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Ages of the Mortal Realms
Age of Myth | Age of Chaos | Age of Sigmar

The Age of Chaos, also known as the Black Years, the Reaving Time and the Great Slaughter, is one of the three Great Epochs of the Mortal Realms, preceded by the Age of Myth and succeeded by the Age of Sigmar.

The Age of Chaos began when the forces of Chaos exploited the spiritual weaknesses and ethical failures of mortals, eventually creating cracks in the foundation of reality that opened a pathway into the Eight Realms for the Chaos Gods and their servants.

But it truly came to a climax with the end of Sigmar's great alliance among the deities of the Pantheon of Order and the dominion of Chaos over the Mortal Realms following the victory of the forces of Chaos and their master Archaon the Everchosen at the Battle of Burning Skies in the Realm of Aqshy.

Even in the Age of Myth, the Pantheon of Order led by Sigmar had shown signs of strain. Nagash, god of death, sought to rule all the realms alone, creating strife and even open war between the living and the dead.

Gorkamorka's warrior spirit drew him away from Sigmar's sage counsel, forever driving a blade of conflict between the savage and the enlightened.

Tyrion, god of light and war and Malerion, god of shadow, abandoned their duties in order to capture the Dark Prince Slaanesh whilst the Chaos God was still glutted with the aelven souls of the World-That-Was it had devoured.

Elsewhere, stout Grimnir, god of war and fire, battled the godbeast Vulcatrix, the Mother of Salamanders, until both god and monster were torn apart.

From beyond the haunted Aetheric Void, the Dark Gods of Chaos looked upon the discord of the Mortal Realms. In the peoples given civilisation by their ancient enemy Sigmar, they saw fresh prey. Their whispered promises and insidious curses turned men against one another, and in that strife they found their way in.

At their command the Realm of Chaos spat forth its daemon legions once more into the Cosmos Arcane in such numbers that all other hosts seemed trivial. Despite the great valour of Sigmar's and the rest of the Pantheon's followers, his civilisations were soon beset. So began the Age of Chaos -- a time of death and deceit.

Though his enemies grew in power, and strife consumed the lands, the God-King still managed to reforge old alliances and win many battles. But ultimately it was not enough. United in conquest, the Chaos Gods had already proved far too strong.

Sigmar was forced to lead a great exodus of the Free Peoples to Azyr, the Celestial Realm, the last place of safety under the stars. The Gates of Azyr were closed behind him, and the seven realms that remained were left to their fate.

Life in the Mortal Realms then became a living hell. All hope of peace was ripped away. Every race, people and settlement bled under the bite of the Chaos axe, their lands dominated by skull-clad fortresses and blasphemous temples. Even the realms themselves began to change, twist and fall away, in places corrupted beyond recovery.

Though the mortal descendants of the World-That-Was clung to hope as best they could, only those that embraced the ways of their Chaos overlords survived for long.

Honest men fought to the death in blood-pits for the amusement of their conquerors. Priests of dead gods turned their unheeded prayers towards viler powers. Wretches scraped what meat they could from the carcasses of the fallen. The spectres of betrayal and desperation turned brother against brother and father against son.

The Chaos Gods laughed in triumph, sure in the knowledge that there existed no force mighty enough to challenge them. And yet, on the horizon, storm clouds slowly gathered...

This epoch lasted for approximately five hundred years with the forces of the Dark Gods overrunning the Mortal Realms with the exception of the Realm of Azyr. Many spike-ridden fortresses were built to drain the realms' magical essence and spill forth the baleful energies of Chaos.

After Sigmar's retreat and sealing off of Azyr, the God-King began taking the mightiest of humanity's warriors from the battlefields of the other Mortal Realms to the Azyrian city of Sigmaron to be reforged into Stormcast Eternals.

The epoch ended when the Stormcast Eternals of the Hammers of Sigmar Stormhost were sent to the Brimstone Peninsula to open the Gate of Azyr called the Whispering Gate located there and begin the Realmgate Wars to retake the Eight Realms.

History

Daemon Incursion

As the mortal kingdoms of the Eight Realms in the Age of Myth grew ever more powerful, cracks began to appear in the foundations of mortal civilisation. Over time, those hair-thin weaknesses were widened and exploited by the agents of the Dark Gods until they allowed the hellish scions of Chaos to bleed into reality.

In time, the eyes of the Chaos Gods came to gaze upon the Mortal Realms with terrible inevitability, for the attention of the Ruinous Powers is drawn to the energies of mortal ambition much as a shark is drawn to blood.

Across the Cosmos Arcane they stared with hungering intent, the glittering lights of grand cities reflected in their avaricious eyes. Here were fresh pastures, lands replete with magical power and the souls of mortals. They were a source of endless energy and infinite entertainment -- an arena in which their eternal Great Game could be fought anew, just as it had once played out on the lost World-That-Was.

At first, the way in was barred to the agents of the Dark Gods. The strange realities of the Mortal Realms, when they first came to be, were gatherings of aligned magic so pure that the stuff of Chaos found it difficult to gain purchase there.

The natives had no knowledge of the deities of Chaos, those fell entities that sought to force their way into the waking worlds. Those exceptional few mortals who had survived the destruction of the World-That-Was or been reborn through the sheer influx of magical power when the Eight Realms coalesced from the energies of the lost world's destruction kept silent. They never spoke of their traumas lest they lend them strength -- though for some, memories of carnage still haunted them in the dead of night.

Only a handful of souls across the entirety of the Mortal Realms had come to learn that these eldritch powers could lend a supplicant physical might, skill at arms or the power of sorcery in exchange for their allegiance. Some amongst these cared notfor the cost of such a bargain -- in essence, the petitioner's immortal soul.

These selfish few, these foolish ones, were the mortal vectors by which the Chaos Gods made their play to corrupt eight new worlds.

At first, the methods by which the Chaos Gods inveigled their way into the reality of the Cosmos Arcane were subtle. Treasonous schemers seeking to overthrow their rightful monarchs worked complex ploys against their betters, their prayers for change inviting the attention of Tzeentch -- prayers that did not go unanswered.

In the Hanging Valleys of Chamon, the Realm of Metal, courtly intrigues turned to slaughter when a meteor shower glimmered through the skies, granting the wishes of ninety-nine viziers and magi in a storm of contradictory change-magic that left golden palaces and gardens swimming in blood.

In Ulgu's Grey Paradise, listless nobles grew bored with the constant machinations of the Realm of Shadow. Seeking more intense pleasures yet finding themselves unable to enjoy simple things, they dabbled in dark arts to fulfil their exotic tastes -- and in doing so, opened the door to orgies of destruction brought upon them by the daemons of Slaanesh.

Watching eagerly over fertile Ghyran, the Realm of Life, the Plague God Nurgle chuckled fondly when the Warlocks of the Seventh Mulch brewed a cauldron of pox, using it to poison the lands of their rivals in order to boast the bigger harvest.

Other Ghyranite tribes, so beset by verminous infestation they were driven to their wits' end, began to worship the Great Horned Rat, for they saw its baleful eyes glowing in their dreams. These supplicants donned the bloody pelts and tails of the largest vermin they could slay, dancing on all fours around the burning corpses of local rat-catchers.

When the gravid moon next rose green, their lands were drowned in furry brown bodies, and they too were consumed.

In the Great Hospice of King Thanator, a healer was driven to distraction by the bone-eating plagues that had all but consumed her people. She prayed for someone, anyone, to help lift the curse. When a tiny fly descended from the void and whispered in her ear one night, she learned the name of one who could aid her -- Nurgle.

The Plague God was already listening keenly, and in his generosity, he answered her next eventide prayer by unleashing seven diseases that were so strong that the bone-eating plague was eradicated in a single night. The surviving people of Thanator's Hospice, wracked inside and out by plague, were amongst the first to be known as Maggotkin. They were new believers of an ancient creed given fresh life, each riddled with a different strain of Nurgle's finest contagions.

To this day, the Maggotkin march to war in Nurgle's name.

Though such freakish instances grew steadily more common at the end of the Age of Myth, it was in the arid wastes of Aqshy, the Realm of Fire, that the strongest of the Chaos Gods made his mark with a daemon invasion. So important was that initial victory against the forces of Order, so symbolic to the passing of aeons, that word of it spread from one realm to another, shaking dozens of civilisations to their core.

There, a rivalry between the forces of Khorne and Sigmar had begun -- a bitter enmity that would define the long wars to come.

The sulphurous lands of Aqshy's Great Parch have a long history of violence. A volatile and passionate realm even in times of relative peace, Aqshy is famous for the vitriolic temper of its people.

In prehistoric times its human clans and tribes used any excuse to seek out war. Yet over the course of the Age of Myth, Sigmar's influence upon the citizens of the Great Parch saw them learn to sublimate their extreme emotions with competition, athleticism and regulated conflict.

As civilisation took root, the boundless vigour and drive of the men of the Great Parch saw them push each other to ever greater heights of progress. Yet their tinder-dry passions were to ignite like wildfire when rivalry inevitably turned to war. There were those in that land who could not put aside their pride and their aggression, who were so in love with violence they could not forsake it.

Blood cults and murderous savagery became ever more common. At first, only the most primal barbarian tribes worshipped at the altar of carnage, but over time rituals of bloodletting and cannibalism spread across the entirety of the Great Parch's Flamescar Plateau.

Where one savage religion dedicated to the Blood God took root, others were swift to follow. Shamans and seers turned to ever darker patrons as they sought to keep one step ahead. The civilised domains of Aspiria, Bataar and Vostargi Mont were content to leave the savage tribes to their dark work, instead concentrating on their own thriving trade and artifice.

Their complacency was to cost them dearly. When a tribal warlord known as Korghos Khul rose to prominence, he led his battle-hungry tribes of men in an endless contest of bloodletting that became a way of life. Those who did not join his cause, those who refused to devour the slain after battle's end, were cut down and added to the corpse-feast themselves. The intense violence of that time reached such dizzying peaks that reality itself was stretched to breaking point.

Khorne's hot breath thinned the veil in his anticipation of the red work to come. Then, one fell night, the daemons of the Blood God broke through the skein of reality from the Realm of Chaos, invading the Great Parch amidst a maelstrom of magical energy.

For whole generations the once-fertile and painstakingly irrigated lands of the Great Parch ran with rivulets of gore. It was the very beginning of a dire epoch of Chaos ascendancy.

Breaking of the Pantheon of Order

For a time, Sigmar's alliance of deities had been a force powerful enough to reshape the Mortal Realms. The fact that the Incarnate gods all shared a commonality of origin -- the World-That-Was -- proved a strong bond. As the rise of Chaos slowly put their kinship asunder, however, disaster loomed.

For a long and productive period in the Age of Myth, Sigmar's Pantheon of Order met in the grand conclaves of Azyr. Their heated debates and miraculous interventions shaped the realms into places where native mortal cultures and the reborn survivors of the World-That-Was could thrive.

Yet the insidious lure of Chaos proved hard to deny, as it had ever been for mortals, and over time its tendrils corroded the integrity of the Pantheon just as they tore at the stuff of reality itself.

Alarielle the Everqueen, god of nature and life, had long proven a powerful ally to Sigmar, for wherever she sowed the seeds of growth and strange harmony, those lands remained fertile and verdant forever more. Wherever she walked, the ground blossomed and became lush. Even the most hostile realmscapes were rendered habitable in the wake of her footsteps.

Flesh-desiccating deserts became oases of exotic life and sentient plants; arid salt flats became tillable fields that sang with life. At Sigmar’s behest she ventured far and wide, and where she passed new civilisations were founded in her wake. But as the seasons changed, and her sojourns became longer as she sought peace amongst the lifeblooms, the heartlands of Ghyran, the Realm of Life, came under attack.

The Plague God Nurgle had long coveted Alarielle's paradises of fecundity, seeking to infest them with grotesque forms of life that they might become part of his vile garden domain in the Realm of Chaos. By the time Alarielle returned and truly began to fight for the lands of Ghyran, the realm was already infected with Nurgle's rot. Her guilt and anger were so profound she slid into despondency and decline.

Alarielle blamed Sigmar as much as herself for the disaster. She became a recluse, retreating to those remote areas of Ghyran still untouched and resolving to die there if she must. She led the mortal resistance against Nurgle's invasions, but always foul forces found her sites of power. Over the centuries of conflict, Nurgle's influence waxed mightily, and the battle for Ghyran was slowly lost. Using all her enchantments, Alarielle withdrew to the hidden vale of Athelwyrd and prepared for the worst.

Gorkamorka, that primal force of destruction that exemplifies the battle-lust in the heart of every Greenskin, was a reluctant member of the Pantheon at the best of times. He had been freed by Sigmar when the God-King and his ally the godbeast Dracothion had encountered him trapped within the mountainous glacier of primordial ooze known as Drakatoa, the Living Avalanche. In shattering that vast entity even as it held Gorkamorka prisoner, Sigmar freed the Greenskin god of destruction, but inadvertently caused him to vent his pent-up anger on those closest to hand.

Within seconds, Dracothion was struck down. Sigmar, enraged, fought Gorkamorka in a colossal brawl that shook the earth of Ghur, the Realm of Beasts for twelve days and twelve nights. When the dust settled, the two laughed long and loud, for they recognised in one another an indomitable warrior spirit that could not be extinguished.

Gorkamorka, indebted to Sigmar for his freedom, agreed to direct his temper at the enormous predators that roamed the Hinterlands of Ghur, the better to give the tribes of men of the realm a chance to thrive. The titanic skeletons that dot the Realm of Beasts from end to end are said to date back to that long rampage. So much blood was spilt, so massive were the skulls littering the land, that Khorne could not help but look upon Gorkamorka's grand hunt with approval.

But when the Blood God learned that Gorkamorka was actually doing the bidding of Sigmar and the hated Pantheon of Order, the skies boomed with mocking laughter. It was not long after that Gorkamorka, frustrated beyond measure by the debates and politics of the Azyrite councils, roared suddenly in animalistic wrath and left Azyr forever, launching into a violent crusade that stormed across reality with the force of a hundred natural disasters.

He led the Great WAAAGH! from one side of the Cosmos Arcane to the other, leaving utter mayhem in his wake.

Grungni, the duardin god of smiths, had his own reasons for working so long at Sigmar's side. The duardin never forget a debt, and the same can be said of their stalwart gods who had been freed from imprisonment in the tallest of the Iron Mountains of Chamon by the actions of the God-King. But so long did Grungni work to further the goals of Azyr that he repaid that debt three times over.

For a time, Sigmar's alliance had been a force powerful enough to reshape the Mortal Realms. The fact the gods shared a commonality of origin -- the World-That-Was -- proved a surprisingly strong bond. As the rise of Chaos slowly put their kinship asunder, however, disaster loomed.

By the forge god's hand was the Sigmarabulum, a vast ring of forges and other structures, raised to embrace Mallus, the sigmarite core of the World-That-Was; by his hammer was the Anvil of the Apotheosis hewn and the Crucibles of Reforging brought into being from void cold nothingness.

His breath mingled with the metallic by-products of his godly work, forming aether-gold, the arcane element that would become so central to the existence of his future Kharadron children.

