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Hawkseer: Nordland's finest

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Will try to keep This PG-13ish (American Film Rating, think Lord of the Rings or Dark Knight).

The Hawkseer Cruise: A rite of passage for dark elves that come of age. A year long raiding excursion where commoner that have finished their training and young lords with something to prove test their metal as warriors and leaders alike. Either they come back rich, or the weak is culled.

In an experiment, several lords have put their offspring in a newly finished Black Ark, a floating fortress on the seas, to raid and plunder. Among them three young lords show promise.


A dragon headed shadow marched through the halls of an enemy’s tower. Despite its intimidating stature, it belonged to a very giddy elf by the name of Ronan Hydra Kin. His steps still had their kick from his exploits in the heartland of Brettonia. He wished he could see the looks under those helms as he unhorsed one cocky knight after another in their own tournament. To kneel before him just to get their prized horses back.

He even got a favor from one of the Damsel’s of the Lady for his effort. Not bad for a distraction. Add some allies amongst the Wood elves made, how could he not feel good. It didn’t hurt that one of his slaves, the healer Pupila, was the sister of their leader. Had Ronan been like other lords of his people, the woodland prince would have put an arrow in his skull. As it was, Ronan treated her with kindess that was alien in this land. He needed a friend and a healer, not a bedmate. He had that with his fiancé, another Wood Elf that had been once a slave and now his trusted commander over his block of Dark Shards.

But there was that seer he had, a high elf woman soft to the touch. He let her go too, though not before a night of lovemaking she had foretold. He could still feel her touch as he rubbed his lips from the memory.

Such giddy joy slowly died away the closer he came to his destination. His cloak, made by a large sea drake he slew himself, was more than decorative attire; the creature’s horned head and skull acting as both hood and helm. What his elvin plate could not deflect from arrows and bolts this thick scaled hide did. He was going to need every bit of it.

He was in the Griffon Tower, the second grandest one on the Black Ark, and one home to his biggest rival on this joint Hawkseer. He hoped Gorindo would be foolish enough to try to make this war between them hot, so he could have an excuse to slit his throat without reproach. Until then, he had to face a foe that was as patient as he was lascivious.

The final threshold before meeting him was blocked by two halberd wielding guards. Their arms and armor may have been modeled off of the Witch King’s own Black Guard, they did not have their skill or stamina. Nor the loyalty to not ignore a few bloody screams for a few coins. Thoughts that Ronan dashed to pieces as quickly as they came. The two would not be the only elves in the room.

“I am here to meet Gorindo in his war room. I demand entrance.”

“The Master is not yet ready to receive guests” They said, the heavy scent of strong drink on their breath.

“Is this his war room or am I to meet him elsewhere?” Neither guard answered. “His pleasure den then?” Again, no answer. “Am I to wait here or can I sit down with a drink and a pretty damsel on the Harp playing?” Once again no answer. “You mother was a Skaven Breeder, and your father smells of goblin fungus brews.” That got a reaction.

“At least tell me if I am the only one here.”

“You are the first I am afraid.” Said another Dreadlord in the making. Donned in black and greys, with cloak made from the thick scales of a reptilian warrior, he held himself in a tightly controlled reservation. Besides the twin swords of his lordly station, he held his impressive glaive with ease and care. “Or are we the only ones here?

Ronan shrugged. “Dracea is still recovering from taking a Trebuchet. Her enchantments were worth every coin, but you can only shrug off so much from that thing. And then there was the assassin Chersyum took for you.”

“That leaves Gorindo; knowing Mundis he is dealing with the other boot lickers’ hangovers.

“Then shall we enter?”

“No one shall enter.” Said the guard.

Ronan let slip a predatory smile. “I Conquered the northern coast of Araby. And I outran a rival army with their princess they thought was in another castle."

“And I was instrumental in tearing apart these knights along the Woodland realm of the Wood Elves call home.” A rare boast from Lacertus, thought Ronan, but one that undersold what he did. Not to mention the loot captured from the Tomb Kings homeland under his command. “What can you two do to us?”

A solid minute of wanton violence later, there was very little they could do. With the door kicked in, Ronan and Lacertus found more expected disappointment. Gorindo Lay face down on a table, with only two pair of lovely hands massaging his body. Other women, all dressed the part of exotic slave girls, laid about in discomforted positions on throw pillows.

“Do tell me you killed those guards so I don’t have to myself.” Gorindo said as a vertebra popped back into place. Both elves answered by cleaning the blood off their blades on Gorindos’ finest cloth at hand. “So what brings you here?”

“We have a war meeting, that is what.” Ronan answered. “We’ll be leaving Brettonia soon. The Fleetmaster wishes we go over the plans again, and I want to truthfully tell him we did. The Sisters appartently went to their order's Blood Seer; she said to follow our lead.”

“That sounds like it is your problem” Gorindo slurred out.

“We were also to inform you that all pleasure slaves will be removed from your residence, and your privileges in the pleasure district will be revoked should you not comply.” Lacertus chimed in.

Sleepy groans turned into angry growls as Gorindo reached for a dried up bottle. “Fine. What do we need to go over.”

Roan shoved a drunk guard out of a seat and took his place. His boots comfortably slamming onto the table, he brought out a list. “We are still heading to Nordland. At our present rate, and any looting we can do along the way, we should be there in two months. We can handle most threats, but we will need to stop in the territories between the Blood Dragon and the Brettonian King, however you pronounce his name.” Ronan took a moment to see if Gorindo had his eye on the prize or wondering around again. To be fair, Ronan thought, he had plenty of lovelies to be distracted by. "Caution is advised by all.

