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"Horn and hoof, power is there. Not feeble smoothskin, clumsy Greenskin, wicked elf-swine. Gor is strong. Gor is true. Gor shall kill all, slay all for the gods!"
—Beastlord Gorthor[1c]
Gorthor

Gorthor the Cruel, one of the greatest Beastlord to have ever lived

Gorthor the Cruel, or Gorthor the Beastlord was once the greatest Beastmen to have ever lived. Over one thousand years ago, during the time of the Crusades, his warband ravaged the forests of the Empire and all but destroyed the provinces of Ostland and Hochland, and his name can still be found on some of the most ancient herdstones across the region.[2e]

There have been many Beastlords who have united tribes into mighty warherds, but Gorthor was unique among his kind, for he possessed one thing that all others have lacked: he had vision, and the sheer animalistic will to sear it into the minds of his followers. Gorthor was convinced that the gods had selected him as their emissary, that he was destined to control the forests in their name.[2e]

Such was his fervour in battle, he would sometimes be surrounded by a corona of dark energy, which would protect him or strike out at his foes, a sure sign to other Beastmen that the gods truly favoured him. With great strength of arm and cunning, he fought his way through the ranks of Gors to become a chieftain, but his sheer intensity never left him, growing in strength to match his ever increasing power.[2e]

HistoryEdit

There have been many Beastlords over the centuries that have arisen to power over the Beastmen tribes, uniting warherds from across the forests and launching devastating invasions against the lands of Man. The names of many of these Beastlords live on, hewn into the rock of the herdstones by the Beastmen, recorded in the annals of the Empire's history, or lamented in the chronicles and tapestries of Bretonnia. Yet, there are those Beastlords of such potent savagery that their invasions have threatened to bring even the greatest of nations to their very knees.[2a]

The names of such individuals are roared by the Beastmen with animalistic power when they gather around their herdstones,striking fear into the hearts of Men. The most well-known of these is Gorthor, whose name in the Dark Tongue means "cruel". Gorthor rose to power in the Middle Mountains when the armies of the human nations of the Old World were engaged in Crusades against the far-off lands of Araby. Gorthor was a nigh unstoppable warrior who bore witness an apocalyptic vision of a world in which the lands of men were trampled under the hooves of the Beastmen, the skies above were turned black with smoke from the burning cities, and the air filled with woeful lamentations.[2a]

Gorthor not only possessed this vision, but the sheer, animal ferocity to instil it in others of his kind, and so he soon became a great leader amongst the tribes and a unholy Prophet of Chaos. At first, many challenged him, yet the Bray-Shamans say that the tally of those he defeated in the challenge rose so high that they abandoned the count. In time, Gorthor's reputation spread, and no more would come to challenge him and his right to rule. After a particularly violent kill, Gorthor would sometimes fall into a trance and commune with the Chaos Powers. Afterwards, he would preach to the assembled herds that the spread of Man deeply offended the Chaos Gods.[2a]

Only by destroying every human settlement in the land could the Ruinous Powers be properly appeased. Gorthor travelled from herdstone to herdstone, gathering ever more Beastmen under his banner. Nearly every single warherd within the Great Forest of the Empire soon followed him, and each vowed before their unholy gods to follow him to the death. Soon he commanded a horde of uncounted thousands. Gorthor set his army to work. For many months they prepared, building crude chariots, luring flocks of Harpies with corpses so that they followed his hordes, and gathering the Chaos beasts that roamed the Middle Mountains. Finally, Gorthor was ready for war.[2a]


The Fall of OstlandEdit

Hochland burning

The devastation of Ostland

Like an unrelenting storm, the Beastman horde broke upon the unsuspecting territories of Ostland and Hochland. This time, Beastmen did not come to plunder or pillage. They came to destroy the northern provinces once and for all. Ostland was the first to suffer the wrath of Gorthor and his horde. Sweeping eastwards down from the Middle Mountains, the horde stretched from one horizon to the other.[2a]

At its head was Gorthor himself, riding upon his chariot, his own warherd similarly mounted. Razorgors the size of mammoths parted the horde before them and made the ground quake with their tread. Amongst the swarming Gors strode massive Minotaurs, the promise of fresh meat sending them into a terrible frenzy. Even larger than the Minotaurs were whole packs of soul-eating Cygors and the berserker giants known as Ghorgons, summoned to join the horde by the magics of Gorthor's Bray-Shamans. These, and other, indefinable gargantuan creatures waded through the horde, towering above it such that a man would see their coming from miles away.[2a]

Gorthor left a trail of destruction in his wake. Such was the terror inspired by Gorthor and his horde that Men claimed he was a Daemon Lord given form. Men, women and children were butchered without mercy. Towns and castles were razed to the ground, and pillars of smoke scored the skies. No army that stood before the horde achieved anything more than providing the Minotaurs with yet more fresh meat to gulp down. Each night, the Beastmen feasted on fat chunks of raw flesh and drank great drafts of human blood.[2a]

The unruly chanting of tens of thousands of Gors rolled across the land, striking terror into the hearts of those whose homes lay before the horde. It seemed that Gorthor was determined to finish Mankind once and for all. After each battle the mighty Beastlord always spared a single man, who was fated to carry the news to others and spread panic in the face of the oncoming armies. Leaving Ostland devastated in his wake, the skies behind him wreathed in black smoke and filled with Harpies quarrelling over the last scraps of meat, Gorthor led the ravening herds south, into the province of Hochland.[2a]


Battle with the Black OrcsEdit

Beastmen bloodgrounds

The Beastmen facing off against the Black Orc hordes

And yet, before the Middle Mountains had even receded from view behind his horde, Gorthor found his path blocked by another foe. This time, it was not an army of Men that stood before him, but a mighty horde of Black Orcs, each taller and broader than a fullgrown Gor and armoured in black plate. Gorthor was granted a revelation by the Chaos Gods, and knew that the massive Orc Warlord facing him sought to deny his right to despoil the lands of the Old World. Gorthor must prove himself against this enemy before the gods would allow him to continue.[2b]

With a braying war cry that echoed from the distant Middle Mountains, Gorthor ordered his horde to charge. With an answering roar of his own, the Black Orc warlord spurred his own army forward. In an instant, the two hordes smashed together. There was no strategy to the battle, no finesse; both armies sought nothing more than to grind the other to pulp through brute strength and sheer numbers. As the two hordes melded into a raging morass of flesh and steel, both war leaders came face to face at the epicentre of the swirling storm of bloodshed.[2b]

The Black Orc Warlord towered over even the mighty Gorthor, yet the Beastlord knew with utter conviction that the power of the Dark Gods was his. Even as Gorthor invoked the forbidden names of the Chaos Gods, the Black Orc bellowed to its own, crude deities, and the duel began. It is said that none dared near the ensuing combat, for even to approach it was to risk dismemberment or trampling under iron-shod boot or sharpened hoof. Every blow that was struck would have cleaved a lesser foe in two, yet despite the score of wounds Gorthor inflicted on the Black Orc, the growling brute came on. And then, Gorthor was struck by another fleeting vision — this was not simply another enemy that he fought. It was a challenger, one who sought to usurp his position as the deliverer of Mankind's extinction. Fuelled by the same strength that had ensured his supremacy in the warherds, Gorthor redoubled his assault.[2b]

He gripped his huge spear in both hands, bringing it around in a wide arc that struck the mighty Black Orc hard in the side of its ugly head. The spear entered its pointed ear, splitting its skull as it passed out of the other side. The Black Orc roared in denial of Gorthor's victory before its eyes crossed and it sank to its knees, pitching onto the muddy ground. Gorthor stomped the corpse flat. Seeing their Warlord slain in such a manner, the remainder of the Orc horde fell into anarchy and confusion. The Beastmen, however, were spurred on by Gorthor's victory and, emboldened by their leader's cries of triumph, cut the Orcs down until not one of the greenskins remained alive upon the battlefield.[2b]


The Count of HochlandEdit

Hochland reinforcments

Imperial forces regrouping through the forest towards Hergig

The battle against the Black Orcs gave the humans valuable time in which to gather their forces. The Elector Count of Ostland sent what forces he had remaining to join with the defenders of Hochland, in the hope that the combined force would somehow be enough to halt their foe. But the Ostlanders were attacked and defeated by a band of Beastmen who had been ordered by Gorthor to watch the roads from the east, for he was granted a vision that revealed a trap closing around him. Knowing that his flank was now unchallenged, Gorthor took the horde further south, cutting a trail of devastation across Hochland. His destination was soon clear: Gorthor was marching against Hergig, the capital of Hochland itself.[2b]

Meanwhile, the armies of Hochland were marshalled under the Elector Count Mikael Ludendorf. A ruthless man who ruled his province with an iron fist, Ludendorf was feared rather than admired by his men. During those dark days it was perhaps better to have a merciless leader to match the savagery of Gorthor. With so many of Mikael's elite warriors away fighting in the Crusades, the forces of Hochland lacked heavy cavalry and elite infantry. The defenders knew they had no hope of matching Gorthor's horde on the open field of battle. Ludendorf ignored the pleas of his subjects to save the countryside from the ravages of the Beastmen, and instead busied himself with strengthening the defences of the provincial capital.[2b]

