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Nagash was born two thousand years before the time of Sigmar in the mighty civilization known as Nehekhara. His father was King Khetep of the 3rd Dynasty, ruler of Khemri and all Nehekhara. As a young man he joined the Mortuary Cult (a priesthood dedicated to the veneration of the dead and the magical prolonging of life) and became a leading figure in the cult. Nagash was ambitious, and despite rising to the rank of High Priest of Khemri, the cult's highest position, he coveted his father's throne.
It was only when a group of Dark Elves, whom had washed up on the shore of Nehekhara after a battle with the High Elves, and were brought to Khemri that his quest for immortality proved fruitful. One among their number was a Sorceress, who revealed all her knowledge of Magic to Nagash. From her, he learned of the Realm of Chaos beyond the Chaos Wastes in the north and of the Winds of Magic, and how they could be channeled. Unlike the divine magic of the priests of Khemri, based on the intercession of gods, Nagash learned of magic that mortals could manipulate for themselves. He learned of Dhar and how it could be drawn to a location and condensed inside certain materials. When the sorceress outlived her usefulness, Nagash murdered her companions, defeated her in a magical duel and consumed her soul. He then proceded to enact his plan to put himself on the throne. He brought dozens of weak and dispossed nobles together and gave them the ability to prolong their life, and in return, they swore to serve him forever. Foremost among them was Arkhan the Black. He became Nagash's second in commmand and one of the most ruthless of Nagash's servants.
King of KhemriEdit
After the death of their father, Nagash's brother King Thutep ascended the throne. One night Nagash slew his own brother, entombing him alive with their father. The next morning, his hands still covered with Thutep's blood, Nagash claimed the throne of Nehekhara without opposition. Nagash used his knowledge as the basis for a new branch of magic which he called Necromancy.This magic greatly extended his lifespan and during the centuries to come he mastered, although he did not succeed in preserving his physical body, and enabled him to reanimate the bodies of the dead.
Nagash ruled Khemri through fear, and with the aid of his undying underlings forced countless slaves to labour for two hundred years to raise a massive pyramid of black marble-- the "Black Pyramid of Nagash". He then used the black pyramid to draw the winds of magic from the far north down to lands of Nehekhara and aid him in his campaign to subdue the neighbouring kings. Nagash penned his knowledge and findings within nine tomes made of human flesh, bound with Dwarf hair and illuminated with human blood. These works became known as the Nine Books of Nagash or Liber Mortis ("Books of the Dead"). Others flocked to his promise of immortality and power dozens of nobles as well as one third of the liche Priests.
However, the other Kings of the various Nehekharan cities were aghast at the reign of terror which Nagash had begun. some two centuries after having put to witness of what they saw as blasphemy and would surely bring the wrath of gods upon the blessed lands of Nehekhara. The kings of seven other, lesser cities allied themselves behind Prince Lahmizzar of Lahmia, in order to remove Nagash from his throne; a powerful army was raised to march on the legions of Khemri. Using his necromantic powers, Nagash raised a horde of skeletons to destroy the attackers. In the death-obsessed culture of Nehekhara, this was recognized as the greatest of obscenities. Hundreds panicked, terrified by thoughts of battle versus the departed. Although many fled at the sight of the skeletal army, the forces of the other kings rallied and Nagash was ultimately defeated-- but not slain. Arkhan gave his life to protect his master; Nagash fled to the northeast to plot revenge. The Priest Kings, meanwhile, did their utmost to destroy everything Nagash had wrought; his works and books were burned, and the cabal of acolytes he had seduced to his service were put to the sword.
The Great NecromancerEdit
As he wandered in the desert, Nagash came to the point of death. As his last reserves of strength ran out he collapsed, near death he was discovered by several skaven lost in the wastes like he was. Nagash could sense the pieces of warpstone they carried and waited till they drew close. As they prepared to cut him up and eat him he rose up then slaughtered them in a desperate struggle. He took their warpstone and used it to keep himself alive until he found his way out of the desert. After the bitter defeat on the battle of the seven kings on the gates of Mahrak the City of the Gods, Nagash swore to return to the lands of his father and see it all to fall into ruin. Nagash was strangely drawn into the mountain range to the north of Nehekhara particularly a mountain which was called Cripple Peak, in there he discovered a large deposit of Warpstone. The exposure to warpstone changed Nagash's physique into that of a monstrosity; little more than a gargantuan skeleton wrapped in armour . He hid inside of the mountain and harvested the warpsone that had accreted on the cavern walls.
