Talk:Ossiarch Bonereapers

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Ossiarch Bonereapers info dump part 1

The Ossiarch legions are an undead force like no other. Created to be autonomous, they are trusted to enact Nagash’s will on a hundred war fronts at once. Their empire gathers war materiel from the cadavers of each battle, harvesting bone with which to create new warriors, build fortifications and begin the cycle of death over again.[1a]

Across the Mortal Realms there exist folk tales of undead soldiers who can speak, reason and even bargain. With the threat of ten thousand blades behind them these dead men exact tithes upon the populations of townships, cities and nations they come into contact with, though the currency they demand is no manner of coin, nor is it a more esoteric resource such as realmstone. It is the very bones of the living, harvested at the decree of the Mortarch Katakros.[1a]

The amount of bone demanded by the Ossiarch tithemasters is proportional to the size of the populace from which they require it, for they do not wish to exhaust their sources of supply. Hamlets and villages may have to deliver only a few chest-fulls of bone to ensure the Ossiarchs stay their blades for another season. Cities that are subject to the tithe will more likely be forced to deliver cartloads of bone or pre-emptively fill mass graves to be drawn from when the time of collection arrives.[1a]

No idle reason lies behind the taking of this tithe; rather it is necessity, for without bone from which to craft their forms the Ossiarch legions would falter and fail. Their Mortisan craftsmen do not use bone as most Necromancers might, simply imbuing it with unlife wherever it lies via the use of Shyishan energy, but instead process the material extensively, for though bone has a natural resonance with amethyst magic it can be brittle and porous. They mould the osseous remains through arcane means into sculpted new shapes that are harder, denser and more suited to war than their former incarnations. Their creations invariably retain a morbid appearance. After all, the masters of the Bonereapers have also passed beyond the grave, and the forms of the skeleton and the skull are as sacred to Nagash as the hammer and comet are to Sigmar.[1a]

The spirit that animates an Ossiarch Bonereaper is also manufactured, making its mind just as much an artificial creation of the Mortisan order as its body. Accordingly, the Ossiarchs take not only the bones of their vassals and enemies but also their souls. These souls are not simply translocated whole into a new physical form in order to provide it with motive power and will, but are rendered and blended with elements of others. This process results in the creation of an animus tailored specifically to the role of the construct within which it is to be interred.[1a]

Via the strange necromantic alchemy of the Mortisans, an Ossiarch cavalry officer’s spirit might be a refined mix of the brash confidence of a youthful bravo, the mental surety of a judge and the predatory instinct of a huntsman. Nagash and the other masters of the Ossiarch Empire do not see living creatures as entities to be valued and respected in their own right or even acknowledged; they merely perceive them as raw materials for the creation of their realm-spanning ‘necrotopia’. When the Ossiarchs’ demands for the bone-tithe are refused or ignored, their legions are despatched to annihilate the transgressors, a task they accomplish with supernatural military skill and a complete lack of empathy.[1a]

THE WILL OF THE OSSIARCHS

In battle the infantry of the Ossiarch Bonereapers march to war in highly ordered phalanxes, reforming and turning on their heels at each harsh shout from the officers in their midst. They fight not as unthinking automatons but as reasoning soldiers, for their masters know the value of skill and initiative as well as mindless obedience. Each cohort and regiment of Ossiarch Bonereapers has its own variation on the core fighting style of their empire’s military. But, regardless of role, they each employ precise and methodical assaults that result in the interlocking parts of the wider army crushing the foe with grim inevitability. To witness the Ossiarch Bonereapers in battle is to behold a display of combined-arms warfare that inspires awe and terror in equal measure.[1a]

Because the rank and file of the Ossiarch legions can be trusted to do their masters’ bidding in perpetuity and without question, they are allowed a sliver of independence – though just enough to ensure they comprehend the spirit of each command as well as the letter of the rule. In this way the masters of the Bonereapers can charge their cohorts with a long-term goal, such as taking a strategically important location, and then leave to pursue their own agendas. When they return to the same site years later, a proud and well-maintained necropolis of bone will have been erected where once there was only the devastation left by conquest. The lands close by will be likewise ordered, with expertly built roads finished with a veneer of bone leading along each geomantic line as per the dictates known as the Principia Necrotopia. Like as not, no living vertebrate will exist for leagues around, for they will have been pitilessly harvested for the creation of the darkly wondrous vision that is Nagash’s necrotopia.[1a]

THE UNDYING COHORTS

To their enemies, the Ossiarch Bonereapers look and behave as if they are parts of some gestalt entity. In appearance their rank and file are near identical, and this fact combined with the unnerving synchrony of their strikes and battlefield manoeuvres means that subtler differences between them go largely unnoticed. Though their discipline and heraldry might suggest that they are civilised to a high degree, they are undead first and foremost and therefore abhorred by most living creatures as blasphemies against the natural order of things. They are surrounded by the lingering stink of the open grave, and the air shimmers around them with the intensity of stomach-churning Shyishan magic. Witchlights glimmer in their hollow eye sockets, and the clack and clatter of bone fills the air as they march forward with gruesome certainty.[1a]

Against a superior foe that they have no hope of laying low simply to pin them in place, or march purposefully into the firing arc of an artillery battery in order to waste their enemy’s ammunition. Such wilful sacrifice frees up their masters to pursue vital objectives elsewhere, and is a critical component in the Ossiarchs’ military strategy. It will be only a matter of time before the shattered constructs return, their lords reaping the bone-matter of fallen allies and slain foes alike, then using it to replenish their army’s losses.[1a]

The fighting style of the Ossiarch Bonereapers is more akin to the instinctive technique of veterans who have fought together through several wars than the hollow, clockwork movements of most undead. Without prompting they form tight phalanxes when strength-in-depth is required, disperse into skirmish formation when under heavy fire and lock shields when the enemy comes in hard. Then, when their opponents finally tire, each construct reacts accordingly, mercilessly exploiting the lapses of the foe as the enemy’s battleline begins to buckle and their discipline wavers.[1a]

When perfect coordination is needed, however, the Ossiarch Bonereapers act as though they are one. At a command from their Hekatos leader, the constructs reform around their unit’s standardbearer with a precision that even the most well-drilled soldiers of the living would be hard-pressed to match. One might expect no less given that these are the foot soldiers of Nagash’s new order – and the Great Necromancer has taken great pains to ensure they are never found wanting.[1a]

Ossiarch Bonereapers info dump part 2

Since their emergence in the Age of Sigmar, the Ossiarch Bonereapers have imposed a horrific toll upon those they have conquered, for without their grim harvest of bone to sustain them they would fall to attrition just as any mortal army. Yet so long as they have access to a steady supply of the material, they are nigh unstoppable.[1b]

Though Nagash intends to ultimately repeal sentience from all the creatures of the realms, he realises that efficiencies can be had from the measured distribution of free will in the meantime. Likewise, although the destruction of all mortals over a short span of time would yield a satisfying upsurge of deathly energies, in the long run it would provide a sub-optimal amount of materials with which Nagash could build his necrotopia. A farmer does not slay all his cattle at once for a single feast, for his fields would be emptied and he would soon go hungry. The slow and deliberate harvest will, over time, provide more sustenance than the mass slaughter. It was this realisation that led to the institution of the bone-tithe.[1b]

