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The Mountains of Mourn.

The Mountains of Mourn are a massive mountain range located to the east of the Dark Lands, north of Ind and west of the Ancient Giant Holds and Cathay.

OverviewEdit

The Mountains of Mourn are a vast and sprawling range known for their harsh climate and deadly inhabitants. The snow-covered peaks rise up from the ashen plains of the Dark Lands and stretch to the east before being overshadowed by the gargantuan mountains of the Ancient Giant Lands. To climb the Mountains of Mourn is to leave the treeline below and enter a realm of ice and snow, a craggy land of stony outcrops and sheer cliff faces. Immense slabs of rock jut upwards to jagged heights, reaching far above the clouds. Before passing up into the dense mists, it is possible to look westwards and see the pall that hangs over the plains of the Dark Lands, punctuated by far off tongues of glowering orange flames - volcanoes, or the great forge-factories of the Chaos Dwarfs. At such heights the winds howl, swirling in all directions and bringing abrupt weather changes; the impossibly blue skies of high altitude can, in an instant, be replaced by blinding snow squalls, blizzards and ice storms that can freeze even an Ogre solid in moments.[2a]

The Mountains of Mourn are of such size that they sustain several distinct groups of creatures, depending on altitude - it takes a far hardier beast to weather the wind-lashed peaks than it does the rolling foothills around the base of the mountain ranges.[1a] Despite the inhospitable weather, the Mountains of Mourn teem with life. Herds of great woolly beasts are plentiful, crisscrossing the boulder-strewn slopes and snowy plateaus seeking food. They are primeval creatures that have existed unchanged since the world was still covered in ice. Due to their harsh environment, the beasts are hardy, but the weather and steep heights are not the only danger - a host of large and especially fierce predators stalk the mountainsides. To survive against the host of carnivores, even the lowliest herd beasts have developed tremendous size, great strength or some other defensive trait to combat the red-toothed hunters.[2a]

In the upper mountains, the Yhetees stalk their blinding white world of snowdrifts and merciless ice storms. Only a creature with a supernatural tolerance for the elements can survive in the upper peaks for any length of time, but the Yhetee is a creature born of the mountains in ages past when the Ogre race was young and adaptable. In their icicle-encrusted lairs, they pick the bones of men and beasts that have fallen prey to their freezing breath and iron-hard claws.[1a]

Below the icy peaks, great mammoth lumber through the lichen-covered passes; gigantic hulks of muscle, fat and matted hair that live for hundreds of years. Their tusks are highly valued by the traders of the Silk Road and the Ivory Road, but it is not only ivory that the Ogre Hunters climb amongst the peaks to claim. A mature great mammoth provides enough red meat for an entire tribe, and a Hunter that is able to slay such a beast and somehow drag its battered carcass back to the Ogre Kingdoms is afforded a great honour at the subsequent feast, and awarded the privilege of eating the mammoth's brain as an appetiser, and its heart for the next three courses.[1a] Ice Mammoths are close relatives - icicle-encrusted pachyderms of colossal size, each equipped with lengthy tusks. It would take an entire pack of starving-mad Mournfangs, or something massive like a Frost Dragon, to dare a head-on confrontation with a fully grown bull mammoth.[2a]

There are richer pickings still further down the mountainside, for where the elements allow flora and fauna to thrive, the great beasts of the mountains shamble and prowl. Shaggy ice elk butt razor-sharp antlers in fierce leadership challenges. Sabretusks stalk the passes, pouncing upon any creatures foolish enough to stray from the pack and ripping them apart with foot-long teeth. Rhinoxen, a common herd animal, wander the slopes in great migratory herds, flattening anything that threatens them with devastating charges, the ground shaking under the thunder of their hooves.[1a] The Rhinoxen will lower their impressively large horns and charge anything that doesn't stink of their own kind. The twin horns of a Rhinox can gouge a furrow into a cliff face and no predator wishes to be on the receiving end of a charge from a single beast, much less a stampeding herd.[2a]

Whether predator or prey, hunter or herbivore, all the beasts of the mountains grow large and ferocious. The weak do not live long, succumbing to the elements or prowling monsters, their carcasses left to be picked over by the carrion-eaters. Even among this low tier of animals, the skulking scavengers grow menacingly large in the Mountains of Mourn. While Blood Vultures or fangweasels are little more than a nuisance to an Ogre, such pests are more than capable of taking down and slaying an unwary Gnoblar.[2a]

