Tor Yvresse is a metropolis of Ulthuan as beautiful and grand as any of the Elven cities of old. Even to the present day it shines like a beacon against the dark rock of the landscape and the green shawl of forest draping over the mountains behind it. Sadly, its glory days are long past. Once considered the jewel of Ulthuan,[4a] many of the old mansions are uninhabited, and the great amphitheatres are silent and empty. The walls of the city are mighty and deep, but there are never enough warriors to man them, and many wonder if the city could withstand another serious invasion.[1a]
It is in this city where Eltharion the Grim rules, one of the greatest heroes of the High Elves. He was chosen as Guardian of Tor Yvresse after defeating the horde of Grom the Paunch, and although he is a strict and severe governor, the people of the city appreciate its dark guardian.
Tor Yvresse rests at the mouth of a natural harbor, built on nine hills rising from the fertile adjoining plains, while behind the towering walls stand the rugged Annulii Mountains. The great city is full of towers, and dominates the landscape with its powerful, high and white walls carved with protective runes, with a high gleaming gold door that leads to its interior. Glowing gold and shimmering silver glitter in the afternoon sun, and the titanic towers of their palaces rise against the walls, joined together by great bridges hundreds of feet above the ground.[4a]
The main entrance to the city is a tall gate of shimmering gold, with black banners fluttering from its towers and the spears of warriors on its walls glittering like a thousand stars.[4a] However, an eerie silence clings to the landscape around the city, its soldiers casting suspicious glares on what few travellers come abroad. Most unsettling to any new arrival is how none can hear the bustle and vigour of a city the size of Tor Yvresse beyond its walls. Since his stewardship of the city, Eltharion enforces a policy of requiring the city guard to demand the business of anyone and everyone, noble or commoner, desiring entry. Such a demand involves the gates smoothly swinging open around one hundred yards from the new arrivals. This is followed by a disciplined regiment of spearmen marching in perfect step to take position in the middle of the road. A line of archers then appears at the embrasures of the white wall above them.[4b]
Once granted passage into the city, the light grows as one nears the end of the tunnel through its thick walls. Domed roofs, silver arches, and wide-tree boulevards are seen before one emerges onto the thoroughfare. When you walk the streets of Tor Yvresse, you can see the majesty of these towers. Elegant mansions, built with great skill from the rock of Yvresse, rise up in sweeping curves, the drawn around the graceful colonnades and gilded beauty of the multitude of marble statues that grace each roof.[4b] Elves dressed in finery that would not look out of place in the palaces of Lothern can be found walking the streets, glancing up with wary interest as newcomers enter the esplanade before the gateway. Indeed, the Elves of Tor Yvresse are noted as tall, and clean of limb, with a ruggedness equal to those of Ellyrion — yet each also carries either a sword or a bow. For these Elves, daily life continues, yet it is as though a part of them died along with those who fell in battle, and are just taking their time in lying down.[4b]
The Guardian Tower
The largest structure of the city is the Guardian Tower, where the Guardian of Tor Yvresse, ruler of the city, has always resided, being more powerful and higher than any of the other structure in the city, being even taller than the tower palaces built upon the surrounding nine hills. The Guardian Tower is one of the most important points of the magical energy grid that keeps Ulthuan afloat, and is where the main monolith of the whole east of Ulthuan is located. The mountains rise behind the tower, but a trick of perspective seems to extend beyond the spikes wrapped in magic. At the base of the tower there is a single door, simple and unadorned, and a spider web of light seems to beat within the celestial marble of the tower, in which there was not a single window except at the top, where a series of dark windows and a lonely balcony look out over the city. Within this tower, the blackest of magic had been unleashed in a duel that sealed the fate of its inhabitants.[4b]
From atop the Guardian Tower, it is possible to survey the entire city of Tor Yvresse, and appreciate the magnitude of destruction wrought by the Goblin King's invasion. Despite the efforts of its inhabitants, the city still bears the scars of war. Ruined mansions, fire-blackened stretches of wall and abandoned parks where nature has been left to run riot. Wind whips the sea beyond the harbour into tall foam-topped waves of blue and snaps the mournful banners upon their flagpoles, but not a breath of it touches anyone watching from the tower.[4b]
The interior of the tower is as bleak as the exterior is imposing. Bare walls and simple furnishings speak of an occupant who cares nothing for beauty or ornamentation, and whose ascetic tastes would make those of a Swordmaster's seem vulgar by comparison. Though the Warden's chambers preside atop a multitude of stairs, no sooner does a visitor set foot on the first step do they seem to reach the landing at the very top. Indeed, looking back down the centre of the tower, one will see the ground hundreds of feet below.[4b]