When an Ossiarch legion encounters a settlement of the living, they typically do not attack immediately. Rather they wait in the distance arrayed in battle formation, spears and banners held high, the silent threat of their presence a potent weapon in itself. A delegation of Mortisans, usually led by a LiegeKavalos to advise them on matters military, will then approach the beings whom they intend to tithe. They ask not for wealth nor fealty – only mortal remains, and in very precise measure.[1b]

So long as their victims can provide the offerings in a timely fashion, leaving the required materials at a designated site known as a Bonetithe Nexus, the legion will not attack. Instead it will move on, seeking further opportunity. The delegation make their terms clear and exact. The Mortisans keep archive phylacteries containing the souls of those who share cultural similarities with their prospective vassals, specifically to learn their customs and language when needed. As these imprisoned souls are often from an earlier era, it is common for a delegation to speak in a dialect that is intelligible but archaic to their recipients. Should such communication aids prove insufficient, the Ossiarchs always find a way to make themselves understood, even if it means killing one of the vassals then and there to use his soul as a translator.[1b]

Should the Ossiarch delegation be attacked by those they treat with, or should their tithe not be met, a terrible shriek of indignation will rip through the air. At this signal the greater Ossiarch legion will attack. They will not stop their assault until the entire settlement has been destroyed, their defences razed and their bone harvested in totality. Such are the consequences of defiance.The remains of such rebels, shorn of bone and left as tattered rags of flesh, will be mounted on long spears and left to flutter and slap in the wind as a warning to any others who would deny the Ossiarchs their due.[1b]

In the end it matters not how the Bonereapers’ tithe is met, provided they receive the skeletal remains they deem necessary to expand their empire. In the wilds of Shyish some townships practise a grim lottery; a proportion of their number are offered as sacrifices to the Ossiarch emissaries at the same time every year. Others give up those who have reached a certain age; in the Aqshian wastes some human tribes reason that to live four decades is long enough, and that those who survive into middle age must be slain prematurely so that a new generation may live on unharmed. Still more citizens each surrender a finger or toe as tithe, cutting the digit free and then cauterising the wound on a red-hot blade the night before the Ossiarch banners grow close, reasoning that it is better to live with the mutilation than to die in a massacre and sacrifice themselves entire.[1b]

THE TERMINUS CONCEPT

Even though the Ossiarch Bonereapers prefer to give their supplicants the chance to provide a constant supply of bone, both collector and vassal know that the arrangement can really only end one way. The Ossiarchs are the agents of this final state, fashioned by Nagash for precisely that purpose. They have no interest in the cycle of life and renewal that typifies the beliefs of Alarielle’s followers, and to some extent the creed of Nurgle’s flock, perverse as it is. As pure beings of Shyish they crave only the end of all things, when life and freedom are rendered meaningless.[1b]

Ultimately, the Ossiarch Bonereapers see all living creatures as bricks and mortar for the creation of a great empire of death that will never falter, never sleep and never yield to the vagaries of entropy no matter what may assail it. They are the nadir of existence, the blade that cuts the cord, the rattling sigh of the final breath; in this they are the true inheritors of the Realm of Endings. However, the Ossiarchs are not entirely without emotion, nor are they devoid of human failings. For despite all his drive and godly power, even Nagash was once a living, breathing man. He can never fully escape the foibles and drives of the humanity he believes he has left behind; in truth, he is ruled by hatred as much as cold ambition.[1b]

Ossiarch Bonereapers info dump part 3

The Ossiarch Empire is dotted with keeps, fortresses and citadels made as much from human remains as they are from stone. The stench of death wafts from such places, and balefires glow in the eye sockets of vast, staring skulls. Truly they are morbid and forbidding, but to Nagash’s chosen they are a glorious aspect of his growing necrotopia.[1c]

The fortifications and cities of the Ossiarch Bonereapers are built according to a set of designs contained in the Principia Necrotopia. These are flexible in places, with their blueprints allowing room for interpretation by the Mortisan order so that optimal results can be achieved according to the nature of the landscape. There are elements of the Ossiarchs’ architectural principles that are strictly adhered to, however. Being a resource that the Ossiarchs can shape and harden at whim, bone is used skilfully, both to reinforce and to adorn. Because of their shared fundamental specifications, Ossiarch necropolises across the breadth of the realms bear a definite resemblance to one another. In the minds of their creators, this commonality of form serves not only to realise Nagash’s vision of the necrotopia, but also facilitates efficiency in matters military.[1c]

When a new land ripe for tithe is colonised by the Ossiarch Bonereapers, the first features to be constructed will be formal tithe sites. These are places at which the Ossiarchs demand a subjugated people meet them at a specified time to hand over their payment, or, if prior agreement has been made, leave the offering of bone for collection. Presided over by imposing obelisks or statues, the tithe sites are protected by magical auras that keep scavengers, vermin and even flora and fungi from taking the osseous bounty for themselves.[1c]

The next features to be created will be small fortifications that claim defensible areas of terrain. As the Ossiarchs take their tithe year by year, these form the keeps of a larger fortress. The Mortisan workshops are next to be created, the stepped structures extending as much below ground as above. They are sometimes dotted with pyramid-capped braziers in which the energies of captive souls can be held indefinitely, and which act as repositories for this crucial ingredient of the order’s craft.[1c]

More buildings are raised as the Ossiarch conquests continue, each new cartload of bone or Gothizzar Harvester that is filled to capacity adding its load to the greater endeavour. Strongholds and forges are erected that, over time, grow to incorporate weapons foundries, storage sepulchres and alchemist laboratories for the creation of further war assets. When curtain walls and gatehouses are completed that take maximum advantage of the surrounding terrain, the necropolis will cease to be built outwards and begin to climb upwards. The oldest complexes have spires and towers that claw at the sky, as forbidding as any stronghold outside Nagashizzar itself.[1c]

Vast statues, skull-faced and glowing from within, guard the threshold, crowned in the manner of the Mortarchs and emanating waves of necromantic energy that cast all around them in a wan light. For all their terrifying appearance, these places are centres of culture and learning in the empire of the dead. The largest of these necropolises usually have a permanent garrison and extensive laboratories for the Mortisan order. Libraries exist in each major necropolis, their endless shelves filled with fastidiously organised scrolls wound around femurs, kept next to carefully calligraphed tomes whose leaves are made of human skin. These libraries are tended to by stork-like creatures of fluted bone known as bibliopomps; flying on bonefeathered wings to the relevant shelves, they pluck out scrolls or grimoires in their proboscis-like beaks and bear them down to the Ossiarch scholars who requested them. Collectively in these extensive libraries there exist treatises on nearly every people and beast of the Mortal Realms. In this way, when their negotiations ultimately turn sour, the leaders of the Ossiarchs can research the best way to slay any that choose to rebel against their rule.[1c]

