"Finished, finished, finished now it is. Yes, yes, very finished, see, lots of rats for power, lots of new mechs to make it go."
"You say its finished, Rat-k, but you said the same last time and I lost a whole clan to this whirling contraption, and what did it do for me, nothing. Yet you go by the name No-risk, I hardly think that's right now is it?"
Skrakit wrinkled his snout at the stench that filled the cavern, the usual ozone tang of any skyre contraption, with the added mix of singed hair from Rat-k's engineering assistants that were too careless when installing the warpstone needed to power the newly repaired Doomwheel. In fact, the whole assembly was physically shivering as little runnels of green warp-lightning ran along any metallic surface, regularly earthing themselves against the walls and floor of the cavern. Skrakit leaned in to inspect the pilots seat and one of the emitters on the machine.
"Not so close my Lord, no, not so close. Very delicate mechs, not want Lord hurting himself, no no, not hurting self..."
Rat-k scampered across the workshop, trying to pull his lord away, still fawning all the time; Skrakit swatted him away, using the momentum of the blow to lean his body a little to the side. The little trickle of green glow that had been working along the emitter mechanism reached the warpstone crystal at its tip and grounded itself into the wall behind Skrakit. The accompanying shrill squeel and the pungent odor of singed fur and roasted meat told Skrakit the assassin that had been creeping up from amongst Rat-k's assistants had taken the full force of the discharge, just as he'd intended. Turning, Skrakit prodded the smoking body with his toe, already lost in thought. With one last venomous glance at the Warlock Engineer, he stalked from the cavern muttering something about them not even trying anymore.
|After the few survivors from the hamlet of Bernwood stumbled out of the woods of the foothills, a small force of Hochlanders under the command of Oskar Brandt (also) accompanied by a Sorceress march through the foothills to retake the hamlet and the tower that it serves. (PS: before anyone asks, no, we weren't playing in a sauna).|
It is told that in the year 2522 of our mighty Emperor Sigmar, the hamlet of Bernwood was over-run by a plague of giant rats that took the settlement overnight, swarming from the gutters and cellars of the inhabitants houses, butchering them in their sleep. The few who survived the attack, mostly those out in the woods that night hunting in preparation for the coming winter, fled through the foothills in search of help. In a nearby village, they encountered a small band of Hochland infantry, patrolling the area, who they beseeched to help liberate their village, and to ensure the protection of the sorcerous tower they lived near. Captain Oskar Brandt, the young captain leading the band, who at the time was accompanied by a Sorceress of the Amethyst order, jumped at the chance to enhance his stature amongst his men against a foe he felt would be an easy victory, they were of course only rats, how hard could it be.
So it was that his band of Hochlanders, having marched through the woods for 2 days and nights, found the filthy vermin feasting on the remains of the poor villagers. Believing themselves to be safe, the ratmen were in disarray and hadn't even bothered to investigate the sorcerers tower, preferring to plunder the settlement before moving on.
"Pah!, Would you look at them, filthy vermin! Should be a simple matter to clear them from this area, don't you think Gottlieb?"
"Aye sir, you'd be right with that, my powederkegs should make light work of them once we close the distance, their little ratty hides won't be a match for our powder and shot. Isn't that right lads?"
This declaration was met by a raucus cheer from the gunners surrounding Oskar and Gottlieb, Brother Fabian, the warbands Warrior Priest merely shrugged, he'd seen it all too often to care.
"Wait sir, what's that, in amongst the mausoleum sir? Looks to be some giant kind of rat, and...."
"They're disturbing the Emperor's servants rest, desecrating this place and raiding for parts by the look of them" interjected Brother Fabian, "by Sigmar, this shall not be stood for."
"Very well then, lets put them to the sword. Gottlieb, see if you can't get some of your pistoliers into the tower before they can react, we must protect it at all cost. We'll lay down a wall of shot to clear them from this place. I'll send the Silver Drakes along with the scounts and the sorceress down our right flank to sweep up anything that tries to escape, and in case they have anything lurking in the woods over there. Right then, to it lads, for Sigmar, Karl Franz and Hochland!"
