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Warhammer Wood Elves Symbol

Time flows strangely under the eaves of Athel Loren; a day can pass in an eye-blink or stretch away into eternity. Indeed, it can do both at once, for the passage of the seconds is never so subjective as it is within the forest's timeless glades. As a result of this, the time within Athel Loren rarely overlays precisely with that of the outside world. This is compounded by the fact that time is not even uniform within Athel Loren. Winter never leaves some of the ancient glades, and there are places where the sun burns bright all year round.[1a]

Despite the challenges posed by the nature of their realm, the Wood Elves manage to maintain surprisingly accurate records of their own histories. They instinctively balance their perceptions with the forest's ever-changing flow of time, and find it remarkable that other creatures cannot master something so ridiculously simple. In this, they are aided by the fact that the King's Glade and the Oak of Ages — the twin hearts of Athel Loren — are always in perfect harmony with the outside world. This therefore means that the yearly cycle of Orion's rebirth ties too with the summers and winters of neighboring lands. Yet, all the while, there are still regions of Athel Loren where the first incarnation of the King in the Woods has never died.[1a]

The Wood Elf histories are rarely written down. instead, they are preserved through the ages by the stories and songs of courtly skalds, and within the ornate ritual performances of the Wardancers — devotees of Loec, the teller of tales. Of the two methods, the latter can be considered the more reliable. Though the Wardancers are servants of the Trickster God, their dances speak the truth even when their words do not. Skalds, on the other hand, maintain favour with the lords and ladies by embellishing reputations and diminishing failures, and so their songs are prized more for their entertainment than their scrupulous accuracy. Indeed, the most popular songs are those that take a historical event and weave it into allegorical ballads whose messages are meaningful to all.[1a]

The Great Seasons

The chronicle of Athel Loren is most commonly broken down into a series of 'great seasons': the Season of Rebirth, the Season of Redemption, and so on. Each great season marks the passage of several centuries, and therefore many hundreds of the 'lesser seasons' that pass over the Oak of Ages: Ice, Rebirth, The Hunt and The Fade.[1a]

There is no set trigger that determines when one great season ceases and another begins. The end of an old and the onset of a new is heralded by unfolding events, and it may be that the shift between great seasons goes unmarked until many years after the fact. In a more rigid society, laxity of this kind would throw all manner of bureaucratic systems into disorder. In Athel Loren, this is simply the way things are done.[1a]

In those rare halls where written histories are preserved, they are recorded using a similar method to that used in the Ulthuan society from which the Wood Elves sprang. The great season is given first, following in sequence by year, lesser season and day (though the last two are often so subjective in Athel Loren as to render them confusing, at best). Thus III, 251, 2, 87 would be the eighty-seventh day in the lesser season of Rebirth, in the two hundred and fifty first year of the Season of Revelation.[1a]

The Forgotten Season (c.-10,000 to -1501)

Athel Loren existed long before the Elves first settled there, though it is doubtful as to whether any of the spirits of that era even marked the passage of time. Certainly, no records remain if they did, and the surviving Elders are little given to discussing times past. The years before the arrival of the Elves are referred to as part of the 'Forgotten Season'. Some Elves maintain that these must have been the time of Athel Loren's glory, before the Elves sullied it with their presence. Most believe, however, that only with their coming did the forest truly know magnificence. The truth, as ever, can be found somewhere in between.[1a]

I: Season of Rebirth, 1-405 (-1500 to -1095)

  • I, 1 -- The Realm Founded. After rejecting Phoenix King Caradryel's repatriation decree, the Elves of Athel Loren begin to dwell ever deeper in the forest.
  • I, 376 -- The Winter of Woe. Greenskin invaders push deep into the heart of Athel Loren. In the end, they are defeated in a great battle before the Oak of Ages. Orion and Ariel appear to the Wood Elves and are enthroned as the King and Queen in the Woods.

