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Thorgrim Grudgebearer, last High King of the Dwarfs.

"Krangal Oggrazdrengi Rikk Karazakarak Gormgromgromthi Gnollengrom Ori Varrkhulg Zagaz. Krangal Ogreslayer, King of Karaz-a-Karak, the Wise, the Brave, Ancestor. Look upon his works, ye mighty enemy chiefs, and remember!"
—Runic script found inscribed upon a stone slab above the gates of Karaz-a-Karak[12a]

The High King of the Dwarfs is the King of Karaz-a-Karak, the oldest hold of the Karaz Ankor in the Worlds Edge Mountains. As such, he is the first among the Dwarf Kings, and nominally commands the allegiance of the rest.[6g]

Duties

At any time there will be a single High King. Since the time of Gotrek Starbreaker this has normally been the King of Karaz-a-Karak. This is a reflection of its status as the most powerful hold, certainly since the fall of Karak Eight Peaks. The High King nominally commands the allegiance of all the other Dwarf Kings, however, in practice, this is normally a matter of cooperation rather than command as Dwarfs, and particularly Dwarf Kings, are proud individuals not accustomed to blind obedience.[6g]

Twice every century a Dwarf representative will travel to the hall for the day of Grudgement. On this day the representatives will each take it in turns to recite which grudges have been righted and then they will in turn list those grudges which have since been added to their own books. The High King himself will either strike these out from his own Great Book of Grudges or add them to it.[2f]

Symbols of office

  • Throne of Power - The Throne of Power is an ancient Dwarf relic which has been used by the Kings of Karaz-a-Karak for over four thousand years. Encrusted with countless powerful runes, it confers magical protection upon the King and his Throne Bearers and is able to heal them from the effects of wounds.[1f] It is said that the Throne of Power was made by Grungni himself and that as long as it endures, the Dwarf race will also. Since Snorri Whitebeard, the first High King after the Ancestor Gods departed, every High King in turn has sat upon the ancient wonder.[8a] Tradition dictates that whenever the King sits down he must do so on his Throne of Power. To this end the Throne is continually carried around after him as he goes about his daily business. This can be extremely inconvenient, but the Dwarfs are great traditionalists and the High King must be seen to uphold the ancient ways. The Throne is borne aloft by four strapping Dwarfs called the Throne Bearers. It is a great honour for a Dwarf to be a Throne Bearer, for they are also the High King's bodyguard. They follow him all day, and stand by his side wherever he goes. When he no longer wishes to walk they carry him aloft on the throne itself. Only the fittest and strongest Dwarfs are up to this daunting task, and the Throne Bearers train rigorously every day. Most of their training involves drinking vast quantities of nutritious Dwarf ale to build up their strength. The Throne Bearers swear a binding oath never to abandon their Lord, and to give their own lives to protect him.[1g][6j] At Karaz-a-Karak, the Throne normally resides in the cavernous Great Hall, raised upon a massive pedestal of polished stone. Those who would seek an audience with the High King must climb a flight of steep steps as the Dwarf lord stares down imperiously. When the High King goes to war, he does so riding atop the Throne of Power. From its sturdy deck, the High King can wield his axe to deadly effect while the bodyguards are adept at slashing attacks even while hefting the throne’s considerable weight. Over the ages it has been at countless battles, seeing both great victories and crushing defeats. There are many sagas of the kings of old, telling of the famous deeds done by those who fought upon it - from last stands to battle line-crushing breakthroughs. By some secret of its creation, the Throne is nearly impervious to harm, although it does bear slight dents in its ornate carvings caused down the ages by creatures such as Dragons or Greater Daemons.[8a] During the End Times, it became infused with the Wind of Chamon, but the rune of Azamar was broken during the Battle of Karaz-a-Karak.[11]
  • Dammaz Kron - The High Kings have kept the Great Book of Grudges, the oldest and most important of the many Books of Grudges which exist throughout the Dwarf realms. This book, known as Dammaz Kron, recounts all the ancient wrongs and deeds of treachery perpetrated against the Dwarf race. Its pages are written in the blood of High Kings and its tattered parchment is much thumbed and studied.[1f][1h][8d]
  • Dragon Crown of Karaz - Marked with Za, the ruling rune, the Dragon Crown has been worn by the High Kings of Karaz-a-Karak since the hold's founding and is believed to have been brought from the Southlands when the Dwarfs first came to the Worlds Edge Mountains.[6k][8d]
  • Axe of Grimnir - Before Grimnir disappeared into the north he gifted his son, Morgrim, one of his legendary axes. This very axe has been passed down through the generations and it is possession of this artefact that identifies a High King.[6k][8d]

