“…nd as I gazed into the portal I gazed upon time and space beyond our ken. In all the myriad of stars one burned brighter than all others to my eye.
It was a world of smoke and fire; of industry and toil not unlike our own empire, but on a far grander scale. Towers of steel and brass reared into the sky, built from a jumble of chimneys and pipes, and below my feet slaves beyond count hammered away ceaselessly.
‘What is this place?’ I demanded of the daemon.
‘It has many names,’ it hissed, trying to evade my question, but I harangued it for a firmer answer and it wheedled ‘Its name is Zharrgrund and its masters are distant kin to thee.’ I interrogated it further and it relented the tale of that place.
It was the seat of our distant kin whom the daemon named Dawizans and at its heart slumbered some shadow or fragment of our Dark Father, sated with sacrifice beyond count. About him were bound seven score and four of his greater daemons, each bound by chains forged by twelve times as many lesser daemons, and from them the world drew its power.
While our world is bound to our sun, this daemonworld had no such shackle, roaming as the Father willed it; bursting through to the material world or sinking into the Sea of Chaos on a whim.
As I walked its streets I marvelled at its ingenuity, for next to their craft our daemonsmiths are but mewling newborns. Machines beyond our ken they had and as a gazed up upon the stars through a filched eyeglass I swear on my beard that some were not stars but ships high up beyond the sky. We think ourselves grand in our ironclads, but even the least of these star-ships would dwarf even our greatest towers and fortresses save Mingol Zharr-Naggrund herself.
And so the daemon led me through the streets and I took stock of its inhabitants. Like our own civilisation, theirs is modelled on the ziggurat, with the lowest most numerous and the greatest the least…
…I watched an army march to war, embarking on great barques to take them to the waiting ships to go off into the dark. Before them they drove herds of slaves and bound daemons, followed by armoured Dawizans, geared for war.
The bulk wore heavy armour and carried a weapon that was a fusion of great axe and some diabolic machine that spat beams of fire, and some of their number lugged machines that acted akin to our rocket batteries or organ guns or other warmachines, but were no bigger than a large chest.
Behind them came great metal boxes, studded with guns. They came clanking and rattling and some even held troops in their bellies. And amid them clanked smaller boxes on legs and enshrined within were mortally wounded kings and priests.
And out on the flanks they had not wolfriders but riders of strange wheeled or tracked contraptions, as if the engine of one of our ironclads had been shrunk down and strapped to a mine cart. Troops rode them in ones and twos, one driving and the other manning a pintle mount weapon.
At the lead of the army were lords and sorcerers, each equipped with the best gear and guarding them were the elites, the best troops with the heaviest army and deadliest weapon.
Of bull centaur I saw naught. Or I should say naught as we know them. In their stead were creatures known as the Daemox, perverse fusions of Dawizan, daemon and machine. Like our bull centaurs they had four legs and a bullish form, but there the resemblance ends. Rather than a blessing of our Father, it was a punishment, dark arts fusing the dishonoured into a contraption not unlike the body of one of Khorne’s Juggernauts and then trapping a petty daemon within. The result was a being driven mad, barely able to tell ally from foe and chained up until they could be loosed on the enemy.
Also apart from their regular kin, but prouder and grander, were the Obsidian Guard. No normal Dawizans, these warriors had looked through the Infinity Gate, an artefact held at the heart of Zharrgrund. In doing so they took daemons into themselves; the weakest perished, most were driven mad and then bound into Daemox, but the strongest mastered the daemons and banished them from their own bodies. Over the next seven score and four days, the bodies of these few hardened, becoming like obsidian, their eye glowing and their hearts being filled with the fiery breath of Hashut Himself. Immune to fear and horror, able to breath the spitefires of Hashut on their foes and their stony flesh harder than the toughest armour they are the greatest warriors of Zharrgrun…”
- except from the Testimony of Grazzkrukraiah the Barmy. The Testimony is engraved on a large bronze plaque; unfortunately the plaque is melted in parts making large tracts illegible and lost forever.