A runner from Eagle Pass raced down the last hill. His heart pounding through both fear and exertion. Bravely he had thrown away his helmet and Ithilmar-corslet, the lack of extra weight helping him to gain speed. When the guardians of Coraith mansion came to greet him, he shouted "The Dark Elves are at our gates! The Dark Elves are at our gates!"[1a]
Quickly, the silver horn of the High Elves called the warriors of House Coraith to battle. Soon the hidden valley was full of High Elves mustering to attack the invaders. The Silver Helms mounted their noble steeds and brandished their lances. The archers and spearmen drew into their battle lines. Repeater bolt throwers were hastily wheeled into position. The White Lions, whose services King Finubar had lent to Calaidan, sharpened their axes, and expectation of the coming battle shone on their faces. Even though they had been caught off guard, the High Elves were still a force to be reckoned with. They were defending their homes and families, and their would be no giving up on them.[1a]
Lord Calaidan scanned the enemy ranks, and to his horror he recognized one of the banners: the great Sea Dragon of his brother Kaldor. At first Calaidan suspected Dark Elf trickery, but soon he heard the firm voice of the general, and recognized it as the brother he had long thought lost to him.[1a]
Now all was clear to Calaidan: how his enemy had guessed his plans, how the Dark Elves had known where to strike and what weaknesses to exploit. How they had found the mansion so quickly when it had been so well hidden and protected by both spells and guards. A cold rage gripped him, and he wept tears of sorrow for his people who had already perished because of the treachery of his brother. As the rage within him grew he swore to the gods above that he would restore the honour of his family by slaying the evil he had once loved as a brother.[1a]
Meanwhile in the village surrounding the mansion of Coraith the remaining High Elves were carrying their children to safer ground hidden high in the mountains while their menfolk prepared for battle. They knew that if the Dark Elves proved victorious then their families would suffer a fate worse than death. The warriors of House Coraith were well aware of this. This battle was no border skirmish or raid: today the destiny of the Shadowlands would be decided.[1a]
Calaidan mounted his Elven steed and raced to lead his force. On his right the Silver Helms, the nobles of his house, took up position. On his left mustered the deep ranks of his spearmen. If there had ever been two forces that were equal, they faced each other today in this valley.[1a]
Kaldor shouted orders to his men and then noticed his despised brother staring at him with cold, unforgiving fury in his eyes. "So now you know, brother," sneered Kaldor. "You should never have cheated me out of my birthright!"[1a]
For the last fifty years Kaldor had prepared for this moment. He had planned every detail, forming counter attacks for every tactic he though his brother would use and forming new tactics of his own. Under his command he had a force that lusted after the blood of his enemies. Surely he could not lose![1a]
The Dark Elf army of Karond Kar got ready for the kill. The City Guards from the bleak fortress formed up into their ranks. The great Cold Ones, held back by their black-hearted riders snarled at their prey. Witch Elves unfurled their red standard, dipped in the blood of innocents slaughtered in the previous battle. The main force of Corsairs formed the middle of the Dark Elf battle line. The crossbowmen dipped their bolts in potent venom. Kaldor himself fixed his eyes on his brother. The bitterness of the long years in exile surfaced in his twisted mind. He drew his runesword, and gave the signal to attack. The Dark Elf host, wielding fire and steel charged.[1a]
Thus the scene was set for a bloody battle where no quarter was neither asked for nor given. And i the heavens Isha, the mother of all Elves wept a single tear of the loss of her children.[1a]
Tide of Battle
- "The Dark Elves came to battle equipped mainly for close combat while the High Elves were prepared to fight a missile duel.
Unfortunately for the High Elves, their bows had little effect on the dark spawn of Naggaroth, and soon the High Elves were engaged in a series of hopeless melees across the battlefield. The individual superior battle skills of the Dark Elves soon started to tell and the whole High Elf army teetered on the brink of destruction. It is a good lesson for aspiring generals not to rely too heavily on missile troops.
