Siege of Excelsis

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Siege of Excelsis
Siege of Excelsis 01.jpg
The Siege of Excelsis.
Era Arcanum Optimar
Location Ghur - Excelsis
Outcome Order Victory[9]
Combatants
{{{3}}} Grand Alliance of Order
{{{3}}} Excelsis
{{{3}}} Order of Azyr
{{{3}}} Freeguild Defenders
{{{3}}} Ironweld Arsenal
{{{3}}} Scourge Privateers
{{{3}}} Stormcast Eternals
{{{3}}} Knights Excelsior
{{{3}}} Astral Templars
{{{3}}} Daughters of Khaine
{{{3}}} Seraphon
{{{3}}} Grand Alliance of Destruction
{{{3}}} Orruk Warclans
{{{3}}} Gloomspite Gitz
{{{3}}} Sons of Behemat
{{{3}}} Ogor Mawtribes
{{{3}}} Grand Alliance of Chaos
{{{3}}} Hedonites of Slaanesh
{{{3}}} Daemons of Slaanesh
{{{3}}} Nullstone Brotherhood
{{{3}}} Skaven
Commanders
{{{3}}} Yarga-Sjuhan

{{{3}}} Doralia ven Denst
{{{3}}} Galen ven Denst
{{{3}}} Morathi
{{{3}}} Lord Kroak

{{{3}}} Kragnos

{{{3}}} Gordrakk
{{{3}}} Skragrott

{{{3}}} Dexcessa

{{{3}}} Synessa
{{{3}}} Rattachak

Losses/Survivors
Heavy Heavy Very heavy


The Siege of Excelsis was a battle for the free city of Excelsis as it was besieged by the forces of Destruction of the Waaagh! led by Gordrakk and Skragrott later joined by Kragnos while the forces of Chaos consisting of Hedonites of Slaanesh under Synessa and Dexcessa as well as Skaven of Skryre under Warlock Bombardier Rattachak attacked the city from within. [1]

Background

Excelsis was still scarred by the Ortam Vermyre’s uprising with entire areas quarantined by the Knights Excelsior with death sentence to violators. However arcane emanations would occasionally spawn in those areas and attack the city thus the Order of Azyr led by witch hunter Galen ven Denst was tasked with taking down such spectral emanations.[1a]

The superstitious citizenry were increasingly becoming paranoid about magic. The backlash was embodied by the Nullstone Brotherhood, a citizen-led Sigmarite orthodoxy that had helped the Order of Azyr weed out the last of the Tzeentchian cultists and hidden mutants. It also pursued the rumours of Skaven that stalked the tunnels under the city and nailed many of them to the front doors of their temples as proof that the skaven were active inside the city walls but the corpses almost always vanished in the night. The Brotherhood's purges of Skaven and Chaos agents saw its popularity and support grow. The Brotherhood then turned their attention from those magic users who worshipped Chaos to any who used the eldritch arts in any way. Led by Odo Maulgen, a seven-foot warrior priest from the barbarian tribes of Lendu who had a particular hatred for the city’s aelves as his former tribe had been raided by what he believed were aelves of the sea. He and his followers began to hunt aelven practitioners of magic, their sermons conflating the idea of magic use and aelven heritage as one and the same. Mirrors were considered unnatural gateways to the daemonic and were confiscated en masse by the Brotherhood. With so many citizens already in the sway of the Nullstone Brotherhood, their views became widespread. Over time, more and more aelves disappeared from the streets. Tensions simmered and many captains of the Scourge Privateers retaliated by flaying of members of the Brotherhood. However in the end the ships of the Scourge Privateers simply sailed away, leaving the harbour and coastal section of the city with only the thinnest of defences. The duardin of the Forgequarter Sprawl were ignored as they did not cast spells and their legendary constitution and stubbornness meant very few picked fights with them.[1a][1b]

Maulgen began claiming to be working directly for the White Reaper of the Consecralium, and with Maulgen’s imposing stature and steely charisma, none went against him. Finally, in the Palace Excelsium, the Grand Conclave proposed a motion to disband the Nullstone Brotherhood. The city’s Grand Matriarch, the battle-scarred ex-warrior Yarga-Sjuhan called an emergency muster after the disastrous Night of a Hundred Blindings and told those assembled that six magic users had been burned alive in Punishment Square, and that they had died with such a spectacular burst of magic that melted the eyes of onlookers in their sockets. Odo Maulgen and his contact in the Order of Azyr, Darrac Neve gave impassioned speeches that saved the Brotherhood from total dissolution but agreed to persecute only those chosen by the Grand Conclave. However, in secret, the Btotherhood carried on abducting aelves who were brought to a disused ballroom within the quarantined district known as the Crystalfall by using the sewer network's hidden passageways. It was here that the Brotherhood kept the mirrors they had confiscated as a defence against the sin of vanity. At Maulgen’s insistence, the aelves were slain in front of the mirrors, so that the last sight they ever saw would be their own desperation and folly. In these ever-escalating acts of violence and persecution, Maulgen’s faithful did not serve Sigmar who had become one with magic long ago and Maulgen was not the only one to have a hall of mirrors as his sanctum. Followers of Odo Maulgen became addicted to taking their creed to the most violent and sadistic extremes and at the end of every form of extremism is the Dark Prince Slaanesh.[1b]

Prelude

Many of the Order of Azyr felt extremely uneasy about the persecution of magic users but despite petitioning from the Collegiate Arcane, there was no actual law against it. With the finest prophets and soothsayers leaving, there were few with the experience needed to sort through the barrage of often contradictory predictions that were circulating through the streets. Doralia ven Denst began interrogating those suspected of inflaming the city’s conflicts but in consultation with her father Galen she realised that the babblings were of limited use. Thus they sought out the Seraphon in Serpentanis, the three-storey pyramid that served as the Seraphon embassy within the city’s humid arboreal district. Doralia ventured inside the pyramid but Galen was somehow repelled. [1b]

