On Diet and the Infernal Guard
Betwixt the soaring World’s Edge Mountains and the titanic Mountains of Mourn lies the desolate expanses known as the Dark Lands. In these inhospitable landscapes does barbarous Greenskins, restless Undead, roaming monsters and cruel Chaos Dwarfs dwell, yet the only race capable of forging and upholding a true empire in this forsaken realm are the Dawi Zharr, who have succeeded through iron will and toil without end, as well as through ingenuity, fanatic zeal and utterly ruthless exploitation of creatures’ lives and nature itself for slaves, fuel and raw materials. These Dark Lands are hell on earth, and its inhabitants are every part its Daemons, for none of them bear kindness in their hearts.
The works and exploits of the mysterious sons of Hashut have become legendary. They are Daemonsmiths without equal, monument builders with but few peers, builders, craftsmen, torturers, slavers and warriors. Their foes and slaves alike know them for their heinous cruelty and monstrous creations, yet how is to to live your life as a Blacksmith of Chaos?
The answer may be found amidst the ranks of the shunned Infernal Guard, for here the devious character of demented Chaos Dwarf society is made manifest and clear for all to see. Where uncorrupted Dwarfs in the west primarily live by honour and loyalty through kinship and oath, Dawi Zharr are different. On the surface, their society seems to bear some of the hallmarks of that of their distant ancestors and detested cousins. Clans and stability exists in both, but the Chaos Dwarf way is ultimately one of slavish devotion to a Dark God and blind obedience to the higher castes. To them, greed and cruelty are truly virtues of strength, and the individual is fully subservient to the harsh dictates of superiors, not least the priesthood who owns their souls.
Deep shame and dishonour is a trauma in the true sense of the word for uncorrupted Dwarfs. When their world fall apart and personal honour is eroded, they seek a kind of redemption and release through becoming Slayers, death-seeking warriors shunning all armour to better meet a worthy death for themselves and honour their ancestors, clans and descendants. Chaos Dwarfs, on the other hand, are different.
Few if no outsiders know how shame and dishonour ravages the Dawi Zharr mind, yet they are never allowed to seek out death for themselves. Instead, disgraced Chaos Dwarfs are stripped of all rights and freedom and incarcerated in the infamous Infernal Guard, a heavily armoured corps of outcast warriors living only to serve their masters until death or redemption at last sets them free.
These exiled soldiers experience a life of hardship and horror at the behest of their cruel masters, starting with the act of burning a Blackshard helmet to their heads for the rest of their captivity. It is whispered the charred flesh of previous occupants still remains on their helmets’ inside and eats into the skin of the Infernal Guard. However that may be, the extent of oppression visited upon these damned souls may be gleaned through their diet.
Ordinary Dawi Zharr cuisine is a gutsy one, which often features hotly spiced root vegetables and meat at the best of times, as well as beer of high nutrition value. More common, however, are very dull dishes of slave flesh, porridge and bread made out of cereals or fungi. In all of Chaos Dwarf cooking, fresh blood, ground bone and ash are frequently sprinkled over food. These ingredients have a religious significance and are very often used in rituals. This is particularly true for ash, the remains of fire, for how could it be otherwise to worshippers of a fiery Bull God?
As in all civilizations, the food gets better the closer to the top you climb. The elite castes of Hashut’s priesthood and Overlords dines on extravagant and grotesque banquets when religious demands, studies of mysteries, warfare or engrossing inventions does not dictate otherwise. Orc roasted whole and stuffed inside flambéd Ogre swimming in a cooked broth of Fimir blood, pepper, beverage and floating Gnoblar noses are amongst the less ostentatious dishes to be expected at the dinner of the average Sorcerer-Prophet.
As for drinks, the elite castes hoards any looted foreign brews of high quality with jealousy. Prized Dwarf brews, such as Bugman’s XXXXX or Trollhead, are found amongst wines from far-away Bretonnia and sake from distant Nippon in the collections of Hashut’s chosen priesthood. Such collections of rare booty even exists in the possession of those blessed Daemonsmiths and Sorcerer-Prophets who high Hashut have blessed with the ability to draw nourishment from fire, for it is a poor Dawi Zharr leader that can’t flaunt worldly wealth.
To the Infernal Guard, the reality is all together different. They are Chaos Dwarfs of the lowest order. They are slaves, and eat like slaves. Not only that, but their stationary helmets forces them to consume any and all nourishment through awkward handling of cutlery inside the helmet or through the disgraceful means of a metal straw inserted through the bottom of their Blackshard masks. As such, their shame even extends to food intake, for they are reduced to liquid nourishment, like toddlers not yet on solids.
Many days, the Infernal Guard are sustained by rations of bouillon, nourishing beverage and fresh blood, sometimes with a hint of ash and spice. The solid food they get are of low quality yet nutrient. Occassionally they can even be subjects to rations of strange elixirs and drinks of alchemical brews handed out by their ever-experimenting masters, usually to improve their combat capabilities. Yet their punishment is such that they are frequently forced to sip liquids of the most filthy kind whenever the religious calendar, a disciplinary reprimand or the whim of some Sorcerer-Prophet calls for it. These abhorrent liquid dishes include bile, gastric acid, slave urine and squashed brains, to name but a few substances. The Dawi Zharr knows that the Father of Darkness demands this. Such a foul diet is commonly handed out to Infernal Guard units before battle, to instill a heightened willingness to lay down their lives for Mingol Zharr-Naggrund the Great, as well as a murderous mood to better slay the foe.
Truly, the lives of outcasts are one of misery and bitterness amongst the Blacksmiths of Chaos.