“So these are the forces of Chaos,” Rollo stated more than asked. It was clear from the roiling lines of the enemy’s ranks that order was a concept foreign to them. ‘In a sense, Grand Marshall, but also not.’ came the reply from the Dread Master in his mind. Rollo would never get comfortable with the effect, and liked the vague answer even less. He raised a patient, gauntleted fist and directed his templars to sink lower into the tall grass around them.
The Beastmen, oblivious and consumed with hunger, drove ever forward into the inevitable. Ever closer…and then beyond. He glanced over his shoulder to the blank, faceless expression of the Dread Master who gave no indication he was aware the opportunity slipping. Rollo grinned, “Clever bastard. You’re going to come up right in the middle of them.”
As a response, the Dread Master tugged hard on the hundreds of invisible threads of dhar he maintained to their buried units. He willed them with one thought: arise!
The vanguard of the rampaging Beastmen erupted from below. Earthen-clad skeletons and zombies tugged the ungors to the ground, clawed their flesh, and set off a cacophony of primal screams from their enemies. In the middle of it all, the Dread Master could sense his allies’ proximity to the enemy captains, for to his witchsight eyes Heinrich, Zeigfried and Weldmar’s deep power made them shine like beacons.
The instincts of the ungors had been underestimated. Within breaths, the battle raged in full. The hordes of undead wouldn’t stand against such mighty creatures for long.
Rollo spurred his felsteed to its feet, pressing forward between his hidden men, picking up pace, drawing his hammer and holding it aloft,
“TEMPLARS! … RIDE!”
He personally led the charge of the black-clad templars and ghostly hexwraiths. Where they collided with the enemy, they wrought total devastation. The entirety of both enemy flanks collapsed utterly in the face of overwhelming force. Terrified ungors threw down their axes and fled the field in droves. The effect was one that Rollo Von Carstein would never forget, nor would he soon forget the next thing he saw.
The expendable horde was in shambles and quickly decaying. He circling gaze found the Dread Master of Liches in the distance, hovering over the ground with arms outstretched. He wasn’t facing the battle though, he was facing South where the main forces of the enemy were beginning to emerge in numbers from their Beast Paths.
Dawn broke, but not the resplendent white rays of hope and rebirth… this was the bleak, purple sun of Death itself and it arose from the first ranks of the main body of the Beastmen army, heeding the summons of the Dread Master. Wheresoever it touched, the enemy either decayed into rot instantly or seared to ash with dark fire. The foliage around the Dread Master was likewise blackened and withered as the very energy he had summoned would leave a permanent mark on the land. He slowly fell to the ground, exhausted, while his creation began to run amok.
It wasn’t enough. The Beastmen still came, and came, in uncountable numbers, emerging from nowhere.
Rollo looked for his allies (Zeigfried usually stood out). It was time to go. Their trap had worked a little too well; the main force was nearly on them. He spun his felsteed and led one more feigning charge into the vanguard before falling back to Blackroot’s entrapped portal, where the true pinnacle of their gambit waited. The Dread Master was there already. The Beastmen pursued like a gathering hurricane, black and full of thunder.
Suddenly an innocuous black bat alit on the ground near Rollo’s feet. It immediately grew disfigured, its wings becoming arms, its fur becoming fine embroidered silks, its beady red eyes becoming…slightly less beady but still red. Zeigfried dusted off his shoulders and ran his fingers through his magnificent hair.
“I was beginning to think you weren’t coming,” the Grand Marshall remarked. Zeigfried scoffed, gave a short, sarcastic bow, and turned on his heel to make for the portal. A moment later, he was followed by Weldmar and the Gorgon, each fleeing in his own way from the coming onslaught. They were then trailed silently by the Dread Master and the handful of hexwraiths left afield.
Only then did Grand Marshall Rollo permit his templars to take up the rear. The wave of teeth and fangs had circumvented the purple sun which stood in their way and now descended upon them. With a gesture of his great hammer, he led his dauntless men through the portal and out of the Beastmen’s reach just in time.