The Tale of Years

Being an epic history, spanning thousands of years, looking at the events leading up to the Last Chance War for every race involved; interweaving the events into the established Warhammer backstory. 

New characters are met and facts revealed that show the established history of Warhammer in a new light as the long term machinations of a few diabolical minds have a tremendous impact on events.  

Of the Nature of Legends

History is nothing more than a carefully woven carpet of lies; a construction of mankind and elves and dwarfs; a desperate act to glean context and meaning from the never ending span of time. It is an act doomed to failure.

Time has no conscience. It cares naught for the acts of this man or that woman. It records nothing itself as we toil endlessly on into the cold and indifferent future.

But we care. We clutch onto the things that made us what we are today in the hope of finding understanding; in seeing at last what made us walk to this place to live the lives we lead. We toil to fill the gulfs of time where no facts remain to tell of what really happened. We make assumption after assumption; yearning to construct a tale with a beginning and a middle but with no end. And we pray that we might find the truth amidst the shadows.

This is that tale. This is that history. 
It is a tale of years; of millenia stretching back to the time before mankind; before the dwarfs and the elves; before even the creation of the Slann. It is a story told in other tomes and other places, but told in different ways. Crucial facts are now expalined. Key personas long stricken from record for their diabolical crimes are herein revealed at last. The past of entire nations that once remained mystery to all but the most learned will finally be placed on show.

It is a tale of wars; of betrayals; of daemonic invasions from lands undreamt of; of a warrior code and a warrior culture long unknown in the west. It is a tale of cataclysmic events; of tidal waves and devastating acts of genocide. It is a tale of vengeance and lies and hatred... and love... and it is a tale of the end of everything; where the placing of something as tiny as a pebble might bring calamity on all peoples in every part of the world. 

Or might not. 

It is, in its own way, a pathway leading from the beginning of time to the final conflict of the forces of order against the forces of destruction, and the last chance mankind might have to stop the end of times from coming.

It is the tale that paves the way to Armageddon and the last chance war that might prevent that destruction from occurring… or hurry it on its way. 

The Raising of Nippon

Of the Young Races and Nippon  

Over eight thousand years before the present time, the Old Ones came to the world from the dark gulfs between the stars.

No one knows their purpose, save perhaps the Slann, but it was they who seared the brand of sentient life onto the plains and valleys and in the mountains. Using magic undreamt of they created the Elves and the Dwarfs, the Lizardmen and the Ogres.

And the Orcs… The Orcs they brought with them as tiny spores, blowing where the wind would take them to fester and grow in the damp shadowy places of the world.

Tales are told elsewhere of these times and of the gift of magic that the Old Ones passed on first to the Slann Mage Priests, and then to the graceful Elves; but here we concern ourselves with tales never spoken of before; facts concealed from previous chronicles. For there is an action that was taken by the Old Ones then that is little known in the Old World and all but forgotten elsewhere; something that occurred scant years before the Great Cataclysm that ended the Old One’s plans for the world for all time.

Far from the land that would one day be called the Empire; far from Ulthuan where the young Elven race looked up at the moon in wonderment; far even from Araby and the Southlands; beyond the great continent of the Old World; lay a dark stretch of turbulent ocean.
Coming down from the empty skies at dawn, the Old Ones reached out with their power – a technology that none save them could understand – and as they gestured, the waters split. A chain of beautiful islands rose into the sunlight for the first time spanning hundreds and hundreds of miles.

Here, in the land the Old Ones named Nippon, the oldest of human civilizations was brought into being.

The Old Ones blessed these first humans with great strength and with wisdom; they whispered to them the secrets of the winds of magic; and they gifted to this people a handful of wondrous jewels.

These brilliant stones contained the most powerful enchantments and were known as the Eyes of Providence. It was said that as long as they remained in Nippon, then the land would forever be protected from harm.

The Nippon people flourished under the benevolent guidance of the Old Ones and the power of the Eyes; each jewel hidden away; each one separated and cosseted so that none could steal them. They became a proud and intuitive people, living in harmony under the cherry blossom and the watchful gaze of their masters.

But then the Great Cataclysm came, and the Old Ones vanished from sight as the very poles of the world were torn asunder, becoming gaping maws into the Realm of Chaos. If they were slain or exiled, no one knows but they were gone and never more did they return.

