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"The gates of the Old Ones are open. The winds of magic blow through them like a hurricane. They carry the energy that caused the humans to mutate and lets the daemons dwell here. Without that energy they must leave our world or die. This is truth. We have constructed a mighty network of spells to channel that energy, to drain it away, to use it for our own purposes. All we need do now is activate it."
Caledor Dragontamer to Aenarion the Defender.[1a]
Warhammer High Elves Great Vortex

The Battle for the Isle of the Dead was the last battle in the Elven campaign against the First Great Chaos Incursion on Ulthuan. It would also be the final battle Aenarion ever fought in, and the birth of the Great Vortex.

Overview

In I, 79, Aenarion received a message from Caledor Dragontamer by way of a ghost-like projection of the mage. Despite the anger welling up inside him, Aenarion listened to what his former friend had to say. When the mage told him that he would be going ahead with his plan to drain magic from the world, the conversation devolved into a heated argument, both sides berating each other over past actions. When Caledor explained the ultimatum, however, Aenarion knew in his heart of hearts that the mage was right. And so the Phoenix King marshalled his dragonriders, leaving the rest of his army to protect Morathi atop the mountain of Skalderak.[1a]

Aenarion leapt into the saddle and tugged the reins. Indraugnir threw himself into the sky, his enormous leathery pinions beating the air with a crack like a storm hitting the sails of an ocean-going ship.[1a]

The roar of the wind was loud in his ears as they gained altitude, the great line of dragon-borne elf warriors taking their place in formation until a huge arrowhead filled the sky behind him. For the first time in a long time, wild joy filled Aenarion. This might be the last dawn he ever saw but there were still wonders in this world that could stir his heart and make it beat faster.[1a]

He did not need to know the direction in which they should fly. In the distance an eerie glow filled the sky, rivalling the dawn. His elven senses told him that there was a great confluence of magical energies gathered. Caledor had lit a beacon that would attract the attention of anything with the slightest sensitivity to magic and there were things out there that could sense the casting of the faintest spell at a distance of a thousand leagues.[1a]

Their journey carried the dragons over mountains and forests, plains and seas. He had time to take in the wild beauty of the land he had sworn to protect for one last time. Even marred by the monstrous hordes of Chaos, it was lovely. As the leagues and hours rushed by, the land beneath him came alive with monsters and mutants and Daemons all racing towards the place where the most powerful spell ever woven was being cast.[1a]

As they approached the Isle of the Dead, horror and wonder filled Aenarion's mind in equal measure. Thousands of crude ships filled the sea, delivering legions of monsters to the shores of the island. Hundreds of thousands of twisted beings filled the beaches beneath him, some the size of Elves, some the size of dragons and every size and shape in between. Here and there things raised hands or claws or a staff to the sky and a futile bolt of magical energy blasted skyward to strike a dragon impotently. As this range and height there was nothing their foes could do to harm them. Those flying Chaos creatures that dared to rise and challenge them were blasted from the sky by the power of dragon-breath or elven magic.[1a]

Ahead of Aenarion, the Phoenix King could see the great open-roofed temple where Caledor had chosen to work his ritual magic. The air above it shimmered with power. Already the sky was changing colour, clouds becoming yellow and gold and crimson and sapphire as they swirled like a great whirlpool in the air. Multi-coloured lightning flickered. The winds became stronger, slowing the flight of even a dragon as mighty as Indraugnir.[1a]

Aenarion swooped lower. He saw lines of apprentice wizards standing in geomantic formation around the centre of the temple, chanting words of power, feeding their strength to the archmages who stood at the point of each column, all adding a tiny morsel to the overall pool of energy. At the centre of it all stood Caledor and his circle of the greatest of all elven magi. Each was limned with an aura of awesome power. From their outstretched hands, writhing bands of energy fed the ever-more complex enchantment growing in their midst. The force of magic at the centre of that web was already so great that nothing unprotected could survive there for long. Aenarion sensed that the spell was spinning on the edge of being out of control. Something mighty enough to shatter the world was being shaped down there. Nothing like this had ever been attempted before and Aenarion doubted anything like it would ever be attempted again.[1a]

Daemons were drawn to it like sharks to blood. The clever ones knew that what was being done here was not for their benefit, whilst the less clever ones just wanted to reach this great trove of power.[1a]

A seemingly endless horde of Chaos worshippers surrounded the place, brandishing the banners of the four great Powers they worshipped: Khorne, Slaanesh, Tzeentch and Nurgle. Each of the armies was led by a Greater Daemon sworn to those powers, chosen representatives of the daemon gods. They were mighty beyond the understanding of mortals. They had led their forces to countless victories in countless places. The fact that they were all gathered here argued that the daemonic leaders understood quite as well as Aenarion did exactly how important this place was, that the fate of the world would be decided by what happened here today.[1a]

The Phoenix King took in the battleground at a glance, understanding the play of forces on it instinctively. The elves were doomed. Their foes were too numerous and too powerful. Nothing could stop the forces of Chaos triumphing today. The best that might be achieved was that they would be delayed long enough for Caledor to finish working his spell.[1a]

So be it, though Aenarion. If the only road to victory is by way of death, we will take it.[1a]

Kill, whispered the Widowmaker. The Phoenix King raised the Sword and the first wing of dragons peeled off and descended on the advancing Chaos hordes. They swept over the teeming multitude, breath of fire cleansing the tainted earth. The Chaos worshippers were packed so closely together there was no way to avoid the flames raining down from the sky. They died in their thousands, like a column of warrior ants marching into a pool of burning oil.[1a]

Wave after wave of dragons descended. Legion after legion of Chaos worshippers died. The smell of scorched flesh rose to reach even Aenarion's nostrils as he circled high above the battlefield. The winds grew stronger. The columns of fire above the temple grew brighter. In the distance the earth erupted as towers of magic sprang into being in answer to the spells of Caledor and his fellow mages. As far as the eye could see fingers of swirling magical light stabbed into the sky, illuminating the darkening land and revealing the great crowds of Chaos monsters racing towards the site of battle. All over Ulthuan the same thing was happening as Caledor’s vortex came to life.[1a]

Clouds obscured all of the sky now. Below Aenarion it was dark as night save where the hellish illumination of the glowing columns lit their surroundings or the dazzling flash of some mighty polychromatic lightning bolt split the sky. The geomantic pattern the elf mages had been arranged in was plain now, a great rune made of flesh and light visible from the sky through which Aenarion flew. The terror and the wonder of it filled his heart.[1a]

This was a sight worth seeing even if it cost the life of the world. In the distance the sea boiled with ships and huge monsters. All sensed that the hour of the final battle was at hand. The screaming, chanting horde surged up the stairways of the shrine. The Isle of the Dead was never meant to be a fortress but a holy place. The makeshift defences of the elves were smashed by the rampaging daemon worshippers.[1a]

Chaos Sorcerers on glowing disks of light rode the skies, howling incantations as they tried to breach the spell walls protecting the shrine. One by one, the barriers fell, for there were not enough elven mages left to maintain them. Too many were committed to the creation of the Vortex.[1a]

As he passed over, Aenarion saw mighty banners fluttering over enormous moving towers. Each bore the sign of the greater daemons who were the generals and champions of the besieging force. Even in the shadow of the gigantic spell Caledor was weaving, Aenarion sensed the power of these deadly creatures. They were the mightiest of their kind, hardened by millennia of constant warfare in the hells they came from. Normally they would have been the deadliest of enemies, but on this day, in this place, they seemed to have managed a truce in order to crush the one threat remaining to their domination of this world.[1a]

Dragons swooped and slew like great birds of prey. Hills of smouldering corpses rose on the way to the temple but it did not matter. No matter how many they killed more came on, rushing forwards to inevitable death as to the embrace of a lover. Now the dragonfire began to weaken as the dragons reached the end of their resources. Flocks of winged daemons surrounded individual dragons and smashed them from the skies.[1a]

They could not prevent the great horde reaching the outer defences of the temple and engaging the thin lines of desperate elf soldiers waiting there. A terrible wave of agony and terror rippled out from the temple. For a moment, the huge spell at the centre of it trembled and threatened to collapse. Aenarion swooped lower and saw that one of the archmages had fallen along with all the apprentices who had been linked to him. The power of the spell had burned the life out of him. The whole mighty edifice Caledor was creating threatened to collapse like a palace hit by an earthquake.[1a]

Somehow the mage at the centre of it all managed to stave off the disaster and continue. The structure of the spell stabilized and the ritual went on. Aenarion was not sure how much longer it could endure. How many of the archmages could die before Caledor was unable to constrain the forces he had unleashed and destruction rained down on them all? For better or worse, Aenarion thought, it would all be over soon.[1a]

Four gigantic forms made their way to the temple, each surrounded by a bodyguard of potent worshippers. The Greater Daemons who led the Chaos horde were vying to see which would be the first to reach Caledor and end the threat he posed. The greatest enemies of all wanted to be in at the kill.[1a]

Ahead of them the first wave to reach the walls of the temple looked as if they were about to break through and interrupt the ritual. If they were not stopped, they would succeed.[1a]

Aenarion dropped Indraugnir into the middle of the melee. They landed on top of a massive self-serving siege engine within which the living essence of a dozen daemons was bound. The dragon took the great battering ram in his claws and beat skyward, lifting it and sending it toppling backwards to crush a hundred foes beneath its weight. It lay there broken, like a beetle turned on its back. Indraugnir smashed into the press of bodies, tearing foes asunder with his claws, searing them with his breath, snapping twisted Chaos monsters in half with his jaws.[1a]

A group of elf soldiers tried to fight their way towards the embattled Phoenix King but died before they could reach him, overwhelmed by the sheer number of their foes. Aenarion leapt from Indraugnir's back, like a swimmer diving into a sea of monstrous flesh. His blade flickered faster than mortal eyes could follow, smashing through the bodies of his enemies as if they were made from matchwood. A beastman leapt at him, jaws snapping; he caught it in the air one handed, and sent it flying a hundred yards with a flick of his arm. It cartwheeled through the air to splatter against the walls of the shrine.[1a]

Aenarion cleaved though his opponents, killing everything within reach, his blade sending pulses of black light over the battlefield, the red runes glowing ever stronger as it drank life. His enemies died in their hundreds and then their thousands. Nothing could stand against him, and seeing his unleashed wrath his foes turned to flee.[1a]

For a moment, Aenarion thought he had turned the battle but then the air in front of him shimmered and a hole appeared in the fabric of reality. A figure of horror emerged, towering twice as high as any beastman, monstrous wings snapping on its back. A huge vulture-like head gazed down with eyes that held more than elven wisdom. The appearance of this Greater Daemon, this mighty Lord of Change, halted the rout.[1a]

“Long have I wanted to meet you, Phoenix King. Now the hour of your death is at hand.” The daemon’s voice was high-pitched and shrieking and it would have broken the nerve of a less bold warrior than Aenarion just to listen to it.[1a]

“What is your name, daemon,” said Aenarion, “so I can have it etched on my victory stella that all may know who I conquered?”[1a]

The daemon laughed. There was a madness in its mirth that would have blasted the sanity of most mortals. “I am Kairos Fateweaver, and I will send your soul to Tzeentch so he may use it as a bauble for his pleasure.”[1a]

It stretched out its taloned hands and ravening streamers of multicoloured light flashed towards Aenarion. Whatever they touched, living or unliving, warped and changed. Beastmen devolved into protoplasm, hardened stone ran like water. Aenarion raised his blade in front of him and the ribbons of light parted on either side of him. He pushed forward, like a swimmer against a strong tide.[1a]

The Lord of Change bellowed its rage and fury and invoked another spell, but by the time it was complete, Aenarion was upon it, and the black blade bit home into its flesh. Where the weapon struck, chunks were hacked away and ectoplasm swirled forth in a choking cloud. The daemon screamed, unable to believe that anything could cause it so much pain. Its mighty taloned hands reached out to grip Aenarion.[1a]

Such a feast, whispered the voices in his head. More.[1a]

Sparks flickered where the daemon’s grip bit into Aenarion's breastplate. The Lord of Change was a being of awful magical energies, and not even the potent spells woven into the elf’s armour could completely resist it. The talons bit flesh and drew blood as they sought the Phoenix King's heart.[1a]

Aenarion stifled his own cry of pain, and, knowing he had only one chance to live, struck a blow with the black blade, piercing the daemon’s head and striking its jeweled brain. It exploded into a thousand pieces. The force of the blast hurled him through the air to land sprawling on the steps of the temple. He felt ribs break on impact.[1a]

Behind him the Vortex surged, and a high-pitched keening roar filled his ears. The air stank of ozone. A thousand voices screamed in unison as death overtook them. Another archmage had fallen. Who could it be? Aenarion wondered. Rhianos Silverfawn? Dorian Starbright? Undoubtedly it was someone he had known and now did not have time to mourn.[1a]

He glanced around dazedly and caught sight of another gigantic figure slaying the last guardians of the doorway, beyond which Caledor and his mages still struggled to maintain their spell. The warding spells could not stop it. The guardians were not even trying to. They were throwing themselves willingly onto the monster’s claws, and greeting death as they would a newfound lover. There was something obscene about the way they went to meet their doom.[1a]

Aenarion’s heart sank. He knew this four-armed creature. It had taken all his strength to kill it once and now here it was again. N'Kari, the Keeper of Secrets, one of the deadliest of all the servants of Chaos, the leader of the forces of Slaanesh.[1a]

“I see I must slay you again,” Aenarion shouted, getting the creature’s attention. “Or will you escape your just doom by some new trick as you appear to have done in the ruins of Ellyrion?”[1a]

N’Kari laughed its beautiful woman’s laugh, and the wind bore its pungent erotic aroma to Aenarion’s nostrils. Normal mortals would have been bemused, but Aenarion was hardened against any temptation it might have borne.[1a]

“Arrogant mortal, I let you live once so I might experience the sensation of defeat. Now I am gorged on ten thousand souls and I am invincible. Be honoured! Your soul will learn agony and ecstasy under the lash of the Dark Prince of Pleasure once I send it to meet him.”[1a]

N'Kari sprang, and its huge crab-like claw snapped together where Aenarion had been standing a moment before. It was a feint, and it caught Aenarion with its other hand. Aphrodisiac poisons poured from its nails. Its cloying perfumed breath filled Aenarion’s nostrils. For a moment, he was dizzy and his legs threatened to give way beneath him.[1a]

“Now is the moment of ultimate pleasure,” said the Keeper of Secrets. “You will fall to your knees and adore me before you die, Phoenix King.”[1a]

Aenarion lashed out with his blade, slashing the creature's chest. Such was the daemon’s power that the flesh tried to knit behind the blade as it passed, but nothing could resist the fatal power of the Widowmaker, and after a moment, N’Kari’s flesh smoked and burned.[1a]

“I do not fear you or the blade you carry,” said N’Kari, but there was an odd strain in its voice.[1a]

“I will teach you to do so before this day is much older,” said Aenarion. Rage filled the daemon's eyes at his mockery. The massive claw swung round and gripped Aenarion’s chest. It closed. Aenarion felt the weakened armour buckle and his ribs snap.[1a]

“You will not defeat me again, mortal.”[1a]

Aenarion reached out with his hand into the cavity the blade had made. He pulled forth the daemon's still pulsing heart and raised it before him.[1a]

“No,” bellowed N’Kari. Aenarion closed his fist, crushing the heart. The daemon spasmed as if the organ being pulped were still within its chest. Poisonous blood dripped over Aenarion’s mailed fist, burning through the armour and threatening to make his hand useless. Aenarion forced its own blood into the daemon’s eyes, blinding it, then he raised the blade once more and drove it into N’Kari’s shattered chest.[1a]

Ectoplasm poured forth as the daemon sought to evade the killing power of the sword. Tiny fragments of its essence flickered through the air towards the Vortex and vanished. As they did so, some of the chanting sorcerers moaned in ecstasy and died.[1a]

Aenarion reeled. His left hand was burned and useless now. His chest was a fiery cauldron of agony. The pain mingled with an odd pleasure caused by the effects of the daemon’s blood.[1a]

More. More. More.

The voices in his head were crazed with demented passion now. The Sword was feasting on essences stronger than any it had known in a long time and it was enjoying its meal.[1a]

A monstrous giggling form loomed over him. The smell of excrement and rotting flesh overcame the scent of everything else. Aenarion looked up to see the towering figure of a Great Unclean One, mightiest of Nurgle's servants. It was the largest daemon thus far. It loomed over him like a living mountain of filth, its vast flabby belly rippling in time to its idiot laughter.[1a]

“Two of my peers have fallen to you, Phoenix King, and I would not have thought it possible.”[1a]

The daemon’s voice was deep, rich and humorous. Its tone conversational. The cruelty of its gaze belied the warmth of its manner. “Still I, the Most Amiable Throttle Gurglespew, shall do my humble best to claim the victory.”[1a]

The Great Unclean One vomited forth a mass of maggots and bile on Aenarion. The creatures began to burrow their way into his eyes and mouth through the open visor of his helmet. He tried to keep his mouth closed but they wriggled up his nostrils and into his ears. They found gaps in his armour and squirmed across his flesh. Each of the maggots had a tiny face that was a perfect copy of the features of the massive daemon that had belched it forth. All of them tittered with an insane mirth that was a high-pitched echo of the Greater Daemon's. They pit and gnawed at him and every bite was infected. He felt even the fires of the Phoenix within him gutter as his lifeforce was drained away.[1a]

A wave of fire passed over Aenarion, hotter than the heart of a volcano, brighter than the sun. The tiny daemons vaporized under the incandescent barrage. Aenarion, who had passed through the Flame of Asuryan, remained standing. Through the blaze he saw Indraugnir blast the Greater Daemon of Nurgle with flames and then rend its putrid flesh asunder with its mighty talons.[1a]

The Phoenix King cheered his companion on as it tore its foe to pieces, reducing the daemon to a foul-smelling stinking pool of sewage on the ground. Indraugnir raised its head to the sky and let out a long bellow of triumph.[1a]

An explosion of dragon flesh and dragon blood smashed into Aenarion’s face. An enormous gash appeared in the dragon's side and a burning axe emerged from it. Indraugnir toppled backwards, a huge hole carved in its flank. Its triumphant cry died in its throat. Aenarion’s heart sank. Before him was a Bloodthirster, a greater daemon of Khorne, perhaps the deadliest creature in all creation save for the Blood God himself. It was a massive thing with mighty wings and a monstrous animal head. Its eyes blazed like falling meteors. Its huge form was encased in runic armour of bronze and black iron. It radiated an aura of power greater than that possessed by any living creature Aenarion had ever faced.[1a]

The Bloodthirster struck again, with the force of a thousand thunderbolts, and Indraugnir bellowed and was still. Only its tail gave one last reflexive twitch and all life seemed to go out of it. Aenarion’s awareness narrowed until it contained only himself and the daemon. They were like the last two living things in the ruins of a dead world.[1a]

Kill it. Kill it. The voices chorused in his head. They sounded even more demented than ever as they advised Aenarion to use his waning strength against this all but invincible opponent. Limping painfully, he forces himself to confront the last and mightiest of his foes.[1a]

It tossed back its head and laughed at the sight of him. He understood its mirth. His body was broken, his armour shattered, his flesh seared by the dragon’s cleansing flame. Poisons and disease spores race through his bloodstream. It was a race between them and the loss of blood to see which killed him first. That was if the final greater daemon did not do their work for them.[1a]

Aenarion staggered towards it, holding his blade at the ready with both hands. The daemon sprang forward in a cloud of fire and brimstone. Its weapons lashed out and Aenarion twisted to avoid the blow. It caught him in his already wounded arm, breaking armour, shattering bone, sending the Phoenix King flying through the doorway of the temple to land amid the last few surviving wizards who still chanted the spell. Aenarion looked around, appalled. So few mages were left. They had given up their lives to create the Vortex. At the centre of the chamber, near that towering whirlwind of unleashed magical power, only a few of the archmages remained, with Caledor standing on the central rune frantically trying to keep complete his spell even as the effort killed him.[1a]

The daemon roared with triumph. “I am victorious,” it said in a voice like the blast of a thousand brazen trumpets. “Only I remain and soon this world will be mine to do with as I will. I will take this power you have so conveniently collected and use it to reshape the face of this creation.”[1a]

Aenarion forced his broken body to move and staggered between the Bloodthirster and its prey. It stared at him with burning eyes. “You cannot live through this, Phoenix King.”[1a]

“I do not need to live,” Aenarion said quietly. “I only need to kill you.”[1a]

“That is not possible, mortal. I am Hargrim Dreadaxe and I am invincible. Never have I known defeat.”[1a]

The bloodthirster pounced like a tiger leaping on a deer. Its speed was almost too fast for mortal eyes to follow. Its power was all but irresistible.[1a]

Aenarion unleashed the last of his carefully husbanded strength. A mighty blow arced downwards. The Widowmaker howled in triumph as it smashed through eldritch armour, bit into unearthly flesh, shattered bone and ribs and cleft the daemon from head to groin. It fell to earth chopped almost in two, leaving Aenarion standing over its swiftly evaporating form.[1a]

“There is a first time for everything,” said Aenarion.[1a]

Aftermath

The Phoenix King turned to stare at the wizards. He was near the end of his strength and he remembered Morathi's prophecy. Once again, his wife's predictions had proven correct. He would die soon.[1a]

Only Caledor stood now, his form incandescent with power. Thunder boomed. Lightning jumped from peak to peak. The great towers of light blazed brighter than the sun. Caledor's flesh shriveled and turned black until only something like a mummified corpse stood there, still chanting. Then even that desiccated husk blew apart, turning to ashes on the howling wind, leaving only the afterglow of the mage's spirit, standing there, imprinted on Aenarion's retina like the image of the sun seen through closed eyes.[1a]

Aenarion leaned on his sword, unable to move his broken body. Pain burned every nerve ending. His ragged breathing rasped through broken lips. Something gurgled deep within his chest as his lungs filled with blood. He had taken more punishment than even his mighty frame could endure. He had been smashed, poisoned, blasted with fire and magic. He had defeated four of the mightiest daemons to blight creation. His army was all but dead. His friends were dead. And still the spell was not complete. They had rolled the dice and they had lost. The last gamble of the elves was over and all that remained was to pay the price of failure.[1a]

He threw back his head and laughed. They had tried and there would be none left to witness their failure. He considered throwing himself into the still half-formed Vortex and offering himself up as a sacrifice as he had once done before the Flame of Asuryan but he knew that this time it would not work. There was nothing left to be done, except to return to the fray and slay what he could until he was pulled down into death.[1a]

Yes, whispered the voices, Go! Kill until the world itself ends.[1a]

A moment of awful silence came. The Vortex spun and danced before him, about to fall like a child's top that had run out of energy. Aenarion watched fascinated and horrified as it began to collapse. Then the fading image of Caledor stabilised. The ghost turned to the Vortex and continued its spell. Shimmering figures appeared around him as if summoned by his will. Aenarion recognised them as the ghosts of the dead archmages. Somehow, something of them still survived in this place. Even in death something now bound them to it.[1a]

