Warcry Catacombs: Blood of the Everchosen

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Warcry Catacombs: Blood of the Everchosen is a Warcry novel by Richard Strachan. Set in the Bloodwind Spoil, it follows three different warbands as they hunt down an infant believed to be Archaon's heir.

Plot

In a miserable collection of hovels known as Spite, a woman named Ilthis dies giving birth to a baby boy. The town headman and his cronies come to burn the child alive, as superstition demands of any child born on the Day of Black Feast, but Ilthis' husband Ankhad refuses and escapes with the child. He flees into the Fangs, an inhospitable mountain range full of predators.

Portents of the child and his importance appear to seers across the Bloodwind Spoil. Burak, Heart-eater of the Split-Tongue Untamed Beasts tribe, tells his followers they must murder the infant to gain Archaon's favour. Ashrath Silenthis, Trueblood of the Horned Krait Splintered Fang tribe, is told of the child's importance by his Serpent Caller, Ma'sulthis. Rakaros, Blazing Lord of the Burned Hand Scions of the Flame warband, sees visions of the child in a pyre his followers light to sacrifice a beggar, and strikes out from a temple in Carngrad which the Burned Hand seized from the Horned Krait, determined to burn the child alive as an offering to Archaon.

All three warbands close in on the Fangs, where Ankhad is managing to keep in the child alive on a diet of water and beast blood. However, each warband suffers from leadership tension: Burak's brother and First Fang, Kurguth, covets leadership of the Split-Tongue tribe and doubts Burak's purity because he has begun collecting iron trophies. His doubts are spurred on by the tribe's Beastspeaker, Mayra, who is also Kurguth's lover. Among the Horned Krait, morale his been low since they were driven from their temple, and those who doubt Ashrath's leadership look instead to Essiltha, an aelven Pureblood. Rakaros maintains a firm grip on the Burned Hand, but his Inferno Priest Votremos secretly thinks him too prideful and unworthy of carrying out their mission in the Eightpoints.

The Burned Hand come across a village whose inhabitants sacrifice their children to beastmen in return for being left in peace, and kill everyone except a young woman named Aceria whose milk they need for the infant. Votremos gives Aceria a knife, believing that having a weapon will stop her from simply fleeing to her death before the Burned Hand are done with her, and instead encourage her to plan a more careful but predictable escape. They survive an ambush by the beastmen preying on Aceria's village and are the first to find Ankhad and kill him, seizing the child, whose name is Allarik.

The Burned Hand discover the ruins of an ancient city dating back to the Age of Myth, but the Horned Krait trigger an avalanche which wipes out half the Burned Hand in one stroke. Ashrath launches an ambush, hoping to kill Rakaros and destroy the Burned Hand in revenge for driving them from their temple, but Rakaros proves Ashrath's superior in single combat. However, the skirmish is interrupted by a strike force of Stormcast Eternals sent to the Eightpoints by Sigmar to kill the child. Rakaros and Ashrath both flee their attack; Rakaros is surrounded by Horned Krait Clearbloods and stabbed to death, while Ashrath is cornered by a Stormcast. Essiltha kills the Stormcast, saving Ashrath's life, and then saves him a second time when the violence of the Stormcast soul's return to Azyr death knocks him over a cliff.

Aceria takes advantage of the chaos to flee with Allarik, but is cornered by Ma'sulthis, whose snake Kathenga hypnotises her into handing the baby over. Before she can, however, a Stormcast bolt beheads Kathenga and the shooter cuts Ma'sulthis down. Aceria flees the Stormcast but is caught by Votremos, to whom she gives the baby as a distraction before stabbing him to death with his own knife. Unfortunately, Aceria's luck runs out when the Split-Tongue tribe arrive on the scene, having detected the Stormcasts on their trail and given them the slip in order to set them on their rivals instead. Burak takes possession of Allarik while his Preytaker, Ekrah, kills Aceria.

The Stormcast Eternals win the three-sided battle, forcing the handful of surviving Horned Krait to flee while the Burned Hand are wiped out. The Stormcasts set off in pursuit of the Split-Tongue tribe, determined to seize Allarik. Ashrath, Essiltha and the four surviving Horned Krait Clearbloods pursue the Stormcasts, but Ashrath quickly gets them lost and Essiltha finally loses patience, poisoning Ashrath and leaving him for dead. Ashrath survives by cutting off his own arm and sets off after the child alone.

Sources