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T9A A tale of Virentian Dwarfs
Author MessageT9A A tale of Virentian Dwarfs
Uther the unhinged
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T9A A tale of Virentian DwarfsUther the unhinged 01-04-2020

T9A: A Account of my Travels amongst the dwarves of Virentia


My studies of the many dwarf cultures documented in earlier chapters have emphasised the similarities in culture, religion and practice between widely geographically separated enclaves. You can therefore imagine my excitement, dear reader, at hearing of dwarven enclaves in Virentia.

These enclaves would appear to have been separated from the general dwarven culture since the time of the collapse of the Saurian empire. Therefore they provide an excellent opportunity to study how a dwarven society might develop under different ethnoenvironmental pressures. Thus with the help of a grant from the University I embarked on a joint venture of exploration with Mr Emman Peaseiro. Needless to say his interest had less to do with anthropological research than reports of fabulous riches. Fortunately my command of multiple dwarven dialects as well as rudimentary Saurian among other languages recommended me to his expedition.

The trials and tribulations of our expedition are recounted in my book “A Trek through Time. Travels in a Savage Continent”, available in most good bookshops. Suffice it to say, dear reader, that it was a much reduced a desperate company that staggered from the jungles onto the foothills of the Wrathfull Mountains.

These uplands rise rapidly towards the great peaks to the west. Grasslands dotted with deep cold lakes. The Flora was different to any I had seen before, although admittedly I am no expert. More striking were some of the animals. Small herds of what, at first, I took as sheep roamed these slopes. However when they raised their heads to observe us it was clear they were not what I had thought. Their heads, though like sheep were raised upon impossibly long necks, 2 or even 3 feet long. Some of these strange creatures (larmars and the smaller alpackers as I was later informed) were clearly used tho people for that regarded us with some degree of disinterest. Later again I was to learn that these are farmed much like sheep by the locals and the larmars, though not ridden, used as beasts of burden. We did find signs of habitation. Huts and shelters. These were deserted when we found them. I am not sure if that was to avoid us or whether they were only used at certain times of the year when those looking after the herds were up on slopes. That they had been used fairly recently was clear as was their clearly dwarven sizing.

As we moved deeper into the mountains it became clear that our approach had been noted. It was Heinmar who noticed the lights first. Flashes high up on the slopes above. Clearly some form of heliograph system was being used. Two days later we saw our first giant condor. The size of the thing was astounding. Condors are culture like birds that circle these great peaks with a wingspan greater than the height of a tall orc. The giant condors however are truly immense. At first we we confused as the height it was circling belief it’s size. Only when it passed in front of a peak were we able to get an idea of its size. I have thankfully never seen the great drakes of legend but this beast certainly matched them for reported size. The creature circled us for an hour or so then flew Southward. I was later to find that these great birds are used for scouting travel and war by the dwarves that call these Wrathful Mountains home.

It was some 3 days later that we were hailed as we struggled along  a narrow track between two outcrops. The language was clearly archaic dwarven in origin but altered somewhat. I must admit I panicked at first. The rest of our small party were looking to me for a response and I froze. The same challenge was barked at us again from the rocks up ahead. Whilst I floundered our hailer switched to another tongue. I guess human in origin but unlike any I recognised. This too was repeated before they switched back to the dwarven dialect. My comrades were clearly agitated as the tone of our unseen ‘ ‘friend’ was getting distinctly less friendly. Fortunately by now I was thinking more clearly. The words were clearly archaic dwarven as I had recognised originally. However the sentence structure and syntax were classic Saurian. A bizarre mixture which had originally confused me. I was able to construct some rough replies to their questions of who we were and what our purpose was in visiting the Wrathful Mountains. There followed a rather stilted interrogation. The outcome of which was (the rather reluctant) relinquishing of our weapons in return for safe passage and escort to Faztu Kharak the local city/hold.

How, dear reader can I express my excitement and amazement at my first sight of these dwarves. They emerged from the rocks on either side of us in almost elven silence. Rather than the chain, plate or scale mail which is almost ubiquitous in other dwarven cultures they wore heavy quilted tunics. These were intricately patterned with stylised beasts and birds. I was later to discover that this apparently flimsy protective gear is far from it. Each quilted panel has runes woven into the pattern providing protection at least as good as our finest Sonnstahl mail.  Their weapons too appeared at first sight crude. Some carried bronze tipped spears adorned with bright feathers (indeed feathers are a recurring feature with their ornamentation referencing the sky god they worship). Others of presumably higher rank  bore highly engraved wooden war clubs. These were augmented with bronze blades and wicked looking obsidian shards. Again these apparently backward weapons bear multiple runes rendering them quite as devastating as their steel cousins that we are familiar with. However most striking was their ornamentation. Their heads bore bronze helms sprouting feather headdresses of bright colours. I was again later to learn that there is an intimate system of headdresses which age, rank and status. Their immaculately dressed beards also dropped with ornamentation. Gold ‘charms’, rings and runic symbols were cunningly woven into their impressive facial hair.

Our escorts, or possibly guards, guided us for the next week through increasingly difficult terrain. That continued to regard my companions with barely concealed suspicion. I, however, was clearly an object of fascination to them. As much as I was interested in their culture and history they were fascinated by my knowledge of dwarven cultures they had never even considered existed. It was over this period that I learned much of their history and culture.