Grungni stayed long at his work. He knew his people, like the coal of the earth, became hardiest and shone brightest under extreme pressure -- as the duardin say, peril is the father of success. He let his sons and daughters fend for themselves even when the scourge of Chaos saw every mountain kingdom toppled, every hold shattered and bled dry.

Many of the survivors took to the skies as the Kharadron Overlords, becoming far more successful in their new endeavours than they had ever been as people of the mountain, but they bore scars in their souls from their race's long trauma. Grungni could never tell them how he had aided them in not helping them, for the grudge his people held against him ran too deep. In the end, the guilt he felt at turning a deaf ear to his people's desperate prayers overcame him.

He passed his duties onto the Six Smiths that he had assembled to work alongside Sigmar, and from there he faded into legend, for it was beyond his ability to mend the wound in his mighty heart. Not even the most intrepid duardin explorers know where he is now.

The Aelf deities Tyrion, god of light and war and Teclis, god of light and knowledge, had rejoiced to find Sigmar -- and later his aelven allies in Azyr -- after their long travels. For a time, the gods of light lent the God-King the aid of their matchless minds, with Tyrion teaching the people of Azyr in military acumen, athletics and philosophy as his brother Teclis taught them the arts of science and magic.

When the twin brothers found their own arcane studies leading them towards the fringes of reality, and more specifically the region where their ancient nemesis Slaanesh could be found, they spent less and less time working with Sigmar, instead joining forces with their ancient aelven foe Malerion, the god of shadow, to locate and perhaps even rescue the lost souls of the entire aelven race.

As for Malerion, the shadow king needed little coaxing to split away from Sigmar's Pantheon. He had laboured hard to create his gift to the God-King. The Gladitorium it was called, a many-layered arena of illusion so vital and convincing that the Azyrite warriors that trained there could fight at full tilt, even slaying one another in battle, only to walk out unharmed at day's end. Malerion knew well how valuable a gift this was.

Seeing his duty as done, he was the first to distance himself from the Pantheon in order to pursue his own agenda -- reclaiming his aelven kin from their demise in the gullet of Slaanesh.

The alliance between Nagash, god of death and Sigmar had once been strong, for both gods recognised in one another a major force in the cosmos, Order and Death. Without the tireless work of Nagash's Undead thralls, there was no way their respective civilisations could have grown so strong so fast.

Those tribes of men that came upon empty towns and cities ready for settlement did not ask too many questions, though there were dark whispers of skeletal figures stalking in the night.

But when Shyish, the Realm of Death, came under attack by Chaos forces, Nagash was quick to defend his holdings, and the building of the new cities of the realms slowed to a crawl.

Seeing opportunity, Archaon the Everchosen, the Chosen of the Chaos Gods, had invaded Shyish by forcing tens of thousands of enslaved human barbarians to fight to the death, drown in lakes of blood, or slay one another in ritual combat so they might reach the underworlds of Shyish en masse.

Archaon led his Varanguard elite through the the Realmgate known as the Gate of Bones, with them the Skaven clans that gnawed their way into the Outerlands of Shyish, and the daemon legions called forth by the Gaunt Summoners. This grand host proved unstoppable. Sigmar, ostensibly Nagash's ally, was nowhere to be seen.

Though the Great Necromancer ultimately forced many of these Chaos hosts from Shyish at great cost, his slow-burning anger at what he saw as Sigmar's betrayal was undiminished. This came to a head at the Allpoints, that interstitial nexus zone in the Aetheric Void where eight vast portals allowed the passage of entire armies to the heart of each Mortal Realm.

The Allpoints was a location key to the battles to come. Alongside Nagash's legions, Sigmar had sent a great host of his Azyrite armies to lay claim to it in the name of the Pantheon of Order. Yet the forces of Archaon were there already. There, even as the battle against Chaos hung in the balance before the great portal known as the Shyish arcway, the hosts of Nagash turned upon the Azyrite armies without warning.

This betrayal was to send Sigmar into a murderous and uncontrollable rage. In his blind anger he took his warrior aspect, and battered a path across Shyish in search of retribution against Nagash. He did not find it.

In leaving his own warriors to the mercy of Archaon's blades, Sigmar set in motion events that would see the Allpoints conquered by Chaos entirely and renamed the Eightpoints. With the control of this strategic nexus between the planes of existence, Chaos now threatened to consume the Mortal Realms.

The fulcrum of destiny was nigh, cemented by the calamitous clash known in later times as the Battle of Burning Skies.

Battle of Burning Skies

"Seven steps took Sigmar, striding as a giant;
None could stay him, nor stand before his wrath.
Again and again his foecracking hammer wrought crimson wreckage.
Yet Archaon, the Three-Eyed King, the World-Ender, had united the Four Foes of Old, the greatest of their kind.
Across the aeons Sigmar had vanquished each before, as well they remembered.
So great was that battle, it set the skies aflame;
So began the red dawn, the sword time, the wolf age.
"

—Excerpt from the Saga of Burning Skies

Where one daemon infestation flourished, more sprang up nearby. Many mortal cultures turned their coats purely in order to survive. As years slid by, hundreds of Realmgates were claimed by the Dark Gods, opening new portals for the daemon hordes. Sigmar's wrath was thunderous.

The God-King Sigmar had long dwelt upon the nature of the Chaos Gods, and how best to defeat the daemon hosts and mortal worshippers that served them. In person he was unstoppable, glowing visibly with the magical energies of the Broken World that he had called his home for so long. When his innate power was focused through the ancient warhammer Ghal Maraz, Sigmar could hurl back armies with a bellowed war cry or flatten mountains at a stroke.

Yet the struggle against the Ruinous Powers already took place on a thousand battlefields. Even as he secured a lasting victory in one theatre of war, a dozen more fell to the ever-growing numbers of his enemies. Whilst manifest physically in the vastness of the Mortal Realms, he could no more coordinate an eightfold campaign than he could slay the gods themselves.

Worse still, Sigmar's divine alliance had shown the first cracks in its foundations, for even the deities of Order had their own agendas and obsessions. Still the God-King fought on, alone when he had to.

The first daemonic incursions to make their mark upon the Mortal Realms saw cities, nations, even whole sub-realms fall to the onslaught of Chaos, for not even the greatest warrior nation could stand before the relentless attacks of the daemon hosts. Soon after disaster came revenge, for the armies of Azyr, the Celestial Realm -- largely untouched by Chaos invasion -- were swift to reinforce their embattled kin.

The greatest assemblages of Chaos were led by the daemon kings, the Greater Daemons, known as the Tetrarchs of Ruin. Amongst the flames of Aqshy, the Realm of Fire, Sigmar cast down the Exalted One, the Bloodthirster An'ggrath, and destroyed his armies of Khorne.

He hunted the Great Unclean One Feculox to the City of Branches in Ghyran, following the trail of slime before dealing him a debilitating blow.

With the God-King on the rampage, the Tzeentchian Lord of Change known as Kiathanus eschewed a direct fight, but bound Sigmar in a loop of deception that would condemn him to search the same labyrinth for the rest of time. Through the steel of his warrior soul, Sigmar broke the spell.

Luxcious the Keeper attempted to seduce the God-King with worldly desires in the name of Slaanesh, but Sigmar's loathing for Chaos kept his will strong, and ultimately the Keeper of Secrets found herself withering in the face of his contempt. With each victory, however, Sigmar made a powerful enemy.

Archaon the Everchosen, Chosen of the Chaos Gods, Chaos warlord supreme and a conqueror of great vision, saw in these defeats an opportunity. Though it took long decades to achieve, he united the Greater Daemons of the Dark Gods and their legions of lesser daemons and mortal servants in a common cause. They had been beaten when apart, but together they would become unstoppable, a force for Chaos Ascendant.

