On Daemon's Stump, by Revlid

Written by Revlid : Original article

This article is fan-based and not based on official fluff, thus it is not necessary to cite sources.

Daemon’s Stump

Daemons are, in many ways, like fish. Although the waters of Chaos may seem quiet and lifeless at times, rest assured there are thousands upon thousands of warp-born creatures within, some toothed and vicious, others beguiling and graceful, all dangerous.

Although daemons move with grace and power within the Realm of Chaos, outside of it they flop and fumble at a fraction of their power, desperately clutching at strands of magic to keep themselves in our world for a few more precious moments.

It is well documented in the more closely-monitored books of the wizard colleges of Altdorf that only in the most magically saturated environments can daemons survive for any length of time. Such places are the infamous Chaos Wastes, a pentagram filled with magic in the way water fills a fishbowl, or in the circumference of the chaotic energies that lash around daemons of the higher orders.

Despite the obvious dangers of consorting with such creatures, the practice of daemon-summoning is not confined to Chaos-worshippers and desperate madmen (often the same thing); whole nations have, in the past, been accepting of (or at least subjected to) daemonology as a part of life. The first of the necromancer-priests of Mourkain were said to commune with daemons to extend their powers and thereby their connection to their undead god, and even now cultists of Ind summon golden-skinned elementals and many-limbed beasts from the depths of the warp to worship and war, while deep in the swamps of Khuresh the overthrown priesthood of the Hexxitarri were exposed as daemon-worshippers and necromancers.

It is hardly suprising, then, that many minds, mad and reasoned alike, have been bent to the purpose of maintaining such creatures in this plane. But the methods that allow this are few, and far between for those not possessed of a truly formidable magical strength. It is known for truly mighty mages to be able to draw magic from nearby areas, turning a slight breeze of the coloured winds into a veritable maelstrom, allowing them to maintain a force of daemonic entities at their beck and call. This, however, lasts only as long as they can harness the raw power of Chaos without their heads imploding. Or worse.

It was first discovered by dark mages within Nehekara that daemons could be bound into material objects, keeping them in this plane and forcing them to subservience at a cost to their power. Great examples of this daemancy include carpets bound with Screamers to send the rider airborne, and lamps or rings with a daemon inside who could be called to perform the bearer’s will. These artefacts were unstable, with carpets unravelling in mid-air and lamps exploding in a sudden storm of superheated shrapnel.

When such mage’s eyes turned to necromancy, some of the lost knowledge filtered through to Araby, where the binding of impish minor daemons still takes place. Such artifacts are more reliable here, due to its distance from either of the Chaos Gates, and the subsequent loss in power of the daemons that are forced to manifest there.

Primitive daemon-binding has appeared in other parts of the world too, most notably through the application of ichor, a daemon’s lifeblood, to an object. Many are the chaotic Runeswords that have been baptised in the ichor of a powerful Daemon, the wild magic that ran through the daemon’s veins soaking into the unholy blades in a display of potent, if unpredictable, daemon binding. The most notable daemon binders in the history of the world, however, are the Chaos Dwarfs. Whether using Flamers of Tzeentch to power black smithies or mischievous Nurglings as ammunition for the potent Blunderpus, the Dawi Zharr are without doubt the most advanced daemonologists of their time, far beyond the primitive blood rituals and soul sacrifices of the sorcerers and shamans of Chaos.

Since the beginning of the habitation of Zharr Naggrund by the corrupted dwarfs, the black fortress bordering the Ogre Kingdoms known as Daemon’s Stump has ever been the hub of daemonbinding activity. Named Daemon’s Stump by the trade-caravans and Ogre tribes that dare venture within sight of it, the fortress squats on the edge of the Mountains of Mourn like a vast soot-blackened tree-stump, eerie wails and moans carried as far as the Sentinels by the unnatural winds that whirl around it. The only name known in the Chaos Dwarf language for the fortress is Mingoldhaos-Dragh, Fortress of the Daemon Slavers.

The foundations of the fortress were laid many centuries ago, when a cabal of Chaos Dwarf Sorcerers came across a great stone pillar. Sensing great daemonic energies within it, they set up a small tower to tap the energies within. This expanded over time, growing naturally outward, until a particular ambitious Sorcerer-Priest had the entire structure encased within stone walls and a metal ceiling, shutting off the inner areas of the Stump from outside interference.