The wider vectors of invasion that spread out from each necropolis are also bone-wrought according to a carefully delineated set of parameters. Roads of bone spread out across the wastelands, their surfaces hard as rock yet pliable enough to ride out the shifting of the lands, for they incorporate deliberate networks of cracks that echo the fissure lines of human skulls. These highways follow geomantic lines of power that Nagash has outlined to his Mortarchs; their invasion plans stick closely to the hidden lines of energy that thrum invisibly across the Eight Realms, empowering the works of the Mortisan order and lending surety to the marching legions of undead that patrol them. Where they reach the coast these roads will terminate in a small citadel or fortress, a waypoint at which the Ossiarchs can redress their ranks and take ship for the next stage of their journey.[1c]

The Ossiarch Empire can muster a significant navy, each ship grown from processed bone-matter just as it is with the artillery pieces and fortresses that serve their wider war machine. Yet to enable the empire to function at maximum efficiency, the Boneshapers have developed the art of crafting wide structures of osseous matter that float, porous as they are, in the oceans between each of the Prime Innerlands. These form giant pontoons, grown one by one and linked through the magic of the Mortisans, that are assembled much in the manner of the vertebrae of a spine. When they reach another underworld, they are bound with great ritual to become permanent fixtures of the Ossiarch Empire, crossing-points that allow whole legions to simply walk from one underworld to another.[1c]

The lashing of wind, rain and tide that accompanies traversal of these oversea bridges is as nothing to the Ossiarchs; in extremis their Mortisans simply meld the bone of their cohorts’ feet to that of the pontoons with pulses of magic and wait for the storm to pass. By taking the bones of sea creatures from the vast rib-like structures they fashion upon nearby coastlines, and using them in conjunction with the tithe supplied by the subjugated nations inland, the Bonereapers are never short of raw material. They consider the fashioning of such wonders no more remarkable than a mason would the creation of a simple wall.[1c]

SOUL-LINKED SPELLS

The apex of Mortisan magic is of course the creation of the Ossiarch legions themselves. However, the energies of amethyst magic can be gathered in any location by one skilled in its use, for death occurs in every Mortal Realm. Shields of shimmering purple force can turn aside arrows and blades, whilst bolts of dark energy flash from empty eye sockets to burn foes in purple-black fire where they stand. But it is the casting of soul-linked spells that is the most lethal of all the Mortisans’ sorcerous skills.[1c]

Soul-linked spells are large manifestations of death magic similar in nature to the endless spells which first appeared during the Arcanum Optimar. Unlike the conjurations of lesser mages that were given power by the aetheric aftershocks of the necroquake – often so wild they can even turn upon those who cast them – soul-linked spells are tethered to the will of the caster. With a single incantation, arcane entities known as Nightmare Predators loom from nowhere to lacerate and destroy, flensing flesh from bone with long, dexterous claws to make the repurposing of their victims’ bones all the easier. Four- headed apparitions known as Bone-tithe Shriekers hunt down those who would attempt to escape from the Ossiarch legions, hovering above the hiding places of the cowardly and the treasonous whilst screaming out their location. Should a particular victim be sought, the Mortisans will conjure Soulstealer Carrion, incarnations of amethyst magic that take the form of massive bone-winged preybirds that can rip a mortal’s soul from their body in a single swooping pass. Truly there is no feat of death magic that is beyond the spellcasters of the Ossiarch Bonereapers.[1c]

Ossiarch Bonereapers info dump part 4

Nagash is the Great Necromancer, a jealous and bitter god of undeath who seeks to rule the Mortal Realms. He commands all things that have risen from the grave, from the lowest shambling corpse to the mightiest vampire lord. Yet it is those undead warriors he has fashioned with his own hand he values the most.[1d]

For aeons beyond reckoning Nagash has haunted the realms, plotting the elimination of life and the expansion of his undead kingdom. In that time, countless heroes and gods have sought to strike him down, but Nagash has achieved mastery over death. On those few occasions when he has been laid low by blade or spell, he has always returned, for his will is unbreakable and his resolve limitless.[1d]

In conjunction with his magical power, it is this eternal patience that is perhaps Nagash’s greatest strength. Where his fellow gods indulge their futile passions, the Great Necromancer weathers the ages, sowing the seeds of plots that may not achieve fruition for millennia; the creation of the Ossiarch Bonereapers was once such endeavour, the construction of the Great Black Pyramid another. Such a span of years is nothing for one who is immortal. As the endless wars of the Eight Realms grind on, the ranks of the unliving will swell until they can trample all beneath their tireless tread. Come that day, Nagash will rule over an empire of Death, a world free from daemonic corruption and pitiable mortal weakness. In the wake of the necroquake, the Great Necromancer’s horrifying vision is closer than ever to completion. For it is not only the grave-risen that dance to his tune, but also the unquiet spirits of the Nighthaunt, the hungering cannibals of the Flesh-eater Courts, and the merciless legions of the Ossiarch Bonereapers.[1d]

SHYISH RESURGENT

Throughout the long years of the Realmgate Wars, Nagash bided his time. While his enemies expended their fury upon one another, the Great Necromancer laid the groundwork for a spell of unimaginable complexity, designed to ensure his dominance over all creation. Too late, the leaders of the mortal races were alerted to the power that was swelling in Shyish. In a deranged act that only a being of immortal patience could have achieved, Nagash assembled the mind-bending structure known as the Great Black Pyramid, which formed the crux of an impossibly intricate ritual designed to invert the energies of the Realm of Death.[1d]

As the arcane forces of the realm began to shift from the edges to the centre, forming a spiralling vortex known as the Shyish Nadir, a wave of amethyst magic crashed across all of reality. Great hosts of spirits and immense armies of shambling Deadwalkers were raised in the cataclysm’s wake, and soon the forces of undeath were rampaging in unprecedented numbers across each of the Eight Realms. The conflicts that followed this necroquake were known collectively as the Soul Wars. The God-King Sigmar found his nascent empire assailed on all fronts, and was forced to ally with the mysterious Idoneth Deepkin and the warrior cults of the Khainite aelves in order to fend off the relentless assault.[1d]

Though the Great Necromancer’s offensive was ferocious, it was not enough to eradicate the armies of the living. Soon, the forces of mortalkind began to strike back, to retake lands that had fallen to the undead advance. Of course, the Great Necromancer had prepared for this eventuality. The instinctive malice of the spectral dead, combined with the sheer scale of their vast processions, made them ideal weapons of psychological torment, but they were only the first wave in Nagash’s war of conquest. Long ago, during the Age of Myth, even as he had feigned allegiance to the God-King, he had begun the construction of a grand army of immortal, utterly loyal soul-constructs. Nagash had named these elite warriors his Ossiarch Bonereapers, and intended them to be the iron fist that would crush all who opposed him.[1d]

AN ARMY OF CONQUEST

The armies of the Ossiarch Bonereapers had lain unnoticed in the deep places of the earth throughout the Age of Chaos and the momentous events of the Realmgate Wars, concealed in mausoleum-cities and necropolises of astonishing scale and grandeur, such as the Heliocarnum in Aqshy, and the Ebon Citadel in Ossia. While construction continued upon the Great Black Pyramid of Nagashizzar, Nagash laboured away upon his elite legions.[1d]

