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Fifth Great Maelstrom is a term used by Wraiths to describe a violent superstorm that happened within the Shadowlands when World War II was heading to its end, around 1945.


This violent maelstrom took place in the Shadowlands in 1945, in the closing days of World War II. Unlike many Maelstroms, which had a larger build-up because of a steady but horrific amount of death, the Fifth one was triggered by many deaths at once. Some say that the Fifth Maelstrom was already long in coming; the constant death from the battlefields in Europe and the Pacific, the death of civilians in bombings, and, most horrifically, the systematic execution by the Nazis of millions of innocent souls in the Holocaust had already placed a strain on the underworld by strengthening Oblivion. But the trigger came in the form of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The horrific power of the bombs pierced the Shroud and could be felt throughout the Shadowlands. As the unholy light faded, the Labyrinth cried out and burst open, unleashing the Fifth Great Maelstrom.

This Maelstrom was accompanied by some effects not felt in the previous four. A harsh burning heat filled the sky (possibly a reflection of the storm's cause), and the storm was so intense that any caught in it were immediately pulled into Oblivion. The main Maelstrom passed fairly quickly, but triggered several smaller Maelstroms which continued to batter the empires of the dead. The Byways became impossible to navigate, and even the steadfast Midnight Express was forced to stop its nightly runs for a time because of the fury of the storms. Spectres came with the storms as well, and began attacking Stygia and the Necropoli in full force.

The explosions did not simply trigger the Maelstrom, however. They also woke the Malfean Gorool, slumbering in the Labyrinth. He rose from the depths of Oblivion and began to attack Stygia. Any armies sent out to defeat him were annihilated. Finally Charon took up his blade Siklos and went out to meet Gorool. Charon attacked the beast as a distraction, and opened up a whirlpool in the Weeping Bay. He then flung himself in; Gorool followed him, and the eddy closed, swallowing them both. Charon did not rise again.

While the Maelstrom was hard enough on the Dark Kingdom of Iron, the loss of Stygia's ruler was devastating. The Hierarchy became an uproar as the Deathlords attempted to take control in Charon's stead. Transcendence lost its focus and slavery and soulforging became the new motivation of the government of the dead.