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I totally get it, like, I get that she died or whatever. It portrays death truthfully. You die in the middle of your life, in the middle of a sentence. But I do— God, I do really want to know what happens to everyone else. That's what I asked him in my letters. But he, yeah, he never answers. You said he is a recluse? Waters,'" he answered. Vliegenthart this sixth of April, from the United States of America, insofar as geography can be said to exist in our triumphantly digitized contemporaneity.

I found her. I emailed her. She gave him the email. He responded via her email account. Keep reading. Vliegenthart into a series of Is and Os to travel through the insipid web which has lately ensnared our species, so I apologize for any errors or omissions that may result. But I am particularly indebted to you, sir, both for your kind words about An Imperial Affliction and for taking the time to tell me that the book, and here I quote you directly, "meant a great deal" to you. Given the final futility of our struggle, is the fleeting jolt of meaning that art gives us valuable?

Or is the only value in passing the time as comfortably as possible? What should a story seek to emulate, Augustus? A ringing alarm? A call to arms?

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A morphine drip? Of course, like all interrogation of the universe, this line of inquiry inevitably reduces us to asking what it means to be human and whether— to borrow a phrase from the angst-encumbered sixteen-year-olds you no doubt revile— there is a point to it all. But to answer your question: No, I have not written anything else, nor will I. I do not feel that continuing to share my thoughts with readers would benefit either them or me. Thank you again for your generous email. I spent the next two hours writing an email to Peter Van Houten. It seemed to get worse each time I rewrote it, but I couldn't stop myself.

Dear Mr. My friend Augustus Waters, who read An Imperial Affliction at my recommendation, just received an email from you at this address. I hope you will not mind that Augustus shared that email with me. Van Houten, I understand from your email to Augustus that you are not planning to publish any more books. In a way, I am disappointed, but I'm also relieved: I never have to worry whether your next book will live up to the magnificent perfection of the original. Or at least you got me right. Your book has a way of telling me what I'm feeling before I even feel it, and I've reread it dozens of times.

I wonder, though, if you would mind answering a couple questions I have about what happens after the end of the novel. I understand the book ends because Anna dies or becomes too ill to continue writing it, but I would really like to know what happens to Anna's mom— whether she married the Dutch Tulip Man, whether she ever has another child, and whether she stays at W. Temple, etc. Also, is the Dutch Tulip Man a fraud or does he really love them?

What happens to Anna's friends— particularly Claire and Jake? Do they stay together? And lastly— I realize that this is the kind of deep and thoughtful question you always hoped your readers would ask— what becomes of Sisyphus the Hamster?


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These questions have haunted me for years— and I don't know how long I have left to get answers to them. I know these are not important literary questions and that your book is full of important literary questions, but I would just really like to know. And of course, if you ever do decide to write anything else, even if you don't want to publish it, I'd love to read it. Frankly, I'd read your grocery lists. Yours with great admiration, Hazel Grace Lancaster age 16 After I sent it, I called Augustus back, and we stayed up late talking about An Imperial Affliction, and I read him the Emily Dickinson poem that Van Houten had used for the title, and he said I had a good voice for reading and didn't pause too long for the line breaks, and then he told me that the sixth Price of Dawn book, The Blood Approves, begins with a quote from a poem.

It took him a minute to find the book, but finally he read the quote to me. I believe Max Mayhem would refer to that as 'sissy shit. God, Mayhem grits his teeth a lot in these books. He's definitely going to getTMJ, if he survives all this combat. My kissing— all prediagnosis— had been uncomfortable and slobbery, and on some level it always felt like kids playing at being grown. But of course it had been a while. And then after a second, "Caroline is no longer suffering from personhood. I'd known plenty of dead people, of course. But I'd never dated one. I couldn't even imagine it, really.

We're all just side effects, right? It's almost one. I giggled and said, "Okay. I almost felt like he was there in my room with me, but in a way it was better, like I was not in my room and he was not in his, but instead we were together in some invisible and tenuous third space that could only be visited on the phone. It was Augustus who finally hung up. Peter Van Houten replied to Augustus's email four hours after he sent it, but two days later, Van Houten still hadn't replied to me.

Augustus assured me it was because my email was better and required a more thoughtful response, that Van Houten was busy writing answers to my questions, and that brilliant prose took time. But still I worried. It went well. He's officially NEC. NEC meant "no evidence of cancer.

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I mean, he's blind. So that's unfortunate. That afternoon, Mom consented to loan me the car so I could drive down to Memorial to check in on Isaac. I found my way to his room on the fifth floor, knocking even though the door was open, and a woman's voice said, "Come in. And he said, "Mon? No, it's, urn, Hazel. Urn, Support Group Hazel? Night-of-the-broken-trophies Hazel?

Hi, Support Group Hazel. Come over here so I can examine your face with my hands and see deeper into your soul than a sighted person ever could. I pulled a chair up and sat down, took his hand. Then nothing for a while. I looked at his hand because I didn't want to look at his face blindfolded by bandages. Isaac bit his nails, and I could see some blood on the corners of a couple of his cuticles. Fourteen months is a long time. God, that hurts. The nurse, having finished the bandage change, stepped back. You're just getting started, buddy. You'll see.

Did she seriously say that? Doesn't pun on your disability," Isaac said. Gets blood on the first try," I said. I mean is this my freaking arm or a dartboard? No condescending voice. There might be a little ouchie. And then after a second, "Most of them are good, actually. I just want the hell out of this place.

His mouth tightened. I could see the pain. Is that crazy? That's crazy. I don't believe that everybody gets to keep their eyes or not get sick or whatever, but everybody should have true love, and it should last at least as long as your life does. The whole cancer thing. The medicine working. He was here when I woke up. Took off school. He nodded a little. And then, like the bitch I am: "You were saying something about Gus? I went downstairs to the tiny windowless gift shop and asked the decrepit volunteer sitting on a stool behind a cash register what kind of flowers smell the strongest.

They get sprayed with Super Scent," she said. Same smell, and lots of it. The carnations were cheaper, so I grabbed a dozen yellow ones. They cost fourteen dollars. I went back into the room; his mom was there, holding his hand. She was young and really pretty. These are for him. I shook my head no. I talked to him a little before, when they were doing the bandages or whatever. She nodded. I left. The next morning I woke up early and checked my email first thing. Dear Ms. Lancaster, I fear your faith has been misplaced— but then, faith usually is. I cannot answer your questions, at least not in writing, because to write out such answers would constitute a sequel to An Imperial Affliction, which you might publish or otherwise share on the network that has replaced the brains of your generation.

There is the telephone, but then you might record the conversation. Not that I don't trust you, of course, but I don't trust you. Alas, dear Hazel, I could never answer such questions except in person, and you are there, while I am here. That noted, I must confess that the unexpected receipt of your correspondence via Ms. Vliegenthart has delighted me: What a wondrous thing to know that I made something useful to you— even if that book seems so distant from me that I feel it was written by a different man altogether.

The author of that novel was so thin, so frail, so comparatively optimistic! Should you find yourself in Amsterdam, however, please do pay a visit at your leisure. I am usually home.

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I would even allow you a peek at my grocery lists. Still nervous, Mom knelt down to check on Philip to ensure he was condensing oxygen appropriately. I imagined sitting at a sun-drenched cafe with Peter Van Houten as he leaned across the table on his elbows, speaking in a soft voice so no one else would hear the truth of what happened to the characters I'd spent years thinking about. He'd said he couldn't tell me except in person, and then invited me to Amsterdam.

I explained this to Mom, and then said, "I have to go. I realized I'd been silly even to consider it. I'll think of something. I'd sapped the family savings with Phalanxifor copays, and Mom couldn't work because she had taken on the full-time profession of Hovering Over Me. I didn't want to put them even further into debt. I told Mom I wanted to call Augustus to get her out of the room, because I couldn't handle her I-can't-make-my-daughter's-dreams- come-true sad face.

Augustus Waters-style, I read him the letter in lieu of saying hello. I said nothing. I was flattered but changed the subject immediately. Then he goes to this rehab or something for a while, but he gets to sleep at home, I think. I gotta go. I could hear his crooked smile. On Saturday, my parents and I went down to the farmers' market in Broad Ripple. It was sunny, a rarity for Indiana in April, and everyone at the farmers' market was wearing short sleeves even though the temperature didn't quite justify it.

We Hoosiers are excessively optimistic about summer. Mom and I sat next to each other on a bench across from a goat-soap maker, a man in overalls who had to explain to every single person who walked by that yes, they were his goats, and no, goat soap does not smell like goats. My phone rang. It was Gus, though. I knew the answer, because I am currently at your house. Well, we are on our way, I guess? See you soon. He was holding a bouquet of bright orange tulips just beginning to bloom, and wearing an Indiana Pacers jersey under his fleece, a wardrobe choice that seemed utterly out of character, although it did look quite good on him.

He pushed himself up off the stoop, handed me the tulips, and asked, "Wanna go on a picnic? My dad walked up behind me and shook Gus's hand. If we'd put them in a vase in the living room, they would have been everyone's flowers. I wanted them to be my flowers.

I went to my room but didn't change. I brushed my hair and teeth and put on some lip gloss and the smallest possible dab of perfume. I kept looking at the flowers. They were aggressively orange, almost too orange to be pretty. I didn't have a vase or anything, so I took my toothbrush out of my toothbrush holder and filled it halfway with water and left the flowers there in the bathroom. When I reentered my room, I could hear people talking, so I sat on the edge of my bed for a while and listened through my hollow bedroom door: Dad: "So you met Hazel at Support Group.

This is a lovely house you've got. I like your artwork. I didn't cut this fella off for the sheer unadulterated pleasure of it, although it is an excellent weight-loss strategy. Legs are heavy! The treatment options these days— it really is remarkable. I'm lucky. She'll want to keep up with you, but her lungs—" At which point I emerged, silencing him. Augustus stood up and leaned over to her, whispering the answer, and then held a finger to his lips.

I held it up as evidence, tilted my oxygen cart onto its front wheels, and started walking. Augustus hustled over, offering me his arm, which I took. My fingers wrapped around his biceps. Unfortunately, he insisted upon driving, so the surprise could be a surprise. As we shuddered toward our destination, I said, "You nearly charmed the pants off my mom. You think they liked me? Who cares, though? They're just parents. I thought of the PET scan. Don't worry. Worry is useless. I worried anyway. We burned rubber, roaring away from a stop sign before turning left onto the misnomered Grandview there's a view of a golf course, I guess, but nothing grand.

The only thing I could think of in this direction was the cemetery. Augustus reached into the center console, flipped open a full pack of cigarettes, and removed one. A few of them are broken near the filters, but I think this pack could easily get me to my eighteenth birthday. Name some things that you never see in Indianapolis. Skinny adults," I said. He laughed. Keep going. Family-owned restaurants. Also, culture. I'd heard about it but had never visited. We drove past the museum and parked right next to this basketball court filled with huge blue and red steel arcs that imagined the path of a bouncing ball.

We walked down what passes for a hill in Indianapolis to this clearing where kids were climbing all over this huge oversize skeleton sculpture. The bones were each about waist high, and the thighbone was longer than me. It looked like a child's drawing of a skeleton rising up out of the ground. My shoulder hurt. I worried the cancer had spread from my lungs.

I imagined the tumor metastasizing into my own bones, boring holes into my skeleton, a slithering eel of insidious intent. So are tulips. He unzipped it, producing an orange blanket, a pint of orange juice, and some sandwiches wrapped in plastic wrap with the crusts cut off. You remember William of Orange and everything? And tomato. The tomatoes are from Mexico. Couldn't you have at least gotten orange tomatoes? I couldn't very well ask him about it, so I just sat there surrounded by Dutchness, feeling awkward and hopeful.

In the distance, soaked in the unblemished sunlight so rare and precious in our hometown, a gaggle of kids made a skeleton into a playground, jumping back and forth among the prosthetic bones. He was holding the unlit cigarette between his fingers, flicking at it as if to get rid of the ash.

He placed it back in his mouth. Like, you just haveto jump from rib cage to skull. Which means that, second, the sculpture essentially forces children to play on bones. The symbolic resonances are endless, Hazel Grace. You are probably wondering why you are eating a bad cheese sandwich and drinking orange juice and why I am wearing the jersey of a Dutchman who played a sport I have come to loathe. The Grim Reaper was staring you in the face and the fear of dying with your Wish still in your proverbial pocket, ungranted, led you to rush toward the first Wish you could think of, and you, like so many others, chose the cold and artificial pleasures of the theme park.

I met Goofy and Minn—" "I am in the midst of a soliloquy! I wrote this out and memorized it and if you interrupt me I will completely screw it up," Augustus interrupted. But let me submit that the real heroes of the Wish Factory are the young men and women who wait like Vladimir and Estragon wait for Godot and good Christian girls wait for marriage. These young heroes wait stoically and without complaint for their one true Wish to come along. Sure, it may never come along, but at least they can rest easily in the grave knowing that they've done their little part to preserve the integrity of the Wish as an idea.

And then, after what felt like a practiced pause, he added, "But I saved mine. You had to be pretty sick for the Genies to hook you up with a Wish. There was all this light on his face; he had to squint to look at me, which made his nose crinkle adorably. But I also have an interest in meeting Peter Van Houten, and it wouldn't make sense to meet him without the girl who introduced me to his book. They said Amsterdam is lovely in the beginning of May. They proposed leaving May third and returning May seventh. My body tensed, and I think he saw it, because he pulled his hand away.

You don't have to do this. I told her that the tulips and the Dutch artist and everything were all because Augustus was using his Wish to take me to Amsterdam. He's easily my second best friend. It was true, but I'd mostly said it because I wanted to go to Amsterdam. Maria," she said after a moment. Maria said I couldn't go to Amsterdam without an adult intimately familiar with my case, which more or less meant either Mom or Dr.

Maria herself. My dad understood my cancer the way I did: in the vague and incomplete way people understand electrical circuits and ocean tides. But my mom knew more about differentiated thyroid carcinoma in adolescents than most oncologists. The Genies are loaded. It wouldn't be fair to him, and he can't get time off work. You don't think Dad would enjoy a few days of watching TV shows that are not about aspiring models and ordering pizza every night, using paper towels as plates so he doesn't have to do the dishes?

Finally, she started to get excited, typing tasks into her phone: She'd have to call Gus's parents and talk to the Genies about my medical needs and do they have a hotel yet and what are the best guidebooks and we should do our research if we only have three days, and so on. I kind of had a headache, so I downed a couple Advil and decided to take a nap. But I ended up just lying in bed and replaying the whole picnic with Augustus. I couldn't stop thinking about the little moment when I'd tensed up as he touched me.

The gentle familiarity felt wrong, somehow. I thought maybe it was how orchestrated the whole thing had been: Augustus was amazing, but he'd overdone everything at the picnic, right down to the sandwiches that were metaphorically resonant but tasted terrible and the memorized soliloquy that prevented conversation. It all felt Romantic, but not romantic. But the truth is that I had never wanted him to kiss me, not in the way you are supposed to want these things. I mean, he was gorgeous. I was attracted to him. I thought about him in that way, to borrow a phrase from the middle school vernacular.

But the actual touch, the realized touch. Then I found myself worrying I would have to make out with him to get to Amsterdam, which is not the kind of thing you want to be thinking, because a It shouldn't've even been a question whether I wanted to kiss him, and b Kissing someone so that you can get a free trip is perilously close to full-on hooking, and I have to confess that while I did not fancy myself a particularly good person, I never thought my first real sexual action would be prostitutional.

But then again, he hadn't tried to kiss me; he'd only touched my face, which is not even sexual. It was not a move designed to elicit arousal, but it was certainly a designed move, because Augustus Waters was no improviser. So what had he been trying to convey? And why hadn't I wanted to accept it? At some point, I realized I was Kaitlyning the encounter, so I decided to text Kaitlyn and ask for some advice. She called immediately. I told her all about it, complete with the awkward face touching, leaving out only Amsterdam and Augustus's name.

How'd you meet him? Basketball players were famous in Indiana, and although Kaitlyn didn't go to North Central, her social connectivity was endless. I've seen him at parties. The things I would do to that boy. I mean, not now that I know you're interested in him. But, oh, sweet holy Lord, I would ride that one-legged pony all the way around the corral. Do you think you'd have to be on top? Right, you and Augustus Waters. I mean, I definitely like him.

Sometimes beautiful people have ugly hands. After a second, Kaitlyn said, "Remember Derek? He broke up with me last week because he'd decided there was something fundamentally incompatible about us deep down and that we'd only get hurt more if we played it out. He called it preemptive dumping. So maybe you have this premonition that there is something fundamentally incompatible and you're preempting the preemption. It took me a sleeve of Girl Scout Thin Mints and forty minutes to get over that boy. I realized while listening to Kaitlyn that I didn't have a premonition of hurting him. I had a postmonition.


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  7. I pulled out my laptop and looked up Caroline Mathers. The physical similarities were striking: same steroidally round face, same nose, same approximate overall body shape. But her eyes were dark brown mine are green and her complexion was much darker— Italian or something. Thousands of people— literally thousands— had left condolence messages for her. It was an endless scroll of people who missed her, so many that it took me an hour of clicking to get past the I'm sorry you're deadwaU posts to the I'm praying for you wall posts. She'd died a year ago of brain cancer.

    I was able to click through to some of her pictures. Augustus was in a bunch of the earlier ones: pointing with a thumbs-up to the jagged scar across her bald skull; arm in arm at Memorial Hospital's playground, with their backs facing the camera; kissing while Caroline held the camera out, so you could only see their noses and closed eyes. The most recent pictures were all of her before, when she was healthy, uploaded postmortem by friends: a beautiful girl, wide-hipped and curvy, with long, straight deadblack hair falling over her face.

    My healthy self looked very little like her healthy self. But our cancer selves might've been sisters. No wonder he'd stared at me the first time he saw me. I kept clicking back to this one wall post, written two months ago, nine months after she died, by one of her friends. We all miss you so much. It just never ends. It feels like we were all wounded in your battle, Caroline. I miss you. I love you. After a while, Mom and Dad announced it was time for dinner.

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    I shut down the computer and got up, but I couldn't get the wall post out of my mind, and for some reason it made me nervous and unhungry. I kept thinking about my shoulder, which hurt, and also I still had the headache, but maybe only because I'd been thinking about a girl who'd died of brain cancer. I kept telling myself to compartmentalize, to be here now at the circular table arguably too large in diameter for three people and definitely too large for two with this soggy broccoli and a black-bean burger that all the ketchup in the world could not adequately moisten.

    I told myself that imagining a met in my brain or my shoulder would not affect the invisible reality going on inside of me, and that therefore all such thoughts were wasted moments in a life composed of a definitionally finite set of such moments.

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    I even tried to tell myself to live my best life today. For the longest time I couldn't figure out why something a stranger had written on the Internet to a different and deceased stranger was bothering me so much and making me worry that there was something inside my brain— which really did hurt, although I knew from years of experience that pain is a blunt and nonspecific diagnostic instrument. Because there had not been an earthquake in Papua New Guinea that day, my parents were all hyperfocused on me, and so I could not hide this flash flood of anxiety.

    I took a bite of burger. Tried to say something that a normal person whose brain was not drowning in panic would say. I tried not to think about the word wounded, which of course is a way of thinking about it. Like Caroline Mathers had been a bomb and when she blew up everyone around her was left with embedded shrapnel. Dad asked me if I was working on anything for school. She seemed annoyed about it. For me to be teenagery? It's a terrible idea and a huge waste of time and—" "Honey," my mom said. I'm like a grenade, Mom. I'm a grenade and at some point I'm going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?

