Batrep #3: Raid on the Black Mountain

(Original art by Games Workshop, colourist unknown)

 

Zhirae, Succubus of the Cult of Spite, exalted in the feeling of the wind whipping through her red braids as her Raider screamed across the flatlands, followed closely by flocks of Venoms, Reavers and Ravagers and other skycraft. Her raiding host was in motion, a fleet of flinty grey dagger-shapes speeding above the surface of this world like loosed arrows homing in on the soft flesh of a target. The world itself was a flat, ugly black rock, with a landscape of dry canyons, plains of barren earth and rising outcroppings of sandstone and basalt. There seemed to be nothing alive here– nothing that she could hunt, nothing that she could kill. It was oddly peaceful and tranquil– which made Zhirae hate it all the more.

Normally, she would never have even bothered leading a raid here, out into the middle of nowhere, but her patron, Lord Scyrex of the Revenant Shroud, had personally sent her on this mission. And in the distance, she could see their target approaching, closer and closer– a steep, slope-sided mountain, seemingly formed from black marble, its sides smooth and unblemished. At a cursory glance, the black mountain might have seemed to be a wondrous, if wholly natural, phenomenon. Zhirae knew better.

Soon, there would be battle. Her fingers closed against the handles of her blades in anticipation  of the slaughter to come. She could feel the palpable excitement of her Wych sisters alongside her in the Raider…but one other passenger was less than enthusiastic.

“Try not to cause too much collateral damage in your enthusiasm, Zhirae,” her sister by blood, Zhael, said with her usual icy aloofness as she absent-mindedly checked her nails. “Lord Scyrex will be disappointed if you accidentally break what he asked us to retrieve.”

Zhirae’s perfect lips twisted in an annoyed frown as she turned to her sister. “If you’re afraid of things getting rough, then why are you sharing a berth on my Raider, with my Cult?” she retorted. “Go on one of the other transports and sip wine with your Kabalite friends if you’d rather not get dirt all over that fancy dress of yours.” At this, her Wyches cackled in approval at their leader’s remark.

As usual, Zhael didn’t rise to the bait. She was, as ever, ice to Zhirae’s fire. “Lord Scyrex may have given you command of this raid,” she said, barely keeping her disapproval of this fact hidden, “but he appointed me to keep you in line, and to remind you of your objectives.” The ghost of a smirk could be seen on her alabaster face. “Of course, if it were down to me, I’d leave you to your own devices and watch  you explain your failure to him in person.”

For what felt like the millionth time, Zhirae suppressed the urge to stab her sister– not that the two hadn’t crossed blades hundreds of times before. Unlike Zhirae, Zhael had never joined the Wych Cult, choosing instead a path of subtlety and political machinations over  that of the blade. At this time, she was a high ranking Archon in the Kabal of the Revenant Shroud, and didn’t hide the fact that she was aiming for the position of Hierarch, the second-hand woman to Lord Scyrex himself– a title that Zhirae herself coveted.

A prominent Archon and the leader of an allied Wych Cult, both on the same Raider, both on the same realspace raid, both vying for power. Even an idiot could see that Lord Scyrex was testing them to see which of them would be worthy of being his right hand. Perhaps he even expected only one of them to return.

“You know I’m going to kill you one day, sister,” Zhirae muttered.

Zhael’s smirk widened. “You keep saying that, dear sister,” she said, “but you never succeed.”

Zhirae smirked back at her. “And neither do you.”

Whatever retort Zhael was going to issue was lost, as at that moment, the horizon was lit up with green radiance.

Shouts and cries of alarm went up as the raiding craft all took evasive maneuvers. Running to the prow of her Raider, Zhirae brought bone-carved telescope to her eye and stared down its length. She was greeted by a sight that sent involuntary chills down her spine. Skeletal, metallic figures were suddenly appearing before the mountain, winking into existence in flashes of sickly green light. As she watched, dozens of the figures were soon standing in rank after rank in front of the mountain, wielding rifles that crackled with viridian power. Around them buzzed dark, insectoid shapes, the occasional glint of nature betraying their artificial nature.

