Dwarfs & Elves

A History of... The Dwarfs of Horn Hold & the Elves of Bloodroot Forest

An Unforgiveable Act of War

History is a strange creature, bucking and writhing to escape the grasp of any captor. A story told by one race or people might take a very different course if told by another; and this tale is no different, for it deals with events perhaps best forgotten. Herein, learn of the shame and disgrace of two races that were once good friends; learn of exile and vengeance and trickery; of selfishness, evil and justice. Learn the true story that has never before been told.
Millennia ago, the Dwarfs of the Old World and the Elves of the island of Ulthuan were close friends. A healthy amount of trading took place between the two peoples and together they stood against the dark races who threatened civilisation: the Orcs, the Goblins, the Ogres, the Beastmen.
But there was a darkness within the Elven race that looked on this friendship with bitterness and jealousy. The Dark Elves could not abide such peace and prosperity and they recognised the greater strength opposing them in this grand alliance. They conceived of a plan to weaken the unity between the two races; but even they had little idea how terribly well this plan would work.
Disguised as High Elves, the Druchii ambushed a Dwarf trading caravan and slaughtered every Dwarf present. They despoiled the goods and desecrated the bodies, leaving no doubt through their trickery that High Elves were to blame.
When word of this deed reached the Dwarfen High King Gotrek Starbreaker he found that he could not believe the horror and betrayal of this attack. Surely the gentle Elves were not capable of this viciousness, but on the other hand, their cool and superior nature could have been hiding hostility all along. Gathering his two closest confidents to him, his son Snorri Halfhand and nephew Morgrim, the three of them discussed what action they could take. This action could not go unanswered but an all out war between the races was unthinkable. The devastation this would cause might cripple both nations for all time.
It was agreed that emissaries must travel to Ulthuan to confront the Elven court and seek answers to clear up what surely had to be a misunderstanding. Due to the critical nature of this task, Morgrim volunteered to lead the ambassadors. He and five of his companions set off, taking weeks to travel to Ulthuan, and requested audience in the royal court.
Elven records show that High King Caledor had a son and heir named Imladrik but there was another son that the histories do not speak of; a first son; the original heir to the high throne. There is no mention in any Elven history of his name and for this there is good reason.
The Elven High King and his second son were away but the first son, Maglor Telemnar, welcomed the Dwarf ambassadors. Stepping forward, Morgrim requested an explanation for this vicious attack on his people, sure there had to be some kind of logical explanation, and demanded recompense if the caravan attack was truly their handiwork. This was a crucial moment, with both great nations teetering on the brink of ultimate disaster.
However Telemnar was haughty and arrogant. He dismissed the Dwarfs allegations, insulted that they should be raised at all. Even then, disaster might have been avoided, but Telemnar ordered the Dwarfen ambassadors caught and held and he demanded that their beards be shaved. He himself cleanly shaved the beard of Morgrim, ignoring the Dwarf’s bunched and straining muscles fighting to be free.
Morgrim and the other ambassadors were expelled with great force from the Elven court and returned home in shame: beardless. A Dwarf’s beard is his most important possession. The removal of it was a greater insult than could be borne. When the Dwarf High King Gotrek Starbreaker heard about this unforgiveable act he ordered the immediate mobilisation of all Dwarfen forces throughout the Old World. The Elves would pay for this effrontery.
The War of Vengeance had begun!

Morgrim could not face his compatriots now that his beard had been shaven off. Such was his shame that he felt that he could no longer remain with his people at all. Beardless, he placed himself into exile and set off into the East beyond the World’s Edge Mountains into the Dark Lands, perhaps never to be seen again.
The Dwarfen armies made first contact with the Elves and the war began. Both races were great warriors at the peak of their civilizations. The devastation was immediate and unparalleled. Both Dwarfs and Elves had access to greater power than they have ever since possessed and casualties mounted quickly as they slew one another.
Witnessing the growing loss of Elven life, High King Caledor was horrified. He demanded to know what had led to this hideous course of events and when he found out that his first son Telemnar was responsible his heart chilled. Long had Caledor watched the haughty indifference and callous cruelty of his firstborn and feared for his future. Long had he hoped that the twisted darkness in his son’s heart might turn to kindness and love for his fellow creatures, but he knew now that Telemnar’s heart would never open itself to the path of goodness; never become worthy of the crown.
Caledor confronted his son and demanded that he leave Ulthuan. The young prince was no longer the heir to the throne and no longer welcome in any Elven dwelling. He could take his loyal friends with him if he wished, and if they would go with him, but he was to leave immediately.
Telemnar was furious. He had acted correctly. Any bloodshed could be blamed only on the Dwarfs. He condemned his father’s weakness and fear and vowed that he would rise higher in glory than Caledor or any other living Elf. Then he marched from the throne room, gathered his compatriots, and sailed from Ulthuan towards the Old World.

Bitter News Travels Far

The War of Vengeance cared nothing for the departure of the two individuals that had set it in motion. The Elven and Dwarf nations fought on, battle after battle leading to carnage undreamt of; and soon the days turned into years and then decades.
High King Caledor did not remain in Ulthuan, directing his forces from a distance. He led his armies into the Old World personally, cleaving Dwarfen limbs from stout Dwarfen torsos until he came face to face at last with Snorri Halfhand, son of Gotrek Starbreaker.
Snorri was one of the bitterest of Dwarfs. He had seen the stubble of his cousin’s shaven face first hand and still remembered the horror of that moment; the utter disbelief that such a terrible act could occur. He led his army hard against the Elves, pushing his personal guard toward the part of the battlefield where Caledor fought. The Elf did not see him approach but Snorri bellowed his name, calling for single combat.
Caledor stopped fighting. All Elves and Dwarfs within earshot lowered their weapons to witness this challenge, parting the way between the two combatants. Quickly the entire battlefield became still as Dwarf and Elf stood silent, looking toward the centre and these two great heroes of their races.
Caledor drew his sword, Snorri his axe, and both leapt into battle. But Snorri Halfhand, though great a warrior, was no match for the High King of the Elves. The battle lasted long but at the height of it, Snorri’s heart was run through by the Elven sword. He fell to his knees, whispered something unheard, then collapsed onto his face.
In minutes, shattered by the witnessing of this terrible loss, the Dwarfs were swept back by the forces of the Elves.
News of Snorri’s death spread far, through every Dwarfen army; through traders and settlers, covering thousands of miles; such was the blow that shook the psyche of the stunted ones. And the news reached the ears of someone lost but not forgotten. Far, far away, beyond the Black Mountains, a lone travelling Dwarf, his beard grown thick once more, heard tale of the death from a vagabond… and his eyes narrowed.
Morgrim had loved his cousin and he hated the Elves with such bitter rage that he could remain in exile no more. He still carried his axes. He took them up in his hand now and he vowed… He vowed that on behalf of Snorri Halfhand and all the Dwarfs who had died thus far, he would fight for vengeance!

Morgrim made his way back to Karaz-a-Karak and presented himself to the Dwarf High King, Gotrek Starbreaker. Gotrek was delighted to see his nephew. He had long thought of him as a son and the loss of his blood-son had damaged his heart. Morgrim pledged then and there that Caledor would suffer the same loss that Gotrek had.
Morgrim had already heard tell of where the Elf king’s son was stationed on his travels home – Oreagor – and he suggested that a little poetic justice was in order. He gathered an army about him; a mighty throng of valiant rage-fuelled warriors; and marched to war.
As the Dwarfs approached Oreagor, the Elves, fearful of direct conflict under the full fury of Morgrim’s wrath, tried to remain clear of their slow-moving nemeses. But the shortness of leg the Dwarfs had mattered not. Their stoutness and determination; their relentlessness; took them ever closer to the desperately maneuvering Elves. After a full two days, the Dwarfs caught up with the tiring fey and both sides opened fire with a devastating firestorm of weapons fire. Bullets, cannonballs, quarrels and arrows became dense as fog, darkening the air between the two armies, the Dwarfs determined to prove that they could weather any missile fire the Elves could muster. And they were right. The Elves realized that they could not outlast the Dwarfs in this kind of battle. Their only choice was to close into the reach of their swords and hope to bring down their enemies in hand to hand combat. This was exactly what the Dwarfs wanted. After almost three days of avoidance, the stunted ones drew their axes at last and took to battle more viciously and bloodthirstily than the world had ever seen before.
Morgrim slew elf after elf with his two mighty axes. In the wastes beyond the black mountains, during his long travels, he had found and tamed a mighty bear that he had named Thurvar, the exiled hunter. Morgrim rode Thurvar’s back, his axes slashing left and right at the Elves all around him, the great bear tearing at them with its teeth and claws; pulverizing them beneath its stomping feet. He worked his way further and further toward the centre of the Elven war host, leaving the rest of the Dwarves far behind, battling their fey enemies. At the very heart of the Elven army he saw Imladrik, Prince of Ulthuan, son of the High King, Caledor. Morgrim bellowed his name, climbing up to stand on Thurvar’s broad back; then he leapt, throwing himself forward over the bear’s head.
Imladrik froze in terror. He offered no resistance at all; such was his fear before Morgrim’s righteous Dwarfen vengeance. Calling the name of his cousin, Snorri Halfhand, Morgrim swung down with his both axes, the blades joining to become one, and he sliced the Elven prince in twain, routing the entire Elven host with that single blow as panic spread like quickrot throughout their ranks.
As Thurvar came behind him, Morgrim gripped the black fur of his huge companion and climbed back astride him, raising his axes and roaring in triumph. Around and behind him, stretching back as far as eyes could see, the other Dwarfs roared with him.
They had captured victory. They had taken the Elf King’s son, just as the Elves had murdered their own prince. And from that day, forever more, Morgrim had earned a new title by right of might; by right of victory. To the Elves, in their own tongue he became a symbol of fear known as Eldigum.
But the Dwarfs just called him Elfdoom.

