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Naggaroth is a fictional land in the Warhammer Fantasy fictional universe. Geographically, it corresponds closely with North America in the real world, but mostly the Hudson's Bay and Great Lakes regions of Eastern Canada and upper New England. It is the homeland of the Dark Elves, who have colonized it since they were exiled from their homeland in Ulthuan.
Naggaroth is bordered on the north by the Realm of Chaos (called also Chaos Wastes) and on the south by the tip of Lustria. The continent is split by a vast and rugged mountain range called the Blackspines (from "Black Spine of the World"). The high average elevation and climate factors combine to make the average temperature across most of the continent bitterly cold. Thus Naggaroth has also been called the "Land of Chill". Most of the continent is harsh and unforgiving wilderness, making travel overland extremely difficult. The Dark Elves have overcome this problem by exploring and charting a vast labyrinth of underground waterways which connect a series of fortified gates across the land.
There are six major cities in Naggaroth which contain a significant portion of the Dark Elf population. These cities were built as multi-walled fortresses and almost all life in Naggaroth is centered around them. Naggarond, the capital, is one of the largest population centers in the Warhammer world. It is the seat of power for Malekith, the king of the Dark Elves, and his royal court. Ghrond is the northernmost city and is the main center for the Temple of Kaela Mensha Khaine. Karond Kar is an island fortress that houses the holding pens and slave markets of the Beastmasters. Har Ganeth is home to the infamous Executioners. Hag Graef is a mining and production center. Clar Karond hosts the Dark Elf shipyards and lumber mills.
Naggarond, the Tower of Cold
Naggarond is the most evil city in the world and the most mighty of all the cities of Naggaroth. Its black stone walls rise a hundred feet from the ground and set within them are four vast gateways with doors of iron fifty feet high. Above the walls are set a hundred towers, which rise as high above the walls as the walls rise from the rock. From these towers fly the banners of the Witch-King. The severed heads of those sacrificed upon the altars of Khaine are displayed from the spikes upon the battlements, and the skins of those flayed alive in the god's honour hang from the walls. Within its walls the city rises higher and higher, and at its pinnacle stands the tower of the Witch King, the Dark Lord of Naggarond, Malekith, formerly heir to the Phoenix throne. From his tall tower the Witch King rules his domain with a will of iron. His tower rises high above the city and from it spring battlements and lesser towers, for it is a great and impregnable fortress in its own right.
It is said that the sorceries of the Witch King enable him to look out upon the whole world from his tower, to direct his withering gaze where so ever it pleases his malicious intent. If his eye should fall upon a man then the Witch King's evil gaze can cause his mind to break and the flesh to fall from his bones, for such is the Dark Lord's evil power. He watches his armies ride to war, and sees the dark-clad messengers scurry about his land. Far off he watches the land of Ulthuan behind its protective mists of magic, and he feels the keen hatred burning within his heart.
The city is shrouded in a perpetual pall of sacrificial smoke that rises from the burning altars of Khaine, the God of Murder. Upon these altars the Hag Queens tear Men and Elves apart. They pluck beating hearts from living bodies and pull entrails from bellies and burn them in the sacrificial flame of the God of murder. In the temples of Khaine blood flows night and day, and more honour Khaine with their deaths than anywhere else except perhaps the city of Har Ganeth itself, where even the pavement is stained with blood.
Ghrond, the North Tower
Ghrond lies in the bitterly cold north of the Witch King's domain. In shape it is like the great city of Naggarond, yet in size it is far smaller, a fortress to be garrisoned rather than a place in which to dwell. Its single massive tower, grim, black, and slender like a spear, rises from its mountain spur.
From this tower sorceresses watch over the ever shifting Realm of Chaos, place of gods and source of all magical power for good and ill alike. Within the Realm of Chaos the lands seethe with energy, rising like the sea, whilst the air is bathed in competing colours of sorcery, turning and twisting, howling and crying like the wind. The sorceresses observe the changes in the Realm of Chaos, for it is said that the patterns of change hold the secrets to the future, and that all secrets are contained therein for those who dare to look.
Every day dark clad riders gallop away from the tower of Ghrond bearing the reports of its guardians to Naggarond. These foretell of things to come, of auspicious moments when the Witch King's armies may meet with success, or of the growing power of his enemies. From these observations the Witch King plots his strategies and launches his armies upon the World.
Ghrond serves as a bastion against the hordes of Chaos. It has a large garrison, quite capable of putting down small to major invasions from the Wastes.
Karond Kar, the Tower of Despair
In the tongue of men the city of Karond Kar is called the City of Despair. It is to this terrible place that thousands of slaves are brought; men from the Old World; Elves from Ulthuan, and more from across the world, all destined to serve the Witch King. The wailing spirits of dead slaves are said to haunt the whole city. The Dark Elves love to hear this sound of dread and despair. It fills their dreams with delicious images of suffering and pain.
Many slaves die upon the altars of Khaine, their hearts torn from their bodies, whilst others are sent north and south to labour in the mines and quarries of the Witch King.
Thousands die as they cross the seas to Karond Kar, stifled and suffocated in the holds of the slave ships, or tortured to death for the entertainment of the black hearted crew. From the docks the slaves are driven in chains amidst the jeering crowds. As the slave masters beat them forward many stumble on the steep rock and are trampled to death by the chained feet of those who follow. At this sight the crowds laugh all the louder and cry with pleasure, for such is their love of cruelty that this sorry spectacle is rated a great entertainment.
