As we left the action, Mum-Ho-Thep's innumerable horde was grinding down the Chaos invaders and depriving them of momentum. Ulther Deathfist has concentrated his best troops on the right however and if he can smash through the Lichemaster's force and achieve his secret mission to retrieve the 'Hatemaker', his victory will be assured.
The Chaos chariot destroys it's Undead counterpart but is left badly damaged as a result. The Deathfist's tactic of meeting fire with fire and going like for like may work against mere mortals but it could prove his undoing here, against the forces of Undeath.
The second regiment of Dark Elf crossbows is overwhelmed by Kraust's Death Riders. Though they have caused extensive casualties to the Undead the Elven defence on the river bank is shattered and the position becomes untenable. The heavy cavalry has no choice but to ride out and meet it's fate. It does so magnificently and without hesitation!
The Chaos Warriors under Norse stand, fight and die without complaint. They are holding the line with a legendary display of warrior prowess, but their flank is weak due to the undisciplined Thugs struggling to form up effectively in the dense underbrush.
The Deathfist sends in his Undead auxiliaries to weaken the enemy, out of contempt he declines the chance to outflank his foe preferring instead to meet them head on. The Chaos Warlord roars his hatred at the Lichemaster's army from the crest of the hill but they care not.
As the Dark Elf position collapses, the heavy cavalry ride out over a carpet of scorpions while the mages try to desperately turn back the tide of Undead with their spells. One raises a zone of life which is particularly effective, sundering Kraust's second wave, can the Slaaneshites snatch victory from the very jaws of defeat?
Mum-Ho-Thep surveys the battlefield and is pleased though he is unaware of how close the forces of Chaos are to their objective, the Hatemaker weapon. His catapults and archers rain death on the foe though some skeletons crumble as the Ziggurat edges into the zone of life spell maintained by the Elven mage.
Just as hope flares in the breasts of the Chaos troops due to the efforts of the Dark Elves, the Chaos Warriors under Norse begin to crumble as their limits are reached. The terrible sight of what faces them is simply too much for men born of women to bear.
The army of Mum-Ho-Thep's confidence is at a peak, but all the while a small unit of Ulther Deathfist's Chaos Warriors has been stealthily creeping towards the storehouses of Locusti. Having captured an Alderman of the town council and interrogated him, Ulther now knows the exact location of the Hatemaker. If his men can just overcome the skeleton archers and the Monks victory will go to Chaos!
Girding their loins, the Chaos Warriors charge in knowing that victory or defeat hangs in the balance.
The Deathfist loses himself in the glory of slaughter, heedless of his numberless foes he is at the forefront of battle and laughs with joy.
Though they sell their lives dearly, the army of Ulther gradually shrinks into an ever smaller line and a dangerous gap begins to open up.
The Chaos infiltration unit easily slaughter the skeleton archers, though their foe simply will not break. Instability begins to overwhelm the Undead however as the magic knitting them together starts to unravel.
The fanatical guards are still defending the War Altar successfully but are dying one by one, the magic binding the Carrion remains strong.
The Zombie Dragon and the living monsters pursue the routing Chaos Warriors, a great gap has opened up in the Chaos line but the Fimir are guarding against a Dark Elf victory over the scorpion swarm and are thus preventing Mum-Ho-Thep's centre from exploiting the weakness.
Kraust's Ethereals and Death Riders are defiantly trying to kill one Dark Elf mage while avoiding the life-zone spell of the other but the magic keeping them bound to this plane is weakening fast.
Spared the attentions of the Undead by the magical sanctuary the Dark Elf heavy cavalry are systematically destroying the carpet of scorpions and start looking to the next fight against the Fimir's worm-things already.
The arrogance of the Dark Elves is to prove their undoing however! They are identified as a serious threat and subjected to a barrage of missiles, magic and assaults. They are crushed under the attentions of all the Undead horde can throw at them, a handful of exhausted scorpions remain but decide to burrow under the ground rather than fight on.
The Fimir have worked themselves up into a frenzy but now there is virtually no enemy left for them to face! Still, their loyalty will be richly rewarded.
The river bank, clear of Elves at last. As the last falls he utters a sigh of bittersweet regret.
In the centre, the collapse of Norse's position seems inevitable. A strange lethargy overtakes the Zombie Dragon and the pursuit falters, perhaps because Mum-Ho-Thep wishes to recruit some of his former enemies as subjects?