At the Battle of Burning Skies that alliance was to bear fruit. Upon Aqshy's endless Fireplains, each of the thwarted Greater Daemons met Sigmar in battle once more. United by the leadership of the grand marshal Archaon the Everchosen, the size of their hosts blackened the earth. The sorcerers in Archaon's employ had wrenched open a rift in the air itself -- a portal to the Realm of Chaos through which entire armies of daemons could pass.

Against this daemonic alliance stood Sigmar and the twelve mortal tribes of Bellicos. The fiery nomads and barbarians of men that had stood against Chaos from the beginning had taken up arms once more and gathered behind the banner of their godly liege, Sigmar Heldenhammer.

With them were oath-bound duardin, aelves in glittering armour, battle-hungry orruks, ranks of living dead and stranger things besides, for Sigmar had many allies of his own to call upon.

As the sonorous call of warhorns rang out in the hot, ash-choked air, the Battle of Burning Skies began. On raged the conflict, with no quarter asked nor given. Dusk led to dawn and to dusk again. So great was that clash of mortal, monster and daemon that the pyres of skulls raised to the glory of the Dark Gods were as mountains.

So relentless was the carnage that for a year after the battle, the seers of the other realms saw a burning death's head when they looked to Aqshy in the night sky.

Though he did not fully commit his strength, Nagash, god of death, summoned vast necromantic armies from the battlefield dead. Gorkamorka, god of destruction, raged unstoppably, clubbing gaping holes in the oncoming hordes. The burning light of Teclis, god of light and war, banished foes unnumbered, yet it was mighty Sigmar, always at the Pantheon of Order's fore, who turned the tide again and again.

Crowned by thunderheads, titanic in his rage, the God- King could not be stopped. Each swing of Ghal Maraz hit with meteoric force. The hurricanes that swirled from every impact swept foes aside in waves and banished daemons howling back to the Realm of Chaos.

Seven times Sigmar led the charge, his coalition crashing deep into the enemy ranks that passed beyond the horizon. Seven times they threw back their Chaos foes, reaping a great tally with each clash.

On the eighth time, Sigmar shouted his earth-shaking war cry and charged forth to meet the four Greater Daemons he had defeated long ago -- the Tetrarchs of Ruin.

Sigmar bore down on the daemonic commanders, a killing light blazing in his eyes. One after the other the Tetrarchs tasted Ghal Maraz's wrath, for in their monstrous pride, they still would not fight as one. But there remained another who would challenge the God-King, one whose cunning had already undone entire worlds.

As Archaon the Everchosen rode to oppose Sigmar, the God-King hurled the warhammer Ghal Maraz -- for he knew of old that Archaon's blade, the Slayer of Kings, could kill even a god should its wielder get close enough to strike. It was a mistake with consequences that would ripple through the centuries.

An illusion conjured by the Everchosen as he drew close had tricked Sigmar into throwing the warhammer not at Archaon as he intended, but into the very rent in reality from which the daemon hordes had invaded.

The skies cracked and boomed as Ghal Maraz the Great Shatterer ploughed from one realm to the next, waves of destruction spreading in its wake. Through space and time Ghal Maraz hurtled on, leaving ripples in the aetheric void that would spread out through all the realms. Its passage left a series of cosmic fault lines that would one day be exploited in the name of conquest.

The divine warhammer eventually came to rest in distant Anvrok, attracted to the dense magic that flowed through the strange valleys that hung in Chamon, the Realm of Metal's edgeward skies. But already it was hidden from Sigmar's sight.

The God-King felt his heart grow cold with a sickeningfeeling of doubt as the calamity became clear to him.

Archaon's laughter was long and cruel that day, for bereft of that relic Sigmar was much diminished. The God-King despaired as the thunder of the Dark Gods' triumph rang in his ears. Without his mighty warhammer, the battle was all but lost. He fought on, but his armies were slowly decimated.

Near endless was that day's slaughter, so great that it ushered in a new era. Sigmar blamed his allies as much as himself for the ruinous defeat of that day, and channelled his anger into a series of desperate clashes. The disasters of the Nexus Wars, which culminated in the War of the Allpoints and the claiming of that interrealm nexus by the forces of Chaos, who renamed it the Eightpoints, ensued soon after.

The crowning victory of the Dark Gods came when Sigmar, seeing no other option once Chaos had claimed the strategic Allpoints, retreated to the Realm of Heavens and sealed the Gates of Azyr behind him. Only by laying down the mantle of the warrior-god and embracing the sceptre of the godly monarch could he succeed in reclaiming what had been lost.

For years Sigmar dwelt upon his losses, his rage simmering as he brooded on how best to retake the Mortal Realms. None could have foreseen then just how far he would go in order to succeed.

Dominion of Chaos

Without Sigmar and his allies to hold it back, the scourge of Chaos spread across the Mortal Realms like an uncontrollable infection. As decades stretched into centuries, the lands themselves twisted into terrifying new vistas -- and in places crumbled away entirely. To live in these terrible kingdoms in the Age of Chaos was to know purgatory beyond tolerance.

The corrupting touch of the Dark Gods had seeped into the Mortal Realms through the tiniest cracks at first, exploiting the ambitions and passions of the common folk as well as those born into wealth and power.

Over time these cracks widened, allowing trickles of corruptive Chaos energy to manifest in reality. Via tainted Realmgates and the haemorrhaging spells of incautious wizards, great rivers of daemonic filth gushed through. As more foolhardy mortals opened the way, these rivers of Chaos magic joined together to become a flood.

Those who had once claimed ownership over the lands paid the highest price, their legacies torn apart and swallowed by a rising tide of unrelenting anarchy.

It was not just the daemonic legions of the Dark Gods that invaded, not only the daemon, the traitor and the monstrous beast that wrought such violent change upon the prosperous nations. It was the raw magical stuff of Chaos itself, warping the very fabric and nature of reality.

As the years trickled past, the domains of men became ever more like the surreal, hellish dimension of the Realm of Chaos from whence the daemons had emerged.

In many of those places infested by the crimson hosts of Khorne, the rivers that had once irrigated the lands ran red with gore, fast-flowing at the centre, clotted and stinking near the banks. Wherever there was little to no potable water left, the folk of those lands slowly died of thirst, or else gave in to their growing rage, lashing out in murderous, despairing frenzies and in so doing adding their own tributes to the skull throne of the Blood God.

The most cruel of tyrants hoarded the water for themselves, the populace of the arid lands forced to do their bidding in exchange for a handful of brackish liquid. The earth of entire nations became hard as brass, unyielding to the spade and the ploughshare, for the faithful of Khorne are sustained by the flesh and blood of their victims in cannibalistic orgies, and have only contempt for such luxuries as bread, fruit or crops.

Where once wheat and maize had swayed in the summer breeze, the land was flattened, scorched and bled dry. Grand engines of destruction and skull-lined fortifications were raised upon the sites of shattered temples by corrupted, metal-masked duardin and the human work gangs that toiled beneath their whips.

As the decades slid past, the sovereign lands of the Blood God in the Mortal Realms were wrought anew, a hundred empires of pain and misery founded on the bones of the pure.

The lands in the wake of those that scoured for signs of their errant god Slaanesh were perverted by the clawed feet and cloven hooves that danced upon them. The ground became fleshy, pallid and soft, splitting here and there to form tooth-lined fissures and chasms that yawned like open wounds. Obscene flowers pulsed soporific musk, rendering their prey lethargic before burying needle roots into the fallen.

Maddening music filled the air, the trills and hoots of Slaaneshi daemons mingling with the maniacal piping and shouted blasphemies of their acolytes to linger long after the Seekers had passed. Those who heard such strains upon the breeze found the serpentine melodies winding into their minds, where they could not be dislodged.

