Note: These are my raw, typo-ridden, synopses, written at the beginning of the project before being approved by the editors, and therefore aren’t descriptive of what actually happens in the final books. Also, these synopses were sent to editors at Black Library with whom I had an established relationship; if you are sending a synopsis to a publisher, I strongly recommend you spell check first!
A Tale of The Sundering
By Gav Thorpe
*Denotes a viewpoint character.
Aerenis – friend of Carathril, lieutenant in the Lothern Guard, cultist dedicated to Ereth Khial. Aerenis has turned to the cult of the dead in an effort to contact the maiden he loved (Glarionelle, killed during the raid by Carathril and Aerenis in Malekith). When Lothern is besieged by the Druchii, the cultists attempt to rise up within the city and Aerenis’s allegiances are revealed.
Alith Anar – The Shadow King of Nagarythe. Alith is an avowed enemy of the Druchii, but also a strong advocate of Naggarothi independence. He is distrustful of Caledor (both the realm and the king) and refuses to swear allegiance to the Phoenix Throne. However, he concedes that while the Druchii exist, he has more enmity for them than the Phoenix King, and fights alongside other elven armies on several occasions.
Athielle – Princess of Ellyrion, horse mistress. An even more able rider and warrior than her brother, Finudel, Athielle is the true heart of the Ellyrians. While her brother is utterly devoted to her, she places the pride and safety of their people above Finudel. Often hot-headed, she nevertheless understands best of all the princes and princesses what sacrifices need to be made in order that Nagarythe and its allies are stopped.
Bel Shanaar – Phoenix King of Ulthuan, ruler of Tiranoc. Bel Shanaar was chosen for his calmness and wisdom to succeed Aenarion, and becomes the object of Malekith’s hatred. Knowing that the Naggarothi will never truly bend their knee to him, Bel Shanaar allows Nagarythe to go into self-isolation, but is taken aback when the cults of pleasure surface with so much vehemence. He ultimately pays the price for his complacency when Malekith poisons him before the massacre at the shrine, though not soon enough to prevent Bel Shanaar sending a letter to the Prince Imrik making the prince of Caledor general of Ulthuan’s armies.
*Carathril – originally a captain of the Lothern Guard, now herald to the Phoenix King. Before his assassination, Carathril is entrusted by Bel Shanaar to carry a message to Imrik, nominating the Caledorian prince as general of Ulthuan’s armies. After the massacre, Carathril must seek Imrik in the wilds of Chrace, and arrives shortly after the attempted slaying by Morathi’s assassins. After this, Carathril breaks off his service to the Phoenix King and returns to Lothern, but when the city is besieged by the Druchii, he is swept up in the fighting. Trapped in the city, Carathril ends up facing his friend in the fighting, after which Carathril is all but broken.
Carvalon – Prince of Yvresse, grandson of ruling prince Haradrin who takes over after the massacre. Slain by Malekith during the Battle of Maledor.
Charill – Ruling prince of Chrace. Charill is amongst those princes slain at the Shrine of Asuryan, leaving Koradrel as ruling prince. Weapon – achallir, whose double-headed blade crackled with lightning in his hands. Son – Lorichar, bearing the banner of Tor Achare; the head of a lion in silver thread upon a scarlet background. Present at the Assault on Anlec, both killed in the massacre.
Dorien – Younger brother of Imrik. Arrogant and tactless, Dorien is all for defending Caledor and leaving the rest of Ulthuan to its fate. Only when Hotek steals the Hammer of Vaul does he realise that this isolationism cannot succeed and joins his warriors to his brother. Fights at the first battle of Ellyrian Plains, where he breaks his leg and briefly meets Alith Anar.
Finudel – Prince of Ellyrion, horse master. Typically carefree and adventurous like his people, Finudel is an optimist with a great faith in his fellow princes. He is the most shocked by the turning of Malekith, whom he adored, but comes out of his shock as one of the fiercest opponents of the Naggarothi, if somewhat lacking in wisdom and forethought. Utterly devoted to his sister, Athielle. Slain by Malekith during the Battle of Maledor.
Illanith – Daughter of Thyriol, mage of Saphery. Illanith is corrupted by the teachings of dark magic and flees Saphery to join the Druchii. She is killed when Malekith’s attempt to overload the vortex is thwarted.
*Imrik/ Caledor – Prince of Caledor, dragonlord, grandson to Caledor the Dragonmage, future Phoenix King. Imrik has none of the magical aptitude of his grandfather, but is possessed of the same stubborn will. He is not talkative, sometimes downright taciturn, and is immensely practical in his outlook. It is to Imrik that the other princes turn when Malekith betrays them, and he takes his grandfather’s name upon being crowned as Phoenix King. After the sacrifices his family have made protecting Ulthuan from the daemons, he will go to any lengths to protect the isle and its people against the renegades. His leads by example, sacrificing his own pleasures and future to become a defiant warleader. His father is Menieth, who attended the First Council and died fighting in the colonies to the east. Wields the sword Lathrain (wrathbringer).
