Monday, 21 November 2011

Palurin Political - 480PC

Old civilisation uncovered near Crocket's Peak

The dusty shadows crawled across the cavern walls in the flickering lamplight that held back the gloom. The musty subterranean air was stifling and had a decidedly sandy taste in the back of the throat.

“Hold that lamp higher, Grompel!” Gerhard snapped impatiently. The bored Ogre behind him smacked his lips momentarily, as if chewing the thought over, before dutifully raising his arm back above his head to cast the light of the brass torch from on high. Beneath them, Gerhard’s team continued to work feverishly as they had done for several hours now, flurries of dust kicked up with each frenetic movement. They were close now, Gerhard could sense it. The final seal was almost worn through, an ornately carved golden beetle the size of a man’s fist, with unyielding claws that straddled the divide between the cartouche and the lintel and columns that framed it. The beetle’s intricacy belied it’s resilience as, in spite of the persistent ringing of hammer against chisel, it tenaciously held the stone door sealed shut.

Gerhard removed his spectacles, carefully polishing away the dust from the lenses with a silk handkerchief, before peering through them again to marvel at his discovery. The immense door was far taller than his Ogre servant. Perhaps as tall again, even? And certainly wide enough to let through three such fellows walking abreast. The cavern ceiling vaulted high above, its darkness swallowing the torchlight and leaving the excavation party squinting and groping in near-darkness. Gerhard wondered at the lavish frieze that decorated the door- it depicted an ancient civilisation, of that there was no doubt. He had only seen it before as a rough sketch on the back of the ragged map that had led them here. Now to finally see it in all its glory was something else. There were numerous scenes, all painted in vivid colours. Some were of hunting, some of warfare, but above all of them there was a king, enthroned, presiding over the realm beneath him. What would the old wizard think of him now?

They had laughed, of course, back in Sigmarheim. Those ivory tower book-worms at The University. The historians had scoffed at the tatty, aged map that Gerhard had unearthed in the forgotten backlists of the library. Worse, he had made the mistake of showing the map to the wizard from the College of Niederdam. Being widely respected for his knowledge of arcana and ancient texts, he had seemed to Gerhard to be the perfect source for more information. But having studied the map and its mysterious glyphs for a few moments, the old greybeard had been positively opposed to Gerhard investigating any further. The wizened goat went so far as to warn him against seeking for this Lost Mausoleum. Oh, why had he shown it to the wizard? They were always know-it-all snobs, more interested in appearing sage and mysterious than in being helpful. But Gerhard von Kappel would not be swayed by pessimists and nay-sayers. Besides, after his “Treatise on Aquilan Artefacts” was roundly dismissed at last year’s Archeological Seminars, he had become a man with a reputation to rebuild.

“Doctor von Kappel!” The shout stirred him from his bitter reminiscence. He hurried over to the cartouche to see the last of the golden beetle-locks lying in pieces on the cavern floor. Gerhard clasped his hands gleefully. “Well, come along Grompel!” he chimed, the excitement in his voice barely hidden. “You’ve waited all day for this, now’s your moment.”

Grompel blinked from his dozy stupor and grinned stupidly. He bellowed back down the tunnel, and moments later half a dozen more Ogres shambled in through the cramped entrance and into the cavern. Each set his bulk against the cartouche and with a great deal of hefting and grunting began to shoulder the door open. Gerhard and the team backed off a little way in a vain attempt to escape the dust and noise.

“A pity, really” Gerhard mused, stroking his pointed beard with thumb and forefinger. “The brutes will likely ruin the frieze, but how else to get it open?” The question was largely rhetorical, but the students bobbed and nodded in sycophantic agreement. But after a few moments, it was apparent that the door wasn’t opening at all.

“Grompel, you great oaf!” Gerhard chastised, “Can’t your blundering fools get anything right?”
Grompel opened his mouth to protest, but before he could utter his objection the cavern rang with a long, low HAA-ROOOOOM! that sounded like a horn blowing in the distance. Except it wasn’t distant. Somehow, it was near. The air reverberated with it, making the hairs on Gerhard’s neck bristle.

The Ogres stopped, dumbfounded, and Gerhard’s students began to mutter and shrug to one another. Then again: HAAA-RRROOOOOMM!! louder, nearer, all around. But from where? As if in answer, an ear-splitting CRACK! of ancient rock of the cartouche burst asunder, showering painted stone across the cavern floor. Gerhard ducked for cover just in time as a chunk of sandstone whizzed past his head. The Ogres were not so fortunate, flattened by the avalanche of exploding stone. Dazed by the explosion, Gerhard blinked as his eyes adjusted to the burning blue light that flooded the cavern.

Blue light?! He blinked again. From behind the fractured ruins of the cartouche a figure loomed, tall and majestic, silhouetted against a ghostly sapphire glow. The figure took a step forward from the light, revealing his hideous form. He was dressed in kingly raiment, though it appeared tattered and decayed nearly beyond recognition. His skin was a withered husk, his hands gnarled bony claws adorned with golden rings. About his wrinkled, leathery brow was a glorious sweeping crown, untouched by the ravages of years, golden and radiant in the cavern’s eerie glow. Gerhard could make out his eyes, for they burned with the same blue light. Angry eyes, Gerhard could sense, without really even thinking it. Full of malice and vengeance. As if the thought alone drew their gaze, those eyes locked Gerhard in a knowing, accusing stare. It felt as though his body were stripped away, and only his soul remained, cowering in the gloom.

Behind the King, emerging from the cerulean shadow beyond the shattered cartouche, came the rhythmic pounding of a hundred footsteps and the clanking of rusted swords. Gerhard watched, transfixed with horror, as the desiccated forms of a legion of ancient warriors emerged into the cavern. The King looked on as his reinvigorated soldiers shook off their eons of dust-shrouded sleep and seethed from the tomb, across the cavern and towards the distant daylight of the entrance at the far end of the tunnel.

Tearing himself free of the accusing blue-eyed stare, Gerhard gave in to his terror. He picked himself up and ran for the daylight. As he fled his head rang with the clamour of marching feet and the taunts of know-it-all wizards.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Domovoi continue raiding

The engagement had been staged as an opportunity for the Warpclaw Guild to show off its latest weaponry their allies of the Domovoi Pantheon. Neither the Elder Stribozh Daemon-tongue, nor the Chief Warlock of the Skaven army, much minded the inevitable losses that would be incurred by both sides in the demonstration. Life was brief and brutal in the far north. What better way to end it, then, than in glorious combat beneath the open sky under the watchful gaze of the gods?

Stribozh rose from his seat in which he had watched the battle unfold as his Champion of the North, Gerros the Unholy, swung down from the saddle to kneel before his master. Gerros was slick with gore and in places his armour was badly scratched or dented, but otherwise he appeared quite unharmed. Gerros offered up the battered helm of the slain Skaven warlord as a token of his victory. Stribozh accepted it and made a sign of blessing upon his triumphant champion. He turned to survey the carnage of the battlefield – though many Domovoi had been slain in the contest, the field was strewn with dead and dying clanrats. Gerros and his knights had smashed the Guild’s forces aside, cleaving and crushing the Unscurried legions beneath blade and iron-shod hoof, only to then charge down the line to scatter and smash the Skaven war engines that had performed so dismally.

The Chief Warlock had promised great things of his new “wonder weapons”, but to Stribozh’s eye the day clearly belonged to the Domovoi. The Chief Warlock twitched anxiously beside him, running claw over palm in agitation at the embarrassing failure of his war machines.
“It would seem, great Stribozh...” His whiskers twitched, and eyes darted nervously as if searching for the words, “That our machines need a little more, err, work... yes-yes?”

“Quite.” The reply was curt and taciturn. Stribozh had no liking for the stinking vermin but their ingenuity and thirst for carnage could not be denied. Though his warriors had made him proud today Stribozh was quietly disappointed that the Guild’s weapons had not proved more devastating. If the Domovoi were to march east to war it was likely that the weapons of the Skaven could give the vital advantage. The Enemy across the Sea had proved their power centuries before. The scions of ruined Storrvattenstad still told the tales of the Night of Fire, a grim legend passed down by those who had witnessed the fury of the Dragonlords.

The Warlock flinched again, but forced a yellow, pointed smile. “Yes-yes, great Stribozh. We promise-pledge to continue the work-making. You shall not be disappointed.”

Stribozh uttered a silent prayer of hope to the gods that the Warlocks could be trusted.

Dwarf Kingdom suffers setbacks

Between 450 and 460PC the dwarfs had continued their expansion. Under the King of Karak Brynaz, the Dwarf Kingdom had expanded the kingdom north into the mountains known as the Alpinos. These peaks were generally lower and older than those further south, and making a living from mining them was consequently harder. Nevertheless the hold of Karak Igor was founded and the dwarfs continued to push ever northward, heading for the Mallvass mountains.

This was something the ruler of Hovedstaden could not watch without intervening. Lord Tragean feared an alliance of dwarfs, Ogres and men - which would threaten the dominion of the Kaalroen Empire. The Holy Sigmarite Empire and the dwarfs simply couldn't understand any other way of life, and were steadfastly opposed to what he considered a free way of life.

To prevent such an alliance, the Kaalroens decided to stop the dwarfs advancement by sending a formidable army to the Alpinos. Here they faced the dwarfs of Karak Igor in open battle, and crushed them. The dwarfs fled back to the safety of their hold. Lord Tragean had no wish to expend energy pursuing them, the dwarfs had stopped moving north.

Then in 470PC the dwarfs suffered another unexpected setback. They had been cutting back the Lothlaer forest to use in their construction, most notably as fuel for their ironclad navy, which was sending expeditions north to the mountains across the north of Palurin. Little did they know there were wood elves in Lothlaer, and after receiving support from the Wood Elf Realm, the elves began ambushing work parties of dwarfs who ventured into the forest.

Angered by this, the dwarfs sent an army. In front of the Kazad-A-Wutroth brewery, the dwarfs faced a formidable wood elf army, the like of which the dwarfs had not anticipated. A brutal battle followed, and the dwarf army was defeated. The dwarfs abandoned the Lothlaer forest and were forced to watch as their beloved brewery was sacked by the furious wood elves.

Cuitlaxaochitzin strife

Following the settlement of Skink Havens, the skink revolution enjoyed relative autonomy from Cacaoaxochitl, although it may have been because the Slaan hadn't realised that such a revolution had actually taken place. If they did, they clearly didn't consider the tiny realm on their western border any kind of threat. However, the skinks still had one great work to accomplish. Years before, the Ogres had committed the great crime known as "the feast of a thousand skinks". Although this hadn't soured relations with Cuitlaxaochitzin itself, the honour of the skink was at stake! In 462PC the city of sanctuary sent forth an army to the Ogre kingdom, to settle old scores.

The skink army travelled overland through Arloth, then north of the Holy Sigmarite Empire and made the perilous crossing of the Mallvass mountains without being discovered. They reached the Ogre Kingdom without being discovered and appeared before the Hall of the Overtyrant. Enraged, the King of the Ogres sent his finest warriors against the skinks, but aided by their monstrous stegadons, the skinks defeated the Ogres in open battle, before retiring in haste, honour settled, with as much loot as they could, before the rest of the Ogre Kingdom mobilised against them.

In 475PC the rulers of Cuitlaxaochitzin found out that chaos marauders were raiding deeper and deeper into Arloth. Fearful of expansion towards their realm, the Slaan consulted, and asked the ogres of Graag to send the chaos armies back east.

The Ogres tracked the marauders into Arloth, and before long faced the combined might of Lord Tragean's forces on the open plains of the land. The battle was fought with determination by both sides, but neither could break the other. The Ogres prepared to resume the next day, but come dawn the forces of Tragean had moved off to the east, not considering another bloody battle worth the effort. The Ogres didn't pursue, and the lizardmen kingdom began considering extending their mighty line of fortresses north to the frozen wastes, effectively planning to cut off their realm from the rest of Palurin.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Skinks establish homeland

In 455PC the second most powerful nation on Palurin was shaken by a new force in Cuitlaxaochitzin. For four and a half centuries the prevailing system of hierarchical government had been in operation, with the Slaan governing and the skinks serving. Gradually a mood of dissention had been building in the realm, and in 454PC a new force calling itself "the skink revolution" appeared in the land, raising followers and finally an army.

In truth the skink revolution didn't actually mobilise more than one in ten skinks, but the problem was alarming to the rulers of Cuitlaxaochitzin, and infuriating to the Ogres of Graag who had fought tenaciously to keep the empire together. In 455PC this tension came to a head when the Ogres of Graag were sent into north western Cuitlaxaochitzin to put down the rebellion.

The skinks met the Ogres on the plains of Cullinor, in Chimalman near the upper Laerthad. Despite the obvious size differences, the battle was a bloody stalemate. At the end of the fighting the skinks fled west, around the northern pass of the Cullins mountain range. The Ogres did not pursue, and the region of Skink Havens was established, with its capital at Sanctuary. Safely protected by the Cullins, Skink Havens proved more effort than it was worth to attempt to reconquer, so for now the sepratist skinks had their homeland, although most skinks were perplexed by the revolution.

Ogres embarrass HSE

The colony of Adler An Zee had been prospering in the Aranur valley for years by 448PC, and trade with the dwarfs was brisk and friendly. The Ogres had arrived some years before, and their presence was welcomed by the populace, as their military might made the population feel safe.

The Ogres also enjoyed the posting, as the Beer from the dwarf kingdom far exceeded in quality, and strength, the beer of the Empire. The Ogre mercenaries' fondness for dwarf ale ensured that a thriving business of dwarf drinking taverns sprung up in the west of the Empire colony, but in 449PC, a serious problem occurred.

The Ogres were still paid by the Imperial coffers to protect the citizens of Adler An Zee, but in 449PC the caravan shipping the money from Sigmarheim mysteriously went missing, along with several high ranking members of the Imperial Treasury. While Louis II attempted to sort out the mess caused by the largest fraudulent embezelment of Imperial funds in Palurin history, the Ogres went without pay.

Eventually this meant the Ogres couldn't pay their debts, and while the population of Adler An Zee accepted this grudgingly, not paying your bar tab was a high crime in the dwarf kingdom. The dwarfs demanded recompense, but the lord of the colony was in no mind to pay the ogres' debts, even if he could have. The Ogre bill racked up while their pay was going missing was staggering, and lord Moritz didn't have access to this kind of wealth. He summoned the Ogre general.

Lord Moritz informed the Ogres that it was their bill, and the dwarf army now marching on Ulricshafen to collect was their fault. He washed his hands of the whole affair and sent the Ogres to "negotiate a settlement" with the dwarfs. This of course was a ruse. The Ogres knew nothing of diplomacy, or even how to spell it, and in 449PC the Ogres drew up their forces against a stoic dwarf host intent on collecting their money.

The battle itself was a brutal affair with both sides fighting particularly hard over what was in the end a dispute about money. After a long fight the dwarfs crumbled first, retreating off the lowlands and back to their hold at Karak Grimnil. Adler An Zee's coffers had been saved, but now a larger dispute was looming. To keep the peace, Louis II paid off the debt by raising taxes at home, while putting in place measures to ensure the Ogres were paid on time. One measure was to make Adler An Zee pay the lions share directly, something which did not please lord Moritz in the slightest.

Kaalroens tackle enemies 441-451PC

In the 440s and 450s, the Kaalroen Empire was once again involved in frequent battles against its neighbours, as the expansion of the realm continued to encroach on areas the other empires had their eye on. In 441PC the Lizardmen of Cuitlaxaochitzin campaigned against the Kaalroens, meeting and defeating a Domovoi force in northern Canabrin. The winds of magic were fickle during the battle, with frequent magical mishaps, but the army of mostly skinks was able to overcome the Domovoi army, despite stubborn resistance from the chaos warriors. The battle was particularly bloody, but the Domovoi were defeated once again.

In 446PC Lord Tragean finally made a move against the Ogre Kingdom, which had been plundering the south of his kingdom for several years. Tragean's Kaalroens marched against the Overtyrant in the summer of that year, but found the Ogres a very determined foe when they were defending their own land. Tragean was unable to defeat the Ogres in the Mallvass Mountains, and once again the small kingdom successfully defended itself against its mighty neighbour.

Ayn'Qaahira established itself as a real power within the Kaalroen Empire in 451PC, when a skaven army from the Typhonian Enclave was defeated as it was searching for warpstone in the south of the Kaalroen Empire. This victory brought to an end the skaven expeditions in the east for many years, and enabled the Lord of Ayn'Qaahira to begin his great work, creating the floating city.

The Domovoi were defeated again in 457PC, when the Dwarf Kingdom began its northern expansion into the Alpino mountain range. After establishing settlements in the mountains, the dwarfs found themselves under attack from the Kaalroen Empire, who were none to happy about the dwarf northern expansion.

The dwarfs drew up into a defensive formation, targetting their artillery against the central chaos knights. The Domovoi elite infantry managed to assault the artillery positions and were eventually successful, removing that threat, but by then the knights had suffered heavily. They were able to do some damage to the dwarf hammerers, but were quickly dragged down by the stubborn dwarfs.

The battle reached a climax as the two armies' core infantry forces met in the centre of the battlefield. The marauders of the Domovoi eventually broke and fled, pursued by several angry dwarf units. Despite rallying briefly and re-engaging in battle, and despite a direct hit from a powerful Domovoi spell, the dwarfs held the field. Both sides had taken heavy casualties, but the Domovoi army was routed and fled north back to the Kaalroen Empire, allowing the dwarfs to continue the founding of Karak Igor.

Top Tens!

1 Kaalroen Empire 3,620,000
2 Cuitlaxaochitzin 3,080,000
3 Holy Sigmarite Empire 2,890,000
4 Dwarf Kingdom 2,270,000
5 Mellvellon 1,885,000
6 Skaven 1,790,000
7 Wood Elf Realm 1,780,000
8 Dark Elf Dominion 1,670,000
9 Cloudy Mountain Orcs 420,000
Biggest Cities
1 Boiling Peak 440,000
2 Lamentation 300,000
3 Apotheosis 290,000
4 Sigmarheim 265,000
5 Karak-a-varr 260,000*
6 Dragonspire 225,000
7 Flodenstaden 195,000
8 Karak Brynaz 190,000
9 Hovedstaden 185,000
10 Sudhafen 175,000
11 Galamory 165,000
12 Phalicia 155,000
13 Ayn'Qaahira 145,000
14 Cacauaxochitl 135,000
15 New Har Ganeth 120,000

*Includes the former city of Kazad Varr.
Wonders of the World
1 Mount Cxa-Cxa 22
2 Great temple of Cuitlaxaochitzin 22
3 Tower of Phalicia 18
4 Dragonspire - Ivory Tower 18
5 Boiling peak Complex 13
6 Cathedral to Sigmar 7
= Windmill of Change 7
9 Ruins of Chimalman 6
10 Floating city of Ayn'Qaahira 5