Storm clouds and ash choked the morning sky as the ground rumbled ominously. The undead horde, led by the lich Raven Hax, marched to the red glow on the horizon. These were the blighted lands of the Abyss. The source of all evil in the world some said. But a place of power for those who knew how to exploit it. The dead leader looked back at his army as they moved closer to the wound of the world. It had grown in both size and power since his last battle. His ranks and been refilled with the suitable dead from battlefields and old crypts. And the odd commoner or two he ran across added to his zombie legion. But these were just replacements. Finding a mass grave of Basilan paladins, he quickly began to raise them and added them to his reverent calvary. Where before the undead master only controlled a few of the grisly horsemen, his force now boasted several regiments of fallen knights.
Most curious though was the pale, redheaded woman that followed just behind him. He had found her embattled with a Brotherhood hunting party and soon found out why they had targeted her. Her fangs brandished in angry hisses at the knights as they surround her. Lighting, the color of blood, flew from the vampire’s hand as she blasted the closest hunter’s back. Realizing the woman could perhaps be broken as a servant or taken as an ally, Raven Hax committed his Warband to the fight. Easily overwhelming the smaller force, the lich barely said a word to the woman before the vampiress swore her unlife to him. She now followed him like a lost dog. In fact, the undead lord could have sworn she was in love with him. But he cared not as long as she served. Besides, the Lich had other things to occupy his mind.
Looking down at his wasting frame, he could see with his magically attuned eyes dark power flowing in his greying flesh. The expedition to the Twlightglades had proved more fruitful than he had hoped. The extra-dimensional beings he’d found waiting just on the other side of this world happily shared their nightmarish with the undead lord. All they asked in return was that he used some of the power to open the shadowed passages wider. It was an easy choice. Many months later, he was still flooded with unholy might. He now went to the land of the Abyss to use his newfound power as leverage to bargain with the demons that dwelt there. Soon he would rule his kingdom of the dead, one that would slowly choke the lands around him in death and ashes. His musing was interrupted by the sounds of a distant horn. Turning to the sound, he saw a fast-moving force bearing down on his own. He sneered contemptuously as he saw the banners they held aloft, Elves. No doubt agents of the Green Lady come seeking revenge for his desecration of the Elven groves. They appeared to be too small a force to overcome him. He halted his lines and ordered them to reform, facing their pursuers. He would destroy this army and add it to his own, furthering ambitions in an unexpected way. The smile he wore fell when he heard a deeper, boom horn. Just behind the Fey-like hunters came another force. The banners and crests were familiar to Raven Hax. They belonged to his bitter foe, King Einkil of the freeholds.
So, the mountain folk had brought with them allies this time he thought. It looked like this fight wouldn’t be one so easily now. Both enemies pulled their armies to bear surprisingly quickly. King Enikil barked hateful rhetoric as his Warband formed up. While the Elven mage merely gestured to her attendants. The dwarf lord had chosen to put his faith in guns and bodies this day, leaving behind the slow-moving earth elementals. He set up his unit of rifle-wielding dwarfs on a small rise along with a multi-barreled artillery piece, overlooking his zombie children. Colm was with them, gently encouraging them with pats on their rotted shoulders. Next to the gun line was a regiment of badger riders. The deadly calvary barely contained their rage, hardly holding their formation. But next to them was an even more worrying sight. As if plucked from the primordial forests, walked an old tree herder. These ancient creatures Raven Hax had only ever read about and he had no idea what myths about them were true. Lord Armon marched his bodyguard to face them, undaunted by these enemies. Loping behind a hill, the werewolves paced back and forth, waiting to go where they will be needed most. Seeing this, a horde of dwarfs did the same, smacking large hammers into meaty fists as they waited.
