Home > Dwarfen Holds > Dwarfen Holds ~ Karak Izor

Dwarfen Holds ~ Karak Izor

“We dwarfs west of the World’s Edge Mountains have suffered more than the High King can know. We have lost our homes, our kin, and some even their honor. Now we fight to rebuild that which was lost, and no one will stand in our way. If the High King does not understand our plight, he should step aside an let Karak Izor lead.”

~Mundri Grimbrow, Son of King Kazran Grimbrow of Karak Izor

Karak Izor is the largest and wealthiest hold in the Vaults, and among the oldest. However, the founding of the hold triggered the exile of the western holds from Karaz Ankor and therefore its very founding ushered in a time of darkness for the western holds. Karak Izor did not dwell in darkness however, for it rose to meet the challenge and has become akin to the Throne of Power for the holds of the Vaults, and the Irana and Apuccini Mountains.

The Age of the Ancestors saw the first and perhaps only major prospecting mission into the Vaults before the Time of Woes. The trek of the Ancestor Gods took them north towards the Chaos Wastes, towards the foe they were destined to stand against. Breaking away from this main group of dwarfs were several dozen prospectors who hoped to find promising wealth beyond the World’s Edge Mountains. Their journey west would not bring them the promise of wealth they had hoped for, but rather a trek of extreme difficulty though jagged and unforgiving peaks. The most arduous portion of their exploration was in the Vaults, a cluster of cloud-piercing peaks separated by steep-sloped glacier-cut valleys. The mountaineering dwarfs, who typically find a way to traverse even the most difficult mountains, met their match in the Vaults. The prospecting mission in those rugged mountains took not months, but years. In the end the result was fruitful, but not what the dwarfs wished for. Instead of gold, they got copper; instead of silver they got tin. These were not the mountains for a civilization that wanted to begin its Golden Age.

During the First Chaos Incursion daemonic hordes swept from the Chaos Wastes and bore down upon the dwarfs, who locked themselves behind their massive stone gates. The mountains had proven to be an effective barrier in repelling the daemons of Chaos, and more so against the less intelligent species that inhabited the Old World, such as trolls. Decades of siege would pass before the climactic end of the First Chaos Incursion, and when the dust settled the dwarfs emerged unto a changed Old World, one that was more dangerous, but also one with opportunities on the horizon.

The end of the First Chaos Incursion allowed for the dwarfs to emerge from their battered holds and begin to truly build their kingdom. The efforts of the dwarfs were focused on two objectives. Firstly, the dwarfs wanted to found holds in locations of great wealth, or at the very least great mines. Secondly, after the horrific sieges led by the Chaos daemons, the dwarfs sought to improve their defensive positions as best as they could, which meant the founding of outposts to safeguard their holds. The arrival of the elven colonists along the coasts of the Old World served as a catalyst for the dwarfen effort to build outposts in the mountains.

When it comes to the history of Karak Izor, these two factors manifested their importance in the foundation of the mining hold of Karak Ekrund in the Dragonback Mountains, and the founding of various outposts in the less prosperous regions whose role it was to safeguard trade. Chief among these outpost as it pertains to Karak Izor were first and foremost the outposts of Mad Dog Pass, which were meant to protect this pass from eastern incursions. Secondly, and directly related to Karak Izor, was the outpost of Migdhal Izor, the Copper Keep, which would mark the site of the future hold.

The dwarfen strategy to combat the beastmen brayherds within the forests of the Old World was one of containment, and through this strategy trade routes could be secured. The beastmen lived primarily in the ancient dark forests in the lands west of the World’s Edge Mountains and north of the Black and Irana Mountains, though some lived south of these latter mountain chains. The dwarfs hoped that by controlling the mountain peaks, and specifically the mountain passes, they could confine the beastmen, and other Chaos breeds, and slowly eliminate them as the dwarfs pushed west from the World’s Edge Mountains and the elves pushed east from the coastlines. As part of this strategy, several outposts were founded along the peaks of the less prosperous mountain chains west of Black Fire Pass, which served as the nominal boundary of Karaz Ankor, the dwarfen realm. These outposts were to act as advanced warning to larger settlements of the activity of Chaos breeds. Among these outposts was Migdhal Izor in the Vaults.

Migdhal Izor was a dwarfen outpost during the Golden Age which was built atop Karag Izor, the Copper Peak. The outpost was located along the southern face of the Vaults and primarily served as a relay station for conveying smoke and fire signals, the primary means of communication, from the Grey, Apuccini, or Irana Mountains further west to outposts such as Migdhal Hirn. Migdhal Izor itself was under no threat given its remote location and difficult accessibility, thus it was manned only by at most a score of rangers. With time, due to the remoteness of the outpost and the difficulty to access it, and the surrounding lands the population would decline so that by the start of the War of Vengeance it had no more than a dozen rangers.

