The Place of blood

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The shamans of the warherds of the Drakwald tell a great many tales of a time when the Beastmen first encountered another offspring of the Dark Gods- the Skaven, man-rats that walk upon two legs and crave above all else warpstone, the solid essence of Chaos itself. That first battle was but the opening in a war that rages to this very day.

The tale is recounted when the warherds of the Drakwald gathered in a clearing divided by a mighty chasm, known as the Place of Blood. The clearing, it is said, was once dominated by a herdstone so proud and magnificent that its jagged form reared above the canopy to pierce the very clouds. One night, the Bray-Shamans were preparing to sacrifice a screeching, black­ furred creature that the Beastlord Mogok the Stone-Hom had brought down with a well-placed axe throw. As the ritual neared its climax and the offering was at hand, a terrible moaning went up from the ground. Suddenly the herdstone lurched sideways. Surely the Children of Chaos must have displeased the Dark Gods greatly.

The Stone-Hom stepped towards the herdstone of the Place of Blood, a deep growl building in his throat. As he neared the stone, it trembled and then lurched, and fell through the earth in an instant. Magok the Stone-Hom found himself standing at the very edge of a wide, gaping precipice, his grim-set features lit from below by the sickly green luminescence that pulsed and writhed from its depths.

Mogok the Stone-Hom's heart was consumed with a black rage that the Place of Blood should have been defiled in such a manner, for it was holy in the eyes of the Ruinous Powers. Mogok saw that the creature whose blood and entrails the Bray-Shamans had been about to offer up the Dark Gods had gnawed through its bonds and had escaped into the dark, yawning chasm. The herds gathered about the hole, glowering bitterly into its actinic depths.

A great discordance rose up, the sound of every verminous thing that crawls beneath the roots of the world screeching a challenge in unison. The herds sent up their own savage war cry in answer. Mogok the Stone-Hom took up his great, serrated axe and leaped from the lip of the ragged chasm, plummeting into the green-lit depths, a terrible bellow of fury echoing upwards to inflame the burning hatred in the breast of every Beastman that heard it. As one, the warherd of Mogok the Stone-Hom followed their chieftain into that great glowing wound in the earth.

The shamans tell many different stories of what followed, though all of them agree that of the Beastmen who threw themselves into that hellish chasm, barely a handful returned, and Mogok the Stone-Hom was not amongst their number. One of these stories tells of the battle Mogok fought against a hunchbacked creature with ragged white fur and eyes aglow with red balefire. Seeing in this opponent one truly deserving of his wrath, Mogok cleared a bloody path through a hundred and more lowly rat-warriors before charging the red-eyed sorcerer. The battle that followed, it is told, saw the Stone-Hom match his savagery against the twisted magics of the rat-leader, each proving the equal of the other, until finally Mogok's axe clove in two his opponent's staff. With that blow, it is said that the rat-creature's powers fled from his body, and the next cut the Skaven leader in half from brow to loin.

Other tales describe all manner of foul rat-like creatures infesting a dark labyrinth of freshly dug tunnels. The Beastmen discovered masses of rat-slaoes labouring to drag forth great, glowing chunks of wyrdling rock from the base of the herdstone. They butchered every last one of them. Even as the ratmen fought, the tales say, they gnawed upon glowing chunks of the stone. Twisting mutations wracked their stinking bodies with hideous deformities that turned even the weakest of the rat creatures into chittering beasts of tooth and claw. But as the Beastmen fed on those they had slain, they too began to warp and change. They knew then that the favour of the gods was truly with them, and the slaughter started anew.

The Beastmen also discovered hugely obese and pallid monstrosities, blind and hairless, yet possessed of multiple scything claws as capable of cutting rock as opening the Beastmen's guts. The Minotaurs of the tribe sought these creatures out for their meat, bending almost double to pass down cramped passages and engage in brutal melee in the darkness. The Bray-Shamans tell that despite swallowing whole scores of Beastmen in their gaping, slavering maws, the pale burrow­ creatures were sent screaming back to whatever hell had spawned them, or else butchered, chewed and swallowed down into the Minotaurs' rancid gullets.

More and more Beastman chieftains led their tribes from miles about in the forest to descend into the darkness, and so the fighting continued in the depths of the earth for a full year. Not one of the vermin emerged again from the chasm they had opened beneath the herdstone of the Place of Blood, nor have they done so to this day.

These and many more tales of the war against the Skaven are told beneath the Chaos Moon as the herds gather to remember the fearless Beastlord Mogok the Stone-Hom. At the height of the gathering, the assembled Beastmen pick up their crude axes and man-cleaoers and descend into the chasm to slay and bum just as the Stone-Hom tribe did in ages past. In this way the Beastmen of the Drakwald ensure the war against the Skaven never truly ends.

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