Friday, February 2, 2018

Morathi : Journey of The Shadow Queen

Morathi, The Hag Sorceress of Ghrond, Mother of Malekith (Malerion), first of The Hag Queens, Second Wife of Aenarion The Defender and The First Pheonix King, and now The Shadow Queen.  In The World That Was she was a driving force in most events dealing connected to the Elf Races and believed to be second in power only to her Son Malekith (Malerion) within the Dark Elf Society, but this could be argued as she was more adept at manipulating behind the scenes, including manipulating her son.  Let's dive in and find out more about who Morathi was and hopefully get some insight about who Morathi is now in The Mortal Realms.  I aim to hit the highlights and offer my personal views on who she was as a character, but opinions vary and I am sure there will be some history for the character I miss or gloss over.  Morathi is an exciting character and I encourage everyone to look into her story for yourself and hopefully, this article can act as a primer to get you started.

Morathi has always been an integral part of the Warhammer Fantasy universe from The World That Was and now she promises to remain a major player in The Mortal Realms.  Her origin remains a mystery as her first mention and appearance was her rescue by Aenarion after he defeated a roaming Slaaneshi Chaos Warband who had captured her and other elves.  Aenarion was captivated by her beauty and the rescue of Morathi can be viewed as accidental but is more likely fate, but was it the will of Slaanesh or something else creating this fate will remain unknown.

At this time Khaine already had a grip on Aenarion's heart as he had already drawn Widowmaker, The Sword of Khaine.  This made it all too easy for Morathi to push him further down a dark path.  For all her manipulation of Aenarion, I believe she truly loved him just as much as she loved power.  Perhaps if Khaine did not have a hold of Aenarion we would have seen a drastically different history.  Ultimately, the duo would not last as Caledor Dragontamer, an adamant opponent to Morathi, enacted his plan to save The World That Was during the Second Chaos Invasion despite Aenerions belief that nothing could be done to stop Chaos from winning the war.  Perhaps this belief was from the influence of Khaine, but could also have been under the influence of Morathi as well.  Either way, Aenarion left his second wife despite her pleas and seductions to defend his old friend as he created The Great Vortex.

Morathi felt spurned and betrayed.  She might have believed she could keep her and Aenarion safe by working with Slaanesh, but Aenarions righteous side won out in his moral dilemma between saving the world or to stay with Morathi.  Aenarion and Caledor would succeed and Aenarion would perish after returning Widowmaker to its hidden altar. Morathi's focused shifted to ensuring her and Aenarions son Malekith (Malerion) would succeed him as the next Pheonix King and secretly harbor hatred an even deeper hatred toward Caledor as she began her long plan tear apart his great work that took Aenarion from her.

Causing insult to injury Malektih (Malerion) was not selected as the next Pheonix King, but he did not protest as Morathi had done.  Bel Shannar who was chosen would also take Aenarion's Daughter from his first marriage as his wife causing Morathi to lose her title as Queen.  As her son ventured away from their homeland to the colonies she set to work corrupting Ulthuan with her hidden Cults of Pleasure.  It acted as her network and her power base as higher ranking elf nobles joined arguing that it gave her more power than The Pheonix King himself.

Morathi and her schemes would be found out either by luck or by her own design.  Malektih (Malerion) who had grown significantly as a person, diplomat, and leader while being away from her returned to bring her to justice.  She was captured by her son with the threat of death hanging over her head.  Morthai used her supernatural ability to appeal to her son that she was truly repentant and to be spared her inevitable death sentence.  Malektih (Malerion) pleaded on her behalf to The Pheonix Throne and was she was spared, but placed under permanent house arrest in Malekith's (Malerion) care due to his prestige and recognition earned while away.

This only allowed her to be closer to her son and allowed her to begin manipulating him as she had Aenarion.  She convinced him that he was destined to be the true Pheonix King and it was his by birthright.  She recreated her Cults of Pleasure to help her son rise to the throne all the while she would be the real power behind him.  

One dreadful and bloody day they enacted their plan killing Bel Shannar and framing him as a member of the Pleasure Cults.  Malekith (Malerion) and he followers would kill off the remaining Nobles against his bid to become Pheonix King at the Shrine of Asuryan before he stepped into the Flame of Asuryan as his father did in order to follow his path.  Malekith (Malerion) despite being the chosen of Asuryan to replace his father would throw himself out of the fire a heartbeat too soon leaving him a charred husk.  Morathi rushed to his side and poured her Shadow Magic into him to keep him, and her last true connection to Aenarion, alive.  She had his Armour of Midnight created with The Anvil of Vaul by one of Vaul's priests she had turned to their cause to keep her son alive.  

Morathi's plan to rule the elves was no longer secret and the Schism of the Elves began that ended with The Great Sundering causing Morathi and those faithful to her and her son to flee north taking with them large pieces of their province of Nagarythe with them using her dark magic to create the original Black Arks.  They would settle in the frozen land of Naggaroth and be known as The Dark Elves or Druchii in their own tongue.  It was from here she would continue her plots and manipulation to make her son The Phoenix King and destroy Caledors vortex.

