So we've looked at the city of Ashen Grey at its height, but if you've read yesterday's article featuring the Deep Sickness it should be apparent that some things have changed since we last toured this great city. Disaster has stuck, culture has fallen, and beasts roam wild just to name a few things coming to this new age of adventure. Without going into a full history of the city there are some important events that have fundamentally changed the now Kingdom of Ashen Grey.
The Age of Residium
I touched on this mineral a bit when talking about Deep Sickness, but it merits its own mention. As the city grew adventurers came across a new and powerful gem that seemed to pulse with arcane energy. As time went on these gems made their way into the gnomish quarter where through inventive study it was discovered that the mineral had a very peculiar trait, it could store and even amplify arcane energy. With this discovery a new age of magical advancement was kicked off with even every day citizens owning at least a few time and energy saving magical items from Infinite Vacuums to Rags of Cleaning, airships started using them as a more stable energy source than imprisoned elementals, and gold was valued in residium instead of the other way around. The City of Ashen Grey became but the shining crown gem in an entire kingdom with sister cities, towns and hamlets across the continent.
Deep Sickness & The Residium Fields
While the age of residium provided new and unlimited potential the gems themselves needed to come from somewhere. While pockets of it could be found by any lucky explorer the real gold mine was to the north in what became known as The Great Residium Fields where a single massive field of the gems the size of houses jutted from the ground surrounding an ancient mountain where the first incarnation of Thor was slain by Loki. It is unclear if this act is what caused so many of the powerful gems to form, but what is known is that while massive all the gems in this area were energized with arcane lightning which constantly arched from rock to rock. The dangers of the area killed all but the most prepared leaving only the wealthiest and most experienced mining companies to hold any constant claim to the land below the fields.
It wasn't until several years later that anyone would know the effects to living within the fields long term. Many of the races began developing strange quirks and then mental breakdowns until finally the jet black skin that became the sign of Deep Sickness. As it turns out the constant arcane exposure had a warping effect on all but the strongest of willed minds, but in turn their bodies would gain magical effects. Most would slowly go mad leaving nothing more than a lump of flesh that knew nothing more than to dig, but others would survive becoming demented murderers and criminals. While obviously Deep Sickness didn't guarantee such an outcome it became frequent enough for t to be considered fact by most and still haunts many folk tales.
Like all golden ages eventually it has to come to an end and for the Residium Age is ended with a bang, While it is unclear exactly what happened in the final days what is known is that an experiment withing the heart of the thriving Gnomish Quarter caused a catastrophic explosion leaving a crater in the heart of the city. On top of the initial destruction all residium withing 10 miles of the event burnt out and cracked, including the gems powering any and all nearby air ships. Rumors surfaced that all outposts to the city larger than a small village suffered similar fates, but between the loss of mass transportation and the chaos of destruction it is hard to know for sure.
Not long after the event strange new plant life began growing all around the city and eventually in the crater itself. What expeditions to outposts that had left were quickly cut off by this new forest leaving Ashen Grey once again in isolation. Then came the beasts seeming to grow from the forest itself driving citizens from many of the districts of the city. Now districts have become but towns separated by winding corridors of a dead city littered with bests and the wilds still attempting to reclaim the city.
What landmarks of the old city remain? What caused the fall? What of the other cities across the land? These are all mysteries for our newest heroes in the upcoming game as well and hole left to fill in yourself in your own games.