unit, this
model gains +2 to attack rolls with this weapon.

grant ranks like corporal or sergeant to pygs who have proven


themselves particularly intelligent and disciplined and assign
them teams to lead in the field. Attacks these pyg officers
orchestrate can often end skirmishes before they begin by
striking from unseen positions.
Other pygs have progressed from rifles to heavier weaponry.
The kriels have been training gunsmiths and finding ways to
fabricate firearms and light artillery. The inclusion of mortars
brings the shriek of shells after the initial volley of rifle fire,
punctuated by an infantry-shredding detonation. Pyg mortar
crews exhibit remarkable accuracy, especially if aided by a
spotter to help in range finding.

29

Sands of Fate
Bloodstone Marches

Mohsar floated above the dunes of the Bloodstone Marches,


his cloaked form turning in slow circles. The occasional gust
of wind pulled at the folds of his clothing and sent a spray
of sand swirling about him. His head was thrown back
and his arms flung wide, his face with its milky-white eyes
lifted to the desert sun as its warmth radiated across his
upraised palms. Pillars of finely carved stone jutted from
the earth around him, each thrumming, and it was through
these stones that Mohsar amplified his awareness of the
Bloodstone Desert and the regions beyond its borders. A
pair of Celestial Fulcrums circled the site to further enhance
his efforts, each creaking and groaning softly as the wood
supporting the stone pieces representing Caens moons
flexed, the orbs tilting and spinning about their axis.
Through the converging ley lines Mohsar could sense the
druids under his command working to repair or rebuild
sites destroyed in the aftermath of the battle at the Bones
of Orboros. The resulting disruption of energy flows made
coordinating their efforts difficult. He could also sense the
anomaly he knew to be the skorne void seer he had cast
deep into the wastes during that same battle. He mentally
tracked the tear in reality as the skorne warlock made his
return trek, veering toward one of his peoples military
holdings just south of the Iosan border. Mohsar had yet to
find a more lasting solution for that particular problem.
Through sheer will, he reshaped the land as though the
whole of the desert lay beneath his fingers. Slabs of rock
erupted from the earth, hills eroded as he redirected rivers,
sand dunes rose in great waves to crest and crash upon the
mountainsides, and heavy clouds rolled from the distant
Stormlands to flood stretches of sun-bleached waste. The
work was slow and strenuous, but he was making progress.
A mental projection he recognized as Bradigus Thorle pulled
at his consciousness from across the miles, requesting an
audience. Mohsar had sent the Runecarver to repair the
more severe ley line fractures, and he felt a flare of agitation
at the thought that Thorle might have deviated from that
task. Unlike many in the organization, the Runecarver had
always proven dependable. Mohsar gave him the benefit of
the doubt and granted his request. Soon there was a sound
like the cracking of granite, and Bradigus Thorle appeared.
State your business, Mohsar said, cutting off any
formalities. He tried to temper his displeasure at having his
work interrupted, though it came through in his voice.
Ive discovered another potentially more alarming
disruption to the the ley line network, Thorle said.
Energy from both Lortus dominion and your own has
been significantly drained.

You think I did not notice this already? Mohsar asked. The
creaking of the Celestial Fulcrums mingled with the whistle
of the wind as it passed over the ring of stones. What new
information do you bring on this matter?
Closer examination revealed much of this stolen power
being funneled through an obscure sacred site in the
Scabbard Hills, Thorle said calmly, seemingly unfazed
by Mohsars irritation. It became clear there was outside
interference. I believe these stolen energies were utilized for
mass teleportation.
Mohsar lowered his arms and turned toward Thorles voice,
looking at him through the power of Orboros rather than
his own eyes. The Stormlord?
That was my initial thought. I believe he is involved in a
dangerous project affecting the ley lines, a matter Lyvene the
Wayopener is investigating. Blighted energies have erupted
at several connecting nodes across all three dominions,
likely related to movement of the dragons. But Krueger
is not behind what transpires in the northern Bloodstone
Marches. When I arrived there, I encountered interference
from the Tree of Fate.
The Runecarver paused to allow that to sink in. Mohsar
found his theatrics annoying. Go on, he snapped.
Wurmwood convinced me to allow the passage of a sizable
army of gatormen and bog trogs through the Scabbard Hills.
As promised, they did not damage our site. They appeared
to be there at the trees bidding. Our conversation was brief,
but I could feel the trees roots drawing heavily upon the
ley lines. Whatever is happening, I am certain Wurmwood
is behind it. I suspect a great ritual will soon be initiated.
Mohsar was silent as he extended his mind across the miles
to focus on the specific remote region Thorle described. He
sensed the reptilian army, far from the lush swamps they
called home. An intense aura of darkness gathered around
them, as if the entire army was suffused with necrotic
energies. As he broadened his perspective, a more familiar
ripple of discordant power caught his attention. It was the
skorne void seer again. Now Mohsar saw his path was likely
to intersect with that taken by the gatorman army. With him
traveled the rent in reality between Caen and Urcaen that
was anchored to his soul.
Mohsar returned to himself and looked again at Bradigus
Thorle. You have done well. Return to your work and
await my call. I must attend to this matter personally.
Mohsar gathered his power, extending it into and through
the Celestial Fulcrums, then became one with the wind
and sand.

31

Kromac
, Champion of the Wurm
Circle Epic Tharn Warlock
The Tharn king rules not with the weight of his crown but withthe weightof his axe.

Feat: Blood Lust

KROMAC
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD

6 10 8 4 14 18 4

Rathrok

POW P+S

7 17

Fury 7
Damage 19
Field Allowance
C
Warbeast Points
+4
Large Base

Kromac stands as the anointed


champion of the Wurm, and
through him the primal fury
of the Beast of All Shapes
unleashes a primal howl. Upon
hearing his call, the greatest
beasts of the wilds descend
upon the Tharn kings foes in a
frenzy of tooth and claw.

While within Kromacs


control area, living models
in his battlegroup gain +2
STR and ARM. When a
living friendly Faction model makes a charge attack against an
enemy model while the enemy model is in Kromacs control area,
the attack automatically hits. Blood Lust lasts for one round.

KROMAC
Pathfinder
Terror
Heart Eater This model gains a corpse token each time it
destroys a living enemy model with a melee attack. This model
can have up to three corpse tokens at a time. It can spend corpse
tokens during its activation to boost an attack or damage roll
or to make an additional melee attack at one token per boost or
additional attack.

Rathrok

Magical Weapon
Reach

Life Drinker When it destroys a living enemy model with


this weapon, immediately after the attack is resolved this model
heals d3 damage points.

Kromacs howl is the first and final note in a chorus of a


thousand untamed beasts. The deepest and most primal
secrets of the Wurms chosen stir within his blood. His
scattered tribes hold great feasts in his honor, for they see
him as their greatest king. They offer him goblets fashioned
from the skulls of victims and filled with fermented blood,
together with hearts and marrow collected from the most
dangerous prey. He takes the best warriors of these tribes
into battle, letting them join in the carnage to prove their
dedication to the Wurm. He is called Kromac the Ravenous,
King of All Tuaths, and Champion of the Wurm. Through
Kromacs bond with the Beast of All Shapes, someday soon
the nations of man will fall.
For many years the Tharn king served the blackclads of
the Circle Orboros, believing their aims aligned with his
own. While Kromac still respects some among them, he
now refuses to serve them as an inferior and demands
the respect he is due. Kromac made binding promises to

32

Spells
Aggravator

Wolf Lord Morraig

Cost RNG AOE POW UP OFF


3 Self Ctrl Yes No

While in this models control area, friendly warbeasts gain Hyper


Aggressive. (When a model with Hyper Aggressive suffers damage from
an enemy attack anytime except while it is advancing, after the attack
is resolved it can immediately make a full advance directly toward the
attacking model.)

Awakened Spirit

Yes No

Carnage

3 Self Ctrl

Primal Howl

3 Self

No No

Primal Shock

* No Yes

Target warbeast in this models battlegroup can use its animus once
during its activation without being forced. A warbeast that uses its animus
as a result of Awakened Spirit cannot also be forced to use its animus that
activation.

No No

Friendly Faction models gain +2 to melee attack rolls against enemy


models in this models control area. Carnage lasts for one turn.

While in this models command range, living enemy models suffer 2 to


their attack rolls and living enemy models/units suffer 2 CMD when
making command checks. Primal Howl lasts for one round.

Ctrl

Choose a friendly Faction warbeast in this models control area. Target an


enemy model within 8 of the chosen warbeast and make a magic attack
against it. The chosen warbeast is the attacks point of origin. If the enemy
model is hit, it suffers a damage roll with a POW equal to the warbeasts
base STR.

Wurmwood, the Tree of Fate, as avatar of the Wurm. His


ties to this entity bred unease among the ranking druids,
who have only indirect influence over the trees actions.
One of Wurmwoods far-reaching schemes resulted in
Kromac battling the trollkin chieftain Madrak Ironhide to
claim the axe Rathrokthe World Ender. Amid this strife
Kromac witnessed the Wurm made manifest on Caen, a
blessed revelation. Since this event, he has achieved mastery
over his bestial form and no longer feels the need to return
to a human guise. He walks amid his tribes as a hulking
creature beyond the size or strength of any other chieftain,
yet his every thought is his own. None who see him can
doubt he is the Wurms one true champion.
Ancient powers guide Kromacs fate and have awarded him
with a pivotal role in the eternal battle between civilization
and the wilds. The axe he bears is a mighty artifact with
a bloody history connected to the ancestors of the Tharn.
Thousands of years ago, the weapon was lost to those loyal
to the Wurm in the last clash between the great Molgur tribes
and the Calacians. Now it has found its way back to those
who would wield it to tear down the walls of mankind.
Kromac has taken it upon himself to reawaken the full
power of Rathrok, even if the axe requires an unending tide
of bloodshed in return.

33

Storm
Raptor
Circle Gargantuan
Its wings are the flash of lightning, its cry the call of thunder.

RAPTOR

Gunfighter

SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD

Lightning
RNG ROF AOE POW

12 1 14

POW P+S

5 18

Talon

POW P+S

L 4 17

Talon

POW P+S

R 4 17

Fury 4
Threshold 9
Field Allowance
2
Point Cost
19
Huge BASE

Plasma Nimbus If this


model is hit by a melee
attack, immediately after
the attack is resolved the
attacking model suffers a
POW 10 electrical damage
unless this model
roll
was destroyed or removed
from play by the attack.

Superconduction When a friendly model attacks with a


ranged weapon with Damage Type: Electricity
, it gains +2 to
attack rolls against enemy models within 5 of this model.
Virtuoso This model can make melee and ranged attacks
during the same combat action. When this model makes its initial
attacks, it can make both its initial ranged and melee attacks.

Lightning

Damage Type: Electricity

Lightning Generator When a model is hit with this weapon,


lightning arcs from that model to d3 consecutive additional
models. The lightning arcs to the nearest model it has not
already arced to within 4 of the last model it arced to, ignoring
this model. Each model the lightning arcs to suffers a POW 10
electrical damage roll
.

Beak

Disruption A warjack hit loses its focus points and cannot be


allocated focus or channel spells for one round.
Electro Leap When a model is hit with this weapon, you can
have lightning arc to the nearest model within 4 of the model
hit, ignoring the attacking model. The model the lightning arcs
to suffers an unboostable POW 10 electrical damage roll
.

Talon

Open Fist

Disruption See above.


Electro Leap See above.

Sky Fire

Cost RNG AOE POW UP OFF


2 Self

No No

When an enemy model in this models command range suffers


an electrical damage roll , add +2 to the roll. Sky Fire lasts for
one round.

34

Body

in
d

Beak

Flight This model can


advance through terrain
and obstacles without
penalty and can advance
through obstructions and
other models if it has
enough movement to move
completely past them. This
model ignores intervening
models when declaring its
charge target.

Immunity: Electricity

7 13 5 6 12 18 9

ir
it

RAPTOR

ANIMUS

Una the Falconer

sp

Tactical Tips

Lightning Generator The lightning will still arc to models with


Immunity: Electricity; it just cannot damage them. Damage from
Lightning Generator is not considered to have been caused by a hit
or by a melee or ranged attack.
Electro Leap The lightning will still arc to a model with
Immunity: Electricity; it just cannot damage that model. Damage
from Electro Leap is not considered to have been caused by a hit or
by a melee or ranged attack.

This terrible bird of prey soars over the battlefields of


Immoren rife with electrical energies, its silhouette blotting
out the sun while its keen eyes scan for those who would
oppose the will of its masters. Lightning flickers through its
feathers, to be unleashed in blinding arcs of voltaic energy as
the raptor dives upon its prey, talons extended for the kill.
Native to the desolate northern Stormlands, this great beast
makes its home on the steep cliff faces of the Abyss. It is a
superb hunter and spends much of its time circling amid the
harsh storms common to the region, using their frequent
electrical discharges to cloak its approach to preytypically
deep drakes and other denizens of this vast and treacherous
wasteland. Solitary storm raptors often clash with archidons
in territorial feuds in the skies above the desert, rending the
air with their cries. The storm raptor is invariably the victor in
these tempestuous battles, though archidons working together
sometimes succeed in driving one away.
Storm raptors were utilized as beasts of war long ago, but
their existence had been forgotten for millennia before
Omnipotent Mohsar called attention to them once more.
His subordinates spent years studying the breeding patterns
and habits of the creatures before moving to seize hatchlings
when their nests were unguarded. The charred bodies of a
number of blackclads who failed are lost to the desert sands,
but the druids did retrieve some few storm raptors and have
trained them well to serve the will of the Circle Orboros.

35

Blackclad
Mist Riders
Circle Light Cavalry Unit
They stalk the mountain heights and strike with the fury of the storm.

LEADER & GRUNTS

LEADER & GRUNTS


SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


8 6 5 4 14 15 9

Voulge

POW P+S

4 10

Mount

POW

12

Damage
5 each
Field Allowance
1
Leader & 2 Grunts
6
Leader & 4 Grunts
9
Large base

Pathfinder

Battle Wizard Once per


turn, when this model
destroys one or more
enemy models with a
melee attack during its
activation, immediately
after the attack is resolved
it can make one Magic
Ability special attack or
special action.
Camouflage This model
gains an additional
+2 DEF when benefiting
from concealment or cover.

Magic Ability [7]


Blizzard (HAction) RNG 5. Target friendly Faction model.
If the model is in range, center a 3 AOE cloud effect on it.
The AOE remains centered on the model for one round. If the
target model is destroyed or removed from play, remove the
AOE from play.
Shock Bolt (HAttack) Shock Bolt is a RNG 8, POW 12
. On a
magical attack that causes electrical damage
critical hit, instead of suffering a normal damage roll, a nonincorporeal model hit is slammed d3 directly away from
this model regardless of its base size and suffers a POW 12
electrical damage roll
. Collateral damage from this slam is
POW 12.

Voulge

Magical Weapon
Reach

Brutal Charge This model gains +2 to charge attack damage


rolls with this weapon.

36

Omnipotent Lortus

Tactical Tips

Camouflage If a model ignores concealment or cover, it also


ignores concealment or covers Camouflage bonus.
Magic Ability Performing a Magic Ability special action or
special attack counts as casting a spell.

Mounted on swift Skirovik mountain goats native to the


northern Khadoran peaks, these blackclads bring the speed
and ferocity of a summit storm to bear as they strike from
walls of churning mist. They often assist with mountain
patrols and the protection of isolated shifting stone sites,
using their ability to quickly cover difficult ground in
service of the order. Hit-and-run operations have become
a mist rider specialty.
New riders and their mounts engage in fierce sparring
upon the craggy peaks, charging one another until the
crack of horns joins the clash of thunder and harmony
is achieved between rider and mount. Once conditioned,
these mountain goats need little prompting to heed their
riders amid storms and battle alike.
Though this tradition originated in the northern mountain
ranges, mist riders are now found across western Immoren,
with a concentration in the southern Wyrmwall. Once a
rider learns to harness the elements of these remote peaks,
he shrouds his form in fog or sheets of rain that blend his
silhouette into those of trees and rocks while flashes of
lightning sear his opponents.

Bloodweaver Night
Witch
Circle Tharn Solo
In consuming her foes, she learns their most guarded weaknesses and her own inner strengths.

Tharn Chieftain Kulventis

Tactical Tip

Blood Rituals If the damage this model suffers from Blood


Rituals destroys it, the attack is not resolved.

NIGHT WITCH
Fearless

NIGHT WITCH

Pathfinder


7 6 7 5 14 11 9

Stealth

Even among the Tharn, night witches are regarded as the


epitome of Devourer worship. As priestesses and ranking
practitioners of the bloodweaver arts, they move across
the battlefield within a veil of gore and carnage. With
ruthless animosity they leave behind a trail of butchered

Blood Rituals Each time


this model makes an attack
or damage roll during its
activation, it can suffer d3
damage points to boost
the roll. This damage is
suffered before the roll is
made.

SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD

Implements of Death

POW P+S

4 10

Damage 5
Field Allowance
2
Point Cost
2
Small base

Killing Spree When this model destroys one or more enemy


models with a melee attack during its combat action, after that
attack is resolved this model can move up to 1 and make one
additional melee attack.
Leadership [Tharn Bloodweavers] While in this models
command range, friendly Tharn Bloodweaver models gain
Killing Spree.

Implements of Death
Magical Weapon

Grievous Wounds When a model is hit by this weapon, for


one round it loses Tough, cannot heal or be healed, and cannot
transfer damage.
Life Drinker When it destroys a living enemy model with
this weapon, immediately after the attack is resolved this model
heals d3 damage points.

opponents, taking from each one tokens of meat and


precious organs to fuel their own powerful blood magic.
Night witches are well versed in primal mystical practices
regarding the use of the flesh. They are not content to
merely draw upon the energy of their victims blood but are
accomplished bone grinders, using all manner of organs,
bones, and connective tissues to achieve their ends. This close
relationship to the flesh has led to a savage appreciation for
the taste of the fallen. Night witches consume the innards
of their victims as often as they use them to empower
their magic. Through a deep connection to the
Beast of All Shapes, they have learned to draw
upon the energy inherent in consumed flesh to
knit their own wounds. At times they even draw upon their
own vitality to fuel the slaughter, replenishing their life force
with the blood of fallen enemies.
Many bloodweavers view the blood-splattered exultations
of the night witches as a glimpse into the true heart of their
craft. The sight of these ritual killings is enough to drive
their peers to new levels of violence, instilling in them an
insatiable bloodlust beyond even the appetite of the beasts
of the wilds.

37

Limits of Authority
Tyrants Lash, Northern Bloodstone Marches

Less than a day ago? Mordikaar asked the primus. The two
stood on a section of the outer battlements, accompanied
by a number of Praetorians. Here atop the fortress, the
mortitheurge and the primus had a better vantage on the
desert beyond them and the looming mountains to the
north. The barren landscape of this region almost resembled
portions of the eastern empire. Almost.
The sun was nearly down when they passed, the primus
said, pointing north. He had a nervous look and seemed
unable to keep from staring at the ghostly forms with gaunt
faces that sometimes manifested around the mortitheurge.
They couldnt have gotten far yet, not with such numbers.
From the moment he arrived at Tyrants Lash at the end
of his long trek through the wastes, Mordikaar knew he
had been right to alter his course. He found more soldiers
stationed along the walls than he had expected, given
the remoteness of this outpost. According to the ranking
primus, an army of possibly thousands of heavily armed
farrow had passed within sight of the fortress, heading
due north. An impressive array of beasts and unfamiliar
wheeled battle machines traveled with them. The garrison
had expected this army to besiege them, but it had passed
without aggression. He could not say how or why, but
Mordikaar felt certain the farrows movements were related
to whatever was pulling the Void portal north.
I need a weeks worth of rations and an escort of your most
experienced soldiers, Mordikaar said. He eyed Mount
Shyleth Breen and the Iosan peaks to the north. Two full
taberna should suffice, a mix of Venators and Praetorians.
The primus stared at Mordikaar in disbelief. After a moment,
he said, The soldiers stationed here are reserved for the
preservation of supply lines and caches vital to the Army of
the Western Reaches. You lack the authority to demand them
or to lead them, mortitheurge. Though the primus voice
was stern, his expression betrayed a lack of confidence. It
was true Mordikaar held limited authority, being neither an
officer nor a member of the warrior caste, but he had never
let rank stop him. He generally relied on Hexeris or Rasheth
to allocate the soldiers and warbeasts he required.
I leave today, as soon as possible, Mordikaar said.
Perhaps you misunderstood me
No, Mordikaar interrupted, you misunderstand. You have
allowed an enemy force to bypass your post uncontested
and head directly for the supreme archdominas supply
lines. I will investigate the ramifications of your foolishness.
If you stand in my way, you will answer to Lord Arbiter
Hexeris and explain why you felt compelled to allow an

army of swine to interfere with the ongoing campaign.