Each warrior and engine of war was formed purely for the task of conquest, shaped from necromantically reinforced bone and armed with weapons infused with soul-tearing energies. But their greatest power came from the crystals of vitrified grave-sand embedded their ossified forms. Each of these soultrap gems contained a host of fragmented souls, the spirits of great warriors broken up so that the valuable parts could be reused and the rest discarded. Valour, skill and knowledge were preserved, for Nagash desired only ruthless combat prowess and complete loyalty from his Bonereapers. All else was callously disposed of, including the emotions and memories that soul had once possessed. Only by shattering this gem could such a warrior be destroyed; a task easier said than done, for the stones were wrought by the most powerful necromantic magic.[1d]

As capable as his Mortarch generals were, the Great Necromancer lacked a strategic mastermind to coordinate his military campaigns and make the greatest use of these new and deadly warriors. Arkhan the Black’s arcane expertise was too vital to Nagash’s sorcerous designs. The vampiric Mortarchs, Queen Neferata and Mannfred von Carstein, were fine strategists, but too engrossed in their own webs of intrigue to be trustworthy. Nagash required a commander of singular purpose and total loyalty, one who possessed no ambition beyond the domination of his enemies. The only being that had ever earned Nagash’s favour in such regard had been destroyed centuries ago at Sigmar’s hand. Or so it was thought.[1d]

THE STORMVAULTS

Unbeknownst to even Arkhan’s watchful disciples, agents of Chaos had corrupted Nagash’s grand spell, causing the necroquake to destabilise the very foundations of magic across reality. Enchantments and illusions that had concealed the great mysteries of the realms for centuries were torn apart, revealing long forgotten secrets. Foremost amongst these were the Stormvaults, repositories established by the God-King during the Age of Myth. These were built to contain things far too powerful and dangerous to be allowed to endanger the Mortal Realms – magical creatures of godlike might, devices and artefacts either too powerful or too valuable for Sigmar to destroy.[1d]

The Penumbral Engines that had shrouded these hidden vaults were overloaded by the magical onslaught of the necroquake. Suddenly, every dark secret the God-King had sought to conceal was exposed. To Nagash, the revelation of the Stormvaults was further proof of Sigmar’s duplicity. His fury was exacerbated when he sensed a familiar presence beneath the city of Lethis, one of the God-King’s major strongholds in the Realm of Death. There was hidden the lingering spirit of Katakros, Mortarch of the Necropolis, the greatest and most feared battlefield commander to ever bestride the realms. Katakros had been a prodigy of war even in his mortal life, a strategic genius born to command. So obsessed was he with the mastery of warfare that when Nagash offered him the gift of immortality, he gladly accepted. In death he became the Great Necromancer’s most feared general, and the first of the Ossiarch Bonereapers. The Mortarch was thought to have been destroyed by vengeful Sigmar when Nagash refused to come to his aid against the armies of Chaos. In fact, the God-King had imprisoned the Mortarch in the Midnight Tomb, a Stormvault that lay below Lethis.[1d]

Upon learning this, Nagash sent forth Lady Olynder, the spectral Mortarch of Grief, to break open Lethis and recover his servant. Though the Sacrosanct Chambers of the Anvils of the Heldenhammer led a spirited defence that saved the free city, they were unable to prevent Lady Olynder from cracking open the Midnight Tomb and releasing the raging soul of Katakros. Leaving a trail of devastation in his wake, the Mortarch of the Necropolis broke free of Lethis and returned to the court of his master. There, Nagash gave him command of the Ossiarch Bonereapers so that he might be revenged upon those who had humiliated him.[1d]


Ossiarch Bonereapers info dump part 5

During the Age of Myth, the seeds of the Ossiarch Empire were planted by an intense young warrior known as Orpheon Katakros. That driven individual was to become a dark-souled demigod, much as his master Nagash had before him. Under his cruel dominion, the Innerlands of Shyish were remade as a tyrannical land of undeath.[1e]

As a young man in the Ghurish free cities of Fleizch, Katakros was not well liked. So driven was he by the pursuit of personal excellence that he spurned recreation as weakness. After enlisting in the Fleizch Echelon he found his true calling in the arts of tactics and strategy. Convinced he had been born to conquer, he rose to power purely so he could impose his convictions on every land, people and creed.[1e]

Swiftly rising through the ranks of the Fleizch military, Katakros had a natural confidence about him that many took as arrogance. And perhaps they were right to. Notions such as compassion and mercy were all but alien concepts to him, indulgences that led him from the true path of his ascension. In training-duels his perspicacity saw him analyse, wear down and defeat all those who challenged him. At night he pored over atlases and bestiaries of the native megafauna of Fleizch. He studied ancient texts of war, drinking in every iota of knowledge, and wrote many of his own texts by the light of longburning oxentallow lamps of his own devising. Katakros valued such knowledge above all other learnings – not because it had been won with the blood of his fellow Fleizchians, but because it could further his rise to supremacy. Each barbarian tribe he defeated and monster he drove to its death was simply another vindication of his chosen path.[1e]

Katakros brought his lethal talent for tactics to bear when leading the Fleizchian Elite against the beastmen that haunted the outskirts of the region where he was stationed. The Allherd of the Gharrack Coast outnumbered his forces many times over, but in judging the winds by reading the flight patterns of prey-birds and then using fire-flask catapults to spread wildfires through the forest, he burned the creatures out of their lairs and onto his army’s blades. Seeking to capitalise on this success, he led a chariot charge intended to run down the foe as they fled the treeline, but his men failed to keep up with his advance. Before he knew it, Katakros found himself fighting alone against a Ghorgon. He was thrown from his chariot and then scooped up by one of the beast’s massive hands. Although he pierced the beast’s heart with his blade, the creature fought on, bloody froth spilling from its lips as it tore Katakros limb from limb.[1e]

TWIN UNDERWORLDS

Some time after his death, Katakros’ spectre awoke in the boneyards of Ossia. A Shyishan domain of order and purity, it was populated by Fleizchians who believed in hard work and dignity at all times. The graves of those buried in Fleizch were mirrored in Ossia, and through these sites the living from those Ghurish domains could commune with the dead in the underworld without coming to harm. Through the constant vigilance and maintenance of Fleizch’s dead, the sanctity of Ossia was preserved and its inhabitants knew a quiet contentment. The people there understood that death was not to be feared, and in this they found joy.[1e]

The underworld to the north of Ossia, known as Necros, was the final destination of Fleizchians who believed their worldly efforts would be rewarded with an afterlife of luxury. They found, to their delight, that Necros catered to their every whim. Where the Ossians to the south worked tirelessly even in death, the Necrosans ate grapes and olives in the warm Shyishan twilight, singing happily and drinking sweetblack.[1e]

Even as a spectre, Katakros felt the inequities between these two underworlds grating upon him, and soon felt the need to fight once more. He was swift to join the military force known as the Ossian Echelon under the command of the Graven Tutors, deceased generals that believed above all else in the virtue of hard labour. Even though they drilled their troops with merciless intensity, these tutors recognised something repellent inside Katakros, some void in his soul – a lack of humanity that he filled with the fanatical pursuit of excellence. They found it disturbing, for it reminded them of hated Nagash.[1e]

Katakros’ skill in combat saw him win great honour in the ritual duels that determined the hierarchy of the Ossian military. Ultimately, though, his true interests lay in the perfection of conflict. Always he thought of warfare and how to perfect it. Yet he did not revel in it, nor feel the guilty thrill of obsession. Instead Katakros pursued the science of war with a passionless logic. As he rose from sergeant to captain to general in the Ossian military, Katakros’ flair for martial theory became ever clearer. He proved able to take on any foe in any terrain and bring them to destruction.[1e]

