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The priests of ancient Nehekhara taught that upon death, the spirit traveled to the Underworld - the fabled Realm of Souls. After passing through the nether kingdom's gates, the spirits of the dead were separated according to their worthiness in life. Those the gods deemed to have lived a laudable existence entered a golden paradise, while the cursed or wretched were instead cast to the dreadful lower depths, to be hunted and devoured by the Hounds of Usirian - the dread abyssals.[1a]

When Nagash reduced Nehekhara to a dead realm, the souls entering the Underworld slowed to a trickle, then stopped entirely. For centuries, the dread abyssals paced their empty realm like caged beasts, craving new souls to feast upon. Driven mad by hunger, they clawed at their bounds. At lsat, as Usirian's power waned from lack of worship, powerful necromancers were able to pierce the Underworld's bounds, and lure the dread abyssals forth to serve as steeds.[1a]

Ashigaroth, Gorger Upon the MeekEdit

According to mythology, there were hundreds - perhaps thousands - of dread abyssals, each one commanded by Usirian to hunt a specific form of sinner. That which Mannfred von Carstein rides in battle was known in Nehekharan lore as Ashigaroth, Gorger upon the Meek, for it feasted upon those too callow to raise a hand in their own defence.[1b]

Now reborn as a creature of chill bone in the mortal world, Ashigaroth hunts the living as readily as it ever did the dead, galloping through the skies to follow the spirit-spoor of prey. Ashigaroth is a fit steed for Mannfred, who seldom voluntarily enters battle without unshakeable confidence in his ability to carry the day.[1b]

Though some warriors judge themselves by the standards of the enemies they vanquish, Mannfred is no slave to conventions of honour or glory. Ends concern him far more than means; if the choice falls between slaughtering the meek or vanquishing the mighty, he chooses slaughter.[1b]

Of course, such choices are seldom clear cut, and Mannfred will sometimes have to conquer foes that are worthy of his talents. It matters not to Ashigaroth. Like all dread abyssals, the long years of famine have left the creature with a hunger as indiscriminate as it is unending. Thus, should they venture across Mannfred's path, the souls of the bold and reckless join those of the weak within Ashigaroth's spectral gullet.[1b]

Razarak, the Doom of TraitorsEdit

The dread abyssal ridden by Arkhan the Black was known to myth as Razarak, the Doom of Traitors. Those of Arkhan's fellow Mortarchs steeped in Nehekharan lore have often wondered at the irony in their association, for there are few more loyal to their master than Arkhan is to Nagash. However, Neferata suspects Arkhan chose Razarak as an unspoken warning. The Queen of Mysteries has built an existence upon betrayal, and would doubtless form a welcome feast for a creature such as Razarak.[1c]

Razarak's razor-sharp claws have ever been guided by more precision than those of other dread abyssals. In the Nehekharan Underworld, as elsewhere, it was the nature of traitors to surround themselves with the innocent or the misled, and a strike guided by blind hunger would likely go astray. Though Razarak now hunts as indiscriminately, as Arkhan wishes, the beast stays true to the habits of its former existence.[1c]

Whilst other dread abyssals scoured the depths of the Underworld, Razarak always sought lofty perches from which to track its prey. Such behavior was well-suited to its duties, for treachery is best judged from on high. This habit too remains with the dread abyssal in its new existence, and mirrors Arkhan's own ways, for the Liche King ever strives to take a battlefield's measure from the skies, the better to ensure that no detail escapes his unblinking gaze.[1c]

Nagadron, the AdevoreEdit

The dread abyssal that Neferata rides to war is named by Nehekharan legend as Nagadron, the Adevore. In the days before the desert realm's waning, it stalked the lower reaches of the Underworld, feasting upon the corpulent souls of gluttons. Depending on which myth is given the most credence, Nagadron was either the most patient or the most slothful of all the dread abyssals, forsaking the stalking of prey in favour of well-timed ambush.[1d]

It is a hideous doom to be eaten by a dread abyssal - for there is no torment that can compare to having one's very soul ingested. Yet even by these standards, it is a special agony to have one's soul devoured by Nagadron. Much as those it once feasted upon, Nagadron has no sense of its own appetite, and constantly attempts to consume far more than its gullet can contain. In its haste to let no morsel go unwasted, the beast too often gluts itself, soon after vomiting up half-eaten soul scraps which it must then devour afresh. This brief respite only makes the nightmarish suffering worse, for it allows the consumption to begin anew - an agonising cycle of eternal damnation.[1d]

So voracious is Nagadron that it needs little goading to feast upon other prey, and gorges itself upon Neferata's living enemies as eagerly as it did the souls of the dead. When the word of command is given, it falls upon the foe with vicious enthusiasm, half-digested flesh and spirit-stuff spilling from its jaws as it attempts to cram yet another morsel into its over-packed craw.[1d]

MiniaturesEdit

  • Counterclockwise from top: Arkhan the Black, Neferata, and Mannfred von Carstein upon their respective dread abyssals

SourceEdit

  • 1 Warhammer: The End Times I: Nagash Book 2
    • 1a pg. 24
    • 1b pg. 28
    • 1c pg. 32
    • 1d pg. 36

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