"...and storms shall sunder the skies, and war will tear the world apart, and the dead shall rule the lands."
- —From a heretical text written by an unknown Khemrian author.[2b]
Located within the deep south of the Old World, Nehekhara stretches across the expanses of the lands and valleys between the Great Desert of Araby to the west, the Bitter Sea to the east, the rugged arid plains of the Badlands to the north, and the steaming jungles of the Southlands.[1e]
Whilst the land of Nehekhara was once fertile, populous and prosperous, it is now a desolate kingdom of barren wasteland and searing desert. In addition to the centuries of war and neglect, the lands were forever tainted by the enchantments of Nagash's Great Ritual.
The Land of the Dead is now a ghost-haunted realm where countless unquiet spirits and elementals flit around great mortuary temples and dark tombs. Their cries can be heard screaming in the wind as they cross the vast tracts of Nehekhara's baking deserts, preying on those foolish enough to enter the cursed land in search of treasure.[1e]
See also Tomb Kings's History Section, for a more exhaustive story of Nehekhara.
Three millennia before the time of Sigmar, a civilisation grew up along the banks of the Great River Mortis that scholars of ancient times named the Vitae. Five hundred years later, this civilisation found itself fully realised as the Kingdom of Nehekhara. At a time when most other humans throughout the world were little more than savages, the people ofNehekhara had learned to cultivate the land and herd oxen and goats, and they had built cities, ships and roads. Greatest of all their achievements, this most ancient of all human civilisations had developed a sophisticated written language, the foundations of which, so their legends say, were first taught to them by the gods themselves - gods who walked amongst their children millennia before the Nehekharans had built their first road. The proud and strong people ofNehekhara conquered the wandering tribes of the desert, imposing their culture and beliefs upon all they met, unifying them into a great nation and binding them as citizens or vassals of their great city-states. From this the Nekheharans then drove the tribes of ores and goblins far from their lands, until all the plains, deserts and mountains from the western deserts to the eastern sea were subjugated by the disparate city-states of the great Nehekharan civilisation.[3b]
At the very height of their powers, the influence of the Nehekharan rulers stretched from the steaming jungles of the Southlands, up along the coastline of the Bitter Sea and around the much-fabled Dragon Isles, across the Dark Lands through the World's Edge Mountains to cover all the Badlands and the region now called the Border Principalities and as far north as Sylvania. To the west the Nehekharans controlled or else had frequent access to settlements across all of the lands of Araby, Tilea, Estalia, and Bretonnia as far as the mutable borders of the Loren Forest. Never has there been one human civilisation so wide-ranging and pervasive as that of ancient Nehekhara - maybe not even, the greatest empire of the distant Orient, ruled over by the Dragon Emperor who sits upon the Jade Throne of Grand Cathay.[3b]
Just as it remains to this day, the greatest by far of all the ancient cities of Nehekhara was Eternal Khemri, and it was the first recorded king of this great city, Settra, called The Imperishable, who defeated the monarchs of the other city-states and brought all Nehekhara under his rule and the dominion of Khemri. There are countless temples, palaces and necropoleis scattered throughout Nehekhara that mention King Settra, both praising and condemning him in equal measure. He was, by every account, a great warrior and masterful general; a leader without peer in his time, though also a bloody-handed tyrant to all who dared question his rule. Settra was also a vain and bitter man, despising his own mortality and the fact that despite all his mighty victories and temporal power, death would one day rob him of everything he had won. So it was that Settra embarked upon his greatest and life-long campaign, he ordered his priests to find a way to ensure his immortality upon this plane of existence.[3b]
Nehekhara is a hostile realm where the searing heat of the desert sun is the least of a wandering traveller's worries. The waters of the Great Mortis River are poisonous and blood-coloured, providing no relief to the thirsty. There are regions of quicksand that can swallow regiments whole and choking sandstorms that strip the flesh from bones in mere seconds. Whirlwinds of dust, skulls and ravenous desert insects scour through the land, and rivers of flesh-eating beetles crawl across the desert, consuming everything in their path.[1e]
There are vast plains of bones and skulls that come to life without warning, skeletal fingers reaching up to drag anything alive on the surface into a sandy grave below. A few oases still exist, scattered throughout the desert, but they are all tainted; instead of fresh water, they are filled with bubbling pools of blood. Most are the abodes of foul monsters, and those that are not are lined with parched, malevolent trees that strangle their victims and suck every drop of moisture from their bodies. Nehekhara is a wilderness of ever shifting sands, a land of constantly changing topography.[1e]
There are waterfalls of sand that defy the passage of time and flow backwards. There exist dunes and basins large enough to accommodate entire armies, and many of the Tomb King's legions lie beneath the surface in such places — awaiting the magical incantations of Liche Priests to awaken them from their deathly slumber. A sandstorm might unearth a monolithic statue, or even an entire buried city, lost and forgotten under the dunes, only to be engulfed and concealed again a few days later. Such hidden places are said to include the mysterious City of Bronze, a complex rumoured to be covered in glyphs carved by beings older than Nehekhara itself.[1e]
In addition to open deserts, where sand stretches as far as the eye can see, there are vast necropolises and numerous places where one can hardly move for all the statues and sculptures, each covered with grisly images of death. These monuments are vaster and grander than anything the Old World can boast, and foremost amongst them are towering figures resembling the great kings and angry gods of Nehekhara — fearsome statues that come to life and smite trespassers with impunity.[1e]
When the Tomb Kings awoke, they ordered their Undead minions to rebuild the cities of old and fill them with the markets, wares, boats, and other things that they remembered from life. As few trees grow in the Land of the Dead, many of these things are fashioned from stone, gold or fused bones. Skeletal men walk the lands fulfilling seemingly pointless jobs such as fetching stagnant water, harvesting crops long since withered or else rowing barges across the Great Mortis River. Armies of Skeletons are forever patrolling the borders of their realm as they did in life, relentlessly striding across the arid landscape in search of enemies and intruders.[1e]
Numerous Undead creatures wander the deep desert, from swarms of small but deadly desert scorpions to giant centipedes, each the size of a sphinx. Great flocks of Carrion circle high above, and packs of ravenous sand sharks swim beneath the surface of the dunes. In the centuries since Nagash's Great Ritual, many foul monsters have been drawn to the magically tainted realm. There are now Manticores, Cockatrices and even Dragons inhabiting the Nehekharan desert. Nomadic bandits make a living by plundering the tombs of ancient kings, and marauding Orc tribes continuously rampage across the Land of the Dead in search of battle and plunder. Nehekhara may be a barren realm, but it is far from empty or uninhabited.[1e]
Places of Interest
Nehekhara contained several major city-states all paying homage, at various times, to Khemri and the High King located there, the first of whom was Settra the Imperishable.
- Bhagar, a city of former bandits, with much light cavalry.
- Ka-Sabar, the city of bronze. This city was crippled in the first war against Nagash.
- Khemri, capital. Home of Settra the Imperishable.
- Lahmia, cursed city to the far east, where vampirism first took hold.
- Lybaras, a city of scholars and engineers, responsible for the creation of the first Tomb Scorpions.
- Mahrak, the city of priests.
- Numas, resided in by the living, protected by the dead.
- Quatar, Guardian-city of the mountains.
- Rasetra, a city on the edge of the Southlands, that made use of the beasts of the jungle.
- Zandri, a port city, and the second most powerful city politically.
- Beremas, mentioned by the tale of Suli the Arabyan, located past the World's Edge Mountains near Mahrak.[2c]