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Great War against Chaos

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The Decimation of Praag

The Decimation of Praag. Though this image refers to the battle for Praag in WAR, this scene is similar to what would have been seen at the time of the Great War

The Great War against Chaos refers to a huge invasion by the forces of Chaos (uncounted Northmen, Daemons and Beastmen) into the lands of the Old World south of the Chaos Wastes beginning in the year 2301 IC of the Warhammer timeline. Under the command of the Chaos Champion Asavar Kul, these forces ravaged Kislev and The Empire, which was in political disarray at this time as it lacked an Emperor to unite the bickering Electoral Counts. Simultaneously, the Dark Elves, with their own Chaotic allies, attacked the High Elves' homeland on the island-continent of Ulthuan. Eventually both Chaotic invasions were driven back by the forces of Order and the war culminated at the Battle of the Finuval Plain and the Battle at the Gates of Kislev.

OverviewEdit

PrologueEdit

During the summer of 2301 IC, multiple disasters struck the population of the Empire. Harvests failed, water became poisonous, cattle died and many mutations were visited upon plant, beast and man. Beastmen had multiplied and emerged from their hiding places in the forest of Ostermark and Ostland. Orcs, driven out of the mountains by the growing powers of Chaos, plundered the land. There was no centralized power to counter, for the Empire was divided and each Elector Count ruled his own state, and by autumn the Empire fell to anarchy. Farms and villages were abandoned to the bandits, Greenskins and Beastmen and people sought refuge in the crowded cities where doom-tellers awaited them to declare the end of the world was near. In Nuln, the preacher and nobleman Magnus the Pious drew a great following. Chaos cults and witchcraft were blamed for all the misery and zealous bands of Sigmarites clashed in the streets of Imperial towns and cities with those who openly recognized and sought to appease the might of Chaos. Many people, innocent or guilty, were burned at the stake or drowned by amateur witch-hunters.

To the north, the four gods of Chaos united, for once, in common purpose, unleashing the full strength of Chaos Undivided. Foul magic spilled out of the northern Warp gateway and spread southwards. The Chaos Wastes were swallowed up by the Realm of Chaos and daemons advanced from it to ravage the realms of man. Beastmen, mutants, Norscans and Chaos Warriors joined the daemons and the large horde made its way southwards. Asavar Kul emerged as the Champion of Chaos Undivided and led these forces. They gathered in the land north of the city of Praag where Tzar Alexis of Kislev started to grow worried. The Tzar called southwards to the provinces of the Empire for help. The Elector Count of Ostland was the first of the ruling Imperial nobles to respond and within the week his provincial forces joined the Kislevite troops of the Tzar.

The Dark Elves struck a pact with the Ruinous Powers of Chaos and the Black Arks sailed out together with the Plague Fleet of Nurgle. The dark host set out towards Ulthuan and their mutual hated enemy, the High Elves.

The Battle of Finuval PlainEdit

The Dark Elves and their Chaos allies swept the seas clear of Ulthuan's once-vaunted navy and took the Blighted Isle and the lands of Nagarythe. In 2301 IC, Malekith, the Witch King, set foot upon the land he had so long lusted after. The unprepared High Elves faced defeat after defeat and a large part of Ulthuan was looted, burned and pillaged. In one of these raids, the Everqueen, Alarielle, escaped from death, rescued by Tyrion. They fled from Avelorn which fell into the hands of the Dark Elves. The hearts of the High Elves filled with despair as they thought the Everqueen and Tyrion lost. The High Elves were driven back untill only Caledor, Saphery and the city of Lothern remained in their control.

The High Elves' resistance had been reduced to the level of a guerrilla war, but with the help of the High Elven wizard Teclis, then an unknown, young mage, small victories were achieved. He killed Ferik Kasterman, a sorcerer of Tzeentch and his Coven of Ten, at the Battle of Hathar Ford.

Malekith, unsatisfied with just the rumour of his foes' death, sent forth four assassins to bring him the body of the Everqueen. She and Tyrion tried to hide as Tyrion, struck by a Witch Elf's blade, slowly succumbed to its poison. Upon their discovery, the assassins were killed, but not before sending a message to the Witch King, who summoned N'Kari, the Keeper of Secrets, and sent him forth to slay the High Elven leaders. It was Teclis who came just in time to banish the daemon and save his brother, Tyrion, and the Everqueen from death. The three were picked up by a white ship at the shores of the Inner Sea of Ulthuan and they joined the High Elf army assembling at the Finuval Plain.

Both forces gathered for a confrontation upon that plain. Urian Poisonblade, the Witch King's champion, uttered a challenge to single combat and slew first Arhalien of Yvresse and then Khorian Ironglaive, the captain of the White Lions. Yet, Urian was eventually defeated in his third duel against Tyrion. Then the main bodies of the two elven armies clashed. Outnumbered by the combined forces of the Dark Elves and Chaos, the High Elves, though fighting desperately for their homeland, were slowly driven to retreat before the Chaotic onslaught. Meanwhile, the High Elven mage Teclis fought a magical battle with the Witch King. Invoking the powers of the Staff of Lileath, Teclis forced Malekith to flee into the Realm of Chaos. Freed from dealing with the With King, Teclis turned his mystical might upon the Dark Elven army and their Chaotic allies. Broken by the departure of their lord, the dark host turned and fled and was almost to the man cut down by the bright blades of the rejuvenated High Elven defenders.

The High Elf forces then set off to relieve the siege of Lothern. The Dark Elven besiegers, caught between that army and the Phoenix King whose forces unleashed a breakout through the gates once they saw the arrival of the High Elven relief army, were defeated. The High Elves then initiated a campaign to reconquer their lands. Tyrion was sent with an army to retake Saphery, while the Phoenix King and his troops drove north. In 2303 IC the two armies reunited again at the capital of Ulthuan, Chrace. The main forces of Chaos and the Dark Elves had been driven from the High Elven homeland, but fighting against continued Dark Elven raiding bands striking against the shores of Ulthuan was to continue for many decades.

Fall of PraagEdit

The allied forces of the Tzar of Kislev and the Empire's Grand Principality of Ostland met the forces of Chaos north of Praag, somewhere between the towns of Murmagrad and Chazask, and were almost completely annihilated by the vicious Chaotic troops. Few members of the allied army survived to tell the tale. The Chaos hordes then laid waste to northern Kislev and the port of Erengrad fell before they moved further south, along the line of the Worlds' Edge Mountains. The last Kislevite defenders holding the line against the advance of Chaos at the River Lynsk were slaughtered in the spring of 2301 IC and the route to the heartland of Kislev and to the city of Praag itself lay open. The people of northern Kislev fled behind its walls as the Chaos forces set up camp in front of its battlements.

Meanwhile, the charismatic nobleman Magnus the Pious, a native of the city of Nuln in Averland, travelled from city to city within the Empire calling for a united Imperial crusade to throw back the forces of Chaos and his group of followers swelled everywhere he passed. The Elector Counts of the Empire soon realized that supporting Magnus' call to defend the Empire would improve their popularity with the common folk and so they raised regular state troops from the Imperial provinces and sent them to join Magnus' crusade against Chaos, finally providing him with the troops he needed to really make a difference. At Middenheim, the Imperial army had grown so big that it was split into two forces; the first was sent by Magnus to Praag in the hope of relieving the siege of that Kislevite city. The second, led by Magnus himself, followed more slowly and would first go to the city of Kislev.

Pieter Lazlo, the personal ambassador of Magnus, was sent to the island-continent of Ulthuan to ask the High Elves for help in defending the Empire against Chaos. He entered the city of Lothern just after it was relieved from the siege by the Dark Elves. The High Elves, preparing to reconquer their lands, could not spare any forces to defend the human homelands. However, the wizard Teclis volunteered to use his immense magical might in the defense of humanity and the High Elven warrior-mages Yrtle and Finreir agreed to join him.

In Praag, the Chaos army bided its time, foraying occasionally against the beleagured city's defenses, but never launching a major offensive, determined to simply starve the defenders out. The siege lasted throughout the spring and summer, the stalwart defenders beating back every attack. But as winter set in and the people grew weak and tired, the overpopulated city was overrun by diseases sent by the minions of Nurgle, starvation and just general misery. In the wake of this trifecta of sorrow, Praag finally fell to the forces of Chaos after a bitter battle in the streets even as the vanguard of Magnus’ relief forces lay but a day away. The forces of Chaos swept into the city and slaughtered its population, even as the warping powers of Chaos mutated men and beast alike and the very buildings of the city were transformed into bastions of nightmare as the Realm of Chaos manifested within the tortured metropolis.

Battle at the Gates of KislevEdit

Teclis concept

Teclis assisted the Empire at the Battle at the Gates of Kislev.

When the first Imperial army arrived at what remained of Praag, the forces of Chaos had already left, marching further south and passing the Imperial army without being aware that they had done so. Seeing the horrors that had befallen the citizens of Praag, the Imperial troops turned in pursuit of the Chaos armies. They soon encountered and destroyed the rearguard of the Chaotic forces, but managed to avoid giving away their presence to the main body of the Chaos horde.

Magnus himself, together with the second Imperial army he personally commanded, was just in time to see the city of Kislev - the capital of that nation - being surrounded by the Chaos horde. The High Elven wizard Teclis and his companions had joined Magnus during the march north and assisted him with their advice and magic and also trained a few of the Imperial wizards in how to use magic to defend their brethren. After they learned of the fall of Praag, Dwarfs from Karaz-a-Karak, though themselves under siege by Chaos forces and greenskins, joined the Tzar within the city of Kislev.

The first assault of the Chaos forces, mainly composed of Beastmen, drove the Kislevite defenders from their outer defences and behind the city walls. It was the stolid determination of the Dwarfs that prevented the hordes of Beastmen from breaking through the city gates. As the Chaos hordes prepared for a second attack, they were struck in the rear by the combined forces of Magnus' Imperial troops and Teclis' devastating magical assault. The Chaos Champion, Asvar Kul, divided his forces and sent one to attack the city and one to counter the Imperial army. The Imperials managed to resounding defeat the troops of the horded sent against them with Teclis' magical support, but the forces of Chaos were too large to be compeletely destroyed and they eventually redeployed and managed to push the Imperial army onto the defensive, keeping it away from the relief of the city. The High Elven mage Yrtle was slain by a Keeper of Secrets. On the city walls, the battle between the forces of Chaos and the Imperial relief army was seen by the Kislevite defenders. Three hundred Dwarfs broke out of the city gates in an attempt to try and reach the Imperial relief forces, but they were beaten back. Only half of the Dwarfs returned to the beleagured Kislevite capital.

When it seemed that all hope was lost to the defenders of the city, the advance Imperial force which had been sent to relieve fallen Praag but had turned back to rejoin the main body of the Imperial army, appeared on the northern horizon, on the “Hill of Heroes”, and launched a devastating attack upon the Chaos forces. Watching the enemy suddenly broken by the appearance of the Imperial reinforcements, Magnus spurred his men on to one last herculean effort to relieve the city. Seeing the forces of Order had gained some momentum, the gates of Kislev were opened and and the Kislevites and their Dwarf allies spilled forth to slam into the army of Chaos from yet another flank. Caught between three separate offensives on every side, the Chaos horde slowly disintegrated and by the day's end they were broken and scattered. As the Chaos forces integrity disintegrated, Magnus the Pious met the Chaos Champion Asavar Kul in a mighty one-on-one battle and prevailed, once more maintaining humanity's tenuous hold upon the Warhammer world.

AftermathEdit

After their defeat, the strength of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos slowly ebbed away and returned to their pre-war strength, but an echo of the Realm of Chaos would always remain within Praag, though it was levelled and subsequently rebuilt. The Chaos Gods returned to their eternal bickering and infighting, the power of Chaos Undivided once more submerged beneath the Ruinous Powers' own intense antipathy for one another. Magnus, who had earned his moniker "the Pious", returned to the Empire as its greatest saviour and warrior since Sigmar himself and was quickly installed as the new Emperor by the Elector Counts, largely to popular acclaim (and because he now commanded the loyalty of a very large, very battle-hardened army). Magnus proceeded to purge the lands of the Empire of the taint of Chaos and the anarchy of bandits, greenskins and Beastmen that remained for several years after the end of the Great War. Order was eventually restored across the Empire and in Kislev. Though Finubar resisted the idea, Teclis taught the humans of the Empire the principles of magic as understood by the High Elves and helped them found the Colleges of Magic with Emperor Magnus' full agreement, as it had become clear that despite the Imperial prejudice against the use of magic as being tainted by Chaos, humanity and the Empire would need its power if it was to successfully defend itself from the future depredations of Chaos. On Ulthuan, despite Tyrion's attempts to reclaim the Blighted Isle, the Dark Elves eventually succeeded in occupying the Altar of Khaine.

SourcesEdit

  • Warhammer Armies: Realm of Chaos, Games Workshop, 1997
  • Warhammer Armies: The Empire, Games Workshop, 2000 and 2006
  • Warhammer Armies: High Elves, Games Workshop, 2001
  • Warhammer Armies: Hordes of Chaos, Games Workshop, 2002
  • Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves, Games Workshop, 2001
  • Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs, Games Workshop, 1996

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