- "So soon the hour of fate comes around. The Everchosen stirs from his dark throne and prepares the blow that shall split the world asunder. Realms of old have fallen, lost beneath the fury of the northlands, or smothered by vermin from below. Some heroes battle on, too stubborn to realise all hope is lost. Their time is past, and a new age of Chaos and dismay beckons. Perhaps I am foolish also, for I fight with no hope of victory. I seek only to weaken the Dark Gods, to shake their hold upon the future. No other course remains; not to mortals, nor the Divine."
- —Prophecy of the End Times
Archaon is the Everchosen, the Three-Eyed King, the Lord of the End Times and the self-proclaimed supreme champion of the four Gods of Chaos who was sent to command the last, and greatest Chaos Invasion during the apocalyptic age known simply as the End Times. Out of all the Everchosen of Chaos who have assailed the world over the ages, Archaon is by far the most ruthless and perhaps the most powerful. He is an individual that shall decide the fate of entire nations, whose sword can lay waste to heroes and armies and whose unbreakable will can break and dominate those of Gods. Archaon is truly the Herald of the Apocalypse, blessed with dreadful artifacts of ancient evil, each one bestowed as a reward for accomplishing impossible trials. In his journey, he received the legendary Six Treasures of Chaos:
- The Mark of Chaos: This shows the bearer to be the chosen of all four Chaos Gods. Bestows the Champion with the powers of all Four Chaos Gods.
- The Armour of Morkar: Extremely resilient and dark black, this armour was worn by the first Everchosen of Chaos, the greatest warrior of his time. Only the legendary Sigmar had been able to defeat him.
- The Eye of Sheerian: When mounted in the Crown of Domination, the Eye grants the bearer potent powers of prophecy and omniscience, allowing Archaon to predict the future itself. It was taken from the hoard of a massive Chaos Dragon known infamously as Flamefang.
- Dorghar, Steed of the Apocalypse: A massive, daemonic horse, Dorghar was claimed at the Gates of Chaos, stolen from the palace of the Daemon Lord Agrammon. Larger than any warhorse in existence, this dreadful creature is in itself a mount worthy of a demi-god.
- The Slayer of Kings: A huge blade with the raging soul of a captive greater daemon, U'zhul, bound inside it. Archaon took it from the hands of the Father of the Dragon Ogres, giving Archaon a weapon that has drunk the blood of Kings for aeons.
- The Crown of Domination: A symbol of absolute authority from all the forces of Chaos. Found in the First Shrine to Chaos at the Worlds Edge Mountains. Archaon learned of its location from Be'lakor. Archaon fought a Bloodthirster (Greater Daemon of Khorne) single-handedly to obtain it.
Upon retrieving the Crown, the daemon prince Be'lakor performed the coronation that made Archaon the Lord of the End Times. As the crown was fully placed, the last spark of Archaon's humanity was finally extinguished, finally accepting the Gods of Chaos to be the true Gods of the Cosmos. With his quest finally complete, Archaon now set forth upon the World as the Herald of the Apocalypse, a warrior who did the unthinkable and succeeded where hundreds of other Champions had failed. In the climax of the End Times, Archaon had battled the God-King Sigmar and brought about the final end of the Warhammer World.
- "Fear me mortals, for I am the Anointed, the favoured Son of Chaos, the Scourge of the World. The armies of the gods rally behind me, and it is by my will and by my sword that your weakling nations shall fall."
- —Archaon, Lord of the End Times
In his former life, he was known as Diederick Kastner, a highly devout and zealous Templar of the Twin-Tailed Comet, born scant few years after Magnus the Pious and the first Great War against Chaos. Though Diederick Kastner, the man who would in his despair take up the dreaded mantle of Archaon, was born as an Imperial in the province of Nordland, it was foretold in the Liber Caelistior, the dread Book of Divination penned by Necrodomo the Insane, that North and South would meet in the Everchosen's blood. And indeed this was so; for Archaon bears mixed Norscan and Nordlander heritage, his father having been a champion from the Varg tribes who forced himself upon a cowering innocent during a raid that had seen his birth-village of Hargendorf burned to the ground in 2390 IC. With the death of his mother, and the hatred of his step-father for his origins, the rape-spawned child would later go on to be adopted by a local Sigmarite Priest and become a Knight-Templar of the Order of the Twin-Tailed Orb, fighting valorously and faithfully in the service of the God-King Sigmar. But once his true heritage and destiny was revealed to him, Diederick Kastner despaired and looked for salvation, travelling many miles towards the heart of his faith.
Upon the massive Temple of Sigmar in Altdorf, the cursed Templar knelt before the Golden Statue of Sigmar and begged for a sign, to ask for his help from the darkness that has come to consume him. But the golden statue stood silent, and with its unspoken words, the Templar knew that it was hopeless. He renounced the gods of the south but still affirmed his hatred for the dark gods of his father, accepting the cruel destiny engineered for him as a final means to repay the Fates for the evil they had done upon him. Thus did Diederick become Archaon the Everchosen, the Three-Eyed King, greatest of all the champions of Chaos. His deeds legend and his armies vast, innumerable foes of dauntless might lie bleeding in his calamitous stride. But deep inside, he wholly resented the Gods of Chaos and the misery they have brought upon him. Thus the half-Norscan warlord stood ready to fulfill his destiny and to usher in the end of all things, and in the very end, he shall come face the very God of his people, of all Mankind.
The Six Treasures of Chaos
- "Forged from the other world, six treasures shall he posses....Upon his head the crown shall see all, and open eyes will prove woe to mortal kind.....Then shall he ride unto the World...Then will the World know that the last war has begun...."
- —Prophecy of Fate, taken by the Book of Divination by Necrodomo the Insane
So it was that Archaon journeyed to the waste for nearly 100 years, searching for the legendary Artifact that would exalt him to his true destiny as the Everchosen. The first treasure he sought was a unique "Mark of Chaos", that bears the blessings of all four powers in unison. It combines all of the advantages of the individual Marks of Chaos, blessing the bearer with all their power. The first part of Archaon's dark quest was to go to the Altar of True Darkness in Naggaroth and offer himself to the Gods to gain their favour and recognition. He gathered a small band of Chaos Warriors he called the Swords of Chaos and battled his way to a citadel so tall it appeared to pierce Morrslieb itself. Inside the citadel, it was said to be blacker than even the heart of a Dark Elf soul, for when one of Archaon's followers attempted to light a torch, it was snuffed out instead by the all-consuming darkness. Archaon was unafraid, and marched off alone with his steed into the darkness. As he continued to march, an untold number of creatures had thrown themselves upon the potential Everchosen. In this dire moment, his loyal steed was consumed by these monsters, and realising the death of a loyal friend he knew since his early years as a squire had boiled Archaon into a killing frenzy. Within a matter of hours, he was able to slay hundreds of the misshapen monsters that have infested the mighty citadel, until finally his sword-arm turned numb and the ground grew slippery with the blood and gore of the fallen. Rising up from the filth, Archaon reconsecrated the altar for the Gods of Chaos, offering up the hearts of the creatures that had crawled in and defiled it. When he emerged he bore the eternally burning Mark of Chaos on his forehead.
The next artifact he sought was the "Armour of Morkar" the armour worn by the very first Everchosen. It makes the wearer invulnerable to all but the most powerful of attacks, making the wearer nigh-unstoppable in the heat of combat. After leaving Naggaroth on a stolen ship made of black metal and pulled by a massive sea-drake, Archaon took leadership of a seafaring war-band along the way to his destination. They sailed to a mysterious land populated with savage half-humans. Neither sun nor moon had ever touched their pallid skin and after six days and six nights of battle after battle, the city of these creatures had been reduced to rubble. Archaon delved deep into their necropolis until he found the Tomb of Morkar and the armour he sought. However, as Archaon reached out to take it, the spirit of Morkar animated the armour and attacked him. The vengeful spirit laid down a relentless flurry of blows until Archaon cursed it in the language of the Unberogen tribe. The attack ceased for a moment, and Archaon smashed him aside, banishing the spirit of Morkar and allowing him to claim the armour as his own.
Then there was the "Eye of Sheerian", which is named after the Tzeentchian Sorcerer who discovered it. Although on its own it grants the bearer prophetic powers, when placed in the Crown of Domination its prophetic powers can be used to their true ability and allow the bearer to predict and avoid the attacks of the enemy. After claiming the Armour of Morkar, Archaon set out to retrieve the Eye of Sheerian. At that time it lay in the lair of the Chaos Dragon Flamefang, who valued the Eye above all of it's other treasures. Archaon placed his claim for the Eye by smashing his axe into Flamefang's head. Long did man and monster battle at the base of the Cliff of Beasts. Flamefang breathed fire and even swallowed Archaon whole, but the Armour of Morkar protected him from its acidic stomach. Archaon hacked his way out of the Dragon's gullet with the ferocity of a Flesh Hound, until Flamefang's throat was hacked to shreds and it died of exhaustion and blood loss. Archaon plucked the Eye of Sheerian from its place on the belly of the Dragon and hung it around his neck as his rightful reward.
The next treasure to be won was the dreaded demonic mount of Agrammon. Alternatively known as "Dorghar", "Ghurshy'ish'phak", "Yrontalie", or the "Steed of the Apocalypse", this daemonic beast was stolen from the menagerie of the Daemon Prince Agrammon in the Realm of Chaos. Archaon battled his way past the Daemons guarding Agrammon's palace and sneaked inside, hiding beneath a beast that was part man, part mammoth and part insect. Inside was every beast imaginable, and some that are not. Archaon tracked Dorghar through the menagerie by its sulfurous stench. When he found it he vaulted on to its back. The Steed of the Apocalypse changed shape and burst into flames, but Archaon was able to break it like a wayward stallion and escape from the Realm of Chaos.
Eventually he sought a legendary Chaos Blade, known by many as the "Slayer of Kings" which was the sacred blade of Vangel, the second Everchosen. He bound the Greater Daemon U'zhul into the blade, and the millennia of imprisonment have sent it insane with rage and fury. It was said to rest at the top of Chimera Plateau, located near the roof of the world, where Archaon and his steed Dorghar has journeyed. The warriors battling around the plateau saw the determination and destiny of Archaon, and he quickly gathered a huge horde of followers to wage war against the Chimera's. They swiftly defeated the Chimera hordes guarding the higher passes where Archaon and his three companions climbed to the top of the plateau. From the top, Archaon looked down on the world, swearing that he would one day rule over all of it. Suddenly, what he had taken for a mountain behind him turned over in its sleep, causing a series of earthquakes in the lands below. Archaon soon realised that the mountain was actually the father of the Dragon Ogre race, Krakanrok the Black. Even he could not defeat such a foe, so instead he and his companions sneaked past the titanic monster, only to find that the Slayer of Kings was clasped into its chest. Prince Ograx the Great, the strongest of Archaon's companions, was able to lift up one of Krakanrok's talons high enough for Archaon to retrieve the Daemonsword. However, the Daemon bound inside began to shriek with deafening volume. As Krakanrok began to stir, Archaon thought fast and plunged the Slayer of Kings into Prince Ograx's chest. With the blade's thirst quenched with royal blood, Archaon was able to sheath it and return from the plateau to the cheers of his followers, carrying his blade with him throughout all his battles.
