Ashen D’aark gazed down from Zharr Naggrund at the cloud of dust being raised by his soldiers.��The slaves shambled into position under the implacable gaze of the Dwarven and Hobgoblin slavemasters.��His wolf riders reined in their mounts as they began to slaver at the smell of fresh meat around them.
Most of all he gazed upon his warriors and Immortals.��Rank upon rank of hardened Dawi Zharr veterans with dark armour and darker hearts, no doubt already dreaming of slaughter and slavery for the glory of Hashut.
Harkon D’aark gazed up towards the section of Zharr Naggrund where he knew the Sorceror, his blood-kin, would be watching.��Turning back to his men he began screaming dark oaths at them, reminding them of what Hashut would expect of them in the days to come.
Ashen D’aark turned as he heard a knock at the door.��He mumbled a minor incantation under his breath, and then heard a creak as the valuable oak door swung inwards, revealing his slave attendant at the threshold.��The Goblin shuffled forward, apprehensively.��"Master, the great and mighty commander Harkon, bids you know that your legions are ready".
Ashen D’aark smiled, his tusks protruding forward over his lower lip.
He gestured for the goblin to leave, and the small creature eagerly withdrew.
Ashen D’aark took one last look out the window and went to join his brother.
The entire army fell silent as the great obsidian gates of Zharr Naggrund swung open, and the sorcerer walked towards the force that had assembled on the plains before him, flanked on either side by his blood-kin warriors in darkened armour chased with gold.
Harkon D’aark bowed his head in deference.
“Great Sorcerer, blood of my blood, beloved of Hashut, your army awaits”.
Ashen D’aark made a show of inspecting the forces even though he had seen them from his window.��To do otherwise would be a sign of disrespect to his blood-kin, and the Dwarf had proven himself unworthy of such an insult.
“Blood of my blood, you have honoured our clan.��This army is pleasing in the eyes of Hashut.��Signal your troops to march”.
One of his immortals escorted him to his Lammasu, while Harkon took his place in the front rank of the Immortals.��As Ashen took to the air he began reflecting on the campaign to come.
The council of Sorcerors had been most insistent.��The Chaos incursion through the High Pass had to be stopped. Zorn Uzkul would not fall to the slavering filth of the lesser gods.
Ashen’s allies on the council had laboured long to ensure his command of this army, while no doubt his rivals prayed for his defeat and humiliation.��No matter.��Their snivelling, cowardly prayers would never travel to Hashut’s ears.��The only sound Hashut would hear would be the blissful serenade of his enemies screaming.��The thought made Ashen smile.
The march north was long and arduous. The torture of some goblinoids diverted the men’s attention for a while, but in his heart Ashen could sense their anticipation for the fight.
Ashen had already decided their course of action.��The Chaos force was heading towards Uzkulak, no doubt to claim it as a base of operations.��Ashen would position himself between them and Uzkulak, and allow them to bleed themselves white against the dark armour of his soldiers.
Ashen was familiar with the terrain and was already envisaging the battle.��He had made many sacrifices and prognostications, and was convinced Hashut was pleased.
The sun rose on an ominous morning.��The land was shrouded in a grey pall, the sun hidden from sight by a cloud of pollution.
The march north was finished and at long last Ashen was ready.��Flying over the battlefield he could see the mighty Earthshakers and bolt throwers positioned on the hill, immediately behind the immortals, who were in turn flanked by the might of the Dawi Zharr infantry.
On the flanks the Great Bull Centaurs bellowed their hatred towards the heavens, while the Hobgoblin wolves pawed the ground in anticipation.��Ashen sneered in contempt at the slaves arrayed before his troops, so ignorant of the glory of Hashut that they seemed uncaring of the part they were to play.��Every one of their bodies that absorbed an arrow or sword blow would be a Dawi Zharr warrior untouched and able to fight on.
In the distance, he could see the great fortress of Uzkulak pointing towards the sky like an accusatory finger.��From the fortress he could see a small contingent of Dawi Zharr warriors marching forth to join the army, as had been arranged by one of his allies on the council.
