The prophecy originates in the visions of W'soran, who recorded them during the fall of Lahmia. Only a few written records survive, among them the Scrolls of Zandri, rediscovered by the Tilean adventurer Giovanni Lafranchi. The vampires that are knowledgable about the prophecy believe that it will be triggered by a dark miracle or spell of enormous proportions. Afterwards, one of their kind, the Champion of Night, will rise above the others after lifting the curse of the Old Gods. Only thousand vampires will survive in the new age, each a god unto himself, and mortals will willingly pledge themselves to their new undead overlords.[1a]
Each bloodline has their own theories what will lead to the events that result in the Age of a Thousand Thrones.
- The von Carsteins believe that the bearer of the ring of Vashanesh will rule the rest of their kind once Ptra has been banished from the sky.
- The Lahmians believe that by recreating the original Elixir of Immortality, the other vampires will be beholden to them. To this end, they search for avatars of Sigmar, who learned Nagash's secrets when he donned the Crown of Sorcery.
- The Strigoi believe that Sigmar was a vampire, given the Red Kiss by a Strigos vampire in service of Nagash, and that by reuniting the blood of the five bloodlines in a chosen vessel of Sigmar's people, the Champion of Night will rise.
- The Necrarch have no unified theory. Instead, each Necrarch believes that he is destined to become the Champion of Night and conducts their own research.
- The Blood Dragons do not concern themselves with prophecy and most are unwilling to aspire to leadership over their kind, instead focusing on the task their progenitor gave them.
The Vampire Prophecies
Across the Old World, scholars of ancient Nehekhara work at piecing together the history of Necromancy. Many scrolls and hieroglyphs have been recovered from the Land of the Dead over time, but these artefacts are often damaged or mistranslated—or were deliberately encrypted by their authors a millennia ago. The ambiguous nature of these records has fostered conflicting theories concerning the origins of Vampirism in Lahmia, the Vampires' exodus to the Old World, and the High Priest of the Mortuary Cult who would become the Great Necromancer Nagash. In fact, there is a devoted following of academics working in secret to uncover the truth behind the Nagash apotheosis legend. After the Great Necromancer was driven from Khemri in –1650 IC, he seemingly vanished from recorded history for nearly 500 years. Based on recent exploration and secondary sources, most historians now agree Nagash attained godhood, raised Nagashizzar, and fought a major war against the Skaven during those missing years.[1b]
Scrolls from the Nehekharan city of Zandri link Nagash's apotheosis to the five Vampire bloodlines. The exact translation of these hieroglyphs is heavily debated, but they seem to indicate Nagash's bloodline was cursed by the Old Gods, and extensive conditions must be met in order to lift the curse. Interpretations of the curse vary widely, according to the nationality and religion of the interpreter. This field of scholarship comprises a hodgepodge of historical half-truths, rumours, and theological exegesis collectively known as the Vampire Prophecies.[1b]
Of course, Vampires rarely agree on mundane issues, much less the true nature of their curse and, more importantly, what must be done to lift it.[1b]
The Qu'rashi Nomads
Having previously discovered the Elixir of Life, Nagash was over 300 by the time he was driven from Khemri. The infamous elixir kept the exiled priest young, but it failed to protect him from desert exposure. Only a chance encounter with a tribe of nomads saved Nagash from certain death. Qu'rashi oral tradition maintains Nagash was rescued and lived among them for a time before they became aware of his true identity. When the mortal Nagash fell in love with a woman of the tribe, he revealed himself to the elders.[1b][1c]
At first, the Qu'rashi were conflicted, as they knew of the high priest's notorious fall from grace. But Nagash embodied the nomadic ideals of cunning and resourcefulness, and besides, the Qu'rashi had already partaken of his fertility magic. While the Qu'rashi and Nagash agreed on most subjects, the nomadic view on the sanctity of death forced the elders to reject his elixir. Eventually, Nagash was accepted as a full member of the tribe and permitted to marry his true love. Soon after, the Great Necromancer's last child was born. It is probable this child lived and died without ever knowing the significance of his infamous heritage.[1c]
For 50 years, Nagash continued drinking the longevity elixir, avoiding the ravages of age. With the tribe's refusal to utilise the elixir, Nagash's wife grew old and died. Nagash was heartbroken, his ageless existence promising only an eternity of unanswered longing. Nagash soon left the Qu'rashi in search of a means to reunite with his beloved. His search took him to the Realm of Morr.[1c]
Nagash and the Tree of Hope
At the edge of the world stands a great tree that carries the hidden secrets of life upon its branches. Legend says the tree is guarded by Morr, and one must cross his domain in order to reach it. How Nagash came to the Tree of Hope remains a mystery. Only the greatest champions of mankind have ever stood before the tree, and presumably, Morr would deny Nagash access. However, recovered Lahmian tablets suggest the Great Necromancer went before the tree, and it was there he underwent apotheosis and attained godhood.[1c]
Curse of the Old Gods
Finally, with Nagash gone, the reformed Mortuary Cult reclaimed its respectable status within Nehekharan society. But deep within the "reformed" cult, a secret cabal loyal only to Nagash continued plotting in his name. In Lahmia, High Priest W'soran turned Queen Neferata against the reformers, and many of the disloyal were banished or killed outright.[1c]
After eradicating their opposition, W'soran and Queen Neferata erected the Temple of Blood as a rallying place for the scattered acolytes of Nagash. Deep within the temple, diabolical minds worked feverishly to recover the lost secrets of Nagash's elixir. After a time, the cultists were able to partially simulate Nagash's formula but with terrible side effects. The flawed elixir granted Neferata a limited form of immortality and a healthy thirst for Human blood.[1c]
The age of the Vampire had begun.[1c]
The Gods of Nehekhara were greatly angered; their priests had been expelled from the city and their followers converted to this new Cult of Blood. The vengeful Gods convened a hasty council, wherein they cursed Nagash and his bloodline for indirectly birthing the Vampire menace. Most commonly cited is the pronouncement of Ptra the Sun God, ruler of the pantheon, which states Nagash's bloodline will remain childless for as long as Ptra rules the sky. Variants of the curse have also been attributed to Asaph, Goddess of the Asp; and Phakth, the Hawk God, among others. In a bitter twist of irony, Nagash would later invoke these same gods to command the vampires against the armies of Khemri.[1c]
The Three Returns of Nagash
Over the next millennium, Nagash returned three times. Nagash's first return came when a great host of unified Nehekharans expelled the Blood Cult from Lahmia. At first, Neferata and the Vampires believed Nagash was acting in their interests. They had been humiliated by the Nehekharans and were eager for Nagash's magical aid in the upcoming counterattack. Unfortunately for Neferata and her ilk, this same magical "aid" also bound the Vampires to Nagash's will. Of course, the counterattack failed, and the Vampires were driven north. Eventually, Neferata and her fellows were able to break free of Nagash's direct control, but the legacy of his betrayal would live forever in the Blood Curse. On his second return, Nagash cast his Great Ritual and transformed the Kingdom of Nehekhara into the Land of the Dead. Nagash returned once more during the age of Sigmar Heldenhammer.[1c][1d]
Sigmar and the Great Necromancer
Nagash’s Crown of Sorcery played a pivotal role in Sigmar’s defeat of the Great Necromancer in 15 IC. Just as Kadon had done many years before, Sigmar gained knowledge of Nagash’s history simply by wearing the soul-forged crown. Fortunately for the Empire, Sigmar was not as easily corrupted as Kadon had been, so he was able to turn the necromancer’s knowledge against him. Sigmar's defeat of Nagash was the last great battle before he departed the Empire to become a God. Scholars claim Sigmar witnessed the Tree of Hope on his journey from the world, just as Nagash had done.[1d]
Direct connections between Sigmar and Nagash are vehemently denied by Sigmarite scholars. Anyone suggesting Sigmar was tainted by the Crown of Sorcery is charged with blasphemy. However, Grand Theogonist Volkmar’s resurrection after the Storm of Chaos caused whispers to spread throughout the Empire. Whilst the majority of Esmer loyalists prefer to couch their attacks against Volkmar in terms of Chaos taint, sceptical theologians of other Gods—particularly those of Morr and Ulric—have begun to wonder if Sigmar's apotheosis was gained at a terrible moral cost.[1d]