Make the arrangements, or you shall find yourself more
intimately familiar with the Void than I.
Making an overt threat was a riskthe primus now had
every justification to challenge Mordikaar to a duel. For a
moment they stood glaring at one another.
Very well, the primus said at last. You did not say you
were in service to the lord arbiter. A face-saving excuse,
but Mordikaar did not challenge it. The primus nodded to
one of the Praetorians flanking the doorway, and the soldier
disappeared into the fortress. Your escort should be ready
to depart within the hour.
A figure appeared in the same doorwaya low-ranking
extoller, to judge from his robesand stepped hesitantly
into the open air. He wrung his hands as his living eye darted
frantically in its socket. The primus let out a dispirited sigh.
What is it? the primus asked. You were told to remain in
the ancestral shrine.
You are making a mistake, the extoller said. His voice
was low and he spoke directly to Mordikaar, showing no
sign of having heard the primus. Give up your chase. The
ancestors demand it!
Apologies, the primus said to Mordikaar as the guard
gently took the extoller by the arm to guide him back to the
central fortress. Extoller Lakaar has been unwell these last
few days.
The extoller extracted his arm from the soldiers and turned
back toward Mordikaar. The answers you seek will be your
undoing, he insisted, his eyes focused and unblinking.
You bring the death of us all!
Mordikaar raised one of his lanterns and unleashed a blast
of energy, knocking the extoller to the ground with his robes
smoking. He was still alive, but under the lanterns assault
he convulsed and fell unconscious. Mordikaar considered
striking him again but stopped when he saw the primus
expression. Even deranged extollers were to be respected,
and he had strained the primus tolerance far enough.
Remove him from my sight, Mordikaar said. This man
is unfit for service.
The primus hesitated but then conveyed the order to his
subordinate. Mordikaar turned from them to look again
toward the desert, and the primus backed away, effectively
dismissed.
Behind Mordikaar, the portal that was a rent between
worlds flickered and swayed, its oblong shape still straining
toward the mountains in the distance.

39

Zaal,
the Ancestral Advocate
Skorne Epic Warlock
He is a vital link in the chain binding past to present, the exalted to the living. To impugn him is to
disrespect our ancestors.

Supreme Archdomina Makeda

ZAAL
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


4 8 6 6 10 18 8

Obsidian Staff

POW P+S

6 14

Fury 7
Damage 18
Field Allowance
C
Warbeast Points
+6
Medium Base

Feat: Strength
Eternal

In dying, Zaal removed the last


barrier between himself and
the source of his power. Under
his command, exalted warriors
reform their fractured bodies
and for a time become all but
invulnerable. These immortal
ancestors strike with a precision
and grace thought lost to them,
each unerring stroke defying
the limitations imposed by their
rigid stone forms.

Remove d6+3 damage points from each friendly Faction model


currently in Zaals control area. While in
with Construct
Zaals control area, friendly Faction models with Construct
gain boosted melee attack rolls and +5 ARM for one round.

ZAAL

Construct

Direct Spirits When a friendly living Faction warrior model


is destroyed in this models control area and generates a soul,
you choose which eligible model gains the soul, regardless of
the proximity of other models. Enemy models never gain soul
tokens for friendly living Faction warrior models destroyed in
this models control area.
Righteous Vengeance If one or more friendly Faction warrior
models were destroyed or removed from play by enemy attacks
while within 5 of this model during your opponents last turn,
after resolving continuous effects during your Maintenance
Phase, this model can make a full advance followed by one
normal melee attack.
Reclaim This model gains one soul token for each friendly
living Faction warrior model destroyed by a continuous effect,
an enemy attack, or collateral damage from an enemy attack
in its control area. During your Control Phase, after this model
leaches fury but before it spends fury to upkeep spells, replace
each soul token with 1 fury point.
Steady This model cannot be knocked down.

Obsidian Staff
Magical Weapon
Reach
Silencer A model directly hit by this weapon cannot cast
spells for one round.

Supreme Aptimus Zaal exemplified the power of the extoller


caste, whether he was communing with the honored dead
or leading a host of ancestral guardians and immortals
in battle. During one such battle against Ios, Zaal was
mortally wounded. He refused to surrender to the Void and
preserved himself with his last breath. His devoted followers
recovered his sacral stone and fused him into a new form,
one worthy of his stature. He retains leadership of his caste
and intends to hold it until the end of days. His unliving

40

Spells
Annihilation

Cost RNG AOE POW UP OFF


4
10
3
10 No Yes

Models hit suffer a POW 10 damage roll. Models boxed by Annihilation


are removed from play. This model gains a soul token for each living nonsoulless enemy model removed from play this way.

Mage Sight

Ctrl

Yes No

Sunder Spirit

10

12 No Yes

Transference

2 Self Ctrl

Yes No

Vision

Yes No

Place a 5 AOE completely in this models control area. While a model is


within the AOE, models in this models battlegroup ignore forests and
cloud effects when drawing LOS to it and ignore Stealth when attacking it.
An enemy warbeast damaged by Sunder Spirit loses its animus for one
round.

While in this models control area, friendly Faction non-warlock warrior


models can spend 1 fury point on this model to boost a melee attack or
melee damage roll during their activations.

The next time target friendly Faction model is directly hit by an attack, it
suffers no damage roll from the attack, then Vision expires.

Tactical Tips

Annihilation Because boxed models are removed from play


before they are destroyed, they do not generate corpse tokens or
additional soul tokens. Cull Soul converts tokens gained from
Annihilation into focus points.
Direct Spirits Eligible models are those models that could gain
that models soul if no other model was closer.

eyes brook no insubordination or disloyalty, and both his


will and his connection to the spirit realm are stronger than
ever. Untethered spirits swirl about his obsidian body while
his vision pierces the veil of death to perceive the mysteries
of the world and lay their secrets bare.
In life, Zaal was suspected of delving into forbidden arts.
A pragmatic mystic, he was willing to sacrifice even the
exalted to achieve victory. Some whisper that his own
unorthodox exaltation was an abuse of his authority, as only
a rare few outside the warrior caste receive exaltation. His
followers refute this idea, pointing to the fact that he died in
glorious battle and insisting his unequalled mind required
preservation. None dare speak their doubts in his presence
lest their houses lose the privilege of exaltation altogether.
Zaal retains unprecedented control over his caste, and the
extollers of the Army of the Western Reaches are fanatically
loyal to him. If others elsewhere openly object, they risk
dividing their caste. For now, Zaals exalted status places
him beyond reproach. If the ancestors disapprove, Zaal
keeps their dissent in check, since they can speak only
through his vassals. His newfound understanding of the
untapped potential within each sacral stone carries with it
the promise of grim endeavors to come.

41

Desert
Hydra
Skorne Gargantuan
The temperament of this great beast is every bit as brutal and unforgiving as the desolate lands it inhabits.
Supreme Archdomina Makeda

HYDRA

HYDRA
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD

Circular Vision This


models front arc extends
to 360.

5 14 6 5 9 19 7

Acid Spray
RNG ROF AOE POW

SP 6 1

Multiple Heads [5] This


model can make 5 initial
attacks each combat action,
using any combination of
Acid Spray and Bite attacks.
This model loses one initial
attack for each aspect it has
lost. This model cannot be
forced to make additional
Acid Spray attacks.

12

Bite

ANIMUS

Gunfighter

POW P+S

4 18

Fury 4
Threshold 8
Field Allowance
2
Point Cost
19
Huge Base

Regeneration [d3 + 3]
This model can be forced
to heal d3 + 3 damage points once per activation. This model
cannot use Regeneration during an activation it runs.
Snacking When this model boxes a living model with a melee
attack, this model can heal d3 damage points. If this model
heals, the boxed model is removed from play.

Acid Spray

Continuous Effect: Corrosion


Damage Type: Corrosion

Concentrated Blast (HAttack) This weapon becomes RNG


SP 10 and POW 16 for this attack.

Bite

Critical Grievous Wounds On a critical hit, the model hit


by this weapon loses Tough
, cannot heal or be healed, and
cannot transfer damage for one round.

Body

3
ir
it

in
d

sp

Of the terrors lurking in the harsh desert at the fringe of


skorne territory, the multi-headed hydra is among the
most recognizable and the most fearsome. In combat, the
desert hydras heads duck and weave as it coordinates
precision strikes or washes foes with potent acid secreted

42

Cost RNG AOE POW UP OFF

Sand Storm

2 Self

No No

While in this models command range, enemy models cannot


make ranged attacks. Sand Storm lasts for one round.

Tactical Tip

Snacking Because the boxed model is removed from play before


being destroyed, it does not generate a soul or corpse token.

from glands inside its mouths. Through the use of


commendable dexterity and a wide field of vision afforded
by multiple sets of eyes, this apex predator slaughters prey
with incredible speed.
Capturing a desert hydra is an exceptionally violent
undertaking. At night, the cold-blooded creature retreats
to a subterranean den. Masses of slaves armed with
rudimentary prods descend into such a burrow to provoke
the sluggish beast to the surface. There, beast handlers
fire upon the exposed hydra with harpoons not unlike
those wielded by Cataphract arcuarii. After several of the
creatures necks have been ensnared, teams of slaves take
hold of ropes stemming from each harpoon and pull the
snapping heads to the ground long enough for the beast
handlers to administer incapacitating toxins. Successful
captures often come with high casualties among both slaves
and beast handlersbut failed attempts leave no survivors.
Such tactics would inflict potentially fatal damage on other
beasts, but the hydras extraordinary regenerative qualities
nullify these concerns. Over time, the creatures can regrow
severed heads, and because all vital organs are housed within
the creatures torso, the initial loss is not life-threatening. In
a step that may seem extreme but is the essence of skorne
pragmatism, experienced beast handlers often decapitate
all but a single head prior to transporting captured hydras
rather than risk further deaths.
Acquiring desert hydras represents only a portion of the
expense of keeping them. For every slave killed in procuring
these beasts, ten are lost during conditioning and battle
preparation. Additionally, inserting flesh hooks beneath
the hydras natural armor plating is a task from which
few beast handlers walk away unscathed, and keeping the
beasts fed requires a steady expenditure of resources. Once,
the use of desert hydras proved far too cost-prohibitive for
even the most powerful skorne houses. Now that Supreme
Archdomina Makeda has united the empire, however, she
has made the acquisition of these beasts a top priority so that
she might use their strength in her bid for power in the west.

43

Legends
of Halaak
Skorne Character Unit
Honor has many faces.

Valgesh

Tactical Tip

VALGESH

VALGESH
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


6 7 7 4 13 15 10

Sword

POW P+S

3 10

CIDAAR
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


6 7 7 4 13 15 10

Naginata

POW P+S

5 12

JDETH
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


6 7 7 4 13 15 10

Maul

POW P+S

4 11

Damage
5 each
Field Allowance
C
Point Cost
4
Small bASE

Fearless
Officer

Flank [another model


in this unit] When this
model makes a melee attack
against an enemy model
within the melee range of a
friendly model of the type
indicated, this model gains
+2 to attack rolls and gains
an additional damage die.
Granted: Side Step
While this model is in
play, models in this unit
gain Side Step. (When a
model with Side Step hits
an enemy model with an
initial melee attack or a
melee special attack that is
not a power attack, it can
advance up to 2 after the
attack is resolved. It cannot
be targeted by free strikes
during this movement.)

CIDAAR

Fearless

Defensive Strike Once per turn,


when an enemy model advances
into and ends its movement in
this models melee range, this
model can immediately make one
normal melee attack against it.

Valgesh
Cidaar

JDeth

Flank [another model in this unit] See above.


Granted: Synchronicity While this model is in play, models in
its unit gain Synchronicity. (While B2B with one or more models
in its unit, a model with Synchronicity gains +2 DEF.)

JDETH

Fearless

Flank [another model in this unit] See above.


Granted: Relentless Charge While this model is in play, models
in this unit gain Relentless Charge. (Models with Relentless
Charge gain Pathfinder
during activations they charge.)

Sword

Combo Strike (HAttack) Make a melee attack. Instead of


making a normal damage roll, the POW of the damage roll is
equal to this models STR plus twice the POW of this weapon.

Naginata
Reach

Maul

Combo Smite (HAttack) Make a melee attack. On a hit, instead


of making a normal damage roll the target model is slammed d6
directly away from this model and suffers a damage roll with POW
equal to the STR of this model plus twice the POW of this weapon.
The POW of collateral damage is equal to this models STR.

44

Combo Smite The slammed model is moved only half the


distance rolled if its base is larger than the slamming models.

Once respected members of the warrior caste, the Praetorians


now known as the Legends of Halaak spent the early years
of their careers clashing with one another in house feuds.
It was not until their houses were destroyed that the three
would join forces and earn greater acclaim.
The second war of unification and return of Vinter
Raelthorne from the west saw the leadership of disloyal
houses publicly executed in Halaak and many houses
dissolved. Most of their warriors were merged into the
Army of the Western Reaches. Some defiant soldiers silently
displeased with Vinter Raelthornes continued reign became
outcasts and brigands. Careful not to draw the attention
of paingivers, these disenfranchised Praetorians formed
opportunistic taberna united by dedication to the hoksune
code instead of house loyalties. These bands offered their
services in a variety of inter-house conflicts. They sought
to be rewarded with glory in battle, not coin, and accepted
only tasks that supported the tenets of hoksune as well as
posing a significant challenge. Those who survived their
time as outcasts earned reputations as skilled and fearless
combatants.
Valgesh, Cidaar, and JDeth were each among the most
accomplished of these warriors who remained in Halaak
after unification. Trained in the classic art of dual-bladed
combat, Valgesh was once the finest swordsman of the nowextinct House Jukkar. His ability to lead and inspire his peers
was widely known even before his houses dissolution.
Cidaar, a former ranking officer of House Karzul, was still
young when she left her house after their tyrant bent the
knee to the Conqueror. She joined an outcast taberna and
within months assumed command, then built the groups
reputation for being both vicious and reliable. Of the three,
JDeth has most readily adapted to the life of a vagabond
warrior. His now-enslaved House Govaax came from the
Northern Marches, and he spent his youth scouting the
desert fringes. An oddity in Halaak, his talents have proven
well suited to surviving the Bloodstone Marches.
When Supreme Archdomina Makeda overthrew Vinter, this
trio of renowned warriors went west to offer their services
to House Balaash. The supreme archdomina accepted
despite distrust and disapproval from her officers due to
the groups disreputable past. To Makeda, it was enough
to know the warriors reputations in battle and their
unquestionable dedication to hoksune.

45

Extoller
Advocate
Skorne Unit Attachment
Through our efforts we guide the blades of the past.

ADVOCATE
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


6 5 5 5 14 13 8

Spirit Eye
RNG ROF AOE POW

8 1 6

Staff of Ancients

POW P+S

Damage 5
Field Allowance
1
Point Cost
2
Small Base

Attachment [Immortals]
This attachment can be
added to an Immortals unit.

ADVOCATE
Gunfighter
Officer
Death Boon When a
model in this unit makes
an attack or damage roll
during its activation, this
model can spend one soul
token to cause that model to
reroll that roll. Each roll can
be rerolled only once due to
Death Boon.

Sacrificial Pawn [Immortal] When this model is directly hit by


an enemy ranged attack, you can choose to have one friendly,
non-incorporeal Immortal model within 3 of this model
directly hit instead. That model is automatically hit and suffers
all damage and effects.
Shepherd This model gains one soul token for each model
in this unit in formation destroyed by a continuous effect, an
enemy attack, or collateral damage from an enemy attack. This
model can have up to five soul tokens at a time. During its
activation, this model can spend soul tokens to gain additional
attacks or to boost attack or damage rolls at one token per attack
or boost.
Soul Mastery Anytime during its activation, this model can
spend soul tokens for the following effects. Each use of a Soul
Mastery effect costs one soul token.
Grave Mist Models in this unit gain concealment and
+2 DEF against melee attacks for one round.
Spirit Walker Models in this unit in formation gain
for one turn.
Incorporeal
Vengeance During your Maintenance Phase, if one or more
models in this unit were destroyed or removed from play by
enemy attacks during your opponents last turn, each model in
the unit can advance 3 and make one normal melee attack.

Spirit Eye

Magical Weapon

Annihilating Gaze When a living model is hit by this attack,


add its current STR to the damage roll.
Ghost Shot This model ignores LOS when making attacks
with this weapon. When resolving attacks with this weapon,
ignore concealment and cover.

Staff of Ancients
Magical Weapon
Reach

46

Aptimus Sarangerel

Tactical Tips

Spirit Walker Spirit Walkers duration means it gives the


benefits of Incorporeal on the turn you use it but not on your
opponents turn.
Vengeance Models move after continuous effects have been
resolved during the step of the Maintenance Phase that says
Resolve all other effects that occur during the Maintenance Phase.

While the majority of extollers divide their time between


crafting sacral stones and selecting warriors for exaltation,
advocates focus on serving as intermediaries between the
exalted and the living. Having shown a keen aptitude for
communing with those preserved from the horrors of the
Void, these extollers are sometimes chosen to play a more
direct role in the empires conflicts, bringing their skills to
coordinate exalted on the battlefield.
Though some advocates tend to sacral stones preserved in
house vaults, others are paired with constructs inhabited
by the exalted. With consciousness trapped somewhere
between Caen and the Void, warriors preserved as
immortals act and communicate from a removed state. This
sense of disconnect, coupled with the limitations of their
artificial stone bodies, hinders the combat prowess these
warriors once possessed and renders them slow to act upon
orders. Extoller advocates act as a medium between officers
and immortals, ensuring the exalted carry out orders with
ruthless efficiency.
Advocates excel at gathering residual power from fallen
immortals and shaping it into potent spells used to the
benefit of those who remain. Through this redirection of
energy, the exalted under the advocates control whip
their massive stone weapons through the air with renewed
speed and accuracy, crushing evasive opponents and
cracking reinforced armor. Other spells make the slowmoving constructs as insubstantial as spirits, ensuring they
penetrate deep into enemy lines intact.
In addition to bolstering the combat effectiveness of
immortals in their charge, extoller advocates will not
hesitate to put themselves in harms way in order to fulfill
the sacred duty of recovering and preserving sacral stones
from fallen warrior constructs. Advocates can be found
prying stones from shattered stone limbs and torsos amid
even intense battles, leaving them behind only if faced with
no other choice. Stones that remain intact are eventually
joined to new statues to fight again. As the Army of the
Western Reaches has continued to push into enemy territory,
the number of extoller advocates needed has grown along
with that of the immortals themselves.

