Sunday, 15 September 2019

REVIEW: Realmslayer: Blood of the Old World - Part 2: Spoilertastic Summary


Welcome to the second part of my Realmslayer: Blood of the Old World review (the spoiler-free Part 1 found here). From here on I'll be giving a detailed summary of the events taking place in the audio drama (including FULL SPOILERS, so back away now if you've yet to listen to it yourself!), that will hopefully serve as a nice refresher recap for anyone's who's left a gap between Blood of the Old World and Ghoulslayer, or any of Gotrek's future adventures.
As with my summary of Realmslayer, Blood of the Old World's an audio drama, so apologies in advance if I've failed to spell any new characters' names properly. (Frank Hole, the skaven guy, he's new, right?)


Chapter 1 - Armour of Winter:

Blood of the Old World opens with Gotrek in a familiar situation, having been thrown in a jail cell in Hammerhal Ghyra, giving a blustering, bemoaning account of his time so far in the Mortal Realms to his cellmate, a wry old duardin who introduces himself as Witromm, who Gotrek is sure he's met before but can't quite place. It's never directly stated, but "Witromm" is very obviously Grombrindal, the White Dwarf, doing what he tends to and travelling incognito, dropping hints about his identity (his wargear, friendship with Malekith, ect) with every other line. Grombrindal's previously made cameo appearances in a couple of Black Library stories with Pantheon and Eight Lamentations: Spear of Shadows, largely unchanged from his WFB incarnation, and it's nice to see him get a more featured role in Blood of the Old World. I can't wait to see his relationship with Malekitherion explored if/when Shadowkin finally hit. He's also magnificently brought to life in jaw dropping character art printed on the physical edition's CDs by Johan Grenier, who's done all Gotrek's covers to date. Can we get a new subscriber model (and rules) to match Gotrek's please?

Art taken from Johan Grenier's ArtStation; it's amazing,
go check it out
A minor aside is that Gotrek's previous cellmate (who he thought he was relaying the story to before noticing Witromm) was a Bonespitter boss, who neither Gotrek or Witromm seem remotely at odds with. If Gotrek can remember that skaven are the worst thing ever and not to trust elves, surely he can remember, and wouldn't be willing to let go of his race's ancestral grudge against the greenskins? As the legendary protector of the dwarf race and its values Grombrindal/Witromm would probably be in a similar boat (though granted has had more time to move past these things), and I hope we get a future story that expands on and explains this.

Gotrek and Witromm are quickly interrupted by Malaneth, who frees Gotrek, telling him that she has secured passage out of Hammerhal on a Kharadron skyship. Gotrek is sure that he wants to reclaim Grimnir's axes, and Witromm casually mentions that he knows a very ancient Treelord named Harathgriel, not far from them in Ghyran, who may be likely to have an idea where to start looking for them. Gotrek spurns Malaneth's skyship and heads for the frozen Glade Harathgriel calls home.


Gotrek and Malaneth run afoul of a force of frosty Sylvaneth apparently on a Wild Hunt, led by a Drathiel, a formidable Kurnoth Huntress, who they repeatedly cross paths with. Eventually Gotrek and Malaneth are joined by Witromm, who is offended, having told them where to start looking for Grimnir's axes in the hope they'd invite him along. Eventually, cornered by Sylvaneth, Gotrek unleashes the power of Krag Blackhammer's Master Rune, something he'd been unwilling to do, sort of bitter at Grimnir for the destiny forced upon him when he first found the god's axe on his fated expedition into the Chaos Wastes. In the process of unleashing the Master Rune, Gotrek burns down and thaws the frozen woodland, freeing Algor Three Fingers, a seemingly unkillable Champion of Nurgle who had menaced the area during the Age of Chaos, eventually forcing Alarielle to freeze it entirely in order to imprison him and hold Nurgle's blight at bay.

Algor summons an army of Plaguebearers and proceeds to terrorise the Sylvaneth, only to eventually be proved very killable by Gotrek. Brought before Alarielle, Malaneth and Witoromm kneel, only for Gotrek to refuse to do so and ask to be taken to Harathgriel to find the location of his axes. It is explained that Harathgriel is no longer in Ghyran, but has travelled to a Silver Tower of Tzeentch belonging to a Gaunt Summoner going by Zigural, the Tyrant of Eyes, that has been menacing Alarielle's territory since roughly the time Thanquol's forces laid siege to Hammerhal in Realmslayer. Alarielle assigns Drathiel to help the trio reach the Silver Tower and find Harathgriel.


Chapter 2 - The Everlasting Oath:

A week later, and the party are still hacking their way through (Pink Horror infested) undergrowth in Ghyran. Drathiel eventually determines that the tower must have moved to Ghur. Witromm is nervous to travel to the Silver Tower and Gotrek is very excited at the prospect of a realm of beasts. The nearest "realmgate" from Ghyran to Ghur is Olyx'cotal, the Realm Serpant, a cosmic beast so big that its body spans the gap between the two realms, with its back forming an almost conventional bridge.

We then flash over to Ghur, where an old friend from Realmslayer, Prince Jordain, the inexperienced, but all together very keen young Freeguild officer who was slain journeying with Gotrek from Aqshy to Shyish with Gotrek, now Jordaius Lionheart, a javelin-thowing Prosecutor of the Anvils of the Heldenhammer (he would have to have gone to the Anvils of the Heldenhammer as we never saw a blue beam on his death), has been assigned to the Mortis Rock, a garrison guarding the Ghur end of Olyx'cotal. Jordaius can remember little of his mortal life, but is plagued by visions of his time with Gotrek that invade his mind whenever he tries to pray to Sigmar, and is seeking the help of an unsympathetic Lord-Relictor. It might be an intentional depiction of the reforging process, by Jordain is a much less compelling and likeable character as a Stormcast than he was as a mortal soldier, and as a result his solo scenes drag, which is a real shame as he was one of the highlights of Realmslayer.


The citadel comes under attack by skaven commanded by Thanquol, and Jordaius is assigned to a Prosecutor retinue, lead by a Prime named Vultarn, who I belive is also played by Brian Blessed, and a reference to his role as Prince Vultan in Flash Gordon (1980). The Prosecutors fight skaven flying machines, which seem to be trying to kill Olyx'cotal.  Jordaius can't shake his visions of Gotrek and eventually breaks from his retinue, flying down the length of Olyx'cotal looking for signs of the slayer.


Back on the serpent, Gotrek is knocked unconscious by a gigantic creature he previously claimed looked like the result of an unholy union between a minotaur and a Kharibdyss. Malaneth thinks that this would be an appropriate time to carve the Master Rune out of his body, and readies her daggers, only for Jordaius to crash down and stop her. Jordaius advises the mismatched group to flee the giant to the relative safety of the Seraphon occupied tower in back in the middle of Olyx'cotal's back. The Seraphon inside, lead by T'muxki, a Skink Starseer are unwelcoming, and try to force Gotrek and his companions to turn back, with what T'muxki insists is a strong argument against Gotrek visisting Ghur. Naturally a fight breaks out, with Gotrek eventually slaying Olyx'cotal itself in an epic fight with comets and lightning raining down everywhere.

On reaching Ghur Jordaius learns that the Mortis Rock and the Strike Chamber guarding is have been utterly destroyed by the skaven and is distraught. We cut to Thanquol making a speech to his minions where he takes credit for Olyx'cotal's death. He assembles a crack team of skaven to infiltrate the Silver Tower, formed of three elite operatives belonging to the clans Skryre, Moulder and Eshin, and himself - instructing them at a safe distance via farsqueaker obviously.


Chapter 3 - The Silver Tower:

Another week later and Gotrek, Malaneth, Witronn, Drathiel and Jordaius are fighting daemons in the Silver Tower. Gotrek has his heckles up with Jordaius for his percived abandoment of his comrades at the Mortis Rock. In another part of the tower Thanquol's strike team, in a very funny scene blunder their way through a locked door, which Gotrek is trying to force on the other side. Gotrek readies his axe, but the parties are separated by an invisible barrier. Zigural, the Gaunt Summoner in charge of the tower greets makes an entrance and tells the two groups that whoever reaches his sanctum will be rewarded with whatever they desire, and the losers annihilated. He then does what Witronn describes as "shuffling the deck", altering the towers' layout for the into a new route to be laboured through.

Gotrek's party eventually come across a crossroads, which each of them see a different indicator at. Against Witronn's insistence not to go it alone Drahiel goes in one direction, while the rest of the group follow Gotrek in the other. In the next room Whitron hurries through a portal ahead of the others and disappears, leaving Gotrek, Malaneth and Jordaius to fight a group of Idoneth Deepkin consisting of an Akhelian Alloplex and some Namarti Reavers. I kind of feel like this was a bit of a waste of Gotrek's first encounter with Teclis-created fish-elves, and that it could have filled a novel on its own, but did like Gotrek's observation that the bottom of the ocean would probably be his first choice of places to put elves, and Jordaius being hesitant to throw his Stomcall Javelins underwater.

Meanwhile Drahiel manages to find Harathgriel, but is set upon by the skaven. Gotrek, Malaneth and Jordaius catch up with her, and fight the skaven off, but not before Harathgriel is mortally wounded by warpstone ammunition and states that he is dying. As he fades away, Harathgriel tells Gotrek he knows him, and knows where the axes may be found... Zigural's prized possession is a realmgate leading to the World-That-Was.


Zigural then pops up, congratulating Gotrek on beating the maze and offering him a reward. Gotrek demands the World-That-Was gate. Zigural obliges, and it's the gate from the end of Slayer that Gotrek walked through into the Realm of Chaos. Explaining that the realmgate is useless to him and needs to be opened by someone with blood that walked the World-That-Was, Zigural then teleports in a startled Thanquol, who furious at being used as a pawn, fires a spell off at Zigural, who then uses it to power the realmgate. Drahiel opts to stay behind to return Harathgriel's remains to Alarielle, and Gotrek charges through the realmgate, followed by Malaneth and Jordaius.


Chapter 4 (no title given):

Now in the Realm of Chaos, Jordaius is doubting himself while imprisoned by a taunting daemon, and is freed by Gotrek who explains that they are in the Crystal Labyrinth of Tzeentch, and that the real gate to the World-That-Was is somewhere within. They are quickly found by Gotrek. Thanquol and his strike team have also followed Gotrek into the Realm of Chaos, with Thanquol claiming that this had been his plan all along.

Gotrek, Jordaius and Malaneth walk through and illusory landscape of Karaz-a-Karak, formed of the slayer's faded memories, and inhabited by Tzeentchian daemons lazily disguised as dwarfs who taunt Gotrek with cries of "oathbreaker". Eventually the daemons attack, with Jordaius' Prosecutor abilities to see through illusions being put to good use, and his wings and Stormcall Javelins unable to be summoned while cut of from Azyr's light. Malaneth is seperated from Gotrek and Jordaius as they try to break away.


T'muxki, the Skink Starseer from earlier beams in with an army of Seraphon, and try to explain to Gotrek that they must go back and he cannot reach the World-That-Was, ensuring a fight. Jordaius is sure that Gotrek's destiny is what Sigmar has planned for him, and the reason visions of Gotrek had been invading his prayer time; his entire life and reforging leading to this moment, and holds off the Seraphon army, buying Gotrek time to stick his axe in T'muxki's face, and hurry on towards the master run.

Gotrek then encounters Witromm, and the two have a heart to heart, with Witromm calling Gotrek out as a glory hound, who'd cared more about fame and being remembered than he ever had for a heroic doom, and asking him why he wants to restore the World-That-Was at the expense of the Mortal Realms and all they have to offer him, saying that Gotrek has lived the World-That-Was, it's brought to where he is now, and to move on from the past. On reaching the realmgate Gotrek admits to himself that he'd be stepping into a world that even daemons no longer want anything to do with.

Suddenly Thanquol! Having been abandoned by his minions, Thanquol announces himself to Gotrek, who seems almost pleased to see him, trash talking how old and mangy the Grey Seer now looks, and they charge at each other, Gotrek swearing to avenge the life of Gustav Jaeger (Felix's father, slain by Thanquol in Elfslayer). The pair clash for quite a bit of time, with Thanquol zapping Gotrek with Warp Lightning, causing the Master Rune to rumble, with Gotrek still refusing to use it; Gotrek enquiring about Boneripper and Thanquol saying the most recent one was killed fleeing Hammerhal; and Gotrek kicking an exhausted, defeated Thanquol's sword back to him and telling him to keep fighting and that he'll kill him when he feels like it. Eventually Thanquol casts Vermintide, and Gotrek is enveloped in rats, forcing him to finally unleash and accept the Master Rune, and a panicked Thanquol to Skitterleap away, with Gotrek swearing that he'll find and kill him if it means outlasting the Mortal Realms as he did the Warhammer World.

We hear the last page of Felix's journal as Malakai Makaisson and Gustav (his nephew) dig for him as he contemplates suffocating in the abandoned Chaos temple from the end of Slayer being a better death than all the other awful ones he's escaped. Felix is in my opinion perfectly voiced with a soft, slightly flowery RP. It's not clear if Gotrek reads Felix's journal, finds his body or both. Regardless he resolves that Witronn was right, that he and Felix both have great adventures ahead of each other and that as long as the realmgate to the World-That-Was still stands it poses a threat to the Mortal Realms, and takes his axe to it, destroying it. He tells Felix that he will find him again.


Gotrek is eventually found by Malaneth, unsurprisingly thinking she's got the drop on him. He laughs it off, and is in a buoyant mood, even referring to himself as a Fyreslayer (though almost certainly joking), and wonders if Alarielle had planned this path for him when she first sent him to the Silver Tower, now accepting his previous wants to be different to his needs. Malaneth asks what's next and Gotrek yells that they're going to teach the Mortal Realms his name.

Witronn is watching this exchange, and mutters to himself "You were right grandfather", referring to Grungni as per Eight Lamentations: Spear of Shadows, and saying that perhaps Gotrek was worth watching over, and that the Mortal Realms haven't seen the last of him.


I hope you've enjoyed this review, any and all feedback is very welcome. I'm off to crack into Ghoulslayer, so expect it to get the same treatment in a couple of days!

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