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Athgorond

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 2 months ago

Schloß Drache

Castle of the Dragons, formerly known as Athgorond, Floating Palace of Degradation



History

Dark Elf Control

This huge, magical flying fortress was created by a cabal of mighty Dark Elf wizards at the same time as the Black Arks of Naggaroth, but with a somewhat more powerful motive enchantment. At present time it seems to lack the powerful misdirective and storm-brewing enchantments (or at least knowledge of how to activate the same within its walls is lost) that protect the ocean-going Black Arcs, however. After it was used to flee from Ulthuan, it was landed in the mountains of Naggaroth and the means of activating its powers of flight lost due to the cunning of its master, who was murdered by his fellows in an attempt to sieze the palace itself. It passed into relative obscurity for a time as just another (quite large) mountain fort with an intriguing and possibly altogether lost magical secret.

 

Eventually, less than a decade ago, an enterprising Dark Elf magician rediscovered its steering stone and discerned its purpose, then raised the castle aloft again. He didn't last long, and wasn't as prepared for his own murder as his predecessor had been. The now-airborne castle went through a dizzying blur of Druchii (Dark Elven) murders, backstabbings and political skullduggery that left it useless in the war effort against the Asur (High Elves) until it passed into the hands of the unsavory Imrian Shadow-Weaver, who finally established a firm hold on the place and quashed all serious opposition.

 

The Siege of Lothern

 

Imrian rapidly staffed the castle, but his own paranoia kept the castle itself from ever being brought anywhere near its troop-carrying capacity due to his distrust of sufficiently powerful potential subordinates' incoming retinues. What he did collect, however, was an impressive stable of manticores and other flying monstrosities to act as his castle's airborne strike force. With this in hand, he set off on an audacious raid against Lothern itself and arrived in the wake of the retreat of the Dark Elves' fleet from their abortive assault on the Glittering Tower and the great gate-fortresses of the city. Staying beyond range of the gates' mighty siege engines, he sent his castle soaring overland, around behind the great metropolis's defenses to settle in the air high above Lothern itself, whereupon he set about bombarding the Phoenix King's palace, bombing the city with artillery and sending airborne terror attacks down against it. He issued a simple demand to Phoenix King Finubar of the Asur: surrender your capitol or it shall be destroyed.

 

What he did not have on his fortress, however, was sufficient ground troops to land and invade the city properly: those would have to wait aboard the scattered ocean-going fleet for him to secure the gates from within. So he set about reducing the defiant Asur capitol and attempting to coerce or trick them into opening the Gates. What forces he did have on his castle were stretched in order to keep up their constant barrage, but maintain it they did with malicious glee and growing anger, devastating large tracts of the richest city in the world. Imrian hoped that his aerial siege would buy the fleet time to regroup and make another concerted attack... one that would succeed with Athgorond in such a strategic position. What Imrian did succeed in was helping restore the blockade and extending the Dark Elves' chances of success.

 

The whole plot might have worked if not for the Black Dragons. Their mercenary fleet, already in pursuit of part of the Druchii fleet, had managed to run the Dark Elven blockade and passed through the fabled Gates of Lothern to link up with Finubar's fleet, then were instrumental in the scattering that Imrian was attempting to remedy. The "Heroes of the Hammer," as the people of the Empire knew them, were among the leaders of that fleet, and they swiftly analyzed the desperate situation the Asur were facing with the city under aerial attack and their enemies regrouping out at sea.

 

Marshall Uhlrik Gunderit der Drache and his fellow heroes set forth a risky plan to the Elf king, and he reluctantly accepted the massive calculated risks involved. Using every airborne resource available to the city's Asur at that moment, the Black Dragons planned an aerial assault on the castle's lower works in an attempt to knock out its siege engines and sieze the vast balconies they rested upon as beachheads for a later portion of the attack, with mercenary humans leading the landing parties on the balconies. Meanwhile, the heroes themselves and a smaller airborne contingent were to strike the very top of the uttermost tower and fight their way down, seeking to slay Imrian and his top lieutenants and sieze control of the fortress's steering mechanisms without dropping the whole rock on the city. Lastly, they were to lower the castle and rest it up against one of the city's great fortifications, allowing the ground forces below to properly storm it from their own battlements.

