Thursday, 30 January 2020

GREAT CANON: Teclis - Part 2: Aenarion (1992-1999)

Welcome back to Great Cannon, in Part 2 of my look at Teclis we'll be looking back at his subsequent 4th and 5th edition appearances, as well as the backstory of his vaunted ancestor, the anguished hero Aenarion, first of the Phoenix Kings.

Think Malign Sorcery with more Cardboard

Following on from his and Tyrion's debut in White Dwarf 156, Teclis would next appear only weeks later, in Warhammer: Battle Magic, an essential supplement released early on in 4th edition Warhammer's cycle detailing you guessed it, magic, as well as providing a huge arsenal of magic items for players to customise their characters with. Battle Magic's rulebook covered the Empire's Colleges of Magic in detail, including their founding by Teclis and his fellow mage Finreir following the Great War Against Chaos.

Ulthuan was under attack by Dark Elves, and had it's own problems during the Great War Against Chaos, and unable to spare any armies, could only send a trio of mages, Teclis, Finreir and Yrtle to answer the call to aid put out by Magnus the Pious. At the time the Empire had no formal wizards, only barely tolerated hedge wizards, who Magnus gathered as many as he could together to be trained in basic Battle Magic spells for the war effort, the elves bequeathing a magical emerald ring to Volans, described as the best of the human wizards. On Magnus' coronation, he and the two surviving elf mages (Yrtle not having made it), would found the Colleges of Magic. The elves decided early on that teaching humans High Magic was probably a bad idea, and so taught each of their pupils how to harness a single one of the eight Winds of Magic, and establishing a college devoted to each. Apparently a rare few humans did manage to master multiple winds and thus High Magic, but this isn't something that's been brought up in publications since.

Battle Magic was likely conceived, written and sent to the printers prior to White Dwarf 156, so is this Teclis's real first appearance, or had he already been a planned part of the future High Elf army book? Most interestingly, and possibly for the only time in his history, Battle Magic displays no preference or favouritism towards Teclis, simply listing him as one of three mages dispatched to aid the Old World, and even having Finreir's name precede his in a single instance.

Not sure if this piece of John Blanche art is meant
to be Teclis or not, but it's cool, so it's going in

A few months after Battle Magic, Teclis would return a few months later in early 1993's Warhammer Armies: High Elves, the first to be published, and second army book ever released. Gracing the Geoff Taylor cover (already featured in White Dwarf 156) along with two other elf heroes was unmistakably Teclis, on the back of a dragon. Teclis has never had the option to ride a mount in game, and has never ridden a dragon in any stories (nor had an official paint job involving quite so much urobilin yellow); but hey, very cool artistic licence. The original army books were fantastically dense affairs, designed provide the definitive background, hobby and rules document for a player's chosen faction for the best part of a decade in a pre internet age, making modern battletomes and codexes feel like pamphlets by comparison.

The original Warhammer Armies: High Elves began the established practice of reprinting the original Bill King Tyrion and Teclis article from White Dwarf 156, minus the introduction to the High Elves (redundant as a part of an entire book designed to do that), and with a few minor tweaks editorial tweaks made in transition (Alarielle's bodyguards, previously described as 'Amazon Guard' being brought in line with the Maiden Guard described in the book, and the warp being corrected to the Realm of Chaos). Teclis's rules were also brought over from the White Dwarf article, and beyond this the only direct mentions he gets are in timeline entries and acknowledgement of his and Tyrion's roles in halting the Great Chaos Incursion. If you're a real stickler for adherence, this book also marks the last time that the Sword of Teclis would be described as being charged with explicitly celestial power in a studio publication, something I'm interested to see get acknowledged or not in Battletome: Lumineth Realm-Lords.

