[WHFB] The Grudge War 2 - Chaos Dwarfs and the Kingdoms of Ind

The Grudge War 1

… I don’t remember if messages came from the north before order crumbled. It all happened too fast, without a word of warning or any clue that might have put us on alert. One day, refugees crashed on our walls like a foreign army, ruined, starving, terrified beyond any reason or sense. They washed over our defenses, heedless of our attempts to calm them or keep order. We killed many as they tried to break into the town. Hundreds died before we could find someone who could explain what was happening. Only a few kept enough discipline to warn us. The iron daemons were coming, in numbers and strength beyond anything anyone could remember. The border forts were presumed lost. No news from Khyber, if it weathered the storm or fell, I cannot say. The rajah fled south with all he could carry and it was up to the faujdars to call the town to arms. Before we could have a clear image of what was coming, the ground started shaking, the skies turned the color of polished bronze, and we started hearing the hammers. The slavers had come.

Before any message could be send south, the bombardment began. There was no army anywhere, no enemy we could counter with our cannons. The range needed to strike us at such a distance was inconceivable. The refugees’ terror reached new heights. They knew what was coming, so they killed each other. They were the wise ones.

I never thought the gods could abandon me. In war and peace, in health and sickness, I always trusted they would listen. But standing beneath that bombardment, I understood my prayers will never pierce the deluge of iron and fire to reach them. Tongues of lava crashed in the streets and buried men and animals. Missiles cracked the earth and opened crevasses where buildings collapsed. Some projectiles melted men and brick into one grotesque carpet of flesh spreading between our toes. In minutes, the town was reduced to rubble, every idea of order or defense erased.

I do not think anyone gave the order to charge. For all I know there was not a single faujdar left alive or capable of instilling discipline, but between staying in that inferno and facing the enemy, many made the same choice. I cannot say what my brothers were thinking but as for me, I only wanted to run away from the cacophony of screams and explosions. In small groups, growing as we crossed what remained of the walls, we exited the town and ran weapon in hand toward where we thought the slavers would be. We thought we would reach a line of shields or cannons, instead we saw a solitary figure blocking our way.

He was encased in metal. Not armored, encased, a forged skeleton nailed to his arms and torso. Standing on metal legs, he stood as tall as the tallest of us, twice as broad, unnaturally strong. His left gauntlet ended with claws the size of my forearm, in his right hand a hammer with the head in the shape of a black anvil. But no weapon could have terrified me more than the creature holding it. Skin grey like old stone, full of wrinkles more akin to cracks in a statue. The tusks of a boar, a rictus that seemed to mock our worthless challenge. Lost between a blood-encrusted beard and a tall helmet, eyes like chips of obsidian gleamed with feverish hatred. I stood in the presence of the one who holds command over the iron daemons, and he was waiting for us alone.

“The Dark Father wants his due, slaves”.

It felt like molten lead being poured into my ears. A hundred men shriveled at the sound of those words, but what froze me was what they implied. We were not a danger to him, we were a ritual.

“Now bloody your weapons if you can”.

He waited for no answer. In the blink of an eye he moved, pistons and gears hissed, and he raised his hammer.

I do not remember much of what followed. Many collapsed entirely, but those who fought fared no better. Dozens rushed him and it made no difference. The hammer rose and fell with sickening precision; the claws reaped their toll as their owner carved a trail through our lines. He crushed the living and stepped on the dead. The machine on his back spewed scalding vapor, melting the flesh of those who got too close. Few had the chance, or the courage. A caste champion, burned and bleeding, refused to fall. He past trough the scorching mist and with the last of his strength landed a blow square in the slaver’s chest. The sword fractured. Without stopping, the lord of stone and iron grabbed him by the throat and when he dropped him, the hero’s skin was breaking apart like burned parchment. The daemon roared and the ground shattered around us. He spoke words I could not understand, words like hissing metal and suddenly the air was choke-full of ash, I could not breathe, my armor was burning me, I saw men lit up like torches, I saw others scream in terror as their swords and arms turned to stone and over our heads, the bombardment continued unabated.

Those of us who could ran until we stopped hearing the carnage. We plunged into the swamps and dragged ourselves for days, always south. Once we reached the safety of the army moving north, I thanked the gods, I prayed and I dared to hope. Every step of the way, I swore I could hear a bull galloping somewhere behind us, always outside of my field of vision. I once found comfort in the idea I dreamed it. I no longer do. When we fled, I feared the metal lord would chase us. Today I fear he let us go.

Because he must have known. The first night we slept in peace, we awoke with hammers ringing in our ears. It has not stopped and shows no sign of stopping. I no longer sleep but it makes no difference. Day and night, I can feel my skull pulsing with the sound of anvils resonating into eternity. I can see the bull with eyes of ember and flaming breath racing towards me from indescribable places. Somewhere, far away, the hammers ring. Somewhere, I can see bearded smiths brandishing iron pliers to seize tormented souls. With black hammers they forge them into shape, break them on the anvil to feed what lies at the earth of the volcano. I see them hammering the souls of my people. I see Astragoth - how do I know that name? - laying his tithe at the foot of his master, the Dark Father who lurks in chambers of magma and cinder.

The others killed themselves to escape the hammers. I could have done the same, but something stops me every time: the fear it will be useless. I stood in his presence; I listened to words I was not supposed to hear. The gods are no longer with me. I am no longer with them. He marked me. Killing me would have been merciful. The Black Bull knows me now, and once I am dead, my soul will join the others on the anvil. And then, where?

Gilgadresh! Mother! Brahmir!

Help me!

-Testimony from the archives of Taxila. Anonymous. Fate unknown-

The Pillar

“You worship a herd of idols in the hope of earning favor. We serve Hashut and it is enough. The Land of the Thousand Gods still has to find a way to prevent the Father of Darkness from taking what he pleases. The Dawi-Zharr know the value of quality over quantity, and that tenet is as true amongst gods as it is amongst mortals, for the material realm mirrors the way things are in the immaterial realm.

We are Zharr-Naggrund, and when we march, your land’s empty boasts are silenced.

No god will save you.

Astragoth spoke and your forts crumbled.

He gestured and your jungles burned.

He tore down the doors of your temples.

He obliterated your gods’ Messenger in front of their altar.

You will follow, and a million more. Send us men, men-kin, messengers and gods.

The shackles fit every wrist.

The forge can break any body.

All souls are equal in Hashut’s fire.”

-Iron pillar erected over the ruins of …, c. 2480 (IC). Attempts to tear it down have failed. It stands there still.-

The Grudge War 2

For the hundredth time, Dravas saw the faujdar roll his eyes, betting quietly this would finally be the time he would lose it. But instead, much uncharacteristically, the old man turned his month long frustration into a rictus of a smile and bowed deeply.

“Venerable Kalyan, we have talked about this. We cannot face the slavers without reinforcements. We have no artillery to compete with theirs. Until then, I am afraid running is the only recourse. We might still allow the women and children and wounded to escape if we move faster than them.”

Kalyan nodded, unconvinced. “Nonetheless faujdar, the gods and the land demand.”

Eternal Kalyan spoke in a whisper, but Dravas could swear the tent shook every time he did. His fellow officers were as uncomfortable in his presence as he was.

The faujdar sighted. “But you already know my opinion of course…”

Kalyan nodded. “Indeed faujdar. Nonetheless…”

And so on, and so on… For a month now the faujdar voiced arguments to justify a retreat, and eternal Kalyan reminded him that those arguments, sound as they were, meant little compared to what the land and the gods demanded.

One of the eternal’s most infuriating quirks was his unwillingness, or inability, to emote. After a lifetime pondering the darkest truths of the world with gurus and the man-kin, with one eye fixed on the gods and the other on demons, the eternals were in a way, incapable of seeing, or caring, for what was in front of them. They hated nothing, enjoyed nothing, and seemed to carry an unlimited quantity of patronizing indulgence for the unenlightened.

His very presence was unnerving. Dravas did not know by what process a holy man earned the title of eternal, but he could guess it was a road he could not understand. Sometimes Kalyan looked strangely ethereal, as if Dravas could spit on him and it would pass right trough. At other times, the eternal was such a solid presence it was obvious the holy man could rip out his jaw to prevent him from spitting ever again.

One does not mock the gods‘ chosen. As everyone ran south to escape the slavers, the holy orders and their eternals were the only ones running in the opposite direction. Armed or unarmed, armored or naked as newborns, they marched into the bronze tinted darkness, they kept the refugees alive and every time Kalyan returned, more civilians took up arms in a feverish mania it was harder and harder to ignore. The faujdar was running out of arguments to stop the army from simply taking orders from the eternal.

Except now, there was finally word from the south. The armies of Gandhara were coming, with the old maharaja leading the charge. Dara Kanishka had lost none of his hatred for the iron daemons, a hatred he knew how to spread far and wide. Devalaya and Rathastan had pledged their armies to their old ally, and even the southern filths were leaving their arrogance aside. The slow, ponderous, locust-sized armies of Maharajastan were supposedly gathering, for once not to invade but to assist. Assuming they got there in time.

Time was therefore, what the faujdar needed, the only thing he could provide.

Dravas reached that conclusion in time not to blink in surprise like the others when the old man, so stubborn a minute ago, suddenly seemed to resign himself. Life had taught him to make do, so he would make do with the eternal’s will.

On his own terms if possible.

“A thousand apologies venerable Kalyan. I see your point clearly, and the wise man listens to the holy man. It is time to bathe in slaver blood and your order will lead the way. Leave the jungle, swim across the river until you find yourself on their rearguard and attack their war machines. Cripple their demonic fire and the army will follow. We will march after your departure and meet you as we break their lines from two directions.”

Kalyan acquiesced with the calm certainty of someone who never doubted the lesser minds would see reason and had already forgiven every sin they ever committed, including debating the matter with him. He saluted the faujdar, blessed them all, and left the tent.

Once the holy man was gone, the faujdar exhaled deeply, as if recovering from a deep swim and tension eased somewhat, but not entirely. A decision had been made and some of the officers were obviously uncomfortable with it.

Eventually, Viraja voiced their disquiet. “My faujdar, are you sure of this plan? It is a waste of our best troops.”

“Quite the contrary, said the old man, I wouldn’t trust anyone else charging the slavers’ war machines. At least the holy warriors will not rout the moment fire rains on them. For all I know, it might even motivate them. If all goes well, by the time we exit the forest their cannons will be crippled or busy dealing with the holy ones.”

The commanders exchanged somber glances, positively unconvinced by the faujdar’s line of thought. Despite what the eternal might think of them, they were all devout men, although their faith revolved around not attracting the gods’ attention, especially by disrespecting their favored ones.

“You are sending them to their death. The holy warriors of Tanjvor…”

“Useful deaths if we are lucky. I cannot make miracles Viraja, I do what I can with the tools the gods and old Kanishka saw fit to give me. You can voice your complaints to him when he arrives. Until then…”

“Nonetheless, with all due respect, some of us seem to agree we cannot do this! We cannot insult the holy warriors by spending them like taking a piss! This is a suicide mission! The gods are wise, and we should thank them f…”

“Yes! - The faujdar exploded at last – The gods are wise! I am sure they were when they all took a piss in your brain! I do not see the usefulness of it but who am I to question them?!” Everyone froze, Viraja choked on his next sentence and the faujdar continued. “Do you think Kalyan gives a damn about your concern? Or do you think he needs your protection? If they want first blood they are free to it! Their souls are as clean as they can be! They share in the god’s plans and will join them the moment they die! Those of us who do not have that luxury must tread carefully before heading for the forty seven hells !”

As if answering the mention of death, they heard hammers in the distance, a sound that spoke more eloquently that any scout. The slavers were nailing their cannons to the ground. The bombardment would soon follow, maybe too soon. Even the faujdar grew cold again.

It was time for Dravas to voice a well thought pearl of wisdom.

“Once, in Baghnagar, I saw a tapestry depicting the torments of purification for the unpurified souls. Better let Kalyan put a good word for us all before standing trial.”

They looked at him as if he had grown a third arm, and an instant later there was laugher inside the tent. The old man, grudgingly smiling, let it grow for some time and Dravas suddenly realized how much he wanted all these people to see the next day. But before he could dwell on it, the faujdar called for silence again.

“Very well. Nonetheless, I suggest we end the council with both a smile and a prayer. Do not think the holy men will spare us much, except from dying before even seeing the slavers’ lines, – He stopped for an instant, making sure everyone understood the implications - So whatever the outcome, let the gods know what we are about to do, for their land and those who live in it. And may they remember where to find our bones if we fail.”

That was all. One by one, they went back to their men. Dravas thought he might wish the old man good luck, but the words would not come, so he left.

Once he stood outside, he tried to hold on to the knowledge help was on its way, but something kept undermining his confidence. As he reached his lancers, he realized they were all thinking the same: the sky was a dirty metallic brown. In the distance, he heard hammers.

The Fire of Desire

“The devouring fire of desire.

How many times did you hear those words? How many times did you disregard them?

You all know. The fire of desire is the craving for worthless pleasures and empty ambitions that seek to replace humble devotion and sense of duty in our hearts. It is a fire and as such, it consumes us rather than elevate us. He who frees himself from the fire pierces the veil of illusion and sees the truth of his place in the world, and the burdens and blessings the Gods saw fit to give him.

Few can, or do.

Ind was made as one but remains divided. For centuries that fire has burned in our souls, corrupting the calls for unity, humility, and illumination, keeping us shackled to our lowest most selfish wants. As we kill each other for crowns and spice markets, the consequence of our shortcomings is there for all to see. As I speak, invaders from the land of fire torment the poor people of Gandhara, where not even temples are safe refuge anymore. They are the slaver sons of the Black Bull, an eternal curse upon the land.

But I am not naïve enough to give you the name of a despot you can slay and then forget. When the slavers march, they only reveal the weakness we all share. Know that the Black Bull and his sons were placed in the world by the Gods so we could better understand a sublime metaphor. But we have never understood, and the mystery of the iron daemons torments us. So it will be until we understand.

They are us. They are the consuming fire that incites a ruler to starve the people to fill his coffers, or invade a weak neighbor instead of helping him rise. They are the desire to grow without care for where or how. Feed the fire of desire, you will find a slaver.

They will never be satisfied. Forever they will expand and consume until the world is cinder, for land, bodies and souls are fodder for an unquenchable thirst that will never leave them.

Does that sound familiar? How do you feed your fires, my lords? What kind of thirst consumes our greatest champions when they decide to satisfy their pettiness and ignore the duties of their caste?

Free yourselves from the cravings as your armies bring succor to our gandharan brothers. You will sleep on the road, eat little, suffer much and at the end of the road, die. Die to save a land for others to dwell in. In doing so, you will extinguish the fire of desire. And when you meet the slavers tulwar in hand, you will truly be unlike them, and be of the Gods.”

-Unknown priest of Brahmir. Maharajastan. 2481 (IC). –


Loved it. Now to wait for the next

1 Like

Brilliant. I recommend every background lover to read this.

1 Like

Incredible writing and storytelling…and so perfectly fitting in with the lore of the Old World. I love the subtle Sumerian and Byzantine historical style in the writings as well.
Each and every one of these stories are an instant Scribes Contest gold medal !
Thank you for sharing


Thank you all for your comments and for keeping this site alive for so long. Without it, I might have never decided to share, and polish, my warhammer ramblings. English is not my first language, so it was an interesting test for me to translate everything while keeping it as close to the “warhammer style” as possible.

More is coming. It will take time, but the Grudge War must continue.


I am looking forward to continue reading your story(s)!

1 Like

I’m in awe of these stories, Grudge War part 1 I was instantly gripped and could not possibly stop reading. I cannot day how much I enjoyed reading that, Astrogoth was not going to feature in my Chaos Dwarf army as I’m going with all the Forgeworld mini but now I have to find a way… Astrogoth as never been so scary

1 Like

Thank you very much!

Astragoth had to be terrifying right? He’s been with us since the beginning yet we never truly saw him do anything. He had no history or personality. It was fun to give him one and to show why this guy calls the shots.


Completely agree, but honestly never noticed, it’s like I didn’t know how much I needed it until I had it.

That opening chapter pulls you right in, it is a great idea to write it from me anonymous victims point of view as t just adds so much of the fear and terror. You could have written the same story as a descriptive overview and wouldn’t have had half as much impact as following this poor fellow through the attack and after.

Again hats off, great writing

1 Like