"Ulthuan belongs to me. If it takes a thousand years, ten thousand years, I will claim my rightful place as king. I am the son of Aenarion. It is my destiny."
- – Malekith, the Witch King of Naggaroth
"Tyrants have always some slight shade of virtue; they support the laws before destroying them."
- – Voltaire
Malekith (pronounced either as "Mah-leh-kith" or "May-leh-kith") is the supreme ruler of the Druchii (or Dark Elves) of Naggaroth and one of the resident BBEG'S of Warhammer Fantasy (alongside Archaon and Nagash). He is also Known as 'The Witch King of Naggaroth', or just simply The Witch King. All the way up through the End times he still lived with his mom, not to mention slept with her. Malekith is a rather divisive character among the fanbase (though to be fair the same could be said of many Warhammer villains), depending on who you ask he's either a badass villain with a cool design, an interesting backstory and a surprisingly complex personality or a whiny entitled momma's boy who couldn't handle not getting his own way. Whatever you think of him it's hard to deny that he at least has more character depth than Nagash (whose entire personality can essentially be summed up as "sociopathic asshole" and who committed many of the same acts of dickery Malekith did, come to think of it, for arguably far pettier reasons no less) and lacks the obnoxious Mary Sue tendencies of Archaon, so he has that going for him.
He was the son of the first Phoenix King Aenarion (Who at the time, by all accounts, had become an incredibly violent and vengeful hothead) and the Sorceress Morathi (who, pre-retcon in 7e, was "secretly" a worshiper of Slaanesh). When Aenarion died after defeating the Forces of Chaos who had invaded Ulthuan, The Princes of Ulthuan met to decide who would be the new Phoenix King. Though Malekith was the likely choice, some thought that he wouldn't be a good king due to the harsh upbringing/customs in Nagarythe. Malekith's half-sister Yvrainne had already been appointed as the next Everqueen and the idea of an incestuous monarchy grossed them out (not that it would later stop them from electing Caledor II, who porked his own half sister upon ascending to the throne). Displaying a talent for diplomacy, Malekith suggested a vote. While some nobles were swayed by his words, others were not. The majority vote went to a Prince named Bel Shanaar. Malekith appeared to take this with good grace and was the first to bend the knee, but inside he seethed at being passed over. There was a scene where Malekith and Morathi attended Bel Shanaar's phoenix crown ceremony and everyone included the two knew that the flame of asuryan can be avoided using magic. Morathi wasn't pleased with this since her awesome husband didn't even need some puny protection magic to step into the flame. As for Malekith, he had his eye on the flame and he wants to prove himself to be better than his old man Aenarion.
He then opted to seek fame and glory outside of Ulthuan, and made an expedition to the Old World. His first spark of fame came when he defended a High Elf colony from Orcs. He also made friendships with the Dwarves. The first glimpse of his dark side is seen here in his 'Time of Legends' novel as he covertly has two ambassadors of Bel Shannar who'd already made first contact with the Dwarves murdered by one of his lieutenants. Despite this he manages to become best buds with their High King Snorri, bonding over troll-hunting and becoming friends after double-teaming a Shaggoth and being unable to decide who got the kill. There was also that time when both him and Snorri's army went to fight some Beastmens and Malekith ended up forced to solo a bunch of Minotaur included their Shaman. It is also at this time that Malekith found the dead body of his father Aenarion under the instruction of his mother from the letter. Malekith feel like it was his responsibility as a son to bring his father's body back to Ulthuan. There he glimps into the terrify seductive power from the sword, it shifted itself in the form of a jeweled scepter (the sword change its form according to how people sees it) and tried to lure Malekith into using it, but after such madness, Malekith eventually resisted its influence and forever looked away.
During the establishment of a trading agreement between the Dwarves and the High Elves, Bel Shannar arrogantly told Snorri in front of Malekith that it was his brilliance that had led to such good establishment connection between the two races, such lies deeply angered Malekith that all his hardwork were credited to such crown thieves. Regardless, Bel Shannar still appointed Malekith as the ambassador to the Dwarves. Over the course of a few years, he became very popular with the Old World colonies through the new elf-dwarf alliance and many battlefield victories. Around this time in 8th Edition fluff he married a Priestess of Lileath called Allisara. They were happy together for awhile but one night she had a vision about his future and left him waking up to an empty bed next morning. He tried to find her, but then got caught back up in his obsessive research into magic. Though of course, this was just not enough. So he decided to explore further north where he found ancient ruins full of undead (this was before necromancy was invented, so not the vampiric or mummified kind). After fighting his way through them he found an artifact called the Circlet of Iron (which boosted his magical power) and got a glimpse of the Realm of Chaos. It is also at this time that Malekith realizing the frighting power growth of chaos, and with a pansy like Bel Shanaar leading the elven realm, their kind would surely be destroyed by the demons one day.