Within the mountain Nagash set his undead and the local tribesmen (whom Nagash had conquered and forced into servitude) to build his fortress city Nagashizzar, and forged many of his treasures such as the Crown of Sorcery and the sword Mortis. Such a large amount of warpstone drew Skaven, who fought a war for control of Cripple Peak. The Skaven armies were vast, but Nagash's abilities were incredibly potent, and he raised hordes of undead to throw into war. After countless years of war ended in an inconclusive stalemate, Nagash eventually proposed a truce with the Skaven: he would give them warpstone in return for them luring Greenskins into the Cursed Pit. The Skaven warily agreed to Nagash's offer, but increased their efforts to learn what he was up to.
Many centuries later in Nehekhara, study of the Books of Nagash by Queen Neferata brought about the creation of the Vampires in the city of Lahmia. When this was discovered by the current King Alcadizaar, he brought his forces against Lahmia to remove the taint of undeath. Despite the efforts of the vampires, the threat of Lahmia was crushed by Alcadizaar's huge army; the Queen fled to Nagashizzar with the six remaining Vampires. Recognising the spawn of his own creation, Nagash made the vampires his captains and sent them back in command of a vast undead horde to conquer Nehekhara. However, he had underestimated his former countrymen. No longer an isolated score of rival city states but united under the undisputed military genious of Alcadizaar, the king labelled as the greatest general of his age (the sixth dynasty) who led the armies of Nehekhara against the undead. After many years of bloody war the hordes of Nagash were pushed back. The Vampire Masters decided to flee, with only W'soran, eager for more necromantic lore, remaining with Nagash. Nagash was furious and cursed all vampires to burn in the rays of the sun.
Nagash in his bitterness decided that if he couldn't rule Nehekhara then no-one could. He concluded that it was better to kill everything in the kingdom than to see it ruled by someone else. Nagash got his allies, the Skaven, to corrupt the River Vitae; it turned black, spreading pestilence throughout the populace. Alcadizaar was forced to watch first as those he loved, including his wife and children, died, and then to see his beloved kingdom crumble before him.
When Nagash's undead invaded, their ranks swollen by the deaths in Nehekhara, they were led by W'soran and Arkhan, who Nagash had resurrected as a Liche. The meek defenses put up to stop the invasion were easily thwarted and Alcadizaar himself was captured and thrown into a cell to await torture and death at Nagash's pleasure.
The Great Ritual and Nagash's DefeatEdit
It was now, with Alcadizaar imprisoned and Nehekhara conquered, that Nagash revealed the conclusion of his evil plans. He began to weave one of the most powerful spells ever attempted; at the pinnacle of its power Nagash unleashed a mighty wave of sorcery which washed over the land for hundreds of miles, causing everything that was living to decay and die, and all that was dead to rise again in an unholy parody of life; this was called the Great Ritual.
Nagash planned to use his necromantic powers to raise the entire population of Nehekhara as an unstoppable army which he would use to conquer the entire world; had his allies not betrayed him, he may well have succeeded. The Skaven Council of Thirteen, watching from afar, realised the threat posed by this latest development; they were aware that if Nagash succeeded in his plan, he would be all but unstoppable. Still eager for control of Nagash's large deposit of warpstone at Cripple Peak, and aware that they would be amongst the first to suffer Nagash's wrath, the Council made the (for the first and only time in their history) unanimous decision to assassinate Nagash. Rather than risk their own lives trying to assassinate Nagash, the Council decided to free Alcadizaar and give him the means to do so. Infiltrating Nagashizzar, the hooded Skaven freed Alcadizaar from his captivity and gave him a blade made of pure Warpstone, the Fellblade; a weapon so lethally powerful that not just its victim, but also its wielder, would succumb to it.
Still weak from the exertion of casting his spell, Nagash was recovering when Alcadizaar stumbled into his throne room. Surprising Nagash in his moment of weakness, Alcadizaar cut off one of Nagash's hands. Stumbling back, Nagash unleashed deadly magics at Alcadizaar. The Council of Thirteen, watching the titanic battle unfold, joined their powers to protect Alcadizaar from Nagash's onslaught, though they were slowly killed by Nagash's power even as they did so. It was an epic struggle, for even though exhausted and wounded, Nagash was a foe to be reckoned with, but Alcadizaar ultimately triumphed. Flying into a rage, Alcadizaar flew at Nagash and hacked away until Nagash was left in pieces. Looking across the land at the destruction of his land and people, Alcadizaar despaired. He took Nagash's crown and stumbled to the River Mortis. The fate of Alcadizar was a cruel one as he was being tormented by the skaven gifted weapon Fellblade; its power was such that its wielder's ultimate fate was to be consumed as the raw substance of chaos itself burned the soul, mind and body. He died and his body floated into the Great Ocean until a young shaman named Kadon discovered it and the crown, while the Skaven would eventually recover the Fellblade. Meanwhile, the skaven swarmed in to the warpstone filled realm of Nagash and claimed Cripple Peak for their own. The Skaven also gathered up every piece of Nagash's body they could find and destroyed it, burning the Great Necromancer's corpse on a warpstone fuelled bonfire. However, they never found Nagash's severed right hand.
