Bosom of Hashut
Journal entry 3rd Azgroth Year of Hashut 1969 OY (Orthodox Year)
I have been back from the Northern war for nearly three weeks now and the healers say that my wounds have almost recovered. Still I was not expecting to be called on so soon or indeed in such a fashion.
The summons arrived in the morning ordering me to report to the Scribe of the Conclave within the hour. Such commands are not to be ignored and I was at his office in 30 minutes. Here the scribe himself met me. A short unimposing grey figure yet of significant power. The Scribe answers only to the Conclave of Sorcerors itself. The Conclave he told me was pleased with my last assignment and wanted to ‘reward’ me with another. I was to travel to the far north east, the mountains of Khynamar. There I was to find the sorcerer Walkhurie Khurtz and bring him back to the bosom of Hashut. I was given a bundle of scrolls and told to present myself to the Dockmaster of Khazarantois in three days time. He then dismissed me, pausing only to enquire of my limp. I explained the incomplete recovery which he accepted. There is no need to tell them of the greying and hardening of the toes on that foot. I am not ready for a palanquin yet !
For a race so given to violence and torture I find our use of euphemisms amusing. Bring back to the bosom of Hashut means only one thing. Indeed my order has only one purpose, the removal of problems or obstacles, be they Orruk bosses, mad Wurzog prophets or in this case a sorcerer. What had Khurtz done to require the attentions of ‘the left hand of Hashut’ as my order (if it officially existed) would be known.
Journal entry 5th Azgroth Year of Hashut 1969 OY (Orthodox Year)
The scrolls have proved very interesting. Khurtz was from a high caste family, well connected and represented on the Conclave. He had been an exceptional student of the arcane arts and had been marked for high things from an early age. He had progressed through the trials of a daemonsmith with almost unseemly haste. Like all aspiring candidates for higher office he served his 10 years with the legion in the northern war. He distinguished himself there, proving not just to be a powerful caster but a great strategist too. It was on his return that his trajectory changed. Yes he progressed through the next trials with ease but when offered a post within the temple, the fast track to sorcerer, he declined. Instead he opted for another stint with the legion. His request had been granted and another 10 years spent on the front line. His record with the legion in this second period was, if the reports could be relied upon, even more impressive than the first. His powers and tactical abilities were clearly exceptional. At the end of his tenure with the legion he returned and within a year ascended to the ranks of the sorcerors. Indeed it looked as though a place on the Conclave would be his for the taking. Yet Khurtz requested another period with the legion. This had been resisted initially. Khurtz however appears to have foreseen this. He petitioned the Conclave to allow him to take a small force into the mountains of Khynamar. This area was inhabited by grot tribes (primitive even by their standards). The orruks that constantly threatened the northern border of our hobgrot satrapies used these grots as footsoldiers. Khurtz s’ plan was to establish an outpost here to cut off the supply of grots to the orruks. The prize was obviously felt worth the risk and Khurtz was given a final 10 years to establish the outpost. That was 13 years ago.
The scrolls indicated that initially contact had been maintained with the outpost by grot couriers to the trading station of Doh Lhunge. Khurtz’s forces established control over a small area and slowly expanded their influence. The success of the approach was also evidenced by a reduction in the number of grots fielded in the north. However contact with the outpost became more sporadic. Rumours began to spread about unorthodox military tactics being employed by Khurtzs’ forces. Then 4 years ago contact was lost. An exploratory mission to discover if the outpost still stood had disappeared. Reports from captured grots however continued to suggest Khurtzs’ presence and his ‘unorthodox’ tactics. These and the continued low numbers of grots in the orruk armies in the north led the Conclave to believe that Khurtz still lived.
The last few scrolls were interesting. There were subtle inconsistencies in prose style. The topic would often shift awkwardly compared to the earlier writings. Even the grammatical usages occasionally changed for a few paragraphs. I had seen such patterns before. Indeed I had written such scrolls in my younger days. The changes are caused by the copier paraphrasing or censoring the original. It always indicates the same thing, the same behaviour, the only unspeakable offence. Heresy. It seemed that it was not just Khurtzs’ military tactics that were unorthodox. That would explain the need for him to be returned to the bosom of Hashut.
Journal entry 19th Azgroth Year of Hashut 1969 OY (Orthodox Year)
Black River Hobgrot Khanates, Chamon
It has been nearly two weeks since I left Khazath. The journey so far has been uneventful. Something I suppose I should be grateful for considering what is to come. We travelled up the Black River in a small iron hulled Dreadhorn class patrol boat. Interestingly I was not involved in choosing my little force. Mostly it is hobgrot slaves running the boat with some young beardling who claims to be an engineer. There are three others. Two legionnaires, clearly fresh from the training grounds (expendable I suppose) and one experienced old warrior. He also is supposedly a simple legionnaire though every mannerism screams Castellan and Obsidian Guard to boot. It seems it may not be only Khurtz that the Conclave does not trust!
The hidden city is far behind us now and we are leaving the slag fields of Oregov. From here the river meanders through the Rusted wastes. These great steppes are the original homelands of the hobgrots that serve us in Khazath. They are still ruled out here by their own khans but as satrapies of the hidden city. Occasionally we pass a settlement of the rough circular tents these primitive nomads call home but we rarely see them or their wolf mounts. They are rightly wary of our presence.