After many years of endless journeying, Archaon has finally gathered all Five of the Artifacts except one. Forged before the dawn of man, the "Crown of Domination" once held the Eye of Sheerian, but had since been lost to history. It strikes terror into the bearer's foes and gives strength to his very allies. Decades after finding the Slayer of Kings, Archaon still had no clue as to the whereabouts of this ancient battle-helm. Eventually Be'lakor revealed its location, planning to steal the crown after Archaon found it. The crown lay in the First Shrine to Chaos, high on an icy peak in the Worlds Edge Mountains. Be'lakor led Archaon up the mountain, the Steed of the Apocalypse carrying him over the most difficult terrain.
After a day and a half of ceaseless climbing, Archaon stood before the massive double gate that was the entrance to the Shrine. Through the gateway was a labyrinth filled with dire beasts and vengeful Daemons. Archaon was tested by each of the Chaos Gods to see if he was truely worthy to be the Everchosen. Nurgle sent deadly diseases that Archaon fought off with sheer willpower. Tzeentch created a labyrinth of crystal, but Archaon blindfolded himself and used instinct alone to navigate it. Slaanesh sent temptation after temptation, but Archaon resisted, never diverting from the path to the inner gates of the Shrine.
After passing through the inner gates, Archaon found himself on a narrow causeway surrounded with hellfire that scorched his skin and burnt away his hair. Suddenly, a mighty Bloodthirster of Khorne erupted from the flames and attacked the potential Everchosen. The Greater Daemon was strong, but Archaon drew strength from the Slayer of Kings and wrested the Bloodthirster's weapons away and strangled it with it's own whip. The hellfire died away, leaving Archaon gravely injured and standing in a simple shrine. A throne stood at the back of the shrine, with a withered corpse sitting on it. On the top of its withered skull sat the Crown of Domination. Archaon took the crown and, with his wounds healing and frame swelling with power, he held it to the heavens. After over a century of searching, he had claimed the title of Everchosen. All that he needed now was a coronation. Upon retrieving the Crown, the daemon prince Be'lakor performed the coronation that made Archaon the Lord of the End Times, and begins mustering the largest army ever seen by mortal kind. It was from that day forward that the last spark of Archaon's humanity was extinguished, and from now until the end of days, Archaon has finally embraced the destiny that lays before him.
The End Times
Main Article: The End Times
When Archaon finally completed his centuries long odyssey throughout the dark places of the world and was crowned Lord of the End Times, he immediately began work to add the remaining Northern tribes who had not yet pledged themselves to his apocalyptic banner to his vast armies.
Within a short time, he had succeeded in bringing every last tribe, clan or warrior-band that had ever vied for control of the tainted Northlands under his iron-fisted rule. Bloodthirsty Aeslings and barbaric Baersonlings, wily Skaelings and sea-faring Sarls, twisted Vargs, savage Graelings and berserker Bjornlings and a thousand other hard-hearted Norse tribes aside, all did answer the Everchosen's call. The heroes of the North flocked to Archaon's banner - Wulfrik the Wanderer, Valnir the Reaper, Sigvald the Magnificent, and countless other heroes who thirsted for the chance to prove themselves in the Final Battle before the Dark Gods.
With the coming of late autumn, the Norscan tribes charged down from the north upon the realm of Kislev, the 1000th year of the nation's storied history by the Gospodarin calendar. This was to be its last. The city of Praag fell swiftly to the howling fury of the horde, while Erengrad fared only slightly better, barely holding out against Archaon's armies before falling swiftly to midnight reavers in wolfships that unloaded lethal cargoes of insane Chaos Warriors and berserkers. The Chaos Hordes burned the city's western seaport to the ground before putting all its inhabitants to the sword. The city of Kislev -- that legendary bastion which shared its named with the mighty land, was taken by storm in a single night of terrifying bloodshed; its proud walls reduced to rubble, thick with screaming forests of impaled men, women and children.
Those few of Kislev's people rallied behind the Tzarina Katarin, who had miraculously survived the slaughter of the city of Kislev. Under her leadership, the ragged remnants of the Kislevite nation staged a doomed resistance against the depredations of the Norsemen and their allies. In the end, their struggle proved pointless, for the Norsemen rampaged throughout the scorched remains of the nation and killed and plundered where they wished, taking resources and testing themselves for the true battle against the hated Empire that lay further south. Tzarina Katarin and her followers were eventually slain at their final stand at the ruins of Erengrad. With no further resistance, Archaon led the Norsemen further southwards.
Realizing that they could not withstand the hordes of Norsca, the Supreme Patriarch Balthasar Gelt raised a massive wall many miles that stood like a flood gate that held the Hordes of Chaos at bay. This mighty bastion was named the Auric's Bastion. A massive construct of magic and faith that would span the immense Imperial-Kislev border, no amount of magic or cannonry could ever hope to breach it.
However, the Bastion could not fully prevent the Norsemen from crossing into the Empire. Warbands, led by particularly bloodthirsty or foolhardy chieftains, scaled the towering edifice and managed to raid villages and besiege scattered fortresses. The most significant of these warbands was the horde of the Kurgan chieftain Festak Kran, a champion of Nurgle. His warband succeeded in pushing deep into the western Empire, causing much havoc before he was eventually stopped by the heroism of Valten, Champion of Sigmar. Festark Kran's death however, would not stop Archaon from achieving his goal.
The Death of the Wolf God (2527 IC)
- "I am the Final Moment made flesh. I stand here on this mountain, and I will sit on this throne. I will be the axis upon which the wheel of change turns, and the world will drown in the light of unborn stars."
- —Archaon, Lord of the End Times
Archaon, the Three-Eyed, Warrior-King of the North, High King of Norsca, High Zar of Kurgan, Everchosen of the Dark Gods and the greatest warrior ever to walk the earth, was on the march. In his wake came the full might of all the North - every tribe and warrior of Norsca who had proffered sword-oath that they might fight the Final, Glorious battle to seal the fate of the world. Upon this mighty Horde were all the eyes of their ascendant gods.
