Into the Rift: Chapter II

It was the smell that made him eventually come to a stop. It was fire. That much he was certain of.

Ar’tac’tyl was born of flame, as was every Salamander. By the delicate aroma of smoke in the air, and the gentle crackle on the wind Ar’tac’tyl could identify the size, fuel and ignition source of any flame from over a mile away. Or at least, he thought he could.

He stood perfectly still, head raised skyward, and forked tongue extended; trying with all his might to understand what his senses were telling him. Many hundreds of feet below the comforting sound of campfires at the stage post snapped popped. Ar’tac’tyl caught the taste of roasting meat and soot blackened cooking pots. Further away to the East a building burnt, a Tavern most likely judging by the bitter taste of ale on the breeze, and with a thatched roof, Ar’tac’tyl loved the smell of burning thatch. With an almost imperceptible shake he forced his mind back to his immediate surroundings. The mountain pass was cold and desolate, devoid of any signs of natural life. But somebody was out there. They had come from somewhere and attacked the forward staging post and this path was the only route they could have taken.

Ar’tac’tyl pushed on, careful to tread only where he could be certain that the snow covered ground would hold beneath his feet. He headed towards the source of the smell that troubled him to his very core. There was no fuel, that’s what he could not understand. A fire was normally a transformation, a beautiful unravelling of the elements that had made up its fuel source in life. Where a human might simply smell a burning log, a Salamander would taste the story of the tree itself, from sapling to mighty oak. They would know the very ground it grew in, the amount of rain it had seen during its lifetime, and whether or not it was healthy or ill, all this played out in the delicate embrace of the flame.

But the base stench coming from over the next ridge was different. Flames clearly burnt, but without any fuel, without life, without reason. Ar’tac’tyl could not explain how or why, but he knew that those flames were unnatural, an abomination of some kind...

As he reached the peak of the ridge he dropped to his belly and slithered slowly to the top. He peered over the edge and stopped dead, dumbstruck by what he saw. Snow gave way to black sand as far as the eye could see. Pillars of flame rose from the ground before being swallowed in soot and smoke. Even from his vantage point, Ar’tac’tyl could see movement below but through the smoke and acrid dust; he could not make out more than silhouettes and twisted shadows.

He slid back down the ridge unnerved yet pleased with what he had found and set off back towards the Staging Post as fast as he could manage. He’d found the source of the attacks against the camp and found passage through the mountain pass; it was now up the generals and Battle-Captains to decide how they would wipe this abominable threat off the side of the mountain.

With one last look over his shoulder towards the rolling pillars of black smoke building in the distance, Ar’tac’tyl scurried away…

“Nothing personal, it’s just business”

The four Institutions have established their forward staging posts across the foothills of the Halpi Mountains. The Family have proved themselves to be a might force during the first weeks of travel and conflict, and remain hell-bent on claiming the lands and riches of this area for themselves. The Bank with their limitless funds however, have proved quite the match for the mafioso group and have caused tremendous casualties upon The Collective who, in their hearts and in their wisdom still hold hope that the signs before them are all attributed to the agenda still. Ravens from The college elders circulate reports throughout the realm indicating there is still much to be learnt within the Halpi region and scholars and warrior adepts still flock to the banner, thirsty for information.

During this time of respite, scouting parties have been sent forth to find a way through the maze of snow covered peaks to the lands beyond. All outriders and rangers that are sent forward of the main advance either do not return or report their way blocked by fields of fire and brimstone and a strange and unnatural landscape – there is no way around it, they must go through.

Round 2: The Abyssal Plane

Remember you can change your army and lists freely between each round to allow you to experience as much of the Halpi’s Rift rules as possible, and if your first army didn’t do to great I’m sure your institution wouldn’t object to you hiring a group that can actually get the job done!

Round 2 will be played in the Abyssal Plane and games should be played at 2000 points using the Push scenario. You will Score one bonus SP for each loot token you hold at the end of the game (this increases to two if the unit holding it is entirely within your opponent’s board half).

Into the Rift and on to dark horizons...