Many caves are riddled into the Mountains of Mourn and there is fierce competition to claim them. Some of these rocky dens are home to mutated monsters - the tri-throated calls of the Chimera or the rock-splitting roars of an enraged Manticore are not uncommon. The lairs of particularly ferocious monsters have become landmarks - such as the ice caverns where coils the serpentine wyrm, Ymirdrak, a Frost Dragon so powerful its breath once froze an entire Ogre tribe into a glacier-like block of ice, where they were plucked out and eaten at the creature's whim. While most avoid such notorious dens, they are a magnet for foolhardy Ogres out to prove their prowess. The stone statues outside the Hissing Pits are a testament to the legions who have aspired to slay Balorith the Rockeye, a large and deviously treacherous Cockatrice that has haunted the region for several centuries.[2a]

But it is the valleys that harbour the most dangerous denizens of the Mountains of Mourn; the Ogres themselves. Although some Ogres use caves to take refuge from the fiercest of storms and a few tribes even dwell in them, persevering in frigid climates and constantly battling enormous beasts for possession of the best lairs, most Ogres reside in the valleys, where they are less subject to the severe cold and wild beasts of the higher altitudes. Each separate valley is considered the territory of a single tribe. Ever straightforward, an Ogre Tyrant defines his kingdom by the distance he can see in all directions. This might seem like a vague method of declaring borders, but the steep, sheer-sided valleys frame one's vision and offer (at least to an Ogre) clear-cut demarcation. Best of all, this approach leaves opportunities for ambitious Tyrants to crane their almost non-existent necks and thereby expand their realm. Mountain passes or rivers that cut through the valleys allow greater vistas and naturally form contentious hotspots between neighbouring tribes. Disputes are settled by fighting - either by battle between tribes or a challenge between Tyrants. With a race as warlike as the Ogres, such disputes are common and bloody, with the weaker tribes driven out or devoured. Thus the Ogre system mirrors that of the beasts of the higher mountains: only the strongest survive.[1a][2a][2b]

Ogre camps are found in the sheltered valleys but to get to the majority of the game they must travel further up the slopes. With iron-shod clubs and a determination born deep within their bellies, Ogre hunting parties ascend the mountains daily to secure vast quantities of fresh meat, and not a day goes past without a network of bloody trails staining the snow. Ogres hunt anything and everything and there is not a single species in the Mountains of Mourn that has not been hunted, killed and eaten by them. Hunting parties must be wary, however, as blinding snow storms can sweep out of nowhere and there are always other carnivores on the prowl, either beasts large enough to confront a large group of Ogres, or stealthy creatures that will pick off any stragglers. On occasion one of the enormous predators of the upper reaches will venture downwards, daring to enter the Ogre-dominated valleylands and prey upon the tribes. Ogres are well accustomed to fighting such monsters and only the largest and most ferocious of their kind ever survive long enough to return back up the mountain.[1a][2b]

Amidst the lowlands and boulder-strewn vales are found the only trees that grow in the Mountains of Mourn - tall stands of pines whose gnarled bark forms leering faces and, higher up on the crumbly shale slopes, groves of wind-buffeted conifers, their twisted roots clinging tenaciously to the mountainside. Ogres value such hardwoods because the Mourn-woods make the sturdiest clubs. Trees are also felled for use in other constructions, such as banner poles, tent frames, crude feasting tables and even the ramshackle war machines that are hauled to battle by Rhinoxen.[2b]

Nestling among the cracks and crevasses of the Ogre Kingdoms are the shanty towns of the Gnoblars; Greenskins that have migrated from the foothills of their ancestry to live under the dubious protection of their Ogre masters. The hills are still infested with this verminous and greedy race, stealing, spying and occasionally even raiding the caravans that pass through their lands. Individually, more threat is likely posed by a brooding fangweasel or an irate wolf cub, but the Gnoblars are wont to swarm from their dens in an evil smelling tide. Once a region becomes riddled with Gnoblars it is very difficult to get rid of them.[1a]

Ever-changing landscapesEdit

Unnatural phenomena are commonplace in and around the Mountains of Mourn, for the proximity of the Chaos Wastes plays havoc with the landscape. It is not unusual to see mountain-sized glaciers form in the northernmost ranges and move south. These frozen masses are often created by the eruption of frost volcanoes, great conical mountains that spew not magma, but instead rivers of ice.[2a]