In time, they too found themselves dancing, laughing manically and crying in despair all at once as they carved the symbols of Slaanesh into their bare flesh. These playthings begged to join the carnivals they had once avoided at all costs, and found themselves received with cruel pleasure.

The Plague God Nurgle seeks always to expand his domain, to push the tendrils of his daemons' paradise into new territories the better to increase his power -- for he had always sought to claim the lands as much as the people who populated them.

The Plague God's repugnant generosity was boundless. At first, the signs of supernatural plague were few in number, though they grew as steadily as a pimple swells to bursting point. Cattle were born covered in foul buboes, or with heads at either end of their bodies which vomited noxious fluids.

Entire tribes of men would rot from the inside out, melt away into slurry in their sleep or swell to become grotesquely obese, bloating horribly with each morsel they consumed.

Arable fields and bluebell woods in which lovers had once strolled became noisome swamps, each filled with grasping, spit-slick pseudopods that snatched the unwary under the surface.

In the places closest to the corrupted Realmgates that led to Nurgle's garden domain in the Realm of Chaos, poisonous miasmas and waves of raw toxicity rippled across the lands. Even the most beautiful citadels and towers crumbled under the slow but unstoppable onslaught, their foundations undermined by the questing roots of diseased plants, and stinking puddles of slop that grew with each downpour of oily, infected rain.

Where the lands under Nurgle's baleful influence were fecund and overgrown, those claimed by the skaven servants of the Great Horned Rat were dusty wastelands where the ash of fallen empires was carried on the breeze. The scars of pestilence dug deep; in places not even a single blade of grass could be found that was not yellowed and gnawed by vermin.

Dagger-toothed rats and twisted insects scurried through the ribcages of those that had starved to death; even those who somehow clung to life were skeletally thin and eternally ravenous, cursed never to be sated in their hunger even should they fight their way to the table of a noble's feast.

Everywhere skaven of all sizes scampered, hunted and roared in triumph; those that worshipped them as gods were allowed to live for the sake of amusement, but even they were put to death or used as fodder for hideous experiments before long.

Most surreal of all were those mortal domains claimed by Tzeentch. Without Sigmar to bind the lands under the rule of Order, the mages that worshipped the Architect of Fate had wrought dramatic and hallucinogenic change wherever their spells were unleashed. Rock formations and even entire mountain ranges were reshaped into mazes of mirror-like crystal that refracted every doubt and fear, and brought the nightmares of the viewer to life.

At dusk, sky-rays of every hue and size screamed the last words of those mortals they had chased down and slashed apart, feeding on life energy as a flock of swallows feeds on the insects at the day's end. The glittering fronds of sentient plants snared the thoughts of those who sought to escape these lands, stealing their intent and sending them staggering back into the hellscape.

Those who fell under the shadow of the Gaunt Summoners' Silver Towers found themselves plucked from reality and thrust into a labyrinth of ever-escalating terror, their lives begun anew as puppets for the dark amusement of their captors.

Over it all reigned the Three-Eyed King, Archaon, he whose sadistic genius had brought about the death of worlds. His Varanguard agents loomed at the side of almost every tyrant and dark king in the Chaos-occupied mortal lands. Perhaps there was some grand design behind his great work, his orchestration of the downfall of the Mortal Realms and the slaughter and enslavement of its peoples.

But even to those who had somehow escaped or endured the curse of Chaos -- to those men and women still eking out a semblance of a normal life -- there was but one immortal truth: Chaos had come to the Mortal Realms, and it had claimed a victory that could never be undone.

The talons of Chaos dug hard into the peoples of the Mortal Realms. In every land, across every generation, those who had grown strong under the rule of Sigmar's Pantheon of Order found themselves cast into the dirt to grovel under the iron heels of their oppressors.

As easy as it was to see the terrors inflicted upon the peoples of the realms as gross misfortune, or as the act of a malevolent outside force upon an innocent populace, the wise knew that was not the case at all.

For Chaos was simply the darkness in the hearts of every man and woman, every duardin and aelf and orruk, made manifest, the nightmare lurking within every soul given form and set against the people they once called kin.

For their part, the Chaos Gods were magical entities formed of the hopes, lusts, fears and urges of mortal souls. Their worshippers too were people; those who not only turned from their own kind, but who sold themselves to eldritch forces so they might gain instead of suffer from the onslaught.

Yet amongst the nations of men were those who fought back with blade, spear, hammer, even tooth and nail, refusing to give in. Most ended their lives impaled, hung as grisly adornments, or beheaded in the dirt, their pike-mounted skulls a warning to those who would rebel against their masters.

The most tenacious of these warriors, those that spat in the face of Chaos even unto death, would one day meet a different fate -- but for many decades these doomed heroes were visited by the worst punishments of all.

It seemed that Chaos had once more proven unstoppable, claiming not one world this time, but eight.

Dating

The reader will note that there are no dates on the events listed below. This was done deliberately by the lore writers at Games Workshop for two reasons.

The in-world reason is that with years and seasons varying from realm to realm, and civilisation only just being re-established in the Age of Sigmar, there would be little common frame of reference to act as a foundation for specific dates.

The real-world reason is that in the past Games Workshop found hard and fast dates can be restrictive, and breaking those restrictions can lead to many a quandary. Instead, they measure things in looser terms like centuries and generations. This gives the writers more wiggle room for maneuver, and it lends more of an epic feel than a scientific one.

Chronology

The stories of gods and monsters that typify the early years of the Age of Myth are often apocryphal, related only as oral history, or are indeed true historical events that have changed or grown more epic in the telling.

This is even more true for the Age of Chaos, a time for which written records are actually more scant than those of the golden age preceding it.

This is the Great Epoch in which the utopian progress of the Age of Myth came crumbling down and was replaced by a five-century span of utter disaster and ruin.

The Nightmare Begins

The Age of Myth collapses as mortal foibles and spiritual weaknesses open cracks in the foundations of Order across all eight of the Mortal Realms.

Those cracks grow into fissures, chasms and disasters that split the fabric of reality itself, and the armies of Chaos are unleashed once more into the Cosmos Arcane from the Realm of Chaos.

A thousand hideous fates overwhelm those nations subconsciously lured by the whispers and temptations of Chaos.

Everchosen Rides Out

To spearhead this new conquest of the Mortal Realms, the Ruinous Powers called forth Archaon the Everchosen as their Chosen, just as they once did to consume the World-That-Was aeons before. He was tested for this role by being assailed by Greater Daemons of Khorne, Tzeentch and Nurgle, all of whom were devoured by the shapeshifting steed Archaon knows as Dorghar.

Satisfied, the Dark Gods collectively named Archaon as the "Exalted Grand Marshal of the Apocalypse" -- though he spurned the favour of the Great Horned Rat, the newest of the Ruinous Powers, who the Everchosen has ever held in the basest contempt.

As the forces of the Dark Gods grew strong, the Beasts of Chaos found common cause with the Ruinous Powers. It was also around this time that Archaon bound the nine Gaunt Summoners to his will.

Rise of the Goretide

On Aqshy's Great Parch continent, the prosperous nations of Aspiria and Bataar raised their defences against the influx of cannibals and reavers from the Aqshy Clavis Isles, leaving the Flamescar Plateau, Golvaria, Aridian and Capilaria to face the oncoming armies of Khorne alone.

Many of these tribes swore themselves to the "red gods" to survive. The cannibalistic Goretide nation rose from the remnants of Chaos-conquered tribes, with the Lord of Khorne Korghos Khul at its head.

In the mountains, the Fyreslayer magmaholds sealed their gates early in the Age of Chaos. Though this isolationism earned them the enmity of outsiders, it also saw them endure the attacks of the forces of Chaos better than most.

