DARK SHADOWS
- THE FINAL CHAPTER -
The bloody campaign in Albion reaches a climax
- WD 263 -

'The war for the conquest of Albion A has reached its final hour. Weary and hungry, countless armies have battled desperately against each other and the savage inhabitants of the isle for months on end, struggling through pouring rain and icy winds to gain and maintain a foothold on the mist-shrouded island. The desolate moors and great Ogham stone circles have been soaked with blood, the land tainted by the overwhelming scale of death and misery. Despite this, the forces of light have prevailed, if only barely.

The Dark Emissaries have slunk away into the darkness to lick their wounds, their bid to overthrow the Truthsayers, over for now. Some remain on Albion, hiding within remote mountain caves and deep, fog-shrouded swamps, but many more have fled the isle, seeking a safe haven where they can recoup their strength. Already, they are plotting their revenge, working towards another attempt to secure the Ogham stones, but their power base has been severely damaged, and they are scattered across the lands and isolated.

It is widely rumoured that the Dark Master himself has left Albion, driven forth from his fastness in the Citadel of Lead. Whether this is true remains to be seen, as does the growing fear that his plans have merely been set back rather than totally thwarted.

Still, though the armies of the Truthsayers have proved victorious and held off their dark enemies, these are not days for rejoicing. The number of holy Truthsayers has been severely depleted, many of the noble druids having been lost in brave defence of their homeland. Worse, the Ogham stones have been so defiled and subjected to such intense dark energies and corruption that their powers have been seriously weakened. There is not enough power within the stones for the Truthsayers to re-conjure the protective mists around Albion, and the Truthsayers fear that their homeland will come under constant attack. The magic of the stones may never return to their full strength, and this may prove cataclysmic in times to come.

The defacing of the stone circles might yet prove harmful further afield too, across the seas. Already the building mystical pressure can be felt by the High Elf Mages of Ulthuan. With the Ogham stones of Albion not operating to their full potential, vast waves of raw energy are sweeping from the north, and a great magical strain has been placed on the stones at the heart of Ulthuan which are also used to hold back the amorphous tide that is Chaos. Some say that the Great Gate is opening wider once more and that the boundaries of the Chaos Wastes are creeping further south with every passing day. Perhaps this was the Dark Master's intent all along. Few doubt that another great incursion of Chaos is about to spill upon the world, and some thank the gods that Albion was held against the forces of darkness, otherwise the coming storm of Chaos may have crashed upon the world even sooner and with even greater force.

The cruel Dark Elves pushed into the interior of Albion at an early stage, their experienced raiding parties, guided by many Dark Emissaries, securing strong vantage points on the north western coastline. Mighty Black Dragons of the Witch King Malekith descended through the clouds, striking without warning against their enemies, scattering their foes before them. None, it seemed, could stand against the dark natured folk of Naggaroth, and the kin of Malekith rejoiced in the bloodshed that ravaged the lands. Despite suffering horrendous losses, the Dark Elves fought on and marched further and further inland, pillaging many ancient barrows and tombs and sending the spoils back to Naggaroth. To further bolster their position, several Black Arks have now beached themselves on Albion, providing fortified strongpoints from which the Dark Elves can launch further raids, or retreat to when the enemy comes against them in force.

While the Dark Elves established a growing kingdom, their kin of Ulthuan, the High Elves, tried all they could to hold back the Druchii. By seizing the stone circles, the forces of Malekith threatened to strengthen the magical power of the armies invading Ulthuan, and this could not be allowed. With many of their warriors engaged in the bitter struggle back on their homeland, it was left to the crews of the great Ulthuan fleet to contest the Dark Master and the servants of the Witch King. And this they did valiantly, wresting control of the Ogham stones from their dark kin where possible, harrying their supply columns, and cutting them off from the shores of Naggaroth to leave them isolated and starved in the hostile climate of Albion. Even now the Eagleships and Hawkships of the High Elves patrol the coast, preventing more enemies from landing, and ensuring that the Dark Elves have difficulty sending back the spoils of their victories to the armies fighting on Ulthuan.

Whilst the two Elven kindreds battle each other fiercely, a battle that is far from over, another kingdom is being built Driven by the fiery Lord Ravenbrandt, servants of Emperor Karl Franz have established a strong enclave east of Bol-a-hat. Though their expansion has not been rapid, thwarted by enemy forces and the boggy land itself, troops continue to arrive as news reaches the home shores of the Empire. Known unofficially as Neuland, this enclave is still a fledgling state and it remains to be seen whether its ruler will gain any real political power in Altdorf. Also Ravenbrandt is facing strong opposition from Leopold von Stroheim for control of the growing province, and many think that before Neuland ever receives any official recognition, the two factions will kill each other in civil war.

DARK SHADOWS FINAL RESULTS
FINAL ALBION MAP

Overall, the forces of the Truthsayers have just about prevailed against the Dark Master, grabbing 56% of the victories. However, such a small margin of victory is not enough to completely drive the forces of the Dark Emissaries from the island, helped in part by the fanatical forces of Malekith the Witch King.

The surprise result is the army with the best win percentage. For ages it looked like it would be the Wood Elves, but once everything was counted up, it turns out to be the Dwarfs who claim the bonus prize -the Blade of Shining Death, which can cut through the toughest armour.

Magic items for the winners can be found later in Warhammer Chronicles, and in WD264 I'll be using the Arcane Lore column to talk about further gaming on Albion, as well as publishing rules for including those Dark Emissaries, Truthsayers and Fenbeasts as Dogs of War units.

And that's not all! The machinations of the Dark Master have been set back for now, but will come to fruition sooner or later, and details of this will appear in issues of White Dwarf and Warhammer Armies books in the future. So it ain't all over yet, not by a long way.