- "I will summon the army of the forest. The treemen of the deep woods, the dryads of the bracken, the great eagles, the faun, the sprites and the fair folk. All the kith and kin of magic shall heed my call. The Maiden Guard, the singers, the poets, the dancers, the warriors, the playwrights and the acrobats, all shall delight at gathering beneath my banner of ice and song. The raven shall carry my words to Chrace, the dove to Cothique. All shall heed my summons! Avelorn marches to war!"
- —Alarielle the Radiant, Everqueen of Ulthuan.[5b]
The current Everqueen is Alarielle, chosen by Finubar the Seafarer at the start of his reign. Unlike the Phoenix King the Everqueen is not an elected position but is hereditary, and as such is for life, meaning that it is theoretically possible for an Everqueen to last through multiple Phoenix Kings. Upon ascension to the throne, the Phoenix King is betrothed to the Everqueen for a ritual marriage lasting one year, after which they are both free to hold separate courts and take new consorts. While Aenarion, the first king, was deeply in love with his Everqueen, it has not been uncommon for later kings to choose an Everqueen for political reasons.[1b][2b][3a][4a]
Avelorn is ruled by the Everqueen, the chosen of the Earth Mother, mistress of the undying forest, preserver of green fastness, observer of the rites of the golden spring, and occupant of one of the Twin Thrones of Ulthuan. The Queen of Avelorn is the firstborn daughter of the previous queen conceived after her year-long ritual marriage to the Phoenix-King. After this they go their separate ways. Both can take new consorts but only their daughter can be the new Everqueen. Hence the Queens of Avelorn have always been the Everqueens of Ulthuan, forming an unbroken chain from ages past.[1b][2b][3a]
The court of the Everqueen moves through Avelorn from place to place like a great carnival, pitching silken pavilions of myriad colours wherever it halts. By day, silver laughter rings through the forest as the Elves make sport. By night, faery lights flicker in the darkness, drifting behind the Everqueen's courtiers and illuminating the revels and feasting. With its perfect weather, bountiful forests and beautiful near-immortal inhabitants Avelorn seems the sort of rustic paradise of which mortal men can only dream.[1a][2b][3a][4a]
Yet beneath this carefree surface bitter enmities stir. Factions at the Evercourt vie for the favour of the Queen. Old rivalries are barely submerged and every quip has a deadly double meaning. For prestige is treated as a matter of life and death in Avelorn. To be chosen as the Queen's handmaid is the highest honour for an Elf-maid or her family, just as to be chosen as her consort is the dream of every youth of Avelorn. All seek to enhance their status at the cost of their rivals.[1a][2b][3a]
The Maiden Guard of the Everqueen are not mere courtiers; they are her warrior guard - a hundred beautiful Elf-maids schooled in the arts of war till they exceed or even surpass the greatest of Elf knights with sword, bow and lance. They number 100 strong and are some of the most gifted and beautiful beings in Ulthuan skilled in the arts of peace and war. They guard the Everqueen as her court travels through Avelorn for the forest contains many dark and dangerous places where the hearts of the trees are rotten and great spiders lurk. The tainted places near the mountains are shunned by all but the boldest Elves for lurking evil can strike the unwary even here. At times Great Chaos beasts find a way down to Avelorn from the Annulii and ravage the land, but they are swiftly and ruthlessly hunted down by the Everqueen's would-be consorts in an effort to gain her favour.[1a][2b][3a]
The Everqueen's policies may be at odds with those of the Phoenix King. The Phoenix King's are often war-like and expansionist and the Everqueen's peaceful and introverted. But this balance of opposites is at the very heart of the High Elves' concepts of rulership - being ruled by a single all-powerful dictator would be unthinkable to them. One thing unites both factions: an abhorrence of the Dark Elves of Naggaroth and all they stand for. Between Ulthuan and Naggaroth there can exist only war unto the death.[1b][2b][3a]
