- "They stand staring into the sun for enternity, the physical embodiedment of the everlasting gods. Terrible ye who looked into their divine forms! "
- —Inscription at the base of the Ushabti depicting the great gods of Nehekhara, at the entrance to the Great Pyramid of Rakaph I[2a]
The Ushabti are large, guardian statues carved into the likeness of the gods and goddess of ancient Nehekhara, statues that stand guard and protect the perimeters of the necropolises and within the passageways of the great pyramids of the Tomb Kings. These Ushabti are imposing monuments to Nehekhara's former power, and all who pass through their shadows tremble under their unnerving and imposing sight.[1a]
In times of need, the Liche Priests awaken the Ushabti with powerful incantations, and with the sound of cracking stone, the Ushabti step down from their plinths and daises, silent and ready for war. In ancient times, the living warriors of Nehekhara took great strength from the fact that the Ushabti fought alongside, for who could fail to be inspired by the physical representations of their gods marching into battle at their sides.[1a]
It was the ancient Nehekharans' belief that their gods and goddesses dwelt in the Great Land before the birth of Man. It is said that the span of the deities' lives numbered in the thousands of years. After this golden era, when gods walked as men, they became invisible spirits, able to take on any form they desired. Thus it was that Asaph, the beautiful goddess of vengeance and magic, chose the form of the asp, while others chose the crocodile, the lion, the vulture or some other fearsome animal of the desert. Most depictions of the gods in this grand pantheon show them in these powerful forms, and their visages are commonly carved as guardian Ushabti in the necropolises of Nehekhara.
Some of the most common statues depict the image of Djaf, the jackal-headed god of war and the dead, and Phakth, the hawk-faced deity of the sky whose piercing gaze is said to be able to see the sins of the deceased. Sculpted from stone, marble and even jade, this magnificent statuary is decorated with filigreed gold and dazzling polished jewels. The rituals needed to animate these towering god-statues are far more difficult than those needed to awaken the legions of Skeleton Warriors. As a result, Ushabti are far more resilient than the skeletal warriors of the Tomb King's eternal army, and their warrior-spirits are bound with far more powerful magic.[1a]
In the ancient language of Nehekhara, the name Ushabti translates literally as 'chosen of the gods'. Indeed, the divinities do not consent to any mere mortal inhabiting statues made in their image. Only the most powerful souls, those of particularly brave warriors and heroic champions, are judged worthy enough to animate an Ushabti's sculpted form. Thus, Ushabti are possessed by the souls of Nehekhara's mightiest heroes. Ushabti stride through the battlefield like gods of war, infused with the temperament and strength of their form's pantheon deity. Their statuesque bodies can withstand enormous damage, and they are incredibly strong. With a single hand, an Ushabti is capable of crushing an enemy's steel helmet, and its contents, with contemptuous ease.[1a]
Ushabti wield huge ritualistic weapons, from large-bladed staves that would take the combined strength of three mortal men to lift, to great bows that fire arrows the size of spears. These mighty weapons are as elaborately crafted and decorated as the Ushabti who brandish them, their gilded surfaces engraved by a dozen sculptors with intricate patterns and hieroglyphs. In battle, Ushabti wield their massive weapons effortlessly. Every sweeping arc of their blades cutting a bloody swathe through their foes and every arrow fired punching through their targets in an explosion of bone and gore.[1a]
- 1 Warhammer Armies: Tomb Kings (8th Edition).
- 1a Page 46.
- 2 Warhammer Armies: Tomb Kings (6th Edition).
- 2a Page 27.