The ancient armies of the Tomb Kings are vast beyond counting.
Loyal even in death, legions of skeletal infantry, cavalry and chariots advance at the side of their mummified
lords as a diverse array of giant stone effigies stride across the battlefield to smash their foes asunder.
There once was a time when the ancient kingdom of Nehekhara stood as the crown of human civilization;
a golden age when its cities shone with majestic splendor,
its armies conquered entire nations and its kings ruled as living gods amongst men.
But this great realm was razed millennia ago through treachery and sorcery;
the living perished in an instant and the dead rose from their tombs.
In this lore overview video, we will explore the story of the Tomb Kings…
Long ago, before the race of man, the gods of the desert walked the land,
battling the daemons and foul spirits that lurked there.
The massive battles lasted for centuries until Ptra, the Sun God and King of the pantheon,
drove back the darkness in a final gigantic battle.
Riding a mighty golden chariot and driving back even the most powerful of daemons,
the evil spirits were forced to retreat north to avoid total annihilation.
In the wake of their victory, the desert gods transformed the lands
into a lush and verdant place where they ruled for thousands of years.
When the race of man finally came to be, the gods favored them in exchange for their worship.
The pantheon gifted them the fertile lands and taught them how to read, write and build great cities.
The Nehekharan civilization was born and its people prospered in the Great Land.
The cities of Nehekhara grew and flourished.
Rising to dizzying heights while many tribes in the rest of the world
were still primitive, savage, and were confined to caves.
Their language but grunts, they lived as hunters or gatherers in small communities
spread out around the forests and mountains of the world.
The ancestors of the Empire, of Breton knights and
Tilean merchants had only just discovered bronze, and their rulers lived in mud huts.
But the Nehekharan civilization had already risen from this lowly state
and lived in vast metropoles of marble, their kings in palaces towering over their huge realms.
Great cities of white stone bloomed like desert flowers.
Each city was ruled by a mighty king who’s every whim was law.
The greatest of cities in Nehekhara was Khemri, city of kings.
All monarchs by tradition would bow to the king of Khemri,
who was considered to be the first amongst equals.
Under the ruler-ship of the kings, Nehekhara carved out a mighty empire,
pushing back the greenskins and barbarian tribes along their borders
and expanding their domains further and further.
Unfortunately, this time of prosperity would not last forever.
The Time of Strife, as it was later called, saw the kings begin warring amongst themselves,
each greedy for more territory and more power.
The resulting conflict led to the different cities of Nehekhara wearing each other down
in constant combat, making it impossible to maintain the gains made in their conquests.
As the kings battled each other, the greenskin hordes and barbarian tribes
that were constantly kept at bay began to push into Nehekhara.
Many cities were attacked, the city of Lybaras being destroyed entirely by lizardmen from the south.
Soon drought and plague afflicted the people of the Great Land.
Exhausted by years of war, famine and plague, no army could hold back the invasions alone
but none of the arrogant, power hungry kings would work with their rivals to save their civilization.
Beset on all sides and rotting from within, Nehekhara stood on the brink of destruction.
None would have thought that Nehekhara would be saved by one man.
Settra the Great, newly crowned King of Khemri,
was himself a vision of splendour and martial prowess but also an arrogant and cruel King.
He not only sought the obedience of his subjects but their unwavering adoration.
However, he was no fool, listening to his priests
and realizing that he had to regain the favor of the old gods who had faded from memory.
To accomplish that, he raised great statues in their honor and restored mighty temples in their name.
On the anniversary of his coronation, to prove his devotion
and beseeching the gods to restore his city to its former glory, Settra sacrificed his own children to the gods.
The very next day, the long dry Vitae River flooded for the first time in decades.
The great river washed away the plagues that wracked Khemri, bringing instead a bountiful harvest,
proving to the priesthood and all people that Settra was indeed chosen by the gods.
Settra was merciless in conquering back the revolting city-states,
with voices of dismay and opposition crushed with cruelty, and after a long campaign of unification,
he led Nehekhara into a golden age of prosperity.
The Great Land was united under one powerful King, ruling from the sprawling city of Khemri
over armies counting the hundreds of thousands, fleets of majestic ships that dominated the seas,
and men living over a prosperous land.
The food was always plentiful, the riches abundant, and Nehekhara expanded to be greater than ever,
stretching from Araby and Lustria through Tilea to the Sea of Dread.
