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'The War of Vengeance (referred to by the Dwarfs as the Great Betrayal, and by less serious Elves as The War of the Beard' ) was a great conflict fought from around -1997 IC to -1560 (though some battles occurred later, notably the Seige of Sith Rionnasc'namishashir in -1502) on the Imperial Calendar between the proud High Elves and the unforgiving Dwarfs. While the war itself was orchestrated by the Witch-King Malekith, each side place the blame heavily on each other. The whole affair was a great travesty and served only to weaken each race - neither the Dwarfs nor the High Elves have ever recovered. After the war, the Asur who stayed in the Old World became the Asrai or Wood Elves.
A long before the time of The Empire, Sigmar or Gilles Le Breton, during their Age of Discovery, the High Elves had allied themselves with many races; perhaps the most powerful of these were the Dwarfs. Already a great civilisation when they first made contact with the Asur, the combination of cultures increased the stature of both races. Dwarfs were well versed in the secrets of ancient runes and made the finest weapons in the world, of which many were gifted to the Princes and Dragonlords of the Asur. The Elves taught the Dwarfs how to enchant items on their own and of arts, such as literature and poetry. Trade between the races flourished, Elven silk and steel was much valued by the Dawi, and Dwarf armour, weaponry and alcohol became a common sight in Ulthuan. The fortress of Sith Rionnasc'namishathir was established at the mouth of what is now the River Reik (present day Marienburg in the Wasteland). Other colonies, such as the mighty city of Tor Alessi (present day L'Anguille in Bretonnia) were also founded.
In the Age of Strife and the tragic civil war called the Sundering, the Phoenix King Caledor the Conqueror steered the High Elves through their time of turbulence, after the murder of the previous King Bel Shannar by Malekith, the son of the first King Aenarion. However as long as Malekith and his followers still lived there would be no peace. After his defeat at the Marches of Maledor and the exile of the Dark Elves to the cold land of Naggaroth, the Witch King hatched a plan, creating a spark that would become an inferno.
In the Imperial Year -2005 IC, several Druchii raiding parties were dispatched in secret to the Old World with the intention of causing as much strife and unrest between the two races as possible. The Dark Elves achieved this by posing as Asur who were ambushing trading caravans, cheating Dawi merchants out of goods and razing several smaller settlements to the ground (the most notable of these being Zakbar Varf ). This led to the tighter strictures on Dwarven trade routes, harsher sanctions on Elves trespassing into Dwarvish territory and ultimately the reckoning of many grudges against the Asur responsible.
The Failure of DiplomacyEdit
The High King Gotrek Starbreaker stalwartly tried to avert conflict; and unaware of the civil war that had just taken place within Ulthuan, due to the Elvish refusal to speak of it, sent messengers to the Elves demanding to know the reason for the attacks and why the Phoenix King did little to resolve the crisis. The foolish reply was immediate and uncompromising, if Gotrek wanted recompense he should come to Lothern, the High Elf capital; and beg for it. The Dwarf nations were outraged, but Starbreaker attempted again to cool the temper of his Kings, and in -1997 IC sent his best ambassadors and Reckoners, led by Forek Grimbok, to Ulthuan to raise the issue with Caledor II. When the envoy arrived many Elves realised how serious the claim was, the Phoenix King's advisors among them.
The current Phoenix King, Caledor II (son of Caledor the Conqueror) recklessly denied the charges against him and the Asur, and refused to even investigate the origin of the attacks. When Grimbok demanded once again that if the Elven court could not discover who of their number was responsible for instigating the unrest then the Court themselves would be held accountable, Caledor became uncontrollably angry at Grimbok. Fearing for his reputation, Caledor ordered that Grimbok be shaved and expelled from Ulthuan, gravely insulting the him, the High King and the whole Dwarf race by extension. He returned home across foreign lands, humiliated but with purpose. Starbreaker, upon learning the terrible truth, immediately ordered the forges and armouries to begin preparing for war. Grimbok himself later became a Slayer due to the shame the incident placed upon him.
The War of VengeanceEdit
After mustering for almost a year, Dawi throngs marched to war on the Elves, drawing troops from the far ends of the Dwarven realm; Karaz Ankor . Ironbreakers of Karaz-a-Karak marched with Longbeards of Karak Azgal, Slayers from Karak Kadrin marched with Hammerers of Ekrund. Upon reaching Tor Alessi, Gotrek made an oath that he would extract recompense either in gold or blood from the High Elves or he would shave his beard. With a desire to avenge their injured pride, the Dwarfs were not about to let their King break his promise. Upon hearing of the assault on Tor Alessi, Caledor was outraged and ordered his generals to send an enormous fleet to relieve the city. The force that left Ulthuan was truly huge, dwarfing any navy before or since, and though the Council of Princes was worried that this would leave their lands undefended, Caledor was determined.
Elves and Dwarves fought bitterly until in -1974 IC Caledor slew the Dwarf Prince Snorri Halfhand after Snorri challenged him to single combat. Being tired of slaughter, and wishing reduce their losses, the Elves then retreated. Seeking revenge for his cousin’s death Morgrim Baugrim led the forces that pursued the Elves. For many years the Asur retreated until they decided to stand and fight at Oeragor (-1968 IC). When the lines met, rivers of blood flowed and hundreds on each side lost their lives until Lord Imladrik, the prince commanding the High Elf main army, was slain in single combat by Morgrim and the elves retreated once again, this time leaderless.
Morgrim was crowned a hero and he continued to capture through the Elven towns and cities across the Old World, notably razing the city Athe Maraya in -1948 IC. The heroes Lord Salendor of Tor Achare and Brok Stonefist of Karak Azgul, who had previously fought many great battles, eventually lost both their lives in the doomed city, crushed by the burning crumbling towers. The Dwarfs were quite unlike any foe the Elves had ever faced, refusing to give up even when doom or defeat was assured for them. The war became a stalemate, the mountain fortresses of the Dwarfs were unassailable and the Dawi laid siege to Tor Alessi thirteen times, but could not seem to penetrate the city's walls. Much of the Athel Loren was destroyed as the war continued for another 450 years.
The Battle of the Three TowersEdit
In the year -1560 IC at the fourteenth siege of Tor Alessi (later called "The Battle of the Three Towers"), for over a hundred days Dawi engines of war (at that time, the Dwarfs had not discovered black powder) attacked the cities mighty walls and, when it proved fruitless, they instead focused upon destroying the finely constructed towers. Eventually, the dwarfs gained entrance to the fortress and Gotrek finally comfronted Caledor at the heart of the city, where the pair dueled for three days on end, not stopping or disengaging for a second. Finally, when Caledor began to tire, Starbreaker disarmed him, broke his sword with the Rune-axe of Grimnir, and cast the Phoenix King to his knees. Pleading for his life, Caledor swore to surrender and sued for peace; however, Starbreaker not only saw that the King did not intend to keep his oath if his life was spared, but he also knew mercy was not his to give, only justice, executing him on the spot. As a final recompense, demanded so many years ago, Starbreaker took the Phoenix Crown from Caledor's head and declared the war to be ended. The remaining Asur briefly considered the impossible task of besieging Karaz-a-Karak in order to reclaim the Crown but by this time Malekith's plan had come to fruition and the Druchii had launched a titanic invasion of Ulthuan, their legions of warriors raising the ancient sunken city of Anlec from the depths of the Great Ocean. It was ordered that all the Asur, soldier, civilian and otherwise retreat from the Old World to defend Ulthuan.
Another crown was made to replace the first Phoenix Crown, which remained in the great treasure hoard of Karaz-a-Karak. The fortress of Sith Rionnasc'namishashir, ("Star Gem of the Sea in Eltharin) was razed in -1502, marking the last result of the Betrayal between Elves and Dwarfs. Although some (mainly Elves) gainsay them, the Dwarfs claim to this day that they won the War of Vengeance. However the war cost both sides hundreds of thousands of lives along with cities, fortresses, mountains of treasure, and a powerful ally in each other. Niether side ever reached such heights of greatness ever again.