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"Surrender von Raukov to me, or I will crush your city. All of Volganof will die. I swear to the gods your suffering will be great. You have a single day to decide your fate."
—Lord Mortkin[1k]
Chaos

Lord Morkin, The Black-Iron Reaver

Lord Mortkin, also known as the Black-Iron Reaver, was a mighty King of the Norscans and the commander of a fearsome army of Norse warriors known as the Fell Legion. He is primarily notable for his long and devastating campaign against Ostland and Nordland in 2515 IC, where he slaughtered the entire province in an orgy of bloody revenge in retribution for the destruction of countless Norse villages along the coastlands of Norsca by Elector Count Valmir von Raukov. During the war, Mortkin destroyed the ancestral seat of the von Raukov line, razed the cities of Kludburgh, Volganof and Saltraken, and personally slew the heir of the von Raukov house, Oleg von Raukov, in personal combat.[1c]

Many are the rumors of his life, the Sagas sung to his glory by the skald chanters of the Norse. In some tales, he was the son of a bloodthirsty warrior-king, fathered by the king's union with a Daemon succubus and born under a blood-red sky. In another he was a mighty chieftain of the tribes, driven by the lure of power and the whims of the gods. According to this version of the Saga, the iron-clad barbarian king returned from a mighty sea-raid covered in glory and the favour of the Chaos Gods, yet still he sought more. Thus he traveled to the north, driven by dreams of immortality, in search of ancient power and glory that would elevate him to pre-eminence in the eyes of the Gods. Thus it was, that when the man who would later be known as Lord Mortkin ventured into the madness of the True North, he gained the power he sought. And was changed beyond all recognition.[1c]

HistoryEdit

Mortkin

Lord Mortkin, Avenger of the North

Whatever his previous life, Lord Mortkin won great renown in the depths of the Chaos Wastes. Time passes strangely near the great rift and perhaps years, decades or even centuries went by as he travelled that blasted hellscape. In that time, the Norseman performed countless herculean feats of strength.[1c]

Mortkin's first victory was when he defeated the Leprous Council, a cabal of powerful Nurglite sorcerers. Braving the touch of their horrific magic, he closed the distance with them and cut them down with his mighty axe, earning the favour of Nurgle. Then, Mortkin matched wits with Skulex the Great, fiercest and most ancient of the mighty Fire Dragons, and bound the beast to his will through trickery and lies, earning the esteem of Tzeentch, Changer of the Ways.[1c]

Then did Mortkin seek out and overcome a massive two-headed Giant in an honest contest of strength. The Norseman's might was so great that he cast the towering beast to the ground without the use of weapons, and extracted from him an oath of service. This incredible display of strength intrigued Khorne, Norscan God of battle. Desiring to further test this mighty warrior, the Blood God sent his own consort, Valkia the Bloody, who shepherds the worthy into his Warrior's Hall, to face the Norse King in battle. Long did the two warriors of Norsca face each other in glorious battle, and the very Wastes themselves shook with their fury, until at last Mortkin fought Valkia into a standstill, an impossible feat in its own right, for few had ever survived the Shield-Maiden's assault, and fewer did match her fury in combat.[1c]

Thus did the Norse King earn the grudging respect of Khorne's Shieldmaiden and gain honour and pre-eminence in the eyes of the Blood God. The Chaos Gods clearly favoured Mortkin, and as his legend grew, many were the warriors of Norsca who pledged their swords to his banner. Yet despite the glory he gained, the power he was granted, or the honour he was afforded in the halls of the northern kings, the Black-Iron Reaver sank occasionally into a despondant gloom - perhaps feeling a pang for his lost humanity, a tug from earlier years of a life he left behind.[1c]