Hellebron – a young, ambitious priestess of Khaine with a secret desire to overthrow Morathi. Utterly ruthless and dedicated to the Lord of Murder; after ‘slaying’ the Shadow King Alith Anar, she is a scourge of the elves in Cothique but is forced to flee with the other Druchii during The Sundering.
Hotek – High Priest of Vaul. Hotek and some of his followers are corrupted by the Druchii and begin to fashion magical weapons for the dark elves in secret. When they are discovered, Hotek abandons his minions and flees to Nagarythe with the Hammer. There he forges the Armour of Midnight that turns Malekith into the Witch King.
*Koradrel – Prince of Chrace, cousin of Imrik. Hot-headed but fiercely loyal, it is Koradrel and his hunters that save Imrik from Morathi’s assassins. After this, Koradrel convinces Imrik to accept his fate to become the Phoenix King of Ulthuan. Present at the assault on Anlec. When Charill are Lorichar are slain, Koradrel takes up the mantle (literally – he wears Koradrel’s lion cloak) of ruling prince of Chrace, fighting in the north of Ulthuan while Caledor concentrates his efforts to the south.
*Malekith – Son of Aenarion, Prince of Nagarythe, Dwarf friend and elven general beyond compare. Malekith was passed over to succeed his father as Phoenix King, and Bel Shanaar was chosen in his place. At first it seems that Malekith stays true to his loyalties to the Phoenix Throne, but in his heart he is wracked with bitterness and disappointment. He believes that only a son of Aenarion can replace his father, and fears that Phoenix King’s not of his line will diminish the power of Ulthuan. He feels he remains true to the elves and their future, but in his quest to regain his throne he eventually is corrupted by Chaos, and becomes utterly bitter and vengeful against those who rejected him. Attempting a coup, Malekith traps the other princes in the Shrine of Asuryan while he walks through the sacred flames – and is hideously burnt. He is believed dead for the following twelve years, while being nursed back to health by Morathi, before returning as the immortal Witch King armoured by Hotek. In his twisted mind, Malekith is still the true Phoenix King – after all he has walked through the sacred flames and survived like his father, albeit almost killed by the experience…
*Maedrethnir – Dragon of Caledor. Following the death of Aenarion and the demise of Caledor Dragontamer, the dragons of Caledor returned to their slumber, save for a few, chief amongst them the dragon Maedrethnir. Maedrethnir is reluctant at first to become embroiled in the woes of the elves, but Imrik convinces the dragon to bear him into battle. Seeing the danger posed by the Druchii and the affront of the Naggarothi black dragons, Maedrethnir rouses others of his kind to aid the Dragon Princes against Malekith. Maedrethnir is wounded by Malekith’s dragon, Sulekh, at the Battle of Maledor but survives the encounter when Imrik slays Sulekh.
Mianderin – High priest of Asuryan, who bestows the phoenix crown and cloak upon Imrik and wards him with spells when Imrik steps into the flames of Asuryan.
*Morathi – Wife of Aenarion, mother of Malekith, chief architect of the pleasure cults. Morathi is the power behind Malekith and has been fuelling his ambition to further her own. Once her part in the pleasure cults is revealed, she revels in her notoriety, enjoying the freedom from the elves’ complex religious and social traditions. As the partner of Aenarion she once enjoyed great power and she will do anything to regain it. She is far more cynical than her son, and is already well on her way to become a corrupt yet extremely powerful sorceress. After the massacre at the shrine, Morathi resumes rule of Nagarythe and unleashes her cults and armies against the other kingdoms.
Tithrain – Young prince of Cothique, forced to take the rulership following the massacre. Has to deal with Druchii reinforcements returning from the colonies, led by the Khainite cultist Hellebron Slain by Malekith during the Battle of Maledor.
Thyrinor – Prince of Caledor, cousin to Imrik and Dorien. Slain at the Second Battle of Ellyrian Plains.
*Thyriol – Mage-prince of Saphery, one of the survivors of the massacre at the shrine. Thyriol takes on much of the diplomatic and civil governance of Ulthuan after the massacre, leaving Caledor free to concentrate on the war. When Malekith unleashes the Sundering upon Ulthuan, Thyriol gives his life to help the returned Caledor Dragontamer and other mages restore the vortex, joining them in the limbo upon the Isle of the Dead.
Urathion of Ullar – Prince of Nagarythe, sorcerer. One of Morathi and Malekith’s protégés Urathion learns the dark arts, but when Malekith finally reveals his plan to unbind the magical vortex he flees for sanctuary in Caledor and warns the Phoenix King of Malekith’s insane plan.