Their numbers would make little difference, but they were not likely to appreciate being slighted.��Ashen made of point of flying his Lammasu down lower over the Garrison forces, extending his arm in salute.��The leader of the garrison raised his great hammer in acknowledgement.
As Ashen flew back towards the centre of his army he could see on the horizon the shambling hordes of the Dark Gods moving towards him.��Great warriors in armour that looked like it has been sculpted by madmen, slavering hounds straining at the leashes of their handlers, and twisted abominations that defied description.��Ashen’s keen eyesight also picked out the leader of the force, a huge brute in jet black armour riding atop a chariot.��Even at this distance the arrogance of his bearing was unmistakeable.
Ashen raised his weapon in the air and pointed it towards the enemy.��In response he heard the dull “thunk” sound of his bolt throwers opening fire.��Shortly after he heard the great eruption of his Earthshaker, the Lammasu struggling against the vibration in the air caused by the mighty weapon.��In the distance, Ashen could see the ranks of the warriors being pierced and the ground erupting in huge titanic chunks as the Earthshaker began to wreak it’s inevitable toll.
The Chaos forces seemed uncaring of the losses, as Ashen knew they would be.
The mutated spawn lumbered for ward with surprising speed, crashing into the lines of slaves.
The toll wrought upon the slaves was terrible, but Ashen was pleased to see the spawn being gradually brought down.��It was almost as though the slaves welcomed death, Ashen pondered.
Below, one of the slave units fled, unable to withstand the spawn’s rending claws.��Behind the slaves, Ashen saw a unit of blunderbusses raise their weapons and fire.��A visible swathe, like a field of crops being reaped, was cut through the middle of the slave unit.��The great spawn fell to the ground, looking towards the sky and wailing piteously at it’s uncaring Gods.
The Blunderbussiers reloaded their weapons and levelled them again.��The slaves, unsure whether to fear the Dwarfs or the spawn more, simply died where they stood, their blood mingling in the dirt with that of the spawn’s.
Of more concern to Ashen were the warriors that advanced, silently and implacably, behind the spawn.��The two largest units of warriors had formed up either side of their leader and advanced contemptuously towards the remaining slaves
On the flanks, Ashen could see his Bull Centaurs advancing alongside the wolf riders.��They had already slaughtered the Chaos Hounds, and were attempting to outflank the main Chaos line.��The Bull Centaurs bellowed as they crashed into the enemy lines.��Daemons simply seemed to evaporate as their mighty hammers pummelled them into oblivion.��The wolf riders, with less courage but some degree of cunning, managed to manoeuvre themselves into the flank of the Daemons and began helping the Centaurs as best they could.
On the right flank, one of Ashen’s Warrior regiments and the garrison from Uzkulak were fighting off smaller units of warriors and Beastmen, holding the line and giving as good as they got.
Ashen’s attention was diverted by a mighty shout from the centre.��The enemy general had raised his weapon straight towards the centre of the Dawi Zharr line and had hurled his chariot forward.��closely followed by his warriors, who surged towards the front ranks of the Dawi Zharr line.��Ashen flew his Lammasu down, easily ignoring the feeble spells of the enemy Sorcerors who dared to attack him.��Raising his hand towards the enemy line he began incanting great and terrible words.��From his hand, arcs of fire leapt forth and engulfed one of the enemy’s warrior units.��Ashen knew that soon the enemy would be upon his troops, so held nothing back.��He simply allowed the power of Hashut to flow through him, great torrents of energy incinerating warriors of the lesser gods, as they moved forwards.
Ashen’s incantations were interrupted by the sound of the lines crashing together.��The enemy had simply slaughtered the remaining slaves and charged on through towards the main line.��The chariot of the enemy general crushed many of his soldiers, while it’s passenger began hewing about himself with maniacal, superhuman fury.