Their kindness was torn away from the Nipponese people as it was torn from the rest of the world, and this nascent culture; this civilization with so much potential to change the world; was left very suddenly alone.

To the far north, the wastes became a maelstrom of chaos energy, an eternal source for evil and corruption, and to the south… oh so near to the lovely beaches of Nippon, the wastes became the harbor of Daemons – billions upon billions of gibbering squawking monsters whose only desire was to extinguish the living.

But the Eyes of Providence still remained in Nippon and for now, their brilliance provided a bower of safety for this ancient civilization. The daemons could not cross the water and make landing as long as they remained.

The Old Ones may have gone forever, but their enchantment and protection continued...  

Love in the Time of Aenarion

Of Daemons and the origins of the Dark Elves 

It is said that in the place that men call the Realm of Chaos – that other worlds name the Warp or the Immaterium – what passes for reality is conjured solely from the passions of the mortal races. Here festers anger and growing rage. Here festers jealousy and hatredHere, sorrow and agony.
From these coalescing emotions come purgatories and hells unnumbered, and to fill them, the Daemons of Chaos themselves; beings of pure emotion made into physical form: the frenzied Bloodletters of the Blood God Khorne, the seductive backstabbing Daemonettes of Slaanesh; the cavorting senseless Horrors of Tzeentch.

But something all but forgotten in men’s fear and superstition is that some of the most powerful bursts of emotion come from what might seem more benign sources; from passion and love. Where then do these sentiments come together? What creatures might be born from this union? Or might these feelings only corrupt the already corrupted? Might they lighten, if only for brief moments, the darkest of hearts?

For this was how it was for Prospertine and K’syarta, towering behemoths of daemonic power who strode the land in the wake of the Great Cataclysm when evil ran rampant and all but unfettered in the winds of magic blown from the north.

He, an exalted greater daemon of Khorne, tramping all mortal life he found beneath his fell hooves; she a perilously beautiful greater daemon of Slaanesh, every bit as powerful as her mate. They destroyed all that they met; pounding it to oblivion or corrupting it beyond measure, but their passion for one another was greater, perhaps, than any coupling that came since: the concentrated love and lust of all man and elvenkind. Theirs was a romance of tears and blood; of brutal kisses and torturous intimacy.

Theirs was the greatest and darkest love that the world has ever known.

But though this time belonged to them, leading a limitless horde of daemonic evil into the south, they and their great pernicious host was not unopposed. From Ulthuan, the Elves that had been created by the Great Old Ones waged war against the goodless things from the Realm of Chaos. Led by Aenarion, first of the Phoenix Kings and god among his fellow elves, bearing the thrice cursed Sword of Khaine, the Widowmaker, that damned both him and his line forever, the elves hurled back the invasion from their land. Aenarion and his army became consumed by war and vengeance and fought on, determined to eradicate every daemon that knew light, but the hordes of chaos were without end as long as the great rift lay wide.

For it was said that for the world that could be seen there was a fractured mirror: a daemon world from whence this invasion came, a world the daemons called Pernicious; a world ten times the size of the world of man; an unending source of evil.

Aernarion would never never surrender, but surely even he could not defeat billions, even with his army at his flanks.

But fate twists and fate turns, and never can mere mortals see the finish, despite their self-belief; and there came a day when the host of K’syarta and Prospertine fell upon a caravan of Elves who trekked the bitter cold, slaying their warriors in moments and dragging off their infirm and their women. But of these elves there was one female who K’syarta instantly sensed was snared at a focal point of the fates; a fair and virtuous she-Elf named Morathi. And she knew that an opportunity lay open here; a chance to turn those fates one day in her favour.

To Morathi’s kin, Prospertine visited the cruelest tortures before her gaping eyes, slaying all of them, but not before they screamed for days in agonizing pain. And to Morathi herself came K’syarta, whispering half-truths and goading, slowing splintering her soul with corruption and sowing seeds in her mind and spirit that would take hundreds of years to gestate.

But before the great Daemons and their gibbering followers could complete their work, Aenarion came into their midst astride the immense dragon Indraugnir. Sweeping the Widowmaker around him in great arcs and bellowing in triumph, he took the daemonic horde to battle.

For nine days he fought them, until all but K’syarta and Prospertine were slain or driven off, the bulk of his own army lying dead in the ice; and then, finally, with all his concentrated might, Aenarion sliced the head from Prospertine, slaying him instantly.

K’syarta screamed an eternal and never-ending scream, losing all coherence in her horror and loss. In moments she had dematerialized, banished by her own dismay, and only Aenarion and the few Elven survivors remained.

For long moments the cold winds swept the battleground, then the elf lord took up the unconscious Morathi, gazing into her eyes as they fluttered open, and he carried the beautiful creature away from the carnage.

Prospertine’s body slowly crumbled to ashes as his dark soul was scattered across the Immaterium, but deep in the Realm of Chaos, on the world of Pernicious, K’syarta could only sob and nurture her hatred; waiting for the moment of her return and her own vengeance.

As for Aenarion and Morathi…

Well she was indeed a beautiful creature, and the greatest elf there had ever been was already falling very deeply in love.

And what might spring from that fell union could only be guessed at…

The Fall of Aenarion

Of Daemons and Elves

It is said in the history books that from the union of Morathi and Aenarion came a single child of dark fate, the male-child Malekith; but surely from such ancient times it is impossible for every event to be recalled, no matter how pivotal. As the eons tumble forward, surely some facts must be lost. For in truth there was a girl-child named Alatariel, a creature every bit as precocious and gifted as her fraternal twin.

Alatariel was the most beautiful elven bairn the light of the sun has ever illuminated, a princess every bit as filled with bubbling potential as her brother.

Every bit as cursed. 

Aenarion raised his offspring to be powerful warriors and able leaders while Morathi taught the siblings powerful witchcraft and subtlety of thought. Malekith was named as Aenarion’s heir but when the powerful sorcerer lord Caledor Dragontamer founded his own kingdom to the south, talk began that perhaps the succession would not be as simple as all that.

And all the while, in the pernicious realm of chaos, K’syarta plotted the time of her most dreadful vengeance. Aenarion had slaughtered her beloved consort and she could never let that go unfogrgiven, even should the world become naught but cinders while she waited.

When forty two years had come and gone since the slaying of Prospertine she finally got her chance.

Leading a weltering tide of daemons into the mortal realms, K’syarta made her way to face her nemesis; her forces hacking and slaying all opposition they met to bloody ribbons.

Knowing that life could not continue with the forces of chaos running free, the mage Caledor began a powerful ritual to bind the winds of magic in a great vortex. Against his own better judgement, Aenarion defended the spellcasters as they began the incantations, fighting back against the onrush of slavering monsters.

Reaching him at last, K’syarta sent four greater daemons to make battle with him as she stood waiting; but the great Elven lord slew all of them.

Exhausted, he looked up as the towering form of K’syarta approached and gave a blood-flecked grin. Then battle was joined as the vortex increased in power, sucking the magical energy into it and forcing many of the daemons to fall prey to their unnatural instability.

Battered and dreadfully wounded, Aenarion was no match for the exalted Keeper of Secrets. K’syarta slashed at him again and again as he fought on stoically, but his sacrifice was not made wastefully. As he held K’syarta at bay, the great ritual was completed and the vortex snuffed out the daemonic horde and the dark magic that had kept them free of their perilous realm.

Realising that her time was done, K’syarta screamed in rage, plunging her sickle into Aenarion’s heart before she was banished in an explosion of esoteric force, leaving the now mortally wounded elf lord on his knees.

Tales tell elsewhere of the wounded Aenarion’s final pilgrimage to the Shrine of Khaine and his death at the foot of the black altar wherein he thrust his sword from whence it had come. We will not dwell on it here. The Elven realm and the greater world had been saved from the deluge of evil left behind by the Old Ones’ departure and that is all that must be said. The survivors set out at once to rebuild and start anew and to purge the taint of chaos as best they could from the once fair lands about them.

But Malekith was not chosen as successor for Aenarion, despite his obvious heritage. The prince Bel Shanaar was selected in his stead. Malekith's mother, Morathi, was enraged and bid him fight for his right but his sister, Alatariel, closed her slender fingers round his arm and whispered quietly in his ear. 

Now was not the time for this. Now was not the place. 

But that time and that place would one day come. That she assured him.

So with good grace, the true heir to the Elven realm stepped aside and allowed the rebuilding of the Elven realm to continue.

And he bided his time. 

The Dread Seer of Vorshgar

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... outwardly. 

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. 

While Malekith 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 sight.

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 the ice.

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 paradise.

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. 

Her destiny was set.

To be continued... 

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