Doralia left the Seraphon embassy with her face bloodless and in the Taverna District she recounted how the dimensions inside the Serpentanis were much different than seen from outside with the interior being far larger. A brightly coloured skink with a crown of long feathers, stretched a cold, scaly finger towards the centre of her forehead and showed her glimpses of the future. The city besieged, the rise of a hideous double-creature, squirming and foul like a larva ripped from a chrysalis, disgorged from a prison of crystal and mirrors. The city would be crushed between enemies attacking from within and without. but of the latter, the skinks could only perceive a heartbeat of an elder god, some strange magic repelling their prophetic power. Thus the Seraphon of Mekitopsar would not muster to the city's aid as their Scar-Veterans were waging a long war against the forces of Chaos abroad in Ghur and couldn't divert their forces without solid guidance.[1b][1b][1c]

The ven Densts then travelled to the Consecralium and were escorted to the deep gaols below the city. Here they met the White Reaper, Lord-Veritant Cerrus Sentanus and Galen ven Denst expressed his concerns about the Nullstone Brotherhood but it was only when Doralia made a full and impassioned disclosure of the prophecies she had gleaned from the Seraphon, along with the dilemmas that wracked the city White Reaper answered. He claimed that he has never even talked with Maulgen and vowed to punish him for his lies. White Reaper spoke at length about the greenskin hordes that had massed at the gates of the city. They were suddenly interrupted by a series of explosions from the city.[1c]

Skaven Invasion

From culverts and sewer grates flowed hordes of Skaven as mushroom clouds of green smoke appeared in the docks in the wake of massive explosions, entire streets collapsed to expose the gnawholes below and from these tears of reality came lumbering rat-monsters. The ven Densts observed the situation from lower ramparts as Stormfiends secured the portals allowing Skaven warriors to pour into the streets. The Freeguild companies that came rushing were set upon by a barrage of glowing bullets and lightning unleashed by ratling cannons and other strange contraptions. A loose mob of drunk off-duty soldiers, navvies and prizefighters charged the hulking monsters, some of them ripping away the brain-rats upon the giants’ backs. Then a knot of maul-limbed creatures countercharged and the militiamen were brutally butchered.[1d]

The ven Densts joined phalanxes of Knights Excelsior and the Stormcasts split off to close the gnawhole cluster. The skaven massively outnumbered the Stormcasts and agents of Eshin were running along the rooftops, dropping through thatches and hide sheeting to attack the citizens cowering beneath. From atop the Consecralium came Prosecutors led by Knight-Venator Malanea Lendu and her Star-eagle Brightclaw. Nine retinues descended to unleash a shower of javelins and tridents through the darting skaven. The Prosecutors crushed the Skaven and then climbed up to pull new weapons. The roof-runners that survived sent triskele shuriken poisoned with foul concoctions of warpstone and gnaw-toxins to the citizens on the streets and those that were not killed on impact were put down by Judicators on the crenellations of the Consecralium as those injured by warpstone could be corrupted by Chaos energy in mere hours. [1d]

After most of the night, a cordon was established around the gnawholes near the docks. The priority was to corral the Stormfiends and luckily they were content to hold position whilst surrounded, causing as much property damage. Behind them, teams of ratmen hauled artillery pieces from the gnawholes they had constructed in the ruins of the Whaler’s Rest. Crackling beams of green lightning sent Stormcasts flashing back to Azyr. Thus Liberators split into six and charged the position from several directions at once, five were gunned down by ratling cannons, warpfire projectors and sparking lightning rays while the last nearly made before Rattachak sent a doomrocket that hit him and detonated in a deafening explosion of warp energy. The White Reaper ran hard towards the battle followed by Galen and Doralia. He took command of the Stormcast position and sent a bulwark of Paladins to clear the streets closest to the Consecralium to clear a route of reinforcement. Galen took to the roofs while Doralia climbed into the crow’s nest of a large nautical tavern made from the remains of a landlocked galleon to snipe Skaven, each bolt hitting between the eyes of a skaven. Galen defended the sniper’s nest while moving, ensuring every pistol shot or sword thrust hits a Skaven. Below them, the White Reaper fought at the front of the cordon raking a tally great than both the ven Densts put together.[1d]

Charge of the Knights Excelsior

Even if the main Skaven force was contained it would take months to root them out, time that Excelsis simply did not have. The White Reaper alongside Galen and Doralia, was trying to contain the skaven gnawholes and the Glimmerstretch, the main thoroughfare that ran through the city’s heart was cleared by his Paladins. Down the Glimmerstretch came an entire echelon of the Stormhost’s Extremis chamber, shouting their war cry ‘Era Draconis!’. Rattachak who did not expect such a destructive heavy cavalry strike in a built-up area was caught by surprise but to the Knights Excelsior, the collateral damage was worth the cost. The Thunderwave echelon charged at top speed into the hail of warpstone bullets and green-tinged flame sent towards them, most of the barrage stopped by the crackling energy that preceded the echelon like a bow wave or deflected by the massive, round shields of the Fulminators. While Rattachak's doomrocket and the barrage of warp lightning cannons took down many riders the sudden discorporations into lightning only cleared the way for those behind to reveal the mounted Sacrosanct reinforcements behind them.[1e]

The remaining riders smashed into the skaven position and even the largest of the skin-stitched monstrosities were torn apart by Dracoth mounts as the monstrous skaven despite their exceptional strength and enhancements relied on brute power alone compared to the well-drilled Stormcast Eternals. Crack teams of Evocators mounted on Dracolines chanted as one causing gnawholes to blacken and dwindle out of existence. Rattachak squealed in dismay and anger before running away to disappear into the flames.[1e]

However Cerrus Sentanus was caught off guard when he removed his mask to clean the gore from its sockets and a trio of Skaven on a rooftop used the chance to hit him with metal triskeles coated in warp poison causing him to fall to the floor. When Doralia tried to get him to get up and jokingly referred to the Hallowed Knights he remembered that Gardus had met a Slann and called Malanea to send her Star Eagle requesting Gardus to request help from the Seraphon. The Star Eagle turned into a blur of light and went in search of Gardus's aura in the Spiral Crux as the White Reaper finally collapsed from the poison.[1e]