When he heard that the Cult of Pleasure was resurfacing in Ulthuan, he found this as a chance to increase his influence. Upon his return he was then given command of Ulthuan's armies and decimated many of the Cultists. Despite his homeland Nagarythe being the most afflicted and the source he did not relent. In one of his assaults, he discovered that (surprise surprise) his own mother was the leader of the Cult. Conflicted and enraged, he practically disowned her and took the fight to the cultists with redoubled effort. At the battle for Anlec he finally cornered Morathi and the two dueled. Later on, he emerged with Morathi in custody. When he brought his mother before Bel Shannar, the Princes, including Imrik (who would later become Caledor the Conqueror), demanded her death. Malekith (who struck a secret bargain with Morathi after the duel) convinced the Princes and Bel Shannar to keep her imprisoned instead (which was a huge mistake).
When the time was right, he poisoned Bel Shanaar and tried to frame him as a Chaos worshipper. When the latter didn't work he massacred the majority of the princes gathered in the Shrine of Asuryan. Wanting to prove himself as the rightful ruler of Ulthuan, he stepped into the Flames of Asuryan. Malekith realised too late that stepping into the flames wasn't such a good idea when they horrifically burned his flesh. He barely managed to jump out of the flames, leaving himself as a mess of flesh and steel. His followers quickly escaped with his charred body and brought him to his mother, who saved him from death. Morathi commissioned a renegade priest of Vaul named Hotek to make his iconic armor, The Armor of Midnight, which was fused into his flesh.
Civil war then erupted between Malekith and the newly crowned Phoenix King Caledor. The battle raged back and forth, with Nagarythe, Tiranoc and Ellyrion being decimated. When Malekith was losing, he ordered his Sorcerers to undo the vortex that Caledor Dragontamer conjured years ago and unleash daemons on the elves who wouldn't serve him. It backfired. Instead, it sank nearly all of the province of Nagarythe. Malekith and some of his followers use magic to rip the castles and the surrounding rock from the landmass and make them float on the surface of the ocean (these would go on to become the city-sized ships known as the Black Arks) and fled to the New World with his followers (the newly named Dark Elves).
History as the Witch King
He then founded a new kingdom, called Naggaroth in memory of Nagarythe. Founding a nation was hard work, but Malekith had done similar with the cities in what later became Bretonnia. After the cities were formed some of the nobles saw the wealth they controlled and started to rebel. Malekith planned to deal with them by force, but his mother suggested more subtle (and dangerous) methods. He played the noble houses against each other and also tricked a group of rebel Druchii Lords into drinking poison and poured the last bottle of antidote on his dick (jokes aside, he refused to give them the antidote until they swore unfailing loyalty to him).
During this time Naggaroth suffered from repeated attacks by Chaos warbands. Malekith ordered a series of watch towers constructed along Naggaroth's northern border to keep them out, a mostly successful idea.
The War of the Beard? He started it to prevent the High Elves and Dwarves from allying against him. This was unwittingly aided and abetted by the Phoenix King at the time, Caledor the Second, being a spoiled man-child and Dwarves putting such emphasis on beards.
At one point he got a clutch of dragon eggs; found in the Blackspine Mountains of Naggaroth by a group of Shades. They were tended to until they hatched. Once the first dragon hatched she destroyed most of the other eggs before the attendants could stop her. Impressed by her ruthless instincts, Malekith took the dragon as his own, named her Seraphon and she was the most recent of his dragon mounts.
He regularly invaded Ulthuan in hopes of reclaiming what he thinks is his Birthright as Phoenix king. Though he has not succeeded yet. He forbade males to become sorcerers out of fear of a prophecy which stated that he will be killed by a male sorcerer (though the prophecy said sorcery, which can be used by a man or a woman). Any who defy this rule are killed or cursed to be consumed by Slaanesh. His mother is secretly plotting to overthrow him - he, in turn, wants to kill her when he thinks he no longer needs her.