47

Unveiled
Northern Wyrmwall Mountains

Everblight sensed the movements and locations of his


forces as they crossed western Immoren. The athanc he
sought was near, and his desire to consume its power was
foremost in his mind. Lylyth and Bethayne had been at the
fore of the hunt until recently, but again the blackclads had
interfereda sizable force including many stone constructs
had descended from the mountains to intercept each of
them. Saeryn and Rhyas, recovered from their earlier clash,
had taken the vanguard again and now closed on his prize.
Everblight channeled his consciousness into the athanc
shards within them to assess their situation.
The dragon took a moment to consider the changes their
bodies had undergone since his absorption of Pyromalfics
athanc. Ridges of blighted calluses rose along one side of
their bodies, and a pair of miniscule horns projected from
Saeryns forehead. The expansion of Thagroshs athanc
had required Everblight to attune the crystalline shards of
the remaining warlocks to channel the greater power that
Everblight now possessed. Each warlock had responded
to this adjustment differently. Satisfied that the twins were
properly acclimated, Everblight expanded his perspective,
peering through their eyes as well as the blighted senses of
their dragonspawn.
Saeryn and Rhyas topped a rise. Below them, the Banvick
River wound through an expanse of trees between the
mountains. A solitary riverboat moved upstream, and small
details told Everblight it was likely of Cryxian fabrication.
What mattered more than the vessel itself was what lay
in its hold, something he could detect only through the
dragonspawn: a sphere of darkness deep in the ships hull,
impenetrable to blighted energies. This containment field
surrounded the athanc. The sphere flickered and something
glowed from withinan intriguing distortion he had not
witnessed before. Was the field failing?
Everblight had hoped to have his warlocks in place to
intercept the athanc, but he would have to limit himself to
surveying the ships defenses until reinforcements arrived.
Kallus was not far behind, nor was Absylonia, though she
had lost most of her spawn to Lich Lord Venethrax.
Using Saeryn as a conduit, Everblight urged a pair of harriers
into flight and watched as they swept toward the distant
vessel. Through their eyes he saw mace-wielding knights clad
in white robes and steel walking the ships deck alongside
other soldiers in traditional Cygnaran uniforms. Somewhere
along the way the athanc had clearly changed hands, stolen
from Cryx. Saeryn and Rhyas had discovered the aftermath
of a battle downriver, near where the Banvick fed into the
Dragons Tongue. The remains of Terminus had been among

the dead, which boded well for Everblights plans but also
introduced new complications. Those capable of vanquishing
the lich lord must be formidable, and now they had the athanc.
Everblight was loath to put his own shards at risk while the
dragons allied with Blighterghast searched for him. He urged
the harriers closer, hoping to learn more.
A sudden flash of intense blighted light shot out from the
dark void within the ship, blinding the harriers and leaving
Everblight momentarily stunned. The spawn screeched in
surprise and in the last seconds before Everblight withdrew
his consciousness he heard shouts from the riverboat and
the crack of rifle fire.
The dragon felt a lurch at the core of his being. He pulled
back to Saeryn to find the warlock on one knee, her mind
clouded, the spawn under her control disoriented. The
sensation went deeper. Everblight felt an outside force, a
foreign energy, penetrating his athanc. The impression
of being laid bare was all-consuming. A bright lance of
blighted energy was beaming from each of his shards
through the warlocks that held them, turning each into a
beacon. Through his divided athanconce united with
Toruks and Toruks other progenyhe felt an awareness
of those as ancient as himself, watching. A deep revulsion
filled him as draconic minds violated his isolation.
The captured athanc in the ship was also shining like a
beacon, signalling its position so strongly that Everblight
could sense it even from the perspective of Lylyth and
Kallus. The realization that his own shards betrayed his
location in the same manner chilled him with fear. He
sensed that the disembodied athanc was not the source of
this intrusion, but it was reacting in the same way as his
own athanc. The invading force came from elsewhere.
Through his scattered warlocks, Everblight felt the foreign
energy wash over him several times, like ripples in a
disturbed pond. It came not from one location but several,
scattered across western Immoren. He tried to decipher the
information even as the ripples faded, and he realized he was
sensing other athancs, other dragons. As he was revealed
to them, they were revealed to him. There were as many
as six, perhaps more, and at least two were uncomfortably
close. He recalled the sensation he felt when Blighterghast
summoned the dragon alliance to warn them of Everblights
attack on Pyromalfic. Their desire for vengeance was fierce.
Whatever plan they had hatched against him had begun.
They had discovered his nature.
A hushed silence fell around Saeryn and Rhyas, and the
wind stilled. Then a thunderous roar rang out, crashing
across the twins like an unstoppable wave.

49

Saeryn
& Rhyas, Talons of Everblight
Legion Epic Blighted Nyss Warlock Unit
While you guard against one talon, the other rips open your throat.

SAERYN
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


7 5 6 7 16 14 8

staff of Shyvess

POW P+S

5 10

Fury 7
Damage 8
Field Allowance
C
Warbeast Points
+1
Small Base

Feat: Conjoined
Spirits

Saeryn and Rhyas are


inseparable, each the shadow of
the other. In the heat of battle,
the twins call upon the dragon
blood coursing through their
veins to bend reality, returning
from the brink of death or
trading places in a shimmer of
blighted energy.

This feat can be used once


per game by either Saeryn
or Rhyas. When this feat is
used, either Saeryn and Rhyas immediately trade places or you
can return one of them to play. If you choose to return Saeryn or
Rhyas to play, place the returned model within 3 of the model
that used this feat. The returned model comes into play with a
number of fury points equal to its FURY. After using Conjoined
Spirits, models in this unit cannot advance for one turn.

SAERYN

Bond of Blood [Rhyas] This model can spend fury points to


transfer damage to Rhyas.
Channeler [Rhyas] While this model is not engaged and is in
Rhyass control area, Rhyas can channel spells through it.
Twin Sister Saeryn and Rhyas are both warlock models, but
only Saeryn has the Officer
advantage. Saeryn and Rhyas
share a single battlegroup and count as one warlock for the
purposes of army construction.
Saeryn cannot make attacks against Rhyas, and Rhyas cannot
make attacks against Saeryn. Saeryn and Rhyas cannot have an
Attached model. Your warlock is destroyed only if both Saeryn
and Rhyas are destroyed or removed from play.

Staff of Shyvess
Magical Weapon
Reach
Dispel When this weapon hits a model/unit, upkeep spells on
that model/unit immediately expire.

The brutal and efficient nature of Saeryn and Rhyas


mirrored that of the dragon even before they accepted the
gift of his blight, and the athanc shards embedded in their
bodies served to further awaken their inner potential. Since
their youth the twins have demonstrated a deadly resolve
and focus, a willingness to push beyond any perceived
limitations. They went so far as to consecrate their union
with the dragon through the murder of their entire shard.
With this demonstration of sacrifice and ruthlessness, they
earned their place as the leaders of Everblights legion.
They are his talons, striking as if each were joined to the
same claw. They are extensions of one another as much as
they are of the dragon itself.

50

Spells
Banishing Ward

Lylyth, Reckoning of Everblight

Cost RNG AOE POW UP OFF


2
6

Yes No

Enemy upkeep spells on target friendly model/unit expire. Affected


models cannot be targeted by enemy spells or animi.

Blood Rain

12 No Yes

Marked for Death

Yes Yes

Psychic Vampire

3 Self Ctrl

Yes No

Razor Wind

12 No Yes

Blood Rain causes corrosion damage


continuous effect .

. Models hit suffer the Corrosion

Target enemy model/unit suffers 2 DEF and loses Incorporeal and


Stealth and cannot gain those abilities while affected by Marked for Death.
Friendly Faction models can target an affected model regardless of LOS.
When an enemy model casts a spell or uses an animus while in this
models control area, the enemy model suffers 1 damage point and this
model heals 1 damage point.

10

A blade of wind slices through the target model.

Tactical Tips

Twin Sister This warlock unit is both Saeryn and Rhyas for the
purpose of the Affinity, Bond, and Special Issue rules.
Dispel Because they expire immediately, upkeep spells that had
an effect when the model was hit or damaged will have no effect.

Saeryns ambition and intellect compels her to make


decisions for the pair. She is cold, calculating, and utterly
pitiless. Saeryn values autonomy above all else, and she
has gone to great lengths to ensure her mind remains
inviolate. Under her direction her sister set about slaying
the people of their shard, after Saeryn convinced Rhyas that
this slaughter spared their people a more terrible fate. In
truth, Saeryn sought primarily to ensure she and her twin
made an impression on Thagrosh and to win a place in
Everblights inner circle. Since that day, Saeryns powerful
sorcery has served her well. She rose to rival Vayl Hallyr
among the mystics of the Legion of Everblight, as versed in
her blighted powers as any who serve the dragon.
Whereas Saeryn is a being of schemes and subterfuge,
Rhyas is more direct, with a black-and-white perspective
on the world. She does not mind following her sisters
lead, and in combat she allows herself to be guided by a
combination of instinct and intuition. Rhyas is no less
intelligent than her sister and has proven a capable tactician
and strategist when commanding soldiers of Everblights
legion, but she approaches problems head-on, often finding
solutions at the edge of her sword. Rhyas also carries most
of the emotional weight of the bond between the twins,
though by any outside assessment she is every bit as callous
as her sister. Everblight has augmented her natural abilities
with the blade and refined her killing instincts to make her

51

a living weapon, cutting her way across the battlefield with


precise movements and measured strikes. Yet her feelings
for her sister run deep, and she feels whole only at Saeryns
side. Ultimately, nothing matters to her except this one
simple truth.
Though the mystical connection between the twins has
always been strong, in the past Saeryn sometimes longed
for an identity separate from her sister, whom she treated
with cruel condescension. Saeryn acknowledges her sisters
skills and killing prowess, but she considers herself the
superior intellect and the will that impels the pair to excel.
This has sometimes led Saeryn to regard her sister as a tool,
a mere extension of herself. But her actions prove that Rhyas
is the one person in the world Saeryn truly valuesas much
as she can care about anyone.
After their victory over Pyromalfic at the Castle of the
Keys, the twins were ordered to take separate routes on the
journey north through Ios and Rhul so they might ensure the
survival of Thagrosh and the full absorption of Pyromalfics

52

athanc shard. This period of separation marked the longest


time Saeryn and Rhyas had been apart, and although it
took its toll on both twins, their bond became stronger than
ever in the aftermath. Much of the tension between the two
was resolved, and each of the twins were reminded of the
strength she gained from proximity to the other.
Saeryn no longer seeks isolation. Their combined power far
eclipses what either commands alone. The two now move
as if of one mind, each anticipating the movements of the
other to adapt their tactics and coordinate strikes without
saying a word. Saeryn has adopted a new fighting style to
enter battle alongside her sister. She now wields a spear, the
haft of which was built from a powerful staff recovered from
the Shyvess shard. Saeryns connection to Rhyas guides her
strikes. Their spells and steel work in tandem as they push
opponents to their limits before overwhelming them with a
concentrated flurry of magic and physical attacks.

Spells
Flashing Blade

Cost RNG AOE POW UP OFF


1 Self
No No

This model immediately makes one normal attack with one of its melee
weapons against each enemy model in its LOS that is in the weapons
melee range. These attacks are simultaneous.

Occultation

Onslaught

2 Self Ctrl

Target friendly model/unit gains Stealth

Yes No
Yes No

Friendly Faction models beginning a charge in this models control area


gain Pathfinder during the charge.

Tactical Tip

Twin Sister This warlock unit is both Saeryn and Rhyas for the
purpose of the Affinity, Bond, and Special Issue rules.

Everblights consumption of Pyromalfics athanc increased


the dragons power, and this influx was felt by the twins as
well. Fresh surges of blighted energy poured through their
bodies from their athanc shards, shaping them anew. Their
superficial changes are outward manifestations of a deeper
transmutation, one that bestowed new powers and abilities.
The very being of the twins and their athancs are now
entwined. Their living vitality is shared, so that destroying
one is impossible without eliminating the other. As long as
one twin still draws breath, the other can endure even the
most severe wounds. Injuries not shunted to warbeasts can
also be shared between the sisters, each shielding the other
from lasting harm.
In the same manner that Saeryn concealed portions of her
own mind from both her sister and Everblight, she can
now segregate and screen portions of Rhyas mind as well,
a facility Rhyas knows nothing about. Saeryn works to
isolate both of them from the dragon should the need arise,
in order to maintain the freedom of their minds. The ties
between Rhyas and Saeryn will always be greater than any
loyalty to Everblight or shared allegiance with the rest of
his warlocks.

RHYAS

Acrobatics This model


can advance through other
models if it has enough
movement to move
completely past their bases.
This model cannot be
targeted by free strikes. This
model ignores intervening
models when declaring its
charge target.

RHYAS
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


7 5 8 6 16 14 8

Antiphon

POW P+S

7 12

Fury 5
Damage 8
Field Allowance
C
Small Base

Bond of Blood [Saeryn]


This model can spend fury
points to transfer damage to Saeryn.

Channeler [Saeryn] While this model is not engaged and is in


Saeryns control area, Saeryn can channel spells through it.
Granted: Riposte While this model is in play, models in this
unit gain Riposte. (When a model with Riposte is missed by an
enemy melee attack, immediately after the attack is resolved it
can make one normal melee attack against the attacking model.)
Twin Sister Saeryn and Rhyas are both warlock models, but
only Saeryn has the Officer
advantage. Saeryn and Rhyas
share a single battlegroup and count as one warlock for the
purposes of army construction.
Saeryn cannot make attacks against Rhyas, and Rhyas cannot
make attacks against Saeryn. Saeryn and Rhyas cannot have an
Attached model. Your warlock is destroyed only if both Saeryn
and Rhyas are destroyed or removed from play.

Antiphon

Magical Weapon
Reach
Weapon Master

Critical Decapitation On a critical hit, double the damage


exceeding the ARM of the model hit. A model disabled by this
attack cannot make a Tough roll.

As Everblights power grows, so too does the power of


Saeryn and Rhyas. Between their ruthless minds, their
need to stand apart, and their blighted power and killing
potential, the twins might be the most truly draconic of
Everblights warlocks. For the time being, they do as they
are bid, but their true motivations and plans for the future
remain their own.

53

Blightbringer
Legion Gargantuan
Mine is the inferno of ages, and we shall bury all the world with ashes in our passing.

BLIGHTBRINGER

BLIGHTBRINGER

Eyeless Sight

SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD

Blighted Breath At the


beginning of this models
activation, choose one of
the following Blighted
Breath effects. While within
5 of this model, models
are affected by the chosen
effect. Blighted Breath lasts
for one round. If this model
frenzies, it must choose
Withering Ash at the start
of its activation.

4 15 5 5 9 19 7

Blight Ash
RNG ROF AOE POW

14 1 5 15

Bite

POW P+S

H 3 18

Tail Strike

POW P+S

3 18

Fury 5
Threshold 7
Field Allowance
2
Point Cost
18
Huge base

Dragons Breath
Affected friendly Faction
warrior models gain +2
STR and ARM.

Spiritual Corruption
Affected enemy models
cannot cast spells, channel spells, or use animi.

Withering Ash All affected models gain concealment.


Affected enemy models suffer 2 DEF and lose Tough
.
Blood Creation This model never attacks friendly Faction
warlocks and cannot choose them as its frenzy target.
Soulless This model does not generate a soul token when it
is destroyed.

Blight Ash

Damage Type: Fire

Blightfire The AOE remains in play for one round. While within
the AOE, models are affected by the chosen Blighted Breath effect.

Tail Strike

Critical Poison On a critical hit, gain an additional die on this


weapons damage rolls against living models.
Rear Attack When declaring and resolving attacks with this
weapon, this models front arc extends to 360.
2

Body

3
ir
it

in
d

sp

Tactical Tip

Rear Attack This does not enable this model to target models in
its back arc with charges.

54

ANIMUS
Boiling Blood

Everblight

Cost RNG AOE POW UP OFF


2 Self

No No

When this model suffers damage as a result of an enemy melee


attack, after the attack is resolved this model can make a ranged
attack with SP 8 and POW 12 that causes Fire damage . Models
hit suffer the Fire continuous effect . Models can make Boiling
Blood attacks even while in melee. After making this attack,
Boiling Blood expires. Boiling Blood lasts for one round.

Shrouded by a cloud of perpetual ash and blight, the


Blightbringer burns with an inner fire like that of the
dragons themselves. Powerful warping energies rise from
the dragonspawns gaping maw, bringing a stench beyond
sulfur and decay. The servants of Everblight revel in these
emissions, unaffected by the withering miasma that chokes all
breath from the living. The creatures deep bellow carries for
miles like a great and ancient horn sounding out the coming
destruction. With oversized forelegs, the Blightbringer pulls
its huge form across the battlefield, leaving a winding gouge
in the earth to mark its passing.
The rows of razor-sharp teeth lining the Blightbringers
mouth shear limbs from beast and machine with equal
alacrity. Those enemies who find themselves still choking
on ashes after the spawn has passed are quickly dispatched
with a flick of its venom-coated barbed tail. Hails of gunfire
disappear in the billowing ash and the dragonspawns
overwhelming emissions smother the talents of enemy
spellcasters. The runes of their spells blaze briefly before
fading, as if their power is siphoned away by the blight itself.
So hot are the fires burning within the Blightbringers frame
that the very blood pumping through its veins remains at a
perpetual boil. Those who fight their way through the smog
swirling about the gargantuan to strike it are scalded by
steaming ichor spraying in great gouts from the beasts wounds.
From a distance, ash expelled from the gargantuans body
appears as a roiling wall of grey cloud sweeping across the
landscape, carrying within its veil the shifting shadows of a
thousand unknown nightmares. Under this guise the forces
of Everblights legion sweep across western Immoren like a
plague. Lush forests and golden fields are left blanketed in
a charcoal grey as once-beautiful vistas are left stifled and
devitalized by the concentrated blight. Skies are blackened
and streams are tainted, and for days after the Blightbringers
passage, animals not quick to flee may be found changed in
horrific ways, become malevolent and vicious. For creatures
already blighted, this energy strengthens muscle and bolsters
bone and scales to further perfect Everblights improvements
over nature.
The Blightbringer is the flame around which the legion
gathers, while the empires of men and dragons tremble at
their approach.

55

que Banshees
Grotes
Legion Blighted Nyss Unit
Its not the claws you have to worry about.

LEADER & GRUNTS


SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


5 7 5 5 13 13 6

LEADER & GRUNTS


Fearless

Gunfighter

Flight This model can


advance through terrain
SP 6 1 12
and obstacles without
penalty and can advance
Field Allowance
2
through obstructions
Leader & 5 Grunts
5
and other models if it
Leader & 9 Grunts
8
has enough movement
Small base
to move completely past
them. This model ignores
intervening models when declaring its charge target.

Piercing Screech

RNG ROF AOE POW

Force Barrier This model gains +2 DEF against ranged attack


rolls and does not suffer blast damage.

Piercing Screech

Silencer A model directly hit by this weapon cannot cast


spells for one round.

Few sounds haunt the memories of soldiers like the cry of the
grotesque banshee. On leathery wings these twisted forms
plummet from the sky in great flocks to sweep over those
embattled below and assail them with maddening screeches.
Enemies clutch at their ears and beg for relief as their bones
are rattled within their bodies.
Banshees are another example of Everblights ability to adapt
flesh to the task at hand. What traces of the Nyss that remain
in other grotesques are gone in these, which bear a far
more monstrous appearance. The last
vestiges of hair have fallen away
and the jaws gape, low and
extended with rows of
razor-sharp teeth.

56

Gorten Grundback

With their strengthened vocal cords, expanded chest cavities,


and highly elastic lungs, grotesque banshees are able to emit
high-frequency cries so intense their sonic force can collapse
the bones and rupture the organs of Everblights enemies.
Foes caught in the blast of these deadly screams collapse,
rivulets of blood flowing from their ears, nose, and mouth.
Even those enemies hardy enough to endure the banshees
sonic attacks rarely escape unscathed but are deafened by the
focused bursts of sound, and the frequency of these piercing
shrieks can shatter the concentration of any spellcaster.
Those beset by these winged horrors often employ projectiles
in hopes of shooting down the spawn before they close.
Constant changes in direction and altitude render the
grotesques difficult to track or lead even with highly accurate
weapons. Such tactics are further rendered ineffective as
sonic waves emitted from the gaping mouths of the banshees
alter the trajectory of those arrows and bullets they do not
outright shatter.
The cry of this blighted creature is so effective a weapon
that while grappling with prey the banshee will scream in
the opponents face rather than using claws or fangs. Most
foes subjected to this sonic assault die outright, while some
undergo intense agony as their hearing is shredded within
their skulls. One way or another, for most victims the
banshees shriek is the last sound they will ever hear.

que Assassin
GrotesLegion
Blighted Nyss Solo
By the hands of the assassins, our adversaries will be made to fear the open sky.

Kallus, Wrath of Everblight

Tactical Tip

Desperate Pace Modifiers to movement apply only to a models


normal movement.

The grotesque assassin represents the leadership caste and


next step in evolution among the grotesques that serve in
Everblights legion. Reshaped by blighted energy to surpass
other grotesques, assassins possess considerable cunning and
physical prowess, making them skilled and expedient
hunters capable of leadership and advanced
tactics. With their elongated bodies
and refined wing structures, these
engineered predators sweep

ASSASSIN
Fearless

ASSASSIN

Stealth


7 7 7 5 14 13 7

Desperate Pace
[Grotesque] (HAction)
RNG CMD. Target friendly
Grotesque unit. If the
Grotesque unit is in range, it
gains +2 movement during
its activation this turn.

SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD

Assassin Blades

POW P+S

4 11

Tail Strike

POW P+S

3 10

Damage 5

Flight This model can


Field Allowance
2
advance through terrain
Point
Cost
2
and obstacles without
Small base
penalty and can advance
through obstructions and
other models if it has
enough movement to move completely past them. This model
ignores intervening models when declaring its charge target.
Leadership [Grotesque] While in this models command
range, friendly Grotesque models gain Stealth
.
Sprint At the end of this models activation, if it destroyed one
or more enemy models with melee attacks this activation it can
make a full advance.

