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The Sundering was the great civil war that fractured the Elven race into the High Elves and the Dark Elves, culminating in a magical cataclysm which sunk a large portion of Ulthuan and the divide between the High and Dark Elves in which it endured through the ages.
The Sundering traces back to Malekith, son of the first Phoenix King Aenarion and an Elven enchantress called Morathi, and was the successor to the throne of Ulthuan by birthright. Following Aenarion's death, however, the ruling Council of Princes decided that Malekith was too impetuous and warlike, as Aenarion had led the Elves through a great war and the population was extremely weary of conflict. They declared Malekith to be unfit to rule, and instead chose Bel Shanaar of Tiranoc as the next Phoenix King. Although this decision caused controversies and outrage among Malekith's supporters and his mother, Malekith accepted Bel Shanaar.
Malekith was later made High General and supreme commander of the armies. During his time in the army, Malekith wandered the world, and with his mother's guidance, started experimenting with Dark Magic. By then, Malekith became discontented with Elf society that had grown complacent and wanted the Elves to become a war-like people to face the ever-growing menace from the forces of Chaos. Compounded with his critical views was his investigation into the Cult of Pleasure, a society of poets and artists that was very popular with the High Elf elite, being a front for a Chaos cult of Slaanesh that had taken root among the Elves. 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 was founded by Malekith's mother, and had marshalled an army from the cult to complete Malekith's coup.
The Civil WarEdit
Malekith further took his witch hunt against Bel Shanaar himself and accused him as a secret worshipper of Slaanesh. Soon after the accusation, Bel Shanaar suddenly died of poisoning. Malekith's supporters asserted that Bel Shanaar took his own life in order to avoid the shame of interrogation, while those loyal to the Council of Princes accused Malekith of assassination. The argument between Malekith and the Council of Princes turned violent, and Malekith and his followers killed most of the Princes, claiming to save Ulthuan.
With the Council out of the way, Malekith had to pass through the Sacred Fire of Asuryan, king of the Elven gods, in order to become the Phoenix King. Malekith was assuredly confident that he would pass the ordeal just as his father did. He was wrong. The flame of Asuryan would not suffer his polluted body to pass through it. Thus did the flame that brought Aenarion miraculous rebirth bring nothing but ruin to his deceitful and treacherous son. The fire severely burned Malekith, scarring him horrifically, but he managed to survive. With their leader on the verge of death, Malekith's followers took up their master's body and fled to Nagarythe, where Morathi was able to nurse her son back to health. Kept alive by his indomitable will and his spiteful sheer refusal to die, Malekith was consumed with a bitter hatred for those who had resisted him. He then summoned every Elves who were loyal to him to aid him in taking the throne by force.
Following Malekith's treachery, the High Elves reorganized 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. Malekith's fanatic followers slowly become outnumbered as more and more Elves flocked under Caledor's banner, and Caledor proved himself militarily capable as Malekith. The war's turning point was at 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. Demoralized by their leader's defeat, the armies of Malekith retreated to their strongholds in Nagarythe.
As the armies of Ulthuan assaulted Nagarythe, the Elves of Nagarythe grew more desperate, relying on the blackest of sorceries and daemonic pacts. Malekith decided on one last gamble with which he would undo the spells that held together the Great Vortex to return Chaos to the world and bind them to his will. Although Malekith was aware the dangers of such a plan, he would not care if the plan failed and allow the Daemons of Chaos to rampage across the world then no one will claim Ulthuan if he could not have it. Malekith's disciples agreed to his plans as they saw it 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.
As Malekith and his coven began this dark ritual, the greatest wizards of the Elves tried to stop him but to no avail by 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. 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 vortex, the mages of the Isle of the Dead intervened, weaving powerful counter spells into the High Elf 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 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.
As Nagarythe sank, several of the great fortress-cities of Nagarythe were pulled from the bedrock by sorceresses and kept afloat by their magic. Malekith and the surviving loyalists sailed their fortress-ships, which would become known as "Black Arks", to the New World and established a new kingdom: Naggaroth, in honor of their destroyed home. The Dark Elves vowed to one day return to Ulthuan and avenge the wrongs committed against their king and their people.
What remained of Nagarythe is a blasted and cold wasteland from what was once a majestic and beautiful land. Rife with disruptive magical energies, its shattered remains are now known as The Shadowlands and the descendants of those citizens of Nagarythe which resisted Malekith, known as the Shadow Warriors, now inhabit it.