Buried but not Forgotten
Sigmar Heldenhammer is the founder and patron god of The Empire of Man. About 2500 years before the present time, Sigmar was a mortal human who united the twelve human tribes living between the Grey Mountains and the Worlds Edge Mountains of the Old World, with the tribal territories becoming the twelve original provincial states of the Empire.
The Imperial Calendar (IC) which takes its starting date from Sigmar’s coronation as Emperor, places his birth as the year IC -30, in the Reikland area in the southwest of the Empire, to the Unberogen tribe, generally considered to have been one of the most powerful pre-Empire tribes. The night of his birth was marked with the appearance of a Twin-Tailed Comet, which the human tribes took as a sign of great portent from the gods. In the year IC -15, the young lord Sigmar led a punitive expedition against a Greenskin war-party that was holding the Dwarf King of Karaz-a-Karak, Kurgan Ironbeard, a prisoner. In gratitude for his rescue, Kurgan presented the young warrior with a magical rune-enchanted Warhammer called Ghal Maraz (“Skull-splitter”).
Sigmar then went on a campaign to unite the disparate tribes of the future Empire, and one by one they submitted, either by conquest or diplomacy. The most famous incident was his subjugation of the belligerent Teutogens, the largest and most powerful of the tribes, who lived near the Middle Mountains in the north central Empire, near the current location of the Middenheim City-State (Freistadt). Their chieftain, Artur, was defeated by Sigmar in single combat, and this is commonly held to have been the point at which Sigmar gained control of the tribes of the Empire.
Orc Wars and Coronation
Dwarfs came, from Kurgan High King of the Dwarfs, whose hall is Karak. A noble messenger, Alaric the Runesmith. From the far Black Mountains. Who braved the Blackfire Pass, where Goblins uncounted, and Black Orcs eager for slaughter, besieged the Dwarf holds. Sigmar hammer-holder shall come and fight beside his friend. Goblins shall not stand between us, Men and Dwarfs. In Blackfire Pass, men fought the foe. Cut a swath through the horde. Met the Dwarfs and embraced them. Brothers in battle. Sigmar Helden Hammer and Kurgan the King. The Hammer of the Goblins. And the Anvil of the Dwarfs.
~ An excerpt from The Ballad of Sigmar, Warhammer Fantasy Battle Rulebook, 6th edition. (Copyright Games Workshop)
After uniting the tribes which would later become the Empire, Sigmar embarked upon a campaign of purgation and liberation throughout all of the tribal lands, primarily against the Greenskin and Beastmen races. This culminated when Alaric the Runesmith was sent by the Dwarfs to ask for aid in Black Fire Pass, which was being besieged by Orcs and Goblins, in the First Battle of Black Fire Pass (IC -1) the Dwarfs and Humans fought side by side and managed to defeat the vast WAAGH!. Following this great victory, Sigmar returned in triumph to his native Reikland and was crowned Emperor Sigmar Heldenhammer, ‘Hammer of the Goblins’, by the High Priest of Ulric, using a crown made by Alaric the Runesmith, at Reikdorf, the site of the current Imperial capital of Altdorf. This date remains the Empire’s greatest holy day, as it marks Sigmar’s coronation and also his abdication fifty years later (IC 50) – it is in the summer of the Imperial year, on the 18th day of the month of Sigmarzeit.
Sigmar set up the leaders of the twelve tribes that followed him as the Elector Counts of the Empire, a position that remains to this day. The Runefang swords, commissioned by Sigmar to the legendary Dwarf smith Alaric the Mad, were not finished before Sigmar’s abdication, but nevertheless remain among the most potent symbols of Imperial rule.
In his fiftieth year of reigning, Sigmar put by his crown and set off to see what lay beyond the World’s Edge Mountains to the east, in a similar fashion to the Dwarf ancestor/warrior deity Grimnir the Fearless, who legendarily strode off into the Realm of Chaos to do battle with the Chaotic powers. Following his disappearance, Sigmar passed over the World’s Edge mountain range and no human ever saw him again except for the white bearded dwarf.
In the Dwarf language (Khazalid), it means ‘skull-splitter’, the legendary hammer of Sigmar, forged by the Dwarf runesmith Alaric the Mad, is a symbol of Imperial unity, and the defense of humankind and the Empire. Along with the Twin-tailed Comet, it is the primary sign of Sigmar employed by the Cult. In remembrance and honor of Ghal Maraz, the martial arm of the Sigmarite cult, the Order of the Silver Hammer, use warhammers in battle. The hammer is under the protection of the Emperor, and in the Storm of Chaos (not in the Age of Reckoning) was gifted to Valten of Lachenbad.
The sign that appeared in the heavens on the night of Sigmar’s birth, it has become a universal symbol of his cult.
Popular following the 2300s and the reign of Emperor Magnus I (‘the Pious’), this was his personal heraldry that has been adopted by the Emperors that have followed him (the so-named ‘Griffon Emperors’ of Reikland), the griffon has been adopted to some degree by the Sigmarite cult as well, particularly in the form of the Jade Griffon, a magical artefact worn by the Grand Theogonists to protect them in battle.
A long-standing symbol of Imperial unity, the top three arms stand for the northern, western, and eastern tribes of the ancient Empire, and the bottom refers to the Dwarfs, the Empire’s oldest and staunchest allies. It has connotations of unity and oaths fulfilled.
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