Rising finally to the rank of High General, Katakros devised the formations known as the Ossian Shield, the Aegis Immortal and the Katakrosian Deathglaive, ensuring a mix of highly specialised and more flexible forces. Always commanding whilst surrounded by an entourage of aides and bodyguards, Katakros ensured his attention on the battle at large was not distracted. He trusted his seconds, knowing their capabilities as well as he knew his own blade, for if they failed him – or worse still, crossed him – they would be punished severely, and inventively at that. All knew that Katakros had no mercy, but at least his callousness was a known quantity. With Katakros in command, the Ossian Echelon never once ceded victory to the perils of Shyish.[1e]

THE WRATH OF GODS

Freed by Sigmar in the Age of Myth from his incarceration, the Great Necromancer had claimed all Shyish as his sovereign territory, and had begun to consume it. Though the inhabitants of Ossia and Necros worshipped no god, Nagash sought to subsume both regions into his empire, for they were not too distant from the heart of the realm, where Nagashizzar cast its shadow across the lands. He sent in his numberless hosts. For a time, Ossia’s expert military held them back. It was painfully obvious that Necros would not be able to do the same, however, for it had no army, devoted as its people were to the enjoyment of their paradise. Katakros gave the order that Necros be annexed for the good of all, forming a single geopolitical region from two very different afterlives as his forces occupied its lands and raised defences. So long did the Ossian Echelon hold out, so many thousands of undead did they slay, that they came to the notice of Nagash. On that day, the doom of Ossia was sealed.[1e]

As soon as he realised that there could be no victory against the Supreme Lord of the Undead, Katakros’ mind was set. Passing in great ceremony through the gates of Nagashizzar, he approached the Great Necromancer with a proposal. It speaks volumes about Katakros’ reputation and skill that Nagash not only listened to him, but also accepted the bargain. In exchange for eternal servitude, Katakros would lead Nagash’s foremost armies until all the realms were consumed by death. Katakros’ spectre was led into the black fires of Nagashizzar, there to be remade as a towering, statuesque terror before being given rulership over the most elite armies of undeath ever created.[1e]

The centuries that followed saw Nagash devise and create the Ossiarch Bonereapers, secreting them beneath the cities of the Mortal Realms. Katakros, meanwhile, consolidated his position as newly anointed Mortarch by conquering a dozen of the underworlds of Shyish in Nagash’s name.[1e]

It was the God-King Sigmar that was to prove Katakros’ undoing. Sigmar, expecting Nagash to honour their alliance when Archaon assailed the Mortal Realms, was incensed to find the Great Necromancer had focused his efforts only on defending Shyish. The God-King carved a path of destruction through the Realm of Death. Katakros met him on the field of battle, despite knowing that even he could not hope to defeat a god – yet it was his master’s will, and so it would be done. Sigmar’s raw fury saw him smash through Katakros’ artful envelopments until he stood before the Mortarch in person. The resultant duel was intense, but Sigmar in his rage was unstoppable. Yet even Ghal Maraz could not destroy Katakros entirely. So it was that Sigmar sealed the Mortarch within a great Stormvault near Lake Lethis. Katakros languished there, trapped in the agony of defeat. Centuries later, at the dawn of the Arcanum Optimar, he was to be set free by his fellow Mortarch Lady Olynder to take command of the Ossiarch Bonereaper legions.[1e]

Ossiarch Bonereapers info dump part 6

The revenge of the Ossiarch legions was slow in coming, for they had been dormant for centuries. But with each new conquest it gathered pace, as a stone hurled from the top of a mountain gathers its fellows to become an unstoppable landslide. The Mortal Realms would soon be shaken by the footfalls of a new army on the march.[1f]

After being freed by Lady Olynder from the Midnight Tomb of Lake Lethis, Katakros’ spirit raged across Shyish. It howled from Stygxx back to Nagashizzar, a blistering force of anger and injured pride so strong it left the devastation of a raging cyclone in its wake. Down into the depths of the Shyish Nadir it went, screaming all the while. When it reached the abyssal depths of Nagashizzar it howled around the spires and citadels until Nagash himself returned to the blackness and silt of that realm.[1f]


He took the essence of Katakros and remade it, taking care to keep every nuance of hatred for Sigmar intact, including the knowledge of the God-King’s war form, right down to each arc of the hammer swings that had seen Katakros’ former incarnation undone. In a dark mirror of Sigmar’s own reforging process Katakros was born anew, invested with every iota of artifice Nagash could muster. The glaive Inda-Khaat and the Shield Immortis were given to the shining avatar of undeath by the Nighthaunt handmaidens of Olynder herself. His raiment of war was enchanted by Arkhan the Black in a ceremony of guardianship, and as Nagash intoned the sixth hexagrammical rite from the Liber Necros, Katakros stepped whole from the laboratories of Nagashizzar once more. Taking his throne amidst solemn fanfare he was welcomed by his old title ‘the Undefeated’ by the Mortisan order, for they had long awaited his return, and wished more than ever to be in his favour. Being as his current incarnation had indeed been spared the ignominy of defeat, Katakros did not see it necessary to correct them. Internally, he vowed to earn the epithet across the aeons, for he had tasted quite enough of physical death to last a dozen lifetimes.[1f]


With the Katakrosian legions unearthed from their secret catacombs and marching en masse at his command, the Mortarch of the Necropolis was swift to make an impact across Shyish and beyond. In the Stormcast Eternals he saw a new challenge, one against whom he was keen to test his mettle, for a strike against them would be a strike against Sigmar. In learning all he could of this new foe, he discovered that the Anvils of the Heldenhammer boasted some rivals familiar to him – not from the current age, but from the Age of Myth. Those Shyishan warlords had been given new life, an immortality of a sort, by the God-King’s hand. Katakros took direct command of the legion he considered foremost amongst the Ossiarch ranks – the Mortis Praetorians – and marched out from the Shyish Nadir via the Nihilaus Realmgate. Guided by his Aviarch Spymaster, he tracked down the warrior chamber of Thranus Greygaunt even as they sought to banish the Nighthaunt armies plaguing the city of Sendport.[1f]


The Stormcast Eternals fought bravely, but against Katakros’ merciless cunning, even the famously battle-wise Anvils were found wanting. Pushed back to the shores of the raging Daxamatic River, the Greygaunts were trapped and put to the sword, departing back to Azyr in flashes of celestial light until there were none left save Lord-Celestant Thranus himself. This one the Mortarch deigned to duel in person, disarming him first of his hammer, then his sword, before despatching him back to Sigmar with the name of Katakros on his lips.[1f]


The next to feel Katakros’ wrath was the Molten Horde of Hagran Four-Eye, an alliance of Chaosworshipping tribes and infernal duardin that had taken nearby Praetoris. The Mortarch of the Necropolis had planned out his routes of attack across the entirety of the old Ossian Empire, for to him it was a point of pride that the swathe of underworlds he once defended against Chaos be conquered first. He summoned the nomadic forces of the Petrifex Elite, those stonehard monstrosities who had been led only by the Mortisan order on their eternal quest for petrified bone. Though they were slow in coming, they heeded the messages sent by the Mortarch’s messenger birds, and fashioned vast bone pontoons as per Katakros’ request to cross Dead Man’s Blight and reach the northern promontory of Praetoris.[1f]


