The Phoenix Kings are the rulers of the High Elven Isle of Ulthuan. The position of Phoenix King is elective. He is chosen from among the Princes of Ulthuan on the death of the previous Phoenix King and crowned at the massive pyramid Shrine of Asuryan located on an island in the Inner Sea. Before being crowned, they must pass through the Sacred Flame unharmed to prove their purity under the eyes of Asuryan. This is not to say that all Phoenix Kings have been good rulers. In fact many long wars have been started by prideful, vicious and arrogant Phoenix Kings. The Phoenix King chooses the co-ruler of Ulthuan, the Everqueen.
Upon ascension to the throne, the Phoenix King is betrothed to the Everqueen for a ritual marriage lasting one year, after which they are both free to hold separate courts and take new consorts. While Aenarion was deeply in love with his Everqueen, it has not been uncommon for later kings to choose an Everqueen for political reasons.
Line of KingsEdit
There have been 11 Phoenix Kings to date. In chronological order:
Aenarion the DefenderEdit
Aenarion was crowned King after he united the separate Kingdoms Ulthuan in the face of the first Chaos incursion. His Everqueen was Astarielle and she bore two siblings who became the ancestors of Tyrion and Teclis, before she was murdered. After grieving for the loss of his queen and his two children (though in fact they had lived), Aenarion gained a new consort when he held court in Nagarythe. This was Morathi, who started the Cult of Pleasure and bore Malekith from her union with Aenarion. Malekith would later cause the Sundering. In the second Chaos incursion, he had drawn the Sword of Khaine (from the Altar of Khaine in the Blighted Isle) out of hatred for his enemies and grief at his loss and its corruption had changed his personality, but also greatly enhanced his fighting prowess.
Aenarion fought in the Battle of the Isle of the Dead, and he and his Dragon Indraugnir were both mortally wounded after defeating four Greater Daemons of Chaos simultaneously. Though Aenarion's final act was to plunge the sword back into the Altar of Khaine, drawing it had already cursed his bloodline for all time, and Tyrion and Teclis still bear this curse today. Aenarion's sacrifice bought time for Caledor Dragontamer to enact his plan to set up the vortex on the Isle of the Dead, using the Menhir Stones siphon away Chaos energy, ultimately saving the race of Elves and the rest of the world from destruction.
Bel Shanaar of Tiranoc was a hero of the first and second wars against Chaos and was crowned King in favour of Malekith who the Council of Princes felt could be too warlike, and the Elves were weary of conflict. During Bel Shanaar's reign, the Asur traveled across the face of the world, planting colonies that ringed the oceans. Untold wealth and prosperity flowed into the peaceful kingdom of Ulthuan. However, this prosperity also brought with it the slow corruption of the Cult of Pleasure. Bel Shanaar's ascension to the throne had always drawn Malekith's ire as he was the son of the first King, and after accusing Bel Shanaar of being a member of the Cult of Pleasure, he poisoned Bel Shanaar before attempting to claim the throne himself. The other princes were dubious of his claims and Malekith had his soldiers murder them before making an attempt to pass through the Flame of Asuryan as his father had done to prove himself worthy of the crown. The fire rejected Malekith, leaving him horrifically burned; his minions fled with their master's broken body, leaving Ulthuan leaderless and in tatters.
Caledor I, the ConquerorEdit
After the death of Bel Shanaar, the Council placed a Caledorian known as Imrik (whom Prince Imrik takes his name from) on the throne (the grandson of Caledor Dragontamer). After assuming the name Caledor, he started amassing armies with which to defeat Malekith and the forces of Nagarythe. Malekith fought seven battles and won them, but gradually Caledor turned the tide against the Dark Elf host and began to push them out of the Inner Kingdom. When Malekith and Caledor finally came to direct blows at the mouth of the pass into Nagarythe, Malekith lost the final battle where Caledor slew Malekith's dragon Sulekh and defeated his armies, driving them into the Marches of Maledor. After the Sundering, Caledor built a fleet of warships to assault the Blighted Isle, reclaiming the last piece of Ulthuan from the Druchii. After completing his task, Caledor took sail, either to return home or to pursue Malekith's Black Arks, but a freak storm dispersed the High Elf fleet. Caledor's ship was attacked and overwhelmed by Druchii raiders, and rather than be captured, Caledor threw himself into the sea in full armor, drowning rather than face the slow, brutal end he would suffer in Druchii captivity. Caledor rode a red dragon, Maedrethnir, who was the son of Indraugnir, Aenarion's dragon.
Caledor II, the WarriorEdit
Caledor the Second was the son of Caledor I elected King after his father's death and taught the elves the folly of hereditary rule. Caledor II lacked many of the qualities that made his father such an effective ruler. He was blunt, arrogant and pompous, lacking any skill in diplomacy or strategy. Only in one area could he match his father: he was a superb warrior. Still to an elf nation reeling from civil war and lacking unity among its princes he represented desperately needed stability and continuity. Caledor II did rule over many years of peace until the machinations of the Witch King led to the War of the Beard. After the Dark Elves attacked a Dwarf caravan, the Dwarfs mistook this for an act of war by the High Elves who they were in a friendly trading relationship with. The Dwarf High King Gotrek Starbreaker sent an envoy to Ulthuan who drew his axe in the Palace of the Phoenix King. Insulted and against the advice of all his courtiers, Caledor II ordered the Elves to shave the envoy's beard and cast him out of Lothern. Gotrek was outraged and declared war upon the High Elves. The war lasted for decades upon decades, with the Dwarfs invulnerable in their mountain fortresses, and the Elves secure in their walled cities, although gradually pushed out of their more vulnerable colonies.
After military stalemate set in in for some time, the Elves begun to gradually be pushed back, with the Elf colony of Athel Maraya being razed to the ground. Caledor impetuously chose to take command of the army at the 14th siege of Tor Allesi, and lead a cavalry charge into the Dwarf host, where he was killed by Gotrek, and the Phoenix Crown was taken back to Karaz-a-Karak. Following the death of Caledor, the High Elves were forced to abandon their colonies in the Old World (the Wood Elves chose to stay in their forest, when all available Asur forces were called to return to Ulthuan as Malekith had invaded.
Caradryel the PeacemakerEdit
Caradryel was elected to rule after the death of Caledor II and the end of the War of the Beard. It was Caradryel who made the difficult decision to not assemble the full might of the Asur and march on Karaz-a-Karak (a suicidal mission to assuage wounded pride), and to issue the recall order, abandoning all but a few colonies. During the Dark Elf invasion, Caradryel left military command to professional generals such as Tethlis of Caledor, and concerned himself with shoring up the defenses of Ulthuan, especially re-garrisoning the gateway fortresses. Gradually, the Asur managed to push out the Druchii back into the Shadowlands. Caradyrel ruled for more than 700 years and despite the efforts of Malekith's assassins, died peacefully in bed, the first Phoenix King to do so.
Tethlis the SlayerEdit
Tethlis the Slayer, also known to the Dark Elves as The Butcher and the Scourge of Life was a tough and uncompromising King elected to rule the High Elves after Caradryel died. Tethlis was a ruthless military commander who fought to put an end to the threat of Druchii invasions. Tethlis commanded that every city in Ulthuan was required to establish training grounds and recruit even more Elves into arms. A firm believer in numerical superiority, Tethlis fought a series of massive offensive campaigns through the Shadowlands, gradually whittling away at the Druchii's numbers. Finally, with a huge army, Tethlis besieged the recently restored city of Tor Anlec and when the city fell, he earned the eternal hatred of the Dark Elves (if it was possible for them to hate the High Elves any more) by ordering that every Druchii in the city be slain - regardless of age or gender. It is likely that Alith Anar was also involved in this slaughter. His advisors became worried at the slaughter Tethlis was instigating, fearing that their soldiers would acquire a taste for bloodshed and become little better than the Dark Elves.
Unrelenting, Tethlis gathered a mighty armada and smashed through the Dark Elf fleet guarding the Blighted Isle. Thousands of Asur stormed the beaches under heavy missile fire, and were met by a maddened Druchii army. Gradually, Tethlis gained a foothold on the island, and methodically slaughtered thousands upon thousands of Druchii warriors, until even his own generals sickened of the slaughter. When the battle was over, Tethlis made a pilgrimage to the Altar of Khaine before he intended to join his navy, which was already pushing on to Naggaroth. At the Altar, Tethlis was cut down - although no one knows how. Some speculate that a Druchii assassin lay in wait for him at the Altar; others, that his own bodyguard, sick of death, struck him down when he sought to draw the Sword of Khaine, terrified of the consequences if the evil weapon was again loosed upon the world. Either way, Tethlis died on the Blighted Isle and without his driving presence, his armies abandoned their assault on Naggaroth and returned home.
Bel-Korhandis the Scholar KingEdit
Bel-Korhandis was from Saphery and was a great patron of the arts and sciences. He ordered the construction of the White Tower of Hoeth, and the orders of the Loremasters and the Swordmasters of the tower, and that the history of the Asur people was committed to paper. Bel-Korhandis reigned over an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity, the beginning of a Golden Age. His remains are interred in the foundations of the White Tower, where it said his ghost still wanders the tower, helping scholars.
Aethis the PoetEdit
Aethis the Poet continued Bel Korhandis' example and became a great patron of the arts; though he neglected Ulthuan's armed forces, in his reign many great works of art were created and many great buildings built. A great sense of joy began to spread through Ulthuan, fed by rumours the Dark Elves were almost extinct and Malekith himself had died. However, the pursuit of happiness saw the return of the Cult of Pleasure, which the Swordmasters investigated so as to root out the corruption. When the High Loremaster presented his report, he exposed Girathon, the Chancellor of the High Court as a traitor. Girathon chose to fight rather than come quietly and killed Aethis with a poisoned dagger to the heart in the struggle.
Morvael the ImpetuousEdit
Morvael was elected to succeed Aethis. He was the High Loremaster of the Tower of Hoeth, but although learned, he had no experience in statecraft or warfare. His first act was to order a punitive attack on Naggaroth to avenge Aethis's murder: unfortunately, the army he sent was massacred as it made landfall (an event the Druchii fondly refer to as "The Day of Blood"), and word of its failure spread panic across Ulthuan. It transpired that, far from being an extinct race, the Dark Elves had simply been amassing their strength for a return to hostilities with the Asur, and Malekith took advantage of the reduced military presence to once again assault Ulthuan. Having learned from his mistakes, Morvael appointed Menethus of Caledor as his war leader. Morvael established the system of levies to rebuild the High Elf army, drained the treasury to rebuild the navy, and dispatched the Swordmasters to root out the Cult of Pleasure. Menethus succeeded in holding the Druchii at the Griffon Gate, and pushed onward to Anlec, besieging the city. A sensitive and highly-strung soul, Morvael was unable to bear the burden of the casualty reports that poured in to the Court, plagued by bad dreams (possibly sent by the Witch King's sorceresses). Upon hearing how many men had been lost in the final battle, and that Menethus himself had died in the fighting, Morvael committed suicide by walking into the flames of Asuryan. Little did he know that the Asur had triumphed in the taking of Anlec, and that the Druchii had fled.
Bel-Hathor the SageEdit
Bel-Hathor was elected to rule after Morvael's demise. He was chosen because many in the Elven court believed that he could easily be manipulated to their own ends. They were proven wrong, and Bel-Hathor became a ruler as famed for his resolve as for his wisdom. The most notable example of this was his refusal to agree to an invasion of Naggaroth: while he was aware that the High Elves could likely destroy the Dark Elves in their weakened state, he feared that such a bloody and bitter war would leave so many dead that the extinction of the Elven race would be assured. He wasn't about to gamble the future of the Elven race for the possibility of vengeance.
Bel Hathor proved a wise King who maintained the traditions of the High Elves, constructing a system of magical wards around Ulthuan, to mislead and confuse potential invaders with illusions. When lone human traders still managed to find their way to Lothern, Bel-Hathor issued a proclamation barring all non-Elves from Ulthuan, although he did dispatch Finubar to the Old World. Finubar's report on the progress of the Old World changed his mind, and Bel-Hathor rescinded his decree. Ulthuan prospered once more on the wings of ocean trade, and the King died peacefully of old age, only the second Phoenix King to do so.
Finubar, the SeafarerEdit
Finubar the Seafarer is the current Phoenix King and has been for several hundred years, since the time of the last Great Chaos incursion and the time of Magnus the Pious. Finubar is a progressive King, allowing Humans and Dwarfs into Lothern, championing both military tradition and the arts/sciences and commanding Teclis to teach the humans of The Empire the art of Magic. In the Age of Reckoning, Finubar is the leader of the High Elves and is rushing back to Ulthuan to defend his realm from the forces of Malekith. His Everqueen is Alarielle, also an NPC in WAR.