Summoning of the Newborn

Meanwhile, in Ulgu the dual entity was known as the Newborn, Dexcessa and Synessa, the Voice were monitoring the battle. Their icon was the broken mirror as they considered themselves more beautiful than any other creature yet despised the very sight of their opposite number who was simply the other half of the same soul. Their ability to cast their will into the minds of others without their victim not noticing anything allowed them to use Maulgen and by extension his followers for their goals. Synessa had also convinced Rattachak to bring anarchy to Excelsis and despite the Skaven defeat the goal of weakening the city's defences was a success with the almost half a mile wide region in the dockyard area set ablaze despite the lashing rain. The triad of assassins at the head of the Gutter Runner forces had a mission that even Rattachak was unaware of. They infiltrated the Crystalfall region and entered the abandoned ballroom taken by Maulgen as his headquarters and watched the torture and executions. Watching from the other side of the broken mirrors, Synessa and Dexcessa grew stronger on each unwitting sacrifice. After the end of each execution, the skaven snuck in and broke as many mirrors as they could until every reflective surface in the ballroom was cracked but mostly intact. The triad of leaders anointed each of the glasses with aelven blood and recited the words they had been given in their dreams and for that, they would each be rewarded with the purest shadowstone. The screams of aelves and men mingled in the streets and the prophecies of every soothsayer grew more disturbing, hideous apparitions appeared within each broken mirror as the blood of aelves slain dribbled into the cracks. The greatest of the mirrors, confiscated from the former Grand Patriarch’s dressing room and split jaggedly down the middle, shivered and sang as a thin red sheen of blood spread out all the way across it. From one half came Synessa, from the other Dexcessa.[1f]

March of the Waaagh!

Alarielle's great ritual to revive the Oak of Ages Past unleashed and resulting release of Kragnos caused the combined raw energy and surging life force to become something warlike and fierce among the orruks. The Bonesplitterz being the most attuned of their kind to the raw energies of the gathering Waaagh! were the most affected with Wardokks and shamans seeing clouds in the form of half-stallions, leering shields and toppling towers, making the message of war clear. Eight days after Kragnos had broken free Warboss Gulgaz Stoneklaw arrived through the portal of Bantu’s Gate at the head of a horde of thousands of Bonesplitterz. From the frozen wastes of the Shatterland Floes came a troggherd from the Spiral Crux in Chamon led by the towering creature known as Glogg. Following it was a mile-long mob of troggoths of all kinds and a horde of squigs. From lairs across the Ghurish Heartlands, gargants lumbered sensing that something big was coming and it was time for the true Son of Behemat to take up his crown and become a godbeast. Some saw Kragnos as an impostor or a rival and met him in battle only to be crushed. In Rondhol, across the Mawbight from Thondia two great greenskin warlords Gordrakk, the Fist of Gork and Skragrott, the Loonking had joined forces to sack the stronghold of the Tuskvault. [1g]

Skragrott's cunning helped the Greenskin hordes immensely, he summoned the teeth of the Bad Moon to crack open the Tuskvault although the Fyreslayers collapsed the structure to deny them the Basha Shard. Despite the loss of the shard which is said to have come from Gorkamorka’s own club the orruks ended up enjoying the battle outside the Tuskvault against the Hammers of Sigmar and the Fyreslayers. Skragrott however had invested in learning the prophecies and omens that surrounded the rising, thumping drums of war he could hear in his dreams and had mercilessly interrogated captive scryers and prophets in his fungal asylum. When he looted glimmerings from an Excelsian trading caravan and force-fed them to the more lucid of his seers he gained visions of a mighty orruk warlord wielding three sacred artefacts of power, and he would use them to smash apart the greatest city of men in all of Ghur. In doing so, he would unite the tribes and capsize the Realm of Beasts in a new era of war. Skragrott intended to make himself the brains of the greenskin empire that would claim the Realm of Beasts. First was the skull of a godbeast, plucked from the lair of the Spider God’s children which was the Skull of Hammergord which was fashioned into a gigantic iron battering ram to unleash the power of Hammergord’s horns that was said to be able to shatter a mountain. The second relic, the Basha Shard which was denied to them. The Loonking sent Snazzgar Stinkmullet to convince Gordrakk to dig up the Basha Shard and go in search of the third relic but Gordrakk killed Stinkmullet and instead directed the Waaagh! towards Excelsis.[1g][1h]

Eastward Journey

Skragrott guided the army to a realmgate northeast of the Tuskvault known as the Gaping Portal, shaped like the jaws of a titanic shark from it poured the Sharptooth River. Those that could wade upstream without getting ripped apart and dive into the portal would emerge from Bantu’s Gate in southern Gallet, the nation to the south of Thondia. Hundreds of thousands of orruks and grots followed through the Gaping Portal and while a few thousand were torn apart by the Sharptooth River the rest were spat out from the other side mostly unharmed. The force regrouped and the drums of war thundered until every greenskin for miles around had the urge to find something to kill. [1i]

Gordrakk insisted on taking the straightest route to Excelsis, despite his grot scouts warning that it would be too close to Mekitopsar, a thick and deadly jungle prowled by Seraphon and into the haunted valleys of Carcass Donse. Skragrott was wise enough to avoid going against him, at least directly. The Loonking's seers had given him details of a vision that each of them had shared, a green fist being crunched between the jaws of a giant, saurian monster and he made it sure to avoid the Seraphon. He got the Shyishan Spiderfang known as the Grimscuttle that acted as the horde’s outriders to slowly and indiscernibly change the horde's path away from the Mekitopsar jungle and instead into the Mawpath of the Brokenjarl ogors. This would not only save many lives but also add a powerful tribe of ogors, Gutbuster and Beastclaw to their forces.[1i]

The more intelligent of Ogors were gathered by Skragrott who promised meat and ale and a full five-share of the citizens of Excelsis when the city was sacked or the equivalent number of Moonclan grots if the invasion fails. The ogor company consisting of Ogors taken from three mawtribes were given the duty to infiltrate Excelsis as neutral sellswords. Skragrott knew that the city's prophecies would allow them to know about the coming invasion and to begin shoring up defenses but hoped that the prophecies of the city were vague enough to recruit the ogors without realizing their deception. Further a splinter tribe of the Underguts would undermine the city's wall while the Maneaters handled the enlistment as mercenaries allowing Skragrott to easily enter the city with minimal danger.[3]

