History Part 1: The forgotten brethren
“You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame;
how could you rise anew if you have not first become ashes?” A quote attributed to Xarathustra , Dawi Zharr prophet and philosopher of note.
In centuries past a great slave trade route was established from Zharr Nahgrund, through the Vale of Woe and deep into the inhospitable lands of the Kurgan.
Trading posts and outposts were established in the frozen wastes maintained with a string of supplies sent forth from the great city and paid for with human and greenskin slaves sourced from the nomadic tribes that dwelt in this place.
A time came when the supplies no longer came. Had the commanders of these outposts fallen out of favour? Had power struggles and political upheaval in the city caused their existence to be forgotten and lost in the harsh Byzantine bureaucracy of the Dawi Zharr?
The slavers had become enslaved to an unforgiving environment, surrounded on all sides by enemies with no hope for reinforcements. They were assaulted, raided and all but destroyed by ravaging hordes and daemons. Of the thousands who had set up these communities, soon only 100 survived.
But these were Dawi-Zharr and once they bent their will towards an aim, nothing would stand in their way.
The dwarfs dug deep into ice caves and fortified their position. With ever dwindling arsenals of black powder weapon they embraced a simpler form of subsistence living - relearning the ways of their ancient ancestors who thought with spear and bow. In order to live the unlearnt much that they had known and relearnt much that had been forgotten.
A few sorcerers were counted amongst the number of those who survived. These soon rose to prominence in this newly forming society. They used the gifts of fire to keep the dwarfs alive through the bitter winters, brewed the deadly decimator poison to dip their arrows in giving them the edge against raiding Norscans at a distance, and used their powers to enchant the minds of lesser creatures such as giants and ogres and press them into service.
After many centuries these Dawi became known as the “Dwerrow Zharr” or “Dwarfs of Zharr Naggrund” by the tribes they fought despite the fact that none now lived who had seen the great spires and ziggurats of their ancestral home.
The worship of Hashut is still maintained by the sorcerers of the Dwerrow Zharr. His altars still demand blood sacrifice and his hunger can never be satiated. However the form of worship that this takes would look alien to the eyes of a “civilised” Dawi Zharr. Tribalistic and unnervingly “Norscan” have become the traditions and ways of the Dwerrow Zharr due to their near constant interaction with the tribes of the chaos wastes.
The Dwerrow maintain a form of Hashut worship although it is in a form that most Dawi Zharr would simply not recognise. Instead of iconography related to bulls and fire they focus on Hashut’s aspect as a Father of Darkness. The night time is his realm and in deep and dark places one can be close to him.
The tradition of blood sacrifice is practiced normally through ritual beheadings and is accompanied by drinking, dancing and music. Fellow dwarfs who fail in duty or are found wanting are often sacrificed although greenskin and Norscan slaves are far more routinely killed in this way.
Dwarfs that show rampant mutation are sacrificed and burnt. There is no celebration due to the great shame that it causes the Dwerrow Zharr.
Dwerrow Zharr have been culturally contaminated by their close contact with Norscan tribes. To an untrained eye, they appear to dress and conduct warfare much more like the marauders of chaos than the legions of the Dawi Zharr.
Their exchange with Norscans has frequently been antagonist, with slave raids, attacks and counter attacks being relatively regular. However they have been known to fight alongside human chaos worshipping tribes in order to lead raids upon “civilised” lands or even in an alliance against another larger tribe.
The very land and walls of reality are constantly shifting in the chaos wastes. It is of little wonder that the politics between the people’s that inhabit it are less than stable.
Mutation is extremely rare in Dwerrow Zharr society as all dwarfs are naturally resistant to the effects of magic and mutation.
Occasionally dwarfs are born with small horns and most are born with either tusk like teeth or sharpened fangs. Dwerrow Zharr tend to have Snow White beards in contrast to their forebears who usually have coal black hair. The Dwerrow are also slightly taller than most dwarfs, yet almost always shorter in height than an average man.
Bull and boar centaurs are rare in all of chaos dwarf societies and are examples of a relatively stable mutation. They are even rarer in Dwerrow Zharr communities. The reason is that once a mutation has begun, it is much more likely to spiral out of control and create a dangerous abomination. This is due to their proximity to the northern most pole of the world.
When a dwarf shows mutations at birth, or later in life, these are monitored very closely. Any sign that the mutation may progress beyond slight physical differences such as fangs or horns or the creation of centaur, it will result in the dwarf being destroyed and their remains burnt.
“… Goblins? They did not hate dwarves especially, no more than they hated everybody and everything, and particularly the orderly and prosperous; in some parts of the chaos wastes wicked dwarves had even made alliances with them.” An excerpt from There and back Again, a Halflings journey into the Chaos Wastes. Altdorf press IC 2145
Dwerrow have a complete contempt for all other races, much like their Dawi Zharr cousins. They too will enslave those that they can and force some to fight. Disconnected as they are from the wider world, their choice of greenskin slave soldiers is somewhat less varied than other chaos dwarfs. In the ice tunnels and caverns that they call home, they have occasionally uncovered small primitive societies of frost goblins. These creatures most resemble the Great Goblins of the badlands in size and stature, standing just smaller than a man and of similar size to a dwarf.
The harsh ice cave environments have caused these beings to lose their large noses which would be a liable to become frost bitten. Their skin is a slickly hue and their faces are grotesque and malformed.
These goblins were existing in an extremely primitive state when they were discovered. They were not clothed, had only a basic grasp of stone tools and fire and their language was base and simple.
Once enslaved, they were given clothing, armour and arms. As well as this they were given the opportunity to fight the Norscans whom they had long been envious of.
These creatures go into battle in large massed ranks, often guided by a Dwerrow to keep them in check. Occasionally they will mount great arctic wolves, which they have not so much tamed, as trained to attack enemies instead of friends.
Dwerrow Zharr and Daemons
Lacking the technological level of development of their Dawi Zharr cousins, the Dwerrow have increasingly looked upon daemonkind as a source of power, weaponry and labour.
In the chaos wastes such things slither, crawl and stride as freely as a man may move through the empire. Without the need to summon daemons, they are instead hunted and captured in the same way that a wild beast may be cornered, harnessed and controlled.
Many daemons are bound into weapons and armour, others are drained of their energies and used to power spells of the sorcerers, and others are enslaved and forced to fight.
Least fortunate of these creatures are destined to become the daemon cannons of the Dwerrow Zharr. These beings are chained to a mobile platform or simply bound and carried to a battlefield. A sorcerer then casts a dark spell upon them forcing them to excrete a potion of their power in great painful and explosive blasts. Every burst of energy drains the miserable creature of its life force but unleashes a deadly barrage of magic explosive projectiles upon the enemy. Rarely will a daemon survive the battle, it’s body a withered smoking husk and it’s life force spent.