Home > Dwarfen Holds > Dwarfen Holds ~ Zhufbar

Dwarfen Holds ~ Zhufbar

“Listen to that beautiful rhythmic beating. That is the beating of the industrial heart of Zhufbar. Night and day the hammers rise and fall in perfect timing. Only the dawi could master the force of nature for our needs. Zhufbar may be smaller than other holds, but automation makes us equally, if not more, productive on the industrial scale. That is something to be proud of.”

~ Sigrid Ironforge, Daughter of King Morgrim Ironforge of Zhufbar

Zhufbar is the center of innovation and industrial work for Karaz Ankor. Through clever dwarfen engineering, the dwarfs have harnessed the power of the waterfall around which the hold is built. This power is used to operate mechanical hammers and bellows in the massive forges of the hold, forges which create many of Karaz Ankor’s siege weapons.

When the Ancestor Gods arrived in the Old World thousands of years ago, the land was wild and untamed, and not just the flatlands. The mountains and surrounding regions were also untouched by a civilized hand, as the only intelligent creatures that inhabited the mountains up until that point were the dragons. One can imagine the stony peaks rising from the earth as a dragon’s lower jaw rising to consume the clouds. Dwarfen hands were yet to shape the mountains and extract their wealth for the glory of their race. Of all the locations the Ancestor Gods saw during their trek north, one location stood out as unique, and even among the dwarfs as awe-inspiring.

Located at the proverbial heart of the World’s Edge Mountains is the alpine lake known as the Black Water, or Drazh Varn to the dwarfs. This massive lake was formed when a falling star slammed into the mountains at the junction of the Black Mountains with the World’s Edge Mountains. The crater caused by this impact was filled with snowmelt over time forming a massive reservoir with one key outlet, a waterfall at the rim of the crater that cascaded down. Over the centuries the power of water would carve out a chasm as the raging waters sought a way out of the mountains as they flowed north. These waters would form the headwaters of the Aver Reach, as it is known today, but in the time of the Ancestor Gods this was known as the Zhuf Ruvalk, the Torrent River. While the majesty of this region captivated the dwarfs, and later its mineral wealth would as well, initially the dwarfs pushed on north, for that was their mission.

The Age of the Ancestors would come to an end following the climactic conclusion to the First Chaos Incursion, which saw the Ancestor God Grimnir vanish into the Chaos Wastes, with his son Morgrim as the sole witness to the event. Morgrim returned to Karaz-a-Karak to leave his father’s axe with his descendants, and soon after he and the other Ancestor Gods would depart. Morgrim’s descendants in particular would play a key role in the future of the aforementioned waterfall below the Black Water, for Morgrim was the patron of engineers. It was he who taught the dwarfs how to craft grudge throwers and bolt throwers that helped them fell not only mighty giants and dragons, but also held back great daemons during the First Chaos Incursion. With the lessons in mind from Morgrim and the First Chaos Incursion, the dwarfs set out to found a new hold specifically intended to arm the dwarfs to face future threats.

With the departure of the Ancestor Gods in -4420 IC, the dwarfs were left to face the challenge of the future on their own, armed only with the knowledge the Ancestor Gods left with them. The first great dwarfen colonization in -4200 IC was focused on securing the passes of Peak Pass and Death Pass, along with establishing a mining hold on the western shore of Drazh Varn in order to extract the precious gromril that lay buried in the earth there. Eighty years later dwarfs would set out once more in what was to be the second great dwarfen colonization of the World’s Edge Mountains, and beyond. In -4119 IC the dwarfs pushed northward founding Karak Ungor and Karak Vlag, westward founding Barak Varr in the Varenka Hills, and most importantly closer to the heart of Karaz Ankor they founded Zhufbar.

Zhufbar, or the Torrent Gate, was founded in -4119 IC during the second dwarfen colonization. The hold was founded specifically as an industrial center, which was meant to smelt the gromril mined in Karak Varn and forge it into powerful weapons and armor, or send it onward to Karaz-a-Karak for further processing. The hold was built in the chasm below the Black Water where the massive waterfall cascaded down. The dwarfen engineers quickly learned that through the use of engineering they could harness the power of the waterfall. As miners and stonemasons were digging into the chasm walls to carve out halls and built fortifications, engineers were working in parallel to construct thousands of waterwheels that would be powered by the falling waters.

The construction process of Zhufbar was a centuries-long effort as generation after generation would leave their mark expanding the waterworks of the city. The construction of the city was far from a local affair, as metalsmiths from Karaz-a-Karak would aid in the forging of great gears the size of four dwarfs standing atop each other’s shoulders, which would then be transported over the mountains by teams of ponies. Special forges had to be built in Zhufbar to create metal shafts over a hundred feet long, shafts that would connect the water wheels to the aforementioned gears.