In the center, Raven Hax placed one unit of undead knights, his wraiths, the Crimson men, and the horde of revenants. He had experimented with his new strength and placed some of his power into these children. Now their bones and armor healed themselves without casting a single spell leaving the lich free to focus his attention elsewhere. Still, he was curious about how they would do in battle and so he stayed nearby to keep an eye on them. Ahead of him, a dwarven gun crew struggled to lift a cannon upon rises that gushed fetid water. A mass of Elven archers set up beside them, stringing their bows for the coming fight. A well-ordered horde of Sea guard, deadly Elf sailors, held the archer’s left flank. Perhaps not trusting the willowy soldiers to hold, or wanting a stronger force in that area, King Einkil placed the last of his dwarf hordes behind these units. They were backed up by Elven knights mounted on fine steeds and clad in lightweight, but strong armor. The She-Elf mage led this force personally. Her long cloak flowed in a magical breeze as her keen eyes locked on the undead before her.
Against them, Crysta the vampire flanked the formation of dead spearmen. There they would slow the swift calvary down with a wall of spearheads, under the Vampiress’s leadership drag them from their mounts. On the far right, the last of Raven Hax’s army was posted. Two full regiments of fallen knights were ready to sweep downhill to counter the elven advance. Opposite them was a battery of dwarven guns, ready to throw shot and ball downfield. To bolster the rise these guns held, the elves placed their fearsome Drakon riders. Kin to dragons, these foul-tempered beasts along with their skilled riders posed a serious threat to the undead. The lich hoped his mass of skeletal horsemen would be enough to stop them. Hedrick the Mad lead them, a sadistic smile on his face. Raven Hax nodded once, then looked for clues to where this elven Warband had come from. He wanted to know how the mountain folk had managed to bring them here. His eyes narrowed as found out. Pennants and banners hanging from spear and lance left little doubt that they were from the TwilightGlades. So these hunters had chased him far…
The two hordes faced each other. It seemed almost fitting that should find themselves here. A fight to the death at the edge of the world. The ground shook and rumbled as if in agreement. The sky grew darker as a rain of ash began to fall. Raven Hax would end this rivalry once and for all. His hand rose, then fell sharply. Then, the dead moved. A sea of rotting faces marched forward, hungry for the living. Undaunted, the allies went out the meet them with fury and courage. Most of both armies merely advanced or maneuvered themselves through shaking the fields, not quite able to make it into the enemy just yet. A brutal barrage of fire for rifles and artillery left fully half of the zombies broken on the dark plains. Not even Colm’s spells were enough to bring many of the corpses back to their feet. On the right, the swift steeds of the elves quickly closed the distance to the skeletons before them. They stopped short of the rusted spears that greeted them but laid in with fanciful swordwork. The Drakon riders, unsure of the ash-choked sky, move cautiously forward upon the ground. Crysta fixated on the elven mage and threw out her lighting. Unprepared for the attack, the lithe mage was forced to her knees and she lost her concentration.
With a mighty yell, the berserkers slammed into the reeling zombies. Axes separated limbs from bodies as brocks trampled the remains underfoot. Soon the magic holding the dead together failed and they fell lifelessly to the ground. Colm wept tears as these children fell but wisely retreated back to the waiting werewolves. While this happening, Lord Armon looked on as his honor guard was charged by the massive tree man. With great sweeps of its limbs, it knocked the mummies to and fro. It smashed three as they tried to stand, leaving behind nothing but powder on bandages. Still, they held and hacked back as best they could, only managing to strip bark from its wooden hide. The revenant knights in the center saw an opening and attacked the dwarfs behind the rocky outcrop. But they were hampered by the deep sand around the rock and thus had little momentum when they reached their foes, killing only one or two. Taking advantage of this, the mountain folk counter-charged, bringing large two-handed weapons down on bony horses and skeletal knights. Such was their fury that they shattered the unit, only leaving behind pieces of bone and metal.
