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Nagash Awakens
Short-story from the 4th edition Undead book by Games Workshop

Outside the storm winds blew. Colossal lightning bolts slashed the night black sky. The glowing surface of the Sour Sea roiled and gigantic reptilian heads emerged from its turgid ooze. Within the great fortress of Nagashizzar undead things went about their slow business, unaware of the cold wind's kiss, unaware of the deathly chill, unaware of anything except the aeons' old purpose that their master's dark will had imbued them with long, long ago.

Nagash sat on his throne of human skulls and brooded. He was dimly aware of the storm's roaring. It intruded on his thoughts like the buzzing of a gnat drawing him from his reverie back to the reality that surrounded him.

Slowly he became aware of the gigantic throne room littered with the bones of supplicants who had displeased him. Slowly he recognised the rotting drapes that depicted scenes that only he, of all sentient things, could remember.

Slowly he became aware of the tiny flickers of dark power that animated the tens of thousands of undead creatures about him

To the witchsight of the Great Necromancer they were tiny constantly burning flames, visible through the miles of rock that surrounded his tower. Slowly he became aware that there was a flame present that did not possess a constant dark glow. It was bright, and flickered with many colours, the red of anger, the blazing yellow of fear, the sickly purple of over whelming greed.

If the Great Necromancer could have smiled he would have. It had been a long time indeed since any puny mortal had dared invade his realm. He wondered why they came. True, the Cursed Pit was full of the gold and jewels that mortals prized. After four long millennia Nagash failed to understand what they saw in such baubles. The gems and the bullion would last far longer than the flesh of those who desired them. Surely they must be trivial, meaningless. Dimly the memory of wealth and what wealth meant to men came back to Nagash

He recalled the luxury of his palace in Khemri and the desire for the gratification of the senses. Even then he had been different from most mortals. He had never understood the true attraction of the world's treasures. Even then he had been all too aware of how transitory all wealth and fame were. He had known that death was the greatest thief of all, and would take all that he owned in the end. He recalled that he had vowed then that he would cheat death. and outwit the greatest of thieves, and he had, although in the end the price had been terrible.

The memory flickered through his mind like a lotus dream. The images vividly illuminated his thoughts like a lightning flash and then were gone. He had seen and done so much that he could not recall a tenth of it. His brain had been rotted away by too much warpstone and too many returns from beyond the grave. He knew there were great gaps in his knowledge and in his memories. He was not sure that he wished to recall them. There had been many defeats as well as triumphs in his long unlife.

The thief was close now. He had entered the great hall and stood in the doorway almost a mile away, overwhelmed by the immensity of what he saw. Nagash watched his aura flicker and saw the blue of resolution overcome the burning yellow of terror. The man advanced into the chamber, unaware that his doom was at hand.

Memory came back to Nagash. He remembered another awakening. He recalled emerging from a drugged stupor to confront his ancient enemy the King Alcadizaar. It should have been the moment of his greatest triumph. He had just succeeded in reanimating an entire kingdom. The greatest army the world had ever seen was his to command Ultimate power was within his taloned grasp. Instead he had woken to face a terrible blade that had rent his flesh and brought searing pain to his soul. Triumph had proved transitory as all living things. He flexed his metal claw, recalling that once it had been a hand of flesh. There were times when he still felt the pain of Its severing, as victims of amputation were said to still feel the presence of their limbs sometimes.


The slight sound of metal on stone echoed through the chamber, Nagash enjoyed the surge of stark terror in the interloper. Briefly he wondered how the creature had slipped past the sentries of the tower. lie studied him more closely and saw that the human was knotted round with a complex field of power. Nagash’s curiosity was satisfied. The human wore a charm suffice to baffle the dim senses of most of his undead lackeys. They simply could not perceive him. The thief clutched in one hand a blade that was potent by mortal standards. Measured by the Great Necromancer's it was a child's toy. Satisfied that the man bore nothing that could threaten his long existence Nagash resolved to let him live a few minutes longer. After all, what did it matter in the great scheme of things.

For long minutes the man waited. He stood frozen to the spot, convinced like a rabbit before a serpent that immobility would save him Nagash could almost have pitied him save for the fact that pity, like all other human emotions, was but the dimmest of memories to him. After a period of minutes the man's monkey impatience betrayed him and he moved again, making his way slowly, cautiously, silently across the chamber till he stood at the very foot of Nagash's gigantic throne. He paused there for a heartbeat and looked up in wonder and terror.

Briefly Nagash wondered what he must look like to the man. It was simple curiosity. He had long since passed beyond the vanity of mankind about his appearance. His form suited his purpose and his purpose was to inspire terror and live forever. In the end it was one reason why he desired to bring the great undeath to the world. Once all living things were his unliving slaves, no possible threat could rise to his aeons' long existence. Then he would be safely beyond the reach of the great thief.

Slowly, one step at a time. the interloper began to make his way up the stairs. At every step a human skull rested below his feet. Nagash could see that the man could barely contain his fear yet still he kept coming. His avarice was great indeed.

Now the thief stood before Nagash himself, gazing up at the great figure that loomed nearly twice the height of a mortal man above him He paused again, seemingly overcome by his own temerity, then he clambered up onto the throne and tried to prize Nagash's jewelled claw from his withered arm. Nagash opened his eyes and looked down into the mortal's terrified face. The man shrieked and tumbled back from the throne, falling down the long flight of steps. The thief had a tumbler's grace, and a tumblers trick of rolling with a fall without taking damage. He came to his feet at the foot of the throne and whipped his blade from his scabbard

Nagash laughed softly. The sound emerged from his throat like the rustling of poison serpents in a desert tomb.

"Sigmar preserve me," the man muttered. It was the wrong thing to say. Painful memory flooded back into Nagash. Memory of his greatest defeat, by the man-god known as Sigmar in a contest that had cost him much of his power and another long and painful period of resurrection. Nagash resolved to spare the man not a moment longer. He turned the Black Gaze upon him.

Bolts of pure Dark Magic leapt from the Great Necromancer's eyes and flashed directly at the cowering figure before him. Where the beam touched flesh the man's skin blackened and withered and putrefied, sloughing away until the white gleam of bone was visible beneath. The rot spread swiftly and the man's bubbling protests drowned as his throat turned to horrid black pus and dribbled away onto the floor. Soon only a skeleton stripped of all meat stood before the Great Necromancer. He held it upright by sheer force of will for a moment and then let it collapse onto the floor, there to mingle with the bones of all the others.


For a moment Nagash considered returning to his long reverie but slowly the thought occurred to him that he had lain dormant too long. He had recovered much of his strength. There was work to do. Slowly, like an old man rising from his sick bed, the Great Necromancer rose from his throne. Gathering strength with every stride he made his way down the steps, and strode across the audience chamber. crushing the bones of humans with every step.
 
Last edited:

Unas the slayer

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 1, 2017
1,105
Northern Italy
I miss so much those pieces of fluff in the old armybooks...

Not because we lack fluff now, on the contrary there's plenty of it.
But those old stories are the inheritance of our gaming past, they are what shaped the imagination of a whole generation of players, they are what made WHFB suh a beloved fictional universe.
 
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