List of known High Kings

  • Throndik Snorrisson - Son and heir to Snorri Whitebeard.[9]
  • Gotrek Starbreaker - The first High King to have the Dragon Crown adorned with the Master Rune of Kingship, which absorbs the wisdom of its former master and passes this on to the next crown bearer.[2d][6i] He was High King (and 160 years old[3d]) by -1997 IC, when the Dark Elves started to raid Dwarf caravans and outposts in the guise of High Elves.[1a][6a][6d][8b] Unable to distinguish one Elf from another, High King Gotrek Starbreaker was mystified at these apparently unprovoked attacks from his allies and trading partners. He sent an emissary to Ulthuan, where the vain and haughty Caledor II had just ascended the Phoenix Throne, demanding an apology and financial recompense for Dwarf losses. Caledor refused to see the emissary, sending him back with a message that the Phoenix King did not accede to demands, but could be moved to grant pleas. Furious, Gotrek sent a second emissary to Ulthuan, carrying the message that the High King of the Dwarfs would not plead before Elf nor god. The amount of restitution he demanded was doubled on account of Caledor's insult. Caledor had the emissary forcibly shaved, and sent him beardless back to his king with the message that he should come to Ulthuan himself and plead his case before the Phoenix Throne. With injury compounded by insult, the High King had no option but to declare war on the Elves. He swore by the most powerful of oaths that he would have just compensation or its equivalent in Elf blood, or he would shave every hair from his head. The beardless emissary had been shamed into becoming a Slayer by his treatment at the hands of the Elves, and it was unthinkable that the High King of the Dwarfs should suffer a similar fate. The entire race united behind their leader.[3a] It was from this incident that the following war took its Elf name of the War of the Beard. The Dwarfs, not a people to take such matters lightly, refer to the conflict as the War against the Elves, or the War of Vengeance. Gotrek's son Snorri Halfhand was slain by Caledor II in -1974 IC.[1a][3g][6a][6d][8b] Finally, in -1560 the Dwarfs defeated the Elves in a cataclysmic battle for mastery of the Old World at the Fourteenth Siege of Tor Alessi, and at the Battle of the Three Towers at the gate of the city, Gotrek Starbreaker killed the Phoenix King Caledor II and took the Phoenix Crown as recompense for the many wrongs suffered by his people, declaring his victory and retreating to Karaz-a-Karak with it.[1a][3a][3g][6a][6d][8b] His honour satisfied, he joined his ancestors peacefully at the age of 655.[3d]
  • Morgrim Ironbeard - In -1499 IC, the year following the terrible earthquake that shook many of the Dwarf realms to their very foundations, Morgrim Ironbeard ordered the gates of Karaz-a-Karak to be closed. This dour period of Dwarf history is known as the Time of Woes. Many of the Dwarf strongholds were under attack from hordes of greenskins and Skaven that flooded out from the caverns to take advantage of the devastation that the earthquake had unleashed on the Dwarfs. In his wisdom the King shut off access to the great city. In doing so he also shut off the Dwarfs from contact with the outside world and it has remained much this way to the current day. Since then, the gates are only opened to allow the High King's army to march to war.[2e] It is unclear whether this Morgrim is the same that killed Prince Imladrik of Ulthuan during the War of Vengeance, known thereafter as Morgrim Elgidum.[1a][3a][6a][8b]
  • Nurn Shieldbreaker - This High King made the first known historical record of a human tribe in the forests of the future Empire (ca. -1492 IC) whilst hunting greenskins in the lowlands of the Worlds Edge Mountains. When the High King and his retinue approached, the humans immediately fled from the well-armed Dwarfs. The humans' fear of strangers was so pronounced that Shieldbreaker took offence at their frightened mien, presuming their xenophobia, or rather their cravenness, was an insult. After the abandoned, poorly constructed camp was investigated, the High King famously remarked in his personal Book of Grudges that the humans were Umgal (which roughly translates as a band of people who make shoddy things), and "needed to be taught a swift lesson in respect". Although Dwarfs had undoubtedly encountered humans many times before in the south, Umgal was to be the name that stuck; and now, almost 4,000 years later, humans, to the Dwarfs, are still known as Umgi, the race that makes shoddy things.[7a]