The Dark Elf Harpies and Scouts soon silenced the dreaded Repeater Bolt Throwers, and once the Dark Elf regiments got stuck in there was little the lightly armoured Archers could do.
In the end it was the personal valour and prowess of Calaidan that saved the day which would have otherwise ended in a catastrophic defeat.
The battle between Kaldor and Calaidan was truly legendary, and it shall be remembered in the songs of the Elven minstrels. It also shows that no matter how desperate the situation, there is always a chance of victory!"
- —Belannaer, the Wise.[1c]
Because of the dogged resistance of the defenders of Eagle Pass the High Elf army was fully prepared by the time the black-clad host of Karond Kar surged into the plains surrounding the mansion. The High Elves had formed a long battle line with the Sword Masters and White Lions in the centre, supported by archers and cavalry on the extreme flanks. The Dark Elves had split into a concentrated force poised to shatter the core of any High Elf resistance.[1b]
The massed High Elf archers sent volley after volley of arrows raining down on the Dark Elves, but the evil ones suffered only light casualties. Harpies swept down from above and tore into the bolt thrower batteries. The Sword Masters of Hoeth advanced to meet the threat of the Witch Elves, but in the ensuing battle the Brides of Khaine proved to be the superior troops overwhelming the disciples of the White Tower and cutting them down to the last Elf.[1b]
The High Elf cavalry tried a bold outflanking manoeuvre, but were caught by the Dark Elf Cold Ones and driven off in short order. The Black Ark Corsairs reached the High Elf battle line and soon had slain almost all of the High Elf Archers. The White Lions fought valiantly against the Black Guard, but their flanks were soon threatened by Witch Elves.[1b]
Calaidan could see his army crumbling all around him. His archers were dead, the repeater bolt throwers destroyed and his cavalry were fleeing. It would be a matter of moments before his centre would beak and the Dark Elves could claim indisputable victory. In his desperation, Calaidan strode straight towards the centre of enemy lines, and challenged his traitorous brother to single combat. Smiling cruelly Kaldor accepted. This was the moment he'd been waiting for.[1b]
The two brothers struggled for an hour, but Kaldor was overconfident and despised his brother as a weakling. Feigning that he was growing tired, Calaidan let his defences down, Kaldor attacked sword held high and died by the deadly riposte of his brother's sword.[1b]
Calaidan raised both swords above his head as a sign of victory. Seeing that their leader was dead, a cry rose from the Dark Elf ranks. "All is lost!". A wave of panic ran through the Dark Elf army and many regiments turned to flee. Calaidan cut a swathe through the Dark Elves that dared to resist him, and with his terrible twin swords there was no defence against such fury. The Dark Elves retreated before the invincible warrior the best they could, and fled back to Eagle Pass. Having lost their will to fight they regrouped and headed back to the shore.[1b]
Hounded by the Shadow Warriors, only a very small group of Dark Elves managed to return to the Harbinger of Pain and set sail back to Naggaroth. The survivors knew that this was only a temporary respite, for now they would have to face the wrath of Malekith, the Witch King. They trembled with fear, for the ruler of the Land of Chill was not known for the virtues of compassion and mercy.[1b]
Meanwhile Calaidan built a great funeral pyre for his brother, and his weary and wounded men gathered around him. It was a sad sight: more than three quarters of the brave warriors of House Coraith had perished, and their bodies now littered the battlefield all around them. For many years to come House Coraith was too weak to consolidate its hold on the Shadowlands. But for now, victory was theirs. It would be a long time before the sails of the Dark Elf Black Arks would be sighed again on the coast of the Shadowlands.[1b]
Years later the Elven minstrels of Lothern wrote the Lay of Calaidan, also known as the War of Brothers, where the deeds of these dark days were recorded. In the song it is said that Isha wept new tears for the slaughter of her children and marring of her land, and these tears were made into new jewels that would be the beginning of many new legends.[1b]