The Zandri Scrolls
During the late 15th century, Tilean prince Giovanni Lanfranchi mistakenly landed his crusading army on the northern coast of Nehekhara. They plundered ancient tombs in the city of Zandri and recovered hordes of gold and scrolls dating back to the first return of Nagash. Lanfranchi led his army onwards into Araby, paying little heed to the scrolls. But years later, after retiring from the crusades, Lanfranchi translated the Zandri Scrolls with the aid of Morrian Priest Anton Aethelbert. The content of the scrolls was most disturbing.[1d]
Among the scrolls was a series of encrypted testimonials written for King Alcadizzar by his high priests. They were dated at around –1190 IC, just after the fall of Lahmia. Alcadizzar had been urged to dispatch his navy and hunt down the scattered Vampires, for among them was one individual who might undo the curse of the Old Gods and bring darkness upon the world. The identity of this errant Lahmian has never been ascertained, but Aethelbert concluded one of Nagash’s descendants must have been overlooked when the Old Gods cursed his bloodline. "Whilst searching the Temple of Blood," the high priests had written, "evidence was found that a cataclysmic spell will be unleashed if the curse of the Old Gods is undone." Only 40 years later, all Nehekhara had been destroyed by Nagash's Great Ritual. Those survivors who had known of the high priests’ warnings assumed that this was the foretold cataclysmic event. They were wrong.[1d]
The errant Lahmian’s identity was never ascertained, but Aethelbert concluded one of Nagash’s descendants must have been overlooked when the Old Gods cursed his bloodline. Lanfranchi and his chaplain also discovered a series of numeric codes which they were unable to crack, but which Lanfranchi incorporated into a triptych painting for future scholars to unravel. These numerals represent encoded power words, sacred to the old Nehekharan gods. The sacred words were uttered by Nagash after his first return, and together with the power of Vashanesh's ring allowed Nagash to bind the vampires to his will.[1d]
Priory of the Spear
Lanfranchi was gravely concerned by the Zandri Scrolls and used his considerable fortunes to establish an order of elite Myrmidian Vampire Hunters called the Priory of the Spear. The order's headquarters was located in Lanfranchi's home town of Monte Negro, near Remas. A base was also built near the village of Siegfriedhof in Stirland, chosen for its close proximity to Sylvania, where Aethelbert believed Vashanesh, a known Scion of Nagash, was hiding. The true purpose of the Priory was well concealed, for if the Vampires learned a descendant of Nagash had escaped the curse of the Old Gods, they would take every measure necessary to protect him. The Priory of the Spear was ruthless in its pursuit of Nagash's descendants, murdering any druid, Strigany, or Arabyan migrant who could be justified to have connections with the Great Necromancer.[1d]
By the time of Lanfranchi's death, the Priory of the Spear had gained considerable notoriety. Anton Aethelbert, now a saint and commander of the fortress in Siegfriedhof, implemented a reformation of the order under the guidance of a Morrian sect called the Fellowship of the Shroud. The fortress at Siegfriedhof was converted into an abbey, and the order’s charter was officially re-written to emphasise a defensive role. Unofficially, the Fellowship of the Shroud remains very much an offensive order to this day; its core mandate is to hunt and kill the Scions of Nagash. Famous historical figures have lent their support throughout the Shroud's 1,000 year existence, including Leonardo da Miragliano and Empress Magritta I.[1d]
During the Vampire hysteria of the 16th century, druids of the Old Faith were executed for performing blood rituals similar to those of the Qu'rashi nomads. Druids were also linked with the Barrow Kings; Undead champions of the pre-Imperial tribes who rose from their mounds to punish trespassers on their sacred land. Also, an obscure field of druidic lore has been linked with the Vampire prophecies, the most intriguing of which links the old Sun God Oermath—former husband of the Earth Mother Ishernos—with the Nehekharan Sun God Ptra. Scholars have claimed that Ishernos' sister, an obscure moon goddess, granted Nagash's apotheosis for some hidden purpose in the feud with Oermath. According to these theories, Nagash's fourth return would signal the restoration of the Earth Mother.[1d]
- 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- The Thousand Thrones