  • Morgrim Blackbeard - In -1250 IC, Thunder Mountain erupted and drove a migration of Trolls towards the remaining Dwarfholds. In -1245 IC, High King Morgrim Blackbeard declared the beginning of the so-called Troll Wars and led his forces southwards. After several pitched battles he drove away the Orcs and other evil creatures from the mountains north of Mad Dog Pass.[1b][6e][8b] Another Dwarf army led by Logazor Brightaxe headed east and succeeded in recapturing Mount Gunbad, but was forced to abandon the mines when greenskin reinforcements arrived.[1b][6e] The High King was visiting Mount Gunbad to raise morale after years of vicious fighting when Night Goblins broke through the mine's walls. The High King was at their mercy, for his small bodyguard was overwhelmed, and then-master craftsman Kadrin Redmane led the Dwarf smiths to the rescue of their liege. Grabbing their forge hammers, slowly they cleared an escape route out from the mines. As a reward, the King presented Kadrin with a magnificent rune-hammer.[2b] Mount Silverspear was attacked by the Dwarfs, but the army was compelled to return westward when a horde of Trolls and Ogres moved towards Karaz-a-Karak. The horde was successfully repulsed from the Dwarf capital and the bodies of many Trolls piled into a huge mound and burned. Over the following three hundred years the Dwarfs continued to reestablish their hold over and under the mountains. The Underway was partially cleared in places, and some minor settlements retaken. The tombs of ancestors destroyed in the Time of Woes were refurbished.[1b][6e][8b]
  • Skorri Morgrimsson - In -975, he led a massive Dwarf army northwards in an attempt to recapture Karak Ungor. In the Battle of a Thousand Woes, the Dwarfs cleared their enemies from the southern valley and gate, but were ambushed and driven back when they attempted to enter the stronghold itself.[1b][3e][6e][8b] Thane Strakerd Jarlki was given the task of holding the southern gate area as a contingent of Dwarfs infiltrated the underground levels of the hold. A fierce counterattack by Goblins of the Twisted Claw tribe drove Jarlki's forces from the gate, sealing the fate of the Dwarf contingent below. Ignoring the High King's command to hold his position until reinforcements arrived, Strakerd died trying to breach the Goblin lines and recapture the gate.[3e] A few Dwarfs, including Furgil, Skorri's young and only[2a] son and Gudrun, Skorri's closest friend[2a], managed to infiltrate the lower halls[1b][3e][6e], but they were ambushed by a band of Night Goblins accompanied by a huge Troll[2a], and never returned.[1b][3e][6e][8b] The remaining Dwarfs were forced back to the valley outside Karak Ungor[3e], and eventually Skorri led the remnants of his army back to Karaz-a-Karak and died shortly afterwards.[1b][3e][6e][8b]
  • Logan Proudbeard - In -380 IC he was captured by Orc Warboss Ugrok Beardburner, who was besieging Karaz-a-Karak and had destroyed many smaller settlements and mines. He suffered great humiliation at the hands of his tormentors. Driven into a fury by the seizure of their King, the Dwarfs, led by Gorazin Silverhorn, finally drove the Orcs away from the capital. Orc armies continued to rampage throughout the Dwarf realms until the following year, when the Orcs were defeated at the Battle of Black Water.[1c][6e][8b]
  • Kurgan Ironbeard - As he travelled with a trading convoy from Karaz-a-Karak to the Grey Mountains, Kurgan Ironbeard was ambushed and captured by twenty Orc captors and an assortment of Goblins[3b] in -15 IC, but was later single-handedly[3b] rescued by Sigmar, prince of the Unberogen tribe. This was to prove a fortuitous event, for the friendship between Sigmar and Kurgan Ironbeard blossomed into the great alliance between the races of Dwarfs and Men. In gratitude for his rescue the Dwarf King gave Sigmar the rune hammer Ghal Maraz, an ancient heirloom of his clan. The Dwarfs and Sigmar waged a long campaign, gradually driving the greenskins from the lands west of the Worlds Edge Mountains - many Orcs and Goblins were destroyed or fled into the mountains. In -1 IC, a massive Orc army was destroyed at the Battle of Black Fire Pass by the combined forces of Sigmar and Kurgan Ironbeard, ending the domination of the land by the Orcs. Afterwards Sigmar became the first Emperor of a united Empire. Kurgan Ironbeard was still alive 50 years later when Sigmar left the Empire to give Ghal Maraz back to him, but the first Emperor never reached Karaz-a-Karak.[1c][3b][3g][6b][6e][6f][8b][10a][10b][10c] After the Goblin Wars, Kurgan Ironbeard ordered many Runelords whose holds had been destroyed to work together in the construction of the Banner of the Lost Holds.[8e]
  • Kendrak Gottrison - He attacked and destroyed the remnants of Gorbad Ironclaw’s army as it limped back towards the Badlands in 1712 IC.[8b]
  • Alrik - In 2205 IC he led a Dwarf army against a Goblin horde led by Gorkil Eyegouger on the shores of the Black Water, and both duelled along the rim of the Black Falls. The Goblin Warlord was mortally wounded by the Dwarf, but pulled his adversary to his doom over the falls. The Goblin army was routed into the icy water and most were swept over the falls and perished with their leader.[1d][2a][3g][6f][8b]
  • Alriksson - Son and heir to Alrik, and Thorgrim's uncle.[8a] In 2302 IC, he fought in the Great War against Chaos, leading a large force out of Karaz-a-Karak to aid Kislev. He distinguished himself in battle and was honoured by Emperor Magnus the Pious.[5a][6c][6f][8b] The High King did not escape the fray unscathed, for atop his Throne of Power, Alriksson had advanced deep into the thick of the battle, felling many foes. He now bore grievous wounds that showed no sign of healing, although the stoic High King remained unbowed, allowing no slowing of the vigour that had marked his long life. He had, however, lost his sons in the battle, and felt that the Karaz Ankor was growing separated by more than just distance and foes. Therefore, he called for a Council of Kings, something not done in over three centuries. The Dwarf King of every stronghold, along with the most powerful Thanes and the royalty of every clan, made the dangerous trek to the halls of the High King. They gathered in the Great Hall, and many oaths of loyalty were repeated before Alriksson announced his plan for succession. There were a dozen suitable candidates — great Kings and Thanes of royal clans who could claim descent from the Ancestor Gods themselves (amongst them Ungrim Ironfist of Karak Kadrin, and Buregar of Clan Angrund, heir to Karak Eight Peaks and father of Belegar Ironhammer). Each of these noble warriors would be given a full year to accomplish heroic feats and attempt deeds worthy of a High King, after which they would present themselves to the full assembly and a decision would be made. After one year’s time, the Council of Kings convened once more. Two candidates had been slain, and a third was missing and presumed dead. Each claimant climbed the dais before the High King’s Throne and turned to face the assembled throngs, regalling the audience with an account of his deeds. Even as High King Alriksson quieted the crowd to begin the pronouncement, a latecomer marched into the vast hall - Thorgrim, his sister's son, had come back with the Kings of the Norse Dwarfs and brought back several long lost relics from the Lost Holds, and he proclaimed his dream to avenge the wrongs done to his people by striking clean the entire ledger of the Great Book of Grudges. This made him be unanimously elected as successor to Alriksson.[8a] In 2304 IC[8b], not long after being named successor, Thorgrim was crowned High King, for Alriksson’s wounds from the Great War against Chaos had never healed. The old Dwarf was so resilient and stubborn, however, that he had simply refused to die, holding on against the pain until the proper heir could be named and his designs of unifying his people kept alive. So passed a great king.[8a]
  • Thorgrim Grudgebearer - The last High King. Thorgrim was the descendant of the most ancient and noble of all Dwarf Lords. The very blood of Grungni flowed in his veins and the wisdom of Valaya sat upon his beetling brow. Before the Great War against Chaos he was well known in Karaz-a-Karak and had long been mentored by the aged High King. During the campaign in Kislev, after High King Alriksson had been injured, Thorgrim re-established the old ties with the long distant clans isolated in Norsca, performing deeds of valour, slaying monsters and winning battles. Later he, along with other members of his clan, entered several of the Lost Holds, seeking out those treasures which remained hidden, or hunting down and slaying those creatures that dared claim the revered artefacts made by the Dwarfs of old, recovering relics such as the Golden Sceptre of Norgrim and the lost crown of Karak Drazh. This earned him being named successor to High King Alriksson.[8a] Right after his crowning in 2304 IC, he set out to reclaim what was once the territory of the Dwarfs, retaking and holding Mad Dog Pass[8b], and supporting Belegar Ironhammer's re-occupation of Karak Eight Peaks.[8a] In 2519, he united the armies of Karaz-a-Karak, Karak Kadrin and Zhufbar and attacked an Ogre army as it forded the River Aver and, catching them between their forces and those of Nuln, swept the Ogre ranks with the largest concentration of artillery yet seen in the Old World and utterly destroyed them.[6f][8a] In 2519 IC, the High Elf ambassador and Everqueen-to-be Aliathra was captured by Vampire Mannfred von Carstein before the gates of Karaz-a-Karak and taken to Nagashizzar, and Thorgrim led a throng in an attempt to free her, but he defeated the Undead too late and Mannfred took Aliathra away again. This led to a falling out with Prince Tyrion and the High Elves.[8a][8b] One year later, as the End Times began, Thorgrim led the Dwarfs in the defence of their holds, and commanded King Alrik Ranulfsson to clear the Silver Road of Goblins and attack Mount Gunbad.[6f] He was known as the Grudgebearer because he kept his own personal copy of the Dammaz Kron or Book of Grudges with him at all times. In battle Thorgrim recited ancient and damning grudges from the book inflaming the Dwarfs with hatred for their enemies, with the result that they became resolute and almost unbreakable in combat.[1f][1h] The Great Book of Grudges was Thorgrim's constant companion. He kept the book by his side night and day, sleeping with its gnarled old pages beneath his pilow, and carrying it about wi th him in his waking hours. He managed to strike out several long-held grudges, including winning recompense of 1000 gold pieces from the Burgomeister of Altdorf for damage done to the reputation of Borin Bullroarer during the Great Altdorf Stampede.[6j] He was a throwback to the High Kings of old — eager for new conquests, mighty in battle, and a merciless enemy, yet upon his worn brow, there also sat a great wisdom, and he was able to uphold the ancient traditions as well as to accept (if not embrace) needed changes, such as alliances and new technology.[8d] During the End Times, he was forced to stay in Karaz-a-Karak under siege, but in the end he decided to make a final stand and defeated the Skaven army of Queek Headtaker, decapitating him. In the end, however, he was stabbed in the back by Deathmaster Snikch.[11]

