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"Say what you will of us, call us heathens because we deny your weak pretender-god. Call us savages because we strike at you, but know this -- it is we who are closest to the Ruinous Powers. We, most favoured of the gods, shall burn your lands, revel in your suffering, and destroy you. Despair! For all that remains for you is the taste of northern steel and the end of your world. Such is the will of the Gods."
—Hallbjörn, Norse Marauder [36]
Mon 256

The Ruinous Star upon their red war-shields clearly displays the Norscans' devotion to Chaos

Norsca is a peninsula located in the far north of the Old World, lying on the doorstep of the Chaos Wastes itself.[1a] It is bordered to the south by the frigid waters of the Sea of Claws, to the north by the Kraken Sea and the Realm of Chaos, and to the east by the roving Kurgan tribes of the Steppes. Suffused with the unholy energies of Chaos by its proximity to the ruined Warp Gate that lies at the northern pole, it is a brutal realm where no one ruler holds sway. Instead, the bleak and brutal landscape is divided amongst the barbaric kingdoms and territories of many bloodthirsty and warlike tribes, ruled by dark-armoured Chaos Champions blessed by the favour of their gods, and who are thus held up as akin royalty by their brethren as a result.[7c]

Norsca is inhabited by a race of savage and ferocious humans known as the Norscans; fur-clad warriors and berserkers of hairy brawn who sail the seas in fearsome longships in order to unleash their devastating fury upon the south. Warlike and cruel, the Norse are the very epitome of the Warriors of Chaos; fanatically devoted champions of the Dark Gods and the baneful scourge of their foes.[1a][2a][3a] The brutality of their raids have been felt as far abroad as the Witch King's baleful domain of Naggaroth and the mysterious realm of Cathay,[35] for the men of Norsca are reckoned to be perhaps the most adept sailors and navigators in all the world;[1a] unequaled by any in their courage and reckless thirst for conquest. The Norsemen are, without exception, great warriors, blessed with incredible strength at arms and fearsome demeanours.[7b][51b] It is the dream of nearly every member of this fierce people to ascend to the ranks of the greatest warriors -- to become mighty Champions of Chaos and bear the dread marks of their gods' ruinous favour.[7c][51b]

Norsca is a savage and brutal land, plagued by lethal winters for more than half the year, and worse, lashed perpetually by raging gales of Chaos energies howling down from the ancient ruins of the fallen Warp Gate resting at the very heart of the northern Chaos Wastes.[7a] As such, no sane Human being would be able to survive in this harsh wasteland with their sanity intact. It is for this reason that most, if not all the tribes of the Norsca, are affected to some extent by the power of Chaos, causing their flesh to warp and mutate through the influences of their Gods, and their minds to be plunged into the darkest depths of the most violent insanity. The Norscans see these alterations as the "blessings" of their dreadful deities, which empower them to strive above and conquer all who oppose them. Hard-bitten and war-like, the men of Norsca are the greatest of all the warriors of the Dark Gods.[1a]

Geography

"I spent a year in that hellish place. Can you believe it? For six months straight, it was dark, the sun barely came over the horizon. And let me tell you, those were the most dangerous six months of my life."
—Mikel Kraus, Mercenary[7a]
Norscalandscape

The Chaos-tainted wastes of Norsca are the bane of the weak

Geographically Norsca is, for the most part, a frozen boreal wasteland bereft of all trappings of civilisation, albeit one so large that it could fit the entirety of the Empire into it several times over. Stalked by all manner of gruesome monsters, the tales Old Worlders tell of it fail to fully encapsulate its brutality.[7a] Few crops grow here, for the land is hard as iron and the howling winds cut like daggers of purest cold, and it is for this scarcity that the Northmen have learned to spurn the sickle and ploughshare, instead deigning to take what they need to survive from the lands of weaker men with the axe and sword. [3a] A network of fjords and mist-clouded isles wreathes the coasts, and it is from here that the Northmen build and tether the longships with which they terrorise the shores of the known world [3a].

Scattered coastal settlements provide some respite from the harshness of the elements, but even they are regularly assaulted by Bloodkrakens and other such horrors. Further inland however, the great fjords give way gives way to frozen steppes where brutal tribesmen hunt their game, taking care to avoid the bone-carpeted lairs of ice drakes. It is a grim, shadowy land where the weak do not live long, and where living means a constant fight for survival, supremacy, and the chance to appease the Dark Gods [3a]. The landscape is famed chiefly for its mighty and foreboding mountain ranges; such as the Jotunheims, the Mountains of Frost and Dusk, and the Mountains of Thjazi [7a].

The mountains themselves are cloaked in local myth and history, and are sometimes named for ruined fortresses sitting atop their icy peaks, or for mighty and legendary beasts that nest amongst the crags and defiles. Though the mountains dominate the country's interior, they are far from the only feature. Massive stretches of forest mark a great deal of the land; ancient taigas that house foul secrets of the Dark Gods, as well as ferocious beasts of unnatural strength and power. To the north, immense seas of glacial pack ice stretch down and cover nearly the entirety of the upper half of the country, rendering Norsca as a glaciated wasteland. These ice fields form the Frozen Sea along the north, the great strait that separates Norsca from the true Chaos Wastes [7a].

Massive frozen glaciers are a common sight, particularly in the arctic climes of the northernmost parts of the country. The great Hellwyrm Glacier is one of the most well known of these, having been the site of a climactic battle between the iron-clad Chaos Warriors of Valgar the Butcher and the Undead legions of Settra the Imperishable during the fabled War of Sand and Snow [3]. The great Ice Field of Drergan Mort too has played host to mighty conflicts between the Baersonling tribe and their rivals, particularly the tribes of Kurgan. Many times have the Norse emerged victorious from that field of death, proving their strength in the eyes of their Infernal Masters.

Norscan cliff

The rugged cliffs of Norsca

The seas of Norsca are just as dangerous as the land itself. For amidst the frigid waves of the Sea of Chaos prowl the fearsome black longships crewed by barbarians and mastered by the terrible champions of Chaos who reave and raid as they will, bringing bloody battle to any ship cursed with the misfortune of crossing them. From the ports and fjords of the Norselands do the terrible Chaos Fleets sail, harbouring cargoes of bloodthirsty marauders intent on putting civilisation to fire and blade. Moreover, the icy cold of the Sea of Claws is itself as much the bane of sailors as the savage sea-faring warriors who ride its waves; with winds so cold they freeze the very spray, causing knives of frost to pierce the flesh and freeze extremities. And deep below the tides lie creatures that have been touched with the grace of Chaos that capsize ships and feast upon the flesh of Men. Small wonder then, that men grow vicious and cruel in these lands [7a].

Harsh lands breed harsh folk, and the Norscans have been moulded into some of the fiercest and most violent warriors to blight the earth. A race of ferocious raiders who must kill and plunder in order to survive. However, during the summer months, the air warms just enough to enliven the sparse stretches of land suitable for farming, which serves to supplement the Norscans' common diet of fish, bear-flesh and the meat of the far less savoury creatures that prowl the wilderness. All other months, however, the land is deathly cold, and unnatural snow-storms are a constant, made all the worse by the unholy winds blowing down north from the Chaos Wastes. Half the year is a dim twilight, the sun barely a disk of light hanging low on the horizon. Within the land itself lies things warped and changed by the loosed energies of Chaos that permeate this ancient land, though there is however wealth hidden amongst its terrible dangers -- the mountains that hide veins of gold and iron, as well as other precious metals. And then there is the Warpstone; the very essence of Chaos given form in the world, which saturates the ground so that it that the very land is infused with it [7a]. Though Norsca's distance and danger is a potent deterrent to keep all but the bravest of merchants from travelling there, the rare treasures hidden amongst its dangers yet provides a tantalising lure for the courageous and mad to make the journey north and risk their lives under a Norseman's blade; and their immortal souls upon their bloody altars [7a].

Landmarks

Norsca 03

Norscan shrines to Tzeentch

The most striking features of Norsca raised by mortal and immortal hand alike are the great monoliths that dot the primeval wilderness, these ungodly monuments serve as focal points for channeling the raw power of Chaos, and sorcerers who find themselves near these constructs will likely find their powers greatly augmented by their proximity. Those with the courage to look upon the monoliths more closely are like to find runic inscriptions in the Norscan tongue writ clearly upon them. These inscriptions often foretell the sagas of the great heroes of Norsca; the Champions of Chaos. Chaos Monoliths, as they are known, are towering runestones raised by the Norse tribes for the commemoration of some legendary tribal hero or king for some deed of martial majesty that won that figure the renown of the Dark Gods.

Monoliths are most often raised with stone, but can also be composed of more esoteric material as a result of Norsca's otherworldly qualities. Bone, bloody flesh, marble, precious gems, and so on are all examples of materials Chaos Monoliths may be composed of. Wealthier tribes are able to comission monoliths to be crafted by the Chaos Dwarfs of Zorn Uskal, who are said to cast the great runestones in brass polished to a mirror sheen that reflects not the countenance of the onlooker, but the savage visage of the warlord the monolith commemorates [17d], [17e].

Monoliths serve as commemorators of heroes and kings, repositories of the histories of the Norscan people, but they also serve as markers of tribal territories or the holdings of warbands. Monoliths quickly become places of pilgrimmages among the northern tribes, and most Norscans will not pass one without leaving an offering of some kind or at least reciting the saga written upon it. The Norsemen believe that the Gods themselves watch over the monoliths, protecting it from the ravages of time and judging the worth of those who come before them. Monoliths may sometimes stand watchful over cairns of fallen champions, where the bodies of the dead heroes are interred often with their weapons and armours, making them a tempting, albeit difficult, target for would be grave-robbers [17d].

Aside from the Monoliths, the lands of Norsca are dotted with massive great-halls of the various tribes. Expansive thatched structures constructed of oak and pine where the tribes gather to feast and carouse and prepare themselves for their campaigns of rapine and slaughter against their enemies. Most Norscan halls are massive structures, but a fair few are titanic even by northern standards. The great Hall of the Snaegr that lies in the land of the Skaelings, or the great Hall of Strovengaard: home to the fearsome Egil Styrbjorn are but two grandiose examples of truly legendary great halls [4], [4a]. There is also the great Hall of Urslo, home to the ferocious Ursfjordings.

Then there are fortresses, Norscan fortresses are not quite as ostentatious or grand as those erected by the civilised nations of the Old World, but still, these barbaric fastnesses are highly defendable positions. Ruled over by the mightiest kings and warlords of the land, the fortresses of Chaos number among them the Doomkeep, the Forbidden Citadel, the Altar of the Crimson Harvest, and the Tower of Khrakk. The great fortress of Ormfell also exists in the lands of the Sarls, erected at the place where the great Sarl hero Ormr defeated a terrible serpent and set its bones into his throne. Centuries later, the Sarl king Ulgra Troll-Eater marched southwards alongside the Everchosen Asavar Kul, and shattered the walls of Kislev, carrying the rubble back to Norsca to set as a reinforcement of his ancestral seat's ancient defenses. At one point, the daemon fortress of Baga Yar, the great witch, stood in the lands of the Skaelings, but was long ago laid low by the Chaos Champion known as Wulfrik the Wanderer, who led an army of warriors to conquer the daemon fastness and its unholy mistress, slicing off the arms of Baga Yar and boiling her alive in her own cauldron in order to steal the great longship known as the Seafang. [14]

Origins

Chaos Warrior

A Norse Chosen in service to Khorne

There are many different theories amongst the scholars of the Old World regarding the origins of the Norscans. Some aver that the Norse are the descendants of daemons, a race of bloodthirsty monsters whose very existence is at odds with the natural order [7a], while others argue that they are a race of giants and kin to the hulking denizens of the Ogre Kingdoms. Yet others submit that the Norsemen are supernatural creatures of ice and snow, born of the merciless winds of winter [7a].

In truth, the ethnogenesis of the Norscans begins with their ancient ancestors, the Norsii, an ancient tribe of barbarians who had long venerated the Chaos Gods, particularly the Blood God Kharneth. Ancient sagas record that during the cataclysmic events of the Fall of the Old Ones, when Chaos first burst forth into the world, that tribes of primitive humans made common cause with the daemonic hordes, creating unholy pacts with Chaos's dark lords and binding their people to their worship. Thus were born the first of the Warriors of Chaos, and the Norsii were among those first tribes to pledge their souls to Chaos, alongside the ancestors of the Kurgan and Hung. Riding as the vanguard of the Chaos hordes, these barbarous mortal tribes brought ruin and devastation upon the gleaming kingdoms of Dwarf and Elf, and so were the mighty bastions of order humbled by their brutal onslaught [3d], and untold millions were slain.

The much later records of the Norscan Dwarf Clans, most significant being the Chronicle of Dread Yngvarr Iovarsson, make mention of several specific tribes of warlike humans, far outstripping the Imperial tribes in their savagery and bellicosity, migrating and settling in the northernmost parts of the Old World. These being the lands later to become Kislev, Nordland, and Ostland. Most significant among these groups were the horse-bound Ungols, the grim Frikings, the Tor-worshiping Roppsmenn, and, most notably, the savage bloodbound Norsii tribes, such as the brutal warriors of the ferocious Iron Wolves clan, and others besides [12][12a]

The migration of the northern tribes is dated reliably in the Norse Dwarf chronicles as having taken place in -1012 IC, putting it roughly 20 years prior to the later Blackfire Pass migration of the Hunberokin, Teutokin, Merokin, and other Imperial precursors [12a]. The Norsii settled in their new homelands, raiding and pillaging their neighbors for additional resources and to catch the eyes of their malefic deities [8]. Imperial legends from before the Age of Sigmar narrate how, having been pushed to their limits by the conquests of the Norsii, the southerly tribes had banded together into a great host to push the Norsii to the uttermost northern lands of the Reik Basin, confining the brutal raiders to the lands above the Middle Mountains for centuries [8]. Other Norsii clans were driven yet further back to the Chaos Wastes themselves, where they were believed by the southern tribes to have perished [8]. This was not the case however, and it was in these unholy lands that the Norsii were able to indulge themselves more freely in the gifts of the Chaos Gods, and connect themselves more deeply with the darkest aspects of their violent beliefs. These black-armoured marauders would return to their kinfolk in black-prowed longships, rising to lead their kinsmen in warfare [8], [7a].

As one of the earliest tribes to settle the Reik Basin, the Norsii may have also participated in the massacre of the peaceful agriculturist tribes that had settled the area previously. Likely alongside the Roppsmenn and the Teutogens. The Norsii are also known to have contended mightily with the Udoses, having raided and despoiled the lands of their enemies on countless occasions. In 9 IC, the Norsii under High King Cormac Bloodaxe assaulted the Udoses capital city and slew King Wolfilla and his entire family, crucifying their bodies upon the walls of their own palace [9]. Barbarous and warlike, even beyond that of the Teutogen or the Ungols, the Norsii were ever the bane of their southerly neighbours, despised and feared for their brutality and consummate skill at warfare. It was only under the rule of Sigmar Heldenhammer that the ferocious Sea-Wolves of the Norsemen were held at bay, and finally driven from the Empire for all time to people their bleak homeland in the Chaos Wastes.  

As the chosen race of the Ruinous Powers, the Norsemen had seen it as their right and duty to butcher and plunder the tribes of the south, laying low all who dared to oppose them [8]. Virtually unchallenged until the rise of blessed Sigmar. Pleased by the ferocity of their servants, the Dark Gods bestowed the Norsii with the blessings of Chaos, increasing their indomitable might and making them as wolves amongst sheep. Forever on the fringes of the southern lands, the Norsii became a fearsome race of skilled fighters, and many vicegerents of the Dark Gods had served as advisers to the northern clans, guiding and shaping their destinies, preparing the Norsii for their role as the harbingers of the End Times.

The depredations of the Norsii are described in grandiose terms by the legends of the age of Sigmar; speaking of hulking Norsemen bedecked in heavy black plate, wielding brutal axes and kite shields taller than any man. Of towering armoured horsemen hefting huge iron lances, mounted upon great destriers with burning red eyes. Of dark shaman who summoned forth daemons of blood and fire to fight alongside the armies of the Norse. Of dark, majestic warrior-kings of unsurpassed martial might, who dwelt within black halls of iron and beheaded and gutted their enemies within their fortresses in praise of the cruel gods they so faithfully worshiped. Indeed, few had faced the warhosts of the Norsemen and lived to speak of it; those who had tried were simply butchered violently and left as a sacrifice to the brazen war-god of the Northmen [8], [26].

Faced by the extreme opposition of Sigmar Heldenhammer and a united army of several tribes, and still reeling from the loss of High King Varag Skulltaker in battle during the previous year, the Norsii clans were unable to successfuly hold their ground against the southron onslaught. Though the Norsemen fought like maddened bears in the defense of their homesteads, they were eventually forced northwards by the armies of the Unberogen, Udoses, Taleutens, and Cherusens [8]. Fleeing across the northeastern rivers, the Norsii were then forced to contend with the fierce Ungol horse-tribes, but were able to fight through them to reach the Troll Country. There, the Norse sagas record the final stand of the mighty Ekkil Bloodheart, a giant warrior of great renown and incredible power who held off the advance of the Ungol hordes long enough to allow his kinsmen to flee to the Chaos Wastes. Oral tradition records Ekkil, proud to the point of insanity, as having severed his own head from his neck to deny the Ungols the pleasure of killing him [21a].

After much hardship, the Norsii finally returned to Norsca, but instead of the safe refuge they had hoped for, they found their ancestral homeland occupied by many strange and barbarous races. Among these were a race of primeval savages who were kin to the earliest human tribes who had become the original Beastmen, as well as the bloodthirsty Kurgan tribes of the Eastern Steppes. The Norsii would not be denied however, and in a ferocious war of conquest they slaughtered or subjugated all the other races of the land until they alone became the dominant force. It was from this war of conquest that the bloodlines of these barbarous peoples were mingled and a new, even more ferocious nation of warriors was forged - the Norscans [7a].

The Great Invasion of the Norsii (-7 IC)

Norse Khorne Champion

High King Varag Skulltaker leads the armies of the North.

Though the Norsii had ravaged the lands of the neighbours of countless occasions, one of the most famous was their massive invasion of the Cherusen and Taleuten tribes in the age before the founding of the Empire by Sigmar Heldenhammer. In -7 IC, a horde of bloodthirsty Norsemen under the leadership of their High King, a mighty Chaos champion of Khorne known as Varag Skulltaker, descended from the frozen North to lay waste and burn all before them as an offering to the gods. [8]

The terrible threat of a Norsii invasion drove the formerly rival Cherusen and Talueten to put aside their differences and join forces against the terrifying threat. Such was the ferocity and power of the Norsii that not even the combined efforts of the two tribes was able to hold them back, and the Norsii succeeded in conquering the Cherusen and Taleuten lands (modern Hochland and Talabecland, respectively), pushing out the native tribes and causing them to migrate further and further south in order to escape certain death or enslavement at the brutal axes of the Norse. The Cherusen and Taleutens subsequently appealed to the fierce Teutogen tribe to their south for aid, but even the legendary sons of the White Wolf were fearful of the ferocious Norsemen, and Artur, chieftain of the Teutogens and lord of the Fauschlag, had instead elected to watch events unfold, hoping that the Norsii juggernaut exhaust itself against the Teutogens' rivals in the south, particularly the Unberogens, and leave their lands ripe for conquest by the people of the Fauschlag [8].

The now homeless tribes looked to the far south for succour; to the seat of the Unberogen tribe and the mighty King Bjorn. Appealing to the honourable chieftain for aid, and pledging their Sword-Oaths to him if he would assist them, Bjorn agreed to help the beleaguered tribes and marshalled the full strength of the Unberogen to war. His decision was also motivated by the knowledge that the Norsii would inevitably turn their axes upon his own lands once the Cherusen and Taleuten were wiped out. [8]

King Bjorn's legendary son, Sigmar Heldenhammer, was not part of that great muster however, having instead been charged to steward Unberogen lands while his father made war in the Far North. For weeks uncounted did the armies of the southern kings battle against the terrible hordes of the North. A host of fully 7000 warriors, outnumbering the Norsii nearly 2 to 1, marched into the cold lands of their new dominion. In the initial battle, fully 1000 southern warriors alone had been slaughtered by the Norsii. Hundreds more had been dealt such blows and had been butchered so badly that they would never fight again. Norsii wolfships had penetrated far inland, and parties of raiders had managed to assault the Udoses tribes and their principle settlement of Haugrvik, besieging the seat of King Wolfilla of the Udoses himself before the southern armies were able to relieve the siege. These battles with the hosts of the southerly kings were merely foreplay however, each confrontation merely a brief skirmish foreshadowing the true and terrible battle about to begin on the rocky foothills east of the great Middle Mountains. [8]

The warriors of the North were brutal and ferocious beyond all reason, any single Northman worth easily three southmen in battle [8]. The very savagery and overpowering drive for personal glory that made the Norsii such phenomenal warriors proved also to be their greatest weakness -- for the armies of the Norsii lacked the methodical discipline and numerical superiority of the southern tribes, which had served to impart a huge advantage to the defenders. 6000 southerners gave battle against 4000 cold eyed killers from across the Sea of Claws -- black armoured champions at the fore with hordes of hulking berserkers at their bearskin-cloaked backs. They charged at their foes, howling bestial prayers to the god Khorne, and promising brutal ends to their foes. Volleys of arrow-fire smashed into these madmen but to no avail. The steel-armoured champions, bloody-furred hounds and howling monstrosities of the Northern horde struck into the southerner's lines with a fury born of the love of war, wreaking a terrible havoc amongst their ranks and slaying hundreds. A wedge of heavy Norsii horsemen smashed into the flanks of the southerners, killing scores with their mighty brazen axes, but these knights were nonetheless defeated by frenzied Cherusen wildmen, who tore the armoured giants from the saddle while Unberogen axe-men dispatched with brutal strikes. Back and forth the tide of the battle swung, but slowly, the discipline of the southerners won out, as did their greater numbers. They advanced as a silent block of axes and swords, resolute in their desire to see the offence of the Northmen avenged. [8]

A great cheer rose from the combined ranks as it seemed the Norsemen's fate was sealed, only for the appearance of their king, resplendent in his red Chaos Plate and bearing aloft his flaming greatsword, to restore order and courage to the Norsii ranks. Emboldened, the Norsii fought in an ordered retreat which drove back the southern alliance and won them the day. The southerners had neither the strength nor manpower to launch a pursuit now, and the had Norsii retreated to a highly defensible position of a thickly wooded ridgeline and regrouped there in good order. For days the southmen attempted to goad the Norsii into a charge, but fear of their mighty warlord kept the natural ferocity of the Norsemen in check. In the end, the southern army was forced to make a costly charge up the hill to defeat their foes [8].

The southerners charged, and the Norsii fought like daemons against them, their fury unmatched, and their shield-walls as impregnable fortresses atop their strong, elevated positions. Many times had Unberogen axes and swords failed to splinter the shields of the Norse. It was only by inch and bloody that inch the feral men of the northlands were driven back, but for each inch a score of southmen had fallen bloodily and brutishly. Even when they had been driven from the top of the hill, the Norsii had remained defiant to the last, fighting in smaller and smaller circles and asking for no quarter from the enemy. Varag Skulltaker slew many in the battle, and had even fought the Unberogen king Bjorn in single combat. Daemonic sword met magical axe as the two kings fought, but Bjorn eventually proved too great for the Norsii warlord and hacked the Chaos champion's head from his shoulders [8]. Enraged by the loss of their king, Varag Skulltaker's dark-armoured Huskarls fell wrathfully upon the Unberogen King, savagely hacking him to death and tearing his body to bloody ribbons [20a]. Despite the massive losses sustained by the southmen, the Norsii were successfully pushed out of the Cherusen and Taleuten lands. The defeat of the main horde also signalled the withdrawal of the Norsii forces raided and besieging the lands of the Udoses [8].

The Flight of the Norsii (-7 IC)

With the breaking of the snows, Sigmar, newly ascended to the position of Unberogen king, called upon the Sword Oaths of the Cherusen and Taleuten and journeyed north once more to bring war upon the Chosen of the Dark Gods [8]. He had also entreated the Teutogens for aid, but to no avail, with some tribesmen even going so far as waylay Sigmar's army as it passed through their territory. Finally arriving in the cold land of the Udose, a beleaguered realm that long suffered daily invasions at the hands of the Norsii, Sigmar's warriors lifted the newest Norsii siege of the Udoses keep of Salzenhus. The king of the Udoses, Wolfilla, was then only too happy to join his warriors to Sigmar's army. Thus did the wild-haired, kilted warriors of the Udoses tribe finally take the battle to the marauders whom they had been forced to fear for so long [8].

Though the Norsii fought like madmen to protect the steads from their former victims, the battle was never in doubt. With a full 8,000 warriors outnumbering them by several magnitudes, and with no strong leader to unite them with the death of their High King, the fractious Norsii were forced to retreat further and further back north to the coast of the Sea of Claws, where their wolfships were anchored. Their villages burned and plundered by the men of the south, there was nothing left for them but to return to the northern wastelands of their birth. Sigmar's warmachines had smashed the longships to burning kindling however, thus robbing the Norsii of their salvation [8]

But Sigmar had foolishly underestimated the Norsii, and though many of their kinsmen had been slain by the massive army of the south, yet more clans were able to fight their way through southrons' flanks to the then unknown lands of the Kislevite steppes, slaughtering their way through the nomadic Ungol and wandering Kurgan tribes until finally they reached the lands of the Chaos Wastes -- Norsca itself [7a], [8], [21a]. There, they scratched a bare living from the bleak land, fighting the neighbouring Kurgan and Ungols to assert dominance in the North, and amongst each other for resources and hunting grounds. Where once the Norsii lived in mighty halls of fire and warriors, now they were reduced to dwelling within icy caves and hovels built from the cannibalized ruins of the once proud wolfships that had carried their warriors to battle for generations. Many were the oaths proferred to the brutal gods of the North, as the Norsii swore that they and their descendants would one day cross the Sea of Claws and bring the take the bloodthirsty songs of war southwards, and kill all who dwelt in the southlands [8].

It is recounted in the dread sagas that during the earliest stages of Norsca's settling that the Norsii came into conflict with a grotesque race of massive, Treant-like beings known as the Treeblood, who savaged many of the early tribes. In desperation, the Norsii cried out to Tchar, the Changer of Ways, for salvation, and unto his people did the Raven gift the Norsii with the magical fires of Chaos to drive the Treeblood from the land. With axe and flame, the ancient heroes led their kinsmen to slaughter the Treeblood and conquered all of Norsca for their own, building their oldest halls from the husks of the creatures. So complete was the Norsii's annihilation of the Treeblood that only one remained, the greatest and most hate-filled of its kind; the Trolltree. This horrific remnant of an ancient age was finally felled by the legendary Chaos champion, Wulfrik the Wanderer, and from its bark was created the second Seafang, the first having been lost in an incursion to Ulthuan, the largest and greatest of all Norse longships [14].

Cormac Bloodaxe's Vengeance (9 IC)

"These are days of great power, the tribes of the North, the beasts of the forest and a great prince of Kharnath will fall upon Middenheim and we will baptize this world in blood!"
—Kar Odacen, shaman of the Norsii, foretelling the coming of King Cormac Bloodaxe [9] 
Norsii

The vicious Norsii were the first warriors to defeat Sigmar in open battle.

The Norsii, driven to the lands beyond the Sea of Claws, were left to recoup their strength and organize themselves into new factions, many clans having been wiped out or thinned by Sigmar's invasion. During this time, many grand heroes rose up to lead the Norsii, such as the legendary hero Ekil Bloodheart, who fought the Ungol hordes on the border of the Chaos Wastes [21a]. Despite the many great heroes of this era, few are so renowned in the early annals of the Northmen as Cormac Bloodaxe; a warrior whose name that bespoke the naked ferocity and bloody-minded courage of this warrior-race [9]. A visionary warrior-king, the son of the slain Norsii High King Varag Skulltaker, who had fallen in combat against King Bjorn of the Unberogen. Cormac's incredible strength and ravenous drive for vengeance saw him arise to claim leadership of his father's tribe, the Iron Wolves, and eventually claim kingship over all the Norsii tribes after a series of battles waged against the defiant jarls [9]. His adviser was the ancient shaman Kar Odacen, an emissary of the Chaos Gods themselves, who had long watched over the chosen people of the Dark Gods and had guided their destiny by long serving as an vicegerent and counselor to the warrior-kings of the North, including Cormac's father and grandfather. It was Kar Odacen who had forged Cormac's mighty daemon-axe, binding a creature of Khorne to the blackened blade. Ensorcelled axe in hand, Cormac wrought unholy havoc on countless battlefields.

The Norsii Invasion broke out in 9 IC, barely two decades after their exile at Sigmar's hand had the cruel Northmen returned to repay the Emperor for their suffering. United into the mighty juggernaut that had once made the world tremble, they sailed out from their fastnesses in the sub-arctic lands of the north, their only desire to avenge the deaths of their sword-brothers and kinsmen those many years ago [9]. They had begun their campaign of reconquest and revenge by raiding the holdings of the northern Roppsmenn tribe, who alone had taken the Norsii's abandoned territory after Sigmar's war in the North, largely due to the fact that no one else had wanted it. Such was the terror the memory of the Norsii evoked that even despite their exile, the marks of their dark worship and barbaric culture were still carved deep in the northern lands, and so few tribes of the south had deigned to claim such holdings, believing them cursed and haunted by the spectres of the raiders' many, many victims [9].

The Roppsmenn's courage proved their undoing, for so exposed to the Sea of Claws as they were, they could not withstand the ferocity of the Norsii raids, which plundered their villages and took their wives and elders as hostages. The Norsii thus held them as ransom, and extracted from the defeated Roppsmenn chieftains their oath for a season's worth of service, thereby enslaving the northern tribe to their will. Next, the Norsii fell upon the Udoses tribe, their long-time rivals. The Sea Wolves attacked the northern capital city of Haugrvik, many miles inland from the shore of the Sea of Claws, and put it to the torch. Joined by the forces of their Roppsmenn "allies," the Norsii easily slaughtered the defenders. It was King Cormac, resplendent in the ancient Chaos Plate of his father and wielding his flaming Daemonaxe, who slew the mightiest warrior amongst the Udoses, Cyfael, with a singe strike that split the brave clansmen in two from neck to groin. King Wolfilla had all but thrown open the gates of his castle of Salzenhus when Cormac slit the throat of his wife, who was heavy with child. The Norsii then dragged the king out of his hall and crucified him, and threw the still living members of his family to burn alive upon a pyre. Cormac Bloodaxe would later reflect upon this and say that no man so weak and soft should have been made a leader of men. [9]

All the Udoses who lived within Haugrvik were slaughtered, the warriors slain in honourable battle, their non-combatants impaled upon great brazen stakes in honour of Khorne, and the settlement's children sacrificed upon bloody altars for the glory of the Lord of Skulls [9]. With Wolfilla's death, the Udoses quickly fell into the vicious clannish bickering for which they were so famed as a succession crisis quickly spiraled out of control as the chieftains fought to take the now vacant throne. With the defense of the North shattered, the Norsii were able to freely move further inland and wreak havoc and destruction upon the southern tribes just as they had done in the ancient days before Sigmar's rise to power.

Norsii carving

This ancient carving from the Age of Sigmar depicts a Norsii horseman.

With every victory, the tragic accounts of the Norsii's atrocities and savagery spread like wildfire throughout the Empire, sapping the courage and resolve of its defender with every retelling as more and more refugees carried terrible accounts of the brutality they had suffered at the hands of the Northmen. Horrifying accounts of the oceans of blood their axes had spilled and the countless innocents carried off into slavery in the bowels of their dreaded wolfships. These barbarous attacks were not the work of a mere horde of raging barbarians however, but were in fact calculated specifically at weakening the morale of the Empire's army, as well as being specifically formulated in order to harm the ability of the Empire to quickly react and raise more troops to confront the Norsii invasion [9]. This was only exacerbated by the fact that when Sigmar learned of the Norsii invasion, and the Roppsmenn's complicity in it, he marshalled his forces and waged a long, arduous campaign to crush them and drive them out of the Empire, for they had forfeited their place in it by aiding the savage Norsemen. This left the inner lands of the Empire undefended against the wrath of the Northmen, however.

The Roppsmenn tribe was all but annihilated by Sigmar, their tattered remnants driven into the then unknown lands of the northeast where they would come into conflict with the Ungols. Nonetheless, this planted the seeds of dissension and disunity within the Empire, for the violence perpetrated against the Roppsmenn, seen by some as victims of the Norsii, was quite controversial in Sigmar's time. As a result, the Counts became wary around their Emperor, fearing what would become of their lands should they ever voice a contrary opinion. The purity of Sigmar's Justice, long seen as the epitome of good governance by the tribes, was now cast into doubt.

Despite this disunity, the Empire was able to raise anarmy to meet the the Norsii invaders, though were it not for the Udoses in the north setting aside their civil war over their succession crisis, elevating the canny warrior Conn Carsten to the position of warchief, the Norsii likely would have succeeded in conquering the whole of Empire long before Sigmar Unberogen could have marshalled the tribal levies to stand against the horde. Indeed, but for the vigorous hit-and-run raids and tireless guerrilla warfare perpetrated by the Udoses upon the Norsii juggernaut, the entirety of the north would have most assuredly fallen long before Sigmar and his allies could have mustered to oppose them [9].

When Sigmar finally faced the Northmen, they had done what no other enemy had accomplished ever before or since: they, and they alone, had managed to lay low the God-King in true battle [9]. Indeed, the Imperial army, resplendent in its power and its morale bolstered by the mythical presence of the Emperor, had expected to defeat the warriors of the North in a single, decisive battle. As such, it was completely and totally unprepared for the tactics employed by the Norsemen [9]. The Imperials had expected undisciplined berserkers, only to find the natural ferocity of the Norsii tempered by a razor sharp military precision. The Norsii had given battle in imitation of the southern armies, marching in tightly packed ranks with a hitherto unheard of cohesion, and yet still retaining the unabashed fury and incredible martial skill that made the Men of the North masters of the battlefield. A perfect synthesis of military discipline and wild ferocity, even the whirlwind fury of the Thuringian warrior-bands was little compared to the merciless berserker rage of the Norsii warriors, who met the Thuringian vanguard of Sigmar's army and hacked them apart, almost managing to slay their Count; Otwin the Berserker [9]

The axes and swords of the Norse were not the only foe Sigmar faced that day, for the Norsii had also received a pledge of loyalty from the Kurgan and Hung tribes, and so did the plainsmen of East swear their lives to the service of Cormac Bloodaxe. The horse clans of the Kul, Mung, Khazag, Hung and many others did encircle Sigmar's host, hammering the Imperials with arrows, holding them in place while the Norsemen's heavy cavalry charged their lines, smashing into the southern warriors like the fist of the Blood God himself [9]

The armies of the Emperor were completely and utterly routed, and had they not organised enough to mount an orderly withdraw from the battlefield, they would have surely been all but completely annihilated. Sigmar had realised that having sustained such losses, the the Norsii could not be defeated now upon the open field of battle [9]. The only recourse remaining, therefore, was to retreat to the Teutogen fortress of Middeneheim, renowned in legend as having never once been conquered. The great lifts that allow passage to the city in the modern era had not been created in the time of Sigmar, and so to gain passage into the city would have required the Norsii to simultaneously take and hold both the eastern and western passages, as well as the viaduct of the city. It was only by drawing the Norsii into such a siege that there would be any hope of the Empire surviving Cormac Bloodaxe's invasion.

