Warhammer Wiki
Warhammer Wiki

Not to be confused with the Scouring.

The Sundering was the great civil war fought long ago from -4419 to -2723 IC that fractured the Elven race into the High Elves and the Dark Elves, culminating in a magical cataclysm which sank a large portion of the island continent of Ulthuan.[1a]

It also birthed the bitter cultural and political rift between the Asur and Druchii which has endured through the ages.[1a]



The Sundering's origins are found in the birth of Malekith, son of the first Phoenix King Aenarion and an Elven enchantress called Morathi, who was the successor to the throne of Ulthuan by his birthright. Following Aenarion's death, however, Ulthuan's ruling Council of Princes decided that Malekith was too impetuous and warlike to become the next Phoenix King, as Aenarion had led the Elves through a great war and the Elven population was now extremely wary of being led into yet another conflict. The Council of Princes declared Malekith unfit to rule, and instead chose Bel Shanaar of Tiranoc as the next Phoenix King. Although this decision caused much controversy and outrage among Malekith's supporters and his mother, Malekith outwardly accepted the decision and did not oppose the coronation of Bel Shanaar as Ulthuan's new monarch.[1a]

Malekith was later made high general of Ulthuan and supreme commander of the Elven armies. During his time in the Elven military, Malekith wandered the mortal world, and with his mother Morathi's guidance, began to experiment with the use of Dark Magic. By then, Malekith had become discontented with an Elven society that he believed had grown complacent. He wanted the Elves to become a war-like people to face the ever-growing menace from the forces of Chaos.

These critical views of Elven society were further compounded following his investigation into the Cult of Pleasure, an Elven society of poets and artists that was very popular with the Elven elite, though it was actually a front for a Chaos Cult of Slaanesh that had taken root among the people of Ulthuan. Malekith took advantage of his discovery to eliminate his political enemies, falsely accusing them as Chaos Cultists and executing them without trial. In truth, the Cult of Pleasure had actually been founded by Malekith's mother, who marshalled an army from among the cult's members to carry out Malekith's coup d'etat and seize power over Ulthuan.[1a]

Civil War

Malekith pursued his witch hunt against the servants of Chaos to the point that he accused the Phoenix King Bel Shanaar himself of being a secret worshipper of Slaanesh. Soon after the accusation, Bel Shanaar suddenly died of poisoning. Malekith's supporters asserted that Bel Shanaar had taken his own life in order to avoid the shame of an interrogation where his devotion to Chaos would be discovered, while those loyal to the Council of Princes accused Malekith of an outright assassination. The argument between Malekith and the Council of Princes soon turned violent, and Malekith and his followers killed most of the princes of Ulthuan, claiming that the action had been necessary to save the Elves from their corruption by Chaos.[1a]

With the Council of Princes removed as an obstacle to his ascension to power, Malekith next had to pass through the Sacred Fire of Asuryan, the king of the Elven Pantheon, in order to prove his acceptance by the gods as the next Phoenix King. Malekith was confident that he would pass the ordeal just as his father had. He was wrong.

The flame of Asuryan would not suffer his morally-polluted body to pass through it unscathed. Thus did the flame that had brought Aenarion miraculous rebirth bring nothing but ruin to his deceitful and treacherous son. The fire severely burned Malekith after he stepped within it, scarring him horrifically, but he managed to survive by harnessing the sheer intensity of his hatred and rage.[1a]

With their leader on the verge of death, Malekith's followers took up their master's burned body and fled to the kingdom of Nagarythe, where Morathi was able to nurse her son back to health. Kept alive by his indomitable will and his refusal to die out of sheer spite, Malekith was consumed with a bitter hatred for those who had resisted him. He then summoned all of the Elves who were loyal to him and to his claim to the Phoenix Throne to aid him in taking the crown of Ulthuan by force.[1a]

Following Malekith's treachery, the Elves who opposed his rulership reorganised themselves and elected Imrik of Caledor as the third Phoenix King, who assumed the title Caledor I upon his coronation. Soon, Caledor and Malekith gathered their supporters and battled each other for the throne of Ulthuan. Great victories were won on both sides, but in the end the war fell in favor of Caledor.[1a]

Malekith's fanatic followers slowly become outnumbered as more and more Elves flocked to Caledor's banner, and Caledor proved himself just as militarily capable as Malekith. The war's turning point came in the marches of Maledor, where Caledor and Malekith duelled in the skies on the backs of Dragons until the latter was badly wounded when he fell to the earth. Demoralised by their leader's defeat, the armies of Malekith retreated to their strongholds in Nagarythe.[1a]

The Sundering

As the armies of Ulthuan under the command of Caledor I assaulted Nagarythe, the Elves who supported Malekith grew more desperate, relying on the blackest of sorceries and daemonic pacts to defend their strongholds. Malekith decided on one last gamble with which he would undo the spells that held together the Great Vortex to return Chaos to the mortal world and bind the Daemons of the Chaos Gods to his will to defeat his enemies.[1a]

Although Malekith was aware of the extreme dangers of such a plan, he found he cared little if the plan failed and allowed the Daemons of Chaos to rampage across the world. He was deternined that if he could not claim Ulkthuan for his own, then no one else would either, even if it meant the world itself was destroyed by the forces of Chaos. Malekith's disciples agreed to his plans as they saw such a course as their only hope of victory and survival; however, only one of his sorcerers, Urathion of Ullar, saw the plan for the apocalyptic madness it was, and escaped to warn Caledor of what his rival planned.[1a]

As Malekith and his coven began their dark ritual, the greatest wizards of the Elves tried to stop him, but to no avail, for such was the awesome power of the Witch King's Dark Magic that he and his coven of mages slowly and inexorably gained the upper hand. The heavens shook and the earth trembled. In the far north of the world, the Realm of Chaos churned and prepared to advance once more.[1a]

At dusk, the Witch King and his followers began their final push. Daemonic sorcerers came to their aid, and the last spells of the defenders collapsed before their onslaught. From the sky, the triumphant laughter of the Dark Gods was heard. Then, as the tainted magic touched the Isle of the Dead at the very heart of the Great Vortex, the mages of the Isle of the Dead intervened, weaving powerful counter spells into the Elven defenders' efforts. This great surge of magic proved to be too great for even the combined might of Malekith and his coven to overcome.

As the wave of magical energy reached Nagarythe, the island buckled under the titanic stress. Across Ulthuan, earthquakes cast down cities and toppled mountains. A tidal wave a thousand feet high came crashing down on northern Ulthuan, submerging the provinces of Nagarythe and Tiranoc and killing thousands of Elves. The shock was felt as far away as the Worlds Edge Mountains and is recorded in the chronicles of the Dwarf kings.[1a]


As Nagarythe sank beneath the waves, several of the great fortress-cities of that land were pulled from the bedrock by Malekith's sorceresses and kept afloat by their magic. Malekith and his surviving loyalists sailed their fortress-ships, which would become known as "Black Arks," to the New World, and established a new kingdom there: Naggaroth, in honour of their lost home on Ulthuan. [1a]

These Elves, now called the "Dark Elves" or Druchii by the Elves of Ulthuan, who named themselves the "High Elves" or Asur, vowed to one day return to Ulthuan and avenge the terrible wrongs committed against their king and their people.[1a]

What remained of the once majestic and beautiful land of Nagarythe was only a blasted and cold wasteland. Rife with disruptive magical energies, its shattered remains are now known as the "Shadowlands" and the descendants of those Elven citizens of Nagarythe who opposed Malekith, known as the Shadow Warriors, now inhabit it.[1a]


  • 1: Warhammer Armies: High Elves (8th Edition)
    • 1a: pp. 16-24