Strange trilling calls echoed through the fenlands. Lean forms, clad in jade and gold, splashed swiftly through the dark waters. The scent of death-magic was strong on the night wind, even as the Unseen had promised. The mortal had offered his Tzaangor allies first pickings – if they could break through the dead, now massing at the ruined watchtower known as the Wickenmotte. A test of their loyalties and strength, both.
Tzekmek, Great Changer of the Barrowflock, had accepted that challenge, and gladly. There was strong magic in those ruins, and with it, he might raise a flux-cairn capable of warping the turgid landscape of the Ghost Bat Bog into something more pleasing to Tzeentch’s gaze.
He hissed in anticipation of the feast to come as he crouched low on the pulsating Disc of Tzeentch he rode. He sped just above the marsh’s tangled canopy, followed by his bodyguard of chattering Enlightened. The babbling warriors hunched atop their own discs, a fug of broken memories swirling about them. Nearby, ever-silent Skyfires kept pace, their keen gazes sweeping the murk below, arrows ready to be loosed should the enemy show themselves.
Beneath the trees, lesser Tzaangors loped through the gloom, screeching eagerly. They too could smell the dead, and the magic that animated them. And soon enough, that magic would belong to the changekin…(more…)
A blade swept out, shattering an unfortunate tree to splinters. The length of crude iron had been etched with ruinous sigils, and wept flux-fire from its jagged edge. Where it passed, the air was rent by the sounds of discordant piping and the screams of beasts. To the one who held it, such a clamouring was as the most subtle of compositions, and to those who followed him, it was as if all the spirits of earth and air were urging them onward.
Flux-fires gleamed in the dark of the Ghost Bat Bog as the being known as the Relevator led his brothers and sisters in the Cockatrice Conclave to war. The creature once known as Calaspa Bo lumbered between the crooked trees, smashing aside any that rose in his path. Somewhere in the dark before him, the restless dead waited in silent defiance of the hounds of fate. The Relevator went to teach them the folly of such resistance.
Once possessed of a mind of infinite convolutions, Bo was now as single-minded as the foes he splashed towards so relentlessly. The great, coiling feathered worm-shape clinging to the Curseling hissed soft encouragement, directing him ever-forward. The daemon-thing whispered to the Relevator of secrets to be revealed, and knowledge to consumed, once the sunken mansions of the ancient fen-kingdoms were theirs to plunder.
War. The drumbeat of war sounded throughout the Mortal Realms. In Ghur, armies mustered in the wild places, as the great powers sought to claim dominion over uncertain ground. And amongst the most uncertain was the Great Fenland of Chiropteros – better known to its inhabitants as the Ghost Bat Bog.
These fenlands are an ever-shifting sump of thick grasses and bald patches of rough, muddy ground, dotted with the broken remnants of a hundred forgotten marsh-kingdoms. Trees rise wild among the peatlands, growing strong on a charnel feast served over centuries. The dead still walk within sunken mansions in the Ghost Bat Bog, and strange, cyclopean shapes prowl the misty marshes, preying on the degenerate descendants of the old kingdoms.
It is among these savage marsh-folk that the Unseen first came, as the skies grew black with the war storm. He – or she, for none knew who or what they were, beneath their golden helm and dark robes – spoke cryptic truths, and drew the marsh-folk out of hiding, helping them to recall the ancient arts they had long forgotten – or perhaps never known in the first place…(more…)
By the light of the flux-fires, the acolytes waited and murmured uneasily among themselves. In the hellish glow of the great bonfires, daemon-shapes murmured softly, eagerly, in a tongue that none save the adepts, in their feathered war-masks , could understand.
Abruptly, the flux-fires blazed up, clawing at the stars above, as if to wrench them from the firmament. For a moment, the flames wavered and split, as if parted by monstrous hands, and beyond them, a howling void of endless colour and light spun in a lunatic pattern.
A moment later, a tall, masked figure stepped forth from within the shimmering flux-flames, staff in hand. The acolytes stiffened attentively, as the newcomer began to speak. Perhaps it was time, at last, for the Cockatrice Conclave to go to war… (more…)
Plague Garden, by Josh Reynolds (Fall)
Josh is an author of great verve and imaginative flair, able to move between the science fiction, horror and fantasy genres with ease and aplomb. Plague Garden is fast-moving adventure story set in Games Workshop’s gothic Age of Sigmar setting. It is fantasy writ large – with a huge cast of heroes, villains and monsters, all fighting to survive in a dangerous, unpredictable landscape, the eponymous plague garden itself. For this is a realm within a realm, a universe of pure magic, where the normal rules of reality do not apply, and the power of a man’s soul can be stronger than the steel of his sword. – Lindsey D le Doux Priestley, senior editor
Isn’t that nice? I hope they use that ‘power of a man’s soul can be stronger than the steel of his sword’ bit for the blurb on the back cover.