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Aethis the Poet was elected the eighth Phoenix King of Ulthuan after the passing of Bel-Korhadris. He would be the second prince from Saphery to attain the crown.[1a]

Age of the Poet

Aethis was the first Phoenix King who did not inherit an unstable kingdom or take the throne in the aftermath of a war. In his reign, the long peace continued. The Dark Elves lay quiescent in Naggaroth. Their raids ceased. Many suspected that they were a dying race, slowly passing into extinction. Rumours abound that the Witch King had finally died. The Dwarfs, too, were content to be left alone. During the early centuries of Aethis' rule, news of the founding of a new human empire reached Ulthuan, but this seemed no great cause for concern. Nothing threatened the High Elves]]. Strangely enough, this was also the period when the High Elves came to realize they were a dying race. Even during the long golden days of peace, the population had fallen. The number of births had simply decreased and the great cities began to empty.[1a]

Aethis was a noted poet and singer. He gathered all the great artists of Ulthuan to his court in Saphery. Dramatists, painters, sculptors, writers of histories and masques all found a place in his palace of carved jade. This was the high-water mark of Elf culture, when most of their greatest works of art were created. This was the period that saw the creation plays of Tazelle, and Torion Fireheart's animated court portraits. An army of sculptors and artisans beautified the mountains of Chrace. Above the Griffon Gate, a towering Griffon five hundred feet high seemed to leap from the mountain. So cunning was the sculptor's work that the story was told that it would come alive to guard the pass against any invader. Prodigious amounts of wealth were spent on grandiose projects such as these. The city of Lothern grew from a small fishing village to a great city to accommodate the increase in trade from the colonies and other realms. Contact was made with the old human empire in Cathay. Representatives of the Phoenix King arrived at the court of the Emperor of Cathay. Silk, jade and spices became valued commodities in Ulthuan.[1a]

Secure in their strength, the Elves began to run down their armies and fleets. After nearly fifteen hundred years of relative peace under Bel-Korhadris and Aethis, memories of old wars and old enmities began to fade. Approaches were made to the Dwarfs about the return of the Phoenix Crown. These were rebuffed, but the Elves took no insult.[1a]

A certain complacency set in. Many nobles cast aside their martial pursuits and traditions, thinking such brutal arts an ill fit for these civilized times. Factions sprang up at court, and intrigue - always a dangerous pastime among the Elves - became a way of life for many. Where only a handful of generations earlier a prince would have proved his worth with sword or wisdom, now he did so by delivering prettily spoken compliments and razor-sharp epigrams.[1a]

Not all in Ulthuan surrendered entirely to indolence, however. In the north, Prince Valedor of Ellyrion ensured that the watch on the great gates never faltered, and that the warriors there received the best training and the finest wargear that Ulthuan could provide. On one occasion, Valedor happened on several nobles of the Phoenix King's court as they were about the business of emptying one of the Griffon Gate's armouries. Scores of wagons were already loaded with fine-wrought Ithilmar scale and Dragon plate when Valedor encountered them. Flush with royal authority, the nobles spoke boldly at first, informing Valedor that the Phoenix King wished the 'surplus' to be used as costumes at his latest theatrical masterpiece. Valedor flew into a rage and struck down the speaker with a single blow of his mailed fist, at which point the nobles - craven and pleasure-loving wretches to an Elf - fled, leaving Valedor's warriors to return the armour to its proper place. It later transpired that Aethis had given no such instructions: nobles had acted on their own initiative in order to gain their king's favour. None of this would preserve Prince Valedor, however. Little by little, his name and reputation were whittled apart by those he had thwarted. Within a year, he had been stripped of all honour and title, and his family divested of their ancestral wealth.[1a]

Once more, the Cult of Luxury began to spread, this time cloaked in secrecy that made it even more attractive to jaded Elf aristocrats. After a while, the Swordmasters of Hoeth began to investigate the cult and report back to the White Tower. Their findings disturbed the High Loremaster for him sufficiently to take them to the Phoenix King. The Chancellor of the Court was revealed as a secret spy for Naggaroth. As he was unmasked, he drove a poisoned dagger through Aethis' heart, and so the eight Phoenix King was slain by a trusted friend.[1a]

Source

  • 1: Warhammer Armies: High Elves (8th Edition)
    • 1a: pg. 24

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