Slaughter at Thurinmir
Maglor Telemnar, the callous instigator of all this bloodshed was not to be found anywhere close to the conflict. In his mind, the thousands of casualties were nothing to do with him. He cared nothing for dying Dwarfs of course, but even the Elven dead he subscribed to nothing more than poor strategy from the fey commanders. If they were killed it was their own fault. He slept still and untroubled at nightfall.
But living within Ethil Arvan; the Old World; was becoming increasingly dangerous for an Elf. Wherever the Dwarfs marched, fire and axe came with them and Telemnar was determined to avoid all conflict if possible… although he kept such thoughts tight within his own mind. To his army of cronies he was a great hero; a great warrior; and indeed; his martial prowess was formidable; but he had no desire to fight what he saw as a losing war.
For a long time, he and his army had dwelled close to the edge of the mystical forest of Athel Loren. It was a dark and terrible place, filled with capricious forest spirits that were hostile to all intruders whether they were Elves or men. Even time there was mercurial. Minutes inside its borders could last weeks or vice versa: Elves might spend months within, battling for freedom against the dryads and sprites before emerging bloodied and worn to find only moments had passed for those they left behind. Some paths led into a darkness that went on forever. Those that passed down them never ever returned. But something of an equilibrium had been reached, with the Elves dwelling only at the very fringes of the forest.
As Telemnar rode his graceful Elven steed through the foothills of the Grey Mountains, on the eastern border of Athel Loren, scouts brought word to him that a huge Dwarfen war host was travelling west and was in danger of catching them. Telemnar had long restricted the accumulation of knowledge within his camp. He alone knew that the Elven camp of Thurinmir, the secret jewel, would lie within the path of the Dwarfen host if his forces were to withdraw, and that gave him pause.
Thurinmir was  a sanctuary for the female and child Elves belonging to the warriors who fought the Dwarves. In all of Ethil Arvan, it was a place of hope for the future, protected more by its secrecy than by its defences. Telemnar knew however, that what defences it had would not be enough. Thurinmir was as good as lost if his army did not remain to protect it. But he also knew the scale of the Dwarfen war host and he knew the peril of it. Were he to stay then thousands of children might escape but he and all his warriors would surely fall.
It was not an evil decision, merely a logical one for such a cold and indifferent mind. His life, quite simply, as the one true heir of all the Elven lands, was more important than any other life. He had to survive. With a gentle smile he lopped the head from the one scout who knew of the Dwarf’s approach and rode back to his waiting troops. He ordered them to mobilize, and not knowing what they did, the Elves moved out of the path of the vengeance-fuelled Dwarfs, leaving the path open and unopposed all the way to Thurinmir.
The Dwarfen host descended on Thurinmir with the white eyes of crazed hatred, Morgrim on his great bear at its head. Their loss and anger overwhelmed them so that they knew not what they did. What defences the sanctuary had were defeated in minutes and the Dwarfs entered the walls of the holding and hacked and slashed and burned and razed until no single Elven life was left. The slaughter took five hours and when it was done and the flames took hold of every elegant dwelling, the Dwarfs looked around them and saw what they had done. The rage left them. They fell to their knees and they wept. This was what the War of Vengeance had led to – the slaughter of innocent babes.
But that hardened their hearts all the more. If not for the betrayal of the Elves then they would not have been driven to this level of depravity. All in the end could be laid at the feet of the Elves. Without words it was agreed that no Dwarf would ever speak of this day. Its darkness would never be recorded in the histories of their megalithic race. But they would remember and they would know what they were capable of. The Dwarfs were an honourable and a doughty people but they could be like a holocaust to their enemies if pushed hard enough.
So let their enemies beware. There was nothing now to hold them back.
And far enough away to be unnoticed, but near enough to see from a lofty crag where his steed stomped the dirt under its hooves, the Elf Telemnar witnessed what the Dwarfs had done and knew no regret for his part in their actions. His heart was glad.
He, after all, had survived. And that was all that mattered.

