Archaon

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Archaon, The Everchosen
Archaon on Dorghar

Archaon, Lord of the End Times is the Everchosen of Chaos, the supreme champion of the four Chaos Gods.

History

The man who would one day be known as Archaon was born in a small village called Hargendorf, on the coast of Nordland, the result of his mother being raped by a Chaos Marauder during one of the many Norse raids of the Empire's northern settlements.[1a] Born in 2391 IC, the baby was the death of his mother, Viktoria, and her husband, Roald, could not bear the sight of him.[1b] The midwife who attended the birth reluctantly took the child on the road with her, eventually leaving him on the steps of a Church of Sigmar, before abandoning him. The child was nearly savaged by wolves, before the local priest, Hieronymous Dagobert, appeared and drove them off.[1c]

Dagobert raised the child, whom he named Diederick and who grew tall and strong.[1d] When he was old enough, he became a squire to Sieur Kastner, a Templar of Sigmar (albeit a fat, intemperate, drunken and womanizing one).[1e] Kastner died ignominiously in 2406, after falling into a pit trap in the Drakwald and being eaten by Night Goblins, who also killed Diederick's fellow squire, Nils. Diederick himself survived by the skin of his teeth, and retrieved Kastner's sword, Terminus, and his warhorse, Oberon. With no place to go, Diederick decided to use an idea suggested by Nils just before he died: Kastner's long-suffering wife was a generous (and spiteful) woman, who used her husband's considerable wealth to encourage the ambitions of his many bastard children, who were likewise encouraged to take their father's last name.[1f] Diederick presented himself at Kastner's ancestral home as one of these children, and was eventually christened Diederick Kastner, a Templar of the Knightly Order of the Twin-Tailed Orb.[1g]

It was in 2420, after several years of knightly deeds in Sigmar's service, that Diederick was started down the road to damnation. In Hochland, Diederick rescued a young novice nun, Giselle, from a band of Beastmen. In combat with the monsters' champion, Diederick clashed Terminus against the other's weapon, breaking off a shard of warpstone that flew into his faceplate and pierced his eye. After killing the last of the Beastmen, Diederick collapsed and was brought back to Dagobert's church, insensible with pain and fever.

Giselle had been tasked by her abbess to flee the destruction of the convent with dangerous tomes of Chaos knowledge that had been kept in the convent's vault. These included the Liber Celestia, a series of prophecies by the Tilean heretic Necrodomo the Insane. Reading some of these prophecies, Dagobert was disturbed to realize that some had already come true, and even more disturbed that Diederick seemed to be the prophesied Everchosen of Chaos. Diederick overheard this, and in spite of his injuries, insisted on accompanying Dagobert and Giselle on their mission to deliver the forbidden books to the Grand Theogonist at Altdorf.

According to the Daemon Prince Be'lakor, Diederick's fate was guided by the powers of Chaos since before his birth. Be'lakor sought to create a perfect champion to bring about the next age of Chaos, one whose body Be'lakor would itself assume when the time was right[1h]. Be'lakor claims to have "interceded" on the child's behalf several times, without which he never would have been born or else died several times over:

  • His mother's husband, Roald, arrived home in time to prevent his wife's rape by the Norse raider[1i];
  • His mother, Viktoria, aborted her unwanted child and cast it to the waves[1a];
  • Diederick caught a fever and died under Father Dagobert's care[1d];
  • Diederick was kicked in the head while tending Oberon in Sieur Kastner's service and died soon thereafter[1e];
  • Diederick died when a priestess of Shallya tried, unsuccessfully, to extract the warpstone sliver from his head;
  • After learning that he was the prophesied Everchosen, Diederick hanged himself rather than become so;

Everchosen

He read ancient manuscripts written by Necrodomo the Insane, which contained blasphemies about the religion of Sigmar and the nature of Chaos. Screaming in rage, he called the gods liars and burned down the temple and manuscript. He then hunted down and killed his entire family. Adopting the name Archaon, he travelled north towards the Chaos Wastes. There he offered himself to the Chaos Gods as a tool of destruction. His lifespan unnaturally extended by his Chaos patrons, Archaon spent the next century gathering the Six Treasures of Chaos:

  • The Armour of Morkar: Extremely resilient and dark black, this armour was worn by Morkar, the first Everchosen of Chaos, who was killed by Sigmar.
  • The Eye of Sheerian: When mounted in the Crown of Domination, the Eye grants the bearer potent powers of prophecy and omniscience. It was taken from the hoard of the Chaos Dragon Flamefang.
  • Dorghar, Steed of the Apocalypse: A massive, daemonic horse, Dorghar was claimed at the Gates of Chaos, stolen from the Daemon Lord Agrammon.

Storm of Chaos

Archaon's ultimate goal during the Storm of Chaos was to storm Middenheim, enter the Temple of Ulric, and corrupt the Eternal Flame with his own essence, extinguishing it and ushering in the End Times. After ruining two provinces of The Empire and ravaging a third, Archaon battled Valten, Exalted of Sigmar in single combat. Valten taking a seemingly mortal blow, Archaon was then hit in the head by Luthor Huss but sent Huss flying with a back-hand blow. Archaon was then blind-sided by Grimgor Ironhide, the Orc warlord. Grimgor raised his weapon for a death blow, but merely proclaimed, "Grimgor iz da best!" and left Archaon on the ground. Archaon is rumoured to have retreated to the Chaos Wastes, leaving the Empire in shambles.

Upon retrieving the Crown, Be'lakor performed the coronation that made Archaon the Lord of the End Times. Leading a vast army of Chaos warbands united under his banner, Archaon marched on Empire from the north, while his herald, Vardek Crom, marched from the east, over the World's Edge Mountains. Archaon killed Volkmar the Grim, Grand Theogonist of Sigmar, with one blow from the Slayer of Kings by unleashing the power of U'zuhl, the daemon bound within it.

The End Times

During the End Times Archaon leads a massive invasion of the Old World, using the Glottkin and Maggot Lords as his spearhead.

Mortal Realms

A dark vision of martial majesty and brutal strength, Archaon commands every creature of Chaos to walk, slither or fly across the Mortal Realms. He is the Exalted Grand Marshal of the Apocalypse, a title bestowed upon him by the Dark Gods themselves. More than this, he is the Everchosen, the champion who bears the mark of all four gods combined and who, by his very existence, does what even they cannot: unite the armies of Chaos. Such is the true and terrible power of this champion of champions.

Archaon embodies not just the might of a single god, but all four. In him, the servants of each of the powers see their paragon. He is the blood-drenched axe of Khorne that harvests the skulls of empires. He is the perpetual plague of Nurgle, which infects the realms with its rampant corruption. He is the impossible grand scheme of Tzeentch, which twists and turns in upon itself. He is the murderous excess of Slaanesh that drives men into fits of terrifying madness and homicidal ecstasy.

To earn the mantle of the Everchosen, Archaon completed many harrowing quests and bested cunning foes to gather the powerful relics symbolic of his station: the Mark of Chaos upon his flesh; the Crown of Domination that spreads fear and dismay even as it strengthens his allies; the Eye of Sheerian that gifts him with future sight; the Armour of Morkar that clads his mighty frame; and the Slayer of Kings, Archaon’s sword, filled with the bound soul of the daemon U'zuhl.

The last and greatest of these treasures is the shape-shifting daemon-steed Dorghar. When first Archaon vaulted atop him, Dorghar burst into flame and fought his command, but such was the Everchosen’s power that he broke the daemon’s spirit and claimed him as a steed. Also known as Ghurshy'ish'phak, Yrontalie and the Steed of the Apocalypse, this daemonic beast has since borne Archaon to victory on battlefields uncounted and brought low the mightiest of champions who thought to challenge his master.