Sigmar23 03

Sigmar faces a Norse Champion in combat

The Norsii had followed the fleeing Imperials to the fastness of Ulric, their number bolstered by hordes of raging beastkin. Gathered as an endless tide of sinew and steel below the Fauschlag, the Norsemen brought the hafts of their mighty axes banging against the round bosses of their shield as they bellowed and roared the black names of the Dark Gods and their honoured ancestors, while the Beastmen screeched and roared in blasphemous hymns to those self same deities. It was a droning noise that shuddered the courage of all who heard it -- a terrible sound that spoke of the need and desire to make war for no reason other than the suffering it would cause. Here, clearly demonstrated, was the reason Sigmar was forced to drive the Norsemen from his Empire: for where the men of the Reik sought peace and plenty, the Norsemen craved for battle and war. Where development and progress were the watchwords of the Empire, the joy of killing and the lust for domination drove the grim warriors of the savage north. Where the gods of the south rewarded worship with peace and protection, the baleful gods of the Norsemen demanded worship and offered naught but war and the power to carry it on in return [9].

The siege was brutal, lasting for thirteen full days and nights. Merciless Norsii charges were thrown back but with the greatest of effort, with each attack seeing the Norsii reaping a terrible toll from their adversaries. For where the men of Sigmar's Empire fought with all they had for the sake of bare survival, the men of the North fought with the savage desire that their gods would notice their might and reward them for their bravery. Marshalled before baleful war-altars dediated to their gods, the Norsii truly felt the eyes of the gods upon them, and the raging energies of the warp surged upon them, transmuting them into new, deadlier forms [9]. On the thirteenth, most terrible day of the siege, Cormac Bloodaxe, who had slain so many in battle that his axe now perpetually ran thick with congealed blood, awoke knowing the will of his god was to be carried out. For his vision seethed red as though his eyes were drenched perpetually in blood. Before a great pit where the Norsii had thrown the corpses of their enemies in honour of Khorne, there did Cormac command the greatest warriors of eight clans to sacrifice themselves to Khorne's glory. Mightily pleased with their valour and tithe, Khorne did take up the Norsii king and reforged him into a manifestation of rage -- a Daemon Prince [9]

Cormac, in his new, resplendent form, is said to have strode forth and broken apart the walls of Middenheim with a single blow, slaughtering hundreds with sweeps of his burning axe while his very presence drove the men of the Empire mad with rage born of fear. The Norsemen roared their exultation to the cold thrones of the Gods, their cries now even more hideously animalistic than those of the Beastkin who stood alongside them, and they fought with fury so redoubled that none could withstand them -- such was their joy to fight under the gaze of a living avatar of the Khorne the Mighty. Soon, the Daemon Prince crossed blades with Sigmar, the two kings fighting to decide the fate of their peoples. It was only through the aid of Myrsa, Warrior Eternal of the Fauschlag, and the divine power of Ulric himself, that Sigmar was able to Marshall enough strength to defeat Cormac Bloodaxe, banishing the fallen king to the Realm of Chaos [9]. With the banishment of Cormac, the morale of the Norsii army gave out, and they now fought their way past the vengeful press of Imperials to reach their wolfships and return to their new homeland. Though the Empire was ultimately victorious, the dreadful memory of how close it had come to desolation loomed long in the memories of all who had fought and suffered in the invasion; and few would ever forget the terror of the mighty Norsemen. Once more, the Norsii were thrown back across the Sea of Claws, to the land now known as Norsca.

In the aftermath of the Middenheim Invasion, Sigmar had marshalled what remained of his forces and led his warriors in a series of revenge raids against the Norsii homeland of Norsca. He succeeded in slaying numerous tribes and had razed dozens of villages along the southernmost coast, but terrain and a lack of numbers meant he could not penetrate further inland and take the fight to the more numerous tribes dwelling in the land's interior. The Norsii were thus largely left to their own devices, allowed to recoup their strength and prepare themselves for later conflicts with the Empire [9].

Present History

"In this year of Ulric's Grace, there were great sigils and portents of doom and destruction. The statue of the Wolf was heard to howl for death, and there were many children born with twisted feet or hands or other such Mutations. Great beasts were seen to fly through the air and block out the sun and a Famine and Plague did grip the coastal villages. Even as these Ails did pass, reavers emerged from the seas with sails of Blood and Death and laid waste to a temple and three towns upon our coast, killing or enslaving those who did not flee and plundering what little they could. They wore strange armour and fought beneath the banner of the wolf, as if mocking our Faith."
—The Chronicle of Middenland, depicting the bloodthirsty ravages of the Chaos-worshiping Norsemen [17] [17a]
NorscanWarlord

Norscan warlord

The Norsii thus returned to their ancestral homeland, the barren wastes they now named Norsca and continued to perform their heathen practices, and to bring terror and devastation to the known world. Though Sigmar subsequently led retaliatory raids upon the Norsii after the successful defense of Middenheim, he was only able to inflict damage upon the most southerly coastal settlements, and was incapable of penetrating further into the land's interior.

So where Norsii were left to recoup their might, and to decide amongst themselves their new tribal boundaries while eventually reorganising themselves into the seven, "high" tribes of which we now know of today. Nonetheless, the Norsii would not suffer Sigmar's depredations lightly. Amongst the many southern tribes the Emperor had put to the sword, one was known as the Taalos [1e], [10], one of the many clans that had comprised Cormac Bloodaxe's defeated horde. Their warriors and chieftain, Lord Aetulff, had been slain during the assault of Middenheim. So was this tribe, bereaved of protection; with only women, children and elders left to comprise them. Thus they were easy prey for the raiding fleets of the Empire, and were slaughtered by Sigmar and his vengeful warriors. All but one remained to mourn the death of the clan, a single Norsii child who had borne witness to the deaths of his family members, and who would, through his grief, rise to become the greatest champion of Chaos -- the First of the vaunted Everchosen - Morkar the Uniter.

Morkar was a warrior of great strength, courage and vision [1e]. His mentor and protector through childhood the fallen Unberogen warrior turned Norsii champion of Slaanesh known as Azazel, whose harsh tutelage prepared the child for the harshness of the North [10]. Even the champion of Slaanesh could feel the favour of the gods radiating from the child, and knew it was their Will that he foster the boy in his way. As he grew to manhood, Morkar carved a strong following amongst the tribes of the Norsii, utilizing the gifts the Gods had granted him to realise his bloody dreams of vengeance and kingship.

The Dark Gods favoured him with their attentions, and soon, resplendent in his blood-stained battle-armour, he journeyed North to be crowned by He Who Crowns the Conquerors -- Be'Lakor -- the first of the Daemon Princes. Be'Lakor, anger coursing through his veins, found his limbs compelled to place upon the Norseman's head the Crown of Domination, as a sign of the Dark Gods favour for him. Thus was Morkar crowned the first of the Everchosen -- the mortal Kings of Chaos. With his duty carried out, Be'Lakor receded back into the shadows of his own madness. Thus did the first true Great Incursion of Chaos begin; an invasion so great as to dwarf the intensity of Cormac Bloodaxe. Morkar and his followers rampaged southwards upon their wolfships in an orgy of death and destruction -- mayhem of such scale as to cause as a resurgence in the Shadow of Chaos that saw the influence of the Dark Gods pulsated from both poles, causing Daemons to break the veil between worlds and take up ranks alongside the hordes of frenzied Norsemen. Morkar's armies slaughtered their way through the Empire, killing all the who stood before him, reaping their wergild from the Imperials, but all Morkar desired was take vengeance from the Master of the Empire himself [1e].

Morkar and Sigmar soon faced each other in battle -- the two savage kings crossing axe and hammer in a titanic clash that shook the mountains themselves. For a day and the night did the Northman and Emperor duel, seemingly evenly matched. Though Morkar the Uniter was mighty beyond all mortal comprehension, Sigmar himself was also a being far above mortal kith, and his forces were splintered and scattered when the conquering warrior of the North fell under the crushing weight of Ghal Maraz. Thus was the First Great Chaos Incursion defeated by the first Champion of Light [1e].

As time went by, the Norsii began to reintegrate themselves into the North, building their fortresses amidst the icy lands and raising Monoliths in honour of the Gods and their heroes. As time went by, the Norsii also began looking eastwards to the lands of the Kurgan and Hung, raiding the lands of their neighbours and defending their eastern borders from their incursions. Over the course of the centuries, commerce between the Norse and Kurgan began to grow, as the two peoples began to exchange goods; the Norsemen their masterly-crafted steel, and the Kurgan their slaves [33].

Though not particularly close and ever riven by a brutal rivalry, Norse and Kurgan blood nevertheless mixed as the two races began to interbreed -- a result of stealing each other's wives on their countless mutual raids. The Norse and Kurgan also began to influence each other culturally as a result of long-term exposure to each others' practices. Added into this was a corrupted race of men reckoned to have been kinsmen to the humans who were mutated into the very first of the Beastmen, whose blood would also mix with that of the mighty Norsii. With the mingling of these races was born a new form of the proud and brutal Norsii -- the Norscans. And it was not long before they would again stream out of the North with vengeance, seeking to spill blood once more, struck once again by their warrior spirit [7a].

The Norscans, as they came to be most commonly referred to as after settling in the north, have earned a just reputation as relentless warriors, feared throughout the world for their brutality and strength. In the past, they have invaded and conquered parts of the Empire, ruling areas there briefly before they return to their blasted fastnesses in the far north. The northern provinces of Nordland, Ostland and the Westerland have proven particularly susceptible to Norscan raids, due in no small part to their highly vulnerable location on the southern shore of the Sea of Claws [5a] [12], [12a]. The city of Marienburg, in particular, has suffered several invasions at the hands of the Chaos-worshiping raiders for generations. The first instance of Marienburg's sacking at the hands of the Norse was in 632 IC, the culmination of many raids that eventually ended with the city being burned to the ground for the first time.

The most notable instance of the Norscan sackings of Marienburg was in 1109 IC, when High King Ormgaard of Norsca led a Chaos Horde down from the Northern Wastes to conquer the Empire during the reign of Boris Goldgather [11]. Though Ormgaard was defeated, his fleet routed and driven back to Norsca and his head taken to Altdorf as a trophy, his son, Snagr Half-Nose, or Snorri Half-Hand [11], [12][12a] depending on which retelling one reads, yet remained in the south with a horde of bloodthirsty Chaos Warriors at his back. Snagr led his warriors to ransack the Westerland, eventually besieging the great city of Marienburg, burning the Templewijk district in honour of the Dark Gods and occupying the city in its entirety, forcing the nobility to cower on Rijker's Isle or flee.

Snagr Half-Nose/Snorri Half-Hand then proclaimed himself Jarl of the "Vestland" and thus ruled the province as a bloody tyrant [11]. At the same time, the province of Drakwald was under attack by hordes of savage Beastmen, causing a great debate to arise in the Emperor's court regarding where his armies were needed most, with each beleaguered province venomously arguing their own case. Locked in politicking, and exacerbated further due to Emperor Boris's own indifference to the plight of the provinces, no forces were sent northwards to repel the Norscans, allowing them to pursue their violent pillaging unabated for two years [12a]. With the advent of the Black Plague in 1111 IC, the city of Marienburg soon fell to affliction. Having found a foe even they could not slay, the marauding Norscans soon abandoned Marienburg and sailed back to their homeland. In 1850 IC, seven centuries later, during the Age of Three Emperors, the Chaos Fleets of Norsca made war upon the Westerland, once more raiding along the southern coast of the Sea of Claws and succeeded in sacking Marienburg for the fourth and final time [12].

Around the same time, the Norse had begun a campaign of violent expansion southwards and had succeeded in conquering the northern Imperial province of Nordland, as well as territories of the surrounding provinces, decisively defeating the Imperial forces stationed there and enslaving much of the northern Imperial populations, while also driving many refugees south to Talabecland and elsewhere. The Empire was incapable of sending forces to liberate Nordland as a result of further political infighting within the court of then Emperor Mandred Skavenslayer, which left the Nordlanders and their ilk to fend for themselves. As a result, Norscan longships colonized the Nordland coast unimpeded -- enslaving the native Was Jutone population. It has often been remarked that as a result of having lived so long under the Norscan yoke, and the constant shadow of their raids, the people of Nordlander have in some ways come to resemble the Chaos raiders of the Sea of Claws; much to their shame and consternation, for the Nordlanders do indeed share more with the Northmen than they would ever care to admit. It is often said in the Empire that "character is in the Blood," meaning that the worth of a man draws from his ancestry. As a result, Nordlanders are often held in some suspicion by their fellow Imperials, and seen by some as only one bad day away from turning into the savage barbarians of the North [12a].

The Norse Voyages into Lustria (888 IC)

Chaos

Raiders from the North

The Norscans are seafarers of unmatched skill, only the mariners of the High Elves could be argued to be their equals in sailing and navigating the turbulent seas of the Old World [1a], [2a], [3a]. Since the Age of Sigmar, they have had a well-established sea-faring tradition, and their longships are suited to even the longest voyages. Exploration is a trademark of the Norse tribes, and it is often said that discovering and conquering new lands brings great favour with the Dark Gods, for to do so is to extend the banner of Chaos far and wide. Exploration also brings great personal glory, and the halls of Norscan warriors rock with the songs of men who sailed to distant shores, saw distant lands, and slew and enslaved their inhabitants.

Though the High Elves had long attempted to block the rise of any other naval power in order to maintain their mastery of the sea, the Norse quickly broke through their blockades of the great Western oceans. Amongst these raiders in particular was the infamous champion Losteriksson, who was the first human to cross the Great Ocean and discover the long-forgotten land of Lustria, the infamous jungle-realm now known to be the domain of the cruel Lizardmen. Losteriksson had learned of the western land by "questioning" High Elven captives. The Norsemen were fortunate to find that the land they had discovered was a not a savage, primeval waste, but that a fabulous temple stocked with gold and riches lay not far from their landing. The barbarians ransacked the great temple, plundering it of all riches and slaying whoever stood in their way, roaring their blasphemous battle-cries as they did so. The resulting riches made every participant of the raids staggeringly wealthy, and longships returned to Norsca laden with gold and plunder. As word got out in the North of the great riches to be found in the 'New World', many more marauders began to join forces with Losteriksson to raid the lands of the Dragonfolk, as the Norscans came to refer to the Lizardmen. These successful raids eventually culminated in 888 IC with the establishment of the outpost of Skeggi, named for Losteriksson's daughter, the first child of the Old World to be born in the New.

Norse Conquer Lizards

The Norscans overcome the Lizardmen

It was not only greedy raiders whom Losteriksson had brought with him as he rampaged throughout the coastlines of Lustria for the Norscans, being fierce men of the Far North, carried always with them the names of their Dark Gods in their hearts. A power not felt in Lustria for many centuries was now stirred once more, and the meditations of the Slann Mage Priests became deeply troubled as the echoes of the Old One's disastrous war against the coming of the Dark Powers reverberated in the minds of one Mage Priest to the next. They now faced the dreadful possibility that Chaos was abroad in the world once more; its standard carried in the war-like souls of the Norse [24], [24a].

Though a mighty champion of Chaos, Losteriksson was wise enough to avoid direct battle with the Lizardmen, though his descendants would later prove without their forefather's wisdom. More impetuous champions of his time also proved less farsighted, and also attempted to penetrate further into Lustria's interior. None were ever seen again. One of the more reckless warbands, however, returned from a rather profitable raid on the inner cities, carrying with them hundreds of pounds of gold an a relic of apparently great value. Losteriksson realized their misstep when a massive horde of Lizardfolk streamed out from the jungle and besieged Skeggi. Losteriksson ordered the settlement's gold to be thrown over the ramparts to the Lizards, knowing that they had only come for their precious relics. The Lizardfolk took that which the warband had stolen and quickly departed the settlement with nary a backward glance. And so the settlement survived and prospered [24a].

Far from dissuading the Norscans from making the journey to Skeggi, this merely enticed more Warriors of Chaos to sail from frozen Norsca to the warmer climes of the south, for the promise of battle is just as tempting to a Norseman as the bright lure of gold. In time, the Chaos champions of Skeggi sailed back to their homelands, bringing tales of the horrors they had overcome and the profit they had made, causing scores of longships to sweep down and begin raiding the land of the Old Ones. By 954 IC, hundreds of Norse warhirds attempted invasions of the continent, seeking to conquer it for the glory of the Gods. The first of these was the raid of Allec Fellclaw, whose horde of Norse marauders marked the first full-scale Chaos Invasion of Lustria since the Fall of the Old Ones. Though his horde was driven back on their longships to the sea, they had succeeded in plundering vast amounts of treasure, and the survivors returned to their tribes as wealthy men indeed [2h].

Invasions of Bretonnia (947 - 2521 IC)

"Orgulous and grim, the Northmen would not give, for they sought glory or death in the eyes of their bloody gods."
—The Tenth Great Battle of Giles le Breton and his Companions [47a] 
Norsca vs Bretonia

Jarl Svengar faces Marcus of Bordelaux

Though Bretonnia is relatively farther from the Chaos Wastes than the Empire, it has nonetheless suffered mightily from the depredations of Norse raiders, who have ever sailed down its rivers to spread destruction and suffering upon the Lady's Realm for countless generations. Indeed, the Norscans have raided the lands of Bretonnia since at least 947 IC [47b], more than 30 years before the establishment of the Bretonnian kingdom by Giles le Breton in 979 IC [47b]. It was the attacks of Norscan marauders that led to the extinction of the northern Bretonni tribes in 947 IC, their attacks isolating those tribes from each other, and ravaging their lands utterly [47b].

The Norse raids are the most common along the northern Dukedoms of L'Anguille and Lyonesse, and the constant shadow of Norscan attacks has made the knights of those lands more battle-hardened than most. Thus, the knights of more southerly Dukedoms hold the resilience of their northern compatriots in high esteem, and commend them for their efforts in withstanding the Norse invaders. Indeed, all Bretonnians know well to fear the Northmen; for beyond their inhuman strength and merciless brutality, the fact the Norscans so willingly tread the path of Darkness and openly revel in their damnation is what terrifies the pious folk of the west above all. On certain occasions, the armies of Norsca succeed in breaking through the defenses of the North and raiding deep inland into the southern Dukedoms, such as Courrone. In 2007 IC, Repanse de Lyonesse led her knights to war against a mighty Norscan Chaos Horde, and succeeded in routing them from the land, though roughly half all the knights of Bretonnia perished in the battle [47b]. In 2521, Norscan longships once again began raiding northern Bretonnia, setting countless villages in Lyonesse and Courrone to the torch [47b].

One of the most notable instances of a Norscan raid upon Bretonnia is the great raid of Svengar the Skaeling, who attacked the great Elven-built city of L'Anguille during the days of Giles the Uniter [47a]. The History of Bretonnia, related by Adelrond of Couronne, narrates the coming of the great Norse warhird. Thousands of warriors, orgulous and grim, thirsting for death or glory in the eyes of the Great Gods, fell upon the city like wolves upon sheep. Giles le Breton and his Companions, riding triumphantly from their previous victories, were aghast to come upon such a terrible sight as the Warriors of Chaos besieging their realm. Clad in fur and hellforged steel, the Norsemen met the Bretonnians in tempestuous battle. Paying no heed to their own safety, the Norsemen did not back down from the fight and overcame the Bretonnian defenders. In desperation, Lord Marcus of Bordealuex threw down his knightly gauntlet and challenged Svengar to single combat; "find victory or take leave!", he cried. Svengar, filled with the martial pride of the Norse, could not refuse the challenge, and ascended to the highest tower in order to face the Bretonnian in single combat.

Many thousands had already fallen to the whirlwind fury of Svengar's hammers, and he was happy to see Marcus resolve remain unshaken before him. With a guttural war cry, the Jarl faced the Bretonnian Lord, their battle lasting for a full day and night, and the elements themselves arcing down from the blackened sky to lend even greater might to Svengar's blows [47a]. Alas for the Norsemen, Marcus found renewed strength with the breaking of dawn's light and found an opening in the barbarian warlord's defense, striking a mighty blow that cleaved him in twain, sending his corpse down to the sea's watery embrace. Honouring their chieftain's oath, the Norsemen drew up their anchors and unfurled their sails to return their icy homeland.

This was not to be the last of the Norscan raids on Bretonnia, nor even at all the most terrible. Centuries later Svengar's descendants, the Jarls of the Skaeling tribes; most illustrious among them Egil Styrbjorn of Strovengaard, would unleash terrifying devastation upon the lands of Leon Leoncour. In 2007 IC, Norse fleets made landfall upon northern Bretonnia and slew over half of the knights of Bretonnia in a terrible battle [2h], just as in 2521 IC, where Norse warhirds thundered across the entire northern half of the country and put thousands of villages in Courrone and Lyonesse to the sword.

The War in the Mountains (2302 - 2390 IC)

KingValmirAesling

Valmir Aesling

In the aftermath of the failed invasion of the Kurgan Asavar Kul, Valmir Aesling rose up to fill the void left by the fallen Everchosen and declared himself Emperor of Chaos [2g]. Such was Valmir's might and power that few contended his grandiose claim; a ruthless and efficient leader of men, brooding and silent save for the occasional and invariably fatal burst of terrifying anger. High King Valmir held reputation as an uncompromising and bloodthirsty warlord, punishing even the smallest act of cowardice or insubordination with the most brutal tortures he could devise, and hated all non-Norsemen with a terrible passion [2g].

To Valmir, the Norse Dwarf Hold of Kraka Drak was an aberration, a canker that had be torn out with extreme prejudice; for the Dwarfen citadel had nestled in the northern mountains that he counted as his ancestral homeland [2g]. The warlord had striven previously to destroy this blot upon his territory, but had failed when the Dwarfen defenders had not only weathered his initial attempt to take the Hold, but also succeeded in forcing Valmir's armies out of the mountain passes [2g]. Incensed by this, Valmir swore vengeance against High King Silverbeard of the Norse Dwarfs, and began drawing up plans for a second invasion invasion of Kraka Drak.

Death and Chaos by kunkka

The Aeslings battle for the Icicle Pass

Valmir launched his new invasion at the height of the Norscan summer, a time only slightly less lethal to mortal creatures than the rest of the bleak year, but far more conducive to military campaigning than the terrible Norse winter; for he knew that the heavy snows and blizzards of that season would have served only to slow down his hardy Northmen warriors and aid the perfidious Dwarfen defenders. Valmir gathered tribes of bloodthirsty Norse Chaos Warriors into two great warbands and sent them on a gruelling climb over the crests of the mountains while their fellow tribesmen kept the Kraka Drak throngs occupied. The Norse Champions fell upon the Dwarfen gate-keepers from above and poured their still-living bodies into the molten heart of the mountain [2g]. It was to this that Valmir unveiled the next phase of his ambush, as the mountain valley echoed with the soul-shattering roars of bestial creatures who had been kissed by the favour of Chaos's Dark Lords. Packs of mutated Chaos Spawn, feral Forsaken and yet more horrifying beasts that defied easy explanation thundered into the pass; a terrible horde of unclean monstrosities that no Son of Grungni had ever seen washed over their defensive positions [2g]. With iron-courage, the stout Dwarfs withstood the bestial advance and fought back, beginning a methodical slaughter of the Chaos beasts that choked the narrow mountain pass with corpses.

Valmir could well-afford these losses, for even as the Norse Dwarfs disposed of the Chaos Beasts, his elite warriors were inside the hold continuing their own butchery. The Dwarfs were thus drawn into a war of attrition that they could not win [2g]. In the guttering light of the labyrinths honeycombing the Dwarf peak, the Huskarls of Valmir Aesling did battle with the mighty Ironbreakers of the Dwarfs, the passageways echoing to the sound of jagged Chaos blades bashing against Gromril plate. Eventually however, the Ironbreakers themselves were cut down. More and more Dwarfs charged out from their barracks to meet the Chaos Warriors, but they fared no better, and soon the whole of the Dwarfen underworld was like some nightmarish afterlife of Norscan myths - a terrible smith that forged only heroes quenched in blood [2g].

Outside in the Icicle Pass, the Dwarfs were faring far better; managing to hold against Valmir's armies. In the skies above, what few gyrocopters the Norse Dwarfs possessed attempted to bring news of this surprise assault to the outlying Norse Dwarf holds. The skies shook with the bloodcurdling roar of a daemonic beast, and so did a winged, crimson figure sweep down and smash the strange craft asunder [2g]. None other than Aghask, Daemon Prince ally of Valmir Aesling. Truly, the Norse High King had planned this battle well. Below the aerial duel, Silverbeard had set his oathstone and announced his intention that he would not flee from the battlefield; preferring death to dishonour.

War in the Mountains

Valmir Aesling duels Silverbeard of Kraka Drak

The loud cracking of a whip and bestial growls announced the arrival of Valmir himself, taking to the battlefield upon his mighty chariot pulled by six hideous and skinless bears [2g]. Mighty Valmir rode up to Silverbeard and threw his battle tally at the Dwarf King's feet - a massive handful of the decapitated Dwarf heads. Incensed by this affront to his people's honour, Silverbeard roared out his challenge to the Norseman [2g]. All around, warriors of either faction; Norse and Dwarf alike, held their breath. Long did this duel last, even as the War for the Mountain raged all about them. Fully thrice the size of the Dwarf King, Valmir rained blow after earth-shattering blow down upon him, who weathered the assault with astounding resilience. Then, without warning, Valmir stepped back from Silverbeard's oathstone and tiled his head as if hearing something. His great beard parted with an evil grin as the sound of galloping hooves grow louder and louder.

Suddenly, the valley began to fill with the sounds of slaughter and the harsh shouts of dying Dwarfs. Valmir's allies from beyond Troll Country had arrived precisely as bidden, galloping into the rear of the Dwarfen army with crushing force [2g]. Caught between the bulk of Valmir's bloodthirsty infantry and the sledgehammer blow of the charging Chaos Knights at the rear, the Dwarfs were swiftly cut down and trampled into the snow [2g].

Realising there was but one recourse remaining, Silverbeard gave the order for the Wrath of Grimnir to be stoked [2g]. With a boom that split the skies like the vengeance of the Dwarf god himself, the enormous cannon unleashed its payload; its target not the Chaos Horde, but the sheer sides of the mountain pass itself [2g]. With great ear-shattering booms, the mountains fell down in great slabs of rock thundering down in an cataclysmic avalanche that engulfed Norsemen and Dwarfs alike. Silverbeard's last sacrifice, which had served to spare the green lands of the south from Valmir's deadly attentions, had also sealed the fate of Kraka Drak [2g]. For in the dark depths of the mountains, Valmir and his Huskarls fought on, grimly and methodically slaughtering the Dwarf-folk who had thought themselves safe. Though it took many decades of bitter fighting, Valmir and his closest followers had succeeded in wiping Kraka Drak from the annals of history [2g], [3d]. Albeit posthumously, the Emperor of Chaos had fulfilled his oath.

The Gorequeen's Raiders (2398 IC)

"Blood for the Blood God!"
—Traditional Khornate battlecry
Valkia Nordland

Valkia the Bloody leads the Norscans to war

The Norscan tribes have ever been the bane of the Empire's northernmost provinces, since even before the Age of Sigmar they have raided and ravaged the northern shores, burning and plundering the villagers of the oft-beleagured Nordlanders. In 2398 IC, Valkia, the Gorequeen and Shieldmaiden of Khorne, came upon her fellow Norsemen and sounded the call to make war once again upon the people of Nordland. By her murderous will, the tribes of Norsca fell upon the Empire, their only desire to slaughter for the glory of the Blood God [6a]. Neither man, nor woman, nor child, nor even chattle would be spared sacrifice to the God of War.

Salzenmund did not spare soldiers to defend the northern marches from the Norscan invasion. The villages were forced to look to their own defenses, led by a brave fisherman known as Harold Dreizacker who gathered a rag-tag fleet to patrol the Sea of Claws, ever anxious for the sight of the Norscans' blood-red sails on the horizon [6a].

As Geheimnistag came and cold winds began blowing, the people of Nordland let out a collective shudder of relief, for the break of winter marks the end of the Norscan raiding season [6a]. The Nordlanders thus turned their efforts to the long process of rebuilding but barely three days after the first breaking of winter, the Norscans returned to play out their last acts of brutality and carnage. The Gorequeen and her Huskarls fell upon the city of Dietershafn, and great was the slaughter they brually unleahsed, the Norscans massacring the inhabitants with vicious abandon. Harold quickly marshalled his ships to intercept the raiders at anchor but with a single threw of Slaupnir, Valkia smashed their entire fleet to bloody kindling [6a].

All was thought lost, and had it not been for the timely arrival of steel-clad Dwarf dreadnaught, all spewing steam and cannonfire, the end would have surely been in sight for the province of Nordland. It is not known what drew the ship or its hardy dwarfen crewmen, but whatever the case, it must have surely settled a mighty grudge, for the Dwarfen mariners were able to drive back the Norscan raiders, routing their longships back to Norsca. The people of Nordland had further cause to rejoice when it was found that Harold Dreizacker had narrowly survived the sinking of his ship and washed ashore on Nordland's coasts.

Though the Norscan fleet was routed, there was little to no sign of the Gorequeen herself, whether it was the sight of heir wolfship sailing to safety or that of her daemonic corpse. The favoured consort of the dreaded Norscan god of war, it is said in the sagas of the Norse tribes that the Blood God himself saw fit to bring Valkia back from death, and remade her anew with the gift of Daemonhood [5], [5g]. The Lord of Battles is thus loathe to allow this favoured servant to fall, for it is Valkia who is said to choose the slain warriors of the North to be reborn again in the Halls of Khorne that they might fight on in glorious battle for all eternity, thereby peopling Khorne's malignant realm with warriors to carry on the eternal war he so adores. Khorne's winged servant is thus well-known to all warriors of North, and so the ferocity of such barbarian warriors is heightened and bolstered even further by her presence, for to live forever in the halls of the Blood God is an honour beyond all others.

History would later prove that the Gorequeen survived this battle, and so it was that the outcome of the invasion was nought but a Pyrrhic victory for the Empire. For while the people of Nordland did their utmost best to prepare for the coming winter, many hundreds of strong working men had been slaughtered by the Norscans during the raids, and the Northern marauders had also burned many storehouses and fields [6a]. Necessity thus drove the courageous Harold to make the journey southwards to Salzenmund, in order to beseech the nobility to provide for their beleaguered subjects. However, he never returned from his journey. Some say he was slain by spies of the vengeful Norsemen, while others clamour with angry voices that he was assassinated by the agents of the nobles who felt threatened by the fisherman's rising clout. Regardless, with Harold's death, no aid came south from Salzenmund, meaning that the only hardiest folk of the harsh province survived the winter of 2398.

In addition to the massive devastation the Norse warriors had wreaked upon Nordland, their coming had also sown the seeds of dissension and rebellion in the hearts of the commoners towards the nobility. In the aftermath of the raids and Harold's mysterious demise, certain groups began forming with the intent to overthrow the nobility, citing their indifference during the Norse raids and general corruption as reasons they had to be brought low. These events inflamed the already great civil unrest within Nordland and brought the province that much closer to an inevitable civil war. As Khorne, more so than his fellow Chaos Gods, is said to take particular pleasure in anarchy and disorder, as such occurrences intensify the prospects of battle and bloodshed. It is thus thought by some that the Norscans alone of all the parties of this conflict were the true victors, for Khorne cares not from whence blood flows, and so neither do his followers.

The Wrath of Egil Styrbjorn (2502 IC)

"Before you perish, know that your death will not be meaningless. The lord of skulls shall feast on your heart and drink of your blood, woman. And know, that in the times of Darkness that will soon come to engulf the world, the gods themselves will walk the land, leading their legions in the battle to end all battles. And in those End Times, Great Kharnath will cut down your Lady, hacking her head from her shoulders and great shall be the lamentation. Your goddess shall perish -- she knows this. And now, you too know the truth."
—High Jarl Egil Styrbjorn [30]
Khornate Berserker

The Slayer of Souls

In 2502 IC, the Skaeling Jarl, Egil Styrbjorn, marshaleld his vast armies of bloodthirsty Northmen in order to raid the kingdom of Bretonnia. A peerless warrior and savage leader, Egil stood unsurpassed in the bloody favour of the Lord of Skulls. His natural strength had been augmented further to almost godlike thresholds by the blessings of his God, and his flesh had been touched so that it would knit itself anew from any blow [30]. He was clad in ornate Chaos Armour forged with the motif of howling wolves, and bore in his warrior's grip the mighty daemon-axes, Gormr and Gormr, which burned with doomfire with every soul they took in their master's name. Styrbjorn had slain a Shaggoth in the Knife Peaks, roused from its slumber by lightning, and had feasted upon its heart [30]. He had hunted with the Bloodbeasts and feasted at their gore-drenched table. Dragons, rival champions, Kurgan, and Hung. Renowned as one of the greatest heroes of all Norsca, Egil gathered a mighty freigattur [28] of countless warbands and set sail to bring devastation upon the Land of Chivalry [30].

The High Jarl sailed, for blood, death, and greater glory, but also for the fulfillment of ancient covenant [30]. Styrbjorn had long prayed for an heir - a trueborn son of daemonic blood, to carry on the greatness of his line and and to bring honour and pride to the Skaeling tribe. The Chaos Lord had taken many wives, carried away as slaves and concubines from the burning wreckages of the lands of his many defeated foes [30], but all had borne him daughters. But at last, Khorne had promised his favoured champion a son; a warrior of unmatched strength and might, raised in hellish ritual, and supped on blood and agony, who would slay all who dared oppose him and even surpass his mighty father in strength. Styrbjorn had been told that the woman blessed with the dark favour to carry his son would be the dire witch known as Haegtesse [30], a secret worshipper of the Dark Powers, dwelling within Bretonnian lands.

Skaeling Huskarl

The Skaelings fall upon Landri

Styrbjorn's longships made landfall upon the Isle of Landri, a sacred temple-isle jutting just off the northwestern coast of the nation. The sacred island was famed far and wide throughout the land for its magnificent chapel dedicated to the glorification of the Lady, the goddess of Bretonnia's warrior nobility [30]. The bloodthirsty Skaeling, restless from their long journey over the waves of the Sea of Claws, fell upon the chapel and its township with bloodlusting abandon, massacring the soft Bretonnians for the glory of Khorne. The hellspawned Styrbjorn strode imperiously into the chapel, and looked upon the visage of the goddess the Bretonnians invoked to sapre them the Norscans' carnage. Disgusted by the weakness of their deity, Styrbjorn massacred the priestesses of the Lady and set the chapel ablaze [30]. He ordered the survivors of the sacking to be hunted down and impaled upon great brass stakes in order to prove to the Bretonnians the superiority of the Blood God to their pathetic goddess [30]. Satisfied with the carnage, the Norsemen lingered on in Landri, awaiting the arrival of their remaining longships, and the towering Chaos Mammoths they carried. In the meantime, Styrbjorn ordered his marauder horsemen to retrieve the Witch and bring her to him for the promised consummation.

Adalhard of Lyonesse, the warlike Duke of the Northern marches, gathered his knights, raised his levies, and marshalled his vassal lords to defend the land from the savage Norscan invaders. His army was further reinforced by aid from the lords of Courrone, L'Anguille, Bastonne, and Parravon. With such a mighty host arrayed, the Bretonnians believed that their victory over the Northmen would be assured [30]. The Skaelings eagerly waited battle, and Styrbjorn, no stranger to battles with the Old World, for he had raided the lands of the Bretonnians many times and knew well their methods of war [30]. With the powerful hellcannon he had garnered from pacts made with the Chaos Dwarfs, and the sheer bloody-minded savagery and warrior skill of his Skaeling tribesmen, he would show the Bretonnian vermin the folly of challenging the men of the North.

Champion of Khorne

A Skaeling Huskarl

On a wide open plain did the two armies meet. A field seemingly ill-chosen by Styrbjorn, for there were no obstructions to blunt the charge of the mighty Bretonnian knights, and both armies were matched in terms of numbers. Aside from the hundreds of Chaos Warriors (Huskarls in the Norscan lexicon) forming Styrbjorn's elite warriors, the majority of his army was lightly armoured and unlikely to bear against the charge of thousands of heavy horsemen. But the Norsemen remained behind their shieldwalls, beckoning all the chivalry of the south to face them, if they dared. First, they released the hulking Chaos Warhounds, savage wolves twisted and touched by the powers of the North, who loped forth with lightning speed and tore the impetuous knights from the saddle [30]. Seeing the knights falter, the front ranks of the Skaeling battle line, comprised of the Chaos Warriors themselves, charged forth to draw the dismounted knights into battle.

With the dismounted knights and footmen slaughtered, the Norscans' own charge faltered and they withdrew, seemingly in fear, but the men of the north know no fear and what was thought by the southlanders as a retreat was merely a ploy [30]. For as a blood red light was shot up into the blizzard skies, the work of Styrbjorn's dark shaman, his trump card was already being called - the mighty Hellcannon of the Chaos Dwarfs, Ereshkigal-Namtar; so named for the twin daemons of Blood and Industry bound to the fell weapon during its creation, was being brought to bear. With a terrible, soul-rending scream, the Hellcannon's daemonic payload smashed into the center of the charging Bretonnians, killing thousands of knights and men-at-arms and utterly derailing their advance. With their enemies fliundering, the Norscans ceased their feigned retreat and fell upon the Bretonnians, drawing the remaining beleagured knights further into their centre [30].

Norse Berserker

Skaeling berserker

Blood-maddened Khornate berserkers and furious Skaeling Chaos Warriors emerged from the blinding snowstorms and crushed the unguarded flanks of Duke Adalhard's combined army. Such was the brutality and butchery of Styrbjorn's hammer-blow that hundreds men-at-arms and peasant levies, consumed by fear, quit the field and left their lords to die on the Northmen's merciless blades [30]. The appearance of the mighty War Mammoths, the High Jarl himself seated in one of the black-iron howdahs, proved to be the sealing factor in the battle. Seated upon a black iron throne in his personal howdah, Styrbjorn watched with pride as his barbaric kinsmen slaughtered and engorged themselves with the suffering of the Bretonnians. A decisive victory, the Bretonnians were broken and shattered and sent running away in blooded shame to their fortresses to watch on impotently as the Skaelings continued to ravage the countryside.

Drunk with bloodshed and victory, Styrbjorn took the witch Haegtesse under the witchlight of Morrsleib and in the otherworldly company of daemons and spirits, as the Blood God watched and blessed their union [30]. Haegtesse, no true follower of the Dark Gods, sought to use the unborn child's daemonic blood in a ghastly ritual to achieve immortality. Placing enough poison to slay the giant mammoths of the horde themselves into his mead, Haegtesse thought herself unassailable as she snuck away from the marauder camp. The dark magic of the child's creation would accelerate the carrying period, allowing her to birth the child far more swiftly than normal. Unbeknownst to the hag, Styrbjorn would not be undone by a foolish woman's poison, and hunted down the witch swiftly, capturing her and binding her with hellish chains forged by the daemons of Khorne, which would negate her magical powers and keep her in untold agony [30].

Skaelings

Skaeling warriors

Three weeks after the battle, a time Styrbjorn and his warriors had spent sacking the surrounding Lyonessan townships for amusement, the Fay Enchantress Morgiana Le Fay, having foresaw the untold destruction the High Jarl and his daemon-son would wreak upon her homeland, dispatched some of her most able agents to steal away the beast's mother, so that the child born of Styrbjorn's loins would be confined to the realms of the Fey (the Wood Elves) and imprisoned there [30]. Amongst these agents was the legendary Grail Knight, Reolus, a swordsman and warrior thought by many to be among the greatest in the Old World, a legendary hero some had claimed to be Giles Le Breton reborn [30] and the only warrior reckoned by the Fay Enchantress to be capable of defying the godlike strength of the terrible Norse Chaos Lord. Under the cover of night, the agents of the Fay Enchantress succeeded in stealing away the hag, though at great risk to themselves, and escaped to the highly fortified seat of Duke Adalhard, Castle Lyonesse. Enraged, Styrbjorn marshaled his mighty army further southwards, his every thought consumed with savage rage born of his god's madness. His only desire to bring save his beloved son, and slaughter every last man, woman and child of Bretonnia to slake his insane bloodthirst [30].

BORKIL

A Skaeling champion of Khorne charges into battle

Thus began the Great Siege of Castle Lyonesse. The Norscans had initially raided and razed the surrounding villages around the castle, in order to deprive the castle's garrisons of much needed supplies in order to withstand the oncoming the ordeal, and had also taken from those townships the necessaryn resources to produce the war engines required to bring the legendary seat of the Dukes of Lyonesse crashing down [30]. The Norse had also raided the local monestary of Manann, burning the effigies of the sea-god and dismembering his priests within the sight of the castle's defenders in order to sap what little remained of their courage. Just as they had done at Landri, the Norsemen once again profaned the shrines of their enemy's gods in glorification of their own [30]. The defenders still fought, however, throwing Skaeling siege ladders down from the walls, and Reolus leading daring sorties to inflict casualties upon the Norse horde. Bretonnian sorceresses caused the rivers to thrash and turn, drowning the Skaeling longships to keep them from reinforcing their kinsmen [30].

The magic of the Bretonnians had revealed to the Skaelings a fatal flaw in their defences, the canals leading to the fortress were but a mere thirty feet deep. Just shallow enough for their mighty war mammoths to cross and shatter the walls directly [30]. Styrbjorn's raiders also learned of a secret passage into the gatehouse that would allow them to raise the portcullis from within, thus allowing the Norscans to sail their longships and bypass the Bretonnians' defenses entirely. Utilising these two integral pieces knowledge, the Skaelings infiltrated the castle and achieved their objective, allowing their longships to sail through the gatehouse into the courtyard and unload their lethal cargo of blood-crazed Norscan Berserkers, thereby unleashing untold havoc upon the Bretonnian defenders [30]. At the same time, the great war mammoths lumbered their ways through the shallow straits to the walls and crushed them like living engines of war, allowing the Chaos Lord and his Huskarls to break through onto the battlements themselves. Like a god of war, Egil Styrbjorn ruled the battle, his Patron deity in microcosm, slaying dozens of great knights with furious sweeps of his twin daemon-axes [30], roaring and bellowing and laughing and singing dark dirges of warfare and death as he slaughtered all about him, dedicating every kill in honour of the Blood God. The ferocity of the Norsemen drove the Bretonnians to retreat to the innermost keep, surrendering the courtyard to Styrbjorn and his raiders [30]. Thus it was that the great Castle Lyonesse, which had stood unconquered for 1500 years, yielded to Egil Styrbjorn of Norsca.

Secluded within their impregnable castle while the Skaelings controlled the rest of the fortress, the Bretonnians debated their next course of action. Their deliberations interrupted by the temultuous birth of Styrbjorn's daemonspawn, the infant's cry shattering the air, promising naught but more bloodshed. Styrbjorn himself knew that now was the time to offer terms. Easily, he could have shattered the castle's doors and slaughtered the last remaining defenders with but a thought, but to do so was to risk the life of his son and heir, and the High Jarl would not do that [30]. Alone, he stood before the battlements and shouted out a warrior's challenge to the Bretonnians, beckoning them to send forth their finest champion to face him a duel of honour. Who then, but Relous himself, mightiest of Grail Knights [30], could have stepped forth to meet the Norscan's challenge.

In a battle likened to that between warrior-gods [30], the Chaos Lord and Grail Knight clashed, Garmr and Gormr blazing with horrifying daemonic flames as they clashed with the light-imbued length of Reolus's unbreakable Duryendale. Back and forth the battle went, Styrbjorn's unmatched strength and merciless savagery pitted against Reolus's grim determination and sublime swordsman skill [30]. Both sides of the battle looked on enraptured as they beheld the perfect waltz of death and destruction, until at last Reolus succeeded in driving his sword through Styrbjorn's armoured torso. This did not kill the Chaos Lord, who had been gifted by Khorne with the powers of regeneration, and so did Styrbjorn tear the blade from his body before using it to impale the Grail Knight, right before hacking his helmeted head off with his daemonaxes in a welter of gore. So passed Reolus of Bretonnia, one greatest of the Grail Knights [30]. Having won the duel, Styrbjorn roared at the battlements, blood-red lightning cracking the sky and a peal of thunder shaking the heavens like the laughter of a bloodlusting god. And all who beheld the Chaos Lord saw, for a brief moment, a heralding of his ultimate destiny as a Daemon Prince [30]. Impressed by the strength and courage of Reolus the Grail Knight, Styrbjorn honoured his pledge to leave the Bretonnians in peace just as his ancestors had done ages before, but not before ushering a warning to the Sons of Giles le Breton that one day, he and his clan would return. On that day, his son would be at his side, and the Skaelings would drown their paltry kingdom in oceans of blood.

The Battle of Nordland Fjord (2502 IC)

Axe-wielder

The Skaelings stand resolute against the army of Nordland

Shortly after the coronation of the Reikland Prince Karl Franz to the position of Emperor, Norse tribes once again gathered for a great raid upon the soft lands of ther south [4], [4a]. Led by pre-eminent warlords of the far north, among whom was Gutrot Spume, Jarl of the Dragonbone tribe and champion of Nurgle [43]. Never an idle man, the Emperor gathered his armies to aid Count Theodoric Gausser in repelling the Warriors of Chaos. Initially, Karl Franz appeared to abandon his brother Count, leaving the beleaguered armies of Nordland to the fury of the daemon-worshiping Norse, but his apparent retreat had in fact been a clever ploy to gain the support of Tzarina Katarin of Kislev [4a]. The Reikland Prince had rescued the Kislevarin from the depredation of a Norscan marauder-band that had waylaid her and her retinue several leagues away and had carried her to the battlefield aloft upon his personal Griffon Deathclaw.

Tzarina Katarin, a powerful practitioner of the native magics of her people, cast a spell that froze the bay of Nordland in its entirety, preventing yet more Norscan wolfships from making landfall and reinforcing their kinsmen [4a]. The aid of the Ice Witch allowed the coward Karl Franz to engage the Marauder warbands one-by-one, isolating the horde and driving the Norscan warriors from the Empire. No sooner than when his warmachines reduced the Norscan wolfships to kindling than had the Emperor taken his armies and returned back to Reikland in the far south, albeit leaving a company of his personal guard -- the much vaunted Knights of the Reiksguard, to aid Count Theodoric in the mop-up operation. The newly ascended Emperor had only intervened in the fighting in order to prove his strength to those Electors who had spoken out and decried his taking of the throne. With a laurel of victory secured, the southron prince had no desire to remain in the north, and believed the Norsemen vanquished. A foolish belief, for the warriors of the North do not accept defeat willingly, and were readying themselves for another stand against their foes [47]. Even more troubling, Gutrot Spume had survived the battle, and somehow found his way back to his tribe in Norsca. Raging at his defeat at the Reiklander's hands, Gutrot Spume made his oath before the Urfather Nurgle that he would one day return to the south and take his vengeance [43].

At the Nordland coast, near the town of Hargendorf, Count Theodoric Gaussar gathered a new army of levies to drive out the last of the Norscan tribes that yet remained of the once-migty horde vanquished by Franz; the Skaeling clan [47]. Amongst his forces was Kurt Helborg, then a Preceptor of the Reiksguard, and a small contingent of Reikguard brother-knights [47]. Helborg and his warriors had pleaded with the Count to pull back to the town of Hargendorf and draw the Norscans to a siege they could not hope to win, for their defensive position and the fragility of the winter ice made a direct assault upon them a most risky endevour [47]. The hot-headed Nordland ruler had dismissed the concerns of the Reiksguard, for he would not disgrace his ancestors and land by fleeing from the northern invaders. For centuries, the Nordlanders had fought the Norsemen, giving their lives against the ruinous tribes in order to defend the soft, southern states of the Empire. He would carry on the fight just as his predecessors had, but this would prove to be a terrible error [47].

Gutrot Spume

The Dragonbone tribe

The Skaeling tribesmen readied themselves into a shield-wall, and had used the battered beams of their fell longships to construct a ruinous war-altar to the Chaos Gods in order to catch a measure of their favour for the difficult battle ahead [47]. Among their numbers were heavily armoured Chaos Warriors, hulking axe-wielding champions clad in arcane sets of ruinous plate, standing shoulder to shoulder with their lightly armoured fellow tribesmen. Though the Imperials had attempted to goad the Norscans from their fortified position into a frontal charge, they had proved far more more disciplined than expected and merely kept their calm with their backs to the sea and the Emperor's army marching towards them [47]. The archers and crossbowmen could not hope to pierce their heavy darkwood shields, and so the Nordlanders were forced to advance, going on the offensive in order to drive the Norscans back to their foul longships [47]. To meet them charged forth frenzied youngbloods, stripped to the waist and covered with woad, screaming oaths to the Dark Gods and hurling blackened axes and javelins that slammed into the advancing block of halberdiers, causing the first ranks to fall over dead in an instant. Shamans cowled in furs and leathers hurled forth bloated heads at the charging ranks of Nordlanders, the grizzly projectiles breaking apart on contact and enveloping the enemy in a daemonic mist that had men clawing out their own throats in horrifying agony. To force the Skaelings down the hill had taken the better part of an hour [47], the unexpected discipline of the Norse marauders winning out.

For all the Norscans' valour, however, they were too few, and Gaussar's army began to win out with its greater numbers. The shield-wall slowly disintegrated as lightly-armoured tribesmen fell and mighty champions fought desperately to close the gaps in the wall [47]. Yet nonetheless, the Norscans had still chosen their battlefield well, and just as the Nordlanders began to gain on the retreating Skaelings, the thin ice under their ranks had shattered under the weight of so many armoured warriors, ushering many a Nordlander to a watery grave. Within moments, the regiment became panicked and disorderly, while the Skaelings howled and hooted at their foes' predicament and went back on the offensive, quickly forcing the Nordlanders back down the hill over a carpet of their dead [47]. Once more the shield-wall opened, allowing the frenzied youngbloods to pour out and again slake their lust for violence upon the prone and cowering men. Their advantage of numbers stripped from them by the terrain, the Nordlanders were soundly defeated by the brutal Norsemen [47].

The Reiksguard charged to salvage something from the situation, but their efforts proved futile. Though the shield-lines of the Skaelings wavered at the charge of the heavy cavalry, they did not break and the Norse began to push back as their massive axes and hammers smashed the knights from their saddles [47]. However, the second charge of the knights finally broke the shield-wall and drove the Norscans back. Yet despite this, there was still no victory. The Skaelings horde began to pull back into the bog over a field of Nordlander dead, even while groups of Marauders were already forming on the flanks of the Reiksguard. The knights could not hold the center and the day was lost. 200 Nordland soldiers and 1 Reiksguard Knight were amongst the casualties [47] the Nordland army suffered in their ill fated attempt to drive the Skaeling warband from their shores; and thus it was Count Theodoric was forced to pull back his army in defeat back to the town of Hargendorf. Thus were the Skaeling victorious. 

Lord Mortkin's Invasion of Ostland (2515 IC)

"They came out of the North, bringing with them fire and ruin. Not since the Great War Against Chaos had the Empire seen so furious an invasion from the barbarian worshipers of the Dark Gods. Is this war a madman's quest for revenge, or is it the beginning of the end?"
—Anonymous [4a]
Mortkin

Lord Mortkin of Norsca, one of the mightiest of the northern kings

The Norscans, being fearsome barbarians born of the Shadowlands, are most feared and reviled for their monstrous faith, and the sheer bloody-minded fanaticism with which they carry the war-like banner of Chaos. Indeed, whenever the shadow of Chaos extends from out of the Blasted Wastes, the Norse are among the first to heed the Will of the Gods and leave their homes in force, sweeping into the southern lands, killing all before them and burning that which they cannot loot [1a], [1b], [4]. During such, many great champions step forward to command the armies of the North.

Amongst the greatest of these warriors was the Norse warlord, Lord Mortkin, who, in 2515 IC, led a Chaos horde of terrifying power in order to ravage the entirety of the northeastern Empire. So great was this army, that it even rivalled the massive legions that had once marched at the command of the Everchosen Asavar Kul [4a]. The chieftain of the horde, Mortkin himself, was a warlord perhaps even greater than Kul himself [4a] - a steel-clad Jarl of numberless Norse tribes, and lord of countless iron-sheathed champions of Chaos. This Chaos Lord was the chosen vessel for the ruinous Will of the Dark Gods, invested with their greatest blessings that he might carry out the doom of all civilisation [4a]. Yet, Mortkin cared little for such divine favour, for his greatest desire was but to slake his thirst for revenge upon the Ostlanders [4a] for the destruction Count Valmir von Raukov and his son had visited upon countless Norscan coastal villages. 

Many are the lords of Chaos who seek the honour of carrying out the will of the gods when the Realm of Chaos waxes and a champion must be called [4]. But some of the mightiest of these warrior-kings did not join the clash - Archaon the Dark Templar had long strived on the path to becoming Chaos's greatest champion, but he was yet abroad with his Swords of Chaos, searching for the Treasures of the Dark Gods, and so his fate was yet undecided. Quixiom, the Two-Headed Sorcerer, had clothed himself in magical beguilement and sought tutelage from the daemon-aided Sorcerer Lords of mighty Araby. Only Lord Mortkin, master amongst the red-handed reavers of the Chaos Wastes, was present to heed the demands of the Gods, and even he was mired in a terrible gloom; for as news of the destruction of coastal villages spread across the Northern Wastes, so too did they reach the ears of the Black-Iron Reaver. It was by fiendish chance that among the villages that had been put to the sword was the coastal town of Ulfennik, which was Mortkin's own birth village [4a].

Khornate warriors

Mortkin's Black-Iron Reavers unleash their fury

So it was that numbering among the many savage oaths of vengeance and destructions that were proferred up to the Northern Powers was that of Mortkin himsellf, the Black-Iron Reaver [4a]. The Chaos Lord had sealed himself within his mighty fortress in the deepest wilds of Norsca, and there he raged. He swore to all the Dark Gods that his vengeance would be great, that the southmen would reap the horrors they had sown, and that when all was said and done, he would claim his weregild from the blood and flesh of Oleg von Raukov [4a]. In that instance, the Dark Gods laid their greatest blessings upon Mortkin and raised him up as a dark avatar of their will.

Pious in the ways of the Norse, Mortkin venerated each of the Dark Gods in equal measure. But he was ever his own man, ever looking after his own affairs even before matters of faith. Though the gods were wary of investing their favour in a man who was uncertain to carry out their will, none amongst their company doubted Mortkin's worthiness as a warrior and champion. For it was Mortkin who cast down the Leprous Council, a terrible cabal of matchless Nurglie sorcerers single-handed, it was Mortkin who through cunning and will, matched wits with the mighty dragon Skulex the Great and bound the ancient creature to his will, and it was Mortkin who overcome a mighty two-headed giant in an honest test of strength, and who earned the grudging respect of Khorne's Shieldmaiden, Valkia the Bloody, when he fought her to a standstill in personal combat [4a]. With the pact made, when next the Chaos Lord stepped from his hall, it was with single-minded purpose; to end the pointless bickering that had riven his people apart and lead the Norsemen to victory over the Empire once more.

The attacks of 2515 IC were unlike anything seen in the Empire's recent memory [4a]. Encouraged by the rampant Winds of Chaos, an army of Norse tribes descended down across the Sea of Claws and put countless towns along the Nordland coast ablaze, though it was neither large nor bold enough to threaten the major cities further inland [4a]. Another, even larger host of Norscans then plunged southwards on a broad front through Kislev, causing a swathe of destruction. Although much of the horde's momentum had dissipated on the endless steppe, some bands of Marauders managed to slip past the defenses of the Ostforts and wrought great havoc within the northeastern Imperial province of Ostland [4a]. The third, and most devastating of these preliminary attacks was led by the Slaaneshi Warlord, Prince Sigvald the Magnificent. Sigvald's army of frenzied, debased raiders blazed through the lands of Kislev and Ostland in a three month rampage until it was finally blunted at the Temple of Skulls by a coalition of Imperial armies that had marched north to Ostland's aid when Oleg von Raukov, ruling the state in his father's absence on business on the Emperor's behalf, sent forth an urgent plea for help. Regardless, these attacks were nothing more than a mere foreshadowing of the terror to come [4a].

The true and terrible heart of the invasion, the massive Norscan warband known as the Black Iron Reavers; the personal warhird of Lord Mortkin himself, who stood at the mighty army's head, began marching from the depths of south Norsca intent on ravaging the lands of the Empire. A king of kings, favoured Scion of Chaos and leader of many tribes, his was the mightiest army to cross the boundaries of the Empire for an age. Fear ran before Mortkin, and in his wake he left naught but smoking ruin and butchered offerings to the Gods.

Northlanders by majesticchicken-d4ddgcu

Mortkin's hordes march in step

Mortkin led his army from Norsca, pushing south through Troll Country until finally entering Kislev in the far south. Absorbing tribes of Norscans raiding from their holdings in the area [21], [21a], as well as newly materializing daemons into their ranks [4a], Mortkin's armies swelled to even greater proportions. The hordes first fell upon the nomadic horse-tribes of the Ungols, who while able to keep on the move and avoid danger for a time, soon found themselves surrounded by discordant tribes of warriors so numerous that they were quickly hemmed on all sides and hacked apart [4a]. Keeping his army unified through iron-will, and aided by the whispered counsel of daemons Mortkin pushed ever onwards to Ostland, decimating everything in his path. Oleg von Raukov gathered his levies and the garrisons of the Osforts, and joined up with his long-time ally Piotr Sergayev, a kovnik (captain) of Kislev and his company, intent upon meeting the Norscan armies on the northern side of the River Lynsk and defeating them before they could penetrate into the Empire itself [4a].

Mortkin's spear-head smashed Oleg von Raukov at the banks of the River Lynsk and sent his battered army retreating back to the Osforts [4a]. With this crushing defeat, the reckless heir to the Ostland throne finally realized that this was no mere warm-weather raid, but an invasion capable of wiping his home province off the map [4a]. Oleg von Raukov had further cause to fear, for during his father's war in the north his had been the hand that had destroyed Mortkin's birth village of Ulfennik. So did umours began to surge throughout the remnants of the province that the Black Iron Reaver was searching specifically for the Ostland high lord, putting blood-chilling fear into Oleg von Raukov's heart [4a]. In their search for the Ostland prince, Mortkin's savage army wiped out the cities of Bohsenfels, Zundap, and Kludburgh from the face of Ostland -- Kludburgh specifically having been subjected to such a horrible end as to make even the hardiest soldiers of the Empire weep freely. It was Mortkin who tore down the ancestral seat of the von Raukov noble house, Castle von Raukov, destroying the venerable citadel and slaying all of Count Valmir's retainers. Even the Count's wife, Ivana von Raukov, was lost to the tender mercies of the Northmen when the castle fell [4a]. Oleg and his brother Vassily were able to escape the massacre however, and flee southwards to the fortified city of Volganof, the most heavily defended fastness in all of Ostland. Upon hearing where the young lord had fled, Mortkin gathered the spear-heads of his mighty army together and began a forced march to the imperial stronghold of Volganof [4a].

To the harsh blaring of warhorns did Mortkin emerge from the massed ranks of his countrymen, flanked on either side by fell lieutenants. Such figures of might and power on their own could have wrought great devastation upon the lands of men, but here they were, subservient to this one northern king. Mounted atop his mighty Juggernaut, a gift from the Norse Blood God in thanks for many bounteous slaughters enacted, the massive armoured form of the Norscan was wreathed in an aura of magic so blasphemous that to look upon him scarred an onlooker to his very soul [4a]. In an iron voice, the Northmen boomed his ultimatum to the cowering men of Volganof -- "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. [4a]". Though it was tempting, given the massive numbers at the Chaos Lord's command, the Ostlanders refused to give up their beloved count's son. "A wolf at the door is still a wolf", came the old Ostland saying [4a], and the wolves of the North do not give up their sport. The next day, when Mortkin returned for Volganof's response he was answered not by a human voice, but with the roar of cannonfire, and so the battle was joined.

Warriors doom

The Crimson Reapers avenge their lord

Mortkin raised his axe, flames coming alive across the blade. At this signal, the Norscan warbands plunged forth, black-armoured champions at their fore [4a]. At the southern wall, his daemonhost of Khornate abominations fought with frenzied abandon to carry the battlements and take the city from the rear [4a]. While the while, Mortkin held in check the matchless fury of his own Fell Legion, awaiting the moment to strike. With the Daemonhost's downfall, and with his armoured form now filled to bursting with dark energies, Mortkin finally took to the fray. At last, the Norscan King and his Fell Legion took to battle under tattered banners of black and red, and none could stand against them. The Crimson Reapers, the king's own Huskarls [4a], made quick work of all who stood in their way, hacking men apart with hideous ease with their mighty battleaxes, and Lord Mortkin himself slew dozens with every swipe of his mighty axe. Realizing his counter-army was crumbling quickly under the fury of the northerners, Oleg von Raukov could not keep his army from retreating back to the walls [4a], and soon was left with only his own Scarlet Bulls Greatsword regiment to aid him on the battlefield [4a].

When Mortkin saw Oleg von Raukov on the field, death was in his gaze. With a roar, he slaughtered his way to meet the Ostlander in battle, leaving hundreds of bloody corpses in his wake. Though Oleg von Raukov was a mighty warrior, not even a hero as great as he had it within his power to defeat a beast such as Mortkin [4a]. Three times did Oleg strike Mortkin, each blow which could have killed an ordinary man barely registered upon the hulking form of the Norse King [4a]. Having easily weathered the smaller man's desperate flurry of attacks, Mortkin lifted his axe and readied an assault of his own. With a blow that could have felled a giant [4a], Lord Mortkin smote Von Raukov, whose body crumbled almost to dust with the Norscan's blow. Although mortally wounded, the valiant man arose and attempted to fight on, but the cruel Norscan smashed him down to the ground with a single strike before proceeding to crush the life out of him with an iron heel [4a]. Though it would pass like all things, Mortkin would glut his savage soul upon Oleg Von Raukov's suffering as long as he could [4a]. When the Ostland prince at least breathed his last ragged breath, justice and vengeance was at last exacted.

Having accomplished what he had set out to do, and with little desire to play out the role the Gods had decreed for him, Mortkin threw down his axe and lifted his greathelm from his bearded head [4a]. "Wergild is paid," he bellowed  [4a] "Let Volganof burn to repay my home of Ulfennik. Never again shall I return there. My saga is ended and I chose now to die as a man, my will my own. I go now, mayhap too late, to the halls of my fathers. [4a]" With this proclamation, the fell light died out around Mortkin, the bitter gods perhaps taking back that which they had given. The Crimson Reapers, his personal guard, bore witness to their beloved Jarl falling under the vengeful halberds of the Scarlet Curs, the Ostland regiment serving Vassily von Raukov, brother to the felled Oleg. Mad with grief, the Reapers slaughtered the Curs to a man and carried the body of their liege lord within the now-burning city [4a], set alight by the victorious looting and pillaging of Mortkin's army. Amidst the fire and flames, they formed a protective wall around their king, slaughtering any who dared to approach as they mourned him with furious shedding of blood and anguished howls of sorrow, even going so far as to slay fellow Norsemen who accused them of cowardice [4a]. Though the horde of Mortkin had later been driven back to the north by the timely arrival of the Reiksguard and the returned Valmir von Raukov, their victory had been hollow and Phyrric -- for Ostland had been ravaged, her sons dead in their thousands, and her mightiest cities now a flaming ruin. A funeral pyre for a fallen king -- a fire so mighty as to reach up and blind the gods themselves. A fitting end to the saga of Lord Mortkin of Norsca [4a].

The End Times

Main Article: The End Times

"Fear me mortals, for I am the Anointed, the favoured Son of Chaos, the Scourge of the World. The armies of the gods rally behind me, and it is by my will and by my sword that your weakling nations shall fall."
—Archaon, Lord of the End Times [1] 
Archaon2

Archaon leads the men of Norsca to war

When Archaon finally completed his centuries long odyssey throughout the dark places of the world and was crowned Lord of the End Times, he immediately began work to add the remaining Northern tribes who had not yet pledged themselves to his apocalyptic banner to his vast armies [38], [43]. Within a short time, he had succeeded in bringing every last tribe, clan or warrior-band that had ever vied for control of the tainted Northlands under his iron-fisted rule. Bloodthirsty Aeslings and barbaric Baersonlings, wily Skaelings and sea-faring Sarls, twisted Vargs, savage Graelings and berserker Bjornlings and a thousand other hard-hearted Norse tribes aside, all did answer the Everchosen's call [38].

The heroes of the North flocked to Archaon's banner - High Jarl Egil Styrbjorn, Wulfrik the Wanderer, Valnir the Reaper, Sigvald the Magnificent, and countless other heroes who thirsted for the chance to prove themselves in the Final Battle before the Dark Gods [38].

With the coming of late autumn, the Norscan tribes charged down from the north upon the realm of Kislev, the 1000th year of the nation's storied history by the Gospodarin calendar [41]. This was to be its last. The city of Praag fell swiftly to the howling fury of the horde, while Erengrad fared only slightly better, barely holding out against Archaon's armies before falling swiftly to midnight reavers in wolfships that unloaded lethal cargoes of insane Chaos Warriors and berserkers who burned the city's western seaport to the ground before putting all its inhabitants to the sword. The city of Kislev -- that legendary bastion which shared its named with the mighty land, was taken by storm in a single night of terrifying bloodshed; its proud walls reduced to rubble, thick with screaming forests of impaled men, women and children [41].

Those few of Kislev's people rallied behind the Tzarina Katarin, who had miraculously survived the slaughter of the city of Kislev [41]. Under her leadership, the ragged remnants of the Kislevite nation staged a doomed resistance against the depredations of the Norsemen and their allies [41]. In the end, their struggle proved pointless, for the Norsemen rampaged throughout the scorched remains of the nation and killed and plundered where they wished, taking resources and testing themselves for the true battle against the hated Empire that lay further south. Tzarina Katarin and her followers were eventually slain at their final stand at the ruins of Erengrad [41]. With no further resistance, Archaon led the Norsemen further southwards.

Realizing that they could not withstand the hordes of Norsca, the Gold Wizard Balthazar Gelt concocted a plan to buy the Empire time to prepare itself for the coming onslaught -- the Auric Bastion [43]. A massive construct of magic and faith that would span the immense Imperial-Kislev border, effectively barring the way for the great Norse horde to come crashing upon the northeastern Empire.

However, the Bastion could not fully prevent the Norsemen from crossing into the Empire. Warbands, led by particularly bloodthirsty or foolhardy chieftains, scaled the towering edifice and managed to raid villages and besiege scattered fortress [43]. The most significant of these warbands was the horde of the Kurgan chieftain Festak Kran, a champion of the god Nurgle. His warband succeeded in pushing deep into the western Empire, causing much havoc before he was eventually stopped by the heroism of Valten, Champion of Sigmar. Festak Kran's death however, would not stop the Norscans' offensive against their hated adversaries.

The Glottkin and the Fall of Altdorf (2525 IC)

"Brothers three shall bring low the Empire of Man. It is they who will muster the plague-kissed in their master's name. It is they who will cast the curse of unbound life, a curse that will bring primal disorder to a world of hard-won progress. United, the lords of disease shall bring the Old World to the brink of ruin - ruin from within and from without. All things clean and true shall sicken and fade. The Gods of Man shall fade with them, until only death holds the key to salvation... These are the End Times"
—Lileath, Goddess of Prophecy [43]
Glottkin by faroldjo-d860slo

The Glottkin of Norsca, clockwise from the top - Otto, Ghurk and Ethrac

With the death of the Kurgan, Festak Kran, Nurgle found himself bereft of a true champion to represent him in the End Times. Archaon, who knew the ways of Chaos, knew also that such a development could well deprive him of the god's favour, thus rendering him incapable of carrying out his destiny as Harbinger of the End Times [43]. Fortunately for his dark designs, there were indeed successors to Festak Krann who could ensure that the favour of their god remained upon the Three-Eyed King's dark crusade. The Glottkin - Otto, Ethrac and Ghurk: grotesque warlords who stood paramount in the favour of the Urfather, champions of plague and contagion greater than any other before them [43]. Even the legendary Tamurkhan could not boast of the same esteem in the eyes of Nurgle as the fearsome Brothers Glott of Norsca.

The Glottkin, though Taleuten by blood, had been raised amongst the Fjordling clan of Norsca [43] and had fully adopted Norscan customs and beliefs. When a force of Nordland soldiers had attempted an invasion of the clans of the fjords, the Brothers Glott had led their fellow tribesmen in expelling the invaders, thus attracting the favour of Nurgle as a result [42]. In time, they had become mighty daemonic warlord who led the Fjordlings to glory upon glory in battles with enemy tribes, as well as the Imperials to the south [43]. When Archaon had appeared before the triumvirate chieftains, he at once recognised them as warriors mighty enough to bring eternal glory to the Plague Lord, that his entropic might and boundless vigour might be bent to his holy quest. At his word, the Glottkin ceased their rivalry with the fearsome Red Reavers - an enemy tribe of Norsemen dedicated to Khorne. Within days, the Nurglite champions had called for a massive fjordmuster [43] drawing all tribes and clans of Norsca that paid obeisance to the Lord of Decay.

Among the most significant of the warlords to join forces with the Glottkin was Gutrot Spume, Jarl of the Dragonbone tribe [43]. A mighty champion of Nurgle in his own right, the Glottkin had earned his allegiance when they presented him with a captured Mutalith at the gruesome hall of bones where he made his lair. The Jarl had sacrificed the mighty beast to Nurgle upon a great pyre, beseeching the god for a favourable wind to carry his mighty fleet southwards to do battle against the Empire. Even moreso than his own personal strength, or his formidable army of thousands of bloodthirsty killers, the Glottkin desired the Jarl's massive fleet of longships for the task of weakening the Empire's northern coasts that Archaon had entrusted them [43].

Plagueships

The Glottkin's fleet

The next tribe of Norsca to join the Glottkin were the infamous Maggoth Riders of Icehorn Peak [43], led by Orghotts Daemonspew - a warrior renowned to have the ichor of the damned running thick through his veins. So impressed were the Glotts by the Norse warlord that they entrusted him with a third of their army, ordering him to take the Empire by its undefended eastern flank.

The Glottkin, in light of the fearsome presence of the famed High Elven fleets of the Pheonix King Finubar Seafarer upon the northern seas, advised the armada to make a cautious crossing of the Sea of Claws [43]. But Gutrot Spume, mighty Jarl that he was, would have none of his lords' cowardice however, boldly declaring that his was the greatest fleet in all the world, backed as it was by the fell powers of Chaos, and would not bow to the mere spectre of Elven cunning. Gathering his shamans and vitki, Spume intoned a daemonic incantation that even Ethrac Glott, most favoured sorcerer of Nurgle, could not understand [43]. With these fell words spoken, the fleet of plagueships became engulfed in a foetid mist as they sailed the icy waves of the Sea of Claws. The Norsemen were seen spotted by the prowling High Elven fleet who believing that they had taken the raiders by surprise sailed boldly into the mist, thus foolishly sealing their own fate.

640x1015 11483 Nurgle knight forgeworld GW 2d fantasy knight horse warrior picture image digital art

Chaos Knight of Nurgle

The Glottkin looked on appreciatively as Spume's gambit bore fruit - the dense pillars of choking smoke brought about by the Dragonbone tribe's incantations suddenly became solid, plagued tentacles that crushed the High Elven fleet [43]. Those few ships that attempted to defend themselves were swiftly undone by the pseudopod defenses of the cursed longships, which snapped the hulls and masts of the sleek elven vessels in two, allowing the fearsome Norsemen to make short-work of the fragile Elven warriors [43] The Glottkin raised their blades in salute to Gutrot Spume's sorcerous victory. So much for the vaunted fleet of the High Elves, no doubt the Empire would fare little better against their fleet than their elven allies had.

The days after the Norse fleet had bullied its way through the elven armada, it had divided into three distinct wings [43]. The first was a teeming host under the command of the mighty Glottkin themselves [43]; its dragon-head prows aimed at the mighty fortress city of Marienburg [40], which had to fall before any amphibious invasion of the Empire could be successful. The second, comprised of the elite warriors of Gutrot Spume, was headed straight for Nordland - they were to take the Old Dwarf Road, fighting their way due south to the Emperor's capital of Altdorf. The third force sailed towards the Gulf of Kislev, for its commander Orghotts Daemonspew had intended to land near Erengrad and lead his warriors through the mountains to assault the eastern half of the Empire.

The massive fleet of the Glottkin fell upon the Empire's northern coast, with cities such as Carroburg falling to them with contemptuous ease [40] [43]. Marienburg alone stood against them, but without the protection of the Vloedmuur sea-wall; that nigh impenetrable defense erected since the last sacking of Marienburg by Norscan hands which had fallen so easily to the Nurglite fleet, it would have no hope now of surviving the coming of the Brothers Glott {[fn|43}}. The Norse fleet, having surprised the Marienburg defenders by breaking through the impenetrable Vloedmuur, fell upon and utterly crushed their foes. The city's standing army proved no much for the horde of relentless Norse warriors -- black armoured champions and insane berserkers crashed into the hastily assembled Marienburg lines and slaughtered their way through their ranks with blistering speed [40], [43]. Soon, all inhabitants of Marienburg were being called up to reinforce the defenders. Scullery maids and noblemen alike were given weapons and made to take up their positions in the lines [40], fighting desperately for the survival of their home against the savage Chaos Warriors.

NorseVs.Undead

The army of the Glottkin contends with the restless Dead

Despite the desperate defence of the Marienburgers, the Norsemen were hardly slowed in their advance. Salvation for the people of Marienburg came from an unexpected source -- the city's unknown master, the Vampire Lord Mundvard the Cruel [40], [43]. The Undead Lord, unwilling to see the city he had silently ruled for centuries fall to the atavistic savagery of the Northmen, unleashed the full extent of his considerable power and raised all the dead of Marienburg to fight alongside and aid its human citizens against the Norse onslaught [40]. [43]. Thus did the barbarian Norsemen find themselves contending with the fresh-raised corpses of foes they had slain but moments ago.

The onslaught of the Undead proved a daunting foe, but the Norscans held their lines against them. Matching the deathless march of Mundvard's army with their bloodlusting fury. The Red Reavers, fearsome one-time rivals of the Glottkin's Fjordlingas, were at the forefront of the battle, slaughtering their way through the Undead's ranks with a fury born from the touch of Khorne's madness [43]. Mundvard the Cruel, realising that his army was crumbling in the face of Norse ferocity, threw himself into the fray to challenge the malefic lords of the host themselves - the Brothers Glott. He had hoped that by slaying the leadership of the horde, it would fall apart and carry the day for Marienburg's survival. Though Mundvard was a mighty Vampire Lord, he was no match for the most favoured champions of Nurgle. Otto Glott punched his scythe deep into the Vampire's breast when he became blinded by the foul digestive acids of Ghurk's belly, holding him long enough for his mutated sibling to pick him up in his great tentacle [43]. With a soul-rending roar, Ghurk hurled the Vampire far into the sea where he was crushed by the weight of the Sea of Claws. Bereft of his power, the magic animating the Undead dissipated and the army simply withered to dust.

Yet even as the Norse roared their victory to the thrones of their gods and the halls of their ancestors, brave clarions began sounding on the edge of the city [43]. A relief force from the Western provinces had come to lift the siege of Marienburg - the Reikland Irregulars led by General Aldred von Carroburg, and also containing the most celebrated Imperial heavy infantry regiment of all time: the matchless Carroburg Greatswords.

Thus did another gruelling battle again, but the Norsemen were unperturbed. They would gladly slaughter a dozen armies if it came to it, for their legend was but beginning [43]. They smashed into the Imperial lines with unmatched savagery, crushing bones and breaking collarbones with every heavy swing of their brutal axes. Though the unbridled savagery of the Norse advance had nearly succeeded in shattering the Imperial lines then and there, the Reikland Irregulars had somehow managed to hold their ground and slowly began pushing back the frenzied Norse advance [43]. Inch by painstaking inch, the Norscans were driven back until the Marienburg harbour. But it was here that the Imperials had made their faux pass and fell victim to the Northmen's barbarous tactics. For the ground's surface was slick with blood, moss and dismembered cadavers and the Imperials were unable to keep their footing, but the Norsemen; raised as they were upon the vast pack-ice of the far north, were able to deftly maneuver on the slippery ground [43]. The Norsemen took advantage of the Imperials' disarray and fell upon them with a soul-chilling bellow. Battle as the Northmen loved it most ensued - brutal, anarchic and savage. The Reikland Irregulars were swiftly slaughtered to a man by the immense strength and unimpeachable fighting skill of the mighty Norscans [43]. With their swift victory, the emboldened host of the Glottkin began marching further south to close upon the city of Altdorf.

Spume

Gutrot Spume, Jarl of the Dragonbone tribe

Meanwhile, as the Glottkin's horde rose afresh with their victory, the mighty warriors of the Dragonbone tribe under Gutrot Spume made landfall upon the Nordland coast. Spume had once before led an invasion of the Empire during the age of the Norse warlord Mortkin [43], which had nearly succeeded but for the intervention of Karl Franz and the Ice Witch Tzarina Katarin. Spume had made an oath since his defeat that he would slay the Emperor himself.

The province of Nordland fell to Gutrot in short order [43], with the Elector Count Theodoric Gaussar himself numbering amongst the dead. Confident in the unmatched battle prowess of his Dragonbone warriors, the Jarl had made an audacious proclamation, they would eschew the Old Dwarfen Road and travel to Altdorf through the Drakwald, arriving at the city before the Glottkin and claiming the glory of its fall for themselves.

Gutrot Spume's trek through the great forest had proved risky, for his Norsemen were raised amidst the wintry peaks of the Norscan mountains and the wide open spaces of frozen tundra and pack ice [43]. Though forests existed in their homelands, there were none so vast and deep as those in the Empire. The Norsemen soon became lost in the winding paths, and outriders and Chaos Knights who rode ahead of the main force to find some end to the sprawling labyrinthine wood went missing [43]. For it was not only the winding paths of the forest that the Norse were to contend with, but the presence of myriad territorial Beastman tribes.

Gutrot eventually came upon these tribes, pleased to find that many among them shared their worship of the Urfather. The Beastmen, recognising Gutrot Spume as a true son of their god, bent the knee in obeisance and joined their number to the Champion's steel-clad horde [43]. Chanting out praises to the gods in their bastardised form of the Dark Tongue. As the Norsemen and their beastly allies trekked deeper into the wood, they came upon signs of the Greenskin tribes that also dwelt within it. The sight of the Forest Goblins' grizzly trophies did little to dampen the Norsemen's spirits - indeed, it seemed to reinvigorate their savage hearts. They had gone far too long without battle, and a fight against a common foe was likely to strengthen the bond that lay between the men of the North and the children of Chaos. As the chattering goblin hordes swarmed out from between the trees in all directions, Gutrot Spume but raised his pitted axe and charged forth to unleash his fury. His mighty huskarls followed - heavily armoured champions of Chaos known as the Sons of the Last Plague, who rushed forth behind their lord eager to please the gods with blood.

Barbarian was pitted against barbarian in a ferocious struggle. But in the end, not even the unthinking bloodlust of the Greenskins was a match for the bloody-minded berserker fury of the Norscans [43]. Even though the Northmen were outnumbered ten times over by the Greenskinned horde, the Forest Goblins and Savage Orcs could not hope to match the insane strength of the steel-clad Norse warriors. The spirit of the Savage Orcs was broken when their champion, Grokka Goreaxe - of whom it was said was an avatar of the fury of Gork, was beheaded by Eogric the Vile [43], the most merciless warrior of the Dragonbone tribe and Gutrot Spume's personal headsman [43] who raised the Greenskin champion's head to a crash of thunder that sounded more like the low, dark laughter of a capricious god.

The Savage Orcs fled, but the Forest Goblins remained. Their chieftain directed them to swarm upon the Dragonbone's Jarl. Thousands of diminutive Greenskins fell in mounds as Gutrot Spume unleashed his rage upon him, but they soon engulfed him and dragged him down. But the mighty lord of the Fjord clans would not be slain by such paltry foes - though the spider-mounts of the Goblins bite deep into his necrotic flesh and feasted upon him, so favoured was Gutrot Spume by Nurgle that his very blood carried with it the contagions of the Urfather which burned the spider creatures from the inside out [43]. The Plague God, placated by one of Spume's earlier sacrifices of a Goblin chieftain upon his altar, sent forth a swarm of engulfing daemonic insects who undid the Jarl's assailants - leaving him bloody, yet still defiant and triumphant upon his mighty palanquin. Gutrot Spume then found the Goblin warlord upon the battlefield, and contemptuously broke his mere flint spear with ease, grasping him by the throat. The Goblin vainly attempted to bite the Norse chieftain's unarmoured shoulders, thus imparting some of his weak venom into the Champion of Nurgle. But the Norscan's diseased blood found its way into the Goblin's throat, causing the Plague Lord's unlovely fecundity to billow more and more into his body. The Goblin's eyes glazed white, and his features began to bulge distendedly across his skull before finally exploding with a wet pop. A knot of the closest Greenskins cried out and fled into the forests like insects scattered by torchlight. The panic spread through the horde like a virus. As quickly as they had come, the spiders and their greenkinned masters fled back into the hallow trees, muddy warrens and boles from whence they came.

It was the Norscan belief that such bloodletting would not go unrewarded by the great gods. They were proved correct when the vines of the forest, slathered in the blood of countless sacrifices, suddenly came alive and retreated. Thus revealing a hidden passage through the Drakwald. If this path was to lead to where the Dragonbone thought it would, they would yet outpace the Glottkin and take the glory of Altdorf's fall for their own. As they had provided for their Father, so did He provide for them [43].

BastardKing

The Bastard King of Icehorn Peak

As Gutrot was fighting his way through the Drakwald, the third arm of the Norscan invasion: Orghotts Daemonspew and the Icehorn Peak clans, began to close upon the Gulf of Kislev aboard the mighty longship - Vulfbite [43]. From there, the daemonic warriors would traverse the Middle Mountains and arrive at the Brass Keep, enlisting the mighty champions of Nurgle garrisoned there. The Glottkin were wise to entrust such a task to Orghotts and his Maggoth-Riders, for there was no better force in all of Norsca for negotiating the daunting peaks that lay at the Empire's heart [43].

The warriors of Orghotts made their way past the defenses of Erengrad without incident. The people of Kislev had already been rendered to near extinction by the Norse hordes of Archaon in earlier months, and what few survivors remained had no strength left to resist the marching warriors of Chaos [43]. No surviving Kovnik had any wish to invite further ruination upon the last remnants of their people [43]. Upon arriving at the Brass Keep, Orghott's Daemonspew earned the allegiance of the Repugnauts - fanatic warriors of the Plague God, who had ravaged the lands of the Empire in ages past [43]. His ranks bolstered with the veteran warriors, the Bastard King of Icehorn Peak continued on the path to Altdorf. Orghotts had originally intended to focus only on reaching the city, but with his chieftains clamouring for battles before then, he elected to march upon the nigh-impregnable city of Talabheim.

In a brutal night attack of unremitting violence, the Icehorn Peak tribesmen fell upon Talabheim's defenses, leaving a bloody swell of rotting corpses in their wake as praise to their mighty deity. As if in amusement over the carnage, Nurgle rent asunder the veil between worlds and sent his daemonic legions to the aid of the mountain tribesmen.

The defenders of Talabheim sallied forth to face the Norsemen and their daemonic allies on the open field. In an epic pitched battle, the Norscans triumphed over the defenders of Talabheim when their destruction of their mightiest warmachine and death of their finest captain robbed the latter of their nerve. The few survivors fled back to Taalgrad [43] and then streamed westwards with the rest of the refugees in vain search for safety in Altdorf. The Norsemen followed them, sailing upon the Reik on a flotilla of warships. The final battle was now at hand.

Glottkin at Altdorf

Otto Glott faces all the chivalry of the South

Through the machinations of their mutual deity - the three Norscan hosts had all converged upon Altdorf at the same, appointed time [43]. Though it rankled with some warlords such as Gutrot Spume that the chance for greater glory by destroying the city alone had been robbed of them, the sight of their patron's dark smile upon the ethereal winds beyond the mortal world had strengthened their faith with the promise of glory and heightened their appetite for carnage. And they had also seen the wisdom in falling upon Altdorf as an united whole, rather than allowing the defenders to drive them off piecemeal.

The beleaguered defence of the city was bolstered by the knights of Bretonnia, led by Leon Leoncour - now freed from his kingly chains by the return of Giles Le Breton [42], [43]. The finest of the chivalry of the South followed him, and in them the Norsemen were to find a foe worthy of their martial prowess. In addition to the flower of Bretonnian knighthood, the defenders of Altdorf were joined by the forces of their newest Elector Count - Vlad von Carstein.

The Bretonnian army smashed into the Norse shield-wall, and proved an unexpected complication to the Glottkin who possessed the overall command of the three sword-hordes. Otto Glott, for all his twisted joviality, knew well that the hour of destiny was at hand [43]. That only through the complete destruction of Altdorf could the Empire be finally destroyed and Chaos's final Triumph be assured. The determination to see this done burned into a cold fury, and thus did the mighty Otto Glott, atop his aberration of a brother, charged into the Bretonnian ranks with a blood-curdling Norse battlecry rising from his savage throat. Ghurk feasted upon the knights' warhorses, while Otto took their riders' heads with every swing of his monstrous scythe. On and On the Brothers Glott went, breaking the Bretonnian wedge kill by kill.

Meanwhile, Vlad von Carstein lent his blade to the defense of his new nation's capital. Slaying the venerable Chaos Sorcerer Festus, and thus staunching the daemonic tide he led. At this victory, the Reiksguard led by Harold Zintler massed for a counterattack against the Norscan horde. His efforts were blunted by Gutrot Spume, for the Jarl leaped from his great palanquin into the midst of the knights, blunting their charge with brutal slaughter before slaying Harold Zintler himself with his own blade. The battle raged, with victory so close at hand that the Brothers Glott could taste the beatific glory of Nurgle's Garden and the raptures it's coming heralded.

Mundvard the Cruel, restored by his master Vlad of the House Carstein, came unexpectedly to the battle seeking to avenge himself on the brutes who had destroyed his beloved Marienburg [43]. Directing his dread Terrorgheist upon the Norse warlords, the Vampire raised his sword in a terrible arc to sever Otto Glott's head. The eldest Glott brother made short work of the undead beast and its master in short order. Afterwards, Otto was brought face to face with the legendary Sire of the Von Carstein bloodline himself: Vlad, Mortarch of Night [43]. After a short, yet vicious duel, Vlad von Carstein succeeded in driving his Vampiric blade through the muscled chest of the barbarian warrior. Though this gained the newly created Elector no victory, for Otto Glott's blood was so thoroughly tainted with the most magnificent contagions of his deity as befitted a favoured son of the Lord of Plagues [43]. von Carstein's blade was enchanted to enrich its wielder with the lifeblood of its victims, thereby sating its master's unholy thirst. The choicest of the Crow God's plagues billowed into the ancient vampire, burning him out from within and forcing him to his knees as the amused Otto Glott readied his monstrous scythe to take the weakling's white-haired head [43]. Before Glott could slay the wretched Imperial then and there, he hastily shapeshifted into a bat and cowardly fled from the battlefield. With his departure, his undead legions faded into dust. Satisfied with his newest victory, Otto Glott led his siblings into the inner sanctum of the Emperor's palace - intent to find the weakling master of the Empire, Karl Franz [43].

Within the ruined palace did the Brothers Three find Karl Franz, son of Luitpold, at his side stood his Marshall of the Reiksguard, Kurt Helborg. Though the two southern warriors fought valiantly against the foetid champions of Nurgle, for all their skill they were but pampered children before the barbaric might of warriors raised amidst the Chaos-touched savagery of Norsca. Otto Glott thrashed Karl Franz to the ground, ripping the Runefang of Reikland from his grasp and bringing the blade down in a gory arc to strike down the southron lord. His strike was stopped by the intervention of Kurt Helborg who caught the blade in his bleeding hands [43]. Otto simply ripped the weapon free, slicing off three of Helborg's fingers in the process and stabbed him through his eye with such force the tip of the Dwarf-crafted blade exploded out from the other side of his head.

Laughing like a hunter around wounded prey, Otto Glott returned to his ministrations of the prone and bleeding Emperor, his brothers gathering behind him to witness this historic moment of triumph. With a guttural Norse war-cry, Otto Glott raised the stolen Runefang and swung it down upon Karl Franz as a booming thunderclap shook the skies above. The Emperor raised his good arm to deflect the blow, but it availed him nothing. The keen Dwarfen steel sliced through the bone of his arm and plunged into his heart. Thus did Karl Franz, Defier of the Dark, Emperor and Son of Emperors, meet his death under an outpouring of celestial light [43]. With his last breath, he intoned the name of his warrior-god and ancestor - Sigmar. And the world was changed forever.

Miracle

The Coming of Sigmar

Above the Chaos Hordes, the sky ripped asunder to reveal a gleaming otherworld and from that rift a mighty twin-tailed comet of pure holy light descended upon the fallen body of Karl Franz [43]. The Emperor was dead, of that there was no doubt. The being that arose in his place was all-together a greater entity, whose divine presence burned away every last vestiges of the unholy filth that blighted his Empire. Sigmar Heldenhammer - son of Bjorn, chieftain of the Unberogen, First and Greatest of the Emperors, Foe of the North, Enemy of the Dark Gods and God of War and Thunder had returned at long last [43].

Against such unbridled power, not even the Glottkin and men of Norsca could withstand. Single-handedly, wielding golden lightning, the warrior-god destroyed the Chaos Invaders just as he had in ages past. Ethrac Ghurk, thinking quickly, intoned daemonic incantations that spirited him and his brothers to safety - though they were soon captured by their god Nurgle, incensed at their failure to ensure his ascendancy over his Brothers-in-Darkness in this Final War. Gutrot Spume was the first to realise they had been defeated, though he had gloried in the fact that the Empire had been battered to the point of collapse. Orghotts Daemonspew was not far behind his fellow Jarl, and together they carved a bloody path free of the Imperials as they quit the field with the remnants of their armies. Regardless of the Imperial's last minute triumph, their victory was but a Pyrrhic one. The Norsemen had slaughtered more than half of the Empire's entire population, and Bretonnia had expended all her strength lending knights to its defence [43].

Worst of all, the few remaining survivors of Nordland had collapsed into the ruins of the Imperial palace bringing dire news. Of an armada of Norscan wolfships more massive than any Marauder fleet ever to have crossed from Norsca to the shores of the Empire that was even now slicing its way through the icy waves of the Sea of Claws [43]. Their sails dripping blood in honour of their allegiance to Khorne, and upon the deck of the kingship ahead of them was a banner with the symbol of the Three-Eyed King himself - Archaon was coming [43].

The Fall of Middenheim (2527 IC)

"I am the Final Moment made flesh. I stand here on this mountain, and I will sit on this throne. I will be the axis upon which the wheel of change turns, and the world will drown in the light of unborn stars."
—Archaon, Lord of the End Times [39]
End Times- Archaon

The Wolf at the World's Ending

Archaon - the Three-Eyed, Warrior-King of the North, High King of Norsca, High Zar of Kurgan, Everchosen of the Dark Gods and the greatest warrior ever to walk the earth, was on the march [45]. In his wake came the full might of all the North - every tribe and warrior of Norsca who had proffered sword-oath that they might fight the Final, Glorious battle to seal the fate of the world. Upon this mighty Horde were all the eyes of their ascendant gods.

The mighty fleet of longships made landfall upon the straits of Kislev, unopposed, but not unobserved. A thousand-thousand beady red eyes that watched from the shadows widened in fear as tribe after tribe of savage Norscans waded ashore. Soon, the old Nordland coast was thick for miles with black-armoured, horn-helmed Northlanders [45]. Yet still, the warriors of the North flooded the shore. A living tide of steel and sinew that overrode that of the ocean as the Blood God's Wild Hunt forced the sun to flee from the skies. The air flickered with hellish magicks above the forest of raised tribal banners as the countless warbands and sword-clans gathered around their Jarls and champions [45]. The veil between worlds was rent by the sickly luminescence of the black halo that was the remains of the Witch-Moon Morrsleib, causing hordes of daemons to caper into blasphemous existence on the edges of the great freigattur.

So vast and anarchic an army should have taken weeks to order, if they could be ordered at all. Yet all warriors of the horde felt the oppressive weight of their King as keenly as any steel blade, and bent to it without question [45]. The Council of Thirteen and their Skaven hordes, disarmed by the notion of the full might of the Savage North being marshalled at the time of their triumph, made the decision to ingratiate themselves with the Chaos Host lest they engender their complete annihilation by standing in the path of the barbarians. The great Northern King accepted the Under-Empire's fealty. The Skaven would be allowed to serve. They were, after all, true children of Chaos just as the Beastmen were, and their particular talents would prove invaluable in the coming days [45].

Just as Archaon's freigattur marched in apocalyptic step, so too did Middenheim's defenders ready themselves for the horde's onslaught. Valten - Herald of Sigmar and champion of the Empire had ridden hard for Middenheim, seeking to bolster the city's legendary defences with his own not-inconsiderable forces. Graf Boris Todbringer, consumed with his vendetta against his long time rival the Beastlord Khazrak One-Eye; had resolved, despite the dissent of his nobles and the Knights of the White wolf to sally forth into the Drakwald and slay the best once and for all [39]. In his stead, he made Valten the acting castellan of Middenheim [39], [45]. The loss of its lord in a foolish quest for vengeance severely weakened the great city, leaving it vulnerable to the massed Norse horde [45]. Nevertheless, Valten was determined to carry out his charge and protect the people of Middenheim. With the aid of the two greatest gods of the Empire - Sigmar and Ulric, the warrior was certain he would be able to bring Archaon himself to battle and slay him. For the Three-Eyed King's part, he knew of Valten well, and was equally determined to slay the preening southlander to further prove the lie of the false idols he called gods.

Middenlanders

The Aeslings assault the ramparts of Middenheim

The slaughter began as battle was joined at the walls of Middenheim. To be a man of the North at that time was to walk in the wake of legend itself - Egil Styrbjorn, Ragnar Painbringer, Sven Bloody-Hand, Engra Deathsword, Wulfrik the Wanderer, Valkia the Bloody, Sigvald the Magnificent, Scyla Anfingrimm, Valnir the Reaper [39] and a thousand other noble names of dark renown and terror thundered across the field, leading their tribesmen across a bloody field to face the cowardly Middenlanders who perched atop their mountain fastness dreading the wrath of the Northmen. Warhirds of savage Aeslings charged up the ramparts, driving their bloody axes into the flesh of their enemies while roaring bestial praises to the Lord of Blood [39]. Barbarian Bjornlings braved the hail of cannonfire and crossbow bolts as their locked their massive kite-shields and slowly took the pathways of the labyrinthine city [39]. The tribes of Norsca fought on, with the grim fatalistic determination of their race they hacked and slew for the glory of their hateful gods. Yet despite the onslaught, the men of Middenheim took heart for they recalled the ancient legends of their forefathers that told that the city of Ulric would remain unconquered so long as the flame of the god burned.

Yet below the Fauschlag, their fate was already being sealed. For Teclis, Loremaster of Ulthuan, was enacting the next foolish step of his ill-conceived plan to defeat Chaos [45]. In order to foster the resurrection of his brother Tyrion, now cleansed of the Curse of Aenarion, into the Incarnate of Light. To revive his brother, he would need the energies of the first and mightiest of the gods of the Empire - Ulric himself, whose physical embodiment in the world burned as a blinding flame within the great mountain itself - the fire burning above but a pale facsimile. Teclis stole the Flame, thus slaying the great Ulric [45]. Arrogantly believing his plan to be the only way to save the world from Chaos, the Dark Gods laughed heartily as the foolish elf mage only precipitated the annihilation he sought to prevent.

The people of Middenheim let out a desolate cry of sorrow and horror unimaginable as the Flame of Ulric at last guttered and gave out with their deity's death [39], [45]. The heart was torn out of Middenheim's defenders by this, while the Norsemen still came in slavering hordes - eyes wild with bloodlust and rage, for while the Ulricans despaired in their god's death, the Norscans knew the eyes of theirs were upon them, and so they fought with ecstatic fury in the hopes they would bestow upon them their fulsome favour and grant them glorious deaths in battle.

Only one Imperial stood resolute against the tide of northern warriors - in his hand was clutched the hammer of the hated Sigmar himself: Valten, the southling god's herald and champion. He reaped a terrible toll from amongst the legends of the North, for many heroes of Norsca sought to slay him for the glory of the gods and favour of their king. Only Wulfrik the Wanderer [39], who had earned the honour of facing the daemon-Sigmarite in single combat by besting the equally legendary Valnir the Reaper in single combat, was able to contend with Valten where all the other heroes of the North had failed [39]. After a short but brutal duel where the Sarl had nearly proved victorious, Valten overcame Wulfrik and struck him down [39]. Though the Wanderer could see Valten's death, and knew that a small fate awaited the so-called "champion of Sigmar" [39].

Archaon VS Valten

Archaon faces Valten in single combat

At last, Archaon himself had taken the field [39], [45]. He sought out Valten and brought him to single combat. The Three-Eyed King mocked Sigmar's champion, calling him unworthy of the man-god's ancient hammer [39]. And though Valten was a peerless warrior amongst his own kind, it was truly not within his mien to vanquish the Everchosen. Around the dueling warriors, the Everchosen's personal bodyguard - the Swords of Chaos - gathered around to act as spectators to this legendary confrontation, one long in the making. The Chaos warriors were not the only audience to the epic battle, for the gods themselves gathered looked down upon this fated duel. The Ulricsmund shook with the battle as U'zuhl, the Slayer of Kings and Ghal Maraz clashed again and again [39], [45].

The two warriors traded earth-shattering blows in an intricate waltz of destruction, strikes that could have annihilated any mortal man dozens of times over [45]. Two destinies at war, the skeins of fate straining to control their struggle as the rest of the battle simply faded into the background, where heroes lived and died in their dozens. Yet here was the only contest that mattered. The future of all creation would be decided - either by the Slayer of Kings or the Skull-Splitter.

The raging battle ceased for a moment when Gregor Martak, filled with the last withered godspark of Ulric [39], [45], attempted to intervene and swing the pendulum of combat in Valten's favour. As it transpired - the Herald's death was not by the edge of Archaon's mighty daemonblade, but by the hand of the Skaven Verminlord: Skreech Verminking, who decapitated the Herald of Sigmar like the craven he was.

The Eye of Sheerien flared like a dying star, and all gathered felt Archaon's godlike rage - a force unto itself that washed over all present as a wave of agonising, incandescent heat that burned clean away the smoke and drove back the shadow [39], [45]. The skies buckled with the Three-Eyed King's fury as a bolt of sorcerous lightning sundered the skies and smote the Temple of Ulric. The Everchosen set down the corpse of his rival and rose, his anger at being denied this prophesied battle a thing to cow the gods themselves.

The Everchosen weathered the cold fury of Gregor Martak's spells, wading out from the arcane blizzards he conjured as though they were no more substantial than fog. Contemptuously, he raised up the Supreme Patriarch by the throat and slew him with his blade. Without the inspiration of his presence to give them hope, the defenders of Middenheim quickly disintegrated in the face of Valten's demise and the immensity of the Norscan army. Their few remaining positions quickly overrun, the ragged survivors pursued unto death by their victorious foes. Thus it came to pass, with the Norsemen playing out the final steps of annihilation begun by their ancestors when Cormac Bloodaxe led his mighty horde upon Sigmar's empire all those many centuries ago. Middenheim had fallen.

The Fall of the South (2528 IC)

"So soon the hour fate comes around. The Everchosen stirs from his dark throne and prepares the blow that shall split the world asunder. Realms of old are fallen, lost beneath the fury of the northlands, or smothered by vermin from below. Some heroes battle on, too stubborn to realise all hope is lost. Their time is past, and a new age of Chaos and dismay beckons. Perhaps I am foolish also, for I fight with no hope of victory. I seek only to weaken the Dark Gods, to shake their hold upon the future. No other course remains; not to mortals, nor the Divine."
—Sigmar Heldenhammer [45]
Three-Eyed Konungr

Archaon, seated upon the throne of a dying world

The Northern tribes were in ascendance; Middenheim was undoubtedly the proudest conquest of their long and storied history, for its capture was an unmatched humiliation of the weakling gods of the Empire [39]. Particularly of Sigmar, the ancient foe of the North. The hated Empire of the south was all but vanquished - Altdorf a festering ruin, Talabheim a scorched waste and Middenheim the staging ground from where the Northmen would strike the final blow against Sigmar's heirs [39], [45]. Only Averheim, capital of the province of Averland, stood unbowed against the bite of Norse steel.

Archaon had claimed the Temple of Ulric as his hall in the many months since he and his Norsemen had laid the city low [45]. His throne forged from the bones of Ulric's priests [45], and the hammer of Ghal Maraz set upon it as a trophy - a testament to the supremacy of the Dark gods of the North over the deities of the south [39], [45]. There, he received the supplications of his warriors and daemons who were oath-pledged before the gods to his service. Once the temple had been illuminated by the Fire of Ulric, but that callow flame had proven no more divine than the dim torches that hung upon the walls of the defiled temple. Ulric had been shown to be a lie, just as Sigmar was a lie. With the conquest of Middenheim, he had proven the former. With the skull of Karl Franz, he would prove the latter.

The Three-Eyed King had already set the wheels in motion for the doom of the world, having dispatched tribes to batter Averheim under the command of Vilitch the Curseling [45]. The tribes dedicated to Tzeentch fell upon the city, roaring out bleak warriors' songs as they battered the walls of the Averburg with hellcannon fire, and black-armoured northlanders had climbed up the rubble of fallen walls to slake their bloodthirst upon the men of Averheim. Yet at the final moment, where the final fall of Averheim was assured, salvation for the southmen was found in the arrival of Sigmar Heldenahmmer [45] and the last surviving warriors of the Empire. With the aid of the Dwarfen Warriors of Karak Kadrin, led by their mighty king Ungrim Ironfist, the Emperor successfully drove back the Tzeentchians and freed Averheim of their fury.

Back at his hall at Middenheim, Archaon had realised that the time for deception and feint had long passed. Now dawned the hour of murder and slaughter. Unsheathing his mighty blade, he slew the Greater Daemon of Tzeentch, Kairos Fateweaver [45], beheading the abomination and taking his blood as the sacrament with which to honour the greatest of all the Dark gods - Khorne. From the blood and broken corpse rose the mightiest of Khorne's Bloodthirsters - Ka'Bandha, Lord of the Third Host, who pledged his service to Archaon for it was the murderous will of the Bloodfather. With the aid of the Bloodthirster, Archaon gathered the most brutal Norscans into a terrifying army dubbed the Berserker Onslaught, commanded by himself and two of the most favoured Khornate champions of Norse blood - Valkia the Bloody and Scyla Anfingrimm [45]. The three Norsemen led the horde southwards upon Averheim, intent on breaking the last vestige of Imperial resistance.

The northern skyline was soon choked with skull-laden banners and the air rang out with the discordant shrieking of savage Norscan war-songs [45]. Many were the renowned warriors gathered into the ranks of the Berserker Onslaught - the mighty Skaramor clans, the merciless warriors of Valkia's Bloodied Horde, fresh from their victory over the armies of Naggaroth in the far north, and many others whose blades thirsted for Southling blood. But scant hours after Archaon's personal standard had crested the skyline did the Berseker Onslaught charge - and Averheim rocked with the bellow of drumbeat and the roar of battlecry [45].

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The Norscan fall upon Averheim

The Norse charged forth at the great northern wall of Averheim, throwing massive heavy-bladed axes and daggers at their foes atop the battlements. A rain of hellish cannonfire greeted them as they thundered across the Aver Valley. Thousands fell, many hundreds more were gravely injured, but so immersed with the fury of Khorne were the Norse that they weathered the endless hail and climbed over the mounds of their dead to avenge themselves upon the cowardly Imperials [45]. Oaths to Sigmar, Grimnir and the Lady were drowned out by bellowing roars as the berserkers called out the eight-thousand bloody names of Khorne as it finally came to be the Northlanders' time to wreak slaughter. Few Southmen could match the fury of a Norsemen, and even fewer the endless wrath of the bloodthirsty champions of Khorne [45]. Soon, the trickle of Norscans upon the walls transformed into a mighty flood and all foes broke before them. Not even the mighty knights of Bretonnia and the grim Dwarfs of Zhufbarak and Karak Kadrin could stand long before the savage fury of the North [39], [45].

The Onslaught had devolved into little more than a wild mob of savage warriors by the time they had reached the Steilstrasse. Drunk on slaughter and caked in offal, crimson-armoured Norse champions thundered forth on brass-skinned Juggernauts, their runed axes reaping a frightening toll from their foes. The matchless warriors of the Skullrage, legendary Norsii knights said to have fought at the side of Morkar the Uniter himself, duelled with the greatest Bretonnian knights and hacked them down from their saddles with contemptuous ease [45]. Even where their riders were slain, their Juggernauts continued their fight, lost in a shard of Khorne's everlasting rage [45]. Towards the east wall, the shield-walls of Norsca and Karak Kadrin clashed, with the Dwarfs weathering the brutality of their foes with a skill that only the most battle-hardened northlanders could match. Yet the Northman matched the skill of their grim foes with wild bloodlust, and so many of Ungrim's slayers found the deaths they longed for atop the walls of the Averburg.

Scyla

Scyla Anfingrimm unleashes his fury

Ungrim Ironfist had held alongside his favoured warriors thus far, though it seemed now that his doom had come. Scyla Anfingrimm, Talon of Khorne, had followed his slaughterer's instincts to the Magnusspitze, and the truest savages of Archaon's hird had followed in his murderous wake [45]. Axe-wielding savages, neither fully men nor daemons, who sought to drown out their own internal agonies with the death-cries of their foes: forsaken warriors who had long been cast aside from the shifting gaze of the gods and set upon the path of death or spawndom streamed screaming and howling onto the field. Where the Dwarfs had managed to hold back the rest of the Norscan horde,there was no way to contain Scyla's howling host. With tendril, pinion and snapping claw, the Bloodbeasts crushed the slayers under their mindless, bestial bloodlust [45].

Scyla at last had found Ungrim on the field of battle and matched his mighty claw against the Axe of Dargo. The Slayer King was buttressed by a ancient power - the very Wind of Aqshy itself, which strengthened his limbs and guided his blows, cloaked itself about him and burned away the darkness. But Scyla was amongst the Blood God's most beloved warriors, and in the Final Days of the world, he had grown mighty indeed. Insensate to the pain of the magical fires Ungrim now conjured, the Chaos Spawn bore down upon him earth-shattering blows and pulverised his armour. Once, twice, thrice, the former Norse champion had used Ungrim as an improvised flail, using the king to crush and shatter his very subjects [45]. When Scyla drew the battered Dwarf back for a fourth time, it was then that Ungrim let fly his final, desperate swing.

The Slayer King had aimed for the Chaos Spawn's head, but it had seemed that his axe-blow had instead found the hulk's massive arm - the very one with which he now grasped him {[fn|45}}. The axe bit deep, and Scyla howled in unholy rage as he instinctively threw away the Dwarf. Blinded with pain and fury, he leaped upon the prone king, who with desperation quickly rose to his full height and slashed his blade across the hulking Scyla's belly, nearly drowning himself in the creature's smouldering blood [45]. Scyla howled in fury a second time, but could not halt the momentum of his charge in time before he struck the edge of Magnusspitze's parapet with a sickening crunch, and then plunged over the edge into the smoke-wreathed sky beyond. None could be certain however, if this had spelt the end of the one time saviour of the Bay of Blades, though he did not reappear in later battles of the End Times [45].

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Valkia the Bloody seeks skulls to lay at her paramour's feet

Far across the city, the Emperor's Company was swiftly losing momentum. Only Karl Franz himself, in truth the god Sigmar Heldenhammer reborn, though it was unknown amongst his comrades, seemed untouched by weariness and many were the prayers made that the power that strengthened the Emperor would not itself wane until the gold-helmed Everchosen was slain [45]. As the fur-clad and steel-sheathed warriors swarmed all about them, the Swords of Chaos - Archaon's own warband and the elite core of the Berserker Onslaught - had spurred into the fray. Their charge was unto the southlings as the ending of worlds, as their impact trampled hundreds of brave warriors of both the Reiksguard and Griffon Order alike into the gore-slick dirt.

Above the charge of the Norscans flew the mightiest of their legendary shield-maidens - the dauntless warrior-queen Valkia the Bloody the Bringer of Glory, she who carried the fallen to Khorne's halls. Though Archaon - King of the Northmen - had made his claim upon his southern counterpart, there were still many choice trophies to be laid at Khorne's feet [39] [45], and the Gorequeen had set her malefic gaze upon the Imperial standard, as well as the skull of he who bore it - Ludvig Schwarzehelm. Both Valkia and the Emperor's Champion duelled amidst the battle - peerless warriors of their respective races. Though Schwarzehelm was a swordsman of exquisite renown who bore no equal among the men of the south, Valkia had been a queen of Norsca in mortal life, and in immortal daemonhood bore the highest favour of Khorne himself. Valkia's spear, Slaupnir, had torn its brutal way through Ludvig's breastplate and pierced his heart, slaying him [45]. But in his death-throes, the warrior had raised the Imperial standard Valkia sought to claim and drove it through her daemonic flesh, the Daemon Prince's very momentum driving her further and further down the spear, until the heartwood shaft had shattered her unnatural spine.

Archaon triumphant

Archaon charges into the fight

As the two died, Archaon had at last sought out the Emperor - his foe and great adversary. A strange silence fell upon the field as the two locked their fierce eyes upon each other. The sense of destiny defied was electric in the air, the sense of fate itself sheering loose of the path set for it [39], [45]. The Everchosen raised his mighty blade and rode towards his enemy, and the moment was lost.

The Everchosen did not ride at once to meet his foe in combat - his swing had been the signal for his Swords of Chaos to charge ahead and engage the foe. Not one of the heavily armoured Norse riders had reached their enemy, having been burned to cinders by the Emperor's lightning or torn from their saddles by Deathclaw [45]. Archaon remained motionless as he beheld the slaughter of his closest knights and nodded to the Emperor. The barest of salutes perhaps, or the satisfied foresight of the contest to come.

The Norsemen still continued streaming onto the Magnusplitze. While their victory was all but assured at the Steilstrasse, here it was less a complete rout for their foes and more a grinding stalemate [45] given the timely arrival of the warriors of Zhufbarak who reinforced their red-haired cousins of Karak Kadrin. Imperial soldiers fought back to back as frenzied Northmen slaughtered their ways through their ranks, breaking Imperial lines with heavy blows from their axes. The men of Carroburg and Ostland, Quenelles and Altdorf, all felt felt despair rise up like bile as Aeslings, Baersonlings, Bjornlings and Graelings thundered and muscled through their lines and slaughtered men without mercy [39], [45].

Yet among all this bloodshed - one battle stood ascendant above all that. That as was between the Emperor and Archaon Everchosen themselves. Compared to this confrontation the earth-shaking duel between the Three-Eyed King and the devil Sigmarite Valten was but a mere prelude [45]. Around the combatants, the Swords of Chaos formed a protective ring to thwart the efforts of the Emperor's Reiksguard, or indeed any other, to intrude upon this mighty reckoning. Bound with the full power of Azyr as he was, the Emperor was nearly Archaon's physical equa [45]l. Deafening metallic clamour rang out as U'zuhl and Ghal Maraz clashed together, daemonfire and holy lightning striking out with every blow. Below, Dorghar and Deathclaw dueled with every bit the same fury as their masters, red wounds steaking the Griffon's body and dark blood flowing free from the daemonsteed's thick hide.

The Emperor called out to the heavens to unleash their fury down upon Archaon, lashing the Norse Lord with bolts of lightning [45]. Unperturbed, the Everchosen countered with his own dark magic, wreathing the Emperor in daemonflame that would have surely burned him to his very soul had it not been for the protective enchantments of the Seal of Purity [39], [45]. Again and again did blows fall, the two warlords striking out in a dance of steel with skill so impeccable that it seemed almost a rehearsed battle. All around them, Norsemen and Imperial alike fell into the sodden mud, their skill having failed them. Yet still, the Northern King and Emperor fought.

ChaosHeavyInfantry

Mutated Norse berserkers in battle

At last, the Hammer of Sigmar battered away Archaon's rune-shield and thundered into the black plate of Morkar the Uniter's armour with a dull clang drowned out by Archaon's bestial bellow of pain [39], [45]. This small victory proved bitter however, for the Emperor had left his defenses dangerously weakened and the Slayer of Kings lashed out to take advantage.

Deathclaw saw the blow before his master did [45], and imposed himself between the Emperor and the keen edge of U'zuhl. Instead of striking the Emperor's neck, as Archaon intended, the daemonblade had instead hammered into Deathclaw's skull. Blood oozing from the blow, senses struck clean by the hammer of the impact, the mighty griffon tumbled to earth with a muffled screech and threw his lord from the saddle.

Archaon was on his foe the minute he had fallen to earth. The Slayer of Kings arced down with blinding speed and tore a bloody groove through the Emperor's ensorcelled plate and bit deeply into the flesh within. the Essence of Ghal Maraz struck out a second time, but it was slow now with its wielder having suffered such a mortal wound and Archaon easily dodged the strike and laughed at a foe so nearly humbled [45]. He did not charge his steed now, for the Emperor was defeated. Nor did he call his Swords to end the cretin princeling's life. Instead, he merely goaded Dorghar to a tread and slowly approached his beaten foe.

Archaon raised the Slayer of Kings and brought it down in a murderous arc, while the Emperor raised his hammer of light in a desperate guard against it. The two weapons met with a ponderous clang, but Archaon tore his weapon away and brought down again with twice as much force. With that strike, the Slayer of Kings thundered into the Essence of Ghal Maraz and the hammer exploded into a thousand shards of light [39], [45]. The Three-Eyed King mocked the fallen Emperor as a thief, declaring the power mantled upon him was not his property for it was stolen from its true master - the Changer of Ways [45]. Archaon tore away the power of the Wind of Azyr from the Emperor, returning it back to the possession of Tchar the Raven God. Thus did the Three-Eyed King finally prevail over his nemesis.

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The rampaging Norscans

Seeing the wretched Emperor as unworthy of even the effort of killing, the Three-Eyed King elected to deny him the honour of a warrior's death [39], [45], declaring that no god favoured him nor cared if he lived or died [45]. Averheim was now lost, smothered under the wrath of the Northmen like all the rest of the world. With no recourse, Balthezar Gelt conjured a spell to transport the survivors of the Emperor's army to Athel Loren - the last place in the world spared the fury of the Norscans. Leaving only Ungrim Ironfist and the Sons of Kazakrendum to cover their retreat. Every last Dwarf not of Zhufbarak died a loathsome death that day.

With his victory over the Empire seemingly assured, Archaon led his victorious warriors back to Middenheim, where they would enact the final stages for the annihilation of the feculent world the Three-Eyed King had decreed was worthy only of death.

The triumph of the Northmen was swiftly imperiling the delicate Weave that the Wood Elves of Athel Loren had striven so hard to maintain [45]. The travails grew so deadly that many of the forest wraiths began to succumb to the madness of Chaos. With every assault the Norse and their allies had made, the more they pushed the world towards its unmaking [39]. Such devastation could not come into being overnight, of course. Indeed, without an explosive influx of Chaotic energies similar to the terrible occurrences glimpsed during the Fall of the Old Ones, this unmaking would doubtless have taken centuries. However, a horrifying tipping point was emerging – one that if left unchecked would reduce the world to formless, primordial Chaos. And already, it’s precursors were being felt.

Within the bowels of the Fauschlag, the Northmen had uncovered that which they had sought at Middenheim since times immemorial [39]. An ancient device, left over from the age when the dark gods warred against the Old Ones: a device that, if properly coaxed, would unleash a rift to the Realm of the Gods, one similar in intensity to the two gateways that stood at either pole [39]. Without an equal to cancel it out, as had been the case with the Polar rifts, this new gateway would devour the Old World unabated, and indeed also undo the bindings placed upon its two siblings, thus destroying the delicate equilibrium that had been unwittingly created by the Coming of Chaos and play out the last acts of damnation begun those many thousands of years ago [45].

Deamons Bloodthirster by columbussage-d47j02l

The Blood Hunt unleashed

Ka’Bandha, Lord of the Bloodthirsters [45], had grown impatient with the Everchosen’s unwavering desire to remain in Middenheim while blood was yet to be spilled [45]. Though he had sent many foes to Khorne’s halls and won a mighty victory at Averheim, his refusal to hunt the last remnants of resistance to the dread will of the gods was deemed disrespectful to Khorne in the eyes of the Bloodthirster [39], [45]. Archaon, unbowed against the Greater Daemon’s rage, suggested that Ka’Bandha lead his pack to claim the Emperor’s skull for Khorne, but he would deliver his flesh to adorn the Three-Eyed King’s black throne. With new, purpose Ka’Bandha led the Blood Hunt to run down and slaughter the last embers of resistance to Chaos’ rule.

The ancient daemonhost did not need to hound out their quarry, for the army of the Incarnates rode out in a last desperate charge to avert the destruction Archaon sought to unleash [39], [45]. Their forces were greatly enhanced by their alliance with the Undying King Nagash and his surviving Mortarchs [39], {[fn|45}}. The dead of eleven provinces rose up to aid the last Army of Light against the red ravagers of the god of war.

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Black-armoured Norse warriors forge barbaric enclaves in order to defend the Middenplatz

Though the Incarnates and their dark allies fought tooth and nail against the daemonic hordes, they could not prevail against the boundless fury of rage itself given form [45]. The Lord of the Hunt directed his fellow daemons in smashing apart the forces of the Incarnates, while he himself set his burning gaze upon the Emperor himself [39], [45]. In a last ditch effort, the Incarnates cast a potent spell to transport themselves and a select few of their forces into the Ulricsmund itself. Meanwhile, Nagash led his Mortarchs and a veritable horde of Undead ever northwards towards Middenheim.

The Norscans and Kurgans, believing their triumph had already been secured, resigned themselves to nights of wild feasting and drinking in celebration of their mighty victory at Averheim [39]. Besotted, they were unprepared for the blow the Undying King dealt them, for his mortarch, Krell, had charged upon them leading the Doomed Legion. Krell and his warriors showed no mercy to those to whom they had once been kinsmen to in life, and so did grave-steel cut deep into sinuous northern flesh.

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Sigvald crosses blades with Krell

Sigvald the Magnificent marshaled his kinsmen against the Undead horde, and so did the sword-bands lock their shields together to contend the Undead, roaring out warrior-songs to show their deathless foes their defiance [39], [45]. Other heroes too rose up to lead their kin against Nagash’s forces – Harald Hammerstorm, legendary victor of the Battle of Khorsvold, who challenged Vlad von Carstein; Arbaal the Undefeated, who faced off against Caradryan, Incarnates of Fire; the mighty Egil Styrbjorn, who slew all comers who dared to challenge him as he roared bestial praises to the god of blood [39]

Sigvald and Krell sought each other out and faced off in their own battle [39], [45]. Though the undead behemoth had long been enthralled to Nagash’s foul whims, there was yet some part of his soul yet bound to Khorne and was still consumed by the antipathetic rivalry between the followers of Blood God and the followers of Sigvald’s own patron, Slaanesh [39]. [45]. So did the two Norsemen clash in a contest of champions equal to any other battle waged during the End Times. Krell’s ponderous, haymaking blows were matched against the ephemeral swiftness and dauntless skill with which the Geld Prince wielded Silverslash [45]. For the first time in his immortal existence, Sigvald the Magnificent, Geld Prince of Slaanesh, had taken a step back from a foe. Again and again did the Black Axe sweep out to reap Sigvald’s skull, while his thin blade had seemed only to skitter along the thick surface of Krell’s red plate. Where Silverslash had penetrated the barrow-iron and dealt a blow, still did the Wight continue unhindered; the only indication that he had suffered any blow at all being the angry flare of witchfire in the Wight’s pitilous gaze [45].

Suddenly, the Overlook shook to a throaty roar that signified the coming of Throgg Winterooth the Troll King and his Monstrous Horde, comprised of all unclean beasts that dwelt the Northern Wastes – fellow Chaos Trolls, giants, mutants and feral Beastkin who swarmed across the city at Throgg’s command, bound to his dark will by the magic within his tarnished crown [45]. Archaon had ordered that Sigvald and Trogg both hold the Overlook against the Undead, but the Everchosen’s command had rankled with the Geld Prince’s colossal pride for Sigvald found only insult in being compared with the Wintertooth [39], [45]. The Chaos Lord had dealt what he thought was a fatal blow to the Troll King as they departed from the befouled Temple of Ulric and left Wintertooth for dead [39]. Regardless, Throgg’s natural regeneration had seen him rise again, intent not only with crushing the Undead, but repaying the Norse princeling for his treachery.

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The Warriors of the North stand fast against their cowardly foes

Yet the Troll King’s vengeance was to wait, for Sigvald and Krell were even now locked in battle. As the Geld Prince blocked the Wight King’s latest strike with his silvered shield, he beheld in its perfect reflection the toll the battle had taken on him. The Geld Prince’s face had been pulped to bloody ruin [39], his skull cracked and his right eye crushed and blinded, once immaculate skin brutalized into puckered, discoloured flesh that the Chosen of Slaanesh knew at once would never heal [39]. The Wight King had made the mistake of striking the Geld Prince where he had been most vulnerable – his vanity. In that moment, Sigvald had abandoned the refined gentility of a favoured warrior of Slaanesh and fell into the berserker fury so characteristic of his people, overcome by a raging bloodlust more fitting of a Khornate champion [45]. Scooping up his shield, he threw himself upon Krell, punching thrusting, kicking and cursing wildly. Fury gave Sigvald the advantage finesse had denied him [45], and so it came to be Krell’s turn to retreat. Sigvald smashed his shield into the fallen champion’s skeletal visage, thus blinding him momentarily and allowing Sigvald to sever the wight’s right arm. Roaring in rage at his loss, Krell launched the Black Axe into a terrible backhand swing which snapped Silverslash in two [39], [45] when the Geld Prince raised the blade to deflect the strike. Yet before the wight could capitalise on his victory, Sigvald bore himself upon him and knocked him down upon the flagstones. He slammed Silvershash’s broken spine repeatedly into the Wight King’s eye-socket. Then, with his armoured knee, he braced Krell’s remaining arm, pinning the Black Axe to the ground and laid about the Mortarch of Despair’s head with bare fists.

Sigvald pounded the wight again and again, shouting all his incoherent hate at his foe’s expressionless face [45]. Heedless was he of the blood streaming down his face, or of the bones breaking in his fists [45]. He felt the cheekplate of Krell’s helm give way under his onslaught, and flung the twisted scrap of metal clear, not noticing that in so doing he had sheared off three of his own fingers. He relished only the sound of Krell’s skull breaking under his mighty blows, not realising that the sound of shattered bone came also from his own hands [45]. Only when the witchfires at last died from the Wight’s eyes did Sigvald at last relent, slumping back from his destroyed foe with ragged breath. At last did Sigvald look upon the self-inflicted ruin of his hands, knowing with crushing finality that never again would he wield a blade. Throwing his head back, he howled at the sky – the sound fuelled as much by despair as by anger. He did not scream long [39], [45], and as the shout finally died down to wracking sobs did Trogg’s barbarous hammer come down and crush the Geld Prince’s fair head. Scowling, the brutish Throgg emptied his bladder upon the corpse of Slaanesh’s Son. Insult and treachery repaid, the Troll King waded further into the battlefield and went to claim victory for the Dark gods.

Having dispatched the Incarnate of Beasts Grimgor Ironhide [39], [45], the Everchosen moved to engage Sigmar in single combat. Fully manifested upon the mortal plane as was possible for a being of his divine power, the Heldenhammer’s avatar proved both Archaon’s physical and metaphysical equal [39], [45]. The battle fought between them perhaps the fiercest fought of all that were waged during the End Times. Thunderously did U’zuhl and Ghal Maraz clash in blows that could have shattered mountains and shook the very world to its foundations [45]. Throughout the battle, Sigmar raged at the Everchosen, lamenting that once he, a son of a daughter of the Empire, may have been the sword that would have wiped the Empire clean of taint and led humanity into a bright age of glory [39]. Archaon’s anger blazed brighter, for in frenzy he laid upon Sigmar with all his hatred, decrying the God-King as a liar and coward [39], [45].

Having at last disarmed the God-King, Archaon readied his daemonblade for the blow that would kill a god. The intervention of Ulric, Sigmar’s own deity in mortal life, who sought to repay the Everchosen for the despoiling of Middenheim and the slaughter of his worshipers, bought the God-King time to recover as the Three-Eyed King finally slew the host of Wolf Lord's godspark and thus snuff out the last embers of that noble deity’s [39]. Enraged even further by the loss of the god who had admitted him into the company of the divine and whom he had so loved in mortality, Sigmar unleashed the latent power of the Wind of Heavens and destroyed Archaon’s legendary daemon blade [39], [45]. As Archaon reeled back in shock, Sigmar charged forth and hammered upon the Everchosen with blow after blow until he finally cast him into the new Chaos Gate he had opened to end the world.

But the Lord of the North would not be defeated so easily, for no later as the attempt of the Incarnates to seal the rift failed did Archaon climb his way from the daemon gate [39], [45]. Driven to fathomless insanity by the revelations he had borne witness to, Archaon fell upon Sigmar with a rage so unholy that it blackened the soul. And as the newborn Chaos Gate fed its dark hunger upon the world did the two demigods struggle in titanic contest, the ending of the world itself paling in intensity to the unimaginable hatred that existed between them [45].

Ragnarok

Ruin and the World's Ending

Meanwhile, the Norsemen and their Kurgan allies fought brutally against the defenders of the Old World, their only desire to fight and die well before the gaze of their gods. Great was the carnage on both sides as the opposing armies clashed in brutal contest. Yet, as the blows struck either line, the men of the North knew they had won victory. For even as they fought, the gnawing rift that was born underneath the Fauschlag came to ravenous life – feasting away at all reality and replacing it with the glory of the Otherworld [45].

At last, the veil between worlds was at last lifted and the Norsemen were rewarded with escape from the piteous dream of flesh and passage into the true realms of battle and glory that lay beyond the ashen existence of this world. No two watchers beheld the same vision. Some looked to the heavens and gazed upon skies riven with fire, some looked upon an ice-cold maelstrom of stars, while others saw unclean things from beyond the dim horizons of sanity that drooled with the molten stuff of Chaos [45]. In this moment, the Northmen stood at last upon the corpses of their hated foes of the South, having at last repaid Sigmar and his heirs for their defiance of the darkness. In the final wars that raged with the death of the world, many were the champions and warlords raised by the gods into the glory of daemonhood. Many great heroes and battles were yet to be writ into the final sagas of the world, unfolding in a blink of an eye or even across millennia as the world screamed its dying breath. Whatever the truth of these final times, much has been lost, waiting only to be retold [45].

Inhabitants

"From the harsh snowlands they come, blue of eye and blonde of hair and tattooed upon arms, face and chest. Their eyes are mad with bloodlust, for blood they thirst, driven forth on the whims of the gods they seek to appease. Clad in few garments and wielding clumsy and brutal axes and maces, they rage against the civilized lands of the south, burning, pillaging and looting all before them as a .sacrifice to their uncaring masters beyond the gates of hell in the northern wastes."
—the Liber Chaotica, penned by Richter Kleiss, Priest of Sigmar, declared insane [17b]
All Fear the Wrath of the Norscans

All fear the wrath of the Norscans

The Norscans are a distinctive race, forged of the hardiest of mortal stock and possessed of tall, broad frames and extremely muscular builds [1b], [2b]. The songs and legends of the world describe them as nigh unstoppable, and those who have borne witness to the fury of a berserking Norseman will carry the sight unto their graves [4a]. Towering in height and thick of bone and steely muscle, the strength of the Norscans is rightly regarded as legendary [1b], [2b], [7a], [7b], [23a]. The Norscans tend to keep long hair and almost universally cultivate large, wild beards, as they regard shaving as an effeminate practice [1a], [2a], [14]. Norsemen tend to have pale, weather-beaten skin and red or blond hair [1b], [2b], though darker hair colours such as black and brown are not rare amongst them [7b].

Norscan warriors are known to festoon talismans and other arcane items upon their person. These include the fangs of mighty beasts, the heads of powerful enemies and runic talismans that are thought to invoke the power of the Dark Gods. Norscans also bear various tattoos and ritualistic scarifications that openly display their fanatical dedication to the Northern Gods [7a], [7b], [23a]. A superstitious and fiercely pious folk, the Northmen believe in all manner of portents, signs and omens [1b], [2b]. Every Norscan, from highest champion to simplest marauder, will carry a trinket or two to ward off the Evil Eye and bring about the favour of the Gods [1b].

These trinkets range from simple, even innocuous talismans to rare items of grave and dire power. Simple charms like a rabbit's foot, a clump of hair from a sorcerous hag, or a raven's beak etched with magic runes are all examples of the fetishes the Northmen wear in order to ward off evil. Other, more esoteric items are thought to be far more powerful: it is said that the dried tongue of a Plague Bearer bestows one mastery over all disease, that the tooth of a Flesh Hound will grant a warrior great strength and bravery and that the eye of a Cockatrice will flood one's path with wealth and precious gems [2i]. Whether these charms truly possess such power is irrelevant, for the Norse find through them the strength to conquer [2i], and what more can men ask of folklore and tradition? The people of the Empire know the Norse as those who sail their feared longships to attack the southern lands, clad in fur and steel. A fierce race whose sons love nothing better than to charge into battle wielding mighty axes [23a].

When winter slackens its iron grip on the North the wolfships and dragonships of the Norse invariably set sail, raiding southwards, westwards and eastwards in search of glory [4a]. The only warning of the Norscans' attacks is the harsh blaring of warhorns and the shouted oaths to the Dark Gods whose names lesser men dare not speak. And so it has always been, as told by the fathers of the fathers of the eldest who now live. None can remember a time when the lands of the South were not ravaged by the men of the North [4a]. For centuries, these bloodthirsty marauders from the above the Sea of Claws have always targeted Kislev and the northernmost lands of the Empire. The raids of the Norsemen have become increasingly brutal and deadly as the taint of Chaos has spread across the northern wastes of their homelands [5a]. In times gone by, these battle-hardened Norsemen, alongside their Kurgan allies, would forcibly settle the lands they jointly conquered, often taking a local wife from amongst the conquered population, thus mixing their bloodlines with those of the Old World and extending the banner of Chaos ever southwards [5a]. Over time, as the grip of the Chaos Gods upon the world has increased, their influence in the northlands has increased exponentially.

The taint of Chaos is ever increasing and has ever been strongest in the North, due to its proximity to the gateway to the Realm of Chaos that lies at the northernmost point of the world [5a]. For this reason, the hard warriors of Norsca have ever worshipped the Dark Gods of Chaos, even if the names of these gods have been twisted and reflected through the lenses of the countless clans of the Norse [5a], [17a]. While all tribes recognise the Chaos Gods as their masters, they may pray and shout and perceive them by names different from those that scholars and sorcerers know them. Ultimately, however, it is always the Ruinous Powers who are listening and responding to their cries [1b], [2b]. Thus, raids from the north seek not only to take gold, women, and food for the sake of survival, but also to shed blood for the Gods [7a]. Whenever the fur-cloaked warriors of Norsca emerge from their dreaded longships, their objective may not be to simply pillage; but to kill, maim and destroy in the myriad names of the Chaos Gods [5a].

The Norsemen are in a constant state of warfare, both amongst themselves and the other northern races. Most of all, they are in a perpetual state of war with the so-called 'civilised' lands of the south. Almost every aspect of Norscan belief and culture teaches them to hate the people and gods of the south, to know that their annihilation is their first and greatest duty to their own gods. As a result, the Norscans are known to their neighbours as a militant race -- constantly gearing and girding themselves for conflict [7a].

In ice-bound Kislev, where the border is less constant than the sea, Norscan raids are never-ending and staggering in their unbridled ferocity, so much so that Tzarina Katarin has had to drastically reinforce the garrisons and defences of both Praag and Erengrad [5b]. Despite the dogged determination of the Kislevites, the Norse have blazed through the Realm of the Ice Queen on countless occasions, razing the cities of the Gospodars without fail. Worse, with rumours swirling in the icy north of a dark lord seeking to unite the tribes of Chaos into an indivisible whole, the peoples of the south huddle in frightened corners, dreading the terror the mighty Norsemen shall bring down upon them [1b], [2a]. Yet in spite of their unbridled savagery, a few facets of society remain. Namely honour and loyalty; particularly to one's kinsmen and elders. Few Northmen dare to displease their chieftains and tribal elders, for doing so risks being thrown into the wilds, with little hope of being accepted by another tribe, as anything other than a thrall, at any rate [5b].

Battle and faith are at the heart of Norse society [2a]. The tribes live for war and the shedding of blood, and the rivalries between them provide ample opportunity for it [2a]. For instance, the Aeslings have long been foes to the Baersonlings to their south. It is the same between the Aesling and the Sarls [7b], [7c], the latter blood feud eventually erupting into the legendary Battle of Skulls, where the Aesling king Torgald was slain by the legendary Chaos champion Wulfrik the Wanderer, of the Sarl tribe [2h], [14]. Similarly,the Bjornlings are at regular loggerheads with the Graelings, and so on [7c].

Men in Norse society earn standing by being great warriors, and thus earning the favour of the Dark Gods as a result [7c], [7d]. Raids from the north are thus undertaken in part so that young men may advance in honour in the eyes of their fellow tribesmen and, more importantly, the Chaos Gods [7c]. [7d]. Slaying the weakling warriors of the south, despoiling the temples of southern gods, and carrying prisoners back to the north to be sacrificed upon pyres and altars dedicated to Chaos all serve to advance a Norseman's renown [7c]. Oral traditions and sagas are also important in Norscan society, deeply intertwined with the aforementioned need for social standing, renown and honour. It is the dream of nearly every Norseman to have the deeds of his life remembered and feared by all through their recording in the sagas sung by the skald-chanters. Most of the warriors commemorated in the sagas are legendary -- some even near mythical -- champions of Chaos. Some sagas are even written in the honour of whole tribes who committed glorious feats of strength -- such as the Saga of the Gorehunt tribe [2e]

Personal and tribal honour are highly integral to most Norscans, and most feuds among the tribes can likely be traced back to a breach against a man's personal honour by a person from the other tribe, though who did what exactly will likely depend on which side of the conflict one asks. The Norsemen guard their prestige jealously and are even willing to endure horrific torture and long lasting injury if it means their honour is protected.

The Norscan Tribes

"Certainly there are conflicting views about the Norsemen. On the one hand, they are merchants and trades, interested in dealing fairly with their neighbors. But on the other hand, they are fierce and bellicose people who raid and steal as they like, extorting gold and silver for not sacking our coastal communites. The reason for this somewhat contradictory nature is that Norsemen, though mostly of similar form and appearance, are not just a single people, but rather consist of many tribes. And their attitudes differ a great deal between each tribe. To comprehend the Norsemen character, one must first understand who they are, where they live, and the fundamental motivations of the Norsemen people."
—Xavier Pfaff, Middenheim Historian [7b] 
1c905214cbab29a5cb7115f161e9c6a3 (1)

Whatever their tribal affiliation, every Norseman is a fearsome warrior

The Norscans as a single, cohesive people do not exist [7b]. Indeed, the very term 'Norscan' is an Imperial labeling. They are instead divided into various, numerous tribal confederations that are as much at war with each other as they are with the Kurgan and Hung tribes to the East or the Empire to the South [1a]. These various Norse tribes are often nations unto themselves: possessing varying pantheons of gods, traditions, heroes and tribal dialects. Those tribes living within the northern reaches of Norsca are often fierce worshipers of Chaos, and are the most common to take part in the Chaos Gods' wars upon the civilised world [7b].

The southern tribes are somewhat milder than their northern counterparts [7b]. While they raid and plunder just as much as the rest of their kin, it is from these tribes that the ideals of trade and cooperation have begun to take root, albeit shakily [7b]. When not waging war against the southern realms, these tribes often trade exotic furs, metals, and their service as mercenaries to employers in cities such as Marienburg [7b]. However, all Norse are united by a shared ancestry and a mutual veneration of the Four Dark Lords of Chaos [7b], and as such, when the Gods speak and command war to be made against the Empire, the southern tribes take up the call as readily as their more northerly kinsmen. To refuse the call of the gods is the greatest dishonour a tribe can bring unto itself, and is often seen by other Norscans as grounds for annihilation [7b].

The nine 'High' tribes of Norsca, from which all others descend, are the [2a], [7b]:

  • Aeslings 
  • Graelings
  • Vargs
  • Sarls
  • Bjornlings
  • Skaelings
  • Baersonlings
  • Hastlings [48]
  • Kvelligs  [48]

There are also lesser tribes comprising them, such as the Gorehunt [2e], Snaegr [1b] [2d], Sortsvinear, Ironpelt [2k], Brennuns, Crow-Brothers [48], Wolfclaw, Stormravens, Wyrmkin, Kin-Slayers, Beast-Flayers, Blackaxes, Fjordlings [43] and so on. The tribe forms the very core of Norscan identity. A Norseman will never identify himself as such, he will instead identify himself based on his tribal lineage. For instance, an Aesling will always think of himself as an Aesling -- for their only loyalty is to their family, kinsmen and to the Dark gods [17a], [17b]. Being divided into countless tribal affiliations, there exist many important differences that mark each tribe as being unique, with particular customs and beliefs that serve to set them apart from other men of their country. For instance, one particular clan of Skaelings may dress in cloaks of bear-skin and reindeer hide, and paint over their steel armour with blood and grip mighty axes and spears in honour of Khorne [21], [22], [23]. On the other hand, a tribe of Aeslings may be dressed in checkered surcoats and wear brass-studded collars while wielding brutal longaxes in honour of the same deity [34]. Norscan warriors are thus as diverse as they are lethal.

Norscan Society

Norscan society is comprised of distinct tribes that venerate their ancestors and their respective visions of the Chaos Gods, yet nonetheless each tribe is stratified along similar social structures. The Norse tribes are each ruled by a King, who distributes hunting grounds and territory to his lords, who are known as Jarls. The Jarls in turn bestow gifts and favour upon their sworn warriors, who are known as Bondsmen. Warriors occupy the most vaunted and esteemed place in Norse society, due to the warlike mien of the Northern tribes and their insatiable lust for blood. The rest of Norscan society consists of the elderly (though it is quite common for elder warriors to command immense respect among their fellow tribesmen, due to their renown and experience in combat), the infirm and the women. At the very bottom rung of Norscan society lie the Thralls, slaves taken in raids for use as menial labour, as consorts, and worse, as sacrifices to appease the dark hunger of the Chaos Gods.

Kings
Chaos Warlord

A Norscan King

The most powerful and fearsome of Norsemen are the dark Kings of this wild land. Most Kings begin their careers as Jarls, but occasionally one can inherit the title from his father [7a], [7b]. There is a divide in the methods of royal succession between the northern and southern parts of Norsca. In the North, Kings are invariably victors of blood-drenched trials-by-combat where all claimants battle each other in order to determine who among them is the greatest warrior and most favoured by the Dark gods [7b]. In the South, however, the transition of power is generally somewhat smoother, but still fraught with violence as the new King must still slay his rivals in combat to ensure his power and prove his worthiness before both the gods and his kinsmen [7b]. All Kings of Norsca bear upon them Marks of the Dark Gods, indicating outwardly that they have been blessed by their patron deities with incredible power and might [7b]. These Marks are also an indication of the King’s right to rule – for he must have already proven himself as a mighty warlord in order to attract the Eyes of the gods in such a profound way. Celebrated Chaos Champions, the Kings of Norsca are amongst the most deadly warriors in the entire world, and prove the legends of their dark might in war time and time again [7b]. At times, certain exceptionally powerful Kings can rise to unite multiple tribes or even all of Norsca under their banners. This individual is known as the High King. To date, there have only been a small number of individuals with the sheer strength and will required to become High Kings, such as High King Ormgaard [11], High King Valmir Aesling [2g], and High King Erik Redaxe [2h], [14].

Jarls

Jarls are powerful chieftains loyal to their tribal Kings. In exchange for their oaths of fealty and friendship, the King grants his Jarls hunting grounds, Warriors, Thralls and treasures. Jarls are the absolute masters of their lands, but are expected to be subservient to their Kings, who tend to punish disobedience with swift and terrible retribution. When the winds of war blow, a Jarl is bound by oath and honour to come to the aid of his King and lend his warriors to the cause. Should a King die without an heir to succeed him, the Jarls will invariably fight a savage contest to determine who shall succeed him [7b], [7c]. Whilst it is expected that Jarls are utterly loyal to the monarchs, it is also expected that in times of weak leaders that a strong Jarl will slay his lord and take the throne of the tribe for himself. This is a risky act in the best of times however, for such a coup is likely to invite retribution from the King’s followers, particularly his sons, who are expected to take brutal vengeance upon their father’s murderers.

Many Jarls tend to be Chaos Champions of a certain type [7d], being often afflicted with mutations and enhancements that show that they have the favour of the Dark gods. Though they are generally not as individually deadly as Kings, Jarls are nonetheless terrifying forces on the battlefield. There also exist among Jarls highly powerful and exceptional individuals known as High Jarls, powerful champions and warlords who rule over large and powerful cities of the North. They command massive armies, able to bring to bear thousands of warriors and savage beasts culled from darkest nightmares. Only one High Jarl is known, Egil Styrbjorn, Champion of Khorne and High Jarl of the Skaeling city of Strovengaard.

Warriors
"The gods compel us to murder, but I do it freely!"
—Norscans [48]
Branded by khorne

A savage Norse warrior in the throes of berserker rage

The Norscans are a warrior race of the highest calibre [2a], and so it is unsurprising that Warriors form the vast majority of the Norscan tribes [7b]. While all Norscans are skilled to at least some extent in warcraft, becoming a true warrior in Norsca is a far more complicated affair than in other lands. Anyone can take up a blade and fight, but to be able to truly call oneself a Warrior a free man must undertake special rites of passage [7a], [7b]. Different tribes have different rites; some require three tests: the test of Strength, the test of Skill and the test of Courage [7b]. Others may send out candidates armed only with a spear in order to slay dreaded beasts, such as Trolls, Chaos Spawn, Daemons or Ymir [7b]. Some clans erect a fake village, and populate it with Thralls armed with shields and clubs. The aspiring warrior must then raid the ‘village’, slaying all within in order to recover a prize, such as gold, meat, ale, or a buxom female thrall [7b].

Jarls and champions attract warriors to their bands by dint of their personal strength and reputation as undefeated warleaders. Generally speaking a Norseman must make blood-oaths of loyalty to the chieftain, and from then on does the warrior take his place in the warband's battleline; sharing in the glorious bloodshed and death that often follows [7a]. In return, these warriors receive their share of the rewards that follows a successful battle, and receives his pick of weapons from the warband's Mound of Blades. Other such gifts a warrior may receive include arm-rings, Chaos Dwarf-forged armour, and, of course, thralls [7a].

A Warrior’s life is often brief, but it is always exciting. Between raids and invasions, Warriors provide meat for their clan by hunting the savage, tainted beasts of Norsca. They gain further prestige when they return with the slaughtered carcass of a Chaos Spawn, Beastman, Ice Drake [48] or some massive shark pulled from the seas. In times of war, they clamber onto the Wolfships, bravely setting off for whatever battlefield awaits them, knowing that their destiny is at hand. From their exploits, they take up various titles and names reflecting their personal attributes and triumphs – such as Redaxe, the Wanderer, the Slayer of Souls, the Geld-Prince and so forth.

Chaos Warrior

Chaos Warriors are referred to as Huskarls within Norsca

The greatest of Norscan warriors often ascend to become Chaos Warriors, or Huskarls [30]; warriors who have emerged from the unholy perils of the Realm of Chaos as beings far greater than their fellow clansmen [2i]. Hand-picked by the Jarls and holding immense authority among the tribes [1d], they are the ultimate warriors; chosen to be the personal guard to Warlords and Chieftains. Brave heroes all; for these champions there are but three fates - to die in glorious battle against the enemies of their gods and tribes, to become overcome with the Chaos Power flowing through them and devolve into Weres (Chaos Spawn) [1c], or to overcome all obstacles put before them and ascend to sit at the right hand of their gods [1d], blessed with eternal power and everlasting life.

The Chaos Warriors are the greatest of all the fighters of Norsca - raised from strong Norseman stock, their skills honed over the years by constant battle amongst themselves and against other races [1d]. Their strength infernal and their bodies hardened like steel, and stand a head taller than their fellow tribesmen. Grim, silent figures, their natural Northern constitution is bolstered by demonic favour; allowing them to trudge through the direst of blizzards and densest of forests. When roused for battle, the Champions of Norsca are roaring, unstoppable forces [2i]. Arrows and bolts clatter piteously from his hell-forged plate as they stride into the enemy ranks. The thrusts of southern spears and halberds are deflected contemptuously, and the lifeblood of their foes splatters against his barbarous armour as his battleaxe rises and falls in gory arcs.

Norse Chaos Lord 2

Norscan Chaos Lord

More favoured than even the Huskarls are the Chosen of Chaos, whom the gods have personally marked out for greatness [2i]. Physical manifestations of the power of the gods, the Chosen are unto the Chaos Warriors as the Chaos Warriors are unto normal Norsemen. Their bodies warped and strengthened by the dark blessings of Chaos, causing them to manifest even fouler mutations than their brothers-in-arms - such as wolf-like fangs [1d], and many other such alterations. The Warriors of Chaos who choose to leave their tribes gather together into warbands led by such heroes. These sword-bands roam and sail the length and breadth of the known world, butchering and pillaging, fighting rival warbands in blood-feuds to prove their worthiness to the gods [1d]. Heroes who command such a following are rightfully legendary; figures such as Wulfrik the Wanderer, Valgar the Butcher, Hakka the Aesling, Einarr Steelfist, and Garmr Hrodvitnir, figures of unsurpassed fighting prowess and iron-hard discipline. Indeed, it is often said in the Norselands that the Chosen Champions of the gods have but one vice - cruelty to their foes [2g].

Norse Chaos Lord

A Norscan Chaos Warrior

When not hunting or raiding, Warriors enjoy the finer aspects of Norse life. They spend their time in the sweat-lodges, swapping tales of their savage exploits and making grand boasts of their fighting prowess. At night, they engage in grand drinking contests from which they gain new and evocative titles such as Alespew, Rockson and the Glutton, to name but a possible few [7b]. As Norsemen are often unforgivable braggarts and competitors, they will often perform all sorts of insane feats to outdo their rivals. Sometimes, these games of one-upmanship can lead to physical contests to decide to who is greater, such as arm-wrestling, knife-fighting, brawling and dueling. These fights are rarely lethal, however, since to slay a fellow tribesman in times of peace is a grave crime likely to give rise to blood-feuds and revenge-killings, as well as the paying of Wergild in order to contain the aforementioned.

To the outsider, Norse Warriors are all the same: bloodthirsty bands of savage Marauders. But there are nonetheless distinctions amongst the various clans. Loyalty to a particular Jarl engenders all sorts of peculiarities that his bonded warriors embrace. For instance, if a Jarl is a champion of Khorne, then his warriors are likely to dress in red or black and work the skull-rune into their shields and armour. Another example could be of Warriors who only fight with a particular type of axe, or who use shields whose edges have been sharpened to a razor’s edge. Others may be incredible leapers, while others may only armour their fronts so that they can never retreat from a battle. Unusual haircuts, top-knots, braids, beard or even (extremely rarely) lack of beard altogether characterise differing groups of Norscans.

Karls

Norscans who lack skill or ability at arms are a minority amongst such a fierce people and fill a low place in society as a whole. Reviled as weak and inferior, they are relegated to serving the Jarls, tending their fields and overseeing the Thralls. Though they do not have the prestige of warriors, it is understood that without them, Norsca would surely die. Nevertheless, Karls are free-men, not servile as Thralls are. It is entirely normal for them to own their own land, and ascend to the ranks of a tribe’s warriors if they prove themselves worthy. They are not an oppressed underclass by any means [7b].

Thralls

Among the most wretched of fates facing the inhabitants of the Old World is a life of forced servitude, whether it is in the horrid mines of the Skaven, the opulent pleasure palaces of mighty Araby, or being subject to a life of fear and brutality as a thrall to a Jarl of Norsca. Each raid against the coastal settlements of the Empire and Bretonnia finds more people captured and brought back to a life of endless toil and service to their masters. Such thralls are not contained to the women and children who are captured, but also include warriors taken as prisoners on the field of battle [7b].

The treatment of thralls varies depending on the tribe. Sometimes, thralls are used to aid shipbuilders in constructing the longships, or are set to work the frozen fields of various farmsteads. Other times, thralls are taken as a fourth or fifth wife, selected for their attractiveness rather than their station. But for most thralls, their fate is to be bloodily sacrificed in order to curry favour with the Dark gods [7b], [17a]. When a new Wolfship is finished, the Norsemen line the approach to the sea with screaming slaves, to crush the life out of them as the warriors push the longship into the waters. Before a raid, a slave might be sacrificed in order to earn the blessing of Khorne for the battle ahead [7b]. His or her guts may then be flung into the ocean to appease the hunger of the daemons of the waters, or his broken body may be tied to the mast to feed the hunger of the ravens and the other spirits of death [17a]. Seers kill thralls with impunity in order to fuel accursed magics, using the blood of innocents to conjure forth the daemons of the Otherworld or to commune with the vengeful spirits of fallen warlords. Though some thralls may receive decent treatment in rare circumstances, most face a gruesome fate.

Norscan Settlements

Norscan settlements range from heavily armed tribal enclaves to massive, militarised fortress-cities. Various factors determine the size of a settlement, such as farming area and the availability natural resources. Due to the harshness of Norsca’s climate and terrain, most settlements are small communities consisting of perhaps a dozen or so clans. While small, however, these small communities are numerous throughout the land, numbering in the thousands. As with all settlements, even these modest centres are typically headed by a Jarl or some deputy chieftain, who is often advised in religious matters by a Vitki and propped up by a cadre of fierce and loyal warriors. Larger settlements are typically ruled by a tribal King or a High Jarl, which contain massive populations and house mighty war-fleets that are sent out seasonally to raid and pillage the coastlines of the Old World and beyond. Smaller settlements struggle to survive, fighting ferociously to endure until they are eventually destroyed by the elements, rival tribes or by some unholy monstrosity from beyond the Veil [7c].

Sites

When selecting a site for the purpose of building a settlement, the Norsemen invariably look at three factors [7c]. First, the site must have access to a resource [7c]: good fishing, forests for timber and hunting, or a rich area of soil suitable for farming. Secondly, the location must be defensible; areas nestled in the mountains or within dense forests are considered ideal for this purpose [7c]. The last, though perhaps most important consideration is the ability to see in all directions [7c]. What good is a village nestled in a gorge of mountains if one cannot see the approach of one’s foes? To make otherwise unsuitable sites useful, the Norsemen construct tall watchtowers in order to broaden the sight of their clan. In addition, within these watchtowers there is typically a signal fire which can be lit to notify the settlement of an impending attack. These watchtowers can also serve more than one settlement, and should the greater tribe fall under attack, then signal flares erupt all over the territory, calling the chieftains to muster their warriors for glorious battle. But even above these considerations, the Norsemen erect their holdings according to the Will of the Dark Powers, for the iron men of the North do not gather for sustenance of even survival, but rather do the tribes camp so that they might gather under Ruinous Scrutiny and worship their mighty deities [48]. Drawn by no true sense of place, the Norscan tribes sometimes wander their brutal homeland until they are drawn by some relic of ancient and ruinous power, the location of which being where they shall erect their holdings and remain [48]. Tribal relics may be the skeletal remains of a beloved and fierce Jarl, or some ancient blade endowed with the unholy energies of their gods. Regardless, such sites are considered highly auspicious for the creation of villages and enclaves, and the tribes will often defend their newfound homes to the death. Amidst these tribal gatherings do the Chaos Warriors await the coming of the Great Champion - a King with three eyes.

Norscan Structures and Architecture

Norsca 01

A Norscan longhouse

Norscan architecture is built with utility as the forefront concern. Buildings must be large enough to accommodate a family, and must be low enough to the ground that the falling snow can conceal it from predators. In spring and summer, their roofs are seeded with grass so that they blend into the surrounding land [7c].

Most Norscan structures tend to be longhouses: long, large, single-storied buildings covered in thatched roofs. Most longhouses feature some form of adornment, such as whorls and swirling patterns working in carved images depicting warriors and daemons [7c], [14]. Within the longhouse, there is the central common room where food is cooked, Skalds tell the tales of the Dark gods and the ancestors, and most of the family sleeps for warmth. Other areas attached to the common room serve as storage areas, pens for holding animals and personal bedrooms [7c]. Thralls live in hovels little more than stitched-together skins hanging on a wooden frame. These residences are abysmal at keeping out the cold, so in order to conserve heat Thralls will often smear the walls of their abodes with mud or excrement [7c].

Each community, whether it is a small village or mighty city, contains at least one shrine dedicated to the Chaos gods [7c], [17d]. Most such sites tend to be caves burrowed into the side of a mountain or hill, but others are free-standing structures. Such sites can be identified from the presence of dark altars, bonfires, mounds of skulls and sacrifices of plunder. Strange runes mark the entryways, forbidding passage to all except full-blooded warriors [7c]. Despite this, even the most fearsome Norse warrior is wary of entering a temple without cause, for the Dark gods are cruel and capricious deities. Maintaining the site is a Seer or Vitki, who either lives in the shrine itself or in a nearby hovel. Shrines dedicated to Khorne are instead tended to by the Bloodfathers [13], [17d].

Those familiar with the runes of Chaos can see their working throughout these shrines, from the bloody altars to the horrifying paintings on the cave walls. The symbols of the Ruinous Powers are worked into everything, charging the very air with raw, unholy energy [7c].

Lastly there are the fortresses. Though they are perhaps not as opulent or grandiose as those of the Old World, these barbaric strongholds are highly defensible, able to withstand the worst of assaults. Some strongholds are the deserted holds of Norse Dwarfs, claimed by Norse clans as their seats of power. Other fortresses are man-made, carved from the very rock itself. Finally, there are the Chaos Fortresses, mighty edifices of dark majesty empowered by the very stuff of Chaos itself, renowned throughout the land and couched in legend. Only the greatest and most powerful Kings and Jarls are considered worthy enough to control such mighty enclaves, but those that do are truly formidable warlords. Such fortresses include the Doomkeep, the Tower of Khrakk, the Forbidden Citadel and the Altar of the Crimson Harvest [3a].

Norscan Faith and Religious Beliefs

""Khorne!" they roared, invoking the sacred battle-name of Kharnath the Blood God, Lord of Battles. "Khorne!" they howled until it seemed the walls must fall from the violence of their voices alone. "Khorne!" they shrieked as they gnashed their teeth and bit their shields."
—Destruction of Wisborg [14]
Board-dials-at-starting-position

Norscan religion revolves around the worship of the Chaos Gods

Norscan religion is based primarily around the worship of the Chaos Gods, which are venerated by various local aspects and names both similar to and distinct to those they are known by to the scholars and priests of the Empire [1a], [2a], [3a], [5a], [5b], [5c], [7a], [17a], [17b] . Commonly, the Norscans, like the other human races who dwell around the Chaos Wastes, venerate all the Chaos Gods in a single pantheon, as a purely practical consideration in order to draw upon all of the gifts and powers of the Four Gods in order to better survive in the harsh north [1a]. In spite of this, there are many tribes that do in fact take a single Chaos God to be their patron, who is then seen as both the father and protector of that tribe. Commonly, that god is also the Patron of the chieftain [1a], [2a]. In the vast majority of Norse tribes, Khorne takes up this position, as he is by far the most popular choice of patron deity in the battle-torn North [5a], [5b], [5c], [7d], [17a], [17b], [17c], [17d], [17e].

In addition to the Chaos Gods themselves, the Northmen religion also incorporates various Daemon Princes [19], fallen Chaos Champions, revered ancestors and various other lesser spirits into its traditions. Despite the presence of these additional deities however, it is always the Chaos Gods alone are ever-present and who receive the highest degree of veneration; being the core set of deities Norse religion revolves around [7b].

The Norsemen have worshiped the Dark Gods since times immemorial; the tribes simply have no concept of how to live otherwise [8], [9]. Far from being mindless slaves to darkness, the men of the North merely maintain that beings as powerful as the Chaos Gods simply operate on a level beyond mere human judgement or understanding, and are thus entitled to reward or destroy as befits their divine inclination [1a], [2a]. Just as it is the charge of a man to pay them homage and passionately strive for their favour. The Norsemen believe the path they have taken is the only one that is pure and true, and thus look down upon the gods of the southern lands; seeing them as corrupt, weak and wicked things that are beneath contempt and worthy only of mockery.

1956536-chaosstar2

An emblem of Chaos

In the Norscan faith there is no equivalent to the Kingdom of Morr, there is nothing after death save the Realms of the Dark Gods, and men shall only enter those domains to sit at the right hand of their gods if they were strong and true warriors in life [17a]. For cowards are cursed by the gods and reviled for all eternity. Thus, every Norscan fights with an insane fervour driven by this belief, which molds them into the perfect warriors of the Dark Gods [17a].

In battle the Norse look to Khorne, the War-God, for strength. The Blood God is renowned in Norscan sagas as an embodiment of strength and a granter of victory, and so thousands upon thousands of Norse warriors are dedicated to his savage creed of wanton bloodshed [196]. Amongst the Norse, the most common name for the Blood God is 'Kharnath', meaning 'Lord of Rage' in the Dark Tongue of Chaos. But other names are also prevalent amongst the tribes, such as 'Akhar', 'Khorne', the 'Brass Lord of Battle', etc [5f] [7d]. [17], [28], [29].

Seers and Vitki take Tzeentch, the Raven God, as their patron, and beseech the Changer of the Ways to aid them in their witchery and to one day grant them pre-eminence over the warrior-kings who lead the tribes. As most Norscan spell-casters are Chaos Sorcerers of a sort, channeling the Black Wind of Dhar to power their profane divination [7c], it is common for them to take at least one or more of the Dark Gods as their patrons, and most commonly this patron is Tzeentch, due to his association with magic and sorcery. For the most part however, Tzeentch is distrusted by most Norscans, particularly warriors, for his cunning ways, yet as he is also seen as the god of wind and tide, most Norscans will strive for his favour before taking to their longships, in order to ensure a safe voyage.

In times of plague and famine, the Norse offer sacrifices to Nurgle, to placate the Crow-God and to persuade him to withhold his "blessings." Some tribes dedicate themselves to the Plague-Father in such occasions, however, believing that only through fighting in his name shall they be delivered from the ruinous touch of Nurgle's contagions. Slaanesh, the Great Serpent, is prayed to in the aftermath of battle for fulsome feasting and celebration. He is also prayed to for fertility and virility and is invoked in some tribes' marriage ceremonies [27], [28], [29].

There is also a very strong element of ancestral worship to the Norse religion that cannot be overlooked. Indeed, the veneration of the ancestors is a tradition as old as the worship of the Chaos Gods themselves to the Norsemen, and one from which they too derive their strength and fierce codes of honour [7b].

Though they dominate the Norse pantheon, the Dark Gods are certainly not alone amongst the number of the dread Norscan deities. For example, there is Mermedus - a daemonic sea deity and lesser idol of Chaos believed by scholars to be a Chaotic reflection of the sea-god Mannan, is venerated amongst ferocious Skaeling sea-raiders [17b]. The Skaeling marauders make human sacrifices to the abominable god by weighing the prisoners they take in battle with leaden weights before throwing them into the ocean to drown in the sea-god's dread embrace [17b].

SkullThrone

A depiction of Khorne - a Norscan deity

When a warrior dies at sea it is said that he now wears the "chains of Meremdus" [14a], and so is his soul taken forever in that god's servitude, forever deprived the honour of feasting with the ancestors in the lofty halls of the Four Great Gods. Thus, the Skaeling sea-god is as reviled amongst the Norse as he is respected as the Lord of wind and tide. Curiously, while there exists a clear antipathy for the gods of the south due to their belief in the gods of the north, some Norscans nonetheless believe in deities with clear parallels to some worshiped in the Old World. Mermedus being one of them. However, some sources indicate the worship of a lesser deity known as Olric, who appears to be a Norscan vision of the deity Ulric, albeit one far more savage and brutal.

The Norscans see themselves as the closest of all the races of men to the Dark Gods, and thus see it as their duty and right to raid and ravage [1c]. Thus they raid not only the south, but also their fellow worshipers of Chaos -- the Kurgan and Hung to the east [7b]. Many Norscan warbands also make journeys into the Chaos Wastes, to hunt the abominable creatures of that land and show their might to their infernal masters. Indeed, amongst some tribes, there is a tradition of leaving a child on his thirteenth year at the shores of the Wastes with only bare necessities and a single weapon. If he is able to survive for a week, he is returned and made a man of the tribe. If he manages to bring back the head of a Chaos Spawn or a Beastman, then he is made a warrior then and there.

The Norse see themselves as honourable men, mighty and courageous, and for this strength of will and sinew they honour their Dark Gods[7a], [7b]. The Norsemen see the blessings of their gods (mutation) as gifts that allow them to better stand against the unimaginable perils of their homeland [1a]. [2a], [7a], [7b], [17a], [17b]. As all the Norsemen are, to some extent, affected by the touch of Chaos [4a], they are constantly reminded of the presence of their gods, and are ever vividly reminded of their potency. In comparison, the gods of the south, such as Ulric, Sigmar and Myrmidia are but pale, pitiful children before the might of the Dark Lords of the North.

The Norse believe the world as they perceive it, the realm of flesh and blood and material, is a prison; an illusion created by the Dark Gods in order to test them [7b], [14], and that the true world is the Realm of Chaos; the ever-changing, ever-mutable domain of the Dark Gods. The Norse believe that it is only through the gifts of the Dark Gods that they shall be able to penetrate this veil of the senses and peer into the true reality [7a], [7b]. When a Norseman receives a mutation, the rewards of the Chaos Gods, they believe that it is the hand of the gods stripping away the illusion about them and thus revealing to them their true self, in simpler terms, they are gaining a glimpse of reality [7a], [7b]. When a Seer conjures forth a Daemon, it is again seen as a fleeting glimpse of the true world [7b].

Daemon Prince

It is the dream of many a Northman to be elevated by the gods to the greatest stature - that of a mighty Daemon Prince

Some scholars have theorized that Norsca's extremely close proximity to the Chaos Wastes lends itself to this way of thinking [7b]. The Shadowlands are strange, and everchanging. An ordinary boulder may stay in one spot for a thousand years, only to pick itself up one day and move to another spot. Birds may fly through the cold mountain air at one point, and then land and slither across the ground as a snake the next. Storms come and go without warning, and the very stars seem to writhe and change. Norsca is a land in constant flux, abiding by no laws, lending a dream-like quality to this wild land. To a Norseman, it is thus no great leap of logic to assume that the mutations and rewards of Chaos are gifts of the Chaos Gods; a mark of divine favour granted to set the chosen apart from the mundane [7b].

As the realm of flesh is but a dream, it is the goal of every Norsemen to reach the truth: The true realm beyond this grey, ashen existence. The realm of the Dark Gods. Death and glory is the doorway to the land beyond, and a man can only make the journey through it by proving himself in the dream. In order to prove one's worth, he must have been a powerful warrior in life, who died a heroic death slaughtering many foes attaining glory and the Marks of the Chaos Gods' divine favour [7b], [17a], [17b]. Those who beg for mercy, who cling to the realm of the living are found wanting and cursed to walk the world forever as disembodied spirits. Others are tormented for all eternity by daemons and reborn as slaves, women, or worst of all, Old Worlders.

Thus, it is warriors who occupy the most prestigious echelons of Norse society; for they alone can attain the glory that awaits them beyond the mortal world [7b]. The rest are condemned to spend their days in the dream, never to know the dark paradise that might be theirs. This belief has molded the men of Norsca into vicious and powerful warriors who thirst after the chance to make war for the glory of Chaos, for there is no greater glory than to fight and die in the armies of the immortals and to join their holy number [1a], [2a], [3a]

Valkia

Valkia the Bloody, Consort of Khorne, is a prominent figure in Norscan religion

In general the Norse tend to revere Khorne, the Skull-King and Lord of Battles, more fanatically than the other tribal barbarians of Chaos [7d] - for the simple, brutal strictures of the Blood God's faith are pleasing to the war-like Norse, and the behavior of the various Norse tribes in Norsca, as well as the terrible Troll Country, dovetails neatly with what the Blood God expects from his followers [5e]. As a result, many tribes of Norsca take Khorne as their sole patron and most Chaos Shrines dedicated to him are found within Norse settlements [17d], [17e]. The Norscans also maintain a unique tradition in their version of Khornate worship, holding up the veneration of the Daemon Princess Valkia the Bloody. According to Norse sagas, she was once a fearsome warrior queen of one of the tribes of Norsca who was risen from her tribe to become the Shield-Maiden of the Blood God and the Bringer of Glory -- Khorne's consort who chooses the valiant dead who are to enter into the Halls of the Blood God to fight on for all eternity [5g].

Many times in the past, Valkia has returned to the mortal plane to lead the Norscans to battle, and in her presence, the grim warriors of the north fight even harder - for where Valkia flies, the Axe-Father watches, and to any Norscan, the prospect of becoming his Chosen is a prize beyond all measure Template:Fn2g. Indeed, the Norscans' utter devotion to Khorne is a dark thing of terrifying fanaticism, for they have gone above and beyond the call of their god's demand for eternal warfare [17b], [17c]. Thus, many Norse tribes spend their days raiding up and down the coastlines of the Empire and beyond to gather skulls to honour the Blood God. An example of the Norscan Khornate zealotry is of the Gorehunt tribe [2e], who in late 2103 IC, resolved to offer up the skulls of far-off lands unto the Blood God, and took to the seas on their longships, heading to the south. The Norscans eventually came across the desert kingdom of Araby [2e].

Though the tribe was less than a hundred strong, the Norsemen were truly blessed by Khorne, and carved a bloody path of devastation throughout the land, battering aside the many thousand-strong armies of the Emirs of Araby [2e]. At last, the rulers of that kingdom sent an army so great it hid the very dunes of the desert with its passing, and numbered great creatures of magic in its number. But the berserking Norsemen fought on with an iron resolve and annihilated the army, spilling so much blood it ran in a mighty river throughout the desert kingdom. Though every Norscan of the Gorehunt tribe was slain, their strength and devotion pleased Khorne greatly, and he willed it so that the river of blood they spilled would forever run through Araby as a testament to their devotion [2e].

Seers and Shamans

"The only men the gods speak to are seers, and they pay a terrible price for this gift."
—Einarr "Steelfist" Sigdansson, Champion of Tzeentch [13]
417ecc186d1a60510af37721f375f7f5

A heavily mutated vitki

The holymen of Norse society are the Seers, or "Vitki", as they referred to in Norscan [7a]. Admittedly, many of these shamanistic spell-casters are Chaos Sorcerers who draw upon the power of the Dark Gods to fuel their divination [7a]. These priests are often the advisers of the mighty Norse chieftains and wield great authority over the tribes due to their status as the mouthpiece of the Chaos Gods [7a]. With but a word can a Vitki order the death of any man, and thralls die brutally by the score in order seal the Daemonic pacts and empower foul rituals by which they draw upon the dark power of Chaos [7a]. Steeped in the arcane traditions of the Ruinous Powers, it falls to these privileged men and women to interpret the movements of the Winds of Chaos, the whispers of Daemons and the spirits of fallen warriors in order to guide the Jarl to choose the proper path for the tribes -- one of blood, glory and conquest.

Amongst the many, many Norse clans who are dedicated solely to the bloody-minded worship of Khorne, another tradition of divination exists. One that abides by the strength of steel than the addled whispers of sorcerers: the terrible Bloodfathers [7a], [13], [17c]. These warlike holymen are solitary by nature, and many deign to attend to the shrines and holy places of Khorne in isolation. The majority of which located in Norsca, but also others further afield [17c]. They are rightly considered legendary amongst the northern tribes, for many among them bear the Mark of Khorne, a sign of their lord's favour. Furthermore, it is whispered amongst the Norsemen that such is their strength and skill that no man can best a Bloodfather of Khorne in battle, for there is no trick of axe or sword that the Blood God has not revealed unto them [13]. The dreams of the Bloodfathers touch ever so with the sanguine realm of Khorne, granting them visions of scarlet yesterdays and crimson tomorrows, visions of battle that allow them to advise their chieftains to path of Khorne's favour, and the Bloodfathers of Norsca often boast that the divining cantrips of sorcerers is precious little compared to the visions granted by a God [49].

Norscans observe various customs and rituals before battle; done in order to prepare themselves for the fight and to gain the favour of the Dark Gods. The bloody sacrifice of a thrall to the Great Powers is a an extremely common practice, but it is by no means the only one. Most battle-customs involve terrifying and complex rites, such as the symbolic spilling of blood, consuming the flesh of Chaos, and even ritual combat between two warriors. In some tribes, there exists a truly horrific ritual to consume the power of Chaos. They first take a living Beastman, drain its blood into an iron cauldron brought to a boil and then add various hallucinogenic substances and herbs into the repulsive fluids. Next, the warriors drop locks of their hair into the concoction. Once all the warband have contributed, the sorcerer hands around a skull filled with the liquid. Each warrior drinks from the skull down to the dregs, believing that ingesting the blood will allow them to receive visions from their gods [7b].  

Death

"He's taken his father's hand."
—A Norscan saying meaning that a fallen warrior has taken his seat in the Halls of the Dark Gods [7b]
Chaos Warrior Emblem

A Norscan symbol of death and conquest

Death is of no fear for a Norseman, no true Son of the Dark North fears to escape the prison of flesh [7b]. To enter the Realm of the Dark Gods in honour and to dwell within their halls. For many Northmen, the greatest fate is that the Shieldmaiden of the Blood God herself shall carry them to fight on in the Halls of Khorne [2g], [15], [50] where a glorious hereafter of eternal battle awaits them. Their measure is taken by the moment of their deaths; by the blood they shed and the foes they slay, and the Gods are said to look well upon men who fight the hopeless fight [14]. Thus it is said that Norsemen never retreat; for to do so is the epitome of weakness, and the Dark Gods of the North have little mercy for those who are weak, and such souls are doomed to be shamed and tormented in the afterlife [13].

It is strength alone the evil gods of Norsca exalt, and they are pleased by those who slay with power and who die with honour. A warrior's saga is said to begin in death, and so each Northman strives to make it so that their doom is of such glory and blood that it is worthy of remembrance. For no father can respect a son who does not find an end nobler than his own, and would sooner spit on him from the halls of the Dark Gods [13].

The Norsemen have an acute obsession with death, equally that of their enemies as much as their own. Theirs is a culture that exults and embraces that which is brutal and deadly, values the masculine and strong, and which teaches men to be reckless with death. This affords them a clear psychological advantage over their enemies, for where the men of the south and east might fear the pain of their death, the Norscans embrace it as the only road to the true realm beyond the waking dream of flesh. Amongst the Norsemen, it is an unthinkable fate for a man to die without holding his weapon [27], [28], [29], for how can the gods permit him to enter their halls when he cannot prove he met his end in battle. A far worse affront is for a warrior's corpse to be dismembered of his hands, for how is he to grip his sword and shield in the eternal battlefields of the Dark Gods without a hand to clasp around the handle of his blades. Indeed, to desecrate a corpse in such a way is grave crime amongst the Norse, sure to drive them to seek vengeance from the perpetrator no matter the cost [28].

The Norse possess many complex rituals to honour those who find their way to tread the paths of the Realm of Chaos. By far, the most well known is to place a dead warrior upon a longship and burn it to the sea. This is a prestigious thing, and is reserved only for chieftains and mighty champions. By placing a warrior upon a ship, it is believed that his soul shall rise with the flames to be sent on his way to the Dark Gods. Among the Norsemen, it is considered a tiding of great doom to wage war while a warrior is committed to the gods in this way, for to fight in the shadow of unquiet souls is an omen of ill-fortune. It is often customary to recite the dark and brutal deeds of the fallen, that the gods might know who it is that comes to their hall [10].

Another, similar funerary practice, one reserved for warriors who fall in battle is to place them upon a burning pyre. The fires are believed to carry the spirit of the dead warrior high to the halls of the Dark Gods, where they shall tell their tales to their honoured fathers and share their stories of victory in war with the other great warriors and kings of ancient days. All around their pyres, their shield-brothers gather to give a great shout into the sky, bringing their axes and swords to hammer against their shields while they roar and bellow the names and bloody feats of valour of those who have fallen, that the gods of the North might know they who come to take their place at their lofty tables [28].

Norse funerals are no somber, self-important affair as they are in the south. Those who have fallen are honoured and revered, their pyres no commiseration of death, but rather a celebration of their lives. Those who die are revered and hailed, for their saga is now completed, and shall be joined to that of the greater tribe, and in turn, that of the Norse people themselves. Marauder and Chosen, herdsman and King alike are honoured thus, and through this, they shall live forever. Not only in the immortal realms beyond flesh, but in the memories of those who will come after them [28].

Warfare

"KHORNE RAGES! WE MUST SLAUGHTER!"
—Norscan battlecry [48]
"And then those sails appeared on the horizon. White, but dripping with the bloody symbols of their foul gods. And then came the black wood of the boats, dragged through the froth by tireless, muscled arms pulling on a hundred oars. I rang the warning bell from my lookout and me lads formed up, each one sweating at the arrival of these beasts. The crossbowmen loosed bolt after bolt, and many fell, but still the howling fiends ran up the beaches with no care for armour or shields. They looked like rabble, but fought like daemons, crashing through our lines, butchering men left and right, clubbing limbs into gore and hacking heads from bodies like they were attached with butter. I'll never forget that morning...""
—Account transcribed from an Ostland sergeant, 2517 IC [5b]
Norseraiders

The fearsome raiders of the North!

The Norscans have a wholly deserved reputation for being incredible fighters. Thick-set and incredibly muscular [1a]; all Norscans are all possessed of an unquenchable battle-thirst, though not through any blight of their souls, but rather as a product of the world in which they live [1a] [37]. Their homeland is a haunted waste infested with terrifying beasts such as Chaos Spawn and trolls, infused with the very essence of Chaos and lashed by furious, freezing winds. Their gods are terrifying idols of darkness, who favour only the strong and demand the destruction of the weak. To their east are the bloodthirsty horse-nomads, to their south are the heirs of Sigmar and to their north, the very abode of their gods. Norsca is a land where living even a single day is a victory. Thus are the Norscans inured to violence and horror from an early age, and there are few among their numbers unprepared to fight and die for their honour, gain or for the favour of the Ruinous Powers [25a]

Comparing the men of Norsca unto the soft-bellied wastrels of the south is to compare a wolf to a sheep, for where the men of the south would cower secure behind their high walls, the men of Norsca roam the far corners of the world in search of adventure and plunder. Where the men of the Empire indulge themselves before a fireplace glutting on fine wine and cheese, the men of the north must hunt and kill for their daily bread and rip into raw meet with their bare hands and teeth for their efforts. Where the men of the south complain bitterly of travelling abroad in fog or sleet, the Norse brave howling blizzards clad in little more than flea infested scraps of fur. Little wonder then that the raids of the northmen are feared throughout the Old World [2a], [2i]

The conditions of their environment and the savage strictures of their faith have molded them into a true warrior race [33]. Each northman towers over any man of the Empire, their powerful bodies hardened by lives of ceaseless toil and endless war [2i]. The Norsemen fight for their very survival from birth, and every man is expected, nay demanded, to be an accomplished warrior -- hardy, fierce and independent [2i]. The Norsemen have no inclination for the ways of the ploughshare or sickle; their tools are the sword, axe and shield, and that which their own lands cannot provide for them, they merely take from the lands of lesser men. Their legendary strength and endurance has been built by centuries of living in a land that does not tolerate weakness, and has been further enhanced and strengthened by the corrupting influence of Chaos that inevitably affects all those who live so close to the Chaos Wastes [23b]

The largest form of organization for the Norscan warriors is known as a freigattur -- 'free-gathering' in the common tongue -- when the Champions of Norsca bring their tribes and warbands together in common cause, usually for a massive invasion of the Imperial or Kurgan lands, or in order to defend their own tribes from invaders [28]. It is a time for warriors to meet and feast and swear oaths of blood and glory for when they stand together in battle, and for their chieftains to meet in conference with one another aboard the deck of the dragonship of he who has called the meeting to order to plan cunning strategies to fell their enemies [28]. These convocations allow for a massive raising of forces, comprising of thousands of blood-hungry Chaos tribesmen. Its unity however is never truly certain, for it depends upon the strength and iron will of its leaders, as well as the promise of victory and wealth for its warriors. 

Norscans

Even the eldest Norscans are mighty, and in many cases, highly accomplished warriors

The next largest organisation of warriors is the warband itself, or the warhird, as it is called in the Norscan tongue. Most folk in the northern reaches of the Empire and Kislev are likely well acquainted with the common Norse warband; brutal reavers either charging down the Kislevite steppes or leaping fur-clad from longships to savage the coastlines. The Norse warhirds comprise the bulk of the Chaos Hordes, alongside the warrior-bands of the Kurgan and Hung. In times of war, the Norsemen flock to the banners of the great champions, throwing their weight behind the cause, whether it be the favour of the gods or the bright lure of plundered gold. When not part of a great army, the Norsemen spend their days raiding the towns and villages of the south [1a], [1b].

Though perceived as a single, mindless horde of heathen warriors bent on rapine and slaughter by the peoples of the south, the Norseman bands are often wildly distinct in terms of tactics, appearance, and Chaos allegiance. Some warbands are characterised by only using axes in battle, others by only armouring their fronts so that they cannot retreat from the battlefield, while others by a particular style of beard [7b], [7c]. Regardless, the fact remains that any Norse warhird is invariably comprised of mighty, hardened warriors of superlative skill and deadliness. Hardened by a bleak land and bred for battle, they hold all others in contempt and hatred.

Though Norscans recognise no authority except that which they pledge freely to their warlords and champions, and even this can evaporate quickly if they are defeated or if the lord shows any sort of weakness [25a], there exists a barbaric sort of brotherhood between the warriors of Norse Marauder bands. Bonds so strong as to endure even as the warband divides or grows. These bonds may be rooted in tribal bloodlines or be forged in the fires of battle [25a], but are regardless impossible to break and allows the Marauders extensive battlefield cohesion and discipline that belies their savage mien. 

The Norscans are a semi-nomadic race [1a], [2a], [3a], [48], although many Norse tribes live the year round in primitive villages from which they set sail to terrorise the known world [1d], other tribes wander the North; erecting their temporary villages near sacred sites of Ruinous favour where they might catch the favour of their malefic masters [48]. Despite this, the Norse are still the most settled of Chaos Marauders, at least with respect to the ever roving Kurgan horse-tribes of the Eastern Steppes. As a result of this, the Norse alone have developed the means to manufacture weapons and armour of superior craftsmanship among the Northern peoples [33]. Thus are the Norsemen most likely to be clad in armour of steel and wielding mighty blades honed to razor-sharp deadliness, making them far more formidable of the battlefield than the Kurgan or Hung. 

Such is the Norscan respect for steel, that among warbands of Norse Chaos Warriors there exists the tradition of the Mound of Blades [48]. A collection of infernal weaponry, some plundered from southlanders, some fashioned by Norse Hellsmiths [48]. To take a weapon from the mound of blades a Chaos Warrior must first place another upon it. The offered weapon cannot be his own, it must be taken from the corpse of a sworn foe. The rare few who forswear this custom discover at their cost that this is one tradition that the Chaos Gods seem to appreciate [48]. Among larger tribal warbands there are also Chaos Reliquaries, unholy stores of a Warband's most treasured weapons. It is true that champions keep their most prized accoutrements on their person at all times, but for those lucky enough to acquire a fine blade or ensorcelled axe, a reliquary will keep it safe from rivals.

Norscanwarrior

Norse champion of Khorne

In battle, the Norscans invoke the war-god Khorne, from the lowliest marauder to the highest Chosen (provided he is not a worshiper of Slaanesh, of course) [5a], [5g], [5h], [14], [37]. By bellowing and roaring his dark name, the Norsemen believe that they can drive themselves into an uncontrollable battle-fury -- whether by their own will or that of Khorne himself, who can say [14]. The blood-crazed Khornate berserkers of Norsca are truly fearsome opponents, and many thousands have been undone by their psychotic, blood-lusting fury [17c]. When set loose on the battlefield, each marauder is like a beast scenting blood, and they will not rest until their lust for death is sated, for they know that the eyes of the gods are upon them, judging their strength and testing their courage. They know too that those who fight well will be honoured by the gods, and will receive their blessings and the marks of their favour, and so they fight with no regard for their own lives, only for how many they can take on the battlefield. Death, after all, is the destiny of all, and so when it is that when it comes the Norse do not court it like the weak men of the south, but rather embrace it. A bloody end with blade in hand and the red ruin of their foes strewn all about them -- an end to make both gods and ancestors proud; the men of the North fear dishonour more than the touch of the valkyrie [13], [14]

The armies of Norsca are feared and renowned for their sheer ferocity and the strength of their infantry, comprised chiefly of merciless Marauders and bloodthirsty iron-clad Chaos Warriors. Favouring the battle-axe, heavy flail and violent exultation of melee combat over any sort of tactical nuance or stealth. Due to the heavy prevalence of Khornate worship amongst the Norse, the use of ranged weaponry and subtlety are decried as the weapons of cowards, and as cowards are seen as being below the scrutiny of the Dark Gods, many Norsemen prefer the fury of close quarters and are given to acts of suicidal bravery and barbaric heroism, that they may attract the attentions of their deities and thus receive the blessings they so crave [7b], [7c].

Norscans generally field very little cavalry, for the icy, mountainous landscape of Norsca is even less conducive to horses than the barren Kurgan steppelands to the East [48]. Added to this is the fact that most Norse tribes tend to look upon horses with a fair bit of ambivalence; seeing mounts as uncertain investments at best and dangerous liabilities at worst [2i]. However, groups of mounted Chaos Knights are not overly uncommon [9] [30], [31] and indeed, an armour-clad warhorse is considered the provenance of a great warrior or Jarl among many Norse tribes [2i]. However, due to extensive contacts with the Kurgan and Hung tribes, the Norsemen have began to slowly but surely accrue horses, either through trade or by stealing them in raids upon the eastern Chaos Marauders. As not even the sturdy steppe ponies of the Kurgan steppes are equipped enough to survive here, some Norse tribes have begun breeding their own horses; snorting, savage beasts who having been born so close to the Realm of Chaos, eschew grain and grass to be fed on a diet of human flesh and diluted blood [2g], [48], coralled in crude shielings in order to shelter them from the worst of the ice-storms. Norscans are expert hunters, taking their steeds from coralls they travel the length and breadth of the land, crossing immense frozen glaciers and endless tundras with mighty axes in hand, searching for terrible beasts and mighty foes to slay in tribute to the Dark Powers [2i], [48]. In battle, the speed and mobility of Marauder Horsemen leaves even the most able cavalrymen of the Old World sorely lacking. Able to steer their steeds with the subtlest of movements of the waist and knees, the tribesmen have both hands free to wield wicked blades and hooked axes. Many Norse horsemen favour throwing axes and javelins, while others prefer wicked barbed flails that catch their enemy, dragging them behind their horse until their bodies come apart in a welter of blood. Some Norse tribes, such as the Vargs [25b] have also tamed the titanic mammoths of the northern wastes, using them as gargantuan beasts of war and living siege engines. Most terrible of these creatures are those who have been twisted and mutated by the influences of Chaos, transforming them into insane, hate-filled beasts that await the chance to vent their suffering upon others.

Though the favoured tactic of many a Norse warband is to simply charge across the battlefield and close the distance with their enemies, getting to grips with them in melee where their superior strength and martial skill will see them to victory [2i], the Norscans are highly skilled at many other forms of warfare. One particularly ubiquitous formation amongst the Norsemen is the Boar's Head, or Swine's Head, a wedge formation where the warriors lock their thick shields together to protect themselves from enemy fire. Like the jaws of some great beast, the serrated ranks of the phalanx charges forth, getting to grips with the foe, where the Norscans then cut them down with vicious abandon [14]. The indomitable shield-wall is another mainstay of Norscan military tactics, and arguably one of the most ancient as it stretches back to the days of the Norsii raiders. Similar to the boar's head, the Shield-Wall is a flexible military formation, capable of defending a Norscan warband from even the heaviest of projectile fire, and blunt the force of even the most devastating charge [27], [28], [29]. Only the most brutal and savage Norse warriors are allowed to take the first row of the shield-wall, for it is a hellish place where only the greatest of warriors can triumph.

Norscan Practices

The Blood Raven

"It takes strength of purpose to do this. But keep your loyalty true and my lord's hand will guide you correctly."
—Valkia the Bloody [16]
"You favour birds, Zarnath? Since you like birds so much, traitor, I will make you one."
—Wulfrik the Wander [14]

Norscan executions are an unimaginably brutal affair best not described on a full stomach. One above all is noted for its significance and sadism -- the terrible rite known as the Blood Raven, known also among some tribes as the Blood Eagle [15]. The earliest mentioning of the rite lies in 1396 IC [5b], when Valkia the Bloody, Shieldmaiden of the Blood God Khorne, descended down from the Halls of the Lord of the Skulls to lend her aid to a Norse army seeking to besiege the Dwarfen hold of Karak Ghulg. Upon defeating the Dwarfen defenders, Valkia commanded the Norsemen to cut open their foe's ribcages and tear out their still-pulsing lungs and place them upon the shoulders of the still-living Dwarfs like the folded wings of a hellish raven [3d]. Thus was born the Blood Raven, known by some tribes also as the Blood Eagle, the most revered and terrible of Norse traditions.

A Norse warband led by a Chaos Lord known as Bothvar, renowned throughout the lands of the North as a ferocious champion of Khorne [15], thundered down upon the northern Dwarf Hold of Karak Ghulg, driven by the murderous command of the Lord of Battles himself. With the bloody frenzy of the berserker, the fair-haired marauders batttered the great Dwarfen citadel in order to break open the way to the hated Empire of Sigmar. Nigh unstoppable on the battlefield and favoured mightily by his Dark Lord, Khorne had seen fit to favour the Norsemen with the appearance of his very own paramour. Empowered by Valkia's dark magic, the Norsemen shattered the Dwarfish defenders with renewed aggression and tore out their living lungs from their shattered ribs in honour of Kharnath, as Valkia directed them. The Daemon Prince and Chaos Warlord fell upon the king of Karak Ghulg Skadi Ironjaw, and it was Bothvar who felled the king and feasted upon his heart [15].

The Blood Raven/Eagle is as complex as it is grotesque, considered to be a method by which enemies are sacrificed to Khorne [15]. Broadly speaking, the ritual involves, in order, shattering the victim's ribs, tearing out their lungs and placing them upon their shoulders, so that they resemble the folded wings of a great raven or eagle. In one style of the execution, the skin of the person's chest is sliced and peeled off, exposing their bloody ribs. The sternum is then broken, usually with a weapon, but amongst more savage Norsemen, with bare-hands and fists. The two ends of the ribcage are then taken and pulled outwards, a feat that necessitates the immeasurable strength of the common Norseman. The lungs are then taken out and splayed outwards, causing the slain to seem as though he or she possess wings, much like a raven or eagle. With this act, thanks is given unto the Blood God for victory. Other usages of the Blood Raven involve instead flaying the flesh from the slain's back, rather than his or her front. The ribs are then cut from the victim's body, made to bend outwards until they break. Finally, the pulsing lungs are pulled out and are thus set against the dying's back. It is a terrible, lingering death that invites the sadistic pleasure of the Dark Gods and it is with a butcher's aplomb that the Norse carry it out [14].

Wergild

It would be easy to decry the Norsemen as being lawless savages, with no care for the destruction and carnage they leave in their wake. Truly, they are a savage people; who have little interest in other races beyond slaughtering or enslaving them, and who openly worship the Dark Lords of Chaos. However, Norse culture is far more than simply a series of endless battles, and to decry Norse society as being lawless is simply false. Favouring simple laws over the complex ones preferred in the Empire and elsewhere, the Wergild (Man-Gold, in the tongue of the Northmen) is one of the few universally accepted traditions of Norsca [7b].

To put it simply, any crime, no matter how great or small, incurs a debt, or, Wergild. When a man is wronged in Norsemen society, he may seek recompense from a Jarl, Chaos Champions and leaders of Norse society [7c]. The man states his case, and the accused is given a chance to defend himself. Witnesses of honourable character are then produced by both sides to lend their perspectives on things, and once all the evidence is presented, the Jarl comes to his decision. Such a verdict rarely comes easily, and is never entirely fair, depending on the quality of the arguments and the Jarl's own mood. In any event, the final arbitration of the matter rests with the Jarl, who sets the ultimate price of Wergild. This can be in the form of a fine, which varies according to the importance of the individual murdered; Northman Kings and Jarls thus require the highest level of recompense. Over the centuries, the Wergild has expanded to cover all manner of possible offenses, thus, in instances where no one has been killed, a Jarl must be somewhat creative in his arbitration [7b].

Each Jarl must fall upon his own wit and cunning when devising a Wergild, basing the recompense on the crime itself. In the case of a wrongful allegation, a Jarl may order the accuser's tongue to be ripped out. Assaulting another man's wife may result in the rapist being made a eunuch, as a purely practical consideration, seeing as how the accused could not properly control his passions.

The taking of limbs is fairy popular punishment when the accused cannot pay the Wergild, and in some cases, even when he or she can [7b]. In the case of a particularly dishonourable deed, the accused may be forced to undertake an impossible quest to some horrific den in Norsca that will likely lead to their deaths. This is usually an amiable situation for all involved, for not only does it serve as an appropriately terrible punishment, but it is also considered a wonderful venture for what is better to a Northman than to be set upon a heroic quest to best some nameless horror in the glory of single combat, thus achieving glory and the favour of the Dark Gods as a result [7b]?

The manner in which the Wergild is paid out varies amongst the tribes. Certain times, the arbitration of Wergild may involve a transfer of titles and station to the wronged party, and there are even some cases of Norsemen taking the women, children, holdings and even the thralls of their enemies as recompense for losing their own as a result of the accused's actions [7b]. Other times, the Wergild may not even fall on the guilty party, but instead on a relative -- such as a wife or child, who will often have to part with a limb or eye to repay the debt of the patriarch. Sometimes, it may even pass upon the next person to enter the area, a preferred arrangement for the accused, but often a risky one if a man of importance, such as a Jarl or Champion, is the one who enters.

The shaman of Norsca, however, have no worldly Wergild attached to them [7b], [13]. Rather, it is thought that the reprisals from the Dark Gods themselves settle all debts those foolish enough to strike a seer must pay. As the gods are very active in Norscan society, shaman, seers, vitki and Chaos Sorcerers occupy a high level of importance in the echelons of Norse society and are afforded a great deal respect, seen as the oracles through whom the gods communicate their holy will (of course, as the Norse see spirituality as a matter directly between a man and the Chaos Gods themselves, no self-respecting Northman would depend on a middle-man to speak with his own deities). It is either a desperate or reckless man of Norsca who would dare raise his hand against a seer; for even the fearsome warriors of the north are wise enough to fear the retribution of their cruel gods [13]

Norse tribes dedicated to the Master of the Skull Throne have no reverence for spell-casters such as Chaos Sorcerers, and invariably slay such seers whenever they find them [7b]. To compensate for their dearth of arcane knowledge, Norsemen trbes who worship the Blood God have their own form of Seers; a sect of terrifying warrior-priests known as Bloodfathers [13], [50]. These Norsemen are legendary warriors who bear the Mark of Khorne and are said to receive visions of bloodshed and knowledge of battle from him. For even a devotee of Khorne to raise his hand against them is said to invite the displeasure of an already raging god. The Bloodfathers of Norsca are rightly feared throughout the North, for it is said that there is no trick of axe and sword that Khorne has not revealed unto them [13].

Skalds

Skalds are keepers of Northern lore, and chroniclers of the histories of the Norsemen. Part entertainer, part warrior, these individuals are held in high esteem by Norse Jarls and Kings for their wisdom and knowledge. These men recount the sagas and the deeds of the ancestors and the Dark Gods themselves, often also composing new sagas out of the feats and exploits of contemporary heroes to add to the collective history of the Norscans. As they are skilled and powerful warriors also, many Norse warleaders find it prudent to have a skald in their cohort. When the call to war is sounded, these men have the honour of bearing their leader's own standard into battle [7c].

Birth

Amongst many Norscan tribes, it is believed that a birth cannot occur without a death. The arrival of a newborn is thus said to signify doom for the tribe. and so, to appease the hungry spirits, the Norsemen would butcher a thrall. Other tribes however, see birth as the truest sign of their gods' favour and will. There is a tradition amongst some tribes where the father would feast upon the flesh of the afterbirth, for it is believed that this material holds within it the essence of Change, and thus by devouring it, one can draw strength and power from it [7b].

Mourning

There are two ideal fates for a warrior in Norscan society -- gaining the marks of the Dark Gods, and death. As a result of this, women are forbidden to mourn their sons and husbands. Instead, they are to celebrate their passing with feasting and praise for the departed. It is a common custom for Norscan women to cut off their fingers as a offering to the shadowy Warrior Hags, that the daemons might bear their men safely to the honoured Halls of the Dark Gods [7b].

Economy

The Norscans are commonly described as a people with only two talents - producing lethal weapons of war and producing powerful warriors with the deadly will to use them. And as such, trade with the various people surrounding them -- the horse-nomads to their east and the mutant bands to their north -- will commonly center around the exchange of weaponry and armour [17d]. For it is for their smelting of metal and working of steel that the Norscans may be acknowledged when off the battle-field [17d]. Norscan steel is amongst the finest in all the known world; their barbaric iron plates capable of turning aside a blade as well as the armour of any Knightly lord of Bretonnia, and there are those smiths of the Norse well versed in the art of creating the vaunted Chaos Armour [17d], but such knowledge is jealously guarded and rarely attempted; for the creation of such armour involves black rites and sacrifices of the maker's very spirit. Even moreso, many superstitious Norsemen outright refrain from the creation of Chaos Armour despite having the skills to make it, believing their manufacture a matter only for the Gods themselves [17d].

The Norscans have also kept strong trade channels with the Fire Dwarfs of the Great Skull Land. Over the centuries, trade delegations from Zharr Nagarund have made contact with the Norse tribes (with varying degrees of success, however) and have opened up some trade relations with them [2h], [3f]. The Norscans cannot hope to match the Dwarfs in the art of metallurgy, for the work of men is shoddy and exude compared to the mastery of the Sons of Grungni and Hashut. Indeed, the Norscans entertain trade relations with the Chaos Dwarfs in order to make use of their masterfully crafted weapons and armour and in some cases, Chaos Dwarfs can be found living temporarily amongst Norscan clans in order to facilitate an arrangement.

The Norscan tribes thus exchange furs, meat, precious gems, warpstone, Chaos-tainted iron ore and, most importantly for the Dwarfs, slaves in order to buy their armaments. Some few Norscan tribes, primarily those in the extreme south of the country, also trade with the Empire in small quantities, though this is comparatively little compared to their commerce with the Kurgans. In times of peace, northmen can be found selling furs, gems, hunted game and other such things in the great merchant cities of Erengrad or Marienburg, however this is often a contemptible position for any Norseman, and few will look upon it as a first resort. Some Norse tribes have also seen fit to sell slaves taken from their many raids to the Dark Elves of the west, particularly the Graelings, who do so in between raiding the Dark Elven cities, such as Klarond Kar. Norse slavers are also seen as far south as Araby and Ind, flooding the flesh-markets with premium stock that lesser warriors simply could not attain.

Whaling

Whaling is another industry of Norsca. Given that the sea creatures of the far north are often as twisted by the touch of the Dark Gods as any other creature, the whalers of Norsca are often made of sterner stuff than most, and thus it is that whaling is one of the few professions not directly concerned with battle that is respected even amongst warriors. Whales provide much to a Norse village's foodstores, their meat being able to feed entire villages well. Their skin is used to manufacture rope, and their blubber is used to make oil for fuel. The easiest way to hunt them is to use boats to herd schools of small whales ashore where they can be easily killed, but most Norscans spurn such womanly ways, savouring the thrill of setting sail upon a mighty longship to hunt a monstrous whale throughout the Sea of Chaos. Above all do Norsemen treasure the blood and fury of any endeavor, and whaling is no exception [7a], [7b].

When such a beast is sighted, the longships sail after it immediately, harpooners gathering at the fore to bring the beast down. The bravest men then leap from the longship's prow onto the leviathan's back, tearing its hide apart with strikes from their axes. But nonetheless, these beasts, twisted and warped as they are by the powers of Chaos, are amongst the most terrifying of creatures within the northern seas, and so it is that any encounter with them must be swiftly and surely settled; for such is their bulk that they can easily capsize any longship, no matter its size, and can swallow entire crews in their gaping maws. Harpooners must thus ensure a swift kill, the best are able to impale the beast right in its gargantuan heart, while others of lesser skill instead skewer it in its ribcage, enabling them to instead drag the beast towards the longship where the crew can slay it with their axes [7c] [51e].

A whaling vessal seldom returns without towing a slaughtered whale behind it, as it is considered better amongst whalers to submit to a watery grave than face the dishonour of returning to their villages empty-handed. When a vessel does return with the spoils of victory, any Norse village or town has much to celebrate. Thanks and sacrifice are offered up to the Dark Gods, and much drinking occurs, lasting well into the week, for the survival of the village is now assured for the next many months [51e] .

Norscan Currency

Sceatta

A Sceatta

The Norscans have little use for coins, preferring instead barter and simply taking what they wish on their raids, including coins of other races and kingdoms, but what few coins they do mint are called sceattas, small silver coins bearing the crude imagery of a tribal king encircled by runes of the Dark Tongue [7b]. The pfenning is a bronze coin whose face is divided into 4 quadrants. Each quadrant bears a rune; starting with Strength in the top left quadrant, then clockwise the other quadrants are Courage, Death and Conquest. The Northmen do not mint gold coins; whatever gold they find they instead melt down into jewelry. They do not exchange coins with other nations, firstly due to few southern traders hazarding transactions with those who so openly serve Chaos, and also because the Norsemen see all coinage as equal regardless of composition [22a]. Norscans, martially inclined as they are, have a practice of wearing arm-rings, forged from gold, silver and in some cases, beaten iron, as a sign of the victories a warrior has won, thus serving as status-symbols, as these arm-rings are worn by warrior and Jarl alike. These arm-rings also serve as currency in addition to their aforementioned functions. The arm-rings themselves are far more ubiquitous amongst the Norscans than coinage [1a], [2a], [3a], [13], [14].

Language

Norscan is a complex and ancient tongue. Structurally, it bears much similarity with Khazalid, the harsh, guttural tongue of the Dwarfs, but it is also deeply influenced by the Dark Tongue, and to a lesser extent, Old Reikspiel. Essentially, Norscan uses a small number of root words and creates new words by adding prefixes and suffixes and creating compound words out of simple ones. What further adds to its complexity is that different tribes often use different words to describe the same things, hence the dialects of Norscan vary wildly, often making the clans different nations unto themselves. For instance, a southerly tribe may refer to a bear as a 'bee-wolf' (bee for honey, wolf for shape and appetite), while a northerly tribe, where bees simply do not exist, may refer to a bear as a 'water-wolf', since the bear snatches fish from the mountain streams. In order to master this language, one must not only have complete mastery over its root words, but also be able to understand the implied meaning when the words are joined in the context of where they are spoken [7b].

As the Norsemen have invaded and conquered the Empire in the past, their tongue has come to influence those of the Empire, particularly in the northerly provinces most susceptible to their attacks, such as Nordland and Ostland. For instance, the term 'werecreature', used to describe shape-changing beings is obviously drawn from the Norse word for those who are affected irrecoverably by the corrupting influence of Chaos, namely Chaos Spawn and Forsaken - 'Were' [23b]. The Norse have no word for 'Mutant' in their tongues; the closest equivalents for the condition being 'blessed', 'gifted', or 'chosen'. The latter being perhaps the closest fit, chosen by the Dark Powers, gifted by the Gods [23b].

Titles and nicknames form another important aspect of the Norscan lexicon, and are often bestowed upon a warrior after certain heroic exploits donating a personal trait or ability. Examples of such are, 'Hatewrath', 'Manslayer', 'Bloodaxe', 'Beasthunter' and so on. Norscan insults, on the other hand, are often crude, demeaning and appalling to hear. As the Norse venerate all things masculine, disparaging a man's warrior and sexual prowess is not only humiliating but also infuriating to hear. To speak of a man's sword is a particularly common jibe, thus impugning both his skill at arms as well as the size of his manhood [7b].

Comparing a man to faithless Imperials, thus implying disfavour with and disloyalty to the Dark Gods and to the clan and ancestors themselves, is yet another sure-fire way to provoke a Norseman into a terrible rage [7b]. And woe unto those foolish enough to imply that a Norseman was used as a woman in the bed of another man, for to utter such cravenness would transform even the lowliest Norseman into a rampaging berserker certain to cut down dozens in a psychotic fury [7b]. The majority of common Norse insults are far too profane to even mention, but suffice to say, most are like the Norse themselves -- barbaric, crude, savage and incredibly unsubtle. Other common Norscan phrases often tend to invoke the Dark Gods in some way or fashion, for instance, the phrase "Khargash", meaning 'blood of Khorne', is a common enough expression of ire in Norsca, though it is also used as an oath [27].

The Norse write using runes, and those familiar with the written script of the Dark Tongue can no doubt see its influence upon the written system of Norse. The runes are believed by many Norscans to hold some measure of the power of Chaos, and are thus often inscribed onto a warrior's armour, including even the plate-mail of Chosen, in order to invoke the protection of the gods and grant strength to the wearer in a primitive form of magical invocation [27].

Famed Norsemen

"But only deeds of blood and madness draw the Dark One's gaze..."
—The Saga of Khalac Swordsson [2]
  • Archaon - Though Diederick Kastner, the man who would in his despair take up the dread mantle of Archaon, was born in the province of Nordland in the village of Hargendorf, it was foretold in the Liber Caelistior; the dread tome of divination penned by Necrodomo the Seer, that the North and South would meet in the Everchosen's blood. As a result, the Everchosen bears mixed Norscan and Nordlander heritage; his father having been a champion from the Varg tribes who forced himself upon a cowering innocent during a raid that had seen the town of Hargendorf reduced to ash and cinder [38]. The rape-spawned child would later go on to become a templar of the Order of the Twin-Tailed Orb, fighting valorously and faithfully in the service of the God-King Sigmar; but once his true heritage and destiny was revealed to him, Diederick Kastner despaired. He forlornly prayed to his Lord to save him from this unwanted fate, but when cold silence answered his prayers he renounced the gods of the south and affirmed his hatred for the dark gods of his father, accepting the cruel destiny engineered for him as a final means to repay the fates for the evil they had done upon him [38]. Thus did Sieur Diederick become Archaon Everchosen, greatest of all the champions of Chaos. His deeds legend and his armies vast; innumerable foes of dauntless might lying bleeding in his calamitous stride, the half-Norscan warlord stands ready to fulfill his destiny and bring all the world to fire and ruin [38].
  • Morkar the Uniter - Morkar was a Norsii tribesman and the first Everchosen of Chaos [1e]. In the aftermath of Cormac Bloodaxe's invasion of the Empire, Sigmar Heldenhammer led his soldiers in a series of revenge-raids, wherein the Imperial warriors set countless Norsii villages aflame [10]. Morkar's own village and tribe were among those destroyed by the Empire's vengeance. The young Norsii survived the raids and managed to escape further into the north. Convinced that his gods had spared him for a reason, Morkar fought as all men of the north must fight -- for the favour of the gods [10]. Morkar eventually rose to become a champion of Chaos and ruled over all of the North as a favoured son of Chaos. The Norsii was then crowned as Everchosen, and charged by the gods to make the mortal world a kingdom of Chaos [1e]. The hordes of Chaos swept into the lands of the Empire and Morkar came into single-combat with Sigmar. In a battle likened to that between gods, the two clashed until Sigmar finally overcame Morkar and slew him. Morkar's body was carried back to the north by his followers and laid in a great burrow deep within the primordial reaches of the Southern Chaos Wastes. There, within a mountain, the Unconquered One remained undisturbed until Archaon Everchosen, his successor, found his way to Morkar's cairn and took the Ruinous plate for his own [38].
  • Cormac Bloodaxe - Cormac Bloodaxe was a mighty champion of the Blood God, Khorne, and a mighty chieftain and king amongst the Norsii tribes. The son of the slain High-King Varag Skulltaker, Cormac harboured a soul-blackening hatred towards the newly ascendant Empire that had slaughtered and driven his people back to the barren northlands [9]. His greatest resentment reserved for the Unberogens and their king Sigmar Heldenhammer, who had led the charge against the Northern tribes. The molten core of violence within him, as well as his favour in the eyes of the Blood God, proved a potent force in unifying the scattered tribes of the Northmen; clad in his father's Chaos Plate and wielding a burning axe in which was bound the spirit of a daemon of Khorne, he was an avenging fury that laid waste to the enemies of his people [9]. In time, tales of his victories and strength reached to the eastern lands, drawing the Kurgan and Hung tribes to pledge their lives to his banner. In circa 9 IC, he led the Norsii wolfships to ravage the coastal regions of the Udoses tribe before, putting the town of Haugrvik to the torch and slaying all within as a sacrifice to Khorne. Cormac then led the Norsii to the Udoses capital and destroyed the castle of Salzenhus, personally slaying Wolfilla, chieftain of the Udoses, and crucifying him. The Norsii armies then marched unimpeded through the outlying Imperial territories, putting countless townships to the torch. When the Emperor finally marshalled the tribes to face them, his army fared no better, and was forced to retreat to the city of Middenheim. The Norsii followed the battered remnants of Sigmar's army, intending to slay the Emperor and corrupt the sacred Flame of Ulric, thus destroying the faith of the Empire itself [9]. The siege itself lasted over a dozen days, with the tide of war turning for the Norsii until at last, Khorne saw fit to honour Cormac with the gift of Daemonhood. The ascended king, alight with the power of his god's rage, slaughtered his way towards the sacred fire of Ulric, the charged ranks of berserking Norsemen behind him. The Daemon Prince faced Sigmar in single combat, but the heroic might of the Emperor, driven by his unshakable faith in the Wolf-God, drove him to smite the beastly Norse King and banish him back to the Realm of Chaos. With his defeat, the Norsemen lost hope and retreated from the field. Victory was in the hands of the Empire, but the memory of the terrible reckoning with the warriors of the Northern gods long shadowed the minds of all who had survived their onslaught [9].
  • Lord Mortkin - His true name having been lost, even amongst the Norsemen, the Chaos champion known as Lord Mortkin was said to hail from the long-dead village of Ulfennik, destroyed at the hands of the Elector Count Valmir von Raukov and his son Oleg von Raukov, who had personally carried out the sacking of Ulfennik [4a]. Mortkin swore before all his wicked gods that he would one day carve his weregild from the bones of the Ostlanders. After eight years of bringing the tribes of Norsca to his banner, Mortkin's warriors charged out of the North, butchering their way through Kislev until the reached Ostland and began to ravage the northeastern Province. Mortkin's horde was joined not only by the tribes of Norsca, but also by the hordes of Beastkin from the forests of the Empire, the Chaos Dwarfs led by the Sorcerer Hothgar, and even daemonic creatures of Chaos itself [4a]. The Norsemen tore their way through the land until they surrounded and destroyed the great Ostland city of Volganof, burning it to the ground. During the battle, Mortkin closed with Oleg von Raukov and cut down the man with contemptous ease, thus avenging his homeland. With that, Mortkin threw down his axe and declared the end of his tale; "weregild is paid", the Northman bellowed, "let Volganof burn to repay my home of Ulfennik. Never again shall I return here. My saga is ended and I choose now to die as a man, my will my own. I go now, too late mayhap, to the halls of my fathers". And thus did the fell light around him perish and Mortkin finally died, having overcome all enemies and reaped his vengeance. His funeral pyre the raging inferno that now engulfed Volganof. To the North, he is one of the greatest heroes, and many are the skald-chanters of the Northmen who bellow the tale of his life, and the tribes of Norsca who claim he yet stands with the Dark Gods in glory [4a].
  • Valkia the Bloody - A fabled warrior-queen of the Norse clans and recognised as such by all the tribes of Norsca in her daemonic apotheosis, Valkia earned the favour of the Blood God by slaying all those who questioned her right to rule in honourable combat and by bringing her tribe firmly into the worship of Khorne [2j]. Tales of her victories drew a lecherous Daemon Prince of Slaanesh known as Locephax, who was excited by the Norscan queen's feral beauty and athleticism [2j]. He demanded that Valkia forsake her rulership and instead join him as a pleasure-slave, believing the carnal delights of Slaanesh better for her than the violent power of Khorne. Enraged at this insolence, Valkia flew into the berserker rage and took up her terrible spear, Slaupnir. In the ensuing battle, Valkia defeated the Daemon Prince, decapitating it and nailing its head to her shield. With such a trophy in tow, Valkia resolved to carry it to the True North and lay it at the feet of the Blood God's throne. Yet, not even one so fierce as a ruler of the Norse could survive the perils of the Chaos Wastes alone, and though she slew many of the beasts of that accursed place, Valkia eventually fell to a horde of slavering daemons of Slaanesh. Khorne was impressed with Valkia's dedication, nonetheless, and bade her to rise up once more, reforming her frail mortal body into a creature more pleasing to his savage eyes. Valkia was thus reborn as a daemon prince, and charged forever by Khorne to shepherd the worthy fallen to his halls. Valkia, revered as Queen and Goddess, has led the Norse to victory into battle many, many times since her remaking, and the warriors of the north fight with even greater vigour in her presence [6a].
  • Egil Styrbjorn - High Jarl of the Skaelings and a profoundly mighty Chaos Lord sworn to the worship of bloody Khorne. Egil Styrbjorn is one of the mightiest chieftains of Norsca; a bloodthirsty warrior-king who ascended to leadership of his clan by defeating the previous chieftain in single combat, beheading him anf thus claiming lordship of the Skaeling city of Strovengaard. He bore the mighty hellforged daemon axes Garmr and Gormr; named for the bloodthirsty wolfhounds said to accompany the Blood God Khorne in his wild hunts across the heavens [30]. The axe blades were forged in the shape of snarling wolves, with red stone the colour of blood set into the hafts representing their eyes, whose blades burned with blood red flame as they supped on the blood of the fallen. In Egil's mighty hands the daemon blades had been fed well indeed, having reaped countless souls and sown terror on countless battlefields [30]. The Jarl earned great personal glory from countless feats of incredible valour; such as when he bested a mighty Dragon Ogre in the high Knife Peaks and carved out its beating heart, and when he walked the terrible roads of the Chaos Wastes and slew the nameless horror therewith. He had hunted with the snow-hued Beastmen of Norsca Well-favoured by Khorne, Egil ruled his tribe for years uncounted; leading them to hundreds of bloody victories over the Kurgan, Hung and southlanders [30]. Some of Styrbjorn's greatest exploits would take place in 2502 IC, where he would lead his clan in savaging the Bretonnian duchy of Lyonesse. He would match wits with Duke Adalhard and best his massive army on the field of battle, sending the Bretonnians retreating to the heavily fortified Castle Lyonesse. Styrbjorn pursued the remnants of the combined Lyonessan, Currone, L'Anguille and Bastonne arm to the castle, pillaging and burning the Lyonesse countryside as he did so. A pitched siege ensued, where Styrbjorn succeeded in carrying the walls of the castle; flanked by hulking red-armoured Huskarls and frothing Berserkers, though none of his kinsmen outfought him; he slaughtered all about himself, leaving corpses and pain in his wake as he roared out bloody Norse war-songs. His deity in microcosm, none could withstand him in battle save the mighty Grail Knight Reolus [30]. In a clash likened to that between demigods, Styrbjorn crossed blades with Reolus; matching his twin daemon axes against the blessed sword Duryendale. For hours did the two warlords fight, their combat witnessed with bated breath by both sides of the siege; Skaeling horde and Bretonnian army alike marvelling at the incredible skill of the two. A great cheer arose from the Bretonnians atop the keep battlements Reolus, after much toil and suffering, managed to drive the length of Duryendale past Egil's daemonforged plate into deep into his torso. With a bestial roar of rage and pain, Styrbjorn unleashed a terrible back-hand blow that sent the armoured knight flying through the air and crashing painfully onto the hardpacked earth. In defiance of Morr's claim upon his soul, Styrbjorn removed the impaling blade from his torso, Khorne's blessings reknitting his flesh and healing his wounds, and bade Reolus to finish their battle [30]. In the final portion of the melee, Styrbjorn repaid Reolus by taking the knight's blade and drove it through his very throat before using his blazing axes to decapitate the dying knight [30]
  • Knut the Bloody - A legendary figure of the Godcalling, Knut the Bloody was a terrifying Champion of Khorne, a bloodthirsty berserker who fought alongside the Everchosen Asavar Kul, and acquitted himself valorously in the Doom of Praag. When Asavar Kul was vanquished, Knut fought his way back to the north and resided there for some time before adventuring in the Chaos Wastes, where he is said to have dueled a great Bloodthirster of Khorne, which ended with him breaking the spine of the monstrosity over his knee, and the Dark Gods granting him daemonhood and immortality as reward for his strength and tenacity [30].
  • Urlfdaemonkin - Being the name his tribesmen gave him upon his ascension to daemonhood, the man once known as Urlf was a great Champion of the Blood God and a Jarl of the Snaegr tribe. In ancient days he slew many foes , and in time his victories in battle could no longer be easily counted. As a reward for his loyalty, Khorne granted Urlf the greatest reward any servant of Chaos can hope for --  he ascended to become a Daemon Prince of Chaos and the ultimate manifestation of his god's wrath. The warriors of the Hall of the Snaegr began to revere Urlfdamonkin as a lesser deity of Chaos in his own right and an exemplar of their tribe; a symbol of what they too could become. Under the day he was ascended, the moon-time of Urlf, the men of Snaegr enact the rituals to summon their chieftain back to the realm of men, so that he may impart the blessings of Khorne upon them before they go to battle against the south [1b]
  • Wulfrik the Wanderer - One of the greatest warriors to walk the Earth, Wulfrik has slaughtered long in the black names of the Northern Gods. As a champion of Chaos, he earned untold glory by slaughtering every rival who crossed his path and taking their skulls as grizzly trophies of his victories, affixing them to his heavy black plate for all to see. Many sagas were sung to his glory by the skalds of the Sarls, and his tale had reached as far abroad as the campfires of Kurgan nomads. Wulfrik's greatest victory arose when the Aeslings of the far north made war on the Sarls in 2519 IC, the Sarl King, a Tzeentchian Lord known as Viglundr, had worked hard to procure the aid of countless mercenaries to bolster his numbers against the Aesling horde, but he had worked especially hard to buy Wulfrik's allegiance. Though believing Viglundr to be an unworthy heir of Ormnir, father of the Sarls, Wulfrik ultimately agreed to lead the King's army [14]. In the now rightly legendary Battle of Thousand Skulls, Wulfrik faced the Aesling King, a terrible champion known as Torgald, in single combat [2g], [14]. The duel was long, but Torgald's head was parted from neck by the sting of Wulfrik's black sword, and he held the severed head of the king high for his tribesmen to see. With this, the Aeslings became demoralized and were quickly routed. Wulfrik and his warriors returned to Ormfell draped in glory and, as is customary amongst the tribes of the North, did order a mighty feast to be held in honour of their triumph. Neither man nor beast had outfought him in battle, Wulfrik had said, and neither man nor beast would outdrink him victory as well. Wulfrik matched words with deeds; it had taken more than seven barrels of mead to put him under the table; a feat that had earned the awed respect of the mutated Ogres who fought at his side [14]. Wulfrik had boasted of a great many things, before he was finished, he had slain every beast of the Chaos Wastes twice, and had personally boxed in the ears of three southling emperors. It was his final boast however that brought doom upon the champion's head, for Wulfrik had claimed that he was the equal of any warrior, be he of this world or the Realm of Chaos itself. This reached the ears of the Dark Gods, who were intrigued by the champion's arrogance. They charged Wulfrik to sail the four corners of the world and bring the deadliest creatures of the world to ruin in an endless series of hunts to prove his proud words, endowing him with the Gift of Tongues, which allowed him to challenge the creatures in their own tongues, no matter how strange or foreign. Wulfrik seized the daemonic longship known as the Seafang from the keep of the sorceress Baga Yar, in order to seek out the offerings the gods demanded [14]. His first task was slay the Tomb Lord Khaerops and tear out its shriveled entrails in honour of Nurgle, and from then on, he has slaughtered giants, daemons, dragons and trolls alike for the glory of his masters. Wulfrik is perhaps one of the most devoted servants of Chaos to walk the earth, for he has dedicated each of his heroic victories to the glory of the gods. To Khorne he offers the skulls of the slain, to Nurgle he gives the contents of their slit bellies, to Slaanesh their still-beating hearts, and to Tzeentch their last gasps of life [2g]. Wulfrik fell during the End Times in battle against Valten, Herald of Sigmar.
  • Einarr Steelfist - A fierce Baersonling of the fallen village of Vinnskor and a mighty champion of the Chaos God Tzeentch, Einarr was marked by the Raven God when he slew a mighty Bloodbeast unleashed upon his people by their traditional foes; the vicious Khorne-worshiping Aeslings of Skraevold. The avenging Baersonling was then met by a travelling Kurgan raider, Vallac of the Khazags, who spoke of how Tchar had marked him for glory, and thus pledged his life to the champion's service. Einarr, on the other hand, desired only the chance to tear a bloody swathe through the Aesling nation. But a god does not ask, he takes, and thus Einarr was set upon the road his god had willed, enticed down the perilous quest by the promise of the restoration of his people. He overcame many obstacles, slew countless foes, including Greater Daemons of Nurgle, and drew followers to his banner from all the tribes of Chaos; Norseman and Kurgan alike, eventually bringing together a disparate band of diverse followers, including another a Chaos Dwarf. Einarr eventually fought his way into the decaying halls of Skoroth's Palace and defeated him in a duel of magic, using a dark incantation that bathed the sorcerer in the changing fires of Chaos, thus burning him alive [13].
  • Alfkaell the Aesling - Alfkaell was the Bloodfather of the Aeslings of Skraevold, an adviser to Jarl Kolsveinn, champion of the Blood God Khorne. To gain the status of the Bloodfather, Alfkaell tended to the cairn of the Tong warlord, Teiyogtei Khagan. At the time he tended the resting place of the apostate champion, a terrible iron-clad warrior began to wreak havoc upon the heirs of the mighty Khagan [50]. The Kurgan Zars and Hung Khans convened, and in their small way attempted to unite to face the threat of the warrior, with Alfkaell watching over their meeting. Each and every one of the Kurgan chieftains rightly feared the Norseman; for the Bloodfather, marked by Khorne as he was, was as much a creature of his vengeful god as the armoured destroyer was. Alfkaell mocked the Kurgans' efforts, decrying them as weaklings and fools hapless before the vengeance of a god -- a god whom their forebear had dared to cheat. When Alfkaell took his leave of the convocation, none of the Kurgans dared bar his passage. Soon enough, after his charge in the Steppes was fulfilled, Alfkaell returned to Norsca to serve as Bloodfather to his people, guiding the Aeslings of Skraevold down the path to Khorne's favour. Several years later, Alfkaell was slain by Einarr 'Steelfist' Sigdansson, champion of Tzeentch [13].
  • Garmr Hrodvitnir - Perhaps one of the mightiest Champions of Khorne to have walked the earth, Garmr Hrodvitnir was the chieftain of one of the Norscan tribes who, like all Norsemen, hungered for glory and battle. He endeavored to finish the fabled Road of Skulls leading to the Dwarfen keep of Karak Kadrin, paving that ancient path with the skulls of every foe he faced in order to open a gate to the Realm of Chaos which would transform the Old World into an endless daemonic battlefield. He was foiled however by the efforts of Gotrek Gurnisson and Felix Jaegar. Notably, Garmr is one of the few beings to have matched Gotrek on equal terms in battle [32]
  • Losteriksson - A legendary Norse warrior, explorer and sailor who was the first man to discover the mysterious land of Lustria and who established the outpost of Skeggi there in 888 IC. Losteriksson's raids and establishment of the new outpost of Skeggi led to the Chaos Gods establishing a foothold in the New World, forcing the Slaan to contend with their ancient enemies from ages past in the form of their new human followers. In time, many warbands sailed from Norsca to Lustria, eager to plunder its ancient treasures and slay its inhabitants.
  • Scyla Anfingrimm - Scyla Anfingrimm was a mighty warrior and famed raider who earned great glory as a Champion of Khorne. His saga began when a Chaos beast began wreaking havoc on the lands of his relative, Jarl Grundval Fang-Scar of the Graelings. Khorne himself had spoken to the Bloodfather of the tribe Ulfthras, and demanded a champion; a man with the brutal strength and savage fury required to face such a beast in single combat and lay its smoking heart at his table [52]. Many of Khorne's Chosen journeyed from the length and breadth of Norsca, and some even as far afield as Kurgan, to answer Khorne's call. All failed, save for Scyla, son of Thurrik, of the Ironpelt. He slew the beast, tearing out its eye and bathing his crimson armour in its black blood, carrying his trophy back to the hall of Jarl Grundval. The assembled Graelings roared Scyla's name, and Ulfthras placed around Scyla's mighty shoulders a black-tusk pendant -- Khorne's symbol of favour for the one who would succeed in his test [52]. From then on, Scyla ranked high in the esteem of the Blood God. In time, he furthered his ambitions. It was Scyla who slew the great Jabberslythe that troubled the lands around the River Voltag [2k] and led the slaughter of the Skaven city of Black Gulch. When Scyla was brought to battle by a vengeful army of Imperial farmers left bereaved by his raids, he slaughtered the entire force and attached the bodies of its leaders to the prows of his longships. Soon, his name was legendary throughout the North and feared in equal measure from the coastlines of the Empire to as far south as Ind and Cathay. Khorne had clearly favoured him, and it was oft whispered that soon the Blood God would reward his champion with the gift of daemonhood [2k]. But so passionate was Scyla for the favour of Khorne, that he took on the blessings of his god far to quickly for his body to handle the strain, and when he had carried out to the destruction of the bestial Gorgers of the Undermountain, it was then that his blessings overcame his will, and he was transformed into a bestial Chaos Spawn. Yet, such was Scyla's favour that Khorne did not abandon him, and so does the Blood God continue to watch over and bless his Champion [2k]. Scyla prowls the northern wastes to this day, seeking battle eternal and a bloody end that will no doubt please his god all the more. 
  • Sigvald the Magnificent - The unholy bastard spawn of incest between a famed chieftain and his own sister, Sigvald the Magnificent is the mightiest and most favoured of all of Slaanesh's mortal servants and master of the Decadent Host - an army of psychopathic, amorous madmen enthralled by the charms of Slaanesh and unquestioningly loyal to him. Sigvald wields the rapier Silverslash, a blade said to be forged from a shard of Slaanesh's own sword. During the End Times Sigvald was commanded by Archaon to defend the occupied Middenheim against the forces of the Incarnates alongside the Troll King Throgg. Sigvald, aggrieved that he would have to share the battlefield with "an ape in a crown" attempted to slay the Troll King but was defeated, his head crushed by Throgg's barbarous mace.
  • Haargroth the Blooded - Once but a simple goatherd amongst one of the Graeling tribes of Norsca, Haargroth rose to become one of the mightiest warriors of the black North and Jarl of his tribe. A search for missing cattle led him to the darkened pine forests of Norsca, where dwelled vicious tribes of Beastkin and their abominable war-leaders. By chance, the young Norsemen happened upon one of these beastly warlords, slumbering with its snout stained red with the blood of the sheep that had been lost. Anger coursing through him at the sight, and memories of his countless abuses at the hands of fellow tribesmen rising to the fore, the goatherd took up the slumbering beastman's axe and brutally hacked him apart into screaming pieces. The axe itself was marked with Khorne's power, and through it the Blood God bestowed his favour upon the wrathful Northmen. Soon, Haargroth's framed swelled until he was a giant even amongst the number of the Norse, and his skill at warfare improved daily until he had became a capable warrior in his own right. While the Jarl and his men were away on the raids, Haargroth displayed his dominance, and soon the entire village became cowed by him. Soon, not even the fighting men of the tribe would sneer at him, for they knew that the warrior had born the stigmata of Khorne's favour. One day, when the Jarl returned from a raid on the Empire, as tradition dictated, he was to enter the hall last after his warriors. When he entered, he was shocked to see the hulking form of Haargroth seated on his throne. The two Chosen crossed blades, but the old Jarl bled his life away on Haargroth's daemon-axe, the Graelings thus had a new leader. The following winter of Haargroth's ascension was a hard one for the tribes, for hunting was scarce. As was their way, the Norse tribes began waging war against each other to take the resources needed to ensure their survival. As one such raid fell upon the Graelings, their menfolk took up their mighty axes and took up rank to defend their home against their rivals, but it was Haargroth who truly carried the day, striding before his troops and slaughtering his foes with such vicious abandon that a mountain of severed limbs and gristle accumulated around him. One man prevailing against an army, his heroism inspired his fellow tribesmen, who joined their Jarl in battle and slaughtered the attackers to a man. With that, the Graelings raised the armoured behemoth that was Haargroth high into the air and carried him back to their hall, singing his mighty exploits and giving thanks unto Khorne for sending a true warrior to lead them. Haargroth went on to lead his people on countless, daring raids, earning for his tribe glory greater than they had ever seen before. His longships had brought ruin as far afield as the shores of Lustria, and he earned the respect of his people by always fighting where the danger was greatest and prevailing against all odds. He rewarded loyalty and valour with wealth and weapons touched with the power of the Gods, and punished sedition with death. In time, Haargroth and his Slaughterers grew bored of easy conquests amongst the peoples of the north, east and south, and thus journeyed to the Chaos Wastes to test their strength against the beasts of that benighted place. It was here that Haargroth crossed blades with Archaon the Everchosen, and while the Blooded One was mighty, not even he could withstand a warrior who held exalted favour before all the gods. But still, impressed with Haargroth's strength, Archaon offered the Norsemen the chance to fight alongside him in battle, and the chance to wet his blades in the mightiest battles of the coming war. Haargroth agreed, and joined his army of bloodthirsty Northmen and slavering Bloodbeasts to the forces of the Lord of the End-Times [54a], [53a].
  • Styrkaar of Sortsvinaer - A chieftain amongst the Sortsvinear tribe, Styrkaar earned great glory on longship raids against the lands of the Imperials and Kurgans. His great skill was actually the work of a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh, who, since birth, had been his constant, albeit unseen companion. After a particularly successful raid, the warriors of Sortsvinear feasted and caroused within their mighty hall, giving thanks to their god Shornaal (an aspect of Slaanesh) for their victory. Styrkaar's father, Svengor, the old lord of the tribe, a mighty champion of the Dark Gods in his own right, did belittle his son's accomplishments, claiming that his own bloody deeds could never be matched. Incensed by his father's disrespect, Styrkaar leapt from his seat and demanded the chieftain raise his horn in recognition of his son's achievements. Angered by this disrespect, the Jerg thrashed the champion to the ground. When Styrkaar arose, Svengor was shocked to hear that the tribesmen bellowed his name, rather than his own. It was in this instance he realized how he had let his power slip in his dotage; nonetheless, Svengor was a Chosen champion of the Dark Gods, and he would break before he bent. Hands balled into fists, the aging warlord charged his son with a vicious warcry. That night, the Sortsvinear had a new chieftain. In the following years, Styrkaar led the Sortsvinear on countless conquests, his unseen daemonic ally strengthening him with untold power. To his fellow tribesmen, it appeared that Styrkaar had been given fulsome blessings by the Dark Gods (which was true, in a sense), and they too began to venerate him a fervor that bordered upon adoration. Yet he did not allow himself to grow old and weak with such laurels, as his father had. Styrkaar and his mightiest chosen had roamed the cold wastes of Norsca, defeating countless rival warbands and tribe. Styrkaar slew Karnak, dread Champion of Khorne, and his bloodthirsty shield-brothers, and also the mysterious Asgeiir and his masked warriors of Tzeentch. The Prince of Pleasure looked favourably upon the chieftain, and he willed that the daemon who had watched over him to be merged with his body. In that night, Styrkaar became a creature undeniably beyond mere humanity. In time, his exploits reached the ears of the Everchosen himself, who strode boldly into Styrkaar's hall. When the two warlords emerged, they clasped their arms in the manner of the Norse tribes in full view of the Sortsvinear, and Styrkaar pledged his legions of warriors to the cause of the Favoured Scion of Chaos.
  • Melekh the Changer - An Aesling blacksmith, Melekh's wife died during complications in childbirth that were exacerbated by the aid of the tribal shaman, Gaerkoll; his drunkenness caused his spell-craft to spiral out of control and thus cause the child to mutate in horrific manners, thus did Melekh's only child become a monstrous aberration. Seeing this turn of events as the sign of favour from Tzeentch, the chieftain ordered much feasting in Melekh's and the child's honour. Melekh eventually arose to become champion of the tribe, an by extension, Gaerkoll's apprentice in the arts of shamanism. Gaerkoll, recognising this in the entrails of a sacrifice as a sign that Melekh would rise to become pre-eminent in the eyes of Tzeentch, became deeply concerned for his own prestige and influence within the tribe, for Melekh had not forgiven him for the death of his woman. Gaerkoll hatched a plot to do away with the rising warrior, stealing away his son and charging him to journey to the Chaos Wastes and retrieve the true name of a Lord of Change, the tribe's very own daemonic patron, as his final test to prove himself Gaerkoll's successor. Though the thought of such a thing struck black fear into Melekh's heart, he knew that to refuse or fail was to forever lose his son to the keeping of Gaerkoll, and thus, a father's love drove him to take up this doomed quest. Against all odds, Melekh fought his way through the Chaos Wastes, through hordes of Horrors and stood before the Lord of Change. Though his time in the Wastes had transformed into a true Champion of Chaos, clad in spell-wrought iron and arcane robes of black magic, no mortal spellcaster, however skilled, could ever hope to match the might of a daemon. But Tzeentch himself chose to aid Melekh, and even as he lay dying against the daemon's assault, he heard the gibbering of the Horrors suddenly turn to the chanting of a single name. He drew the daemon towards him, and deceived into revealing its true name, thus did the Lord of Change scream as it found itself bound to the service of Melekh. Yet, in grudging respect of the mortal's cunning, the Lord of Change did grant the Norsemen its boons. Melekh returned to his tribe, at the head of a thousand strong host of daemons, his charge complete, only to find that decades had passed since he had been lost to the Wastes, for time flows differently within the very Realm of Chaos. His son had grown to a man, and Gaerkoll had risen to become chieftain and a champion of the gods in his own right. Thirsting for vengeance, and realizing he had been deceived, Melekh and his daemons waged war against Gaerkoll and the Aeslings, until, in an unforseen twist of fate, Melekh's son, now known as Cyspeth, did turn a blade against his mentor and thus secured his father's triumph. With this, Melekh became lord of the tribe. Archaon, recognising this from the prophecy of Necrodomo the Insane, did ride down into the clan-hold and did extract an oath of fealty from both father and son, granting the Champions of Tzeentch leadership of one his mighty hordes.
  • Valnir the Reaper - Valnir was a chieftain amongst one of the tribes of Norsca, so consumed was he by hate and spite that it was often said amongst the Norse that were Valnir's misery to flow as river, it would have enveloped all the North in its bitter waters. At a certain point, the hopelessness of Valnir's condition drove him to forsake his lordship amongst his people, swearing by the Dark Lords of the North that he would not cease in his quest until he had found a way to hold up a mirror to the world and show to it the futility of all its endeavours and the folly of hope. North he went, passing through the mountains and fjords of the Vargs into the lands of the Chaos Wastes, where he overcame countless horrors and monstrosities as he pressed further and further into that haunted place. Daemons whispered to Valnir, mocking his quest and demanding he kneel before the Gods, but the Norseman shouted them down, and reaffirmed his black oath. It was when Valnir found himself upon an isle made from corpses, holding a dead tree hanging rotted fruit that he at last relented in his quest, for here at last was the emblem of the misery he sought to inflict upon his fellow man. He knelt before the tree, pure evil and despair emanating from it, giving himself unto the powers that created it if they would only impart upon him the power to subject the world to the same horror that he endured every day. In answer, Nurgle, known amongst the clans of the Norse as Neiglen, appeared before Valnir. The Crow God demanded only that his followers spread his 'gifts' of sorrow and decay with joyful abandon, and in Valnir, he saw the greatest emissary. He bestowed upon the Norscan his most bountiful favour, transforming him into the first amongst his Chosen. From then on, Valnir was now known as the Reaper of Souls. Long did he slaughter in his god's name, sending souls to be devoured by Nurgle and spreading the diseases of the Crow to one and all. When the armies of Asavar Kul swept southwards, Valnir answered the call as mightiest of Nurgle's warriors. At the cataclysmic melee that was the Battle of Kislev, he crossed blades with Tzar Alexis, but somehow, the Kislevite managed to defeat the Reaper. But Valnir could not be defeated, not truly. His tribesmen carried his body back to his homeland, as was his last wish, and set him upon a great stone throne overlooking his old kingdom. For years, Valnir's flesh was caught between the state of regeneration and decay, as Nurgle slowly restored his fallen scion back to life. Now, Valnir is abroad once more, and the enemies of Nurgle will need to pay a thousandfold for his final death. Ironically, Valnir's death was brought about by the hands of the equally legendary Wulfrik World-Walker in the ruins of the Temple of Ulric, when the two dueled in order to pass the time until Valten, Herald of Sigmar arrived.
  • Valgar the Butcher - A Norse Chaos Lord who led his warband to Khemri to raid the tombs of ancient kings. The horde is ambushed on its return by the armies of the Tomb King Setta. Valgar was slain, and barely half a dozen of his Marauders returned to Norsca, bloody yet wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. Several years later, the legacy of Valgar's raid reached back to the North, as the iron-clad Chaos warriors of Norsca did battle against the restless armies of Settra. For 5 years, the Norse battled the undead amidst the snow-drifts and glaciers of their homeland, culminating in the epic battle before the Hellwyrm Glacier.
  • Hakka the Aesling - A mighty Chaos Lord of Khorne, hailing from the savage Aesling tribes, Hakka led his warband of mighty Norse warriors and slavering Bloodbeasts into the Chaos Wastes in 2509 IC to earn the right to lead the next great Chaos incursion by defeating his adversaries. Though the strength and fury of Hakka and his berserkers was unmatched, it was countered by numbers of his Slaaneshi rival, Sargath of the Kurgans and his hordes of hedonistic madmen, and the daemonic magics of Urak the Soulfiend and his coven of southling warlocks. Finally, the arrival of Tamurkhan the Maggot-Lord, champion of Nurgle, sealed the fate of the other three armies. Tamurkhan slew the arrogant Sargath, and the Kurgan's warband was then slaughtered by the brutal Aesling Khornates. The fury of Hakka and his warriors was then marshalled against the plagued warriors of Tamurkhan. Against the rage of Khorne, the warriors of Nurgle wavered but did not break, and slowly but surely began to push back the Norsemen, though with rivers of their filthy plagued blood spilled in the doing. Hakka, realizing he and his brothers were set against an impossible foe, roared out his defiance and committed his soul to the Norscan god of battle, swearing to the Blood God that he would slay as many of these rotting monstrosities as he could before Valkia the Bloody carried his spirit to Khorne's Brass Citadel. The Khornates fought with all the fury of their race, and many of Tamurkhan's slaves fell to their northern rage, but in the end, Hakka was swept away from his fellow warriors by the tide of battle. Though many thousands fell to the whirlwind fury of his twin axes, Hakka was eventually slain by four Bile Trolls [25a].
  • Engra Deathsword - One of the three Norscan lieutenants of the Everchosen Asavar Kul, Engra is primarily notable for his utter devastation of the northern Kislevite city of Praag. After destroying the city, he joined his army with that of Asavar Kul, who was striking from the southeast, and together they marched upon Kislev itself. Though Asavar fell in the siege, slain by one of his own warriors, Engra was no where to be found, and his ultimate fate remains unknown [36].

Gallery

  • Norscan Bondsmen
  • Khornate Champion
  • Norscan chieftain wielding a Daemon Weapon
  • Norscan warriors often affix gruesome ornamentation upon their shields and armour
  • A trio of Norse warriors
  • A Norseman on the charge
  • Heavily mutated Norseman
  • Norse Champion of Khorne
  • The Blood-Drinkers tribe
  • Skaelings
  • An example of a Norscan longship
  • A Norseman proudly bears his mutation
  • Tuula Bloodhair, priestess of Khorne
  • Norscans
  • Many Norscans walk the path of Khorne
  • Sketches of Norscans
  • Haargroth the Blooded, a Norscan warrior
  • Wulfrik the Wanderer - Legendary Norse Chaos Champion
  • To see such men on the battlefield is to see death made flesh
  • A Norsemen bearing traditional tribal tattoos invoking the power of Tchar
  • Engra Deathsword, a Norscan
  • A mighty Norscan Jarl blessed with Ruinous favour

Sources

  • 1: Warhammer Armies: Hordes of Chaos (6th edition)
    • 1a: pg. 8
    • 1b: pg. 9
    • 1c: pg. 12
    • 1d: pg. 24 -  25
    • 1e: pg.103
  • 2: Warhammer Armies: Warriors of Chaos (7th edition)
    • 2a: pg. 8
    • 2b: pg. 10
    • 2c: pg. 11
    • 2d: pg. 13
    • 2e: pg. 17
    • 2f: pg. 22
    • 2g: pg. 32 - 33
    • 2h: pg. 38 - 41
    • 2i: pg. 44 - 45, 46 - 47
    • 2j: pg. 73, 74
    • 2k: pg. 76
  • 3: Warhammer Armies: Warriors of Chaos (8th edition)
    • 3a: pg. 8
    • 3b: pg. 12
    • 3c: pg. 13
    • 3d: pg. 14 - 15
    • 3e: pg. 50
    • 3f: pg. 55
  • 4: Warhammer Fantasy Battle Rulebook (8th edition)
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  • 5: Liber Carnagia (Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition)
    • 5a: pg. 8
    • 5b: pg. 9
    • 5c: pg. 10
    • 5d: pg. 11
    • 5e: pg. 21
    • 5f: pg. 22
    • 5g: pg. 23
    • 5h: pg. 24
  • 6: Omens of War (Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition)
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    • 7b: pg. 142-145
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    • 7d: pg. 196
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  • 15: Valkia (Novel) by Sarah Cawkwell
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    • 17e: pg. 59
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    • 25b: pg. 134
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  • 32: Road of Skulls (Novel) by Josh Reynolds
  • 33: Warmaster Armies (Updated) (Rulebook) by Rick Priestly pg. 14
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