The Siege of Tor Alessi
The war raged on. Thousands and thousands of these proud ancient peoples were killed in battle that might otherwise have been friends and traders. The battles ransacked the lands of the Old World from the World’s Edge Mountains to the Great Ocean. Towns and cities were destroyed; ancient and beautiful citadels shattered.
And then the full mass of the dwindling Dwarf host came to Tor Alessi – the city on the coast that in later days would become known as L’Anguille in Bretonnia. Tor Alessi had long withstood the attacks of the Dwarfs but this time they would not back down. High King Gotrek Starbreaker recognized that the war could not go on forever. Unless victory was achieved soon they would risk losing everything themselves.
Grudge Throwers sent hundreds of stone blocks bound in iron over the high walls into the city, pulverizing the beautiful architecture. They breached the walls and surged into the citadel, Gotrek and Morgrim at the fore. Once again, Morgrim Elfdoom rode upon the back of his great bear Thurvar (in fact the descendant of the original bear), wielding his two mighty axes, the blade of the greater one as tall as he. Gotrek demanded the right to take personal retribution on his counterpart, High King Caledor of the Elves, and while Morgrim and his host took on the glittering ranks of the Elven army, Gotrek found and fought with Caledor.
The battle went on for hours. It stretched past daylight and into night and in the end, Caledor had not the fortitude to keep up with his stout Dwarfen enemy. Whether too his resolve failed him as he saw for a moment an old friend where now stood an arch enemy can never be known. Caledor lowered his sword and Gotrek Starbreaker smashed him into the ground with a single blow from his hammer.
And in that moment the War of Vengeance was all but extinguished.
The remaining Elves were cut down or fled to sea. The Dwarfs withdrew with their prize: the crown of King Caledor. They returned with it to Karaz-a-Karak and placed it in their treasure horde where it remains to this day, despite all pleas from the Elves for its return.
The Elven people demanded that the war continue, that their honour be restored; but the new High King of the Elves, Caradryel, knew that the war was no longer tenable; and worse; the long plans of the Dark Elves were now ready for fruition. With the Elven armies devastated, Malekith, the Witch King of Naggaroth, was preparing to wipe them from the face of the world. He launched a grand assault on the Elven island of Ulthuan, intent on extinguishing every living Elf.
But that is a tale for another time.

Warriors Without a War
Not all of the Elves agreed to leave the Old World. Those that dwelt close to Athel Loren no longer felt connected to the land of their forefathers. They took the name Asrai for themselves and forever split themselves from the High Elves of Ulthuan.
Maglor Telemnar and his army were among them.
But the Dwarfs saw the Elven departure as a false victory. They had wanted to utterly obliterate their enemies, such was their all-consuming rage in the face of the vicious shaving the Dwarf ambassadors had received on that long ago day. Though tens of thousands of Dwarfs and Elves had been slaughtered; though both ancient civilizations lay in ruins, terminally weakened for the rest of time, leaving them in perilous danger from the monstrous races… still rage consumed the hearts of the Dwarfs at the effrontery of the loss of those beards.
And Morgrim Elfdoom, of all of the stunted ones, nurtured his hatred above all things.
Morgrim called to the Dwarfs of Karaz-a-Karak, demanding that they follow him one final time to battle. They had given themselves a mission almost five hundred years earlier, to exterminate every Elf who dared to enter their country. The Asrai were daring them to come and deliver one final act of vengeance. With a great throng behind him, Morgrim led the Dwarfs to war once again.
The Elves of Athel Loren had long avoided the War of Vengeance as best they could, preferring instead to live a peaceful life on the edge of the woods, but when the Dwarfs descended from the Grey Mountains, hacking and burning at the trees, the mystical forest opened up pathways that thrust the Dwarfs hard into the Elven camps. Forced to fight, the Elves confounded the Dwarfen attack. Under the orders of Telemnar, they slipped through the foliage easily where the stunted limbs of the Dwarfs struggled to move, firing unending volleys of arrows at their trapped and hemmed-in enemies.
Furious, Morgrim rallied his troops and pushed on, but still the Elves continued to withdraw and snipe, withdraw and snipe. Not a single Elf life was lost but the Dwarf forces were being fast whittled down. Morgrim’s thanes called to him to withdraw but he was determined. He refused to back down.
Then through a gap in the trees, Morgrim caught a glimpse of Maglor Telemnar, the very Elf who had shaved his beard, the instigator of the entire War of Vengeance. What terrible emotions ran through his heart in those moments can never be known but his body, spirit and resolve became hard as mithril.
Morgrim ordered his compatriots to withdraw. There was no use in their losing their lives in this impossible running battle. He bade them return to Karaz-a-Karak without him. Then he climbed up onto the shoulders of the great bear, Thurvar, and unsheathed his mighty axes. If this was to be the final battle of the War of Vengeance then he would never give up; never surrender or flee. He would deliver vengeance as it was intended, to the one enemy who started it all; Dwarf versus Elf, until one or both lay dead.
The Dwarfen army withdrew and Morgrim charged through the foliage in search of the Elf, Telemnar. The Wood Elves continued to fall back and encircle him but he did not care. Arrows couldn’t stop him. Nothing could. He felled trees on the Elves. He charged through the woods fast enough to catch some and crush others; and always he searched for Telemnar, calling his name, demanding he step forward to face his nemesis.
But Telemnar was wily and he was afraid. He knew he could not best Morgrim in battle with simple brawn. Only his cunning could save him now. And his knowledge of the dark forest of Athel Loren.
Allowing Morgrim to catch glimpse after glimpse of him, Telemnar lured the Dwarf deeper and deeper into the woods; almost as deep as the Elf had ever dared explore. He was forced to lure the Dwarf along paths that led too close to other Elves, allowing his pursuer the chance to slay them all, but that didn’t matter; as long as Telemnar survived.
Then finally he had Morgrim exactly where he wanted him and Telemnar allowed the Dwarf one final glimpse between the trees before he slipped well away into the darkness. Roaring in rage and retribution, Morgrim spurred the great bear and the two of them charged down the path that Telemnar had appeared to use, but the Dwarf never realized his peril.
For the path the bear charged down was one of the dark twisted paths that led not just through the forest but through time as well. In seconds he was gone, swallowed up in the foliage, never to be seen again on a path that might take hundreds or thousands of years to reach its end.
Morgrim was lost in time and Telemnar finally had everything he wanted. He had earned the undying respect of the Elves and the Asrai had won the grudging respect of the forest for protecting it from the Dwarfs. Telemnar was once again a lord among the Elven folk and his arch enemy was gone forever.
The War of Vengeance was over.