Assassin Blades

Combo Strike (HAttack) Make a melee attack. Instead of


making a normal damage roll, the POW of the damage roll is
equal to this models STR plus twice the POW of this weapon.

over the battlefield in wide, elusive arcs, scanning the chaos


below for opportunities to strike, each diving approach silent
until punctuated by the screams of the dying.
In the early days of the grotesques, when the first of
their number were wrung from the contorted forms of
Nyss, Vayl selected the most intelligent among them to
be subjected to focused blighted energy. Impressive tails
and wings sprouted from the forms of the chosen, shaping
their bodies to more closely resemble the form of their
bloods draconic origins and adding a greater degree of
dexterity and grace.
Grotesque assassins retain a mental capacity well beyond that
of others of their kind. Each assassin learns to execute evasive
flight maneuvers and utilize terrain and weather to conceal
their approach. These trained killers pass these methods to
members of their flocks, creating streamlined assault patterns
often overlooked by enemy forces. Assassins guide other
grotesques in for the kill, using their simple cousins to shield
themselves while they gain a positional advantage. Once in
the fray, the grotesque assassins employ weighted blades to
hack through their targets while enemy forces try to contend
with the confusion brought on by the surrounding cloud of
wings and claws.

57

Final Preparations
Blindwater Congregation Encampment,
Northern Bloodstone Marches

The night sky was black and vast, pitted with the pinpricks
of a thousand stars. Only the towering stone structures of
the sacral vaults stood out against the dome, their shadowed
forms flickering with the light of row upon row of candles
fashioned from animal fat. Their great stone wheels had cut
deep gouges into the earth. In the morning those wheels
would carry the massive constructs on their final stretch of
the journey and into the heart of slaughter.
Calaban had spent the better part of the evening preparing
the vaults for their role in Barnabas great ceremony, invoking
rites and directing others to wash the altars with the blood
of sacrifices. Now, with everyone joining Barnabas and JagaJaga in the revel at the camps center, he slipped away from
prying eyes to attend to his own preparations. He moved to
the edge of the camp, beyond the reach of the torchlight, and
withdrew from his satchel a skull and a clattering mass of
slender bones fixed to a central cord made from intestines.
The ribs and finger bones numbered in the dozens, each
taken from a separate victim. They fell in cascading layers
that spanned the length of the cord like a crooked spine.
A human skull missing the lower jaw topped the morbid
creation. The uppermost layers of small bones disappeared
into the cranium, and the string emerged from a small hole
in the top. Calaban held the totem suspended from one
clawed hand and tapped it with the other so it dangled and
spun before his yellow eyes. He had put considerable effort
into its construction beyond the acquisition of materials,
and looking at the runes etched on each bone sent a shiver of
pleasure down the bokors spine. Barnabas preparations for
ascension were all but complete, but so too were Calabans
own plans. He never thought the deranged Barnabas could
gain so much power so quickly, yet here they were.
Calaban heard soft footfalls in the dark and whirled to
see the decayed form of Maelok close by. As always, the
dreadbound appeared devoid of emotion, a dry husk
walking among the living.
You! Calaban hissed at the animated corpse, agitated at
being startled from his contemplation. He often forgot about
Maelok entirely when he wasnt giving him commands, and
he rarely considered the dreadbound beyond the degree to
which one might think of a tool. Now, however, Calaban
thought he sensed a glint of emotion, and he traced Maeloks
stare to the bone totem. Recognition or even hatred flickered
behind Maeloks eyes, and then it was gone.
A cacophony of guttural roars sounded in the distance as the
throng of gatormen at the camps center responded to some
declaration made by Barnabas. The congregation was eager for
blood; with the prospect of their leaders alleged deification

at hand, they were consumed by excitement for the looming


battle. Still, Calaban kept his gaze on Maelok, searching for
anything that might confirm the fleeting emotion.
You know who this is for, dont you? Calaban lofted the
totem above his head and watched Maeloks face. In life
Maelok had been a powerful bokor, Calabans greatest rival,
and in death he knew the totem that bound his own spirit
to Calabans service. He would apprehend the purpose of
the assembled bones, yet the dreadbounds eyes remained
dead and expressionless. Calaban recalled how Maelok had
fallen under his power, and he felt a twinge of an unfamiliar
sensationregret. Perhaps you were right, when you were
alive. Maybe if we had stood together against Barnabas, I
would not need to stand alone against him now. I was shortsighted. I did not think he could succeed.
Calaban heard another set of footfalls, and he hastily stowed
the totem before Jaga-Jaga emerged from the darkness.
An undead tatzylwurm coiled about her body, hissing at
Calaban as she approached.
Grave Walker, Jaga-Jaga said in greeting. You have done
fine work on the vaults. The congregation owes much to
your skill.
Your efforts are equally admirable, Calaban said smoothly.
On another occasion he might have offered some criticism, but
with his plans underway it was important to remain gracious.
He had resented the death charmers involvement in his affairs
since she pledged her service to Barnabas. Her words did not
conceal her true purpose. He recognized her desire to pry into
his doings, but Calaban would not expose his secrets.
She said, The eve of battle is upon us. Will you not join the
celebration? Tomorrow we feast on the fallen. Kossk will be
watching.
I have final preparations to attend to, Calaban said, speaking
a half-truth. I will celebrate once tomorrows work is done.
As you wish, Jaga-Jaga said, turning away. I will let
Barnabas know you are too busy to answer his summons
and witness his final steps to godhood.
Calaban hissed, unable to hide his frustration. Never did
she cease to manipulate the situation to her own ends. Yet
even as his temper flared, he thought of the totem and its
imminent use. Tell Barnabas I will join him shortly.
Jaga-Jaga paused as though she might say something more
and then disappeared into the dark. Calaban watched
her go, then looked to Maelok, who stared with the same
expression, blank and unreadable.
Soon, Calaban said, retrieving the totem from the satchel.
Soon.

59

Battle
Boar
Minion Farrow Light Warbeast
The fighting spirit keeps as well in tubes and canisters as within the flesh.

BATTLE BOAR

BATTLE BOAR
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


5 8 5 5 12 17 6

Open Fist

POW P+S

Rabid This model can be


forced during its activation to
gain +2SPD, Pathfinder ,
and boosted attack and
damage rolls for one turn.

L 3 11

Open Fist

POW P+S

R 3 11

Bacon When this model


is destroyed, each living
warbeast B2B with it heals
d3 damage points.

Open Fist
Open Fist

2
BODY

For generations, simple


brute boars have been
trained for battle through
SP
breaking their will and
6
subjecting them to rage5
filled brawling. Trained
Fury 3
battle boars learn to
Threshold 7
call upon swells of
Field Allowance U
adrenaline to batter
Point Cost
4
opponents to pieces
Medium base
under their enhanced
strength. This process
originally took months to accomplish, depending on the
skill of the trainer and the will of the particular beast. Now,
through the intervention of Dr. Arkadius and his cunning
apparatus, the qualities of these fighting creatures can be
unleashed almost immediately, with only minimal training.
4

IR
IT

IN
D

Each boar is fitted with an alchemical pump system that


supplements the beasts natural adrenaline. A complex
mixture of strength-inducing chemicals is stored in a tank
mounted to the creatures back, with a series of tubes
connecting the apparatus to the boars circulatory system.
When the system is engaged, it pumps the glowing green
serum directly into the battle boars heart and bloodstream.
The infusion induces an immediate surge of strength and
speed while also facilitating battle instincts. Muscles bulge,
strides lengthen, and blows land with greater precision as
the battle boar focuses with murderous intensity on its
foe. Opponents who thought themselves out of reach see
the gap closed quickly, and those previously confident in
the durability of their armor become dismayed as they are
pummeled to pulp under the enraged boars fists. Even iron
warjack hulls dent and buckle under the force of such blows.
Since their implementation on the battlefield, word of these
augmented boars has spread. Though there are farrow
warbands forced to train battle boars the hard way, those of the
Thornfall Alliance have been eager to use such modifications to
quickly turn their brutes into superior killing machines.

60

ANIMUS

Dr. Arkadius

Cost RNG AOE POW UP OFF

6

No No
Heightened Metabolism 2
Target friendly warbeast gains Snacking. Heightened
Metabolism lasts for one turn. (When a model with Snacking
boxes a living model with a melee attack, the model with
Snacking can heal d3 damage points. If the model heals, the
boxed model is removed from play.)

Tactical Tip

Heightened Metabolism Because the boxed model is removed


from play before being destroyed, it does not generate a soul or
corpse token.

Splatter Boar

Minion Farrow Light Warbeast


Never underestimate the potential horrors of applied science.

Dr. Arkadius

Cost RNG AOE POW UP OFF

Acidic Touch

No No

Target friendly Faction model gains +2 to melee damage rolls


and Immunity: Corrosion , and its melee weapons gain
Critical Corrosion . Acidic Touch lasts for one round.

Tactical Tip

Psychoactive Gas This is not a cloud effect.

Immunity: Corrosion

Alchemical Mask This


model ignores gas effects.
When determining LOS
or resolving attacks, this
model ignores cloud effects.

SPLATTER BOAR
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


5 8 5 5 12 17 6

Alchemical Mortar
RNG ROF AOE POW

12 1 3

Acid Bomb Models


in the AOE are hit and
suffer a POW 12 corrosion
and suffer
damage roll
the Corrosion continuous
effect
.
Psychoactive Gas This
attack is a gas effect
and causes no damage.
Models/units hit must
pass a command check or
flee. Enemy warbeasts hit
must pass a THR check
or frenzy.

POW P+S

L 3 11

Open Fist

Alchemical
Mortar

Ammo Type Each time


this weapon is used to
make an attack, choose one
of the following abilities:

Open Fist

Bacon When this model


is destroyed, each living
warbeast B2B with it heals
d3 damage points.

POW P+S

R 3 11

2
BODY

3
4

IN
D

The splatter boar is the combination of the alchemical


experimentation of Dr. Arkadius and modern farrow
engineering. Fitted with a mortar and a bandolier of
shells containing highly volatile substances, the
splatter boar trades accuracy for the ability
to bombard anything and everything
with corrosive chemicals and panicinducing gases.

SPLATTER BOAR

IR
IT

ANIMUS

SP

Fury 3
Threshold 7
Field Allowance U
Point Cost
5
Medium base

Smoke Blast The weapons base POW becomes 14 for this


attack. This attack causes fire damage
. This weapons AOE
is a cloud effect that remains in play for one round.
Arcing Fire When attacking with this weapon, this model can
ignore intervening models except those within 1 of the target.
Inaccurate This model suffers 4 to attack rolls with this
weapon.

Open Fist
Open Fist

A lever allows the mortars angle to be adjusted, but only


the smartest brute boars learn to fire with any accuracy. The
splatter boar has several different concoctions on hand to
feed into the reloading chamber. Hard targets find persistent
acids eating through their flesh, infantry are assailed by
terrifying hallucinations prompting abrupt retreats, and
clouds of smoke mask advancing farrow warriors.
A gas mask fitted to the snout of each splatter boar renders
them immune to the poisonous clouds and acids they expel.
Most prefer to don their masks even out of combat from
what seems to be a sense of pride.

61

Blind
Walker
Minion Gatorman Heavy Warbeast
The capacity for thought in a beast is nothing but distraction.

WALKER

WALKER
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD

5 11 5 1 10 20 10

Claw

POW P+S

L 3 14

Claw

POW P+S

R 3 14

2
BODY

3
4

IR
IT

IN
D

SP

Amphibious This model


ignores the effects of deep
and shallow water and
can move through them
without penalty. While
completely in deep water,
it cannot be targeted by
ranged or magic attacks
and can make attacks
only against other models
in deep water. While
completely in deep water,
this model does not
block LOS.
Empathic Transference A
friendly Faction warlock
can transfer damage to this
model even if this model
has a number of fury points
equal to its current FURY.

Shield Guard Once per


round, when a friendly
model is directly hit by a
ranged attack during your
opponents turn while
within 2 of this model,
you can choose to have this
model directly hit instead.
This model is automatically hit and suffers all damage and
effects. This model cannot use Shield Guard if it is incorporeal,
knocked down, or stationary.

Fury 3
Threshold 10
Field Allowance U
Point Cost
7
Large base

Claw

Open Fist

Few of Immorens terrors


are as unnerving as
the blind walker. This
cold-blooded beast
moves through life
relying only on the
will of its master to
guide it. While the
flames of the brazier
and many candles
adorning its body burn
bright, any semblance of
consciousness or self-preservation
is dimmed beyond recognition.
To create this creature, a bokor seizes a blackhide
and subjects it to toxins derived from a species of
tree frog. He then binds the unfortunate gator,
fits it with a variety of charms to facilitate the

62

ANIMUS

Calaban the Grave Walker

Cost RNG AOE POW UP OFF

Rites of Power

2 Self

No No

This models controller can channel spells through it. After a


spell is channeled through it, this model suffers d3 damage
points. Rites of Power lasts for one turn.

Tactical Tip

Amphibious This model can attack other models that are in deep water.

subjugation of its will, and buries it alive for several days.


Once he unearths the walker, the bokor muzzles it with thick
ropes and affixes a series of candles that attune the body to
serve as a necromantic conduit. Lastly, the walker is ritually
blinded, its eyes replaced with semi-precious stones. The
beast exists in a state of living death and will obey any of its
masters commands without hesitation.
A blind walker is conditioned to swiftly interpose itself
between a warlock and his foes without protest or
acknowledgment. Each is so tightly linked to its warlocks
will that a bokors magic flows readily through it, making it
the perfect weapon of war.

Croak Raiders
Minion Unit
They exude poison and light everything they see on fire. Thoroughly unpleasant creatures!

Saxon Orrik

Tactical Tip

Amphibious This model can attack other models that are in deep water.

Until recently, croak raiders spent their lives among the


Shattered Spine Islands, defending their tribes while
raiding against neighbors. With their arrival in western
Immoren, they brought with them the skills learned through
generations of such conflicts.
These warriors employ a coordinated and powerful
two-pronged attack to eradicate more numerous and
technologically advanced foes. One raider hurls a hollowed
gourd filled with flammable liquid to soak enemies, and then
another launches a flaming projectile from an atlatl to ignite
the opponents in a pyre of flame.
In melee, croak raiders wield crude knives and daggers,
skillfully working together to drive opponents to their knees
under the cumulative effect of many small lacerations. Any
foes close enough to strike the croaks suffer the effects of
corrosive secretions that burn away both skin and flesh.

Minions These models


will work for Circle, Legion,
Skorne, and Trollbloods.

LEADER & GRUNTS

LEADER & GRUNTS


SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


6 5 5 6 13 14 8

Advance Deployment

Flaming dart

Immunity: Corrosion

10 1 12

Amphibious This model


ignores the effects of deep
and shallow water and can
move through them without
penalty. While completely
in deep water, it cannot
be targeted by ranged or
magic attacks and can
make attacks only against
other models in deep water.
While completely in deep
water, this model does not
block LOS.

RNG ROF AOE POW

Oil gourd
RNG ROF AOE POW

8 1 3

Hand Weapon

POW P+S

Field Allowance
Leader & 5 Grunts
Leader & 9 Grunts
Small base

2
5
8

Gang When making a melee attack targeting an enemy model


in melee range of another model in this unit, this model gains
+2 to melee attack and melee damage rolls.
Vitriol If this model is hit by a melee attack, immediately after
the attack is resolved the attacking model suffers the Corrosion
continuous effect
unless this model was destroyed or
removed from play by the attack.

Flaming Dart

Continuous Effect: Fire


Damage Type: Fire

Oil Gourd

Alchemical Accelerant A
model hit by this attack suffers
Oil. When an oiled model
suffers a fire damage roll
,
the damage roll is automatically
boosted. Oil lasts for one round.
Cumbersome If this model
attacks with this weapon during its
activation, it cannot attack with another
ranged weapon that activation. If this model
attacked with another ranged weapon this activation,
it cannot attack with this weapon.

63

Lynus
Wesselbaum & Edrea Lloryrr
Mercenary Minion Character Unit
Never before have I had the pleasure of working with such astute assistants. They are intelligent,
capable, and not at all predisposed to the unfortunate deaths which often befall my charges.

Professor Viktor Pendrake

LYNUS
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


6 5 5 5 14 12 9

Military Rifle
RNG ROF AOE POW

10 1 11

Heavy Sword

POW P+S

5 10

EDREA
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


6 4 5 5 14 12 9

Military Rifle
RNG ROF AOE POW

10 1 11

Sword

POW P+S

Damage
5 each
Field Allowance
C
Lynus & Edrea
3
Small Base

Mercenaries These
models will work for
Cygnar.
Minions These models
will work for Circle
and Trollbloods and the
Blindwater Congregation
and Thornfall Alliance pacts.
Animosity [Saxon Orrik]
This unit cannot be included
in an army that includes one
or more models of the
listed type.

LYNUS

Officer

Collaboration (HAction)
RNG CMD. Target friendly
warrior models next attack
roll this turn is boosted.

Granted: Applied
Knowledge While this
model is in play, models
in this unit gain Applied
Knowledge. (If a model
with Applied Knowledge
makes only normal attacks during its combat action, it can make
an additional combat action during its activation this turn.)

EDREA

Magic Ability [7]


Arcane Bolt (HAttack) Arcane Bolt is a RNG 12, POW 11
magic attack.
Wind Barrier (HAction) Non-magical ranged attacks
targeting this model or a model in this unit completely within
3 of this model automatically miss. Wind Barrier lasts for one
round.
Zephyr (HAction) Models in this unit that are in formation
can immediately advance up to 3. They cannot be targeted by
free strikes during this movement.
True Sight This model ignores concealment, Camouflage,
and Stealth.

Heavy Sword
Reach

Throughout his career as Chancellor of Extraordinary


Zoology at Corvis University, Viktor Pendrake has been
aided in expeditions across Immoren by a multitude of
students and assistants. Many were bright and talented
but an appalling number met bad ends, devoured by the
beasts of the wilds or lost to the dark places of the world.
Despite the inherent risks of Pendrakes expeditions, two
assistants have emerged intact time and again, consequently
becoming among the most experienced extraordinary

64

Tactical Tips

Magic Ability Performing a Magic Ability special action or


special attack counts as casting a spell.
Lynus - Because Lynus is an Officer, when he is destroyed he
does not replace Edrea. Instead Edrea becomes the new unit
commander.

zoologists in western Immoren. From the classrooms of


Corvis University to the farthest reaches of the continent,
Lynus Wesselbaum and Edrea Lloryrr put their lives on the
line in an ongoing quest to understand the natural world
and its plethora of dangerous inhabitants.
Lynus Wesselbaum is a born scholar, book smart and highly
inquisitive. He prefers the theoretical side of this work and
is most comfortable in the classroom, which he recreates by
keeping numerous notebooks and tomes with him even in
the field. Despite his timid nature, extensive time alongside
Pendrake has given the youth a worldliness to complement
the knowledge he has attained through study. His ability to
instantly recall information pertinent to the threat at hand
has proven invaluable, and diligent sparring in his off hours
at the university has slowly shaped him into a passable
swordsman. Conscientious work and ongoing survival
eventually earned him the title of Associate Professor at
the university. Lynus teaches his own classes now but has
continued his field expeditions, including one taking him
north to study blighted Nyss and dragonspawn.
The Iosan Edrea was overcome by wanderlust as a youth
and left her homeland to see the world. Upon meeting
Pendrake on her travels, she elected to join him, hoping his
company would lead her to more interesting locations. Her
university title of Associate Professor is tenuous at best, as
she spends little time there, but she has proven herself to
be invaluable to Pendrake in the field. What Edrea lacks
in formal education she more than makes up for with
experience, a keen mind, and quick reflexes. Her education
in Ios pertained largely to her arcane gifts, and she yet
maintains a keen interest in how magic is manifested by
various cultures and peoples. Most recently she has spent
time studying the methods of the Circle Orboros, fascinated
by their rituals.
Shared close calls and discoveries have forged a bond of
friendship between Lynus and Edrea, and the two often work
together even in the absence of their mentor. As Pendrake has
taken a step back from academic pursuits, Lynus and Edrea
have taken up the task of cataloging the wonders of Caen,
forging their own reputations in the process.

65

Farrow
Brigand Warlord
Minion Unit Attachment
Each chief thinks himself a warlord. It amuses me to see them squabble over the scraps I leave behind.

Lord Carver

WARLORD
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


5 7 7 6 12 16 9

Pig Iron
RNG ROF AOE POW

Attachment [Farrow
Brigand] This attachment
can be added to a Farrow
Brigand unit.