But that was nothing compared to the thing that appeared at the heart of this force. Hovering in the middle of the metallic warriors was a swirling mass of darkness, a writhing pulsar of shadow that seemed to suck in the sparse light of the grey world. As the raiding host drew closer, Zhirae could see other details in that mass of shadow– an umbral robe that writhed as though alive, a towering, emaciated body like that of a victim of famine, and a great scythe, the sight of which sent ripple of unspeakable terror through her soul.

Lord Scyrex had warned them that they would face resistance, but this…this was Death itself.

Zhael strode up next to her on the prow of the Raider. “Having second thoughts, sister?” she purred with a smile.

Zhirae flashed an angry look at her sister. “Hardly,” she snarled, before turning drawing her glaive. “All craft, attack! Let’s show these soulless things the true meaning of death!”

 

I while back, I broke my Dark Eldar (or Drukhari, or however you want to call them now) out of stasis and took them down to my LGS. I had arranged to meet another new-ish player for a game, and had agreed to a 1500 point battle between my Drukhari and his Necrons. We figured that this would be a decent matchup, given that we were both fielding Index armies and were both still learning the wonders and intricacies of 8th edition.

The scenario was No Mercy, Dawn of War deployment, and I had brought the following:

 

DRUKHARI BATTALION DETACHMENT:

Succubus- Parasite’s Kiss, Archite glaive, Blade Dancer

Archon- blast pistol, agonizer, phantasm grenade launcher

5 Kabalite Warriors- blaster

-Venom- dual splinter cannons

5 Kabalite Warriors- blaster

-Venom- dual splinter cannons

5 Kabalite Warriors- blaster

-Venom- dual splinter cannons

8 Wyches- hydra gauntlet, Hekatrix w. agonizer

-Raider- dark lance

10 Mandrakes

6 Reaver Jetbikes- 2 grav talons

Ravager- 3 dark lances

Razorwing Jetfighter- 2 disintegrators

 

This list is fairly similar to what I ran back in 6th and 7th edition, with two new additions in the form of the Mandrakes and the Reavers, both of which I wanted to test out. Please note that I am in the process of painting over a lot of new minis for this army, so I apologize in advance for some of the unpainted or partly-painted models you’ll see in this game.

 

My opponent, meanwhile, brought:

 

NECRON BATTALION DETACHMENT:

Overlord- Staff of Light, resurrection orb, Enduring Will

Lord- Staff of Light

Cryptek

20 Necron Warriors

20 Necron Warriors

10 Immortals- gauss blasters

Shard of the Nightbringer- Antimatter Meteor

6 Canoptek Scarabs Swarms

6 Canoptek Scarabs Swarms

3 Canoptek Wraiths

 

DEPLOYMENT:

I set up my army with my Wyches, Succubus and Archon deploying together in a Raider on the right flank, along with the Reavers. My aim at the time was to use the two units as a hard flanking punch. In the centre I put two Venoms and the Ravager so that I could get some shooting done as soon as possible.

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Meanwhile, on the left flank, I placed another Venom and the Razorwing. (Note, all of the infantry models you see there are either in reserve or mounted on vehicles) The Mandrakes, meanwhile, went into reserve, waiting quietly in their shadow-dimension.

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The Necrons, meanwhile, deployed with their Warriors and forming a semicircle around their Overlord and Cryptek. The Immortals and Lord went on the left flank, the Wraiths on the right, and the Scarabs occupied a flank each.

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Going into this battle, my plan was to isolate and destroy his units one by one with overwhelming firepower and assault. I figured that the only way to counteract his Resurrection Protocols was to wipe his units out before they had a chance to resurrect.

I won the roll off…and for some reason chose to go second. I think at the time I wanted him to get closer before I sprang my assault units on him.