    I'm not depressed. I don't need to get out more. And I can't be a regular teenager, because I'm a grenade. He cried a lot, my dad. I'm fine. I really am fine; I just want to go read for a while. My dad saying, "It kills me," and my mom saying, "That's exactly what she doesn't need to hear," and my dad saying, "I'm sorry but—" and my mom saying, "Are you not grateful? So I turned on my computer to listen to some music, and with Augustus's favorite band, The Hectic Glow, as my sound track, I went back to Caroline Mathers's tribute pages, reading about how heroic her fight was, and how much she was missed, and how she was in a better place, and how she would live forever'm their memories, and how everyone who knew her— everyone— was laid low by her leaving.

    Maybe I was supposed to hate Caroline Mathers or something because she'd been with Augustus, but I didn't. I couldn't see her very clearly amid all the tributes, but there didn't seem to be much to hate— she seemed to be mostly a professional sick person, like me, which made me worry that when I died they'd have nothing to say about me except that I fought heroically, as if the only thing I'd ever done was Have Cancer. Anyway, eventually I started reading Caroline Mathers's little notes, which were mostly actually written by her parents, because I guess her brain cancer was of the variety that makes you not you before it makes you not alive.

    So it was all like, Caroline continues to have behavioral problems. She's struggling a lot with anger and frustration over not being able to speak we are frustrated about these things, too, of course, but we have more socially acceptable ways of dealing with our anger. There's nothing easy about this for any of us, but you take your humor where you can get it.

    Hoping to go home on Thursday. We'll let you know. She didn't go home on Thursday, needless to say. Stephen Burnett. Stephen Burnett , Jun Stephen Burnett , May Stephen Burnett , May 8. Stephen Burnett , Apr Lorehaven serves Christian fans by finding biblical truth in fantastic stories. Book clubs, free webzines, and a web-based community offer flash reviews, articles, and news about Christian fantasy, science fiction, and other fantastical genres.

    Find this book on Amazon. Powderly Jr. After three months of constant siege, Malekith once more returned with the dried blood of Finubar in his hands. Taking in the perils of his kingdom, Malekith rode with his dragon Seraphon and pushed back the Bloodied Horde from Naggarond's gates. With much of Naggaroth lying in ruin, Malekith was forced to delay his intended invasion of Ulthuan and recall his invasion fleet back into harbor to be disembarked and armed for an upcoming counter-attack.

    Following his victory, Malekith met with the remaining Dark Elven leaders and laid out the plans for the forthcoming campaign in the north. He personally appointed Lord Darkblade to take command of an expedition towards the Tower of Prophecy to find out what has happened there.

    He did, and Lord Darkblade was reassigned south to protect and escort the broken refugees back into the safety of Hag Graef. So the task then was set upon Malekith once again as he rode north to face his mother in person. Though nearly one-third of Malekith's army was lost on the journey, the Witch King continued on with silent determination, going as far as to isolate himself from his generals.

    Some forty leagues short of Ghrond , Malekith's army was blocked by a massive horde of Daemons led by a mighty Bloodthirster of Khorne. Though powerful, the Witch King could not be denied entrance, and with the daemon's defeat, Malekith entered the Tower and met with his mother in person. Morathi had told her son that the End Times is nigh and that upon the shores of Ulthaun his destiny awaited him. However, Morathi warned that should he pursue this path, should he return to the lands of his birth, it shall destroy everything that has ever made him her son.

    Prideful to the last, Malekith abandoned his mother and gathered what remains of his entire people to set sail on a fleet of Warships so massive that it stretched from horizon to horizon. Thus upon the same hour that Teclis banished the daemons from the shores of Ulthuan did the last great host of Naggarth embarked upon their fleet of Black Arks. Without a backwards glance to his burning Kingdom, Malekith looked fixed upon the land of Ulthuan, determined that this time, there is no going back.

    By the year of IC, what remains of the Elven Kingdoms have begun to slowly rebuild and refortify their holdings as they believe that this incursion was but a precursor to an ever more horrific invasion within the coming years. Though the nations of Mankind still grows ignorant of this coming conflict, such accusation was not ill-founded by the more wiser and older nations within the World, for they too have witnessed this apocalypse before, and readied themselves for what is to come. Within the very heart of the Dwarfen kingdoms of Karaz Ankor , all the remaining Dwarf Kings have gathered upon the ancestral halls of Karaz-a-Karak and argue on what course of action they should take to ensure the survival of their civilisation.

    Divided upon the issue, King Kazador in his pride still kept to his word and began preparations to bar his hold from the outside world, with several of the other Dwarf Kings following suite. Unable to unite his people, Thorgrim grew weary as reports have shown that their underground enemies have stopped their ceaseless attacking, a dark omen that would be the precursor to an imminent invasion on a grand scale never before seen in their history. Seeing through the visions of bloodshed and misery, Settra witnessed the resurrection of an ancient and terrible enemy and knew that an awakening had to begin.

    With haste, the Mortuary Priest journeyed across the Land of the Dead , and awoke the Tomb Kings in their dozens, calling for the awakening of their uncountable legions. Within the Charnel Valley , the necrotects of that land began to empower the very stones of their statues into life, and within days a long column of stone warsphynx began their march towards Khemri.

    There the chief-necrotect Ramhotep , with all his merciless drive, began his greatest work yet upon the walls of that ancient city. Upon the Great Mortis River , the Warfleets of Khemri have joined the armada's of Zandri , filling the whole Mortis Delta with warships by the thousands. In the Kingdom of Lybaras , High Queen Khalida met with the mortuary priest from her throne-room and pledged her archer legions into the fold. Soon legion after legion of Undead warriors have marched across the blazing sands, preparing the defense of this already formidable civilisation against the return of their most hated of enemies, Nagash , the Lord of the Dead.

    But it is in the lands of the Empire that the first signs of battle have taken place. From the cursed lands of Sylvania , an unholy darkness has descended upon that bleak and desolate lands, arousing the dead from their slumber and killing what little life still clings to its soil. An old enemy awakens, and Count Mannfred von Carstein has finally announced that Sylvania shall secede from the Empire forever. Like many other times in the Empire's history, those who are far away from this dark omen taking place in Sylvania have little to fear, and even fewer care.

    However the ruler of that accursed realm did not hide in the shadows and bid his time like his predecessor, but instead made his presence clear to all when a winged creature dropped the crippled body of Witch Hunter Gunther Stahlberg upon the meeting table of the Conclave of States. Upon his mangled mouth, a letter was shown and read by Grand Theogonist Volkmar the Grim. After realising its implications, Volkmar immediately ordered the Reikguard Knights to accompany his Arch Lectors into the Imperial Vaults and recover the legendary Crown of Nagash from the clutches of Mannfreds agents.

    In the end they failed, and in grim determination, Volkmar announced to the Emperor that he would lead a Crusader army towards Sylvania and stop Mannfreds plan before it's too late. After interrogating a Strigany sharpshooter for the whereabouts of Mannfreds base of operations, the Crusader army continued their march towards the town of Swartzhafen. Upon their arrival, the Crusader army saw the Undead armies of Necromancer Ghorst and Count Mannfred himself blocking the entrance into the town. The Vampire mockingly tried to parley with the Grand Theogonist, but was cut short when Volkmar ordered the attack.

    Holding firm, the Crusader army was able to hold on against the Undead onslaught until Mannfred left the battlefield after witnessing something happening within the Vargavian Mountains. Along the way, the Crusader army was met by the Imperial Armies of Altdorf and a band of Light Order Wizards tending their Luminark of Hysh , coming to reinforce them for the upcoming conflict in Castle Sternieste, now coined by as the Imperials as the Battle of the Burrows.

    Despite the lack of proper terrain, the Crusader army nonetheless attacked the Undead defenders with fierce zeal. Whole battleline of Flagellants and Zealots hurled themselves headlong onto the Undead forces stationed below the hill as illuminating lights were shot off into the air by a battering of Helstorm Rocket. The Undead counter-attacked, with a small force heading directly into the path of the Light Wizards and their magnificent Luminark. In response, the Luminark sprayed golden light upon the enemy lines and seared a gap in their defences.

    On the right flank, a host of Demigryph Knights under the leadership of Lupio Blaze struck the Undead, forcing Mannfred to personally intervene. Miraculously, a bright flare of light burst out from the wizards blackened robes, and the reincarnated angel of Sunscryer once more fought the spectres and wrestled the unholy artifact away from them. However, the Crusader army was ultimately ripe for slaughter as hidden undead forces lead by the undead King Verek , sprung out of the burrows and encircled the doomed crusaders.

    Just when all hope seemed lost, suddenly, miraculously, the earth burst open in a hundred different places. This time it was not the dead that emerged, but the buried symbols of the faithful. Stolen sigil-hammers, steel wolf totems of Ulric, Morrite pennies, even brass suns of Myrmidia burst out of their earthy graves to hang at head height across the field, each glowing with raw magical power.

    Thanks to the efforts of Balthasar Gelt , a torrent of light flared out and obliterated the remaining undead forces, whilst simultaneously healing the sick and wounded in mere seconds. With renewed vigour, the remaining crusaders cut down the last of the Undead, and cried out in victory. But as the Crusaders walk amongst the carnage of the battlefield, a cold chill began to run through the Imperial ranks as they saw the battered remains of the War Altar of Sigmar in the ground, with Volkmar no where to be seen.

    As the world was engulfed in a time of conflict, such an opportunity for great plunder and glory to be won was consider a far too tempting a prize to ignore for the vermin hordes of the great Under-Empire.

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    Prior to their inevitable and destructive invasion of the surface world, the Order of the Grey Seers under the leadership of Seerlord Kritislik proposed to the Lords of Decay a masterful plan. It was theorised by the earliest generations of Warlock Engineers that the Chaos Moon Morrslieb is actually made entirely of pure Warpstone , proposing to the Council that he shall gather a coven of the most powerful Grey Seers and draw the Chaos moon closer to the world, allowing a greater influx of magical energies to the Under-Empires many spell-casters, and give the Skaven populace unnatural vitality.

    Approving the plan, the Grey Seers began their work, and within time the Moon slowly began to grow within the night sky, growing to such an extent that it has allowed the World's many spell-casters to conjure feats of magical possibilities that have never been seen since the Great Catastrophe.

    Deeming the time is right, the mysterious Overlords of the Council of Thirteen instantly began the first phase of their Master Plan upon the human kingdoms of Tilea and Estalia , never knowing that from the Realm of Ruin , the Verminlords of the Shadow Council of Thirteen are toying with the threads of their fate, overseeing their motives and purpose and moving them one-step closer towards their ultimate victory. The people of Tilea and Estalia has ever been a rich people of a fraction nation, two kingdoms so similar to the ratmen's own society that it beggars the question of their origins.

    Yet no matter how many times they see these vile vermin, no matter how many attacks and raids were sent upon their cities, they still try their best to deny such existence, and this strong sense of disbelief have brought about the seeds of their doom. In a single evening, the assassins of Clan Eshin and their most elite of agents, The Black 13 were responsible for Tilea's Night of One Thousand Terrors -- a shock wave of assassination and ruthless sabotage that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of important generals, governors, nobles and leading officials. Leaderless, the lands of Tilea and her various fractious republics became torn with confusion and civil strife, making their petty kingdoms ripe for a slaughter.

    Beneath every sleeping city, beneath every town and mighty fortress, the Skaven hordes surged out of their tunnels in their tens of thousands and brought about a wave of sudden violence and destruction that eventually overwhelmed the rule of Mankind's kingdoms. Under-tunneled and overrun, every major city was now a blasted ruin over which a ragged clan banner openly flew. The Skaven lost a great many of their warriors, to such extent that none could ever count the ocean of half-eaten bodies that littered the filthy streets of each and every city, but such were their numbers and cruelty that none shed a single tear for their lost kin, for they have many more and the fruits of their victory have brought about a new cycle of violence that would threaten their race once more in open civil war.

    Soon the clans have lost their momentum, and began to fight amongst themselves for the bits of spoils that still remains unplundered. Spreading like wild-fire, all thoughts of surface invasion were lost amidst internal scheming and backstabbing. In desperation, the Council of Thirteen gathered quickly upon the Chamber of Thirteen within the capital city of Skavenblight , focusing all their efforts on diverting another horrific Skaven Civil War. But the flames of dissent have run deep within Skaven society, and like always, fingers were pointed upon each other rather then to stand together.

    The most accused scapegoat for this tragedy falls upon Lord Kritislik, believing that it was the Grey Seers who plotted these terrible misfortunes upon all the Clans. Indeed, many of these misfortunes were perpetrated by the Seerlord and his fellow Grey Seers of Clan Scruten , but as befit their nature, the Seerlord actively denies such claims, threatening the other Lords of Decay with divine intervention should they tackle this issue any further.

    It was then that there was silence from all the Lords, none dare spoke and some bared their throats in submission. In his arrogance and pride, Kritislik believed himself in control, never noticing the dark smoke rising from behind his back until it was far too late. Their vile god, the Horned Rat suddenly appeared upon the Council Chamber and all the Lords prostrated themselves in utter devotion and fear.