II: Season of Withering, 1-471 (-1094 to -625)

  • II, 95 -- The lands surrounding Athel Loren are settled by people of the primitive and warlike Bretonni tribes.[2a]
  • II, 280 -- The cursed Cyanathair launches a great war against Athel Loren, thus beginning the Secret War between the Wood Elves and the Beastmen.[2a]
  • II, 446 -- Attempts to penetrate Athel Loren by the Bretonni leave only a handful of survivors, driven mad by the fey terrors, and the forest enters Bretonnian folklore as being a haunted, magical place.[2a]

III: Season of Revelation, 1-1740 (-624 to 1116)

  • III, 875 -- The Branchwraith Drycha passes beyond the boundaries of the Wildwood and meets with Coeddil. The two remain there for several months.[2b]
  • III, 962 -- The Wood Elves fight a great battle against Beastmen led by Cyanathair, within the Forest of Shadows in the Empire. Spellsingers of great power manage to bind him with their magics and draw him into Athel Loren itself. Here he is slain by the ancient Treeman Durthu.[2b]
  • III, 1028 -- The Wardancer Cirenivel travels deep into the Vaults of Winter. She defeats the guardian of the caves and retrieves many lost Elven artefacts.[2b]
  • III, 1161 -- Duke Melmon of Quenelles disappears on the night of the Spring Equinox. Stories say he was caught up in the ghostly Great Hunt that is said to roam the skies on certain nights. Others say he wandered into Athel Loren, drawn there by fey lights.[2b]

IV: Season of Retribution, 1-586 (1117 to 1702)

  • IV, 284 -- The portals to the Tower of the Eternal Wood become unsealed. It is found to be completely empty - no trace can be found of the Spellweaver Ranu.[2b]
  • IV, 462 -- The Bretonnian tournament of Guyenne takes place in which King Jules jousts with one of the fey folk of Athel Loren and is victorious.[2b]
  • IV, 485 -- The High Elves of Ulthuan attempt a rapprochment with their estranged kin in Athel loren. The emissaries meet with Ariel, who rejects the offer of closer ties with the High Elf court, and become lost in the forest on their departure.[2b]
  • IV, 556 -- At the close of the year the High Elf emissaries finally emerge from Athel Loren near Quenelles, but are immediately assumed to be evil spirits by the Bretonnian peasantry. Heavily outnumbered, they are slain and their bodies burnt.[2b]
  • IV, 557 -- The Wild Hunt inexplicably rides only through the lands controlled by Quenelles. The Duke and his family are all slain, save his youngest daughter, who is spirited away into the forest by Dryads.[2b]
  • IV, 581 -- The imprisoned Treeman Coeddil, his heart black with hatred, attempts to escape the Wildwood. He is stopped by a coterie of Spellsingers.[1a] Indeed, in the winter of this year, the warden of the Crystal Mere, Lady Elynett, thwarts an attempt made by Drycha to disrupt the waystones of Coeddil's prison.[2b]

V: Season of Redemption, 1-305 (1703 to 2007)

  • V, 1 -- Working under commission from Lady Findol, the master smith Daith creates the Spirit Sword. Findol refuses payment, claiming a non-existent fault with the blade, but relents when Daith rouses the forests against Findol's hall. Daith is never denied payment again.[2b]
  • V, 111 -- Slaughter at Brionne. Wood Elves and Bretonnians drive a Skaven horde from the walls of Brionne. With this great victory scarcely won, the allies ride east to Quenelles and work another great slaughter upon the ratmen.[1a]
  • V, 222 -- Dwarfen traders travelling to Parravon are attacked by Orcs out of the Grey Mountains. Much to the incredulity of the Dwarfs, a Wood Elf warband led by Gwytherc the Huntress, sallies out of Athel Loren and routs their attackers.[2b]
  • V, 305 -- The monstrous Cyanathair is once again destroyed by the Wood Elves. He is slain by Scarloc and his masterful scouts, pierced with a hundred arrows.[2b]

VI: Season of Doom, 1-Present (2008 to Present)