The growing Waaagh! pushed forward until less than a month after Gordrakk emerged from the portal in the south of Gallet, he stood on the lip of the vast canyon that was all that was left between him and the Coast of Tusks. After crossing the Carcass Donse, Excelsis would be within reach.[1i]

Clash of Giants

Kragnos after breaking free from his prison had fought his way across the land to Donse to reunite with his people and to break down the city of men that seemed to be claiming the Coast of Tusks for its own. He had made his way across the Ghurish Heartlands leaving the ground splintered and torn in his wake creating a great fissure that split the land of Thondia in two. He battled numerous tribes of Gargants on his way killing those that challenged him and sparing those that submitted and soon found himself dozen Gargant followers. When he finally returned to the land of the Drogrukh the once-proud nation had been reduced to a vast chasm, consumed by the continent of Andtor on one side and Thondia on the other. The only living things Kragnos could see were greenskins amassing a few miles to the south led by a hulking brute atop a scaly behemoth. Thinking them to be invaders he turned towards them while Gordrakk swiftly resolved to kill the giant creature.[1h][1i]

Gordrakk rode upon Bigteef towards Kragnos beating back a trio of Gargants in his path as the Bad Moon rose from the west. Kragnos charged through Orruks crushing them beneath while spells hurled by Gordrakk’s shamans had no effect against his shield. A knot of troggoths confronted him and one even landed a solid blow all burst apart by a blow from his mace. Gordrakk and Bigteef charged at Kragnos backed up by the war cry of a thousand orruks but titan’s war cry not only drowned them out but also caused the edges of the chasm to fall on hundreds of orruks below. Kragnos attacked with his great mace but the monster deflected the blow and escaped with only a broken wing. Gordrakk leapt to grab the enemy's arm and hacked at the titan’s wrist with his green-glowing choppa. Bigteef lunged to bite the god’s chest. Kragnos brought the shield down hard onto Bigteef’s skull again and again but the Maw-krusha's jaws were locked tight. Unable to dislodge either Gordrakk or his steed, Kragnos attempted to eat the orruk but was attacked Gordrakk's other axe which broke teeth and slashed his tongue. Kragnos spat out the axe, but the orruk climbed up and headbutted him causing him to reel in surprise. Bigteef released its jaws to go for a killing bite but the beast-god backhanded Bigteef away and slammed its mace into the Maw-krusha's chest. The Maw-Krusha was crushed against a huge rock causing all three combatants to be buried under rocks. [1i]

Kragnos recovered and moved towards Gordrakk as Bigteef muscled forward, broken but angry. Gordrakk stood defiant but Skragrott screamed towards the Bad Moon which dropped fangs of rocks in front of the beast-god. He turned to look straight at the leering moon and after a long moment, he grunted and looked at Gordrakk while pointing his mace towards Excelsis. Gordrakk then commanded the army to move towards the city.[1i]

Preparation for War

Excelsis still reeling from the skaven invasion and internal conflict found itself unable to properly prepare for the coming siege. However, unity was not entirely broken with human bucket chains bringing water from the harbour to areas worst affected by flames and everything from soup tureens to wheelbarrows to the wax-sealed craniums of dead gargants were used to keep the blazes at bay. Gate taxation doubled, then tripled and the proceeds from exported glimmerings allowed the city to quickly fill its coffers but only to be emptied, spent on duardin earthworkers to build mobile artillery emplacements, Kharadron fleets to patrol the skies, and mercenaries of a hundred different stripes from barbarian warriors from Lendu and Bjarl, Fyreslayers from Blazeroarer Isle across the Clawing Sea, and even a trio of Shyishan Necromancers who claimed to have renounced Nagash’s dictates to better study the resurrection of monstrous beasts. [1j]

The Ogors sent by Skragrott were led by Tyrant Glottor Bhulk while Bullag the Thief led a elite group of Maneaters and was responsible for handling negotiations. The Ogor force was divided into two to avoid suspicion and the hundreds-strong company of ogor sellswords made harbour from the south under Bullag while Glottor led the other force from the main gate. The paymasters of made haste to strike a deal promising a barrel of meat and ale every day in exchange for fighting the orruks. The paymasters attempted combining food and drink in the same barrel, but as the result was so delicious and the ogors were not going to honour their agreement anyway they let it slide. [1j][3]

The Knights Excelsior together with the Order of Azyr and the more hardline Freeguild companies tirelessly hunted down the last of the skaven that had infiltrated the city during Rattachak’s assault, incinerating their warrens in controlled burns. Lord-Castellants assisted in fortifying the city’s walls, draping the most well-defended towers and strong points with banners of gargoyles and griffons which act like waving a rag to an enraged bull to the orruks. Spiked punji pits and transplanted copses of trees outside the city would funnel enemies into killing fields and the training grounds echoed day and night to the sounds of musket and cannon fire. Many houses in the Veins were turned into sniper’s nests and ammunition stores while bridges over alleyways included murder holes, and household stairs were rigged to cause them to collapse to the weight of an orruk dropping it into a pile of stakes. Every man, woman and child over the age of ten was expected to fight to the death if needed and many being Ghurish did not attempt to avoid their duty.[1j]

With Wanderers and Order Serpentis agents leaving the city as well as Privateers the city lost its awareness of the surrounding regions. The Darkling Covens stayed behind due to their heavy investment in the Citadel Tenebris which was often assailed by chanting mobs. When news of the Fall of Anvilgard came alongside the role of the Darkling Covens in the coup, the hostility became even more overt. Operating under armed guard, the Collegiate Arcane had enchanted the main gates with runes of sanctity and strength as the Vanguard riders of the Astral Templars had of entire families of gargants as well a battering ram that could break even a Stormkeep into rubble. Potent enchantments were inscribed on cannonballs and Helstorm rockets, thrice-blessed bullets were handed out amongst the Freeguild and Ironweld marksmen while every morning the city’s plazas rang to the sound of fervent Sigmarite prayer. The White Reaper's message, sent via the star-eagle Brightclaw through the Varantia Portal to Chamon’s Spiral Crux, had reached Gardus Steel Soul of the Hallowed Knights. The Lord-Celestant did not know that simply meditating upon the nature of that creature opened an astral link of sorts with its consciousness, for Gardus had been marked as a fulcrum of fate in the Great Plan. Lord Kroak appeared to him in a dream confirming that his message was received and despite not talking revealed the importance of the event alongside the release of an ancient threat and a brand new threat to the Mortal Realms making at the heart of the Crystalfall. Lord Kroak appeared above the Serpentanis to the excitement of skinks. Kroak hidden by magic secretly placed his own runes of protection on the city gates and casted geomantic spells to calm the land. [1j]