In the meantime Katakros had conquered his way up the Necrarch Coast, sending his Arch-Kavalos Zandtos to take the opposite side of the continent from Nerozzar in the south via Grandioza to the Ghodrine Peaks. In taking the coastal regions, the Mortarch had cut off any route of reinforcement from Hagran’s infamous raiding fleets, many of which were harrying the underworlds of Morthaven and Splint at that time. Hagran himself had joined the Khorne-worshipping invaders of Hallost in an attempt to win an alliance through brute force, but in leaving his main recruiting grounds in Praetoris without his leadership, he had taken a gamble that Katakros was soon to exploit.[1f]


The Ossiarch Bonereapers made a methodical advance across Praetoris, taking back lands that Katakros saw as his by right. With each new conquest he harvested a new bounty of human remains; the Chaosworshipping armies of the plains are strong of limb, and make for excellent raw materials. So disparate and disorganised were the barbarian hosts that by the time they mustered a significant defence under Hagran’s Beastlord lieutenant, Garha the Horned, they were surrounded on three sides. When the Petrifex Elite arrived from the north, their fate was sealed. The Battle of Lake Elverin saw the Ossiarch forces close in a grand manoeuvre that cut apart tens of thousands of Chaos-worshipping savages, culminating with Katakros decapitating Garha and impaling his foe’s horned head on the front of his own chariot.[1f]


On the Plains of Flesh and Blood in nearby Hallost, Hagran Four-Eye himself found his armies ground to nothing. Vokmortian’s host, bolstered by an influx of bone from fallen ogors of the Tarkan Warglutt, was well used to open war against a barbaric foe. Hagran, with his armoured tribesmen pinned in a war of attrition against an endless host of Mortek Guard, found his flanks collapsed by serial charges of Kavalos Deathriders and Morghast Harbingers that eventually sent his armies into rout. With nowhere to hide on the broad Hallost plains, they were ridden down.[1f]


In Anadiria the Chaos-worshipping duardin of the Strangler’s Peaks met their match against the Mortisan adepts of the Null Myriad. The Mortek Guard occupied the main body of the duardin on the Fractured Plains, their legion’s innate resistance to magic meaning the conjured lava of the duardin washed off them as if it were no more than seawater. The duardin looked to their supporting artillery emplacements in the Strangler’s Peaks, but those were already being attacked from above by freshly-created Necropolis Stalkers. The looming constructs had been fashioned for just that duty by several Mortisan Tridents that had infiltrated the mountain passes a few days earlier. The Mortisans had sent their Gothizzar Harvesters into the eyries of several Ghodrine Rocs, raided their bone-strewn lairs, and created an army of Stalkers centred around three Morghast Harbingers. The resultant constructs were still faintly aglow with the energies of their creation when they slashed apart the duardin artillery crews and climbed inside the corridors of the mountain to slaughter the unwitting duardin clansmen inside.[1f]


In Equuis Main the Stalliarch Lords burst from the serried barrows of the Harshspurs and rode hard to the Brass Monoliths, the suddenness of their assault lending them a critical advantage against the Khorne worshippers who dwelt there. With the supporting fire of Mortek Crawlers spreading deathly flames amongst the brazen monuments and driving their enemies into the open, it was only a matter of time before the Kavaloi had their foes on the run. Those who sought safety within the Dreadholds of that region won themselves a brief respite until a legion of Crematorians crossed the Mausol Sound via vertebral bridges, waging a pitiless war of attrition against the Chaos citadels that saw them razed to the ground with punishing balefire.[1f]


And so it went, until every land that had once been part of the Ossiarch Empire was reconquered. Katakros had regained his power base, and with it his pride. More than that, he had at his disposal the bones of a hundred thousand corpses to fuel his empire’s further expansion. The stage was set for a conquest that would span the ages.[1f]

Ossiarch Bonereapers info dump part 7

Ossiarch society is ordered into several castes, each given its own identity and role by the original dictates of their creation in Nagash’s citadels. It was Katakros, however, who organised them into a rigid hierarchy that lent the armed forces of the Ossiarch legions a strict sense of clarity and focus.[1g]

The caste system of Ossiarch society, first established by Nagash during the Age of Myth, has been further codified and consolidated over the centuries. It forms a rigid backbone from which the military formations of their armies can be drawn.[1g]

The highest caste, that which forms the royalty of Nagash’s new order, is that of the Mortarchs. Katakros alone bears the cartouche symbol that delineates this rank, for Arkhan the Black predates Ossian symbology by several ages, and he and his fellow Mortarchs from the world-thatwas are too proud to bear the icon of another.[1g]

Beneath the Mortarch caste is the Emissarian caste, that religious order devoted to the glorification of Nagash. As well as pursuing the perfection of Ossiarch magic, they are the caste that levies the bonetithe on the living and ensures its culmination. Presided over by Arkhan, they are considered equal in status to the liege-ranked commanders of the Panoptic caste, whose duty it is to oversee the Katakrosian legions and wage war upon those who would oppose the tithe.[1g]

The Priad caste contains those regiments created for a specific role upon the field of battle. Ranging from the towering Morghast Harbingers and Necropolis Stalkers sent out to eradicate powerful enemy war assets to the Mortek Crawlers that support the front line with artillery fire, they are formidable combatants one and all.[1g]

The artisans, labourers and harvesters that support and consolidate the wider business of conquest are collectively known as the Ossifact caste. These labour night and day to raise the edifices of the necrotopia as well as to repair those Bonereapers laid low on the field of battle – and create new incarnations should it be deemed necessary.[1g]

The endless ranks of the Ossiarch legions bear the icon of the Thorac caste. It is they who march relentlessly upon the enemy, who suffer the most casualties in the business of war, and who strike a note of fear in the enemy with their sheer numbers as they raise their banners on the horizon.[1g]

Though a Bonereaper might move within this organisation, they cannot rise above their allotted station – only downward, should they fail, to a level that reflects their punitive new status within the hierarchy. A LiegeKavalos who is found wanting might be remade as a Kavalos Deathrider if his transgression is minor, one of the servant caste of the Mornial if it is a major failure, or even, if it is severe enough, have his soul-elements blended with those of a Kavalos steed. In the worst-case scenario, a Bonereaper who has been marked for extreme censure may be broken into his constituent parts and remade by the Mortisans as one of the Parrha, or ‘Shattered’. That caste of Nagashforsaken exiles forms the outcasts of the Ossiarch world, and are considered to be less than chattel by the upper echelons of their society.[1g]

Nagash, Arkhan, Katakros, Zandtos and Vokmortian

Nagash

Nagash is the father of necromancy. By his skeletal hands have countless empires been cast down, their populations raised with macabre dark magic to join his infinite legions. With a gesture he can send forth an army of undying soldiers, twist the nature of magic around himself, or rip the souls from a horde of enemy warriors.[1h]

