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The Legend of the Wendigo

The snow fell silenty on the Kislevite camp, drifiting sideways in a light winter breeze. Despite the lack of wind, the night was bitterly cold and Ivan cursed his luck that it should be his turn to stand watch. He turned to his comrade, Leonard and passed him the pewter flask of vodka. Drinking on watch was forbidden, of course, but the commanding officer was fast asleep and besides, you had to do something to keep out the chill. The liquor was cooled to the point where you could swallow it without fire in the throat, but still get a fire in the belly. He smiled in grateful anticipation as Leonard passed the flask back to him, after taking a swig.

Around them the wind began to howl, a thin, tearing noise full of the hunger of the night. Like the chill lusting after the warmth of human flesh, Ivan thought. Idiots, the rulers of the Empire must be if they thought they could call on Kislevite allies in the depths of winter. Idiots still more, or monsters perhaps must be whatever Kislevite nobles had chosen to heed the call and send out a column of cavalry in this vile weather. At least they should know better. Still, the dispatch had said the need was pressing: a greenskin Waaagh boiling out of the mountains like a tide of putrescent flesh. And at least there was ample firewood and .. and vodka! Ivan smiled and took another swig. He felt a pang in his belly and remembered that there was nothing like drink and the cold to fuel a rare hunger.

The wind screamed around them again and Ivan adjusted his stance, leaning more fully on his lance for support. He turned to pass his flask back to Lenoard and noted how well filled the soldier was. Had he perhaps been puttin on weight with all these winter rations? It'd slow him down but that wasn't much a problem with greenskins. You needed power to cut their tough hides, that was the problem. Tough, unpalatable hides. Ivan rubbed his belly and then his eyes. He felt ... odd. Too much vodka, he decided, and tried to focus on the upcoming battle. He held no fear of orcs and goblins. Indeed, he felt no fear for any of the opponents he'd faced in his career in the army. There was the fear of death, of course, but that was different. There were many ways to die in the Kislev army. If the weapons didn't kill you, the exposure might and perhaps worst of all, you might starve in the cold. A terrible death, to starve out in the freezing wastes, miles from any help. The pang of emptiness stirred fiercely in his belly again and it rumbled loudly. He looked up, to see if Leonard had heard the noise and caught his fellow sentry looking at him with what might have been hunger in his eyes.

Ivan shifted again, bringing his lance point down between himself and Leonard. Well, he was dammned if he was going to starve out in the snow, to be eaten by Leonard for enough provisions to get them back to civilization. Best strike first and then he'd be the one doing the eating. Eating the sweet flesh, raw and dripping ... the two began to circle, feet crunching in the snow, lances levelled at one another, sentry duty forgotten.

The wind shreaked at fever pitch as Leonard suddenly lunged, overextended and toppled into the snow. Ivan poised his lance for the kill, unable to believe his luck when it struck him. The wind, for all it's horrid howling, hadn't increased in speed at all and was still a gentle breeze. The chilling screams were coming from the woods around them, all around them, something calling with the very voice of the icy wind. In a sudden panic he reached down and pulled Leonard to his feet, sensing from the animal fear on the man's face that he'd realised the same thing.

They readied the lances and turned to face the threat just too late. In time, perhaps to see the white figure burst from the treeline and come barreling through the snow toward them. In time to see the ferocious eyes and the long yellow teeth amd claws, flecked with blood. In time to note the animal horns on the creatures brow and the way it had chewed off it's own lips in cannibal hunger. Enough for all that but not so fast to stop it tearing off Leonards face with a claw and sinking it's vile incisors into Ivan's neck. As his lifeblood began spurting out into the things hungry mouth, Ivan was dimly aware of dead figures and fierce wolves falling down onto the tents in a frenzy of terrible hunger. He even saw one or two of his own former comrades, overtaken by the cravings that had crept up on him, biting blindly into the flesh and muscle of their friends and fellows, the humanity in their eyes replaced with something indescribable, something awful. He felt teeth sink into his leg, felt the chunk of his tendon being torn away to fuel the horrid unlife of another being and he screamed. He tried to scream, but he had no throat.

Wendigo stood among the bloodied ruin of the camp and watched his followers feed. He soaked up the human terror that he needed almost as much as the flesh itself. He laught, and his laugh was even more horrible than his face.

Wendigos' Army

In the northern wastes of Kislve waits a terror that few men have seen and even fewer have lived to tell of. A band of undead, fuelled by cannibalistic hunger than stalk the ice and snow, consuming whole villages and lone travellers alike and without mercy. For Wendigo and his band there is no thought, no compassion, there is only hunger. The great human civilization on which they prey is nothing, their achivements are nothing, their rulers and families and feelings are nothing, only their flesh is important. Wendigo takes only flesh and leaves treasure and art and everything else behind.

Wendigo's origins are obscure. There are some who say that the proximity of northern Kislev to the chaos wastes played a part. That, perhaps, the terrible fear of the northern peasants of starving in the snow, of being forced to eat one another to survive, rippled throught the fabric of chaos and gave rise to this terrible monster as a personification of their terror. In the summer, Wendigo stalks only the northernmost reaches of the human lands, and is rarely seen. In the winter, he comes howling down up the towns and cities of the steppe and it seems his yearly incursions are coming closer and closer to the Empire itself.

Wendigo

The wendigo are a small clan of Strigoi vampires that dwell in the frozen north. Their skin is white and ice-blue and some believe they have hearts of ice. Some carry animal characteristics such as horns and hooves. The Wendigo (note caps) is their lord and leader. None of them speak, they just scream with the voice of the wind and laugh their terrible laughs but that doesn't mean they're not intellegent. In fact, they can influence humans on a psychic level. Strigoi are driven by cannibal hunger and little else, and they like to taste the flesh of as many different peoples as possible. All wendigo armies contain at least one of these horrid vampires.