The dwarves of the Wrathful Mountains of Virentia refer to themselves as the Quezcuz. This is a reference to their chief god, Queznir. Although their lore does not stretch back that far I suspect they were brought here under the Saurian Empire to mine these mountains for the great deposits of silver, copper tin and gold . Their legends do recall an age of slavery under the Saurians and also the fall of the ‘Skyhammer’. However this event does not seem to have had the cataclysmic effect upon the Virentian Saurians that it did elsewhere. Possibly preparations dwarven revolt here were less well advanced when it hit. Certainly Saurian domination of the dwarves in Virentia continued far longer than on our own continent. This presumably explains the structure of the language being more heavily influenced by Saurian than elsewhere. Certainly their decorative style has drawn on a Saurian tropes. The history of their culture I have pieced together from their legends, myths, religion and the records I was given access to in Faztu Kharak. Sadly I was never allowed to visit the capital Khazkho let alone the fabled royal libraries there.


From my research it seems the initial attempts by the dwarves of the wrathful mountains were unsuccessful. The Saurians responded rapidly and ferociously (a grudge long remembered). Part of the Saurian response was to further ensure the isolation of the workforce’s of the dwarves in each mine to prevent the coordination that unseated their rule in the east. However the Skyhammer had had an effect. Saurian invincibility had been questioned. Over the many centuries that followed the dwarves developed secret societies dedicated to the overthrow of their hated masters. These societies often communicated with secret sigils. These seem to have been usually stylised or totemic animals ( presumably to avoid suspicion of the Saurians). The Quezcuz themselves have many lesser gods and quasi-deities. These are mostly seen as totemic animal spirits representing different aspects of dwarven personality. Each hold or city of the Quezcuz has a local deity representing that settlement though subservient to Quezcuz. My theory is that these religions arose from the original secret societies. The animal sigils growing in importance and assuming totemic then mystical significance, all enhanced by the necessary secrecy. The Quezcuz clearly have a mastery of runic magic (something I will document at length later on). However my studies indicate that this knowledge came slowly to the Virentian dwarves. How they came by it is unclear. Their myths tell of divine inspiration, however I suspect, given the clearly Saurian influenced nature of their runic script, that their magic was inspired, learnt or stolen from their Saurian masters. Whatever the origin of their runic magic it began to turn the tide of the war in their favour. One by one individual mines would break free from Saurian domination. These new holds would usually face years of war as the Saurians attempted and sometimes succeeded in regaining control. Thus it was that the newly independent holds usually developed  in isolation from each other. This as much as anything, I believe, explains the huge number of deities and quasi-deities recognised by the Quezcuz.

Initially it seems that the worship of Quezcuz was restricted to the city/hold of Khazkho. However the worship of Queznir began to spread under the ruler ship of the priest king Dakhaztutek Hinkha. It was under his leadership that the dwarves of Khazkho first learned to capture and tame the giant birds of the Wrathful mountains. The presence of these great avians had long benefitted the dwarves as they would protect their territories fiercely. This had prevented the Saurians from using their flying reptiles against the nascent dwarf kingdoms. However it was the taming of the great condors by the dwarfs of Khazkho  that proved decisive in their development. The condors provided control of the skies allowing them to project power. They could outmanoeuvre their enemies on the field of battle and when the other dwarves  retreated to their cities they allowed the them to control the terraces that produced their food eventually Forcing them to come to terms. The condors also allowed the forces of Khazkho to control their vast empire once it was established. Only the great condors could travel easily between the isolated dwarven cities situated high on their mountain peaks. The spread of this Hinkhan empire (they refer to the ruling class as Hinkhans after the founder) was accompanied by the spread of the Quezcuz religion. Originally the local sky god  of Khazkho he rose to dominate all other deities. Some becoming courtiers in his heavenly court others being absorbed into his worship. Thus he is worshipped as Queznir Akhtar in one hold Queznir Diztek in another and so on. The Hinkhans seemed to have used the state religion of Queznir to bind their empire together, thus even their description of themselves as Quezcuz. The official histories describe the spread of the Hinkhan empire as being generally welcomed and embraced by other holds. However certain holds and cities did resist fiercely, a subject I will return to.

A Brief Note on the Quezcuz religion

The Quezcuz are a remarkably devout culture with a myriad and baffling array of gods, Demi-gods and quasi deities. There are hundreds of religious rites and taboos. However the underlying belief system is of two original Brother Gods, Queznir and Haztec. The Quezcuz believe that Queznir was the elder brother, lord of light honour, justice, the rule of law etc. He rules in a different heavenly realm which he watches over using great magical birds which tell him all the secrets of the realm. Haztec, mthe younger brother is portrayed as hunchbacked, devious cunning and untrustworthy. They believe that Haztec became jealous of his brothers’ power and rebelled against him. Queznir quelled his treacherous brothers’ rebellion and Hi bound him. Then he sent forth his servants to find a prison to hold him. Thus it was that Queznir learned of this world. Incandescent with rage at the treatment of the dwarfs by the Saurians Queznir smote then with fire and rock. Having shattered their empire he sent his servants forth in secret to aid the dwarfs and bring them the knowledge of his glory. He sent his courtiers forth in the form of animals (birds and mammals, never reptiles) to bring knowledge and runic magic to his people. Thus the numerous animal totems, Demi-gods and sigils in their religions. Haztec he buried deep beneath the earth in his eternal prison.
The religious rites invoke a practice of chanting and response with sacrifices of meat and valuables. The form of sacrifice varies from deity to deity but valuables are donated to the temples or occasionally cast into lakes. The food offerings to Queznir are placed on raised platforms atop the mountains to be taken by the birds that are viewed as His messengers.

On Quezcuz Arms and Armaments

The standard Quezcuz warrior wears a quilted tunic lavishly embroiled and protected by magic sigils, runes and stylised totemic animals as mentioned above. They bear bronze tipped spears and elaborate war clubs similarly enhanced with runes, bronze blades or obsidian shards. Bronze or obsidian knives are also common. Helms are bronze with elaborate feathered head dresses. The workmanship is as might be expected exquisite. What is noticeable is the dominance of stylised totemic animals. These are commonly birds of every description but many others beside. Notable by their absence are any reptile, snake or amphibian totems. These are considered Taboo and strictly forbidden due to g their association with the hated Saurians.  Also noticeable by its absence is any iron or steel. Initially I thought this due to a lack of knowledge or available materials. However I was very wrong. I did try to ingratiate myself with our ‘hosts’ by offering them the gift of a fine knife (actually of dwarven workmanship. However rather than accept with gladness or interest they recoiled as if burnt! Iron it seems and steel are also considered Taboo. They are felt to be materials that harbour evil spirits and bad luck. Whereas we ‘simple’ manlings might be tolerated carrying such metal , no self respecting Quezcuz ever would. I was at first astounded querying how they could eschew such metal for ‘inferior’ bronze and stone. This caused some amusement on their part and annoyance upon mine, until taking pity on me they demonstrated the strength of their ‘inferior’ weapons. Their rune strengthened bronze sliced through a Sonnstaihl mail coif with disconcerting ease.

None of the warriors we met initially carried shields. This I was to learn was due to the nature of their work. They perform the duty of scouts and rangers, patrolling the rugged valleys and rough pastures that guard the passes to the Hinkhan homelands. As such they need to move fast over difficult terrain and shield would be an unnecessary encumbrance. Hinkhan warriors may carry shields, as I was to see in Faztu Kharak. These are constructed from some form of wicker like material. Needless to say charms and runes are woven in to render it quite as good as any of our soldiers boast.

Some of the Quezcuz warriors that accompanied us also carried back quivers containing heavy bronze bladed feathered bolts. This confused me at first as they carried no crossbows or bows that I could see. When I asked if they were throwing darts they became quite amused. They demonstrated that these ‘darts’ were thrown using a wooden device they called an ‘Atlatl’. This was about 2 feet long with a handle at one end and a notch at the other where the rear of the dart fitted. The rest of the dart lay lengthways along the raise badly of the ‘Atlatl’. Using this device the Quezcuz could hurl these heavy darts, with surprising accuracy, some 70plus yards.

Warriors and ‘rangers’ make up the bulk of Quezcuz armies. However the most dangerous elements (other than the great avians) are the Kharkhucuz. These I was to finally see in Faztu Kharak. I was looking forward to this as our guards had spoken of these so reverently. The Kharkhucuz are massive stone automatons animated by the Runepriests of Quezcuz. The method of their creation is a carefully guarded and sacred secret of the temples. The ones I saw were in the form of huge, heavyset dwarven figures, about the size of an ogre. However the heads of these creatures are animal in form. These apparently reflect the totem animals of the local deities and of course Queznir Himself. Hence bird headed Kharkhucuz are common, but also heads of big cats, Llamas and even monkeys. Needless to say the stone of these massive constructs is covered with intricate runic carvings which almost certainly provide the magical basis of their animation. Our guards believed each was animated by the spirit of a long dead warrior empowered by the gods to defend the Quezcuz. Although I never saw these creations in battle it is clear they would be most terrible foes. Even seeing them stride through the halls of Faztu Kharak on their inscrutable errands was enough to fill me with awe and not some little fear.
According to those I spoke to about them the Kharkhucuz perform several tasks in the Quezcuz military. Their role as shock troops is clear. However I was informed that their were larger specialised forms of these automatons that could cast great spears or rocks huge distances.

Interestingly the structure of the Quezcuz forces bears many striking similarities to other dwarven cultures I have documented. There is a reliance on heavy infantry with some lighter armed scouting forces (also on foot). There is also prominence given to great ranged weapons, in their case thrown by automatons rather than propelled by cordage or gun powder. However the use of great avians and the automatons themselves is more striking as is their taboo on iron. This latter seems to have driven their development of runic magic to heights unseen in other cultures. Truly necessity is the mother of invention.


Quezcuz holds

The only hold I was to see was Faztu Kharak. Sadly we were not permitted to travel to the great royal Hinkhan city of Khazkho. However Faztu itself was fascinating. The hold sits atop a ridge with only one clear path to the top. This winds between great terraced pastures and fields and precipitous slopes. The path itself winds like a great serpent up the ridge making any direct assault impossible. Each switchback turn is guarded by a pair of squat stone towers manned by Quezcuz warriors. I first thought the gateways  were marked by totemic statues until they turned their great stone heads to regard our party as we passed.
Unusually for dwarven holds, the top of the ridge was carpeted with large stone buildings. These were various temples to Queznir and other  lesser sky gods. These were adorned with statues that I now recognised as Karkhucuz. The
greatest of these buildings (Queznirs’ temple) guarded the entrance to the hold proper.
Interestingly, once through the stone doors the structure of the hold was remarkably similar to many I have visited before. I suspect that the base design is in fact Saurian. Most probably the design follows ancient Saurian mine plans, bearing in mind that these mines would have had to provide accommodation for their dwarven workforce and Saurian masters. This seems the most likely explanation for the ubiquity of the design across so many cultures and indeed continents. The only differences really were cosmetic involving the style of the cravings and bas reliefs. There was a subtly more rounded or at least less angular nature to the architecture as well.

Brief notes on Quezcuz culture

The Quezcuz are a distinctly religious people. The rigidity of dwarven culture usually associated with age in those cultures we are more familiar with is mirrored in the Quezcuz but with piety replacing age. Admittedly these two attributes did seem to go together rather often. Religion affects and controls almost every aspect of Quezcuz lives. Each arrogant they create from quilt to axe to pillar must be dedicated to Queznir or another lesser god with decoration, inscription or runes to signify this. Progress through the various artisan societies depends as much on perceived or demonstrated piety as craftmanship. A poor craftsman will not progress, but neither will a less observant one. There are multiple dietary restrictions based upon the many holy days that are strictly observed. Marriage has to be sanctioned by the clergy and even the names of the children are decided by them rather than the parents. There is a very strict caste system policed by the clergy as well. Marriage between or movement between castes is extremely rare. The  highest caste is  Royalty, below this is the priestly caste, then the warrior caste before the various artisan castes. The lowest caste contains the farmers and herders who provide the food for the hold. The priestly caste itself is split into three main branches. The most important officiate at religious festivals, reading omens (a matter of great importance to the Quezcuz) and provide moral and spiritual guidance. The second branch effectively acts as a judiciary, arbitrating on both spiritual and temporal matters. The third branch acts as scribes, historians and ‘bards’ guarding the social religious and cultural history of the Quezcuz. The dominance of the religious caste and is control by the royal caste allows a level of control of the populace unique in dwarven cultures. Although the control can be seen overtly it is also quite insidious. The third branch of the priestly caste by acting as cultural historians can censor this history carefully and use it to cement Hinkhan dominance across the Wrathful mountains

Of the Hazcuz

I had been in Faztu Kharak nearly 4 months, with free access to the official libraries before I realised that the Quezcuz were not the only dwarven inhabitants of Virentia. Indeed it was from no history or informant that the initial knowledge came. I had been ensconced in the main library as usual when I became aware of the commotion. The normally quite environment was disturbed as Quezcuz began excitingly whispering  to one another. Clearly there was some important event and news of it was spreading like wildfire. I finally managed to speak to one of the dwarves who was rushing out of the library. In the rush of oddly syntaxed  dwarvish that followed I lost much of the meaning. However it was clear that some sort of enemy had been caught and was being brought to the main hall. I must admit I was caught up in the excitement and soon found myself in  one of the viewing galleries overlooking the main hall. There though I was not in the front my extra height proved useful. However my first clue something was happening was the noise. The chattering crowd erupted into howls, roars and obscenities. A moment later I saw the object of their evident hate. A squad of 20 or so Quezcuz warriors had entered the hall surrounding their prisoner. He was clearly dwarvish but their the similarities ended. His beard was dark curled and clearly oiled and without the multiple beard ornaments that afforded most Quezcuz beards. However the lack of beard embellishments was made up for by his lavish head gear. A tall conical hat rose from his head topped with a snarling reptilian head. The hat dripped with gold charms and his ears and nose sported other golden piercings. Having spent so much time with the Quezcuz I was shocked to see multiple reptilian and snake motifs embroidered onto his quilted armour and repeated in his jewellery. Despite his status as prisoner and tied wrists he bore himself with haughty pride and seemed to regard the taunting Quezcuz with a mixture of distaste and disdain.

The howling of the crowd was silenced by the ringing of the great bronze gong that announced the arrival of the Hinkhan ruler of Faztu Kharak. When he was seated on the Feathered Throne the leader of the warriors abased himself before him and announced that the prisoner was the leader of a group of ‘Hazcuz’ that had been discovered on the western border. The word ‘Hazcuz’ produced a most striking effect on the crowd. Their was a mixture of hisses and spitting, something I had never before witnessed  in Faztu Kharak. The Hinkhan governor then announced that for his crimes against ‘Queznir,  the Quezcuz and the World’ the prisoner was to be sacrificed at the next solstice. This was as much of a ‘trial’ as the prisoner was to get and he was led away to the jeering of the crowd.

Obviously my interest was piqued not only into the ‘Hazcuz’ but also as to the silence surrounding them. However repeated searches in the library revealed nothing and all I talked to about the Hazcuz or the prisoner would merely spit (to avoid bad luck as I later found out) and walk away. Finally I persuaded Takhatu, an aged librarian I had enjoyed many a lively discussion with previously, to talk to me. The Hazcuz, he explained, were the Quezcuzs’ secret and their shame. He described how all Quezcuz learn of them in their youth. However their disgust and shame make discussion of them effectively taboo. Furthermore the common people believe that merely mentioning their name will attract the attention of evil spirits or even Haztec himself. Though not affected by such superstitions himself Takhatu was clear that he felt far from comfortable discussing them himself. No official records of the Hazcuz are kept on the orders of the priesthood. Whether any might exist in the capital, he was unsure but he doubted. The information was passed down in oral tradition in the schools under the clear understanding that it was necessary but ‘dangerous’ information. The story so far as Takhatu knew was as follows.

‘When the Skyhammer’ fell Queznir began to speak to his people to strengthen them in the fight to come. He or his servants would speak in dreams or signs. However some dwarfs did not listen to these messages. Instead they heartened to the seductive whispers of the fallen god Haztec. These dwarfs turned to him for aid and were taught dark secrets. Haztec, in hatred of his brother, persuaded these dwarfs to collide with their Saurian overlords seeking the position of valued slaves rather than free dwarfs. When the Quezcuz finally won their freedom the worshippers of Haztet fled to the last Saurian held mine in the Wrathful mountains, the cursed city of Hazcu Picu. Here they were besieged by the righteous armies of Queznir. The siege lasted 2 bitter years. Eventually rather than surrender and renounce their Saurian masters, the surviving Hazcuz claapsed the city upon themselves as one great tomb. The Saurians army that had been dispatched to relieve Hazcu Picu arrived to late but fell upon the Queznir igniting the ‘Great Patriotic War’ which was to last the best part of a century. Initially the Hazcuz were thought to have been exterminated. However it became clear that some had survived and had fled westwards over the mountains.’

Takhatu told me  that the Queznir will regularly destroy the settlements of their evil kin. However he explained, like weeds they spring up again a constant reminder of what happens should you stray from the path of Queznir.

I suspect that Takhatu had hoped this information would satisfy my thirst for knowledge. Yet, dear reader, that could hardly have been further from the truth of the matter. The thought of actually talking to such an exotic individual as the Haztec prisoner tormented daily. Initially on my own and later with Takhatus’ reluctant help I began to petition the authorities for permission to interview the prisoner. Finally they relented and granted me three, one hour meetings in his cell. Why they relented I am still unsure though I must admit to somewhat exaggerating my influence in the imperial court and political contacts there.

The first interview was, I have to admit, extremely disappointing. The prisoner merely sat in his shackles and stared at me impassively. He never responded to any question or explanation of my interest. I have to admit to resorting to begging him to speak to me at one point.

The second interview was a week later. This time I decided upon a radically different tack. I started the interview by talking about myself, my studies and some of the many dwarven cultures I have studied. Despite the prisoners’ silence it was clear he was intrigued by the stories of other cultures. I studiously avoided asking any questions throughout the first part of the interview. Then I began to tell him what Takhatu had told me of the Hazcuz. This was the key. The prisoner was clearly outraged by what I was saying and after only a few minutes could no longer restrain himself.

The prisoner, who was to later tell me his name was Grazhitak, insisted that much of what I had been told by the Quezcuz was false. He gave a significantly different account of the origins of the Hazcuz. Similarly to the Quezcuz the Hazcuz believe that their were initially two brother gods, Queznir and Haztec, who ruled jointly over the lesser gods and quasi-deities. However the Hazcuz believe that Queznir grew jealous of Haztec and wished to rule alone. They believe that Queznir tricked Haztet and seized his unsuspecting brother, with the help of some lesser powers. Binding  Haztetc, Queznir then cast him out of ‘Heaven’. Haztec fell to Earth as the ‘Skyhammer’ and thus is credited by the Hazcuz for setting the stage for the emancipation of the dwarves. According to the Hazcuz it is Haztec who whispers to the dwarves in their dark mines from his earthbound prison. They believe that it was Haztec not Queznir that first led the dwarves to throw off the mantle of their Saurian masters. Indeed it was the assertion that the Hazcuz served the Saurians that Grazhitak found most offensive. He explained that in that first bloom of freedom the Hazcuz reached out to other freed mines. Some reacted in a friendly fashion. However the Quezcuz sought to control all the dwarfs and would brook no deviation from their interpretation of religion or their rule. War engulfed the freed dwarfs. One by one dwarf cities fell to the Quezcuz, either accepting their religious view or refusing to give up their local deities and being punished as a result. Many fled to the great city of Hazcu Picu, seeking the protection of the Hazcuz and binding their deities to His cause. Yet the  Quezcuz were too many. Eventually even great Hazcu Picu was besieged. For years the Hazcuz resisted until eventually they faced defeat. In desperation their priests prayed to Haztec and were rewarded. Their miners uncovered an extensive cave complex that exited to the surface many miles to the west, beyond the Quezcuz cordon. A select band of martyrs agreed to stay in the city. They were to hold the Quezcuz as long as possible then collapse the city upon themselves and their enemies. Thus the way would be blocked and the escape hidden. The exodus was successful. The larger part of the people escaped. However they were spotted by their hated enemy. So began the ‘Great Trek’. This really is the founding myth of the Hazcuz. It tells of an arduous journey west through the mountains, constantly harassed by the pursuing Quezcuz.. This gruelling march, assailed by the Quezcuz and harried by saurians, greenskins  and beasts is the defining moment for them. It is seen as a trial survived by grim determination, stoicism, strength and ruthless dedication.

Eventually the Hazcuz passed beyond the bounds of Quezcuz hegemony and found refuge in the valleys and plains on the western side of the Wrathful mountains. Indeed putting the two conflicting stories together it seems likely that the fleeing Hazcuz were saved by a massive Saurian offensive to the East that pulled the pursuing Quezcuz forces away. The irony of the Hazcuz being saved by their enemies is not something I felt at liberty to point out to my unfortunate informant.

Grazhitak described the fleeing Hazcuz coming upon the valleys of the East as some sort of fulfilment of a promise by Hazcuz to his people. They regard these valleys as a ‘promised land’ and defend them fiercely.

From his story it seems that upon their arrival the disparate clans that had gathered in Hazcu Picu immediately separated (possibly acrimoniously, but he was vague upon this point). Each clan claimed a different valley as its’ own. However by now the suzerainty of Haztec was well established although this religion seems more accepting of other gods and less centralised than that of Queznir. This division among the Hazcuz is characterised by the regular small conflicts between the cities, often over ancient grudges or small differences in religious practice. Indeed Grazhitak was at pains to point out that much blood had been spilt over whether their god was Haztec, Haztet, Hazteck or Hazteg. He was also most definite the correct spelling was the former!


I quizzed Grazhitak about the prominence of reptilian and serpentine iconography in his clothing and decoration. Far from being a sign of subservience to their previous masters,the Hazcuz regard this as a badge of honour, that they have been slaves but have won their freedom and now reclaim the iconography of the oppressors as their own. He was most dismissive of the Quezcuz taboo on such symbols seeing it only as a sign of weakness.

The Haztec religion it seems glories in pain and suffering. The stoic bearing of these is seen as reflecting the suffering of Haztec himself and his resstance. There is further the reflection on the great trek and Hazcuz foundation myths. However, the priests of Haztec also use the infliction of pain and suffering upon sacrificial victims (prisoners and slaves) as a means of glorifying Haztec. This information I found quite shocking. Indeed outside the infernal dwarfs of Tekash Zalamon is not something I have come across in other dwarven cultures.

The third and final interview was a little subdued. Both I and Grazhitak knew he was to be sacrificed the following day. Despite his haughty demeanour and his casual reference to the apparently common practice of sacrifice of slaves or enemies of Haztec. (Sacrifice of this sort is extremely rare among the Quezcuz, limited only to the most heinous of crimes or, indeed, any captured Hazcuz), I had grown to like Grazhitak. He chose this last occasion to tell me of the great rituals of Haztec, held each solstice. These are performed atop the great step pyramids the Hazcuz build to recall their lost mountain homes.


One such ritual I record below as accurately as I can recall it. This excerpt is from the ritual performed at the first new moon after the Spring solstice. Note the statement and response format that is also common in the rituals of the Gavemite Culture of Kegiz Gavem.


Priest of Haztec:
Hearken one, hearken all! Know that the words I speak are the truth: hotter than fire, sharper than flint and harder than stone. So it is recorded. So it is written.

Devoted of Haztec:
So it is written!

Priest of Haztec:
In the beginning there were the two who were one. Haztec and Queznir, the brothers. Together they spoke. Together they ruled. All the other powers bowed to them.

Devoted of Haztec:
All bowed to them!

Priest of Haztec:
Yet Queznir grew jealous of his brother. He coveted his greater strength and his wisdom. He plotted with the lesser powers and turned them from their true master.

Devoted of Haztec:
They turned from their true master!

Priest of Haztec:
Lo, they came in friendship. False smiles upon their faces and treachery in their hearts.

Devoted of Haztec:
Treachery in their hearts!

Priest of Haztec:
Unknowing Great Haztec opened his arms. They seized him. They bound him. They cast him out from the realm beyond the stars. In fire and pain He fell!

Devoted of Haztec:
In pain he fell!

Priest of Haztec:
In flame He fell. In anguish He fell. Yet  even in His fall he brought succour to His children.

Devoted of Haztec:
All praise His name!

Priest of Haztec:
Like a thunderbolt He hit and His fall shocked  the world. Like fire He hit and His fall burned the world. Like a fist He hit and His fall shook the world.

Devoted of Haztec:
His fall shook the world!

Priest of Haztec:
His fall shook the world. His fall shook the temples of the oppressors. His fall shook their false gods. His fall shook their empire. All felt His fall.

Devoted of Haztec:
All felt His fall.

Priest of Haztec:
Through the earth He fell in fire and anguish. Through the earth He fell and the earth closed above him.

Devoted of Haztec:
The earth closed above him.

Priest of Haztec:
In darkness and in fire He lay. In darkness and in fire He nursed His anger. In darkness and in fire He grew strong again.

Devoted of Haztec:
He grew strong again!

Priest of Haztec:
In the depths of the mountains His children heard His voice. In the depths of the mines His children heard His voice. In the depths of their despair His children heard His voice.

Devoted of Haztec:
We heard His voice!

Priest of Haztec:
Of fire and stone he spoke. Of blood and runes He spoke. Of power and Freedom He spoke.

Devoted of Haztec:
Of power and freedom he spoke!

Priest of Haztec:
We learned of magic from Him. We learned of strength from Him! We learned of vengeance from Him!

Devoted of Haztec:
We learned of vengeance from him!

Priest of Haztec:
Thus with His help we rose against the oppressors and drove them from our homes. With fire and stone, we drove them from our homes. With blood we won our freedom.

Devoted of Haztec:
With blood we won our freedom!

Priest of Haztec:
With blood we won our freedom. With blood we praised His name! With blood we show our thanks.

Devoted of Haztec:
With blood we show our Thanks.

Priest of Haztec:
With blood we show our thanks.
With blood we praise His name.
With blood we will set Him free!

Devoted of Haztec:
With blood we will set Him free!

The sacrificial offering is ritually opened and his heart removed and shown to the devoted.

Priest of Haztec:
All tremble at his name!

Devoted of Haztec:
All tremble at His name!

Priest of Haztec:
With fire we won our freedom.
With fire we praise His name.
With fire we show our thanks.

Devoted of Haztec:
With fire we show our thanks!

Priest of Haztec:
With fire we show our thanks.
With fire we praise His name.
With fire we will set Him free.

Devoted of Haztec:
With fire we will set Him free!

The sacrificial heart is ritually cast into the fires of Haztec that burn in idol cauldrons atop the step pyramid.

Priest of Haztec:
All tremble at His name.

Devoted of Haztec:
All tremble at His name!

Priest of Haztec:
Remember the treachery of Queznir!

Devoted of Haztec:
We remember!

Priest of Haztec:
Remember the whips of the oppressors.

Devoted of Haztec:
We remember!

Priest of Haztec:
Remember the voice of Haztec.

Devoted of Haztec:
We remember!

Priest of Haztec:
Obey the will of Haztec.

Devoted of Haztec:
We obey!

Priest of Haztec:
Obey the law of Haztec.

Devoted of Haztec:
We obey!

Priest of Haztec:
Obey the chosen of Haztec.

Devoted of Haztec:
We obey!

Priest of Haztec:
Go in the Blood of Haztec.
Go int the Fire of Haztec .
Go in the Will of Haztec.

Devoted of Haztec:
All tremble at His name!

Priest of Haztec:
All tremble at His name!

Devoted of Haztec:
All tremble at His name!

I did ask Grazhitak about Hazcuz technology and armaments. He was, I suppose, understandably reticent to discuss these. However he did wish to disabuse me of the notion that the Quezcuz can attack that Hazcuz at their pleasure. From his description it is more a form of armed peace. The Hazcuz lack the numbers to defeat the Quezcuz who similarly lack the strength to mount a serious assault on the Hazcuz. To reinforce this he told me an apparently well known story of the Hazcuz about a Quezcuz assault. Again I have tried to record it as accurately as I can to give a flavour of his narrative style.

“It was under the emperor Kaynor the Coward (My research suggests this refers to the young priest emperor, Khuaynir Khapaz) that the Hinkhan began to look beyond their traditional mountain territory. Their great condors soared high scouting the land below. So it was that the Quezcuz discovered our lands once more.  Their scouts watched the us from afar not wanting to alert us to our peril. Confident in their power and pride the Hinkhans prepared for war.

The Hinkhan army approached slowly from the North east. Above it squadrons of the great condors circled ready to swoop over any of our warriors hoping to spread fear and panic. However the lands they advanced over were eerily deserted. As the force approached the great city of Thenokhatlin their infantry found themselves  increasingly confined to the wide roadways that converged on the walls and the great stepped pyramid of Haztec, by the numerous irrigation channels and canals that criss cross the wide valley.
The Hinkhan had split their infantry into three columns that aimed to converge on the city itself. The foremost of the columns was still 5 miles out from the city when it came across the first signs of life. Our forefathers had lined the roadway with stakes on either side. Impaled upon each stake was the still writhing form of a slave. Goblin, orc even dwarf prisoners moaned they final agonies, forming a grisly honour guard for the advancing Hinkhans. The groans of the dying and the foul buzzing of flies accompanied the final advance of the Hinkhan infantry upon our city walls.

The three columns were still a mile out from the gates when the first sign of opposition was seen. In silence the three great gates opened and ranks of our brave warriors filed out in silent phalanxes to block the roadways. The Hinkhans pounded their war drums in challenge but no counter challenge came. Our warriors stood in proud silence. Inexorably the Hinkhans advanced stopping 300 yards short of the defenders. The cowardly Quezcuz shouted their challenges, they hurled their petty ritual insults, the Great War drums sounded. Yet no answer came. Our ranks stood in silence, their reptile skin shields locked and their war clubs readied.

The Great War drum of the Hinkhan general Atuvahal (Probably the Quezcuz general Akhuwalka) started a slow beat. This was picked up by the drums throughout the three armies. Then the elite warriors of the Hinkhan vanguards began to beat their shields in unison to the drums. Slowly but surely the tempo of the drums picked up following the generals war drums’ beat. Then the Hinkhan Vanguard began their advance. In perfect lockstep to the beat of the drums. Each step echoed by the clash of war gear. Slowly the beat picked up. Slowly the advance quickened. At 300 yards they stepped. At 250 yards the vanguard started to chant. At 200 yards the were marching. At 100 yards they were trotting. At 50 yards the roared and charged. The drums beat a mad tempo and a thousand elite warriors raced upon the brave defenders. The brave defenders who never moved. Who never spoke. Who never flinched.