Gorindo signed, as he stood for all to see his rarely damaged body. Scars from training as a boy faded into the rest of his flesh, while one inflicted by Ronan still had a bright red to it. With one of his massagers hanging on his shoulders like a cape and the other cowering with the others, Gorindo made his way to his well spent wine cabinet.

“You have enough for the two of us? Asked Lacertus. “Thirsty work climbing all those stairs.

“Why should I worry about some piddly knights and their slaves?” Gorindo asked between tossed bottles in the air.

“I do not know which is worse: the fact you are not sharing any of that wine with us, or that you didn't study?” Ronan groaned.

“Blood Dragons are vampires.” Said Lacertus. That Halted Gorindo’s rampage through the spent wine case. “And they say they become the pinnacle of warriors by drinking the blood of dragons. We lack such creatures on the ship, but we are elves; they will assume we have what they want.” More importantly, most come from the knightly stock of this land or the nearby Empire of Man. Prideful warriors that will see us as a challenge to weed out their weaklings and prove their worth as warriors.”

Gorindo muffled a chuckle at the thought. “I like them already. Maye we should hire a few.”

“We can send an envoy, if you wish.” Ronan said. “Though I suspect he’ll come back a zombie. The other problem is the Brettonian capital. The best   warriors of the land are bound to be in the king's personal army. If not them, then several sights sacred to their people we will have take souvenirs from. We will be fighting Grail Knights, and any other champion of this land's so called goddess she can throw at us.

“Either way, we have much to gain. From The undead, they are ancient and well versed spellcasters. They will have grand magical artifacts we can claim for our own. More importantly, all three of us have Sorceresses that dabble in necromancy on their own Hawkseer of sorts. Surly we can curry favor for them by giving them this opportunity? Will we not earn their gratitude for such a deed?”

There were three kinds of gratitude Ronan knew Gorindo was thinking of. Truth be told, they were on any young lord's mind, regardless of of their preferences. Enchantments, lending their own power to their cause long after their tasks were completed, and of course something more intimate. Skilled in the dark arts and full of vanity, few sorceresses allowed themselves to not be beyond the definition of beautiful, and earning the bragging rights of bedding one would be well worth the risks.

“The human element is also rewarding.” Said Lacertus. “He has several squadrons of Peguses Knights. A few of their ilk maybe of good breeding stock for our own Dark Pegasus. If nothing else, the more beastly oriented sorceresses will want them for their on experiments.”

Either way, if they survive the battle even one would earn a handsome reward in gold and pleasure. Dark elves were not void of the desire to give love and affection; it was only overwhelmed by their innate cruelty. Every child knew the one thing a sorceress gave such affections to freely were to their pets, and none were more prized than a Pegasus.

Ronan should know. His first raid on this cruise, he captured one that belonged to a captain of the neighboring Empire. A fine beast that alone garner enough silver to have fifty soldiers guard his tower full time.

“I also have to wonder how much of the tribute this king receive is in wine. Humans are many things, but shabby wine makers are not one of them.” Lacertus added.

“Then we prepare for battle!” Gorindo commanded! “What is keeping us from there?”

“The Ark’s sorceresses need rest.” Said Ronan. “We have been going at full speed for a week, and its exhausting both they and the ships fuel. As soon as we find a hospitable place to land, we can stretch out legs.”

“And who shall face who in this fight, Ronan?” Gorindo smiled at Ronan, a bottle of unused wine in one hand, the trembling slave girl in the other.

“You still have the honor of guiding us through this land. Lacertus has better experience with knights in combat, but also proved himself time and time again against the Tomb Kings.

“As for you, breaking nobles is a hobby of yours, so there is Brettonia. The undead would provide plenty of practice with the common zombie and skeleton, but the vampires themselves are as strong as manticors, and skilled as a true Dreadlord.

“Worthy foes indeed." Said Lacertuss. "But that is the problem. We’ve made enough noise they will be prepared for us. Seers and scouts will know where we are heading, and a flying city is hard to miss. We will loose underlings in this venture; maybe our own lives.”

“You suggest we go cautiously?” Gorindo asked. He took one sip of his wine, before falling into his cushioned throne.

Ronan shook his head. “I suggest we don’t treat this like an afternoon stroll. We need to treat this as seriously as facing against a hero of old if we so much as wish about sailing past Marienburg, much less Nordland and the Sea of Claws.”

“And what should we worry about there?”

Lacertus took his leave without a word, only shaking his head.

“What’s his problem?”

“Haven’t you heard?” Ronan asked. “Chaos is just a whisper away in the far north, and Nordland is very north.”

Chapter 1.
It is the first day of Sumertide of the Year 2290 of the Imperial Callender, and my Daughter has now been missing for eight years now. It is too much to ask for the for her to have survived. My tutor that claims to be of the elves of Uthuan has told many a nightmarish story about them. I pray he has embellished them, but I fear he has not. Maybe a small mercy than she has not lived to see her homeland torn apart by war. We have been trapped in the city now fifteen days, with reports of aid coming from Dwarves, and Reiklanders coming too late. The House of Toddbringer has done what it could, but we are overwhelmed. Only the constant infighting amongst the marauders has kept them away from the city.  Our cannons and handguns were all but completely spent on mutants and weakly beastmen, while their strongest warriors await overlooking us. If Aid does not come soon, I fear the nightmare they will inflict upon us. Each day I write in my journal I end it that saying if this is my last day, know that I died bravely. Today, I fear I shall only die.