As the game progressed, much of his lore has been changed or retconned. It was implied that their relationship was incestuous, but 8th edition lore has omitted that. Another bit of 8th edition lore says that his ex-wife Allisara regretted leaving him; she'd gone to live with her sister, the Wood Elf queen Ariel. She still cared for Malekith and thought she could guide him down a gentler path, so sent a message to him seeking reconciliation. He agreed. Unfortunately Morathi found out and covertly arranged Allisara's death. She told her son and her plan bore fruit as the last spark of warmth/compassion in his heart died. However, he found out Morathi's involvement a year later and nearly had her killed. He relented and settled for imprisoning her for over a year and warning her never to do something like that again. He also left her to hang when Orion and Ariel came with an army of Wood Elves to avenge Allisara.
Malekith's most recent invasion of Ulthuan prior to the End Times (see below) saw Malekith almost claim victory. He and Morathi allied with some of the followers of Chaos while he struck a bargain with the Keeper of Secrets N'kari to try and kill the Everqueen. When this failed Malekith had a case of Genre Savvy and realized that this invasion could fail, so he moved his best troops back to Naggaroth and led the charge with those left. His champion Urian Poisonblade killed several High Elf heroes before coming down with a case of sword-through-the-heart from Tyrion (secretly helped by Morathi). Malekith ordered his forces to charge. During a sorcerous fight with Teclis, Teclis nearly killed Malekith, who fled to the Chaos Wastes (aka the Warp) in desperation but he was able to walk out of it after some time. His time there changed his personality into a calmer and more sinister one.
During a festival for the elven version of Slaanesh Athari, Malekith had to contend with a daemonic invasion of Naggarond led by N'kari; he forgot N'kari had a vendetta against Aenarion's descendants, due to being defeated by him, and that Malekith himself was Aenarion's son. He also had several Dark Elf armies ally with greenskins to attack Bretonnia, softening them up so they couldn't help the High Elves.
The End Times A.K.A. Present
A large number of things happened in The End Times, but the most notable is that he left Naggaroth to die for Ulthuan in a last-effort ditch to take the throne... and he actually succeeded. All hail
Phoenix Eternity King Malekith I. This effectively means that he no longer lives with his mom, who was taken by Slaanesh.
Of note, according to Teclis, apparently Asuryan always intended for him to be Phoenix King in the first place. Had he stayed in the fire for just a few seconds longer, he would have actually passed. However, Malekith's failure meant that since the other candidates were wrongfully chosen, rather than tell them this was all not as planned, Asuryan slowly drove the successive line of Phoenix Kings (who were protected from the flames by other mages) insane in due time. All the crap that happened as a result (the Sundering, Naggaroth and everything else) was just an overly elaborate test on the part of the gods to determine if he was truly worthy. The insane fucking assholes.
No seriously, think about this. Millennia of civil wars that crippled elven society and killed millions on both sides, raids and slavery across the world against other races - possibly destabilizing the world further into Chaos, the Dark Elves indirectly HELPING the forces of Chaos on occasion as the High Elves and Lizardmen can attest, and all of the personal deprivation and agony Malekith himself endured was a test for Malekith - and if he hadn't failed by a few seconds ALL OF THE ABOVE WOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED! Even Failbaddon looks at this and says "I'm Abaddon. Stop it. Get some help." On the other hand, it could also interpret as a punishment to the Elves from the gods for unrightfully taking his rightful place as well as their good relation with the Dwarves (Malekith was the one that first unite the elves and Dwarves in the first place despite him arranging the murder an ambassador Bel Shaanar sent earlier). Either that, or Teclis was just full of shit and made up a story to convince Malekith to go back in the fire.
During the final battle between Malekith and Tyrion (who had drawn the Sword of Khaine, and became his avatar because of an emo overload), Teclis destroyed the vortex that kept Ulthuan from sinking, and was to give his allies each the power of one of the Winds of Magic, making them "Incarnates". Malekith was meant to be given the wind Fire but was accidentally given the Wind of Ulgu (Shadow). Malekith emerges victorious, saved by Alith Anar, and throws the now-inert Widowmaker to the bottom of the ocean. Afterwards, The Druchii and Asur evacuate from the sinking Ulthuan to Athel Loren and Malekith becomes king of all Elf kind. He also marries Alarielle, Everqueen of the High Elves and Wood Elves.