  • VI, 19 -- Drycha, Handmaiden of Coeddil, gathers to her a great warweald of forest spirits, and rampages through southern Bretonnia. After defeating the Duke of Carcassonne at the crossings of the Brienne, she assails the walls of La Chald Abbey. By the time Bretonnian reinforcements arrive, the abbey has been torn down and its relics stolen.[1b]
  • VI, 25 -- Deeming that the Wood Elves would prove valuable allies in their ongoing wars, both the Witch King of Naggaroth and the Phoenix King Bel-Hathor elect to send emissaries to Athel Loren. Finubar, the ambassador from Ulthuan was particularly nervous of this assignment, as the last of his kind to enter the forest had vanished under mysterious circumstances. As matters transpired, both delegations are welcomed with great civility. The Wood Elves go to great pains to keep the parties separated. Indeed, it is doubtful that either set of petitioners ever knew that the other was there. However, both ambassadors are affronted to discover that Ariel would not meet with them, and instead chose to conduct negotiations through the lords and ladies of the great council. Both ambassadors react with outrage, and this does little to encourage the Mage Queen to reconsider her position. Ultimately, the Wood Elves listen, and refuse, both nations. The High Elves had treated with Athel Loren as if it were still some wayward colony to be graciously drawn back into the fold, and not as the sovereign nation it was. By contrast, the Dark Elves had made many promises of shared glory, the Wood Elves deemed that their words and hearts were hollow. Both ambassadors are bidden to leave Athel Loren, and to never return. The Wood Elves would seek their own path in the years to come, just as they had for centuries.[1b]
  • VI, 77 -- Horror from the Vaults.[1b]
  • VI, 167 -- Araloth, Lord of Talsyn, leads his household guard through the worldroots to Ulthuan, and to the aid of Lord Moranion of Athel Tamarha. At this time, the kingdom of Yvresse, in which Athel Tamarha lay, was under ceaseless assault from Dark Elf Raiders. Moranion's surprise at the Wood Elves’ arrival quickly gave way to grim joy. Though he and his eldest son Eltharion had battled the Naggarothi at every turn, many of Yvresse's forces were overseas fighting the Phoenix King's wars, and those that remained were too few to end the threat. Araloth's kinbands of Eternal Guard more than compensated for this deficiency, and the Dark Elves were soon brought to battle and defeated on the Isle of Aestuniac. In the aftermath, Moranion asked Araloth why he had chosen to intercede. Araloth simply replied that his ancestors had sprung from Athel Tamarha, and that he could not have stood idly by and seen the forests of their homeland destroyed. Strangely cheered by the Wood Elf's answer, Moranion bade farewell and returned home. It was not until years later that he discovered that Araloth had spoken falsely, and he never learned why the Wood Elf had done so.[1b]
  • VI, 213 -- Scarloc and his kinband begin their three-decade journey through the human kingdoms. Acting as sellswords, they uncover much about the strengths and weaknesses of the various realms.[1c]
  • VI, 224 -- The Corruptor Escapes. There was a great wailing amongst the trees of the Glade of Woe, and Ariel knew that Morghur had been reborn once more. Scouts soon located the vile creature in the Forest of Arden and, no longer content to let others keep the Corruptor in check, the Mage Queen dispatched an army to kill the beast whilst still young. So it was that Araloth, Lord of Talsyn, and Naieth the Prophetess led many warrior kinbands on the hunt. They tracked Morghur and his warherd through the darkness of the forest, felling stragglers with bow and blade. At last, they routed Morghur's followers and cornered the beast. Alas, as Araloth readied his blade for the killing strike, the air rang to the blare of crude horns and the bleating of unclean beasts. So intent had the Wood Elves been on reaching their quarry, that they had not noticed the Ungor scouts shadowing their every step. Now, those trackers had led other Beastmen to Morghur's rescue and, badly outnumbered, the Wood Elves were forced to retreat. Up until now, the Wood Elves' casualties had been light, for they had chosen the ground upon which each of their battles had been fought. Now the Beastmen took their bloody revenge. Glade Guard fired until their quivers were empty, but there were always more foes to replace those that had been slain. With a heart twisted by anger and sorrow, Araloth left a rearguard of volunteers to hold back the raging Gors, and led the rest of his force on a desperate retreat out of the Forest of Arden. As the last, only Naieth, Araloth and a handful of others escaped the Forest of Arden. They survived only because Naieth roused the slumbering trees to form walls of branch and briar that barred the Beastmen's passage. Shamed by his failure, Araloth soon returned to the Forest of Arden as part of a far larger host, but Morghur had gone — the Beastmen had used their primitive magic to spirit the creature away. It would be many years before Araloth would have his chance at revenge.[1c]
