Home > 1.8.x, Map > Expanding Tide ~ Cragmere

Expanding Tide ~ Cragmere

At the junction of the Black Mountains and the World’s Edge Mountains there is a grand lake formed when a meteor slammed into the mountains and snow-melt subsequently filled the crater, this lake is called Black Water. At this critical junction of the mountains the dwarves call home, two twin-Holds were founded; the westernmost one being Karak Varn.

In the golden age of dwarven history, Karak Varn was one of the key gromril mining centers of Karak Ankor. Situated west of the lake Black Water, Karak Varn stood at an important crossroads of the dwarven empire which stretched across the World’s Edge Mountains and Black Mountains. However, the dwarven lust for more gromril led them to dig deeper and deeper, and this would be their downfall. Eventually the dwarves dug so deep they breached the lower depths of Black Water, and the mines began to flood. The flood waters quickly rose through the mines and tunnels and the dwarves were swept away by the raging icy waters. Subsequent earthquakes in the Age of Strife only served to weaken the foundation of the Hold more, and more walls collapsed letting in not only the flood-waters, but also letting in foul creatures – the children of Chaos.

Due to the fact that Black Water was formed from a meteorite impact, this area around the lake also had large deposits of warpstone. The skaven, ever so keen on acquiring warpstone, quickly were drawn to this area. When the floods and earthquakes began to weaken the foundations of Karak Varn and the dwarven city was swept away by the flood waters, the skaven began to move in. Eventually after the flood-waters receded the dwarves tried to reclaim Karak Varn but were met with such stiff resistance form the skaven that they could only hold onto it tenuously, but they kept trying in order to extract more gromril.

Over the ages the dwarves and skaven fought bitterly over control of Karak Varn, but eventually the dwarves began to refer to the hold as cursed and not worthy of fighting over. Slowly the greenskin tribes from the south began to push into the abandoned halls and coexist with the skaven – though not always peacefully. One of the key tribes that pushed into Karak Varn and established its presence was the Bloodfang Tribe of the Forests of Gloom. The greenskins’ dominance in collusion with the skaven created an alliance which the dwarves could no longer challenge. Since the dwarves abandoned all attempts to reclaim Karak Varn it has been referred to by its second name of Cragmere – a name less likely to remind the dwarves of their lost past.

In the Age of Reckoning foul forces are astir that have riled up the inhabitants of Cragmere. Situated along the south-eastern border of the Empire, and just west of Karaz-a-Karak, Cragmere is a dangerous thorn in the side of both the dwarves and of the Empire. Long have the greenskins and skaven remained content in their dark lair, but now something prods them east. It is likely that Malekith’s hand is behind this, much as he was instrumental in gifting Grumlok and Gazbag with the power and intelligence to unite the Bloody Sun Boyz and lead them to victory over Karak Eight Peaks.

Sent to monitor the threat that lurks below ground, dwarven rangers have arrived and set up their camp near the lost mine of Khazad Aldum at Falgrin’s Rangers’ Warcamp. The mountain tops are largely devoid of any greenskin and skaven presence, allowing the dwarves to better control this area and patrol it. In their scouring of the mountain passes above, Falgrin’s rangers have spotted parties of the Bloody Sun Boyz arriving at the western shore of Black Water on their crude barges and marching into the fallen hold, it would seem the Bloodfangs have found either a new ally or a new taskmaster. Using ancient maps and recent scouting expeditions, the rangers have identified only three points of entering Karak Varn from above ground – the Lost Mine of Kazad Aldum, which the rangers have excavated allowing for access to the lower reaches; the main gate of Karak Varn vandalized by the greenskin filth and whose runic ward has faded over the ages allowing for it to be cracked open; and a tunnel to the far west known as Grobkaz – Goblin Evildoing – the cave through which the Bloody Spear Goblins first gained access to the hold and assaulted it from the top.