Malekith gloats about this by means of "LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL I WIN SUCKERS!" but that is just in consolation. Naggaroth and Ulthuan have been destroyed (though in Naggaroth's case, it's not much of a loss to him), he has a Sword of Damocles equivalent to make sure he stays good in the form of Alith Anar, and there's the knowledge that he's getting Tyrion's sloppy seconds with Alarielle - and she was far from happy with the arrangement on her end.
TL;DR He finally emerged from his mom's basement and got shit (somewhat) done. Pyrrhic victory is still better than getting his ass whopped and fleeing back to Naggaroth like the last few millennia.
He leads the united elven race in Athel Loren, and decides to get shit done. They purge the forces of Chaos from Athel Loren (temporarily, as it's just Beastmen who are known for being the redshirts of Chaos) and he outlaws the Cult of Khaine, since the Khainites had nearly ruined his plan and Khaine was technically dead. That comes back to haunt him as Be'lakor incites an uprising of Khainite elves led by a disillusioned Hellebron and Dryads led by the corrupted Coeddil and Drycha. During the battle Drycha realizes she was misled by Be'lakor but is killed by Malekith regardless. He also survives an assassination attempt from Shadowblade (who is revealed to have always been on Hellebron's payroll) and kills him. At the Council of Incarnates, Malekith takes none of Mannfred's shit and opposes the notion of allying with Nagash and the undead, saying that bone daddy should be destroyed. This shows he has some standards; then again this is NAGASH we're talking about.
In the end, however, it makes no difference - Teclis and the Incarnates try to do a ritual super-spell to stop a new Chaos vortex from eating the world, but one of the other Incarnates gets murdered by a whiny vampire basically causing the ritual to epic fail and strip the Incarnates of their power (rapidly disintegrating Teclis and slowly disintegrating Nagash). The ritual chamber starts to collapse, and Malekith saves Alarielle from a falling rock, getting his own legs crushed in the process. She then thanks him by making fun of him and holding hands with Tyrion while they watch the world get engulfed by the new vortex, ending everything. After Tyrion (who was resurrected by the Flame of Ulric and the Wind of Light) and Alarielle get engulfed, the vortex claims Malekith too. Interestingly, Malekith's last thoughts are about how shitty his life was while mysterious laughter surrounds him, and then all of his memories and the laughter vanish as the world goes poof.
Age of Sigmar
Malekith returns, and it was originally believed by many that based on his canon appearance as seen to the right it appeared as if he had fused with Seraphon (no, not those Seraphon); it turns out he just sort of looks like a dragonman, because reasons (that reason almost certainly being because it justifies a new $100+ plastic kit to replace his dated metal one). He is now a being of shadows named Malerion and has taken up residence in the Realm of Shadows. Its important to note that his older half-brother, the line from which Tyrion and Teclis sire from, was named Morelion in the previous universe possibly meaning there's meant to be pottery regarding him being on the side of Order.
He finds his mother Morathi, also a shadow being who is served by partying Daemons now, and joins Sigmar during the creation of the Mortal Realms. During the Chaos Incursion, he and the brothers Tyrion and Teclis helped create a veil that keeps Azyrheim invisible to Tzeentch, then fucked off and imprisoned Slaanesh when he/she/it/hermaphrodite was over-gorged with the souls that died during the End Times. They somehow forced Slaanesh to vomit the souls he's eaten, apparently using a magic ritual made with Morathi’s information on what it’s like being murder-fucked in Slaanesh’s belly, with the Elves becoming Aelves. Teclis takes some of these new Aelves and tries to transplant souls and accidentally makes the Idoneth Deepkin, whom pretty much take the role of Dark Elves for the moment with a few features from the other space elves.
He hasn't done much since, but during the Age of Chaos he was the only known person to defeat Archaon in battle. Seeing as Archaon managed to beat Nagash, the implication is that he's one of the most powerful gods, or at least the Realms of Shadows have given him some dirty tricks.