 The Time of Woe
With most of the Elves driven out of the Old World, the Dwarfs should have taken rightful ownership of all the lands from the World’s Edge Mountains to the sea, but fate was not so kind.
With no sign as to the cause, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions broke out throughout the World’s Edge Mountains, crushing dozens of Dwarfen holds and blocking off the wide subterranean pathways that ran between them. Thousands upon thousands of Dwarfs were slain, pulverized or dragged down screaming into the dark earth or into the rising rivers of flame. Already weakened by the war, the Dwarfen realm was shattered.
And worse was to come.
Sensing weakness, the Orcs and Goblins, the Chaos warbands and insidious daemons, the Skaven and other nefarious creatures, closed in and launched attack after attack on the floundering holds. One hold after another fell to the invaders, despite the valiant efforts of the stout Dwarfen warriors. There was no preventing it.
A thousand years of battle passed as the Dwarfs fought a steadily losing war. An equilibrium was reached of a sorts, but each decade that passed saw greater losses and less hope that the great Dwarf nation would ever recover.
The great days before the War of Vengeance were all but forgotten now. The High King Gotrek Starbreaker was long dead, along with all the great heroes of that time, and Morgrim… great Morgrim, the Eldigum, the Elfdoom, was lost forever. Other heroes rose and fell but none shared the greatness of those former times. Perhaps things might otherwise have been different.

Karak Hirn
Far to the south, in the Black Mountains, overlooking the vast valley of the Border Princes to the south, stood the Dwarfen hold of Karak Hirn, or Horn Hold. It was nowhere near as mighty and daunting as one of the greater holds but it was great in its own way, providing a protective bosom for the lesser holds along that stretch of mountains.
Here, the descendants of Morgrim Elfdoom had settled and their proud determination helped them weather the constant attacks from Goblins and Orcs. The memory of Morgrim was honored there above all things and every Dwarf within the hold strived to live by his ideals.
Horn Hold was named for the mighty caverns interlacing the mountain that trapped and funneled the mountain winds blowing through it. These winds made a deep horn-like note that reverberated across the mountains. By hollowing out further chambers and opening and closing huge portals the Dwarfs were able to change the tone and volume of the horn and use it to summon aid or frighten away attackers.
On the southern border of the Border Princes, at the point where the sea called the Black Gulf finished stretching its long finger inland and joined with the Blood River, was another Dwarf Hold named Barak Varr, the Sea Gate. Here Dwarfs took to the sea in gigantic steam powered ships and traded with distant ports.
But the Border Princes were a dangerous place and contact between the holds was limited.
These were dark times. But darker were to come.

The Lord of Skulls
Hundreds of years passed and during these years many battles were fought, both by the Dwarfs and by the Elves of the wood. The Orcs and Goblins were a constant threat, as they are to all races, but the Beastmen were an omnipresent danger as well, especially for the Elves.
Led by the Lord of Skulls, Morghur – known to the Elves as Cyanthair – hordes of Beastmen trampled into Athel Loren, intent on wiping out all signs of civilization and taking the mystical forest for themselves. The history of the Wood Elves tells of three great wars against the cloven ones, but there was a fourth war they do not speak of; a war they choose not to remember.
The Lord of Skulls led his herds into Athel Loren, burning and chopping: overwhelming numbers of insane roaring and barking warriors. The Elves fought back, but though they now had the full support of the forest spirits, they could not achieve victory.
However Maglor Telemnar had a plan that was ruthless in its ingenuity.
Without fully sharing his schemes with the other Elven lords, Telemnar prepared for the demise of the Beastmen. He sent scouts into the woods to lure the Beastmen army in the direction he wanted. Many of these were killed but that did not concern him. Only the plan’s success mattered.
When the Beastmen reached the point he wanted, he sent in a vast army of Wood Elves to engage them. Although it was a great army of Elven warriors, the vast horde of beasts was greater and threatened to wipe the out. But that too did not concern Maglor Telemnar. The elves were there only to hold the Beastmen in place long enough for his plan to work.
In the years prior, Telemnar had gathered together a coven of sorcerers to aid him, great magic users with incredible power. While the Elves and Beastmen fought their terrible battle, Telemnar bade his seers to enact their ritual.
Suddenly the ground cracked, buckled and yawned beneath the raging battle. Beastmen and Elves alike were thrown into the air screaming before they crashed down to earth again. There was a moment of silence and then the ground beneath them all gave way, tumbling the entire Beastmen horde into the underground fires, and all the elves along with them.
Maglor Telemnar was victorious – the Beastmen attack had been completely wiped out – but the Elven council was horrified by the means the Elf lord had taken to achieve it. Fully half of the nation of Ethil Arvan had been obliterated in fire to make Telemnar’s plan work and they deemed the sacrifice too great.
Telemnar, for his part, saw them as weaklings and fools. Any sacrifice was worth victory to his mind, as long as it wasn’t his. But the council was adamant. Telemnar was no longer welcome in Athel Loren. His actions were abhorrent. They decreed that his deeds, and even his existence, would be struck from the history of their fair realm. Nevermore would his name be spoken. Even the war itself would disappear from memory.
In a rage, Telemnar cursed them and once again entered exile. He took with him his coven of sorcerers and those kindreds that remained loyal, and set out into the night.

In Bloodroot Forest
Telemnar and his band of loyal warriors travelled in exile for one hundred years. They passed through many realms and experienced great hardship and woe.
But at long last they found sanctuary: an extensive forest that they could possess within the shadows of the Black Mountains, smothering the northern edge of the Border Princes and lying close to Karak Hirn. It was a dark wood with sinister trees of close clutching branches, in its way, the antithesis of beautiful Athel Loren.
Telemnar’s Elves made the forest their home, building grand halls in the trees – a place that they named Linwe – and entreating the spirits who had dwelled there since the dawn of time to join their forces into one unified whole. However the forest spirits here were very different from those they had left behind. In Athel Loren the creatures were callous and cruel at times but here they possessed a far darker personality of cunning and manipulative evil… almost as though they had been wholly corrupted in ancient times by dark whispers and darker caresses.
The Dryads and sprites and all other spirits worshipped a primordial artery of power within the woods that they called the Blood Root, a vein of power stretching up to the surface from far beneath the ground.
Many of the Elves were repulsed by this horror but Telemnar smiled. Never before had he felt at home as he did now under the lowering and clutching canopy of trees. This place had waited long millennia for him; and now he had come at last to rule it.
The Blood Root spoke to Telemnar in a cruel whisper, stroking his ego and his need for power and it called for sacrifice. Telemnar gladly granted its request.
And so the Elves of Bloodroot Forest came into being, spiriting children and animals away from the farmsteads of the Border Princes or from the Dwarf holds of the mountains when they could do it without being seen. These captives were taken to the very centre of the forest where a clearing lay. Within that clearing, the ground was stained black with blood, and there Telemnar and his coven of sorcerers sacrificed the innocents to the Blood Root such that they might prosper and grow in power.
And prosper they did. As the years stretched on, the Elves of Bloodroot Forest flourished in Linwe and grew strong and evermore spiteful. They plotted and planned and they grew all the more abandoned in their behavior. Telemnar himself gained strength and undying fortitude.
From time to time the human tribes in the Border Princes entreated them for aid against the ravening Orcs and Goblins, the Skaven and the Ogres, but the Elves refused. Only their race mattered. All others could die and rot; they simply did not care.
Ages passed and Linwe and Horn Hold both walked through periods of strife and periods of quiet calm. Horn Hold became the most powerful Dwarfen fortress in the Black Mountains and the lands of men prospered in the north, the Empire of mankind growing in strength and battling against its enemies. The Border Princes was a lawless and deadly environment though and it remained so: ransacked by freely moving bands of Orcs, Chaos Marauders, Beastmen, Ogres and Goblins. Both the Dwarfs of Karak Hirn and the Elves of Linwe did not intercede in these matters. They defended their own holdings and attacked pre-emptively against future threats but they did not provide aid to the human settlers on those barren and dangerous lands.
To Cleanse the Evil
Both the Elves of Bloodroot Forest and the Dwarfs of Horn Hold knew of one another, but they eschewed contact. The War of Vengeance was four thousand years in the past by now, and though there was great mistrust between the races there was no open conflict.
But times change; and as the years grew closer to our present day the Dwarfs became aware of bands of heroic Bretonnian knights who had chosen to strike out against the dangerous inhabitants of the woods and hills and rain-lashed open plains.  The knights had been diverted from a great quest and sought to destroy every vile inhabitant of the great valley.
In this time, the lord of Horn Hold was named Durak Grund, the Indomitable Hammer, a great warrior who was carried into battle always by mighty shield bearers. On his head he wore a helm decorated with magnificent wings and in his hands he wielded his powerful rune-inscribed axe, Skrund, the hewer of rock. Although he was an undefeatable warrior, Durak was more open to diplomacy than the average dwarf. He had not forgotten the grudges of his great forefather, Morgrim, but he had worked hard to develop trade with the mankind.
When the Bretonnian knights founded a city to the east of the Devil’s Pathway and called it Tempest Falls, Durak Grund sent envoys to speak with their leader, Gerard d’Astatic, to request an audience. A pact was formed between the two mighty champions of mutual assistance and the Dwarfs of Horn Hold dedicated themselves to helping the knights on their quest to rid the Border Princes of the taint of evil. The Dwarf hold of Barak Varr to the south, on the very tip of the Black Gulf joined in this endeavour too, fighting upwards into the Goblin-infested hills and across the plains.
This alliance lasted for hundreds of years and the Dwarfs of Horn Hold were instrumental in the construction of the mighty fortress of Tempest Falls. However though they battled hard against the evil denizens of the Border Princes, success was all but impossible. Both allies simply did not have the strength of numbers to clear what amounted to almost two hundred and seventy thousand square miles. Still, they fought on, and as the years progressed they made great inroads, shattering many of the Orc tribes whose power had seemed impossible to diminish. In the time of GrĂ©goire d’Astatic, hope sparked in the hearts of the Tempestrians and the Dwarfs that perhaps victory would one day be achieved.
But it was not meant to be.
One dark night, a thick mist sprung up around the grand plateau of Tempest Falls and when it finally cleared, the plateau, the city and all its knights were gone. Durak Grund himself travelled to the site to witness this horror but all that remained of this place of virtue was a deep crevasse.
This was a terrible blow to the war against the dark creatures. Without the aid of Tempest Falls, the Dwarfs knew they could not stand against the forces of evil. Reluctantly, Durak Grund gave the order that the fight be abandoned. Horn Hold closed its doors to the south and Barak Varr closed its doors to the north… and the evil within the Border Princes began to flourish once more.

