For many, the streets of the Cinderfall District are the very heart of city. Bustling market stalls heave with passing trade, while the most religious denizens dedicate their dwindling years to the God-King’s worship within the district’s many sacred temples.
For those more inclined to search for salvation at the bottom of a tankard, a dozen taverns and free houses cater to these more base and animalistic desires, deep into the twilight hours.
For all of this hum of activity, most people never spend more than a fleeting moment focused on what lies below their very feet. As the city has grown and evolved, more like a living being than some structure of stone and steel, so too have the forgotten tunnels of Hammerhal, a web of sewers and tombs.
Now a sprawling mass of dead-ends and waterlogged pits, these dens of death are occupied only by vast swarms of rodents and those unlucky enough to find themselves turned onto the city’s streets.
However, the previous months had exposed a danger that didn’t end in these age-old conduits. The mighty walls of Hammerhal which had once shielded its citizens from those that might look to cause them harm, now more closely resembled a cage; one that had delivered its inhabitants, straight to the hands of Nagash and his undead legions.
Averon Stormsire stepped cautiously into the tunnel’s narrow entrance. The stench of death that plagued the streets above had grown all the riper in an area that had, for so long, gone unvisited.
Though his brethren of the Sacrosanct Chamber’s victory over the Mortarch of Grief grew ever closer, the Knight-Incantor could still feel the cold hand of the Lord of the Undead gripped this place as tightly as the moment his legions had first risen from the earth.
“I sense it too Sire,” Ammis Dawnguard spoke as if she were somehow connected to the old Battle-mage’s very thoughts. “Whatever evil endures in the city has set its roots here.”
“Then let us cut the darkness from this place, In the name of the God-King himself!” Rastus the Charmed bellowed, his booming call echoing for mile upon mile into the darkness that lay ahead.
Averon turned his attention towards the warrior, placing his hand upon the gleaming breastplate of his brother Stormcast, halting his relentless advance in an instant.
Within the heat of battle, Rastus was without compare, his resolve and sheer strength a sight to behold. Nonetheless, his skill came with a contempt for those who stood against the forces of Sigmar, that when left unchecked threatened to be the warriors unmaking.
“Take heed, Rastus,” The Knight-Incantor’s eyes flickered with a brilliance only those born of the forge could hope to contain; his words uttered as if the weight of many lives lay on his broad shoulders. “We shall meet our enemy head-on, and there will be no mercy. Judgement, however, must wait until we have uncovered their true intentions.”
Turning his hand skyward a delicate flame began to dance upon the Knight-Incantor’s palm, fragile yet otherworldly, it’s eerie light casting shadows that stretched far into the tunnels.
“Come now, Cursebreakers. The God-King protects.”
Somewhere, far from the Stormcasts’ guiding light, the Briar Queen watched as the life drained from another victim. The cold steel of her malignant dagger feeding her undead master, one soul at a time.
The screams of these peasants was a sweet song to the Death Mage, each life taken by her Thorns conscripting yet another warrior, ready to bolster their undead legions.
Claiming these souls, as delightful as it had been, would not be enough to turn the tide of this battle in her lord’s favour.
Indeed, Lady Olynder’s impertinence when striking so intensely at the heart of Stormcast territory had been costly, and with the arrival of the magic wielders, her numbers had dwindled more quickly than any could have imagined.
Nagash would not be happy upon hearing of Olynder’s failings. However, from her foolish pride, the Briar Queen would see herself rise in prominence.
While her fellow wraiths may have been happy to throw themselves needlessly towards the blades of the ‘oath-breaker’ Sigmar’s warriors, the Briar Queen sensed the pull of something else that toiled beneath the city. Somewhere an immense, yet long overlooked power still resonated.
She would find whatever resides here and unleash it upon all who stand in her way.
Hammerhal would fall into darkness.