Construction of the All-gates

Determined to resist the advance of the Chaos forces, the people of the interstitial realm connecting all the Mortal Realms known as the Allpoints begin to construct huge fortifications called the All-gates on either side of the arcways.

Greenskin Wars

The savage peoples of Ghur, the Realm of Beasts, provide great fodder for the armies of Chaos. Grand invasions are launched to eradicate the Orruk tribes of the realm, with casualties rapidly spiralling on both sides.

As the Ogors and Hargants of the Ghurish Hinterlands added their impressive might to the escalating war, the thuggish Ironjawz rise to power as the biggest and 'ardest Greenskins around.

The Spirefall

Stretched to breaking point by their own clashing egos as they drink deep of Hysh's enlightening magic, the aelves known as the Lumineth spark a civil war.

Spells and artefacts of immense destructive potential are unleashed, and the realmscape of Hysh itself is scarred. Where reality cracks, the daemons of Slaanesh pour through, eager to feast on aelven souls, as always.

Tyrion, god of light and war, masterminds the defence of Hysh, but his brother Teclis, the god of light and knowledge, is nowhere to be seen.

Season of Dwindling

Nurgle and its forces began their invasion of Ghyran, striking through contaminated realmgates and the gnawholes of the Skaven Clans Pestilens.

The aelves known as the Wanderers flee the Realm of Life, through realmgates to Azyr, the Realm of Heavens. It is a slight never to be forgiven by the Sylvaneth.

War in the Allpoints

Realising the strategic importance of the arcways in maintaining the alliance of the Pantheon of Order, Archaon directed many of his hosts to attack the All-gates simultaneously, dividing the attention of his adversaries.

From the Heavens the Seraphon Come

The temple-ships of the Koatl's Claw constellation of the Seraphon are forced to crash-land on the plains of Mekitopsar in the Realm of Ghur after an attack by the Skaven Clans Pestilens.

The Koatl's Claw constellation begins to develop into the first of the Coalesced, though many other spawnings follow.

The Red Century

Over the first hundred years or so of the Age of Chaos, the mass slaughters and butchery of nations sees Khorne become ascendant amongst the Dark Pantheon of the Chaos Gods, particularly in the Great Parch region of Aqshy.

The Agloraxi Empire's magocracy are forced to retreat to their floating citadels in Aqshy as Steel Spike is besieged by Khornate and Tzeentchian forces.

War of Bones

The forces of Chaos invaded Shyish, the Realm of Death, spearheaded by Archaon and the Varanguard. Khorne focused upon the underworld of Hallost, seeking to consume the souls of its mighty heroes, while Nurgle primarily targeted the moribund workers of Ossia -- bringing the Plague Lord into conflict with the military genius of Orpheon Katakros.

When Nurgle's plagues ravaged the Shyish empire of Dolorum, its ruler, Lady Olynder, attempts to parlay for her own life and in doing so stokes the ire of Nagash, the god of death.

Her soul was claimed by the Great Necromancer and cursed to forever haunt her former city, compelled to feel all the miseries of the Mortal Realms at once.

Battle of Dirge Peaks

In the Nordyrie of the underworld of Hallost in Shyish, Nagash, the god of death, summons the first true Nighthaunt procession when he sacrifices a thousand mortal prisoners upon Mount Marrow and raises the masterless spirits of the Realm of Death to battle the Khornate hordes.

Battle of Tears

The daemon Horticulous Slimux led an invasion of Kurnotheal in the south of the Everspring Swathe region of the Realm of Ghyran. Kurnoth, the god of hunters, meets the Herald of Nurgle in battle, but he is in his winter aspect and is overcome by the daemonic hordes.

The Sylvaneth of Heartwood Glade fought to return the Spear of Kurnoth to Alarielle the Everqueen, the goddess of life and nature. In the end, only a single Dryad survived to complete the mission.

The conflict between the Sylvaneth and the forces of Nurgle is soon known as the War of Life.

Fall of the Gothizzar All-gate

Tzeentch and Archaon conspired to divide the Realms of Azyr and Shyish. At the battle of the Gothizzar All-gate, leading from Shyish to the Allpoints, Nagash's Undead armies failed to arrive, leaving many Azyrites to be slaughtered and the God-King Sigmar enraged.

Archaon's armies conquered the last of the All-gates and spilled into the Allpoints proper.

Wars of the Heavens and the Underworlds

Sigmar, incensed by the Great Necromancer's failure to aid the defence of Gothizzar's All-gate, hunts Nagash in Shyish. A score of battles are lost elsewhere, including the Allpoints, as the God-King immerses himself in vengeance against the god of death.

Sigmar and Nagash meet in battle at least once, though Nagash escaped through the use of his sorcery. The Mortarch Orpheon Katakros met the God-King on his master's behalf, knowing full well he is likely doomed.

The Ossian echelon are defeated by Sigmar on the shores of Lake Lethis, and the Mortarch's essence was sealed away in the Midnight Tomb Stormvault.

In his rage, Sigmar accidentally sundered the wards of the Shroudcage, where the Carrion King was imprisoned. Ushoran escaped to spread his now-contagious madness across realms ravaged by war, spawning the first Flesh-eater Courts. Ushoran's whereabouts become unknown.

Battle of Black Skies

Weakened by his conflict with Sigmar, Nagash was forced to retreat to his capital of Nagashizzar in Shyish. The armies of Archaon and Nurgle soon attacked the city.

Nagash was defeated and all but destroyed by the Everchosen, his spirit fleeing to a hidden sepulchre in the underworld of Stygxx while the Mortarchs recovered his remains. Nagashizzar was lost to the control of Chaos, and much of Shyish with it.

Shortly after, the Soulblight Vampire Prince Vhordrai's attempt to destroy Nagash's remains by hurling the Great Necromancer's physical body through the corrupted realmgate of Yulghuan to be devoured by the Dark Gods is thwarted by the Mortarch Arkhan, and the Vampire is locked in a realmstone coffin for an age as punishment.

The Mortarch of Blood Neferata is defeated by the triplet servants of Nurgle called the Glottkin during the so-called Shambling Wars, and she is forced to retreat to Nulahmia, the capital city of her favoured kingdom of Neferatia in Shyish.

Great Skaven Civil War

Allied with the Clans Pestilens, the Clans Verminus finally broke a gruelling stalemate with their greatest rivals in Skavendom -- the Clans Ikk -- to become the primary source of soldiery in the Under-Empire.

In the aftermath, the Verminlord Skreech Verminking, a daemon of the Skaven deity the Great Horned Rat, appeared before the Skaventide's ruling Council of Thirteen and demanded that the Skaven cease their internecine conflicts and focus on the conquest of the Mortal Realms at large like the other forces of Chaos -- or face the wrath of their god.

To emphasise his point, the Verminlord turned several of the Lords of Decay who comprised the council to mutant slurry.

Abandonment of the Karaks

The forces of Tzeentch sweep across Chamon, the Realm of Metal, searching for Chamonite to empower their arcane magical rituals. As the strongholds of the duardin's Khazalid Empire in the realm fall, many duardin seek sanctuary in the nascent sky-ports using aethermatic technology. Thus are the first Kharadron Overlords born.

Following the loss of the Harrworld, their original magmahold of the duardin Fyreslayers, the Greyfyrd lodge of Fyreslayers travelled to the continent of Ayadah in the Spiral Crux sub-realm of Chamon where they establish the Gateswold -- a new magmahold built around several realmgates.

Many duardin begin to resent Grungni, the god of smiths, for what they perceive to be his abandonment during this terrible time of tribulations.

