The air was alive with magic. It tingled flesh and hummed softly in the ears. Yet there was something else behind it. A hint of madness and fear. It lurked just beyond the conscious mind, a sickly sweet taint of the dark unknown. It was this niggling sensation that had called Raven Hax to the Twilight Glades. Its darkness was different than anything he had felt before. Yet he could recognize in it a type kinship. As if all evil belonged to some infernal brotherhood. The tides of power flowed strongly in the elf land, as it did at the Abyss. But here it was almost pure, beautiful even. Well, that is until whatever blight had taken hold here had begun to corrupt it the Lich thought. Dark pools had opened from another realm into this one, and from them spewed foul whispers and insane terror. His army drank deep the tainted power from these and grew stronger. Raven Hax didn't have time explore the portals as a dwarven force had marched out of the woods to oppose him. Strange that the mountain folk would be found here, but these were strange times. The lich ground his teeth as he caught sight of the banners that they held high. It was his hated foe from the Ardovikian Plains, the Dwarf King Enikil. Only by paying Twilight Kin spies in rare gems was he able to learn the identity of the lord that had blocked his attempts at of gaining power. So his enemy had followed him here, he thought. All the better to end his meddling now. Raven Hax called forth his rebuilt army. No living force would stop him this day.
His two greatest disciples, Hedric the Mad and Colm the Macabre positioned themselves on the right flank. Hedric barked words of power as he ordered a horde of spear-wielding skeletons and fallen knights on the hill with him. Colm hid in a copse of trees, ready to heal any of the dead before him that were wounded. The reconstituted Crimson Men, set up next to nest to him. Ever mindful of the failure they had suffered when that had last fought the mountain folk. Units of bearded rangers dug in the trees facing them as a mounted berserkers joined them on their flank.
Fallen heroes, their souls trapped by foul magic, drifted silently in the trees. Mummies and revenants, all soldiers of old, supported their flank, All under the watchful eye of the dark pharaoh, Lord Armon the exile. Facing this was the Dwarven King himself, mounted upon another ill-tempered bear, and an honor guard of thickly armored dwarfs. Behind them were a force of earth elementals and one of the strange priests that controlled them. One large monster made of stone could be seen rumbling behind some trees with its attendant. These seemed part of a second wave, ready aid any dwarves that started to waver.
On a small hill, Raven Hax placed his eldritch catapults. Their crews had hardly helped in the last battle, but the lich was loathed to face any foe without them. Ahead of them was a force of more heavily armored dwarfs and more stone warriors. It was hoped that the undead artillery would bombard these forces and cause them to scatter. A fresh horde of zombies sat aimlessly next to the hill, a backup force in case the ordinance didn't do its job. The last of the dwarfish honor guards marched up onto a hill overlooking a thicket of trees, they watched them nervously as they saw figures move within them. Raven Hax himself lurked in these trees to better supervise his band of Lycans. Up ahead, they had spotted a familiar mass, the Metal dragon. It had been rebuilt flawlessly, no evidence of its defeat from before could be seen. The werewolves were anxious to hunt this steam-powered beast one again. And after how well they performed against it last time, the lich agreed. However, he wanted to keep a close eye on them, lest they run wild chasing inconsequential prey.
Both sides kept an eye on the swirling spots of darkness. Unsure on how to close them, the living wanted to keep the undead lord for studying them. While Raven Hax saw the effect they had on necromantic energies and would burn the forest around them just for the chance to use their power. The dwarfs beat their shields as they sung a solemn song of revenge. They looked angrily at their undead foes as the song raised in tempo and pitch. Raven Hax shot up a signal to attack, finding the singing annoying. And soon the dead moved out in an effort to silence the dwarfs forever. Crossbow bolts greeted the skeletal advance on the right as the Rangers opened fire. Few of the of soldiers fell to the barrage and continued their march to the dwarfish lines. The rest of the army proceeded unhindered, the lack of cannons in the dwarf forces easing the minds of the undead commanders. Most of the enemy stayed put, content to let their foes come to them. All except King Einkil and the half-naked madmen on badgers that charged with him into the Skeletons before them. They pulled back on their attack at the last moment as a wall of spearpoints met them. Still, they hacked and slashed, relying on rage and fury to win the day.