Poised to Strike
Deep within the Bloodroot Forest, in Linwe, Maglor Telemnar watched these events with satisfaction and scorn. He had long desired to expand his holdings throughout the Border Princes; to build an Elven nation worthy of his majesty and now, after many centuries, his people had grown strong. The Elven population had thrived in the baleful woods and the power of the forest spirits had continued to grow with the dark sacrifices. Telemnar had stayed his hand while the Tempestrians and the stunted ones had wasted time on their foolish crusade, but now that this ridiculous attempt to quell the darkness was over, he could make his move.
What the Dwarfs and humans did not understand; what Telemnar now understood better than all others, was that there was no defeating the darkness. To win, one had to join the darkness and become it; to relish the taking of life and the destruction of happiness. And above all other Elven folk, he was capable of that.
He mobilised his forces, and oh so quietly, started to expand his realms, taking first a greater portion of Bloodroot Forest than they ever had before and then slowly reaching for land beyond its borders.

Pathway's End

Hundreds of miles to the north within the mystical forest of Athel Loren lay a shadowy path. All was still on that path and had remained so for long ages, for the Wood Elves shunned it. Like many of the paths in Athel Loren, it was enchanted with strange curses, a place where time flowed differently from elsewhere beyond the borders of the trees.
But suddenly the path was no longer still or quiet, for shimmering in sparkling darkness and heralded by thundering footfalls, a mighty bear emerged into the sunlight, and on his broad back rode the mightiest of Dwarfs, lost for eons… the Eldigum; the Elf Doom: Morgrim.
Only moments had passed for him since Maglor Telemnar had tricked him down this treacherous path but in the Old World close to three thousand years had gone by. And Morgrim knew this. Trapped in the chasm between ages he knew now only two things: that Telemnar had tricked him and trapped him, and that Telemnar yet existed.
Morgrim roared in rage and charged through Athel Loren. The Elves there were startled to find such a powerful Dwarf Lord so deep within their glades and tried simply to avoid him, but Morgrim Elfdoom tore through them, slaughtering every fey creature he found, demanding from each the location of his arch nemesis.
However the Elves had struck Telemnar from their histories for his crimes and no Elf that Morgrim could find knew where he could be. Two hundred and seventy seven Elves died under his axe or Thurvar’s claws before he found an Elf old enough to know of Telemnar and where he had gone. Even then there were only rumours that led to other rumours.
But Morgrim was adamant that he would not give up his grudge.  Telemnar was responsible for all the suffering of the War of Vengeance, lives uncounted lost in bitter quagmires of battle; and more, he had shaved Morgrim’s beard. He and all his followers had to pay with their lives under the most punishing and grueling torture for that alone.
Morgrim rode Thurvar out of Athel Loren, striking down every Elf that dared to approach him and climbed into the Grey Mountains. For months he searched for further clues to Telemnar’s current dwelling place, questioning or torturing all who might lead him closer to his quarry. On his travels he heard many tales, trying to eke out the information he needed, but none interested him, not even the tales of the miraculous return of Tempest Falls, the city on the pillar of rock in the eastern Border Princes. Nothing mattered to him but his vengeance.
But in the Border Princes, events were unraveling that would have a profound effect on Morgrim’s destiny. He did not know how perilous his path was or wheretofore it led.
With Tempest Falls’ return, the Tempestrians immediately renewed their battles against the evil lurking in the woods, hills and mountains, sending envoys to Karak Hirn to renew their alliance. Durak Grund, the Dwarf Lord was reluctant to get involved again. Horn Hold had been attacked numerous times in recent years and the possibility of a crippling blow was all too likely. He hesitated before responding.
But hesitated perhaps too long.