The spirits of the other archmages joined in the ritual, walking one by one into the Vortex and vanishing. Aenarion peered at them through fast dimming eyes. He could see them becoming frozen, trapped in the awful centre of the spell as they continued the ritual. Something within him told him that was happening, that the ghosts were giving themselves up for all eternity to hold together the spell they had woven.[1a]

No! The voices in his head shrieked. He felt the chorus of mad hatred build up in his head, threatening to overpower his will. Destroy it! Destroy them all! Destroy the world![1a]

The chant was seductive. He wanted to obey it. Why should anyone else live when he was dying? What did he care whether the world went on, if he could not be in it, ruling it?[1a]

He walked slowly towards the centre of the Vortex. the ghost of Caledor stood before him and made a gesture for him to stop. The archmage shook his head, and pointed at the blade. It howled within Aenarion's grasp, urging him to cut down Caledor and then leap into the Vortex, slashing all around him. By doing so, he would undo everything, slay the entire world by unleashing all the pent up magic the mages had struggled so long and so hard to control.[1a]

He was tempted. He could end everything, kill everyone, and the blade could feast upon the death of an entire planet. Part of him wanted to do it, to end all life even as his own life ended. If he was to die, why not take everything else with him?[1a]

He stood there, gazing at the ghost of the elf who had once been his friend. Caledor's spirit sensed the struggle within him but there was nothing it could do to either air or hinder. The decision was Aenarion's own, or it was the Sword's.[1a]

That thought at last made Aenarion stir. He was his own master. He had always gone his own way. He had not bowed to his people, to Chaos, to the gods of the elves. In the end he would not bow to the Sword. It howled its frustration as if it sensed his decision and fought against it.[1a]

Caledor smiled and waved farewell, turning and walking into the place where he would be trapped for all that remained of eternity.[1a]

Slowly, Aenarion turned his back on Caledor and the Vortex, walking away. The Widowmaker fought him every step of the way.[1a]

Aenarion's Last Act

Outside, all was howling madness. Lightning lashed down from the sky. Time flowed strangely within the range of the Vortex' influence. The daemons were vanishing, turning back into the stuff of Chaos that had formed them. Their worshipper aged before his eyes, years passing in seconds, putrefying flesh falling away from corpses even as they fell. Piles of bones formed everywhere.[1a]

Aenarion stood and watched. Even the elves caught within the range of the newborn Vortex were aging. He gestured for the survivors to flee and they obeyed.[1a]

The Phoenix King knew he was dying from the wounds and the poisons burning in his veins. He knew he had to leave, to return the Sword to the place from whence it came. He could not risk it falling into the hands of anyone else. Not so near the heart of the Vortex. Not with the possibility of some daemon or creature of evil finding it. He knew now why the gods had not wanted any to wield it.[1a]

He looked upon the corpse of Indraugnir. "It is a pity you cannot help me now, old friend," he said.[1a]

One great eye opened, and the dragon tried to bellow. Instead of its usual proud roar, its voice was a mere hiss, but it forced itself upright on weakened legs, and stood there totting as its heart's blood pumped forth.[1a]

"One last flight then," said Aenarion and the dragon nodded as if in agreement. "We take the blade back to the Blighted Isle and drive it so deeply into the altar that no one will ever be able to take it out again."[1a]

The Phoenix King forced himself into the saddle on the dying dragon's back and strapped himself in. He took one last look about him at this place of destruction. Strange magic flowed all around him. The shadowy outlines of ghosts were visible in the ruins of the temple working on some great mystical pattern, performing the rites of some vast incomprehensible ritual. He tugged on the reins and the dragon leapt into the sky, soaring through the swirling clouds, climbing towards the sun.[1a]

The winds of magic howled beneath Indraugnir's wings as he and his dying rider flew into legend.[1a]

Source

  • 1: Blood of Aenarion (novel) by William King
    • 1a: Prologue

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