Huskgar's Red Reavers

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The Fall and Rise of Varian Huskgar

   Varian grew up much like any other human boy in the brutal Ghur wilderness.  Being the son of a chieftain did not exempt him from any of the hardships the other boys faced.  If anything, those hardships were intensified.  Varian’s father, Osmund, led the nomadic Red Wolves.  Under his leadership they enjoyed a relatively safe and prosperous existence.  Not that anyone in Ghur was ever truly safe.  Though vicious in battle, and not educated in any formal sense, Osmund was a wise and just leader.  With knowledge from those that came before him, and a keen sense of the wilds of Ghur, he kept the tribe constantly moving; following the migration of the gaur and oryx.  Always a step ahead of the myriad predators, Osmund and the Red Wolves even found room in their harsh existence for what passes as decency in Ghur.  That is to say they restrained themselves from instantly killing any outsider that crossed their path.

   As a young man Varian showed himself to be gifted in both the ways of the wild and the ways of war; although no more so than his elder brother Tormund.  In fact, the two were remarkably similar.  However, where Tormund saw leadership as a mighty responsibility, Varian saw it as a birthright.  Tormund knew that he would one day need to don the mantle of leadership, to ensure the survival of his people for another generation, and he welcomed the burden.  Varian, however, was ambitious, and his ambition drove him to want more than the second son of a tribal chieftain could traditionally expect.

   By the time Varian had reached his twentieth season he had gained a reputation as a risk taker, albeit a successful one.  By slaying menacing beasts of the realm, and prosecuting daring raids on rival tribes, Varian attracted a following of similarly ambitious and fearless warriors.  Over time Varian became obsessed with the idea of fame and riches beyond the veldt in which his tribe dwelled.  On the eve of the coronation of his brother, as chieftain, Varian announced that he would take the self-proclaimed mightiest warriors of the tribe and venture out to bring true riches back to Red Wolves.  Whilst the proclamation did not quite bring the tribe to bloodshed it was not well received by Osmund or Tormund.  They could ill afford to lose so many capable hands.  Implacable, the next morning Varian and his comrades set out to earn their fame and bring prosperity back to the tribe.

   Though noble in essence, the expedition proved far more arduous than Varian had anticipated.  The life of a nomad in the veldt was grueling, but at least he knew what to expect.  The world outside the veldt was something else entirely.  Unable to cope using the tools he had, Varian sought the tools he needed, though they did not come cheaply.  At first the cost was toil and hazard.  This was a simple thing.  But as the required tools became more exotic, Varian found that his morals were the most valuable currency.  Eventually his descent brought him into contact with a group of fanged Duardin who promised pitch black armor, of a most impressive aspect, in exchange for the slaughter and enslavement of the clerics at a nearby Order of the Dove temple.  Reluctantly, Varian undertook the commission; after all, he owed his own people prosperity, did he not? . . .

   Years have passed since Varian’s enterprise began.  Once his tribe had focused his course.  Now his ever increasing might is all that matters.  Once he honored the simple life of the nomad.  Now Varian’s ambition grows with each fleeting victory, the spoils of the last conquest never satisfying him for long.  His memory of the Red Wolves has become dull and foggy.  No longer simple flint wielding savages; his Red Reavers are armored champions who fear no mortal.  And though once, like his forbearers, he appealed to many gods, Varian now finds that his petitions are, almost, exclusively directed toward a select few: The Blood Wolf, The End Father, The Great Eye.  These gods are the ones with true power.  These gods are the ones who can supply him the strength he needs. . .
Additional paragraph tying the story into the Animosity II Campaign
   When the agent of The Undivided stepped out of the shadows Varian was truly startled.  It had been a lifetime since someone had gotten that close to him unnoticed.  Between his upbringing as both predator and prey, and the endowments he’d been bestowed, no mortal could best him so.  Then again, this emissary was no mere mortal; the taloned feet protruding from her dark robes made that abundantly clear.  Varian’s dirk was out in an instant.  The emissary paid no mind.  “Varian Huskgar” she intoned in a gravelly, yet somehow musical voice.  “Sheath your blade.  Spoils await those with the fortitude to take them.  Irkut Thousandeyes has been watching you.”  Varian flipped his dirk in the air, the tip plunging into the barrel he was using as a makeshift table.  He tilted his head and smirked, fire in his eyes.  This is what he’d been waiting for. . .

Dark Industry

   One might think that the followers of the Ruinous Powers are comprised entirely of wretched madmen, incapable of productive comportment, and outfitted in only the most dismal equipment. However those who have fought the black armored champions of Chaos, and lived, will offer up a different account. While the industries of Chaos will never be mistaken for that of the Duardin, they are surprisingly competent able to turn out preeminent instruments of war at incomparable speed. What they lack in organization and precision they more than make up for with ruthless ingenuity, infernal techniques, and foul dark magics. In the heart of the Eightpoints, in the districts around the Varanspire all the armaments necessary to equip the chosen warriors of Archaon are mass produced. Ensorcelled weapons, hellforged iron plate, heinous war steeds, and more; all can be had by those warriors of the dark gods with sufficient coin or clout. Near the outskirts of one such district sits a stable whose primary purposes could be mistaken for slaughter and torture, as opposed to breeding and training. Nevertheless, it is here that wild, rangy, broncos enter and muscled, vicious, warhorses leave.

   Atop his warp empowered charger, flanked by a retinue of mighty armored riders, Varian Huskgar, lord of the Red Reavers, champion of Chaos, rode out of the gates of the Varanspire contemplating his newest acquisitions. Raiding had been good this season. Towns and settlements had fallen to his blade like so much wheat to the thresher. Warriors had flocked to his banner. His stores and resources had grown rapidly. But he had always been forced to rely on the slow, unyielding, advance of the heavily armored foot soldiers under his command. That was limiting and that, in turn, was unacceptable. Varian saw the world much like a chess game. He had objectives and resources. His enemies and prey had strengths and weaknesses. The most efficient way to gain and consolidate his power was to ensure that he had no weaknesses and to do that he needed to expand the capabilities of his war host. Ten Chaos Knights were a valuable addition. Varian could now go about the business of raiding at a significantly increased pace. As he and his knights worked their way through the blasted lands of the Eightpoints, toward the Realm Gate that would take them back to the more bountiful lands of his mountain stronghold, Varian contemplated how to most productively use his new resource.

   As the double suns peaked in the sky over the Iron Road they illuminated the wagon tops of a heavily armed caravan plodding south. The caravan, and its crew of porters and guards, was tasked with transporting tools, weapons, and armor from the high mountains, where the metal was mined and the equipment fashioned, to the farming and fishing settlements in the more fertile river valley. Their return would see them carrying food and soft goods back to the mining communities in the north. As the caravan rounded a bend the soldiers at the head of the column observed that the road was blocked by a tightly packed block of massive, heavily armored, warriors in dark black plate. Though the distance was still too great to make out the details Tomas, the caravan commander, knew this to be a dangerous sight. “Halt Column! Defensive Positions!” he shouted. His command was repeated down the line. Slowly, the heavily laden wagon train came to a grinding stop and human warriors armed with pikes or rifles fanned out in all directions setting up makeshift defenses behind boulders or within depressions in the dirt. Still several hundred yards from the knot of dark warriors, the tension in the column built as they waited with no sign of offensive action from the apparent enemy. Just as Tomas was about to send ahead a small party, the distant warriors began to advance. At this sign, Tomas called for rifles to advance to the front of the column and they setup in two ranks just behind a block of kneeling pikemen. “Standby and fire on my mark.” ordered Tomas. The black iron clad warriors were now just a hundred paces away and the hellish details of their armor were clear. Tomas and his defenders were about to be under assault by twenty fearsome Chaos Warriors.  “FIRE!” shouted Tomas and the riflemen let loose their wrath. A cloud of smoke briefly obscured the scene but when it cleared the enemy was still advancing, seemingly unharmed by the barrage. As the huge armored troops closed with the pikemen, the riflemen stepped back, reloading as they went. The fighting was savage. Each dark warrior seemingly a match for a dozen of the caravan’s defenders. “Pikes reinforce the head!” shouted Tomas and guardsmen from further back in the column raced to help their comrades engaged with the enemy.

   From the top of a nearby hill, shrouded in the shadow of a huge stand of leatherleaf trees, Varian watched the battle unfold below. He knew his Chaos Warriors could absorb an incredible amount of punishment with their hellforged plate and warpsteel shields. And just as he had planned, the bulk of the defenders, who outnumbered his forces thirty to one, were swarming his foot soldiers, hoping to overwhelm them. As soon as the enemy was fully committed, Varian calmly gave the signal for his Chaos Knights to charge. Down the hill they thundered, smashing into the side of the melee swirling about their unmounted brethren. The battle was short, and the consequences gruesome. The unexpected charge from the knights caused the defenders lines to devolve into a terror-stricken mob. In a matter of minutes every last member of the caravan guard had either been put to the sword or was fleeing, weapons and armor thrown aside to gain precious speed; to preserve precious life. Varian turned his steed to face the length of the caravan and in a booming voice addressed the porters, who were cowering in, on, or under their wagons. “Your lives and your cargo are now property of the Red Reavers. Obey and you will live a while longer. Disobey and you will die.”