Home > Dwarfen Holds > Dwarfen Holds ~ Karak Bryn

Dwarfen Holds ~ Karak Bryn

“The Order of Guardians has one simple calling in life, and that is to return the undead to their rightful place. Gazul has charged us with the protection of the dead, and those who would defile the eternal rest of the dead deserve death themselves. There is no grey area in this matter. The dead have their place in the Underearth and no where else. Karak Bryn is an affront to the strictures of Gazul, and the Order of Guardians shall not rest until the Queen of Evil has a stake driven through her putrid heart.”

~ Jacbo Agril-Lhune, Guardian of Gazul

The ancient hold of Karak Bryn was once a shining example of how the dwarfs could establish new trade relations with the human race. Trade offered not only the exchange of goods, but also of ideas, and deepened the shared knowledge of two races. These trade relations for Karak Bryn however would also be the cause of the unwitting downfall of the hold, when misplaced faith bore the fruit of treason. Today the hold is known to the humans who live under its shadow as the Silver Pinnacle, a place that inspires both admiration and trepidation.

After the departure of the Ancestor Gods, the dwarfs undertook two great colonization efforts in the World’s Edge Mountains, the last being in -4119 IC with the founding of Karak Ungor and Karak Vlag in the north, and Zhufbar and Barak Varr in the central portion of Karaz Ankor. After this date the subsequent holds founded by the dwarfs would be smaller in scale and never achieve the great size of the first mighty dwarfen holds. That is not to say however that they would shine any less brilliantly.

Located far to the north of the heart of Karaz Ankor, in other words Karaz-a-Karak, Karak Bryn was among the last great hold founded by the dwarfs, and certainly the last hold founded in the north by the dwarfs. Karak Bryn, which means Brilliant Mountain, was founded upon a thin peak that rose into the clouds, and below this stone spire was a wealth of gold and brilliant gemstones. Due to this delayed start, Karak Bryn did not have the same amount of time to grow its population or expand its halls by digging deep into the mountains. This is not to say that it was a small poor hold, for far from it, however on the scale with the grandeur of Karaz-a-Karak or Karak Eight Peaks, Karak Bryn would look meager.

Karak Bryn had less than two thousand years to establish itself as a hold and carve out an existence in the northern World’s Edge Mountains. No climate is too harsh for a dwarf to survive in, but certain comforts should exist if a population is to thrive. Records do not state the peak adult population of Karak Bryn, though it is likely to be around eighty thousand based on scholarly research. Karak Bryn prospered greatly during the Golden Age thanks in large part to the trade with the elven colony of Athel Numiel – the elves having a refined taste for finely carved gems. The heavy reliance on trade would throw Karak Bryn into a shock when the War of Vengeance erupted and the elves of Athel Numiel overnight became enemies to the dwarfs.

Honor-bound to the High King, the king of Karak Bryn had no choice but to answer the call to war and march against his former trading partners and allies at Athel Numiel, joining the host of Karak Ungor and Karak Vlag. The much smaller throng from Karak Bryn with heavy heart took on its share of the battle, though every dwarf who fell was all the more vital to the well-being of Karak Bryn. After the fall of Athel Numil, the throng of Karak Bryn would take part in a screening action marching as the middle column, protecting Karak Ungor’s right flank as they marched to Athel Maraya, and Karak Vlag’s left flank. This unfortunately meant that Karak Bryn’s force had to march through the thicket of the Forest of Shadows – a place no dwarf felt comfortable. Yet the smaller throng of Karak Bryn was best suited to navigate the dense forests. The forests were the perfect environment for elven ambushes, and the dwarfs suffered greatly in this march.

The War of Vengeance would not be a glorious moment for the dwarfs of Karak Bryn as they participated in great victories. They bore their role with the grim determination and stubborn pride of any dwarf, but the unforgiving terrain of the forested plains of the northern Old World were a curse upon the dwarfs who longed for open skies. The end of the War of Vengeance brought about much needed respite, but as the story is repeated so many times, the respite would be short lived.

The start of the Time of Woes did not impact Karak Bryn directly, though the loss of its closest neighbor Karak Ungor was a tragedy full of great sorrow. Instead, the hold which had relied so heavily on trading with another race quickly learned of a golden opportunity that arose during the Tim of Woes. As the elves evacuated from the Old World and the earthquakes shook the landmass, the common tale tells of the great migration of greenskins who would usher in the darkest hour of the Time of Woes, but there was another migration which brought a spark of hope.

Ahead of the greenskin hordes another race was fleeing the green tide, a race that would come to be known as the humans. These humans crossed the High Pass in the thousands, some trying to brave the mountains with little successor pushing to the south for Peak Pass, which they did not know even existed. The dwarfs had just finished one war with a race that had betrayed their trust, so they were not quick to trust the humans. That is most of the dwarfs were not quick to trust the human migrants, but the dwarfs of Karak Bryn had learned to rely very heavily on trade with the elves. For the dwarfs of Karak Bryn the new race provided an opportunity, one that they would seek to take advantage of more so than any other hold.

When during the Time of Woes most of Karaz Ankor was sealing its gates to the outside world (or repairing their shattered gates so they could seal them shut), Karak Bryn explored the new economic opportunity that had manifested itself. The humans were a largely primitive and nomadic race, urging before them herds of cattle, pigs, sheep, and other tasty meaty morsels. Completely terrified of what was chasing them, they were all too eager to trade away their livestock for dwarfen crafted weapons, or the chieftain of the tribe would gladly take a golden torc for half his livestock herd if it meant his status would rise among his people. The dwarfs of Karak Bryn had little qualms trading away shoddy iron tools and weapons, which were now in excess given how many fewer dwarfs returned from the War of Vengeance. This would not be the start of the grand alliance between humans and dwarfs that we know of today, but rather the start of dwarfen interest in the human race and the exploration for a new reliable ally to keep the forces of chaos and destruction at bay. The Time of Woes were a true tragedy for the dwarfen race, but even among tragedy a brilliant light can be found – and who better to find it than the dwarfs of Karak Bryn.

Karak Bryn, more than any other hold, would engage in trade and friendly relations with the human tribes. The human race was viewed as too weak to be a threat, but given time and the right guidance it may be shaped into a reliable buffer against the next great onslaught from Chaos. With an ever cautious eye cast upon the humans, the dwarfs would trade away simple iron weapons and tools in exchange for livestock and grains. For over seven hundred years the dwarfs battled the greenskins in what would be known as the Goblin Wars while quietly evaluating the value of the human settlements that sprang up around the Old World. Around the year -900 IC a dwarf of Karak Bryn would begin his travels south to explore the realms of the humans, a series of travels which would lead to events that would seal the fate of Karak Bryn.

It is unknown when exactly Razek Silverfoot, son of King Borri Silverfoot of Karak Bryn, began his ranging south. It is estimated that he left Karak Bryn around -900 IC and travelled south along the World’s Edge Mountains. His journeys took him through a primitive death worshipping empire known as the Mourkain led by an unsavory looking human known as Ushoran. Razek would push even further south-west along the Black Gulf and to the coast of present day Araby to the more advanced human settlements there. In the wake of Razek Silverfoot’s travels would come trade caravans from Karak Bryn, and this time towards the more established empire of the Mourkain.

The humans north of the Black Mountains were a poorer lot who primarily offered livestock and grains in trade, but the established city of Mourkain had gold to offer for weapons, and what dwarf can resist gold. In -800 IC Razek Silverfoot would accompany a trade caravan to the city of Mourkain in order to firmly establish a solid trade accord with Ushoran. However, the Old World had grown to be a very dangerous place after the Time of Woes came, and Razek’s caravan was beset by a large beastmen herd – too large for the caravan to manage. The dwarfs were slaughtered almost entirely down to the last individual, save for Razek Silverfoot who was rescued at the last moment. Taking a heavy blow to the head from a bestigor, with a second finishing blow on the way, Razek noticed several figures enter the fray and slay his executioner moments before he slipped into unconsciousness. When Razek awoke he found himself face to face with a beyond-beautiful human who called herself Neferata.

Neferata would escort the dwarf prince to Mourkain and offer to mediate in his negotiations. Indebted to Neferata, Razek Silverfoot confided greatly in Neferata, not knowing what she truly was or what she was capable of. Razek would remain in Mourkain for the next fifty years, acting both as a trade representative, and secretly trying to ascertain the source of Ushoran’s gold. Fearing that Razek’s discovery could compromise trade relations, King Borri Silverfoot recalled his son back home. Two hundred more years would pass before Neferata reappeared at the right moment in Karak Bryn’s history, this time to join forces with the dwarfs to defeat the nearby orc WAAAGH led by the orc shaman Wazzakaz. King Borri Silverfoot’s trust was earned in this manner and Razek once again set out to uphold trade relations with the humans. This time it would be Karak Bryn that paid the price.

