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Unlike other holds, the upper portion of Karak Azul occupies an entire plateau overlooking the valley and road below. The spires of iron over stone walls gives the impression of a hold built into a mountaintop. The spectacular fireworks display of the volcanic Fire Mountain (Karag Haraz) can be seen from the southern towers. The lower portion of the Dwarfhold is even more extensive. Known as “Iron Peak”, Karak Azul is the only southern Dwarf-hold to have withstood the greenskin armies that surged from the Dark Lands. At first, things looked grim as the Orcs and Goblins gained a foothold in the western halls and lower region, but backed by weapons forged by skilled weaponsmiths and runesmiths, the Dwarfs pushed the invaders out within ten years. But a shadow still hangs over the hold.[3a]
The aged King Kazador Thunderhorn of the Donarkhun clan rules Karak Azul. A massively built Dwarf, Kazador is incredibly strong even by Dwarf standards. In his younger days, Kazador enjoyed life to the full, entertaining his subjects by performing feats of strength such as lifting a pack mule loaded with gold, drinking his greatest warriors under the table, and - his favourite sport of all - hunting greenskins in the mountains.[3a]
Years ago, while Kazador was on one of his “hunts”, the Orc Warlord Gorfang of Black Crag infiltrated the stronghold. Kazador returned to find the hold ransacked, most of his kin missing - including his Queen, Morga, - and his son, Prince Kazrik, shaved and nailed to the throne. Kazrik became mad and was locked away by his father. Kazador had barely stirred from his chambers, until the age of reckoning. [3a][3b]
Its population depleted by centuries of war, Karak Azul couldn't raise an army large enough to assault Black Crag and rescue the hostages. King Kazador’s only hope was to find a small, powerful force to enter the Orc stronghold undetected and rescue his kin. He offered half his personal wealth to any Dwarf who brings back his kinfolk alive (a third to non-Dwarfs); a quarter to anyone who brought back their bodies for proper burial; and the pick of his treasures to anyone who brought back the body of Gorfang. Needless to say, many mercenaries and adventurers attempted this quest, but none returned to claim their rewards.[3b] Until during the age of reckoning after fighting a battle with Belegar Ironhammer at Karak Eight Peaks where Thorgrim challenge Gorfang to a duel and emerged victorious. High King Thorgrim Grudgebearer realized that Karak Drazh was vulnerable with their warboss dead, and lead a mighty throng to black Crag to settle grudges, knowing that although Gorfang was dead his armies would surely beat his throng he couldnt retake Karak Drazh however it was here where he rescued Kazador's family and kin and returned them to Karak Azul where Kazador wept tears as he saw his beloved returned. And humbled beyond words as he swore loyalty to the high king.
While their King sits on his throne, the forges of Karak Azul have continued to produce weapons of unrivalled quality. Traded along the Underway and through hidden mountain trails, weapons from Karak Azul are in great demand throughout Dwarfholds and settlements. The hold’s mineral deposits rival even those of Karaz-a-Karak; it sits on some of the richest deposits of iron, gemstones, and gold in the Worlds Edge Mountains. In addition to armaments, Karak Azul is a center for all kinds of metalworking. The trade value of their products in the human realms makes the craftsguilds of Karak Azul as economically important as the weaponsmiths.[3b]
Karak Azul stood alone in the south for thousands of years, gates barred to the collapsed Underway. Several decades ago, when Karak Azul received word that Karak Eight Peaks had been re-occupied, the gates were opened and the way to the north was cleared. The underground route to Karak Eight Peaks is relatively safe, but the way south to Karak Azgal, still in Orcish hands, remains blocked.[3b]