The sudden celebrations in Serpentanis while ignored by the city attracted the attention of Doralia ven Denst who sought the counsel of the Starpriest. It claimed that a great force had arrived in the city and that all be well but hid the fact that Lord Kroak considers the destruction of Excelsis an acceptable loss if it could keep Kragnos occupied long enough for the realmgates of the Ghurish Heartlands to be sealed reducing the risk of the End of Empires threatening Azyr.[1j]

Siege of Excelsis

Excelsis have faced the orruks many times but nothing on such a scale and if the miles-long curtain wall is breached the city will most likely be finished. Rumours about Crystalfall including reports of missing people around it and glimmering-gleaned visions of hideous winged queens hatching from bejewelled chrysalises to scream triumph at a smoke-filled sky were largely ignored as there was no time to investigate them. As the quarantine wall built by duardin masons to last centuries was intact it was considered a lesser issue. [1k]

Two days after the appearance of the Greenskin horde from the west of the city, a fleet of ramshackle vessels with masts flying the tusked skull hove into view. The naval force was made of a collection of shipwrecks, poorly strapped together and armed with ramshackle trebuchets. To the famous fleetmaster Arika Zenthe and her fellow aelven privateers, it would have been laughable but they had abandoned the city. While indigenous sea monsters destroyed a third of the fleet, it sailed steadily towards Excelsis. In the dockyards, burnt-out buildings were dismantled to make barricades, rough palisades and crow’s nest shooting galleries. [1k]

Protecting the city were well-prepared soldiers and determined city folk, many descending from the Reclaimed that fought against the forces of Chaos and lived to tell the tale. Thanks to the city’s wealth from the trade of glimmerings the defenders were well armed with guns, muskets, cannons, Helstorm Rocket Batteries and even a number of Steam Tanks while the walls bristled with firepower. Lord-Castellant Meloria Evenblade called the first shot, the light of her lantern signalling from the taller of the asymmetrical spires atop the Master Gatehouse and half a hundred cannons answered her call. They targeted the giants among the army as they were the biggest threat to the city’s walls. First came a troggherd, with several Dankhold Troggoths that appeared as gargants from a distance. While the cannonade blasted several they kept lumbering forward some even looking at their fallen limbs. They were stupid to run away and their rapid regeneration allowed them to heal their wounds and even regrow missing limbs. From the front lines came a huge, interlocking set of mantlets made of sharpened galewood trees, each trunk the width of a man’s waist taken from former palisade walls of frontier towns. They were carried by gargants and within this moving wooden fortress was a colossal battering ram made from the Hammergord's Skull carried by a dozen lesser gargants.[1k]

Siege of the Seven Towers

Excelsis’s western gate which was the main entrance to the city was defended by a massive gatehouse tower and flanked by three more on each side. Lord-Castellant Evenblade of the Knights Excelsior coordinated the city’s defence from the spires that capped the Westgate Tower. She directed the cannons of the seven towers to target the horde and the gargants as it was clear that troggoths were simply a distraction. She sent runners to the Ironweld strongpoint of the Gauntlet, the area beyond the main gates that the city’s engineers had turned into a killing field and seven to the leaders of the Collegiate Arcane stationed atop the seven towers to avoid members of the Nullstone Brotherhood who still roamed below. The Gyrocopters and bombers of the city’s sky battalions took flight en masse, covered by low-hanging clouds conjured by the Collegiate wizards’ tower-mounted Hurricanums. A cavalry charge for suicidal due to the sheer numbers of the enemy but they lacked aerial assets. Thus the aerial bombardment managed to halt the troggherd;s advance. The troggoths trying to swat in the direction of gyrocopters held up the advance of the gargants and the battering ram but the orruk mobs that formed the flanks flowed around them.[1l]

Then one of the gyrocopters was hit by a hurled boulder and crashed into the mass of orruks and grots. Then the gargants behind the mantlet-carriers followed filling the air with debris and even ribs of dead monsters were used as boomerangs. A cherry-red craft with an impressive array of guns known as the Scarlet Scourge, the squadron regrouped half a mile away from the gargants flying as high as they could but Bigteef suddenly ambushed them catching one Gyrocopter while Gordrakk sunk his axes into the hull of the Scarlet Scourge. Gordrakk hacked at the Scarlet Scourge’s rotor engine with one axe while hanging onto its fuselage with the other as it spiralled into the ground. The surviving aircraft hauled retreated to the cover of the low-lying clouds. However the orruks were now in the range of long-rifle handgunners on the walls and they concentrated fire on the leaders, bullseyeing several with each passing minute but it was too late as orruks no needed their leadership and The Waaagh! itself was a sonic assault that drowned out the orders and clarions of the gun line atop the battlements of the seven towers even as it empowered the gibbering, green-eyed shamans vomiting gouts of primal magic below. The largest gargants were flinging boulders that landed with on the defenders to shatter ramparts or crush tightly packed gunners atop the walls. The artillery was now desperately concentrating on the vast, bull-headed battering ram but the cannonballs had no effect on the petrified bone which was inherently magical and could not be undone by mere physical attacks. The gargants on the other hand did get wounded but were empowered by the raw greenskin energy of the Waaagh! and were intoxicated to the point that all they cared about was wreaking utter destruction allowing them to shrug off the damage. When the battering ram was a hundred metres from the gates Gordrakk leapt on the ram and raised his axes high. Then the ram struck the rune-inscribed gates of Excelsis causing the runes of Lord Kroak to flare up with a blinding light. With an ear-splitting crack, the skull of Hammergord shattered into a thousand pieces.[1l]

Meanwhile, the Grand Conclave under Grand Matriarch Yarga-Sjuhan was directing the forces of the city from the secret Augurium Ahamber in the Palace Excelsium. The entirety of the chamber floor was carved from prophecy-infused crystal mined from the Spear of Mallus, forming a stratified map of the City of Secrets and the surrounding coastline. The augurium showed possible futures interpreted by dozens of Collegiate seers giving a significant advantage to the city's commanders. When a vision showed the city being invaded by an army of Hedonites led by Sigvald and Glutos Orscollion the Grand Conclave began debating on destroying the city to deny the invaders the Spear of Mallus. The conclave was interrupted by a skink priest who then showed a vision of the same Hedonite host encamped in a gloomy jungle, surrounded by corpses of Seraphon Saurus and Chaos-worshippers. In the aftermath of this battle, a rift opened between Sigvald and Glutos leading to a clash between their forces. While they may eventually attack the city they would be too late. However, Excelsis was already facing a Greenskin army of a million and the Skink could not answer about the ultimate fate of the city.[2]

Shattering of the Walls

The blast sent Gordrakk flying to the battlements of the Westgate Tower. The Freeguilders moved in for an easy victory as the orruk warlord remained knocked out. The gunners of the seven towers also kept on sending deadly fusillades every few seconds while boiling tar, imported Aqshian vitriol and heated lead was spewed from gargoyle-spouts and poured through murder holes wherever the walls overhung the orruks below. Mega-Gargants that tried to smash the walls were met by salvos of Helstorm rockets. At the Westgate Tower, Bigteef jumped onto the parapet and unleashed a roar that sent freeguilders toppling with blood trickling from their noses, ears and mouths. Gordrakk awoke and quickly sprang into action, hacking through the confused defenders. [1m]

Then, bursting from the rocky spires to the southeast, came Kragnos, the End of Empires leading a charge of a hundred Gore-Grunta cavalry. His charge started some distance away but came at an oblique angle and curved in to align with the walls as he came in from the flank at speed. The ground cracked under his hooves, fissures forming in all directions as the earth shook causing spires to topple and shanties to collapse all over Excelsis. Lord-Castellant Evenblade shouted for the towers’ artillerists to open fire at will but only a few could retrain their cannons and Helstorm Rocket Batteries on Kragnos and they found their firepower useless against the giant beasts who came like a living meteor and hit the walls of the city.[1m]

His charge hit the wall so hard that an entire section collapsed and then he shoulder-barged another massive section to rubble. After this he galloped parallel to the wall, keeping the Dread Mace raised so its head crashed through one crenellation after another while the impacts of his hooves shattered the ground at the wall’s base. With the curtain wall collapsing the Gore-grunta riders pushed up the tumbled rock and into the city beyond. With the artillerists focusing on Kragnos, three of the Mega-Gargants on the north side of the assault managed to reach the city, destroying the walls with titanic clubs and flails and then elbowing to widen the breach. As Kragnos’ assault reached a crescendo and the earthquake of his anger sent its fissures ever deeper, an entire half-mile section of the walls collapsed entirely to reveal the skaven-dug warrens that had undermined them.[1m]

Invasion from Crystalfall

The abandoned ballroom of the Nullstone Brotherhood had been turned into a daemon-infested tumour in the heart of the Crystalfall, its interior a turned into a palace of flesh. Aelven corpses writhed under unholy light and burst into swarms of multicoloured butterflies. Heralds Luxion and Vresca held high their magical mirror to absorb the glimmering butterflies and send them to Slaanesh as each was created by an aelf-soul, desired by the Dark Prince. The sound of the curtain wall collapsing signalled the daemon horst to burst out. [1n]

Dexcessa led the charge and turned the quarantine wall into cracked glass while Synessa with a single word caused the vitrified wall to shatter in a hurricane of shards. Into the city poured the daemon procession, Luxion and Vresca at the head with their sacred mirror borne between two blade-wheeled chariots. Citizens of Excelsis fell back in horror as all able-bodied citizens were fighting on the walls. They went straight for Squallside, where the stormstone townhouses of those rich enough to buy their way out of military service rose high. Those who witnessed Dexcessa’s splendour or heard Synessa’s voice became enthralled and joined the procession in a dance.[1n]

The Slaaneshi host came upon a field hospital, in the Gildensquare, where the medics and wounded soldiers took weapons or even surgical equipment to fight against the daemons but were easily wiped out. Luxion and Vresca brought their great mirror into the fray, those last few survivors who caught their reflection went mad in an instant, cutting at themselves and their fellows before dying in panicked ecstasy. By the time the twins reached the Palace Excelsium, their carnival had included people from all walks of life, all artfully spattered with gore by the daemon riders that corralled them forward. With scant military forces to stop them, the way was open to the heart of the city.[1n]

Battle at the Curtain Wall

With two sections of the city’s ramparts having tumbled, one because of Kragnos’ rampage, the other through a combination of gargantuan brute force and hidden skaven cunning the two forces that were divided by the wall clashed and the press of bodies was so thick that it was hard to see beyond the point of a sword. From the breached areas orruks surged forwards and the defenders of the city desperately tried to hold the line. The Knights Excelsior formed a bulwark, cutting down invaders with ruthless precision but were heavily outnumbered thus the bright-uniformed Freeguilders filled the areas the Stormcasts could not. However they were outmatched by the hordes of Orruks that came pouring in, spear blocks of the Stormblessed regiment found the tips of their weapons turned aside by the thick iron of the brutes that led the charge and even when spears they sank into orruk flesh the greenskins simply broke the shafts with their hands and pushed onwards to hack their wielders. The Bronze Claws, the halberdier regiment that was the pride of Squallside, charged to plug the breach created by Kragnos but were overrun by an avalanche of Gore-grunta cavalry. The Coldguard, the city’s de facto law enforcers in peacetime, tried to stop a tribe of near-naked savage orruks and despite managing to inflict considerable casualties found their weapons useless against their leader, Gulgaz Stoneklaw. The orruk Big Boss did not fall despite taking many wounds and single-handedly broke the Coldguard lines. The remnants of his tribe followed him to rampage in the streets.[1o]