Ushoran had discovered that the dwarf prince was snooping around and seeking the source of his gold and personally saw to the death of Razek Silverfoot. The Crown of Nagash, resting atop Ushoran’s head, began to work its evil will and filled Ushoran’s head with desirous thoughts for the wealth of Karak Bryn. Neferata, trusted friend and ally of King Silverfoot, was sent to the dwarfen hold to infiltrate the hold and compromise its defenses from within so that the undead host of the Mourkain could enter the hold with little resistance. In -326 IC Neferata answered the orders of the Crown of Nagash, the Crown being the master and not Ushoran, and did its bidding entering the hold as a friend and ally. With her entourage, Neferata quietly took out the defenses and any sentries that would raise the alarm. Completely caught off guard, a legion of undead poured into Karak Bryn slaying any who offered resistance, which was every able bodied dwarf. By the time the alarm was sounded, the hold was already invaded and the defenses compromised.

Throughout the year of -326 IC Karak Bryn breathed its last. Pockets of dwarfs formed a resistance to the undead legion, but with little hope. Neferata, having grown close to the dwarfs, offered Borri Silverfoot the life of the females and beardlings if the king surrendered. Neferata’s sincere offer was tragically cut short when her own confidant slayed the females and children in the temples of the Ancestor Gods, filling the survivors with such rage that ensured there would be no surrender, but only a fight to the death – and a fight to the death was something Neferata was comfortable with, for she was the vampire Queen of Lahmia.

With every last dwarf slain Neferata set to work on two tasks to sate her ambition. Firstly, Karak Bryn was remade in her vision to replicate the lost splendor of Lahmia, her kingdom in Nehekhara. Dwarfen statues were destroyed and replaced with Nehekharan images. Carefully hewn shafts which brought light to all levels of the hold were blocked, and candlelight filled the air. Dwarfen carvings on the wall were carved away and replaced with hieroglyphs inlaid with dwarfen gold. The air was filled with the scents of Nehekharan and Arabyan incense and the purrs of graceful black cats. Day by day all traces of dwarfen life in the hold were removed as Karak Bryn became the Silver Pinnacle. Her second task would take years to execute, but was quickly put into motion, and that was the destruction of Ushoran.

Karak Bryn’s sudden and unexpected fall shocked Karaz Ankor. Not since the days of the fall of Karak Ungor in -1500 IC was a hold so unexpectedly overwhelmed. The handful of survivors who managed to break free of the cold dead hands of the undead guards made it to other dwarfen holds, namely south to Karak Kadrin and Karaz-a-Karak, and informed them of the foul curse that befell Karak Bryn. The dwarfs would curse the name of the Queen of Evil and allow a new fury to grow within their hearts for the undead and those who defiled the realm of Gazul.

Greatly weakened, the dwarfs were unable to confront Neferata at the Silver Pinnacle. The ageless queen ruled as moral kings rose and fell. The Silver Pinnacle gained a mysterious reputation that drew in the curious and rarely let them back out, but primarily among the humans. With the subsequent destruction of Ushoran’s empire of Strigos in -200 IC, Karaz Ankor was somewhat lacking interaction with the undead. Perhaps they had faded away. Neferata was not marshalling any undead legions, so her plans remained unknown to the dwarfs, but she wrote the first grudge against the undead in the Dammaz Kron.

It would not be until hundreds of years later that the fall of Karak Bryn and the treachery of the Vampires would bear some fruit in the dwarfen society. The relatively young Empire was a vulnerable ally, subject to corruption, civil war, infighting, and worse. The short lives of men offered the dark minds who practice necromancy a fertile ground to sow their malice. So it would be that in 1681 Nagash would return to live again and bring about the Night of the Restless Dead, a night when the dead around the Old World stirred to life and terrorized the living. This night would remind the dwarfs of the abomination that is the undead. Less than two thousand years before this date the undead struck their first blow against the dwarfs, and now they were back in uncountable numbers. This event would lead to the creation of the Order of Guardians, an order of dwarfen undead hunters which predates the Templars of Sigmar. Though they hunt the undead around the Old World, the Order of Guardians main target is Neferata’s heart. Her death will settle the great grudge inflicted upon Karak Bryn, and it is this that they aspire for.

Karak Bryn played its part in the War of Vengeance, particularly at the siege of Athel Numiel. Its banner, which in times of peace spoke of prosperity, brought death to the elves of Athel Numiel. The central image of the banner of Karak Bryn is of a dual-image that can be interpreted either as a brilliant stone reflecting light atop smaller gems, or of a mountain peak bathed in the suns rays with its network of mines below. The colors of the banner are of a shining gold for the wealth of Karak Bryn, on a field of purest white for light and the brilliance it gives to the gold and gems within the peak.

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