It was around the 40th year of Settra’s reign that he traveled to the edge of the Black Mountains
and stared at all the lands his eyes could see;
it is said that it was then when he realized that even if he were to live for sixty more years,
there would still remain territories to be brought under his reign and civilized;
that one day he will inevitably be defeated, not by a man or a greenskin,
but by his own mortality, robbing him of all he has attained.
As with all men, though, he began to think about mortality.
He came to the conclusion that despite all his power and might, something as mere
as death would rob him of his lands, his people, his power and his accomplishments.
In an attempt to overcome death, Settra would set in motion events that would forever scar Nehekhara.
And so Settra founded the Mortuary Cult.
The Mortuary Cult was founded to work towards the secrets of immortality.
Their priests prayed to the desert gods, travelled the world,
learnt magic and experimented in an attempt to postpone the inevitable.
Eventually they succeeded in extending Settra’s life well beyond its natural span.
This was a great accomplishment, but it was not enough, it was not immortality.
Settra would still be claimed by the chilling grasp of death one day.
Knowing they had failed but not wishing to raise their king’s legendary fury,
the Mortuary Cult informed the now ancient Settra that although they couldn’t jump
from extended life to immortality they could use their incantations, rituals and rites to raise him after death.
Although he could not live on forever, the priests of the Cult believed that his spirit could be kept alive
with powerful incantations to eventually return to life
in a stainless body once the knowledge of how to do that was discovered.
They assured that on the Day of Awakening, he would be resurrected
to a golden paradise where he would rule for a million years.
When his death was inevitable, Settra was laid to rest entombed in a great Pyramid.
A beacon of shining light stone so bright it burned the eyes of any who looked directly upon it.
It was the largest construction Khemri had ever seen.
The Cult’s priests intoned powerful incantations over his corpse
before embalming and entombing him in the pyramid.
With him, his riches and thousands of his most loyal soldiers were buried, to remain with him even in the afterlife.
After the death of Settra, many Kings sought to rise in power once again
and although Nehekhara did not revert into civil war, the Golden Age was over, and its borders diminished,
only to occasionally expand again for a few decades under a skilled commander or King.
As time passed, each new King also demanded to be buried in a tomb alike that of Settra
and the Mortuary Cult grew more and more powerful.
The Kings and highborn of Khemri constructed their own pyramids
and made rites of incantation and preservation,
so that they too could return from the dead and rule over a golden paradise.
This lead to greater and greater efforts being made by the living to honor the dead.
Each king demanding his pyramid out do his predecessor’s.
However, none were foolish enough to attempt rivalry with Settra’s Great Pyramid.
Necropolises became common across Nehekhara
and in some cases they seemed to nearly replace cities,
the works of the necrotects becoming more elaborate in their designs.
The first members of the Cult passed on their knowledge to their disciples,
and after centuries of research, what Settra wanted was finally discovered –
the secret to immortality, achieved by magically binding the soul to the body.
The members of the Cult, however, were aware that their power would be lost
should they bring back to life the great Kings of old, and so,
they kept the secret to themselves, prolonging only their own lives.
Those who did so became known as the Liche Priests.
The body, however, although bonded to the soul, did not stop ageing.
The oldest Liche Priests looked like walking skeletons clothed in golden robes,
and their obsession poured over into the society they ruled –
the Desert gods of death became as widely worshipped as Ptra the Sun King,
and uncountable lives of men were spent in preparation of their king’s mummifications,
in hope of eventual resurrection.
Awaiting the Day of Awakening, entire armies were buried alive with their Kings
in the gigantic tombs to be one day raised from the dead into a golden paradise.
None in Nehekhara would have imagined that their glorious civilization
would be changed again by one man. Nagash, the great traitor, son of king Khetep of Khemri.
Nagash was sent to the Mortuary Cult and became a priest,
while his brother Thutep was groomed for leadership as he would be the next king after the passing of his father.
Rising through the Cult’s ranks Nagash quickly proved his aptitude for the Cult’s practices,
becoming Khemri’s high priest in quick order.
However, like past kings who ruled Nehekhara, Nagash was consumed by greed for power.
After the death of their father, Nagash murdered his brother’s bodyguard
and buried the young King alive within the great pyramid of their father.