At the top of the tower, and if expecting visitors, a token effort will be made to make the tower's interior less foreboding, but somehow makes the rest of one's surrounds all the more depressing. From the receiving chamber and balcony, one will find a leaf-shaped archway and wooden door that leads to the Warden's private chambers. Here, where the rest of the tower is bleak and displays none of its occupant's character, this vaulted chamber of cold light and distant echoes showcases dark insight into Eltharion's character. Racks of weapons and framed maps of Ulthuan, Naggaroth and all the known world line the walls. Alongside them are grim trophies set upon wooden plaques and mounted along the circumference of the room, the heads of vicious monsters, Orcs, and Men. By day, sunlight streams in through a great aperture formed in the roof, below which an elaborate saddle of leather straps and buckles hang upon a wooden frame. The saddle belongs to Eltharion's Griffon, Stormwing, whom with ease can gracefully land within the confines of the tower via the roof's aperture. Beyond that, illumination does nothing to warm the chamber nor reach the farthest corners.[4b]
The Western Wall
From the Guardian Tower, it takes little time to reach the Western Wall of the city. Towering above all who walk the streets, the Wall's defences are no less impressive on the side facing the Inner Kingdoms of Ulthuan than those facing the world beyond its shores. Mighty towers and colossal bastions spread out to either side of the road, but any passerby can see that such defences are of little consequence were a great horde to come upon them, for there is only a paltry strength of warriors manning the wall. The western gate itself swings noiselessly when opened.[4c]
Unfortunately, Tor Yvresse' glory days passed long ago. Many of its old mansions are uninhabited and the great amphitheatres, formerly the scene of performances and masked balls, now remain silent and empty. The population of Tor Yvresse is less than half of what was expected to house when it was built, and the wide avenues seem empty even when the whole population throws themselves into the streets to celebrate the great Feast of the Masks. Its powerful and ancient walls are wide and deep, but the city scarcely has the necessary warriors to defend them, even though the Guardian of Tor Yvresse is a great hero. Fortunately, the city has long been protected by the spellbound Shifting Isles.
In the year 2425 IC both the kingdom and the city were about to fall with the Waaagh! of Grom the Paunch. During the invasion of the kingdom, the ignorant Goblins knocked over several waystones, releasing energy that caused earthquakes. Only the timely intervention of Eltharion managed to defeat the hideous horde, and save the world but with a high cost of elven lives. Much of the city had been reduced to rubble and had to be rebuilt once the invasion was rebuffed.
With this, the physical splendor of the city has not yet been quenched, since much had been rebuilt, but where hands and magic once raised an architecture of sublime magnificence and joy, these new buildings are hollow substitutes, more like monuments to the dead than celebrations of life. In addition, despite the work of the inhabitants of the city, the place still shows the scars of the war, with devastated mansions, fire-blackened walls and deserted parks where nature is now at its wildest.
Many died fighting the Goblin Warboss, and the citizens of Tor Yvresse carry that penalty like a shroud. These deaths gravitate heavily, and Eltharion's dark mood is reflected in his people. Beautiful elves in robes that would not have been out of place in the palaces of Lothern walk their streets, and look up with cautious interest in any event. Tall and of long limbs, these elves possessed a rough beauty, just like their land, and almost all are armed with swords or bows. These elves continue with their daily lives, but the more they are observed, the more one has the sensation that those people simply execute the necessary movements. It was as if a part of them has died with those who fell in battle and have not yet collapsed.
- It is said that the amphitheaters of Tor Yvresse are the envy of the world, and that even the Masques of Lothern, notorious for being particular, would come to play here.[4a]
- Places of note include the Fountain of Mist, Dethelion's Theatre, and the River of Stars.[4a]
- For one night of the year, the elven citizens of Tor Yvresse put aside their woes and celebrate the Festival of Masques - a carnival of laughter and merrymaking where they are free to indulge their every whim and desire.
- Tor Yvresse was invaded by N'Kari in XI 10, when the daemon sought vengeance on the Blood of Aenarion. Two of the Defender's descendants dwelt within the ancient city.[5a]
- 1: Warhammer Armies: High Elves (8th edition)
- 1a: pg. 13
- Warhammer Armies: High Elves (7th Edition)
- Warhammer Armies: High Elves (4th Edition)
- 4: (Short story): Deathmasque, by Graham McNeill
- 4: Novel: Defenders of Ulthuan, by Graham McNeill
- 5: Blood of Aenarion (novel) by William King
- 5a: Chapter 20