Erthawith spotted the odd sails first, his sharp eyes picking out the triangular sails on the horizon. Shortly thereafter, others in the company did as well.
"Send a messenger to the keep - they're coming!" ordered the old Knight. He turned to his squire "Lets hope that's the only part of the Astrologer's vision that's accurate!"
Sir Angrat looked about at his troops - 30 knights of the 3rd order, and 200 barely-armed militia. The knights were mostly merchants who bought their titles, never believing that their province would see real battle. On the east-most part of the kingdom, farthest away from their enemies, and theortically guarded by the best fleet of the all the kingdoms, none thought war would find it's way here.
Perhaps if records were better kept, a foe from the east would have been less of a surprise, and perhaps better fortifications and garrisons would be on hand. Those better records would have shown that in fact twice a lethal foe from the east had landed on these shores, and that costly wars had been fought to throw them back into the seas.
Now was to be the Third such invasion, and who knows who would be writing the records....
The Rephatians are a race of Cannibalistic empire building humans from another continent. They have mastered the arts of modifying life to suit their purposes, and have spent much of their efforts on humanity itself.
Herein find some of the beasts of war that form the bulk of the armies invading the Known World.
The Rephatians are a caste-based society, including the Food, Worker, Warrior and and Noble castes. The majority of their warbeasts are drawn from the Food and Worker Castes. Though they have a dedicated Food Caste, none in their society is safe from being food.
For details on the Bovinaform, Devourers and Mites, see Food Caste Humanamorphs
As the odd 'ships'- more like gargantuan rafts made from segments of immense-sized bamboo- made landfall, doors on the front of the rectangular vessels opened up, disgorging a horde of strange creatures. The first ones to step onto the shore were tall, bipedal creatures with saddles on their backs. The beasts were armed with shield and spear, and the saddles were occupied by smaller, somewhat shark-like men who bore similar armament.
The Longstriders are a specialized version of the Bovinaform branch of the humanamorph and so are from the Food Caste. They stand nearly 9' tall, with long, powerful legs, wide back and a vaguely horse-like muzzle. Their forelimbs are much smaller then their legs, but still much more powerful then normal humans. Normally hairless, there are further variants which bear thick hairy coats, an adaptation to allow colder latitudes to be attacked.
Like most of the Humanamorphs, Longstriders are bred to absolute subservience to the Nobel Caste, though they are used also by the Trades Caste. It still has some remnant of human intelligence and is trained to use spear and shield. To take full advantage of this, the species is also bred to be left handed so that the spear and shield of the Riding Beast complement that of its rider.
The Warstriders are Longstriders bred to even greater size and strength. Fully as strong as the Thrudge Labor Humanimorph (essentially an Ogre analog), it is able to bear a fully armored Rephatian noble in a special harness, along with wearing significant armor themselves. Warstriders are never issued to Trades Caste members and are very expensive to maintain.
The Jagabar are a more recent development - they were created by crossing the Devourer strain of Humanimorph with bears captured during the Second Incursion of The Rephatians. They are among the largest and deadliest of the Humanamorphs, being the physical equal of a cave bear with much higher intelligence. Though not smart or dexterous enough to make use of tools (a deliberate limitation) they are able to understand and execute quite complex orders given to them. They speak a greatly simplified variant of the Rephatian tongue.
The Skulkers are bred from Mites for greater size, intelligence and climbing skills. They are used primarily as scouts, and for performing subterfuge within enemy strongholds. They are excellent at climbing walls, and once within, will seek to open gates to allow entrance.
The typical Skulker weighs 80lbs and is 4'6" in height. They are generally hairless and are clothed in earth tones designed to blend in and assist in concealment.
They are intelligent enough to converse in simplified Rephatian.
The largest of all of the Humanimorphs, they are the most grotesque in appearance. Appearing as giant, hairless, somewhat flabby humans with thick elephant-like legs, they move on all fours and are typically employed in the same manner as war elephants. The eyes of the Juggernaut appear dull and unintelligent, but the obvious human ancestry of these huge creatures is quite disturbing to any non-Rephatians.
In combat the Juggernaut will attempt to trample victims or strike with it's forelimbs. The great size and strength of these creatures makes their attacks very deadly. Due to the amount of food required to raise these creatures, they are rare and usually employed by only the most high ranking Rephatian. They are often armored with heavy leather or bamboo barding.
The hosts have gathered, legions eye barbarians across a barren field, the generals stab daggers into their maps, the WAR QUEST has arrived.
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Creepy and disturbing.. I like the way this complements the rest of your Repahtian setting. The constant allusion to the obvious human origin of these abominations serves as a stark reminder of the depths to which humnaity is capable of sinking.
I've got a question. Do Repathians use prisoners-of-wars captured in wars against other cultures to replenish the breeding stock required to spawn more variants of their twisted live-stock?
They have used captured animals as sources of new blood, and it would definately be within character to use prisoners as new feedstock. Assuming they think it is worth the bother to send them back for processing. More commonly, prisoners are simply eaten.
Though the rest of the subs currently do not make this quite clear, even with their domestic creatures meat (any source) is a rarity primarily reserved for the upper castes. The food castes (with the exception of Devourers) rarely if ever get meat. Labour castes get a small amount. Only the warrior caste and above regularly see meat, and even then in modest quantities. Battles are always looked forward as a source of plentiful meat for the cookpot. Among the rephatians, prisoners of warrior caste or higher are ransomed or exchanged. Lower caste prisoners are generally considered captured livestock. Prisoners of other cultures are generally dealt with on a case by case basis by the local nobels. In general, wars against other cultures are wars of extermination, so prisoners would taken as food.
The Rephatians are coming together well as a detailed enemy. Their legions of hideously altered warriors and engineered warbeasts could make for interesting and creepy encounters.
What Wulfhere said.