The Hinkhan charged the last 50 yards. They never noticed the small lines of stones that had been stretched across the roadway. Each stone daubed in colour on the side facing the Hazcuz, each line a different colour. At 40 yards they saw the weighted darts rise from the 3rd and 4th ranks of our warriors. Squat javelins 2ft in length, with feathered canes and flint points. They saw the bulbous pottery weights set on the shaft back from the points. But their wicker shields were strong and in their ignorance and hubris they had raised them as they ran and roared their defiance. The darts struck the shields. Their points stuck futilely in the wicker. Very few found their mark. Many crashed to the floor harmlessly. The impact of the darts barely slowed the charge as the pottery weights slid down the shafts and smashed. At 25 yards the front ranks of the Hinkhan vanguard erupted in a sheet of flame. It was the first time our cowardly cousins had come into contact Zanghazteg (literally the’blood of Haztec’, a sticky combustible liquid of Hazcuz origin). It would not be their last.

The swooping dive of the condors had been timed to perfection. Aiming to hit the rear ranks of the defenders just after the vanguard hit. The wall of flame that burst upward spooked the great birds. Most banked away but several were caught either by the updraught or stray darts. Suddenly aflame they panicked desperately seeking to escape their own immolation and disrupting the careful formations of their riders. Amidst this chaos hundreds of Whingkhez rose like gnats from their cages hidden behind the city walls (Whingkhez are strange diminuative, stunted creatures. They would appear to be related to greenskins but tailed like monkeys with wings like bats). In swarms they assailed the great birds. Though tiny and feeble compared to those monsters of the skies their sheer numbers proved decisive. Overwhelmed several birds wheeled from the city only to crash into the wide grasslands that surrounded it, great jaguars (leopard like big cats) overwhelmed by termites. Other birds sought height fleeing their tormenting enemies.

On the ground the Hinkhan advance was in chaos. Pressed forward by the massed bodies behind them the vanguard was forced into the burning hell in front. Wave after wave of the Tuskhazteg darts (literally ‘teeth of Haztec’) rose and fell. The great drums rapidly began to beat the retreat.

From the city walls great balls of twisting Spirit flames rose at the behest of our priest sorcerers. Many vanished harmlessly as the spell eaters of the Hinkhan sought vainly to counter Haztecs’ magic. Yet many found their mark, burning and twisting the Hinkhan warriors they touched.

Focussed on the disaster unfolding in front the Foolish Hinkhan generals did not see the threat from their rear. Far out across the grassland, shapes sprang from hidden ditches. Hreaz (the great flightless birds that apparently inhabit the grasslands of the western valleys) streaked across the ground toward the Hinkhan rearguard. Leaping the irrigation ditches and narrow canals that watered the land with ease the giant birds closed on the Hinkhan. Atop each bird sat a bravo warrior. The nobles of our race. Too late the Hinkhan realised their danger. Yet the rear ranks turned well enough and locked their shields. The ranks behind them readied their javelins. But the shock of the charge never came. 30 yards out the riders released their Tuskhazteg and wheeled away. Carried by the momentum of their steeds the  darts rose and fell with a terrible inevitability engulfing the rear ranks in flame. Again and again the Hreaz charged and their riders released their deadly gifts just out of javelin range.

Assailed from front and rear, their great condors harried and in disarray and with flames spreading to either side through the grasslands, the Hinkhan broke. Their vaunted discipline gone, they fled. Many died in the fires that raged around the roadways. Others trampled by their comrades and drowned in the irrigation ditches. Others still hunted down and clubbed to death by the nobles on their great Hreaz. Few escaped save those condor riders that had survived the initial assault above the city walls. ‘Great’ Atuvahal was led in ropes from the field. Azhorgoz Stone Fist, great high priest king of  Tenokhatlin is said to have used him bound as a mounting block for his Hreaz for years
The great victory of Mokhe  field is celebrated by all Hazcuz city states for all sent troops. The Quezcuz may have forgotten the us in their struggles and long wars of empire. But we never forgot. For years we had watched the eastern approaches. The first scouting flights of the condors had been marked and plans laid. Hreaz from all city states had been gathered. So we were ready as we have been ever since. Our treacherous cousins have returned since and will again but they will water our fields with their blood.

Sadly this was the last time I saw Grazhitak. He was sacrificed the week after, a ritual no matter how fascinating, I could not bring myself to attend.

Both the Quezcuz and Hazcuz see themselves as the good and honourable successors of those dwarves who freed themselves from the Saurians. Yet both can be harsh and cruel. Certainly the cruelty and barbarism of the Hazcuz is on show in their religion. However the strict control, censorship and taboos of the Quezcuz speak of a more insidious ‘cruelty’, a domination of the spirit. Perhaps my views may have changed if I had seen more of both cultures or if I had reached the great Quezcuz capital of Khazkho
Yet that was not to be. Within a week of Grazhitak death we were to find ourselves being escorted fairly unceremoniously from Quezcuz lands. That we had offended someone was clear, who and what less so. The friendly scouts who had brought us in were replaced by taciturn palace guards. These forbidding warriors barely spoke over the weeks of our journey. They eventually deposited us upon the banks of a river that would lead to the sea with canoes and supplies sufficient to get us there. For this I should be grateful. Yet I will always regret not seeing great Khazkho and the libraries there.


An AoS creation myth: http://www.chaos-dwarfs.com/forum/showth...?tid=17414

Uthers’ legions of Hashut: http://www.chaos-dwarfs.com/forum/showth...?tid=17110

Bosom of Hashut: http://www.chaos-dwarfs.com/forum/showth...?tid=18010

This post was last modified: 01-04-2020 08:11 AM by Admiral.

01-04-2020 07:49 AM
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