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Gutrot Spume is the lord of the Dragonbone tribe and the commander of the greatest plague fleet in the north. A proud warrior whose towering arrogance often leads him into battles against overwhelming odds, Spume has risen from the ashes of former failure to reclaim his position as one of the pre-eminent warlords of his age.[1a]
The love of the sea runs in Spume's veins. As a youth, he earned his name from his habit of plunging into the Sea of Claws with nothing but a knife. He spent more and more time underwater, slaying the eater-fish and swordsharks that roamed the fjords and dragged their corpses back to his tribe. His abilities as a warrior and a provider did not go unnoticed, and Spume soon became the jarl of the Dragonbone tribe.[1a]
Gutrot was not seeking to impress his fellow humans, however, but the gods above. Spume dived time and time again into the Sea of Claws. Whilst his contemporaries hunted spawn, trolls and slaughterbrutes on the tundra of his homeland, Spume sunk his knife into kharibdyss, sea serpent and merwyrm alike. When Spume heard tell of a gigantic rot-kraken that was haunting the coast of the Bile Lands, he made haste to hunt it down. The lunatic ambition of his plan saw his expedition amassing a flotilla of Norscan wolf ships, each filled with tribesmen eager to turn the seas red with the blood of monsters.[1a]
Though it took Spume several months of battling not only the deadly beasts of the Sea of Claws but also the elf fleets that sought to stop them, his shattered fleet eventually found the oily slicks of diseased fluids that were said to follow the rot-kraken's passage. Wasting no time, Spume stripped to the waist and dived deep into the waters. He followed the noisome stream of secretions that he reasoned led to the kraken's lair, until he glimpsed a tentacled shadow of immense size writhing in the depths.[1a]
His confidence brimming, Spume swam down and buried his blade in the thick fat that protected the kraken's skull. A series of low subsonic shivers pounded through the water, their tempo sounding uncomfortably like booming laughter. Too late, Spume saw smaller tentacled beasts converging upon him. Each of the pallid things was no larger than a hound, though they attacked in such number that he soon found himself fighting for his life. Rubbery white tentacles slapped and grabbed, razored beaks bit into his flesh. One of the creatures swallowed Spume's left arm whole.[1b]
Realising that he had seconds left at most, the jarl fought his way free, his legs scissoring as he reached desperately for the surface. He did not expect to survive, just as his men did not expect him to return from his foolhardy quest. Yet Grandfather Nurgle was feeling even more generous than usual, and though his rival gods turned away in disinterest at Spume's failure, the Lord of Decay saw fit to reward him for his bravery.[1b]
When Gutrot finally surfaced, his body had changed beyond recognition. His left side had merged with the kraken-spawn that had taken his arm, and his entire side bristled with tentacles that writhed with a mind of their own. His gut had swollen to twice its original bulk, and his skin was the ghostly white of an undersea beast. Spume climbed aboard his flagship once more, not as the jarl of a Norscan tribe, but reborn as the Lord of Tentacles.[1b]
It was not long before Spume marshaled his armada once more, this time intending to sack the coastal settlements of the Empire. Word spread of his powers, for those who opposed him quickly grew sickly and died, or were found drowned inexplicably in the night. By the spring equinox Spume's fleet of ramshackle vessels was plunging through the waves of the Sea of Claws towards the coast of Nordland. Ten thousand men and more were held within the hulls of the algae-caked ships, marauding tribesmen and armoured killers in equal number. This time they would carve their destinies from the soft flesh of southerners.[1b]
Gutrot Spume's fleet reached the Nordland coast all but intact, braving the cannon fire of its fjord-forts only to find the beach packed with rank upon rank of Empire state troops. Above them, commanders in elaborate helms flew on pegasus and griffon, bawling down orders for their men to hold. Amongst their number was Karl Franz himself, for the Empire knew well of the Norscan love of spring raids, and word of the approaching fleet had traveled fast.[1b]
The invading fleet sailed full speed into the bay, bellowing hordes leaping over shield-studded gunwales and thundering out into the shallows. In a matter of minutes battle had been joined, Spume at the forefront as the killing began. The warlord shouted a challenge to the Emperor high above, but instead of fighting him, the griffon rider turned his steed around and fled.[1b]
Spume was still laughing when the southern ruler returned a few hours later. His mirth soon faded when the pale-skinned Ice Queen that now shared his saddle cast a great spell that froze the waters of the bay, trapping the vast majority of his men up to the knees with it. With the Norscan hordes trapped in the frozen waves, the state troops of the south redoubled their attack, finding it easy to kill Spume's warriors one by one with longspear and halberd. Gutrot fought hard but eventually admitted defeat, skidding back along the thick ice to his flagship and sailing back to the Dragonbone tribe to lick his wounds. Over the years that followed, he rebuild his armies and his fleet, swearing a solemn oath that should he find a chance to wreak his revenge, he would seize it without hesitation.[1b]