The mighty fleet of longships made landfall upon the straits of Kislev, unopposed, but not unobserved. A thousand-thousand beady red eyes that watched from the shadows widened in fear as tribe after tribe of savage Norscans waded ashore. Soon, the old Nordland coast was thick for miles with black-armoured, horn-helmed Northlanders. Yet still, the warriors of the North flooded the shore. The veil between worlds was rent by the sickly luminescence of the black halo that was the remains of the Witch-Moon Morrsleib, causing hordes of daemons to caper into blasphemous existence on the edges of the great freigattur.
So vast and anarchic an army should have taken weeks to order, if they could be ordered at all. Yet all warriors of the horde felt the oppressive weight of their King as keenly as any steel blade, and bent to it without question. The Council of Thirteen and their Skaven hordes, disarmed by the notion of the full might of the Savage North being marshaled at the time of their triumph, made the decision to ingratiate themselves with the Chaos Host lest they engender their complete annihilation by standing in the path of the barbarians. The great Northern King accepted the Under-Empire's fealty. The Skaven would be allowed to serve. They were, after all, true children of Chaos just as the Beastmen were, and their particular talents would prove invaluable in the coming days.
Just as Archaon's freigattur marched in apocalyptic step, so too did Middenheim's defenders ready themselves for the horde's onslaught. Valten, Herald of Sigmar and champion of the Empire had ridden hard for Middenheim, seeking to bolster the city's legendary defences with his own mighty force. Elector Count Boris Todbringer, consumed with his vendetta against his long time rival, Khazrak One-Eye, had resolved, despite the dissent of his nobles and the Knights of the White wolf, to sally forth into the Drakwald and slay the beast once and for all. In his stead, he made Valten the acting Lord of all Middenheim. The loss of Boris Todbringer in a foolish quest for vengeance severely weakened the great city, leaving it vulnerable to the massed Norse horde. Nevertheless, Valten was determined to carry out his charge and protect the people of Middenheim. With the aid of the two greatest gods of the Empire - Sigmar and Ulric, the warrior was certain he would be able to bring Archaon himself to battle and slay him. For the Three-Eyed King's part, he knew of Valten well, and was equally determined to slay the preening southlander to further prove the lie of the false idols he called gods.
The slaughter began as battle was joined at the walls of Middenheim. To be a man of the North at that time was to walk in the wake of legend itself - Egil Styrbjorn, Ragnar Painbringer, Sven Bloody-Hand, Engra Deathsword, Wulfrik the Wanderer, Valkia the Bloody, Sigvald the Magnificent, Scyla Anfingrimm, Valnir the Reaper and a thousand other legendary names of dark renown and terror thundered across the field, leading their tribesmen across a bloody field to face the cowardly Middenlanders who perched atop their mountain fastness dreading the wrath of the Northmen. Warhirds of savage Aeslings charged up the ramparts, driving their bloody axes into the flesh of their enemies while roaring bestial praises to the Lord of Blood. Barbarian Bjornlings braved the hail of cannonfire and crossbow bolts as their locked their massive kite-shields and slowly took the pathways of the labyrinthine city. The tribes of Norsca fought on, with the grim fatalistic determination of their race they hacked and slew for the glory of their hateful gods. Yet despite the onslaught, the men of Middenheim took heart for they recalled the ancient legends of their forefathers that told that the city of Ulric would remain unconquered so long as the flame of the god burned.
Yet below the Fauschlag, their fate was already being sealed. For Teclis, Loremaster of Ulthuan, was enacting the next foolish step of his ill-conceived plan to defeat Chaos in order to foster the resurrection of his brother Tyrion, now cleansed of the Curse of Aenarion, into the Incarnate of Light. To revive his brother, he would need the energies of the first and mightiest of the gods of the Empire - Ulric himself, whose physical embodiment in the world burned as a blinding flame within the great mountain itself - the fire burning above but a pale facsimile. Teclis stole the Flame, thus slaying the great Ulric. Arrogantly believing his plan to be the only way to save the world from Chaos, the Dark Gods laughed heartily as the foolish elf mage only precipitated in the annihilation he sought to prevent.
The people of Middenheim let out a desolate cry of sorrow and horror unimaginable as the Flame of Ulric at last guttered and gave out with their deity's death. Only one Imperial stood resolute against the tide of northern warriors, in his hand was clutched the hammer of Sigmar himself. Valten reaped a terrible toll from amongst the legends of the North, for many heroes of Norsca sought to slay him for the glory of the gods and favor of their king.
At last, Archaon himself had taken the field. He sought out Valten and brought him to single combat. The Three-Eyed King mocked Sigmar's champion, calling him unworthy of the man-god's ancient hammer. And though Valten was a peerless warrior amongst his own kind, it was truly not within his mind to vanquish the Everchosen. The Ulricsmund shook with the battle as U'zuhl, the Slayer of Kings and Ghal Maraz clashed again and again.
The two warriors traded earth-shattering blows in an intricate waltz of destruction, strikes that could have annihilated any mortal man dozens of times over. Two destinies at war, the skeins of fate straining to control their struggle as the rest of the battle simply faded into the background, where heroes lived and died in their dozens. Yet here was the only contest that mattered. The future of all creation would be decided, either by the Slayer of Kings or the Splitter of Skulls.
The raging battle ceased for a moment when Gregor Martak, filled with the last withered godspark of Ulric, attempted to intervene and swing the pendulum of combat in Valten's favour. As it transpired, the Herald's death was not by the edge of Archaon's mighty daemonblade, but by the hand of Verminlord Skreech Verminking, who decapitated the Herald of Sigmar. The Eye of Sheerien flared like a dying star, and as all who gathered felt Archaon's godlike rage, a force unto itself that washed over all present as a wave of agonizing, incandescent heat burned clean away the smoke and drove back the shadow. The skies buckled with the Three-Eyed King's fury as a bolt of sorcerous lightning sundered the skies and smote the Temple of Ulric. The Everchosen set down the corpse of his rival and rose, his anger at being denied this prophesied battle a thing to cow the gods themselves.
The Everchosen weathered the cold fury of Gregor Martak's spells, wading out from the arcane blizzards he conjured as though they were no more substantial than fog. Contemptuously, he raised up the Supreme Patriarch by the throat and slew him with his blade. Without the inspiration of his presence to give them hope, the defenders of Middenheim quickly disintegrated in the face of Valten's demise and the immensity of the Norscan army. Their few remaining positions quickly overrun, the ragged survivors pursued unto death by their victorious foes. Thus it came to pass, with the Norsemen playing out the final steps of annihilation begun by their ancestors when Cormac Bloodaxe led his mighty horde upon Sigmar's empire all those many centuries ago. Middenheim had fallen.
The End of All Things (2528 IC)
- "So soon the hour fate comes around. The Everchosen stirs from his dark throne and prepares the blow that shall split the world asunder. Realms of old have fallen, lost beneath the fury of the northlands, or smothered by vermin from below. Some heroes battle on, too stubborn to realise all hope is lost. Their time is past, and a new age of Chaos and dismay beckons. Perhaps I am foolish also, for I fight with no hope of victory. I seek only to weaken the Dark Gods, to shake their hold upon the future. No other course remains; not to mortals, nor the Divine."
- —Lileath, Goddess of Prophecy
Archaon was now in ascendance; Middenheim was undoubtedly the proudest conquest of their long and storied history, for its capture was an unmatched humiliation of the weakling gods of the Empire. Particularly of Sigmar, the ancient foe of the North. The hated Empire of the south was all but vanquished - Altdorf a festering ruin, Talabheim a scorched waste and Middenheim the staging ground from where the Northmen would strike the final blow against Sigmar's heirs. Only Averheim, capital of the province of Averland, stood unbowed against the bite of Norse steel.
Archaon had claimed the Temple of Ulric as his hall in the many months since he and his Norsemen had laid the city low. His throne forged from the bones of Ulric's priest, and the hammer of Ghal Maraz set upon it as a trophy - a testament to the supremacy of the Dark gods of the North over the deities of the south. There, he received the supplications of his warriors and daemons who were oath-pledged before the gods to his service. Once, the temple had been illuminated by the Fire of Ulric, but that callow flame had proven no more divine than the dim torches that hung upon the walls of the defiled temple. Ulric had been shown to be a lie, just as Sigmar was a lie. With the conquest of Middenheim, he had proven the former. With the skull of Karl Franz, he would prove the latter.
The Three-Eyed King had already set the wheels in motion for the doom of the world, having dispatched tribes to batter Middenheim under the command of Vilitch the Curseling. The tribes dedicated to Tzeentch fell upon the city, roaring out bleak warriors' songs as they battered the walls of the Averburg with hellcannon fire, and black-armoured northlanders had climbed up the rubble of fallen walls to slake their bloodthirst upon the men of Averheim. Yet at the final moment, where the final fall of Averheim was assured, salvation for the southmen was found in the arrival of Sigmar Heldenhammer and the last surviving warriors of the Empire. With the Dwarfen Warriors of Karak Kadrin, led by their mighty king Ungrim Ironfist, the Emperor successfully drove back the Tzeentchians and freed Averheim of their fury.
Back at his hall at Middenheim, Archaon had realised that the time for deception and feint had long passed. Now dawned the hour of murder and slaughter. Unsheathing his mighty blade, he slew the Greater Daemon of Tzeentch, Kairos Fateweaver, beheading the abomination and taking his blood as the sacrament with which to honour the greatest of all the Dark gods - Khorne.
From the blood and broken corpse rose the mightiest of Khorne's Bloodthirsters - Ka'Bandha, Lord of the Third Host, who pledged his service to Archaon for it was the murderous will of the Bloodfather. With the aid of the Bloodthirster, Archaon gathered the most brutal Norscans into a terrifying army dubbed the Berserker Onslaught, commanded by himself and two of the most favoured Khornate champions of Norse blood - Valkia the Bloody and Scyla Anfingrimm. The three Norsemen led the horde southwards upon Averheim, intent on breaking the last vestige of Imperial resistance.
The northern skyline was soon choked with skull-laden banners and the air rang out with the discordant shrieking of savage Norscan war-songs. Many were the renowned warriors gathered into the ranks of the Berserker Onslaught - the mighty Skaramor clans, the merciless warriors of Valkia's Bloodied Horde, fresh from their victory over the armies of Naggaroth in the far north, and many others whose blades thirsted for Southling blood. But scant hours after Archaon's personal standard had crested the skyline did the Berseker Onslaught charge - and Averheim rocked with the bellow of drumbeat and the roar of battlecry.
The Norse charged forth at the great northern wall of Averheim, throwing massive heavy-bladed axes and daggers at their foes atop the battlements. A rain of hellish cannonfire greeted them as they thundered across the Aver Valley. Thousands fell, many hundreds more were gravely injured, but so immersed with the fury of Khorne were the Norse that they weathered the endless hail and climbed over the mounds of their dead to avenge themselves upon the cowardly Imperials. Oaths to Sigmar, Grimnir and the Lady were drowned out by bellowing roars as the berserkers called out the eight-thousand bloody names of Khorne as it finally came to be the Northlanders' time to wreak slaughter. Few Southmen could match the fury of a Norsemen, and even fewer the endless wrath of the bloodthirsty champions of Khorne. Soon, the trickle of Norscans upon the walls transformed into a mighty flood and all foes broke before them. Not even the mighty knights of Bretonnia and the grim Dwarfs of Zhufbarak and Karak Kadrin could stand long before the savage fury of the North.
The Onslaught had devolved into little more than a wild mob of savage warriors by the time they had reached the Steilstrasse. Drunk on slaughter and caked in offal, crimson-armoured Norse champions thundered forth on brass-skinned Juggernauts, their runed axes reaping a frightening toll from their foes. Matchless warriors of the Skullrage, legendary Norsii knights said to have fought at the side of Morkar the Uniter himself, duelled with the greatest Bretonnian knights. Even where their riders were slain, their Juggernauts continued their fight lost in a shard of Khorne's everlasting rage. Towards the east wall, the shield-walls of Norsca and Karak Kadrin clashed, with the Dwarfs weathering the brutality of their foes with a skill that only the most battle-hardened northlanders could match. Yet the Northman matched the skill of their grim foes with wild bloodlust, and so many of Ungrim's slayers found the deaths they longed for atop the walls of the Averburg.
Ungrim Ironfist had held alongside his favoured warriors thus far, though now it seemed his doom had come. Scyla Anfingrimm, Talon of Khorne, had followed his slaughterer's instincts to the Magnusspitze, and the truest savages of Archaon's hird had followed in his murderous wake. Axe-wielding savages, neither fully men nor daemons, who sought to drown out their own internal agonies with the death-cries of their foes: forsaken warriors who had long been cast aside from the shifting gaze of the gods and set upon the path of death or spawndom. Where the Dwarfs had managed to hold back the rest of the Norscan horde - there was no way to contain Scyla's howling host. With tendril, pinion and snapping claw, the Bloodbeasts crushed the slayers under their mindless, bestial bloodlust.
Scyla at last had found Ungrim on the field of battle and matched his mighty claw against the Axe of Dargo. The Slayer King was buttressed by a ancient power - the very Wind of Aqshy itself, which strengthened his limbs and guided his blows, cloaked itself about him and burned away the darkness. But Scyla was amongst the Blood God's most beloved warriors, and in the Final Days of the world, he had grown mighty indeed. Insensate to the pain of the magical fires Ungrim now conjured, the Chaos Spawn bore down upon him earth-shattering blows and pulverised his armour. Once, twice, thrice, the former Norse champion had used Ungrim as an improvised flail, using the king to crush and shatter his very subjects. When Scyla drew the battered Dwarf back for a fourth time, it was then that Ungrim let fly his final, desperate swing.
The Slayer King had aimed for the Chaos Spawn's head, but it had seemed that his axe-blow had instead found the hulk's massive arm - the very one with which he now grasped him. The axe bit deep, and Scyla howled in unholy rage as he instinctively threw away the Dwarf. Blinded with pain and fury, he leapt upon the prone king, who with desperation quickly rose to his full height and slashed his blade across the hulking Scyla's belly, nearly drowning himself in the creature's smouldering blood. Scyla howled in fury a second time, but could not halt the momentum of his charge in time before he struck the edge of Magnusspitze's parapet with a sickening crunch, and then plunged over the edge into the smoke-wreathed sky beyond. None could be certain however, if this had spelt the end of the one time saviour of the Bay of Blades, though he did not reappear in later battles.
Far across the city, the Emperor's Company was swiftly losing momentum. Only Karl Franz himself, in truth the god Sigmar Heldenhammer reborn though it was unknown amongst his comrades, seem untouched by weariness and many were the prayers made that the power that strengthened the Emperor would not expend itself until the gold-helmed Everchosen was slain. As the fur-clad and steel-sheathed warriors swarmed all about them, the Swords of Chaos - Archaon's own warband and the elite core of the Berserker Onslaught - had spurred into the fray. Their charge was unto the southlings as the ending of worlds, as their impact trampled hundreds of brave warriors of both the Reiksguard and Griffon Order alike into the gore-slick dirt.
Above the charge of the Norscans flew the mightiest of their legendary shield-maidens - the dauntless warrior-queen Valkia the Bloody, the Bringer of Glory, she who carried the fallen to Khorne's halls. Though Archaon - King of the Northmen - had made his claim upon his southern counterpart, there were still many choice trophies to be laid at Khorne's feet, and the Gorequeen had set her malefic gaze upon the Imperial standard, as well as the skull of he who bore it - Ludvig Schwarzehelm.
Both Valkia and the Emperor's Champion duelled amidst the battle - peerless warriors of their respective races. Though Schwarzehelm was a swordsman of exquisite renown who bore no equal among the men of the south, Valkia had been a queen of Norsca in mortal life, and in immortal daemonhood bore the highest favour of Khorne himself. Valkia's spear, Slaupnir, had torn its brutal way through Ludvig's breastplate and pierced his heart, slaying him. But in his death-throes, the warrior had raised the Imperial standard Valkia sought to claim and drove it through her daemonic flesh, the Daemon Prince's very momentum driving her further and further down the spear, until the heartwood shaft had shattered her unnatural spine.
As the two died, Archaon had at last sought out the Emperor - his foe and great adversary. A strange silence fell upon the field as the two locked their fierce eyes upon each other. The sense of destiny defied was electric in the air, the sense of fate itself sheering loose of the path set for it. The Everchosen raised his mighty blade and rode towards his enemy, and the moment was lost.
The Everchosen did not ride at once to meet his foe in combat - his swing had been the signal for his Swords of Chaos to charge ahead and engage the foe. Not one of the heavily armoured Norse riders had reached their enemy, having been burned to cinders by the Emperor's lightning or torn from their saddles by Deathclaw. Archaon remained motionless as he beheld the slaughter of his closest knights and nodded to the Emperor. The barest of salutes perhaps, or the satisfied foresight of the contest to come.
The Norsemen still continued streaming onto the Magnusplitze, while their victory was all but assured at the Steilstrasse, there it was less a complete rout for their foes and more a grinding stalemate, given the timely arrival of the warriors of Zhufbarak who reinforced their red-haired cousins of Karak Kadrin.
As the battle raged on the Magnusplitze, so too it was waged with no less fury on the Steilstrasse. Imperial soldiers fought back to back as frenzied Northmen slaughtered their ways through their ranks. The men of Carroburg and Ostland, Quenelles and Altdorf, all felt felt despair rise up like bile as Aeslings, Baersonlings, Bjornlings and Graelings thundered and muscled through their lines and slaughtered men without mercy.
Yet among all this bloodshed - one battle stood ascendant above all that. That as was between the Emperor and Archaon Everchosen themselves. Compared to this confrontation - the earth-shaking duel between the Three-Eyed King and the devil Sigmarite Valten was but a mere prelude. Around the combatants, the Swords of Chaos formed a protective ring to thwart the efforts of the Emperor's Reiksguard, or indeed any other, to intrude upon this mighty reckoning. Bound with the full power of Azyr as he was, the Emperor was nearly Archaon's physical equal. Deafening metallic clamour rang out as U'zuhl and Ghal Maraz clashed together, daemonfire and holy lightning striking out with every blow. Below, Dorghar and Deathclaw duelled with every bit the same fury as their masters, red wounds streaking the Griffon's hide and dark blood flowing free from the daemonsteed's thick hide.
The Emperor called out to the heavens to unleash their fury down upon Archaon, lashing the Norse Lord with bolts of lightning. Unperturbed, the Everchosen countered with his own dark magic, wreathing the Emperor in daemonflame that would have surely burned him to his very soul had it not been for the protective enchantments of the Seal of Purity. Again and again did blows fall, the two warlords striking out in a dance of steel with skill so impeccable that it seemed almost a rehearsed battle. All around them, Norsemen and Imperial alike fell into the sodden mud, their skill having failed them. Yet still, the Northern King and Emperor fought.
At last, the Hammer of Sigmar battered away Archaon's rune-shield and thundered into the black plate of Morkar the Uniter's armour with a dull clang drowned out by Archaon's bestial bellow of pain. This small victory proved bitter, however for the Emperor had left his defences dangerously weakened and the Slayer of Kings lashed out to take advantage.
Deathclaw saw the blow before his master did, and imposed himself between the Emperor and the keen edge of U'zuhl. Instead of striking the Emperor's neck, as Archaon intended, the daemonblade had instead hammered into Deathclaw's skull. Blood oozing from the blow, senses struck clean by the hammer of the impact, the mighty griffon tumbled to earth with a muffled screech and threw his lord from the saddle.
Archaon was on his foe the minute he had fallen to earth. The Slayer of Kings arced down with blinding speed and tore a bloody groove through the Emperor's powerful plate and bit deeply into the flesh. the Essence of Ghal Maraz struck out a second time, but it was slow now with its wielder having suffered such a mortal wound and Archaon easily dodged the strike and laughed at a foe so nearly humbled. He did not charge his steed now, for the Emperor was defeated. Nor did he call his Swords to end the cretin princeling's life. Instead, he merely goaded Dorghar to a tread and slowly approached his beaten foe.
Archaon raised the Slayer of Kings and brought it down in a murderous arc, while the Emperor raised his hammer of light in a desperate guard against it. The two weapons met with a ponderous clang, but Archaon tore his weapon away and brought down again with twice as much force. With that strike, the Slayer of Kings thundered into the Essence of Ghal Maraz and the hammer exploded into a thousand shards of light. The Three-Eyed King mocked the fallen Emperor as a thief, declaring the power mantled upon him was not his property for it was stolen from its true master - the Changer of Ways. Archaon tore away the power of the Wind of Azyr from the Emperor, returning it back to the possession of Tchar the Raven God. Archaon had prevailed over his nemesis.
Seeing the wretched Emperor as unworthy of even the effort of killing, the Three-Eyed King elected to deny him the honour of a warrior's death, declaring that no god favoured him nor cared if he lived or died. Averheim was now lost, smothered under the wrath of the Northmen like all the rest of the world. With no recourse, Balthezar Gelt conjured a spell to transport the survivors of the Emperor's army to Athel Loren - the last place in the world spared the fury of the Norscans, leaving only Ungrim Ironfist and the Sons of Kazakrendum to cover their retreat. Every last Dwarf not of Zhufbarak died a loathsome death that day.
With his victory over the Empire seemingly assured, Archaon led his victorious warriors back to Middenheim, where they would enact the final stages for the annihilation of the feculent world the Three-Eyed King had decreed was worthy only of death. The triumph of the Northmen was swiftly imperilling the delicate Weave that the Wood Elves of Athel Loren had strived so hard to maintain. The travails grew so deadly, that many of the forest wraiths began to succumb to the madness of Chaos. With every assault the Norse and their allies had made, the more they pushed the world towards its unmaking.
Such devastation could not come into being overnight, of course. Indeed, without an explosive influx of Chaotic energies similar to the terrible occurrences glimpsed during the Fall of the Old Ones, this unmaking would doubtless have taken centuries. However, a horrifying tipping point was emerging – one that if left unchecked would reduce the world to formless, primordial Chaos. And already, it’s precursors were being felt.
Within the bowels of the Fauschlag, the Northmen had uncovered that which they had sought at Middenheim since times immemorial. An ancient device, left from the age when the gods warred against the Old Ones; a device that, if properly coaxed, would unleash a rift to the Realm of the Gods, one similar in intensity to the two gateways that stood at either pole. Without an equal to cancel it out, as had been the case with the Polar Rifts, this new gateway would devour the Old World unabated, and indeed also undo the bindings placed upon its two siblings, thus undoing the delicate equilibrium that had been unwittingly created by the Coming of Chaos, and play out the last acts of damnation began those many thousands of years ago.