The defenders were divided into two contingents. The first group, mostly mounted Pistoliers and Outriders, were to fight a rearguard against the horde. The other half were to prepare the defences of Hergig. The Count supervised the preparations personally. Under his watchful gaze the men and women of Hergig slaved with little sleep or food. Many died of exhaustion and those who tried to flee were executed as traitors. The hunting grounds around Hergig were filled with cunning traps and snares. Outlying wells were poisoned and livestock brought into the city; those animals that could not be sheltered were butchered and burnt so that the Beastmen could not use them for food. The forests around Hergig were torched to create a massive killing ground for archers. Iron cooking pots, plowshares and the bells of the shrines were melted down and used to make weapons. The people of Hochland have sacrificed everything to defend the city to the very bitter end.[2b]


The Siege of HergigEdit

Beastmen war

The armies of Gorthor unleashed upon Hergig

When Gorthor's horde arrived, they found the preparations complete. It took the Beastmen three weeks of unremitting fighting to break through the fiendish defences the Men had prepared. Meanwhile, the workshops and forges of Hergig burned red hot as smiths and engineers laboured to make even more war engines and weapons for the Imperial armies to use. Frustrated with the stubborn resistance of the Imperials, Gorthor promised his herds that he would let them have the entire population of the city to feast upon as soon as it was taken. He would take none for himself save the head of his rival, Count Mikael. The Beastmen redoubled their efforts in barbarous anticipation of the victory and the feast it would bring. So it was that on one terrible night, twenty-two days after the siege had begun, the gates of Hergig splintered before the battering ram charge of a dozen barn-sized Razorgors.[2c]

The horde poured into the city after them as a flood breaching a dam. The braying herds sought out the defenders wherever they were to be found, making little or no distinction between soldiers and citizens. In no time at all, many of the buildings within the walls were ablaze and the fighting boiled down to a series of savage, running battles in which individual townhouses became bastions and open streets became killing grounds. Slavering Chaos Warhounds fought Imperial hunting dogs, and Harpies engaged in bitter aerial melee against noble hunting birds and elite griffon riders. The air soon became full of terrifying shrieks and cries as hawks, eagles, falcons and griffons snapped and ripped the flesh of their hideous foes. Far below, resistance collapsed before the terrifying stampede of the Minotaurs. The Greatswords of Hochland were the only warriors with the courage to face them.[2c]

A handful of Minotaurs were hamstrung by the warriors' double-handed blades, before their skulls were split in turn by the gigantic axes of the bullheaded creatures. Tuskgor Chariots rode down the brave but perhaps foolish spearmen who stood resolute before them. Masses of Gors overran the entrenched war engines of the city and butchered the crews, even though hundreds of Beastmen were blasted apart or mowed down in the process. Hochland Marksmen shot at the Beastmen leaders from hidden windows high above the streets, but Harpies pulled them from their hideaways and tore them apart. Priests of Ulric and Sigmar tried to outdo each other by attacking the Beastmen with ever-greater displays of holy wrath, but the Bray-Shamans rallied the warherds and drove them ever onwards.[2c]

For three days and three nights the battle raged on, with no quarter being asked for, or given. In the end, the Beastmen finally drove most of the defenders out of the city's south gate, and slaughtered those who remained. They were victorious but their casualties were horrendous. At least half of the horde was either dead or seriously wounded. Most of their chariots were crushed by stones thrown from the walls or broken in the savage street battles. With only a handful of troops left, Count Mikael withdrew to his palace. He ordered the archers on the walls to shoot with flaming arrows, and soon every building not already set ablaze by the Beastmen was burning at the hands of the defenders. Hundreds of Beastmen, along with many civilians hiding in the cellars and attics, were roasted alive. The Count appeared not to care — there was no place in his city for those who would not fight.[2c]

When his councillor suggested surrender, Mikael flew into a rage. He sent the man to Gorthor, saying that he was more a Beastman than a true son of Hochland. Gorthor offered the man freedom if he betrayed his lord and let the Beastmen into the palace. The councillor, loyal to his liege lord to the last, refused and was eaten alive by Gorthor himself. The Beastmen could already taste the victory feast of man flesh, the scent of burning meat thick in the air, while the defenders knew their time was up. Both sides prepared for one last, great battle. After many days of preparation, Gorthor's entire horde had mustered before the gates of the Count's palace. The city's central square and the streets all about were packed with Beastmen, while Cygors and Ghorgons reared above the buildings, smashing apart the flimsy structures in their hunger for the meat of their foes.[2c]


