Bringers of Death
The legions of Death are numberless, and vast swathes of the Mortal Realms suffer beneath their pallid grasp. From bloodthirsty vampire cavaliers to shambling cadavers and unquiet spirits, all exist only to serve Nagash, the Great Necromancer. By his will, even the Realm of Beasts shall be brought to heel.
Only the foolish would believe the hour of Death to have ended when the aelven gods Teclis and Alarielle broke the back of the Necroquake, finally putting an end to the great waves of life-ending magic surging forth from Shyish. The Great Necromancer, Nagash, might have suffered a setback in his quest to subjugate mortalkind, but his armies are still limitless in number and filled with a malicious desire to snuff out all life. Teeming hordes of undead thralls still rise at the command of the master of Shyish, lurching forth in search of mortals to slay.
Having retreated to Nagashizzar to lick his wounds in the wake of his defeat against Teclis, Nagash now seeks further methods of extending his dominion. He orders his servants forth across the span of the realm, tasking them with seeking out sources of arcane power or rare artefacts that might be twisted to serve his will or destroyed in order to impede his many enemies. Necromancers, vampiric champions and the feared bone-lords of the Ossiarch Empire all wish to earn the favour of their undying master, and they venture forth alongside lifeless retinues to fulfil his decrees.
The Gnarlwood is of great interest to Nagash’s spies, for rumours of its hidden treasures – lying untouched within the legendary ruin of Talaxis – have reached as far as the court of Nagashizzar. Though the bestial denizens of the hungry forest are not opposed to feasting upon carrion, undead travellers possess at least some resistance to the horrific conditions within the Gnarlwood. Death is inevitable, and so is the fate of Talaxis: to be seized in the name of Nagash.
Tormented souls subjected to eternal punishment by the Great Necromancer, the spectral Nighthaunt can be found in any corner of the realms where death and suffering have rocked the land – in other words, everywhere, including the Gnarlwood. Spirits roam the forest, sent forth by their heartless master to purge it of the living. Such a task is almost impossible, of course, for in Ghur, life abounds with ferocious aggression. Yet Nagash has no shortage of ethereal horrors doomed to serve his every whim, no matter if it takes them a thousand years.
Somewhat less predictable in their devotion to the god of Death are the mordants of the Flesh-eater Courts. These flesh-craving ghouls are in the grip of a cruel delusion, believing themselves to be noble knights and lords displaying the highest qualities of chivalry, even as they rip their prey to shreds and stuff their mouths with gobbets of flesh. Intrepid packs of stunted mordants roam deep into the Gnarlwood, seeking to recover the ‘hallowed relics’ that reside within the Ravening Ruin – in their madness, the ghouls believe these cosmic treasures are rightfully theirs, having been stolen centuries ago by evil dragons from beyond the stars.
The Ossiarch Bonereapers were constructed to act as the military spearhead of Nagash’s conquests against the living. Crafted with delicate precision from osseous matter and given animus by soul-melding magic, they blend the resilience of undead creatures with the tactical flexibility of a sentient army. This fearsome combination is alloyed with an innate grasp of strategy and bolstered by devastating war machines. The Bonereapers are best suited to pitched battles on open ground, for that is their purpose and specialty. Yet, immune as they are to starvation, sickness and psychological distress, they possess the qualities required to tame the Gnarlwood in the name of the Great Necromancer. This task they have taken to with customary efficiency, carving their way deep into the forest and fashioning both temporary fortifications and replacement warriors from the bones that litter the topsoil.
The Soulblight Gravelords are perhaps granted the most autonomy out of any of Nagash’s underlings, for within their withered souls resides a twisted ember of humanity. As mighty as the Great Necromancer is, he is not omnipotent. Beyond his gaze, the vampires scheme to advance their own interests: to wriggle out from under the thumb of Nagashizzar or send a stake into the heart of a bitter rival. Still others seek to earn the favour of Nagash by any means possible, knowing that, in doing so, they will advance the cause of their dynasty and perhaps gain a seat at the Death God’s court. It is for this reason that a number of Soulblight adventurers have entered the Gnarlwood, typically accompanied by a cadre of cadaverous servants. They seek to plunder the vaults of the Seraphon and perhaps emerge with something that might earn them the favour of Nagash.