After taking a look at the Basileans and orcs, today we’re giving you a taste of one of the first fleets to launch in 2021: the Empire of Dust.
Raised from the depths by bale-eyed High Priests, the great war-barges of the Ahmunite Empire serve their unloving masters once more. Their hulls now built from the polished bones of the Mighty Dead, their crews silent, tireless, the warfleets of the Empire of Dust prepare to restore glory to Nehkesharr.
The sight of a fully arrayed warfleet upon the ocean is enough to strike dread and awe in even the most hardened heart. Upon decks of bone, golden statues gleam in the sunlight, the Jewels of Shobik crackling with barely contained energy. As battle-lines are formed, the fleet comes to a halt, silent, immovable, oars raised in salute to those who have fallen before, and who shall fall again. And then the drums beat, the oars dip, and with alarming speed the silent warships of the golden empire approach, the ghosts of past glories now very real, and very dangerous.
It is some small mercy that the Empire of Dust has so far been contained to the Infant Sea. By the efforts of the salamanders most of all, and in part the Imperial Dwarfs, their every attempt to pass the Straits of Madness and gain a foothold in Upper Mantica has been thwarted. But the resources of the long-dead Ahmunites seem limitless, their ambitions of empire undaunted. One day, they will amass a fleet of such size that the very gods would not oppose them. And when that day comes, all will be dust…
Main Battle Ships
Empire of Dust fleets rely upon a combination of wind, oar-power and sorcery to drive their fleets onwards. They form lines of battle much as they did in olden times, though once battle is joined their oared galleys are highly manoeuvrable, allowing them to make the most of the short-ranged weaponry and magic.
It is said that the power of Shobik flows from Nehkesharr, outwards across the old lands of the Ahmunite Empire. It is this innate magical energy that is harnessed by the High Priests, allowing them to infuse the dead with some spark of unlife. The Monoliths – largest of the Ahmunite Warships – carry a portion of Nehkesharr’s power. Through the great temple of Shobik built upon its stern, and the glimmering Jewels of Shobik embedded into the fabric of the vessel, these enormous galleys are true remnants of the necropolis-city – where a Monolith sails, Nehkesharr lives. Captained by no less than an Ahmunite prince, and carrying the power of an entire cabal of priests, Monoliths are a force to be reckoned with.
When a Monolith reaches the line of battle, it makes its presence known swiftly and decisively. The High Priests intone the Rituals of the Elements, causing the skies to darken, the seas to rage, and lightning to fork from the Jewels of Shobik. Balefire catapults bring fire upon the foe; heavy ballistae unleash enchanted bolts capable of piercing the thickest hulls, or exploding on impact; while serried ranks of skeletal archers fire hails of arrows at the enemy crew. The grim efficiency of the Monolith crew is a sight to behold – they cannot be reasoned with, accept no parley, and offer absolutely no mercy.
Millennia ago, the Ahumnite war galleys were a dominant force in what is now called the Sandstone Sea, vying for supremacy with the frigates of the salamander empire. Now, they are fewer in number, but no less powerful despite the passing of the ages.
War Galleys cross the open seas with square-rigged sails, but when battle is joined they lower their oars to outmanoeuvre the foe. Enemy captains often make the mistake of believing War Galleys to be crewed by mindless revenants, summoned into being by hapless necromancers – but nothing could be further from the truth. In death, as in life, galley captains are skilled tacticians, and highly disciplined. Their crews are obedient and efficient, and do not tire. Only when the lines of battle close, and ballistae skewer their hulls as if they were papyrus, do the enemy understand…
These swift-moving sailships, so named for their blade-like silhouette, are designed to entangle enemy ships, buying time for the War Galleys to arrive in support.
Upon the deck stands a cohort of powerful Revenants, the elite troops of the Empire of Dust. Once engaged, the prow of the Khopeshii acts like a boarding ramp, allowing the Revenants to fight their way aboard the enemy vessel, slaughtering all in their path.
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