That was the final words the head of once famed merchant family Detlef Meyer wrote down before descending the stairs to what all assumed was his doom. Old men and young boys were already being enlisted, and common criminals released should they man the walls with whatever weapons they could find. They even stopped caring if a woman snuck in the front ranks to play a man’s role. A man of middle age, he still had fight in him, though he knew his days of being a hero were long gone. Many things in his life were. His sons were out on the other side of The Empire on business. His wife died of consumption. And his daughter, his dear little girl. Captured by a dark elf raiding party.

The Gods had forsook them. All that was left was to have another glass of malt whisky, and to join his Great Swords.

“They have a giant this time, armored like a knight.” Said one of the heavily armored bodyguards.  He was the youngest of them, twenty-eight years of age, but already a veteran of twelve years before this gig. Like the rest of them they fought everything from man to orc, to troll, to living dead. All with fond memories. But the taint of chaos had even these stalwart men shaking. They too, Meyer thought. They too knew this was the day they would die.

“Come men. We dine with Morr tonight. Let us at least regale him with some fine tales of how we came to his gardens.” Meyer said, or maybe it was his liquid courage. Hard to say. Hard to care. The world had passed him buy, and his only family were these band of brothers that chose not to flee.


Boulders as large as cows hit the walls until the giants ran out and started hurling the larger beastmen instead. All save for one, who bolt and bullet bounced off. Master Engineer Victor Von Vosk could see sheets of metal nailed to his frame. Some pieces from knights, others from stoves and pots melted and hammered into shape. Even Ulga, his prized cannon could not pierce that monster.

Good thing his brother was a Wizard of the Gold Order.  “Ready to send that beast back to the Chaos Gods?” Von Vosk asked.

“Too far off. He needs to get closer.” No sooner had his brother said this, the ground nearly shook them off the walls. Men fell back into piles of hay, buttresses crushed chaos worshipers at the wall, but otherwise no one was hurt. Looking over the walls, the Wizard gave a haughty laugh and a slap on his brother’s back. “The damn fool tripped and broke his neck!”

“That’s good, Chuck. But what about that one!”

Out from the dust cloud of the fallen, came another giant. Though the yellow glint of bronze showed through, most of it was smeared in the red blood of its trophies. It casually strode forward, biting into one of the still living unfortunates like an apple slice. Instead of the usual tree turned club, he had a fine ax worthy of any great woodsmen.

The ground quaked once more as a burst of speed propelled its shoulder into the gate. Layers of reinforcements held true, but one had to wonder how long it would last.

Chuck cast his spells, but the winds of magic dissipated in a shocking display the moment he spoke their enchantments. “He’s resisting!” He said, casting another with all his might. An explosive burst later, his arm was numb and smoldered. As doctors rushed over, all heard the wails of pain as the giant’s armor glowed white hot. Blue flames erupted around any gap in the plating, leaving trails of grease and molten metal as it backed away. It reached for the wizard in a last ditch of defiance before falling to the ground, smoldering and very much dead.

The beasts howled in anger, but it was music to the ears of the beleaguered defenders. They defeated their giant. They defeated their champion.

“Ha, give us a challenge, you walking mutton chops!” yelled one of the soldiers, to the cheers of his comrades. Cheers that died as the trees shook as if in a hurricane, along with vibrations that slithered their way up the walls and into their spines.

“Ask and ye shall receive.” Von Vosk griped under his breath.


The roars of lion headed beastmen left state troops with deafened ears as if they just fired a volley of guns. Each man felt the finger of fear sliding up their spine, but they had a job to do. Meyer had a job to do. With hammer, shield, and good old fashion Empire plate armor, he would make his stand. He may have been a privileged merchants’ son, but he did his duty to Sigmar and Empire in the army, and it was time to show these heathens what he could do.

With one final crack, the doors burst open. Goat and lion headed gors rushed in, cleaver and spiked club in each hand. Following close behind were ogres with more than a few signs of mutations. An extra head here, a tendrilled arm that ended in a club there. They broke down the door, but it would be the beastmen that would taste the blood of men first.

“Strike!” With rapid triangular moments, the Great Swords swiped one beastman away than another. They went to battle all but naked to not be slowed down. They had flesh as hardy as work gloves, but it was not enough for flameberge and zweiwanders. Ten of their ilk fell before they could dent their armor, and another fifteen went to their hellish paradise before a Greats Sword gave the ultimate sacrifice. Around them, spear companies pushed the enemy back with pikes, with glaive and boar spear armed men tackling the stronger foes.

Amongst them a captain that Meyer thought little more than a scheming fop fired and tossed highly decorated dueling pistoles until he was only left with a saber and repeating pistole. Each shot made their mark, each shot between the eyes. Three more kills, and it was time to dirty his cloths.

The enemy frenzy spent, fear gleaming in their bestial eyes, they turned and ran. Their dead and dying left behind to the tender mercies of humans forced into desperation. The ogres on the other hand, did not flee. They came for a fight and food, and they had not worked up an appetite. A swing of the club sent three spearmen flying, and a quick kick smashed another man into the gateway ceiling.