Untainted by the powers of raw Chaos, a glacier might take decades to form and the ice mountain would travel only a modest distance. Yet in the Mountains of Mourn, glaciers can form in a day and move as rapidly as a charging Rhinox, eradicating all in their path - camps, roadways, and even mountains - it is a land where even the summits seem to be at war. The Ogres tell of living mountains, colossal, rocky titans as once walked the lands. To Ogres, all quakes or tremors are merely signs of the enormous creatures waking up or showing their displeasure. The most famous of all the sentient peaks is Mount Thug, and Ogres place great store in scaling its lethal heights. Mount Thug is as malevolent as it is vast, and most who dare its slopes are crushed by avalanches or caught up within stony jaws as the mountain feeds. To the Ogres, these occasional shifts are just another danger to overcome. The nomadic tribes keep a wary eye for oncoming threats and, more importantly, for opportunities that might ariese, such as a newly uncovered mountain pass or recently made migratory route for tasty herd animals.[2a][2b]

Roads and mountain passesEdit

Many routes lead into the Mountains of Mourn, but few go through to the other side. Most are litte more than crude paths, worn by the migrations of beast herds, although some are crumbling stone roads, doubtlessly of ancient Dwarf-make, for they wind upwards towards long-abandoned mine workings or, more mysteriously, end at cliff walls. There are numerous dusty, boulder-lined paths between kingdoms, although to enter another kingdom without leave of its Tyrant (and payment of a hefty fee) is a declaration of war.[2b]

There are a few well-known roadways, although to call them trade routes implies they are better maintained and travelled than is true. The most renowned route is the perilous Ivory Road, a trail that enters the Mountains of Mourn at the Giant's Rocks - a crude ford in the River Ruin made of colossal stones hurled into the raging current to form a rare, if dangerous, crossing. It is an ominous sight, for from there the road passes between two immense pinnacles that frame the most accessible entrance into the mountain range. This is the Valley of Horns, a steep-sided vale littered with the petrified remains of enormous beasts, many of which can only be relics from a different age of the world. At one point the Ivory Road passes through the ossified ribcage of a creature so large it defies belief. Elsewhere, the largest of ancient tusks have been stood on end to form imposing archways, which even a Giant could easily walk through without stooping.[2b]

All Ogre tribes covet the valleys through which the Ivory Road runs, as steep fees can be demanded from any who dare travel along it. There is such competition for these prime locales, that only the strongest of tribes can maintain control over such plum territories for long. Currently, the largest tract of the Ivory Road runs through the kingdom of the Ogre Overtyrant, Greasus Goldtooth. As this road is the best bath for Ogres taking a pilgrimage to the Great Maw, there is always revenue streaming into the coffers of Greasus.[2b]

Other known inhabitantsEdit

  • Dragon Ogres - They used to live in many mountaintops of the Mountains of Mourn until the Ogres drove them northwards during the Dragon Ogre Wars of -2400 IC.[2c]
  • Dwarfs - Following rumors about a mountain made of pure gold, several dwarven expeditions crossed the Dark Lands and settled in the Mountains of Mourn to search for it. Karak Vrag, Karak Azorn and Karak Krakaten were founded during this time, but had to be abandoned after constant attacks from Ogres. The few surviving ones are well-hidden from every outsider.[2d][2e]
  • Black Orcs - After their armed revolt in Zharr-Naggrund and their expulsion in -100 IC, many Black Orcs settled in the Mountains of Mourn, often fighting against the Ogres.[2c][4a]
  • Skaven - Around 920-940 IC, Skaven started to infestate the western edge of the Mountains of Mourn. Most were found by the Ogres thanks to their Sabretusks' sense of smell, and destroyed, but not all.[2d] Clan Moulder currently keeps strong ties with the tribe of Tyrant Shrewd Fulg, turning any of his rivals into Rat Ogres.[1b]
  • Halflings - At least the Feastmaster Tribe keep a sizable number of Halfling servants in their realm after their Tyrant Blaut Granitetooth (later 'Blaut Feastmaster') captured them in 2480 IC.[2d]
  • Hobgoblins - The tribe of the Sneaky Gits live in the mountain clefts of the Vale of Woe (known in Khazalid as Gash Kadrak) to the northwest of the Mountains of Mourn. Thousands of slaves toil there under the cruel lashes of their Hobgoblin overseers.[4b]

SourcesEdit

  • 1 Warhammer Armies: Ogre Kingdoms (6th Edition).
    • 1a pg. 14
    • 1b pg. 56
  • 2 Warhammer Armies: Ogre Kingdoms (8th Edition).
    • 2a pg. 12
    • 2b pg. 13
    • 2c pg. 22
    • 2d pg. 23
    • 2e pg. 26
  • 3 Tamurkhan: The Throne of Chaos.
    • 3a pg. 24
  • 4 Warhammer Armies: Chaos Dwarfs (4th Edition).

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