Warhammer Wiki
Warhammer Wiki
"My king, you have performed deeds others could not achieve in a thousand lifetimes. You have held a mirror up to your subjects and shown them the truth of what they are: proud, noble, but most of all wild. Do you understand? You are more than you were – more than just flesh and bone; you are everything that defines us. "
Atolmis, Priest of Kurnous.[3a]

Orion upon his Wild Hunt.

Orion, known by many titles such as the King in the Woods or the Master of the Wild Hunt,[2a] is the everlasting Lord of Athel Loren and co-ruler of the Wood Elven race. He is immortal, but his existence is irrevocably tied to the seasons. Thus does he pass willingly into his own funeral pyre each midwinter, only to be reborn into thunderous life on the first day of spring. Each year, on the eve of the vernal equinox, the Wild Riders selects a young prince who will bear the mantle of Orion for the coming year. This chosen one is led to the Oak of Ages and given over to Ariel's keeping.[1b]

There, she works the miracle of rebirth, sculpting her lost husband anew from the chosen one's flesh and Kurnous' spirit. On the following morning, the chosen one emerges from the Oak's embrace, a mortal Elf no longer, but reborn as Orion, god-king of Athel Loren. When his realm is threatened, Orion is the first to fight in its defence. Taking up his mighty weapons of war, he winds his great horn and calls Athel Loren to the Wild Hunt. Every Elf feels the lure of their king's wild summons, and many are overcome by this most primal of urges. Drawn to their king's side, they gladly abandon their civilized concerns for the thrill of the hunt and the heady tang of blood upon the wind.[1b]


The origins of Orion is unclear, for he is not a single entity but rather comes from many different individuals whom sacrifice themselves so that Orion may be reborn upon this world, each individual soul merging with those of its predecessor and Kurnous own spirit. It is said that the original Elf who was named Orion was a mighty Elven Lord sometime after the Wood Elves had aligned themselves to Athel Loren, during which time a crisis eventually reached the boundaries of their forested homeland. Before long, Dwarfs marched upon Athel Loren once more. This time they came in a throng many tens of thousands strong, with warriors drawn from dozens of holds. It was a force the likes of which can bring low an entire kingdom.[1a]


Orion in his earlier years.

When they learned of this threat, the great lords and ladies of the Wood Elves held council at the foot of the Oak of Ages, and even the trees of the glade crowded close, as if paying attention to what was said. The devotees of the trickster god performed their ritual dances, and the seers and prophetesses read the skeins of fate in the stars and patterns of flame. In that fire-lit glade, beautiful Ariel found herself drawn to the Lord Orion. He was the bravest and most handsome of his folk as Ariel was the wisest and fairest of hers. Whilst the council debated how best to oppose the Dwarfs, Ariel and Orion were deep in a conversation of their own, seemingly oblivious to the great matters that were discussed around them. Finally, they slipped away, unnoticed and unremarked.[1a]

The mood of the council was otherwise bleak, for it was apparent to all that they could not best the Dwarfs in battle. Worse, the seers had determined that the Dwarfs were but the lesser of two nascent threats — a great horde of Greenskins was but a few days from launching their own assault. It was in that moment of despair that Adanhu finally revealed himself to the Elves. He pledged that the spirits of the forest would fight alongside them if only the battle was brought before winter came. Emboldened by Adanhu's words, the Elves prepared their plans anew. In their enthusiasm, they were heedless of the ancient one's warning that a great sacrifice would be required.[1a]

It was not until many hours later, when the feast was over, that the absence of Ariel and Orion was noted, but when no amount of searching would reveal them, the errant lovers were reluctantly forgotten. Next day, the great host of Athel Loren brought the Dwarfs to battle. As Adanhu had promised, the Elves did not fight alone. Colossal Treemen strode amongst the Elven lines, and great hosts of Dryads swarmed about the flanks. Mighty Durthu led the charge, an unstoppable force of nature who sought revenge upon those who had scarred him. Against this host, the Dwarfs stood little chance. Though they strove with all the stubbornness of their race, they eventually broke and ran, leaving the mountainside heavy with their dead.[1a]

Orion's Crowning

Orion during the Winter of Woes.

Alas, scarcely had the last arrow found its mark in Dwarfen flesh when an icy wind whistled through the boughs of the forest and a chill gripped the land like never before. The cold only hastened the Greenskins onset. In an orgy of destruction, the Orcs built great pyres in order to warm their calloused hides. The Elves fought with all their might under skies stained with the ashes of living wood, but the Orcs were too many and their forest spirit allies addled by intense cold. Little by little, Athel Loren fell to the invaders. The Elves prepared their last stand before the Oak of Ages. They did so with heavy hearts, for they did not believe that they could win, but knew there was no choice save to fight.[1a]

Then, at dawn, they saw that the forest was transformed. The snows were in retreat and blood-red blossoms had pushed through the hard ground. Animals had roused from hibernation and a restlessness could be felt on the air. As the sun rose, the haunting cry of a great horn echoed on the wind. As the note faded, the mighty form of Kurnous, god of the hunt, crashed through the woods. A pack of shadowy hounds was baying at his heels, and all the Elves who looked upon him were filled with fresh vigour. The horn was winded a second time, and the Greenskins met their doom. Kurnous smashed into the Orcs, slaying all before him in an orgy of destruction. Newly awakened Dryads swarmed in his wake, eager to bestow their cruel mercies.[1a]

As the living god plunged deeper into the Greenskin lines, the Elves joined the charge, eyes and blades afire with their god's furious power. By the time the sun set, not a single Orc remained alive. In the battle's aftermath, the exhausted Elves came before the Oak of Ages to pay homage. Here they discovered the enthroned figures of Ariel and Orion, now become avatars of Isha, the mother goddess, and Kurnous, the hunter. Another great council was swiftly called, and all the lords and ladies of the forest knelt in worship to Ariel and Orion, now and forever the Queen and King in the Woods.[1a]


"I am here to serve. It is not my place to question you, my king. Besides, what would I have stopped? The rites of the summer gave you your purpose. Our songs filled you with the blood of Kurnous. He lives, through you. He hunts, through you..."
Atolmis, Priest of Kurnous.[3a]

The Wild King on the Hunt.

