Following on from the daring exploits of Arthos of Carnhold – man of action, hit with the (tree)ladies, all around hero – in Part 1, Part 2 sees our intrepid adventurer delve further into the gloomy ruins to try and keep an artefact of incredible power out of the hands of the enemy.
(I’m breaking schedule today to try and get caught up with Col before he posts the final part on Thursday, so you can expect another one or two of these before I post the finale on Friday.)
Game 3: Fragile Cargo
Forces of Order – Mark and Ross – 52 Renown
Knight Venator – General
Arthos – Beasthunter (as a Vulkite Berserker Karl)
Kraia – Dryad
Amadriel – Branchwych
Forces of Destruction – Aaron and Colin – 46 Renown
Weirdnob Shaman – General
2 Orruk Ardboys
2 Orruk Brutes
The artefact seized from the Orruks’ is a powerful amulet seeped in the life-giving magic of the forest, a chunk of pure Ghurish realmstone, no bigger than an egg, and carved in a flowing script unknown to Arthos. The latent energy from the stone attracts sorcerers like moths to a flame, and to linger to long here would invite danger far greater than the Orruks.
The Lady of the Grimwald arrived during the night, drawn perhaps by that mystic beacon, or perhaps at the petition of her daughter, the dryad having lapsed into a songful meditation as soon as the fighting had ceased. Arthos had been too afraid to approach. The Lady was the goddess of the forest, and so was also the godess of Carnhold, his home. Before, she had existed only in folk tales and the inscriptions on the many shrines that dotted the woodland realm. Now in front of him, she was more terrible and elemental than he could have believed.
As the god-beings he had found himself aligned with held council in the shelter of some ruined temple, Arthos scaled to the upper floor to get a better look at the surroundings. He was not so comfortable in these man-made environs, decrepit and overgrown as they were. He dared not light a fire for fear that it would incur the wrath of the tree-spirits, and so he pulled his cloak around him and watched for trouble as dawn slowly approached.
As the day breaks, Arthos picks up the now familiar din of the Orruk warband in the distance. The Lady and the Knight of Sigmar must also have been alerted, as they end their discussion and begin to move. The Knight’s wings flare briefly, and she lands on the platform beside Arthos, looking not at him but at the approaching brutes. “The artefact can not stay here in reach of these beasts. There is a hidden realmgate rim-ward of here. The artefact will be safe in the vaults of high Azyr, but we must first make it past our enemy.” Her wings blaze as she takes to the air. “I guess it’s ‘we’ now,” thinks Arthos, not yet sure if that’s a good thing.
Hoping to confound the Orruks blocking their path, the party splits in two, Arthos and the tree-kin going left and the Knight rising above the trees to the right, her hawks wheeling high in the air. The Orruks don’t take the bait, their whole party making a beeline for the lone Stormcast, driven forward by the mad babbling of their shaman.
Arthos sees the Venator rise higher, a shower of celestial arrows falling amidst the green skins. Most sink into the stonework that the Orruks hastily take cover behind, or ricochet off the heavy armour plates of the larger brutes in fountains of crackling sparks. The Shaman stumbles as a bright bolt impales his leg, drawing a howl of pain and angry curses, but he rises and continues to lope forwards.
Seeing the Orruks distracted, Arthos makes for the cover of a small copse, hoping to flank the Orruks and strike from the rear. The dryads have the same idea, and their long limbs allow them to quickly outpace Arthos.
As Arthos and the tree spirits quickly approach the Orruks from the rear, he sees one of the hawks dive down towards a skulking warrior, but just before it reaches him the Shaman thrusts out his staff and a jagged bolt of green energy lances out and clips the bird’s wing. It tumbles, and the Orruk it had been aiming for swats it out of the air with a gleeful whoop. It disappears in a puff of electric chaff and azure feathers.
They are close enough to break cover now, and with a roar Arthos hurls himself at the Orruk that has strayed furthest from the pack. To his left he sees the Lady of the Grimwald stride purposefully forward to meet the charge of a conspicuously flamboyant Orruk. Her glowing scythe rises, and the the Orruk falls, his roar of challenge cut off mid-shout.
The hair on Arthos’ arms rise as he senses the build-up of powerful and unstable magic. The Orruk shaman has begun to dance, his small eyes glowing with balefire and his whirling staff billowing green smoke. Amadriel lowers her staff and a swarm of bright insects cascades from the boles of the wood, engulfing the shaman. He howls and garbles, the bites and stings of the spites only making him more frenzied. The dryad and the branchwych charge towards him, and though he pays them no mind the whirlwind of raw magic around the shaman lashes out at them.
An enormous Orruk brute comes barrelling out of the forest, some stray blue feathers blowing from his gigantic cleaver. He barrels straight into the dryad who is too preoccupied with trying to stop the shaman to see his charge. The hulking beast smashes her aside with one mighty swing and she tumbles away, a mass of broken branches. The dryad lands heavily several metres away, and lies still.
Arthos sees the peril that the Lady of the Grimwald is now in. She is focussing all her energy and will on fighting through the shaman’s magic, and has no time to face the second Orruk. Arthos hefts his axes, and charges at the back of the brute…
Dark storm clouds quickly gather as the shaman’s frantic ritual reaches its crescendo. Green lightning crackles through the clouds, and a colossal green foot manifests in the sky. The shaman raises his leg and stamps his foot down, the giant foot mimicking his action like a puppet. The Knight notices too late, focussed on shooting at the Orruks below, and the foot smashes her out of the air. She disappears below the treeline as the Orruk wizard hoots with glee. He begins to hop from one foot to the other, each time the monstrous foot rising and falling with a stomp that shakes the ground and leaves a corona of dancing green energy in the air.
Arthos flings a throwing axe at the back of the brute as he charges. It pings harmlessly from the Orruk’s thick armour, but draws its attention just long enough to allow the Branchwych to break from the melee and make for the fallen Knight, desperate to retrieve the realmstone shard before the Orruks can. The Shaman is too busy joyfully jumping up and down to attempt to stop her.
Arthos hacks an axe into the unarmored calf of the Orruk and it howls in rage as it stumbles forward. Leaving the axe where it is, he lets the momentum of his charge carry him on. He uses the brute’s thick leg as a step and scrambles up onto its shoulders. With an unintelligible cry, he swings his last axe above his head and with both hands chops it down into the back of the Orruk’s skull. The monster goes limp and crashes to the ground like a tree. He knows from bitter experience that he’d be lucky if its dead yet, but he won’t wait around to find out.
Meanwhile, the Shaman has slowly come out of his ecstatic trance, and clutching his aching head and seeing himself alone, decides to make a break for it before the hunter can free his axe from the brute’s thick skull.
Phew! That was a close game. The Orruks had a tough time of it, trying to block the escape of a model that could fly right over their heads. They managed to cut down both Aetherwings and the Dryad before the Shaman finally cast Foot of Gork on the pesky Knight Venator, causing a whopping 26 mortal wounds! Gork just kept stomping! It was one of the highlights of the weekend and brought much glee to all of us. The forces of Order still managed to win it though, cutting down enough of the Orruks to force a Battleshock test, at which point the magically-hungover Dim does a runner.
Here’s a link to Part 3.
And be sure to check out Col’s summary of Games 1-3 here!