[This narrative is based on an endless series of 5-10,000pt games with a friends WoC army, before their new book came out. It seemed fitting to end them by facing off against Archeon despite this departing hugely from the official GW fluff. These stories are taken from my principle blog not the historical one hence the last half reads more like a battle report rather than a true historical archive.]
Deep in his mountain hold of Karak Thorinkin King Druegar Stromnisson read with growing unease the reports of the latest Chaos invasion of the Old World. Advancing south through the lands of the Humans Archeon the great lord of Chaos had swept all before him and was now fast approaching the homelands of the Dwarves. As his old eyes swept the list of forces available to him for meeting the Chaos horde a messengar arrived.
"Lord... they are here"
"The Army of Chaos my Lord they have approached the gates and are preparing to attack the hold"
King Druegar was shocked beyond belief. Every report out of the lands of the Sigmarites thus far had indicated that Archeons forces were marching towards Middenheim. There was no possible reason that they should have reached Karak Thorinkin, and no manner other than dark magic in which they could have done so without passing by at least 4 other Dwarven strongholds (including Karak Varn) before doing so. Nevertheless the King reacted quickly Druegar issued a string of orders sending messengars running to every part of the hold as the call to battle went out. All over Karak Thorinkin doughty warriors donned their heavy armour and sharpened their axes, crossbowmen and thunderers readied their weapons and raced to firing positions on the holds defensives, and the stout and deadly Hammerers and Ironbreakers (of which there were never enough) all prepared to meet the oncoming demon spawn of Chaos. Their preparations were marked with concern though. The news of the Chaos armies approach could not have come at a worse time. Druegar's kin Kurgan Hadrinsson and a significant part of the Hold's army had marched away from the hold some four days before to support clansmen further north. Now more than ever Druegar needed this force to return.
From a look out high on Karak Thorinkins huge walls Druegar looked out to the plains below into a sea of Chao Knights, Warhounds, Demons and other foul beasts. But numerous as they were, something was wrong... Archeon was not present... despite all reports to the contrary he had not marched directly to the gates of Karak Thorinkin.
"Send out the Gyrocopters - find Archeon, where is his main force, and find Kurgan Hadrinsson we need him here"A Hold waits for news
A full day had passed now and there was still no word, the first assaults of the Horde of Chaos had been easily beaten back Dwarven warmachines taking a terrible toll on the foul beasts as they launced attack after attack against the hold's defences. But still no news of Archeon and more importantly no news of Kurgan and his force, a force which would end the battle in the Hold's favour smashing into the rear of the Chaos horde acting as the Hammer against the Hold's defensive anvil.
Suddenly, a whirring noise was heared. Overhead, a Gyrocopter battered and torn raced toward the lookout and the King. Looking on with concern Druegar could only watch as it crashed not 10ft from him. Racing to its cockpit Duregar saw with horror the hideous burns over the face and body of the pilot, burns that could only have come from the mouth of a Dragon.
"My Lord... I have found Lord Kurgan he marches toward the Hold even now."
"But what of Archeon, and where are the other pilots who set out with you?"
"Alas my Lord I.... I am am all that remains... the crossroads the roads that lead from Bretonnia to the Hold... ambushed... Archeon himself... Chaos Demons and a Great Dragon..."
"What of them in what direction does Archeon move?"
"He... he doesn't Lord he is waiting, waiting for Kurgan in ambush... Spies saw him march away... we... told Lord Kurgan, but his force will not... I have failed my Lord...."
With that the pilots last breath left his body. Silence descended upon the look out broken only by the sounds of battle coming from far below.
"So it is done then. The attack on the Hold is but a fient. Chaos intends to keep us here while our army is destroyed marching to relieve us."Standing and looking Northeast Duregar's old eyes scanned the distant horizon seeking out the small range of forested hills that marked the Brettonian crossroads seeking some sign of the battle he knew must be raging there.
"Griminar protect them... there is nothing we can do for them now."At the Crossroads
Meanwhile many leagues to the Northeast Lord Kurgan Hadrinsson sighed gently as the body of another Gyrocopter pilot was taken away to be buried. He had died bravely to bring him the news that Karak Thorinkin was under attack, and that Archeon himself was waiting to ambush him on the road back to the hold. He knew now that his march North some four days previously had been a trap, he and his army lured out of the hold by Chaos traitors within Karak Thorinkin seeking to get the Hold's main force out from under its defensive positions. Looking over his accompanying Thanes Lord Kurgan tightened the buckles on his armour and called for his ShieldBearers.
"Deploy the army and prepare for battle we have no choice now but to face Archeon here in the open on ground not of our choosing. Our brothers wait for us in Karak Thorinkin, where even now the Hordes of Chaos assualt them. We will win through here today, we have no other choice, for we are all that stands between the Old World and Darkness ever lasting."With those final words Kurgan grasped his mighty Battleaxe, mounted his shield and marched out to do battle against Archeon and the Hordes of Chaos.
Kurgan Hadrinsson deployed first placing a strong guard around the 1st minor objective in the bottom left hand corner, including 2 units of Quarrellers, 2 warmachines and 2 units of Warriors. The right flank was guarded by a unit of Slayers and another war machine, and also included the armies Runesmiths who were positioned deep within the forest to protect them from Chaos magic.
In the centre of the Dwarven line were the strongest units - the Hammerers each accompanied by a Lord, including Kurgan himself on the left - a unit of Ironbreakers and 1 of Longbeards. A Flame Cannon and 2 units of missle troops accompanied the central group. At the top of the board, Archeons forces while numerically smaller in number were far stronger in combat power and especailly magic and deployed in typical style. Fast units on either flank and strong melee units in the centre, flyers in between.
Before deciding initiative and the first movement of the battle, Kurgan Hadrinsson made his first and perhaps biggest mistake of the battle. Enacting the Strollaz's rune held by his armies Battle Standard Bearer, he advanced the centre of his army directly toward the key crossroads, with the Slayers abandoning their right flank position to move out with the main force. Perhaps, spurred into action by the frightening presence of Archeon before him, and worried by the large number of mages/warlocks on Chaos side Kurgan abandoned his initial battle plan in favour of closing rapidly with the enemy.
Chaos responded immediately and in the manner expected. Their fast units raced forward on either flank, and the mighty Chaos Dragon - which had caused the death of the brave Gyrocopter pilot at the feet of King Druegar Stromnisson some hours previously - winged its way over the battlefield. Before the Dwarven artillery and missle troops could respond the first wave of Chaos magic began to hit the battlefield. Hidden in the forest, the Dwarven Runesmiths bravely attempted to dispel its effects but with 17 Chaos power dice to their 7 dispel dice and 3 dispel scrolls they couldn't last for long.
On either flank the Dwarven warmachines and missle troops responded, scoring key wounds on the Chaos Dragon and various Demon's advancing rapidly toward them. But in the centre the Dwarven troops could only look on in horror at the size and strength of the advancing Chaos horde, and in particular the imposing figure of Archeon Lord of Chaos. Deep in his heart Kurgan began to realise that by abandoning his initial battleplan he may have doomed his army. As Chaos Warriors advanced toward him in the centre of the battlefield, he issued the only order left to a true, brave and stout Dwarven Lord.
Battle is joined and the Day of Blood begins
The battlecry of Lord Kurgan Hadrinsson rang out across the battlefield and the Dwarves of Karak Thorinkin charged forward straight at Archeon and his accompanying Chaos Knights. Bravely accepting Archeons challenge Lord Kurgan is struck down almost immediately, the Chaos Lords maelstrom of attacks proving too great even for this battle proven Dwarf. Around his body his Hammerer bodyguard fight valiantly against the Chaos Knights and Archeon, but are no match for them. One-by-one they are ritually slaughtered and are trampled beneath the hooves of Chaos horses.
To their right the Thanes leading the other Dwarven have no time to mourn Kurgans death or that of his bodyguard, as they are charged by Chaos Warriors and Chariots and drawn immediately into combat. Attacked on multiple sides by faster Chaos units the Dwarves of Karak Thorinkin rally around their Thanes Oath Stones and opt to fight to the last, realising as they do so their now dead Lords initial mistake in advancing so far forward so quickly.
Only on the right is some success to be found with the suicidal bravery of a small group of Troll Slayers sees them destroy 2 units of Warhounds and a Chaos Chariot before running full tilt into the imposing bulk of a Chaos Demon. It is only their bravery, that prevents their comrades in the centre being fully surrounded, their unbreakable spirit stopping the Chaos left from fully enveloping them.
Behind them the remainder of the Dwarven army can only watch on in dispair as their Lord and the bulk of their infantry are slowly surrounded, battered by Chaos magic and decimated by repeated Chaos attacks. The war machines counted on to protect the main Dwarven units have been destroyed or are themselves fighting for their lives against Chaos Spawn, Dragons and Screamers. In the forest the Runesmiths have expended their last Runes of Spellbreaking leaving the Dwarven army almost unprotected against the might of Chaos magic.
Nightfalls and an army is defeated
Bravely the army of Karak Thorinkin holds on, grinding out minor victories in combats across the board. A brief respite is found when one of the Gyrocopters dispatched from the hold returns and launches a series of successful attacks on the Chaos cavalry. However, it is too late to save the Dwarven army from defeat. Knowing that they have no place to run too, and unwilling to run even if they did, the remaining Dwarven forces fight on into the darkness.
Night falls and Chaos is triumpment. Lord Kurgan and the majority of the Dwarven army have been destroyed. The battlefield is littered with Dwarven corpses that shine horribly as the setting sun baths the entire field in red as crows begin to feast on what remains after the army of Chaos has had its fill. To the rear of the cross-roads those few Dwarves left alive rally around the surviving Runesmiths and the Battle Standard and under cover of Darkness begin the long march back to Karak Thorinkin. Behind the night echoes to the vile sound of Archeons laughter as he and his army feast on the souls of their dead comrades...
... many leagues to the Southwest, the Chaos fient against Karak Thorinkin has been destroyed and King Druegar Stromnisson now looks northward toward the Brettonian crossroads. The setting sun is turning the sky blood red and still no word has come about the fate of his kinsmen Kurgan. Sighing he turns back ready to return to his hall to await the dawn. As he does so the sound of demonic laughter echoes through the surrounding mountains. Bowing his head he weeps, knowing that his kinsmen and his army are dead and that now the sun will not rise again over Karak Thorinkin.