According to recent fluff he is still an evil asshole and is plotting against the other gods with Morathi. Particularly Sigmar, whom he looks down upon as a barbarian upstart. Stating he enjoys the suffering of him and his servants, stating that was one of his ulterior motives for the Colosseum he gave Sigmar where the Stormcast kill each other in mock training battles without actually dying. (Though it also has some other purpose that Malekith has not revealed, and Malekith is laughing at Sigmar for not having figured it out.)
- His title is apparently a rip-off of the Witch King from the Lord of the Rings.
- Sports the same name as Thor villain Malekith the Accursed, who too is a Dark Elf king. There's contention regarding who came first, as Marvel's Malekith first came to light in 1984, one year after Warhammer Fantasy was relased and on the same year first Dark Elf miniatures were released, but GW's Malekith was (debatably) introduced/mentioned in the 4th edition High Elf armybook released in 1992, and he wasn't playable until the 4th Edition Dark Elf book in 1994. Controversial questions like "who stole from whom?" and "are they are the same person and the universes are connected?" are better left unasked. Whatever the case it looks like, for the first time, Games Workshop have decided NOT to be bullies (likely because Marvel comics had more than enough money to take GW to court, even before they became part of Disney) and backed down, renaming Malekith as Malerion.
On The Tabletop
With The End Times: Khaine now out, Malekith has three sets of rules for 8e; his original self from the Dark Elves army book, his incarnation as the Phoenix King, and his ultimate incarnation as the Eternity King.
Malekith the Witch King
This is the original Malekith, for which you pay 510 points.
His statline is quite impressive; Movement 5, Weapon Skill 8, Ballistic Skill 7, Strength 5, Toughness 4, Wounds 3, Initiative 8, Attacks 4 and Leadership 10. He's also a level 4 caster who uses the Lore of Dark Magic.
He sports the rules Always Strikes First, Eternal Hatred, Fear, Hekarti's Blessing, Immune to Psychology, Murderous Prowess, and a unique rule of his own: Absolute Power means he must be the army's general and his Inspiring Presence is 18" (24" if he's riding Seraphon).
- The Destroyer - Magic Weapon that forces enemy models to reveal what magical stuff they are carrying, and forces a D6 to be rolled each time a model with magic takes a hit; on a 4+, they lose a random magic item or a random spell (if a Wizard).
- The Armor of Midnight - Magic Armor that gives a 5+ armor save, a 2+ ward save against any non-magical attacks, and which negates the Killing Blow and Multiple Wound effects.
- Supreme Spellshield - Magic Shield that grants Magic Resistance 2 and inflicts D6 Strength 6 hits on the caster (and their unit, if any) of any spell that is dispelled by Malekith's Magic Resistance.
- Circlet of Iron - Arcane Item that lets Malekith add a single bonus dice to any of his failed casting or dispel attempts once per Magic phase.
Malekith can also be mounted on a Cold One for +25 points, a Cold One Chariot (replacing both crew) for +110 points, or on Seraphon (Black Dragon with +1 WS and +1 Attack) for +300 points.
Malekith the Phoenix King
This version of Malekith rides Seraphon and has a combined profile; Movement 6, Weapon Skill 8, Ballistic Skill 7, Strength 6, Toughness 6, Wounds 9, Initiative 8, Attacks 10 and Leadership 10. He's also a level 4 caster who uses the Lores of Fire and Dark Magic.
He trades Murderous Prowess for Martial Prowess and acquires a new special rule, The Phoenix King, which lets all friendly units within 12" make supporting attacks with one extra rank than normal (stacks with any other special rules that let them do the same). So your average 5 wide unit of non-spear-wielding Elves will attack in 4 ranks if they're near him.
He also trades the Destroyer and the Supreme Spellshield for Asuryath (Multiple Wounds D3 and Flaming Attacks).
This version of Malekith costs 825 points.
A word of warning: against Tyrion Avatar of Khaine, Malekith's sword Asuryath (which has Flaming Attacks) will give Tyrion a 2+ ward save (due to Fireborn). This turns what would otherwise be a balanced fight which Malekith should win, into Malekith being unlikely to survive more than 2-3 rounds before dying pitifully- and that's only because he's immune to the Multiple Wounds rule. Each time Tyrion hits (with his 6 attacks needing 3s but no rerolls), it'll wound (auto-wound, ignore armor, and Malekith gets no ward save), so it'll take at least 2 rounds for Malekith to die, 3 if he's really lucky (Word of Pain could potentially help, but not much unless you can cast it multiple times). But in all honesty, just do what you can to keep Malekith out of that situation.
