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Some years ago, I dreamed the crazy project of building two armies at the same time, with a common background.
I wanted to rebuild my CD army with FW units and alternatives, and create a Kingdoms of Ind army that I had been thinking about for some time. After all, CDs and Ind are almost neighbors so they must interacts (kill each other) from time to time.
It was too big and too late. I'm in no position to buy or paint anything, even less two armies. But I kept thinking of a background to explain what could be the interactions between both, inspired by the great fluff we can find on the site.
Since there will be no armies, I will share the fluff with you. My papers are all over the place so I will post it as I find it.
Hope you like it.


1
About the Stupa of Kanishka, I can say this.
I entered the Kingdoms of Ind by sea, through the City of Spires, where the elves of Ulthuan cling to their fading dreams of colonization. I never crossed the Darklands with the ivory road caravans and it is precisely when one enters Ind by land from the north that one can see the stupa marking the border between the wastes and the kingdom of Gandhara.
In Taxila, I made contact with the very small and extremely wealthy imperial colony. With their help, I met merchants, artisans and priests, and all of them mentioned that stupa with great reverence. Considering the land is full of stupas and temples of all sizes and wealth, I concluded that particular monument had to be of significant grandeur, something worthy of being seen. I hired a former soldier turned guide with experience dealing with foreigners, and one morning we left Taxila by the northwestern road, the Spice Route every oldworlder must take to enter or leave Ind.
After a pleasant travel of several days, we passed the last of the border forts and left Gandhara behind. It is a depressing country, trapped between the Mountains of Mourn and the Sea of Dread. The hill country of northern Ind turns into a rocky wasteland, made even bleaker by the mountains, whose colossal range to my right seemed to want to crush me. To the northwest, above the horizon, I could see the storms and black clouds hovering over the Darklands. In the middle of that desolation, stood the Stupa of Kanishka. I could barely hide my disappointment. Instead of the glorious columns of gold and bloodsteel crowned with silk I had seen everywhere else, here stood a squat, ugly structure of dented rock and a few stone sculptures, nothing that seemed to deserve any praise.
Without paying any attention to me, my guide dismounted and started to turn around the stupa, reciting an unending litany. As he prayed, I noticed something I had missed from the distance. The stone sculptures where not stone at all. They were skulls, skulls hanging from the central column. Humanoid in shape, they were larger than a human, brutish, and heavy, with protruding tusks and some with small horns on their foreheads. One was recent enough to still be covered with rotten flesh and the remnants of black locks on its chin.  A few feet away from the stupa, vast remains of charred wood and ashes proved that this was a place where many corpses had been cremated.
My guide finished his devotions and asked if I was ready to leave. I don’t know why but I couldn’t wait. Something about that place had entered my soul and filled me with a strange sense of fear. Fear of the mountains watching over us, of the black clouds marking the dreaded Darklands. And fear of that solitary stupa and the heads hanging in silence. Who were they? What roads had led them to that resting place? That night, as we returned to Taxila, I couldn’t stand my guide´s silence and asked him what he knew about that place. After a short moment, he told me in broken reikspiel that was the place the Exodus had ended. Another mystery.
Back in Taxila, I was lucky enough to find a young priest eager to show his knowledge. He told me the Exodus is remembered as a time of upheaval. In those days, he said, there was turmoil in hell, the name he used for the Darklands. So much turmoil in fact, that many slaves managed to flee south, a vast migration of men and women who walked through lava and cinder, following the visions of Gilgadresh and protected by his son the Bull of Heaven, until they reached Ind and knew their suffering was at an end. After many years of war with the natives, a deal was struck and the newcomers settled in the northern lands, adopting the culture and pantheon of the land. But Gilgadresh and his son are still the patron gods of Gandhara above all others. When I asked when that exodus happened, he told me a date I managed to compare with an imperial calendar. If that priest was correct, it must have happened approximately in the days of Sigmar Heldenhammer.
Who were the slavers? That is a question the priest answered with the word “rakshasas”. According to certain lexicons, it could be interpreted as “daemons”. As for the implications of this answer, I cannot say.


From the journal of Jacob Stackheldorf


2
“Under the gaze and by command of Brahmir, Gilgadresh, the Bull of Heaven, the Devourer and all the Thousand Gods, your maharaja speaks.
The Black Bull of the Underworld rises from the volcanos and marches south, seeking to challenge the rule of the Bull of Heaven and his people. With him march his sons, the slaves who would be slavers, the stunted rakshasas of fire and iron, seeking the flesh and blood of your families to satiate their never-ending thirst. Once again they march upon the holy Stupa of Kanishka, in a vain attempt to avenge the defeats suffered at the hands of my forefathers.
For so it has always been ever since the day our ancestors escaped the northern hell and contemplated the Land of the Gods. They called it Heaven and so it is, and as long as we stand, the Land of the Gods will stand. But as the priesthood teaches, as long as Heaven on earth stands, so will Hell on earth endure, and always the iron rakshasas will march south to enslave the sons of those who refused to be slaves.
Your maharaja commands. Take up arms, dust your beards with saffron and rejoice! You march north, to the stupa where your lives began, where fate is always decided. It is your time to kill the rakshasas and cover the Stupa of Kanishka with their skulls and hands and blood, to remind them of the limit between Heaven and Hell. Rejoice, for you will fight under the gaze of the Gods and of your Maharaja, who marches with you to victory!
So speaks Dara Kanishka, Maharaja of Gandhara, Bane of rakshasas and vicar of Gilgadresh.”


“Proclamation read to the armies of Gandhara prior to their departure to war on the northern border.” Date unknown. Translated by Jacob Stackheldorf.


3
Let it be recorded that the dwarfs of Karak Izor declare a grudge against the city of Taxila for the ignominious death of Thorm Zirakson, merchant on the Spice Route. After a 24 years disappearance, testimonies from his imperial companions confirm he was crushed under the foot of an elephant by order of a local despot, accused of being one of the Dawi Zharr. For this unforgivable insult to his honour and his clan, we will reduce Taxila to ashes as soon as we figure out where the hell that place is.

From the Karak Izor Book of Grudges. 2328 (Imperial year).


4
I speak to the vermin cowering on their island, thinking the sea will be enough to spare them.
Your rabble armies are dead. I turned them to dust beneath my feet. Your peddlers of idols are dead. I flayed them until they cursed their false gods. Pray to your thousand lies, we pray to the only god you ever had. He owns you, and he has since the day we enslaved you ancestors. They fled and thought centuries will be enough to make us forget. But we never forget rebellion; we never forget what belongs to us. When we bought your forefathers with blood, we bought everything they owned, including their work, including you and everything you have ever build with the illusion of freedom. You have stolen your bodies and souls from us. You are thieves, and we bear a grudge for it.
Tonight you will return home, where the shackles are waiting. I will own your bodies, or the Father of Darkness will own your souls. It makes no difference to me.
Your people wanted freedom. So make the last choice you will ever have.
I am Zarkaveh of Gorgoth, and I am your master.


Message found on the ruins of Maijla, port of the Island of Blessings. Northern Ind. Currently uninhabited.


5
They profited from our weakness.
You understand the meaning of those words no Uzkul-Dhrazh-Zharr should ever speak. You understand why I will kill the four of you if those words cross the threshold of my home. But do you understand why our family remembers those words, while the Coven does not?
In Mingol Zharr-Naggrund, they guide the destinies of our race and follow the will of the Father of Darkness. In that grand scheme of things, the jungles of Ind are of no more importance that any other place to plunder for the glory of the empire. But here, your ancestors never forgot a little known consequence of the great greenskin rebellion. As the Black Orcs were on the brink of toppling the Temple of Hashut and feast on us all, the human slaves escaped. In their hundreds, their thousands, their tens of thousands, the rabbles on the mines broke their chains, elected leaders and fled the war, too craven to fight us, too faithless to die for us. The strength that should be used to expand our dominion, they used it to survive in the Darklands, knowing we could not spare a single wolf to chase them, until they reached the heathen manling kingdoms of the south, were they were granted protection. Now the beggars are kings and grow fat on spices without remembering.
I repeat, a small consequence in the grand scheme of things, and yet not. They were the least of our slaves, but they were our slaves, and no grudge is too small to be ignored, even one that seems to be beneath our kin’s notice.
You will take my army and walk south, as I and your uncles once did with your grandfather’s army. You will sack their cities and towns, burn their temples, bring back slaves to feed the Tower, bring back their idols to be melted in the fires of Hashut. In doing so, you will be commended by the Coven of Prophets and ensure your clan’s standing in Gorgoth. This you will do for the Coven and your family.
For your race, you will remind the minor races there is no profiting from our weakness. There is no weakness. We have suffered worse than a greenskin rebellion, we have stood on the brink of annihilation time and again and always returned stronger for the ordeal.
Remind them. Remind them there is no refuge from us.


Zarkaveh of Gorgoth to his sons


6
… she materialized from the clouds of cinder hovering over the battlefield, may the Father of Darkness turn my guts to lead if I lie.
The heathens’ lines were crumbling. My lord Harakh was satisfied as he sent us to deliver the killing stroke. To anyone who caught one of the mystics rambling between the manlings’s lines, he promised first pick of slaves and the privilege of throwing him into the cauldron.
Before we could obey, she was amongst them. Lithe and tall as three of them, skin black as coal, a blood red tongue tasting the air, she brandished two swords and two daggers and smelled like a burning pyre. The heathens stopped their retreat and their lines went silent. They bowed to her and she blessed them as she passed through their ranks. The greenskins collapsed in an instant and the heathens began to march.
My lord Harakh ordered us to open ranks, for his stone legs prevented him from marching to the front. We did as commanded; he invoked the name of our Father and unleashed a pyroclastic cloud upon everything in front of us. Heathens and greenskins turned to charred bone but she walked through without slowing down. She was now grey from the ashes and in a few steps she was amongst us.
She danced as she sliced through our armors. Four death or wounded at a time. No one took a step back. The regiment closed on her as my Lord commanded to be taken to safety as he channeled his power. Me and Khargan grabbed him by the arms and dragged him to the rear as we had done before. As we ran, we could hear our brothers chanting Hashut’s name as they hacked at her, until suddenly we heard them no more.
We stopped and turned around and Lord Harakh was dead. Hashut curse me!  Father, spit on my birth! She had gutted him without a sound before we started running. A hundred immortals were dead. There was no line. The heathens had crushed our center. That thing was black and grey and red with my brothers’ blood; their holy warriors had pierced the shieldwall, and now the mystic’s shrieks where drowning our army’s dirge as they…
  

-The two immortals now belong to the Infernal Guard in penance for Harakh’s death. His clan will provide replacements to the Temple but I don’t have to explain why this will not stand. These southern expeditions have been profitable in the past, but now a Sorcerer-Prophet is dead and they are becoming a source of conflict inside the Coven. It might have been Harakh’s army, but we all know the name of the one behind every campaign into Ind. Some begin to think these southern clans are growing too tall for their hats and should be reminded distance is not the same as independence.
Others are of the opinion there are more important things to consider. What did the immortals saw? What killed Harakh? What has Zarkaveh’s obsession unleashed as he keeps stabbing that fat land’s throat?
Take these testimonies to the Archives and find answers. Your lorekeepers answer to the High Priest on this matter, and so do you. Astragoth wants to know what is happening in the south.-


7
“Of the Hinterlands of Khuresh…
…In the beginning, Ind and Khuresh were mirror images of each other. Lands created, blessed and populated by the Thousand Gods, their sons and men. For as long as balance was preserved, so were they, and all was well…
…Then came the fall, the imbalance. Disorder spread from beyond and entered Brahmir’s domain. All lands suffered as corruption fell from the skies, but none as much as Khuresh. As the gods and their sons fought the hordes from beyond, Ind was saved but Khuresh was ruined. The fall corrupted man, the gods’ sons and the ground itself. Warpstone saturated the land until every living being became unrecognizable. Men fell easily to the whispers of the daemons, but more tragically, so did the sons of the Gods. So the rakshasas fell, the real rakshasas, the man-kin, the sons of the Tiger and the blessed nagas. They betrayed their brothers and sisters who fought and fight still, and when the gods retreated to heaven, away from the corruption that was inimical to them, no one was left to save Khuresh…
… if Ind is a man, Khuresh is a corpse. A jungle the size of a continent where the very air is saturated with the stuff of beyond and the afterbirth of a thousand generations of slaughter kill and die without ever learning of the outside world. Testimonies from the khureshi tell us every animal bears the stain of corruption and the trees themselves hunt for flesh. Disembodied heads drag their organs behind them as they float in search of victims; blooddrinkers make their nest in the ruins of bygone cities as they raise the dead and spread their infection to Ind and Cathay. Greenskin tribes and ratmen cannibalize each other in a vicious cycle of necrophagia. The bestial sons of chaos battle for supremacy and hunt the warpfire dragons towering over the canopy. Even they bow to the tigermen, the betrayers, whose bloodlust overcome their nobility and now rule over beastmen hordes, carving kingdoms and amassing skulls. All covet and fight for the warpstone deposits littering the land, where masses of mutated slaves work beneath the lash of inhumane overseers. This the khureshi have said.
But there are worse night-haunted legends emanating from those foetid jungles and deadly wastes. The wisest gurus and oldest scrolls speak of the Snake Men and the foul and nightmarish blood nagas whose lives are said to be counted as the ages of the world. They sold their divine heritage for power and now they are the blood queens of Khuresh, ruling from the Lost City of the Gods. It is a realm where men are no more than hunted prey, and blood and souls are the only coin in trade, where the terrible rites of the Naga preserve the memory of a forgotten age when the cold-blooded serpents of Chaos held the world in a stranglehold of terror.
Yet order and devotion have not entirely abandoned that cursed land. Since days unknown, the khureshi have been there, settling patches of coast and plain, hacking back at the jungle, beating back the horrors, rallying around the Last Temple, the last holy ground in the entire hinterland. The sea is their home as much as the land, and when they cannot hold their ground anymore, they sail to Ind, to the southern kingdoms where their kin live in great numbers, rebuild strength and return east to start anew. “Be the hammer or the anvil, destiny affords only these choices”. So says the khureshi proverb…
…The knowledge preserved by our predecessors tells us that in the past, only six times did Khuresh’s wars spilled over. Six times the blood nagas and the tigermen lead armies into Ind. Six times Ind stood on the brink and six times they were beaten back through uncountable sacrifices and feats of devotion like those of your land. At Chittor, six times did the watchmen fought to the last of their strength and when all was lost, they dusted their beards with saffron, burned their families and charged down the causeway to their deaths. To win another hour for those who would come after them.
There lies the wisdom you ask from us. Pray you never see such a time. But if it is your lot to see it, remember only gods and bloodsteel will count when Khuresh rises again.
Trust the Thousand. Trust the swords of Chittor Bastion.
The Illustrious Temple-School of Kollur.
To Pankajia Sowar, Kshatrapa of the Rathastan marches”.


- You never know what you might find in grobi’s loot. Inform the captains I call for an urgent gathering on the day of Maximum Oppression. Subject matter: new target for the next campaign. The season is almost upon us but there is still time to redirect the fleet. To hell with their routine! I will sell them every slave and daughter I have if necessary, but I will plunder that place if it’s the last thing I do!-


8
“A moment of your time slave.
You might want to suspend all curses and maledictions. I will not seal your mouth shut for your answers interest me, but I can find ways to make you focus without spoiling your value. Will you talk to me for a moment? It might be the last indulgence that remains for you.
For centuries the likes of me have amassed information about your land, including troops, weapons and beasts of war. The elephants you train to dismember your foes, the predators your champions ride into combat, the rockets you create in a vain attempt to compete with ours, the tiger and snake kin that fight with you but not for you. Armored elites and peasant rabbles, soft rajas and demented gurus, it is our purpose to know you better than you know yourselves.
But your Holy Orders still escape any attempt at rationalization. Not that I am surprised, there is nothing rational about your faith; its diversity proves it, if nothing else. The Blue Turbans, the Tulwars of Gilgadresh, the Baghat-Na, the Sentinels of the Last Temple, the Trident, the Hand of Paliakat… dozens of names without any meaning to me. So many Orders, inconstant and sterile in their contradictions, like all manling creations.
But your order interests me.  
You are a Strangler. I first learned about you thanks to the ramblings of a priest who proved quite talkative once I peeled back the skin of his lies. He swore your order would be the dead of me. Later, I translated a document from the Temple of the Mother in Maijla. Apparently, even your fellow Orders do not know what to make of you.
Your kin considers you corrupt and deviant. We have that in common. You worship through death. You hunt the chaos lackeys and the zanguzaz in your jungles and cities. You impose an order your kings and priests are too weak to enforce. On the rare occasions you march openly to war, the people you protect pray they do not attract your attention. You have been known to sacrifice innocents and in your eyes all deaths are good, a small sacrifice to keep the "Devourer" strong. Speaking of the Devourer, witnesses identified your order the day Harakh was butchered by something we had never seen before. Now I must provide answers, and I suspect your order had something to do with that particular grudge.
And today, we had to kill every one of you. It is miraculous we caught you alive. Your companions earned all our efforts and that is the highest praise you kind will ever get. You show all the potential of your race, and all the squandering of such potential, all in one. All perfectly summed up by the way you honour your deity.
Allow me to suggest your rites are wrong in more ways than one. Not only your gods’ existence is doubtful and their weakness unquestionable, one could argue even your method of worship screams of irrationality. You strangle your prisoners for your idol, pray until your tongues fall of and hope it will be enough to keep the jungle at bay for another day. Your fellow men do even less; even human sacrifice is too much for them.  
You will not see such wastefulness in the Plain of Zharr. The Father of Darkness teaches that the true proof of supremacy lies in treating the world as what it is: dirt. Reality exists to be assessed by me, harvested by the slaves, exploited by the daemonsmiths, and transformed by the prophets. It is in its nature to kill us, and the first tenet of civilization is to deny it the pleasure. Stone and ore, water and air, flesh and souls and mortals and daemons, even knowledge, everything is raw material, everything can be of use to achieve the only real purpose: to grow. To grow until no corner of this reality is denied to us. Why let meat rot if it can be processed? Why suffer the jungle when it can be burned? Why send you to the mines when you can provide answers for the High Priest?
Your gods teach you to submit to the world. Ours teaches us to break the world into submission. Hashut puts nothing above us except himself, and that is why he is worthy of our worship.
Think about this for now. We will speak again but remember nothing is free, especially knowledge, so next time you will talk. I give you the next topic: Who is the Devourer?
I pride myself on being fair with my slaves. Do not make me regret it.”


Khuhrak Silvertongue. Lorekeeper.


9
- You look well. My surgeon says you are out of danger, so to speak. He is proud of his work. Do you know he had to learn to heal humans from scratch? The first subjects died despite his care. It seems what is care for us is torment for you. May I add you are surprisingly calm, given the circumstances?
- …
- Shall we continue our conversation? What do you make of what I said yesterday? It should matter to you; it is the reason for every attack on your land.
- Why am I here?
- I told you, to talk.
- … I have seen ruins left behind by your people. I have seen your machines split heaven, rain fire and wipe out our armies. I have fought your kind for years. We once dragged one of you to the temple to be strangled in the presence of the Eternals, and he never spoke a word. You are the first one to prove you understand the concept of conversation. You have never showed any interest in dialogue.
- Why should we? Your land is there to be plundered for the glory of Zharr-Naggrund. It is not my kin’s purpose to speak to you.
- Is it yours?
- It is my purpose to find answers when the prophets need them. To be fully honest, we never devoted much time to you. For us, you were a distant whim to be left to the southern clans. “Let Gorgoth grow fat on monkey’s meat”, we said. The eyes of the Conclave are forever fixed on more portentous subjects. The will of Hashut, the Roof of the World, even the betrayers, all are given precedence over the southern jungles.
- But now you speak to me…
- Now a prophet is dead and no one can explain how or by whose hand. You have suddenly become a very serious topic in the corridors of the Temple. The word “Ind” is now on the lips of the High Priest himself.
- I am honored.
- You should be terrified. It is dangerous to be on Astragoth’s mind. Take it from someone who knows. To draw his attention is always a portent for glory or calamity. In your land’s case I doubt it is the former.
- That being the case, why should I speak to you? I suppose everything I say will be reported back.
- Indeed, but I want more than information. If I only needed to make you spit everything out, you would still be with my surgeon. I am a lorekeeper, I deal in knowledge, and your presence is an occasion I rarely get to learn from the source. We have informants on many lands. Humans can be bought with almost anything, and no nation lacks its share of Chaos thralls willing to sell their mothers for trinkets of power. Those ones talk to us willingly, as if that made them worthy of our attention. You are not one of those, but you are an outcast nonetheless. You thrive on sacrifices. To you, innocence means nothing. Your rulers would execute you as we would. I was wondering if that would make you more accessible to dialogue.
- You seek to convince me to become a turncoat?
- No, that is not the term. This is not a matter of convincing anyone. Your fate is sealed. The only thing standing between you and torment is my personal interest. You can spare yourself the trouble and learn something beyond what your provincial cult taught you, or be stubborn and keep your secrets for the interrogators.
- …
- Stubbornness is commendable, except when it runs contrary to my duty. Should I send for my surgeon? I am certain he can reopen everything he closed.
- … On one thing we agree. These are unique circumstances only a fool would disregard. But you are mistaken. I have no secrets. The knowledge you seek is well known on my land, although most would rather not dwell on it. There is nothing to hide.
- Glad to hear it.
- The Holy Orders are simply that. Orders dedicated to express their devotion in the way they find appropriate. The Blue Turbans are a martial order based on Kartarpur, utterly devoted to protect the land. You will face them, better armed and trained than the Red Fort’s Palace Guard. The Trident is another warrior cult. You would take them for the lowest beggars and it would be your last fit of ignorance. The Tulwars of Gilgadresh watch over his sacred fires. The Baghat-Na hunts blooddrinkers in the far south. You will never see the Sentinels, for they protect the Last Temple of Khuresh. The Hands of Paliakat are healers who travel with armies and pilgrims. I could list a hundred more and you will not be any closer to understand, but know this: the Palace and the Temple rule Ind, but the Orders keep it together no matter how much the kingdoms bicker with each other. I know, for my order is the oldest, the first, born in the worst of times. It is no wonder we are treated like lepers by the cowards and the blind. We remind them of the sacrifices that were made. We keep alive the memory of an age when a goddess fell.
- The Devourer?
- No, the Mother. No god loved mankind as the Mother. When humanity barely knew how to wave a stick, she nurtured it, protected it, despite its inferiority compared to the other sons of the gods. Then the doors of Brahmir collapsed and disorder mixed with order.
- Chaos…
- The gods and their sons fought but the Mother would not abandon mankind. She weaved veils of secrecy to shield it but to no avail. Daemons devoured their souls and corrupted them. Then came the day she herself was ambushed. Men now fought for the daemons and in her grief, she was wounded and disorder entered her blood. But it did not corrupt her; it unleashed her anger at the pain inflicted on her sons. She distended her jaws like a snake and devoured entire armies of demons and traitors. The Mother was gone, only the Devourer remained, a being stepped in dead and blood, with the rage of a mourning parent. She joined the war and with her, the gods pushed back until the rift was closed, but not sealed.
In case you do not follow, your prophet was gutted by the Messenger of the Devourer. Before returning to their domain, the gods left a piece of them behind. They infused the land with their being and so the Messengers were born, minor incarnations tied to Ind. The Order of the Devourer, which some people call the Stranglers, was born to remember what it took to beat madness back. The kingdoms remember her as the Mother, but we worship her as what she is now, a vessel of destruction, of your destruction. We kill the guilty and the innocent and every soul we sacrifice heals her wounds a little more. One day, those wounds will close as you closed mine. And then…
- Much obliged for you candor Strangler. I will be much honored to add this tale to my collection of foreign folklore. But if this mythology matters so much to your order, why give it away so willingly?
- Because you are wrong. Not everything is a tool. There is nothing you can do with what I told you. Half of it is common knowledge and the other half will not bring you closer to your purpose. The Messenger of the Devourer is not a pet or a weapon. She cannot be conjured by us or enslaved by you. I saw her the day your army vanished at the Stupa of Kanishka and she blessed me. That day troubles your masters, that day I knew my life had been well spent.
If you want to know more, march south. Catalogue every army that will fight you; learn the names of every maharaja, raja and khsatrapa who will block your path. You will meet a hundred Orders and their Eternals guiding them. Burn enough cities and temples and you might even meet the Messenger of the Mother who is the Devourer. Ind is the Land of a Thousand Gods! Challenge them and a thousand messengers will bring you their answer!
- … Backbone is equally commendable. But you are far more obtuse than I thought if you think we can do nothing with this knowledge. Or that there is anything we cannot enslave.


----------------------------


“Your testimony swayed the conclave. This now goes beyond the whims of the southern clans. Zarkaveh is about to get what he always wanted, although he might still live to regret it. There will be consequences for Harakh’s failure. Gorgoth will be brought to heel once more, and our response will reestablish the order of things. The Temple will announce the coming campaign on the Night of Hexenstag.
You serve Hashut well Khurhak. Why then do you show such unduly favor to that slave? It verges on mercy. Pride goeth before destruction lorekeeper, in your case the pride of a mind forgetting the order of things for the sake of knowledge. Never forget knowledge and slaves are tools. Do not grow fond of your tools, lest they supplant your duty. Rather learn to serve Hashut alone by castigating your past remissness. Offer your pet to the Temple Guardians on the Night of Hexenstag, and join the Grudge War.
The Father of Darkness has accepted the challenge, and the High Priest marches south to deliver his answer”.


Astragoth Ironhand, High Priest of Hashut.


10
The Fire of desire


“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 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 neighbour 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 it 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 you share with them 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). -

Something new:



I speak to the vermin cowering on their island, thinking the sea will be enough to spare them.
Your rabble armies are dead. I turned them to dust beneath my feet. Your peddlers of idols are dead. I flayed them until they cursed their false gods. Pray to your thousand lies, we pray to the only god you ever had. He owns you, and he has since the day we enslaved you ancestors. They fled and thought centuries will be enough to make us forget. But we never forget rebellion; we never forget what belongs to us. When we bought your forefathers with blood, we bought everything they owned, including their work, including you and everything you have ever build with the illusion of freedom. You have stolen your bodies and souls from us. You are thieves, and we bear a grudge for it.
Tonight you will return home, where the shackles are waiting. I will own your bodies, or the Father of Darkness will own your souls. It makes no difference to me.
Your people wanted freedom. So make the last choice you will ever have.
I am Zarkaveh of Gorgoth, and I am your master.


Message found on the ruins of Maijla, port of the Island of Blessings. Northern Ind. Currently uninhabited.

Uther the unhinged Wrote:
Awesome. I feel better now. The proper order of things has been restored.
Love the story. Really good read.


Thanks Takes Hat off

More CDs coming.

Very cool stories, she really likes them a lot. I'm looking forward to more of them! Cheers!


                     Hashut!
More coming:


They profited from our weakness.
You understand the meaning of those words no Uzkul-Dhrazh-Zharr should ever speak. You understand why I will kill the four of you if those words cross the threshold of my home. But do you understand why our family remembers those words, while the Coven does not?
In Mingol Zharr-Naggrund, they guide the destinies of our race and follow the will of the Father of Darkness. In that grand scheme of things, the jungles of Ind are of no more importance that any other place to plunder for the glory of the empire. But here, your ancestors never forgot a little known consequence of the great greenskin rebellion. As the Black Orcs were on the brink of toppling the Temple of Hashut and feast on us all, the human slaves escaped. In their hundreds, their thousands, their tens of thousands, the rabbles on the mines broke their chains, elected leaders and fled the war, too craven to fight us, too faithless to die for us. The strength that should be used to expand our dominion, they used it to survive in the Darklands, knowing we could not spare a single wolf to chase them, until they reached the heathen manling kingdoms of the south, were they were granted protection. Now the beggars are kings and grow fat on spices without remembering.
I repeat, a small consequence in the grand scheme of things, and yet not. They were the least of our slaves, but they were our slaves, and no grudge is too small to be ignored, even one that seems to be beneath our kin’s notice.
You will take my army and walk south, as I and your uncles once did with your grandfather’s army. You will sack their cities and towns, burn their temples, bring back slaves to feed the Tower, bring back their idols to be melted in the fires of Hashut. In doing so, you will be commended by the Coven of Prophets and ensure your clan’s standing in Gorgoth. This you will do for the Coven and your family.
For your race, you will remind the minor races there is no profiting from our weakness. There is no weakness. We have suffered worse than a greenskin rebellion, we have stood on the brink of annihilation time and again and always returned stronger for the ordeal.
Remind them. Remind them there is no refuge from us.


Zarkaveh of Gorgoth to his sons

Zanko Wrote:
Very cool stories, she really likes them a lot. I'm looking forward to more of them! Cheers!


                     Hashut!


Thank you very much. That means a lot. Cheers!

Uther the unhinged Wrote:
The coolness continues. Great vibe to your fluff. Can not wait to see more.


Thanks! More is coming.

The mob wants to read more stories! Big Grin Really very ingenious! Takes Hat off


                     Hashut!
… she materialized from the clouds of cinder hovering over the battlefield, may the Father of Darkness turn my guts to lead if I lie.
The heathens’ lines were crumbling. My lord Harakh was satisfied as he sent us to deliver the killing stroke. To anyone who caught one of the mystics rambling between the manlings’s lines, he promised first pick of slaves and the privilege of throwing him into the cauldron.
Before we could obey, she was amongst them. Lithe and tall as three of them, skin black as coal, a blood red tongue tasting the air, she brandished two swords and two daggers and smelled like a burning pyre. The heathens stopped their retreat and their lines went silent. They bowed to her and she blessed them as she passed through their ranks. The greenskins collapsed in an instant and the heathens began to march.
My lord Harakh ordered us to open ranks, for his stone legs prevented him from marching to the front. We did as commanded; he invoked the name of our Father and unleashed a pyroclastic cloud upon everything in front of us. Heathens and greenskins turned to charred bone but she walked through without slowing down. She was now grey from the ashes and in a few steps she was amongst us.
She danced as she sliced through our armors. Four death or wounded at a time. No one took a step back. The regiment closed on her as my Lord commanded to be taken to safety as he channeled his power. Me and Khargan grabbed him by the arms and dragged him to the rear as we had done before. As we ran, we could hear our brothers chanting Hashut’s name as they hacked at her, until suddenly we heard them no more.
We stopped and turned around and Lord Harakh was dead. Hashut curse me!  Father, spit on my birth! She had gutted him without a sound before we started running. A hundred immortals were dead. There was no line. The heathens had crushed our center. That thing was black and grey and red with my brothers’ blood; their holy warriors had pierced the shieldwall, and now the mystic’s shrieks where drowning our army’s dirge as they…  

-The two immortals now belong to the Infernal Guard in penance for Harakh’s death. His clan will provide replacements to the Temple but I don’t have to explain why this will not stand. These southern expeditions have been profitable in the past, but now a Sorcerer-Prophet is dead and they are becoming a source of conflict inside the Coven. It might have been Harakh’s army, but we all know the name of the one behind every campaign into Ind. Some begin to think these southern clans are growing too tall for their hats and should be reminded distance is not the same as independence.
Others are of the opinion there are more important things to consider. What did the immortals saw? What killed Harakh? What has Zarkaveh’s obsession unleashed as he keeps stabbing that fat land’s throat?
Take these testimonies to the Archives and find answers. Your lorekeepers answer to the High Priest on this matter, and so do you. Astragoth wants to know what is happening in the south.-
A small taste of how I pictured the far east of the Warhammer World.


“Of the Hinterlands of Khuresh…

…In the beginning, Ind and Khuresh were mirror images of each other. Lands created, blessed and populated by the Thousand Gods, their sons and men. For as long as balance was preserved, so were they, and all was well…

…Then came the fall, the imbalance. Disorder spread from beyond and entered Brahmir’s domain. All lands suffered as corruption fell from the skies, but none as much as Khuresh. As the gods and their sons fought the hordes from beyond, Ind was saved but Khuresh was ruined. The fall corrupted man, the gods’ sons and the ground itself. Warpstone saturated the land until every living being became unrecognizable. Men fell easily to the whispers of the daemons, but more tragically, so did the sons of the Gods. So the rakshasas fell, the real rakshasas, the man-kin, the sons of the Tiger and the blessed nagas. They betrayed their brothers and sisters who fought and fight still, and when the gods retreated to heaven, away from the corruption that was inimical to them, no one was left to save Khuresh…

… if Ind is a man, Khuresh is a corpse. A jungle the size of a continent where the very air is saturated with the stuff of beyond and the afterbirth of a thousand generations of slaughter kill and die without ever learning of the outside world. Testimonies from the khureshi tell us every animal bears the stain of corruption and the trees themselves hunt for flesh. Disembodied heads drag their organs behind them as they float in search of victims; blooddrinkers make their nest in the ruins of bygone cities as they raise the dead and spread their infection to Ind and Cathay. Greenskin tribes and ratmen cannibalize each other in a vicious cycle of necrophagia. The bestial sons of chaos battle for supremacy and hunt the warpfire dragons towering over the canopy. Even they bow to the tigermen, the betrayers, whose bloodlust overcome their nobility and now rule over beastmen hordes, carving kingdoms and amassing skulls. All covet and fight for the warpstone deposits littering the land, where masses of mutated slaves work beneath the lash of inhumane overseers. This the khureshi have said.

But there are worse night-haunted legends emanating from those foetid jungles and deadly wastes. The wisest gurus and oldest scrolls speak of the Snake Men and the foul and nightmarish blood nagas whose lives are said to be counted as the ages of the world. They sold their divine heritage for power and now they are the blood queens of Khuresh, ruling from the Lost City of the Gods. It is a realm where men are no more than hunted prey, and blood and souls are the only coin in trade, where the terrible rites of the Naga preserve the memory of a forgotten age when the cold-blooded serpents of Chaos held the world in a stranglehold of terror.

Yet order and devotion have not entirely abandoned that cursed land. Since days unknown, the khureshi have been there, settling patches of coast and plain, hacking back at the jungle, beating back the horrors, rallying around the Last Temple, the last holy ground in the entire hinterland. The sea is their home as much as the land, and when they cannot hold their ground anymore, they sail to Ind, to the southern kingdoms where their kin live in great numbers, rebuild strength and return east to start anew. “Be the hammer or the anvil, destiny affords only these choices”. So says the khureshi proverb…

…The knowledge preserved by our predecessors tells us that in the past, only six times did Khuresh’s wars spilled over. Six times the blood nagas and the tigermen lead armies into Ind. Six times Ind stood on the brink and six times they were beaten back through uncountable sacrifices and feats of devotion like those of your land. At Chittor, six times did the watchmen fought to the last of their strength and when all was lost, they dusted their beards with saffron, burned their families and charged down the causeway to their deaths. To win another hour for those who would come after them.

There lies the wisdom you ask from us. Pray you never see such a time. But if it is your lot to see it, remember only gods and bloodsteel will count when Khuresh rises again.
Trust the Thousand. Trust the swords of Chittor Bastion.

The Illustrious Temple-School of Kollur.
To Pankajia Sowar, Kshatrapa of the Rathastan marches”.


- You never know what you might find in grobi’s loot. Inform the captains I call for an urgent gathering on the day of Maximum Oppression. Subject matter: new target for the next campaign. The season is almost upon us but there is still time to redirect the fleet. To hell with their routine! I will sell them every slave and daughter I have if necessary, but I will plunder that place if it’s the last thing I do! -
“A moment of your time slave.

You might want to suspend all curses and maledictions. I will not seal your mouth shut for your answers interest me, but I can find ways to make you focus without spoiling your value. Will you talk to me for a moment? It might be the last indulgence that remains for you.

For centuries the likes of me have amassed information about your land, including troops, weapons and beasts of war. The elephants you train to dismember your foes, the predators your champions ride into combat, the rockets you create in a vain attempt to compete with ours, the tiger and snake kin that fight with you but not for you. Armored elites and peasant rabbles, soft rajas and demented gurus, it is our purpose to know you better than you know yourselves.

But your Holy Orders still escape any attempt at rationalization. Not that I am surprised, there is nothing rational about your faith; its diversity proves it, if nothing else. The Blue Turbans, the Tulwars of Gilgadresh, the Baghat-Na, the Sentinels of the Last Temple, the Trident, the Hand of Paliakat… dozens of names without any meaning to me. So many Orders, inconstant and sterile in their contradictions, like all manling creations.

But your order interests me.  

You are a Strangler. I first learned about you thanks to the ramblings of a priest who proved quite talkative once I peeled back the skin of his lies. He swore your order would be the dead of me. Later, I translated a document from the Temple of the Mother in Maijla. Apparently, even your fellow Orders do not know what to make of you.

Your kin considers you corrupt and deviant. We have that in common. You worship through death. You hunt the chaos lackeys and the zanguzaz in your jungles and cities. You impose an order your kings and priests are too weak to enforce. On the rare occasions you march openly to war, the people you protect pray they do not attract your attention. You have been known to sacrifice innocents and in your eyes all deaths are good, a small sacrifice to keep the "Devourer" strong. Speaking of the Devourer, witnesses identified your order the day Harakh was butchered by something we had never seen before. Now I must provide answers, and I suspect your order had something to do with that particular grudge.

And today, we had to kill every one of you. It is miraculous we caught you alive. Your companions earned all our efforts and that is the highest praise you kind will ever get. You show all the potential of your race, and all the squandering of such potential, all in one. All perfectly summed up by the way you honour your deity.
Allow me to suggest your rites are wrong in more ways than one. Not only your gods’ existence is doubtful and their weakness unquestionable, one could argue even your method of worship screams of irrationality. You strangle your prisoners for your idol, pray until your tongues fall of and hope it will be enough to keep the jungle at bay for another day. Your fellow men do even less; even human sacrifice is too much for them.  

You will not see such wastefulness in the Plain of Zharr. The Father of Darkness teaches that the true proof of supremacy lies in treating the world as what it is: dirt. Reality exists to be assessed by me, harvested by the slaves, exploited by the daemonsmiths, and transformed by the prophets. It is in its nature to kill us, and the first tenet of civilization is to deny it the pleasure. Stone and ore, water and air, flesh and souls and mortals and daemons, even knowledge, everything is raw material, everything can be of use to achieve the only real purpose: to grow. To grow until no corner of this reality is denied to us. Why let meat rot if it can be processed? Why suffer the jungle when it can be burned? Why send you to the mines when you can provide answers for the High Priest?
Your gods teach you to submit to the world. Ours teaches us to break the world into submission. Hashut puts nothing above us except himself, and that is why he is worthy of our worship.

Think about this for now. We will speak again but remember nothing is free, especially knowledge. So next time, you will talk. I give you the next topic: Who is the Devourer?
I pride myself on being fair with my slaves. Do not make me regret it.”


Khuhrak Silvertongue. Lorekeeper.

Uther the unhinged Wrote:
Oh the best yet. Great Dawi Zharr tone and lovely fluff (Thugee, Kali) excellent


Thank you very much!

I knew from the start I needed thugees in Ind, but how to make them fit took some time. A CD perspective on the matter helped a lot.

Next, the strangler answers...

The Slaver and the Strangler:

- You look well. My surgeon says you are out of danger, so to speak. He is proud of his work. Do you know he had to learn to heal humans from scratch? The first subjects died despite his care. It seems what is care for us is torment for you. May I add you are surprisingly calm, given the circumstances?
- …
- Shall we continue our conversation? What do you make of what I said yesterday? It should matter to you; it is the reason for every attack on your land.
- Why am I here?
- I told you, to talk.
- … I have seen ruins left behind by your people. I have seen your machines split heaven, rain fire and wipe out our armies. I have fought your kind for years. We once dragged one of you to the temple to be strangled in the presence of the Eternals, and he never spoke a word. You are the first one to prove you understand the concept of conversation. You have never showed any interest in dialogue.
- Why should we? Your land is there to be plundered for the glory of Zharr-Naggrund. It is not my kin’s purpose to speak to you.
- Is it yours?
- It is my purpose to find answers when the prophets need them. To be fully honest, we never devoted much time to you. For us, you were a distant whim to be left to the southern clans. “Let Gorgoth grow fat on monkey’s meat”, we said. The eyes of the Conclave are forever fixed on more portentous subjects. The will of Hashut, the Roof of the World, even the betrayers, all are given precedence over the southern jungles.
- But now you speak to me…
- Now a prophet is dead and no one can explain how or by whose hand. You have suddenly become a very serious topic in the corridors of the Temple. The word “Ind” is now on the lips of the High Priest himself.
- I am honored.
- You should be terrified. It is dangerous to be on Astragoth’s mind. Take it from someone who knows. To draw his attention is always a portent for glory or calamity. In your land’s case I doubt it is the former.
- That being the case, why should I speak to you? I suppose everything I say will be reported back.
- Indeed, but I want more than information. If I only needed to make you spit everything out, you would still be with my surgeon. I am a lorekeeper, I deal in knowledge, and your presence is an occasion I rarely get to learn from the source. We have informants on many lands. Humans can be bought with almost anything, and no nation lacks its share of Chaos thralls willing to sell their mothers for trinkets of power. Those ones talk to us willingly, as if that made them worthy of our attention. You are not one of those, but you are an outcast nonetheless. You thrive on sacrifices. To you, innocence means nothing. Your rulers would execute you as we would. I was wondering if that would make you more accessible to dialogue.
- You seek to convince me to become a turncoat?
- No, that is not the term. This is not a matter of convincing anyone. Your fate is sealed. The only thing standing between you and torment is my personal interest. You can spare yourself the trouble and learn something beyond what your provincial cult taught you, or be stubborn and keep your secrets for the interrogators.
- …
- Stubbornness is commendable, except when it runs contrary to my duty. Should I send for my surgeon? I am certain he can reopen everything he closed.
- … On one thing we agree. These are unique circumstances only a fool would disregard. But you are mistaken. I have no secrets. The knowledge you seek is well known on my land, although most would rather not dwell on it. There is nothing to hide.
- Glad to hear it.
- The Holy Orders are simply that. Orders dedicated to express their devotion in the way they find appropriate. The Blue Turbans are a martial order based on Kartarpur, utterly devoted to protect the land. You will face them, better armed and trained than the Red Fort’s Palace Guard. The Trident is another warrior cult. You would take them for the lowest beggars and it would be your last fit of ignorance. The Tulwars of Gilgadresh watch over his sacred fires. The Baghat-Na hunts blooddrinkers in the far south. You will never see the Sentinels, for they protect the Last Temple of Khuresh. The Hands of Paliakat are healers who travel with armies and pilgrims. I could list a hundred more and you will not be any closer to understand, but know this: the Palace and the Temple rule Ind, but the Orders keep it together no matter how much the kingdoms bicker with each other. I know, for my order is the oldest, the first, born in the worst of times. It is no wonder we are treated like lepers by the cowards and the blind. We remind them of the sacrifices that were made. We keep alive the memory of an age when a goddess fell.
- The Devourer?
- No, the Mother. No god loved mankind as the Mother. When humanity barely knew how to wave a stick, she nurtured it, protected it, despite its inferiority compared to the other sons of the gods. Then the doors of Brahmir collapsed and disorder mixed with order.
- Chaos…
- The gods and their sons fought but the Mother would not abandon mankind. She weaved veils of secrecy to shield it but to no avail. Daemons devoured their souls and corrupted them. Then came the day she herself was ambushed. Men now fought for the daemons and in her grief, she was wounded and disorder entered her blood. But it did not corrupt her; it unleashed her anger at the pain inflicted on her sons. She distended her jaws like a snake and devoured entire armies of demons and traitors. The Mother was gone, only the Devourer remained, a being stepped in dead and blood, with the rage of a mourning parent. She joined the war and with her, the gods pushed back until the rift was closed, but not sealed.
In case you do not follow, your prophet was gutted by the Messenger of the Devourer. Before returning to their domain, the gods left a piece of them behind. They infused the land with their being and so the Messengers were born, minor incarnations tied to Ind. The Order of the Devourer, which some people call the Stranglers, was born to remember what it took to beat madness back. The kingdoms remember her as the Mother, but we worship her as what she is now, a vessel of destruction, of your destruction. We kill the guilty and the innocent and every soul we sacrifice heals her wounds a little more. One day, those wounds will close as you closed mine. And then…
- Much obliged for you candor Strangler. I will be much honored to add this tale to my collection of foreign folklore. But if this mythology matters so much to your order, why give it away so willingly?
- Because you are wrong. Not everything is a tool. There is nothing you can do with what I told you. Half of it is common knowledge and the other half will not bring you closer to your purpose. The Messenger of the Devourer is not a pet or a weapon. She cannot be conjured by us or enslaved by you. I saw her the day your army vanished at the Stupa of Kanishka and she blessed me. That day troubles your masters, that day I knew my life had been well spent.
If you want to know more, march south. Catalogue every army that will fight you; learn the names of every maharaja, raja and khsatrapa who will block your path. You will meet a hundred Orders and their Eternals guiding them. Burn enough cities and temples and you might even meet the Messenger of the Mother who is the Devourer. Ind is the Land of a Thousand Gods! Challenge them and a thousand messengers will bring you their answer!
- … Backbone is equally commendable. But you are far more obtuse than I thought if you think we can do nothing with this knowledge. Or that there is anything we cannot enslave.


----------------------------


“Your testimony swayed the conclave. This now goes beyond the whims of the southern clans. Zarkaveh is about to get what he always wanted, although he might still live to regret it. There will be consequences for Harakh’s failure. Gorgoth will be brought to heel once more, and our response will reestablish the order of things. The Temple will announce the coming campaign on the Night of Hexenstag.
You serve Hashut well Khurhak. Why then do you show such unduly favor to that slave? It verges on mercy. Pride goeth before destruction lorekeeper, in your case the pride of a mind forgetting the order of things for the sake of knowledge. Never forget knowledge and slaves are tools. Do not grow fond of your tools, lest they supplant your duty. Rather learn to serve Hashut alone by castigating your past remissness. Offer your pet to the Temple Guardians on the Night of Hexenstag, and join the Grudge War.
The Father of Darkness has accepted the challenge, and the High Priest marches south to deliver his answer”.

Astragoth Ironhand, High Priest of Hashut.

Uther the unhinged Wrote:
More awesomeness! Really love the tone of these dawi zharr. Love the Ind stuff too, but using Gods is definitely cheating in my opinion. Fantastic stuff. Thank you.


Thank you so much. Takes Hat off

Curious you mention it. In my fluff, those things are not gods. I worked on a lot a fluff about Ind but I try to keep a Chaos Dwarf perspective, that's why that point is not clear. They see everything from the indian point of view and they are quite convinced their land is home of a thousand gods.

Maybe I'll manage to add the explanation in the future.

Thank you again. I hope to keep it interesting.

I love this! Great worldbuilding and attention to details in the writing. The depiction of Ind with its Messengers (avatars) and cults is golden. I love the hint at Chaos Dwarfs planning to enslave avatars of the gods. Just like us! Big Grin

Dawi Zharr incursions into the rich myriad lands of Ind is an absolute must (hence why I included it my own army's background on a corner). This is not only because of proximity and comparatively easier access (by ship) for Chaos Dwarfs relative to Cathay and the Old World, but also because of a whole bucket full of historical reference:


Coastal trade between Indus and Sumer.


First we have the truly ancient trade connections between Mesopotamia and the land of Meluhha (believed to be the prosperous, oddly standardized and heavily urbanized Indus valley civilization). No conflict ever existed between any ancient Mesopotamians and the distant Indus valley people, but the link is there. Getting the Dark Empire of Hashut into contact with Ind is a fitting resonance with real history here, and also because the Achaemenid Persian empire's easternmost satrap was the Indus valley.


Warriors of the Persian empire. The three Indian satraps' soldiers are to be found in the upper right corner: Sattagydians, Gandharan and Hindush.


Second we have a long laundry list of (nomadic) invaders from Central Asia sweeping into India through the millennia, razing cities, devastating the land, massacring and enslaving people to an astounding degree. Raiding and ravaging, building empires and splintering into factions. Militarily superior to their victims, mainly because of cavalry advantage. The last 1000 years of incursions into India from the area of Central Asia (by lots of different tribes) have etched itself into the world map: The Hindu Kush mountains, mean Hindu slayer mountains in Persian, because of the many poor captive slaves which perished in the passes, when marched out of India by raiders from Central Asia. An enormous deal of human suffering and conqueror's ravenous cruelty is to be found beneath this tip of the iceberg, once one start digging in the historical record. And grimdark Warhammer (fantasy or 40k) have always thrived on the bloodiest and most depraved episodes of human history as the basis for its fictive world.


Tamerlane in India, one in a very long line of bloody conquerors.


There is a very great amount of historical resonance here to be worked into Warhammer's historically based fantasy background. Since Chaos Dwarfs and their Dark Lands Hobgoblin lackeys occupy the equivalent of Central Asia in the Warhammer world, having them shoulder part of the incursions into Ind from this region of the world, will suit the setting fine. Including some purely Hobgoblin raids. They would not be the only foes harassing Ind from this quarter; indeed Orcs & Goblins, Ogres and human nomads (Ungols?) would also form their own horde waves battering against Ind from the Dark Lands.

While we wouldn't find any Chaos Dwarf realms carved out of Ind, we would find our fair share of attacks in order to amass slaves and plunder.


Tamerlane in India.


(An even more heavily historically based setting than WHFB, namely the Ninth Age, will by the way have their fantasy India, Sagarika, having been ruled by Ogre Khans, and then by the Highborn Elven Raj, previous to the Ninth of their Ages. Not relevant to Warhammer since they are separate settings and should be kept consciously different, but I just wanted to mention it in case anyone likes the sound of it.)

Aside from Ind and the Chaos Dwarfs, your vision for the Hinterlands of Khuresh is really nice! Though I think it could do even better with some Lizardmen mentioned somewhere, on top of everything else. Not as heavy a presence as in Lustria by any means, but there has long been hints of Lizardmen in Khuresh (obviously a reference to the famous Khmer of Angkor Vat). Having Lizardmen in Khuresh as well as in Lustria and the Southlands helps make theirs a more global presence in the tropics (speaking of which: T9A parallell with Aotarakoa Saurian Ancients).


Angkor Vat in the jungle.


By the way, there is one more collision course between Ind and Chaos Dwarfs, at least as regard any potential form of Indic religion vaguely corresponding to Buddhism: In Buddhist lore, the desire that taints all creations is characterized by devouring fire. The fire of desire. Obviously Chaos Dwarfs with their extremely heavy emphasis on fire and hungrily imposing their will on others will be the perfect antithesis to any ascetic holy men aspiring to escape the circle of rebirth that keeps them imprisoned in this world...

Just some first impression thoughts from reading your glorious background stories concerning Ind and the Dawi Zharr. Keep the good stuff coming, please, good sir!

It's a joy to read, Ashur. Takes Hat off

Cheers

Admiral Wrote:

I love this! Great worldbuilding and attention to details in the writing. The depiction of Ind with its Messengers (avatars) and cults is golden. I love the hint at Chaos Dwarfs planning to enslave avatars of the gods. Just like us! Big Grin


So many kind words, so many ideas for future fluff! Exactly the talks I am in this forum for!

Of course I remember your small foray into Ind. It is precisely because of your excellent stories and that small tale in particular I started writing down my own ravings about the dark corners of the Warhammer world. About Cds and the lands we were left wanting more about. I wrote a lot about Estalia (I even added one to my Dragon isles tale), but Ind has always been the one I care the most about. I almost wrote a rulebook full of descriptions of kingdoms and culture before wondering what would the CDs do about that land, because as you said, they are the equivalent of every invader that ever entered India through Central Asia. And since the Ogre Kingdoms are right around the corner, they probably come down from the mountains from time to time in search of food or possibly work. It is thanks to the Ogre Kingdoms’ first rulebook we know indans worship Brahmir, who strikes fear in the earths of chaos worshippers. That reference was enough to make me think hard about what Ind would look like.
So I read a lot about indian history and religion to find a common story for Ind and different kinds of flavor for every kingdom. Most of those ideas have not made it to my stories yet, except the ones that involve CDs directly.
To justify their original interaction, I found a lot of inspiration in the Bronze Age indo-aryan migrations to India.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Aryan_migration

Today, historians tend to see them not as invasions but rather as a long process of infiltration, exchanges and conquests. In my fluff, it became a massive horde of slaves fleeing the CDs, and what better time to flee than when they were about to be destroyed by the Black Orc rebellion? There are a few clues that seem to imply the massive army Sigmar had to crush at Blackfire pass was made of greenskins fleeing their defeat. I loved the idea of CDs influencing the entire continent without even knowing it, so I made Ind a mix of locals and former slaves who settled and founded the northern kingdoms. Gilgadresh is one of only two indan gods that are cannon, and since the name was inspired by Gilgamesh, it made sense to me his cult came from outside Ind. I even added the Bull of Heaven, a divinity mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Since cows are sacred in Hinduism, I found it funny to give indans a bull god to fight the CDs bull god.
I also added allusions to Kanishka and the kushan empire, known for being part of the original silk road and for a legendary stupa described by Buddhist monks somewhere in today’s Pakistan, to mark the border between Ind and CDs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kushan_empire
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanishka_stupa

The Hinterlands of Khuresh were tricky. On one side, the only thing we know for sure is that it is full of warpstone, beastmen, and the blood nagas, who are described as chaotic in nature. But there is also a Lost City of the Old Ones so it is true lizardmen should have lived there at some point. I described it as Lustria if Lustria had been ruined during the coming of Chaos. Therefore, there are no more lizardmen and it has become Ind’s “chaos wastes”, a place to be feared, to the point I added the famous Chittor fort as a bulwark against invasions and a place of martyrdom.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chittor_Fort

But we also know from the Archaon novels that there are humans known as the khureshi there (that is from where I took the saying), so there must be civilization of some sort despite the corruption. It would be a great opportunity to add civilizations from South East Asia to the mix. And some of their folklore.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penanggalan

That Buddhist reference is great! It fits perfectly with CDs doing the exact opposite, and with real fire too! So far I have been careful with indan religion (I hope) because it needs Hindu flavor without been Hinduism in the Warhammer world, just like religion in the Empire is not just Christianity in another setting. My tale of the Slaver and the Strangler is the most daring foray I have attempted on that subject so far.
But of course, I needed thuggees! Indiana Jones thugees. And because this is warhammer, they had to be the lesser of two evils!

More things will come, slowly. You gave me a lot to think about and I write slowly. But I will not stop when there are so many ideas lying around!

Admiral Wrote:

(An even more heavily historically based setting than WHFB, namely the Ninth Age, will by the way have their fantasy India, Sagarika, having been ruled by Ogre Khans, and then by the Highborn Elven Raj, previous to the Ninth of their Ages. Not relevant to Warhammer since they are separate settings and should be kept consciously different, but I just wanted to mention it in case anyone likes the sound of it.)


By the way, here is "my" Ind. In case it might be of interest.

Very nice! That sure is of interest. Thanks! Takes Hat off
A little something now that the Grudge War has started

Thanks to Admiral for inspiring the subject. Takes Hat off


The Fire of desire


“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 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 neighbour 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 it 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 you share with them 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). -

Uther the unhinged Wrote:
using Gods is definitely cheating in my opinion.


Well here is the answer, or an attempt at one. Tongue

Lets get this tedious theological question out of the way. And lets bask in my hatred of elves.



A small addendum on the matter of Messengers:


As soon as the battle was done, the humans abased themselves in the presence of their victorious “deity”. They fell on their knees, bloodied veterans wept, and time seemed to freeze around me.

In the middle of all that stood the “messenger”, the being indans describe as a living, breathing incarnation of a god. Twice my size, three faces in a single body joined by a single stony beard, it was the embodiment of Gilgadresh, an idol I had seen in a dozen temples, as if a statue had suddenly stepped down from its plinth. But that body was deceptive. It was soaked in so much magic it was akin to a siphon, far more threatening than the strength it had used to crush the druchii into pulp.

I thought the messenger would acknowledge its devotees. Much to my surprise, the being ignored them and walked right to me. It stopped inches away from my face and looked into my eyes.

The experience was surprising and quite instructive. I felt diminished. The body was otherworldly but the mind inside was as solid as a block of granite. I could feel the winds of magic warping under its presence. Its eyes showed mild curiosity, eyes like bottomless wells evoking abysses of time too deep to probe. An elemental intelligence was appraising me, maybe weighting my role in the recent victory, maybe wondering what kind of creature I was.

Then it vanished, body and mind, leaving me in the dull company of humans glaring at me with envy and grudging respect.    
          
Later that night I witnessed a strange and rather morbid practice. The humans gathered every druchii corpse they could find. First they hacked them to pieces and threw the flesh to the river, where reptiles and fishes partook in a feast. Then they cracked the skulls and gave the brains to their tigers and Agni rams. Finally, they grounded the bones with hammers, mixed them with butter and left the mixture for the birds. This they did as if it was a joyous activity, something to celebrate.

I couldn’t help but feel revulsion when I saw elves so casually and thoroughly desecrated. Once the indans were done, I diplomatically asked one of their chieftains if their hatred truly ran so deep they had to sink to such levels of abjection when we, who have more reason than anyone to hate the traitors, are above such pettiness.

The human, comically hostile to my question, grumbled and then told me it was not hatred but compassion. Many indans who wish to give their bodies back to the land ask for a sky burial but “my kin”, as he called them with obvious malice, had to be convinced with steel to be so generous. The druchii reavers were finally paying, quite literally, for what they have done to Ind for centuries, and in death they had been given more purpose they ever had in life.

I will refrain from judging these primitive ceremonies. The more I dwell on it, the more I am convinced it has something to do with the nature of the land itself. It might be part of an unsigned pact between the humans and the spirits they call messengers.

Because I believe I have being in the presence of something similar before: the forest spirits of Athel Loren, the winter spirits kislevites appease with offerings. I am sure the answer must lie in that direction. That body in the shape of a god was a facade, an indulgence. The “messenger” was mimicking, reflecting (maybe even honoring?), the divinities of Ind.

Indans claim their gods’ messengers walk the land. They are not nearly as right as they think, but not as misguided as I thought. Ancient things dwell in Ind, things humans worship as their gods’ vicars. They may be wrong, but it seems that for reasons of their own, those beings acknowledge said worship. I doing so, they fulfill the role indan cults assign them, as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Tomorrow we march to the coast, where the corsairs wait for the detachment I just saw “return to the land”. The humans gather around their fires as I write, sharpening their swords and vowing to do the same to their entire fleet. I no longer doubt they can.

I will be there with them. If I am fortunate, the messenger will return and I will be able to confirm my suspicions.



-Haledan, Loremaster of the City of Spires. Deceased-

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