To the south of the Empire, the lawless Border Princes are wracked by war.
Undead legions sweep north from the Land of the Dead. Orcs, Skaven and Ogres run rampant and spiteful Wood Elves strike from the dark woods.
Against these dark forces stand the Dwarfs of Horn Hold, the Knights of Tempest Falls and the Men of New Sylvania, determined to stand firm; however if the undead can batter their way through the Border Princes then the Empire will be next.
This truly is the Last Chance War.
Of Elves and Dwarfs and of the ancient realm of Nippon
Unwilling to watch the
Elven prince Bel Shanaar revel in his stolen throne, Malekith and his sister Alatariel
set forth by ship to explore the wide world that was left to them in the wake
of the daemon horde's defeat, a journey that would take them away from their
homeland of Ulthuan for over sixteen hundred years.
In the Old World, in
the long shadows of the World's Edge Mountains, the pair met and forged a bond
with the stoic and stunted Dwarfs, a noble race created too by the magic of the
Old Ones. Joining with the Dwarfs, Malekith fought bravely against the ravening
Orcs and the darker tainted creatures of the forests left behind by the
corruptions of the daemons.
A great hero, Malekith
became renowned for his inspiring leadership and brilliant martial prowess.
Soon he was appointed ambassador to the High King of the Dwarfs, Snorri Whitebeard,
on behalf of Bel Shanaar; not allowing the irony of this station to vex him...
And all the while, his
sister, the fair Alatariel, watched and remained quiet, merely learning
everything she could about the peoples and creatures that they met. She was a
student of every aspect of the world's ecology and anthropology, gathering to
herself greater knowledge and perspective perhaps, than any other observer
before or since.
Content with their
explorations of the lands of the Dwarfs, Malekith and Alatariel journeyed farther
afield, into the lands that would one day be known as Tilea and Estalia, to
Araby and then east to the Dark Lands and the Dragon Isles. They crossed the
Mountains of Mourn and journeyed south through the eastern swathes of the great
continent. They travelled to Nippon, most ancient of human civilisations, a paradise
that had remained untouched by the fell fingers of chaos because of the
protection of the Three Eyes of Providence.
Malekith remained for
years there, sharing the knowledge of the combative arts he had learned from
his father. With no natural enemies, the peaceful Nipponese had no use for the
ways of battle but they admired the precision and grace of these
"martial" arts and gladly absorbed them into their culture in
ritualistic form as a means to sharpen the mind and body.
remained in the largest settlement of Utsukushi, Alatariel wandered the
islands, guided by a young boy named Takeda Nagatar. She travelled from the tip
of the great northern island to the foot of the south, bringing fellowship and
happiness with her gifts and kindness. She earned great trust from the simple
folk of the Nipponese and was allowed even to look upon the bright light of one
of the Eyes of Providence, showing her gratitude with a little smile.
Into the land that
would one day be known as Great Cathay went the travellers next, journeying
ever northward into the Eastern Steppes. Here the very land was tainted from
the touch of Chaos but the pair were undeterred. They went on into the
increasingly bitter conditions, determined to witness all this world had to
offer them before their time of exploration was done.
And they came finally
to the dead and abandoned city of Vorshgar, a terrifying place formed of colossal
stone slabs of material seen nowhere else in the world, with steps too tall for
elves or man to climb easily and doorways that towered many hundreds of feet
tall. The catacombs beneath the city plummeted thousands of feet below the
tundra into dismal and unplumbable depths.
In a lower chamber the
pair came across a place for the keeping of precious things; a place of great
cold and darkness. If the history scrolls tell us anything, they speak of the
cursed Circlet of Iron that Malekith found here, a tainted crown that gestated
the seed of evil his birthing had brought into existence; that set him finally
on the path to damnation and to all the devastating acts that he went on to
perpetrate. But no other history but this speaks of the trinket found by his
sister in the same cache, an amber pendant that seemed innocuous on first
Alatariel placed the
pendant round her neck and fell immediately into death.
Flying to her side, Malekith
did everything he could to rouse her, but in vain. Alatariel was fully dead; no
longer any part of the world of living things. The elf lord was more deeply aggrieved
than he had ever been before. For days he knelt by her corpse, weeping for his
lost sibling, but in time, as the Circlet of Iron on his brow worked its
terrible magic, he got to his feet and turned his back on her. He knew it was
time now for him to begin his journey homeward, to return to the land of his
birth and to the origin of his self-imposed exile.
He left Alatariel to
But the beautiful elf
was not dead; merely slumbering in the dark places of the mind; and when sixty
four days had passed her eyes snapped open. They were no longer Elven eyes
however. Now, they glowed darkly, almost black, with no whites visible Now they
gazed upon vistas no mortal creature had ever known.
The she-elf smiled for
she could see all now. She could see almost to the very end of things and she
knew what she had to do; what her dark purpose was at last.
She could see all of
future history stretching away before her and a billion turning points that
might take it in any one of a myriad directions. She could see all possible
futures and she could see the one she wanted with all her heart; the one she
realised now she had the power to bring about.
In her mind's eye she
could picture a broad valley with black mountains to the north and the World's
Edge mountains to the east; with a black gulf of sea reaching in from the west.
She could see badlands to the south and a time when a great Empire that was yet
to exist would think itself safe to the north.
She could see a
seemingly unstoppable force arising from a southern land of the dead that for
now harboured only life and the war that might occur there, in this valley; in
this devil's pathway - a last chance war - to prevent all of civilisation from
falling into ruin.
Alatariel gazed long
into the dark paths of the future and saw how it all would end and she let
herself smile long and broadly.
This was only one of a
billion possible futures whose events were perilously unlikely to occur. Left
to its own flow, the future would never pass through that valley; these events
would never occur. Left to its own flow, the world might truly become a
Alatariel climbed back
to the snow swept surface and started walking away from the great abandoned
city with stark purpose.
That was something she
would have to ensure never happened.
This Last Chance War
would occur if she had to redirect the mighty flow of history herself.