0. Prelude
by dadhoc

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   The unfamiliar stench of beastly life stirred Velrodt as he desperately held onto the restful silence of death. The comfortable nothingness soon gave way to the sight of a handful of tormented horrors, stood expectantly before him. None in his audience of mourning spoke; they just stared.

   Loyal knights were deprived of their sight for blindly following the orders of a traitor. Conscripted warriors were chained to the heavy stones of their fealty to a treacherous lord. The hunting parties that once led the charge against innocent brothers and sisters breathed hard through equine skulls, waiting for their false king’s command. Though formless, each of these souls was known to Velrodt – all painfully familiar. They were once his legion, and his punishment was now theirs.

   Mornnacht the Silent stood behind him, his alluring voice of treason taken from him by the Judge. Once a trusted advisor to the would-never-be king, the necromancer was now doomed to watch his liege – his puppet – act of his own volition, err by his own will. To his left, an unfamiliar spirit stood watch: Valesca, Warden of Nagash. Though not one for theatrics, Velrodt understood the meaning of the padlock she wielded in her hands, and dread came over him at the mere thought of failing his new master’s command.

   In life, Velrodt had used the men and women loyal to his banner to take land and riches from his own kin, spilling his own blood on the grand halls of his ancestral home. Now, in Death, he was to lead those same warriors in a campaign of bloodshed across a land unknown, not for his own gain but in service of a power much greater than his own. There is no penance, no forgiveness at the end of his road; there is only suffering should he ever stray from it.

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   Once, the morning sun brought vigor to my Lord Velrodt, and to his men. Once, it brought augurs of a new day, of new battles to be won and new opportunities to be grasped. Its warmth fell on our skin, and filled us with life. Now, when this alien Ghur sun rises, I see Lord Velrodt, often from a distance. He is pensive, as a wise ruler should be. He is not tired, for the dead cannot tire, and he is restless, for the dead cannot rest. He is saddened when the sunlight refuses to kiss his skin as it once did.

   Once, I could speak. My words carried power in the great halls of Castle von Kuehnheim. They reached the ears of the Duke and his brothers and they were regarded with care, but from the three siblings, it was Lord Velrodt who heard me best. It was I who taught him the value of deceit, and it was I who opened his eyes to the treachery of his brothers. The eldest ruled the lands, and yet it was Lord Velrodt - the youngest - who held true power. Against the Orkish incursions from the South, it was Lord Velrodt’s hunter cavalry who pushed the frontline back into the huts of the filthy greenskins. When the necroquake struck, it was Lord Velrodt’s legion - guided by my necromantic lore - that held the fiefdom together.

   The fools refused to see reason when the time came for the strong to claim his stake. We spoke words of peace, and they responded with exile. The von Kuehnheim triumvirate was no more; Lord Velrodt was banished, and I with him. Loyalty, blood ties, glory meant nothing to the traitors; and yet, they had the gall to brand my Lord as such. Many joined us - some by choice, some by bonds of honour, some through the fear that washes over one’s very soul when they see true might scorned. The fear of retaliation, and the urge to be on the right side of the war. For war was, indeed, inevitable, and all knew this. Lord Velrodt was hesitant at first to spill the blood of his kin, but I knew it was necessary. Von Kuehnheim blood would be sown upon the ancestral home soon, and I knew it was best for the land that my Lord be the one holding the knife.

   Lord Velrodt knew his brothers well, and he knew they were fond of the hunt. He knew he could rely on his cavalry - the best in the land - to out-pace their prey. He, too, joined the hunt and filled with a lust for his rightful power, and a hint of my magical influence, his sword met the flesh of his flesh swiftly as his horsemen encircled the site of the murder. Treason begets treason, however, and a decimation force sent ahead of their leisurely hunt crashed down upon our hamlet of exiles like a hammer upon vermin. Lord Velrodt arrived too late to save his servants, but just in time to witness the massacre.

   His death did not come swiftly, but he did not meet the judgement of Nagash alone. His blade tasted much blood that night, enough to fill an ogre with life. I saw the blow that pushed him over the bridge of death, a piercing glaive from the back delivered by one of the many anonymous cowards who swarmed my Lord. His last breath carried curses I would not dare repeat, and his grip never loosened around his sword. It was an arrow that took me to my Lord’s side in Shyish, loosed by one who recognized the power in this frail old man.

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   I am Mornnacht, Necromancer and advisor to Lord Velrodt the Oathbreaker. I understand the nature of death very well; while my Lord has dealt much of it unto his foes in his lifetime, I have immersed myself in its ways since before his father could speak. I have been appointed in death the same role I held in life, perhaps the only mercy Nagash is willing to show me in my eternal punishment. The Supreme Lord of Death has seen fit to punish Lord Velrodt, too, for his perceived slight of taking what was his. It was power over all who lived in his lands that my Lord desired, and in death, he has been given command of his troops to ensure the supreme power of another. I am well acquainted with the ironic humours of Nagash, and while this punishment surprises me not, it still saddens me to see my Lord submissive to another. A warden has been placed among our ranks to ensure our fielty to Nagash. Though an inferior sorcerer to me by any metric, Valesca might yet prove a useful asset to us.

   For now, the only sensible decision is to do Nagash’s bidding. Only a fool would rebel against the essence of death itself in the state we find ourselves in. Yet, I truly believe there are ways to obtain power beyond anything possible in life given our predicament. I have dabbled all my life in the ways of death, and now I find an opportunity to apply my knowledge outside the boundaries of flesh. These diaries serve as a record of my findings and of Lord Velrodt’s achievements in this beast-ridden realm. We will decimate the horrid Flesh Eaters, and the Skaven blight. We will subjugate the Greenskins and we will show what humanity we have left still outshines the self-asserted superiority of the Lumineth. Above all, we will play Nagash’s game as long as it takes to gain the power to rid ourselves of these shackles: in the after-death, we have nothing but time.


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