Meyer struck back, smashing an ogre’s knee like a ripe melon. The return swing left it dazed and in reach of an awaiting pikeman. The Great Swords Grabbed their blades, giving them the stability needed to pierce the ogres through the gaps of the armor. One by one the brutes fell, one by one they gave their all. In a way, that made Meye admire their bravado. They could not appreciate opera, but damn it he could never call them cowards either.

“I say, dear sir. You think this is more rabble they send our way, or will their best come this time?” Said the Captain. His cape already torn by an enemy morning star, it was only good for wipeing the black blood off his blade.

“I don’t know. I thought we used all the shot yesterday?”

“I have been supplying the front lines with my own personal supplies. I even have my favorite hunting riffle on the wall now. Hopefully the chap I gave it to is a good shot.”

“You parting with that thing?” Meyer couldn’t even mumble the rest of his sentence out. This foolish man, who had little more on the fine than fine drink, fine clothing, and the men in the governor’s court? What was his gain in this?”

“Don’t look at me like that!” the Captain said, reading Meyer’s thoughts from his face. “I too am a citizen of the Empire, and one that has served in her Emperor’s service. It should also be known my manor is little more than a military hospital these days. I can have room for munitions or I can have room for beds and bandages. You pick.”

Warhorns interrupted conversation and the cheers of defenders. The next round of combat was coming.

“Marauders!” Yelled a boy with a telescope. “All covered in gems and gold.”

“Followers of Slannesh.” The Captain spat out. “They won’t do with just a good round of shooting. Boy, get word we have dead and wounded to be carted off. The rest of you, breaks over. Get a barricade up, and do not let them in our city!”

Chapter 2.

Gilder’s Field was a small village, little more than a stopping point for merchants heavy with cargo as they went inland to trade. Despite the bleating of panicked animals, and fields ripe for harvest, no one dare attend their business. No one that could was around. There was no plague, warnings of beastmen or orcs, or anything of the like. No it was a perfectly normal village.

Normal save for the shadow that loomed over it. Not from clouds, not from any mountains, but from a floating castle. Houses shook apart as the castle made landfall, and a great ditch large enough to make a large pond come the rains.

The Crown of Darkness had descended upon Fair Bretonia once more.


Ronan and his squadron of knights swore they could see the lines of ageing on the human slaves around them grow deeper as the door creaked open. They expected to be on the ground for three weeks, hopefully this would be one of the things they fixed. Until then, they had their orders.

“Listen up, Druchii!” Ronan bellowed for all to hear. They answered with a hoot and a howled, followed by a slamming of their weapons on their shields. “Let Go over the game plan one more time! We are to investigate the village! Any traps, any surprises left in store for us. The nobility in this land won’t use any underhanded tactics, but the villagers won’t be that stupid. The shades will follow after us to explore the forest. You see something odd, blow your horn. We will meet in the center of town by sundown. Understood?”

“Yes Dreadlord!” The fifteen strong squadron of knights yelled back. Unlike knights of the Asur High Elves or of men, Dark Elvish knights rode mighty cold ones. What these reptilian beasts lacked in intelligence they made up for in sheer brutality. 

“Dreadlord Devix!” Ronan called out to a grey clad elf on a magnificent black steed.

“What is it, Dreadlord Ronan?” He called back.

“My squadron will try to leave you some scraps if we find some fools along the way. Please do us the same curtesy.”

The dark riders gave a salute and ruckus laughter to Ronan and his elves. The coldone was the popular choice amongst nobility, but the horse will always have a place in certain clans. Fast and nearly tireless, the Dark Steed was the perfect mount to scout, harass, and hunt down the enemy.

Regardless of mount, they all waited with impatient anticipation. Nearly a month of travel, with nothing to entertain themselves but the slaves captured, they wanted new blood on their spears and lances. The gate was not fully down before the first knight rushed out. Too late to hold back hot blooded elves and their pack hunting steeds, all Ronan could do was take the lead and follow the path.

It was clean road, with obvious recent construction. Still a dirt road, but impeccably in its maintenance. It should be what he expected, given its importance, but something felt too neat, too clean, too orderly. It only grew worse when they entered the village.

Large enough for forty large families, it should have been the sight of mothers going to the market, daughters milking cows, sons tending to the flocks, and fathers in the fields. Or with a nightmarish castle approaching, disarray from the panicked packing and running. Again, clean as if just built. Not even the refuse from chamber pots or past dinners were on the streets. Even an elf city was not so clean.

But it was the animals that unnerved Ronan the most.  Truth be told, he was not born amongst the Dark Elves, but an inland village of their most hated kin. His mother taught him the healer’s arts, and he used them to tend to the animals that made their town’s livelihood. At least before daemons destroyed it and he was forced to live in the city.

The sheep bleated as if frightened, but wondered about as if in arms reach of a beloved shepherd. Their movements jerked in rickety motions. Their eyes, red gleaming eyes, that reflected light in any manner but natural.

Yet it was how the cold one’s reacted. They rocked back and forth, sniffing the air with causal ease. Jaws salivating, but their heads’ tilted in confusion.

“Damn beasts gone stupid again!” Yelled their squadron’s champion. An Elf with draconic embellishments on his armor, and a lance with not a spear tip but a blunt fist at the end.

