Once Upon A Time In The Empire
Through the Crystal Ball
Lightning Strikes. You see flashes of yourselves, dying, at the hands of your enemies: greenskins, mutants, cultists, daemons, and one particular dark elf witch. But you haven’t met RATHEL yet.
It seems all your enemies fight under the one banner of one being. A face flashes in your minds eye. A horned visage that will forever haunt your nightmares. Thunder cracks. Your vision clears.
A voice in the darkness says: A storm is coming. A storm of Chaos.
“The spires of Altdorf pierce a troubled sky. A maelstrom of dusk lit clouds block out the heavens.
The voice says: The forces of chaos will pour south from the frozen wastes. Greenskins flock to their banner, and other fell forces make strange alliances, plotting the fall of man.
Your vision sinks far below and away from the lofty palaces to the dark alleys and streets beneath the capital. It is quiet here, unusually deserted.
You see a gloomy cobblestone street. You can smell sewerage, and a whiff of brimstone on the wind. A figure strides down the street, his feet splashing through stagnant puddles. He wears a dark cloak, but beneath it you can tell he is clad in resplendent armour, pinned with accolades and pennants that rustle beneath the thick fabric. Across his back sits a massive shield, one that has seen a lot of combat.
Another few turns and he’s in a dark alley, very close to the wall. A distant roar can be heard, like that of an arena crowd. No light penetrates this little crevice of the city. Arminius takes a lantern from his belt, and lights it. From a pouch he draws a strip of parchment. On it, a dozen small symbols, most of them crossed out. He peers at a nearby doorway, searching its frame to find on the corner of the frame, a symbol that matches.
He knocks and the spyhole slides open. A pair of eyes size him up. They narrow and the slide starts to close. In a flash Arminius draws and plunges his sword through the grill. An expertly placed kick and the door bangs open, Arminius stepping over the doorkeepers corpse.
Inside is a chamber lit by candles, three men in hooded cloaks look round from their work. They’re furious at being interrupted, the strange sigils they’ve just drawn on the stone wall evaporate before your eyes.
Daggers are drawn and the three cultists rush Arminius. He catches their blows expertly on his shield, ducking and weaving. His sword finds flesh and his shield cracks skulls.
The last cultist crawls forward into a chalked circle on the ground, but quickly receives a boot to the ribs that makes him roll over. Arminius’ targe is jammed under his chin. He presses down on his shield, crushing the cultists throat under the weight. But then he stops.
“I have questions” But the cultist only smiles.
A winged daemon materialises in the air behind Arminius and tears a into his neck. He screams and falls.
The Voice says: But this corruption and disorder did not come from the north, it began here, at the heart of the Empire, in the Reikland. The rot had already set in.
The massive harpy takes flight, clawing its way up the chimney and into the air above Altdorf. It twirls higher and higher, mingling with the smoke of a dozen small fires burning across the city. The daemon finds a perch on the spire of the Temple of Sigmar. It shrieks with glee.
Its perch is disturbed when boulder sails through the air and shatters the bell tower beneath it. More rocks and foolhardy Orcs plummet into the densely packed houses of the palatz district, hurled by unseen catapults. Altdorf is under siege.
The harpy looks for fresh meat and spies it in the centre of Altdorf. An ornate four poster bed can be seen below through a high window in the palace keep.
The harpy dives, smashing through the glass like some sort of man bat. Doctors run screaming from the room or huddle in its corners as the creature flaps above the bed-ridden figure, ready to claim another victim.
A wooden club flashes out and brains the harpy, bringing it to heel. A Shallyan priest in simple robes, Grail, but older, grizzled, and with one eye hidden behind an eyepatch, steps out from the shadows. Muscles bunching, the daemon launches itself at him but he barely manages to put the club, in fact simply a table leg, into the creatures maw. It snaps at Grail, gnawing at the wood like a buzzsaw, pushing him back, its wings scrabbling to find purchase in the room. Incense is overturned; medicine vials smashed and the bed’s drapes are ripped by the things claws as they tussle around the room. Finally the creature wrenches the club away and spits it out, only to find it replaced with a dagger.
Grail stomps the creature to the floor, stabbing it repeatedly and snapping its wing bones. Exhausted, he gestures for the doctors to leave. They drag the beast from the room and Grail approaches the four poster bed. A white glow fills the air around him as his hands quest for the sickly body. But then he flinches. The figure begins to rise. The man is unrecognizable, his face looks to him and plague postules pulse across his skin, belching acrid mist as the He opens his mouth and a distortedly long tongue rolls out.
Graille expression of compassion turns to one of anger. His eyes blaze white. When another boulder smashes through the wall behind him. Through the hole you glimpse a vast army massing outside the walls Altdorf.
Graille’s light is extinguished by the rubble and our vision movies down the corridor. More holes are made as catapults rain down fire, stone and orcs on the palace.
The Voice says: It was here at home that Elves, Men and Dwarves failed to put aside their conflict, to stand together against the darkness. The end is here. Only heroes blessed by fate will have any chance to save the Empire before it crumbles.
The wall shatters again.