Disaster struck the dwarf woodsmen as the fallen knights easily navigated the foliage before them and slammed into them. Hedric smiled as he saw this. The strange brew his master had rubbed into their bones worth the every coin he'd paid for it. Lightly armored, the Rangers couldn't stand against the revenant horsemen. The cloaked hero beside them ordered them to stay, but too many had been lost and they broke. As lord Armon's grave guards approached the dwarfs on the hill, large fierce looking dogs bounded from their ranks. They closed ground quickly and lunged at the bandaged clad corpses. They ripped and torn at them until they were brutally put down by the dead. Slowed, they reformed ranks before marching again.
The skeletons fought back, piercing the battle scared flesh of both dwarf and brock, devastating the regiment. Not willing to fall back in front of their King, they died to the last. The werewolves charged out of the woods attacking the steel monstrosity. They leaped about it, supernatural claws leaving great rents in its metal hide. It shook them off with great sweeps of its limbs and snapping jaws. Then, something in the machine failed. Steam shot out of wounds and joints as the light in the monster's eyes dimmed. It shrieked once before falling limply on the forest floor. The wolves howled in triumph before stalking off, hunting for more prey. Zombies shambled into the earthen golems pulling out loose stones and widening cracks. The revenants join them, flanking the hulking automatons. Old steel sparked off of stone, toppling one of the beasts. But unable to defeat the rest of them, the undead legions braced for a counter attack. Catapults found the large elemental, flaming skulls opening large rents in its body as it's handler goaded forward. The Crimson men charged up the center hill, crashing into the dwarfs holding it. Red gore gushed out of master crafted armor, fueling the vampire's bloodlust. However, despite their losses, the elite warriors refused to break.
Enraged at the loss of his brock riders, King Einkil went back in against the skeletons. He hacked and slashed at them but failed to kill enough of the dead. On the far right, the rangers and their hero burst from their cover and swarmed the revenant knights. Unopposed, the mummies and wraiths continued up the field, waiting for an opening to strike. Tripping over the bodies of their fallen, they were unable to drag many of the riders down. The elementals in the center waded into the sea of zombies, crushing rotted flesh and scattering broken bodies. The Ironguard with them followed their example, hitting the revenant foot in their exposed flank, hoping to destroy them utterly. They failed. Dark magic and a lack of organs foiled blows that would have felled any living creature. The Soulreavers had their own foes to deal with as the dwarfs on the hill chased them down. But the greater skill lay with the vampires, and most strikes were turned aside of rebounded off of enchanted armor. Seeing their great construct laid low, the dwarven unit on the left swooped down on the Lycans. While they took the beasts by surprise, only one fell to their attacks as the rest nimbly reformed.
Meanwhile, Raven Hax and his acolytes raised the fallen to join the ever-increasing ranks of the dead. The strange magic in the air lent his children greater power, and the fallen willingly rose to accompany them. Emboldened by this, the undead pushed back hard. Werewolves jumped among their foes that had wounded them. The crushed armor and flung limp corpses at the throng. Their formation broken, the survivors fled. Things went from bad to worse as a stout revenants counterattacked the living that had flanked them. Joined by their bandage-clad allies, who flanked the dwarves in turn. The combined might of these two units shattered them and few escaped with their lives. Seeing this, the Ironguard fighting the vampires lost heart and hastily retreated as the sinister horsemen attacked again. On the right, the skirmish in the woods continued between the rangers on the skeletal knights. Sensing that threat the cloaked hero posed, the dead focused their energy on him. But the press of the trees and dwarfs around them made it hard for blows to connect, the veteran woodsman limped away with minor wounds. Great gaps had opened in the dwarf lines, and Raven Hax found an evil joy take him as he saw the living fall. But the Dwarven lord refused to yield and pressed his remaining forces back into the fray.
But it was in all in vain, soon his units were surrounded as the undead closed in on all sides. Elementals tumbled over in great heaps, kicking up powdered stone. The last of his honor guard fought bravely as the end came, taking down many of lord Armon's warriors before falling. Wraiths flew to the back lines, attacking banner bearers. The dwarfs, belligerent to end, didn't let the standards leave their grasp in death. Einkil, Seeing the day was lost, sounded the retreat. The rangers scattered expertly in the foliage, evading capture. While the King himself was forced to fight his way out, him and his mount bleeding profusely deep wounds. Hedric the Mad made to pursue, but Raven Hax held him back. Lord Armon looked in askance at the lich, but he ignored them all. Something from beyond the portals had spoken directly to the undead leader in a barely audible whisper. He focused his will and power on one of the dark pools probing its depths for eldritch secrets. Let the dwarves run, he thought. It was only a matter of time before death claimed them. Right now he needed only concentrate on the task hand. To see what may lay on the other side of madness......