“They’re confused.” Ronan corrected. “They see moving animals, but they are reacting to them like they see carrion.” Ronan took a deep breath, and regrated it instantly. The taste in the air burned his throat like strong liquor with none of the perks. “Do you smell that?”

“Of course not, fool!”

Ronan cursed himself. He forgot he was unique in this group. He didn’t need to anoint himself with a noxious paste to keep the cold ones from attacking him as they would warm blooded prey. The same force of will that allowed hydra and harpy to follow him gently did the same with these great beasts.  The rest of the Druchii race needed to make a concoction from an ill odor musk from these mounts. It allowed their nobility to ride such creatures freely, but the periodic applications numbed the senses till taste, smell, and even touch withered away. A sacrifice many deemed necessary, but one that left a glaring weakness.

“Rickek; do you have your crossbow?” Ronan asked.

“Always!” Said a knight. He tossed his lance to a comrade, freeing his hand for a crossbow that would make any hunter envious.

“Shoot that ewe, wounding shot. No legs or neck shots.

“A little early for lunch don’t you think?”

“Just do it!”

The knight obeyed, hitting the sheep. To his and all their surprise, it went through the animal and into the next before lodging into the spine of a third. Despite pain of a twisting bolt going through them, despite the paralyzing hit on the third, they acted as if nothing was wrong.

“What is happening.” One of the lancers asked, his nerves outweighing his prideful demeaner.

Ronan simply dropped his lance in favor of a longsword. “Run.” He commanded.

No sooner has he said thus, the ground erupted with grasping skeletal hands. Zombified ogres and minotours burst their way out of the shambling wrecks of houses, while would be farmers did likewise. From amongst the heard animals, once loyal sheep dogs revealed their dire nature as snarling undead beasts. The forests came alive with the skeletal remains of beastmen and Norscan raider alike.

There was no room to get a good charge in, much less maneuver. What undead survived being trampled back into the grave stabbed at the undefended underbellies and saddle straps. One by one cold one died and knight fell. The lucky ones didn’t have a nearly ton reptile crushing their legs. Others were covered by zombies fighting to opened their canned meals. A few weapon swings and a few more snaps of the jaws, and mor wiggle room was made.

Despite this, the enemy continued their attack until as quickly as they started they stopped. It took the knights a few more swings of the sword or mace before they realized things had changed, even then their training kept them calm. Show no fear, but be the fear is what every Druchii child was taught.

“Headcount!” Ronan commanded. He had a banner, a champion, and a horn blower, and a company of four other knights still in the saddle. Six were walking home if they survived this. Another shoved a dead knight out of the saddle before claiming his mount.

“I wish to speak to the master of this army!” Ronan bellowed.

A wizened robed figure strode out of a nearby church, his lips dripping with fresh blood. The sun did no harm to his flesh, but he was no more alive than the wretched zombies before him. “I bid you welcome.” He said in a dusty voice. “I am Califec.”

“You are no Blood Dragon.” Ronan shouted.

“Neither are you. I wanted to meet with a chapter master of this parts, but he seems to be, occupied. You will have to do.”

“You have a captive audience.” Ronan said.

The old vampire laughed, unnerving the knights more. With each delicate step it looked as if he would fall apart, but march comfortably he did. “That I do. Pity elves cannot be tainted by the red turning; a squadron of you would e most marvelous to have. Alas, I will have to make due with more dark knights.”

“If that is what you wanted, we’d be dead by now.” Ronan answered. "What is it that you truly want?”

“What are you doing here, dark elf?” Califec demanded.

“Hawkseer cruise. Our group is on patrol. How about you?” Ronan answered. “You look like a Necrarch. A Far off from a wizards tower, don’t you think?”

“I am a lost soul seeking vengeance and a return to my home.” Said Califec.

“We have that in common, vampire.” Ronan replied. “And where is home?”

“Why do you ask?” asked Califec.

“Tell your minions to stow their weapons, allow a rider to ride off to the ship to send a message, and I will tell you.” Said Ronan

“Are you mad?” Asked Ronan’s champion. “This thing will no sooner slit our throats than listen to us."

Ronan grasped the knight by the coif around his neck, nearly throwing him off his mount as he pulled him close. “Neither you nor I can face him. Either we send word to listen to his demands, or we distract him long enough for a rider to get an avenging army.”

“Neither sounds fun, but what will make you so sure I will allow this?” The vampire asked, a trumpet like instrument at his ear.

“How about I tell you a tale, one that may truly impress you. Should you find it to your liking, we can be friends. If not, you make good on your promise.” Suggested Ronan. With a wave of the vampire’s hand, the zombies stepped back, leaving an opening for a single file of knights to run back t the Black Ark. “Trumace, ride back to the Ark. “Ronan commanded his standard bearer. “Tell them to send black guard and sorceresses trained to deal with undead. We either have a new ally or a new enemy. Prepare for both.”

He rode off, banner furled in one hand, his hands tightly around the reins in the other. Spurs sparks as they kicked off the side of the reptile’s hide.

“How soon before he says we’re all dead, and makes him sound like the only survivor.” Asked one of the knights.

“Two gold the moment he arrives.” Said another.

“I’ll take that bet.” Ronan announced. “Double if he cannot keep his lies strait.”

“If you trust him so little, why send him at all, little dark elf.” Asked Califec

“Because we are dark elves.” Ronan answered. “You can’t trust any of us. I just wanted the one who would make the obvious lies go first. I suspect the fear when he sees us again…will be sweeter than wine. Now, are we going to talk business, or shall we go back to fighting?”