Off to the left, Harkon’s unit was faring better.��The enemy warriors were no match for the cold fury of Harkon’s blows, their armour was of little avail as the mighty hammer, blessed by fell runes of Hashut, reaped it’s terrible toll.
Ashen heard a sound like the sky tearing, and was pleased to see the last of the enemy’s Daemons falling before the hooves of the Bull Centaurs, their life essence disappearing in a thin column towards the sky.
The Bull Centaurs and the surviving Hobgoblins charged forwards, hammering into the flank of the unit that was fighting Harkon.
To the right, the battle was precarious.��Harkon’s troops had suffered horrendously driving off the Chaos troops, while the Uzkulak garrison was hanging by a thread, it’s commander and the surviving troops putting up a brave stand.��Ashen’s troops were positioning themselves for a flank charge until Ashen ordered them to fall back towards the main line, with a sweep of his arm. “Let the garrison die”, mumbled Ashen, “I’ll be damned if I risk leaving my flank exposed just to save some lowly garrison troops”.��Some Beastmen who threatened the retreat of the unit were swiftly reduced to ash by Ashen D’aarks fire magic.
Ashen could see Harkon’s unit below him, the ground flowing red like a river.��Harkon’s unit was severely depleted but with the help of the Bull Centaurs was slowly grinding down the Chaos Warriors.��In the centre, the enemy general was single handedly carving a hole through the immortals at the centre of Ashen’s battle line.��Ashen flew ahead over the fighting, incanting to Hashut under his breath as a great burning weapon appeared in his hands.��With a triumphant snarl, Ashen swung his Lammasu into the rear of the enemy line.��The enemy general sneered at him as he descended, but his bloody work continued unabated.
As Ashen’s Lammasu began devouring the enemy, Ashen began swinging the burning weapon into the enemy troops just as the Bull Centaurs and Hobgoblins killed the last of the warriors and overran into the enemy General’s force at the centre of the fighting.
Ashen was pleased to see Harkon advance into the fray, his eyes burning with the fury of Hashut himself.��The enemy general did not seem to realise that he was any different to the other Dwarfs he was fighting, although he soon learnt otherwise as Harkon swung the great hammer he wielded into the side of the enemy Lord.��The armour the Chaos Lord was wearing screamed like a living thing as the hammer burnt through the metal and into the flesh of the man beneath.��As he turned his head and gazed with baleful fury at the Dwarf who had dared to wound him, other blows rained upon him.��Every Dwarf or Bull Centaur within striking distance began to pummel blows upon the enemy lord, keen to land the killing blow.
Eventually the enemy general fell, as a Hobgoblin managed to thrust a dagger through the hole that Harkon had burnt in the armour.��Ashen laughed at the look of outrage on the enemy general’s face as he fell to the ground, the Hobgoblin dagger still protruding from his torso.
At that point most of the enemy army broke and fled, with only isolated pockets of resistance fighting to the death.��The Bull Centaurs hurtled after the fleeing enemy, dragging those to the ground who would make strong slaves, killing the rest.
The Hobgoblins cheered as the one of their number who had killed the general was proclaimed the new commander of the wolf riders.��Ashen noticed with a smile that the former leader had been killed by a weapon that looked to be suspiciously like a hobgoblin blade.
Ashen landed his Lammasu, and walked over to his brother.
“Blood of my blood, Hashut rejoices at our victory”
Harkon wiped the blood from his armour as he smiled back.��"I notice the garrison seems to have been wiped out.��Who will command Uzkulak?"
Ashen placed a hand on the shoulder of his brother.��"You will be a loss to us at Zharr Naggrund, but Uzkulak is now yours to rule.��Command of it will bring even greater glory for our clan".
“And what will the council have to say of that?”, said Harkon quietly, as his men dragged some slaves past him.��"Leave the council to me, blood of my blood", said Ashen.��"I can be surprisingly persuasive when I want to be".
“And what of the Hobgoblin who stole the honour from me of killing the enemy general?”, asked Harkon.
Ashen glanced towards the wolf riders, who were still celebrating their achievements.��"Kill him later"