Raiders of the EmpireEdit

The Empire would soon come into a terrible reckoning with the Lord of the Fell Legion in 2515 IC. However, in order to fully understand those events, one must go further back and examine the events of the 3 years prior. In 2515 IC, the Realm of Chaos waxed and spread. The savage Norsemen, seeing this as the sign of the favour of their Dark Gods, began to once again to spill out of the North to ravage the civilized lands of the south. The only warnings of their raids were the harsh blaring of warhorns and bellowed oaths to cruel gods. The Northmen tore their way through the lands of Kislev and soon came upon the Empire, burning cities and towns and turning aside whole armies. Their attacks grew even more deadly in the coming years, and the longships of the Chaos Marauders began streaming in greater numbers from Norsca when the ice broke, ravaging the coastlands of the Empire. In response, the Imperial Navy sent an armada of warships to the Sea of Claws to stem the tide of raiders, and in addition, Nordland redoubled its coastal patrols. However, it was Ostland that took the most aggressive steps of all.[1a]

Led by Elector Count Valmir von Raukov and his son and heir, Oleg von Raukov, the province of Ostland girded itself for war. Valmir von Raukov, a war-like man by nature, had suggested the unthinkable -- to launch reprisal raids into the lands of the Enemy, into the unholy lands of Norsca just as as Sigmar himself had done in ages past. With a new, massive army of mustered state-troops, Valmir led the raids in 2513, putting several coastal towns of Norsca to the torch. Valmir's raids, for all their bluster, did not manage to penetrate very far inland, and were primarily contained to the Norscan coastline. There, his armies managed to put several Norse villages to the sword.[1a]

His son, Oleg von Raukov, had perhaps exceeded his father in that regard, having destroyed many settlements along the Norscan coast as well; among them were the coastal towns of Aarvik and Ulfennik. Valmir and his heir returned late in the year with the carven prows of longships and the beams of a greathall to mark to destruction of 7 Norscan villages. Much of the Empire, noble and commoner alike, toasted the accomplishments of the von Raukovs, announcing Valmir as a true hero of Sigmar's realm. Others however, protested, fearing that these audacious attacks would draw the ire of the Norsemen, or worse, that of their Dark Gods.[1a]

Vengeance of the Fell LordEdit

Black Iron Reaver

Lord Mortki wielding his mighty Hellfire Blade

Word of the raids spread quickly enough throughout the Northern Wastes. Some tribes howled in indignation, while others welcomed the challenge, eager to fight men so anxious for battle. But Lord Mortkin, Lord of the Fell Legion, champion of the Chaos Gods, and Jarl of many tribes, had not spoken since hearing of the raids. For by chance, the coastal town of Ulfennik, the place he had once called his home, had been razed to ground at the hands of the Ostlanders. By Oleg von Raukov himself no less. Brooding, the mighty champion locked himself within his fortress of blackest iron in the deepest reaches of Norsca. In his unholy fury, Mortkin made yet another pact with his gods.[1c]

Many are the champions who seek to rise to ultimate glory when the Realm of Chaos waxes. At such times, the gods often choose a single champion to place their greatest blessings on, so that he may lead their worshipers to the final ruination of the world. Archaon Everchosen was long on the path to becoming this champion, but his fate was not yet decided. Nurgle put forth a Pox Sorcerer to be this lord, Khorne a warrior-king of the NorseSlaanesh his own favoured son Prince Sigvald. Only Tzeentch chose a champion not his own -- the Lord of the Fell Legion, the mighty Mortkin. Lord Mortkin, pious in the manner of the Norse, alone venerated the Dark Gods in great and equal measure. But he was ever his own man, looking after his own interests first. The gods were wary of electing a man who might fail to do their bidding, but nonetheless were united in granting Mortkin their ultimate blessings. When Mortkin, alone and raging within his fortress, swore his oath to the gods that he would carve his wergild from the flesh of the civilized lands, his oath was heard.[1b]

Thus it was that when Lord Mortkin emerged from his self-imposed exile, it was with single-minded purpose. Lord Mortkin strode forth, with the full might of his Fell Legion marshalled behind him, to put an end to the tribal warfare that had riven the Norsemen apart and to lead them southward to bring ruin to the Empire. To aid in this, Mortkin bound Kargharak the Bloodthirster and his host of Daemons to his banner. In time, Mortkin's horde arrived upon the icy plains and laid waste to all those who would not bow before him. [1c]

Zakhar the Sorcerer, Master of the Coven of the Eternal Eye, was the first to pledge his allegiance to Mortkin; having seen the gods promise victory to the Black-Iron Reaver in his visions. An easy claim to believe, for Mortkin had already crushed all the hosts of rival champions with ease. Already at his command marched rank upon rank of black-armoured warriors and hordes of slavering Daemons, and even a great Dragon flew at his command. Lord Hackbile soon joined Zakhar, pledging his plagued warriors to Mortkin's cause. In addition, many other barbarian chieftains of Norsca and beyond bent their knee to Mortkin. The tribes of the Blackaxes, Kin-Slayers, Beast-Flayers, Crow Brethren, Wyrmkin and the Scourge of the North all pledged their loyalty to the king. After eight days of butchery, Mortkin led his host southwards.[1d]

The horde crossed from its homeland of Norsca into the tainted wastes of the Troll Country, absorbing the various barbarian tribes raiding from their holdings there as well as newly materialized daemonic hosts into their already massive number. The Norsemen ravaged their way through Kislev. The nomadic Ungol tribes were soon hemmed on all sides by axe-wielding berserkers, and their blood warmed the icy ground. Through the maelstrom of raiders, the spearhead of the army marched; a horde of barbarian warriors angled straight at Ostland. The army paused at the scorched ruins of the dead city of Tzeskagrad, where Mortkin commanded Zakhar and his sorcerers to enact the Ritual of Shrivelled Hands - an unholy spell to locate the Beastmen tribes and summon them to war.[1d]

Mortkin's messangers rode the hidden paths of the Forest of Shadows, guided along their way by the gnarled hand talismans claimed from the bodies of the people of Tzeskagrad. Their charge was to find the greatest chieftain of the Beastmen -- Ul-Ruk the Red, and bring his warherd under the command of the Norscan Chaos Lord. When they presented the talismans to Ul-Ruk's Bray-Shamans, they foresaw the darkling dreams of conquest and glory and nodded ascent to their chieftain. With a thundering roar, Ul-Ruk roused his people to war. Within weeks, thousands of cloven hooves marched northward to pledge their steel to the Northmen's cause, and Ul-Ruk the Red took to a knee and offered his fealty to the Black-Iron Reaver. Thus, the old bonds between the Children of Chaos and the Men of Norsca were reforged.[1d]

Fall of OstlandEdit

Mortkin's invasion

The Norse invasion

His army bolstered by daemonhosts and hordes of raging beastkin, Mortkin reaped conquest after conquest as he ravaged the province of Ostland. Smashing aside the armies mustered by Oleg von Raukov from the Ostforts and the Kislevite forces led by Pitr Sergayev. The survivors of the Norscan invasion fled to the most well-defended city in the province: Volganof. These included Oleg von Raukov and his sickly brother, Vassily von Raukov. The other members of Count Valmir's family, such as his wife Ivana von Raukov, were lost to the tender mercies of the Northmen with the destruction of the family's ancestral castle. Valmir von Raukov now returned only to find his homeland in ruins, just as Mortkin had. The irony was likely pleasing to the barbarian king.[1d]

Soon, the Norscan army converged upon Volganof. The whispered counsel of the Daemons bound to Mortkin told him how best to cripple the Empire, how to bring about the Final End for Sigmar's realm that the gods wished him to. But Mortkin, so mighty that even Daemons begged his clemency, followed naught but his own counsel in war. He had hunted Oleg von Raukov, the butcher of Ulfennik, throughout the province, putting untold thousands to the sword and burning cities and towns in his single-minded search, crushing even the ancestral seat of the von Raukovs and slaying all he could find within. His rage was carried in every survivor's cry of despair as they recounted his desolation of the northern territories and the atrocities he and his Norsemen committed on the city of Kludburgh. Mortkin had brought the eastern half of the Empire to its knees.[1k]

To the harsh blaring of a thousand northern warhorns, Mortkin appeared from the endless ranks of his horde, flanked on either side by Kargharak the Bloodthirster and Zakhar of the Eternal Eye. Despite the terror that such lieutenants inspired, Mortkin was far more fearsome with every despairing eye of Volganof soon transfixed upon him. Mounted atop his thunderous Juggernaut, a gift from the Blood God for his epic massacres in the Chaos Wastes, the massive form of the Chaos Lord was wreathed in an aura of power so dreadful that to look upon him wounded an onlooker's very soul. So much eldritch energy was being channeled into the warrior-king that iridiscent flames flickered about him. Here truly was the favoured champion of the nameless gods of the north. Stunned by his might as they were, there was no confusion as to which one of the sons of Valmir von Raukov he demanded be handed over.[1k]

Battle of VolganofEdit

"Hold fast, men of Ostland. Where walls fall, there must stand men. But I will not be pulled from Volganof like a beast from a trap! Who will join me in taking the fight to our foe? Who will sally out with me?"
—Oleg von Raukov[1l]
Oleg von Raukov

Oleg von Raukov, Prince of Ostland.

The next day, when Mortkin returned within sight of the walls to receive Volganof's answer, he found he was answered not by a human voice, but by the sound of firing cannons. Battle was now joined. Mortkin raised his battle-axe, flames erupting along the blade, at this signal, his warriors surged out from the Forest of Shadows. All the nightmarish troops of Chaos - bloodthirsty Norsemen, beast-headed warriors and others. Zakhar and his acolytes enacted a terrible spell that caused a comet to fall from the sky and obliterate an entire portion of the famed wall of Volganof; sending he defenders' screams of fear and the Norsemen's triumphant howling high in the air. This temporarily sent the defenders into disarray, but Oleg von Raukov rallied them. At the northern walls, Handgunners and others manned the battlements while Oleg and his counter-army marched out from the south.[1k]

At Mortkin's order, the Chaos invaders charged forward. The black-armoured champions of Norsca led the charge along with their tribesmen. Handgunners discharged their weapons, handed their gun to a loader, accepted a new firearm, and fired again without needing to take aim. But it was at the southern walls, where Oleg led his counter-attack, that Mortkin had placed his real strength. It was here that he unleashed the howling fury of the Bloodthirster Kargharak and his daemonhost. The Daemons caused a great slaughter and dealt a grevious blow to Oleg von Raukov's army. However, miraculously, the Imperials were able to defeat the daemonhost and banish the Bloodthirster back to the Realm of Chaos. Battered but unbroken, Lord Mortkin, his armoured form filled to bursting with the power of Chaos, saw that now was the time to complete his vengeance and unleashed the matchless fury of his own Fell Legion.[1m]

So did the armoured Norsemen advance under banners of black and red, impervious to all harm while their great axes clove men in twain. The majority of the counter-army of Oleg von Raukov broke at the brutal attacks, and those who fled were burned alive by the clouds of flame sent down upon them by the Fire Wyrm Mortkin had enslaved to his will. Soon, Mortkin himself entered the field, slaughtering all before him until he locked his gaze upon Oleg von Raukov. Here at last was the man he had crossed half a world to kill.[1m]

Thrice did Oleg strike Mortkin with his magic blade, a gift of great power from the Ice Queen herself. Three strikes that would have obliterated any lesser man several times over did not even register on the hulking form of the Norscan king; it was not the fate of a mortal man, even one so courageous as Oleg von Raukov, to defeat the Lord of the Fell Legion. Having easily weathered the smaller man's attacks, Mortkin drew his axe.[1l]

With a single strike that could have slaughtered a Giant, Mortkin smote Oleg von Raukov, whose body crumpled and was blooded beyond all recognition. Although mortally wounded, the valiant man struggled to rise up and continue to fight. Mercilessly, the Chaos Lord smashed him back down to the ground and crushed the life out of him with his heel. Vengeance at last did he take, though it would pass like all things, he would glut his savage soul upon it for as long as he could. For a single, surreal moment, the battlefront was stilled. Then, in the distance, came the blaring of warhorns.[1l]

The Reiksguard had finally arrived, the desperate reinforcements charging to the rescue of the beleaguered Ostland and Ostermark soldiers, just as the Daemons had warned. Mortkin, a cunning war-leader, had already placed Ul-Ruk and his Beastmen in reserve to deal with them. All that was left was to give the signal for the wretched creatures to spring out from their hiding places and engage the enemy. Mortkin felt the power sing in his veins, the Winds of Magic supplying so much dark energy that he felt it throb in a corona about him. This he knew was only the beginning, for already he could sense another host of Daemons scratching at the veil between worlds, and far to the north, the tribes were were congregating in a great host and sailing south to join him. He was the vessel chosen by the Dark Gods to enact their great plan. And yet, his mind was clear. He had taken his vengeance and now his part was done. Thus did Mortkin drop his axe, and with both hands, lift the horned war-helm from his bearded head and spoke these words aloud to all in a voice like thunder;[1n]

"Wergild is paid. Let Volganof burn to pay for my home of Ulfennik. Never again will I return there. My saga is ended. I choose now to die as a man, my will my own. I go now, too late mayhaps, to the halls of my fathers."
—Lord Mortkin[1l]

With that, the fell light around Mortkin died out, the bitter gods perhaps taking back that which they had given. Mortkin's personal guard, the matchless warriors of the Crimson Reapers, awoke too late from their amazement to safeguard their king. The Scarlet Curs, filled with hate over the death of Oleg von Raukov, overran the despondent Chaos Lord and cut him down. Howling with grief at their lost, the enraged Crimson Reapers waded into the fray, slaying all who stood between them and their fallen king. The red-armoured Norsemen slaughtered the Scarlet Curs to a man in revenge for the loss of their king, and formed an impenetrable circle around his body. There they stood in the courtyard of Volganof keep, and none dared approach them.[1n]

AftermathEdit

The final clashes played out on the plains outside the fallen city. The Reiksguard and Imperial relief army led by Kurt Helborg, Ludwig Schwarzhelm and the returning Count, Valmir von Raukov, did battle with the Norscan warhost. Bereft of Lord Mortkin's leadership, the horde turned in on itself as tribesmen fought each other over old slights and unpaid wergilds, while others simply left and went home. Even though tearing itself apart from within and bereft of half its number, the horde was still a profoundly mighty foe and defeat was still a real outcome for the Imperials. But whatever the result, the damage had been done. Ostland lay in ruins and Volganof was annihilated.[1p]

For many long hours, the Crimson Reapers fought off Imperials, Beastmen and fellow Norsemen who accused them of turning traitor. But they made no effort to leave as the remains of Volganof were soon rendered into nothing by the uncontrolled flames. Eventually, the fire scoured the city to the last, consuming the faithful Crimson Reapers, and their great leader. Thus it was, that Lord Mortkin's final resting was the site of his final conquest. A funeral pyre so great as to blind the gods themselves; a fitting end to the tale of one of the mightiest champions of the North.[1p]

CharacterizationEdit

"I am shaken, Ludwig. I do not think, as others do, that it was our arrival upon the battlefield that won this victory -- if victory we can call it. If their Lord had not ceased fighting, I do not believe we could have beaten them. Victory was in his grasp, yet by all accounts he just gave up... What manner of man was he?"
Kurt Helborg, Grandmaster of the Reiksguard[1p]

In life, Mortkin was a conqueror. A warrior-king and iron-willed leader bent on gaining glory and power. Yet somewhere along the way he came to long for his lost humanity even as he gave more and more of himself to the Chaos Gods. Despite the great honour he was afforded by his people, the Norse and the other servants of Chaos, Mortkin found himself sinking into despondency on occasion. For as the story goes, he had faced and overcome all challenges, and all he now sought was an ending.[1c]

Yet he had lost no ferocity for his wariness. Mortkin was capable of great passion and anger when roused, the destruction of his home lifting all feelings of dejection from him and fostering pure rage and will to see those responsible for the crime suffer an unholy fate. When he strode out of his fortress, with his oath made, Mortkin made decisive steps to put an end to the petty clan rivalry and bring the warriors of Norsca under his banner. Truly, he was a capable and fearsome man when crossed, and was possessed of the same insane battle-lust and love of destruction that so characterizes the vicious champions of Chaos.[1c]

Though devoted to the Dark Gods and venerating all equally, Mortkin was ever his own man first, and looked after his own interests before his duty to the gods. After he exacted vengeance with the brutal slaying of Oleg von Raukov, Mortkin resolved the end of his tale. For he had accomplished all he desired and there was nothing left for him to live for, ultimately he wished for the glory of the afterlife, however it might be, over serving eternally as a slave to the Dark Gods. He had set out to take vengeance for his home and wanted nothing else. Indeed, Kurt Helborg, in the aftermath of the slaughter, reflected that Mortkin was not a Daemon in human flesh as many thought a Norscan would be, but rather a mortal man, with the same desires and soul as any other. Ultimately, that Mortkin's humanity still lingered in a man so corrupted and consumed by Chaos, is a grim lesson to all those who claim to stand against Chaos. For it shows that all men, no matter how pious, brave, honourable or just, are susceptible to the unholy thrall of the Dark Powers.[1n]

Wargear and abilities Edit

It is undeniable that Mortkin was a terrifyingly powerful Chaos Lord. When he entered the Chaos Wastes, he overcame many challenges, not the least of which was defeating a massive Giant in a test of strength and fighting Valkia the Bloody herself to a standstill, both feats speaking volumes of his incredible strength and skill in battle. His attacks were devastating, often described as being so lethal that they could fell Giants in a single strike. He also defeated the Leprous Council, potent Sorcerers of Nurgle, which shows his ability to resist magic. Indeed, Mortkin showed great resistance to arcane powers, evident also in how the Ice Blade of Von Raukov, a relic of Kislev entrusted to them by the Ice Queen, did little to pierce his armour.[1q]

When the gods saw fit to make him their instrument, Mortkin was so filled with the power of Chaos that the Winds of Magic throbbed in a great corona all around him. That such an influx power did not cause him to devolve in a Chaos Spawn is in itself evidence of his willpower and his sheer favour in the eyes of the gods. Mortkin was also able to call upon this bestowed power to become a lethal killing machine (more so), striking with staggering ferocity. The favour of the Dark Gods also made him impervious to all but the most powerful spells.[1q]

The Black-Iron Reaver was an able and charismatic leader, for he brought the contentious Northmen under his banner in such numbers that his leadership could only be matched by one of the Everchosen themselves. His very presence made his warriors unbreakable in battle, and such was the mythical aura about him that his presence on the field alone drove his fellow Norsemen to untold heights of bloody bravery; such was the respect he was afforded by the Norse. His campaign of conquest which left much of Kislev in flames and ravaged almost the whole of Ostland also speaks highly of his skill as a general. In addition to his battleaxe, Mortkin bore the Hellfire Sword and rode upon a Juggernaut, the latter being a gift from Khorne for his bloodletting in the Chaos Wastes.[1q]

SourcesEdit

  • 1: Warhammer Rulebook (8th Edition)
    • 1a: pg. 452
    • 1b: pg. 453
    • 1c: pg. 454
    • 1d: pg. 455
    • 1e: pg. 456
    • 1f: pg. 457
    • 1g: pg. 458
    • 1h: pg. 459
    • 1i: pg. 460
    • 1j: pg. 461
    • 1k: pg. 462
    • 1l: pg. 463
    • 1m: pg. 464
    • 1n: pg. 465
    • 1o: pg. 466
    • 1p: pg. 467
    • 1q: pg. 470

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