Ronan and two other knights flanked him as they entered the lone church. Its holy purpose long abandoned for the grotesque experiments of the vampire. Humans and beastmen, all with strong signs of chaos, hung crucified along the walls. Scales instead of skin on one; Snail like stalks growing out of their eye sockets on another. All of them not from this land.

“Do not worry. This village was ransacked long ago by marauders. A kindly peasant woman let me stay with them, thinking I was just a weary old man. When those shackled by chaos arrived, they ripped the town apart. I did what I could, but I was weak from sun and injury. For her kindness I avenged them, raising their dead as my army. I kept the more interesting of their ilk alive for my experiments and as a larder. It’s a shame, but it will be some time before I can go without feeding on blood.”

“I thought vampires lived for it.” Said one of the knights. He held an ax in one hand, and a raven headed Warhammer in the other.

“Most, yes. But as your leader acutely stated, I am a Nacrarch. I can simply feed on the dark magics around me. But I was defeated by a rival. He locked me into my coffin, and threw me to the sea. I thought I would succumb to my thirst in there, but the currents threw me against the rocky shore a little south from here.”

“I do not doubt it.” Said Ronan. “Chaos has been let loose up north. Its pull on the currents must have dragged you along for the ride.”

“No doubt. So what is it you want.” Califec demanded.

“Are you aware of the right of passage amongst the Dark Elves, The Hawkseer?” The vampire shook his wizen head. “Every year when a noble comes of age they go on a year long raiding cruise, along with experience corsairs and freshly trained soldiers of the more common stock. This weeds out the weak from among us, and leaves the rest rich in cargo.”

“Sounds reasonable enough.” Said the vampire. He motioned the elves to a spot in the front pews. The two knights examined the seats, no treachery to be seen.

Taking the offer, Ronan made himself at home. “This one is an experiment to see how many dreadlords can go on a single cruise. We have also brought along a fair number of sorceresses who must compete their journey to Supreme sorceress on our trek. A fair number of them are skilled necromancers at the tender age of under a hundred.”

“Quite impressive.” Said the Necromancer. “And you have been raiding Brettonia with this singular castle?”

“We are making the rounds.” Said one of the knights. “We started in Araby, tore through Khemry, fought in Tillaia and Estilla, an found a comfortable rout in Brettonia.”

“A would tour of destruction. How intriguing.” Califec. “Tell me more.

Too intriguing, Ronan thought. He could not smell the feint whiff of active magic, but something unnerved him deeply none the less. Why else would a group of dark elves be so straightforward with him, despite his very nature. Despite their very nature! This was a vampire, and experience told him they were as trustworthy as your average druchii.

“Where is your home, Master Califec.” Ronan asked. Some dark urge was compelling him to tell more of this trip, more of this purpose, but he needed answers too.

Califec put a boney hand near his bare chin and through long and hard on the question. “Why do you ask?”

“Because our next destination will be in Nordland, plucking both servants of chaos and the so called Empire as we see fit.” Ronan said. Through Gritted Teath, he halted the flow of knowledge but the compulsion tightened its grip harder and harder with each heartbeat. “If we are not filled with blood and adventure, we may go further still seeking gold and glory. Maybe past your old home and the enemy that stole it?”

With a gasp, Califec nearly fell back, and the compulsion released its grasp. Just as Ronan suspected, he had something to do with this. However, now that he knew something the old vampire wanted he could have some leverage.

“Among others on our journey are fledgling beastmasters looking for all manner of beasts to collect for our war efforts. Surly Chaos will have fine specimens of such a nature. You wouldn’t know a good hunting range would you?”

“I am more familiar with Kislev and her surrounding territories. That includes that great mountains that keep the vast amount of Winds of Chaos from spilling into your mortal lives.”

“Hmm.” Was All Ronan could think off. Then a smile spread across his face. “I cannot speak on behalf of the ship, but there are plenty of souls that would want to hire your services. But Amongst the Ark, there are three Dreadlords in the making that have the other nobles and a fair number of sorceresses and beastmasters following their commands. There is Gorindo; a princely lord that is skilled at war, and while easily distracted by a pretty female, learns from his mistakes. He is the most powerful of the three. Then there Lacertus, Heir of a city and the one willing to make concessions and have a roaring rampage as they are needed.

“Then there is me, the weakest off the three. I have but one Sorceress that would be in need of your experience, but the others have dozens that chose to follow them. All will want your time and energy in their training.

“What is it you are thinking Dark Elf?” The vampire asked.

Ronan smiled, Rising with an inviting hand. “Help us fend off the Blood Dragons, and lead us to undeath and monsters to conquer, and we can lead you home. I think we might be able to even retake your home for an additional price. But, on your studies, I have one other favor to ask.

“Name it.”

Chapter 3.
Ronan and his knights were already in halfway to the Black Ark when the first stray trebuchet shot nearly left them a smear on the ground. Swearing loudly, he made the command for double time. The Cold Ones needed no encouragement as the scent of blood danced in the air like a lover’s perfume.

The rhythm of war gave it the beat such dances needed. Pulling out a spyglass, Ronan could see the musicians. Skeletons picked up the bows and crossbows of the fallen and strum their string instruments.  Zombies shambled a drumming beat. Somehow actual flutists amongst the skeletal shield wall made a sound. However the Primadonna stood center stage on a giant cushioned platform carried to battle by ghosts. Before her two other lady vampires dressed in high fashion cast their spells and directed the knights to join the area of the performance.

