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Topic of the Week - What if Morathi simply vanished? 
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Malekith's Best Friend
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Greetings Tyrants!

Before the Old World gets eaten by fading memories, as AoS continues on the new world and 9th Age begins to build its own world... I hoped for one more old world fluff discussion. Now that we have seen the whole story, so to speak, perhaps it's a good time to talk "what if"?

And the biggest "What if?" I could come up with is this. What if Morathi wasn't there? What would the Old World be without this one character?

Since this is all hypothetically, let's set a few rules. You are free to choose at which point in time Morathi simply vanished from the story, either because she died or simply because she no longer mattered. Perhaps she vanished before Tyrion found her, or after Naggaroth was founded. Perhaps she never existed.
How would this impact the old world? And would it change the End Times? (though feel free to skip that question ;))

It's all theory, but it could be fun to think about it. I have my views on it ready, but I'll post them later this week :)

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Mon Nov 02, 2015 3:28 pm
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No Morathi = No Malekith = No Dark Elves

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Mon Nov 02, 2015 3:44 pm
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Morathi was merely a vessel through which certain cosmic balances and imbalances worked. The tragedy of the elves, begun when Aenarion drew forth the Sword of Khaine, would have manifested itself somehow regardless of whether Morathi existed or not. Perhaps the exact shape and form of the story would have been altered somewhat, but the substance would have been the same. The story of the Druchii is not the story of Morathi or Malekith, it is the end to the saga of Aenarion, and the legacy of his colossal presence is really what defines it.

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Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:13 pm
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I tend to agree with Red....
Elves are super-humanoids gifted with excessive qualities. The dark side as well. Sooner or later, these qualities would have to break out.
Had it not been for Mally/Morathi, someone else would have taken a similar path, with similar results:
- The Sundering, eternal civil war between those Elves harnessing half of their instincts and those having discarded morality as a guide to select among those instincts
- exploration of Dark Arts and creation of the Dark Lore.

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Mon Nov 02, 2015 11:53 pm
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As a starting point, I'll assume that Morathi died shortly after Aenarion's final battle or during Malekith's long absence from Ulthuan, when she was unmasked as the leader of the Cult of Pleasure by a slightly-more-competent agent of the Phoenix King.

:burns: WARNING: THIS POST IS VERY LONG AND CONTAINS OFF-THE-CUFF SPECULATION. :burns:

Malekith is recalled to Ulthuan following his long sojourn in the Old World (either when the Cults of Pleasure grow too difficult to control, or shortly after Morathi's death). Allisara still leaves him, but without the goadings of Morathi, Malekith does not descend fully into obsession with the knowledge granted by the Circlet of Iron. Malekith helps to scour Ulthuan of the cults. Bel-Shanaar is poisoned by one of his own advisors, who is a member of one of the cults. Malekith takes command of the Phoenix King's armies, while Caledor is appointed as the new Phoenix King. The Elven civil war rages hot and cold for decades, with the cults forced to fight in guerilla fashion except where they are able to muster sufficient forces to mount a proper campaign. Malekith is praised for his effectiveness even as others whisper about his interest in forbidden sorceries and the brutal methods he employs to put down the cultists.

The Sundering does not occur. Despite the devastation caused by the Cults of Pleasure during the civil war, destruction on this scale does not take place. The Elves remain a functionally united race, although some renegades leave Ulthuan to establish their own fiefdoms and others remain to work Slaanesh's corruptions from within Elven society. Caledor rules effectively, and appoints Malekith as his representative in the Old World. Malekith has become so steeped in sorcery that his ageing has been greatly reduced. He increasingly sees himself as the guardian of the Elven peoples, although he is variously considered a defender of the realm and a vicious butcher whose methods are too extreme. He believes that his people are growing soft and that his actions have alienated him from them. He leaves Ulthuan again, intent on mastering his growing knowledge of the arcane and on protecting his people from their own follies.

The War of the Beard does not occur. Malekith's friendship with the Dwarfs, and his ruthless prosecution of agents provocateurs from the pleasure cults, limits the conflicts between these races to relatively minor skirmishes. When the Time of Woes begins for the Dwarfs, they are able to call upon assistance from Malekith's forces in the Old World. Unfortunately, Caledor dies shortly after the Time of Woes begins, and his successor, Caledor II, is a lesser statesman by far. Malekith's forces become depleted and are not reinforced, as Ulthuan's treasuries are spent on increasingly lavish programs to benefit Caledor II's favourites. Some Elves, worried about the decadence of Caledor II's reign and fearing the increasing insularity of the Phoenix Court, leave Ulthuan to travel to the Old World. Many join forces with Malekith's troops. Large tracts of what would have become the province of Wissenland and the Border Princes are inhabited by these Elves, who maintain strong ties with the nearby fortresses of Barak Varr and Karak Hirn. These Elves become far less refined than their Ulthuani cousins, largely by necessity. Their culture increasingly focuses on martial strength and self-sufficiency, given increased Skaven and Greenskin attacks and occasional clashes with the human tribes in the area. Distant from Ulthuan, they become less inclined to follow the Phoenix King's laws and edicts, leading to distrust and tension. Malekith is nominally the leader of these Elves, but he still acknowledges the rule of the Phoenix Court (at least in public).

The final straw comes when a number of Dwarf caravans and traders are attacked by the raider descendants of the Elves who had been part of the pleasure cults. Malekith attempts to broker a peace with the Dwarfs. His efforts are in vain, as Caledor II refuses to deal with the Dwarfs and demands that Malekith prove his loyalty by shaving the heads and beards of the Dwarfs with whom he is negotiating. Realising that this will mean war, Malekith publicly refuses to do so and announces that the Elves of the Old World will not bow to the whims of a foreign tyrant. Caledor II's armies attack the Dwarfs and the renegade Elves under Malekith, but are undone by the combined strength of their foes and a revolt by the peoples of Avelorn, Nagarythe, Chrace and Ellyrion. Even the land of Caledor turns against the Phoenix Throne. Caledor II descends into madness, ordering the sack of Avelorn as his armies march from Cothique. The Everqueen escapes to Athel Loren, along with many of her followers. Caledor II is eventually killed by his daughter, who has seen her father's insanity for what it is and has secretly brokered an accord with the leaders of the uprisings on Ulthuan.

Ulthuan continues much as it ever did, with good kings and bad. The line of the Everqueen is broken in Ulthuan, and those Elves who escaped to Athel Loren from Avelorn become similar to the Asrai. There is some tension between these Elves and those under Malekith's rule, but Allisara's unexpected return and her re-marriage to Malekith helps to smooth over these problems. Occasional skirmishes taken place between the Old World Elves and the High Elves of Ulthuan. The Dwarf realm is stronger than it would have been if the War of the Beard had taken place, and although much has been lost, the forces of Order are better-placed to resist the encroaching darkness. This becomes even more apparent as the nascent race of Men rises to prominence. Although Malekith does not trust them, having seen how readily they could be corrupted to the worship of Chaos, he is eventually persuaded by the Dwarf Kings of Karak Hirn and Barak Varr to lend his aid to the fledgling Empire. Border clashes occasionally occur with the state of Averland, but these are minor skirmishes.

The Elves of the Old World become a separate nation, culturally distinct from the inhabitants of Ulthuan. They are still few in number and surrounded by hostile forces, but can rely on the Dwarfs, the Empire, and occasionally on stranger allies. Through all of this, Malekith tirelessly protects "his" people, even as Allisara passes from old age and the task of ruling the Old World Elves falls increasingly on other leaders. There is a degree of rapprochement between the Old World Elves and Ulthuan, but relations remain cool. Neither side is willing to admit fault or to accept that the other may have been justified. Outright bloodshed is kept to a minimum. When the Great War Against Chaos begins, Malekith leads a force of Elves against the armies of Asavar Kul near Praag. They are defeated and Malekith is badly injured. Refusing to succumb to his wounds, Malekith orders the retreat. The Elves are ultimately saved by the arrival of the Dwarfs. The High King orders the forging of a suit of runic armour for Malekith, who delves into terrible sorceries to enable him to recover from his injuries. Malekith and his forces march in time to assail the rearguard forces of Kul's hordes as they march to their final confrontation with Magnus the Pious's army. After the Great War, Malekith becomes more withdrawn, a grim figure of retribution for those who would threaten the Elves of the Old World.

In the End Times, the daemons return to Ulthuan in force. Teclis schemes to re-unify the Elven peoples, while Tyrion is set on the path towards becoming the Avatar of Khaine when he fails to rescue the Phoenix King's daughter from Mannfred von Carstein. Malekith returns to Ulthuan alongside the Elves of the Old World and of Athel Loren, and his intercession enables Prince Imrik of Caledor to ascend to the Phoenix Throne following the death of Phoenix King Finubar. To bind the disparate Elven peoples together, Malekith helps to arrange Imrik's marriage to the last of the line of Everqueens, preserved by the Elves of Athel Loren. Tyrion draws the Widowmaker and begins a campaign of slaughter. Desperate for a way to stop the rampaging Dragon of Cothique, Malekith enters the flames of Asuryan in a repeat of his father's actions. He is reborn in the flames as the true protector of the Elves. Tyrion, Avatar of Khaine is brought to battle in Saphery with far less loss of life than would have otherwise occurred during the final civil war of the Elves. After Tyrion's defeat and death at the hands of Malekith, Orion and Imrik, Teclis unbinds the Great Vortex and bestows the powers of Ulgu and Aqshy on Malekith and Imrik, respectively. Despite Teclis's efforts, the winds of Azyr, Chamon and Ghur escape to empower Karl Franz, Thorgrim Grudgebearer and Orion, respectively.* Imrik becomes a blazing beacon of hope for the Elves, a reminder of the ideals the Elves strive for even as the End Times deepen. Malekith remains a dark protector of Elvenkind, an uncompromising figure committed entirely to saving his people. Teclis binds the wind of Hysh into his staff, but cannot resurrect his brother, and so finds a different hero to become the Incarnate of Light.**

Whether all of this would change the results of the End Times is a matter of speculation which I leave up to the reader.

-----

* = Thanks to the efforts of the Great Green Proffit Wurrzag, Grimgor Ironhide becomes the Avatar of Gork, while Skarsnik becomes the Avatar of Mork. Skarsnik is able to see the bigger picture as the End Times begin, and is so brutally cunning that he is able manipulate the cunningly brutal Ironhide into marching for "da biggest scrap in history" at Middenheim.

** = I would have had Duke Jerrod of Bretonnia become the Incarnate of Light. This is partly because I feel sorry for the guy, and partly because Bretonnia got really shafted in the End Times. Seriously, they were the whipping boys for just about everyone, from Arkhan and Mannfred to Be'lakor and Archaon. For that matter, what happened to Gilles le Breton, anyway? He came back to do... what, exactly?

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Tue Nov 03, 2015 11:43 am
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Great post Haagrum. Some nice speculation and linking of existing story lines in there.

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Tue Nov 03, 2015 11:59 am
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Amboadine wrote:
Great post Haagrum. Some nice speculation and linking of existing story lines in there.

Thanks, Amboadine.

Sadly, I think I may have killed the thread...

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Fri Nov 06, 2015 2:05 am
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Not at all. I think it was a terrific read :)
I'll add my thoughts later today, I hope.

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Fri Nov 06, 2015 9:13 am
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I'm sorry for not replying sooner.
I think the replies were very interesting. I think Calisson and Red make a fair point that the split of the Elven races isn't just about Morathi and Malekith, but the classic fight of good and evil within.

However, I do think that these characters are responsible for the shape of this fight. By picking up the Widowmaker, Aenarion curses his people. However, it was by Morathi's and Malekith's hand that this evolved to a civil war that lead to the Sundering. I muse on the idea that, without Morathi there wouldn't be a Malekith and that the province of Naggarythe would have fallen to nobles like the Anar family. While these may still have lead to strife, I do not think they have or had the audacity to stand up to the other provinces and claim Kingship.
Furthermore Alith Anar wouldn't be bathed in mary-sue relics to become the Shadow King. He would have died after a long life, and there would be much rejoicement.

As a result I think the corruption created by Aenarion's hand would have remained "inside" the High Elven culture. And this is not so strange compared to the High Elf culture as it was in WFB.
As the novels of Tyrion and Teclis explained, the corruption among the descendants of Aenarion is monitored and checked. It is not something considered to exist only within the Dark Elves, but something the High Elves learned to live with.

But we would get a very different timeline. For one, without the immediate support of Malekith to unify and lead the armies of Naggaryth, there would have been an impasse that could have lead to minor internal conflicts before the island knew peace. Remember that Morathi helped this internal peace, by guiding the internal conflicts of Elves to covert cults who cooperate in the open. Without her play, I reckon that the peace wouldn't have come without the occasional struggle.

Without the unified forces of Naggarythe, there wouldn't have been an exploration of the Old World until many centuries later. Without the generalship of one so great as Malekith, I reckon that the old World would not have known such a blossoming era. Without the lavish wealth and a more wary internal peace, I believe the Elves would have remained more secluded, sterner and stronger.

And from that point on, I think the changes in the timeline would cause an avalanche.
- Dwarfs and Elves would encounter one another eventually, but it wouldn't take much imagination to see it could have been an uneasy alliance from the get-go.
- I still think Dwarfs and Elves would be distrusting of one another, but there wouldn't be a War of the Beard.
- The old World would know relative safety, being dominated by a more powerful Dwarf presence, a less splintered Elven force and the rising strength of the Humans.

Then it gets funnier.
Settra the imperishable would perish. Without Morathi, Malekith and Dark Elves, the dark magic would not as cultivated during Settra's lifetime. There would not be a Dark Elf Sorceress, lost in Settra's Kingdom. And she couldn't have divulged the secrets of the Dark Arts to Settra's Hierophants.
Without necromancy, there would be no Nagash.
And so there wouldn't be an undead army of such magnitude. No Tomb Kings. No Vampire Counts.

The Lizardmen wouldn't be encountered unless sporadically by High Elves that wandered too far.

Since there is no Naggaroth to maintain, there wouldn't be a slave route from Brettonia to Naggaroth. Brettonia, without the misguided faith of the Lady of the Lake, would eventually rise above its barbaric nature and know an era of peace and civilisation. Or they would be conquered by the North. As often is the case in history ;)

So when the End Times would come, I think we would have seen a stronger alliance of Humans, Elves and Dwarfs.
I'm not sure it would be enough to turn the End Times around. After all, they wouldn't have Nagash to help them out.
But then there also wouldn't be a Manfred.

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Mon Nov 16, 2015 2:26 pm
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Quote:
As a result I think the corruption created by Aenarion's hand would have remained "inside" the High Elven culture.
If this had happened, might we not have seen a race to apocalyptic destruction via Slannesh, in the same vein as the fall of the Eldar in 40k?

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Mon Nov 16, 2015 5:05 pm
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