WARLORD

10 1 12

Gunfighter

battle Axe

Officer

Dig In (HAction) This


model gains cover, does not
suffer blast damage, and
Damage 5
does not block LOS. The
Field Allowance
1
model remains dug in until
Point Cost
3
it moves, is placed, or is
Small base
engaged. The model cannot
dig into solid rock or manmade constructions. This model can begin the game dug in.

POW P+S

5 12

Granted: Gang While this model is in play, models in this unit


gain Gang. (When making a melee attack targeting an enemy
model in melee range of another model in its unit, a model with
Gang gains +2 to melee attack and melee damage rolls.)
Granted: Reform While this model is in play, after all models in
its unit have completed their actions, each can advance up to 3.
Tactics: Prowl Models in this unit gain Prowl. (Models with
Prowl gain Stealth
while within terrain that provides
concealment, the AOE of a spell that provides concealment, or
the AOE of a cloud effect.)

In farrow society, might makes right, and only the strongest and
most willful climb the ranks over the battered bodies of those
left below them. Through bloody battles against both friend
and foe, farrow warlords are those rare few
who have scraped together enough
clout to hold their positions through
a lifetime of unbridled violence and
cunning. No warlords position is
secure, requiring demonstrations
of sheer brutality to keep the
ambitions of their subordinates in
line. The slightest hint of weakness
can topple any of them. To the farrow, this
represents the natural order.
The line between chief and warlord is not always clear,
though the most feared warlords count several lesser
chieftains as vassals, bringing their small villages and tribes
under his control. This chain of fealty can be several links
long in the Thornfall Alliance. A local warlord in control
of smaller regions might find himself under the hoof of
one who is even more fearsome. It is in this way that great
leaders like Helga the Conqueror control vast territories,
with none larger than the porcine empire of Lord Carver.
While lesser warlords freely throw their weight around in

66

their local villages, they must hasten to answer the call of


mightier ones. It is in this way that the largest warbands
are assembled, a chaotic collection of fierce and aggressive
farrow, each only as obedient to his superiors as he is fearful
of them.
Farrow warlords must be prepared to fight dirty, and their
battle tactics reflect this. They prefer ambush whenever
possible, avoiding engagement unless they have clearly
superior numbers. Failure invites challenges from within
the ranks. Many do not hold their vaunted positions for
more than a few seasons before being pushed aside by
younger and stronger rivals. Those warlords who do
survive bear many scarsas many from potential usurpers
as from external threats. These injuries are displayed with
pride, serving the farrow as badges of rank and distinction.

Gremlin
Swarm
Minion Grymkin Solo
It wasnt until I walked into the shop to find an old Stormclad waltzing across the floor with a
Centurion that I knew we had a gremlin problem.

Timothy Foster, shop assistant

Nothing in all the world attracts the attention of gremlins


like the hiss and clank of a warjack treading across the
battlefield. Mischievous and malicious to the extreme, these
grymkin delight in rooting around in mechanikal constructs
with the intent of causing as much damage as possible solely
for their own amusement. More than one jack marshal has
found his or her warjack inert or walking in loose circles
only to find a swarm of gremlins had taken up residence
within the machine.

Apparition During your


Control Phase, place this
model anywhere completely within 2 of its current location.

The annoyance caused by gremlins is matched only by the


sense of mystery surrounding them. As with other grymkin,
extraordinary zoologists know little of their origins and can
make even less of their motivations. Rather than allowing
themselves to be hired for use during conflicts, gremlins are
far more likely to simply show up at battles that include
large numbers of warjacks or other mechanized weaponry.

Mischief When an enemy warjack begins its activation B2B


with this model, roll a d3. On a 1, the warjack suffers Disruption
for one round. On a 2, the warjack suffers 2 SPD for one round.
On a 3, the warjacks ranged weapons suffer 5 RNG for one
round. (A warjack suffering Disruption loses its focus points
and cannot be allocated focus or channel spells for one round.)

Minion This model will


work for Circle, Legion,
Skorne, and Trollbloods.

GREMLIN SWARM
Incorporeal
Stealth

GREMLIN SWARM
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


6 2 2 2 14 12 7

Damage 5
Field Allowance
3
Point Cost
2
Medium base

Man-Sized This model is treated as a model with a small base


and occupies the space from the bottom of its base to a height
of 1.75.

Sabotage (HAction) Target enemy warjack or battle engine


B2B with this model suffers d3 + 3 damage points and cannot
be repaired or have damage removed for one round. When
damaging a warjack, choose which column suffers the damage.

Rumor has it that during Ords Second Expansion War, a


gremlin swarm tearing into the systems of jacks on both
sides of a river skirmish brought the entire battle screeching
to a halt.
Gremlins are elusive by nature and are capable of
vanishing into thin air at a moments notice.
Even should an army discover an infestation,
removing these tricksters from the machinery
they inhabit can be nearly impossible. The only
reliable deterrent for gremlins to date is the
presence of cats, which can see through their
invisibility and have a natural inclination to hunt
them. It is for this reason that many mechaniks often
keep cats within their jack shops and foundries. As
the number of gremlin sightings continues to rise and
the nations of the Iron Kingdoms produce more
impressive and complex warjack technology,
mechaniks serving in the field may well begin
adopting the same habit.

67

Hutchuck,
Ogrun Bounty Hunter
Mercenary Minion Character Solo
He isnt much to look ator to talk to, for that matter. But hell get your man.

HUTCHUCK
SPD STR MAT RAT DEF ARM CMD


5 9 6 6 13 16 9

Alchemical Grenades
RNG ROF AOE POW

8 1 3 12

Mace

POW P+S

Mercenary This model


will work for Cygnar and
Khador.
Minion This model will
work for Circle, Skorne, and
Trollbloods.

HUTCHUCK
Fearless

5 14

Ambush You can choose


not to deploy this model at
the start of the game. If it is
not deployed normally, you
can put it into play at the
end of any of your Control
Phases after your first turn.
When you do, choose any table edge except the back of your
opponents deployment zone. Place this model within 3 of the
chosen table edge.

Damage 8
Field Allowance
C
Point Cost
3
Medium Base

Take Down Models disabled by a melee attack made by this


model cannot make a Tough roll. Models boxed by a melee
attack made by this model are removed from play.
Wild Shot This model can make one ranged attack during
its activation before its normal movement. If it does, after its
normal movement, the model can only make melee attacks that
activation.

Alchemical Grenades

Ammo Type Each time this weapon is used to make an attack,


choose one of the following abilities:
Brain Damage A model damaged by an attack with this
weapon cannot cast spells, upkeep spells, or use an animus for
one round.
Quake On a direct hit against an enemy model, all models
hit are knocked down.
Rust This attack causes no damage. Instead, warjacks in the
AOE are hit and suffer 2 ARM for one turn.

Mace

Reach

Armed with a mace large enough to crush a man in a


single stroke and potent alchemical compounds derived
from formulas known to only a few, Hutchuck possesses
a combination of brute force and adaptability that makes
him one of the most sought-after bounty hunters operating
within the Iron Kingdoms. While most ogrun seek out a
korune to serve, Hutchuck offers his services only to those
with deep pockets. In all respects, Hutchuck has forsaken
tradition and servitude for personal freedom.
Born in Rhul, Hutchuck was used as leverage in a
business deal between a trusted relative and the Order
of the Golden Crucible. The end result of this agreement

68

Lieutenant Hugh Madigan

Tactical Tips

Take Down Because a boxed model is removed from play before


being destroyed, it does not generate a soul or corpse token.
Rust This attack affects only warjacks.

transplanted Hutchuck from his homeland to Llael,


where he spent his youth as an indentured servant to
the order s alchemists. Those the young ogrun served
saw him as little more than added muscle capable of
hauling shipments of supplies to and from laboratories
or relocating boxes of heavy equipment. Of the various
mundane tasks assigned to him, Hutchuck took the most
pleasure from sweeping the shops and laboratories,
as this allowed him to watch his masters at work and
to scrutinize formulas on blackboards. Though the
members of the order never entertained the possibility of
training Hutchuck in their craft, he began to pick up on
the fundamentals of alchemy through observation and in
time took to cautious experimentation in secret.
The outbreak of the Llaelese War forced thousands
from their homes. Hutchuck took this chance to leave
his servitude behind, melting into the flood of refugees
pouring from Llael into Cygnar. He quickly made friends
among the trenchers withdrawing from the region and
through them developed long-standing contacts with
several officers within the Cygnaran military. Through
these connections, Hutchuck took on his first contracts as
a bounty hunter. The level of freedom provided by his new
profession contrasted sharply with the rigid experience of
Hutchucks youth, and he quickly discovered he enjoyed
being his own boss.
The role of the bounty hunter provides Hutchuck with
ample opportunities to prove his intellect. He prides
himself on being prepared for every situation, and he relies
on careful planning to maintain the element of surprise
despite his large stature. The alchemical formulas learned
during his time serving the Order of the Golden Crucible
along with those of his own devising give him a distinct
edge over other hunters in the field, granting him the ability
to wear down the armor of warjacks or limit the magical
abilities of his quarry. Hutchucks reputation alone has
proven intimidating enough to make some of his marks
turn themselves in at first sight of him. Those who refuse to
go quietly are soon overcome by a combination of wit and
physical prowess few bounty hunters can match.

69

Model Gallery

Saeryn & Rhyas, Talons of Everblight


Legion Epic Blighted Nyss Warlock Unit

Croak Raiders
Minion Unit

70

Desert Hydra
Skorne Gargantuan

Kromac, Champion Of The Wurm

Gremlin Swarm

Circle Epic Tharn Warlock

Minion Grymkin Solo

71

Painting GUide
Wet blending is a quick way to get blends on surfaces like
skin and fur. The technique is achieved by applying the
shades and highlights to the model with thinned paint,
then blending those colors together where they meet while
they are still wet. This tutorial features blending in a stepby-step format, but it may be easier to simply focus on one
area of the model at a time, blending all the way from the
highest highlight to the darkest shade before moving on
to a new area.
For your first time wet blending, we recommend practicing
on a spare model that has a large, open surface. Use lots of
paint for good coverage and to ensure it doesnt dry too

quickly. It is best to have the color tones for the area you
are working on prepared in advance so that you can dip
your brush in colors as you need them, blending back and
forth between shades and highlights. The paints should be
watered down so they stay wet on the model long enough
that multiple colors can be applied and the transitions
blended without any of the paint drying.
Be bold in these first steps, and youll be surprised how
quickly and easily your technique develops. Wet blending
is a lot of fun in addition to being a great technique to have
in your repertoire, so give it a try!

Croak Skin
There are a variety of techniques for blending colors on a
model, each one shining in different situations. Wet blending
is most effective for creating a smooth transition between
very different colors, such as on the bright skin of Croak
Raiders. The coloration moves from orange to green and on
into yellow and eventually white. Painting this would be a
difficult task with any other blending technique, even for a
skilled painter, but with the wet blending technique it can
be fun, fast, and very satisfying.
Step 1) For the skin, start with a wet blend of Iosan Green,
Wurm Green, and Sulfuric Yellow. (If youre having trouble
working with all three colors, switch to just two.) To apply
the wet blend, working from the back, blend the Iosan
Green into a wet line of Wurm Green. Once that is dry, paint
another wet line of Wurm Green along your previous line
and blend the Sulfuric Yellow into this wet line.
Step 2) Return with each of the three colors used in step 1
and pick out some of the textures that were obscured by the
thick blending. Use a glazing technique to smooth out any
rough spots in the blend.

72

Iosan Green

Coal Black

Wurm Green

Exile Blue

Sulfuric Yellow

Thamar Black

Skorne Red
Khador Red Highlight
Menoth White Highlight
Step 3) Wet blend the transition around the hands and feet.
Mix Skorne Red and Khador Red Highlight and then blend
this into a wet pool of Iosan Green.
Step 4) Blend Menoth White Highlight onto the belly and
chin. Because there isnt a big difference between the colors
here, its not as important to use wet blending for this step.
Go ahead and use the blending technique youre most
comfortable with.

Step 5) Blend a mixture of Coal Black and Exile Blue onto


the back of the model. As in step 4, it doesnt matter much
which blending technique you use.
Step 6) Using Iosan Green, apply a freehand mottled texture
along the transition between Wurm Green and Iosan Green.
This adds interesting detail to the model.

Step 7) Apply a similar mottled texture to the back of the


model, using a mixture of Coal Black and Thamar Black.
Step 8) After the skin is painted, finish the model with
neutral colors for ropes, leather, and bone weapons.

Gremlin Flesh
Step 1) Basecoat the gremlin flesh with a thin coat of
Midlund Flesh. The coverage does not need to be perfect, as
the purpose of this layer is to ensure that the black primer
does not show through once you begin wet blending.
Step 2) Apply a layer of Khardic Flesh to the areas of the
flesh that should be shaded.
Step 3) While the Khardic Flesh is still wet, apply a layer
of Midlund Flesh to the rest of the flesh and use a brush to
feather the transitions between these two colors, creating a
smooth blend.

Midlund Flesh

Thamar Black

Khardic Flesh

Coal Black

Skorne Red

Sanguine Base

Thornwood Green

Gun Corps Brown

Ryn Flesh

Hammerfall Khaki

Menoth White
Highlight

Rucksack Tan

73

PAINTING Guide

7
Step 4) For the next shade, mix Khardic Flesh, Skorne Red,
and Thornwood Green. Apply this to the areas of deepest
shadow and wet blend it into the Khardic Flesh. You will
likely need to reapply some Khardic Flesh to blend with, as
the coat from step 3 will have dried by now.
Step 5) Begin highlighting the flesh using a 1:1 mixture of
Ryn Flesh and Menoth White Highlight. Wet blend this
layer into a fresh application of Midlund Flesh. Paint the
bellies and chests of the gremlins with this highlight color
and blend it into the surrounding flesh.
Step 6) Apply a final highlight on the bellies and chests
with Menoth White Highlight. Also, use Thamar Black for
the eyes, claws, and mouths.
Step 7) Apply mottled spots to the flesh with a mixture
of Midlund Flesh, Coal Black, and Thornwood Green for
dark spots and a mixture of Menoth White Highlight and
Ryn Flesh for light spots. Also use the darker mixture to

74

8
paint thin lines between the fingers of the gremlins and to
delineate where the bodies of two gremlins come together.
Paint the interiors of the mouths and gums with a mixture
of Skorne Red and Sanguine Base.
Step 8) Paint the eyes with Menoth White Highlight. Give
the claws a solid coat of Gun Corps Brown, followed by
a highlight of Hammerfall Khaki. Paint the teeth with
Rucksack Tan, then highlight each tooth with a spot of
Menoth White Highlight.

The Gate Opens


Northern Bloodstone Marches

Gatormen funneled through the space between several


stone houses toward Madraks position. He twisted aside
to evade another set of jaws that snapped shut in the space
his shoulder had occupied a moment earlier. The gator
had overcommitted, and Madrak took the opportunity to
bring Rathrok crashing down on the base of the creatures
skull. With a yank he dislodged the weapon and hurled
it into the chest of another gatorman behind the first. The
axe whirled back through the air to smack into his palm.
Towering above him and fighting nearby, the mountain
kings brought their massive fists, driving into the throng
of gators, crushing reptiles into the earth. One of the kings
lofted a struggling gator into the air and chomped down
on the creature with the sound of snapping bones and flesh
grinding between stone. Another unleashed a roar that sent
shockwaves through the enemy lines.

Corpses of Madraks kin littered the ground around him,


many trampled into the bloodied mud by hoof and claw.
Recently erected houses and workshops burned. War
wagons had been rammed into the gaps in the walls in
a desperate effort to hold back the enemy. Trollkin who
had leapt out into the fray so their kin could reach the
fortress had been cut off from retreat amid the chaos, their
bodies joining the fallen. Those nearest the gate formed
a loose ring, fighting shield-to-shield, the mountain kings
standing over them. Grissel shouted orders and sought
to hold the line. Walls of stone jutted from the soil at the
behest of Janissa Stonetide to shelter defenders and grant
them brief reprieves.

A group of kriel warriors rushed past their position,


hurrying toward the safety of the inner village.

A blackhide plowed into the ranks of kriel warriors and


dragged one to the ground, and the trollkin struggled to
keep his shield between his throat and the gators jaws.
Down the line, a hog that was more machine than pig
clutched another warrior in its iron grip and hurled him
into a cluster of razor boars to be devoured.

Madrak, Calandra called as she rushed to his side, the


retreat has stalled!

Madrak! Grissel shouted as she fought her way to him.


We need to get inside and close the gate.

How much time do we need? Madrak asked. He sent


Rathrok whirling into the chest of another gatorman, once
again catching it on its return.

We cant leave them, Madrak said, pointing to the


embattled Cragfist champions.

Time isnt the issue. We have holdouts. With all the pigs
and gators spilling through the walls, Im not sure we can
help them.
Madrak gazed into the unfolding chaos. Now and then a
flash of tartan patterns and blue skin became visible deep
behind the enemy lines before being swallowed from
sight. At the eastern end of the village, warriors of the
Cragfist Kriel had stubbornly dug in to hold against the
farrow. Their warriors were an embattled island in a tuskfilled sea.
They need to fight their way here! Madrak shouted to be
heard over the shriek of thumper cannon fire. Gunnbjorn was
up amid the fortress battlements directing supporting fire.
Theyre thick-headed, Calandra said. She worked her
magic as they talked, invoking runes to bend fortune to
the benefit of embattled trollkin. Theyve always been
prideful.
The gatormen pressed forward with hulking beasts in tow,
and the largest of the mountain kings rose to meet the
challenge. It loosed a primal roar and the sheer force of the
declaration shattered the bodies of the troll kings enemies.
Not everyone had such protection.

They knew the danger when they chose to make a stand,


Grissel insisted. Their courage will be remembered. If we
leave the gates open we risk everyone inside.
One of the gatormen slipped inside the mountain kings
reach, and Madrak parried a blow from the attacker before
cutting its legs out from under it. Still more came.
Go, Madrak told Grissel. Get your warriors inside.
Grissel narrowed her eyes as if weighing her options, her
expression grim. Fine, but I want you behind us. With
that, she turned to her remaining warriors and sounded
the retreat.
Madrak stepped forward and brought Rathrok against
the hordes. Battle lust filled him, radiating from the axe
like physical heat. The mountain kings felt his rage and
roared in response as they clashed with pursuing farrow
and gatormen. Madrak struggled to maintain control as he
hacked through the opposing forces, Rathrok empowering
his blows. As he lashed out, he saw that the farrow and
gators also fought one another, seeking to kill and maim
with snapping jaws and gouging tusks. He realized that the
attackers were not acting as a unified force.
Behind him, the last of the kriel warriors disappeared
through the gates. Shouts that he was clear to withdraw

75

The Gate Opens


came down from the wall, and he prepared to give the
mental order for the mountain kings to retreat. Then he saw
the champions of the Cragfist kriel moving toward him.
They were finally giving up their position.
Madrak stepped forward and cleaved a farrow brigand in
two, watching the group of warriors battle their way toward
him. Though the Cragfist kriel was harried on all sides,
the farrow lines had collapsed amid bouts of looting and
arson, and the fighting between pigs and gators alleviated
some pressure. Even so, the Cragfists moved slowly, one
of their ancient krielstones carried at the center while the
champions on the perimeter protected the rest. They would
never make it.
Close the gate! Madrak called. Make ready with ropes!
Without waiting for a reply, he turned his attention to the
enemies between him and the warriors. A nimble bull
snapper rushed from the fray to harass Madrak, driven by an
unseen warlock, but the trollkin chief laid the beast low with
a few rapid strikes. He could feel the power within Rathrok
welling up, feeding on the violence. He paused to steady
himself and push the encroaching darkness from his mind.
What in Dhunias name are you doing? a voice shouted.
Madrak looked back to see Grissel between the two halves of
the closing gate. Right behind me, is that not what I said?
We can still save them! Madrak shouted, pointing toward
the kriel.

Able-bodied krielfolk formed lines to receive weapons and


armor. Others ferried ammunition, including fresh kegs of
powder for dire troll bombers to hurl over the wall. Stone
previously designated for late-stage construction was
hauled up to the walls defenders to be dropped onto the
enemy. Gunnbjorns pygs, sluggers, and scattergunners
fired in sequence from atop the wall, pausing only to reload.
Those few among the kriels too young, old, or maimed to
fight took shelter in the feast hall and the storage caves set
into the mountainside at the back of the fortress.
A cheer went up along the wall and through the inner
village. It took Madrak a moment to realize they rejoiced
at the sight of him. He felt a combination of gratitude and
shame. He recalled his conversation with Kargess and their
agreement to stand together, even to the bitter end. Grissels
declarations, too, rang in his ears, and he looked to her now.
They had time only for a single nod before each returned
their attentions to the defense.
Ropes! Madrak called. He directed them up to the wall
nearest the embattled warriors outside. If the Cragfists
make it to the wall, haul them up! He ran up the stairs to
the battlements to assist. Several kriel warriors followed to
help as well.
He topped the wall. The sight beyond made a mockery of his
previous perception of the onslaught. From his new vantage
point he saw the battles enormity, and dread filled him.

