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

Expanding Tide ~ Zhufbar

In the south-east corner of the Empire, the Black Mountains join the World’s Edge Mountains, and at their junction is the massive lake Black Water. Of the two dwarven holds which use to dominate Black Water, only one remains in dwarven hands – the other having fallen to the foul forces of chaos. Twin holds they once were, but now only Zhufbar stands proud, keeping an ever watchful eye towards the west.

The massive alpine lake known as Black Water was formed many ages ago when a meteorite slammed into the mountains and over the years the snow-melt filled the crater. Though Black Water dominates this region, water is not exactly why the dwarves choose to mine here. The true object of the dwarves desires has always been mineral wealth, and when the meteorite impacted into the mountains and pulverized, thousands of fragments of metal bore themselves into the mountain below. Thus the mountains around and under Black Water had and still have some of the richest mineral deposits known in all the dwarven realm. With such wealth buried in the ground, the dwarves quickly founded to major holds to extract this mineral wealth – Karak Varn on the western shore of Black Water which was located atop the largest gromril deposits known; and Zhufbar on the northern shore of Black Water atop perhaps the largest iron deposit in all the world’s mountains. Through the ages these twin holds prospered and rewarded Karak Ankor greatly.

Zhufbar has largely passed the centuries in peace, located in such a position that a direct assault on it is all but impossible. Zhufbar, which means ‘Torrent-gate’ gets its name from its location in fact. North of Black Water there is a great canyon, and from Black Water a small river flows to the canyon and cascades down in a grand waterfall to the canyon floor from where it flows back under ground. Zhufbar was founded when ingenious dwarven engineers found a way to harness the power of the waterfall by building massive wheels at its side; as the water falls and the wheels spin, massive axles spin within the hold powering giant hammers which pound rhythmically night and day on equally giant anvils. So great are the forges of Zhufbar that it is the seat of the Engineer’s Guild, and a major shrine to Grungi, the patron god of forges and mines. However there was one moment in history when Zhufbar was rendered vulnerable, a time which exists as a dark memory and none wish to re-live.

In the beginning of the Age of Strife, massive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions shook the mountains of the Old World. Zhufbar’s twin hold of Karak Varn was heavily damaged by the earthquakes and subsequently flooded and was soon after overrun by skaven and greenskin hordes. With its twin hold lost, Zhufbar was threatened but not yet vulnerable, the waters of Black Water still provided a great barrier. Alas, in the Age of Strife, the volcanoes would be the undoing of Zhufbar as their massive eruptions would cause Black Water to evaporate, and the waterfall that powered Zhufbar’s war machine to go dry. Once the river no longer divided the north face of the cliff, where Zhufbar was located, from the southern reaches, the greenskins poured in. A vicious battle was waged, but alas the dwarves of Zhufbar were skilled craftsmen and not seasoned warriors. Eventually Zhufbar was lost to the greenskin hordes, but it was too great of a prize to forgo.

After the fall of Zhufbar, the great runesmith Alric the Mad approached the fledgling leader of the humans – a man by the name of Sigmar. Alric promised Sigmar twelve great swords if only the realm of men would help retake Zhufbar and repel the greenskin invaders. The pact was honored, Zhufbar was retaken and the dwarves returned, and Alric forged twelve great swords for the Empire – the Runefangs, one for each Elector Count. Peace returned to Zhufbar and once the waters of Black Water were replenished, it was once again safe. This pact of ages past has served to make Zhufbar the center of the dwarf-human alliance, it is to this day the closest hold in terms of relations and trade to the Empire. But ominous news reaches the High King that darkness stirs in the fallen hold of Karak Varn, now referred to as Cragmere, and the Bloody Sun Boyz have begun to enter the hold and rally its inhabitants to march east. Zhufbar is in danger, and though the waters offer some protection, Zhufbar must look its own defenses.

With a threat looming so close to one of the most important industrial centers of Karak Ankor, High King Thorgrim Grudgebearer has sent forth the Oathbearers to secure Zhufbar and guard it against all threat; if Zhufbar were to fall, the dwarves would loose their greatest foundry of their mighty cannons, organ guns, flame cannons, and other grand siege weapons. Elements of the Bloody Sun Boyz have already begun to arrive over the mountains and have set up a base camp at Goregut Rock, located above Zhufbar. East of Goregut Rock is the dwarven mining settlement of Kolaz Ungor, which harvests mineral ores closer to the surface. However, the mines of Kolaz Ungor lead down to Zhufbar and should the settlement fall, the greenskins can pour in through them. Guarding the entrance to Kolaz Ungor through the centuries is Mingol Argul – the tower of the carved faces. This bastion has ever kept watch over the lake road and protected Kolaz Ungor, and even when the greenskins overran Zhufbar, Mingol Argul was kept firmly in dwarven hands.

In response to the looming greenskin threat, the Oathbearers have quickly fortified three key positions – two to confront a direct assault, and the main fortification as a last line of defense. Located centrally in the upper levels the Oathbearers have staked their camp at Gromthi’s Hold in honor of the ancestors who sold their lives in the defense of Zhufbar. This warcamp is located within the walls of the mighty Kazak Ruff fortress, named after the massive domed chamber it was carved into. This grand ampitheater has long served as Grungi’s shrine, but times of war demand that safety takes precedence.

