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Battle of Sternburg

Map showing Sternberg

The Battle of Sternburg was a small battle between a small patrol of Imperial state troops and the Beastmen of the Drakwald Forest that took place in the ruins of Sternburg in 2517 IC.[1a]

2517 was a dark year for all human inhabitants of the Drakwald Forest. During that year the Drakwald, a dangerous place at the best of times, became much worse. More caravans and travellers were attacked in 2517 than in the previous five years combined. The settlements Jagerhausen and Arenburg were sacked and countless smaller villages were completely razed to the ground. [1a]

Frightened families began to gather their belongings and make their way to the safety of Middenheim. The city became more and more overcrowded, until it was forced to turn away increasing numbers of refugees. A sprawling shanty town built up outside the city as people tried to gain as much protection as they could from the terrors of the forest. [1a] As Beastmen attacks became more deadly and more frequent rumours spread of a new Beastlord that had come to rule over the entire Drakwald Forest. [1b]

In the days following the sacking of Jagerhausen the inhabitants of the village of Sternburg, a small community forty miles south-west of Middenheim in the depths of the Drakwald, became increasingly fearful. Many believed that Beastmen attacks were proceeded by a sign - in fact many villages were abandoned immediately if such an omen occurred. It is not difficult to imagine the terror they felt when they awoke one morning to find all of their few cattle and goats torn apart as if by a frenzied animal. [1b]

Some villagers fled northwards along the Middensveg road towards the larger village of Upper Spite. Others fled through the forest towards the supposed safety of Jagerkeep, and were never seen again. In the entire village only Wilhelm the cobbler kept his wits. He borrowed a horse and rode south down the Middensveg in the hope of meeting a patrol. He rode until nightfall, until finally he saw a campfire burning just off the road.[1b]

The campfire belonged to a small patrol of spearmen, who were escorting a team of handgunners and a mortar to Middenheim. Wilhelm convinced the patrol leader, Captain Karlrich to break camp for Sternburg. Karlrich gave the cobbler a sigil of Middenheim and asked him to ride further south to find a group of Knights of the White Wolf that his patrol had passed earlier in the day.[1b]

The patrol was turning off the road just before midnight when they heard horns echoing in the distance, each blast seeming to be nearer than the last.[1b] Believing that an attack on Sternburg was imminent, the patrol hurried on. However, as they entered the village they realised that they were too late. Doors and windows had been torn off their hinges, the bodies of the villagers strewn in the mud. With horns echoing all around them, the patrol set up a defensive formation in the middle of the village.[1c]

Without warning a huge roar echoed from the forest and the first Beastmen emerged from beneath the trees. All around the village Beastmen launched themselves towards the Imperial soldiers. Volleys of handgun shot scythed down the Beastmen, but more kept coming. Captain Karlrich drew his sword, praying that the Knights of the White Wolf would arrive in time. However, the eventual outcome of the battle is not recorded. [1c]

Quotes

And so did the fair village of Sternburg come under the hateful, greed-filled gaze of the Beast. Intent these foul Beasts were of naught but the spilling of blood, the burning of houses and the butchery of all. Mayhap they wished to gather foodstuffs and drink, but I believe this beyond their bestial intellect. A night of terrors and tragedy it was for the people of Sternburg...

~ Arthus Reinhold, Scribe of the Middenheim Court. [1a]

Notes

  • The background of the Battle of Sternburg appeared in White Dwarf 286. The article also included a scenario based on the battle, with the intention that players would decide for themselves whether the patrol was wiped out by the Beastmen, or whether the Knights of the White Wolf would arrive in time to save them.1 p12-15

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