*Yvraine – Everqueen of the elves, daughter of Aenarion and Astarielle. Although the spiritual protector of the elves, Yvraine cannot combat the sorceries of the Druchii as Morathi’s followers crush resistance in Chrace and march into the forests of Avelorn. Aided for a time by Alith Anar and the spirits of Avelorn, the Everqueen holds out until King Caledor can free the forests of the Druchii. Desperate, Morathi personally leads a final attack against the Everqueen’s realm. Her strength almost spent, Yvraine and her followers retreat to the Gaen Vale, and the Everqueen collapses the land bridge connecting the Gaen Vale to the mainland, destroying Morathi’s army but also isolating the Gaen Vale forever.
[Need to get Caledor II (Imrik’s son) referenced here and there; great warrior, horrid personality, probably associate him with Dorien, also is Caledor II called Caledor or does he take the name like his father? Probably the 2nd]
[ Massacre at the shrine – get across the sheer scale of loss amongst the elven nobility and in particular how this, along with culty manipulations, sends the leaderless kingdoms into turmoil]
[Must find reference to 2nd Battle of Ellyrian Plains to get the chronology correct]
[[[Map of Ulthuan and its realms and cities]]]
Part One – The Dragontamer’s Legacy – Ancient Rivalries – Strife in Nagarythe – Imrik’s Self-exile
One – Pride of Caledor
Our brief historical overview begins with a recap of the dispute between Aenarion and Caledor Dragontamer. We mention the forming of the vortex and the sacrifice of the mages. Rivalry between the two kingdoms of Nagarythe and Caledor (equivalent to Sparta and Athens) exists to this day.
Segue to the colonies across the ocean. An army of elves readies itself for an attack on an orc tribe in what will become the Badlands. The host is made up of warriors from various kingdoms, gathered under the banner of Prince Imrik of Caledor.
Disconcert spreads though the elven camp with the arrival of a Naggarothi force. Imrik summons their prince to explain his presence, but the Naggarothi pay the others no heed and advance on the greenskins on their own, determined to take the glory for themselves. Imrik will have none of it and rapidly musters the army and sets off.
The Naggarothi are reckless but deadly, while the Caledorian princes are the best of the rest. Determined that his victory will not be stolen from him, Imrik almost comes to blows with the Naggarothi prince, but as the orcs and goblins make their final counter-attack, they put aside their differences to slaughter the greenskins. Imrik slays the orc warlord, much to the annoyance of the Naggarothi. While riders chase down the remnants of fleeing greenskins army, the two princes confront each other again. They part with a final shot from the Naggarothi, warning that Nagarythe’s time of acquiescence to the other kingdoms is fast drawing to a close.
Returning to their city, a splendid settlement of glittering towers built in what will be known by men as the Grey Mountains – a reflection of their mountain homes back in Ulthuan – the Caledorians celebrate their victory. A herald arrives during the festivities, carrying a message from Caledrian, Imrik’s older brother, ruler of Caledor. Caledrian warns that there is unrest across Ulthuan and asks that Imrik returns.
Two – The Prince Returns
Imrik has returned to Caledor at Caledrian’s request. Describe the dark mountains, the volcanoes and smog and steam. Here we introduce the Shrine of Vaul, a temple built into the tallest of Caledor’s volcanoes where smith-priests labour at making great artefacts of power – talk about trade with dwarfs, and the work being rings and amulets and such, not weapons and armour. This is a sacred smithy where Caledor Dragontamer and the mages created the weapons that were given to Aenarion and the first princes.
From here, Imrik travels to the capital at Tor Caled, carved from the volcanic rock, bordered by a moat of lava. Establish the unassailability of Caledor (which is why the Druchii never attack the kingdom directly). He is greeted by Caledrian, his younger brother Dorien and his cousin Thyrinor. Imrik learns that Nagarythe is in the grip of Morathi and cultists are causing trouble across Ulthuan – though the kingdom of Caledor remains unaffected. Dorien wants to invade Nagarythe and bring Morathi to account. Imrik argues that is not their concern to get involved in other kingdoms’ affairs, and their duty is to protect Caledor. Caledrian remains undecided and dismisses them.
A few weeks later, Carathril arrives bearing news from Bel Shanaar. Caledrian wants to find out what Bel Shanaar is doing about things but is reluctant to leave Caledor without its ruler. He despatches Imrik to Tor Anroc. Here the Caledorians display apathy towards the Phoenix King’s authority, rather than the antipathy displayed by Nagarythe.
Imrik meets with other princes in the Phoenix King’s court. All are suspicious of each other’s motives and while they respect Imrik, they are fearful of the power of Caledor and stand-offish. Imrik’s brusque manner earns him few friends, though he is on good terms with Finudel and Athielle of neighbouring Ellyrion. Establish Imrik as taciturn, no-nonsense figure in contrast to the usual subtle manner of the elves.
At the height of the discussion regarding the problems with Nagayrhte, Prince Malekith returns from his wanderings – here we replay the scene from pages 257-262 Malekith from Imrik’s POV. Malekith vows to lead the purge of Nagarythe himself.
Imrik is doubtful, and returns to his brothers. The princes discuss whether to get involved. We introduce the high priest of Vaul, Hotek, who is ambivalent in his advice and if he favours any course, it is to protect Caledor’s borders. He suggests that the forges be used for their old purpose and Caledrian agrees – for the first time in fifteen hundred years, the Anvil of Vaul will be used to make weapons and armour. With this precaution, the princes decide to leave Nagarythe alone for the moment. (Note that the Caledorians have a different approach to the power of their prince in contrast to the authoritarian Naggarothi – although not a democracy of the masses, the Caledorian nobles do have a vote on what course the kingdom will take, though the prince retains a veto he can use – a subtle nod towards the role of Caledor in the Athens/ Sparta analogy).
Three – The Flames are Fanned
Along with other careful preparations, the Caledorian princes attempt to rouse the dragons that slumber beneath the mountains. They are met by Maedrethnir, who refuses their requests and sends them away, telling the elves that the dragons are finished with war and the problems of the elves are no longer their concern. Only if their homes are threatened would they give up their long rest.
Using magic, the ruler of Saphery Thyriol sends word to the Caledorians that Malekith has been successful in retaking Anlec and Morathi has been captured by her son. He is taking her to Tor Anroc to decide her fate. Imrik is adamant that she remains a threat while still alive, and persuades Maedrethnir to bear him to the city of the Phoenix King so that he can make representations to that effect. We reprise the ‘trial’ of Morathi from pages 360-363 Malekith, ending with the decision to have the would-be queen imprisoned. Disgusted, Imrik leaves again.
The years pass and peace seems to be restored. Malekith even deigns to visit Tor Caled as he attempts to smooth over the troubles of the past. Imrik and Dorien are suspicious of Nagarythe, though Caledrian warms to Malekith’s overtures of reconciliation. They share a common goal in not allowing the ‘lesser’ kingdoms to undermine the authority of the two greatest kingdoms. They part with cordial if not kind words.
In a brief cameo, we show Carathril is in Lothern to speak with Haradrin, and his worries about Aerenis who has become morose, morbid even, about his dead lover.
[[[off-camera, Malekith is ousted in fake coup]]]
Four – The Council of Princes
Twenty three years after Malekith’s return, another herald arrives in Caledor bringing news of Malekith’s exile from Nagarythe and Bel Shannar’s convening of the council of princes at the Shrine of Asuryan. Caledrian must accept, but Imrik refuses, saying that he cannot lend his support to Malekith, who he believes will be named general of Ulthuan’s armies.
Imrik will not travel to the shrine. Instead he leaves to visit his cousin Koradrel in Chrace. Dorien is left in charge of the kingdom while Thyrinor travels with Caledrian. Hotek bids the princes a fond farewell. Imrik leaves the elven equivalent of ‘call me if anything exciting happens, I will be gone for some time’, and sets off to hunt some monsters in the mountains.
We then reprise the events of the massacre, particularly those inside the shrine that Carathril did not witness in Malekith. Caledrian is slain with many other princes, but Thyrinor (not a prince) is amongst the survivors.
Part Two – The Treachery of Malekith – Race to Chrace – Imrik Becomes King – The Siege of Lothern – Avelorn Burns – The War Takes its Toll
Five – A King is Chosen
The Shrine of Asuryan. All but three of Ulthuan’s ruling princes who attended are dead. Thyriol of Saphery, Finudel of Ellyrion (wounded) and Tithrain of Cothique remain, along with a few non-princes including the high priest Mianderin and the herald Carathril.
Unsure what to do, Carathril reveals that he is carrying a message from the late Bel Shanaar for Imrik. The princes tell him to open it, and they read the letter, laying out Bel Shanaar’s intent to name Imrik general of Ulthuan’s armies for the purging of the cults.
The princes quickly agree that Imrik should be named as successor, but he is in distant Chrace. They volunteer a reluctant Carathril for the job, give him everything he needs and speed him on his way before he can protest.
[[[off-camera Morathi escapes, Tor Anroc falls under Naggarothi control]]]
Six – The Hunters Set Forth
As news of Malekith’s treachery spreads across Ulthuan, the kingdoms are thrown into turmoil. The shrine of Asuryan becomes a rallying point as messengers from the different realms arrive to gather and spread the latest information.
We switch to a chamber in the highest tower of Anlec. Here Morathi arrives from Tiranoc with Malekith’s ‘remains’. After interring him into a chamber and casting a few enchantments to ease his suffering, she scryes the events around the shrine of Asuryan on a great golden mirror, Bathinair by her side. She tells her new lieutenant to gather the best assassins from Nagarythe and to bring them to her. We then take the time to describe Anlec under the reign of the Pleasure cult, and emphasise the militarisation of the realm with great armies marching forth.
The next day Bathinair brings in seven assassins, the deadliest in the realm. They are savage killers, with rune-etched blades, poisons and all manner of other nastiness. Bathinair asks where they are to be sent, and Morathi admits that the magic swirling though the Annuli mountains has prevented her locating Imrik. Instead she performs a magical ritual, cursing each of the assassins. A rune burns upon their foreheads, filling their heads with agony, though they will feel no other pain. She tells them that the pain will lessen the closer they get to Imrik, and will only go away upon his death. With this evil geas laid upon them, the Assassins are despatched to Chrace.
Seven – The Road to Chrace
Carathril with a group of Phoenix Guard on an Eataine ship heads north across the Inner Sea. Describe Isle of the Dead and Gaen Vale from a distance. Sails upriver through Avelorn and disembarks to head into the mountains with the Phoenix Guard and contingent of Lothern marines – the Sea Guard. He carries with him achillar, the axe of the Prince of Chrace, to give to Koradrel.
The Assassins enter the mountains of Chrace.
Imrik and Koradrel are hunting in the mountains, with Koradrel’s retainers to accompany them. They are oblivious to the turmoil engulfing the isle, and bring down a manticore. They celebrate their success.
Carathril passes through the vortex along Phoenix Pass, on the border between Chrace and Nagarythe. They hurry on, fearful of being discovered by the Naggarothi (though they are actually near Elanardris, the lands of the Anars, but don’t realise they have potential allies at hand).
We move to a hunting lodge in flames. Outside, the seven assassins stand, looking up the forest-swathed mountain. One of them walks to the lodge and draws a dagger. He holds it in the flames until the blade is glowing and the flesh of his hand begins to sear and smoke. The assassin then turns back and we reveal they have three prisoners – a couple, two servants from the lodge, and their young daughter. The Assassin stands over the male elf first and demands the whereabouts of Imrik. The elf refuses, saying he’d rather die than betray the prince. The assassin then moves to the daughter, whose shrieks fill the air.
Eight – A New Legend
Back in the hunting party, dusk begins to approach as they are moving back towards their camp on the road to Chrace, when they see smoke rising from further down the valley – the hunting lodge.
Carathril and his company come across the ruined lodge and the butchered remains of its inhabitants.
The assassins move swiftly and silently through the woods. Calling on dark magic they swathe themselves in darkness and shadow – even the birds and beasts do not notice their passing. The assassins see a figure ahead – Imrik – and spread out to encircle him. One of them pulls forth a bow and nocks a poison-tipped arrow. He draws aim on the prince as Imrik crouches, his back to the assassin. As the assassin lets loose, the arrow springs from the bow across the glade. As it leaves the bow it leaves the magical spell of the assassin.
While he examines a large paw print in the mud, Imrik hears the whisper of the arrow through the air and spins with blinding speed, unsheathing his sword and slicing the projectile in half with one motion. A dagger flies at him from the left and he dives to one side to avoid it. Seeing flickers of movement, he stands wary, turning left and right, counting the shadows. Another arrow wings its way towards him and he knocks it side, constantly turning.
He hears the padding of feet and turns quickly, sword raised. A white lion charges silently through the woods towards him – a real white lion, not an elf in a pelt. It is just yards away when it roars and leaps. Imrik jumps backwards but the lion never reaches him. It latches onto something between them, a flailing figure. As his spell dissipates, the assassin falls to the ground; the white lion continues to maul and claw at him, tearing him to pieces.
Back in the open, Koradrel hears the roaring of a lion and sets off into the woods, his hunters following close behind. Heading for the sound of ripping and biting, he sees Imrik in the middle of the glade. Half-seen shapes close in on the Prince of Caledor, one of them stealing up behind him. With a shout of warning, Koradrel hurls his axe double-handed. It spins end over end and strikes the assassin, and the Naggarothi is revealed as he collapses to the ground, almost cleaved in half.
There are cries for the other hunters as they meet the assassins, and Koradrel races forward into the clearing to retrieve his axe. Imrik is fighting a blurred figure, parrying and attacking, striking at a smoky haze. Koradrel fights back-to-back with his friend and the other hunters close in. After a dangerous fight, during which several hunters are slain, all seven assassins are dead. In thanks, Imrik nominates the survivors to be his bodyguard.
Just then, a rider appears, travelling fast. As the rider approaches, the white lions draw up around Imrik and Koradrel, their axes ready. The messenger is Carathril and he bids them to lay aside their weapons, for he brings grave news. He quickly tells the princes what has occurred over the last few weeks, and of the princes’ decision to crown Imrik as Phoenix King. Imrik asks to be left alone while he thinks. He walks into the woods as Koradrel takes ownership of achillar and prepares to travel back to Tor Achare.
Imrik emerges and reluctantly agrees to become Phoenix King.
Nine – From the Flames
Imrik takes ship for the shrine of Asuryan, still held by the princes. Taking the name of his grandfather, Caledor, he walks through the sacred flame and is accepted by the supreme god, although war is afoot and he has no time to take part in the ritual marriage to the Everqueen. He vows to fight against the might of Nagarythe and to raise an army as large as the one led by Aenarion. The other princes shuffle their feet a bit at this declaration and are less than fulsome in their promises.
Realising that for the moment there is little appetite for conflict, Caledor returns to his kingdom and starts preparing for war. He meets with Maedrethnir. The dragon promises to aid the new Phoenix King, but the other dragons will not return to help the elves.
Ten – Lothern Attacked
With Imrik safely crowned, Carathril has sailed back to Lothern to help newly elevated Prince Carvalon establish the defences of the city. The Eataine navy must be preserved to patrol the Inner Sea, and Lothern closes the famous sea gates.
However, the Druchii have seized the Tiranoc fleet to add to their own and sail around Ulthuan, to land thousands of troops outside Lothern on the Eataine side of the city. The Druchii attack the city but are held off, while the Lothern fleet drives away their vessels, capturing the first Dragonship Indraugnir in doing so (an irony since it was gifted to Malekith by the prince of Lothern along with three other dragonships now used against them). A lengthy siege begins – Caledor has his hands full aiding Ellyrion and Chrace, but the city can be supplied by sea.
Eleven – The Dragons Awake
Fighting in Ellyrion with Caledor, Maedrethnir encounters one of the Black Dragons created by the perverse sorceries of the Naggarothi. Enraged, Maedrethnir slays the Black Dragon and demands that the Phoenix King returns to Caledor.
Maedrethnir tells the other dragons of what the Naggarothi have done – there is speculation on who could have stolen the eggs (Hotek, but that will only be revealed later). Roused by Maedrethnir, the dragons emerge from their caves – all but the oldest wake up to battle these twisted kin. Majestic scenes of dragons over the mountain of Caledor again, choosing the princes that will fight with them.
With these forces Caledor arrives to lift the siege of Lothern – three years after it was begun. In response to the Phoenix King’s arrival, cultists within the city rise up, sabotaging the fleet. Having learnt from Malekith’s exploits at Anlec, Carathril reinforces the gates and leads the defence of one as the enemy within try to open the gates for the Druchii to enter. Amongst those Carathril faces, he recognises Aerenis. Carathril’s former friend is wounded in the fighting. Carathril thinks to spare Aerenis, seeing him as a victim as much as a perpetrator. In a moment of clarity Aerenis sees what he has become and begs Carathril to kill him, so that he might meet with his lover in Mirai, the Underworld. Carathril refuses, saying that Aerenis cannot go unpunished in this life.
Caught between the walls of Lothern and the sea, the Druchii are defeated by Caledor’s dragons and army. Druchii scattered are scattered and while Caledor leads the pursuit with the forces of Lothern, the Phoenx Kingr sends Dorien north with Carathril where they will meet Alith Anar for the first time.
Twelve – Avelorn Withers
We introduce Yvraine the Everqueen.She is very otherworldly, in tune with Ulthuan in a way no other elf is. She shares the memories of all the Everqueens before her and laments the Coming of Chaos and the loss of the elves’ innocence.
The Druchii forces have invaded Avelorn from Chrace (this is seen in Shadow King). Using her nature magic and aided by the creatures of the forest (animals and spirits), plus her Maiden Guard, Yvraine holds back the Druchii until the arrival of Dorien and the army of Caledor drive them back. The Phoenix King is not with them, and Yvraine is disappointed that her new ‘husband’ has not visited her yet. Whole earth goddess vibe going on, a Phoenix King is temporary, the Everqueen is eternal, and Caledor cannot rule without her blessing.
Thirteen – An Age Ends
The two sides are at an impasse, with sporadic fighting in Chrace, Ellyrion, Eataine and Avelorn. Neither side is able, or willing, to mount a significant offensive. Caledor and his dragons can hold the Druchii attacks, but the Eastern Kingdoms are unwilling to risk their defences by contributing their meagre forces to an army of attack – cult uprisings are causing enough problems for these non-militarised realms.
To break the stalemate, Morathi leaves Anlec and leads a force into Avelorn, fuelled by her hatred of the Everqueen. If Avelorn can be destroyed, she believes there is no power in Ulthuan that can resist her. Driven on by their queen, the Druchii advance again, more afraid of her than the Treemen and bows defending Avelorn.
