The Ashen Veld
Once a region of fertile country-side, this large plain in north-central Demistra is now a grey and desolate wasteland of ash, the product of dragon-fire and an ancient curse… at least on the surface. The Veld is rumored to be home to many underground dungeons and caves which were largely left untouched by cataclysm that destroyed the surface. It is also said that these dungeons are home to ancient treasures, dark secrets, and terrible monstrosities. The most infamous dungeon in the Ashen Veld is the Black Keep of Kalvos, the only above-ground building that still exists in the Veld.
The Ashen Veld was once a fertile land inhabited by Humans and Halflings. At this time, approximately 3000 years ago, it was known as Merida, a prosperous and relatively peaceful kingdom. However, the prosperity of Merida would not last.
In the year 2260 of the Second Age a great red Wyrm known as Tiberus The Defiler came to covet the treasures that the royal family of Merida had amassed. He and his followers, a great horde of Kobolds and Lizardfolk, marched from the mountains they ruled in the west towards the Meridan capital of Kalvos, burning everything in their wake. Thousands died at the claws of Tiberus and his disciples, and knowing that they could not stand to such a foe, the citizens of Kalvos fled for their very lives.
Only two dozen men remained, the King of the Meridans, now known to history as Ivan the Sorrowful, and his elite guard. Knowing they could not defeat the dragons forces in the field, but needing to buy time for the fleeing citizens, King Ivan came up with a plan to get vengeance upon the foul Defiler. Knowing Tiberus’ favorite tactic for taking cities, Ivan had his remaining men take all of the treasure from the castle coffers and place it amongst the houses of the poor. He and his men then dressed themselves for battle and waited for the dragon’s forces in the keep of Castle Kalvos, a stone building which had been enchanted with spells protecting it from fire.
When Tiberus and his forces arrived at Kalvos, the great red dragon proceeded to burn the wooden buildings of the town, a tactic he employed out of cruelty, forcing the King to watch as his city and people burned around him. However, Tiberus did not know that the city had been evacuated, and instead of people, those buildings contained the treasure hoard he sought…. a treasure hoard his fiery breath destroyed. When he realized what had happened, Tiberus was livid, and he sought vengeance upon King Ivan. He and his forces lay siege to the castle, which the 24 valiant knights of Merida managed to defend for an impressive 3 full days.
Eventually, King Ivan was slain in combat by Tiberus, and the keep was overrun with kobolds. Tiberus then ordered his minions to go hunt down the refugees from the city who had escaped, but the brave knights had bought them enough time to make it beyond the dragon’s reach and in to the borders of more powerful allied kingdoms. This was the last straw for Tiberus, who now ordered his soldiers to burn the entire kingdom down. A good deal of this he did himself, and when the entire land that had once been Merida was in flames, he called upon his eldrich magic and cursed the land to be eternally barren. The flames over Merida burned for weeks, and when they were finally doused in a great rain (some say sent by the Goddess Avigal), all that remained was a wasteland of grey ash, with a lone castle, damaged and blackened, but not destroyed, in its center.