We are at War with forces too terrible to comprehend. We cannot afford mercy for any of its victims too weak to take the correct course. Mercy destroys us; it weakens us and saps our resolve. Put aside all such thoughts. They are not worthy of Inquisitors in the service of Our Emperor. Praise His name for in our resolve we only reflect his purpose of will. – The Book of Exorcisms, the Verses of Inquisitor Enoch
For some time, the distant sound of battle had made its way from the surface of Gheal to the labyrinthine underworld miles below. It had been like a faint echo that kept reverberating through the hallways of the embattled moon for days.
The new sounds were different. They tore through the boreal underworld like constant thunder and they made the inner world of the moon shake as if a moon-quake was unfolding in real time. The roof of the main holloways of Arth Uaimh and their vast ante-chambers had already come crashing down burying all the bio-mechanical riches far below in a debris of xylem transmitters, bio-luminescent luciferin conductors and hissing cables spraying clouds of asphyxiant gas filled with carbon dioxide into the hallways.
The enemy had breached the Gates!
+++THE THRILL OF THE HUNT+++
The Golden Spears of the Emperor led the attack together with the cold grey Vlka Fenryka who had played a substantial role in the Thorn Moons Crusade right from its early days, where they had been influential in gathering valuable intelligence on Lintear, 7th Moon. Now they lead the attack on Gheal like an ice storm ripping through the carbon dioxide filled core of the bio-mechanical moon.
Even though the Imperial Crusaders all shared the same goal of getting to the Viridis Clavem and in turn to Daerwynne, 1st Moon, the Vlka Fenryka were more than any of their fellow Crusaders bound for that moon. To the Wolf Brothers the Crataegus Legionnaires were nothing more than yet another heretic faction of the Thousand Sons, their Arch Enemies for almost as long as the Thorn Moons had existed. They had two simple goals: First, to savior the thrill of the hunt. Second, to annihilate the heretic witches and their doomed homeworld of a hundred moons.
The Vlka Fenryka tore through the crumbling halls of Gheal in their ravaging hunt for the Viridis Clavem. It was like thunder cavalry, a tidal wall of death, daemon wolves of black and grey. The Wolf Beasts were the size of Land Speeders and probably just as fast. With them ran Balewolf the Sky Warrior. Half Astartes, half Death.
+++A MOMENT OF HOPE+++
The combined might of the attackers clad in grey and gold quickly became too much for the Crataegus Legion. If it had not been for the sudden flank attack of the Red Corsairs, who had made moon fall in the shadow of war and launched a surprise attack on the left flank of the ravaging Crusaders, the Crataegus Legionnaires would have succumbed to the onslaught.
Deep inside the core of Gheal, 3rd Moon, in the Battle of Arth Uaimh, the tide was turned for only a brief moment before the brutality of the attackers once again gained the upper hand and tore through the holloways like a thunder storm of iron sleet and golden lightning.
But it offered a glimpse of hope in the defenders ranks. Could this momentary break, where time stood still on the remaining Thorn Moons, save the Viridis Clavem from getting in the hands of the Crusaders? Could this be the defining moment, which kept Daerwynne, 1st Moon, Library Moon, hidden long enough for the Master Librarians to bring its treasured knowledge to safety out of reach from the Imperial Crusade?
+++FROM THE AETHER+++
After only a brief moment of resurrected warfare Oghamme, Keeper of Thornes, High Librarian, Custode of Daerwynne, 1st Library Moon, appeared from the shadows in the far end of the embattled main holloway. His face was filled with melancholia and sorrow. It was if he had already seen the future and the destruction it would bring to his beloved homeworld.
Behind him, as if to underscore the sense of melancholia emanating from the high priest, poured, out of nowhere and everywhere at the same time, the Masque of Red Sorrow, a vortex of colour and doom.
The Eldar arrived!
They were led by Kaewyndir, White Seer Council, bone singer, and Saelindra, Masque of Red Sorrow, troupe master, and tore through the attackers with the speed and elegance of a dance of death.
+++THE BLACK LIBRARY+++
Since the Thorn Moons Crusade some Imperial Scholars have uttered whispered rumors of a Black Library, but those scholars quickly either disappeared, died of ill health or were assassinated.
To this day the intentions of the Eldar are not clear. But as the spectackle of the attacking Eldar unfolded – with masks, with blades – they joined the fray on the defenders side to keep the moon sized library on Daerwynne from being destroyed.
Suffice to say is that during the Battle of Arth Uaimh the elusive Masque of Red Sorrow fought towards their own, unknown, goal. Appearing from the Aether with Oghamme during the height of the battle – from only the Emperor knows where – to assist in the defence of the Thorn Moons. Then, when the battle had turned in their favor, they pitched allies against allies in a final, desparate dance towards the undiscovered Viridis Clavem.
+++THE VIRIDIS CLAVEM+++
The Crataegus Legionnaires had secured the key to the Library Moon in the most secluded and still intact ante-chamber to the main holloways of Arth Uaimh. The key was shaped as the Green Man in a tribute to the Emperor reborn.
But after a long and hard-fought battle the Viridis Clavem was discovered. Not by any of the warfaring armies in the depths of Gheal but by the Navitis Militant who, during their desperate fight for the the Green Gates on the surface of the Thorn Moon, managed to use the information thay had gathered on the 15th Moon to mind map the entire structure of Arth Uaimh far below.
+++THE FINAL BATTLE+++
In a sudden disruption of the Aether the Archeocrawler Crowning Abnegation appeared in the main Holloway close to the ante-chamber holding the Green Man.
Together with their Beaconite Lodge Warriors, High Beacon Priest Vostok Komarov and Navis Abominus Othos Nyctea Akuhm disembarked from the crawler to hunt for the Green Man only to discover that he was already being safeguarded by a few Crataegus Legion and Red Corsairs.
The discovery of the Viridis Clavem spread like a wildfire through the entire battlefield and the attention of the fight turned into a race against time to get to the Green Man.
With the Navitis Militant bogged down in close combat, Farkas, Solitaire of the Masque of Red Sorrow, eyed the perfect possibility and joined the fight with the speed of lightning. He reached the Red Corsairs in an instant and the final battle suddenly seemed to be in favor of the Eldar!
High Beacon Priest Vostok Komarov was able to take out the remaining Red Corsairs who were the only ones standing between him and the Viridis Clavem. Together Komarov and Navis Abominus Othos Nyctea Akuhm managed to unlock the key and secure the gateway to Daerwynne, 1st Moon, Library Moon…and the remaining few Thorn Moons were doomed.
The Imperial Crusaders had won not only the final battle but the entire Thorn Moons Crusade!
All games were fought using the new 8th edition with its mightily improved rules and game flow, which allow for quick and entertaining fights!
But in this game, the final battle for the fate of the Thorn Moons, it was bloody incredible to see how a massive 40K battle was decided in what turned out to be INQ28-style skirmish gaming to reach the Viridis Clavem first!