Boris and Mikhael, the Cannibal Conjurors

Boris and Mikhael are the products of an upbringing far too steeped in the obscene wealth of Kislevite overlords. Twin brothers in a noble household the sons proved too weak and feeble to be trained in war as tradition demanded. Starved of love and affection by their disappointed parents, the two were packed off to a boarding school while attention was lavished on their stonger siblings.

However, they did not lack for money away from home and were able to buy anything and everything that money can. Two young men free of parental control with too much to spend is a dangerous thing and soon the two were indulging every whim and lust that overtook them. They acquired a most unsavoury reputation as they grew more and more jaded and perverse.

Eventually the school threw them out and dispatched a message to their parents. The two boys were terrified that they might get found out and their money stopped and so they hired a private tutor from amongst the circle of strange friends they had, one who promised them he could ensure the message never reached it's destination.

Their new tutor soon revealed himself to be a mage of not inconsiderable power and claimed he had used magic to prevent the messanger reaching their parents. Fascinated by this new power the twins threw money at the man to persuade him to teach them this new art. He agreed, but it wasn't long before the jaded twins demanded to see some of the darker aspects of magical power, and began their own research into necromantic lore.

Their parents, meanwhile had grown suspicious due to lack of communiation from the school and, getting no reply from letters to their errants sons, they contacted the school and learned what had happened. Enraged, they cut off the supply of money immediately and demanded the twins come home.

Come home, they did, and deprived of any last reason to honour their familiy, years of parental neglect came home to roost. The twins arrived back at home with a small army of skeletons and ghouls, overpowered the guard and proceeded to slaughter their whole familiy in a night of unspeakable terror. Hungring for a parents love, the two twisted brothers roasted and devoured the corpses of their mother and father, believing in thier madness that it would somehow bring them closer.

No-one commits an act of cannibalism within reach of a Wendigo vampire without ill effect and the two soon found themselves wracked by a terrible need for human flesh. When wendigoes came out of the wilderness and offered them an unlimited supply in exchange for military service, they jumped at the chance.

Boris and Mikhael now walk with the armies of the hungry dead. Besides being powerful necromancers, they also act as a voice in an army where nothing else can speak. Not that they often have much to say, too busy are they stuffing their mouths with their favourite food.

Ghouls

Some humans are very sensitive to the psychic emissions of hunger that Wendigo vampires send out. Others are driven to cannibalism in the freezing winters. Still others acquire a taste for human meat after being bitten by a wendigo or a ghoul. Either way, once the habit has begun, those who are in the proximity, even quite distant, of a Wendigo, will find that the hunger grows inside them like a cancer. Some resist and some are lucky enough to move away from the vampire but most eventually give in an indulge their perverse addiction. They become animal ghouls, in thrall to the vampire that influnced them and join the army to hunt for food to satiate their awful appetites.

Zombies

Zombies raised by the power of a Wendigo are also possesed by a terrible craving for human flesh. They become little more than eating machines, shambling toward the nearest source of fresh meat that they can smell. It seems the intellegent members of Wendigo armies enjoy seeing these mindless things feasting on the corpses of the slain, although in times of want the zombies themselves become food for the vampires and ghouls. Many Wendigo zombies are the animated remains of Kislevite soldiers, and still wear the red-purple-blue livery over rotting torsos.

Winter Wolves

Wolves may come to hunt any prey when they are hunger, the blind need overiding animal caution. Those unfortunate enough to hunt humans may find themselves drawn into the vampire army, to be rewarded with fresh chunks of meat after the battle. Dire wolves in a Wendigo army are undead remnants of the white winter wolves of northern Kislev.

Skeletons

Skeletons tend to be rare in Wendigo armies but they consume nothing and make useful servitors. If the food runs out and all the zombies have been eaten, soldiers or servants can be made out of the boney remains.

Black Knights

Black Knights are the reanimated remains of powerful members of the Kisleve cavalry units, sustained in undeath by a glimmer of thier former personalities. Many of them still wear the livery of winged lancers, the feathers rotted and torn with age. Although they do nothing to indulge the perverse tastes of the Wendigos, Black Knights are sometimes raised by accident after battles with the cavalry-heavy Kislevite armies. They're too powerful and potentially useful to be ignored, and so are tolerated.

Hungry Ghosts

A variety of etheral creatures, especially spirit hosts, have been known to follow Wendgo armies, crying out for blood. Hungry ghosts are the spirits of those who, in Kislevite lore, are denied entry to an afterlife because of greed. The armies of the Wendgos attract these sorry beings like magnets. appear as shvrilled and emaciated and are driven by what could be hundreds of years of hunger and thirst. The hungry ghosts can never drink, but they can hunger. Oh yes.

Bats

There are many, many bats in the forests of Kislev, but there are few indeed in the far north, so the Wendigos tend to acquire these allies on trips southward. Both fell bats and bat swarms are seen in the armies and as both are rare, they tend to be the delight of the armies general. The Wendigo are fascinated by these creatures who are born with the desire for blood in them and treat them with a strange respect.

Grave Guard

Grave guard are not seen in Wendigo armies. There's simply no need for them. They do not feed the Wendigo's appetite for cannibalism as they cannot eat and indivduals powerful enough to be raised as wights tend to end up in cavalry armies in Kislev, and so become black knights.