The initial work constructing the city was an arduous affair, as the dwarfs were working on wet rock in constantly damp conditions. However, once the first forges were made and began to locally produce the machinery required to capture the power of the waterfall, then the process of industrial automation began to feed into itself. Gear driven bellows gave fiery life to blast furnaces. Mechanical-pulley-operated buckets transported molten iron and coal above dwarfen heads in a mechanical dance. Giant hammers fit for a giant’s hand rhythmically pounded sheet metal with the tempo of a dwarfen heart. Though one could not see Zhufbar as they travelled around the Black Water, anyone within miles of the hold could hear the roar of the waterfall and hammering of the forges as the sounds echoed off the canyon. For the hearing-impaired, day or night the hold’s location was betrayed either by a column of industrial smog by day, or the glow of the forges by night. The only thing constraining Zhufbar’s growth was its own confines within the chasm below Drazh Varn.

During the Golden Age Zhufbar’s population grew to one hundred and twenty five thousand adults, despite the hold being built for a population of one hundred and ten thousand dwarfs. Slight overcrowding was deemed worth it for the great industrial might of the hold. This early period of Zhufbar’s history would not yet see the production of the famed dwarfen cannons, for gunpowder had not yet been discovered. Instead Zhufbar was focused primarily on the forging of arms and armor, and of course bolts for bolt throwers. Despite the focus on military hardware, the hold itself was not a military power-house. Weapons and armor went to supplying nearby holds such as Karak Kadrin or Karaz-a-Karak in return for food. Minor trade also took place with the elves, though they tended to shun dwarfen arms and armor.

In -1997 IC the course of dwarfen history, and Zhufbar’s own history, would change with the declaration of the start of the War of Vengeance by the High King. Dwarfen merchants had been attacked by cowardly elves, and dwarfen honor besmirched. War would be the only payment the dwarfs would take for these wrongs, and when the engines of war turn, Zhufbar roars. The early centuries of warfare would see Zhufbar spared of any direct participation or losses. The majority of the fighting was undertaken by holds with lesser industrial importance, and with Zhufbar being the primary northern industrial hub for Karaz Ankor, its dwarfs were not called to war. Instead they continued to arm the next generations of dwarfs from Karak Vlag to Karak Drazh as they marched westward. The latter centuries of the war would see a change in this approach, as the other holds of Karaz Ankor had spent much of their energy and Zhufbar was still a large hold that had as of yet untapped fighting power.

In the second half of the War of Vengeance, though at that time no one knew it was the second half, Zhufbar answered the call to war by getting directly involved. Much of the lands that would one day become the Empire had been cleared of the elves and their cities of frail towers. The fighting had primarily shifted west beyond the Grey and Apuccini Mountains. For its part, Zhufbar would march to join its war-torn kin fighting against the southern colonies around the bay known as the Tilean Sea today. The fighting in these lands was not a brutal as in the northern forests, for the elves did not dare to hide amongst fields of grain or rows of grapevines. Instead it devolved into mundane siege warfare which saw grudge throwers batter elven walls until a pitched battle could be forced.

The current low population of Zhufbar was not caused by the struggles of the War of Vengeance, though that would help trim some excess fat off the population that had outgrown its confines. No, the true tragedy and loss that would befall Zhufbar would come after the War of Vengeance ended in -1501 IC and was followed in quick succession by the Time of Woes in 1500 IC. The earthquakes that rocked the World’s Edge Mountains did significant damage to Zhufbar, particularly to the mechanized forgeworks, but they did not cause the level of catastrophic damage the Karak Varn suffered. The warriors of Zhufbar would return from the War of Vengeance to find their hold in ruins as engineers and miners scrambled to repair damage and prevent the Black Water from flooding the hold, but the warriors would turn their gaze westward once more upon hearing of Karak Varn’s fate. The struggle to hold and later reclaim Karak Varn would cost Zhufbar more lives than the entire War of Vengeance, for the skaven were a ruthless and endless foe.

The loss of Karak Varn in -1499 IC was a terrible morale blow to Zhufbar. Firstly, Karak Varn had been an older hold, and as an older brother to Zhufbar. The forges of Karak Varn did much to help Zhufbar grow in its early years. Secondly, Karak Varn had been the greatest source of gromril for Karaz Ankor, and as such the greatest source of material for the forges of Zhufbar. It’s loss was a heavy blow, but nothing compared to the wrath that as about to wash up on Zhufbar’s shores.

Surging on their victory over Karak Varn on the western shore of the Black Water, skaven continued to press eastward, quickly arriving in Zhufbar which was but a day or so away. The lower levels of Zhufbar were quickly engulfed in a bloody struggle against the vile foe. Miners, who had been struggling to repair damage caused by earthquakes and sealing cracked walls so that flood waters would not pour into the hold, found themselves facing a flood of another kind from the rear as skaven attacked. Many feared that Zhufbar would be the next to fall against the skaven, but the engineering might of the hold would help it brace against the storm. The lower levels and mines were quickly collapsed to block the skaven advance up the hold. Engineers worked tirelessly to prepare tunnels for the next controlled collapse, never allowing the skaven to gain a footing in the forges and halls of the hold.

While the miners fought with the skaven in the mines, the warriors battled on the surface against the secondary new scourge for the dwarfs – the greenskins. Orc tribes, dull as they are, were quick to observe the rising smoke and dull hammering from the canyon of Zhufbar and swarmed the location. The early years of the Goblin Wars were a brutal struggle for survival which saw the population of Zhufbar suffer greatly, far more than they ever did during the War of Vengeance. Their population numbers were increased by the refugees from Karak Varn, though even with this influx of dwarfs the hold was still on the decline.

The first thousand years after the Time of Woes, encompassing the Goblin Wars and Troll Wars, were a struggle for survival not only for Zhufbar, but for all of Karaz Ankor. The once unified realm fractured into islands of resistance. The Underway that linked the holds was in ruin, and as major holds fell along the Underway, the distance between dwarf-held holds only grew. The fall of Karak Varn and natural upheaval in Black Fire Pass effectively cut off Karaz Ankor from the dwarfen outposts in the western mountains, with Zhufbar becoming the de-facto western-most dwarfen holding still within some degree of communication with Karaz-a-Karak a decade into the Goblin Wars. The true moment of change not only for Zhufbar, but for much of Karaz Ankor was in the year -420 IC, when a happenstance explosion in Karaz-a-Karak would change the future of dwarfen siege engineering.

One thousand years after the Time of Woes shattered the unity of Karaz Ankor, another earth-moving experience would give Karaz Ankor the edge to stabilize and push back. In -420 IC dwarfen engineers in Karaz-a-Karak accidentally ‘discovered’ blackpowder, somewhat to the detriment of their engineer’s guild. This discovery was momentous for Karaz Ankor, as its immediate implication was the intensified work of the more untraditional engineer guild of Zhufbar to find uses for blackpowder. The simplest and quickest discovery was that barrels packed with blackpowder could be placed in mines to devastating effect when the skaven attacked and the barrels exploded. This however was an simple application of the gift from Morgrim. In the short span of forty years, the engineers of Zhufbar created the first cannons and used them to deadly effect, marking a resounding victory in -379 IC at the Battle of Black Water.

The following centuries would see the dwarfs work on perfecting their gunpowder technology and decreasing the muzzle size so that massive cannons do not have to be hauled around the lands. Dwarfen cannon-forging skills are greatly improved upon in Zhufbar in the following centuries. The first cannons were large unwieldy things, but over time the dwarfs were able to decrease the barrel size and create the first organ guns. Later efforts would be made to construct larger cannons to defend the holds, or rathe mortars, particularly after Zhufbar itself was besieged and nearly overrun in -1 IC. The siege was broken by Sigmar Heldenhammer, a deed which would be repaid a year later when the dwarfs came to the aide of the humans in the First Battle of Black Fire Pass.

Following the formation of the Empire, Zhufbar’s trade returned to its metalworking roots as it provided the humans of the Empire with many finely crafted metal goods in exchange for food. Meanwhile the dwarfs were continuing to perfect their craft of gunpowder technology. As the first centuries of the Empire’s history went by, Zhufbar would see the development of the first handheld firearms, initially called handcannons, but later called rifles. The miniaturization of gunpowder technology would continue with the development of pressure-plated landmines and hand grenades. Technological advances would not be limited to gunpowder only, for steam-power would also rise in importance in the first millennium IC. This was particularly evident in the constantly embattled Zhufbar. The struggle against the skaven in the mines was an endless ordeal as the tides of battle ever shifted. Zhufbar’s development of steam-powered turrets would do much to help safeguard lower deeps without the cost of dwarfen lives.

The second millennium IC would see Zhufbar overtake Karaz-a-Karak as the innovative center of Karaz Ankor. The older engineers of Karaz-a-Karak were traditionalist and conservative in their thinking. They were unwilling to test new technologies, often which they discovered on accident, instead leaving the more forward-thinking engineers of Zhufbar to develop the discoveries into something new for Karaz Ankor. So while Karaz-a-Karak would discover gunpowder, Zhufbar would refine its use into an art. The same would occur with the steam engine which Karaz-a-Karak invented, but was further mastered by engineers in Zhufbar who made steam-powered drills, or even Barak Varr who mad the first steam-powered vessels. Likewise in 1550 IC the first flame cannon would be created in Karaz-a-Karak but perfected in Zhufbar. It was of course easier for the industrial might of Zhufbar to perfect and mass produce siege weapons given its automated forges.

The third millennium IC would bring a dark cloud over Zhufbar, and no it was not a cloud of smog that was of its own making – that was always over Zhufbar. No, this was a cloud of death unseen since the first years of the Time of Woes. Throughout Zhufbar’s history it had been assailed and battered by orcs who poured in from the Badlands to the south. The hold had devised many clever inventions to defend itself, including towers which emerged from the mountain and were able to create deadly fields of firepower. Zhufbar had become a technological fortress impervious to greenskin, or even skaven, onslaught. So long as the dwarfs stayed within their walls they were fine. But in 2095 IC the throng of Zhufbar march out from behind the safety of its walls to face a dreaded foe, the undead. In this year at the Battle of Nachthafen the dwarfen throng of Zhufbar faced off with the undead legions of Konrad von Carstein. Dwarfen runesmiths did their best to thwart the foul necromancers, but where the runesmiths succeeded, the warriors failed. Enraged at the dwarfen slight to his power, Konrad von Carstein charged the dwarfen ranks personally leading to a massacre of Zhufbar’s throng, its king included.

King Morgrim Ironforge assumed the throne of Zhufbar following the disaster at the Battle of Nachthafen, and together with his wife Lenka of clan Karangaz they rule over the hold until the present day. The dwarfs would avenge the fallen of the Battle of Nachthafen a few decades later in an alliance with the men of the Empire. In 2121 IC at the Battle of Grim Moor, the dwarfs would march together with the Imperial armies to face Konrad von Carstein. Vengeance for Zhufbar was achieved at that fateful battle when Thane Grufbad held the vampire count down, stuffing his head into the waterlogged mud, while Count Helmar of Marienburg cut off the vampire’s head. This battle showed the dwarfs what could be achieved if they combined their power with the numerous men of the Empire. In more recent years this joint victory was achieved once more in 2519 IC during the Battle of A Hundred Cannons on the River Aver when the joint armies of Zhufbar, Karaz-a-Karak, Karak Kadrin, and Nuln combined their firepower to utterly decimate a massive army of ogres which had broken through Peak Pass and was ready to ravage the Empire.

Zhufbar’s population has suffered greatly under the endless war beneath its foundation. The peak population of one hundred and twenty five thousand has dwindled to a mere twelve thousand adults, making Zhufbar the single standing dwarfen hold with the highest rate of losses since the Golden Age. The hold has had to resort to its skills at engineering to survive assault. While it is most known for its industrial forges and retractable towers and steam turrets, Zhufbar has another trick in its arsenal waiting to surprise any attackers. Recent years have seen the development of thunderbarges, an innovation which is still viewed as new and risky by the majority of engineers. Zhufbar however knows that innovation is the only thing keeping it afloat in the sea of destruction, therefore it does not fear innovation as other holds do. It is no surprise then that Zhufbar is home to a fleet of thunderbarges hidden inside a mountain hanger. When war comes to Zhufbar’s gate, a retractable door opens allowing the thunderbarges to sail forth and bombard any assailants before they can react.

Within the comfort of its walls, the dwarfs of Zhufbar are safe, but should they venture outside the protection of their walls, danger lurks. The shores of the Black Water are a dangerous place rife with greenskin tribes drawn by the fires and smoke of the chasm where the dwarfs of Zhufbar forge their weapons of war. The primitive greenskins view the fiery smoke-bellowing chasm as Gork’s mouth, or was it Mork’s? Also lurking on the coast of the Black Water is the dreaded Crimson Scourge, a battle-scarred hydra that refuses to die. Due to the small size of the throng of Zhufbar, and these external threats which Zhufbar alone cannot overcome, the hold has been working intensively to clear and maintain the Underway between Zhufbar and Karaz-a-Karak. To date, this is the only section of the Underway that has been reclaimed since the Time of Woes struck.

King Morgrim Ironforge reigns over Zhufbar and has seen his hold through many struggles. He is among the rare few of dwarfen kings who have slain greenskins, skaven, ogres, and undead. Zhufbar’s banner has flown many times though out the ages. During the War of Vengeance the throng of Zhufbar fought with valor against the southern elven colonies. It returned home at the onset of the Time of Woes to battle the skaven at numerous battles in Karak Varn and later on the coast of the Black Water. Aside from the beleaguered Karak Azul in the south, Zhufbar is one of the most, if not the most, assailed holds in Karaz Ankor. Its banner’s central image is of the iconic waterfall that cascades from the Drazh Varn, or Black Water, and gives life to the forges of Zhufbar. The central image an border are white for the snowmelt that gives the Black Water life. Its background is a deep dark blue for the waters of the Black Water.

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: