Although not an elf, the Greater Daemon N’Kari plays an integral part in the saga of Tyrion and Teclis and indeed in the history of the Elves. During the first great incursion of Chaos he led the Rape of the Ulthuan, slaughtering tens of thousands of Elves, overseeing the destruction of cities and forests, ravaging the land for the greater glory of Slaanesh and himself. His first reign of terror ended in defeat by the god-king Aenarion. He returned later to take part in the final battle with the Elves at the Island of the Dead. This encounter left him so weakened that he needed to flee into the Vortex to escape the wrath of the Phoenix King and the fatal power of his deadly blade. Within the Vortex, the essence of N’Kari spent millennia regaining form and power and formulating his plan for vengeance on the line of Aenarion. Blood of Aenarion concerns the outcome of his schemes and their effects on Tyrion and Teclis and all those around them.
I’ve always had a fondness for Greater Daemons of Chaos. I’ve had a few of them in my books– from the Bloodthirster which lurked in Karag Dum to the Great Unclean Botchulaz in Ragnar’s Claw. I have never attempted to write anything from their point of view though– I mean how do you get inside the head of an eternity-old, cosmically evil being? I knew this was going to be essential in Blood of Aenarion though. It was inherent in the structure of the story.
When I first wrote the tale of the Great War of the Elves back in the early 90s in the first High Elf army book, I had envisioned Tyrion and Teclis as very young elves. Things move on though. In the Daemons of Chaos army book it was revealed that they had fought N’Kari in the Temple of the Flame over one hundred years before the Great War. I have always said that writing a Warhammer novel is like a writing historical novel. You need to go with what is there as much as it possible. Since Blood was going to be the origin story of the twins and since an encounter with one of the greatest foes of the Elves in their holiest temple was not something I could gloss over. It was going to have to be the climax of the book.
This created structural problems. The Twins only meet N’Kari during the final conflict. This was going to have to be a book in which the protagonists and antagonists meet only once, and that at the end. As a dramatic structure this is less than perfect. It also meant that I was going to have to show what N’Kari was up to from his point of view or the point of view of those around him and I was going to have to build up tension through the book by doing so.
So we come back to the problem of showing things from the point of view of a greater daemon. There were two things that would help, I decided. The first is that N’Kari is not very powerful (as Greater Daemons go!) when he first escapes the Vortex. He is a mere shadow of his former self and needs time to regain his strength by feasting on the souls of the descendants of Aenarion. The second thing is that he timebound. He is in mortal form, viewing the world through mortal senses, his immortal essence housed in a physical body. This means he has perceptions similar to ours in some ways, products of his interaction with a physical world. It was enough to go on.
So the story has two strands. The first is the tale of the twins and their immersion into the world of intrigue and assassination amid Elvish high society, of how Tyrion becomes a warrior and Teclis sets his feet on the path of High Magic. The second tale is that of N’kari’s return to the world and his rampage across Ulthuan leaving a trail of carnage and dead Elvish princes behind him. It is in some senses a horror story. It has to be. The work of Greater Daemon wreaking vengeance of the descendants of the one who defeated him is anything but pleasant. It did however provide me with an opportunity to do some high-energy battle scenes and some nasty jokes. It also allowed me to ratchet up the tension as N’Kari leaves his trail of terror behind him. We know sooner or later he’s going to catch up with Tyrion and Teclis and the consequences are going to be very far from pleasant.
There gives another aspect to the story. In some ways it shares plotting elements with a serial killer mystery. We know what N’Kari is up to because we are the readers. The Elves do not. They need to work out what is happening and why and then they need to work out how to stop it. This element of the narrative is always there, behind the other two, a race against time that ends in conflict with one of the deadliest beings ever to walk the surface of the Warhammer world, a being only previously defeated by the mightiest mortal who ever lived.
My apologies if this entry is even less coherent than usual. I am five days in to my attempt to give up caffeine and my brain feels like mush. I shall return, hopefully more coherent, with more Elvish tales next week.