- "Aye, roar, Dracothion. Let the realms ring to our fury; let worlds shake. I call now for my Extremis Chambers."
- —Sigmar, the God-King[3a]
At the end of the final battle for the world-that-was, Sigmar fell into darkness. Only by clutching onto the last remnant of his world did he escape destruction. Only by his unyielding will did he hold onto that metal core. Long was Sigmar’s journey through the sea of stars. At last he was saved by Dracothion the Great, Father of Star Drakes. Many are the tales that recount how Dracothion befriended Sigmar, helping him hang the metal core in the sky above the Realm of Azyr. It was Dracothion that showed Sigmar the Eight Realms, and so began what is now known as the Age of Myth.
Many legends are told of Sigmar’s deeds during this period, such as when he felled Ymnog, King of Gargants, hunted down Great Nagendra, the shape-shifting realm serpent, and he bested the greenskin god Gorkamorka in feats of strength. Indeed, Sigmar found and awakened many other gods, creating a pantheon over which he ruled. Cites were founded and civilizations flourished. Yet Chaos came, bringing war and plague, corruption and ruin. After long wars and many defeats, Sigmar’s pantheon broke, and he retreated to seclusion in the Realm of Azyr, sealing the gates behind him.
The loss of Ghal Maraz
FROM REALMAGATE WARS: THE QUEST FOR GHAL MARAZ
Few tell the tale of how Sigmar came to lose his rune-enchanted warhammer, Ghal Maraz, because few survived the Battle of Burning Skies.
In the early years of the Age of Chaos, there was a time when the lands and peoples of the realms were besieged, but not yet corrupted. Tomorrow was still a promise and not yet a threat. But everywhere dread was taking hold, for the power of the Dark Gods waxed mightily. Although Sigmar’s Alliance was breaking, still the God-King fought on, alone when he must.
The first incursions cut deep into the Eight Realms. Cities fell before the onslaught, yet always Sigmar, or one of his pantheon, led a counter-attack to drive off the invaders. Each of the greater daemons that led the Dark Gods’ armies was defeated in its turn. Sigmar cast down the Khornate armies of An’ggrath. He smote Feculox, most immense of Great Unclean Ones, within of the City of Branches. Through the power of his immortal soul, the God-King fought off the magicks of the Lord of Change, Kiathanus. Luxcious the Keeper, first to call herself Ur-Slaanesh, withered in the face of his unbreakable resolve.
In the Realm of Fire, Sigmar led the twelve tribes of Bellicos to victory, clearing their lands for a time. Archaon was enraged. The Everchosen united the four powers to assail Aqshy’s heartlands once more, bringing the daemonic champions together upon the Fireplains. As a great host of Chaos assembled in the plains of the Burning Realm, the God-King gathered his tribes once more.
The legions of the daemon champions covered the lands. Their combined armies stretched to every horizon, reaching into the sky itself – for they had torn a rent in reality, from which poured nightmares beyond count. The gods of Sigmar’s pantheon opposed that fell host, and the ruinous slaughter that followed shook the realms.
Thus began the Battle of the Burning Skies. It was a great conflict that followers of Khorne later called the Battle of Skulls, for so many foes were killed that the amassed skull pyres were as mountains, blotting out the sun. Indeed, so great was the slaughter that, for a year after that battle, the seers of other realms still looked upon blazing Aqshy and saw only a burning death’s head.
From above the advancing legions, Nagash summoned necromantic armies, while Gorkamorka rampaged unstoppably, clubbing gaping holes into the oncoming hordes. The burning light of Teclis banished foes unnumbered, yet it was mighty Sigmar, always at the pantheon’s fore, that turned the tide.
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 each impact sweeping foes aside in waves.
Seven times Sigmar led the charge, his barely united 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 world-shaking warcry and charged forth to meet the Four Foes he had defeated long ago – the daemon kings of Chaos known to their legions as the Tetrarchs of Ruin.
Sigmar bore down on the daemon commanders, a killing light blazing in his eyes. One after the other the Tetrarchs tasted Ghal Maraz’s wrath, for in their pride they would not fight as one. When Archaon himself rode to oppose Sigmar, the God-King hurled Ghal Maraz, for he knew the Destroyer of Worlds was deadliest in a duel.
Yet in his battle rage, Sigmar was deceived. Tzeentchian illusion had tricked him into hurling his matchless warhammer not at Archaon, but into the very rent in reality from which poured the daemon hordes. Reality cracked and boomed as the Great Shatterer ploughed from one realm to the next, waves of destruction in its wake. Archaon’s laughter was loud and cruel.
Through space and time Ghal Maraz hurtled on, lost to Sigmar’s sight. The God-King despaired as the gloating of the Dark Gods rang in his ears, knowing that without his mighty hammer, the battle was all but lost.
Great was that day’s slaughter, so great that it ushered in a new era. The disasters of the Nexus Wars ensued soon after, following which Sigmar retreated, shutting the Gates of Azyr behind him.
For long years Sigmar dwelt upon his losses, his rage simmering as he brooded on how best to reclaim his own.
The Dark Gods of Chaos were triumphant at last.
Seven steps took Sigmar, striding as a giant; None could stay him, nor stand before his wrath. Again and again His foe-cracking hammer Wrought crimson wreckage.
Yet Archaon, the Three-Eyed King, the World-ender, Had united 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 the Burning Skies
From Chaos Battletome: EverchosenArchaon and Sigmar are ancient enemies, and their past is marked by the ruins of civilisations and the corpses of empires. Sigmar is a champion of light and order, a great, hammer-wielding god who long ago united the peoples of the Mortal Realms and ushered in a golden age. In many ways, Archaon is Sigmar’s dark reflection. Both are great generals and masterful warriors, and both unify the forces under their command. Where Sigmar forges and defends, however, Archaon destroys and corrupts. The enmity between God-King and Everchosen is bitter, stoked by centuries of war. Relics from the Age of Myth depict the two fighting over whole worlds – a glowing figure with hammer held high doing battle against a horned shadow that grips a snarling sword. It is a motif still found upon ruins and in ancient texts, a memory of a long-lost time of war. As the Age of Sigmar begins, this bitter rivalry between Archaon and Sigmar seems set to play out once more, a champion of light and a champion of darkness battling for the fate of the realms.[2a]
- 1 Order Battletome: Stormcast Eternals
- 1a Pg. 7
- 2 Chaos Battletome: Everchosen.
- 2a Pg. 16
- 3 The Realmgate Wars: Quest for Ghal Maraz.
- 3a Pg. 84 :
- Hammerhal (Novel) by Josh Reynolds