 

TURN 1

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The Necrons began their turn with everything advancing. The Wraiths zoomed up ahead of the Necron phalanx, while the Scarab Swarms skirted up the flanks. The only unit that did not advance was the leftmost blob of Warriors, which levelled their gauss rifles and zapped a wound off of one of my Venoms at extreme range.

In response, I was left with a conundrum. My original plan had been to zoom aggressively down the right flank with my Wyches and Reavers, but now he had his Warriors on that flank nicely screened by Scarabs. At best, I would wipe the Scarabs out only for the Warriors to shoot me up in the following turn, at worst the Scarabs would survive and retreat, and my Wyches would be shot up anyway.

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Instead I moved my Wych Raider and Reavers up towards the centre, biding my time and keeping them there for when the Necrons inevitably crept closer. The rest of my forces angled around a little as I brought every gun I could to bear on the Wraiths– I needed to destroy those things quickly, or they would tear apart whatever they charged.

In the shooting phase, almost my entire army unloaded into the Wraiths– save for my Razorwing, that was, which split its fire between the Wraiths and the leftmost Scarabs. A storm of splinter and darklight fire lashed out at the insubstantial killers, but when it cleared, one Wraith was still standing (floating?) on two wounds. My Razorwing’s missiles had also managed to kill two Scarab bases and put a wound on another, but I had really been hoping to kill off those Wraiths early on– even a single, wounded Wraith could cause me problems if left alone.

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SCORE:

Drukhari- 0

Necrons- 0

 

TURN 2

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Once again, the Necrons marched onwards, with the Scarabs advancing up to hopefully threaten my skimmers next turn and the lone Wraith diving headlong towards my massed vehicles. The Necron infantry, in turn, edged up, many now getting into long range of my nimble skimmers. Ahead of them, the Shard of the Nightbringer floated, gazing ominously at the assembled Drukhari.

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A nearby Primaris Marine spectates, often quipping about the superiority of Mankind and how cheesy the Necrons are.

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In the shooting phase, the central block of Warriors, hitting on 2’s thanks to their nearby Overlord, unloaded on my wounded Venom and stripped it of all 5 remaining wounds, wrecking it for First Blood! One Kabalite was wounded in the destruction, but thankfully, he passed his 6+ save from Power from Pain. The rightmost Warriors, thankfully, were out of range, but the Nightbringer unleashed an Antimatter Meteor at another Venom, blasting a wound off of it. It also unleashed its Gaze of Death at it, but scored no damage. Finally, the Immortals fired their gauss blasters up at my Razorwing, blasting 2 wounds off of it despite the -1 to hit modifier.

In the charge phase, the last Wraith lunged at the recently disembarked Warriors, who stood and shot in overwatch. By some miracle, the blaster hit and wounded…and then the Wraith failed its invulnerable save, even with a command point reroll! I proceeded to roll a 2 on the blaster’s damage, and the Wraith was vaporized as it tried to charge in. Needless to say, both my opponent and I were quite stunned by this.

In my turn, I realized that I had to go on the offensive now, especially since the Necrons would be getting into rapid fire range soon. With this in mind, I summoned the Mandrakes over from Aelindrach, and, after much deliberation, brought them in near the Immortals.

No, that’s not an empty base. That particular Mandrake is just really well camouflaged.

The Razorwing also flew over towards the Immortals that had so rudely shot at it at turn before, while the Wyches and characters disembarked and headed towards the Nightbringer. I really wanted to charge the Warriors behind the C’tan, but with it blocking the way, I knew the best I could do would be a multi-charge. I was hoping that my agonizers, sheer number of attacks and invulnerable saves would be enough to deal with the Nightbringer.

To the right of the Wyches, the Reavers flew up to go after the Warriors as well, while the Raider flew up to charge in and absorb overwatch. Finally, my Kabalites, Venoms, and Ravager all circled to bring their firepower to bear on those pesky Scarabs.

In the shooting phase, the Mandrakes began the festivities by unleashing 20 baleblast shots into the Immortals…and proceeded to roll an inordinate amount of 6s to wound, killing 5 of the Immortals with mortal wounds!