Driven back to the Inner Sea, Yvraine holds only the Gaen Vale, where the power of Avelorn resides (whatever that might be…) As Morathi leads an attack across the narrow isthmus linking Gaen Vale to the rest of Avelorn, Yvraine realises she cannot win. She collapses the land bridge, destroying the Druchii army (Morathi escapes, obviously) but cutting off the Gaen Vale from the rest of Ulthuan, diminishing the Everqueen’s power for eternity.
[off-camera fighting breaks out in Saphery between sorcerers and mages, as presaged in the Chapbook story]
Part Three – The Bloody-handed God – The Witch King Rides Forth – Assault on the Eastern Kingdoms – The Battle of Maledor – The Sundering
Fourteen – Rivers of Blood
Having been denied victory in Avelorn, the Druchii turn their attention to Cothique. Caledor and his dragon princes fly across Ulthuan to bolster the small Cothique army, tying up the Druchii while the other Eastern kingdoms – Yvresse and Eataine – get their act together.
However, the situation changes dramatically as Naggarothi reinforcements arrive from the colonies, led by Prince Alandrian. News spreads that Alith Anar has been slain, and shortly after, Khainites led by Hellebron arrive.
Caledor cannot face these forces alone and is forced to abandon Cothique, leaving them to the sacrifices of Hellebron and her Khainites. He withdraws to Yvresse with Prince Tithrain in exile, the Phoenix King vowing that he will return to deliver the elves of Cothique from the depravity being heaped upon them.
Fifteen – The Hammer of Vaul
With the war scaling up again, Caledor summons the loyal princes to council in his kingdom to devise a strategy. It is during this council that an anomaly comes to light – weapons and armour being forged at the Anvil of Vaul that were destined for the other kingdoms have not been received for several years.
Caledor summons Hotek to account for this shortfall, but the high priest does not respond. Caledor flies to Vaul’s Anvil to confront Hotek and finds the shrine in uproar. Hotek and several of his disciples have slain many priests and fled with the Hammer of Vaul – none no how long he has been an agent of Morathi, supplying enchanted weapons to the Druchii.
Sixteen – More Blood on the Plains
Encouraged by their accomplishments in Cothique the Druchii send another army into Ellyrion from Tiranoc. This time, Caledor is with Finudel and Athielle to meet them and a bloody battle ensues. During the course of the battle, the massed bolt throwers are proving a huge obstacle – they have slain one dragon already and are taking a heavy toll of Caledor’s forces.
Unexpectedly, the war machines fall silent. Caledor, never one to spurn opportunity, signals the charge, the dragons descend and the Druchii are routed. In the confusion of the pursuit, Caledor comes across Alith Anar and his Shadow army. It is only by the intervention of Thyrinor that the Naggarothi are spared (Dorien is only too happy to count Alith’s followers amongst the Druchii scum).
Caledor finally meets the infamous Shadow King and the two have harsh words for each other. Caledor is grateful for the battles fought by Alith beyond the mountains, but demands that he sends a signal to all Naggarothi by swearing fealty to the Phoenix Throne. Alith refuses and warns Caledor not to enter Nagarythe. He tells Caledor that Malekith has returned as the Witch King (and reveals that after the end of Shadow King he denounced Malekith and fled into the mountains with his army – his intention had been to find out how was ruling the Druchii and had never intended a battle). The Shadow King is willing to help defeat his former prince, but will not give his allegiance to any other king.
Though unhappy with each other, Caledor and Alith agree a plan of action. The Shadow Warriors will continue their attacks while Caledor mounts an offensive. The Druchii have spent almost all of their strength providing Malekith with new armies. The armies of Alith, Chrace and Ellyrion will so what they can to hold back the Witch King while Caledor drives the Druchii from Cothique and Avelorn.
More troops are also arriving back from Elthin Arvan, and it is revealed that Athel Toralien has finally fallen. With these battle-hardened soldiers growing in number, Caledor needs only a little more time before he can start to fight back.
Seventeen – The Phoenix Resurgent
What follows is a decade of war. Through these battles, we weave a tapestry of warrior-demigods – where the Witch King attacks, the Druchii advance; where Caledor fights, the Asur are victorious. Both are master strategists, tacticians and unparalleled warriors. Though Caledor has no magic himself, he is aided by Thyriol and the other loyal mages. Assassins are sent after him and killed by the White Lions; Malekith casts hexes upon Caledor but the Sapherians protect him.
It seems destined that the two of them must meet to decide the victor, but both Caledor and Malekith know it will be the ultimate test; for twelve years of rising and falling conflict they deliberately avoid each other, trying to destroy the others armies and force capitulation without a direct confrontation – although neither will admit it, the Phoenix King and the Witch King are afraid of each other, and more importantly Caledor knows that if he personally falls, the Druchii will be victorious.
However powerful Nagarythe once was, its energy is spent. Caledor gains the upper hand, freeing the Inner Kingdoms and Cothique. He marches on Tiranoc while Alith wreaks havoc in Nagarythe.
Malekith understands that he must strike back to utterly destroy Caledor. The Everqueen has been brought to her knees and the colonies shattered. Without the Phoenix King to lead them, the other kingdoms will crumble to a last all-conquering offensive. The Witch King sees that he cannot defend Tiranoc and withdraws beyond the Naganar the river that separates Tiranoc from Nagarythe.
Caledor spots the trap, and instead attacks from Ellyrion along Dragon Pass; but in a double-bluff, Malekith has predicted this. He did the same when he took Anlec all those years before (ref pg 315) and waits with his army to fall upon Caledor as they march through the dismal wilderness of Maledor.
Eighteen – A Fateful Clash
The Battle of Maledor – covered plenty already (High Elves pg 20, Dark Elves pg 11). Short version is that Finudel, Tithrain and Carvelon are killed by the Witch King, Malekith’s dragon is slain and eventually he is defeated.
New twist – the intervention of Alith and his Shadow Warriors prevent the pursuit. Caledor has entered Nagarythe against Alith’s wishes and while the Shadow Army will not attack, Alith demands that he be left to deal with the Witch King and the remnants of the Druchii. Caledor very reluctantly agrees, believing Malekith’s strength to be broken, and withdraws to Tiranoc.
Nineteen – A Time of Madness
Driven insane by frustration and pain, Malekith sets in motion one last, desperate plan. He gathers his sorcerous followers together and reveals that he plans to undo the vortex of Caledor Dragontamer. With the Realm of Chaos unleashed, he will be able to use the full power from the Circlet of Iron to destroy his foes.
The preparations are begun, daemonic pacts made, sacrifices… sacrificed. One of the sorcerers, Urathion, sees this for the madness it is and flees. Morathi notes his absence and sends the Raven Heralds after him.
Thyriol reports strange goings-on in the Winds of Magic to Caledor, but it is only when Urathion comes to Caledor’s camp that the Phoenix King learns that Malekith is planning something big. Before Urathion can explain the workings of the spell to Thyriol, the sorcerer is slain by the Druchii assassins.
No-one is sure what will happen if Malekith succeeds, but everybody agrees it is a Bad Idea. Thyriol travels to the Isle of the Dead, the centre of the Vortex, to see what he can do.
Twenty– The Sundering
Malekith unleashes his great spell. The Druchii sorcerers and Asur mages battle for control of the Winds of Magic and the sky above Ulthuan is wreathed with power. We switch between Malekith and Thyriol as the contest sways to one side and the next.
Malekith and his followers gain the upper hand. The Vortex is close to collapse, a storm shrouding all of Ulthuan. The Druchii call in their daemonic pacts, and a host from the Realms of Chaos bursts forth from the weakened vortex to attack the camp of Caledor. Like his father and grandfather, Caledor must hold back the daemons.
With a blaze of power, the Vortex disappears. Chaos energy envelops the island of the elves and it seems that Malekith will be victorious.
As the Chaos energy swirls down the last remnants of the Vortex, it earths in the Isle of the Dead. This shatters the stasis that has remained for nearly two thousand years. Released from their magical prison, Caledor Dragontamer and the first mages emerge and add their powers to the struggle.
Caledor battles vainly against the daemons, just to survive. The skies are riven with visions of the Realm of Chaos, the laugher of dark gods shake the mountains and cities.
With a monumental effort, aided by Thyriol and the other mages, Caledor Dragontamer fights back Malekith’s sorcery and with a massive explosion of magical energy, the Vortex is restored.
Victory comes at a price. Even as the daemons disappear, Ulthuan shudders beneath the titanic forces unleashed. We do a brief catch-up from the various characters as cities are brought crashing down, the volcanoes of Caledor erupt, and the mountains tumble. From Elanardris, Alith watches as a monumental tidal wave sweeps across Nagarythe, destroying all in its path. Caledor witnesses Tiranoc drowned, Tor Anroc vanishing beneath the waves.
While Caledor and his other dragon princes fly north through the storm to confront Malekith, the great citadels of the Naggarothi break away from their foundations. The Black Arks are born and Caledor watches them surge away through the froth and rain though the ruins of Anlec remain. When he is asked what this means, Caledor’s reply is simple:
“The war is not over. We shall never know peace.”
Malekith arrives at the bleak shores of Naggaroth and we finish with his vow to reclaim Ulthuan and confirmation that Caledor is correct: the war will never end while the Witch King still lives.