THE DEAD CRUSADE
The Dead Crusade
The crusade is dead…
It was one of the greatest battles of the age.
Wolfram Hertwig, Elector Count of Ostermark, had been the catalyst: falling from his horse one day whilst out hunting only to later claim he had been blessed with a holy vision of a mighty crusade, a chance to deal a blow to the forces of chaos that they may never recover from. he spoke of a vast horde massing in the far wastes of the north: an army of disparate forces held together by sheer force of will of their leader, the chaos champion Borax Bloodfist. Hertwig spoke of a time coming where Bloodfist would lead his forces south into Kislev and beyond, burning and killing, crushing the civilizations of men and elves alike. But in spite of this dire news, it was not a time to despair. Sigmar himself had shown them their enemy, and he had promised victory too. A grand alliance was to be formed of all those free folk who might stand against the foul machinations of chaos, and battle would be met at the city of Ungalya, near the Sea of Claws – and it was there that Bloodfist would fall, and the back of chaos would be broken on the anvil of Grugni with the hammer of Sigmar: a decisive, final blow against the great enemy. It would be the final, greatest crusade.
Fervour spread quickly amongst the men of the South. As the Electors raised their armies old alliances were invoked and new ones formed: the men of the Empire were joined by legions of stout Dwarves, grim faced and grudge-bearing; sharp eyed Elves from the Greenwoods, quick and deadly, and their high Elven kin from the secret, shining towers; the noble knights of Brettonia, so resplendent in their glittering armour and bright banners; brutal Ogres, hungry for coin and battle with their terrible engines of war, and all manner of mercenaries, heroes, fools and madmen ready to lend their steel to the great task. They marched northp. in great pomp and ceremony, and on the edge of the Sea of Claws they were joined by more strange allies from the hot jungles of the South: the mysterious cold-blooded Saurians, unblinking and hostile but possessed of the same purpose: to meet the hordes of Bloodfist in open battle, and leave them broken upon the plains of Kislev.
When the armies of Bloodfist came they were greater and more terrible than any could have imagined: a vast host of evil spewed from Norsca, men who howled like beasts and beasts who walked like men; hosts of demons that darkened the skies and rotted the ground where they walked; Orcs and Ogres from the mountains, untamed and blood-thirsty; Skaven driven from their dark holes beneath the world, with their dreadful machines and flesh-crafted monsters; Dark Elf corsairs bent to Bloodfist’s will with threats and promises of depravities to come. And with them walked the very dead themselves, silent legions of skeletons and zombies in thrall to their necromantic masters, their ranks swelling with every skirmish or massacre.
The main forces met at Ungalya, and the fighting raged for six days until the bodies were piled so high that even the necromancers could not revive them fast enough. On the morning of the seventh day a combined force of knights and dwarves broke through the Chaos centre, taking terrible losses in the process, and battled Bloodfist himself amongst his torture-pits. A survivor later said that the great Chaos lord was finally pulled down and slain after many hours, but what really happened to is unknown, save that he is now surely dead – for as the night began to draw in an explosion of green fire erupted from the Chaos camp and tore through the battlefield, burning and killing all it touched and finally bringing the fighting to an end.
Bloodfist’s great host is finished, but not destroyed: hundreds of the brutal creatures who marched with him still live, and bereft of his leadership they have fragmented into factions of their own, scattering throughout the land for their own dark purposes. For the free alliance the situation is much the same. Their commanders are dead or missing, their armies scattered: the oaths they made before they marched north may still hold – or they may not, as shorn of common purpose each general now looks to his own glory.
The crusade is dead, but the war is just beginning…