Not one to be outdone, the Razorwing unloaded all of its weapons on the Immortals as well. After a blistering squall of firepower, the remaining Immortals were annihilated, leaving the Necron Lord standing on his own.

In the rest of the shooting phase, my Venoms, the Warriors on board, the Ravager and even the Reavers all fired into the Scarabs. Just as in my last shooting phase, my Venoms rolled poorly, while the Warriors on board were unerringly accurate. Still, after all was said and done, both units of Scarabs were wiped out. As an encore, the Wyches fired their pistols at the Nightbringer and managed to plink a wound off of it as well.

In the charge phase, the Raider went into the Necron Warriors to soak up overwatch…and proceeded to take 7 unsaved wounds from massed gauss fire! The Reavers went into the Warriors as well, while the Wyches and both of my characters multicharged both the Nightbringer and the Warriors. Finally, the Mandrakes made their long charge into the lone Necron Lord.

In the fight phase, the Mandrakes unleashed 30 attacks and managed to hack 3 wounds off of the Necron Lord, who whiffed his return attacks thanks to the Mandrakes’ -1 to hit rule.

In the big central fight, the Succubus focused all of her attacks on the Nightbringer, scoring 7 hits on it thanks to her Blade Dancer trait but only doing one wound. In retrospect, I should have sent her against the Warriors rather than attacking a tough target like the Nightbringer. In exchange, my opponent used two command points to interrupt with the Nightbringer, who focused its attacks on my Succubus, did something like 12 wounds to her and killed her outright. This hurt, because not only had I just lost my warlord, but also the Succubus’ reroll 1s aura for the Wyches and Reavers.
In the rest of the fight, the Archon and Hekatrix did a wound each to the Nightbringer with their agonizers, while the rest of the Wyches and the Reavers combined to kill an impressive 10 Necrons. The Warriors swung back though, and clubbed down two Wyches. The Necrons had sustained massive losses, but my opponent then spent two more command points to have them auto-pass morale, keeping them from evaporating in the morale phase. That hurt, as I had been hoping to wipe out that squad in one fell swoop, and now I would have to deal with their Resurrection Protocols next round.

SCORE:
Drukhari: 4
Necrons: 4

TURN 3

At the start of the Necron turn, the Necron Lord regained a wound, and five Necron Warriors rose again…before the Overlord used his resurrection orb, raising back another three. In an instant, almost all of the damage I had done to that squad was gone. At least he didn’t also have the Veil of Darkness to teleport them out of combat– THAT would have been annoying.
With only one unit unengaged aside from his characters, the Necron player edged his rightmost Warriors into rapid fire range of the Razorwing. They proceeded to then freem 5 wounds off the plane, leaving it teetering on 3 and its last level of damage. Then, in close combat, the Nightbringer scythed down two Wyches, while the Wyches did a wound to the Nightbringer and killed a Warrior. In reply, the Warriors, hitting on 2s thanks to the nearby Overlord, clobbered down all four remaining Wyches and did two wounds to the Raider, leaving it hanging on one. The Archon, in turn, whiffed, while the Reavers sliced down another three Warriors.

Elsewhere, the Necron Lord again swung and missed at the Mandrakes, before being torn limb from limb. Victorious, the Mandrakes consolidated towards the unengaged Warriors.

In my turn, the Razorwing used it’s full move to flee back to my deployment zone, while the Raider limped out of combat. The Mandrakes moved towards the unengaged Warriors, and everything else angled to get line of sight on said Warriors.

In the shooting phase, almost everything in my army shot at the unengaged Warriors, with the Mandrakes doing the lion’s share of the damage once again with their superbly effective baleblasts. When the dust cleared, a massive fifteen Warriors had been brought down, leaving five. Meanwhile, the Archon fired her blast pistol at the Nightbringer, but failed to hurt the C’tan.