Quest for a War
Morgrim travelled to Karaz-a-Karak in the World’s Edge Mountains, the most prominent Dwarf hold in the Old World. There he demanded an audience with the current High King, Thorgrim Grudgebearer. For a moment, the mighty Grudgebearer was skeptical that this was truly the original Elfdoom that had returned but he quickly came to understand that it was when he witnessed the intensity in his visitor’s eyes when he spoke of the loss of his beard.
Morgrim demanded that Thorgrim turn over command of his legion of warriors so that the ancient Dwarf could renew the War of Vengenace once more and seek bloody retribution on the Elves and on Maglor Telemnar most of all. But Thorgrim refused. Now was not the time for such action, he said, and the war against the Elves was long forgotten. No more were the Dwarfs prepared to go to war against this ancient enemy and they did not have the strength for it.
Morgrim was not satisfied. He demanded at least that an army be raised to seek out and destroy Telemnar and his evil folk but Thorgrim refused, clearly beginning to lose his patience.
Morgrim was enraged. He declared Thorgrim a coward, perhaps the worst of insults to be leveled against so great a king. Thorgrim bristled with fury but even he hesitated before taking the Elfdoom to battle. And Morgrim’s renown bred forgiveness in the old Dwarf. He could not hate what he understood all too well.
Thorgrim laughed and clapped his hand on Morgrim’s shoulder but Morgrim glared at Thorgrim for several moments, then quivering with rage, struck him hard in the face with his fist, knocking the Dwarf High King to the ground. Then he strode from the chamber.
Thorgrim flayed his way through the World’s Edge Mountains, searching for clues of Telemnar’s location but could find nothing. Despondent and weary, he finally decided to seek out the descendents of his blood. He needed family round him now and then, after a period of rest he would search once more.

The Last Chance War
As Morgrim made his way along the ridge of the Black Mountains toward Horn Hold and as Maglor Telemnar sent his warriors out to capture ground and slaughter innocents, other forces were moving that would tell heavily on both of them.
From the Lands of the Dead, a mighty army was moving north, intent on sweeping into the Empire and destroying all mankind: the Undead Nation, ruled over by Nagash, the most powerful necromancer the old world had ever seen.
In Horn Hold, the Dwarfen king Durak Grund continued to prevaricate on his decision to get involved but when the first action of the Undead Nation came to pass he realized he had made a terrible mistake.
A vast army of Tomb Kings attacked Barak Varr, the Dwarf hold that lay on the southern border of the Devil’s Pathway at the mouth of the route the unliving ones had to take to travel north. Such was the power of their armies and magic that the mighty Dwarfen hold fell quickly, every single Dwarf within slain brutally.
If the Dwarfs of Horn Hold had been abroad, fighting against the Orcs and Goblins, they might have been close enough to lend aid, but as it was, there was far too great a distance between them for help to arrive in time. Barak Varr fell and became a staging post for the armies of the Tomb Kings, a fortress of evil.
Enraged, Grund rashly gathered an army and sent them forth to race down through the Border Princes to take back the Sea Gate, but the army was ill-prepared and before they could even leave the mountains they were set upon by a sinister phalanx of Elves led by Maglor Telemnar. The well-organised Elves cut down many of the Dwarfs with arrows and sword edge and the rest were made to flee back to their hold.
When he heard of this, Durak Grund roared with anger, cursing his procrastination and vowed then and there that he would join the war and fight to the edge of his life to prevent the undead horde reaching the Black Mountains… and to punish the Elves.
And then there was a moment of divine synchronicity, as from the gargantuan door of the hold came three mighty strikes.
The visitor was brought forth and there before the Dwarf king stood Morgrim Elfdoom, Durak’s ancestor of the elder days and perhaps the greatest living hero of the Dwarfen people.
The two dwarfs embraced and then with ale in hand, Durak told the tale of this terrible loss and his harbored guilt. Morgrim listened silently, nodding grimly, but when the name of the Elven lord who had led this latest attack was spoken he leapt to his feet, smashing the seat behind him to splinters.
Now, at last, his vengeance was in his grasp. Now, he would finally have the opportunity to pay back the crimes done to him and all other Dwarfs now ages past, for the hundreds of thousands of Dwarfen dead and, more importantly, for the shaving of his beard.  
And further, the ancient Dwarf recognized that all life was in peril with the Undead nation reaching north. Action needed to be taken and it needed to be taken now.
The Dwarf king counseled some measure of restraint. The strength of Horn Hold was great but had already been spent in part carelessly. However Morgrim waved this away.
It did not matter how long it took or what dangers stood between them and their quarry.
Maglor Telemnar would die and Morgrim would be the Dwarf to strike that killing blow.
The mighty horn of Karak Hirn was sounded, its leviathan sound echoing out across the Border Princes.
The War of Vengeance had started once more!