The Great Necromancer looms above the battlefield, borne aloft by a swirling cloud of shrieking spirits. These lethal phantasms soar and spiral around Nagash as he brings his cold rage to bear upon those who dare oppose him. A freezing, ethereal storm envelops his victims, who scream in agonised horror as their very essences are consumed.[1h]

Nagash is the undisputed master of all undead creatures. When he goes to war at the head of his Ossiarch Bonereaper legions, the ground trembles beneath the tread of his endless followers. Would-be lords of death are brought to their knees, their armies subsumed into the grand host. There is no resisting the power of Nagash. Many rebellious and vain tyrants have tried to defy his dominating will, but all such attempts have ended in their excruciating and humiliating torment. The Great Necromancer never forgets an insult, and has a thousand ways to repay what he sees as injustice with a fitting – and usually twisted – punishment.[1h]

Merely to be in the presence of Nagash is to feel bone-deep terror. This is not some mundane foe that can be swept aside with cannon fire and slashing swords, but a god of undeath, a being of unstoppable elemental force. Just as death cannot be conquered, neither can its master. Arrows, bullets and arcane projectiles deflect harmlessly from Morikhane, the Great Necromancer’s ensorcelled armour, even as he unleashes spells that turn the battleground into a nightmarish killing field.[1h]

Over his impossibly long existence, Nagash has devoured libraries full of esoteric texts and forbidden lore. His mastery of the arcane is rivalled by only a handful of beings across the Mortal Realms, and even these powerful mages would hesitate to summon the dark sorceries that Nagash wields without a second thought. This bottomless reservoir of knowledge is stored within the pages of the Nine Books of Nagash. With a word, Nagash can call one of these tomes to hand, intoning the dreadful invocations within to obliterate his foes. Indeed, so suffused is Nagash with necromantic power that his very touch can turn flesh to dust in an instant, leaving nothing but a leering skeleton behind.[1h]

Nagash holds nothing but contempt for simple-minded barbarians and brutish warriors who dedicate themselves to the low arts of combat. He prefers to exterminate such foes at range with a cascade of fleshwithering magic rather than waste effort crossing blades. However, should the need arise, he is more than capable of destroying those who stray too close. He wields Alakanash, the Staff of Power, and Zefet-nebtar, the Mortis Blade. The former is capped with gems of vitrified Shyishan realmstone that allow Nagash to siphon the souls of the slain. The latter can sweep aside entire ranks of lesser foes, or hew even a drake in twain. Truly it is said that to face Nagash in battle is to face death incarnate.[1h]

Arkhan the Black

Arkhan the Black is the greatest of Nagash’s students, an archnecromancer whose dominion over the dead would be unrivalled were it not for the godly power of his master. He serves with unflinching loyalty, performing those tasks that the Supreme Lord of the Undead would entrust to no other.[1h]

As far as Nagash trusts any creature, he trusts Arkhan the Black. Bearing the title Mortarch of Sacrament, Arkhan has served the Great Necromancer since time immemorial, and over the ages has been privy to many of Nagash’s most closely guarded secrets.[1h]

A native of Nagash’s original homeland, Arkhan takes great care that few are aware of his mortal origins. Knowledge is power, after all, and Arkhan is obsessed with both. Since becoming an undying liche-creature, Arkhan has considered his mortal life a mere prelude to a permanent reality of undeath, for as a faithful servant of Nagash he has risen high indeed. In return for his unshakeable devotion, Nagash has blessed his favoured vassal with unique power and responsibility. Only Arkhan has glimpsed a fraction of the true scale of his master’s ambition, for it is he who is ordered to carry out Nagash’s most delicate and difficult tasks.[1h]

Amongst the sacred crusades entrusted to Arkhan was the creation of the Great Black Pyramid of Nagashizzar. In sending forth his pupils, the Necromancers known as the Black Disciples, and thereby mustering numberless hordes of Deathrattle skeletons, Arkhan amassed the necessary grave-sand from the Perimeter Inimical of Shyish one grain at a time. It was a crusade that only the Mortarch of Sacrament could have hoped to complete, and complete it he did. It led to the creation of the Shyish Nadir, and the necroquake that saw Nagash’s power spread across the lands. Though the ritual of the Great Black Pyramid was corrupted by the agents of Chaos at the last, it still had the desired effect of inverting the flow of magic in Shyish and sending a wave of deathly energy crashing across the realms.[1h]

Arkhan’s reward for this grand act of cosmic engineering was to be afforded command of the Null Myriad, a personal legion of Ossiarch Bonereapers that not even Katakros himself could disrupt. The numberless skeletons that had borne the grave-sand, grain by grain, were used as the clay to make them. The vast majority of the Black Disciples – gathered together by Arkhan at the Council of Anadiria – were slain, rendered down, and used as the animating souls. With the best of their number reborn as Mortisans, they serve Arkhan more fully in death than they ever did in life.[1h]

The Mortarch’s mastery over death magic is second only to that of Nagash. Mounted upon the dread abyssal Razarak, Doom of Traitors – a previous gift from his master – he soars ominously across the battlefield hurling soul-searing balefire from his skeletal hands. Armed with Khenash-an, the Staff of Spirits, Arkhan can cause enemy warriors to age hundreds of years in an instant, their fragile bones collapsing under the weight of their armour. With a simple command he can send unliving spirits screaming forth to slay in his name, or summon a blizzard of amethyst shards to tear through his foes. Even as he unleashes the blackest magics to obliterate the living, Arkhan feeds upon the soul-stuff of those he has killed, restoring and reknitting his physical form with each death just as the dread abyssal on which he rides is healed in turn.[1h]

Arkhan snuffs out the life of his foes with a cold dispassion, for his belief in Nagash’s ultimate success is absolute. When that day comes, when the legions of the dead have conquered the entirety of the Mortal Realms, the Mortarch of Sacrament intends to be standing proud at his master’s side.[1h]

Katakros, Mortarch of the Necropolis

Katakros strides the Mortal Realms as a colossus of war. Accompanied by his royal legions, this immortal strategist coordinates not just the battle before him, but also a sprawling campaign across the lands. Those who seek to slay him are either despatched by his champions or cut down by the glaive of the Mortarch himself.[1h]

Orpheon Katakros is the emperor of an undying elite, and he goes to war with all the pomp and circumstance that befits his station. Distrusting steeds since the disastrous chariot charge that cost him his life, he simply strides to battle with the surety of a god. It is his wont to take a commanding vantage point from which he can look down on the battlefield, surrounded by his most valued aides, just as he did in life – though, like their master, they too are long dead.[1h]

The regiments of the Katakrosian army are the Mortarch’s blade and shield, for he has no wish to sully himself with the business of violence. Instead he focuses on more cerebral matters, his indomitable will reaching out to invigorate and inspire his troops whenever his gaze passes across them. A Katakrosian legion is a perfectly honed tool of war, a military body of surpassing discipline guided by the genius of a leader steeped in centuries of experience. His time spent trapped within the Stormvault of Lake Lethis did not still his mind; having dwelt on matters of revenge across the entirety of the Age of Chaos, it is now a more sophisticated and dangerous weapon than ever before.[1h]

The supernatural focus Katakros brings to the art of war is facilitated by his entourage. At his right hand is his Liege-Immortis, the highhelmed champion who commands the Immortis Guard that protect him on the field of battle. At his left is his Prime Necrophoros, the bearer of Katakros’ sacred banner. All creatures, living or dead, that see the standard’s glinting black capstone raised upon the horizon hear the Mortarch’s stentorian tones clear in their mind whenever he speaks.[1h]

Oftentimes Katakros will wage several wars at once. Via the bird-like messengers of his Aviarch Spymaster, he coordinates overlapping campaigns that stretch across thousands of leagues. Even as he breaks the foe’s army piece by piece he dictates documents for their surrender to his keepers of knowledge, the Gnosis Scrollbearers – for should enough of the enemy survive to provide a profitable source of tithe, he will seal their fate by binding them in inescapable arcane contracts.[1h]

In Nagash’s eyes, Katakros is the perfect general. He was remade in the idealised form of an exemplar of undeath – a fact he knows full well, further compounding his monstrous sense of superiority. Should a supplicant grovel enough or prove to be particularly silver-tongued, the Mortarch can be bargained with. He will just as willingly subjugate nations through his own twisted form of diplomacy to secure a vassal state – and thereby a steady supply of bone – as he will crush them through military action. To him, it is one and the same. Either way, he will have his victory in the end.[1h]

Arch-Kavalos Zandtos

Zandtos is a fiercely competent general, second only in martial wisdom to Katakros himself. As the ArchKavalos of the Ossiarch Empire, he leads the charge of the Bonereapers into the era of the Arcanum Optimar. It is his wish to purify Shyish by eradicating all living things within it, even should it take all eternity.[1h]

Patru Zandtos, the Dark Lance, is the only general from Katakros’ former existence whom the Mortarch has allowed to remain whole. He has not a shred of ambition to rise above his current rank. Instead, he focuses his efforts purely on causing the greatest amount of damage possible to the living of Shyish, wielding his armies as extermination forces to systematically eradicate everything in the realm that draws breath. It is his fervent belief that the living have no place in Shyish; if he has to ensure their demise in person he will do so, for his lance arm never tires, and neither do his extensive armies.[1h]

Even in mortal life Zandtos considered himself a purist, eschewing distractions for the single-minded pursuit of the morbid arts. For over sixty years he served as an assassin-mortician, revering death even as he inflicted it on those he had been employed to kill. Riding his black destrier towards his victim on a lonely road, he would end them swiftly, inflicting the killing blow with almost loving care. Unusually for an assassin, he would not flee the site of the murder but inter the slain with great honour – despite the hard labour of digging their grave, scooping out their offa and stitching their wounds closed to make them presentable after the kill, Zandtos would perform these tasks professionally and without complaint.[1h]

As with all the stoics of his morbid home nation, upon his death Zandtos found himself in the underworld of Ossia. There, the credo of hard work being its own reward meant that the underworld thrived even in death, and as a mortician Patru Zandtos found the neatness, sterility and order of Ossia very much to his liking.[1h]

Then came Sigmar. In settling Ossia, the God-King seeded the lands with filthy, indolent barbarians that would kill their enemies amongst great nuisance, noise and mess, leaving the corpses to be pecked apart by carrion birds. Zandtos looked upon a new atrocity each day, and was enraged to the point of violence. At first he waged his genocidal war alone, but as time passed more and more likeminded spectres joined his cause. When the great general Katakros rose to prominence in Ossia and Necros, Zandtos approached him with a proposal. Over the course of a long symposium they made common cause. With the might of the Ossian Echelon beside him, Zandtos could further his goal of eradicating the living from Shyish ten times faster, and end the threat their untidy, unsanitary and ill-disciplined savagery posed to the underworlds.[1h]

What began as a desire for order and peace turned into something far bleaker when Katakros bestowed upon Zandtos the Dark Lance, a lethal blade and rod of office alike. That arcane weapon focuses the intent of whoever wields it, reinforcing their conviction with each life it takes so its wielder can remain free from human foibles such as angst or doubt. In Zandtos’ hands, it has intensified his wish for death to rule over all, at the cost of his desire to put all things in their right place. Since the coming of the necroquake, the Arch-Kavalos has forsaken the mortician’s drive to ensure the dignity and repose of the dead. Instead he focuses only on the ending of all living things, on the bringing of blessed stillness after the thunder and wrath of battle, and leaves behind him the same disorder he once despised. It is quite possible he will slaughter his way across all of Shyish, bringing the Realm of Death one great leap closer to Nagash’s necrotopia.[1h]

Vokmortian, Master of the bone tithe

Vokmortian is both envoy and overseer, statesman and conqueror. It is his duty to orchestrate the bone-tithe, the gathering of raw materials from which new Ossiarch armies are fashioned. Many a nation’s first contact with the Bonereapers is a parley with this hideous revenant, a day they will curse across the generations for evermore.[1h]

Across the vast distances of the Mortal Realms they travel, the emissaries of Nagashizzar. To deny their demands invites annihilation. First amongst their number is Vokmortian, Master of the Bone-tithe. This immortal being has been given licence to utterly destroy any who defy Nagash, laying them low with necromantic powers granted unto him by his master. By Vokmortian’s will have sprawling empires been crushed to dust and entire civilisations harvested overnight.[1h]

When Vokmortian arrives before the gates of a mortal city to demand tribute, he does so alongside an elite retinue of Bonereapers. The Master of the Bone-tithe unfurls the Decree of Nagash and reads it aloud in his terrible, rattling voice. If bones of sufficient quality and quantity are proffered, then the supplicants may be allowed to live on for another season. If the inhabitants are belligerent enough to open hostilities, then the bounty is simply taken from their ruined corpses in the aftermath of battle. In the presence of this terrifying effigy of death, few mortals are brave enough to make a stand. The severed heads of those who have made this grave error hang from Vokmortian’s staff, still wailing and bemoaning their foolishness.[1h]

As the foremost emissary of Nagash, Vokmortian channels a portion of the Great Necromancer’s formidable might. What Vokmortian sees, so too does Nagash, and through his servant the Lord of Shyish can manifest his vengeance. This connection is so potent that when the Master of the Bone-tithe is denied, Nagash’s lifeless, icy gaze blazes through the spectral visage contained within Vokmortian’s chest, striking those who have displeased him with heart-stopping terror. Should further incentive be required, Vokmortian can unleash the terrible power of the Shyish Nadir, and can smite his foes with life-stealing magic.[1h]

As well as his other duties, Vokmortian acts as a conduit for the will of the Great Necromancer in all things. Nagash is the undisputed master of undeath, but although his power is that of a god he is not yet omnipotent. The forces of Death are disparate and varied in nature, and many have their own agendas. Wights, vampires and masters of necromancy all march beneath the banners of Nagashizzar when summoned, but scattered as they are, it is not always an easy task for Nagash to leverage his domineering will. Given free rein to pursue their own tyrannical ambitions, his lieutenants have proven wilful at times. As the bearer of the Decree of Nagash, Vokmortian can command the obedience of even the mightiest undead lord simply by raising aloft his rune-marked scroll and issuing an imperative that they are suddenly compelled to obey. It is this that makes him one of the most dangerous entities in all Shyish, such that even the Mortarchs themselves watch their dust-dry tongues in his presence.[1h]

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