The next day, blood still on his hands,
Nagash sat upon the throne of Khemri as king and none dared oppose him.
He personally crushed any opposition, with every day seeking to increase his already mighty powers.
His reign was one of tyranny and oppression.
He would murder his tutors in a magical duel to keep all of their secrets
and he even tortured foreign mystics for their knowledge.
He learned the art of dark magic from a cabal of shipwrecked Dark Elves.
Soon enough, Nagash began experimenting with necromancy,
combining his new skills in dark magic with his knowledge of death from the Mortuary Cult.
The powerful priest performed profane experiments and soon created the elixir of life,
finally making himself immortal.
Nagash committed his learning to the Nine Books of Nagash,
the most powerful source of necromantic magic in the world.
But the worst is yet to come.
As his obsession with power and magic grew, he commanded the construction of the Black Pyramid,
a structure so gigantic and vast, that it started draining all of Khemri´s resources to complete it.
Waging war on cities and nations surrounding Khemri
to gather the ever-growing necessary materials and manpower to finish it.
After fifty years and countless lives lost, the great structure was completed.
A colossal black pyramid that dwarfed even the pyramid of Settra.
So steep was the toll on the now impoverished cities of Nehekhara
that the Kings of each city rallied together in defiance of Nagash’s tyranny.
To defeat the now united kings, Nagash committed the ultimate blasphemy
in a civilization that saw the dead as sacred.
A gigantic legion of skeletal warriors rose at Nagash’s whim.
This was the first time in history that the dead rose from their graves under the will of another being.
The sight was terrifying. An alliance of seven kings confronted Nagash’s hordes
but for all their efforts they seemed on the edge of annihilation.
For every soldier of the rebellion that fell, Nagash gained another warrior.
The rebellion would have failed had it not been for the Mortuary Cult itself turning against Nagash.
Rather than see Nehekhara destroyed, the Mortuary Cult took action aiding the seven kings.
The Cult bound the souls of ancient heroes of the golden ages
that adorned the many cities and palaces throughout Nehekhara.
Ushabti and Khemrian Warsphinxes emboldened the living armies and marched against the undead hordes.
After many battles the armies of the living valiantly pushed
the undead horde to Khemri where in one final battle Nagash was defeated.
Although beaten the necromancer fled before he could be captured,
his most loyal follower, Arkhan the Black buying time for his master to escape.
Nagash retreated to plan his vengeance and a new king ruled in Khemri.
For hundreds of years many kings again ruled Nehekhara
but the war against Nagash had left them weakened as had years of famine,
civil war and roaming invaders who constantly seeked to rob the land of its riches.
The treachery of Nagash had tarnished the authority of the royal line
but their reputation would be somewhat repaired by another iconic ruler.
Alcadizaar, a ruler whose like had not been seen since Settra the Great,
disciplined and unified the unruly kings once more.
Though this new era of prosperity would be short lived.
The final ruin of Nehekhara was beginning.
Nefetara, Queen of the city of Lahmia, using a stolen Book of Nagash, attempted to use
her powers to consort with foul entities and create an elixir just as Nagash did before her.
Unbeknownst to her, her actions were guided by Nagash’s ancient evil
and her tainted elixir of life inadvertently created the Vampires.
In his fortress of Nagashizzar, Nagash drew the vampires to him
and made them his dark champions putting them at the head of a new skeletal host
and beginning another campaign against the unified kings.
Alcadizaar would lead his forces valiantly against the undead hordes, never yielding.
At the Battle of the Golden Skull the living legions were victorious,
scattering the vampires’ commanders, and without their magic the skeletal legions crumbled into dust.
Nagash’s bitterness at this defeat was so profound he chose to blight the land,
that no-one might hold dominion over it.
The Great Land fell prey to pestilence and disease, the great Vitae River was corrupted by Nagash,
running thick and dark, killing the land that relied on it.
This calamity saw the Great Vitae become the Mortis River. The poisoned water caused disease and crop failures.
Nine out of every ten people died in dreadful torments from the diseases.
Nehekhara was plagued by pestilence and Khemri was no exception.
Nagash had new bodies to fuel his armies of the dead.
It was then that Nagash came to the city again, he moved through the streets of Khemri without consequence.
Alcadizaar’s kingdom was sick and broken.
Still they made a defiant last stand but all guards were slain and Alcadizzar was captured.
