There are few fortresses in the world as formidable as Nagashizzar. Only the Dwarf city of Karaz-a-Karak could claim to be on equal terms with the fortifications and defences that Nagashizzar has to offer, for this is the home of mankind's vilest and most brilliant magician: Nagash. The great fortress was built from the living rock of Cripple Peak over centuries by Undead labourers. It looms nearly half a mile into the sky, bristling with towers and gate houses and for a time it was the capital of the world's vilest empire for around the mountain were whole towns of the living and dead. Now they are mostly ruined and deserted. Yet it would be a foolish act to enter them.
Four gates, bastions in their own right, guard the approach to Nagashizzar. In ancient times they could easily defeat a small army for each one was equipped with bolt throwers and catapults and each one was accompanied by hundreds of skeleton warriors and gigantic golems constructed from bone. But Nagash's power is not as once was to maintain such defences and instead each bastion has woven into them fiendish magical enchantments designed to disorientate and ultimately kill any intruder. The bastions themselves are made from an unknown black metal and are much stronger than a castle wall.
Beneath the mountain, to a depth greater than the height of Nagashizzar itself, is a complex honeycomb of passages, corridors and chambers. Countless Undead things laboured unceasingly in the warpstone mines to fuel Nagash's sorcerous power. In ancient times battles were fought here over control of the Chaos substance but today the passages and chambers are seemingly deserted. There used to be thousands of skeletons occupying the dark chambers below the fortress but today there is only a fraction, although the greatest concentrations of Undead guard the last deposits of warpstone left in the mines.
It is true that Nagash is no longer a man, as a life of many thousands of years will testify. Indeed, he is more akin to a god and certainly at his height his power was as great as one. But those heady days were well over a thousand years before Sigmar's time and since then he has suffered several costly defeats that have reduced his power significantly. In fact it was Nagash's last defeat against the patron god of the Empire which has dealt a severe blow to his designs for world domination. Since this defeat on the banks of the River Reik over two-thousand five-hundred years ago, Nagash has more or less slipped away from history and forgotten.
But to many necromancers and some cults, many of which operate in the Old World and Araby, Nagash has not been forgotten and is worshipped as a god whose power is omnipotent and rewards eternal life to those who serve him well. Nagash's will and ambition is just as potent as it ever was and by his thoughts he controls a vast network of agents. It is not inconceivable that all human necromancers, and their cults, are in the thrall of Nagash's power or at least guided by one who interprets the Great Necromancer's will. His thoughts guide their actions and their magicks for his dark intrigues. Nagash has learnt that he can no longer wage war as he did in the ancient world. Man has grown strong both magically and militarily but Nagash knows that the human mind is as weak and as susceptible as ever and uses other means to conquer his foes and his agents are but pieces to fit this jigsaw.
The Disciples of Nagash
It is not known whether Nagash is truly alive any more or if he is nothing but a malicious spirit. The only people who know are the Disciples of Nagash: an order of living men dedicated to the service of the Great Necromancer and an inner circle of Liche Priests, both of which are lead by the high priest or the Great Hierophant of Nagashizzar. The men, all of which can hardly be called sane, prepare for the day when Nagash will rebirth and conquer the world. All of them are skilled in necromancy and come from several human nations: Araby (foremost amongst them), then the Empire, and then one from Bretonnia. All of them were indoctrinated in their country's Cult of Nagash and all were adjudged worthy to sit at the seat of the Great Necromancer. Because warpstone saturates the very air of Nagashizzar the men are just as hideous as their Liche Priest masters: their hair has almost completely fallen out, their skin is either pock marked or translucent, their hands have become scaly claws, and their eyes are red or black or white. The Great Hierophant, whose name has long been forgotten, is a Liche Priest of great age and one who served Nagash when he was Priest King of Khemri and Nehekhara. There are few in the world with his knowledge of the dark arts and only the Great Hierophant, with the exception of Arkhan, is allowed entry into Nagash's audience chamber. What the Great Hierophant sees only he knows but it doesn't stop people from thinking and making up their own minds. Some say that Nagash's gigantic husk sits unmoving like a corpse on a throne of skulls with only the occasional malevolent glow emanating from his eye sockets to belie a presence. Some say that there is a large sarcophagus, of the like he had in Khemri, where his body lies in a state of dormancy, ready to awaken at the appointed time when all of his plans have come to fruition. While others claim that the audience chamber contains a shrine to the Great Necromancer with his great claw or his legendary crown the main idol (or even both.) Whatever the case the Great Hierophant interprets the will of Nagash so that the Disciples of Nagash will know his intrigues long before those of the Old World and Araby.
The immediate concerns of the Disciples of Nagash are the Tomb Kings and Princes of the Land of the Dead, all of which despise and loathe their master for wrecking their afterlife. Instead of bodies of gold and a land of paradise they awoke to find their their kingdoms in ruin and their bodies naught but withered husks. The Disciples are conscious of the fact that one day the dead hordes of what used to be Nehekhara will rise up and assault Nagashizzar where only its destruction and the final death of Nagash will temper their anger and vengeance. They must also be wary of the machinations of the Council of Thirteen for although much of the warpstone of Cripple Peak has been expended they still desire what is still left. Many times have the forces of Nagashizzar and the Skaven clashed in battle and for but a brief period both Undead and Skaven mined the warpstone together. But that was thousands of years ago and only bitter enmity exists between the two factions; each desires the other's complete and total destruction.