The trees had grown thick with their roots like tendrils wrapping around every surface they could find. The heavy footsteps of the warriors of the Emerald Canticle thudded and sank into the mud and moss with every inch of the march. Some of the trees had begun rotting, and exuded fungus and maggots from every orifice, and they squished beneath their metal boots.
Norran held up his lantern and a green light lit up the forest. Something was amiss in these woods. While Nurgle’s blight had spread quickly throughout the forests and Nurgle’s gifts could be found nearly anywhere, these woods had progressed far too quickly into decay for being so far from the battlelines. A hum arose from his lantern and he gripped his hammer.
“Let the Chorus sing out brothers, our foes have been found!”
“For Sigmar!” his brothers yelled out as they unsheathed their weaponry and found themselves in a circle around him. Metal shined in the glow of the lantern and a fog had begun encircling their formation, the trees began shifting and moving as the forest itself awakened before them. Roots ripped from between rocks and underneath the soil as mighty oaks and elms sprung to life.
“We are not your foes!” Norran yelled out and held up his lantern, “We are guests of Allarielle the Life-Mother!”
One treelord leaned in close to a Liberator who’s blank metal face glared right back at its wooden mask. The emerald glow of its eyes matched the lantern before it began twisting into a sickly yellow, before he could react the treelord had grabbed the soldier and slammed him against a rock repeatedly until his flailing and screaming ceased.
Immediately combat began as the surrounding forest came to life and attacked the chamber, hundreds of dryads and treelords set upon the men. Norran held his lantern close and struck hard against the foes as his brothers fell on all sides. These weren’t Alarielle’s chilren, not anymore, they had become corrupted and stolen by Nurgle. Lightning struck nearby, and a song was heard on the wind, “Ours is the song of survival!” it echoed through the glade among the sounds of steel and wood, “ours is the song of life!” the canticle sang back loudly and proudly as they struck down their wooded foes on all sides.
Their reinforcements were sorely needed, half of Norran’s forces had fallen already in the ambush. Nearly four dozen liberators marched through the clearing and began laying waste to the corrupted Sylvaneth that lay before them. Every single strike against the treekin revealed the level of decay as showers of maggots and slime erupted from broken limbs and bark.
“Nurgle cannot stand in the light of truth and order!” Norran sang out as he held up his lantern and the beam focused, igniting a treelord in full green flames. The pus-filled maggots that amassed inside the tree screeched and whined as they fizzled out of existence. When he was finished all that remained of it was a pile of ashes covered in a cloud of green smoke.
The battle ran through the night with the Emerald Canticle barely stealing victory. Norran counted his men and from the seventy-two liberators that marched with him through the glade only thirty remained alive. His reinforcements fared much better, with only a handful of their men injured in the conflict. The Relictor had begun inspecting the wounded and was horrified but what he discovered, a strange rotting fungus had begun eating away at the men and was slowly consuming them.
Norran looked upon his three dozen surviving men, most of them were wounded and he wondered how many had been infected by this infection. He held up his lantern to one that lay before him gripping his side.
“Brother, let it be known your song sang true.” Norran said, as he held the light over the wound. The green glow seemed to make the fungus shift and shiver.
“My song..” the man trailed off, “my song was life..” he reached out for the lantern as the fungus grew up his side and slowly engulfed his face. Norran knew what he had to do. He lifted the lantern and focused the beam and the man became ignited in green flame. Norran continued through the night, immolating his own brothers that were infected by the unstoppable contagion. He cursed Nurgle with every brother who’s vibrant melodies were choked out by the “gift” that Nurgle gave.
When the morning sun rose in the glen and life and light returned to the undergrowth, Norran looked upon his work in the night. In the place of his brothers were empty suits of white stone armor. The lantern’s flame had purified their bodies, leaving only petrified statues in their place. Allarielle’s gift was a powerful tool, and Norran regretted having to bring it to bear against his own brothers.
Tears filled his eyes as he looked out across the garden that filled the forest, his brothers were now fixtures and reminders to those who would dare cross the forces of Order and the realm of life. Their sacrifice would never be forgotten, their valor would be eternal.
Then a crack broke out through the woods, and Norran spun around with his hammer. A figure stepped forward out of the shadows and stared at Norran. It was one of his stone brothers. Noran held up his lantern to the man and a vibrant green glow burned in the stone statue’s eyes.
“Our song is the song of survival!” Norran yelled at the living stone.
But there was no reply, it just shifted into a combat ready position. Soon Norran found himself surrounded on all sides by his former comrades. Even in death it seemed they would serve, although their songs were now silent.
He raised his hammer above his head and sang out, “Our words are upon the winds of Ghyran! Let it be known that we are Sigmar’s chosen and we are Eternal!” both his living and stone brothers raised their hammers above their heads in unison and the march began again. Vengeance would belong to the canticle this day, and Nurgle’s minions would suffer for their atrocities.