"It is said that no joy came at the reunion of mother and son when Morathi and Malerion first crossed paths during the Age of Myth. Each held an eternity of recriminations in their hearts, too much for either to ever forgive."
- —Gods and Monsters by Ziony Merrebae
Malerion, called the Shadow King, is the Incarnate god of shadow, deception and illusion in the Mortal Realms and one of the gods of the Aelven people. Malerion is a being of great and terrible darkness, a malefic deity whose mastery of the illusory arts is surpassed by none.
In his withered heart one may find the source of his power: an endless pit of hatred, spite and loathing.
Ulgu, the Realm of Shadow, is the Shadow King's domain and he rules over all that lives within its eternal shadows. Though its thirteen dominions have many individual rulers, they are each intricately bound by a web of intrigue and deceit that answers to the pull of one or both of only two beings: Malerion and his mother, Morathi.
Malerion dwells in Ulgu in the great citadel of Druchiroth.
Age of Myth
When he first awoke in the Mortal Realms, early in the Age of Myth, Malerion was without form, an inky shade unable to command his own corporeality. It was his own fury at his shapeless state that allowed him to briefly take a solid form, and so begin the slow process of mastering his godly powers.
When the Shadow King deigns to show himself to others, he often appears as an Aelf of dread aspect, encased in black iron and coiling tendrils of shadow, but the truth is that he can appear in any fashion he chooses.
At the beginning of the Age of Myth, Malerion awoke alone in the realm of Ulgu as a shadowy ethereal entity. Eventually, by harnessing his hatred, he managed to adopt a solid form and he travelled through the lands of Ulgu, exploring the new realm.
And she wasn't alone: Morathi was accompanied by a cabal of shadow daemons. Although Malerion and his mother parted as enemies in the previous world, they agreed on a truce between them in this new realm of existence. Together they later met with Sigmar and agreed to join his Pantheon.
Malerion first met the God-King early in the Age of Myth, soon after awakening and meeting with his mother. This meeting with Sigmar opened up the entirety of the Mortal Realms to Malerion's search. While heartened by meeting the few mortal Aelves that had arisen in the Mortal Realms and now dwelled in Azyr, Malerion knew they were far too few for the sheer number of Aelven souls that had once lived upon the World That Was. The Shadow king became determined to learn what had become of his people.
Tyrion and Malerion had been archrivals in the World That Was, and had since become beings so anathema to one another they could not enter the other's Realm in the new creation. But both could hear the cries of the thousands of tortured souls of the ancient Elves, now Aelves yet to be born, who had been devoured by the Chaos God Slaanesh during the End Times and the destruction of the World That Was.
So Malerion and Tyrion abandoned their duties and went in search of Slaanesh, thus weakening the Pantheon of Sigmar. Yet in the search for the souls of the Aelves they were united, along with Teclis and Morathi.
Together the four Aelven gods discovered Uhl-Ghysh, the sub-realm between Ulgu and Hysh that was both light and darkness in which they could meet as allies and plot their vengeance against Slaanesh.
Throughout the Age of Myth, Malerion gave every appearance of labouring for Sigmar's Pantheon, though little he did was entirely altruistic. He crafted the Gladitorium, his greatest gift to the God-King, an arena of such awesome illusory power that warriors could fight to the death within and yet come to no harm, emerging unhurt after.
Unbeknownst to Sigmar though, Malerion could gaze into the Gladitorium at will, studying the stratagems of Sigmar's finest champions against the day they were (inevitably) sent against him; however, his true focus was elsewhere.
He tutored those Azyrian Aelves who showed promise in shadow magic and brought them with him to Uhl-Ghysh. With Teclis' aid Malerion constructed a paradoxical engine of light and shadow, his contribution to the great plot that would lure Slaanesh, devourer of the Aelves of old, to Uhl-Ghysh and trap him in formless chains.
Age of Chaos
The distraction of the Aelf gods at this pivotal time contributed to the undoing of the Pantheon. Malerion's final act within that alliance was a grand conjuration, performed alongside Teclis, to conceal the doings of Azyr from the Chaos Gods.
It is doubtful whether either god knew the true purpose behind Sigmar's request: to conceal the creation of the Stormcast Eternals until they were ready to be unleashed. It is a deception that both Aelven gods, but proud Malerion in particular, are said to hold against the God-King to this day.
Age of Sigmar
Malerion seldom leaves his throne in the great citadel of Druchiroth on Ulgu, at least in his physical body, for wherever a shadow falls, his spirit walks. Before the coming of Chaos, Malerion's rule over Ulgu was near absolute.
Now, the Cathtrar Dhule rages seemingly out of his control. Morathi, once granted a bleak and seemingly useless portion of Ulgu after Malerion scorned her suggestion of shared rulership over the realm, is an increasingly potent nuisance whose schemes to achieve godhood have continued to accelerate.
Still, Malerion's unrivalled command over the very substance of the Shadow Realm, as well as many thousands of years' experience in war, has meant that Ulgu was never entirely overwhelmed by the forces of Chaos as other realms were during the Age of Chaos.
Then again, Malerion never offered any aid to other realms, either, neither during the Age of Chaos, nor the Realmgate Wars that followed, leaving his position strong, albeit friendless, and his ultimate ambitions, as ever, obscure.
The followers of Slaanesh blame Malerion for their missing god and eagerly seek him in Ulgu.
Morathi warned the Aelven gods of Slaanesh's eventual escape back to the Realm of Chaos, and in response Malerion openly disrespected her.
Currently, few things are known about the present state of affairs in Ulgu for Chaos has failed to seize it, the dark mists of those lands foiling any invaders, including the Exalted Grand Marshall of the Apocalypse and his Varanguard. After his failure to claim the realm, Archaon launched growing assaults of minions into that realm but when the mists clear, only their bodies remain...
Malerion is worshipped as both absolute ruling monarch and god throughout Ulgu. Observances to him are made in all but the most fervid of Morathi's strongholds, but out of fear rather than true devotion.
The Shadow King is also revered outside of the Realm of Ulgu, although not as widely as he once was in the Age of Myth. His worship extends to a handful of secretive priesthoods in the darker corners of the Mortal Realms and those Battlemages of the Grey College wise enough to know the true source of their magical power.
- Give deference to shadows, for there walks Malerion.
- Knowledge is power. Seek it, keep it, but most importantly, use it.
- The deadliest blow is that which strikes unseen.
- There are many gods in the Mortal Realms, but only one King in the Shadow.
- Age of Sigmar Starter Book (1st Edition)
- Battletome: Daughters of Khaine
- Battletome: Hedonites of Khaine (2nd Edition), pp. 24-25
- Warhammer: Age of Sigmar Roleplay - Soulbound - Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 242-243
- Warhammer: Age of Sigmar - Rulebook (1st Edition), "The Great Alliance," Beneath Clouds of War," "War of Heaven and the Underworld," "The Opening of the Heavens"