Grissel strode to Madraks side, unleashing a powerful


vocal blast that shredded the approaching wave of farrow.
Madrak glowered at her. Are you disobeying the orders of
your chieftain?
Youre not in charge here, Ironhide. She matched his stare
and he felt the truth of her words. The gathered warriors
looked to her now. You hoard blame for that which you
cannot control. Thousands draw breath behind those walls.
Tough times call for tough choices, and if you cant make
them, I will. So help me, I will haul you through that gate
even if I have to knock you senseless and drag you!
Madrak looked from Grissel to the beleaguered trollkin
and reluctantly nodded. The two fell back as Madrak gave
the mountain kings a mental command to push toward the
stranded warriors and defend them. He lamented leaving
the warriors outside the wall, but he took solace in knowing
the towering legends fought alongside them. The gate
slammed shut with a resounding clang, its resonant echo
rolling off the walls like the sealing of a tomb. Defenders
slotted a series of bars across the gate to brace it against the
assault to come.
The space inside the inner wall was crowded and filled with
motion. Everywhere, battle preparations were underway.

76

Lord Carver surveyed the battlefield. To soften the foe,


Carver sent the deranged Sturm and Drang against them,
and he reveled in the resulting chaos. Midas and Helga
had taken their forces along each of the flanks, forcing
the trollkin to divide their attention. For a time the enemy
had stalled his forces at the gaps in their unfinished outer
wall, but with the weight of superior numbers and his
own obvious combat superiority, he drove the defenders
back. Now the warlord of warlords marched his warband
through what remained of the trollkin village.
A force of gatormen had arrived from the west not long after
the battle began. Early efforts to avoid engaging them soon
failed, especially once the trollkin army withdrew behind
the walls of their inner fortress. Now farrow and gatormen
clashed between partially collapsed homes.
The area closest to that fortress had become a roiling mass of
murderous warriors and beasts. Old rivalries between gators
and farrow ignited, resulting in an undisciplined melee.
Brigands ordered to assail the inner wall chose instead to
pick their own battles. Carver could not recall the last time
he had seen such a show of farrow military might, and its

primal energy spoke to his warlord nature. He hefted Hand


of God over his head and loosed a deep bellow that carried
over the incessant clash of battle. His followers raised their
weapons and returned the cry in kind.
Not all farrow were battling gatormen or making advances
against the inner stronghold. Many were busy rooting
through the structures abandoned by the trollkin, seeking
plunder before razing each to the ground. The destruction
thrilled him, as did the knowledge that the morale of his
people would be bolstered by the spoils. The deaths they
endured just meant a larger portion for those who survived.
Now this is a raid! Carver said to Dr. Arkadius. The doctor
stood nearby, his oversized syringe ready and his expression
dour. He had displayed nothing but disapproval since
Carver announced his plans to march against the trollkin.
The doctor had become downright incensed when Carver
refused to delay the raid after learning of the gatorman
army. Your doubts would have cost us a great victory.
This doesnt qualify as victory yet, Arkadius said. He
turned to one of the battle boars flanking him and inspected
the tubes that fed supplemental adrenaline into the beasts
body, then tapped a gloved finger against one of the gauges.

As much as Carver disliked the human, he did have his


uses. The surgically altered boars had played a critical role
in recent battles.
Carver was not discouraged. I have raised the greatest
army the Marches have ever seen.
Your great army is accumulating casualties by the
minute, Arkadius spat. Do you have any idea how long
it took to acquire the means to launch an assault of this
magnitude? How many test subjects we have already left
dead in the dirt? Besides, she doesnt seem impressed with
your accomplishments. The doctor nodded at the farrow
assaulting the wall, led by the prominent form of Helga the
Conqueror. Unlike those looting the village and brawling
with the gatormen, these farrow had maintained order,
fighting in organized ranks and mitigating attacks from atop
the fortress wall with bouts of covering fire. Some worked
to assemble ladders. Helga stood at their center, clearly in
charge, her voice stern and inspiring. Her attention was
focused on the fortress walls as though the chaos erupting
throughout the abandoned outer village held no importance.
Then I shall take the fortress first, Carver said. He
tightened his grip on Hand of God and looked up at the

77

The Gate Opens


sloped fortress walls. As pressed as the trollkin were at
the outset, they had gathered their wits and were holding
against both the gatormen and the farrow from the top of
their impressive battlements.
I do not claim to be an expert on matters of the heart
beyond the purely anatomical sensebut I do not think
stealing Helgas glory will win you her favor. And even
if it would, I am not certain we are in a position to take
the fortress by ourselves. As if to accentuate the doctors
point, a flaming brigand ran past. Perhaps a singular act of
strength is needed. That would suit you better.
Carver grunted but said nothing, feeling a familiar urge to
pummel Arkadius to death. But he had to admit the human
was righthe had no immediate inspiration for breaching
the fortress walls.
Look there, Arkadius said, pointing to the mass of hungry
reptiles. West of the fortress, just beyond where the fighting
was thickest, a familiar hooded gatorman with skulls
mounted to poles strapped to his back stood atop a mound
of fresh corpses. Eliminate their leader and the field will
be yours.

Never in the humans years of


service had Carver known
him to suggest starting a
fight when they did not
have clear superiority.
Carver recognized the figure as Bloody Barnabas, a
gatorman bokor of great spiritual power and far-reaching
reputation. He was supposedly ancient, but nothing
in the way he fought suggested age or weakness. With
each stroke of the bokor s axe, a farrow went flying. As
the brigands facing him expired, ghostly glowing forms
emerged from their bodies to swirl about the bokor,
joining a greenish haze that surrounded him. Nearby
were several massive wheeled stone constructs, each
pushed by a pair of large gators and covered in candles
and runes that glowed brighter with each life Barnabas
extinguished. Carver had fought Barnabas before at the
Marchfells. It had been a difficult clash with no clear
victor, since Carver had been forced to deal with other
adversaries before finishing the bokor. The idea of ending
the matter appealed to him.
Carver wrinkled his snout at Arkadius with suspicion.
Never in the humans years of service had Carver known
him to suggest starting a fight when they did not have
clear superiority. The doctor did not have a warrior spirit.
As Carver puzzled over Arkadius intentions, one of the
stone structures pushed by the gatormen pulsed, and a

78

band of slaughterhousers several yards away was reduced


to charred meat and twisted armor. The smell was not
entirely unpleasant.
To me! Carver called out, lofting Hand of God above his
head once more, and again hundreds returned his rallying cry.
Some of the lesser warlords directed gun boars to return fire on
the trollkin while others rallied their warriors. Masses of loyal
farrow heard Carvers call and emerged from trollkin homes,
eager to prove their worth. They swarmed about him, wild and
frantic. At his command they pressed ahead, readying weapons
to clear a path through the battle. Arkadius followed, and
Carver could hear the hydraulic hiss and whine as modified
hogs obeyed his command. Carver gave Helga a passing
glance before turning his attention to the hooded gatorman at
the center of the slaughter. He would cleave the bokor in two
and deliver the creatures head to her as an offering. Then,
when the field was his, he would prove Arkadius wrong by
leading his warband over the top of the wall.

Mordikaar had set out from Tyrants Lash with sixty


Praetorians and half as many Venators. They made good
time, following the unmistakable trail of the farrow north.
All the while, the Void portal tethered to Mordikaar bent
and bowed and elongated itself as the mysterious pull
continued to grow. The void spirits swirled about the
portals edge, issuing howls of agony and rage. They
were more agitated than he had ever seen them. When the
journey began, the skorne accompanying him had feared
crossing the path of the farrow army that had passed the
fortress a day earlier. As time went on they grew to fear
him instead, carefully keeping their distance from the
maddened void spirits.
The skorne climbed atop a hill, and the sight beyond gave
even him pause. At the base of the mountains to the north
stood a squat, wide stone fortress, and beyond the fortress
was a large ring of half-finished walls, now in ruin. Between
the two barriers, where a village might once have been, two
seething bestial armies sought each other's annihilation.
Mordikaars keen eyes picked out tiny figures on the
fortress battlements fighting to repel those beyond. Near
the walls, trolls the size of mammoths fought to dislodge
smaller beasts assailing them, hammering with their great
fists and punctuating each strike with a roar that shook
combatants to pieces. The red sand of the Marches had been
drenched in blood that clung to hooves, boots, and scaled
feet. The entire gruesome scene seemed a manifestation of
primal madness.
The cacophony of birds caught Mordikaars attention, and
he looked up to see thousands of crows pass overhead.

Each bird shifted and dove as part of the whole flock, and
taken together they resembled a living black cloud winging
toward the battle. In the west, other dark clouds took shape.
Whatever their purpose, he knew they were drawn by the
same pull as that affecting the Void portal. Something was
happening, something unnatural. He felt drawn to the
battle like iron to a lodestone.
Sir, are you all right? asked the dakar accompanying him.
The man sounded unnerved, and Mordikaar realized he
had been smiling.
Quite, Mordikaar said. The portal pulsed at his back, and
the promise of unraveling its mysteries consumed him.
We should return to the fortress and report our findings,
the dakar said.
Reports can wait, Praetorian. I intend to take a closer look.
Ensure I get there intact.

The last of the surviving Cragfist warriors reached the wall,


and the defenders hurried to hoist them to the battlements.
Along the top of the wall, pyg sharpshooters took aim at the
encroaching forces to buy the rescuers time. The mountain
kings still raged, but Madrak could feel the ravages of
innumerable small wounds working to bring them down
despite their vitality.
What is the situation? Madrak asked. He and Gunnbjorn
studied the burning remains of the outer village from atop
the eastern battlements.
We are holding, though it looks like both the farrow and
the gatormen are readying for a push. They dont appear to
be working together, which is our only bit of luck.
Keep me informed, Madrak said. He started down the
wall, giving curt nods to warriors who raised their weapons
in salute. Many were bloodied, and some had lost fingers or
limbs, but all who could still hold weapons fought on. This
was the last in a long line of destroyed settlements, and the
trollkin would not surrender it lightly.
At the west end of the wall, Madrak found Kargess clad
in armor and carrying her broadsword in one hand, a
small shield in the other. A group of chieftains and senior
champions had gathered about her, and each listened
intently as she spoke. She glanced up, and the two exchanged
brief smiles and a nod. Dag was safe within the feast hall,
tended by Thornwood elders and guarded by Bron and Jor,
Madraks axer and impaler.
Below the wall, Grissel worked with a handful of warriors
to reinforce the gate, bracing it with tree trunks and

creating defensible positions to fall back to. Wooden spikes


protruded from the earth, angled toward the gate, and
beyond them piles of stone created a makeshift barricade.
Horthol came up onto the battlements and gripped forearms
with Madrak. The left side of his face was a mass of scrapes
and that eye was swollen shut, yet a grin pulled at the
corner of his mouth.
Glad to see you well, Horthol said. Grissel said she had
to drag you through the gates to stop you from fighting.
Something like that, Madrak said, ruefully. He pointed to
Horthols bruised face. You took a beating.
Worse than it looks. I was torn from the saddle and a
brigand clipped me with a club before I got my footing. I
repaid the favor. My bison wasnt so lucky. His grin was
replaced with a look of regret.
Madrak said, Our people have lost much. If only the bison
could be restored as easily as homes and crops.
A flutter of wings caught their attention. A crow landed
beside them on the battlements. It cocked its head to one
side, examining them with one glassy black eye. Then it
cawed loudly.
Scavengers, Horthol said. He took a half-hearted swipe
at the bird, but it danced out of reach. Other crows landed
along the wall, and several flocks hung low on the horizon.
They can smell a massacre. He looked away, clearly
regretting his choice of words.
We will not fall this day, Madrak said, though he was not
entirely sure he believed it. The walls will hold. Any who
dare step within our reach will regret raising arms against
the kriels.
Agreed, Horthol said, grinning once again. He hefted his
hammer in both hands. For kith and kriel.
For kith and kriel, Madrak repeated.
Grim Angus shouted, Ladders to the east! Below, groups
of farrow parted to reveal ladders assembled from steel and
wood. The top rungs traveled a wide arc destined for the
upper reaches of the wall, striking nearly in unison. Metal
anchors welded to the ends hooked into the stone to steady
the ladders for oncoming troops.
A hail of gunfire from the pig irons below peppered the
wall, catching several trollkin attempting to dislodge the
ladders and driving others into cover. Brigands surged
around the base of the ladders, beginning to climb one
after the other.
Gunnbjorn shouted for his soldiers to target those on
the ladders. Pygs sniped at the ascending farrow while
scattergunners raked fire through several groups at once.

79

The Gate Opens


Grim Angus added his own firepower, aiming for the
ladder bases where farrow clumped. Yet on they came in
an endless stream, and despite their heavy casualties they
began to reach the battlements.
The thud of an impact and the crack of wood sounded
below, and Madrak heard Grissel shouting orders to those
arrayed behind the gate. From amid the gatormen emerged
a tremendous stone battering ram carved in the likeness of
a giant, open-mouthed alligator. Gatormen lined each side
of the ram, and their combined strength brought the idol
crashing into the gate with enough force to cause the wall
to shudder.
Madrak urged the mountain kings to intercept the battering
ram while he headed to the eastern side of the wall to deal
with the farrow. Madrak brought Rathrok across a brigands
face as the first of the farrow reached the top of the wall.
Trollkin ready with hand weapons fell upon the farrow
the moment they came within reach, striking with ferocity
fueled by the sight of their burning homes. The narrow
ramparts became crowded, and the eastern wall rang with
the clash of blades and clubs.
At the gates, the mountain kings threw themselves upon
the swarm of gatormen around the battering ram. The troll
kings slowed under the accumulated impact of countless
injuries. Gatormen piled on one of the kings, and the troll
stumbled in wide circles as it fought to pull the snapping
beasts loose. The other two fought on as the battering ram
collided with the gates.
A commotion broke out along the western rim of the
fortress. A blanket of fog crept up the wall there, and from
the swirling white mass came grappling hooks tethered
to thick rope. The shambling forms of bog trogs followed,
pulling themselves up the stonework one arms length at a
time. The western defenders hacked at the ropes and tried
to kick the hooks lose, but for each one they dislodged two
more sailed up to grip the ramparts.
Gunnbjorn ordered his shooters to fall back. Their weapons
were next to useless amid the general melee, and many of
the cannons and mortars had been cast from the wall or
had depleted their ammunition. Without the deterrent of
covering fire, the influx of farrow swelled.
Madrak parried the overhead swing of a club before
planting his foot firmly on a farrows chest and shoving
him from the battlements. His muscles burned with fatigue,
but he ignored the pain. A blind hatred filled him. The only
thing remaining was the urge to press on and kill. Hs axe
greeted the farrow as they came up the ladders, lopping
tusked heads from shoulders and severing hooved legs at
the knees. Rathrok stirred and the axe's handle was filled
with a hungry, living heat. The blood of the fallen ignited

80

the power within the legednary weapon, and blackness


again crept from the corners of Madraks mind. It would be
simple, he knew, to stop thinking entirely.
Above the battle, crows circled in the hundreds, crying out
incessantly.
To the west, the bog trogs had gained a foothold. Under
Kargess direction, the defending trollkin formed a battle
line and delivered unified blows to shatter the bodies of
enemies who made the climb, but the defenders were greatly
outnumbered. For each of the bog trogs that died, one arose as
undead to climb once more, empowered by the bokors below.
The battering ram connected with the gate repeatedly and the
sound of braces and bars cracking carried to those battling
atop the wall. More enemies piled on the beleaguered
mountain king as it swayed on its feet. A final roar of defiance
escaped the trolls throat, shattering the enemies swarming
before it, and then the falling beast crashed into the wall
near the gate. One of its arms draped over the top of the
battlements, and the gatormen below immediately began to
climb the massive corpse as if it were a ramp.
Madrak met tthem head on. He knocked aside a halberd and
caught the wielder in the chest on the backswing. His opponents
ribs cracked under the force of the blow, coating Rathroks slick
blade in fresh gore. The gator rushed forward and weathered
two more swings before it fell. Although the gatormen did not
have the numbers of the farrow, they did not die easily.
The gatormen with the battering ram charged the gate
again, bolstered by the mountain king's death. The idol
connected with enough force to splinter the supports, and
the gates flew back on their hinges. The gators immediately
rushed through the gap.
Fall back! Madrak shouted. Above, the number of
gathering crows swelled to the thousands, their cries
drowning out the clash of battle and the screams of the
dying. Fall back! The wall is lost! Form ranks below!
Grissel and her warriors held the gatormen that came
pouring through the gate, but the battle was fierce. Fresh
ranks of trollkin rushed to lend their strength. Others
formed ranks along the wall in front of Gunnbjorns troops
and prepared to intercept the incoming enemy forces.
Determination lined their faces, but their fear showed
beneath. Madrak recalled the dreams that had driven him
away, the horrid images of burning villages and the screams
of the innocent.
Farrow, gatormen, and bog trogs descended the inside of
the wall in droves, cramming staircases and occasionally
knocking each other down. Those that reached the bottom
were met by the blades and hammers of kriel warriors.
Madrak tightened his grip on Rathrok and cleaved into

any invader within reach. Beside him, Horthol wielded his


hammer with matching savagery. Up and down the lines
fell callers belted out their songs, inspiring their kin. It was
not enough.
The crows blacked out the sun and cried out in songs of
death. The great swirling clouds of birds coalesced into five
distinct funnels of feathers and glassy black eyes, revolving
ever faster as they dropped from the sky and into the battle
below. Two touched down atop the wall, one inside the
fortress, and two in the killing fields beyond. The swirling
masses took shape as if outlining unseen forms, and each
shape expanded as more crows poured down from the sky.
In a sudden explosion of wings, the gathered crows
dispersed in all directions. Doomshaper and Mulg appeared
atop the wall from amid two of the swarms. A troll king
laden with ice and snow stood inside the wall among the
defenders, where another funnel had touched down. With
a roar worthy of the frozen peaks of the north, the glacier
king shouted his arrival, and all present turned toward the
sound. Beyond the wall, two similar roars answered in turn.
The surviving mountain kings of the Wyrmwall bellowed at
the arrival of their northern brethren.
Crows attacked the invading forces with a unified
viciousness, and with a tremendous battle cry the inspired
trollkin set upon their enemies.
Doomshaper, Madrak called up to the grizzled warlock,
you are a sight for the weary! How did you manage this?
I am as surprised to see you as you are to see me, Doomshaper
replied. There was no time for more words as he turned his
attention to the enemy and urged Mulg into the fray.
The fell callers raised their voices once more and other
warriors joined in, the chorus lifting the hopes of those
still standing. It was then, with trollkin spirits high and the
will to fight renewed by the miraculous appearance of the
Shaman of the Gnarls, that wild howls rolled down from
the mountains, echoing from stone and tree. The hymns to
Dhunia clashed with those calling the Devourer Wurm.

Calabans gaze tracked every movement of Lord Carvers


sword, hoping each swipe of the weapon would end with the
blade embedded in Barnabas flesh. The two leaders stood
atop a mound of fresh corpses, each bent on annihilating the
other. A coil of souls clung to Barnabas and empowered his
strikes. As he fought, the runes of the sacral vaults flared to
life, and the flames of their candles brightened.
Despite Calabans previous skepticism, he could feel
change in the air. Energies invisible to the untrained eye

swirled about the mound of corpses, gaining momentum


and pulsing each time the bokor and the warlord clashed.
Barnabas stood at the fulcrum of tremendous necromantic
energies as though his dark soul feasted on the essence of
the slain. Whatever was about to happen, Calaban needed
to stop it without betraying himself, lest he give up his bid
for power in the aftermath. Arkadius had come through
on his end of the bargain, but the outcome seemed far
from certain.