The corrupted rivers near the stump give off a sulphurous smell, bubbling thickly as the refuse of the day’s industry flows through it. The stump itself appears to be some sort of blackened wooden construction at a distance, but such notions are banished by a closer look, which shows the outer wall to actually be construction of blackened metal and stone, the many gargoyle-like faces that decorate its surface seeming to move gently across the surface of the thin obsidian layer that coats the outer wall as though poured onto the structure as liquid.

The only interruption of the obsidian coating of the wall comes in the form of great carved pentacles, impossibly ornate and filled with dark corrupted runes that pulse with the light of a furnace at night and hurt the eye of one untrained in daemonology.

Although seemingly circular in nature, observation shows the stump to actually be an octagon, with a great gate in the centre of each wall. The stump is also not merely a city protected by walls, as it is roofed by a great barbed cover of metal, supported not only by the outside wall but by a huge central pillar within.

Each of the eight stone gates are covered in great interlocking gears, all of which are one part of a great vastly complex mechanism that opens the doors of Daemon’s Stump or holds them closed against even the mightiest of siege engines.

Through the gates great passages interconnect and wind, harshly glowing runes at crossroads sending message carriers, emissaries and others unfamiliar with the city to their destination, be it an engineer’s workshop, an alchemist’s laboratory or the grand library of daemonlore. At times even the many Chaos Dwarfs that dwell in Daemon’s Stump have to use the markers, as the passages shift and grind into new configurations, although whether this is through the daemonic energies that constantly surge through the fortress or some vast hidden mechanism beneath the floor is unknown.

The centre of the mazelike fortress mimics the outside in its octagonal structure, the cold black stone that comprises its walls starkly contrasted the central column that supports the great staircase. The column pulses and groans like a living thing, tortured and groaning faces pushing out of the stone as if to escape before resubmerging into the darkness. This is the unnatural pillar around which the Stump was built, and a common initiation ceremony into the ranks of the daemonbinders is a test to see how long a prospective dwarf can stay in contact with the pillar. The current record holder is Drazheen Chalkfinger, who after six hours had seven pickaxes blunted on his petrified hand before he could be removed from the daemonic stone.

Upon descending the staircase the contrast between the cold dark of the upper levels and the hellish lower levels is made even clearer, solid black walls turning to twisted rock that appears to have only just solidified, libraries and workshops being replaced by pits of twisting blood and metal, near silence giving way to tortured screams and the grinding of metal and stone; These are the industrial floors of Daemon’s Stump.

Through the fiery glow of corrupted runes can be seen huge furnaces, rows of near-naked slaves with chains attached to their bare flesh, and altars of ensorcelled iron. The enslaved mine the seemingly endless ore of Zharr Naggrund for use in daemonic engines and weapons, Engineers constructing the framework of the device in furnaces the size of small houses powered either by coal or daemons. The vile and noxious fumes from this floor are funneled out through natural chimneys in the rock that create vast columns of smoke around Daemon’s Stump, only adding to the many dark tales of the place.

There is only one level deeper than the industrial levels, led down to by a stone platform carved in the shape of an eight-sided rune. This is not one of the intricate summoning circles of the highest floors, but a crude mark scratched straight into the living rock by some beast of burden, pick armed slaves, or (as popular rumour tells) a warring Greater Daemon in battle with a mighty Ogre. It grinds up and down (how is a closely guarded secret, and whether through a concealed system of gears, some strange enchantment, or a workforce of hidden slaves, few know) from the sweaty furnace of the industrial levels down to the cool darkness of the final level, dusty and dead. It is this platform that is used to move the silent metal shells of daemonic engines, where they might be completed in the most terrible and secretive level of the Stump; the Hall of Daemons.

It is in this shadowy hall, deep in the earth, that the constructs of iron and bone are daemon-forged into the engines of destruction that have truly made the Chaos Dwarfs a force to be feared. For each machine, a sacrifice is made of slaves, the size and quality of the sacrifice depending on the machine. The cutting of a human slave’s throat, for example, would be adequate to bring forth enough power to ensorcel ammunition for a Death Rocket, but the binding of an entirely new warmachine would take a far greater sacrifice, scores of slaves, or a wizard.

The dark magic conjured forth by each sacrifice draws in daemons from the Realm of Chaos, lured in by the bait of the sacrifice. Once they are in place, the trap is sprung, and they are wrenched from their realm of madness and magic as willingly as a ship drawn into a whirlpool, incantations and runes of the daemon-smiths. diabolical energies are enslaved and bound into the iron shell of the machine.

These rituals are accomplished with relative ease, for the Stump and the surrounding area are saturated with daemonic energy, most so in the Hall, where the twisted creatures would materialize as freely as in the Chaos Wastes were it not for the immensely powerful wards wrought around it. Only the most influential of the Dumendrikuli know this closely guarded secret, although even they do not truly understand the reason why.

Surprisingly for such a twisted and dangerous place, the lords of Daemon’s Stump are often on very good terms of all the fortresses with two of the Dawi Zharr’s allies; the armoured Chaos Warriors of the North and the ravenous Ogres of the East. It was from Daemon’s stump that Ghark Ironskin’s great Juggernox stomped forth, snorting sulphurous steam from its nostrils. The snarling Hellcannon and disciplined crew that accompanied Archaon on his failed bid to conquer the Old World lent their services from the stunted tower. Other races also trade with this daemonic fortress - the Hobgoblins of the Steppes have been known to send many of their number into slavery in exchange for the animation of crude clay constructs. The chittering hordes of the Skaven also seem to have trade links with the Stump, or so the few daemonically-possessed Rat Ogres around the Hell Pit would suggest. Their allies have also been used to test new weapons (the Hellcannon being an example of this), early daemonic warmachines called Thunderers were gifted to warbands in the Chaos Wastes to see how they did, all of them eventually being destroyed or lost.

Whilst most certainly the largest and most skilled producer of daemonic warmachines and weaponry, Daemon’s Stump is not the only place where these unholy engines can be found. Indeed, the workshops of these arcane engineers can be found in most fortresses in the Darklands, where they forge weaponry and warmachines for their Overlord.

Although dwarfs and machinery from the Stump are mainly seen in the employ of their allies and armies from other cities, such as the nearby Black Fortress, when the armies of Daemon’s Stump do set out it is a terrifying sight. Garbled rumours from the marauder raiders who escaped whatever damned plain the battle was fought on speak of berserk dwarfs possessed by daemons, red hot iron-plates hammered into their skin as crude armour. They tell of snarling warmachines that belch forth their payloads like ogres spitting out goblin skulls, of steedless steel chariots whose crew restrain as much as drive them, and of daemon packs bound to slavers by ethereal chains, moaning and writhing in pain as they claw at the foes of their masters. Their gibbered stories speak of metal giants with blazing eyes smashing regiments beneath their iron feet, and hordes of mechanical creatures the size of snotlings swarming over and stabbing men with bladed hands.

As the most reclusive and insular of the Chaos Dwarf fortess-cities, little is known of the projects of the dwarfs of Daemon’s Stump. Most of the time the individual engineers and smiths seem content to tinker with whatever diabolical mechanism or deadly weapon they are focused on at the moment, at times many of them band together for a group effort to create some vast mechanical monstrosity pulled from the nightmares of the insane. Thankfully such times are few and far between, as each individual’s overbearing pride and paranoia prevents most of them from getting very far.

It is rumoured that a particularly demented group of dwarfs declared that, based on the theory of Balizhen the Crazed that gods are simply daemons so supremely powerful they cannot sustain themselves on the mortal plane at all, they could (and would attempt to) bind a god into a huge metal shell, where its power would be at their command. Despite the powerful wards and material defences of the stump, all of the group were found dead in interesting, gruesome and very public ways, the most impressive of which was an eruption of boils, warts, and blisters on the inside and out that indicated stark disapproval on Grandfather Nurgle’s part.

Whether the daemonologists of Daemon’s Stump will continue to aggravate the divine in such a fashion is unknown, but what is certain is that the corrupted dwarfs of the iron citadel are the greatest daemonsmiths in the history of this age, and it is only a matter of time before the next breakthrough in daemonology is made…

Revlid

Related Links

Daemon’s Stump

Origins of the K’daai Oracle of Daemon’s Stump

Chaos Dwarf Culture Project

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Wooooow that was an amazing read! I really like where is went

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It is worth noting that the aquatic parable of Revlid follows a similar strain as in Kage2020’s description of the Warp and Warp travel in Warhammer 40’000. Presumably, both Revlid and Kage2020 drew upon material in White Dwarf issues 139-140 as inspiration.

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In my little literary mess of a short story i interject a warp storm slurping up Marienberg trade ship and spitting it out in some frozen hell hole, possibly the sea of claws. The comparison of the warp to an ocean itself is spot on, because what horrors truly lurk in those endless depths?

Any time I left the shallows during my time in hawaii

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