The Cathtrar Dhule

Though spared early in the Age of Chaos, Ulgu, the Realm of Shadow, is infiltrated by Skaven, then attacked in force by the armies of Khorne, Tzeentch and especially Slaanesh -- led by Luxcious the Keeper, the Keeper of Secrets who was the self-proclaimed Ur-Slaanesh, the replacement for her patron god.

Morathi, the High Oracle of Khaine, the god of murder, and Malerion, her son and the god of shadows, do their best to fight back to retain control of Ulgu, beginning the Cathtrar Dhule, or "War of Shadows" in the tongue of Ulgu's aelven population.

Fall of the Magmaholds

One by one, the magmaholds of the First-Forged Fyreslayer lodges are overrun by the forces of Chaos. The Vosforge is the last to fall; the twelve sons of Thorgar-Grimnir go their separate ways when Vosforge's ruling Auric Runefather is slain by a Khornate Bloodthirster Greater Daemon, each of them taking a portion of the lodge's ur-gold, a magical metal created from the energies released from the deaths of Grimnir, the god of war and fire, and the godbeast Vulcatrix, the Mother of Salamaders, during the Age of Myth.

Only Zhafor-Grimnir keeps the lodge name "Vostarg," while the youngest son -- Darz -- attempts to organise an expedition to reclaim the Salamander's Spine. He disappears in mysterious circumstances after passing into that volcanic region of Aqshy.

Battle of the First Coalition

Kharadron society threatens to tear itself apart in its hunger to monopolise and harness invaluable aether-gold reserves during what is remembered as the Time of Reaving. A conference, the so-called Conference of Madralta, is held on the great metalith of Madralta, a floating island of Chamon, where the earliest version of the Kharadron Code comprising nine articles is devised by the agreement of seven Kharadron sky-ports

This constitutional document was conceived by those duardin present by expanding upon naval laws initially designed to maintain discipline aboard Kharadron sky-vessels. The resulting nine articles covered every facet of Kharadron society, from the overall governance of their now-united sky-empire to the personal freedoms of its citizens.

The newly allied Kharadron, led by Barak-Nar, defeat the Tzeentchian Daemon Princes known as the Tetronomicar at the Battle of the First Coalition, which later defines the tenets of Kharadron naval strategy.

Skaven clans overrun the lost Forge-City of Grungni, the Iron Karak, renaming the surrounding mountain range in the western Spiral Crux sub-realm of Chamon the "Verminvaults." The last of the Great Karaks falls at the Battle of Zaruk.

Across the Mortal Realms, the duardin are reduced to isolated clans, forced to flee to Sigmar's home realm of Azyr, committed to the faith of Grimnir as Fyreslayers or plying the sky-ways of the Kharadron Overlords.

Around this time, Urgom-Grimnir, a descendant of Zhafor-Grimnir of the line of Vosforge, discovers the Cynder Peaks of Aqshy -- a place replete with both ur-gold and Magmadroth eggs. He establishes the new Vostarg magmahold of Furios Peak.

Bad Moon Rising

The first hordes of Gloomspite Gitz begin to form as Moonclan and Spiderfang Grots ally in the depths and strike at targets of opportunity.

Battle of Burning Skies

The climax and true beginning of the Age of Chaos came on the Fireplains of Aqshy in the Battle of Burning Skies, when the hour for the mortals of the Eight Realms was darkest. There are dozens of versions of this tale told across the realms, but most agree that there Sigmar led the Twelve Tribes of Bellicos, a great army of men, to stand against the daemonic hosts of Archaon the Everchosen.

Elements of the Pantheon of Order including duardin and aelven forces joined the God-King, and though undying Nagash, the god of death, sent a token force of Undead, he did not commit his full strength once more.

Sigmar led seven charges against the hordes of Chaos; on the eighth, he slew the Tetrarchy of Ruin -- a coalition of four favoured Greater Daemons -- before hurling his divine warhammer Ghal Maraz at Archaon, hoping for a swift and decisive kill.

The Everchosen's form was revealed to be an illusion, however, and Ghal Maraz was instead sucked through a portal to land in the Hanging Valleys of Anvrok, a sub-realm of Chamon, located high in the Aetheric Void above the Realm of Metal.

Devoid of his warhammer -- and thus a portion of his divine power -- Sigmar has no choice but to concede the field to the forces of the Dark Gods and ultimately led the remnants of his alliance of the Free Peoples through the Gates of Azyr to the Realm of Heavens.

With the God-King fled to the Realm of Heavens, Archaon proved to be all but unstoppable. He and the forces of Chaos were finally able to conquer the Allpoints, the interstitial plane of existence connecting all of the other Eight Realms, renaming it the Eightpoints.

With this vital link between the Mortal Realms broken, the Pantheon of Order and its forces fragment entirely, each deity choosing to look after their own interests and those of their followers.

Darkness now claimed the Mortal Realms and its people for centuries to come.

Closing of the Gates

The Gates of Azyr are sealed fast behind Sigmar and his defeated hosts following the Battle of Burning Skies.

Trapped in the rest of the war-torn Mortal Realms and abandoned by their gods, entire nations of mortals are forced to swear themselves to Chaos to survive, with all the horrors that entails.

Cleansing of Azyr

In the wake of the retreat of Sigmar's hosts from the Battle of Burning Skies and a great influx of refugees from across the Mortal Realms, worshippers of Chaos launch a grand uprising in Azyrheim, Sigmar's own capital city in Azyr, leading to civil war.

In a rage, Sigmar descends to slaughter both them and the weakling Azyrheim senate, the governing council of the city, many of whose senators had been suborned by the temptations of the Dark Gods. Sigmar slew all those citizens he deems corrupted -- whether by actual allegiance to Chaos or by their own simple hatred.

In the aftermath, the first Grand Conclave -- the Lords of the Heavenhall -- is established to rule the Free Peoples of Azyrheim. The God-King further decreed that the 244 lords meet regularly and so provided a gigantic hammer-shaped table where they could do so, overseen by a starmetal statue. Beneath its gaze the Lords of the Heavenhall should both remember Sigmar's wrath and draw upon his wisdom in making their decisions to rule the city in his stead.

The Order of Azyr and the Shadowblade aelves are established by the God-King and entrusted to hunt down secret agents of the Ruinous Powers and the servants of Nagash's forces of Death.

Azyr is eventually swept clean of all foes of Order in a series of religious crusades dedicated to the God-King.

Aelf Wars

The aelves of the Idoneth Deepkin and the Daughters of Khaine come into repeated conflict due to several enclaves of the former expressing a preference for stealing aelven souls. The Kraith sect of the Daughters of Khaine vow eternal enmity with the Deepkin.

The Shrouded Time

As the War of Life between the Sylvaneth and the forces of Nurgle worsens in Ghyran, the Realm of Life, the Everqueen Alarielle, the goddess of nature and life, calls a Royal Moot and vows to turn back the armies of Nurgle no matter the cost.

The events that follow are stricken from the memory of the Sylvaneth and remmebered as the Shrouded Time, but many speculate that it saw the birth of the first of the vicious Sylvaneth spirits known as Outcasts.

Alarielle's season of waning begins.

Stolen Souls

Enraged by his defeat at the hands of Archaon and the Ruinous Powers, Sigmar put plans in motion to create a new army capable of retaking the Mortal Realms from the forces of Chaos.

Across the realms, great mortal heroes are snatched away on the verge of death, taken to Azyr to be reforged on the Anvil of Apotheosis.

The Anvil of Apotheosis was an ensorcelled altar of pure sigmarite, torn from the core of Mallus, the heart of the lost World-That-Was, by Sigmar himself.

It smouldered with the heat of that ancient world's dying, and sat atop a dais fashioned in the shape of the High Star. The Anvil contained within it the workshops and smithies of the Six Smiths, six duardin demigods who were the scions of Grungni, the god of smiths.

Once a mortal soul entered this area, they were reshaped by the artifice of the Six Smiths and the fury of Sigmar's divine lightning, eventually reforging the soul through this arcane process into a superhuman warrior known as a Stormcast Eternal.

Though this process saw Sigmar's depleted forces swell, it also spelled doom for many holdout nations of the besieged Mortal Realms suddenly deprived of their champions.

The underworld of Hallost in Shyish, the Realm of Death, known as the Land of Dead Heroes, is hit particularly hard by the loss of its most valiant souls to Azyr to be reforged.

Season of Waning

Battered by many defeats during the War of Life in Ghyran against the forces of Nurgle, Alarielle, the goddess of life and nature, retreats to her hidden vale in Athelwyrd, her most sacred sanctuary, dismissing her bodyguard -- the Sons of Durthu -- in a moment of despair, beginning her Season of Waning.

Many Sylvaneth glades go into hiding, abandoned by their goddess. The forces of Nurgle wax powerful in their continued corruption of the Realm of Life, making a mockery of much of what the Everqueen loved.

Hydrox Wars

Fleets from the the preeminent Kharadron sky-port of Barak-Nar launched a campaign of extermination known later as the "Hydrox Wars" against the aerial predators called Hydroxes, and largely cleared their scourge from the skyways of Chamon.

The corpses of the dead Hydroxes were exhibited in Barak-Nar until the fishy stench they emitted pushed the Kharadron to throw the corpses into the sea.

The six major Kharadron sky-ports are firmly established by this time in the Realm of Metal.

Founding of Varanthax's Maw

Though none now know the circumstances surrounding the discovery -- or creation -- of the vast mining and forging complex known as Varanthax's Maw which was built into the massive skeleton of a long-dead drake in the Skullpike Mountains of the Eightpoints, at this time, a great supply of the molten realmstone known as varanite is discovered beneath the infernal forge.

The Blood Time

Infuriated by the lack of worthy enemies remaining in the Mortal Realms by this time, the armies of Khorne turn upon their Chaos allies. Though this provides plenty of satisfying battle and slaughter, it also deprives the forces of Chaos of total victory.

Many Slaaneshi Sybarites make their way towards the Perimeters Inimical, the largely uninhabitable fringes of each of the Mortal Realms, desiring to avoid the aggression of the Khornate hordes and seek the extreme experiences only these lands can provide.

Wars of the Reinvention

After meditating for an extended period on the uninhabited continent of Haixiah, one of the Ten Paradises in Hysh, the Realm of Light, Teclis, the god of light and knowledge, achieves communion with Celennar, the spirit of Hysh's true moon.

With this knowledge, the divine archmage is able to teach his aelven followers, the Lumineth, how to take other Aelementors like Celennar as their spiritual lodestones and companions. The Aelementors are the spirits of Hysh, physically embodying its mountains, rivers, winds, skies and even the moon.

Thus begin the Wars of the Reinvention, in which the Lumineth strive to reclaim Hysh by overcoming daemons both within and without.

Theft of the Eigengrom

Over centuries of incarceration in Uhl-Gysh, the Hidden Gloaming, a twilight demi-realm encapsulated by the realmspheres of both Hysh and Ulgu and comprised of their intermingled magical substance, an imprisonment enforced by the four aelven gods Tyrion, Teclis, Malerion and Morathi, Slaanesh began to learn the secrets of the paradoxical magical chains binding it.

The chains hooked into the Prince of Chaos were fashioned of a fusion of shadow and light magic, had no true physical form and were composed of pure and unsullied magic taken from the edges of their respective realms of Hysh and Ulgu.

They had been devised by the hermetic arts of Teclis, strengthened by the immutable truths of Tyrion, and quenched in the umbral powers of Malerion and Morathi. A cloud of misdirection and shadow surrounded the chains to prevent him from learning their secrets.

The Prince of Chaos' suspicions were confirmed when the Keeper of Secrets, the Infernal Enrapturess Sen'sathra, steals the daemonic axe Eigengrom and slew Karanak, the greatest of the Blood God's Flesh Hounds, in the resulting duel.

Khorne's bellow of outrage shakes the cosmos, snapping the Chain of Purest Hatred that binds Slaanesh.

Battle of Druchxar

Morathi forms the first cross-sect Caillich Coven among the aelven Daughters of Khaine and defeated the Slaaneshi armies of the Keeper of Secrets Luxcious, the self-proclaimed Ur-Slaanesh, at the Battle of Druchxar in Ulgu, the Realm of Shadow.

The Cathtrar Dhule, the War of Shadows, continues, however, bolstered by the Skaven who now seek to claim treacherous Ulgu for their own -- particularly the Clans Eshin -- thus beginning the Skaven Wars.

Fall of the Oak of Ages Past

In Ghyran, the Realm of Life, the Oak of Ages Past is defiled by Pupa Grotesse, a Nurglite Great Unclean One who sings operatically as he bathes in the River Vitalis.

Resistance to the domination of Nurgle in Ghyran crumbles further.

Obliteration of the Agloraxi Empire

The mage elite of Ahramentia, the capital city of the magocratic Agloraxi Empire in Aqshy, the Realm of Fire, harnessed the power of the Prismatikon cannon, a doomsday weapon capable of focusing all the heat and light of the Realm of Fire to burn away whole armies. The Prismatikon is used to obliterate a Khornate Bloodbound Warhorde.

In retaliation, the forces of Khorne in Aqshy destroyed the citadels of the Agloraxi. Without the influence of the Agloraxi and their mage armies, the Daemon Prince Selpher Zaronax, the Hand of the Everchosen, takes power in Golvaria, a large region of the Great Parch continent of Aqshy. His remit is to maintain control of the Great Parch for Archaon.

Coming of Gordrakk

In the Ghurish lands of the Wildheart in the Realm of Beasts, an Orruk Megaboss named Gordrakk first came to power around this time.

Across the Mortal Realms, gibbering Greenskin shamans prophesise the coming of the next Great WAAAGH!.

Loss of Ghal Maraz to Chaos

The Tzeentchian Chaos Sorcerer Ephryx, called the Ninth Disciple of Tzeentch, discovers the resting place of Sigmar's divine warhammer Ghal Maraz in the Hanging Valleys of Anvrok, a sub-realm of Chamon, located high in the Aetheric Void above the Realm of Metal.

He conquers the nearby city of Elixia and raises the Eldritch Fortress around the warhammer, seeking to harness its divine power for a ritual to corrupt all of Chamon's realmgates to the service of the Lord of Change at once.

Discovery of the Idoneth

The Slaaneshi Keeper of Secrets Sslish the Depraved tracks a group of aelven Idoneth Deepkin from the Aighmar enclave back to their stronghold.

Though defeated, the Greater Daemon's essence retains its knowledge of the Idoneth's existence.

Shortly after, an army of Skaven tunnels into the sea floor of the Great Quagmire in Shyish, the Realm of Death.

They too are defeated by Idoneth from the Mor'phann enclave, and thereafter Archaon begins to suspect that there is something amiss in the oceans of the Mortal Realms.

Notable Battles of the Age of Chaos

  • Battle of Black Skies (Shyish)
  • Battle of Burning Skies (Aqshy)
  • Battle of Gnarlwood (Ghur)
  • Battle of Greenfire Gates (Chamon)

See Also

Sources

  • Warhammer Age of Sigmar Core Book (2nd Edition), pp. 30-43
  • White Dwarf 458 (November 2020), "Worlds of Warhammer" by Phil Kelly, pg. 10
  • White Dwarf 459 (December 2020), "Worlds of Warhammer" by Phil Kelly, pp. 10-13
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