  • VI, 253 -- Battle in the Black Forest. The chronicles of Naggaroth tell of how, in this year, Morathi was ambushed by Shadow Warriors as she searched for the lost Crown of Hotek. The chronicles also recount, and with some disbelief, how the Hag Sorceress and her escort knew salvation only through the intervention of a warweald of Dryads.[1d]
  • VI, 333 -- At high summer, Waaagh! Gashrak swept down from the Vaults and descended upon Athel Loren, but had the misfortune to charge headlong into Orion's Wild Hunt as it surged forth into the Parravon lowlands. After a brief but bloody battle along the banks of the River Grismerie, Gashrak's ladz were routed into the mountains. Gashrak himself was slain by Orion's spear, and his body staked out on the borders of Athel Loren as a warning to others of his kind.[1e]
  • VI, 378 -- The Dwarfs of Karak Norn march again on Athel Loren, just as they had many times since the long-ago death of Grungni Goldfinder. As on previous occasions, they are bloodily repulsed for no meaningful gain.[1e]
  • VI, 425 -- Drycha's handmaidens attack the Shrine of Taal in the Reikwald. Though the vengeful Branchwraith strikes without warning a wily huntsman slips through the carnage and manages to bring word to Altdorf before dying of his wounds. Reinforcements are quickly despatched, but are ambushed by Dryads and Treemen on the Altdorf-Weismund road. By the time the battered army finally breaks through, the shrine has been levelled, its defenders slain and the holiest relic — the Fang of Taalroth — has been stolen. Of Drycha and her handmaidens, there are no signs.[1f]
  • VI, 499 -- In this year, Ungrim Ironfist, Slayer King of Karak Kadrin, brought an army of greenskins to battle on the edge of Athel Loren. Seeing the justice of the Dwarfs' cause, Thalandor Doomstar brought a host to the mountain-dwellers' aid. The battle soon turned against the greenskins but, in the hour of victory; the Dwarfs carried their axes against the Wood Elves also, seeking to repay a millennia-old grudge. Swearing vengeance for his lost kin, Thalandor retreated.[1g]
  • VI, 500 -- The outlying workings and defences of Karak Kadrin come under assault by vengeful Wood Elves under the command of Thalandor. For nearly a year, Thalandor's host maintain their blockade, crushing countless sorties by the defenders, and twice repelling armies from Zhufbar that had been sent to break the siege. Only when the Lord of Argwylon is satisfied that recompense has been taken for the harms of the previous year, does he order the withdrawal.[1g]
  • VI, 511 -- After a seemingly senseless campaign of slaughter in the lands surrounding Parravon, Drycha finally acquires the last relic she had been searching for. Stealing into Athel Loren during the height of winter, the Branchwraith unleashes the power of her stolen artefacts, and shatters the wards Ariel had placed to bind Coeddil into the Wildwood. Alerted too late, Rangers of the Wildwood rush to Coeddil's prison, only to find the Elder gone.[1g]
  • VI, 514 -- On Twilight's Tide of this year, royal bastard Mallobaude of Mousillon rode out to wrest the crown of Bretonnia from his father. No honourable knight would fight in Mallobaude's cause, but the serpent of Mousillon did not want for followers. Long had he planned this day, and had gathered to him a vast army of wicked and soulless men. Ignoring Louen Leoncoeur's decree that the armies of Bretonnia should combine to fight this threat, the army of Armand, Duke of Aquitaine, met Mallobaude in battle. Even though he acted with the favour of the Fay Enchantress, Armand would have been swiftly defeated had not Drycha led a host of forest spirits from the Forest of Châlons to fight at his side. Yet the Wood Elves' interest lay not in Armand's victory, and they soon stole away once more, leaving the duke to a fate delayed, rather than unchanged. Worse, when the forest spirits had vanished, so too had the Fay Enchantress. What her fate was, no one in Bretonnia knew. During the Feast of All-Summer, a naiad spirit appeared in Athel Loren. She carried word from the Lady of the Lake, and demanded Ariel travel to the Silverspire. To the surprise of all, the Mage Queen acceded to the peremptory summons and journeyed north. For three days and nights after, the northern skies were lit with wild magic. When Ariel returned, she told the council that there had been a quarrel, as amongst siblings, but that the matter was now settled.[1g]

Source

  • 1: Warhammer Armies: Wood Elves (8th Edition)
    • 1a: pg. 15
    • 1b: pg. 28
    • 1c: pg. 29
    • 1d: pg. 30
    • 1e: pg. 31
    • 1f: pg. 32
    • 1g: pg. 33
  • 2: Warhammer Armies: Wood Elves (6th Edition)
    • 2a: pg. 16
    • 2b: pg. 17

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