[Archive] On Fire and Water


[align=center]On Fire and Water[/align]

Flanked by giant mountain ranges, the Dark Lands unfold like vast expanses of rock, ash and lava upon the face of the world. Though the Dark Lands are no lifeless deserts, they are still harsh and dry tracts of land, and huge areas remain infertile despite a geology of nourishing lava rocks and soil originiating from volcanic eruptions. Some say these landscapes are cursed. Perhaps they are right.

Amidst this semi-arid realm of fire and rocks, water is a precious resource fought over by Greenskins, Ghouls, monsters and Chaos Dwarfs alike. Yet the upholders of Hashut’s empire in the Dark Lands do not view water as a blessing to life. Instead, water is unclean. In the Dawi Zharr mindset, water is the inherent curse of all lifeforms, and as such the pollution of water from industry, rotting carcasses, ground sulphur and other sources is not disastrous in and of itself. It is merely the confirmation of water’s natural impurity.

This conviction is branded upon the mythology and religious practices of the Chaos Dwarfs.

The Clash of Fire and Water: Dawi Zharr myths speak about the great battle between the Father of Darkness and the Harlot of the Waters. Long ago before the coming of Dwarfs to Zorn Uzkul, the Dread Sea rose up in a giant tsunami and crashed itself unto the shores of the Dark Lands. This salty tidal wave pressed itself up the winding course of the River Ruin and flooded the ashen plains for leagues around, covering half the Howling Wastes in water and making an archipelago out of the Sentinels. Daemon’s Stump became a lonely isle, and the creatures and monsters of the sea invaded the Dark Lands. Finally, the deluge reached the Plain of Zharr and threatened to drown large parts of these lowlands.

Then, a large crack opened in the ground, swallowing all the waters, which cascaded down onto hot lava and turned into steam. The River Ruin was cut in half by the rupturing landscape. Flames rose from out of the gaping fissure, and the winged and mighty figure of the Father of Darkness Himself descended from on high to cast out the intruding sea from His realm. At first, the water masses retreated like a panicking herd, or akin to some Greenskin tribe in flight, but suddenly the salt water mustered its powers into one towering wave, and out from this wave rose a scaly, titanic monster.

It was Enkumarzhil, Mother of all Merwyrms, Queen of the Salty Sea, Dragon of Impurity, Wingless Behemoth of the Abyss, Harlot of the Waters and Devourer of Sailors. She had come to claim the low-lying Plain of Zharr for herself, to create a new domain and craft a salty inland sea where there was then ash, rock and lava. Enkumarzhil would goug out the wide crater with the strength of the ocean, and consume all and everything therein. She would feed on the rich melt water from the Mountains of Mourn, and turn the River Ruin into her royal road of procession down to the Sea of Dread. Then, the Dark Lands would come to teem with life, and wild beasts and greenery would conquer its desolace from the shores of her domain.

Yet Hashut rose to the challenge, and launched Himself in full fury at Enkumarzhil. The mighty Mother of all Merwyrms crashed upon Him with tidal waves and stolen icebergs from the distant south. Her jaws and claws rent Hashut’s hide, and her slime covered His wings. Yet the Bull God was mighty indeed, and He gored her with His horns and fangs, and trampled Enkumarzhil with His fiery hooves. The Father of Darkness beset His foe with fire, lava, lightning and molten metal, and her ocean waters turned to steam in the face of His rampage. Enkumarzhil summoned mighty monsters, elementals and guardians of the watery depths to aid her, and Hashut called to Himself shackled Daemons, fierce K’daai and guardians of the fiery depths, and a ferocious battle raged between the two hosts.

Suddenly, the Queen of the Salty Sea called forth Anipshu, the Great Behemoth, Father of Horned Whales and Spear of the Seas, and she flung Anipshu, upon the backs of ninety nine Water Elementals, straight at high Hashut. The Great Behemoth struck the Bull God full in the chest, and cast Him down from the skies. Enkumarzhil roared with triumph, yet her victory was short lived, for Hashut grappled with the Spear of the Seas whilst still falling through the air, and when He hit the ground, He did so like a thunderbolt of doom, with Anipshu locked under His mighty horns.

The impact of Hashut falling upon the the world was so powerful it ruptured the battlefield and struck forth a great eruption of molten rock from the fiery depths of the earth, and lava burst into the sky and rained down upon the combatants. The oceanic host faltered, and the fiery Father of Darkness launched Himself into the air with a single step of a single hoof, which created a giant hoof mark in the Plain of Zharr, within which Zharr-Naggrund was later built. The Bull God launched Himself with immortal strength into the air, and caught Enkumarzhil face-first between His divine horns.

With a mighty bellow and a drawn-out exhalation of shadow and flame, high Hashut thundered down the winding course of the River Ruin with the Harlot of the Waters pierced on His horns. When the stampeding Dark God reached the sprawling delta of the River Ruin, He cast the Mother of all Merwyrms from out of the Dark Lands, and flung the unclean salt water, Enkumarzhil and all her vile minions onto the Serpent’s Coast on the Southlands. Thus the clash of fire and water ended with exchanged curses, and henceforth, Hashut ruled triumphant and cruel over the Dark Lands as victor and conqueror. Volcanoes erupted all over the Dark Lands, and covered the landscapes in fire and ash, at His victorious bellow. And the Dark Lands became harsher.

Some versions of this myth portrays instead the Dark Lands as a lush, verdant paradise, before Hashut with fire and violence claimed it as His own realm. The actual, historical truth remains shrouded.

Whatever the state of the Dark Lands in ancient times, the implications of this myth resounds throughout the many beliefs and religious practices of the Dawi Zharr.

Purity in Flames: Water is as such not only an invading or even unwelcome (though necessary) element in the Dark Lands, it is also impure.

This belief, in water as an essentially unclean element inhabited by mischievous spirits and Daemons, is backed up by the observation that disease and rot thrives in swamps and other damp places. As such, the element of water is seen as a harbinger of Nurgle Daemons in particular, and the vast swathes of salt water oceans are viewed by the Dawi Zharr as particularly vile. Some ardent sects shun the drinking of clear water altogether, and drinks only such liquids as mead, ale, blood, goat’s milk and wine, but never water. Some ardent members of such sects won’t even cross a body of visible water, and even less venture out at sea.

In the same vein, Chaos Dwarf purity beliefs revolves around the purity of fire and its cleansed waste products, ash and smoke. One blessed quality of fire is its ability to dry up moisture, and thus water. No devout follower of Hashut would let clear or muddy water remain close to the altars and mighty idols before a sacrificial ritual or prayer is undertaken, and least of all salt water. To the Dawi Zharr, the water in our bodies is a fundamental part of what makes living things impure by nature, though the water in some substances such as blood and alcohol is viewed as neutralized. Furthermore, water is seen as female, whilst fire is seen as male.

It follows, by Chaos Dwarf logic, that water is to be dominated, dammed up, channeled into tunnels, sewers, pipes, aqueducts and irrigation canals, or boiled to steam in furnaces. To engineer this mastery over water is no small part of the religiously driven Chaos Dwarf ambition to dominate and enslave nature itself.

Like other great powers, Mingol Zharr-Naggrund the great and all her holdings maintain a strong navy at sea, and sizeable river patrols inland. This dependance on water for transport, trade, slave raids and warfare in distant lands is not dear to the Dawi Zharr, yet most of them view their naval efforts and voyages as an opportunity to carry Hashut’s might far and wide, and as a chance to prove their race’s mastery over the sea by engineering. Nevertheless, the sea is deep-down disliked by all Dwarfs, and this distaste for oceans include the corrupted Chaos Dwarfs, who believe that the souls of drowned people are denied an after life, and must instead wander the world as ghosts and aparitions. Dawi Zharr sailors are all too aware of the dangers and monsters that lurk in the depths of the seas, and they know all too well that Enkumarzhil and the other terrors of the depths remain unslain to this day.

As such, not only are special offerings to the Father of Darkness carried out aboard Chaos Dwarf vessels when out at sea, but there has also arisen and endured a secret and shunned tradition, of sacrificing small animals or slaves like Snotlings and Gnoblars to appease Enkumarzhil and other oceanic spirits and beasts. Though frowned upon by the Temple priesthood, these unofficial sailors’ sacrifices are largely tolerated since similar offerings are regularly carried out to appease or to call various Daemons and Dark Gods to aid. It is also tolerated because all sailors need their rituals with the sea, that raging realm of water inhabited by unknown horrors, that vast ocean of storms and waves, that dread abyss of thirst and drowning that may so easily drag sailors and their ships down to a watery doom.

Such is the nature of water according to the Blacksmiths of Chaos.


The basis of the above piece is the old Babylonian creation myth, where the god Marduk kills the female salt water dragon Tiamat. Chaos Dwarfs are both based upon ancient Mesopotamia, and are a fire-loving folk, so fluff like this seemed plausible.

What do you think?


I think we should see more of that! :cheers

Not only are you capable of writing in different styles, but also make the stories very believable. And I always like when stories have a solid ‘real-life’ foundation.

Good day, ladies and gentlemen! ) :hat off


Looks like a good start. I’d recommend tweaking it though - how about specifically making the events of the battle being long the Chaos Dwarfs settled there and making this ‘pre-historic’ Dark Lands a verdant place full of life and thus (mythologically speaking) the reason it is now volcanic is as a result of the battle. (Also, not meaning to self promote, but in my story ‘Entering Zharr-Naggrund’ I had the city’s perimeter marked by a hoof-shaped barrier with the tower and city in a valley within the hoof mark and the main Plains of Zharr outside it. If you like that description maybe you could work it in as one of the marks on the landscape caused by the battle among others :wink: )

Fuggit Khan:

I like it…I’m not entirely sure where/why/how the River Ruin got it’s name, but it fits well with your Chaos Dwarf idea of water being unclean. A nice bit of fluff that expands the named locations upon the map of the Old World :cheers


Cheers, folks, and thanks! :cheers

@Dînadan: Good idea about explicitly setting the battle in pre-historic times and including the giant hoofprint. Done and done. But I wouldn’t like to make the Dark Lands verdant, since it seem more tragic that this bleak and desolate place always was barren, then gained its chance at fertile greenery, but lost it. It also lends extra weight to the Merwyrm’s invasion. It’s sufficiently much like a paradise lost scenario without “intruding” on GW imagery. Most importantly, if the Dark Lands always were grimdark, then that gives some epic scenery for pre-historic battles between Dragons and Dragon Ogres. :wink:

Still, to make it more of a matter of personal interpretation, these lines were added: "Volcanoes erupted all over the Dark Lands, and covered the landscapes in fire and ash, at His victorious bellow. And the Dark Lands became harsher."

Also, a line about drowned souls becoming ghosts was added.


@ Admiral: thanks. :hat off.