Ka’Bandha, Lord of the Bloodthirsters, had grown impatient with the Everchosen’s obstinate desire to remain in Middenheim while blood was yet to be spilled. Though he had sent many foes to Khorne’s halls and won a mighty victory at Averheim, his refusal to hunt the last remnants of resistance to the dread will of the gods was deemed disrespectful to Khorne in the eyes of the Bloodthirster. Archaon, unbowed against the Greater Daemon’s rage, suggested that Ka’Bandha lead his pack to claim the Emperor’s skull for Khorne, but he would deliver his flesh to adorn the Three-Eyed King’s black throne. With new, purpose Ka’Bandha led the Blood Hunt to run down and slaughter the last embers of resistance to Chaos’ rule.
The ancient daemonhost did not need to hound out their quarry, for the army of the Incarnates rode out in a last desperate charge to avert the destruction Archaon sought to unleash. Their forces were greatly enhanced by their alliance with the Undying King Nagash, and his surviving Mortarchs. The dead of 11 provinces rose up to aid the last army of Light against the red ravagers of the god of war.
Though the Incarnates and their dark allies fought tooth and nail against the daemonic hordes, they could not prevail against the boundless fury of rage itself given form. The Lord of the Hunt led his fellow daemons in smashing apart the forces of the Incarnates, while he himself set his burning gaze upon the Emperor himself. In a last ditch effort, the Incarnates cast a potent spell to transport themselves and a select few of their forces into the Ulricsmund itself. Slowing all the Incarnates made their way to the Temple of Ulric, where it is upon those grounds that the forces of the World faced the Herald of the Apocalypse. The battle was epic to behold as the armies of all the mortal races stand united against the Forces of Chaos undivided. It was at this very moment, that Sigmar had reunited with his hammer, Ghal Maraz, and faced Archaon alongside his Incarnates.
Having dispatched the Incarnate of Beasts, the Everchosen moved to engage Sigmar in single combat. Fully manifested upon the mortal plane as was possible for a being of his divine power, the Heldenhammer’s avatar proved Archaon’s physical equal. The battle fought between them was perhaps the fiercest fought of all that were waged during the End Times. Thunderously did U'zuhl and Ghal Maraz clash in blows that could have shattered mountains and shook the very world to its foundations. Throughout the battle, Sigmar raged at the Everchosen; lamenting that once he, a son of a daughter of the Empire, may have been the sword that would have wiped the Empire clean of taint and led humanity into a bright new age. Archaon’s anger blazed brighter, for in his frenzy he laid upon Sigmar with all his hatred, decrying the God-King as a liar and coward.
Having at last disarmed the God-King, Archaon readied his daemonblade for the blow that would kill a god. The intervention of Ulric, Sigmar’s own deity in mortal life, who sought to repay the Everchosen for the despoiling of Middenheim and the slaughter of his worshippers, bought the God-King time to recover as the Three-Eyed King finally slew the host of Ulric’s godspark and thus snuff out the last embers of that noble deity’s life.
Enraged further by the loss of the god who had admitted him into the company of the divine and whom he had so loved in mortality, Sigmar unleashed the latent power of the Wind of Heavens and destroyed Archaon’s legendary daemon blade. He then hammered upon the Everchosen with blow after blow until he finally cast him into the new Chaos Gate he had opened to end the world.
But the Lord of the North would not be defeated so easily, for no later did the Incarnates fail at sealing the Chaos Gate that Archaon climb his way from the daemon gate. Driven to fathomless insanity by the revelations he had borne witness to, Archaon fell upon Sigmar with rage so unholy that it blackened the soul. And as the newborn Chaos Gate fed its dark hunger upon the world did the two demigods struggle in titanic contest, the ending of the world itself paling in intensity to the unimaginable hatred that stood between them. All that was left to see was the two figures disappearing from sight, as the darkness that was unleashed from the Chaos Gates consumed all in its path. In was at that very moment, the moment when all the world had finally met its final doom, that Archaon's destiny had at last been fulfilled.
The World's Ending
- "And so the mortal world fell away into oblivion. The gnawing rift at the heart of Mankind's domain devoured reality. Slowly it spread at first, but then with the hunger of ravening wildfires. Invigorated, the polar rifts slipped their ancient bounds and joined their younger sibling in its feast. The peoples of the World beheld their doom, and screamed in despair. No two watchers beheld the same vision. Some saw skies riven with fire, some looked upon an ice-cold maelstrom of stars, some saw colossal tentacles and fanged maws that drooled the molten stuff of Chaos. Perhaps the Chaos Gods raised their champions to daemonhood from the battles that raged amongst the flames. It matters little, for the truth of those hopeless wars are lost. The Oak of Ages was swallowed last of all. Mournful dryad-song echoed under livid skies as Athel Loren perished. With its destruction, the Weave that bound the time and space together thinned and stretched. Twisted by unnatural energies, it dissolved entirely into nothingess. That terrible act of uncreation might have taken the blink of an eye, or unfold across millenia. The Dark Gods were not fettered by the flow of time, and let it pass unmarked. Already tired of their victory, they turned away from the ruin they have wrought and began the Great Game anew in other worlds and other creations. In doing so, they paid no heed to the tiny speck of light tumbling in the infinite darkness -- the glowing essense of what had once been a man. Through the storm of nothingness he fell, adrift for aeons upon unseed tides. Then came a glimmering orb, a fiery world-heart grown cold as the abyss. Desperate, the figure seized upon the sphere with a grip that could shatter mountains. He stared into the void, and from the darkness, the void stared back. The figure clung tight, marshalling his faded strength. He reached forth his hand, and a miracle took shape......These were truly the End Times"
- Liber Chaotica: Undivided pg. 5 - 13
- Armybook: Hordes of Chaos (6th Edition) pg. 98 - 99
- Armybook: Warriors of Chaos (7th Edition) pg. 68
- Armybook: Warriors of Chaos (8th edition) pg. 18 - 21, 48
- Storm of Chaos (6th edition) pg. 10 - 14