Return of the NecromancerEdit
Nagash's spell caused the long-dead kings of Nehekhara to return to life. However, they retained their free will and were tended to by the Priests who had seemingly reached their prophesied immortality. Ironically, through Nagash's attempt to destroy the lands of Nehekhara, he had given them a cruel mockery of eternal life, creating the realms of the Tomb Kings. From then on, Nehekhara was known as the Land of the Dead.
Using the power of his Black Pyramid, Nagash was able to knit his body back together, piece by tiny piece. The next time he rose, 1,111 years later, he found the lands of Nehekhara defended by many jealous undead kings, their combined armies equal to anything he could muster. Nagash challenged the reigning High King, Settra. Settra and the other Kings, furious at what Nagash had done to them, chased him from the land. Returning to his fortress, Nagash found the Skaven had mined most of the warpstone away; in retaliation, one night he drove them all from Cripple Peak. The Skaven made many attempts at regaining the mountain, but after being defeated by Arkhan, the Skaven decided that they had both gathered enough warpstone and didn't desire another war with Nagash, and left Cripple Peak for good.
Nagash, still weak from his death, realised that he needed his old magical artefacts to reassert his power, including his stolen Crown of Sorcery. He forged a replacement hand out of a warpstone alloy and led a great army into the nascent Empire to reclaim the crown, but was slain by Sigmar at the Battle of the River Reik, his skull smashed by Sigmar's hammer Ghal-Maraz.
According to Mannfred von Carstein, Nagash's defeat at the hands of Sigmar resulted in a curse being laid upon all vampires: for their refusal to come to his aid, they would forever be weak against the power of Sigmar. It has long been claimed that sufficient faith in any deity would be of aid against vampires, but it appears that the Sigmarite faith now has additional potency against the undead.
Nagash once again returned to life, 1,666 years after his death at the hands of Sigmar, in the night known as the Night of the Restless Dead. It is rumoured by the wise that he is again re-building his power. Though only a fraction of his former self and his most potent artifacts scattered around the world he is still considered to be one of the most powerful beings in the Warhammer World, and is worshipped by some as the god of Undeath and the creator of vampires and necromancy. by a quirk of faith Nagash managed to solve the riddle that has pained the race of men since the dawn of time. That of the eternal life.
Nagash bides his time until he can once more take on the world. It is believed that he is currently enacting his will through others, particularly Lichmaster Heinrich Kemmler and his henchman Krell, and even Mannfred von Carstein, who had a talisman of Nehekharan origin that Nagash used previously to maintain complete control over the vampires-- the Eye of Khemri.
Recent publications from Games Workshop have altered parts of Nagash's story both ancient and current. Forgetting his latest reincarnation and the night of the restless dead, an alliance of his most faithful has been written into his history to tie in with a new expansion pack for Warhammer Fantasy: The End Times, which places Nagash center stage as the great threat looming over the warhammer world, unknown by the inhabitants at large. With the mists of time and the decay of ages on his side, all knowledge of the great necromancer has all but been forgotten, the few scraps referencing the father of death magic locked away in musty tomes deep below Altdorf. In this latest campaign package, the vampire Mannfred Von Carstein, having returned from his defeat at Hel Fenn, has sought new allies in a gambit to return their great master to unlife. With the aid of many old favorites such as Heinrich Kemmler, Krell, Neferata and Arkhan the Black, a powerful ritual has been devised to not only restore Nagash to physical form but also rejuvenate his considerable powers. Spanning many years, the agents of Nagash searched far and wide for each component of the great spell ranging from personal items and treasures from his long life to an 'unblemished soul' of purest quality - stealing the phoenix kings daughter as she departed diplomatic talks from Karaz-a-Karak, the capital of the Dwarf kingdoms. The ritual complete, Nagash has returned to the world with a vengeance, promising untold destruction upon all who draw breath. Gifting his loyal subjects with steeds fashioned by his own hands and imbued with spirits from the underworld, Mannfred, Neferata and Arkhan spearhead Nagash's new legions, uncounted thousands of dead rising up to the call of the great necromancer. With the world largely unaware of the horror returned, Nagash begins his ambitious campaign to end all life and rule over a kingdom of the dead spanning the entire planet...
Nagash is probably inspired in H.P.Lovecraft's Nefren-Ka, a fictional pharaoh in the Cthulhu Mythos from the 3rd Dinasty of Egypt that established a necromantic Cult that worshipped him as a God. Nefren-Ka was later deposed by pharaoh Snefru, founder of the 4th Dinasty, and he had to run away. After that, Nefren-Ka made a Faustian pact with Nyarlathotep, one of H.P.Lovecraft's deities, to prolong his life.