Nagash, after hundreds of years, ruled Khemri yet again. Though he did not stay long in Khemri,
instead returning to Nagashizzar, where he imprisoned Alcadizaar and planned to perform the Great Ritual,
an incredibly powerful spell to raise every corpse across the globe into his own army.
The Great Ritual began as dark clouds gathered around the massive Black Pyramid.
The ritual began scouring all life from Nehekhara, killing crops and animals in moments.
Beneath the fortress though, things were different. While Nagash was channeling the spell,
Alcadizaar, the last mortal king, was freed by some mysterious rat-like creatures lurking in the dark,
who thrust a powerful blade made of pure warpstone into his hands and bade him kill Nagash.
Weak and emaciated, Alcadizaar stumbled into Nagash’s throne room, where through sheer force of will,
he cut the necromancer down before he could finish his spell.
The magic Nagash had been wielding spiraled out of control at the moment of his death,
spreading across the once verdant lands of Nehekhara.
Alcadizzar, filled with horror and having witnessed the death of his beloved realm, then faded from history.
The death of Nagash unleashed all the life force consumed by him through the centuries.
All across Nehekhara, countless corpses rose from the sands, animated solely by the dark will of the necromancer.
But since their source of power was vanished, they fell to the ground once again.
The wave of energy unleashed also penetrated the long-sealed tombs of the Tomb Kings –
but due to the wards and protections granted by the Mortuary Cult, the energy affected them differently.
The ancient monarchs and their armies awoke, their memories almost intact,
their bodies able and preserved thanks to mummification.
The kings of old now stood at the head of their enormous legions who were also brought back to life.
They were, however, terrified – what they awoke to was not the utopia they expected, but a desert of death.
A kingdom in ruins, a shadow of its former self.
Their bodies transformed and many even driven mad by the sight of their own hideous visage.
They were reborn not into the golden paradise that was promised
but a tainted wasteland where they would have to contend with other kings.
This led to more war amongst this kings, now vying for control over the land of the dead.
Each of them was the most powerful man alive at their own time,
and each believed it was their right to rule again.
Their undead armies fought as the resurrected Liche Priests watched on – but only one could triumph.
This era of discordancy was only halted by the return of one thought lost forever.
The head of the Mortuary Cult, Grand Hierophant Khatep,
wisest and oldest of the Liche Priests, finally broke the seals of Settra’s Tomb,
unaffected by Nagash’s necromancy thanks to the potency of the wards and incantations on his Great Pyramid.
Settra’s thirst for domination had not diminished in the two thousand years since his passing.
He quickly brought the lesser Tomb Kings to heel and those who refused were destroyed,
their bones powdered to dust.
Within two years and countless battles, Settra became the undisputed ruler of Nehekhara.
After re-establishing order, Settra demanded an explanation, why had he arose before the proper time,
why was the Great Land now little more than dead sand dunes,
why had he not been raised into the Golden Paradise he was promised...
but mostly, why did it seem that the ancient gods had abandoned Nehekhara.
The Cult’s grand Hierophant told of the neglect and corruption,
how the Kings had fought for power and the treachery of Nagash.
Now knowing what had passed, Settra promised never to sleep again but instead
to remain forever vigilant over his diminished empire
and that nothing would stop him returning it to its former glory.
He commanded that the Tomb Kings would return to their original rest
and the Liche Priests were given the duty of watching over the tombs and of awakening his vassal kings as needed.
So it was that Nehekhara became the land of the dead
and Settra the Imperishable renewed his rulership over the Great Land.
This is the land of the dead, where mummified kings are cursed to rule in a living death.
Nehekhara is forever tainted by Nagash’s Great Ritual and is now a hostile realm
where the scorching heat of the desert sun is the least of worries.
Unquiet spirits flit around great mortuary temples and dark tombs,
preying on those foolish enough to enter the cursed land in search of treasure.
Countless skeletal warriors determined to defend their realm against tomb robbers and invaders.
Rising from their sarcophagi, the mummified Tomb Kings possess the same
thirst for conquest that drove them in life, their thousands of servants fully devoted to their kings.
They now fight to restore their vast empire to its former majesty,
striking forth from the desert to reclaim the world from the living.
The Tomb Kings are coming to reclaim their rightful dominion and woe betide any that stand in their way.