- "Beware the guardians of the Underworld who stalk among us!"
- —Inscription carved into a Tomb Scorpion of Numas[1a]
Tomb Scorpions are powerful creations of the Mortuary Cult, formed from a combination of stone, metal, lacquered wood and fused bone. Burrowing beneath the surface of the desert, they attack suddenly and without warning, exploding into the fray in a shower of sand. They are lethal foes, for a Tomb Scorpion's tail carries a potent sting that can incapacitate the largest foes, and they have powerful pincers that can slice a man in half. As they scuttle forward on eight segmented legs, they hack apart anything in their path.[1a]
Tomb Scorpions are carved and molded into the representations of the giant, mythical scorpions that are said to guard the entrance to the Nehekharan Underworld. These fabled creatures are said to protect the Realm of Souls from the predations of dark Daemons who wish to feed upon the spirits of dead kings.[1a]
Tomb Scorpions also serve as sarcophagi, for the shell of each construct is formed around the cadaverous body of an ancient Liche Priest. Although Liche Priests are unable to die a natural death, many have perished through wounds sustained in battle. Those that fall are embalmed and interred within a Tomb Scorpion. Canopic jars containing their vital organs, or what withered remains are left of them, are embedded within the scorpion-tombs in a ritualistic pattern that symbolises death. However, some remnant of a Liche Priest's spirit always remains trapped within their mummified corpses. Through incantations, these embers are rekindled, infusing the inanimate shells of the Tomb Scorpions with power. This magical source also provides Tomb Scorpions with a degree of protection against the spells of enemy wizards, whose sorcerous bolts of energy unravel and fade as they are absorbed harmlessly by the Undead constructs' caparaces.[1a]
Each scorpion-shaped sarcophagus is inscribed with hieroglyphs of preservation, and a ceremony of awakening is spoken by a Liche Priest to animate them. If the ritual has been performed correctly, the Tomb Scorpion will become infused with the residual power of the corpse within it. This ritual is exceptionally complex and lasts from moonrise until the first rays of dawn. The slightest mistake or mispronunciation can have dire consequences; a swarm of Undead scorpions may burst out of the desert and sting the Liche Priest to death, or desert spirits may turn the wizard's body inside out and feast on his withered remains. At the very least the ritual will fail and must be recited from the very beginning.
Occasionally, despite every syllable being uttered correctly, some of these ancient ones no longer respond to the incantations of awakening. That these constructs are truly dead is doubtful, as a spark of power can still be felt radiating from their caparaces. Rather, it is thought that by binding their souls to the mortal plane, the Liche Priests cheated the god of the Underworld out of his rightful due. Thus it is thought that this jealous deity is not always willing to give up his long awaited prizes by allowing the spirits of the Liche Priests to leave the Realm of Souls.[1a]
When the Tomb Kings go to war, the Liche Priests send out their magical call and summon the Tomb Scorpions into wakefulness. Those Tomb Scorpions that respond to the incantations will travel for leagues beneath the ground before clawing their way to the surface and falling upon their enemies with razor-sharp claws and stinging tails. It is a truly terrifying sight to behold the sands parting to reveal the monstrous form of a Tomb Scorpion, and very often, the last thing their enemies will ever witness.[1a]