I know these steppes too well . They stretch far to the North where the never ending war with the orruks grinds on. I have travelled North more times than I care to recall. Sometimes it is a particularly aggressive war boss, sometimes a madder than usual Wurzog prophet. It doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t really change anything. Nothing ever changes. The greenskins lack the strength to push south, we lack the numbers to fully quell them and so the bloodshed goes on.
But we will not see the Silica Badlands on this trip. We are due to take an eastern tributary in the next day or so travelling up the Nhunge as far as the Doh Lhunge trading station. Here we are to get further directions.
Journal entry 41st Azgroth Year of Hashut 1969 OY (Orthodox Year), 3 days South of Doh Lunge, Khynamar, Chamon
We were approached today by a rough canoe with 5 primitive grots on board. The beardling legionaries nearly blasted them out of the water with the swivel gun. Fortunately Guv’ as the ‘not castellan’ calls himself spotted the inverted arrow marks painted on their chests in time. After hailing them and satisfying himself they were not a threat he let them come alongside. The grots were of a tribe subject to our forces at Doh Lhunge. They dwelt in the thick forests that had begun crowding the rivers’ banks for the last week.
It was fortuitous that they had been recognised. They brought word of a large camp of Orruk Ironjawz just further up river. The camp was on a promontory and commanded the passage entirely. They offered to takes us by land to a vantage point on the opposite bank where we could examine the camp and weigh our options. Guv’ chose the weakest grot to lead us and handed the others, bound, over to the tender mercy of the beardlings as security. We leave tomorrow.
Journal entry 1st Ghorgurth Year of Hashut 1969 OY (Orthodox Year), 2 days South of Doh Lunge, Khynamar, Chamon
The last three days have been interesting to say the least. Guv and I went ashore with the hobgrot on the east bank. We slowly made our way northwards for about a day. The forests here are dense and lush with the rainfall that bathes these climes. Despite the silver sheen that costs the leaves the forests are dark and difficult to navigate. So I was glad the hobgrots’ fear of us was great enough to ensure he led us to the right place. By the evening we reached a rise on the east bank overlooking the promontory and Orruk camp on the other side of the river. The hobgrot had been right. The river here was deep but not even a bow shot across. To attempt a passage would be suicide. The Dreadhorn class boats are reasonably well armoured but not full battle craft and no one has ever accused them of being stealthy. As dusk was settling in I decided to settle in our hidden position and wait till morning. I had hoped that the better light would enable me to calculate how best to disrupt the camp so we could pass. I was loathe to abandon the river so far from our goal.
Guv and I shared watches with the hobgrot shackled between us. I had the watch as dawn broke. The camp opposite was still silent, the last fires having died out a couple of hours earlier. My view was still poor due to the river mist still hanging over the water. Possibly this is why the camp guards noticed them before I did. The first I noticed was the panic in the camp. The orruks clearly recognised what was coming as the boss stood in the centre bellowing orders to the brutes and troopers. I heard them before I saw them. An odd rapid rhythmic thumping in the distance. Then silhouettes against the rising sun. Small figures flying in from the East. Were they daemons, aelves, seraphon, I knew not. Then I heard the chanting. How it could be heard over the thumping noise I don’t know. But I know the ‘Battlechant of Hashut’ when I hear it. The next moment the guns opened up. The range was too great for standard fireglaives but I saw Orruk brutes sent srawling in sprays of blood and bone. The Wurzog prohet standing next to the boss raised his arms in incantation then staggered under a veritable hail of bullets, the last removing most of his jaw. The attackers were nearer now. Clearly children of Hashut by their appearance. They wore great metal headpieces from which sprouted spinning blades like those of a ships propellors. It was from these the noise came and these which clearly kept them aloft. The orruks were running now, desperate to get to the treeline. I felt the sorcery before I saw it. The familiar tingling on the skin. Then the trees exploded in an inferno of twisting mutatng flames. I scanned the sky. Was Khurtz himself there. There were two or three of the flying dwarves with greater headgear and more elaborate propellor systems. But they were too far away to be sure. The orruks were panicking now. Only the war boss had kept his head, sheltering behind a rude wall trying to rally his warriors. As I watched three of the flying dwarves appeared over the tree line behind the camp. The warboss saw them too late. The three of them targeted him simultaneously. I saw his body jerk violently as the bullets hit. Then as quickly as it had started it was over. The flying Dawi Zharr we’re gone, leaving the burning wreckage of the Orruk camp behind them. No ‘landing party’. No attempt to secure the camp. Just hit, hit hard and go. Like some divine retribution.
So these were the unorthodox battle tactics that the Conclave disliked. But why? The weapons were superior to our fieglaives. The ability to put troops in the air on a large scale. The ability to strike at such speed. Sorcerors, mobile, flying, without the need for rare mounts or cumbersome palanquins. Why did the Conclave want Khurtz dead? Why had they not welcomed him like a hero? The answer was obvious and clouded my boyish optimism. Heresy.
Journal entry 2nd Ghorgurth Year of Hashut 1969 OY (Orthodox Year), 1 day South of Doh Lunge, Khynamar, Chamon
We passed the smouldering remains of the Orruk camp yesterday evening. The flies and scavengers had already moved in. We cruised past with no incident.
However I have caught Guv observing me surreptitiously a couple of time over the last day. I may have been in cautious in my response to the attack by Khurtz’ forces. He will need watching from now on.