Two keeps defend the front-lines of Zhufbar. West of Kazad Ruff is the first line of defense from an underground assault – Kazad Kol, the Somber Keep, named so due to its proximity to Dringorak Duk which connects Zhufbar to the lost hold of Karak Varn. The sentinels of Kazad Kol have kept watch through the centuries, ever vigilant that the skaven or greenskins could tunnel from Karak Varn into Zhufbar. The second keep which protects Zhufbar is the mighty Bar Varn – the Lake Gate. Carved into the northern cliff face of the canyon below Black Water, Bar Varn is the first line of defense before any army can near the massive gates of Zhufbar. Any army descending into the canyon will be in clear sights of the cannons atop Bar Varn and will be easily torn to shreds, taking this keep will cost many greenskin lives.

Though Zhufbar is more fortified now than it was in ages past, it still remains primarily a city of craftsmen and miners. Above ground the dwarves assemble mighty steam ships along the north shore of Black Water to patrol the lake and repel any sea-born invaders. At the food of the mighty waterfall which cascades from the lake down into the canyon is the grand water-wheel house which powers the forges of Zhufbar – Zhuf Dron which means Thunder Torrent. As the waters pass the wheels of Zhuf Dron, they rush down the canyon floor in a river that descends into the mountain – this river is called Stromez Undgrin, the Underground River. Before Stromez Undgrin descends deep under the canyon floor, it passes through the upper levels of Zhufbar in a chamber the dwarves have ingeniously designed as a brewery. Tapping the natural source of cold fresh water, and harnessing the heat of the forges of Zhufbar, the brewmasters of Drakk-Zharr Valdahaz, the Dragon-Fire Brewery, brew one of the fieriest brews known to Karak Ankor.

Beyond the grand doors of Zhufbar lays Zhuf Irkul, the Torrent Hall, the main entrance to the hold, reserved only for regal greetings. West of Zhuf Irkul is the aforementioned Drakk-Zharr Valdahaz; north of it is the grand Engineer’s Guild, from which all the engineer’s and siege masters of the dwarven realms harken; and east of Zhuf Irkul is the grand Zhuf Grong – the Waterfall Anvil. It is within the hall of Zhuf Grong that the mighty axles and gears of Zhuf Dron spin powering the giant hammers of Zhufbar. It is in this hall that the engineers craft the largest and most powerful siege weapons for all of Karak Ankor. North of Zhuf Grong is a passage that runs east to west. At this passages eastern end is the Grung Zul – the Iron Mines, the source of iron not only for Zhufbar, but also for much of Karak Ankor. South of the mine-entrance hall is a small chamber which connects to a hidden cave to the surface, and a hidden door that conceals Dringorak Varn, the secret tunnel that runs under Black Water and connects to Karak Varn. West of Grung Zul is Grimazul Grungron – the Steel Forge. Within the small Grimazul Grungron the engineers and weapon-smiths toil creating ever newer weapons. A looming statue of Grungi towers over the dwarves of Grimazul Grungron to guide their hands as they craft.

Zhufbar is not all about mining and crafting. A normal life exists elsewhere in the hold, in residential halls deeper in the mountain. The central meeting place for the engineers, miners, craftsmen, brewers, and dwarves of all walks of life is Grungi Urgaz – Grungi’s Marketplace. Here dwarves trade all manners of goods, and even humans descend to this market to barter with the dwarves. However, even Zhufbar has to contend with the dark forces which threaten the peaceful existence of the dwarves. Deep in the south-western reaches of Zhufbar where it is closest to Karak Varn is a chamber whose past is so somber, that its name has been forever changed. South of Kazad Kol and west of Zhuf Irkul is Khaz Zan – the Hall of Blood. Here at the closest point to Karak Varn, the greenskins have dug a small tunnel into Zhufbar, a tunnel through which a constant stream of greenskins have kept pouring into. Whenever there is a lull in the greenskin tide, the dwarves have only enough time to remove the dead before another wave comes; there isn’t even enough time to seal the breach in the wall. However, the dwarves have little incentive to seal the breach, for here in this hall of blood the engineer’s master their latest inventions – they have little qualms test firing a cannon at the greenskin invaders.

And so Zhufbar stands, a fortified hold, a powerhouse of siege machinery and ingenuity. Yet for all its defenses, Zhufbar faces a dire threat from the west. Cragmere is lost, infested with children of Chaos, and dark winds stir through the dank halls of Cragmere, winds that blow the seeds of Chaos towards Zhufbar. Long ago Zhufbar faced an endless greenskin tide and fell because it was unprepared. Now the Oathbearers have arrived, the engineers have crafted all manners of siege engines to kill the invaders, and the defenders have been alerted by the rangers of the looming threat. Zhufbar must not fall, Karak Ankor depends on the forges of Zhufbar for its own survival.

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