Malekith the Eternity King
For a whopping 1000 points, this ultimate version of Malekith makes the following changes to the Phoenix King version:
- +1 Wound.
- Has both Murderous Prowess and Martial Prowess.
- Is a level 5 Wizard who knows every spell in the Lore of Shadow.
- Trades The Phoenix King for The Eternity King (as Phoenix King, but Murderous Prowess units within 12", and Malekith himself, reroll all failed To Wound rolls in close combat).
- Gains the Shadow Sorcerer (may re-roll the result of miscasts but second result stands) rule.
- Gains the Incarnate of Shadow special rule (Malekith or a friendly unit within 12" can, at the start of the Remaining Moves subphase, gain Ethereal until the end of that sub-phase and can immediately move up to 20").
- Upgrades Asuryath to Asuryath Reforged (Multiple Wounds D3+1).
Malekith Eternity King is definitely one of the most powerful single model in the game, combining an exceptionally brutal combat monster stat line with magic gear that provides both combat punch as well as survivability, as well as being a level 5 lore master of one of the best lores, with slightly built in miscast protection (you still suffer the effects) and boosts to casting and dispelling. On top of that he is an excellent army support, providing a large Leadership bubble as well as boosts to Martial and Murderous Prowess. Oh, did I mention the free Walk Between Worlds? This guy excels at pretty much every phase of the game. The only issue is that unlike the other 1000 point character, Nagash, you will find it harder to make back his point cost. The best way to do that would be having him murder characters, monsters and monstrous units; he is one of the best things for dealing with the other monster special characters such as Nagash, Glottkin, Karl Franz Ascendent etc.
He's not without weaknesses though, he stands no chance in combat whatsoever against enhanced Glottkin, aka the version with curse of the Leper on them and a 3+ ward (so use spells to get rid of them), he's vulnerable to debuffs, and keep in mind if you are putting him against Nagash, try to debuff Nagash as much as possible so you don't have to deal with Nagash's healing/debuff Shenanigans and stop Nagash from bringing in back-up by dispelling his summoning spells.
With the announcement of Total War: Warhammer 2, Malekith (sporting a rather badass update to his design) has been confirmed (predictably) as one of the legendary lords for the Dark Elves. He appears in the Dark Elves trailer, re-enacting the airlock scene from Rogue One on some unfortunate High Elves and speaking in an awesome voice.
He is arguably the strongest character in the game right now with good combat stats, enhanced lore of dark magic, and Seraphon with a strong breath attack.
Now to summarize the amount of rape he can inflict on the enemy in detail. He can literally solo an entire army with just him on Seraphon and his magic. While flying, he can use Seraphon's breath attack to snipe out any unwanted targets (anti-large spearmen, enemy lords, the shitty artillery that's killing your army from hundred yards away (especially the fucking hellcannons when fighting WoC)). He can also accomplish this using the Lore of Dark Magic, which contains such spells as bladewind, a vortex which will absolutely shred most infantry, chill wind, a cheap and effective wind spell, doombolt, a homing bombardment spell, and power of darkness, which grants more winds of magic in exchange for health; allowing Malekith to keep casting essentially throughout the entire battle. The most important spell of the entire lore would be Soul Stealer, which not only deals a fuck ton of damage to anyone within range, but also replenishes the health of the caster. So yeah, after landing on top of whatever poor fucks get in his way, every enemy units will want to pile on Malekith (thanks to CA for AI's tactical brilliance). Luckily, he is able to use the aforementioned life-steal to stay alive and damage enemies. Combine all this magic with some truly insane stats, particularly when leveled up and given all his items, and you've got an army killer on your hands
TL;DR Malekith is a DISTRACTION LORD MONSTER CASTER armed with magic nukes and life steal. FUCK THE ASUR, FUCK YOU.
Morathi and Malekith from the Warhammer Online comic.
Dark Elf King Maleki... whoops, right character, wrong franchise.
Beware the Witch Ki...damnit, wrong one again!
Malekith in the game Warhammer:Battle March. He shows up for a few seconds in a cutscene and isn't playable.