The Return of the CrusadersEdit

Returning Crusaders

The Knights of the Blazing Sun returning to avenge their fallen countrymen

Then, as the sun rose, the battle took on a new and dramatic turn. The earth suddenly began to shake under the heavy hooves of warhorses. Knights of the Order of the Blazing Sun galloped through the streets of Hergig. They had returned from Araby and, upon hearing of the Beastman army threatening the hinterland of the Empire, immediately rode to the aid of the defenders of Hochland. The knights rode into the rear of the seething Beastman horde, hundreds upon hundreds of heavily-armored warriors. These men were veterans of the wars of Araby, and led by Grand Master Heinrich, they crushed warherd after warherd with their long lances and hungry swords. In an attempt to meet the new threat, Gorthor ordered his retinues to turn to face the newcomers. Seizing his chance, Mikael led his own reserves to battle.[2c]

The Beastmen were caught between the hammer and the anvil and Gorthor knew that his cause was doomed unless he acted swiftly. Standing atop the ruins of a shattered statue of a longdead Emperor, surrounded by a hundred of his Bestigor, Gorthor raised his arms to the storm-wracked skies. He bellowed to the Chaos Powers to guide him while the battle raged all around, howling incantations in the Dark Tongue of Chaos. Knowing then that the gaze of the Dark Gods was upon him, he ordered his Bestigors to get him as close to Count Mikael as possible. The brutal Beastmen cut a red swathe through the battle until the Beastlord saw the Elector Count resplendent in his ancestral armour. Gorthor stepped forward and challenged Count Mikael to single combat.[2c]

Dismissing the pleas of his captains, the Count accepted. For almost an hour the two fought on the great palace steps. Both the enemy armies paused, near exhaustion, waiting for the outcome of duel — the Beastmen braying and barking with bloodlust, the Men silent, anxious and desperate. It seemed that the Elector Count would surely fall before the fury of the gigantic Beastlord, yet time and again he somehow parried Gorthor's incessant attacks. Then Gorthor struck such a heavy blow that the Count's shield was splintered and his ancient armour rent in two. Gorthor's spear pierced the Count's body, the Beastlord putting all of his strength into lifting the spear high into the air even as the transfixed Mikael slid down its length.[2c]


The Death of the BeastEdit

At the very instant of Gorthor's victory, the Count's Runefang, his magic blade of office, swept around almost of its own accord and plunged itself into Gorthor's chest. It seemed that the blessed blade hungrily drank the blood of the monstrous Beastman. Gorthor the Beastlord and Count Mikael of Hochland died together that instant, each the equal of the other in the judgement of the gods they served. The Beastmen, who had believed their leader invincible, fell back in disarray and scattered into the surrounding countryside. Though many chieftains tried to rally the horde, not one was the equal of Gorthor, and none could arrest its flight. The Men of Hochland were too tired to give chase. Hochland and Ostland were ultimately to recover, but only slowly, and vast areas around the Middle Mountains were never reclaimed. They remain the domains of the Beastmen, leagues of forest dotted with the ruins of villages and towns shattered and demolished by the Cloven Ones, overgrown and hidden by the trees.[2d]

Men will not go near these lost settlements, fearing the memory of evil times. When Men gather and tell the tales of the ravages of Gorthor, they shudder with fear, hoping against hope that the Beastmen will never rise again. But they know in their hearts that within the dark forests of the Empire the Beastmen breed and multiply, and that every year new Beastlords rise up from amongst the herds. One of them will eventually gather the Beastmen warherds together again. Then, the kings and priests of the world will tremble once more before the fury of the Cloven Ones.[2d]

Magic ItemsEdit

  • Impaler: Impaler is a monstrous spear, with brutal barbs placed on iron rings along its entire length. When pulled free, it rends flesh and gouges bone, mangling its victim beyond recognition.[1b]
  • Skull of Mugrar: This is the skull of the legendary lord of Minotaurs, Mugrar, and is fastened to Gorthor's chariot. It is enchanted with a powerful spell that curses those who would attack its carrier.[1b]
  • Cloak of the Beastlord: Along among Beastmen, Gorthor does not fear the curse on slaying a Shaman, for he knows that his favour amongst the gods is greater even than theirs. He made the Cloak of the Beastlord from the hides of those Shamans he killed.[1b]

SourceEdit

  • 1: Warhammer Armies: Beasts of Chaos
    • 1a: pg. 70
    • 1b: pg. 71
    • 1c: "Backcover"
  • 2: Warhammer Armies: Beastmen (7th Edition)
    • 2a: pg. 28
    • 2b: pg. 29
    • 2c: pg. 30
    • 2d: pg. 31
    • 2e: pg. 54

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