From ancient maps, the dwarves know a little of the layout of Karak Varn’s upper levels which suffered the least from the flooding and earthquakes. Behind the massive gates of Karak Varn is the grand entrance hall of Khaz Varn, though the dwarves are unsure as to its condition and whether or not it still stands or has collapsed. The chamber unto which Grobkaz opens was once a small storage warehouse, which had a secret purpose that the greenskins and their skaven allies never learned of. From this chamber a concealed door hides access to Dringorak Varn – the secret lake tunnel  – a tunnel which passes under Black Water connecting Karak Varn to its twin hold of Zhufbar, to be used in dire emergencies. East of the warehouse room, now known to the dwarves as the Cave of Grobkaz, was a side chamber off of Khaz Varn – history records show this chamber was the first overrun by the Bloody Spear Goblins and here they quickly fortified their position with a foul ramshackle keep known as Necksnappa Hold.

North of the Cave of Grobkaz and Khaz Varn was the market of Karak Varn, but during one of the first earthquakes of the Age of Strife, the western wall of the market square collapsed revealing a shocking threat that existed so close to the dwarven home – a skaven underway. The chamber west of the market was quickly dubbe Ungor Thaggoraki – the ratmen cave. It was through this cave that the skaven began to pour into Karak Varn, and it is here where their presence is most dominant. What is of the market square today, the dwarves cannot be sure, but being that it is a key junction between the skaven entrance to Karak Varn and the greenskin entrance via the Cave of Grobkaz, it is likely the market place turned into a bloodied hall as the two races fought for dominance.

East of Khaz Varn two passages led to separate chambers – the north passage leading to the former Miner’s Guild, and the southern passage leading to a residential quarter of the miners. However, during the floods, earthquakes, and following invasions, this mining district of Karak Varn suffered greatly. The southern walls of the residential quarter collapsed and gave way to the waters of Black Water, which flooded the southern passage from Khaz Varn. As the dwarves tried to repel the skaven and hold onto what they could, the miners took to drastic measures to save their kin. Dozens of tunnels leading from the Miner’s Guild and their residential district were collapsed to stall the advancing skaven tide. It is unknown what fate met the miners or their families, but a recent ranger foray through the lost mine of Khazad Aldum indicates that the residential quarter is a vile room of slime-covered walls and mushrooms growing along every surface – a chamber where the greenskin are born from their foul spores. That the greenskin reached this room indicates that greenskin mined through the collapsed tunnels or formed their own.

North of the Slime Nursery is the former dwarven forge and gromril mine entrance; it is into this room that the rangers mined one of their tunnels through Khazad Aldum. Located between the market place and the mines was the vault of Karak Varn. A passage runs north of the forge and mines, of this the dwarves are most certain. Why are they certain? Because another secret tunnel runs from this passage to Zhufbar – Dringorak Duk. It is through this tunnel that the dwarves made many of their efforts to reclaim Karak Varn. Through this passage north of the forge is a chamber which the lost mine of Khazad Aldum also connects to – this chamber is confirmed as another greenskin stronghold known as Headbasha Ridge.

West of Headbasha Ridge was a massive chamber largely dedicated to residential use. In their night raids the rangers confirmed that this massive hall is the primary residence of the Bloodfang tribe as every surface of the chamber is covered with makeshift housing and almost literally moving with greenskins. In the north-western corner of Karak Varn is the grandest chamber of all, the former throne room of the king of Karak Varn. It is here that the largest pocket of dwarves stood in resistance to the waves of skaven and greenskin, fighting to save their king. If any point was most fortified, it would be here, and if the Bloody Sun Boyz were to make their camp anywhere, it would also be here. Such grandeur could not go unnoticed even by these dense creatures. However, a prisoner who managed to escape from captivity in Karak Varn referred to this hall in a deranged ramble as ‘the hall of beards’. He died shortly after making it to the surface so the rangers could not gather more information from him, but the name of this hall was enough to incite rage amongst the dwarves.

Karak Varn, now known as Cragmere, what foul creatures lurk under it or how many there are the dwarves cannot be sure. What is certain is that some dark power causes the greenskins to stir and sound the drums of war. The rangers who monitor the passes above have sounded the alarm that the ground is shaking with the drumbeats of the greenskin wardrums. With Zhufbar and Karaz-a-Karak so close, the dwarves must be moved to action. Though past High-Kings have signed Karak Varn off to the skaven and greenskin, times demand that the dwarves march into Karak Varn and stop the threat before it reaches the homes of the eastern holds.

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