In the charge phase, the Mandrakes charged the surviving Warriors, shrugging off overwatch and, now hitting on 2s thanks to Power from Pain, wiping the Necrons out in a hurricane of rusty blades, before consolidating into the nearby Overlord and Cryptek. In turn, the Overlord and Cryptek swung back at their shadowy foes, the Overlord managing to cut down one of them.

Meanwhile, the Nightbringer turned its attention to the Reavers, cutting down one of the nimble Jetbikes, though the Warriors did no damage. For their part the Reavers sliced apart another four Warriors, while the Archon tried and failed to hurt the Nightrbringer.

SCORE:
Drukhari- 5
Necrons- 5

TURN 4
At the start of the Necron turn, six Warriors once again stood up. The Nightbringer, meanwhile, unexpectedly flew out of combat to go after the retreating Razorwing, ditching my poor Archon on the dance floor. My opponent later told me he had done so because he didn’t want the Nightbringer stuck fighting the Archon all game.

In the shooting phase, the Nightbringer unleashed an Antimatter Meteor at said Razorwing, doing three wounds and instantly causing it to crash and burn, killing one of the disembarked Kabalites in the explosion! As an encore it tried to freem a nearby Venom with its Gaze of Death, but failed to wound.

In close combat, the Reavers scythed down another five Necron Warriors, though the Necrons scored a wound on the Reavers in return and took no further damage from morale. Meanwhile, the Mandrakes scored a wound each on the Overlord and Cryptek, though the Overlord swatted down another of the shadow-things in reply.

In my turn, I had a big, Grim Reaper-shaped problem in my deployment zone, and one that I needed to deal with immediately. To this end, I had all of my vehicles circle the Nightbringer in an effort to finally bring it down.

With everything else in combat, I went straight to the shooting phase and fired everything I had at the Nightbringer, unleashing lances and splinters into it from every angle. My opponent made an absurd number of invulnerable saves, but in the end, one last splinter shot from one of the Venom-mounted Kabalites took the C’tan’s last wound, sending the Nightbringer shrieking back into the abyss from whence it came.

In the charge phase, the Archon, who had been separated from the main fight by placement and consolidation weirdness, charged back into the fray against the Necron Warriors and proceeded to hack down two deathbots, while the Reavers sliced down another four. It was at this point that I looked back at the Index and discovered that, contrary to my initial belief, the shadow field COULD NOT be rerolled by a Command Point– a supposed fact that had kept my opponent from allocating any attacks to her all game. The last few Warriors directed their attacks at the Archon, did a handful of wounds…and sure enough, a 1 came up, causing the shadow field to short out. My Archon was now wounded and bereft of her fancy force field…and to make matters worse, the Necrons passed their morale test! Uh oh…

Elsewhere, the combat between the Mandrakes and the Necron characters dragged on, with the shadow-things hacking two wounds off of the Cryptek. In reply, though, the Overlord hacked down another two Mandrakes, and the fight dragged on…

SCORE:

Drukhari- 6

Necrons- 6

 

TURN 5

At the start of my turn…yes, you guessed it, Reanimation Protocols kicked in, and 9 Necron Warriors clambered back to unlife. Oh joy. And, as usual, both Necron characters healed a wound each.

With nothing able to shoot, we went straight to close combat. The Necrons managed to hack down the wounded Reaver, before wailing on my defenceless Archon. I fully expected to lose her then and there…but to my surprise, she managed to cling to life on one wound remaining! In exchange, though, the Archon only managed to kill one Warrior, while the Reavers only slice down two more. This time, though, in part thanks to the -1 LD inflicted on them by the Power from Pain table, the Necrons actually failed morale, and one Necron settled into the peaceful abyss of perma-death.

Meanwhile, the Mandrakes again only did one wound to the Cryptek and bounced off of the Overlord, who killed another of them in return. And so the endless combat dragged on…

In my turn, I finally realized that (1) I needed to get Linebreaker, and (2) my Mandrakes were fighting a losing battle. I had my Mandrakes fall back out of combat, while my vehicles all zoomed up, with one Venom advancing into the enemy deployment zone as they all circled the two Necron characters. I was tempted to have the Reavers fall back as well, but I figured that they were better off slicing Necron Warriors into chunks.

