The Great Kurgan is the only known name of a legendary and near mythical Champion of Chaos who once ruled the entirety of the Eastern Steppes and the Kurgan people. Before the raising of the Great Bastion of Cathay, or even the rise of hammer-handed Sigmar in the verdant lands of the Reik, it is said that in their vast lands in the east, the Kurgan had established an empire whose dominion spanned the length of the mighty steppes and ranged yet further afield.[1a]
An empire of swift horsemen, snarling beasts and dread sorceries that cut down their foes far swifter than any arrow, and whose warriors' blades were ever whetted with blood. So mighty was this empire bereft of fortress or border that its ruler was known simply as the Great Kurgan, the mightiest warlord his people had ever known, for his dominion was but an extension of his bloody will. By war and conquest, the Great Kurgan gathered all the war-like tribes who bore his name under his yoke. Those who opposed him he destroyed. Those who prostrated before him he enslaved, for only the mighty would he allow to dwell amongst his ranks.[1a]
With a never ending hunger for power over the steppe lands and their people, the Great Kurgan prayed to the myriad gods of his people -- he prayed to the winds of the North, South, West and East. He prayed to earth and sky and rain. By day to the sun and by night to the moon, giving up great offerings of slaves and plunder to curry their favour. The Great Kurgan was mighty, but he was wise enough to know that the Dark Gods of the Uttermost North were mightiest above all -- and so in pact with Chaos's dark lords did the Great Kurgan pledge himself and his race in fulsome service, and swore before the Gods that he would never falter in his dues to them. The Great Kurgan had taken many wives from amongst the clans, but they had only borne him four sons: Four brothers who were rivals to each other for their father's favour and the glory of conquest. Sons whom their father had, in his greed, pledged to the Four Great Gods.[1a]
In the legends of the steppesmen, it is said that the Great Kurgan drew his sons to his side after gaining victory in a great battle. There, within his ger, the warlord spoke of the favour he had been granted, and how by the grace of the Gods he had been allowed to forge the Kurgan peoples into a mighty empire, driving before them the hosts of Man, Orc and Dwarf to ruin. With this, his sons roared their battlecries and boasted of how they would expand their father's domain yet further and spill the blood of his foes. Yet the chieftain also spoke of how there are debts that not even a king could not avoid to pay, and of how it pleases the gods to take from a man that which he loves above all. In great despair did the mighty Zar fall to his knees as the Children of the Dark Powers began to walk amongst his people, driving many to the darkest depths of insanity and debased obeisance. Within his tent, the myriad trophies and battle-honours of the Great Kurgan were cast contemptuously down, and the Dark Gods did take from the Great Kurgan that which he treasured most. His four sons, taken screaming from their father's city, each transfigured with the stigmatas of the Dark Gods. Khorne -- Gore-clad Lord of Battle, Slaanesh -- Prince of Fell Pleasures, Nurgle -- Corrupt Father of Plagues, and Tzeentch -- Changer of Ways.[1a]
With his beloved sons taken from him, the Great Kurgan withheld his tears and instead raised his skull-chalice in thanksgiving to his masters, though he knew well now that every victory he would attain from henceforth would ring hollow, and every joy would turn to ashes in his mouth. The bargain complete, the fickle gods grew bored with the Great Kurgan's exploits, turning their attentions to their other servants, and met the Great Kurgan's prayers with cold silence. Though still mighty beyond all reckoning, a shade of ill-omen followed the warlord closely. His subjects whispered dark things in his passing, and warriors began to offer sacrifices in the hopes of avoiding his fate. Soon, with no bloodline to follow him, his lords gave in to cruel games of politicking, each vying for greater power and glory and rulership of the empire. Thus it was that the Great Kurgan saw his mighty empire, which he won through strength and cunning, fall from within thanks to the quarrelsome nature of his own people. All glory it once had were now ground to dust and forgotten. When finally the Great Kurgan fell in battle, none would speak of his fate, and so it was that he became all but forgotten, a fireside legend amongst the men of the North. As the centuries passed, many warlords arose in the Steppes, claiming descent from this legendary father of the Kurgan people, but none could ever hope to match the legendary strength of this ancient warrior-king.[1a]
- It is said that Tamurkhan the Maggot Lord was one of the Great Kurgan's long lost sons, returning on that day to finally uphold his promise to his father to expand the realm of Chaos.