To the east of the Worlds Edge Mountains and north of the Mountains of Mourn, the Eastern Steppes stretch from the civilised lands of men to the Chaos Wastes. These vast, rolling plains of grass and tundra are home to the Kurgan, savage tribes of nomadic warriors who spend their lives in battle to prove their might before the Gods. Born into a land constantly riven by warfare, the people of the north must be strong warriors lest they meet an early and brutal end in battle.
Crom the Conqueror is of the Kul. A tribe of the Kurgan people, the Kul stake their claim on the lands above the Worlds Edge Mountains and to the east of the Sea of Chaos, from where they launch brutal raids on their neighbouring tribes, sometimes travelling as far as Cathay or the Empire in their quest for plunder. Possessed of an ambition that burned like fire and a keen warrior's skill, Crom bested his Chieftain in a leadership challenge before his twentieth year. Crom's cunning and prowess ensured that the Kul rose to great renown, a position built on the backs of slaves, and paid for with a hoard of stolen wealth. Before another ten winters had passed Crom was one of mightiest kings the Steppes had ever known, and it was then that the dreams started.
Night after night, Crom dreamt of the future, of a world drowning in a tide of Chaos for the glory of the Gods. He saw a dark figure silhouetted against a red sky, a blade sheathed in golden fire raised above its head. The dreams became ever more vivid, and Crom became convinced that it was a message from the Gods and a clue to his destiny; but who was this figure? Was it his own destiny to claim the world for the Ciods, or was there another, even mightier than he? Obsessed with the meaning of the dreams, Crom spoke with the sorcerers of his tribe but when they could not provide him with answers, his mood became dark and brooding.
When news came to him of a company of armoured knights marching over his lands uninvited, Crom was furious. Angered by the slight to his sovereignty and made reckless by his infuriating dreams, he immediately rode forth to challenge the intruders. Catching sight of the knights across the sweeping plains he bellowed challenges at them until eventually, their dark leader raised a hand, stopping his riders and turning back.
The knights spurred towards the king of the Kul, who soon found himself encircled. Though outnumbered many times over, Crom did not back down and demanded to know who dared cross his lands without his permission. The leader of the knights replied simply that his name was Archaon, and he sought the six treasures of Chaos. As far as Crom was concerned, for Archaon to make such a statement as this was the ultimate blasphemy. Drawing his sword Crom challenged Archaon to single combat and to prove that he was indeed he chosen of the Gods.
Archaon's shoulders shook slightly with silent laughter and gestured to one of his riders. Seemingly unhindered by the great weight of armour upon his back, the knight leapt down from his horse and charged at Crom. Crom simply grinned, and in a single motion battered the warrior's sword aside before backswinging his blade, severing the man's head. Crying out in triumph re-demanded once more that Archaon face him. Archaon said nothing, but gestured again. Another of the armoured warriors stepped forwards; again Crom cut him down with ease. A dozen times more Archaon sent forth his champions, and each time Crom proved victorious, the blood of the knights spilt upon the barren Steppes. The Kul ruler was in a fury, demanding to know why Archaon refused to fight, when the huge knight finally dismounted. Sensing that this was to be a fight worthy of his skills, Crom did not allow the knight to even draw his blade before rushing headlong towards him, his sword swinging in vicious arcs.
At first the dark knight gave ground before the enraged king, beating aside the ferocious attacks with his shield, seemingly unable to draw his own weapon in the face of such skill and ferocity. Crom pressed on, believing that he had the measure of his foe, but as Archaon reached the ring of knights, he gave ground no further and with a single sweep of his shield swept the blade from Crom's hand. Without pause, Crom flung himself weaponless at his foe but as fast as he was, Archaon was faster, his right hand closing in a vice-like grip about Crom's throat. As he lifted the struggling Kul high off the ground, Archaon abandoned his shield and drew his sword, the blade easing from the scabbard.
Struck with awe, Crom instantly stopped his struggles, for the blade shone with a golden flame that danced across runes inscribed so finely as to be barely readable. The serrated edge of the sword seemed to move and flow even as he watched, and a faint moaning emanated from the desperate struggles of an imprisoned daemon. Still holding the king at arm's length, Archaon told him of the quest for the treasures. The Sword he possessed already and the Eye and the Mark. Still he needed the Steed, the Armour and the Crown. Crom had been tested and found to be a mighty warrior; Archaon bade Crom accompany him for the remainder of his journey. Crom realised that Archaon could truly be the figure from his dreams, the chosen of the Gods and of the prophecy he who would bring about the Storm of Chaos. The Gods could not have given Crom greater honour and, leaving his people, he joined Archaon's band, the Swords of Chaos, and Crom's tale passed into the myths of the Kul. Over the decades spanned by that epic quest, Crom's fervour and belief in Archaon grew ever stronger. Soon he became the most loyal and devoted of his Lord's companions, travelling far and wide in his lord's name - a herald for the Lord of the End Times.
