The Karaz Ankor (translated as "The Everlasting Realm" or "The Mountain realm" as the Dwarf word for mountain and extreme durability are the same) is the primary homeland of Dwarfen kingdoms, the holds and cities of the Worlds Edge Mountains that they have inhabited since the earliest days of their recorded history. Their original homeland was located in the mountains of the Southlands, but they migrated northwards in search of new veins of precious metals and gems to mine, gradually settling in the Worlds Edge Mountains. At their peak, Dwarfen lands encompassed nearly the entirety of the Worlds Edge Mountains, in addition to settlements in the Grey and Black Mountains and many smaller hill settlements in the lands of what would become the Empire. However, their Pyrrhic victory in the War of Vengeance, combined with the vast destruction of the Time of Woes and the onslaught of the Goblin Wars, resulted in the loss of several holds and hundreds of smaller settlements and mines. The Dwarfs still rule nine major holds and countless smaller kingdoms.
- Karaz-a-Karak - (From Khazalid the language of the Dwarfs) - Karaz-a-Karak simply translates into Everpeak, although the name holds a much greater significance to their kind. This is the age-old capital of the near-mythical ancient Dwarf civilization, the Pinnacle of Mountains, the Most Enduring. It is the first, most powerful and largest of their holds containing within its halls the history of their people carved in stone. Karaz-a-Karak has withstood many attacks through the ages, but it has never fallen to an invader. It is the seat of the High Kings, the site of some of the largest the temples to the ancestor gods, and here are kept the Great Book of Grudges and the Book of Remembering, works of almost sacred significance. It is the mightiest and most populous of all the Dwarf kingdoms, and its deep rock-hewn vaults stretch for many leagues under the mountain, with the largest halls resembling colossal forests of carved pillars. Karaz-a-Karak has endured for ages past and will endure in ages future until the very end of times.
- Karak Kadrin - known as the 'Stronghold of the Pass'. This hold is situated south of Peak Pass which in ancient times allowed the Dwarfs greater ease of travel between the western and eastern edge of the Worlds Edge Mountains; this declined in importance after the Dwarfs abandoned the eastern edge during the Time of the Goblin Wars. Now the Dwarfs guard the pass against marauding tribes of Orcs and Goblins who travel through on their way to the Empire and Kislev. Though it has been besieged many times it has never fallen, and remains a wealthy centre for trade. The most famous characteristic of the hold is that it is the home of the Slayer Cult; within its walls dwells the Shrine of the Slayers, where the names and deeds of all Slayers are kept and remembered. The lord of Karak Kadrin is known as the Slayer King, as he and his predecessors are bound both by their desire to seek out a glorious death against the forces of darkness, but must also honour their duty to their kinsfolk; they balance this problem by acting as the patrons of the Shrine, which also worships the Ancestor God Grimnir, known as the First Slayer. The current Slayer King is Ungrim Ironfist.
- Zhufbar - known as the 'Torrent Gate'. This hold is located around a deep chasm and by a vast waterfall which runs to the Black Water lake. Around the waterfall, the dwarfs have constructed thousands of water wheels and forges to help smelt ore and build new weaponry. It is the principal center and shrine of the Engineer's Guild and is famous for the quality of its war machines. In the past, the Gromril of Karak Varn was smelted here and forged into powerful armour and weapons. The current king is Baraudin Stoneheart.
- Karak Azul - known as 'Iron Peak'. This hold is located in the south of the Worlds Edge Mountains, and is the only southern hold still ruled by the Dwarfs. Within its lands lies the richest deposits of iron ore in the whole mountain range, as well as other rich veins of other minerals and gemstones. It is known as a centre of metalworking and for its weaponsmiths, who forge some of the most powerful weapons of the Dwarfs, which it supplies to many of the other holds. The current ruler is King Kazador.
- Karak Hirn - known as the 'Hornhold'. This hold is located in the Black Mountains, and its name derives from an especially large cavern which, when the wind blows through, creates sounds like a mighty warhorn. Over the years, the dwarfs have built chambers and doors to create different sound effects. It is a smaller and younger hold, founded later after the great kingdoms and settlements of the Worlds Edge Mountains, and has only limited quantities of veins and minerals to mine. The current king is Alrik Ranulfsson.
- Karak Norn - this hold lies in the Grey Mountains , above the forest of Athel Loren. It is a small and somewhat poor hold, with very few mineral deposits and veins, all of which are hard to mine. Like with Karak Hirn and Karak Izor, it has grown in importance and power since the Time of the Goblin Wars, as many dwarfs have come to live in its isolated lands, though likewise many young dwarfs from the hold journey eastwards to become prospectors and miners. The current king is Brokk Ironpick.
- Karak Izor - known as 'Copper Mountain' in the tongues of Men. It is located near the Vaults at the junction between the Black and Grey mountain ranges, where there are many deep valleys and inaccessible peaks. Despite its isolation, there are many rich lodes of iron, copper, tin and other metals, and as such it has some of the deepest mine workings outside of the Worlds Edge Mountains. Many of the Dragonback Dwarves came to inhabit these lands after the loss of Dragonback Crag and the mines of Ekrund, where they use the seclusion to work and plan their return. The current is King Kazran Grimbrow
- Barak Varr - known as the 'Gateway to the Sea'. This hold is located in the lands of the Border Princes and is unique as the only Dwarf hold built by the sea. It is built deep into the vast caves and cliffs where the Howling River joins the Black Gulf. It is the principal trading hold of the Dwarves, remaining open to trade all throughout the centuries and enabling the dwarves to enjoy a more cosmopolitan lifestyle compared to many other holds. Merchants from all over the world come to both trade for dwarven items, and enjoy dwarven hospitality. It is also the home of the Dwarf Navy, which houses the powerful steam and paddle-driven Ironclads and Dreadnoughts. The current ruler is King Byrrnoth Grundadrakk.
- Karak Ungor - Known as the 'Delving Hold'. This hold is located to the north-east of Karak Kadrin, built upon a great natural fault line in the earth. Vast seams and veins of minerals, gems and precious metals reside in the earth beneath the hold, and as such the dwarves built the deepest and most expansive network of mines and workings throughout the whole of the Worlds Edge Mountains. However, such was the extent that they dug that eventually even they lost track of the entire layout and numbers of their mines. In the immediate aftermath of the Time of Woes, in the Imperial Year -1500, after suffering extensive damage in the huge earthquakes, the Night Goblins invaded the lower workings and abandoned mines, eventually driving upwards and overwhelming the Dwarfs before they could organize their defence. After the Dwarves were forced to abandon the hold, it was fully taken over and renamed Red Eye Mountain. At the current moment, it is the home of the Black Orc warlord Grimgor Ironhide.
- Karak Varn - Known as the 'Stronghold of Lake enclosed by Mountains' (nowadays sometimes called Cragmere), was once a flourishing hold of the Dwarfs. Today, it is a ruin, given up to the Skaven and other enemies of the Dwarfs. It is one of two Dwarf holds which overlook the Black Water Lake, at the junction of the Black Mountains and the Worlds Edge Mountains.
- Karak Eight Peaks - Known as the 'Queen of the Silver depths'. Karak Eight Peaks is known for the eight immense mountains surrounding it: Karag Zilfin, Karag Yar, Karag Mhonar, Karagril (also called Silverhorn) in the east, and Karag Lhune, Karag Rhyn, Karag Nar, and Kvinn-Wyr - the White Lady - in the west. In the past, it was known as the Queen of the Silver Depths, and it was a great city of the Dwarfs. They spent many generations carving architectural wonders into the solid mountain rock from which the city was constructed. The Dwarfs tunnelled deep into the roots of the surrounding mountains, excavating countless halls, galleries, plazas, mines and tunnels, shrines and temples, and tombs where mighty kings were laid to rest, and designed a great staircase called the Silverway that included approximately one thousand steps. However, all things must come to an end, and eventually, tunnels began opening that were not made by the Dwarfs. Endless hordes of Goblins and many worse creatures stormed the depths of its mines by the thousand, overwhelming the unsuspecting stronghold. The Dwarfs had created massive walls to keep out enemies at ground level, creating a fortress mightier than any other, but had never expected an attack from below. All of the underground excavations were lost to the invading Goblins and Skaven, and the Dwarven inhabitants were forced back to the highly fortified citadel at the heart of Karak Eight Peaks until they were finally driven out.
- Karak Azgal/Karak Izril - Now known as the 'Hoard Peak'; formally known as the 'City of Jewels'. So great were the veins of gems found in the mines that the riches were said to rival the great Dwarf city of Karaz-a-Karak itself. Those were the days of Dwarf pride, but they would soon come to an end, eventually it was overrun by Greenskins, Skaven, and other foul creatures.
- Karak Drazh - Known to both Dwarves and other races as 'Black Crag'. During the Golden Age of the Karaz Ankor, Karak Drazh was the third-largest Dwarfhold, after Karaz-a-Karak and Karak Eight Peaks. Strategically placed at the western end of Death Pass, under which lay rich mineral and metal deposits, its mines spread throughout and under the pass and its surrounding mountains. Its people were very wealthy on account of the rich veins of metal ore and gems that lay under their stronghold. Karak Drazh survived the initial upheavals which divided the Dwarf empire of old, and remained the second most powerful stronghold south of Mad Dog Pass after Karak Eight Peaks, Karak Drazh eventually fell to the Greenskins in -469 IC when the Orc Warlord Dork unified a number of Orc and Goblin tribes and attacked Karak Drazh.
- Karak Vlag Although the most northerly of the major Dwarf realms is Karak Kadrin, there used to be another hold situated on the southern side of the High Pass. Karak Vlag was famed for its quality of stone-masonry. It had vast qualities of iron ore in the rocks below its walls. The blacksmiths of Karak Vlag were among the best in Karaz Ankor, some say even as good as the blacksmiths of the High King in Karaz-a-Karak. Karak Vlag did not fall to the Orc and Goblin hordes. It was positioned far from the onslaught that forced the Dwarfs out of Karak Ungor and Karak Varn, and the hold’s massive fortifications deterred the comparatively small groups of Greenskins that came its way. For over 2200 years since the coming of Sigmar, Karak Vlag remained a remote, yet integral, part of the remaining Dwarf Empire. But the strength of its fortifications and the determination of its defenders were not sufficient to stave off the hand of Chaos. In 2301 I.C., a huge Incursion of Chaos flooded southward along the Worlds Edge Mountains. Karak Vlag was engulfed. After the Great War Against Chaos, Dwarf scouts from Karaz-a-Karak searched for Karak Vlag, but no trace remained. It was as if Karak Vlag had never existed.
- Karag Dum - A dwarf hold that lies in the depths of the Chaos Wastes. Once a mighty hold, it is now held by all manners of daemons and Chaos worshippers, for this is the base of operation from which ores can be hauled in to make armour for the thousands of Chaos warriors in the waste. As such it is contested by all four powers for total control that has raged for centuries.
- Kraka Drak - Meaning "Dragon's Hold" in the Khazalid of the Norscan Dwarfs, this great city lay in the northern reaches of Norsca, hidden amidst the mountains of the Aesling tribal lands. Kraka Drak was the capital of the Norse Dwarfs, in spite of being highly isolated from the rest of Dwarfen society like its people. The Norse Dwarfs are highly distinct from the rest of the Dwarf nation, and possess strange customs, and a dialect of Khazalid highly distinct from most southerly Dwarfs. They are noticeably even more warlike than their cousins to the south, and their veneration of the Ancestor Gods emphasizes the warrior aspects of each god. Kraka Drak was destroyed by the armies of the Norse Chaos Lord and then Norscan Great King, Valmir Aesling, in 2390 I.C. after a war of almost 88 years.
There is also the lost hold of Karak Zorn, considered to be the very first Dwarf settlement. Located in the mountains of the Southlands, it is fabled as a highly wealthy settlement, with towering ziggurats made of gold. However, all contact with the hold was lost around the Imperial Year -2000, with the last messages being of large armies of Lizardmen attacking the city. Any expedition that has set out to find the city has never returned.
The Lost Mines
The Dwarf mines of old different from Dwarfholds in three ways. They were considerably smaller, inhabited only by Mining clans and the processing of ore and games. Most significantly their defences merely consisted of watchtowers and light stone walls – though they were soon strengthened after the initial onslaught by the Orcs and Goblins. This form of settlement largely died out with the fall of the three largest Dwarf mines. Mining communities can still be found throughout the mountains bordering the Empire but on a much smaller scale. Now, the only extensive mining operations that that take place are those beneath the Dwarfholds.[5a]
- Ekrund - Located on the Dragonback Mountains specifically on Mount Bloodhorn. The mines of Ekrund, in the Dragonback Mountains on the south-eastern shore of the Black Gulf, were the richest outside the Worlds Edge Mountains. Its ore and gemstone deposits rivalled even those of Karaz-a-Karak. Many of its clans were fabulously rich even by Dwarf standards, and some were influential members of the High King’s Council. The Hold was lost to a tide of Orcs from the darklands during the Time of Woes.
- Mount Gunbad - Once owned by the dwarves, it is now the home of the great clans of Night Goblins horde of the Dark Lands. Although Ekrund may have been the richest mine beyond the Worlds Edge Mountains, Gunbad was the greatest and wealthiest of the world - only the biggest fortresses of Karaz Ankor produced more riches. Located on the eastern slopes of the Worlds Edge Mountains, Gunbad was, and still is the only source of Brynduraz ("shining stone" in Khazalid), a blue gem much valued by Dwarf jewellers. Its gold was so crucial for maintaining the Dwarf army that during the War of Vengeance against the High Elves it wasn't forced to supply troops. But the Dwarfs didn't realize their greatest enemy would come from the East. While the bulk of the Dwarf armies were still returning from their victorious campaign against the Elves, disaster came over the Worlds Edge Mountains. Earthquakes covered the mountain passes with rubble, isolating temporarily holds and mines. Gunbad Dwarfs fought valiantly when the Greenskins came, but defeat was inevitable, the Hold was lost. Eventually, Dwarfs came back to Gunbad in great numbers. Led by Logazor Brightaxe, they managed to retake the mines, but this victory left Gunbad isolated in the midst of a land still riddled with Orcs and Goblins, which turned it into a tempting and vulnerable goal. It was just a matter of time before Dwarfs were forced to relinquish their dominion over Gunbad once more. After this defeat, the Dwarfs didn't have enough strength to retake the mines to the East of the Worlds Edge Mountains.
- Mount Silverspear Mount Grimfang, originally known as Mount Silverspear ("Karag Agilwutraz" in Khazalid), was once one of the richest mines of Karaz Ankor and one of the easternmost outposts of the Dwarfen realm. During the Silver Road Wars for control over the eastern World's Edge Mountains, Mount Silverspear was assaulted in great numbers. Despite staggering losses, the second Greenskin assault wore down the defenders in 3156 KZ (-1367 IC). Reluctantly, the survivors retreated to Karaz-a-Karak along the Silver Road, while the invaders patched up the fallen city and renamed it Mount Grimfang, in honour of Warboss Urk Grimfang that had lead the attack. Mount Grimfang has remained in Greenskin hands since then. In recent times, a Skaven nest has grown beneath the city.