- "Leave nothing that was his. Sop his blood from the floor, and bind his wounds. Wrap his possessions in soft wool. I wish to savour every trace of the smell of Naggaroth. "
- —Dralaith regarding a Khainite Assassin.
Among the legends of the Grey Mountains, there is the story of the horrendous and frightening Black Prince, a feared crime lord from a kingdom of thieves, bandits, professional murderers, slavers and other criminals; collecting the tribute of his atrocious subjects, both from the territory of Bretonnia and the Empire. Some even claim that their power extends beyond those territories, so the bag snatchers of Tilea, the highway robbers of Estalia, the Sartosan pirates and even the marauders from the free companies of the Border Kingdoms, pay a blood and gold tax to this man.
Not all his servants are human and there are those who say that the Black Prince himself is not either. His figure was wrapped in a cloak of legends and rumors of which no two versions are alike. Some say that he was the bastard son of the previous Bretonnian king, a sinister agent of the Empire who tried to destabilize the border between the two great nations, a creature of the great sorcerer Drachenfels, or servant of the necromancer Heinrich Kemmler, among other. And those that spoke of his possible hiding place were even more contradictory. According to legends, the den was as close as the haunted and cursed Blood Tower, or as far and remote as the wasteland, Crippled Peak.
Although the Black Prince himself could be considered just a rumor, the bounty on his head was far too royal, a veritable treasure worth a king's ransom. The reward is kept in a chamber in the cellars of the castle of the King of Bretonnia, in Couronne. But no one has been able to claim it and it has remained under lock and key for three hundred years. Most bounty hunters consider him a myth, a bogeyman invoked by inept magistrates and robber caravan leaders to justify all the robberies that occur in the Grey Mountains.
He is described as an arrogant, tall and slender figure, wearing black armor; a skilled swordsman capable of defeating even the noblest knights and a skilled sorcerer skilled in the dark arts. He has both men and beasts under his command, becoming a bandit protector who preys on the surrounding territory like a murderous plague. And thanks to the power of Eye of Tchar, he has been able to thwart any attempt to capture, murder and betray him; then punishing offenders in the cruelest ways imaginable.
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Still, the Black Prince is a royal being. He is a renegade Dark Elf named Dralaith, ruling from a hidden stronghold in the Grey Mountains for at least five hundred years, terrorizing the nearby lands of Bretonnia and the Empire. He abjured his own race, land and gods since he found a powerful magical artifact, the Eye of Tchar, a gem that allows him to predict the future.
Before becoming the infamous Black Prince, Dralaith was a Dark Elf nobleman hailing from distant Naggaroth. But everything changed when he was captain of a corsair ship destined to capture slaves. His ship had a run with longship norse. During the boarding, he was about to be killed by a barbarian shaman who wielded the Eye of Tchar, but during an unforeseen reaction from it, Dralaith was able to defeat him and captured him, taking the jewel from him.
After his torturers exercised their art on the mystic, he had learned all about the Eye of Tchar. The Eye acts as a focus of enormous powers, powers that could install vitality and strength in a man, that could summon demons from the lower realm to destroy the flesh of the enemies of the one who possessed the gem. But that was not the greatest of his powers. He had learned that it showed the future of its owner, that the depths of the gem would reveal any threat that threatened, and that it would show the owner of the gem how to counter that danger.
But there had been a question that haunted Dralaith ever since. Why hadn't the Eye of Tchar warned the shaman about him? The sorcerer laughed when he heard the question, and continued to laugh until the torturers ripped him apart beyond the point of return. Before he died, he praised the noble Dark Elf for his wisdom, but could not answer him because he never thought to ask that question when he took the gem from a barbarian chieftain, long ago, before he became a sorcerer.
After that day, he deserted the ranks of the Witch King's armies, denied the dark gods of his race, and went on to worship the Gods of Chaos. He also began to study dark magic in order to control the Eye of Tchar, and all its powers.
The first news of him occurred five hundred years ago, when the dark elf fleet sacked the grounds around Bordeleaux. Then he entered the territory and traveled north to the Grey Mountains, where he found an ancient elven tower, a remnant of the war between Dwarves and Elves that occurred millennia ago. Since it was cunningly hidden in a defensible valley, he decided to establish his secret lair and base there after expelling the goblins that inhabited it, and began to form his criminal empire that had not only control over band of outlaws and human criminals, but also over Beastmen.
From that moment on, the Black Prince's fame began to grow, but his true leap to infamy was not until he kidnapped and assassinated an ambassador from the forest kingdom of Athel Loren. When she returned from her mission in Bretonnia, the Black Prince ambushed her and killed her adherents and guards, taking the ambassador with him. For years they searched for any clue that would allow to find her whereabouts, but the thing did not end until the corpse of the ambassador was found tied to the saddle of a horse, with a wooden frame that kept her mutilated body upright, and with a Elvish message written with a knife on his skin that read " Greetings from the Black Prince."
As a result of that incident, the then King of Bretonnia offered a bounty of five thousand gold coins to anyone who could bring the Black Prince alive or dead, but despite the efforts of numerous bounty hunters, no one could finish Dralaith, that he continued to commit misdeeds for centuries, so the reward continued to be active despite the fact that more than three hundred years had passed since that time. Nor were the Wood Elves, who wanted to avenge their slain ambassador, were more successful. And to these we also had to add the Dark Elf Assassins sent by the temple of Khaine from Naggaroth to take down the renegade traitor elf. But thanks to the predictive power of the Eye of Tchar, he always managed to prevent the plans of his enemies, as well as the betrayals among his own ranks.
Everything seemed to end with the arrival of Brunner, the most famous bounty hunter in the Old World. Accompanied by a group of adventurers, he stormed the tower of Dralaith, killing a good part of his followers. Brunner himself murdered the Black Prince and cut off his head to collect the large reward that was still valid.
However, this all turned out to be a cunning plan. As he had done on so many other occasions, he allowed one of his lieutenants to assume the role of Black Prince while he did it as a simple servant. He would no longer have to worry about the bounty hunters or the vengeful Wood Elves, and the news of his "death" would reach Naggaroth, so that no more assassins from Khaine would come, something that comforted him as he knew that sooner or later one of them would have achieved his goal. He'd sacrificed a lot for the deception to work, but it was worth it.
Over time, Dralaith had learned that his safety did not depend exclusively on the clairvoyant powers of the Eye of Tchar because, as had happened with the shaman, there were certain events in the future that the gem did not show, and he was about to die in a Brunner trap because of it.
But his enemies left him for dead, and it would only take a while for him to regain his full power and influence. The time would come for him to take revenge on the human who boasted of having killed the Black Prince.
- 1: Brunner the Bounty Hunter - Omnibus C. L. Werner (Novel)