As the day of prophecy drew near, Crom took it upon himself to create an army worthy of the Lord of the End Times and Crom returned to his homeland for the first time in many years. He strode brazenly into the tent of the king of his people demanding that the Kul swear loyalty to Archaon and the End Times. When the king, himself a mighty warrior, challenged Crom he was cut down like a mere boy. In awe of Crom and his words, and remembering the legends of their tribe, the assembled chieftains of the Kul acknowledged him with deafening cheers and swore themselves to his cause.
Under Crom's leadership once more, the Kul burst forth from their own lands in a whirlwind of conquest. Those chieftains who would not join the cause were slain by Crom, their armies humbled in battle, and the people of their tribes pledged to obey Archaon as their ruler and Crom as his Herald. As the ranks swelled with the peoples of the conquered tribes, the horde swept eastwards across the plains. Crom's following was the largest army ever assembled in the east, the warriors fanatical in their desire to crush all before them in the name of their Gods.
When the Conqueror was finally satisfied with the strength of the force at his command, he led his army south, leaving the open plains of the Steppes for the rocky, greenskin-infested lands below. The lands of men would be attacked not only from the north, but also from the east, each incursion alone more mighty than any that had come before. Truly the time of mortals was at an end, and the Storm of Chaos was upon the world...
The End Times
Attention, Empire Citizens!
This article contains information regarding the End Times, the actual canon ending of Warhammer.
Vardek Crom had quickly hacked his way to supremacy of the Kurgan, only to bend the knee to Archaon. Crom, more than any, had recognised the dark power at play on the Everchosen's brow, and he knew that no other could replace Archaon as Lord of the End Times. Where another would have chafed at that knowledge, and quickly perished in an unwinnable challenge, Crom the Conqueror saw only opportunity and godly favour to be won.
Battle of Heffengen
At the great Battle of Heffengen, Crom, unbeaten champion of Archaon, charged into the fray alongside a band of Chaos Warriors. No mere Marauders, these plate-clad brutes were the favoured warriors of the Kurgan, and Vardek Crom was their lord. Loosed from the Inevitable City by Archaon's will, Crom had come south to seek the favour of the gods. He did not know that Archaon had despatched him thus in the hope that death would find him and, even if he had, would not have cared one whit. Vardek Crom had ever believed himself a conqueror; now, with Archaon's blessing, he sought to prove it.
At the height of the battle, Crom sighted the Exalted of Sigmar, Valten and his protector, Luthor Huss. Smelling the prospect of glory, he pushed through the melee, seeking to restore his followers' flagging morale with the blood of the enemy's champions.
Seeing Crom approach, Huss spurred forward. The Warrior Priest's great hammer swung down to split the warlord's skull, but Crom was too fast, and swept the strike aside with his shield. Crom's return blow was not loosed against Huss, but rather against the priest's horse. The beast screamed in pain as the axe all but severed its foreleg and, rearing up, flung Huss from the saddle. Crom was on the priest before he could regain his footing, and the point of his sword plunged deep into Huss's shoulder.
As his hammer fell from nerveless hands, Huss called holy fire down upon his tormentor. Though Crom was staggered, he did not fall, and his next blow sliced deep into the priest's scalp to crack his skull. Laughing at his victory, Crom battered aside Huss's desperate punch, and readied his sword for the final blow.
The blow never fell. As Crom's sword thrust home, Valten urged his steed through the press of battle and assailed Crom from behind. Ghal Maraz came hammering down, and the Conqueror's hastily raised shield crumpled under the blow. Huss forgotten, Crom spun to face Valten, his axe flashing out to cripple the man's horse as it had the priest's. This time, however, the gambit failed. Valten's steed had been a personal gift from Karl Franz, and was well-trained. Swift as Crom's axe strike was, the warhorse stepped smartly aside, leaving the Conqueror's blade hacking at empty air. Ghal Maraz came down again, and this time it was Crom's sword that shattered. Now the warlord had only his axe at hand, but still he did not yield the fight.
Crom had his opponent's measure now, and kept his weapon ever in motion, whirling the axe in dizzying arcs so that Valten could not be sure where the next blow would come from. Again and again the axe bit at Valten's armour, and all the while Crom evaded the man's return blows - the Conqueror had tasted the might of Ghal Maraz twice now, and resolved to let it strike him no more. Once, twice, three times Valten struck out at his foe, and each time Ghal Maraz passed within hair's breadth of Crom's helm. On the third strike, the warlord leaned inside the blow's arc and, with his free hand, hauled Valten from the saddle.
Valten hit the ground, all breath driven from his body, and Crom closed for the kill. Roaring his victory, Crom brought his axe down, but now it was Huss's turn to save Valten. Though slowed by his wounds, the Warrior Priest threw himself forward, and locked both of his gauntleted hands around Crom's weapon arm. Such was the warlord's strength that Huss could check the blow for only a moment, but a moment was all Valten needed. The man's fingers tightened around Ghal Maraz's grips and the hammer came around, smashing into Crom's armoured chest, crumpling the steel and pulping the flesh behind. A second strike stove the warlord's horned helm, and Crom the Conqueror, Herald of Archaon, passed from the mortal world...
- Vardek Crom, like many characters within the Warhammer universe, may have its influences by characters within Robert E. Howard's sword and fantasy novels, such as Conan the Barbarian and Kull the Conqueror.