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Vrak Brazenfist’s monicker is a well-earned one. During the fierce battle for the steam-mines of Alon’ar, Vrak duelled the Duardin, King Norgrem-Grimnir amid his roaring furnaces. The two warriors struck each other one grievous blow after another until finally Vrak grabbed his enemy, hoisted him high with a furious howl, and plunged him into a vat of boiling metal. Khorne, impressed, transmuted Vrak’s scalded fists into living brass, allowing him to punch and crush with horrible strength. Now, Vrak is as deadly unarmed as with axe in hand. A grim and coldly ambitious killer, Brazenfist is the ice to his master’s fire. Where Lord Skardrax of the Skullfiend tribe veers wildly between bellowing rage and savage mirth, his Exalted Deathbringer focusses his own killing fury to a steely point. Vrak’s skills with axe and blade are breathtaking, and it is said that he has slain more foes in single combat than most Mighty Lords of Khorne. He knows nothing of fear or mercy, his every single-minded action calculated to win Khorne’s favour.
A Bitter Harvest
Bleak and terrible sights abound throughout the lands of the dead, from towering, mist-shrouded mountains of bone to floating castles that blaze with silent witchfire. However, few places are grimmer than the Gulf of Regrets. A huge, deep valley that sprawls between hollow, crumbling mountains, the gulf is a land of cursed entropy. Here, amid the icy shadows, legionsof the listless dead labour to rebuildtumbledown castles and ruined citiesthat collapse as quickly as they canbe repaired. It is a brooding, sorrowshroudednetherworld, within whosebounds time itself turns to dust.
It is unsurprising, then, that the sudden onslaught of a Bloodbound Warhordes hook the gulf to its mouldering foundations. The Baneshard Realmgate, which had so long stood inert at the mouth of the valley, blazed to sudden life. Drums thundered furiously, and war cries rent the silence of centuries as the Bloodbound charged from the Realmgate’s blinding depths. Hundreds of warriors in the black and brass of the Skullfiend tribe poured into the Gulf of Regrets. At their head came the Exalted Deathbringer Vrak Brazenfist, who had vowed to reap every single skull from this kingdom of the dead.
The dusty road ways of the vale thronged with Deathrattle Warriors. Yet these were mindless things whose only task for ages beyond count had been the repair of their crumbling necropolis. Though the dead turned to fight these sudden invaders, their efforts were no match for the unstoppable assault of the Bloodbound. mighty Skullcrushers and bellowing Skullreapers smashed into their enemy with unrestrained ferocity, shattering bone and lopping off heads by the hundred. The warriors of Khorne howled as they slew, claiming more skulls by the moment.
Dropping stone blocks and rusted tools, the Deathrattle Warriors massed to counter-attack. They drew pitted blades and lurched together to form crude shield walls, but still they could not stay the violent ferocity of the Bloodbound. Though many frothing barbarians were dragged down and slain by skeletal assailants, the Deathrattle Warriors were smashed apart by the dozen.
Soon, a vast mound of harvested skullswas heaped before the Realmgate. Vrak Brazenfist leapt astride a shattered tomb and barked orders at his followers to spread out through the ruins and take the head of every foe they found. Little did Brazenfist know, as his Warhorde charged screaming into the shadowed necropolis, that the vale’s ruler saw all. Haughty features underlit by the cold glow of his scrying stone, the Mortarch known as Mannfred von Carstein watched the savage invaders with growing outrage.
Mannfred had languished long within the gulf, banished there by Nagash for some long-ago transgression. Now, however, this invasion fanned the embers of Mannfred’s forgotten pride and spurred the Mortarch to action. Watching the invaders spread further and further through the twisting streets, Mannfred’s scowl turned to a wolfish smirk. The barbarians had spread themselves thin. They had made themselves vulnerable, and vonC arstein had always taken a predatory delight in exploiting the weaknesses of his foes. Cold fire flared within empty eye sockets as Mannfred stretched his sorcerous tendrils forth. As one, the dead surged forward, their movements full of vicious new purpose. The Bloodbound suddenly found themselves on the defensive. Tarnished blades hacked and stabbed, blood flowed,and though the Skullfiend tribe still fought furiously, their smaller knots of warriors were swiftly overwhelmed.
Vrak Brazenfist snarled in frustration as he realised his quarry had rallied, and that fresh waves of soulless skeletons were spilling from crypts all around. Abandoning most of his army to its fate without a moment’s hesitation, the Deathbringer rallied those of his followers still in sight and led them in a brutal charge. Vrak smashed a path through the enemy, bands of Skullreapers and Blood Warriors on his heels. With them came the Slaughterpriest, Kordrok, roaring praiseto Khorne as he slew. Vrak fought his way to where a Dragonfate Dais rose above the ruins, and there prepared to make his stand.
Over the hours that followed, the dead swept in again and again. The Deathrattle Warriors had now been joined by Mannfred’s greater servants, looming wights and drifting wraiths advancing amongst them while skeletal knights clattered at their flanks. Worse, the Mortarch himself haunted the edge of the great square from which the dais rose, mounted upon his Dread Abyssal. Mannfred’s dark sorceries snaked out to reknit the scattered bones of his warriors and to strip blackened flesh from those of his foes. Yet despite the steady onslaught, Vrak Brazenfist and his warriors fought on without exhaustion or fear.
The Deathbringer led one charge after another, sallying out to smash the enemy ranks before being forced back to the dais once again. Each time, fewer of his Skullreapers returned alive, but the carnage would please Khorne no matter who fell. Deathrattle Warriors and Deathrattle Guard pressed close, stabbing at the Bloodbound with their ancient, verdigrised blades. Yet they were met by Kordrok and a mass of raging Blood Warriors, whose axes sent showers of smashed bone raining down upon the ranks behind. The Bloodbound fought on like madmen, improvising barricades from shattered bones and the corpses of their own slain. Still the dead came on, Mannfred emptying the streets for miles around to bury his enemies in reanimated warriors. Yet it was just as Vrak and the last handful of his followers readied for another attack, that Khorne bestowed his favour.
Mannfred hissed as he saw steam begin to coil from the blood spilled upon the dais, and sensed a vast surge in fell energies. Desperate to strike the killing blow, the Mortarch spurred his Dread Abyssal into flight, leading the final charge himself. Mannfred swept down upon the dais, his sickle blade disembowelling two Skullreapers with a single swing. Yet he was too late. The Mortarch saw Kordrok raise his massive axe high and slam its blade down into the dais. The skies above split with a furious roar, and great sheets of copperhued flame belched from the maws of the dais’ dragon statues. Deathrattle and Nighthaunt alike were incinerated, and Mannfred cursed as he felt his army crumble around him.