Aenarion the Defender, first Phoenix King and Teclis' legendary ancestor however does get a full history (also written by King). Aenarion rises to prominence in old Ulthuan, during the first great Chaos invasion following the collapse of the polar gates, and fall of the Old Slann (the Old Ones in subsequent sources), 8000 years before the 'present day' Warhammer World. Ulthuan prior to the polar gates' fall is pretty vague, with the fledgling elves having originated peacefully in Averlorn, where most of them remained, ruled by the Everqueen Astarille, with bands of restless adventurers occasionally departing to form kingdoms elsewhere on the island-continent. Not a whole lot is known about Aenarion's early life, but he's thought to have been one of these adventurers.

Chaos Warriors, daemons and beastmen pour over Ulthuan (in later sources just daemons, humanity not having been prominent enough to source Chaos Warriors and beastmen from 4500 years before the Empire's founding), and the nascent elves, knowing little of war get wrecked. Aenarion makes his way to the Shrine of Asuryan, holding the eternal flame of the ruler of the elven gods, where he burns a series of offerings to no avail, eventually throwing himself on the flames, being burnt to a crisp and subsequently healed and reborn, carrying the spirit of Asuryan within him. Emerging from the temple powered up, Aenarion quickly slays Morkar, the Chaos Lord in charge of the invasion with a single throw of his spear, and quickly wipes the floor with his army. Morkar would later be named as having been the first Everchosen with Archaon's introduction in 5th edition, and then changed to have been killed by a mortal Sigmar and not Aenarion when it was decided Chaos Warriors weren't a thing so far before humanity's rise in 6th. Archaon still wears his armour today.

After leading the empowered elves to victory, Aenarion then sails to Caledor, the only province in Ulthuan holding out against the forces of Chaos. There he meets the (confusingly named) Caledor Dragontamer, the first Dragon Prince, and greatest mage of that age. Caledor immediately recognises Aenarion as the god in mortal form he is and swears loyalty on the spot. Caledor and Aenarion travel by dragon to Vaul's Anvil where Aenarion's Dragon Armour is forged, along with enough weapons and armour to outfit an army of elves. Newly empowered, and schooled in battle by Aenarion and Caledor, the elves start taking the fight to Chaos, Aenarion at front of every battle on the back of Indraugnir, eldest of dragons. After Aenarion takes down several prominent Chaos commanders, amongst them N'kari, a brief peace falls over Ulthuan, and Aenarion begins courting the Everqueen, who bears him two children, daughter Yvraine, and son Morelion - Teclis' ancestor.

Chaos rears its head again and the war drags out for decades, Aenarion and the elves beginning to lose hope in the grind of it all, seeing any victory only as a means of delaying the word's inevitable doom. Caledor eventually divines that the cause of the Chaos invasion is the collapsed polar gates sending Chaos energy through the old Slann's network of smaller, domestic gates, used for quickly travelling across the planet (to be expanded upon as the Paths of the Old Ones, in King's Teclis featuring 2003 novel Giantslayer). Caledor, out of other options, proposes a severe plan to create a cosmic vortex indented to drain magic from the world, halting the influence of Chaos. Aenarion opposes this plan, and is arguing with Caledor when he's brought news that Avelorn has been overrun, the Everqueen slain, and his children missing, presumed dead or worse.

A changed elf, Aenarion swears he will kill every Chaos worshipper on the face of the world, and despite Caledor's warning that it will cost his soul, bring eons of tragedy to elfkind, and curse his bloodline to the very last generation, flies Indraugnir to the Altar of Khaine on the Blighted Isle, where after facing armies of daemons, and being warned off by the whispers of the elven gods, and even Astarille's ghost, he claims the Widowmaker, or Sword of Khaine. The ultimate weapon, forged by the smith god Vaul for the death god Khaine, the Widowmaker makes Aenarion unstoppable, and drowns his troops in unshakeable faith, unquenchable bloodlust, and dark spirits and longings. Aenarion establishes a new kingdom drawn from the most bloodthirsty elven warriors in Nagarythe, in northern Ulthuan, where after he her from apparent captivity at the hands of band of a band of Slaanesh worshippers, takes the beautiful and enigmatic seeress Morathi as his new wife. Morathi bears Aenarion a son, Malekith, and under her influence his court in Nagaryth grows more depraved, dark rumours of blood sports involving captive prisoners abound.