As it was, Oskar Brandt was very fortuitous in his choice to direct his cavalry and other factions of his force down his right flank as barely had they arrived when a diabolical contraption of wheels, spikes, warpstone and unholy light emerged from the hills. It is believed that the ratmen refer to these contraptions as "Doomwheels" as they hope that is what they will bring to their enemies. However, they are no match for those that truly believe, and before it could build up a head of steam, the Sorceress Amelia, channelling the powers of the Amethyst order, reached out to leech the spirit from the creatures crewing the "Doomwheel". Although Amelia's spell wasn't cast perfectly to her satisfaction, for she was a notorious perfectionist, with the Doomwheel's driver spared from its effects, the fates still conspired to see all the rats powering one side of the contraption wiped out. This had the fortuitous outcome of causing it to veer widely off course, smashing into a young sapling which after the wheels had passed, sprang right back up, into the driver, impaling it on the trees branches and killing him instantly.
Yep, very first turn magic, Charlie's sorceress managed to Leech all but one of the Doomwheels wounds, I avoided all but 1 "Out of Control" rolls and promptly drove it into a tree. "D3 S4 hits, that'll be fine!" were pretty apt words as I managed to roll 2 sixes to wound and that was the end of the Doomwheel for another game (you can see it below, "wrapped" around the tree that killed it).
Events did not unfold quite so well for Oskar around the tower though. As the hordes of rats spilled from the village, it was magic that would once again inflict a heavy toll, this time on the hopes of the Hochlanders to protect the tower of sorcery. A curiously brass-clad rat, obviously knowledgeable of the winds of magic, and sporting a weird array of devices drawing power from crystals of warpstone, rent the ground under the sorcerous tower. Undermining it as only a tunnel dweller would know how, the tower came crashing down. The poor hapless pistoliers, instructed to garrison the tower by Gottlieb Tobeck were almost completely wiped out, only 2 survived the fall, and while creeping from the wreckage, one of the blighted souls was spotted by the ratmen and immolated by yet another of their infernal contraptions.
It would seem that their own ineptitude enraged the ratmen as no sooner had the dust settled from the collapse of the tower than they ran straight into the jaws of Oskar's forces. The Taal's Blades faced the charge of not one but two great hosts of rats like the heroes of old, not one of their number flinched or fled despite the rats terrible aspect and their vastly greater number. While half of the Taal's set about butchering the guard of the ratmens overlord, the other half, enraged by what it had done to the tower, set themselves to killing the brass-clad figure at the front of their unit. It must have been using its sorcery although the reports of the Sorceress Amelia von Lessing suggest otherwise, for it survived the blows of fully half of the Taal's Blades for the rest of the battle! It was last seen fleeing from the field, clambering over its kinfolk and cutting them down as it went while the rest of the rats were butchered by Brandt's men.
|MWAH-HAH-HAAA! I outnumber you at least 3 to 1, I will crush you puny man-things and then onto the rest of your army.|
Noooo, this isn't how this should be, cursed, squishy hu-mans, how dare you defy me....
So ends the tale of the battle of Bernwood, an early feather in the cap of the great Oskar Brandt and his Hochlanders. On later investigation by the colleges of magic and engineers, the "Tooth of Morrslieb", a vast lump of warpstone that had once lay under the Tower could never be located. In fact, the fissures opened by the brass-clad creature extended so far into the ground they were beyond the reach of men to investigate fully. It seems that with the loss of the Tooth, much of the magical draw of the place also departed and last it was heard, the region had fallen out of use.
No jokes, my warlock engineer did actually survive 2 rounds where the swordsmen directed all their attacks against him. Although his regiment broke and was run-down at the end of the second round, both Charlie and I think that Rat-k No-risk (as we took to calling him, the k's are silent ;) ), would have thrown every rat he could find in the way of the Empire in a perfectly correct Skaven escape plan and will be returning again soon :D