The Beastmasters hail from Karond Kar and the mighty hydras and manticores follow. When a druchii child shows aptitude for taming beasts he is sent to the Tower of Despair to study under the masters that dwell there. It is also here that the monstrous Cold Ones are broken for service, so the Dark Elves can ride them to war.
Hag Graef, the Dark Crag
Hag Graef is named the Dark Crag, and of all the cities of the Dark Elves it is feared the most, for no captive man or Elf has ever escaped from this place. It lies at the bottom of a cold, dark valley and is completely surrounded by mountains of bare black rock, higher than the highest walls. No sunlight reaches the city of Hag Graef and it is shrouded in gloom and shadow.
The city was built by Druchii generals who had been defeated in battle by the High Elves: fearful of Malekith's wrath, they built the city as an easy way to defend themselves from any punitive attack Malekith might send against them. The current druchii family in charge of the city changes rapidly: currently it is ruled by the house of chains, led by the infamous Malus Darkblade. However, the Witch King, under the direction of Morathi, used politics, instead of warfare, to claim lordship of Hag Graef. Legends tell of how Malekith held a feast for the nobles of Hag Graef and produced a number of goblets filled with wine, stating one among the goblets was poisoned. Malekith said that any noble willing to risk drinking would receive a share of the city and his blessing to rule. All the nobles drank, not wanting to lose face in front of their rivals: once all the nobles had drunk, Malekith then delightedly revealed that all the wine had been poisoned, and only by swearing unconditional loyalty to him would the nobles receive the antidote.
All about the city lie many mines and quarries from where the Witch King takes iron and stone to arm his warriors and build his fortresses. Thousands of slaves labour in his service. Chained together they scrape and hack at the rock, often deep underground in narrow tunnels and dark passages. The chill winds bite deep and there is little to eat but scraps of foul dark bread, for the Dark Elves enjoy to see their slaves cold and starving, and beat them all the harder when they fall faint with hunger.
All the black mountains about Hag Graef are riddled with tunnels and excavations, and it is during their excavations for rock and ore that the Dark Elves discovered the great subterranean lake they call the Underworld Sea. Beneath Hag Graef the mountains rise and buckle, so that as the peaks rise into the air a gigantic cavern lies beneath the earth. This Underworld Sea was first discovered by the Dark Lord of Hag Graef, Kaledor Maglan. So great is its extent that the dark Elves have sailed upon this sea and explored its countless caves and branches, though doubtless the Underworld still holds many secrets.
In the deepest caverns of this Underworld the Dark Elves discovered strange reptilian creatures which they called Cold Ones. The stables of Hag Graef are full of these monstrous beasts, and many Dark Elves descend into the depths to hunt them.
Har Ganeth, the City of Executioners
The very name of Har Ganeth is cursed with evil. In Ulthuan, none will even speak of the city which they call only 'The Cursed Place', whilst to the Dark Elves it is known as the 'City of the Executioners'.
Once the High Elves brought battle to Har Ganeth and attacked the city with as great an army as had ever fought in the Witch King's land. For many days and nights the battle raged and at last the High Elves were driven from the field. Many fell as they turned to flee, yet many more were taken captive. Too exhausted to fight on they collapsed and woke to find themselves upon the altars of Khaine. The celebration of the Dark Elves was a terrible thing to behold. Captive after captive was brought to the altars and slain in the most cruel ways imaginable. The screams of the dying mingled with the shallow laughter of the Witch Elves as they danced naked about the bodies of the slain. Wine and blood flowed from the altars, and drunkenly the Dark Elves praised their evil god. For many nights the sacrificial fires burned and the Dark Elves feasted upon raw flesh. It was a madness of death and when it was over the sun rose upon a city stained red with blood.
Blood fountained from the windows of the high citadel and ran down the streets like a river. Crimson gore spattered the temples of Khaine and stained his brazen idols. The steps of his temples were littered with the dismembered corpses of the slain. Everywhere lay Dark Elves entwined and covered in blood, stupified with wine and gorged upon raw flesh, sated upon the horrors of their own inhuman depravity. Har Ganeth is the city of executioners. To those who retain a shred of decency it is known only as the cursed place.
Clar Karond, the Tower of Doom
In Clar Karond untold slaves labour upon the fleets of the Witch King, for here are his principal dockyards, where the raiding ships are built that harry the lands of the Ulthuan and beyond. The city is vast and sprawling, and all around it is surrounded by forests of towering pines, black trees that harbour few creatures and cloak the ground beneath so that all is darkness in the forests of shadows. Chained slave gangs work the forests, cutting and dragging the massive timbers into the city of Clar Karond - the tower of Doom as it is called by men.
The Watch Towers
Across the Northlands of Naggaroth the Witch King has raised many watch towers upon the borders of the Realm of Chaos. Though mighty he is ever fearful of treachery, for betrayal and treachery lay heavily on his mind, for such is his nature that he supposes others to be as greedy for power as himself. He sees enemies to the south in Ulthuan, to the east he spies the men of the Old World whose power grows by the day, further still are the Dwarfs - enemies of old who plot with men to overthrow him.
Yet the greatest enemy of all, but lies to the north, in the realm of Chaos. Here the Chaos gods watch and listen, gathering their armies for the time when chaos shall inherit the whole world. The Witch King watches also. His towers guard against the warbands that would harry his lands. His armies wait for the invasion of the gods, safe behind their stone walls in the bitter cold of the north
- Johnson, J., Blanche, J. 1998. Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves. Nottingham: Games Workshop Ltd. ISBN 1-869893-16-6