Suddenly, lightning strikes from the sky brought Astral Templars who stood alongside the Knights Excelsior. When orruk leaders appeared a bearded Paladin would take them on in single combat while gargants were faced by Astral Templars that leapt from broken battlements to land atop their shoulders to hack at its neck. Gordrakk himself was assailed by four armoured Stormcasts who fought with long hafted blades but Bigteef crushed two of them while the Fist of Gork finished off the other two. Spearheads of Astral Templars launched counter-attacks to hack their way to the largest targets. Six gargants were cut down due to the efforts of an entire Warrior chamber and a pair of Mawkrushas faced Lord-Celestant Darrakos and his Stardrake Andromandus but the celestial beast managed to bait them and leading them away from Excelsis while also causing them to crush scores of orruks on the way. The massive Dankhold Troggoth known as Glogg was surrounded but took out half a dozen Astral Templars down in seconds with its club until a levitating Lord-Arcanum withered the troggoth’s arm to nothing who was in turn burnt to the bone by a torrent of vomit spewed by Glogg. When Glogg eventually fell it had taken out eight more Stormcasts, three Dracoths and a Gryph-hound and the surviving Templars were soon overwhelmed by orruks.[1o]

The situation on the bay around the Spear of Mallus was also turning bad to the defenders. The ramshackle flotilla of orruk vessels had taken massive casualties at the hand of the Angelos conclaves of the Knights Excelsior and the sea monsters prowling the bay. The catapult artillery was useless against the swift vanguard riders of the Astral Templars who easily dealt with the greenskins on the beach. Suddenly a score of massive Kraken-eater Mega-Gargants rose from the waves and the Astral Templars roared in jubilation, seeking a battle whose tales would last a long time but the Knights Excelsior remained silent as there was no way to stop the seaborne assault.[1o]

War in the City's Heart

The Greenskins that poured into the city from the breaches, the harbour and even from the tunnels below the city broke through the defenders to rampage through the city streets. Kragnos after destroying large sections of the reached the gate itself and Mega-Gargants had done the same in the north wall and harbour. But Kragnos wanted to make a statement and reared high like a bucking stallion as handgunners and rocketsmen desperately fired at his torso. Then he brought both forefeet down upon the gate at once, slamming his mace between them at the same time, overloading the runic protections that sent the gate flying in three pieces to crash into the merchant buildings. Kragnos charged into the city while the Stormcasts hopelessly attempted to fight the god as the ground shattered below them.[1p]

At the northernmost section of the wall, the body of Warstomper Gronk blocked the breach creating a wall of flesh that blocked the orruks but not the skittering Grimscuttle tribes whose dexterous arachnid mounts attacked the Liberators barricading the streets while Moonclan grots flowed from undermined tunnels. With the Freeguild regiments battling on the towers, a company of Excelsian ogor mercenaries held the flank. Then came Skragrott, his moon-staff held high and his crown of boss-fungus glowing sickly green as the Bad Moon leered out from behind the clouds and with long shout signaled the ogors who suddenly attacked the Knights Excelsior. The Liberators' shield wall was smashed apart while tendrils of green magic from Skragrott’s staff wrenched Judicators from their sniper’s nests and dropped them to the streets below. Thus the northern wall fell.[1p]

Reinforcements from the Sea

From the harbour, Derko Walrusbiter led the Kraken-eaters sent by Skragrott and after stepping over the Astral Templars who had tried to stop them, they moved towards the inner city alongside their greenskin allies, demolishing everything in their path. Derko only realized something was wrong when he felt a stinging feeling in his back which suddenly turned into searing agony as gargants fell around him, their backs filled with long steel shafts dripping poison. From the mists of the harbour, a hundred tall ships emerged, many sleek black wolfships of the Scourge Privateers led by a Black Ark with a skull-like prow and a multitude of sails. As it entered the bay, the fleet sent volleys of poisoned harpoons to land on the naked gargants.[1p]

Derko ran back and dived into the water emerging back to grab hold of the Black Ark’s prow, snapping off the tip of its figurehead and using it to smash the front of the giant ship. Shadows with a set of giant wings and a serpentine body wrapped around his torso and head and coalesced into the Shadow-Queen that ripped Derko’s massive head from his neck. Thanks to Fleetmaster Zenthe having briefed the captains on the harbour’s ways, they were able to act swiftly and land hundreds of Witch Aelves followed by hundreds more, gladiatrices who leapt straight into the melee. Trapped between the Astral Templars and the aelves the greenskin naval force was quickly wiped out.[1p]

Within the narrow streets, orruks were forced to split into smaller groups causing the cumulative psychological drive of the Waaagh! to grow weaker. Lord Kroak had foreseen that meeting them at the gates would only inflame their bestial soul and to break the green tide it should lose its momentum and then be dashed apart on the rocks of civilization. The Daughters of Khaine excelled in fighting in narrow streets and shadows but the orruks still fought hard but as day turned to night, they found their momentum waning. Morathi-Khaine, led the army in both her forms using it as an opportunity to exult in her power as a goddess. When an orruk leader roared in challenge to the High Oracle and charged her she simply choked him with living shadow while a riderless Maw-krusha was sent flying by the Shadow-Queen.[1q]

Battle in the Palace Excelsium

Galen and Doralia fought their way towards Excelsis’s heart alongside the White Reaper. When they entered the Palace Excelsium they found the floor littered with corpses and dismembered limbs with the corpse of Maulgen at the center. Within the Conclave Hall the battle still raged but Grand Matriarch Yarga-Sjuhan was being controlled like a marionette while her all-female honour guard also enthralled were dancing around her with their runic greatswords about to strike their mistress. Before her, a gigantic winged demigod so beautiful and awful it hurt to look at it, was puppeteering them while another expansively winged daemon was tearing down a tapestry depicting the aelven pantheon’s victory over Slaanesh. Around them was a throng of Daemonettes. Galen and Doralia sent a barrage of nullstone bullets and rune-inscribed stakes to strike the daemon giants in their backs causing the spell upon Yarga-Sjuhan and her warriors to break. Grand Matriarch roared a command the soldiers broke their amberbone necklaces, instantly growing more animalistic as the realmstone’s magic unleashed the beast within. The frenzied guards launched attacked Synessa, greatblades as it screamed. Cerrus Sentanus came running cutting down Daemonettes with his sword while his lantern's light incinerated others.[1q]