Chosen since before birth to take up the mantle of Everqueen, the would-be monarch studies and trains for decades for the day she assumes office. Through complex rituals and magical preparations, she is made ready to become one of the twin rulers of Ulthuan, for that moment of surrender. Yet according to Alarielle nothing could have prepared her for the surging torrent of power that coursed through her, the terror and awesome sense of many threads of fate converging upon her. The crown upon her brow is a living connection to every queen who had ruled in Avelorn, their memories becoming hers, and she struggles to hold on to all that was Alarielle. What the Asur call the Everqueen rose up within her, claiming her for its own ancient purpose. The lives, loves, hopes, dreams and nightmares of all who had held the title before her filled her mind with ancient knowledge. Her mother and grandmother rose up to greet her, easing her into the embrace of the Everqueen and welcoming her to their numberless sisterhood. The line of motherhood stretched back to time immemorial, and so she felt the strength of her lineage steel her to retain her own identity in the face of the vast, elemental power of the Everqueen.[5a]
Threat of Injury
If the Everqueen should ever be near-mortally wounded, or outright slain, a cascade of events occur that can be felt across the world, as well as in Avelorn. Waterfalls and wailing rivers carry their tears to the sea. Clouds gather in solemn thunderheads and the wind howls its sorrow through the air, which hangs torpidly and heavy over even the most carefree of inhabitants. Indeed, not since the days of the Sundering would the realm of the Elves know such grief. The skies above Ulthuan fade to black, and only the shimmering orb of the Chaos Moon dare show its face on such a night, though the clouds the continent hide the torment of its inhabitants from such a leering gaze.[5a]
The masked statues upon the Shrine of Asuryan weep blood from their hidden eyes, and the waters around Tor Elyr break and seethe with anger, shattering crystal bridges that had stood for thousands of years. Roaring waves heave at the surface of the Inner Sea, capsizing the few silver-hulled ships that ply its waters and dragging sorrowful mariners down to their doom.[5a]
In the lands of the Inner Kingdoms, golden realms of eternal summer, would know at last the touch of winter as cold winds blow from the north and ignoble rains batter the balmy plains. Magical sprites, capricious things of glittering mischief, transform in an instant, their mischief turned to spite, playfulness to malice. The forests of Chrace echo with the sound of enraged beasts, and lone hunters abroad in the shadowed depths seek the sanctuary of caves or tall trees.[5a]
Towering breakers batter the rocky coastline of Cothique as the ocean surges with fury, desperate to spill over the land. Within the Gaen Vale, the mountain of the crone-maiden rumbles as though ancient geological faults tore open, and black smoke claws from its summit. From Sapherian villas and the coastal mansions of Yvresse, to the rocky, cliff-top towers of Tiranoc and palaces of such beauty that they may only be told of in song, the land of the elves knows pain and sorrow. The great statues of the Everqueen and the Phoenix King in Lothern tremble upon their mighty footings. Despite the lights of a thousand torches, the Everqueen's statue remains shrouded in the deepest shadows, whilst the countenance of Phoenix King's statue cracks stern and unflinching, like the carven track of a single tear. Ulthuan's warriors, mages, poets and peacemakers alike weep with their magical home. Indeed, that shared woe passes from the elves to the land, from the land to the air, spreading to the Winds of Magic throughout the world until even distant kin in ports as far away as Tor Elithis breathe in the sorrow of the Everqueen's fate.[5a]
Even the distant Asrai of Athel Loren grieve with their long-lost brothers and sisters, the slumbering Orion and fey queen Ariel dipping the branches of their forest home in shared anguish. Though the paths of the Asur and the Asrai had taken very different turns through the ages, their shared heritage was still a bright thread of connection between them. Even the crude and unsophisticated race of man felt something amiss in the world. Children – who alone of the human race retain their sense of wonder – woke from troubled dreams with a scream on their lips, and those forced to pass the long watches of the night in wakefulness feel the touch of the grave draw ever closer. Dramatists and dreamers feel an aspect of beauty pass from the world, while those whose lives had been touched by the Asur in some way feel an unreasoning grief they cannot explain when the sun’s rays once again illuminate a world that seems just a little less bright than before.[5a]
Only the elves of Naggaroth revel in this time of suffering. As drops of blood fall to the loamy earth of Avelorn, cold laughter echoes across the crooked towers of the Druchii's accursed cities of dark iron and blood-stained stone. The Witch King himself, greatest and most hated son of Ulthuan, would bellow with laughter whilst his mother Morathi whips her devotees into bloody paroxysms of opiate fuelled madness.[5a]