Having finally settled the cannon on the swampy rise, the gun crew was able to fire a hurried shot. Missing, they began to reload, failing to notice the wraiths speeding toward them. The greatest adversaries of Raven Hax on his rise to power, these souls were damned to serve him for eternity. They took their anger and frustration out on the dwarven gun crew, ripping them apart and throwing the cannon down in the murk. The undead commander summoned his will and pushed his children forward. The arcane speed that coursed through the dead took through a ruined tower, perhaps once a Brotherhood watch post, and right next to the elven lines. Although out there march forward, Raven Hax’s revenant foot had been targeted by the Elf bowmen and sailors. But heavy armor and the regenerative power they and been bestowed, kept casualties low. The battle with the elven knights reached a fevered pitch and the tide started turning against them. Outnumbered it was only a matter of time before they were pulled from their mounts and skewered. They look to their Drakon allies, hoping for aid. What they saw made their hearts drop. Having forsaken the skies, the dragonkin were charged by a unit of undead cavalry. They seemed to be at a stalemate, neither side doing much damage. But it left them unable to save their brethren.
Soon, the elven knights broke. Few escaped the stabbing steel and cold claws as the regiment ceased to exist. The Elf mage, having recovered from the vampire’s assault, threw out waves of fire into the red-haired warrior. Crysta walked through the flames untouched and brandished her fangs. With a speed the Elven mage could scarcely believe, the undead general nimbly closed the distance between them. She had just enough time to draw her dagger in defense before the greatsword the vampire wielded came down, severing her head from her body. Crysta retrieved the grisly trophy and held it aloft for all to see. The nearby elves groaned in despair at this sight, and some even wept hot, bitter tears at this loss. The dwarf’s horde, who had been behind the mage, merely shouted threats and challenges at the vampire. Crysta threw down the head and prepared herself for combat.
The Sea guard, angry at the loss of their leader, fired point blank into the skeletal revenants. They, with the bowmen’s aid, dropped many with vengeful arrows. They cheered hopeful they would be able to weather this undead force. The glee turned to shock as most of the fallen rose. Raven Hax poured black mist into his children, supplementing the power he’d already given them. Much of the elves’ work was undone, and the undead waded into the uncertain elves. King Einkil, hearing his ally had fallen, flew into a rage and attacked the closest undead to him. Flying on wings of semi-invisible force, a gift from his late ally, the dwarf lord barreled into the wraiths. Many of his blows passed right through his foes, but the king was stubborn and never let up. Seeing the disaster of the cavalry charge in the center, Raven Hax ordered the Crimson men to stop the dwarfs that had caused it. Bloodlust and a direct command from their master swept away any reservations they might have had. While their charge too was slowed by the sand, the dwarfs found the enemies far more dangerous and their losses began to mount.
On the left, Colm hid behind his lords Lycans as another volley of gunfire swept his way. The supernatural flesh of the beasts shrugged off most of the shots and left only a few sallow wounds. The werewolves howled in anger once, before closing on the Badger riders who were still hacking apart bodies. The Wolves were hoping for an easy kill on these unarmored dwarfs. But they had sorely underestimated dwarven fury and toughness. It quickly devolved into a vicious brawl where skill and finesse were useless. Lord Armon watched as the last of his men were destroyed impassively. Only when the tree herder had killed the last one did he approach. The two ancient beings locked eyes. Ne words were said before both stepped forward and then an epic duel began. Lord Armon’s wounds would regenerate almost as soon as they were inflicted, while he had trouble piercing the tree man’s skin. They fought on, and the battle was forgotten as these two sought an end to the other.
On the right, the Drakon riders had trouble landing blows and the revenant knights started to gain the upper hand. Word of their leader’s fall reached them and they fell back in sorrow. They fought defensively as the relentless dead followed, slowly draining elves with light wounds. The dwarven horde charged the lone vampiress, seeking to overwhelm her. Axes and hammer blows were turned away with unnatural skill, but some found their mark. Enchanted weapons left pale flesh bruised, and shallow cuts leaked from rent armor, but the vampire stood still. Her counterattack was supported by the dead spearmen who had slowly been shambling forward. Crysta’s skill and strength along with the skeleton’s mindless tenacity scattered the dwarfs. They fled the field as a dwarven banner bearer cursed them for cowards. The loss of their leader and now, their support, disordered the elf sailors. They fell back from their foes, only able to parry weapons aside.
But the undead weren’t having it all their way. The vampire cavalry had failed to break the dwarf unit and had gotten bogged down. Soon numbers began to tell, and the few bloodsuckers left quit the battle. Colm, the only viable target for the Ironwatch and their big gun, let the lead fly. Blood gushed from the necromancer’s many wounds, and he slowly dragged himself away from the fight. The struggle of tooth and claw went against the Lycans as they not only had to contend with dwarfs that had no fear of death but also their savage mounts. The last remaining beast fled with its tail between its legs. Raven Hax saw the danger he was now in as a battered horde of mountain folk marched towards him. Using his wings of darkness, he easily stayed out of their reach. Bolts of evil shot from his hands at them, but only a few dwarfs fell as the master-crafted armor held. King Enikil continued his fight with the wraiths as his wounds mounted. The lost heroes drew strength from his suffering, and the few solid blows he was able to land were healed just as he was hurt. Not one from backing down, he charged them again.
The elves, sadly, were not so headstrong. Having lost their’ mage and facing the relentlessness of the dead, the Drakon riders and Sea guard both fled. Now facing the undead unsupported, the dwarven guns grimly manned their posts, steadily fired shot after shot into the dead, shattering one regiment of knights, before being overrun. The elf archers were swarmed on the hill, but they held it, pushing the dead back. Raven Hax forced more power into his magic and shot purple flames into the advancing dwarfs he faced. Having lost enough men in fighting his children, and now facing a foe that could cook them from afar, they at long last broke ranks and ran. A quick set of glances from the lich showed his champion still was locked in a deadly contest with the tree herder. While his wraiths had kept his greatest foe occupied. He saw Hedrick order the last of his undead horsemen to counter the Berskers now came from the rear unopposed. Sensing victory, the lich took to the skies. He landed just before the crazed riders, a great risk to be sure. They made to charge him but ran straight into a wall of flames. They cooked and burned, and Raven Hax turned away from them smiling.
The elves began to crumble under the dead as the gun dwarfs desperately moved to their aid. They weren’t fast enough…The dwarf lord Einkil turned away from his fight just in time to see the last of the survivors flee. He ground his teeth in irritation. A heavy blow struck him as he was distracted and he fell into the foul stream. It carried him down the rise and he found it hard to stand. He was lifted to his feet, sputtering and trying to bring his weapon to bear. He was stilled as he saw the elf banner bearer, the one who had lifted him from the murk. The last of his kind on the field, he asked the dwarf king what they should do. Einkil looked around and departed, his hunt had failed. The undead still came for them in too great of numbers, and even the unbloodied Ironwatch he had left would be unable to turn the tide. He sank his head in sorrow, then raised it again. His eyes were full of hate and anger. The elf looked on concerned, fearful his allies would throw their lives away needlessly. The weary dwarf cursed once loudly before asking the elf to signal the retreat. The Tree herder, hearing the horn sound, cocked its head to one side. Lord Armon, covered in the creature’s sappy blood, charged it again. The beast backhanded him away, then turn from the fight. The old lord rolled to his feet, ready to dodge the follow-up blow he was sure was coming. He saw the enemy falling back and turn to his master, awaiting his orders.
Raven Hax watched as his foe fled and was ready to send his forces after them. He could tell Lord Armon and Crysta wanted dearly to run them down. They may be faster than his dead, but his army never rested. But he pushed the thought aside. He wasn’t about to waste his time chasing a broken army, he was here on more important matters. The ground tremored again and the lich cast his face back to the Abyss. A whole new kingdom of death was waiting for him if he played his cards right. And not even the Green lady herself would keep him from attaining that. Gathering his forces, he didn’t even bother to raise the dead as he marched on. He’d have time to come back for them, time to deal with King Einkil and anyone else who stood in his way. After all, the undead had no fear of time.