“Why am I wetting my blade? I am preparing it for tonight and one slip of the wrist and I’ll be dead. It’s as simple as that. This poison, which I – Abbad Sadi – personally developed for the Jy’fa from the sap juices of the Khayegha plant, is so deadly that if my stained blade were to even scratch my skin, I would not have the chance to utter a word before I dropped to the ground. I dip the blade in the juice and allow the sun to dry the droplets upon the steel. Then, when it enters the body of my enemy it is not merely the steel which kills! I once killed four of my enemies by dropping my scabbard into their meal pot! The powder which had gathered there from the knife blade was ufficient to dispatch them all! I always chew my special herbs when I do this for to face this task without their soothing qualities would be impossible and I would quake with fear.
Don’t misunderstand me, though. I’m not afraid to die but I shall die in battle as my father did and his father before him. When my time comes I shall take my seat with them alongside Abu Sa’ha Beelaa al-Qud, the God of the Jy’fa. To die in a foolish accident would be unthinkable and would bring shame upon my family and my guild.
This past week I spent time with our falcon handlers of Mahma Siry, watching in silent amazement as they practised with the newly-acquired northern breed of bird. Faster and more vicious than the southern Falcons, they are trained to attack the faces of mannequins outfitted to resemble Sun Elves and Dwarves mostly, ripping and gouging at the eyes before swiftly flying off and circling for another attack. I would not like to taste their wrath. We rule the skies now with our falcons and Dune Riders. No one else can touch us.
We are a proud, god-fearing race, rich beyond imagination in both gold and culture. Our lives are simple, though, and our homes humble and welcoming. Lustre and ostentatiousness we save for our temples and places of worship; strength and simplicity we save for our city walls. And it is strength we need for the walls as, sadly, it is getting increasingly difficult to trust our former allies. it is as though promises of peace and signed documents mean nothing to them. Especially for the dwarves, they are not just short of stature – they are short of honor!
A storm is brewing, a war approaches which will involve us all and should I die, my place by the Gods is assured. Can my enemies say the same?”
Hadab – the Desert Empire
The Hadab are very different from most other humans who inhabit the world of Ascendallion, with quite unique codes of honor and valor. Females have little or no standing in their society and it is the rare woman who is allowed to excel at anything. Hadab are deeply religious, worshipping many different gods, and praying several times a day. Punishment oftten fits the crime as thieves have their hands cut off, seditious rebels have their tongues cut out, etc.
The Hadab are at home in the desert and their way of life, and costume, reflects this. Although they wear armor when the battle calls for it, their standard outfit is usually composed of light colored fabrics, often with brightly-colored sashes and adornments. They also wear veils across the lower half of their face, primarily to shield themselves from the harshness of the desert sun but also to identify the guild to which they belong. Their textile artisans have also developed an incredibly sheer silk which can be used to veil the entire face, without obstructing vision or breathing. This veil, which is most commonly worn by their fighters during sandstorms, gives them the upper hand over their enemies when the forces of nature join the battle.
Their once stable realm is now fragmented, consisting of the westernmost part of the Djasim Peninsula, Estrean island, and the provinces to the south of Tulmarun. They are aware that their lands bordering the southern seas are quite desirable and their fortress cities of Yar’Hala and Matab (on the Eszmerian border) and An’pha and Yagrah (on the Sun Elf border) are fully manned and well-defended.
Surrounding the island of Estrean, their Corsairs are poised and ready. Estrean, the first in a string of islands extending westwards from the Djasim peninusla, was the former home of Grand Palace of the Caliph, Sovereign of all Hadab. After the Fall, the Dark Triad encroached the island as well as the Eszmerian and Lauron who took the chance to expand their territories by wrenching it from the weakened Hadab. For centuries, the Caliph’s palace was located on the Estrean island, the former capital city of the Hadab kingdom. The proximity of the invaders, though, made it an unsafe place for the emperor and his familiy and Zumal was chosen as their new home.
But Hadab pride is unbreakable and so they moved their political and cultural center onto the main land and rebuild the Caliphs palace in Thaamira-Huda near the Zumal Oasis. This opulent, glittering royal residence is visible from miles away as the sunlight reflects from the millions of multicolored mirrored tiles which decorate it’s walls and towers.
Hadab are skilled warriors in many areas and are justifiably proud of their horsemaen – the Abu Qaar Ajinkis and Riya’ma Sparhis, their assassins – the Jy’fa, and their sky troops – the Abu Neesa Dune Riders.
The Alith Ibn Elite Lancers are covered head-to-toe in chainmail and carry a light spear, while the Abu Ni’mee are more heaviliy armored and are easily recognisable on the battlefield in their black and white uniforms and blood-red shields. Jy’fa, their fanatically dedicated assassins, are superbly skilled, ambidextrous killers. When they are on a covert mission, they are almost always clad in black but in open battle, they are very distinctive, almost blatant. Their white flowing uniforms, adorned with red or gold sashes, are designed to show their arrogance and contempt for their opponents. It boosts the morale of the surrounding troops and causes fear in the approaching enemy, or so they say.
And finally, riding their flying carpets into battle from their protected mountain fortresses, Dune Riders will often take attacking forces by surprise by coming up behind them… making no noise whatsoever.
Sorcerers are revered in Hadab culture and will often have wealth and power only slightly below that of the Grand Caliph. They are the ones who have given the power of flight to the Dune Riders so the army respects them and pays them well for their services. Their manner of magicry if connected in almost every way to the elements, with the spells they cast and the creatures they summon being of the earth, air, fire or water variety. They will often combine elements in their spells and it is in this way that they create their blinding sandstorms, for example. There are followers of black magic as well, with evil intent behind every spell, but they are publicly reviled. In private, the Caliph has frequently called upon their services to take care of a particularly difficult situation regarding the Formorians. But these encounters are never conducted with a middleman so no one else knows… at least, that is what the Caliph thinks.
Yet another side effect of the Formorians and their magical tampering throughout the southeast, Giant Scorpions are now a common sight throughout Voran. While they cannot be trained or easily handled, they can be captured and used against Hadab enemies. The Sun Elves and Eszmerian who regularly invade Voran through the Djasim peninsula prefer to simply destroy the scorpions and their nests instead.
The Hadab are almost always in conflict with either the Lauron or the Eszmerian (or both…), but their greatest enemy are the Formorians as well as their foul creations in form of the Mongrelfolk and Ratkin. Other than the Slavers whose fleet the Corsairs share, they feel no need for allies but are cordial with most races.
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