Zandri was once a mighty maritime empire in its own right. It was Athaf II, King of Zandri over two-thousand years before the birth of Sigmar and several centuries after Settra, who realised the ambitions of the city. He built a vast fleet of strong galleys that would sail to far and distant lands bringing back many new and exotic things. In time Zandri became fabulously wealthy and it continuously produced many famous explorers none more famous than Amenemhetum the Great. This ambitious and brave man discovered and conquered the lands across the sea now known today as the Tilean City-States in the name of Ualatp, the vulture god. The primitive savages of the country were no match for the well-trained and well-equipped armies of Amenemhetum, who was also an excellent strategist and general. After the subjugation of Tilea he was hailed 'the Great' when he returned to Zandri with several savage chiefs tied to his golden chariot. In a short space of time he would also become the city's Priest King. Amenemhetum also conquered the lands which would be known as the Border Princes and this even paved the way for the Legion of Setep to cross the Black Mountains and settle (for an unknown amount of time) in what is now Sylvania.
During crusader fever of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Giovanni Lanfranchi of Remas, and his crusading army of knights, sergeants and assorted fanatics, landed too far east of Araby, finding themselves instead several miles east of Zandri. Imbued with renewed religious zeal the army of ten-thousand crossed the Great Mortis River and descended on Zandri. There they destroyed many Undead things, despoiled tombs, and took with them much gold and ancient scrolls, before taking the road west to Araby. The Liche Priests of Zandri have recorded this in the city's chronicles and have never forgotten it. The Tilean crusaders were chronicled as "numerous men of unknown tribes clad in iron who did desecrate the resting places of Zandri."
Today, all of Zandri's greatness lies thousands of years in the past. All that remains of the empire is the ruined necropolis of Zandri itself on the north coast of the Land of the Dead and several ruined sites throughout Tilea and the Border Princes. Also, it is claimed, that a Tilean archeologist has found the lost tomb of Amenemhetum the Great just two-hundred miles east of Luccini near the coast of the Black Gulf. Arabian legends which have reached Old Worlder scholars and explorers also say that Amenemhetum's fleet still sails the seas and if one should see them he would behold tattered galleys of a bygone age being rowed by silent, skeletal oarsmen. Other stories tell of the fleet raiding the coastal waters of the western Old World, taking with them many captives back to the Land of the Dead. Tales such as this are still popular today used by parents to scare young children to bed at night or to scold them when they misbehave. Little do they know there may be some grains of truth to the tales.
Humans came to Zandri as recently as 2505 IC. Don Romano De' Medici, a wealthy explorer and merchant from Luccini, led this ill-fated expedition in the name of exploration and knowledge. In his time De' Medici had sailed around Sorcerers' Islands, through Shark Straits, traversed the jagged west coast of the Southlands and even made friends with the Ebonian people on his voyage to El-Kalabad in the Gulf of Medes. But a straightforward voyage to Zandri, so you would think, proved to be his hardest episode yet. All that returned to Luccini was the explorer himself and half a dozen of his crewmen (all that remained of three-hundred) on board an Arabian dhow. They were all thin and gaunt, as if they had been struck by the Yellow Fever and De' Medici was shaking. Even though De' Medici was a famous man no-one believed the tale of his voyage. In fact his equally rich and wealthy rivals, eager to see his downfall, succeeded in having De' Medici interred in a Shallyan asylum for the mentally sick, just outside the village of Vidella, after he took to drink and whores and developed several disorders. No-one knows what has happened to his six crewmen. It is assumed that some of them have gone mad and killed themselves or whether they have turned to begging. Although De' Medici's log book was taken from him he continued (and still does ten or so years later) to put quill to parchment of what he saw as a way to escape his mental torment. According to him he saw huge birds of prey flying above the waters within sight of Zandri but when he put a telescope to his eye they seemed to him at first to be half-starved creatures with severe malnutrition. But on a closer inspection he saw that the birds' wing membranes were tattered and rotting and the bones of the beasts were clearly visible on all of them. The creatures did not appear to be interested in Romano's ship and they dually disappeared towards the city. At first the expedition was successful. They had penetrated into the necropolis of Zandri and found the pyramids of King Behedesh and King Memnesh respectively. After several days of exploring various catacombs and trapped passages the expedition procured much gold and jewels, including several gold idols of the ancient Nehekharan gods. But then things started to go disastrously wrong. Men began to vanish over night and too many were "starting to get lost" in the necropolis. As the days wore on more and more men were beginning to disappear without a trace and in greater numbers. Finally some of the men reappeared. But they weren't alive. All of them had their skins flayed from their bodies and their innards torn out. Romano De' Medici at first thought that his rivals were behind the disappearances but was now beginning to think that a more sinister purpose lay behind it all. He dually began rounding what was left of the expedition up.
Just as they were about to depart they were attacked by chariots and were horrified to see what was driving them: skeletons clad in archaic armour. More chaos was about to ensue as arrows rained down upon De' Medici's beleaguered expedition, fired by skeletal archers from the roofs of ruined houses. And then more chariots appeared this time with charioteers arrayed in kingly regalia among them. Though the Tileans did not know it at the time, King Behedesh and King Memnesh had come to destroy those who would loot their city. And they came upon Romano's expedition with great hate and vengeance. The Tilean explorer ordered a hasty retreat out of the necropolis but the Undead kept coming. Those lucky enough to be riding horses managed to escape from the onslaught but those on foot were slain to a man. It was thanks to the fearsome Malaluk nomads that Romano and a handful of his expedition escaped. The Malaluks happened upon them when they were three miles west of the city and are well versed in fighting the walking dead. Although Romano was eternally grateful for their help he did not want to tarry long for he had read about the Malaluk nomads on his research about Arabian tribes. They butcher their enemies and then dismember them before pilling them on a pyre to destroy them. For what purpose he could never guess but now he understood that the dead seldom rest easy, even outside the Land of the Dead, and it is better that the bodies be completely destroyed than the possibility, no matter how small, of having to fight them again.
Another problem surfaced. The Malaluks were also slavers and not only acquire wealth through raids but also by selling able-bodied people so that they can buy more camels and horses, weapons and armour, food and drink. Romano was appalled to learn that he would be sold into slavery at a place called the Oasis of a Thousand and One Camels. However, this part of the tale is brief as the Tileans were bought by merchants from El-Kalabad, who were staying at the Oasis on their way to the Old World, and one of them by lucky chance recognised Romano and had them brought back to Luccini. Of course, once there, no-one believed Romano's tale and the once proud and renowned merchant explorer has lost everything...
Author: A Fawcett