The Ashen Wastes
The endless sandy expanse south of the Pass of Suleman is known in the Modern Age as “The Ashen Wastes”, but this was not always it’s name. During the Second Age a conflict called the Great Desecration raged in this land amongst the great Mages of the era over a great discovery, the nature of which has been lost to the mists of time and the all consuming hunger for destruction that warfare brings. What little remains known is somewhat common knowledge.
At the end of the Second Age, the lands of Engenniom were verdant, stretching from the great southern ocean to the the peaks of the Barrier Peaks. The inhabitants of this land were descended from seafarers of the First Age who had sailed south from the Midlands to the Gap of Eidea, named for Eidea, the wife of the legendary explorer Ursuadur the Wanderer. During the Second Age, Engenniom had flourished, with rich farmlands covered with bountiful harvests of foods and woods not found elsewhere in Verth. A limited form of trade sprung up between the villages and cities of Engenniom and the outside world via the Gap of Eidea and the port town of Urius. For a time, this was good.
Magic had always been present in Verth, from the Weaving of the world until the Second Age, but a discovery of great import during the Age changed the nature of Magic and the fate of Engenniom forever. The nature of the discovery is no longer to be found amongst the histories, but the discoverer’s name remains. Piers Boteler, a Hedge Wizard living in Bael Nerath made the discovery in year 1136 SA (Second Age), and shortly thereafter founded an order of Mages known as Arcanus Ordinis. History records that this discovery lead to an increasing number of Mages revealing themselves within the various regions of Engenniom. One of the few historical references written near the time period, Raveling Threads by the historian Morys Yate, records that Mages began to attain positions of influence or power. If this occurs by dint of their increasing representation in the population or by the active pursuit of power is not recorded and is the subject of some debate among the historians of the Common Era.
Further recorded in Raveling Threads is this: as the the Second Age drew near to it’s close, the regions of Engenniom which had never been united in any real sense began to isolate themselves from each other as the Mages that had come to rule them shaped them into more and more insular city-states. How many is lost to time, but of these the greatest surely must have been Bael Turath. Located in the north of Engenniom, the histories record it as a particularly enlightened center of learning. However, at the twilight of the Second Age, the Crown Prince of the city was Enrys Marakos.
Marakos was a vain and weak willed and indulged in courting something called Paradasca, what historians have now decided was a demon of a particularly capricious and unpredictable nature. As Marakos’ practices in Magic progresed, Bael Nerath became more totalitarian and rule-bound. Of the Library of the City, only a few snippets of Marakos’ book “On Rule of Law” survive.
Around 1640 SA, rising tensions amongst the Mage City-States reached a flashpoint, igniting the war that came to be known as the Great Desecration. No records of the individual battles remain, but the ending is well enough documented by Raveling Threads. Bael Nerath sent it’s Mage-troops across the lands to the south, snuffing out the lesser States within a few short decades, and by 1685 SA only Bael Nerath and the southern most City State remained. Hard pressed and in danger of being overwhelmed by Bael Turath and it’s armies, which by now were swelled by numbers of the walking dead, the City of the South unleashed a creation never before seen upon Verth. At the Battle of Hewn Limbs, legend holds that men made entirely of metal and oils called the Warforged marched into battle to match the undead hordes. Archmages on either side drew deeply of their Magics to defeat their foes. As the battle raged, the Mages turned increasingly to the surrounding lands for the power to fuel their most terrible battle spells. Finally, as the conflict reached it’s peak the City of the South’s Prime Archmage, Suleman wrought such a spell that the surrounding landscape turned to sand as the forces of life were depleted utterly.
Marakos’ and Bael Nerath were heavily damaged by the scope of power of the spell. The Crown Prince was mortally wounded, leaving his Regent in control of the Cities’ shattered forces. Suleman’s city was utterly gone, it’s people’s lives harvested by the power of the strike. Paradasca chose this moment to strike, swallowing what remained of the City of the South and substantial tracts of Engenniom.
Distraught with what his deeds had wrought, Suleman wandered the face of the newly formed Sea of Silt, haggard and broken. When he arrived at Bael Nerath, Suleman’s grief was made keener by the fear the common folk had for him, fleeing north until they were stopped by the Barrier Peaks. In his mercy, he wrought his Magic again, blasting the Pass of Suleman into the mountain wall, opening the Midlands to the fleeing refugees.
Suleman then journeyed to the southwest, headed for the Gap of Eidea. For what purpose is not recorded, but he never made it that far. Upon the sight of the capital of one of the fallen City-States, Suleman wrought his magic for the final time. Drawing on his own considerable life force, he smote the ground with lightning that could be seen across the world. The earth buckled and heaved, raising the Dragon Glass Mountains and upon the spot where Suleman stood, the Eye of Fire, a massive volcano wreathed in fire and the restless spirits of malice and grief of those who died in the Great Desecration.
In the Modern Era, the Ashen Waste is dominated by the Sea of Silt, a nearly formless desert comprising the majority of the landmass from the Barrier Peaks to the Rim Wall.