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The origins of the morghasts, the heralds of the Accursed One, lie deep in the past, long before the time of Sigmar. Nagash, having failed to claim Nehekhara through open war, had visited plague upon the kingdoms of the south, to weaken his enemies in preparation for war. Thousands perished and all the time Nagash awaited the proper moment to renew his assault. The Great Necromancer's pride would not allow him to suffer another defeat, but nor did he want his victory over King Alcadizaar to be delivered from a distance.[1a]
Yet Nagash was not the only one who gazed down upon Nehekhara's plight. Ptra, God of Light, had watched powerless as plague had ravaged the Kingdoms of the Sun. Ptra burned to loose the fires of the sun upon Nagash, to smite him out of existence with a blazing column of light. Alas, like many of the old gods, Ptra's ability to intervene directly in mortal affairs had receded as the Dark Gods of Chaos had grown in power. But he was not entirely helpless.[1a]
Ptra mustered his winged heralds, the hammurai, and sent them to destroy the Great Necromancer. Nagash's power was such, however, that even these divine warriors could not slay him. For forty days and nights, the hammurai battled Nagash atop the spires of Nagashizzar, but neither sun-forged steel nor the light prevailed. As dawn rose on the forty-first day, Nagash stood victorious amidst the ruin of Ptra's host.[1a]
As the sun flared an angry red with Ptra's impotent rage, Nagash looked upon the corpses of the hammurai and saw opportunity. When last he had marched upon Nehekhara, his plans had been undone by the cowardliness of the vampires. The night-walkers had proven poor lieutenants, but now the Great Necromancer saw the chance to create more effective servants. Drawing upon the power that was his to command, Nagash reshaped the fallen hammurai into worthy emissaries. At his command, bones twisted and bronzed skin sloughed away. Feathers that had once gleamed golden beneath the sun's rays rotted to nothing, leaving only membranous and leathery tatters behind. By the time the final incantation had been uttered, the hammurai were ossified parodies of their former selves, remade in an image abhorrent to the gods, but greatly pleasing to Nagash.[1a]
Whatever ruin Nagash had wrought upon the bodies of the hammurai, he left their minds intact. He had witless servants aplenty. What he needed were sentient vassals to lead his armies forth. He wiped away their loyalty to Ptra, replacing it with undying servitude to him alone. The remade hammurai would not fail their master as the vampires had, for they felt neither fear nor arrogance. Thus were the morghasts born.[1a]
Soon after, Nagash entered Nehekhara in triumph. The morghasts came with him. They fought mostly in wingbands of anything between two and twenty, though the annals of Khemri recount how a legion of three hundred fought as bodyguard to Nagash at the Battle of Ashkaron. Wherever morghasts fought, there were the bloodiest battles of that campaign. The morghasts had no command of sorcery, but so suffused with death magic were they that their mere presence urged the dead to rise. Even without this, humans would have stood no chance against the morghasts, for though the creatures now served the darkness rather than the light, they still possessed the might of demigods. Their swords and glaives, fashioned long ago on Ptra's solar forge, now blazed with the spirit energies of the slain, the souls trapped within driven to drag others to share their fate. The sick and wasted remnants of Alcadizaar's armies were swept aside, and Nagash at last had his victory.[1a]
In the wake of his triumph, Nagash began his Great Ritual to raise the Nehekharan dead as an army fit to conquer the world. Desiring that the morghasts would again serve as his heralds, he sent most south to Nehekhara, ready to join the ranks of the newly-risen dead. A few he sent north, the better to hasten that conquest. That invasion never came. The skaven brought about Nagash's murder, and with the Great Necromancer's passing, the Nehekharans he had animated broke free. Following their master's final instructions, the morghasts attempted to assert their own will over the desert kings, but were overcome. In victory, the Nehekharan kings, unable to find a ritual to unmake the remains, sealed the morghasts' bones in obsidian tombs deep within the sands, and laid curses upon the stones so that they would not awaken.[1a]
Those morghasts that had gone north fared better, for a time. Their armies of the dead growing with each step, the morghasts brought the gift of oblivion to the scattered tribes. However, without Nagash, the magics that empowered the morghasts ebbed away, seeping into the ether as blood from a wound. One by one, they collapsed and did not rise. The greatest of their number, the archai - Nagash's elite guard who had been fused from the mightiest of Ptra's heralds - felt the waning draw nigh. They bade their minions forge ebon-wrought armour to channel the magic of the world into their accursed forms. Most of the morghasts, fixated upon their war against Nagash's enemies, did not notice their growing enfeeblement until it was too late.[1a][1b]
Centuries passed. The morghasts were all but forgotten, the subject of legend. Prospectors and explorers stumbled upon morghast remains amidst the ruins of fortress-crypts, watched over by sightless skeletons, and worshipped by tribes of ghouls. The morghasts became curiosities, remnants that no scholar could fully explain. Over the years, many necromancers paid handsome sums or risked their wretched lives to reclaim such cadavers, only to meet with frustration with each failed attempt at resurrection. It would have provided little consolation had they known that the failure was not theirs, but due to magic fading from the world due to continued efforts from the elves. Indeed, when Nagash returned during the time of Sigmar, even he found the magics of that era too thin to sustain a morghast's demigod spirit, and so looked to the mortal dead, such as the warlord Krell, to serve in their place.[1b]
Only now, in the hour of Nagash's third and final resurrection, when the power of the Dark Gods waxes and the skies burn with the stuff of raw magic, are the morghasts beginning to awaken. In Nehekhara, there is a hammering on the walls of long-buried tombs. Beneath the mountains, bones reknit before the astonished eyes of wretched worshippers. Skeletal wings darken the skies, and ungodly weapons shriek with joy at the prospect of stealing new souls.[1b]
Only Nagash's closest lieutenants can command them; only the mightiest heroes of the mortal races have the power to defeat them. Where they tread, the living perish and the dead awaken. The morghasts are rising, and they are the heralds of death.[1b]