The war against Chaos nears its climax, and though Aenarion is all but invincible, time is taking its toll, and the size of his army begins to dwindle, with only the toughest, most cruellest, most savage elves not having been slain or deserted. Caledor had previously respected Aenarion enough to not proceed with his plan to create the vortex, but out of options, leads a convocation of the greatest elf mages to the Isle of the Dead, where they being the ritual. The forces of Chaos having found out about the ritual, Aenarion is given no choice but to defend it, and leads his armies to the Isle of the Dead, where he and Indraugnir take on the combined might of a Bloodthirster, Lord of Change, Great Unclean One, and Keeper of Secrets (in later sources N'kari again), who address him as brother. As Aenarion slays the four greater daemons, Caledor and the mages complete the ritual, but only partially, stabilising the flow of magic and causing the power of Chaos to fade, but leaving them eternally trapped in the Great Vortex reliving their last moments in an eternal fight against Chaos. Mortally wounded, Aenarion is carried to the Blighted Isle by a dying Indraugnir, and returns the Widowmaker to the Altar of Khaine, where he lays down next to his steed and dies of his injuries, thus ending that age of the world.

After the defeat of Chaos and Aenarion's death, his and the Everqueen Astarielle's children Yvraine and Morelion reveal themselves alive, having been rescued by the Treeman Oakheart, and kept safe by his people in Ulthuan's deepest wildwoods while the war still raged. Yvraine takes her mother's place as the new Everqueen. It's not said what Morelion got up to, but part of it presumably involves starting a family at he's Teclis and Tyrion's progenitor.

Lumineth Realm-Lord free scenery revealed
Also in the army book is a short story featuring Tyrion on the Blighted Isle, leading High Elf army against Dark Elves lead by N'kari for control of the Altar of Khaine, sometime after the N'kari's defeat by Teclis. Tyrion thrashes N'kari, who is described matching the look of a Keeper of Secrets at the time (Tim Curry with a bull head), and then inspects the Widowmaker, surprised to see it as a sword, having heard it appears differently to each potential wielder (Caledor got a lance and Malekith a scepter). The sword calls for Tyrion to wield it, telling him the entire world is going to fall, and that his name can live forever as the last of the great elf heroes, though he is easily able to resit.

The 5th edition of Warhammer, released in September 1996, would inherit 4th's original series of army books. Few of these would be updated, with the exceptions being High Elves, Chaos, and the Undead (who GW would go King Solomon on to create the Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings). The general sentiment towards the revision of the High Elf book, is that large parts of their 4th ed book and miniatures range had been rushed out without the proper care and attention due - the marquee points of the original release had been the miniatures and backstories belonging to Teclis, Tyrion and their fellow special character Eltharion, and so this is hard to dispute.

Released in June 1997, the 5th edition Warhammer Armies: High Elves, by Tuomas Pirinen and Rick Priestly took for granted that Teclis wasn't broken, and didn't need fixing, reprinting Bill King's White Dwarf 156 article for the second time, and not updating Jes Goodwin's model (or even Mike McVey's paintjob). In a minor rules bump, Teclis gains the ability to forgo random generation and pick his spells, and a gained new minor magic item in the Scroll of Hoeth, a souped up Dispel Scroll. Background-wise, Teclis would be given a fully fleshed out former mentor in the venerable Loremaster Belannaer, and have Malekith acknowledge him as his arcane superior (something I can't the Witch King would have been too happy about).

Thanks for reading, I hope you've enjoyed this series so far. Things kick into high gear in Part 3, where Teclis receives both overhauled rules and a new miniature with Warhammer's 6th edition, and makes his memorable literary debut in a Gotrek and Felix novel. Please let me know if you feel I've made any errors or failed to mention anything in this article.

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