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Dwarfen Holds ~ Mount Gunbad

“Who are we if we do not attempt to retake that which the ancestors founded? Mount Gunbad was the source of such great wealth for Karaz Ankor, yet we have let it become infested with the filthy grobi’drazh. Their mushroom-addled minds fill the ancient mines with thoughts unfit for civilization. If our ancestors were to know what had become of their home, the shame would be unbearable. My father had the right idea to attempt to reclaim the mines, how could I possibly turn my back to his life’s goal?”

~ Freyga Logazorsdottir of Mount Gunbad

Mount Gunbad was the wealthiest mine in all of Karaz Ankor. So great was its wealth and economic importance that the dwarfs of Mount Gunbad were exempt from participation in the War of Vengeance. Though it would avoid the loss of life during this bloody war, the struggle for existence would come to its doorstep during the Silver Road Wars. The dwarfs successfully retook Mount Gunbad, only to be forced to abandon it once more.

The value of gold and silver as precious metals is universal throughout the known world – even the greenskins who have no sense of economy still treasure the ‘shinies’. The dwarfen infatuation with these precious metals is well known, but the dwarfs value more than just sturdy metals. There exists in the world a gemstone so brilliant and blue, a deeper blue than the sapphires of Norsca and more reflective than the diamonds of Karak Izril. This gemstone is known to the dwarfs as brynduraz, or brightstone in Reikspiel, and it is found in only one location in the world.

On the eastern slopes of the World’s Edge Mountains, north of the Silver Road, the first dwarfs to accompany the Ancestor Gods stumbled upon a cavern which would capture their gaze and not release it until nightfall. Through the merest crack in the mountainside a single ray of the morning sunrise entered the cave striking a gemstone placed fortuitously. As the morning sunlight hit this gemstone, it was magnified and reflected throughout the cavern illuminating the walls as if a mighty brazier was suspended from the middle of the ceiling. All it took as for one of these reflected beams of light to catch another one of these brilliant gemstones for the stone to be reflected further. The dwarfs marveled at the reflective properties of these gemstones and dubbed them brynduraz. Thus it was that soon after the departure of the Ancestor Gods that the dwarfs left to their own instincts set out for these caverns to found a mining settlement to extract the precious bryndurarz for the glory of Karaz Ankor.

The historical records to not mention the origin of the name of Mount Gunbad, leaving instead a tale told to beardlings to serve as the origin of the name. The legend tells of how the first dwarf who stumbled into the cavern was so awed by the display of light before him that it as as if his feet turned into stone and his mouth fell agape as his eyes went wide and stared at the light. As the sun crossed the mountains to the east and the morning sunrays ceased to enter the cavern, the dwarf finally emerged, his mouth parched from being open as he dumbfoundedly stared at the cavern all those hours. Unable to speak clearly, the dwarf intended to say ‘gand bryn duraz’, meaning ‘I found bright stone’, but all his colleagues heard was garbled words sounding like ‘gunbad’. The lesson for every beardling of course being that they should drink plenty of ale so their mouth doesn’t go dry.

Fortune would have it that the location of the new mining settlement of Mount Gunbad also happened to be located atop a rich gold ore deposit. Mount Gunbad quickly became the richest mining settlement in all of Karaz Ankor, dwarfing the wealth even of Ekrund. During the Golden Age, Mount Gunbad’s adult population reached twelve thousand, making it slightly bigger than it’s sister-mining-settlement of Karag Agilwutraz, or Mount Silverspear to those more familiar with Reikspiel. When war came to Karaz Ankor due to the treachery of the elves, Mount Gunbad was exempt from sending its citizens to fight with the elves. Though the dwarfs of Gunbad escaped the tragedy of war against the elves, bloodshed would soon find its way to their home.

The victory over the elves at Tor Alessi gave the dwarfs reason to celebrate, but celebrate long they did not. Dwarfen celebrations were cut short when the earth itself trembled with such power that the dwarfs could only watch as their mighty halls cracked and crumbled. No living force had the power to destroy dwarfen architecture, no power save for the earth itself. Mount Gunbad felt the tremors as well and was not spared any damage, but the earthquakes would not be the end of the threat – they were but the beginning.

It is unknown from where the greenskins came, but suffice to say that after the Great Cataclysm they migrated in the hundreds of thousands across the Darklands to the west. They crashed upon the eastern dwarfen watchtowers as an avalanche cascades down a mountain mowing mighty trees down as if they were but twigs. Mad Dog Pass was first to fall, lacking any significant dwarfen presence to stop the greenskins. Death Pass, the Silver Road, Peak Pass, and High Pass all were more fortified and held back the greenskin tide. Due to the uncountable mass of greenskins sweeping over the land, smaller settlements, mines, and outpost stood no chance and were gradually abandoned in order to save lives. Karag Agilwutraz and Mount Gunbad were both far too large to evacuate, and also far too important economically to abandon. No, Karaz-a-Karak would not sacrifice it’s eastern flank, and so the Silver Road Wars would ensue.

For over forty years the dwarfs were engaged in a bloody struggle the likes of which the two mining settlements of Mount Gunbad and Mount Silverspear had never seen, for they did not take part in the War of Vengeance. The proud dwarfs initially utilized their time-tested tactics of unbreakable shield walls with supporting crossbow and siege engine volleys. They quickly learned that though they could stand against the greenskin tide, even the stoutest dwarf eventually tires under unceasing pressure. The joint armies of Karaz-a-Karak, Mount Silverspear, and Mount Gunbad harassed the greenskins, though the bulk of the fighting fell on the shoulders of the two mining settlements, for they were the most exposed. There were sincere fears that the smaller of the two holds, Mount Silverspear, would buckle under the increased pressure. They had been assaulted directly once and held back the greenskins at great loss of life, but there was no way to tell if they would survive a second assault. Then two things happened which tipped the scales in the Silver Road Wars.

The Silver Road Wars started soon after the earthquakes ceased to rock the mountains. This forgotten chapter in dwarfen history tells the tale of two dwarfen islands in a sea of greenskins – drastically outnumbered yet determined to hold their ground. When the situation in Karag Agilwutraz, or Mount Silverspear, became dire a sudden reprieve confused the dwarfs. The orcs seemed to retreat from the battered hold, presumably defeated. A relief column from Karaz-a-Karak cleared the stragglers and found the defenders of Karag Agilwutraz in high spirits, seemingly able to withstand a dozen more assaults of such scale. Though two questions plagued the mind of the dwarfen commanders… where were the relief forces from Mount Gunbad, and where had the orcs gone to?

The orcs had not retreated, instead they were heading north to Mount Gunbad with a warchant of ‘more shinies, more shinies!’ Where did they hear that Mount Gunbad had shinies? Certainly no dwarf told them… No, they heard from their sneaky and coniving lesser kin, the night goblins.

While the White Orc tribe was busy fighting the dwarfs on the surface, the Bloody Spear night goblins had discovered the damaged and structurally compromised mines of Mount Gunbad. The mushroom crazed goblins and their meaty sacks of teeth known as ‘squigs’ burst into the mines causing chaos and havoc. In the tight mineshafts but three dwarfs could hold back countless night goblins and their nasty squig pets, for their numbers counted for naught in such tight quarters. However, try as they may, the dwarfs were still forced to cede ground, inch by inch, simply due to the pressure of the living mass pushing upon them. They bought precious time for the miners and engineers to prepare cave-ins to block the night goblins, but for ever breach they sealed, another would open up with time. The cunning night goblins, seeing their losses, thought of a better way to take the dwarfen hold, a way with less losses on their side. So it was that they sent emissaries to the White Orcs telling them of the great wealth to be had in Mount Gunbad.

The reprieve Karag Agilwutraz would get from the orcish onslaught, would spell doom for Mount Gunbad. The dwarfs of Karag Agilwutraz were hardly in a position to send reinforcements, for they were busy repairing their defenses and tending to their fallen and wounded. Mount Gunbad would stand alone, and assaulted on two fronts. The arrival of the bulk of the White Orc horde at the gates of Mount Gunbad forced the dwarfs to shift the majority of their defense to the main gate, while the miners, engineers, and a handful of warriors were left to safeguard the mines – which had been suspiciously quiet the past weeks as the orcs marched north. When the orcs arrived and struck, it was as the peal of thunder – and when you hear thunder then it is a matter of seconds before you see the lightning. In this case, the Bloody Spears were the lightning.

The dwarfs of Mount Gunbad, isolated and far north from the Silver Road, stood alone to face the dual onslaught from the White Orc tribe and the Bloody Spear night goblins. The battle for Mount Gunbad would be a short and vicious fight as the dwarfs were pushed back deeper into their hold. The beardlings and females were ordered to evacuate via the narrow mountain passes to Karaz-a-Karak while the miners and an assortment of brewers, carters, blacksmiths, and other trades-dwarfs made a last stand. At heart, every dwarf is a warrior. In -1457 IC, Mount Gunbad fell – for the first time.

The conniving Bloody Spear night goblins acted quickly to hide the wealth from the White Orcs, leading them to barren caverns and spent mine shafts. Furious at the lack of shinies, the White Orcs opted to return to Mount Silverspear – surely the name meant it was full of silver and spears, because Gunbad was full of… well no one knew what a gun was, but the rest of the hold surely seemed bad! The White Orcs, under the new leadership of Warboss Grimfang would write the last bloody chapter in the Silver Road Wars. It may be easy to trick an orc warboss, but to trick other goblins is a far more difficult task. The Bloody Spears thought Mount Gunbad would be all theirs when the White Orcs left, but their peaceful reign would not last long, for soon the Red Face goblins would arrive.

Two hundred years would pass before the dwarfs marched back to Mount Gunbad. In this time Mount Gunbad turned into a battleground between the Bloody Spear night goblins and the Red Face goblins living around the Silver Road. The near constant struggle between the two goblin tribes served the dwarfs in some capacity, for it largely gave Karaz-a-Karak peace in the east. Feeling that the goblins were incapable of holding Mount Gunbad against a calculated dwarfen assault – this time the goblins would face a throng of warriors, and not miners and trades-dwarfs. In -1245 IC a dwarfen throng led by Logazor Brightaxe left Karaz-a-Karak to retake Mount Gunbad, and with the weight of a dwarfen throng behind his back, Logazor succeeded. This expedition would be accompanied by the famed runesmith Kadrin Redmane, where he rose to fame.

Following the successful reconquest of Mount Gunbad in -1245 IC, High King Morgrim Blackbeard decided to visit the hold to honor the brave warriors and raise their spirits in the face of constant warfare. Unfortunately for Morgrim Blackbeard, on the very day that he arrived to Mount Gunbad and was touring the famed mines, which provided Karaz Ankor with so much wealth in the form of gold and brynduraz, the Bloody Spear night goblins decided to attack and broke into the mines. The High King and his bodyguard found themselves surrounded by hundreds of snickering night goblins as they fought for their lives. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Kadrin Redmane who had been working in the gold-smelting forges nearby took up his forging hammer and charged into the fray to save his beleaguered king. Inspired by the runesmith’s bravery, the other forgehands and runesmiths took up their forge hammers and followed Kadrin in a charge all too reminiscent of the fall of Mount Gunbad in -1457 IC trades-dwarfs fighting with Grimnir’s fury against the filthy and hated night goblins. As Morgrim Blackbeard’s bodyguards fell around him and he stood alone, the runesmiths and forgehands, led by Kadrin Redmane, cleared a path to their king and saved his life on that day.

For his valor, the High king rewarded Kadrin Redmane with a powerful rune-hammer – the Hammer of Ages. It is said that the heroic charge of the runesmiths with their forge hammers inspired the High King Morgrim Blackbeard to found a new cohort of bodyguards – the Hammerers. Kadrin Redmane would leave Mount Gunbad in the hands of Logazor Brightaxe and go on to reconquer Karak Varn with his rune-hammer. Fate would have a cruel way of finding and catching up with Kadrin Redmane, for in -1136 IC goblin wolfrider scouts from Mount Gunbad would spot the runelord traveling along the Black Water road escorting a convoy of gromril to Karaz-a-Karak. The following Battle of Black Mound would lead to Kadrin Rerdmane hurling the very same rune-hammer that he was given by the High King into the Black Water before he was killed.

As is the trend for the dwarfs, misfortune would follow them. Without Mount Silverspear to provide nearby assistance, Mount Gunbad was even more isolated than before the Silver Road Wars, and this time with fewer dwarfs to defend it. Logazor Brightaxe would not hold Mount Gunbad for long as the night goblins and orcs returned for the spoils. In around a years time Mount Gunbad would fall for the second time. The Bloody Spears, significantly weakened by the dwarfen attack, were in no position to claim Mount Gunbad. Woe unto the Bloody Spears for seeking an alliance with the Black Fang orcs, for this time it was the orcs who came out on top. Warboss Gorgut would not be fooled like the White Orcs, and would instead claim dominion over Mount Gunbad. This would lead to centuries of warfare between the Bloody Spear night goblins, Red Face goblins, and Black Fang orcs over Mount Gunbad. The dwarfs on the other hand would abandon all hope of retaking the hold.

The banners of Mount Gunbad could be seen escorting precious brynduraz and gold caravans to Karaz-a-Karak. During the Silver Road Wars the caravans decreased in number and instead the banners of Mount Gunbad would be seen alongside that of their sister-hold Mount Silverspear. The central image of Mount Gunbad’s banner is of its famed brynduraz gemstone over a cavern – the rumored first gemstone which caught the morning light that so dazzled the dwarfs who stumbled upon the cavern. The central image and borders bear the blue of brynduraz, while the field is gold. Both colors represent the source of Mount Gunbad’s incredible wealth.

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