Warhammer Story Snippet: War Correspondence

Gaming/Fiction Geektude Alert: The following is a bit for the longstanding and very strange Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay campaign The Legacy of the Gods. I’ve posted a number of other things from this campaign to this blog, and here’s another. It’s not especially polished, but such it is.

It’s a letter written by herr Uhlrik Gunderit der Größerdrache to Finubar, the 11th (and current) Phoenix King of Ulthuan, regarding certain aspects of the war that they are engaged in. This letter was written during the passage back towards Naggaroth from Marienburg and given to Ludwig before Uhlrik departed on his possibly suicidal quest into the wastes, for eventual delivery to Finubar or his representative. It also helps highlight an important shift in relationships between the Phoenix Throne and the Dragon Brethren.

Anyhow, let the geektude commence…

To His Majesty Finubar I, also called The Seafarer, Phoenix King of all Ulthuan, Prince of Eataine, Lord of Lothern & cet. I extend greetings and the spirit of friendship.

It has indeed been too long a time since last I saw your face. I do hope to have the privilege soon, though I regretfully have every reason to expect that our acquaintance shall not be renewed in person for some considerable time. My men and yours have braved many hazards together, and shall yet brave many more.

It is the manner of the conduct of the war that we have jointly waged against the Druchii of Naggaroth that has prompted me to write unto you this missive. I am aware that, while my own forces have warred against them for scant three years, your own great empire has fought them for over five thousands of years.

Though a latecomer to this conflict, I have taken considerable pains to examine and comprehend its history and trends using every reference available from the White Tower of Hoeth and elsewhere. The duration of this conflict has been so long and so bitter that neither side offers quarter, mercy or terms and settles for nothing short of destruction or withdrawal of the adversary. Neither has long been able to maintain advantage, and so the war has waxed and waned more or less in equilibrium since time nearly immemorial. As I have heard from the mouths of your own lords and generals during my last foray, the prevailing belief is that nothing short of the extinction of one side or the other (or the enslavement of the Asur to the Druchii, if Malekith has his way) shall ever bring this eternal war to a conclusion, yet there is a dread that doing so would leave the victor vulnerable to Chaos and the encroachments of Men. So the butchery marches on down the millennia with no hope of resolution since neither empire is strong enough to long survive the sacrifices that a decisive and final victory would require. You yourself know that, though still mighty and indeed the greatest power upon the waves of the seas, the Elves are a race in decline and cannot afford unnecessary acceleration in that decline.

This ancient war that the Asur have fought against Druchii appears to, on its simplest level, be defensive in nature: The Druchii seek to subjugate or exterminate the Asur, and the Asur hope to maintain their lives and liberty. Fundamentally, your objective is most reasonably to render your adversaries either unable or unwilling to take that sacred liberty and life. In order to do this, the priorities with regards to enemy forces are, from greatest to least, conversion, neutralization and attrition. Tethlis the Slayer lost track of this in his hate and focused instead on pure extermination, which led to incidents such as the Siege of Tor Lehan where both sides of the conflict were utterly annihilated. In the taking of Tor Anlec, Tethlis ordered that all Naggarothi prisoners should be slain regardless of age, gender or any other factor. The resulting slaughter matched anything that the Druchii have visited upon your people though the Asur have long claimed the moral high ground, and this action has fed centuries of increased hate. More shall be said of this later.

Ever since the followers of Malekith founded Naggaroth, the pattern of the war has been as follows: Naggarothi forces descend upon Ulthuan or its extended holdings in either simple slaving raids or brutal invasion and perhaps gain ground, sometimes even managing to rebuild the oft-razed Anlec in the ruins of their former homeland and eventually are beaten back at great cost. Until this past year, the only Asur offensives against Naggaroth itself have been either limited raids aimed at a specific objective or punitive expeditions. Most of both have ended badly, such as the infamous slaughter at Har Ganeth.

It is fortunate for us, perhaps, that ancient Malekith appears to be caught in a mental maze that prevents him from rethinking or substantially changing the war that he has unsuccessfully waged for five millennia. Perhaps it is a sort of senility that has come about as a consequence of the unnatural extension of his life that has done this, but this excuse is not available to your own generals. I believe that a surfeit of pride on both sides is a more likely culprit, blinding all to alternate solutions. In any case, both he and the Asur have been continually guilty of doomed half-measures punctuated with occasional and disastrous overextension.