Rumored Origins

By the time of the Age of Sigmar, Archaon’s origins are little more than legend and rumour. Some believe he was once a mortal man, devout in his pursuit of righteousness, until he was set against his old gods by the lies of the Ruinous Powers. Others say Archaon was born at the same moment that Sigmar came into being, a dark reflection of the God-King cast into in the Realm of Chaos. There are even tales that Archaon is an immortal emperor who once ruled all of the realms before the arrival of Sigmar. Certainly, Archaon’s path to glory has been arduous, for Chaos offers nothing without sacrifice. Before the Daemon Wars, when the Chaos powers once more turned upon themselves, the Dark Gods sent mighty champions against Archaon to demand his sole patronage, each fearing he would side with one of the others. After he slew all sent against him, Archaon continued to fight in the name of all four powers, who recognised him as their foremost champion once more, transforming him into a demigod capable of conquering all of the Mortal Realms.[2]

For unrecorded aeons, Archaon rode across the Realm of Chaos. Whenever he marched out from the impossible lands of that cursed dimension, no world was safe from his armies, and in the name of the Dark Gods kingdoms and empires burned and bled. Each victory proved once more Archaon’s mastery of war, and new trophies were heaped upon the idols of the Ruinous Powers. At his order whole worlds burned. Almost without counting were the grim legends forged in this time, and the Realm of Chaos still echoes to the dark tales of the Everchosen’s crusade.[2]

By the light of the Sickle-thirst Moons, Archaon scourged the Yorndish Kingdoms and their so-called Indomitable Bloodline in the name of Khorne. A thousand howling Bloodletters watched as Archaon demonstrated his savagery, claiming the heads of all three hundred members of the Yorndish royal line in a night of wanton slaughter. By the time the moons set on the Yorndish palace, Archaon stood knee-deep in the tide of blood that flowed from its shattered gates, and a line of kings and queens that had endured for thousands of years was mercilessly eradicated.[2]

Archaon brought the seven plagues of Nurgle to Shantor Isle and its protectors, the reputedly immortal Deepguard. Following the skaven of Clan Pestilens through holes gnawed in reality, his horde of daemons, infected mortals and ratmen spilled out into the island kingdom. The Everchosen led his rancid legions through the Coral-temples of Shantor, turning their halls black with decay. As they were cut down, the desperate Shantorian priests called upon their guardians, who were famed for their immunity to poison and disease. The Everchosen stood high in Nurgle’s favour, however, and when at last the Shantorian Deepguard staggered out to face Archaon’s armies, their joints were already swollen with fluid and their eyes weeped pus.[2]

When the three-souled serpent god Y'ulae constructed the Star Crucible, Archaon forged an alliance between the Tzeentchian Sorcerers of Zyr and a cabal of Slaaneshi Spell-sirens, combining their powers to steal the celestial artefact. With a body made of light and fire, no blade nor hex could touch Y'ulae, and the magic hurled against it was as wind passing through the branches of a tree. Goading the creature into battle, the Everchosen used Y'ulae’s monstrous arrogance against it, sacrificing scores of screaming witches and sorcerers to its wrath. As his minions perished, Archaon snatched their souls from the air and used them to weave a sorcerous cage of prismatic mirrors around the beast. Blazing bright in its rage, Y'ulae’s body exploded in a thousand brilliant hues as the prisms channelled and dissipated its incorporeal form. As the creature’s dying wails faded away, Archaon claimed the Star Crucible for his own dark ends.[2]

Archaon fought the long war against the Hedonshi Emperors, daemon lieges of Slaanesh. Massively bloated, the Hedonshi feared no mortal weapon, and ruled over hundreds of grovelling kingdoms from the spires of their golden palaces. With practised guile Archaon brought the Hedonshi tribute, plying them with an army of slaves for use in their sadistic rituals. As the Everchosen watched on with grim pleasure, the gluttonous daemon lords gorged themselves on souls and scented flesh. For six hundred and sixty-six nights, terrified slaves were herded into the palaces until Archaon’s ‘gifts’ did what no sword or spell could – the daemons ate uncontrollably until they burst, drowning their own vassals in torrents of noxious pink slime.[2]

Lords of Sorcery

The mysterious Gaunt Summoners hail from the Crystal Labyrinth deep inside the Realm of Chaos. Willowy creatures saturated with magic, each one appears as a robed figure. They are faceless save for a mouth lined with needle-like teeth, while a dozeng listening eyes blink from the sides of helms grotesquely melded into their flesh. In the gnarled grips of their three hands are strange gifts from their master Tzeentch, the Architect of Fate– arcane tomes, warptongue blades and enchanted changestaffs, which can set flesh to writhing like an enraged serpent at the merest touch.[2]

Since time immemorial the Gaunt Summoners have built towering structures that conjoin the Mortal Realms and the Realm of Chaos –impossible fortresses, silver spires and twisting mazes which ensnare their foes in webs of madness. Among these architectural insanities stands the Whisperfane, a twisted stronghold of living nightmares and deadly illusions.Those who brave its mirrored ramparts find their own strength turned against them by its insidious magics – great warriors are driven mad with rage and cunning wizards are ensnared by their own spells.[2]

Behind the walls of their keep, the Gaunt Summoners wove spells of mayhem and misdirection upon the Mortal Realms, changing the fate of kingdoms and unravelling empires for their own amusement. None but Tzeentch could compel them, for they took great and elaborate pains to obscure their true names, which held the power to bind and enslave them.[2]

Archaon, impressed by the Summoners’ abilities but not foolish enough to try to bargain with them, despatched his forces to the Whisperfane. First, he sent Torgrax Murderkin and his 28 Gorechosen to cow the Tzeentchian sorcerers. Consumed by their own fury, the Khornate warriors tore themselves to pieces long before they could lay an axe upon their foes. Next, Archaon sent Urglor Blackweal and his Putrid Blightkings. Where rage had undone Torgrax, it was decay that destroyed Urglor – the Nurgle champion and his warriors were reduced to nothing more than oozing puddles of pus and rancidmeat. Lastly, the Everchosen sent forth Zybal and his Alter-coven, but they too fell, mutated into gibbering Chaos Spawn by their own spells of change. But Archaon had not sacrificed his champions in vain. As the Summoners mocked their attackers from atop their walls, the Everchosen had carefully studied the magic surrounding the Whisperfane, and teased out the identities of each Gaunt Summoner from the wards they had woven.[2]

When Archaon finally stepped into the ensorcelled fortress, he cast a subtle spell of his own, wrought from the sorcerers’ true names. Though they did not know it, the Gaunt Summoners’ own doubts were thus turned against them, reflected and magnified by the eldritch properties of the Whisperfane. Crippled by their uncontrollable fear, the Gaunt Summoners struggled to cast their spells, and Archaon cut down their servants and brushed aside their ill-prepared sorceries with ease. Soon, the Gaunt Summoners could think only of escape from the prison of fear Archaon had fashioned around them. Only when they begged to be released did the Everchosen speak their names and finalise their subjugation.[2]

Centuries of harsh servitude have taught the Gaunt Summoners strict obedience – at the Everchosen’s command, they twist even the magic of Realmgates to his purpose. By their power are ghostly councils held, as they project Archaon’s presence across the Mortal Realms or transport the souls of his minions so they might report their victories. If Archaon is pleased, he may even deign to allow their souls to be returned to their bodies...[2]

The Cage of Bones

Atop a plateau of broken bodies stood the mighty Chaos bastion known as the Cage of Bones. Built from the fallen armies of Nagash, the Lord of Death, its gates were made of grasping skeletal claws and its ramparts fashioned from grinning skulls. After the Battle of Black Skies, Nagash had been banished to the underworlds by Archaon, and the remains of his vast undead host were fettered by Chaos-forged iron. Yet Nagash seldom remains dormant for long, and after emerging from the Starless Gates he moved to take back his realm. He soon returned to the battlefield where the Cage stood, and began to unravel the fell runes that kept his undead warriors in check.[2]

In a single night of slaughter and dark sorcery, the Cage of Bones rebelled against its garrison. A thousand Chaos Warriors were dragged down into the animated fortress and the army of undead it had become, their ragged remains swelling the forces of Nagash. With the shackles of the Dark Gods broken, the deathless legions of the Great Necromancer rose up against the armies of the living once more. Forewarned of the assault by his Gaunt Summoners, Archaon was already marching upon the Cage of Bones.[2]

From the glimmering pool known as the Forlorn Wells emerged Dorghar, bellowing in rage. With a single hissed command, Nagash sent forth his legions. Almost as soon as the Chaos forces charged out of the submerged Realmgate, they were met by a tide of shambling undead. Hell-forged blades sparked off age-worn steel, and blood sprayed across yellowed bone as the armies hacked each other apart.[2]

Beyond a roiling sea of undead, atop the broken remains of the Cage of Bones, stood Nagash. From his staff, cords of dark magic arced down into the ruined fortress, raising yet more skeletons for his rapidly growing army. Archaon knew only he could face the Lord of Death in combat, but all would be for naught if his army did not gain a foothold upon the shores of the Forlorn Wells. The ground around the watery Realmgate was already thick with Chaos fallen. Only the Bloodbound had made headway into the legions arrayed against them, and even they were slowing in their frenzied charge as bone giants and skeletal dragons descended upon the Khornate warriors.[2]

Carefully tempering his wrath, Archaon turned his eyes from Nagash to his army below, ordering Dorghar down into the fray. Heads snapping and claws ripping, the daemon tore a great furrow in the undead surrounding the Bloodbound. Archaon claimed the heads of moaning dead things and bat-winged horrors as they tried to drag him from his saddle. Nagash could have turned his spells upon the Everchosen, loosing a storm of darkness to tear the Chaos champion from the sky or steal the life from the daemonic beast he rode. However, like Archaon, Nagash was far too skilled a general to allow pride or hatred to twist his plans. The Chaos army had come too soon, and the Great Necromancer’s army was incomplete. There was still time to turn the tide, and so he poured his sorcery into the land, hoping to drown his foes in the dead. Despite the victories of the Bloodbound, hundreds of Chaos warriors had been hurled back into dark waters of the Realmgate, their sodden corpses spilling from its sister gateway in Aqshy. Bulling through the dead bodies came the Rotbringers to steady the Chaos lines, and the pestilent champions were soon surrounded by piles of shattered bone.[2]

Dorghar set down among the Rotbringers. With Archaon in their midst, knots of Blightkings lumbered forwards, claiming an ever-widening salient from the undead. Bone and broken skulls crunching beneath iron-shod boots, the Chaos army gained a foothold around the wells.Then, Archaon called upon his Varanguard. Thousands strong, the First Circle surged from the watery Realmgate, their ornate armour dripping with shadowy energies from their passage between worlds. Forming up beneath their lord, the Swords of Chaos rode out into the storm of death. Following the path forged by the Bloodbound, they hacked and smashed their way towards Nagash.[2]

Preoccupied with commanding his armies, Nagash despatched his Soulblight vampires to slow Archaon’s advance. Clad in crimson plate, the vampires’ lord rode forth atop his undead dragon, directing his Blood Knights into the advancing Varanguard. The vampire knights ploughed through the remnants of the Bloodbound host, fangs bared and eyes alight with hate, and with a thunderous crash of steel, the two sides met. As the two forces traded brutal blows below, Archaon swept overhead on Dorghar towards the vampire lord. The duel was fought with breathtaking skill, the vampire driving its lance into Dorghar’s side as his mount tried to claw Archaon from the saddle. Horror given form, the undead noble moved with blinding speed, discarding his lance and drawing his blade to claim the Everchosen’s life. Yet Archaon was no mere mortal, and even before the creature had charged, the Everchosen had seen its fate in the Eye of Sheerian. Expertly slipping past his foe’s guard, Archaon drove the Slayer of Kings into the creature’s shrivelled heart, watching with satisfaction as the vampire crumbled to dust on the wind[2]

Quotes

"Fear me mortals, for I am the Anointed, the favoured Son of Chaos, the Scourge of the World. The armies of the gods rally behind me, and it is by my will and by my sword that your weakling nations shall fall."
~ Archaon, Lord of the End Times

Gallery

Notes

The Storm of Chaos was a campaign during 6th Edition that saw Archaon lead a massive invasion of The Old World. It has since been ret-conned.

Sources

Uncited