Energies invisible to the


untrained eye swirled about
the mound of corpses.
A farrow rushed Calaban, and the Grave Walker held Heart
Stopper before him. The weapons jeweled eyes gleamed,
and the farrow gripped his chest before collapsing in a
heap. A pair of blackhides under Calabans command
continued to tear into the swarming farrow, and he directed
them away from the thickest points of engagement in case
he needed to shunt a wound from his flesh to theirs.
Barnabas let out a hiss and snapped his jaws, meeting
Carvers blade with his own. A deep mutual hatred burned
in their eyes. Calaban recognized a shared hunger for
supremacy, both aspiring to take the part of the predator
and force the other to become prey. If either were aware of
the larger battle around them, he did not show it.
A bestial bellow sounded from deep within the farrow
ranks, and a large boar outfitted with a glowing tank
and hoses pushed its way through the crowd. The beasts
muscles surged. Calaban could see the arteries pulsing
beneath the skin of the boars neck. Behind the modified
boar stood Dr. Arkadius, who gave Calaban a furtive glance
before turning his attention back to his creation.
A hiss of frustration escaped Calabans jaws as a group
of gatormen moved to intercept the charging beast and
unravel what might prove the last chance to see Barnabas
life extinguished.
The beast is mine! Calaban cried in the gatorman tongue.
He urged the other gatormen back, adopting a dominant
posture, his head raised. He directed one of his blackhides
into the boars path. He would have to act quickly.
The beasts charged each other, and Calaban threw himself
into the throng of farrow. He raked Carcass over them in
wide sweeps, the weapons jagged teeth cutting foes to the
bone and splattering his mask in farrow blood. The moment
before Arkadius creation and his own beast collided, he
dropped his guard.

81

The Gate Opens


The farrow pushed back against his assault. Their crude
clubs and blades bit into Calabans flesh to open wounds
across his chest and knock free his mask. The pain was
immense. It blazed through his body like a wildfire, then
it was gone. The blackhide staggered as the transferred
wounds tore its body open.
With a blast of potent energy, Calaban withered the bodies
of the farrow surrounding him and turned in time to witness
the roaring mass of tubes and metal and muscle knock the
wounded blackhide aside without slowing. Other gatormen
moved to intercept, but the work was done.
The boar charged up the mass of corpses to where
Carver and Barnabas continued their bout, the stream of
supplemental adrenaline spurring it onward. Barnabas
turned with a look of surprise as the charging beast
neared. He shifted his weight forward and stepped into
a swing, and with a measure of force augmented by the
spirits of the slain, he planted his axe deep within the
boars chest and stopped the charge outright. The moment
of distraction was enough.
Even as Barnabas pulled his axe free from the boars
chest, Carvers blade sank into the bokors shoulder,
biting bone and severing tendons. Barnabas hissed with

82

rage and brought his axe around for a retaliatory strike,


but Carvers blade fell upon him again, striking the same
spot and driving the bokor to his knees. The shoulder of a
nearby ironback spitter tore open as Barnabas shunted the
damage, leaving the creatures arm dangling by a thread
of skin. A third stroke fell, then a fourth, and Barnabas
collapsed amid the corpses, the spitter collapsing with
him. Yet there was awareness in his eye and he seemed
almost expectant. Barnabas did not try to evade the farrow
warlords axe as it crashed into his chest, splitting it wide
to reveal his pulsing heart.
The gathered spirits erupted into heightened activity, the
green glow surrounding them flaring with intensity as
they converged on the mortally wounded bokor. Runes
carved upon the sacral vaults glowed with unwavering
light while the flames of their candles leapt high. When the
bokor looked up at Carver, the only sound that rose from
his battered and broken body was harsh laughter. Then he
fell silent. The exposed heart stilled, and Barnabas slumped,
motionless. Carver raised his blade to the sky in triumph.
Gatormen froze, staring in shock and dismay.
The bokors reign had come to an end. His ascension had
been cut short by the efforts of those closest to him, those
he believed to be his faithful servants. Now all would serve

the will of the Grave Walker. It was time to collect Barnabas


soul, to bind and enslave him to become dreadbound like
Maelok. Calaban reached inside the satchel at his waist. His
clawed hand closed over something smooth and hard, not
the shape of the totem he had so painstakingly created for
this moment.
He withdrew his hand and in his palm rested not the totem,
but a stone. Panicked, he looked inside the satchel but
found nothing except river rocks, the totem nowhere to be
seen. He upended the bag and scattered the stones at his
feet. Calaban looked around in seething anger, finding only
Maeloks dead eyes upon him. He knew that creature was
incapable of such an act. Jaga-Jaga, then? But her eyes were
fixed on Barnabas.
A howl of sheer terror rippled through the masses of
farrow, and Calaban looked up to see the spirits of the
dead rising from the mass of bodies on which Barnabas
lay. Paying no mind to his wounds, Barnabas regained his
footing amid an aura of green power, buoyed by the souls
clinging to his reanimated body. He laughed once more,
each burst expelling red mist. His body began to knit itself
together, though his chest remained open, his beating heart
grotesquely visible. He fixed his gaze on Carver.
You have slain me as a mortal, Barnabas said. But can
you slay me now that I am a god?

The Tharn descended screaming from the slopes of the


Iosan mountains with smears of crimson across their faces.
Some careened down the mountainside on the backs of
wolves while others followed on foot and lunged from
one rocky outcropping to the next. Warpwolves and
satyrs wove between the sparse trees as they neared.
Above, a massive tree with gnarled roots watched from
the mountainside, a robed figure standing beside it. A
chorus of howls mingled with the screams of the Tharn,
and together the sounds were enough to send a chill down
Madraks spine.
The Tharn quickly overwhelmed the few trollkin defenders
at the rear of the village. Pockets of kriel warriors had
remained to defend those who could not fight, but most
had seen too many years of combat, and the speed and
ruthlessness of the Tharn left them sorely pressed. Spears
sailed through the air to impale the reserve warriors, and
warpwolves rushed from one structure to the next to cut
down those who emerged.
Madrak and a handful of warriors rushed toward the back
of the village, away from the battle along the wall. He
released his mental hold on the mountain kings, ordering

them to batter those who assailed them rather than the


kriels. Behind him, Doomshaper shouted ancient curses as
he unleashed the contents of his scrolls. The gathered troll
kings expressed their rage in great bellows.
Madrak had to trust his friends to hold without him. He
could not allow the Tharn to rampage unchecked. Drive
them back! he shouted as he and his warriors joined the fray.
A female Tharn on wolfback charged to meet him. He swung
Rathrok in a rising arc, the blade nearly scraping the ground
before coming up to bat aside the spear and behead the rider.
He extended a hand toward the warriors, runes blazing to
life in the air, willing their fatigue to vanish and renewed
strength to fill their limbs. He shouted, Gather any ablebodied kin and make for the hall! At his command, the
warriors broke off to assist the reserves fighting the Tharn.
Madrak stayed his course, sprinting toward the feast
hall and his child. He saw Bron and Jor at the structures
entrance. Alongside a pair of veteran warriors almost as
old as Doomshaper, they were holding back the attackers.
Earlier he had regretted not putting these most loyal trolls
along the wall, but now he was glad he had chosen to leave
them here. They would remain rooted there as long as they
lived. Still, without help those who defended the village
would not last long. He wondered which side the Tharn
were aligned with, gatormen or farrow.
Something large, heavy, and covered in fur slammed into
Madraks side and took him off his feeta warpwolf.
Ironhide managed to position Rathrok's haft between
himself and his assailant to create a barrier between his
throat and the beasts snapping jaws. He planted one
booted foot in its stomach and kicked, using the force to
free himself. He regained his footing and prepared to catch
the warpwolf on the charge. The attack didnt come.
The warpwolf stared at him, lips pulled back in a snarl,
body tense. Still it did not lunge. To one side, a low growl
alerted Madrak to other warpwolves, each as tense as the
first. They circled him with tentative steps but none made a
move to strike.
Ironhide! a voice boomed. Madrak whirled. Before him
stood Kromac the Ravenous, the great Tharn king. A crown of
bone rested upon Kromacs head, testament to his authority,
and the blood of Madraks people marked his chest. His
arms hung relaxed at his sides, an axe in each hand. Madrak
recognized them as Dusk and Dawn, the blades carved into
crescent shapes symbolizing the sun and moons.
So it is you, Madrak said. His grip tightened on Rathrok,
and the urge to bury the weapon in Kromacs chest seethed
within him. He recalled Kromacs attack in the Wyrmwall
Mountains and how close Borka had come to death by the
Tharn kings axes. Yet Kromac seemed much smaller now,

83

The Gate Opens


more human. He was not yet in his bestial form. You have
come very far to destroy our homes. What have we done to
deserve such wrath?
I do not come for your people or your village, Kromac
replied. He stepped forward. It is you I come for, Madrak
Ironhide. I will eat your heart and World Ender will be
mine. I will show your people the true power of the Beast
of All Shapes.
Some of the warriors Madrak had pulled from the wall
arrived with a dozen reserve warriors in tow, yet even with
the reinforcements those defending the entrance struggled
to deflect the hail of spears hurled at them by passing wolf
riders. One of the veterans who had been fighting beside
Madraks trolls lay face down in the dirt, a spear protruding
from his back. Madrak took a step toward the hall only to
have one of the warpwolves block his path. The beasts fur
bristled, and it bared its teeth.
Your fight is with me, Ironhide, Kromac said. He crossed
the hafts of his axes before him. The Tharn kings expression
was not far removed from that of the warpwolf. I will make
your end quick.

It is you I come for, Madrak


Ironhide. I will eat your heart
and World Ender will be mine.
Without a word, Madrak hurled Rathrok at Kromac,
putting all of his rage and resentment behind the throw.
At the same moment, Kromac charged. Despite his size
and muscular physique, Kromac moved with unnatural
swiftness. He dipped low at the last possible moment,
narrowly avoiding Rathroks edge. Madrak stood
weaponless before his charge.
Rathrok would return, but not quickly enough. Madrak
rolled to the side, desperately evading Kromacs lunging
strikes. He raised his hand to catch the returning axe just in
time to parry the next blow. Madrak stepped back, giving
ground to regain his balance.
Kromac rushed him. The Tharn led with Dusk, knocking
Rathrok wide before bringing Dawn around to clip the
trollkin's shoulder. Pain flared along Madraks arm, but
he pushed the sensation away and brought Rathrok up to
deflect the next series of blows, using the entire length of
the weapon to shield his upper body. Kromac gave a great
roar, bringing each strike against Madrak with more force
than the last. He stepped back giving more ground to
desperately hold Kromac at bay.

84

The Tharn king pressed the attack with wide, powerful


sweeps of his axes. Madraks mind flashed back to the
battles atop the dueling platform in his youth, the duels that
had earned him the title of Chieftain. He must push back, or
he would be vanquished. He recalled how he found a way
to defeat challenger after challenger on the kuar in the early
days of his rule. There was always a weakness to exploit, a
trick to throw the opponent off guard.
Madrak dug in his heels and brought the length of Rathrok
upward, catching the heads of both Dusk and Dawn and
driving the weapons high. Rathrok burned in his grip.
He then snapped forward, striking his forehead to the
Tharns nose. He was rewarded with the sound of snapping
cartilage. A howl escaped Kromac which Madrak cut off
with a second, more forceful headbutt.
The two parted, Kromacs face as bloody as Madraks
wounded shoulder. Madrak drove forward and put Kromac
back on his heels. Dusk and Dawn rose to meet the axe swings
only to be batted aside, unable to slow the cursed weapons
momentum. Kromac snarled, but Madrak came on.
He stepped forward as he swung, putting all his weight
behind the attack. With impossible speed, Kromac brought
his weapons up just high enough to deflect the killing strike.
Dusk and Dawn crossed between the two fighters, the
intersection of their hilts catching Rathrok below its head.
A pause followed. Madrak and Kromac stared at one
another over the great axe. The Tharns eyes were wild.
It will be mine! Kromac shouted. The Tharns muscles
swelled to new proportions, and the sound of cracking
bones could be heard from beneath his skin as he grew taller
and his shoulders broadened. Transformed and standing
higher than a full-blood troll, the Tharn king belted out a
roar befitting the beasts of the wilds, revealing a mouthful
of elongated teeth.
Kromac pushed forward with a burst of strength, forcing
Madrak to backpedal. Their weapons twisted aside and
parted, and Kromac launched into a flurry of blows more
intense than the last. Each impact would have dislodged
Rathrok from Madraks grasp if not for the unnatural bond
between weapon and wielder.
The side of an axe grazed Madraks head, staggering him. The
next blow connected squarely with his uninjured shoulder.
He cried out in pain as the blade bit deep and fractured
bone. Still Kromac came at him. Madrak sensed Jor and Bron
nearby and knew he could send his wounds to them, but he
refused to weaken his sons guardians. A gash opened along
one knee and another across his left side. He raised Rathrok,
desperate to ward off further hits, yet for each strike he
successfully deflected, another found its mark.

An axe connected solidly with Madraks chest, and beneath


his armor his ribs cracked. His body spun from the impact
even as the pain swallowed him, and in the next moment
he was face down in the dirt. Rathrok rested in front of him,
and beyond Madrak saw his warriors gathered in front of
the feast hall. They were outnumbered, and he could tell
several had fallen. Rather than shunting his wounds to his
wounded trolls, he urged on their regeneration, willing
them to endure even as he felt deaths approach.
Stand! Kromac roared, his voice bestial and difficult to
comprehend.
Madrak had opened his mouth to reply when he spotted
Kargess. She was alone, rushing toward the feast hall with
sword and shield ready. He reached for her, wanting to
call out and warn her that there were too many Tharn. He
wanted to tell her to take their child and run, but the pain
of his shattered ribs robbed him of breath. He looked on as
a pair of female Tharn wielding daggers blocked her path.
Kargess ran the first through and clashed with the second.
The runes of Rathrok glowed before Madraks eyes, and he
could feel the weapon calling. It felt more alive and aware
than ever. It hungered for release. Madrak had long worked
to fight the weapons pull. He had lost much in his decision
to take up World Ender, and his friends had died in the axes
efforts to stave off his demise. By his own doing, his people
were all but lost. Now the key to that destruction promised
salvation if he would only surrender and allow it to fully
awaken. His mind filled with thoughts of Kargess and his
child, of the life they might lead. Whether he was present or
not seemed unimportant.
Forgive me, Madrak whispered, speaking to everyone
and no one. With a heavy heart, he surrendered to the axe,
no longer fighting its call.
The runes engraved upon the axe blazed to life with an
intensity Madrak had witnessed only once before, when
Rathrok helped wake the mountain kings. A white fire filled
each rune, and the blaze spread over the blade and down the
haft. Raw power and vitality poured into Madraks body with
painful intensity, starting with his fingers and then igniting
in each wound Kromac had inflicted upon him. With the pain
came a strange euphoria, and fresh wind filled his lungs. He
stood without effort. The white light deepened and pulsed
as all the pain vanished. His injuries remained, but they no
longer mattered. He turned to face Kromac once more, light
pouring from his eyes, an ancient and unfathomable power
awakened for the first time in ages.
Kromac let loose a bestial cry and rushed forward, drawing
Dusk back. The axe cut through the air toward Madraks
neck, but the trollkin chieftain swept Rathrok upward hard
enough to knock the weapon from its wielder's grip and send

it sailing into the dirt. Kromacs eyes widened in surprise,


but he countered with Dawn. Madrak batted it away on the
backswing, and Kromacs last axe flew a dozen yards and
clatter into the wall behind him. Unarmed, Kromac rolled
to evade. Madrak followed, swinging the blazing Rathrok
through the space the Tharn had occupied but a moment
earlier. The world was a blur, his movements not his own.
His body responded with a surety and strength he could
never have matched, even without his injuries. Fever raged
in his mind. Rathrok wielded him, pushing his body beyond
its limits so the edge of its blade might taste flesh.
A howl sounded to Madraks right, and he pivoted in time to
see a circling warpwolf charge. Madrak launched Rathrok in
an overhead swing and caught the leaping figure in midair,
breaking the beasts back and driving it to the ground.
Madrak roared in a voice that was not his own, and a ripple
of answering howls rose throughout the village, starting
with the circling warpwolves and spreading among the
rampaging Tharn. White light gleamed in their eyes as
well, and hundreds of voices cried out as a shared madness
consumed the Tharn and their beasts. Warpwolves twitched
and convulsed as their bodies changed from moment to
moment. They raked their claws across the ground, their
minds unhinged. What little restraint had been imposed by
the external will of their master was shattered.
The warpwolves darted in every direction, spurred to
the hunt by their frenzied state. They attacked Tharn and
trollkin with equal abandon. So too the Tharn now seemed
as willing to slaughter each other as their former foes. A
pair of warpwolves raced toward Madrak. The first lunged,
and he caught it with a sideways swipe that sent its broken
body flying. The second followed on the heels of the first,
and Rathrok split the creatures skull. With each killing
blow, Rathrok surged with new vitality.
Madrak turned back to Kromac, who had taken the
opportunity to reclaim his weapons. The Tharn king roared
in defiance, and Madrak shouted back. He drew Rathrok
back and felt the axe will him to take the shot, longing for
final release. Too much power had built up in Madrak, filling
him, his muscles straining, light streaming from his eyes.
His skin felt as though he would burst from it. The brutality
of the weapons long history filled his mind, and he wanted
nothing more than to send it hurtling into Kromacs chest.
The desperate cry of a familiar voice pulled his mind back
from the darkness. Kargess fled the hall with a bundle in her
arms, a warpwolf loping after her.
Kargess! Madrak shouted, and with all of his strength
he launched Rathrok, not at Kromac, but at the back of
the warpwolf pursuing his mate. All the power that had
accumulated in his being went with the soaring axe, which

85

The Gate Opens


streaked across the intervening space trailing fire like a
comet. As the handle left Madraks grip he felt a great
weight lift from him. His mind was his own again. At the
same moment, he felt his knees buckle as the agony of his
wounds returned. His body was broken.

into a panicked retreat, but the newborn swamp spread


to enmesh their legs in mire. Spirits of the slain raced
alongside the living, shrieking and tearing ephemeral
claws through the minds and bodies of the farrow, rending
their essence.

Rathrok cleaved straight through the warpwolf in a spray


of blood before falling to the earth. A pulse of energy
erupted from the weapon, and a column of blinding light
shot skyward as a piercing wind shrieked around those
battling throughout the inner village. The looming clouds
overhead buckled as if punched by an enormous fist, and
sheets of rain began to fall upon the warring armies.

Ancestors save us, said the nearest Praetorian. He and


the other guards stared in awe and terror. Even Mordikaar,
who had witnessed more of the spirit world than most, was
stunned by the display.

Madrak watched Kargess continue her escape. Beneath


him the earth trembled, and all about him the combatants
paused to look at the pillar of light piercing the clouds.
Drawing upon the last reserves of his strength, Madrak
raised his hand to await Rathroks return. The axe remained
unmoving and the pillar of light surged unabated. A rumble
began beneath Madraks feet, and soon all the Bloodstone
Marches trembled under the might of World Ender.

Mordikaar stood atop the shattered remains of an outer


watchtower and watched the spectacle unfolding before him.
More forces had joined the fray, some of them materializing
from the swarms of crows, and the fight raged stronger than
ever. The sides in this conflict were not entirely clear. Earlier
a small contingent of farrow had broken from their looting
to assail the new arrivals, but the Venators and Praetorians
had quickly put them down. Mordikaar held Despoiler in
reserve but did not participate, his eyes fixed on the greater
spectacle. Half a dozen Praetorians followed him to the
outer wall and up the shattered steps of the watchtower.
The rest stood guard below, ready to kill anything that came
too close. They watched from amid the rubble, stooped
behind the cover of shattered stone.
Behind Mordikaar, the portal swelled and reshaped itself.
Spirits screamed as they orbited the entrance to the Void.
A high-pitched whistling sound poured from the portal,
but he paid it no mind. His attention was fixed on the
struggle at the center of the outer village. The lizard
mystic had been dealt a mortal blow yet rose from the
dead, screaming spirits twisting and contorting around his
reanimated form. The spectral forms were potent enough
for Mordikaar to see even without the lights of his lanterns.
All about the reptile priest the blood that had seeped into
the soil came spilling back out in great gushes of gore, and
the sky darkened at his resurrection. There, in the dry and
barren soil, a swamp had begun to manifest. The pig men
fell over one another, trampling their fellows as they broke

86

As the swamp spread, the revived gatorman priest rose into


the air as if lifted by the spirits that assailed his enemies. The
remaining stone constructs glowed a deep and haunting
green, and the candles flared to life as if drinking in the
energy of defeated foes.
Magnificent, Mordikaar said, the word lost among the
screams of the dying. It was then, as the blood swamp spread
and the sky grew black, that Mordikaar saw a column of
blinding white light erupt from beyond the fortress walls to
pierce the sky. Although it hurt to behold, he could not turn
away. Lightning erupted in the clouds above. The portal
linking him to the Void pulsed.
The portal reacted to the pillar of light. The whistling sound
he had been ignoring ceased and then returned as an earsplitting screech. Mordikaar clapped his hands over his
ears. A low rumble worked its way up the structure, rattling
the foundation. Light limned the edges of the portal, and
another surge of energy pushed it outward, enlarging it by
half. He knew when the portal did not immediately return
to its previous size that the problem was far greater than he
had anticipated.
A rush of air flowed over Mordikaars body as the Void tried
to draw the world into itself. The vibrations carrying up
through the tower intensified. Small stones rolled toward
the gaping portal as it flickered and grew again. Pebbles
became airborne, and larger pieces of loose stonework began
to slide across the top of the watchtower. The Praetorians
cried out and demanded answers he did not possess. In
their voices he heard their fear of the Void made manifest.
Mordikaar clutched at what masonry remained of the
watchtowers rim, his eyes wide as the surrounding debris
left the ground and sailed into the Void. The portal surged
again, now looming over the watchtower like a great eye,
and Mordikaar felt his body lift from the stone. Several
screaming Praetorians were pulled into the portal. From
somewhere on the other side, a rumble like the growl of
a mighty beast rolled up from the depths and into the
expanses of the Bloodstone Marches. This was answered
by roars from the gargantuan trolls fighting near the
fortress. Half the watchtower tore away, the hail of stone
taking the remaining Praetorians with it. Only Mordikaar

remained to face the oncoming


devastation. Despoiler issued a
mournful wail, though whether
in sympathy for him or in
attunement to the widening
portal he did not know. Then
he heard a roar, a mighty
sound rising from the throats
of a thousand beasts. As he
looked into the Void he saw a
formless predator rushing up
from the nothingness to meet
him, its body shifting from one
nightmarish incarnation into the
next. Teeth became claws, then
talons, then barbs, and as the
god was birthed from the Void
to slake its hunger on Caen,
Mordikaar saw his annihilation.
The remnants of the watchtower
exploded in a hail of stone, and
Mordikaar was drawn into the
maw of the terrible beast.

Kromac raised an arm to shield


his eyes from the brilliant column
of light Rathrok projected. Its
summons rang out, provoking an
answering chorus in the wild part
of his mind. He stepped toward
it as if in a daze. The essence of
the Devourer was clear and pure,
and awe filled him.
He had recovered Dusk and
Dawn and was closing on
Madrak again when World Ender
unleashed its pent-up energy and
refused to return to the hand of its
former master. Now Kromac cast those axes to the ground
and walked past the crippled Madrak without glancing at
him. Rathrok called, and he could not turn away.
The ground shook beneath his feet. Above, the skies darkened
and the clouds swirled about Rathroks signal. It was as
though all of Caen pivoted around the light of the axe. The
Tharn ceased their rampage to stand in rapt amazement.
Another few steps brought Kromac within reach of the axe.
Each wave of energy rattled his bones, and the light was
blinding. Embracing the possibility of his destruction, he
reached into the light and closed his fingers on Rathroks

haft. With the sound of a multitude of lungs drawing sharp


breaths, the pillar of light collapsed back into the axe.
The quakes intensified, and the darkened skies unleashed
a storm upon the battlefield. The chaos flowed around
Kromac as if he himself were the eye of the storm. The
axes power flowed through his body, and he pulled the
weapon from the ground to raise it high for his gathered
warriors to see. A roar rose from his throat, answered by
the Tharn who remained.
Another jolt ran through the ground, sharp enough to
make him stumble. In the next instant a section of the

87

The Gate Opens


wall exploded and chunks of stone flew in all directions,
crushing trollkin and Tharn alike. Through the gap came a
tumult of ever-changing destruction.
The Beast of All Shapes had arrived on Caen.
The shifting deity seemed physical and ethereal at once,
its form morphing as it rampaged across the battlefield.
Yawning mouths and savage eyes formed and collapsed
while the storm coalesced into trampling hooves and
lacerating claws. A group of wolf riders was crushed
beneath the tread of the Wurm, and a dire troll fitted with
a slugger was swallowed whole by a maw ringed with
fangs. The ground crumpled in the deitys wake. Lightning
reached down from the sky to lash the battlements, and a
deluge of rain fell upon those left alive to witness the glory
of the Wurm.
Rathrok thrummed in Kromacs grip, though its fury and
inchoate rage had been released into the world, facilitating
the arrival of the Wurm. He felt a bond to the weapon, and
its living heat shifted in tune with his heartbeat. A sense
of clarity came over him, the haze of transformation lifted.
The Wurm still flowed within him, giving him strength
and allowing him to maintain his bestial form, yet his
mind was his own. He felt at one with the storm around
him, with the howling beasts, and even with the mountain
and glacier kings crying their greetings to the Beast of All
Shapes that was their father. He was connected to them
all yet remained himself. He sensed in the distance the
collapse of skorne fortresses as the world threatened to
shake apart.
The Wurm rampaged through the inner village and crashed
through what remained of the wall. Echoes of sensations ran
through Kromacs body as the Beast of All Shapes invoked
ruin all around. A pair of fleeing kriel warriors crossed his
path and he cut them down without ceremony.
Madrak lay upon the ground, his body propped up on one
elbow as he tried to pull himself toward the trollkin female
he had relinquished the axe to save. Once more Kromac set
his sights on Rathroks former host. He would consecrate
the axe with the chieftains blood and eat his heart. He
approached Madrak and placed Rathroks edge at his
throat, saying, I am the Champion of the Wurm. Then he
drew back the axe.
A vision struck him. Madrak stood atop a vast wall,
Kromac beside him, wearing unfamiliar garb and holding
a forked spear in his hands. Rathrok was once again in
the trollkins grip, and together he and the Tharn chief cut
through swathes of men, sending them tumbling from the
battlements. Kromac felt an inexplicable bond of kinship
with Madrak. The scene changed with a flash of light, and
Kromac watched as Madrak clashed with a figure clad in

88

steel surmounted by a tabard of gold and white, his helm


cast in the shape of a lions head. The battle was fierce as
the warriors clashed. He could sense Madraks pure hatred
for the armored figure. Through remembered tales Kromac
knew the man must be the Menite priest-king Golivant,
against whom the Molgur had made their final stand at the
Shield of Thrace. Another flash erased this vision as well,
replacing it with the disheartening sight of the trollkin
chieftains body racked atop the wall in view of what
remained of the Molgur army. From his lips flew curses,
and his face showed no weakness despite the pain. Kromac
knew this was Horfar Grimmr, he who had united the wilds
and threatened to erase the greatest Menite city of his day,
yet he was also Madrak Ironhide.
The vision faded, and the face of Madrak Ironhide stared up
at him with the same resolute expression. Kromac stepped
back and lowered the axe. Rathrok had given him a glimpse
into the past. Madrak and his people were lost children of
the Wurm, and the trollkin chiefs skill as a warrior was
commendable. His life was to be spared; there was other
blood to be spilled. Perhaps one day they would take up
arms together against the overreaching human kingdoms,
as both their ancestors had.
Kromac turned away and started toward where Wurmwood
loomed on the mountainside. Suddenly a robed and
hooded figure held the blade of a scythe to his throat.
Kromac recognized him as the Circle omnipotent Mohsar,
the Desert Walker. The hood obscured much of his face,
except for a deep frown on sun-baked skin. His expression
conveyed contempt. Behind him, the manifestation of
the Wurm broadened its swirling and spiraling rampage,
swallowing the looting farrow that had taken shelter in
trollkin homes.
What horror have you unleashed upon my domain?
Mohsar asked, though it was clear he expected no answer.
So much effort for an instrument of destruction, yet you
know not what you wield. Leave before I strike you down.
Tell Wurmwood my business with him is not over.
Kromac felt no fear, despite the omnipotents power. With
Rathrok in his grip, he knew the threat was empty. You
should rejoice with me, he said. The Wurm is made
manifest. Civilization will fall.
He turned away, heading for the peaks where Wurmwood
awaited him. He would no more answer to the blackclads.
Only the god of beasts was his master now.

Only a few sections remained of the inner fortifications, and


the bastion of stone on which Hoarluk Doomshaper stood

quaked beneath his feet. He intuitively knew the shapeshifting creature that seemed at one with the storm; he
understood its nature more through the flow of its energies
than by its ever-changing appearance.
The forces that had been battling one another moments
earlier now fled in terror before the onslaught. The troll
kings who came with him from the north as well as those
he had awakened in the Wyrmwall seemed unbothered by
this rampaging force of destruction as they chased down
the nearest remaining farrow and gatormen, devouring
anything they caught. Those Tharn not driven to berserk
frenzy made for the safety of the mountains. Trollkin
poured from the inner village. The battle was over. Now the
only goal was survival.
The portal from which the Wurm had emerged still hung in
the air, a shimmering rupture in reality, a black gateway to
Urcaen. The Wurms manifestation was still in the beginning
stages, Doomshaper sensed. The terrifying primal power
igniting the air around him was growing stronger by the
second, and the living storm that partially comprised its
body still poured from the portal. The more it raged, the
more potent the quakes became.
The raw power the Wurm embodied defied understanding,
yet Doomshaper knew only a portion of the god had made it
into the world, as though the gateway were not wide enough
to allow it easy ingress. The Wurm focused on destroying
walls, homes, and machines, targeting anything not of the
natural world. If it came through entirely, it would swiftly
depart from this barren place to seek the cities of men. The
prospect held a certain appeal. Long had Doomshaper
dreamed of taking vengeance upon humankind, and here
was a means to be rid of if at last. Still, he felt something
else, a deep-seated pain that had increased since the Wurm
first appeared.
The remnants of the wall trembled beneath him once more,
and Doomshaper clutched his staff for balance. Through the
stonework and the earth beneath, he maintained a connection
to Dhunia, and he realized the pain he felt originated there:
Dhunia cried out as waves of agony coursed through her
body. Each gash the Wurm tore in the surface of Caen was a
laceration on the goddess. The Wurm was a natural force, but
it embodied the natural chaos of storms, floods, earthquakes,
and volcanic eruptions. Not since primeval days had Dhunia
and the Wurm wrestled and fought, until at last she gave
birth to Menoth the Hunter to drive the Wurm away. While
Doomshaper desired to see mankinds cities fallen to ruin, he
would not witness the Great Mother ravaged again.
He looked out upon the ruins and a familiar rage filled
him. He had never laid eyes on the settlement until he
stood atop its battlements this day, and already it was
nothing but a memory. His intervention had not been

enough to salvage the life his allies had tried to build here.
This was not the Wurms timenot if he had anything to
say about it.
A solitary figure wrapped in a desert-hued cloak and holding
a scythe climbed the steep steps of the inner villages kuar
dueling platform. Though the figure was not attired in black,
Doomshaper recognized his armor as that of the druids.
Even at a distance, he could sense the beings power.
The figure raised one hand skyward while the other made
a circling motion with his scythe around the base of the
kuar. Below him, a pair of elaborate floating stone devices
Doomshaper knew to be celestial fulcrums circled the tower,
each crackling with elemental energy. In the same way he
could feel Dhunia through the stones on which he stood,
he felt a steadily increasing flow of energy rising within
the kuar. Whatever ritual the blackclad had begun, he was
using the platform as a conduit. Energy welled up from the
earth to course through the stone and into the druids body.
Yet somewhere in the transition between stone and druid,
the energy became charged, like the air before a storm. This
druid was no shaman of Dhunia but a prophet of the Wurm.

The terrifying primal power


igniting the air around him was
growing stronger by the second.
Doomshaper scowled in anger, knowing the blackclads
to be allied to the Tharn, but this ones actions gave him
pause. Above the druids upraised hand, a small point of
calm formed within the sky. More power surged through
the dueling platform, and the gap in the dark cloud cover
expanded briefly before collapsing. The druid was fighting
against the Wurm, not assisting it. Thus far his efforts
were futile; though the power arising from the earth was
tied to Dhunia, once it left the druids fingertips it became
taintedwild and destructive. Using such energy against
the Beast of All Shapes was like trying to stop a fire by
hurling a single burning branch in its path.
Cracks of thunder sounded, and six blackclads appeared
around the kuar. Below, wolds of various designs appeared
and joined the ritual, forming a ring around the circling
celestial fulcrums. The power rising through the platform
increased with the added efforts of the new arrivals, but it
was still not enough. Dhunias power was potent, but the
conversion it experienced as it was harnessed by the druids
robbed it of its effectiveness. Doomshaper immediately
thought he might succeed where they failed.
He made for the dueling platform. A young blackclad
appeared before him as he reached the circle of wolds, his

89

The Gate Opens


voulge at the ready. Doomshaper brought around his staff
and laid the youth low, leaving him unconscious. There was
no time for debate.
The wolds closest turned to avenge the fallen youth, but
Doomshaper ran past them and climbed the steps to where
the leader stood with arms outstretched. The wolds did
not follow, perhaps impelled by the ritual to remain where
they were.
Doomshaper crested the top despite the quakes that tried
to throw him from the platform. The wind was intense, and
the howl of the storm nearly swallowed the chants of the
blackclads. The druids seemed immune to the elements,
and he saw several were floating just slightly above the
stone. This close, Doomshaper realized the leading druid
must be Mohsar, one of the omnipotents of their order who
governed the eastern deserts.
The Wurm begets the Wurm! Doomshaper shouted over
the wind and the rumble of shifting earth. Your powers
will not succeed against their master! We must invoke the
Great Mother!
What impertinence is this? Mohsar said, turning to face
him. You. One of the slayers of Ergonus. He referred to
the omnipotent Madrak and Doomshaper had laid low
when the blackclads tried to assassinate Ironhide.
Observe, Doomshaper said, ignoring the accusation.
Without another word he gripped his staff in both hands
and struck its base against the platform. He could feel
Dhunias essence radiating through the kuar. He harvested
that energy and sent it against the chaotic essence that
surrounded them.
The vibrations shaking the tower lessened.
Doomshaper said, Alone, I can do little more than resist.
Together, we may be able to drive the Wurm back. Lend me
your strength. If I cannot see it done, no one can.
He studied Mohsars face. The scowl remained, but
something changed in the overall expression. An appraisal,
and the faintest trace of respect.
Very well, Mohsar said. Let us see what you can do. He
nodded to the surrounding druids. Once again a swell of
power traveled up from the earth and through the platform.
Doomshaper squared his shoulders. The energy pouring
into his body was immense, and the sensation it provided
was both invigorating and terrifying. He felt like he was
trying to swallow a lake. He gritted his teeth and pushed
back against the prevailing energies of the Wurm. The roar
of the earthquake faded.

90

The portal looming in the distance flickered and distorted.


A cacophony of bestial cries sounded from the Wurm,
and Doomshaper felt the opposing energy push back. He
dropped to one knee, his body bowing under the strain
of resisting the Wurm, but he continued to channel the
power of Dhunia. He prayed to the goddess, hoping to
prove worthy to be her vessel. Bolts of lightning struck
first one blackclad and then another, frying them in their
robes and sending them over the edge of the kuar. The
storm intensified. At the base of the platform, one of the
celestial fulcrums exploded in a hail of stone and splinters.
Two smaller wolds did likewise.
Hold! Mohsar yelled in a voice more threatening than
encouraging. Do not waver!
Together they managed to withstand the mounting pressure,
but the loss of the blackclads and the celestial fulcrum had
thrown the energy into disharmony. The distant portal
shrank only slightly. All around them the storm wailed. A
druid to Doomshapers left collapsed, blood pooring from
his body.
A flash of light overwhelmed Doomshapers vision, and a
clap of thunder sounded atop the platform. The remaining
two omnipotents had arrived: Dahlekov, large and muscled
in his black robes and bronzed armor; and Lortus, thin and
gaunt, his head bald and his face marred with scar tissue, a
golden torc around his neck.
Our apologies for our late arrival, Dahlekov said to
Mohsar. The Storm Lords impertinence eclipsed all else.
Lortus said, Let us end this before the Devourers hold on
this world tightens.
The new arrivals did not seem startled by Doomshapers
presence, and they quickly apprehended how Mohsars
ritual was connected to him. As they added their power
to the ritual, a great weight was lifted from Doomshapers
shoulders. The power flowing through him intensified and
became a smooth torrent.
The shifting form of the rampaging deity headed for the
dueling platform, its thousand eyes burning with rage.
The Wurm plowed through the wolds gathered at the base
of the platform, sending them hurtling through the air in
pieces. The second celestial fulcrum was crushed beneath
a barrage of scaled and clawed feet. Without the assistance
of the wolds or the celestial fulcrum, the burden became
unbearable for those atop the kuar.
A number of new celestial fulcrums materialized below,
summoned to amplify the efforts of the druids. The Wurm
wheeled about and prepared to destroy them. If they went,
so would all hope of casting the Wurm back into Urcaen.

Doomshaper removed a small knife from a sheath at his


waist. With one swift motion he plunged it into his own
chest below the sternum and yanked downward, opening
a deep gash. He fell to his knees before the omnipotents,
his blood flowing from the wound to splatter across the
platform and sink into the cracks between the stones. Even
as his vitality drained away, Doomshaper felt his connection
to Dhunia strengthen, joining him to the earth below. There
was no force on Caen as primal and connected to life as the
blood of trolls. He gave Dhunia the gift of his own essence
and accepted her power in return.

Survivors of the Gnarls kriels had joined the United Kriels


gathered at the platforms stairs, waiting for Doomshaper
to lead them home.

The platform thrummed with energy, but Doomshaper


sensed the flow coming to an end. Something deep within
the earth had collapsed beneath the strain. The power the
druids had gathered would be the last.

Much, but not all, Madrak replied. Dag babbled


meaninglessly between them. Madrak smiled at his son.

Doomshaper felt his consciousness slipping, but the


regenerative power borrowed from Mulg stopped his
bleeding and closed his wound. He tightened his grip on
his staff and pushed himself to his feet. Gritting his teeth he
stared at the portal, denying its existence and healing the
body of Dhunia.
An anguished shriek rose from the Wurm. On the horizon,
the hovering portal expanded briefly before collapsing in
on itself with an implosive thump, as though a massive
door had slammed shut. The sound rolled over the hills
and echoed amid the Iosan peaks before fading into the
distance.
The storm-fused form of the Wurm accelerated into a
maddened vortex around the kuar, emitting flashes of
lightning. The warping forms contained within it became
more fluid, crashing into one another and blending together.
With a final howl the Beast of All Shapes disintegrated, its
form dissipating in the wind. Just as suddenly the storm
abated, leaving a deep and solemn quiet.

Madrak walked among the rows of honored dead. Weapons


and shields rested upon the chest of each warrior. They
would receive proper burial rites, but it would take some
time. As he passed each body, he silently thanked them for
their sacrifice and wished them an expedient return.
The kuar was the only structure still standing for miles in
every direction, its lonesome form eerie to behold. When the
chaos ended, Doomshaper descended from the platform to
check on Madrak and the others, but he returned soon after
and remained there even now, talking with the hunched
druid who carried a scythe and wore robes the color of sand.
What the two talked about, Madrak did not know or care.

Madrak made his way to where his people gathered in


loose groups around what had once been the feast hall.
Kargess stood with them, Dag held tightly in her arms.
The two embraced with their child between them. She
had not remarked on the absence of Rathrok in the battles
aftermath, and she did not do so now.
We have lost much, Kargess said.

Bron walked up to them, Jor following close behind.


Madrak lives, Bron said in his rumbling voice. Little
Madrak lives. The troll extended a thick finger to scratch
Dags head. Having gorged on fallen farrow, the axer
showed little evidence of the injuries he had suffered. Both
Bron and Jor had nearly given their lives to keep Dag safe.
Madrak was forever in their debt.
His friends stood talking nearby: Grissel, Calandra,
Gunnbjorn, Grim, and Horthol. Many had died, but these
had made it through. He owed them all.
Kargess found his gaze. What now? she asked. He had no
immediate answer.
A clap of thunder rang out from the kuar, and the hunched
druid vanished. Doomshaper descended the tower and
crossed the empty expanse to Madrak and his family.
The blackclad says your people will not be troubled by
his within his domain, Doomshaper said. He believes the
farrow and gatormen are unlikely to return.
Good, Madrak said.
Have you given any thought to what I said about
accompanying me back to the Gnarls? There is strength
in numbers.
Madrak shook his head. Our time here is ended. This
land is not the home we sought. He looked toward the
horizon. Somewhere out there, a new life awaits us. He
had no idea where such a place might be, but the words
felt right. He had taken the first step on a better path for
the kriels. His people would no longer accept what was
forced upon them. They would choose their own way
and their own destiny.

91

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