The Nameless Empire
The Nameless Empire was not always an empire. The people of Kemet – “The Heart of the World” lived in their land as primitves, eating raw meat and hard seeds as fire was an accident, not a craft. They weighed corpses down with rocks so that they did not rise in anger, though sometimes they still did, and they feared the whisps of beath that crawled forth from a dead man’s mouth as it would shake the world with rage or sorrow. The people of Kemet did not venture out into the white sands of the West. Until the Scorpions of the Desert came to them.
In the guise of mortals, ghost tamers, those that make fire and tame man and beats a like, they came to Kemet. They taught every soul in Kemet lesser crafts, but saved sorcery for those most honored and gifted within the region. In all the different folk tales that might float through the mind, it is certain that they called themselves the Shan’iatu, and it was they who passed on to the people of Kemet one defining secret: When a few are given real power, the few can command many to common purpose. The Shan’iatu fashions kemet into the Nameless Empire, a nation. They fashion themselves as princes.
The Shan’iatu teach that the ghosts of the world have lords as well, 42 Judges of the Underworld that serve their own divine patron named Azar. They produce a king and high priest of Azar, calling him Pharaoh, and they declare themselves a senate of sanctified necromancers, named Priests of Duat who serve the Judges of Duat, who in turn serve Azar.
In the City of Pillars, the sprawling capital of the kingdom fo teh Desert Scorpion, only the Shan’iatu can fully worship the gods, but they accepted the petitions of the commoners on their behalf. The gods of the Egytian dyantasies stir something of remembrance within all Arisen, however they are shadows and facsimiles to the gods that the Shan’iatu worshipped. Above all of them, the Shan’iatu worshipped Azar, who sent his divin pressence into the Pharaoh. The City of Pillars was, itself, a monument to him, each pillar a Djed – a representation of the Spine of Azar, unifier of Life and Death. As the senate of Shan’iatu ruled Irem, the City of Pillars under the Pharaoh’s ceremonial rod, the 42 Judges ruled Duat under Azar.
The Shan’iatu took the tribes of Kemet and brought them to heel, splitting the people into artisans, acolytes, laborers, and warriors. Split into castes, the people cannot govern themselves and must be commanded as one, from a capital. It is said by some that the Shan’iatu created the city in a single night, coaxing the stones to raise from the ground and from a vast arcane design with its temples, granaries, and chambers placed in the shadows of Grand Pillars which were formed and placed together according to principles of sacred occult architecture. The Shan’iatu never name the city, but some call the place Irem, or the City of Pillars.
Annointed in blood, the obsidian blades of their warriors grow strong as iron. Blessed with corpse-ash, stone figurines lurch across temple floors. New aqueducts, wells, and houses are built to support the growing population of Irem, but the artisans devote as much labor to arms as civic construction, marking their tools of the trade and their weapons with the symbol of the empire, the holy Scorpion. Barracks are built, tribal warrior societies are replaced with legions, keeping the traditional initiations to reinforce military brotherhood. In the hundreth year of the empire, Irem casts its gaze from interior conflicts of renegade towns, outwards to the rest of the world.
It takes only a year to conquer the lands that will be known as Libya and Nubia, where useful tribesmen are taken as slave to build satellite cities or are otherwise exterminated and their bodies taken back to Irem to be used in the necromancer’s vaults. The tribes of Canaan are more difficult, however, as the Ki-En-Gir command professional warriors like those of Irem. The warlords keep seers as well, and while they cannot match the Nameless Empire’s forces in straight combat, the seer’s foresight counters Irem’s weapon superiority. The generals from every legion meet their Ki-En-Gir counterparts in a city called Ubar, a citadel where the curtain between worlds in threadbare. When they return, Ubar no longer exists, even its foundations swallowed by the desert. From then on the East brings tribute in gold, exotic horses, and slaves, especially the seers.
After the Pact of Ubar, Irem bleeds its outer terriotires for resources that it may build temples, statuary, and even more grand and solemn pillars. This is the golden age of the Nameless Empire, and of the Artisan’s first lives, where they labor with copper, stone, and fire for the Shan’iatu, until the day of the Rite.