Finally, the skeleton archers are destroyed, the Chaos infiltrators can move on the the storeroom defended by the Monks of Maisontaal. The defenders remain unaware of the importance of the coming struggle! Please note the position of the Undead Giant Cyclops approaching the town's storeroom walls....
Ulther's men have been streaming away from battle in one's and two's as their units are defeated by the fearsome Undead. Even the Deathfist himself gets swept up in the panic at one stage, a black day indeed. They rally though, for one last stand on the hill. Can they buy enough time to allow the infiltrators to be successful?
The Cyclops elects to clamber up the storeroom walls and assault the Chaos infiltration team, this could spell disaster for the Deathfist. The worthy and honourable GM declares that the Giant has retained a racial memory of falling over and must roll a 2+ to safely reach his target. Almost inevitably, a 1 appears on the dice and the giant tumbles back from the climb to be destroyed on the ground below. The above picture has been dramatised for effect.
The infiltrators smash into the Monks but cannot oust them from their defended position and are hurled back, they must try again.
Turning aside from it's fruitless job of smashing the Lichemaster's army, Ulther's Chaos Dwarf mortar hammers the War-Tortoise and kills most of it's Goblin crew. The beast runs amok and attacks it's own Marsh Goblin allies in the flank!
Once more into the breach, this time many Monks are slain for the loss of only one Warrior and the result is a draw. So close now! The Chaos troops can feel the swelling anger of the Hatemaker as it's awareness expands due to it's seemingly imminent retrieval.
The surviving troops under Norse are surrounded and cut off, whatever the outcome this day they have fought their last battle for Khorne.
It is as if Khorne withdraws his support for his failing troops, the last of the cultists fall and the Carrion take a giant poo in the blood cauldron of the War Altar. A moan of despair runs through the Khornate ranks and some turn their backs to the enemy as they flee.
The tragedy unfolds further as the Lichemaster and his servants run down the Deathfist himself, he is ignominiously trampled beneath the feet of the Undead infantry as they march on.
After a last, desperate attempt to overcome the Monks, the exhausted infiltrators are themselves beaten and die to a man in the service of their Lord. It is almost as if Khorne's own dejected hand descends from above and sweeps them from the field of battle in disgust.
Mum-Ho-Thep is well pleased with his loyal servants and lets out a victorious roar that echoes in the Realm of Chaos itself!
And lo! The invaders are hurled back from whence they came. The Empire of Mum-Ho-Thep remains strong and ready to meet any challenger...
In truth, a military victory was never really on the cards for Chaos, though they fought tenaciously and bravely. Their mission was their best hope but they did not find out the location of the Hatemaker until turn two was almost done and found it hard to redeploy. I was trying for a fine balance but ultimately the story that unfolded became a crushing defeat for Khorne, although everyone had lot's of fun I will definitely put some lessons to good use next time I run a big game. I have to remember that after 20 years there are few people who can crunch numbers, weigh up opponents and execute sound tactical manouevres in third edition. This led to one or two blunders on both sides that cost the numerically superior Undead nothing and the smaller, elite Chaos army everything. I think I will write a few 'Tactica' style posts soon to encourage discussion of (previously held in contempt) tactics that can help others (and myself) with running larger games of unequal points.
Mum-Ho-Thep had returned to his sarcophagus and left the rewarding of his loyal subjects to his Grand Vizier. The Fimir were gifted scrolls of Daemon-summoning spells and some knowledge from the future about a bridge being built on their ancestral lands leading to hardship for the tribe. Baron Kraust had his expulsion from the Cabal of Necromancers rescinded and his acolytes were given books of deathly lore. The Lichemaster was rewarded with slaves to drain, in order to satiate his thirst for ever-lasting life. The other Necromancers were allowed to drink of Mum-Ho-Thep's scrying pool and receive visions of their destiny. The little town of Locusti was made exempt from this cycle's tithe which was the cause of much celebration amongst the inhabitants.
In all the chaos, nobody noticed the twisted form detach from the shadows and enter the ruined storeroom.
The cloaked figure was a recluse, an exile. Banished from Locusti because of the gifts of the Gods he was forced to live apart in a cave on the promontory. Unnoticed, he slipped into the town and stole thorugh to the resting place of the weapon, Hatemaker! He could feel the presence in his mind as he drew close, when he reached out a malformed hand to take the wrapped package an agony exploded in his brain. It pushed him into a corner of his own head and ordered him to be still. The twisted shadow loped off through the night. First Khorne would punish his servant, Ulther, for failing him, then the Hatemaker would be presented to him as Khorne had always intended so that the Deathfist might fulfil his destiny at last!
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