Should the Everqueen survive, the gloom that befalls Avelorn's forests begins to lift, and fresh sunlight shines through the tops of tall trees now lifting their branches towards the sun. New growths bud on the ends of limbs of wood, and the grass beyond the invisible paths shines with newfound lustre.[5a]
The forest is alive again, but it is not the life of Avelorn as it had been; it is rampant, vital and unchecked. Wild magic seeps into the roots of Avelorn, and it responds to that touch with unfettered growth. New blooms choke older plants, aggressive saplings fight for light and the earth churns with competing life. As unrestrained as Avelorn may have seen before, it now appears reminiscent of Athel Loren, whose domain was kept in check by powerful waystones. Whatever power had held the full force of Avelorn in check is now absent until the Everqueen recovers.[5a]
Grove of the Everqueen
Within the forest of Avelorn resides a woven archway of green wood, the sap running along newly formed shoots like glistening amber. Here, the smell of growth and fecund life is almost overpowering, and the scent of life resurgent is a powerful taste in the back of one’s throat. This archway, however, is a portal to a place where not even the Handmaidens of the Everqueen go, for she needs no protection of blades. Rather, the only lives that are at risk are those who enter and follow the path.[5b]
Beyond the archway exists a verdant grove of dazzling light whose brilliance is so blinding that every step made is without knowledge of where it might lead. Only when a powerful sensation of having reached one’s destination sweeps over them are they forced to stop. The veil of light withdraws and eyes blink into the sudden rush of colour. Everywhere one looks, new blooms seek to outdo one another with the brilliance of their hue. Shimmering roses of glittering ebony weave around tree trunks garlanded with flowers even High Elf Nobles has never seen before. Plants of vivid purple, gold, white and azure grow wherever they can, whilst the sheer mass of growth is like the grandest arboretum ever devised.[5b]
And in the centre of it all sits the Everqueen. Not Alarielle, but the Everqueen. Clad in a shimmering robe of ice and rainbows – simultaneously robes of light and magic, and naked – she sits upon a throne of roots and grass that split the ground beneath her and pluses with the magic that sustains it.[5b]
Light surrounds the Queen of Avelorn, radiance that sheens the grove in warmth and breathed vitality into everything it touches. Her ivory flesh is sculpted and perfect; without trace of wound or scar visible through the mist of glamours that surround her. Her golden hair frames a face of such aching beauty that it can drive asur into wanting nothing but to drop to their knees and declare their love for her. And in that moment, they would have cast aside everything they held dear just to be allowed to devote their lives to her. With an effort of will they lift their gaze to the Everqueen’s face, only to find it cold and lethal in its features. Indeed, though everything around her explodes with life, her eyes hold only the promise of death. Outwardly, the Everqueen is exactly as she normally is, yet, whilst recovering from near-mortal wounds, a force more powerful than any known to asur beats within her breast. To the Elves, this is old magic, perhaps the oldest in the world. The first heartbeat of creation empowers the Everqueen, the birth cry at the beginning of the cosmos sighing from her lungs, and the power to create everything that was or could be shines in the light that bathes her.[5b]
The Queen of Avelorn shift in her living throne of roots, when she beckons a visitor forward, they can no more disobey that gesture than they can stop their own heart from beating. When she speaks, her voice is the sound of new life, and visitors can feel the years melt from them at the sound of their name on her lips. She can even force shooting buds of new wood to erupt from the ground, writhing like fast-growing vines to wrap around the target of her ire’s wrists and pull their arms wide. The Everqueen’s throne groans whenever the roots twist and bear the Queen forward.[5b]
When her eyes lock onto theirs, they feel the primordial energies that dance within her frail mortal body. With a touch from her glistening fingertips, she can read all the thoughts of such a guest, their secrets and memories revealed no matter how deeply suppressed. They cry out at her touch, feeling the enormity of her power. It burns them, their entire body feeling aflame with its surging ancient force. It hollows them, scouring their body for every memory, thought and deed making up their life. In a heartbeat, the Everqueen knows them entirely, understanding what they love, hate, and desire. In that moment of connection, she knows them better than they do themselves.[5b]
With this power, she can lay bare the misdeeds of her target, tearing away their denial and self-delusion till they are forced to admit the truth. With a snap of her fingers, she can command the root-restraints retreat into the ground like snakes, while at the same time shield them from the raw onslaught of someone else’s magic. Such is her cold mercy that she can shunt wrongdoers from Avelorn. causing them to float aloft by invisible winds and, with a flick of her wrist, send them at a hurricane force, hurling them from the grove. Trees and branches and leaves whirl past in a blur as they spin through the forest, cast forever from Avelorn.[5b]
Yet in spite of all this, the grove is neither silent nor devoid of animal life. Birds return to the trees as the Everqueen nears recovery, alongside slender deer nuzzling the at bushes at the grove’s edges. Doves mingle with ravens, peacocks and kingfishers. Hawks settle on the tallest branches, attended by white-plumed falcons and red-breasted warblers.[5b]
Shapes creak within the heartwood of the trees, suggestions of faces and limbs formed by the groan of roots and branches. Darting lights spin through the foliage, and giggling laughter echoes on the last breath of drifting zephyrs. They float through the grove in hopeful loops, gathering above the Everqueen and bathing her in their dream-like radiance. That brightness is taken into the Everqueen’s body, filling her with such brilliance that it seems as a second sun. This light spreads through the forest, suffusing every living thing it touches, travelling on the wind, the earth and the water until its power is spent. Whatever the Everqueen’s light touches is never the same as it once was, and a part of their spirit is forever filled with joy and wonder. All anger and hatred ebbs away in the face of the revived Everqueen, who glides over the soft grasses of the grove and leaves only new life in her wake.[5b]
- Astarielle (-4500 to -4420 IC) - First wife of Aenarion the Defender. She is considered the first Everqueen only because she is in fact the first ever recorded. Her two children, Morelion and Yvraine, would both become highly important. On one side, her son's family gave many great heroes, including Tyrion and Teclis. On the other side, her daughter and all her descendants would be the next Everqueens, the spiritual leaders of the High Elves.
- Yvraine (-4419 to -2198 IC) - Daughter of Aenarion and Astarielle and the second Everqueen, during the reigns of Bel Shanaar the Explorer and Caledor I the Conqueror.
- "Your Serenity" is a means of address when speaking to the Everqueen.[6a]
- The denizens of Naggaroth rightfully fear the powers of the Everqueen, and their own legends are filled with terrible stories of the fey queen's ability to bewitch and unmake even the mightiest champion. Only Morathi, and perhaps the Witch King himself do not quail in her presence.[5c]
- So powerful is the Everqueen, she can cleanse all mutation from a living being with but a point of her finger. Such was the case when, in the thick of battle, Alarielle caused the mount of Issyk Kul to rear in agony. But it was not the pain of some magical attack that caused it to scream. As the warlord leapt from his saddle, chestnut strands of colour wound their way around the thrashing beast's legs, like thread onto a weaver's bobbin. Exposed musculature was once again clothed in flesh and skin, the colour moving upward until the warm, mahogany coloured coat was reknitted onto the horse's back. The raw stump of its tail grew again, and a lustrous mane of long black hair sprouted from its gleaming neck. Within moments, the horse was transformed the hideous changes wrought upon its form now undone. So did it climb to its feet, eyes wide and ears pressed against its skull as it saw the world with eyes untouched by warping powers.[5c]
- The Everqueen's power to purify is not limited to living creatures. No. When Issyk Kul charged at her, Alarielle raised her hand palm up, causing the warlord's many-bladed sword to vanish in a haze of glittering sparks, as though remembering the fire from which it had been created. The warlord was then forced to cast aside the hilt as it burst into flames.[5c]
- 1 Warhammer Armies: High Elves (4th Edition).
- 2 Warhammer Armies: High Elves (5th Edition).
- 3 Warhammer Armies: High Elves (7th Edition).
- 3a pg. 10
- 4 Warhammer Armies: High Elves (8th Edition).
- 5: Sons of Ellyrion (novel) by Graham McNeill
- 6: Sword of Caledor (novel) by William King
- 6a: Prologue