[Archive] The Dark and Fiery Heavens

Admiral:

[align=center]The Dark and Fiery Heavens[/align]

In betwixt two titanic mountain ranges there stretches vast and menacing lands. On the surface, the landscapes consists alternately of cracked ash wastes, rocky gorges, craters and volcanoes. Only the hardiest or most vicious lifeforms thrive here, from the thorny bushes, stooped trees, bleak mosses and scraggy grasses; through violent goats and lethal giant wolves; to the monsters, Greenskins, Chaos Dwarfs and Ghouls that dominate the face of these lands. Theirs are unforgiving realms of ash, sulphur, fire and darkness. Of cruelty and oppression, of violence and slavery without end throughout long ages.

This is nothing short of hell on earth.

These are the Dark Lands.

The earth’s crust of these bone-strewn territories is thinner than anywhere else on land above the sea. Nowhere in the Dark Lands are volcanic eruptions far away, for it usually only takes a minor earthquake or weak magmatic turbulence to burst the fragile surface like an egg shell. Small wonder then that the Dawi Zharr imagines their fiery bull god stampeding through the molten underground of the world in His guise of the Great Firebull.

Likewise, Hashut is believed to charge across the roiling and smoke-polluted, stormy skies above the Dark Lands, in His aspect of the Great Thunderbull. The connection, between the shattering forces of heavenly thunder and the consuming powers of underground fires, is a given for the Chaos Dwarfs. There is no paradox inherent in the Father of Darkness being present both above and below simultaneously, for the Dawi Zharr elates the sublime nature of their deity and rejoice in His mysteries. In fact, the Chaos Dwarfs even believe that Hashut charges through the Realm of Chaos whilst thundering in the skies. Such is the nature of Hashut according to His worshippers.

Yet what about the high heavens, those far above the clouds and the lightning bolts? What about the domain of sun, moons, planets and stars? Amongst a people advanced in the crafts, sciences and technologies, it is no surprise to find some meticulous attention given to the high heavens above.

Though the Chaos Dwarf mindset is primarily concerned with the surface world, the fiery depths and the skies of lightning and thunder, there are still some peripheral observations and beliefs regarding the wider cosmos. The astrology of the Chaos Dwarfs cannot anywhere rival that of the Slanns, and both Old World and Cathayan scholars are prone to a more careful examination of the cosmos than are most Dawi Zharr learned men. Furthermore, heavy air and even light pollution from their industry often blocks out the skies over large swathes of the Dark Lands.

Still, the needs to observe one’s enemy and other ships from afar have driven Chaos Dwarf optics to an advanced state, as have more enigmatic requirements of sorcery and Daemonsmithing rituals. With millennia-old astrological archives and state of the art telescopes at their disposal, Dawi Zharr scholars have invested some efforts of gazing into the heavens, though few indeed count it amongst their primary interests. Rather, it seen as an almost trivial academic pursuit.

From atop their high ziggurat towers, members of the Temple priesthood and similar elite persons have seen a world of shadow and flame in the high heavens. Because of their astrological findings, the worshippers of Hashut recognizes the flaming might of the sun and its distant star cousins, as well as the tailed comets in the solar system. The planets and their movements are little more than named and documented, whilst the darkness of space is honoured as a gift from Hashut. Not very much unlike other societies, the Chaos Dwarfs have named the constellations after, and connected them with, gods and creatures of myth in both the Dawi Zharr and the wider Chaos pantheon. Akin to other cultures, astrology has also allowed the Chaos Dwarfs to pinpoint their calendars with exactitude, and develop  their navigation at sea. Additionally, ziggurat construction has grown all the more precise thanks to measurements aided by the position of stars.

Though astral and cosmic events such as comets and novae are viewed as very minor portents compared to those omens closer to the world of mortals (with the exception of the erratic Chaos moon Morrslieb), they are still widely recognized. For the Dawi Zharr have gazed into the night sky.

There, the Blacksmiths of Chaos found yet another foreboding realm, in the dark and fiery heavens.

Admiral:

The reason for this fluff snippet is the advanced astrology/astronomy of ancient Babylonia, from which much inspiration for the Chaos Dwarfs are derived. We’ve all read the descriptions of ziggurats being used as observatories, and there are quite a number of clay tablets with astrological observations found in Babylon. A Babylonian mention of the death of the new king Alexander the great is even made on such a tablet.

Now, Chaos Dwarfs are mainly concerned with lava, fire, molten metal, obsidian and lightning. And skulls. Masterful astronomy is the realm of the Slanns and lesser practitioners of the Lore of Heavens. Still, the night sky is certainly dark, and for those with a knowledge of the physics of stars, it is also fiery. Flames and darkness is a thing of CDs. Ergo, this fluff piece.

Does it sound good to you? Protests? Modifications?

Input and your own ideas are as welcome as ever. :hat off

Dînadan:

I’d say yes.

As an addition, how about adding something about using the stars as an aid to ziggurat construction. Unless I’m mistaken the ancient Egyptians used measuring the stars in the construction of their pyramids and is a factor in how they were able to get things so exact.

MadHatter:

Made me think of Xibalba from Aztec mythology. A dying star which they interpreted as the land of the dead. Quite interesting thoughts as most mythological realms of the dead where located underground. Perhaps you could use that to tie together the underground with the stellar of your story?

Astronomical observations would also be necessary for our fleets navigation Varr’rik :wink: perhaps that would be a point to include aswell?

Admiral:

Thanks, added the construction and navigation pieces. I tried to keep the above fluff piece short, and accidentally skipped some obvious practical applications.

Good thoughts MadHatter, but the problem here is that it might get too astral for the Chaos Dwarfs. If I had been part of GW and redesigned Chaos Dwarfs from the ground up, I would have added Lore of Heavens as part of their magical arsenal for that Babylonian streak, but as of now we’re fleshing out culture true to the established background of CDs. As such, one can imagine that the underground could play a part in Chaos Dwarf beliefs about the realm of the dead, and maybe even stars could be connected with it. However, it seems very likely that Chaos Dwarfs imagine their mythological realm of the dead being in the dark and fiery quarter of Hashut within the Realm of Chaos, where the Father of Darkness keeps their shackled souls in cages. Or something like that. Maybe with a dangerous ritual adventure of passage to avoid being consumed by Daemons, akin to some ancient beliefs, including Egyptian and Tibetan.

Of course, there is nothing stopping the realm of the dead coexisting in several planes at once, especially since such a convoluted belief mirrors the cryptic mindset and worldview of the Dawi Zharr.

I’ve intentionally avoided writing about CD beliefs about the realm of the dead in case something of a must-have pops up, so that’s a topic for later on. As such, all ideas about it are most welcome, nothing is too wildcard to propose. And that astral connection might make it through in the end. :slight_smile: