- "In pride we built Eight Peaks, at the zenith of our ancient power. It was a wonder to the world; more beautiful than even Everpeak, open to the sky. A sign of our wealth and power, strong beyond the measure of Dwarf, Elf, or Men. We thought it would never fall and the mines would be ours forever... What fools we were."
- —Gotrek Gurnisson, former inhabitant of Karak Eight Peaks
The City of Pillars, known formerly as the Dwarf stronghold of Karak Eight Peaks, or originally as Vala-Azril-Ungol ("Queen of the Silver Depths"), was formerly one of the greatest kingdoms ever created by the Dwarfs of the Golden Age, rivaling even the capital city of Karaz-a-Karak in terms of sheer power, wealth, and beauty. For many generations, the city endured throughout the ages, and no army in the surface world has ever been able to penetrate the mighty peaks that are the domains of this city. The kingdom in question lies at the middle of a bowl-like ring of mountains, each of which has 8 peaks, hence the name Eight Peaks. Each has its own name, starting from Carag Zilfin, Carag Yar, Carag Nar and the Silverhorn peaks that guard the eastern mountains, whilst Carag Lhune, Carag Rhyn, Carag Nar and the White Lady guards the western approach.
The upper citadel of the city lies at the surface, situated at the bottom of a small valley that encompasses the interior of the Eight Peaks. From here, a mighty citadel lies at the center of the valley; but just like the tip of the iceberg, the majority of the cities grandeur lies beneath the earth itself. From below, the vast majority of the entire city is carved from the very rock itself. Beyond the great plazas and halls of kingship lay a network of mines and tunnels that stretch out for miles upon miles around. Karak Eight Peaks has been credited for having the largest network of mines in the entire Karaz Ankor, which have been known to hold an enormous abundance of valuable metal and jewels beyond counting.
Such wealth and prosperity was found beneath the earth, and no Dwarf have ever felt happier during this time. But, it was within the very depths of the world that the city's doom truly lies. Whilst armies will plague the surface world for all eternity, no Dwarf have ever felt so secure then the comfort of the earth. Out of the darkness, a new enemy has arisen, claiming this once beautiful city for themselves. As the cataclysmic age known as the Time of Woes has erupted all across the world, the grand halls of Karak Eight Peaks were laid low by coming onslaught of the Greenskin and Skaven race. With their arrival, the city has become an eternal battleground between these three races that would endure until the inevitable destruction of this world.
- "What fools we were. In pride we built Eight Peaks, sure of our mastery of stone and the dark beneath the world. Yet even as we built the city, the seeds of its doom were planted. "
- —Gotrek Gurnnison, former inhabitant of Eight Peaks
It is unknown as to which year the dwarves first built the city of Karak Eight Peaks. All that is known is that construction began sometime during the greatest age of its people. Many called this time the Golden Age, where both elf and dwarf lived in peaceful co-existence, trading, aiding, and fighting alongside one another as they fought against the darkness that tried to engulf the world during the Great Catastrophe. It wasn't until many centuries had passed that tension between the two nations began to appear. Dark Elven raiders posing as High Elves began to attack dwarven settlements and caravans indiscriminately, forcing the High King himself to send emissaries to the Phoenix King in order to account for these atrocities. But the Phoenix King of that age was a young and foolish ruler, and his actions eventually started one of the greatest wars ever fought between the two races.
The War of the Ancients was the name given by the humans to describe this time of constant warfare, where millions of dwarves and elves fought each other for the pitiful actions of the few. Karak Eight Peaks was one of the many participants of the war. The dwarves of the Eight Peaks drove their former allies out of their forested realms around their city, but their actions only hastened their own demise as commerce and trade between these two races was the high-point of both races' wealth, and with the war dragging on for decades, it took an untold number of dwarven lives before the death of the Phoenix King marked the end of this grueling fighting. But there was no victory celebration for the kingdoms of the dwarves, for, just a moment after their triumph, volcanic activities began to roar to life in the east, and the mountains began to buckle as an unprecedented cataclysm shook the world. To the east, volcanos belched ash and rock, covering the lands in a blanket of destruction and ruin. The dwarves of Eight Peaks hid in their homes, weathering through this thunderous storm, unaware of the true danger the Time of Woe would bring upon their people.
With the sudden decimation, the goblinoid race began to migrate in the hundreds of thousands westward until finally they reached the borders of Karaz Ankor itself. Eventually the Goblin Wars erupted and plunged the dwarven kingdoms into chaos. Karak Eight Peaks held firm, however, for no army could ever fight past the formidable defenses they had erected on the surface of their realm. But it was not just the greenskins that came to wreck havoc amongst the Dwarfs. The sinister skaven erupted from the lower depths and began to systematically attack and occupy numerous mining networks and minor holds all around the Worlds Edge Mountains. Using the great Under-Way as a means of transport, the skaven were able to quickly and efficiently locate and attack all the major strongholds held by the dwarves. It soon became apparent that the skaven also intended to claim and defile the majesty of Eight Peaks itself.
The War of Eight Peaks ( -701 to -513 IC)
- "We were weary of war when the Black Mountains belched forth their cloud of ash. The sky was overcast and the sun hid its face. Our crops died and our cattle sickened. Our people had returned to the safety of their cities; and from the heart of our realm, from the place we imagined ourselves the strongest, our foes burst forth......From the tunnels far below any we had dug, our enemies struck into the core of the fortress. Through the mines that had been the source of our wealth poured armies of goblins and rat-like skaven and things far...far worse."
- —Gotrek Gurnnison, former inhabitant of Karak Eight Peaks
Although forced to relinquish many settlements and minor strongholds, no dwarf in their right mind would ever imagine abandoning the glorious kingdom of Karak Eight Peaks, one of the largest and most powerful dwarven kingdoms, to the skaven menace. By the time a skaven strike force was sent towards Karak Eight Peaks to mine several tunnels for their armies to move through, the skaven found that the dwarves had changed their style of underground warfare to counter their efforts. With full awareness of the skaven threat, the dwarves began to mobilize their forces to counter each new offensive the ratmen presented. Soon invasions that were sent underground were faced with sturdy resistance as the tunnels and hallways of the dwarven fortress were littered with death-traps and matchless runebound arms and armour.
With typical dwarven precision, the dwarves of Eight Peaks began to use heavily armored units of dwarven warriors called "Ironbreakers" to regularly patrol or guard the narrow passages beneath the hold, where the skaven numbers became irrelevant. Those skaven forces that managed to bypass these patrols and tunnel their way into the upper levels were soon faced with a firing line of dwarven riflemen, handgunners, and cannon batteries, mowing down the skaven with merciless fire. A vast amount of skaven blood was spent for every inch of ground they took from the dwarfs, for every level they controlled, yet around each new bend could be found another well-protected stronghold.
Unable to overcome such formidable defenses, the warlord clans sought the guidance of the Council of Thirteen to aid in their efforts. The planning took nearly ten generations before completion, but it guaranteed success and full control of the kingdom. The first step in the plan was to convince the local orc tribes to stop fighting each other long enough for them to assault the dwarfs on the surface. The second step would involve slowly poisoning the wells with toxic warpstone fragments. This took time to build up the toxins slowly, but over the following months the dwarves began to grow weakened, their bodies straining to fight against the corruption within them. In the next step, the clans would purchase giant rats from Clan Moulder to launch sudden surprise attacks against the now weakened dwarves, eating away at the meager stores of food they still maintained. But it would be the weaponry of Clan Skyre that made the decisive difference in the war.
The powerful but portable warpfire thrower was capable of melting and punching through the gromril-reinforced gates of the hold, and as a result had no problems blasting the dwarven shieldwalls that formed in front of such barriers. The dwarves began to give ground, but still they were determined to hold out and kill as many of the vermin as they possible could.
It was during the fighting that the Warlock-Engineers of Clan Skyre began to first deploy their newest and most deadliest of experiments. Called the poisoned wind globe, this orb of glass had the capability to ensure a deadly gas attack that proved highly lethal to all who breathed it. Neither armor nor stout determination could combat the toxic fumes, and soon many dwarves, mighty warriors and unrivaled artisans alike, died agonizing deaths in the pitch blackness beneath the world. After well over a century and a half of bitter and constant warfare, the last few hundred dwarves fled the sacred city, and the warlord clans finally took the kingdom and renamed it the City of Pillars.
Constant Warfare (2521 IC)
- "When we first came here we numbered five hundred, with a few mannish allies. The only perils we faced were the Orcs and their followers. We cleared this keep and parts of the upper city as a prelude to reclaiming our ancient mines"
- —Magda Freyadotter, Priestess of Valaya and council of Prince Belegar of Karak Eight Peaks
After the skaven victory over the dwarves, the greenskins on the surface breached the defenses and claimed the upper levels of the city for themselves. In response, the warlord clans declared war against the greenskins. Wishing to keep the hold for themselves, the skaven clans began another fruitless war against the greenskin tribes inhabiting the upper levels of the peaks. After a climatic battle in the ceremonial halls of the western quarter of the city, Clan Mors, the most powerful of the warlord clans leading the Invasion of Eight Peaks, collapsed the vaulted roof of the city, sealing off the greenskin tribes from the more desirable levels and simultaneously crushing warlord clan Gritak and several other rival clans in the process, leaving Eight Peaks in the possession of Clan Mors. Shortly after their success, the Council of Thirteen approved the clan's claim on the lower depths of the City of Pillars as their main stronghold.
Over the centuries since, several expeditions have been made to retake the city or recover some of its lost relics, and thanks to the fame of the city and its riches some were even humans from the Old World. Most of these adventurers never returned.
The most recent attempt was made by Belegar Ironhammer, direct descendant of Lunn Ironhammer, the last true king of the Eight Peaks, numbering around five hundred dwarven warriors. Belegar and his dwarves have gained a foothold in the city, largely confined to the surface and upper levels of the city, despite being under a near-continuous siege. Slowly they found and sealed off the tunnels the goblins and skaven had used to breach the city, as well as walling off areas too poisoned by Chaos to be reclaimed. It was visited by the adventurers Gotrek and Felix, whose deeds during their journey into the depths of the stronghold freed many ancient dwarves from a hellish nightmare under the imprisonment of a massive chaos troll.
- "Ach, Manling, you have some inkling of how far we have fallen. The days of our glory are behind us. Once we created all this. Now we huddle in a few shrunken cities and wait for the end of the world. The day of the Dwarf has gone, never to return. We crawl like maggots through the work of elder days and the glory of what once was ours mocks us today."
- —Gotrek Gurnnison
Since the city's downfall, much of the city is in a state of disrepair. Walls and ceilings would often crumble down, and statues of long-forgotten heroes are smeared from the age of time. If one seeks to enter the lower depths, he must enter the citadel located at the surface valley. Though Dwarfs occupy this section of the city, some parts of the citadel is still infested with small pockets of Goblins, and with the lack of troops avaliable, the Dwarfs weren't able to flush them out. Once one walks deeper into the citadel, one would find a huge doorway gaped into the side of the mountain that the citadel occupies. Above it, rising from the rock, was a great window cut through the stone. The window was roofed with red-slates tiles, many of which had fallen in.
This area is known as the Silvergate, the gateway into the lower levels. The Silverway runs its way towards the Upper Granaries and the Long Stairs. Within the corridors leading towards the Upper Granaries, one would see several openings branching out to other areas of the city. Most however are blocked, as the Dwarfs block off areas that couldn't be reclaimed by the Greenskins without disastrous losses. Once past the Silverway one would enter a hallway as large as the Koenigspark in Altdorf. The ceilings are lit by glowing stones used by the Dwarfs as an exhaustible source of light during the Golden Age of their people.
This area of the city is called the Square of Merscha, where a small regiment of Dwarfs has managed to hold off against a Horde of Goblin a hundred times their numbers. Further on, the passages would branch out to other sections of the city. This area is heavily infested by Greenskin tribes warring with one-another for distinct sections of the city. The Skavens however claim the lower levels of the city, seeking only to take vital areas of the upper city without the need to fight all the tribes living there.
- Warhammer Armies: Skaven (7th Edition) pg 26 - 28
- Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs (7th Edition) pg 60
- Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs (4th Edition) pg 11
- Gotrek and Felix: Trollslayer (novel)