The wind tore through the tight valley, whipping needles of ice against Heinrich’s exposed skin. His bare-feet burned in the frigid snow, and the blackness seeping across them filled his mind with dread. It’d been eight days since they left the Ogre camp, and eight more until they reached their destination, a hellish outpost called the Keep of the Three Kin. Heinrich didn’t speak the guttural tongue of the foul Dwarfs that had dragged him halfway across the world, but when he’d been sold in the flesh markets of the Black Fortress, his new owners had used Reikspiel to tell him this name.
Heinrich had been a merchant before - a life which was never safe, but to fall into the hands of the dreaded worshippers of Hashut, was the worst of all fates. ‘Luckily’ for Heinrich, his skill in Engineering had saved him from the fire pits of their ziggurats - but not from slavery.
He had hoped to die on the journey. Even now, he could just lie down and submit to the snow’s icy embrace. He would have done so days ago, had it not been for the fair Lady Maribel. The Bretonnina noblewoman was cursed to the same horrible existence as he, and without Heinrich, would die in the arms of the giant Kurgan shackled with them.
Heinrich glanced at the barbarian, pulling some joy from this blasted land at the sight of his broken nose - a gift from Heinrich the first time he’d tried to have his way with Lady Maribel in the dead of the night, when their masters were asleep and wouldn’t hear her cries.
In front of the Kurgan, Lady Maribel’s long blond hair cascaded down a pale back covered in goosebumps. He wished he could wrap his arms around her and offer her some warmth, but even that had been sucked from him by these frozen peaks.
Heinrich’s mind was as numb as his body and he didn’t hear the howling at first, but quickly it grew until it filled his ears with a demonic chorus. He’d never heard the feral call in person, but its high-pitch wail had been repeated by many travelers warning of the perils of the Mountains of Mourn. Of all the things to fear while traversing this frozen wasteland, the war-cry of the Yhetee was to be feared the most.
The four Ogres the Chaos Dwarfs had hired to protect the caravan were already forming a perimeter, their giant heads lulling back and forth, scanning the snowy hills with rusty blades. The Chaos Dwarf holding the chains that shackled the slaves, threw them to the ground and drew his blunderbuss. He ran the stout barrel along the drifts beside the path, the moon glistening off his long black beard woven into tight greasy ringlets. The dwarf was half Heinrich’s size, but wore a heavy hat that almost doubled his height. Down the length of the mighty crown were skulls - some decorative, other in various states of decay.
The howls stopped, leaving only the wind and the beating of Heinrich’s heart to gauge the passage of time, then the Yhetees attacked. They burst from the snow like Daemons of frost and ice. Claws slashed out and carved grooves across the Ogres' blades. There were three Yhetee and four Ogres, but instantly Heinrich knew it wasn’t enough. The first Ogre went down in a burst of blood, his head flopping backwards. A second Ogre cried out before vanishing into a swirl of snow.
The Chaos Dwarf’s blunderbuss fired and its muzzle exploded in a rain of gunpowder. There was a cry and a Yhetee collapsed. The Chaos Dwarf sped to reload, but not before another beast emerged from the snow behind him. In its giant claw it held an ax of pure ice, and with a quick swipe, it separated the Chaos Dwarf’s gigantic hat from his shoulders.