Unknown reigns

  • Brand - An ancient King of Karaz-a-Karak who gave the Great Hammer of Wrath, forged by Skalf Blackhammer in the Time of the Ancestors, to Grimdal Runescar when he set out on an expedition into the wild, densely-forested wilderness that would one day become Bretonnia.[13a]
  • Grundbar Irongut - In his reign, Greenskins besieged Karaz-a-Karak, and the siege was broken by a group of Bretonnian Questing Knights. He gifted them with the ornate Gromril Great Helm in return.[4a]
  • Krangal Ogreslayer - An ancient King of Karaz-a-Karak mentioned in a runic inscription upon a stone slab above the gates of the hold.[12a]

Canon conflict

In Dwarfs - Stone & Steel, Thorgrim Grudgebearer is portrayed as the previous High King's son, who took command of the Dwarf forces during the Great War against Chaos and was crowned after his victory in Kislev[3e]. Subsequent armybooks, such as Warhammer Armies: Hordes of Chaos (6th Edition) and Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs (8th Edition), explicitly state that it was Alriksson who led the Dwarfs during that conflict[5a][8a], and that Thorgrim is his sister's son and was crowned two years after the war's end.[8a]

Sources

  • 1Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs (4th Edition)
    • 1a pg. 18
    • 1b pg. 19
    • 1c pg. 20
    • 1d pg. 21
    • 1e pg. 25
    • 1f pg. 34
    • 1g pg. 64
    • 1h pg. 94
  • 2Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs (6th Edition)
  • 3Warhammer Fantasy RPG 1st Ed.: Dwarfs - Stone & Steel
    • 3a pg. 7
    • 3b pg. 8
    • 3c pg. 9
    • 3d pg. 13
    • 3e pg. 60
    • 3f pg. 94
    • 3g pp. 106-110
  • 4Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (6th Edition)
    • 4a pg. 61
  • 5Warhammer Armies: Hordes of Chaos (6th Edition)
    • 5a pg. 13
  • 6Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs (7th Edition)
    • 6a pp. 10-11
    • 6b pg. 12
    • 6c pg. 14
    • 6d pg. 16
    • 6e pg. 17
    • 6f pg. 18
    • 6g pg. 29
    • 6h pg. 44
    • 6i pg. 46
    • 6j pg. 58
    • 6k pg. 59
  • 7Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd Ed.: Tome of Salvation
    • 7a pp. 6-7
  • 8Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs (8th Edition)
    • 8a pp. 16-19
    • 8b pg. 20-21
    • 8c pg. 28
    • 8d pg. 52
    • 8e pg. 58
    • 8f pg. 60
  • 9Grudgebearer, by Gavin Thorpe
  • 10Warhammer Armies: The Empire (4th Edition)
  • 11The End Times vol. IV: Thanquol - Book I
  • 12White Dwarf #152 (UK Edition)
  • 12White Dwarf #153 (UK Edition)