Though Orion's nature is always infused by Kurnous' joy of the hunt, his temperament can differ greatly from one year to the next. Whilst Ariel and Isha have long been one and the same, their desires merged into a single whole, Orion's personality is a melding not only of Kurnous and the chosen one, but of every Elf who has borne the mantle of kingship since the very beginning. These older minds are faint, and seldom influence Orion's actions directly, but still their voices whisper through his thoughts. At times, they offer advice, at others they admonish and berate. Kurnous is the strongest voice of all, and the only one that can actively supplant the chosen one's wishes.[1b]

Though the Hunter God's personality has been eroded through the continual cycle of death and rebirth, his legacy of primal power and divine wisdom is still great beyond mortal reckoning. Such is the reason that the chosen one must be strong of will, for he must strive with the spirit of Kurnous and dominate the other spirits in his if he is not to be driven mad. It is a heavy burden, and one that grows greater with each passing year, for every cycle of rebirth adds a new voice to the choir. On occasion, a chosen one will falter in his purpose, and in those years Orion's boundless power is held by a splintered and fractious mind.[1b]

The rituals of the chosen one's selection are kept carefully hidden, for there are always those who wish to subvert the process for their own reasons. At various times, both the Elves of Ulthuan and Naggaroth have sought to interfere in Orion's rebirth, each party hoping to steer the Wood Elves in a direction to their liking. Nor, alas, are the folk of Athel Loren themselves entirely immune to the lure of interference. Despite the sacrifice that the act of Orion's rebirth calls for, many a noble family would be only too glad to see a member of their kin elevated to the position of Ariel's consort, though it be only for a year. In fact, some of the more ambitious lords see the time of the choosing as having the potential for a double victory, that of basking in the reflected glory of a relative's selection, and of no longer having to compete with that relative for further honours. Few Elves would admit to such a sentiment out loud, of course, because Athel Loren society considers itself to aspire to better than such intrigues, but the truth of the matter lies plain behind many eyes, if one knows only how to look for it.[1b]

It is not just mortal intrigue that must be guarded against, for there are many gods who would delight to meddle in the act of Orion's rebirth. Chief amongst these is Anath Raema, the Savage Huntress. She long ago coveted Kurnous' affections, and has ever since made no distinction between the godly being for whom she once lusted, and the form he now assumes when striding the mortal world. On many occasions, Anath Raema has sought to force the selection of a prince more attuned to her charms than Ariel's. Most of the time, her efforts meet with failure, but not always. The Wood Elves speak seldom of those seasons when Orion's heart is divided; they simply refer to them as the 'dark years' and pledge anew never to let such times occur again. On those occasions when Orion is reborn with a shadowed soul, there is only one consolation, just as there is one final unavoidable woe in those years when he emerges from the Oak of Ages as a paragon of Elvenkind. Wise or mad, noble or haunted, each incarnation of Orion must end the same way; in the flames of the midwinter pyre.[1b]


  • Hawk's Talon (Magical Bow) - Crafted from a single smooth span of rare wythelwood, Hawk's Talon is the pinnacle of the huntsman's craft. Of all the Elves, only Orion possesses the incredible strength to draw this weapon. This is as it should be, for as the forest's foremost hunter only he has the skill to wield Hawk's Talon to its fullest effect.[1b]
  • Spear of Kurnous - This spear is a living weapon. It was crafted long ago from the bole of the glorious birch tree that grew in Isha's heavenly garden, and bound with enchantments to nurture and renew its bearer. The Spear of Kurnous is irrevocably bound to its a foe, which he does often. The King in the Woods holds that a true hunter can bring down any prey with a spear as easily as a bow, and ever seeks to prove the merit of his words. Of course, the Spear of Kurnous' colossal size gives him a substantial advantage over other preyseekers — when driven by his peerless might, it can disembowel a deepwood auroch as easily as it can a man.[1b]
  • Cloak of Isha - This sacred garment is woven anew each spring by the Mage Queen Ariel herself. It is the only protection Orion wears in battle, and the only one that he needs. It is through the Cloak of Isha that Ariel grants her beloved a portion of her own strength, ensuring that the wounds he suffers are fleeting.[1b]
  • Horn of the Wild Hunt - This horn is one of the oldest artifacts in all of Athel Loren. Legend tells it was a gift from Kurnous to his mortal children at the dawn of creation, a token of his favour that placed them above the myriad brutish beasts of the world. Now the Horn of the Wild Hunt has returned to its rightful master. In Orion's hands it is more than merely a symbol of a god's favour; it is the vessel of the Hunter God's savagery and determination, and imbues a portion of Kurnous' wildness in all who hear its blare.[1b]




  • 1: Warhammer Armies: Wood Elves (8th Edition)
    • 1a: pg. 15 - 27
    • 1b: pg. 54
  • 2: Orion: Vaults of Winter (Novel)
    • 2a: Chapter: 20
  • 3: Orion: Tears of Isha (Novel)
    • 3a: Chapter: 2