In the shooting phase, the Archon fired her blaster pistol and failed to wound with it. Meanwhile, everything else that could opened fire on the Overlord and Cryptek. The Cryptek was the first to die, shredded from one poisoned hit too many. The Overlord, on the other hand, kept making save after save, but eventually, one last blaster shot vaporized him, killing him off and earning me Slay the Warlord.

No sooner had the Overlord been vaporized, though, when we went to close combat. The Archon managed to kill one more Warrior before being unceremoniously hacked to ribbons by the Warriors. The Reavers, in turn, managed to kill another two or three Warriors, but again, the Necrons held their ground.

At this point, we had to roll for random game length. The dice roll came up as a 1, and the game ended.

 

FINAL SCORE:

Drukhari- 10

Necrons- 8

DRUKHARI VICTORY!

Thoughts: That was a fun, close battle, with the score being tied all the way until the end. Despite the score being so close, though, I actually felt like I was fairly in control all throughout the game. Thanks to my army’s superior mobility, I was able to strike when and where I wanted, dictating the flow of the battle and forcing my opponent to react to me. The fact that I was able to destroy his most mobile units early on helped a great deal as well, as it meant I was pretty much able to run rings around his army at leisure. My strategy of isolating and destroying his units worked well…sort of. While I was able to effectively wipe out several of his units with combined shooting and assault, his big block of Warriors proved almost unkillable thanks to the buffs of the nearby Overlord and Cryptek, absolutely refusing to die and killing off my Wyches and Archon in that big never-ending melee. While the Necrons weren’t able to outmatch me in the shooting department, the sheer resilience of their units made this a fairly close game.

After my first outing with the Drukhari (before their new codex release, that is), I’m happy to see that they are still as lightning fast as they were in previous editions, but there are a lot of changes that I will have to get used to. The change of splinter cannons to rapid-fire weapons meant that I was forced to become much more aggressive with Venoms, and the fact that the Razorwing could actually be hit more easily by enemy fire (albeit with negative modifiers) meant that I was forced to be more cautious with the fragile plane when it started to take damage. On the other hand, I love how reliable combat drugs have become, how much more resilient Reavers are (even if Wyches, sadly, still die with ease), and just how amazing Mandrakes have become– my one unit of Mandrakes almost single-handedly steamrolled the back half of the Necron army. And if nothing else, I’m happy to see that Drukhari are still as effective at mobile firepower as they have always been– my vehicles and vehicle mounted squads, as before, were able to inflict a lot of damage with their massed firepower.

Overall, this was a satisfying first game of 8th ed with my Drukhari. I have no idea how many games with them I’ll be able to get in with the new codex, however, so it may be the next game with them may be with a completely new set of rules.

Drukhari MVP: The Mandrakes were on fire in this game, annihilating the Necron Lord, half a unit of Immortals, and a unit of Warriors, and they also came quite close to killing off the Cryptek as well. Honourable nods also go to the Warriors and Venoms, for just generally providing me a reliable and effective firebase all game.

Necron MVP: The big unit of Warriors gets my vote, as they took pretty much everything I could throw at them and still came out of the battle above half strength, having killed off the Wyches and my Archon in the bargain. My opponent, however, felt that the Warriors were awesome only because of the Cryptek boosting him, and so personally gave his MVP to the Cryptek.

 

Zhael felt one eyelid stutter open as weak sensation filled her frame. She could taste blood in the back of her mouth, and her body was wracked with sharp, biting pain, raw with the memory of Necron blades splitting her flesh. It took a few seconds for her to realize that she had been momentarily dead, before the parasites injected into her by the Haemonculi did their grisly work, regenerating her wounds and bringing her back to life. The pain would linger until her body, now whole and unblemished once more, grew used to its latest resurrection, But then, she and pain were old friends, and it had few surprises remaining for her.