The opposition came in the form of Gorindo, his banner of serpent slithering out of a chalice dotting all around the elvin lines. Fighting both against and along side him were the Pegasus banners of the local Gentry, and their men of arms. Their antics were little more than a mosh, but a skillful one.

Gorindo cut his way into the enemy formation, each movement of the arms left a corpse cut down. A line of undeath waited to be trampled on in his wake, leaving a path for Black Guard to widen the gap. Without any wasted movements, the undead were little more than dozens of parts spread around the ground. A few trolls that were captured lent their aid between snack breaks, usually in the form of peasants. That said, they let out their rumbling thanks to the elves for cracking the bones to get the marrow with ease.

The humans were no slouches either. Their famous Lance Bretonian Lance Formation cut through the undead mass like a bolt thrower. When the momentum was lost they broke off formation, racing back to start the charge again. Lance broken, most of the knights turned to long sword and war ax to finish the job.

Their leader led a squadron of pegasus knights, cutting down airborne horrors with ease. They skipped most of the madness below, leaving that for errant knights and peasants with pitchforks and spears. No, to stop a vampire’s army you needed to cut out the heart of it, literally. With out their will and magic constantly feeding them, an undead hoard loses their strength and returns to a natural state of the world.

However, the vampires were more than pretty faces. With lash and lightning they cast their spells at the knights. Armor rusted, and young men became withered husks in heartbeats. Others were struck by black arrows from a bow. Out of the fifteen strong squadron, only five survive. It was all that was needed.

Speed was enough to pin one of the vampires like a butterfly with a lance. Her sister in arms, struck the knight down, but noble steed avenged him with glistening hooves and powerful kicks. Their mistress, was less than impressed. A flick of the back of her hand, and the beast was spinning towards the ground. A swing of her longsword, and another winged stallion fell, leaving a waterfall of blood in its wake.

The most commanding of the squadron leapt from his steed, sword arcing to smite her in half. A tap of the finger and he missed her completely. With sleight of hand, his throat was open to her stiletto, and he too fell. That left the standard bearer, rushing in to finish what his lord started. Yet in three swings of her sword, his helmet was flying into the grassy field below, and he was in her dark embrace; his blood flowing into her mouth at ravenous speed. The humans were going to need a new plan.

“She needs a total of three vampires to control that plaquing of hers.” Said Califec. “We strike now, she won’t restore her thralls to perfect health.”

“Need us to clear the way for you?” Ronan asked.

“No.” Said Catlifec. “I have all I need here.” A snap of the bony figure and the winds blew a frigid embrace. These were not currents of air, such things a Dark Elf was uses to being of Naggarond: The Land of Chill. Only a sudden shift in the winds of magic could cause this disheartening maelstrom to come upon them.

Those with the gifts of magic could see them, feel them, breath them, touch them as with any other element of the world. Elves, even with weak mystical aptitude like Ronan, or none at all like his knights, could feel its prickly sensations from time to time. Anyone else would need its condensed form, otherwise known as a spell, to notice it.

Unlike the wild magic that seeped into the land like water after a rain, spells of a wizard were controlled; had purpose. One could heal grievous wounds. Another could engulf a battle line in flame. Before Ronan and his squadron, he saw the wizen vampire raise the dead.

Dozens at a time, fallen humans and elves tore off the flesh from their hides as they rose. The skeletal form gripping their weapons as earnestly as they did in life, marched towards the battle line. Sword strikes were blocked as a spearmen lifted its head back upwards. Peasants were tossed aside or crushed underfoot by the newly risen dead. Elves that could not crawl to safty crushed under the marching of Califec new army.

The living that fought through the undead were routing, their bindings releasing them back to the grave. Hopes dashed as more walked passed them, ignoring their feeble swings as they found their master’s prey.

Even Gorindo took notice. One moment he was preparing the skull of a potent skeletal knight on his trophy hooks. The next, he realized the dead had surrounded him.

“Return to the rear line.” They called out with Califec’ haunting voice. “Return. I shall finish this!”

“Who in the name of the Pale Queen are you!?” Gorindao demanded between twitching reactions cause two more zombies to return to the grave.

“I am Califec, a vampire that has practiced magic long your grandfather was on his mother’s tit!” The vampire answered. “I have come to make a proposition on behalf of the Dreadlord Ronan.”

“He’s dead.”

“He is not. Or he would be my champion. Now move as I finish your fight!”

With a sense of whimsy and rare mercy, the dead parted just enough for those that still lived to flee. Knights and peasants back to their Dukes. Corsairs and Masters back to their Dreadlords.

“I will find you later, young elf.” Said Califec.

“We didn’t tell you where we made camp.” Said Ronan.

“You think my eyes are so worn that I cannot find a castle that has never been before in these lands? I shall find you.”


Ronan winced as his new wound was stitched up. It was a shallow cut, the little risk of infection delt with burning sting of alcohol. However, the Dreadlord refused to numb to pain, refused to be not have his wits denied to him.

“Stop moveing, you child!” The sorceress scolded. She was a full fifty years his younger, but this was where she held the power over him.

“Can’t you use magic?” Ronan demanded

“Yes, but I need the practice.” She said. “Besides, it will be another handsome scar to add to your others. “That and Tore is dealing with your knights, and Zore must Help Acidia with an accident.