For 5000 years she taught her son and subtly lea Druchii society, subtly, while continuing to affect the course of elven history through her schemes.  Her son's power only remained due to her continued support when he faltered.  It was Morathi who taught Ariel the Dark Arts, bringing it to the Wood Elves, in exchange for her life after her schemes killed Ariels Sister and once wife to Malekith.  Through this, she planted a small enchantment on Ariel's soul to be used when needed proving her superiority in the subtlest of ways.  It was Morathi who gave The Cult of Khaine the first Cauldron of Blood, gifted by Khaine himself supposedly, that she uses to bath in blood to remain eternally beautiful.  A spell she has only ever kept to herself.

Her constant struggles seemed to make her an evil witch with nothing but a lust for power and revenge.  However, her pursuit was always toward Aenarion and his namesake.  In a battle where the legendary Tyrion battled her forces, she saw him as Aenarion reborn.  To her credit, Tyrion is described as looking almost entirely like Aenarion and even wears his armor and enchanted blade Sunfury.  In the battle, she was defeated, but not after appearing before Tyrion and surprising him with a kiss to her lover reborn.  Perhaps this was a ploy to escape, but I feel it is her defining character.  She still loved and sacrificed all for Aenarion at this time.

The End Times or Rhana Dandra saw lines between the three separate races of elves begin to blur.  The cycle repeated and the elf heroes each became avatars reliving the great drama that played out before with their gods.  Tyrion was revealed as Khaines Avatar and Morathi was revealed to be the living avatar of Hekarti, elven goddess of conjuration and Dark Magic.  Households would split and it was revealed her son was indeed the True Pheonix King.  However, over the course of The End Times, she would see Tyrion draw Widowmaker and she would become his lover and fall back into her manipulative ways dragging him further down the path of darkness all the while feeling Aenarion had returned to her.  Her son was Pheonix King, but that wasn't what she had wanted all along.  She wanted Aenarion back and revenge on Caledor who she felt caused his death and spurning.  In a final climactic battle on The Isle of the Dead, location of The Great Vortex that would end The Final elven civil war.  

Caledor was still alive, in a fashion, within The Great Vortex casting his spell for eternity to keep Chaos at bay.  Aenarion had returned to her so all that was left was for her to take her vengeance and destroy the great work.  Fatefully, Caledor was working with Teclis, Tyrion's Twin Brother, to pull out the winds of Magic from the vortex to place them within elven heroes and create the Incarnates in hopes to defeat Archaon and his plans.  Nagash had already done this upon his rebirth with the Wind of Death cementing it within the land where he began to absorb its power.

As the two mages worked to complete their task as the epic battle between Tyrion and Malektih's (Malerion) and their forces raged Morathi appeared to take her vengeance.  Teclis and Caledor strived to complete their work, but some of the Winds of Magic escaped as they broke apart the spell as she attacked Teclis.  They were was able to maintain a grasp on a few and direct The Wind of Life into Alarielle, the Wind of Shadow into Malekith (Malerion), and Teclis held The Wind of Light within his staff.  The vortex crumbles and Slaanesh sensing a banquet of elven souls appeared overhead to feast.  Caledor clung to Morathi has she clawed at his face to escape while Slaanesh consumed them both before vanishing.  Ulthuan would sink, Tyrion would die, for a time, and Morathi would vanish.  Later, the Slaaneshi Daemon Dechala The Denied One appears in front of Malektih (Malerion) throwing Morathi's staff, Heartrender, at his feet claiming she was Slaanesh's now.  She was then immediately slain by Tyrion reborn as The Avatar of Light.

Morathi was gone and The World That Was was destroyed, save its core.  We enter into The Mortal Realms where our first mention oh Morathi is in the very first book released where she is surrounded by Shadow Daemons in a glade located within The Realm of Shadow.  She was flesh and blood but changed and it was her who helped Malerion find physical form once more.  They joined Sigmars Pantheon and established order within the realms.  

We now know, due to the recent teaser videos that she helped set up civilization in The Mortal Realms after "slithering" her way out of Slannesh's belly and before the god of pleasure and excess was captured by the aelves.  She leads The Daughters of Khaine despite her knowing Khaine is dead, but is the religion a front or hopes to rebirth the god?  Time will tell.  Morathi stated that she has taken on the form of her tormentor and if we look toward Dechala we know this to be a half snake, half aelf woman.  It is also possible that if he was the avatar of Hekarti she might have multiple arms in this true form, much like the god she represented in The End Times.  She will remain a major player in The Age of Sigmar and as a character with such a rich and deep history, it is a great joy to see them giving her character credit and the care it deserves.

There is a lot about Morathi's past not in this article, but I tried to hit the major points I felt important to her character.  I scoured all the resource material I had available be it Battletome, novel, White Dwarf, or short stories, but if elves are involved then Morathi will have a tie or mention in the story.  She was a defining character for all of Aelven history and will prove to be one going forward.  I hope this article has given you more insight into who she was and what she might be currently.  If there was a favorite part of her history I missed or glossed over please let us know in the comments.

Until next time, Happy Hobbying.

Chuck Moore