“Ah, you’re awake,” a sibilant voice spoke. “I was wondering when the regenerative cultures would do their work.”

Not suppressing her annoyance, Zhael slowly sat upright, opening her eyes fully to the sight of Vakkan, one of the Kabal’s allied Haemonculi, hovering over her, elevated by the prehensile spinal column jutting, serpent-like, from his back. No doubt, he had arrived on the scene from the webway after the fighting was done, as usual.

She also realized that he was holding something tightly in his three arms: a smooth orb, its glossy black surface shimmering with faint traceries of green light. It was the orb that had been carried by the Necrontyr Lord: the same orb, she realized, that they had been sent to retrieve in the first place.

She did nothing to hide her annoyance as she stood back up, seeing now that her dress was torn and stained with blood and soot from her most recent “death”. This just would not do, she thought bitterly as she took a look around her surroundings. Her raiding party was busy recovering the damage, dragging away the bodies of their comrades, and, where possible, looting what they could. But of the Necrontyr, there was no sign– no bodies, no wreckage. Nothing but the grave-like stillness of the air as the the day slowly turned to night.

“The raiding host suffered minor personnel and material losses,” Vakkan stated matter of factly, pre-empting her question as always, before holding up the orb. “But thanks to your efforts, we have Lord Scyrex’s prize. We should be able to make our transition through the Webway without further incident.”

“Then let us be on our way,” Zhael replied, adopting her aloof demeanour againdespite her battered state. “If you haven’t resurrected my sister yet, do so. This world no longer retains my interest.”

Vakkan said nothing. The pale skin around his shrivelled skull tightened involuntarily in what could pass for a frown.

“What?” Zhael asked.

The Haemonculous’ body dipped low, giving an obeisant bow. “About your sister…there were…complications.”

Zhael felt her blood run cold. “What do you mean complications?”

Bowing again, the Haemonculous turned and gestured across the field. Numbly, Zhael followed his gaze to the middle of the battle site, where the bodies of the Wyches were being dragged off for resurrection, in some cases after being shamelessly looted. All of the bodies, that was, save for one. There, Zhirae lay spread eagled on the ground, her usually pale skin now a bloodless shade of white and a massive gouge opened in her chest. The Succubus’ weapons lay scattered beside her, and her eyes were open, staring up sightlessly at the sky as though silently asking it for some answer.

Slowly, Zhael walked over to her sister’s body, her movement somewhat staggered as sensation returned to her limbs. “Why have you not brought her back?” she asked Vakkan.

Floating up next to her, Vakkan tented his syringe-clawed fingers together with a metallic clack. “I have tried, Mistress,” he replied. “But unfortunately…there is nothing for me to resurrect. Her soul is gone.”

Zhael felt her pulse drop. She turned to face Vakkan. “What do you mean gone?”

“I mean, the soul-prism she carried with her is empty,” Vakkan replied. “She was slain by a shard of…Kaelis Ra, yes? The Nightbringer. A creature that is the embodiment of death itself. When it killed her, I fear it took her soul in the process, and quite possibly, obliterated it.”

For a moment, Zhael was silent. Then, slowly, she took a step towards Vakkan, her movements stiff and deliberate. “Impossible. Bring her back,” she ordered. “Now.”

Vakkan shook his head. “There is nothing to bring back, Mistress, she is gone,” he replied. His mouth soon twisted into a horrible, rictus grin. “Which means that the credit of this victory will be yours, and yours alone. No doubt Lord Scyrex will recognize you well for this success. Congratulations, Hierar–“

There was a flash of silver, and Vakkan’s head flew from his shoulders. The Haemonculous’ body remained suspended upright for a few seconds, as though surprised by its sudden decapitation, before flopping lifelessly to the ground.

Dropping her blade, Zhael knelt over her sister’s body, and screamed up at the uncaring sky.

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