Ronan’s eyes rolled around at a thought. Truth be told, these three were not the only ones under his charge. This was a strange experiment this Hawkseer. Normally a young lord would have their own ship, or a small fleet of them if they were wealthy enough. But a Black Ark was literally a city, and could house more. This Hawkseer was meant to see how many they could have without the decks covered in blue blood. 50 Lordlings, just as many sorceresses, and roughly the same in the upper echelon of the beastmasters proved too many.

They had already spanned a great ocean, had battles facing Arabyans, pirates, greenskin, undead, beastmen, Estillan, and Brettonia. Even then most of the fatalities were caused by other lords on this pleasure cruise.

Survival elected the rise of three great lords amongst them: Ronan being considered the weakest of them. Lacertus was already son of a powerful dreadlord, made him second. Gorindo was son of one of Malekeith’s new councilmembers, and one that was rising the ranks there, making him the most powerful of the three. As such Ronan had a a dozen and aa half souls to his name, none of the beastmasters, to help along. Lacertus more, and Gorindo the manticor’s share.

Looking at the water clock on his office wall, Ronan realized soon be the time to inspect his troops, to see what they perfected, and to see what these children of privilege had learned. Something that was forced to come to a screeching halt. The shifting of glaive blades alerted Ronan to the presence of an uncalled for visitor. Dressed in regal blues and purples of the ship’s colors, one could almost mistake the elf for a wealthy courtier. The two brands on his cheeks told another story of the elf. On one cheek was burned the symbol of Scum. On the other, Fleet Master Red Tide’s personal insignia. This was his messenger, one of high elf decent knowing the lord of the Ark.

“Let him through.” Ronan commanded. The guards obeyed, nearly throwing the elf into Ronan’s throne room. “I am listening.”

“Fleetmaster Red Tide wishes to see all the hopefuls present themselves. All of them, not just the Four Factions you have all elected to be a part of. By Moon rise you shall be there or you will all suffer consequences.”

The forth group he spoke of was less a fraction than a trio of Death Hag sisters on their own Hawkseer. Normally they would not bother with such things, the harshness of a Khainite’s life would see if one was worthy of life. However Gorindo’s father and High Priestess Helebron made a drunken bet. One that the two were eager to win.

“Tell the Lord of the Ark, we shall come within that time. GUARDS! Sound the alarm, and escort him safely back to his master.

Chapter 4

Waldstein would live to see another day. The wave of chaos faded the moment their leader died; some say to poison, others from his new bride being a soul devouring succubus. Those that were captured that knew the emperor’s tongue preferred the latter; more fun they said.

Despite the disturbing thought, despite the grand victory, he still felt hollow. Even with word one of his sons was racing back with a battalion of mercenaries, while his other was negotiating for more help, he still felt hollow. They left him one by one in his hour of need time and time again, and now they thought they could come back to him? Bagh! Sigmar smite them.

“Pacing again?” Said a young man in the robes and armor of a Sigmarite War Priest.

“Brother Peter, what are you doing here?” Meyer asked, nearly dropping his whisky bottle.
With perfect aim, Peter tossed a heavy set of keys onto an iron coat hook on the wall. “This is my house. Your family legacy is here. Your family crest still hangs on it. Your things are still here. Only because I took the debt you occurred drinking.”

“Leave me be.”

Peter smacked the bottle out of Meyer’s hand, glass shattering into a hundred shards. With the other he held the man up by the collar. With the motion of that hand, he brought Meye to look deeply in Peter’s undamaged eye. The other remained hollow, its worn scars left for all to see.
“I took your debt out of your hands, I took responsibility for your estate for what you did for my Father and Grandfather. But I did it with cavoites for Lenny and Kramer.”

“How dare you!” Meyer screamed. “How dare you say those treacherous names!”

“Your boys did not abandon you, you abandoned them!” Peter shouted back. “We all mourn the loss of Helga. And I know first hand what those elf bastards can do! I was there! A boy no older than Helga when they attacked!”

“They did nothing!”

“Lenny was only twelve at the time, not much older than her! ANd he did try to stop them; now he a cripple with a smashed knee because of it!
Struck with a cursed weapon that no magic could fix.

“As for Kramer was a seargent in the army fighting orcs in the east. What did you want? To leave his post, to be hunted down and hung like a

“They could have…”

The world spun as Meyer’s head hit the wall. His scalp burned as it was dragged upwards, nearly bumping a portrait off as the war priest went.
“Nothing. Stop blaming them for things they could not do. And for all the Gods’ sakes, stop blaming yourself! Damn it man, if you are so hellbent on destroying yourself, join the flagellants and the slayers as they weed out the stragglers. Earn your good death there. But being here…wasting away, is what no one wants.

Gently, Meyer was set down, but the hard jerk as he was let go told him Peter was had was not done with this topic just yet. Delayed, but like Chaos it would return. A swell of regret, anger, and shame erupted out of Meyer, the word of his family friend cutting deeper than any knife. A feeling that spilled over as he saw the preist of Sigmar turn to leave.

“You are going to abandon me as well?” Myere cried out.

Peter stopped. He did not turn, only taking a deep sigh to brace himself. “Unlike you, I cannot wallow in my own selfpity all day. I will have a guard here to watch you, to keep you from doing something foolish. But I have responsibilities; many you once had before the bottle had you in its grasp.”


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