 

Imrian, sensing trouble from these newcomers and with the aid of the newly-emergent Daemon Prince SoulSlayer the Dreaded (formerly known as the Chaos champion Prinz Gaynor Teufel, the Heroes' most bitter enemy), managed to stage a secretive raid prior to that plan's operation, capturing several of the Heroes of the Hammer themselves, all without their fellows' knowledge. He set about attempting to torture details of their upcoming plan of attack from Cassandra and Richelle, and teamed up with ~Soulslayer to ambush Cedric, who had managed to escape their clutches and was at large in the mazelike catacombs beneath the castle itself. Dark Elf and Daemon together hunted the archmage down and staged an epic game of cat-and-mouse with him, poisoning him and battering him to the brink of death, then flinging the dying man through a portal into his own laboratory aboard the fleet's flagship as a message that these newcomers were a false hope at best.

 

They had not accounted for Cedric's sheer grit, obsessive preparation or determination. The archmage, knowing that his life was over yet desperate to warn his friends of Gaynor's return and what had befallen two others of their number (including his own wife) and prevent their plan from falling apart, drank an alchemical brew he had secretly kept in his laboratory and completed the life-draining ritual of which it was a part, transforming himself into a liche. He plunged himself through death on his own terms though others had pushed him over the brink, defied it and returned to seek vengeance. That completed, he did not pause to take stock of his new condition but rather went straight to Uhlrik to warn him and move forward the timetable for their attack. A new item was added to the attackers' agenda: rescue, and Cedric himself would lead that portion of their mission.

 

Cedric mounted to the top of the Phoenix King's palace and glared balefully at his flying enemies, then began bombarding them with the most potent, heinous and deathly sorceries at his disposal, with every other wizard available backing him up. Gryphons, hippogriffs, great eagles and even the Caledorian dragon Gilauvron were launched into the air with a cargo of warriors, and the battle was joined. They rapidly engaged and destroyed the dark elves' air forces, drawing them into range of the keen-eyed archers massed below.

 

The Heroes took advantage of the distraction to storm the pinnacle of the castle and roll down from there, with Uhlrik's mighty axe and Cedric's fearsome sorceries leading the way. All who opposed them were shattered and more than a few of the tower's artillery batteries were silenced in their onslaught. Cedric obsessively plunged into the castle's prisons and freed the women he had defied death itself to save, and then their entire company confronted Imrian and his retinue in the control chamber. The battle was fierce and bloody, but ultimately Imrian's minions were destroyed and he fled for his life though a hastily-constructed portal, with one of Rahann's arrows embedded in his chest. SoulSlayer himself was nowhere to be seen throughout the conflict, the Daemon apparently having already returned to the Chaos Hells after completing whatever inscrutable plan had led him to ally with the Dark Elf. The rest of their plan was a success, and the invading Men and Elves butchered the castle's remaining skeleton crew to a man. With their greatest single asset lost to them, the Dark Elf fleet withdrew in disgrace. How Imrian survived the fallout of his failure is unknown, but it is certain that his erstwhile allies made numerous attempts on his life.

 

The Dragons Claim their Aerie

 

In the wake of this great victory and recognition of the Black Dragons' heroic efforts, Phoenix King Finubar accepted the cunning stroke they had executed right under his nose: siezing control of the castle for themselves rather than allowing him to take it. He made no effort to wrest the steering stone from them, for though their mercenary forces were fewer than his own troops at that time, they held the stone and it would not do to turn on his own henchmen so soon after they had undertaken such risks and lost so many of their own number on his behalf. His honor and their opportunism left the castle in their hands. The siege had been lifted and a lull in the war against the Druchii had been reached by dint of this crushing defeat, and that had to be enough for him... and besides, so long as they had the castle, they could funnel more members of the Young Races to fight the Witch King's forces. In his eyes, it was worth the exhorbitant cost. Instead of fighting, he offered them whatever territory they could sieze in Naggaroth as their own domain: what further cost was it to offer his allies claim to land that he did not himself control?

 

Since that day, the castle has been carefully repaired and its sorceries shored up, meticulously cleansed of the dark elves' taint and refitted to match their own needs. The castle has been renamed Schloß Drache after their own legion and its leader, and they have used it as a tremendously attractive recruiting tool back in the Old World: many of the less superstitious (or perhaps more adventurous) of the fighting men and support personnel from across the Empire and beyond flocked to the Black Dragons' banner, the siren's song of land to be siezed in the New World from Dark Elven monsters sounding in their ears. Uhlrik and company refused to fall victim to the same mistake the Shadow-Weaver had made. With their numbers greatly bolstered, they set forth for Naggaroth and destroyed the city of Clar Karond, even sinking a Black Ark in the process. They built a fort on the ruins and left their fleet and its crew to hold it over the fierce Naggarothi winter, through which even the Dark Elves would be loath to launch a counteroffensive. then returning swift as eagles to the Old World to recruit yet more soldiers to their cause, now having conquest of the enemy's land to their credit to sweeten the deal.

