When the Crown of Carno went to war in Oleonda, its subjected city-states could not linger behind. Answering the call to war, so too did the sons of Essen cross the oceans into the New World. What they saw was unlike anything many of them had ever seen before. Verdant jungles and exotic animals in a myriad of colors. Strange peoples that spoke unheard tongues. But even in the strangest and most unknown of situations, people tend to find things they deem recognizable. Such was also the case for some Essener soldiers, or Totenköpfe - Death's Heads, a reference to the skull on their bicorne hats. The city state of Essen has a long history, which its inhabitants are extremely proud of. Originally descended of the same stock of people as the Garveyans, the Esseners share some aspects of culture, albeit merged and warped over time with Carnite influences. Like many people in Garvey and a lot of other northerners - even in Corrington -, the Esseners do not follow the pantheon of the faith, headed by Zeus and the likes. Instead they follow similar gods such as the Garveyans. Chief amongst these is Wotan, the All-Father. The Essener religion is very unstructured and unlike the church in Oléon, there is very little hierarchy or organization. Some even see it more as a Way of Life, instead of an actual religion. Esseners belief the current world to be corrupted and strive for a pure land, through a pure life with respect for nature and all surroundings. They follow the example of the All-Father who was granted all the wisdom in the known world through meditation under the World Tree. Imagine the surprise of the Essener soldiers when their local guide led them to an ancient temple on the island of Oleonda. While those who had built the temple left ages ago, it was still looked after by other inhabitants of the Oleonda. It was a temple dedicated to Nirvan Emmet, who became enlightened as well, in a similar manner to Wotan. The Esseners didn't fully comprehend the story their guide told them, but it was enough to be awed and enthralled by the complex. While the black guards of Essen admired the temple and inspected it further, some of their companion Carnites held guard outside. These Royal Troops served the Crown directly, unlike the State Troops from Essen, that served their city first and then the Crown. As such, these men had little affinity for the story of the local, most likely having different religious backgrounds than the soldiers from Essen. While Maximilian Coehorn, leader of the Coehoorn Battlegroup, further inspects the temple with his men, the other Carnite soldiers keep guard. Suddenly, out of nowhere, shots were fired. The remaining Carnite soldiers outside were taken by surprise and couldn't see their attackers through the thick jungle surrounding the temple. Before they could take up proper defensive positions, bullets were whizzing past them and ricocheting off the temple's stone walls. Soldiers were falling to the ground and panic grasped some of the men, which left them vulnerable for the next phase of the attack. After firing their muskets, the Lotii attackers filtered out of the jungle, swords and spears in hands to finish off the remaining soldiers. Aided by their mercenary allies, the Lotii quickly overwhelmed the guards. Their advance halted when the attackers were confronted with the rest of the Carnites. Alarmed by the gunshots, screams and clanging of swords, the Esseners filtered out of the temple and hastily formed a battle line. The pikemen pushed away any Lotus soldier that came too close, while the line infantry tried to shoot as many as they possibly could. The Essener Death's Heads hastily tried to muster some sort of defense. The Carnites were surprised to see other northerners among the enemies. They couldn't quite place the uniform - if one could even call it that - and had no idea where they came from. It was the least of their worries however and the men staunchly fought for the preservation of their lives. In the end, the Lotii and their allies vanished as fast as they had shown up. Not wanting to lose too much men, the Lotii decided to cut their losses and strategically retreated. The combat doctrine of this Lotti battle group had changed under the guidance of their mercenary allies. While many Lotii were used to fight according to the honorable Way of the Dragon, they had now shifted tactics to the more devious Way of the Serpent. Open warfare would not bring victory and they knew it. The Black Line of Essen held and the combined Carnite forces won the day, but the cost was heavy, with many dead and wounded. A cynical person would pose the question "why?", since what they found on the island was close to what they already had at home.   EXTRA Some shots of all combatants. For more information, you can click on the photos and read the descriptions o Flickr. I have a whole history for Essen, but it was too expansive to add everything here. Same for the mercenaries, who are linked to the Society of Heracles. It would stray too much from the overall story, if I included every detail here. They are mainly aligned with the Lotii for the money and combat experience, with "fighting northern imperialist swine" as an added bonus. Free City of Essen - Die Essener Totenköpfe by +Khorne, on Flickr Light of the Lotus - Fleet of Foot by +Khorne, on Flickr La Société d'Héracles - La Brigade Rouge by +Khorne, on Flickr   I also started working on a map a while back, to show the location of Essen and add some "body" to Carno, but I didn't get around to finishing it. You can see the WIP in the spoiler below. I tried to include lots of raven and (oak) tree iconography, whilst also keeping the entire feeling grim and dark, which is kind of the mindset of these guys. The figure in the top left is Wilhelm von Helborg, the duke that started the rebellion. The figure in the top right is his son, Karl von Helborg - the Eternal Duke.   BUILDER'S NOTES I've had the temple (at least the main building) setting on my desk for a long time. It was supposed to be my entry for the Tyree'dee Challenge, but then COVID-19 happened, Bricklink shipments were delayed etc. I really liked the building and still wanted to use it, so I repurposed it for this MOC and then added the rest of the scene. It could use more trees and greenery, but all the green you see here is pretty much my entire collection . I think that, in terms of surface, this is one of the largest MOCs I've made and the landscaping was a lot more difficult that I had anticipated. Much respect to all those builders that make crazy landscapes, irregular bases and off-canter building placement. You guys are the GOATs. I was already sweating for this! As always, I had great difficulty taking decent pictures, mainly because I don't have proper lighting to light it. I then have to brighten everything in Photoshop, which adds a ton of grain. All in all, I'm relatively satisfied with this build. The battle scenes could've been better, like Keymonus' excellent entry, but I didn't have the time to make a lot of different scenens. This is it, I hope you guys like it!