Dexcessa shot forward, moving too fast to follow it pulled apart the honour guard. Synessa summoned a broken mirror carried by a giant, half-real hand with talons but Doralia dispelled it before the magic took effect shattering the spell into a thousand glass serpents. Sentanus swept Yarga-Sjuhan aside moments before Dexcessa’s sceptre descended to crush her. The White Reaper dueled Dexcessa but was easily defeated by the daemon who ripped Sentanus’ arm from his socket and pierced his throat and his heart. But before he was defeated the Reaper shoved his lantern into the daemon’s gullet and roared the words of banishment his order had kept sacred since the Age of Chaos. The light of Sigmar burst out from the creature just as Sentanus died.[1q]

Galen's barrage of nullstone shots caused Synessa to screech in pain as the substance was anathema to daemons. It hurtled towards the ven Densts but Galen put a bullet in the creature’s eye and at the same time Doralia aimed her crossbow and launched a stake with the name ‘Sigmar Unberogen’ etched upon it in finest celestium causing Synessa to burst apart into a thousand butterflies.[1q]

Battle of Gods and Monsters

Morathi confronted Kragnos after crossing the Grand Plaza, the End of Empires was busy destroying the townhouses of Squallside. Kragnos turned towards her with an expression of rage and bellowed loudly galloping towards her, buildings collapsing on either side. Morathi saw an anomaly in the dust and focused to pierce the shroud of invisibility. She saw a complex, floating machine of twisting half-circles, an orrery of stone with an ancient, mummified magepriest at its heart. In the streets beyond it with flashes of bright blue, the warriors and horned warbeasts of the Seraphon were joining the hunt of the orruks. Morathi turned the shadows of buildings into tentacles that wrapped around Kragnos but were repelled. Then Morathi sent five lances of poisoned gore which dissipated in a crimson cloud without even hitting Kragnos. Lord Kroak suddenly became visible and meteors streaked from nowhere, each hurled straight at Kragnos but when the beastial god raised his shield, all the magic burned out and the rocks shattered upon the shield. A swarm of silver-blue serpents rushed from the side streets beneath Lord Kroak but were devoured by a fissure that opened in the ground before closing with a thunderous crash of rock. [1q]

Kragnos came towards Morathi and raised his great mace but the Shadow Queen suddenly appeared to spear the centaur-god through the shoulder with Heartrender, as her mane of serpents bit deep into his neck. Whipping coils wrapped around his torso and in turn, he managed to bite the serpentine monster. The two giants toppled as Morathi-Khaine retreated to a safe position. Realizing they cannot easily defeat Kragnos she called out to Lord Kroak who was sending bolts of multicoloured light down at Kragnos that were repelled. Morathi recommended redirecting Kragnos and the slann sent her a barrage of visions. The Slann opened a portal in the plaza below, from the portal was a vast dreadfort with southern Bjarl’s peaks on the horizon. Upon the portal, Mortahi created an illusion of Draconith Spires in their prime, majestic amber-scaled dragons soaring high above them. In the Plaza Kragnos has gained the upper hand over the Shadow Queen was about to deal a killing blow before Morathi-Khaine turned her counterpart to a slithering shadow. Kragnos turned towards Morathi-Khaine and Lord Kroak but was distracted by a dragon’s cry and turned towards the portal. He looked behind and saw that Lord Kroak has summoned hails of glowing meteors that were crushing the orruks. Kragnos turned towards Morathi-Khaine and after sending a threat which Morathi understood as ‘This is not over.’ he charged straight through the portal.[1q]

Aftermath

Excelsis was pulled back from the brink from the destruction but it would take decades or even centuries to fully recover from the disaster. [1q]

Synessa and Dexcessa were not only banished from Excelsis but it happened suddenly and in an undignified way. While in the Circle of Indolence they met Be’lakor. The Newborn mocked the Dark Master for his failure at the Siege of Vindicarum and the lack of cursed skies in Ghur, comparing it to their success in creating divisions among Humans and Aelves as well as sitting on the throne of Excelsis. Be’lakor replied that the cursed skies are spreading and reminded them they barely held the throne for an hour. After noting the deity that appeared in Vindicarum the Dark Master departed.[1q]

In the Palace Excelsium’s Conclave Hall, Morathi was judged for betrayal by the Celestant-Prime. Morathi defended herself claiming that as she was never under Sigmar she did not commit treason and her actions in Excelsis showed that she acted in the greater good and as a god she could as she pleased. Celestant-Prime picked up Ghal Maraz and when it appeared to turn into a battle Grungni appeared and requested clemency for Morathi as they got work to do.[1q]

A group of swamp dwelling orruks living near the Chaos Dreadhold of the Dreadspine Fortress. Due to the sounds and ground shaking an orruk responsible for being a lookout climbed up a crawler-oak and watched the spires collapse using a looted telescope. It saw Kragnos which is recognised as the legendary centaur-god and quickly brought the new information to their shaman.[1q]

Sources

  • 1: Broken Realms: Kragnos
    • 1a: Tumult Arcana, pg.18-19
    • 1b: Tensions Run High, pg.20-21
    • 1c: Something Rotten in Excelsis, pg.22-23
    • 1d: They Came From Below, pg.24-25
    • 1e: Charge of the Knights Excelsior, pg.26-27
    • 1f: From a Dark, Unholy Union, pg.28-29
    • 1g: Skragrott’s Muster, pg.40-41
    • 1h: On the Warpath, pg.42-43
    • 1i: The Journey East , pg.44-49
    • 1j: Distant Thunder, pg.52-53
    • 1k: The Oncoming Horde , pg.56-57
    • 1l: The Seven Towers Besieged, pg.58-59
    • 1m: The Shattering Blow , pg.60-61
    • 1n: The Voice and the Talon , pg.62-63
    • 1o: To Strike Like Lightning , pg.64-65
    • 1p: Gods and Monsters , pg.66-67
    • 1q: The City’s Dark Heart , pg.68-75
  • 2: Broken Realms Fiction – Premonitions on Warhammer Community
  • 3: White Dwarf June 2021, pg.58-67