 

This second expedition was one of the last catalysts for the transformation of the Black Dragons into the Dragon Brethren. They still hold the flying castle, using it as a mobile headquarters and artillery-heavy bastion, and thanks to the ingenuity of their cadre of Dwarven engineeers have greatly expanded its facilities for transporting troops to the surface to support an invasion. Imrian Shadow-Weaver has already failed once to wrest the steering stone from their control, and his odds of succeeding in the future seem slimmer than ever. Both he and his Witch-King vehemently curse the day he sailed against Lothern, arming these new, more vital and more ambitious enemies to tip the balance in their eternal war against the Asur.

 

Defenses

As has been mentioned, the defensive and offensive assets of Schloß Drache have undergone major changes since the Black Dragons siezed it. In its recent Old World expedition, considerable numbers of cannons and bombards were added to its arsenal as well as other artillery pieces. Also, the floating tower's complement of troops is probably greater than it has ever been in the past.

 

The tower's defenses under Imrian were originally much like what would be regarded as appropriate to protect a huge ground-based tower from attack by a ground-based force with some aerial support, with a fair number of downward-aimed artillery pieces and stone-droppers as well. Since taking the castle, the Black Dragons ambitiously set about converting their prize such that it was every bit as capable a weapon as a defense, regarding its prior offensive abilities a far cry of its potential as potentially the single greatest airborne weapon in the Warhammer world.

Lower Works

The lower works of the fortress consist of the great rock upon which it stands. They are set up with an eye towards offense, since they are the portion most concerned with and exposed to the world below. The underside of this great mass of stone is studded with balconies connected to the under-labyrinth by great bronze doors that have been enchanted to keep seawater out when the rock is submerged. The balconies themselves are festooned with cannon, bombards and stone-casters with some bolt throwers as well. Great nets are hooked up to the underside of the castle, which are then filled with stones for use in bombarding static targets below. In times of battle, these balconies are used to house regiments of crossbowmen and hand gunners. There are currently plans to build more and larger balconies to allow for a greater concentration of fire as well as being home for a vastly upgraded lift system, but construction on the bottom of a flying castle is a daunting undertaking.

 

The upper surface of the great rock is relatively flat and is often used for training purposes, jousts and the like, but has also been turned to greater offensive use and general utility. Low earthworks and ramparts are presently being constructed around its outer rim to provide cover for a ring of cannon, mortars and missile troops. This area already boasts a dock jutting out into space for water craft to moor to when the castle partially submerges. It also features a set of lifts based on those found on the Middenheim Fauschlag, but on a larger scale. The Dwarf engineers are working on plans to expand and improve this arrangement to allow for faster and more reliable air-to-ground transit of troops and materiel. The lag time involved remains one of the fortress's greatest weaknesses, and has been a grave concern to Uhlrik and his compatriots since the castle was first taken.

 

Upper Works

This section refers to the tower proper as well as the tall hills that abut its walls. Here the Dragon Brethren live, work and plan.

 

Since the castle itself is airborne and only covers a fraction of the stone's surface, its fortifications are being adjusted to take on a primarily defensive character, albeit an aggressive defense. Uhlrik knows well exactly what means he used to take this castle, and has set about preventing his own tactics being used against him. Most of its artillery consists of bolt throwers and guns capable of loosing a hail of projectiles against aerial targets, with the occasional lightweight and portable cannon. The height of the castle's walls is not especially important given that it is airborne, but they are topped with broad battlements that provide plenty of room for ranks of missile and polearm equipped troops to hold them against anything that might think to bypass them and attack the home of the Dragon Brethren.

 

The fringing rock outcrops sport several smallish towers topped with lookout posts and more artillery, intended to protect that flank since the main castle's field of fire is lessened in that particular angle. Also, this area is dotted with a number of caves. These caves are used to house several rare gryphons as well as the dragon Albrecht. The Dragon Brethren are also building a number of aeries, hoping to acquire great eagles and similar additions to what the Brethren dream will eventually be a teeming, concentrated air-force far larger and stronger than any the world has seen in recent millennia. Though their current reserves are small they may be closer to that mark than they suspect.

 

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