    It was then that the Horned Rat showed his disappointment to his bickering children, and to the greatest disappointment befell upon the Seerlord himself. Long has the Seerlord been given god-like gifts of power, wealth and age, but Kritislik was greedy beyond even Skaven ambition and has thus wasted his favours for far to long.

    To make an example to his other children, he grabbed the Seerlord by the tail and slowly stroked a claw-finger upon his horns, giving one last bit of sympathy for his most Exalted of Prophets before he was sent to utter oblivion. Screeching for mercy, the Seerlord was hopeless as the mouth of his god opened up and was thrown down an endless gaping maw of terrible possibilities that saw him destroyed utterly. With his demise, the Horned Rat gave out his last edict upon the Council, promising those that would fail shall suffer the same terrifying fate.

    With a crackle of green lightning and the tolling of deafening bells, the Horned Rat vanished, with the bones of Kritislik smoking upon the floor. Within fifteen skaven heart-beats, Lord Morskittar of Clan Skyre voted on removing Clan Scruten from their power, a decision that was accepted unanimously by the other Lords. Soon they left the Chamber quickly and went about preparing for the second-phase of their master plan. Within an alternate dimension, the Verminlords of the Shadow Council have seen this great event unfold and were awe-struck at what just happened right then.

    Shadow Lord Soothgnawer , Demi-god of Clan Scruten was dismayed by his god's disapproval of his own clan, as do several of the other Shadowlords. Shadow Lord Skreech Verminking , greatest of the Verminlords was the one who spoke out and told his brethren that it is time to intervene upon the affairs of mortals as shown by their own gods actions. Most weren't so keen on risking both their lives and status upon such venture, but two were still willing; Shadow Lord Soothgnawer of Clan Scruten and Shadowlord Vermalanx of Clan Pestilens. Before their departure however, Verminking told the Council that the Grey Seers hold the true key to victory, and upon the swirling pool within the middle of the Council table, he showed his champion; Grey Seer Thanquol.

    Outburst quickly fell upon Verminking's decision, and a veto was eventually issued. It never passed, as Verminking pointed out a third supporter amongst them, with the warpstone eyes of the Horned Rat's throne glowing ever so slightly at Verminking's statement. Vetoes were redistributed and the motion was passed by a narrow margin in favour of Verminking. With the decision made, the Shadow Lords of Decay all left the Chamber and went about their separate ways.

    As the Imperial year of IC comes to a close, the former province of Sylvania was ultimately contained from the threat of an Undead invasion thanks to the masterful genius of the Wall of Faith. Such things are, the Emperor's Council still considered Sylvania's independence as a precursor to a new campaign of terror against the Imperial rule. Thus, the Emperor felt that Sylvania had gone from an occasional dagger at the Empire's side, to an open threat that he no longer had the luxury of overlooking any longer. With the Wall of Faith containing the Undead from invading the Empire, Karl Franz took the time to order all military assets of the Empire into the Sylvanian Campaign , and plans to utterly cleanse the land from the taint of death once and for all.

    However, just as the Emperor was due to depart in two days for the Sylvanian Campaign, riders from Kislev urgently came to Altdorf and gave the Emperor dire news. The Kingdom of Kislev is in flames. The armies of the Dark Gods have gathered in their hundreds of thousands, with the northern lands of Kislev awashed in an orgy of blood and fire. Boyar Syrgei Tannarov of Chebokov, warned the Emperor that the lands of the northern and western Bolgasgrad has fallen and are awashed by a sea of barbarians. Given the severity of the news, Karl Franz had expected the Ice Queen to invoke the terms of his old alliance and call upon the Empire to march north to Kislev's salvation.

    The Boyar made no such demands, but told the Emperor that Kislev is lost, and that the Tzarina is holding the hordes off along the River Lynsk not out of hope for her people's salvation but so the Empire might have time to avoid such a similar fate. Gravely disturbed by the Boyar's statement, the Emperor quickly sent out hundreds of heralds towards the many armies of the Empire, and redirect them north to strengthen the northern defences. For the next few weeks, the entire military-might of the Empire has been redirected north in the tens of thousands, but as they force-marched their way through untamed wilderness, the armies were harried by a multitude of Beastmen tribes and Greenskin warbands springing out of the forest canopy.

    Even upon their arrival, the Imperial armies have been beset by a splinter force of Chaos armies heading south, with the armies of Ostermark and Talabecland barely holding them at bay. Only a series of brilliant harrying tactics masterminded by Elector Count Aldebrand Ludenhof saw the fortress preserved from imminent destruction. With the armies of Reikland arriving just in time, Count Ludenhof was reinforced with nearly half of the Emperors personal army, allowing Ludenhof the strength he needs to relive Castle von Rauken from it's siege and upon the Battle of Lubrecht , personally place his long-rifle bullet in the back of one of Vilitch's skulls, forcing him to retreat.

    Then, as the Twin-Tailed Comet reached its perigee, outriders from the front-line in the north have brought news that another grander horde of Chaos warriors from the Eastern Steppes are converging upon the Empire, a horde that far eclipsed those thus far encountered. Count Ludenhof's army, the largest Empire formation yet deployed in the north, barely outnumber even the smallest of the newcomer's forces. In Altdorf, Karl Franz redoubled his diplomatic efforts for aid against this new threat, but everywhere his messengers go, there are tales of battle and bloodshed, with the entire Old World beset by a host of dark forces both Old and New.

    Not even the stout Dwarves had the time and men to lend their aid towards the Empire, for they too have been beset by a nightmarish hordes from the tunnel depths. Soon, many began to despair, as nothing could stop the hordes from breaking through the northern defences. Salvation came once more by none other then Balthasar Gelt.

    After meeting with an unknown visitor, the Supreme Patriarch had been given forbidden knowledge that would halt the Chaos armies in their tracks. With the limitless magical possibilities now available to the Supreme Patriarch, Balthasar used an ancient magical scroll that summoned a massive barrier which burst through the lands of northern Kislev, erecting a massive wall of stone so high that no winged creature could ever hope bypass it. Thus was the creation of the Auric Bastion, the greatest magical wall ever created, and so long as the faith of the Empire's people believe it so, the Bastion shall endure forever.

    Mallobaude , bastard son of the King, has long been gathering his own army in hopes of overtaking Bretonnia and claim the throne for his own. That time finally came by the Twilight's Tide of IC, when he rode out with an army of disgraced knights. Then, as suddenly as they had appeared, the forest spirits left without a trace. The Battle was lost, and even worse, the Fey Enchantress was nowhere to be found. Though Mallobaude's armies were vast, King Louen had the blessings of the Lady at his side, and in due time the King had managed to subdue the treacherous dukes and bring their rebellious dukedoms back into the fold.