Once the War of Vengeance gripped Karaz Ankor’s collective mentality, the original purpose of the mountain outposts in the west was gone. Some outposts were still manned in order to monitor the movements of the elves, but for the remote and inaccessible outposts of the Vaults there was little reason to keep them manned. This changed one fateful day during the early years of the war when Migdhal Izor spied from the distance a dragon-rider approaching from the north-west. The dwarfs had learned to loathe the dragon riders, for a single dragon rider had slain scores, if not hundreds, of dwarfs. The rangers of Migdhal Izor wasted no time relaying the signal further east. The dragon-rider paid no heed to the dwarfen signal fires, for the pitiful rangers below offered no resistance. His purpose was fixed on flying south-east to his besieged home of Oeragor. The fire-signals were precisely what Morgrim Elgidum had wanted to know, Prince Imladrik had taken the bait and was flying into the trap set for him.

The signal-fire lit by the rangers of Migdhal Izor would be one of death and doom. Not only did it herald the death of Prince Imladrik, brother of Phoenix King Caledor II, but it also would bring about the doom of Migdhal Izor. Dwarfs from Barak Varr, Ekrund, and Karak Izril besieged the elven town, and home of Prince Imladrik, of Oeragor. They patiently waited for the dragon prince to return to his home to rescue it, for this was the plan all along. The dragon prince arrived as expected, bathing the dwarfs below in dragon-fire, but the dwarfs were prepared with a few dozen of bolt throwers at the ready. The mighty beast was brought down, wounded but not killed. Its rider, the noble elven prince, was locked in a duel with his former friend Morgrim, nephew to the High King. Alas fate would not allow the dragon prince to live any longer as Morgrim claimed his former friend’s life. In a strange act for the dwarfs, Morgrim ordered the dwarfs to stand down and not slay Imladrik’s dragon mount, Draukhain. The severely wounded beast still lived and had life in him. Morgrim gestured towards the slain dragon prince and the dragon knew what it had to do. Morgrim had allowed the beast to live to take the body of its master back to his kin in Tor Alessi.

The Siege of Oeragor had ended with the death of Prince Imladirk, thus attaining vengeance for the death of Snorri Halfhand at the hand of Caledor II. The severely wounded star dragon, wisest of his kind, took up the body of his master and made the painful long journey back to Tor Alessi. After Draukhain had fulfilled his duty in bearing his master’s body back to his family, the dragon made one last flight. Vengeance had filled his heart and this was all that kept the dying beast alive.

Draukhain flew back south-east towards that lonely dwarfen outpost that had lit the signal fire to warn the dwarfs. A dragon may be a noble beast when it is tamed by the heart of its rider, but when its bestial emotions take hold, they are savage beasts to their dying breath. It was with this savagery that the dragon descended upon Migdhal Izor in the dark of night. Sunlight would not betray the arrival of the star dragon, and to the dwarfen eye Draukhain probably looked like a falling star indeed. With the last energy its dying heart could provide, the mighty star dragon unleashed a fiery blast at the dwarfen outpost, his fiery breath scarring the mountainside and turning the stone outpost into a stone oven. Dwarfen rangers, some with beards aflame, poured out of the outpost for the sake of survival only to be met with the vengeful gaze of the sun dragon who had crashed upon the mountainside. In a short and bloody struggle the dragon slayed the surviving rangers as the last lifeforce left its body. The burning outpost of Migdhal Izor had sent off its last signal-fire of the War of Vengeance. Its defenders charred skeletons littered the area around the burning outpost. The mighty star dragon breathed its last breath and its body tumbled into the rocky valley below, disappearing into a grave of ice and stone.

During the remainder of the War of Vengeance, Migdhal Izor would not be remanned, for it was too remote and not in a region where the elves could access. In fact the massive pyre that arose from the outpost had indicated all the other outposts needed to know – Migdhal Izor was gone in one calamitous evening. During the remaining centuries of the War of Vengeance, Migdhal Izor would not be revisited by any other dwarfs, no one would come to bury the dead. Instead the bones of the fallen were left to be buried by nature as centuries of wind and snowmelt carried the bones down the mountain to join a common grave with the sun dragon that had brought doom upon their head.