A few years since, you made a very significant choice in bringing human forces to bear in support of your empire – namely my own men the Black Dragons. We have continually recruited new troops from the teeming masses of the Old World whenever possible, though apart from that they remain a fraction of the numbers available to either Naggaroth or Ulthuan. This recruitment and redeployment has been greatly facilitated by our taking of the vast floating Druchii fortress once known as Athgorond and now renamed Schloß Drache. We have brought arms and tactics that the Druchii are simply not accustomed to fighting and their millennia of traditions cannot have properly prepared them for: cannon, pike and shot. This has made it possible to do what has never been done before: taking a city in Naggaroth, Clar Karond itself. The elegant and cruel towers and tall thin walls of their fortifications are designed to deflect arrow and ballista as preferred by their Asur foes and to halt the unorganized mass charges favored by the hosts of Chaos but are extremely vulnerable to the force of cannon and the aerial bombardment of our flying castle, as demonstrated by the speed with which we reduced their ancient city to smoldering ruins. However, after much deliberation and analysis over the last three years we came to realize that there is a greater opportunity still that will do more to end this conflict much more readily than merely bringing Men and cannon from the Old World to fight (though that must remain an important part of our strategy).

That opportunity is a change in priorities with regards to interaction with enemy forces: rather than simply slaying or driving them off, we must seek a new relationship with them even as we fight them. My own forces have already begun to make this change, and I believe that it will bear fruit, as well as reducing the ferocity of the fighting itself and the loss of life in the aftermath of actual battles, yet increasing the decisiveness of those same battles. That change comes about from changing our priorities from extermination to conversion and neutralization. I have concluded that we must conquer Naggaroth’s territory and recruit her own forces and population against their oppressive masters, converting them from enemies to friends. The most numerous source of strength in this endeavor is the vast slave workforce that the Dark Elves torment and expend so callously. The Asur have heretofore sought to rescue their own subjects that have been enslaved, but paid secondary attention at best to the fates and welfare of human captives, even though those same slaves appear to outnumber actual Druchii in their own domains.

Last year when your general Teleus and I razed Clar Karond, my forces were able to liberate many thousands of slaves of many races and kindreds, and they are even now rebuilding the ruin of that city for inhabitation and fortification by our forces. I intend to liberate every slave held by the Druchii wherever my forces pass and give them the opportunity to take up arms or otherwise support our war effort as free men. In these efforts, I believe that the numbers of men at my disposal will increase rapidly, also greatly undermining the economy and capacity of the enemy to make war since their entire society exists supported on the backs of groaning slaves. We are grateful that you have determined that my men shall be extended rights to the territories around that city, and we shall use that land as a staging area for our conquest henceforth.

However, in the taking of Clar Karond a great evil was committed that shall ever haunt me: with your approval*, Teleus issued very nearly the same order that Tethlis and Alith Anar gave at Anlec, sparing only those Dark Elf children young enough that they could not yet speak. I am grateful that I was able to prevail upon him to extend even that much mercy and place the infants with new mothers, and I pray that the orphans of Clar Karond will grow to be wiser and more noble than their parents were. I do not know whether I can ever forgive myself for my part in that butchery.

This cruel slaughter must not be repeated, and we must henceforth extend a hand of mercy towards those that we defeat, and we must be willing to parlay and offer terms for the enemy to surrender wherever feasible, and in so doing to keep our word and honor whatever terms we have agreed to with absolute fidelity. If we can repent of our past misdeeds and demonstrate that we are willing to deal in good faith, I believe that many of the Druchii will be willing to consider siding with us against their current master in preference to fighting to the death on his behalf. While they revere Malekith, they also live in terror and loathing of him.

It is true that the Druchii are widely known as a treacherous people. Yes, it would be foolish to take alliance with any of them without constant vigilance against betrayal or deception, and we must be sure to respond swiftly and severely to any breach of faith on their part towards us. However, to say that none of the Druchii can ever be redeemed from Malekith’s service is, in my opinion, the worst of narrow-minded hypocrisy from a people that claim to revere a phoenix god of rebirth and renewal. I once attempted to comfort myself with the lie that the slain among their children were already too tainted to be anything but mirrors of their parents, but then I look upon my own face in reflection and know the truth. If you can accept alliance with a being like myself, then you can accept allegiance from the cousins of your own people. If you are not willing so to do, I can assure you that I shall take them under my own wing. I have already had great success in doing so with a Naggarothi woman named Kreeshana Jewelhand that is now an officer among my forces and has served with courage and distinction against her own people on numerous occasions already.

Do with my council what you will, but I pray that you will hearken to my words and find this epistle to be of worth. May your people not only endure but also prosper for ages yet to come, and do so in increased harmony with one another and with all that are willing to extend the hand of friendship.

Signed and sealed by mine own hand,

Uhlrik Gunderit, Größerdrache of the Drachenbrüder, Lord of Athgorond and Clar Karond & cet.

Scribed in the Reikspiel by the hand of Kaspar Kahl, aide to der Größerdrache.

Scribed in the Tar-Elthàrin by the hand of Astarielle Glitterblade Gunderit, formerly of the Sword Masters of Hoeth

* Uhlrik is not aware, at the time of this writing, that Finubar did not issue this order. It originated with Teleus himself.


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