    A year into the campaign, King Louen felt confident that he could end this war very soon. However, by the time he met in bastard son at the Battle of Quenelles , on the Winter's Eve of IC, the King saw before him a massive horde of Undead warriors under the banner of Malloude and his new ally Arkhan the Black. Vastly outnumbered, the Bretonnian knights began to slowly lose ground until the sudden arrival of the Wood Elves of Athel Loren turned the tide of the battle. Though the battle had been won, at the final height of the fighting, the Bretonnian King, injured after a failed cavalry charge, fought his son in single combat and lost.

    With the fall of their king, the Bretonnian armies retrieve the body of their King and sounded the retreat, with the Wood Elves carrying their Queen to safety of Athel Loren. By the last years of the war in IC, with the majority of Bretonnia's military all but defeated, Malloude began to offer a challenge to any knight who would face him in single combat. At Gisoreux, Adelaix, Montfort and many more, he bested all who came against him, believing himself unbeatable by any mortal man, as promised by the dark whispers of Arkhan the Black.

    Within the city of Couronne, what remains of Bretonnia's armies stood united against him. Though he outnumbered them greatly, in his arrogance he sent one last challenge towards the remaining dukes. To his horror, the challenger that came to meet him was the immortal Green Knight. Realising his mistake, the bastard son tried to flee, but was killed when the Green Knight spurred forth and decapitated his head.

    With their master slain, the Undead forces quickly disintegrate and the remainder of his living armies were quickly overcome, with Arkhan nowhere to be seen. With Malloude's body burned to ash, the remaining Dukes began to squabble over the ascension of the throne. Civil war was imminent, but the sudden appearance of Bretonnia's first king Gilles le Breton , as the Green Knight suddenly stopped the internal conflict. Given new life by the Lady, King Gilles stood beside his people as the first signs of the impending apocalypse began. Days after Gilles' recoronation as Royarch, plague broke out in the southern dukedoms of Quenelles and Carcassone.

    Then came the Warpstone meteors, blazing across the night sky and landing in multiple locations across the realm. Within days, mutation began to run rife amongst the populace, and swollen by their numbers, Beastmen warherds by the hundreds began to ravage the lands without resistance. Shrines, villages and towns were quickly lost, including the Dukedom of Bordeleaux's capital city after it was sucked into a Warp rift.

    With a quarter of their population slain, another quarter left the kingdom and sought refuge within the Empire. Seeing the horrors that has begun to plague his homeland, King Gilles summoned his heralds and declared the last and most grandest Errantry War in their history. Within days, hundreds or thousands of Knights have flocked towards his banner, and began to mobilise to face the agents of Chaos in combat. When the Council of Thirteen ousted the Grey Seers from their ranks, Lord Morskittar of Clan Skryre wished to shed further shame upon the grey-furs by proposing to the Lords of Decays that he shall finish what the Grey Seers could not, vowing to ensure that the sky shall shatter from a hail of warpstone meteorite.

    As the launch for the main attack is scheduled to begin after three moon-cycles, there was left very little time to waste as the project for the Moonshatter rocket is due to launch. Meanwhile, the Grey Seers, once emissaries and self-proclaimed prophets of the Horned Rat were now pariahs in the eyes of their kin. Some of the weaker-willed Grey Seers have pledged themselves to the other Warlord clans, taking the position as advisers and strategists rather then supreme leaders.

    Most, however were far to proud to accept such a fate, and in desperation they met together in hopes of finding a solution. Outburst quickly fell upon poor Thanquol as the other Grey Seers blamed Thanquol for all the wrong-doings that has been done upon them, as something always seems to have gone wrong when Thanquol is around to see it.

    Stripping him of his status as a Grey Seer, Thanquol was mercilessly thrown into the streets whilst his brethren stole his idea for their own benefits, leaving Thanquol to rot. Their judgement clouded by misfortunes, the desperate Grey Seers have gathered in their summoning chamber with nearly fifty-strong of their members present. Fueled by the raging Winds of Magic, the Verminlords slowly stepped from the tear between worlds and present the Grey Seers the advice they so desperately needed. With their questions answered, the Verminlords dissipated in a cloud of smoke and was lost from sight.

    Focused on their immediate situation, the Grey Seers began to follow through with the Verminlords advice and try to usurp the power of the Slanns and continue the ritual to bring the Chaos Moon ever closer to this world. Suffering from disaster after disaster, the Warlock-Engineers of Clan Skyre have felt such devastation from their costly project that no other race could have sustained the level of destruction and cost brought about by these crazed scientist.

    But as the Chaos Moon grew larger in the sky, Skaven from everywhere in the world could easily feel the great powers that are being bestowed to those of Chaotic origins. Realizing that the Grey Seers had once again bested him with their mighty spells, Lord Morskittar was furious to the point of insanity. Enraged by the failings of the leader of the project, Chief Warlock Ikit Claw was sentenced to the front lines in the upcoming battles against the Dwarf as a death sentenced.

    With their rivals defeated as promised, the Grey Seers continued their arcane struggle against the Mage-Priest of the Lizardmen Empire in a battle of both will, mind and soul. But dragging an entire moon towards the world was a monumental task that not even the greatest of wizards could so easily accomplish, and thus some of their own have dropped dead by the rupturing of their own brains, whilst the moon continues to grow either by inches or miles every day.

    The vast moon soon pulsated with an eerie green glow and as night fell, the entire jungle continent of Lustria was lit by its presence, and to those that look skyward, they marked the moon growing the largest it has ever been in the history of the entire World. Alarmed, the Slann Mage-Priest stretched out all of their prodigious mental powers in an attempt to halt the moon's approach. Minds that could move mountains strove to push back the looming disaster, as the very stars fade from the night sky. The Geometric Grid was emptied of power, and as the pressure of this magical duel took place, piece of the chaos moon have broken off and later rained down onto the world, whilst waves of chaotic energies washed itself over Lustria, where the Mage-Priest of all the Temple-Cities tries to hardest to advert the apocalypse that is sure to happen.

    After much preparation and the continued approach of the Chaos Moon, the armies of Clan Pestilens and a multitude of other Warlord Clans were at last ready to reignite their war upon the distant jungle-realm of Lustria. Prior to the magical duel that has unfolded between the Slann-Priest and the Grey Seers, the trans-continental undertunnels has been reopened, each route widened to accommodate the great hordes of warriors, warbeast, and war equipment that have passed through it daily. For nearly a year, a steady river of supplies and infantry blocks have marched non-stop through the one-thousand mile journey to join the masses already gathered in key points throughout the surface of the jungle continent, whilst the Grey Seers still fought against the Mage-Priest for supremacy over the moon.

    The Lustria assault was part of the overarching campaign planned by the Council of Thirteen to eliminate the Slann-Priest currently holding off the Chaos Moon's approach, and as such, it had the full backing of their considerable power. All the Skaven clans have lent away a considerable force in this enormous campaign, with the armies of Clan Pestilens bolstered by warbeast from Clan Moulder, siege-engines and Warlock Engineers of Clan Skyre, stealthy and deadly assassins of Clan Eshin, as well as legions upon legions of elite Stormvermin and Clanrat infantry blocks from all the remaining Warlord Clans.

    Under the leadership of Plaguelord Skrolk , the first stage of their attack plan was to gather in secret beneath the key locations presented by the Council, such as the Temple-Cities of Itza , Tlaxtlan , and Xlanhuapec. Concealed by dire enchantments, the Plague priest of Clan Pestilens concocted a wide array of deadly diseases from the Cauldron of a Thousand Poxes to be used against the Lizardmen cohorts stationed above.

    The fumes became so deadly that the battle-hardened warriors of Clan Spittl and the entire Skrittlepeak Skaven Clans have died agonizing deaths. Those that remained immune to the fumes slowly became bloodthirsty for violence, and as the dark moon shone larger then it has ever been in the night sky, the climax of the magical duel was nearly its end and the awaited signal to strike the Temple-Cities would soon begin.

    Unable to break the siege, the Dwarfs were slowly isolated and unable to aid one another, a situation that the Lords of Decay have long anticipated. Tempted to finish off Skarsnik once and for all, the Warlord slowly resigned himself and followed the orders his Lord has presented to him. Infuriated with these setbacks, Queek gathered his Warlords and ordered them to send in the clanrats and stormvermin batallions to the front. It was only after he sent off his officers that Queek got an unexpected visit by one of the manipulators of this conflict.

    It was there that Queek found out about Thraxx Redclaw's treachery, and after disemboweling his former second-in-command, Queek ordered the attack upon the Halls of Clan Skalfdon. After some time passed, the Dwarfs unleashed their hidden weaponry, and a horn signaled the opening of a massive gate that unleashed a whole company of Ogre Mercenaries and Mournfang cavalry upon the terrified Skaven. With his army demoralised, Queek retreated with his scattered forces back in into the entrance only to stop when Queek believed the third clawpack reinforcements were coming.

    Just then, the ground burst open by Skaven drilling machines, but out from the hole came not the third clawpack but a horde of ravenous Squigs. Then out came whole tribes of Greenskins, with Skarsnik crawling out from one of the hole. With this signal, the Ogres betrayed the Dwarves and soon the three armies began to clash long and hard against one another. Salvation for the Skaven came when Kranskritt and the fifth clawpack emerged from a tunnel in the centre of the cavern, with a Verminlord in the fore.

    Using his magic, Kranskritt closed up all the Goblin tunnels, trapping the Greenskins inside whilst the Dwarves and Ogres retreated. With this, Queek and his remaining clanrats began the butchery of the Greenskins, with the upper levels soon falling into the hands of Clan Mors. In time, the Skaven hordes begin to slowly take level by level from the Dwarf and Greenskins alike. None could hope to stop them.


    • Account Options.
    • Only 57 percent of Americans read a book in 2002.
    • The Muftis Islamic Jew-Hatred;
    • Thomas Wolfe.
    • LIncompréhensible. : Littérature, réel, visuel (Champs visuels) (French Edition).
    • You Can't Go Home Again.

    By the year of IC, around the time after the end of the horrific victory at the Battle of Quenelles, the remaining Wood Elven combatants that have aided the Bretonnians in that battle began a quick retreat towards the safety of their forest. Just as Queen Ariel reached the bounds of her kingdom however, a strange sickness suddenly struck her and in desperation the Eternal Guard quickly brought her to the Oak of Ages in hopes of healing herself like many times before. But after a week, the Oak of Ages slowly began to rot as a strange decay began to grow amongst it's roots.

    Unable to cure her beloved, King Orion grew into a rage and found only comfort in battle, depriving the Wood Elf Council from the guidance and wisdom of both their King and Queen. Mere months following Ariels sickness, a lone stranger came through the Worldroots and showed herself upon the King's Glade.

    Alarielle, Everqueen of Ulthuan presented herself upon the Council and pleaded for their aid to rescue her daughter, as she feared her child's fate was part of larger calamity that would upset the natural balance between life and death, a battle that the High Elves could not win alone. So saying, the proud Everqueen abased herself towards the Council and begged for their aid, an act that shocked the Council.

    Though the Council was divided about this, Durthu Eldest of Ancient knew about this coming calamity and with his advice the Council lend their aid towards their High Elven cousins, renewing their once ancient ties. Following the Elven Expeditions departure from Athel Loren, to the East Arkhan the Black and what's left of his undead forces have reached the desolate borders of Sylvania, raising the Wall of Faith and continuing his march to confront Count Mannfred. A day later, the two adversaries met alone at Valsborg Bridge, with Arkhan demanding the recovery of a crown, a severed hand, and seven unholy books written in blood.

    Mannfred knew the intentions of such artifacts and immediately fought Arkhan in a magical duel. During the battle, a shaft of light burst through the clouds as the darkness that enshrouded Sylvania began to dissipate. Knowing that victory today would mean imminent destruction tomorrow, the Vampire struck an uneasy truce with the Lich.

    In exchange for Mannfred's assistance, the Lich promised the Vampire that he would be given power unimaginable if he served the Lord of the Dead loyally. With this accursed alliance, the Vampire and Lich returns to Castle Steinste and discuss plans to lift the Wall of Faith and march out to recover the remaining artifacts of Nagash.

    Just as war begins to spread like wild-fire all over the known world, back upon the still silent lands of Sylvania, the first step upon a long and bloody road was soon in the making as the two reluctant Undead Lord returned to Castle Sternieste, where Mannfred led the Lich to the relics he long sought after.

    From the depths of the Castle, Mannfred presented to the Lich the remaining books of Nagash, the Crown of Sorcery, and nine captives all bearing holy blood. Arkhan placed his own two books upon the rest, and judging by the amount that is present, he is confident that he could recover the last three Artifacts with ease. By the time Arkhans preparations were complete, Mannfred gathered an Undead army on the western borders of Sylvania. With his holy blood, Arkhan carved a path through the Wall of Faith that surrounds Sylvania, allowing the Undead to pass through without harm.

    With the way open, the Hunt begins.