Migdhal Izor would fade into memory. Destroyed in the early years of the War of Vengeance and left unmanned due to its remoteness, the outpost would find no justice with the end of the war. The end of the War of Vengeance was marked by the start of the Time of Woes, and even if the dwarfs had wanted to reconstruct Migdhal Izor, they were robbed of the opportunity due to nature’s wrath. Karaz Ankor had been sent into turmoil. Mines collapsed tunnels were destroyed, vast halls were in ruin. If the great holds of the World’s Edge Mountains were in tumult, what hope was there for the ruins of Migdhal Izor? Ironically it would take the destruction caused by the Time of Woes and ensuing Goblin Wars for Migdhal Izor to return to the map of Karaz Ankor, albeit for a brief moment.

In the aftermath of the onset of the Time of Woes, greenskins poured from the east crashing upon the World’s Edge Mountains. Passes which were guarded by mighty holds, such as Peak Pass or Death Pass, held out against the tide of greenskins, but one pass in particular was not sufficiently manned to withstand what came. Mad Dog Pass was only manned by outposts, much the same as Migdhal Izor, and the scattered scores of dwarfs along the pass could not mount an effective resistance against the greenskins, particularly due to the Ungdrin Ankor being destroyed and these dwarfs finding themselves cut off. The unopposed greenskin masses flooded the Badlands, and in their blind western push they crashed into the Dragonback Mountains, and eventually into Ekrund. Ekrund would fall in less than two years after the Time of Woes struck, and in its destruction Migdhal Izor’s next chapter would be written.

Ekrund was an isolated mining hold in the Dragonback Mountains, and in the Golden Age it had never really felt the need to fortify itself. Minor defenses existed, sufficient enough to hold back a wandering group of trolls or the stray giant, but nothing formidable enough to stop tens of thousands of greenskins. The Time of Woes did nothing to improve the state of these defenses, as small walls were structurally compromised. With the majority of the hold’s warriors still in the west around the region today known as the Tilean Sea, the hold did not have enough hands to quickly repair and improve the state of its defenses. When the greenskins arrived, there would be no prolonged siege and serious defense. The war-weary warriors arrived back from the west just in time to face the greenskin hordes of the east. In a desperate bid for survival the king of Ekrund ordered the evacuation of the hold and flight to the west towards the Black Gulf. Word had been sent for aid to Barak Varr, and any hope the dwarfs had rested in Barak Varr’s hands. The greenskins encircled the dwarfs as they tried to leave Ekrund, so in one last heroic act of his reign, the king of Ekrund charged into the overwhelming number of greenskins with his warriors, with the intention of breaking a hole in the encirclement so that the other dwarfs could flee to the sea. The plan worked, at the cost of the last king of Ekrund’s life.

The dwarfs of Ekrund would flee to the coast and find rescue in the fleet of Barak Varr. They would be evacuated by sea to Barak Varr where they would spend nearly the next century fighting to hold Barak Varr and trying to make sense of their new lot in life. Alas the halls of Barak Varr would not be where the mining clans of Ekrund would rebuild their lives. Barak Varr was not a mining hold and had little to offer to the mining clans of Ekrund, who had once been among the wealthiest clans in Karaz Ankor. After a century of failed attempts to retake Ekrund and soul-searching, a lone party from the surviving outpost of Kolund in the Vaults had given the dwarfs of Ekrund the spark they needed to restart their lives. The dwarfs of Ekrund knew about the vast reserves of untapped wealth within the Vaults, particularly of the famed Karag Izor which was rumored to be the largest copper deposit in the Old World. During the Golden Age this metal was of little value, but in the current dark times the dwarfs would find a new value in copper. Also, who knew, perhaps the early prospectors had missed hidden veins of precious ores or gemstones?

Exactly six hundred years after Migdhal Izor had been destroyed by dragonfire, thousands of dwarfs of Ekrund made the long and difficult trek from Barak Varr, first to Kolund, and then north along the eastern face of the Vaults to the location of Migdhal Izor. Their journey was complicated by rockslides which had swept away mountainside paths and destroyed ranger bridges across chasms. The presence of the new enemy, the skaven, did little to help the dwarfen trek north, but dwarfen determination would see them through. The column of thousands of dwarfs, led by the aptly named Izorgrung clan, finally reached the site of the ruined outpost. There would be no time wasted on mourning the ancient bones of the deceased, for Karag Izor was in a harsh land and if the dwarfs of Ekrund were to survive, they would have to get to work to carve a new home into the peak.

Six hundred and six years after the fall of Migdhal Izor, Karak Izor was founded in -1362 IC by the Izorgrung clan. Some have said that it was the very founding of Karak Izor by the dwarfs of Ekrund which infuriated the High King, for it was this very same year that the High King would disown all the holds west of Black Fire Pass. These clans were labeled as deserters, having abandoned their fallen holds, mines, and settlements that had given Karaz Ankor such great wealth. The High King’s edict was not welcome news for the dwarfs of Karak Izor, but survival was on their mind. Thus it was that Karak Izor began its existence as an outcast and exile, but it would not stand alone. In the following years more holds would be founded in the western Black Mountains, such as Karak Hirn nearly a century and a half after Karak Izor, or Karak Norn in the Grey Mountains over two centuries later. In fact, due to its age and size, Karak Izor rose to the position of the unofficial leader of the holds-in-exile, particularly among the dwarfs of the Vaults, and the Apuccini and Irana Mountains.

Due to the remote location of Karak Izor, it would be able to grow unchecked. Hostile forces were largely unable or unwilling to pressure Karak Izor. The nearby skaven warrens of Fester Spike and the Putrid Stump were seldom bothered to attack the dwarfs of Karak Izor, focusing their attention on the smaller holds nearby such as Karak Grom, Karak Eksfilaz, or Karak Kaferkammaz. For nearly the first millennium of its existence, Karak Izor developed un-harassed. The appearance of human tribes in the flatlands did not directly impact Karak Izor due to the hold’s remote location, but merchants would find ways for Izorian copper to flow into human lands in trade for foodstuffs. After the founding of the hold in -1362 IC, the next great event to mark a change in the hold’s history was the rescinding of the previous High King’s disavowal in -234 IC. Karak Izor was once again welcomed into the family of Karaz Ankor, though the hold did so reluctantly. It had grown to like its role as the leader of the exiled dwarfs, and did not relish the idea of bending the knee to the High King after nearly a millennium of exile.

Karak Izor’s history after being welcomed back into the family of Karaz Ankor is rather unremarkable. The foundation of the Empire in 1 IC lead to an increase of trade, as copper products found more use in the stabilized Empire. Over time the establishment of minor princedoms in the Borderlands would allow for trade to flow south as well, though this route was much longer given the lack of a direct route from Karak Izor down to the flatlands just below it. Traders to the Borderlands have to take routes either southwest along the eastern face of the Vaults to Karak Grom, or northeast through the often snow-bound Brenhein Pass into the Black Mountains. The difficulty of navigation in the Vaults has proven to be a double-edged sword. On one hand it has done much to protect Karak Izor and allow it to grow, but on the other hand it has stifled trade. For this reason, the king of Karak Izor has ordered his miners and engineers to construct a network similar to the bygone Underway of Karaz Ankor. It is hoped that subterranean links to outlying settlements, mines, and other holds, will greatly improve the economic situation of Karak Izor.

Due to the peaceful nature of Karak Izor’s existence, the hold has been able to expand and found numerous settlements unlike any other. Karak Izor itself is home to twenty thousand dwarfs, making it the largest hold west of Black Fire Pass, not counting Barak Varr. Its population is further augmented by its settlements including the mines of Grung Skree, known for its lead and copper lodes, Grung Agriletaz, known for its gemstones, and Grung Bryn, known for its silver lodes. In addition to these mines Karak Izor also reigns over four modest settlements: Khazid Wyrvarn, Khazid Nekewukaz, Khazid Algikarag, and the human town of Hochstadt, which is a breadbasket for the realm of Karak Izor. These numerous settlements augment the economic potential of Karak Izor through the production of weapons, metal-crafted goods, and jewelry. Karak Izor’s own economy is heavily dependent on copper, though fate has rewarded the hopes of the miners of Ekrund who indeed found unknown deposits of gems.

The banner of Karak Izor has seldom marched out to battle. The hold maintains a heavily defensive position due to its historical roots with the fall of Ekrund, protecting its approaches with gyrocopters. Of all the holds in Karaz Ankor, Karak Izor relies on gyrocopters the most, not only for defense, but also for communication with outlying settlements while its subterranean network is being built. The banner of Karak Izor bears the central image of a peak of copper being struck by lightning. Some have interpreted this icon as symbolizing the sparks that fly from anvils as the smiths of Karak Izor craft metalwork. However, runescribes maintain that the lightning on the banner is a link to the past and present, as the dragonfire unleashed by Draukhain left a massive scar on the side of the peak, effectively melting copper ore into a permanent shiny scar which attracts lightning strikes. The central image and border are copper in color referencing Karag Izor itself. The background of the banner is green, tying the hold to its past in Ekrund, which also had a banner with a green field.

Categories: Dwarfen Holds Tags:
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: