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"The tainted masters of countless empires ruled from Vor Kragal, their seat of power. Vor Kragal pulsed with the terrifying might to break the souls of kings, and its markets flowed with the treasures of a hundred worlds. The secrets of life everlasting and the power to touch the face of the gods were all as commonplace to the tieflings of old as irrigating crops or erecting a simple stone wall is to those living in our current age. The magic of the present is a crude tool when compared to the dance of the elements seen in the past. Such power. For even a glimpse of it, a person might trade his soul. Now, though, the ruins of Vor Kragal are merely an ashen landscape that unknown terrors call home."

—Leatherface Lorand-- veteran adventurer 1

Vor Kragal

The remnants of risen Vor Kragal

Vor Kragal was the jewel of the southern tiefling empire and an epicenter of Bael Turath’s power in their brutal war against the dragonborn empire of Arkhosia. Of the noble families cursed with infernal blood, three of the most powerful called Vor Kragal home. When their already prodigious mastery of magic was coupled with fiendish pacts with some of the Nine Hells’ sinister archfiends, these families transformed the city into an overwhelming wellspring of power. A civilization at its height is only moments away from a fall. Vor Kragal’s gloried years spent reveling in its infernal might was tottering on the precipice of its doom. Though constant sieges laid by the Arkhosian dragon kings did their fair share of damage, in the end, no one knows if a dragon assault or the tireless feuding of the city’s three ruling families was the cause of the crushing cataclysm that buried the city of Vor Kragal in ash for thousands of years.The city is situated in an ashen wasteland now, and thirty years ago an earthquake caused a large portion of Vor Kragal to rise to the surface. Its ascent caused it to slough off layers of volcanic ash. For the first time in millennia, a lost city of the tiefling empire of Bael Turath was exposed to the world around it again. 1

The Ruling Houses of Vor KragalEdit

The city thrived under the evil guidance of these three ruling houses, and they each erected breathtaking monuments to their hellish power. It didn’t take long for the populace to abuse their newfound powers as they descended into unimaginable decadence and engaged in debauchery far beyond most mortals’sickest fantasies. 1

House BarikdralEdit

House Barikdral, already widely feared and respected for its mastery of the necromantic arts, erected a citadel of blackened bone as the nexus of its power. As the empire was about to fall, the Barikdral locked themselves within it, forever speaking to the outside world through undead servitors and messengers. 1

Johara BarikdralEdit
Before the decline of Vor Kragal, the matron of Barikdral was an unnaturally tall tiefling female with a wild mane of white hair cascading to the ground and even trailing several feet behind her. In the early years of her reign, this vibrant tiefling female often appeared on the pate of a giant’s charred skull that she used for a flying chariot. Soaring overhead, the wind blowing her shock-white hair around her, she displayed her august presence daily to the lesser citizens of the empire as a reminder never to challenge House Barikdral. Her name was Jorhara, and her voice was death.
Jorhara Barikdral

Johara Barikdral

She spoke through undead mouthpieces. The sound of one syllable uttered from her rasping throat caused listeners to keel over stone dead and arise as mindless zombies wanting only to follow the honeyed commands of Jorhara’s slaying voice. As she grew ancient and withered, she took to wearing clinging black gowns that fit her bony figure, and her fingers grew disturbingly long. Finally she vanished within the Charspire altogether and never emerged again, and she communicated to others only through her rotting envoys. 1
CharspireEdit

Charspire is a citadel with spires created from the blackened bones of a dragon’s jagged rib cage, and it reaches a half mile into the sky. Lightning caresses the spires constantly. These blue-white tendrils reach down from the swirling purple tempest that oft darkens Vor Kragal’s accursed sky. Charspire was the stronghold of House Barikdral at the height of Bael Turath’s power. The fortress, constructed entirely of charred bone and scorched sinew, was shut five years before the fall of the city and it never opened again. The members of House Barikdral sequestered themselves within it. From then on their dire masters dealt with others only through undead mouthpieces expelled through disgusting corpuscles on the citadel’s surface. These slime-slick servitors relayed messages from the Barikdral to the other houses, and issued general edicts to the citizens of the city by roving the streets at midnight, crooning and gurgling into the darkness.Even during the cataclysm that brought Vor Kragal to its knees, the Charspire was impregnable. Whatever prodigious effects the Barikdral placed on their stronghold occluded even the most potent translocation magic and rebuffed epic magical assaults. Charspire still stands today. Dubious eyewitness reports of the city’s rise from the ashen fields years ago claim the Charspire broke ground first and led the rest of Vor Kragal up from the depths. More disturbing is the Charspire’s tendency to wander. The huge citadel rarely appears at the same place inside Vor Kragal. The Charspire, either at the command of some deathless master within or because of an ongoing effect left behind by the fallen Barikdral, teleports to a new location each night. Usually the bone citadel confines its wanderings to the city proper of Vor Kragal, but on occasion, people living in settlements near the city have spotted the Charspire looming unsettlingly close, which means it can move itself several leagues from the ashen ruins of its home. The paranoid among these witnesses claim that two red lights gleam from the citadel’s upper parapets on these terrifying nights. They say the Charspire is watching them, carefully surveying the power of nearby settlements in preparation for something terrible. If a master of Charspire still lives, no one has laid eyes on this being. Some say the citadel is its own master now and is imbued with a dread unlife. Many dismiss the movements as random or even a trick of the moonlight. To any who record its travels, it becomes painfully obvious the Charspire’s movements have a method to their madness. The Charspire moves in strange oscillating spirals over the course of years as if it were patrolling the region, or scouting for foes. The Charspire’s movements make it the easiest landmark in Vor Kragal to approach. On some nights it sits far from the other dangers of the city. However, the few attempts made to breach the gates have unleashed a torrent of moaning undead and giant bone golems that slaughter every living creature in sight with impunity. More than one village setting down its roots too near Vor Kragal has been devoured wholesale by the predations of these rotting things after a foolhardy band of adventurers wandered up to the citadel in the black of night. 1

House KahlirEdit

House Kahlir created a sprawling, labyrinthine complex of exsanguination chambers and gory pits of sacrifice where its members practiced their blood rites unabated. Dragonborn prisoners of war were marched into this grim maze by the thousands. What fell purpose their spilled blood served is unknown, and even today, those who enter Kahlir’s labyrinth never return. 1

Barathas Kahlir Edit
The Blood King of House Kahlir at the time of the fall was a grotesquely corpulent vampire tiefling named Barathas, who gorged himself on blood day and night. The demented king dispensed with clothing entirely, which allowed his growing rolls of blood-seeping fat to cover him.
Barathas Kahlir

Barathas Kahlir

His giant pudgy face was dominated by a huge mouth filled with flesh-shearing fangs. His horns appeared tiny compared to his unseemly girth. The ravenous monster’s appetite grew too fast for him to adequately feed himself by conventional means. In his later years he focused his powers to do horrific things to his foes. Ancient texts report he could drink a person’s blood from 100 yards away just by casting a hungry glance at him. 1
The Vein MazeEdit

The gory seat of power of House Kahlir, this vast labyrinth of red stone and brick is said to be mortared together with the blood of a dozen empires. In the culling days of House Kahlir’s height, thousands of slaves where brought to the Vein Maze daily, all destined to be drained to husks.The dizzying labyrinth is filled with secret exsanguination chambers, hidden altars of brutal sacrifice, pleasure baths of boiling blood said to restore decades of life to a mortal who bathes in them, bizarre honeycomb chambers of bloodsucking insects—each the size of an elephant calf—and a thousand other obscene affronts to the gods. In the glory days of Kahlir, the maze was their sprawling pleasure palace where they could feed with impunity and revel in their bloodthirst. The Vein Maze also served as Vor Kragal’s prison, though the sentence ended up being death by the painful draining of every ounce of the prisoner’s blood. These drained husks patrolled the maze after their punishment was meted out. From prisoner to warden, the husks roved in gangs, ensuring the other inmates or trespassers underwent the same horrific transformation they had suffered. Reports from the few adventurers who have braved the Vein Maze since Kragal’s rise report these gangs are still plentiful, with thousands of ghouls and zombies prowling every corner of the twisting labyrinth. If any members of House Kahlir still live, they are no doubt nestled somewhere in the heart of this dizzying hell. The Kahlir gave themselves over to vampirism long before the fall of the city, and they slaked their daily thirst on a hundred warm bodies’ worth of blood. If they still live today, their thirst must be maddening after a millennia trapped below tons of ash, and sages suggest they are more than likely feral creatures driven to utter frenzy by their hungers. 1

Creatures of KahlirEdit

Created through the torturous draining of their once-living blood, Kahlir husks seek to recover what they lost. Husks appear as withered, desiccated humanoid corpses, their skin drawn taut from a lack of body fluids.The Kahlir themselves became monsters whose only sustenance came from blood, and some became truly immortal. Now, those few that remain lust for blood more than anything else. Kahlir vampires look much as other sorts of vampires, although their faces are nearly always slightly flushed and plump, as if they had recently fed. Kahlir bloodworms denied fresh blood, their only source of sustence, can form a rock-hard coccoon. But when fresh blood nears, they wriggle free of their stone-hard husks and seek the bags of sweet, red sustenance. The worms are nearly 5 feet long, and the dark red of fresh blood when they’ve freshly fed. Their coloration grows more and more pale the longer they are denied the blood they crave. 1

House ZolfuraEdit

The elemental magic of House Zolfura gained tremendous boons from their new devil patrons. They transformed a large section of the city into a crucible of fire, acid, and ice where no living foe of House Zolfura could pass without being charred and blasted to utter oblivion. What secrets of the cosmos they uncovered within its thrumming halls of power remains a mystery to this day. 1

Krumos and Kaieta ZolfurEdit
Zolfura’s throne at the end of Vor Kragal’s days was shared by a brother and sister, named Krumos and Kaieta. Tales purport their bodies had become imbued with such prodigious and unnatural thermal extremes that if either wandered more than a short distance from the other, they would both explode and take most of the city with them.
The zolfuras

Krumos and Kaieta Zolfura

Some even claim Krumos and Kaieta might be the true cause of Vor Kragal’s cataclysm. Kaieta was reportedly a striking tiefling female, noble and full figured, and ever cloaked in white-blue flame of impossible heat. Her brother Krumos was her opposite in every way—a tall impressive tiefling male cloaked in a sheen of opalescent ice. The freezing air around him formed thick chitinlike armored plates of sheer rime, which many theorized could protect him from any weapon. 1
Hellforge CrucibleEdit

This dragon-blasted crater, riddled with the crumbling ruins of what were once majestic obsidian monoliths, was the center of Vor Kragal’s war machine. Here furnaces fueled by the hellish fires of the city’s industry produced weapons of war unlike any wielded today. Devil smiths fueled their master forges with the souls of the fallen, harnessing unthinkable power into their dread creations. Sages speak of juggernauts the size of a majestic temple that moved like quicksilver at the speed of its wearer’s thoughts and that siphoned fuel from the souls of those culled under its wagon-sized fists of adamantine. The battlesmiths wrought blades of pure soulfire for the empire’s champions to bear against the dragon hordes. The soul-sizzling power of these hellforged swords was so dire that a mere touch of their blades could ignite an enemy with everburning flames that consumed them slowly over the course of an agonizing century. If legends are to believed, these weapons were the most meager of the smiths’ efforts. More terrifying records, including remnants of old tablets and scorched tatters of parchment, report actions so diabolical that most sages dismiss them as fancy or fraud for to accept them as fact might break a person’s sanity in half. These dubious reports testify to giant black spheres of void space set to explode and eat entire cities. They speak of a helm whose wearer can break an entire dimension to splinters of astral space and leave thei rpeople howling in oblivion. The terrors produced in the Hellforge Crucible are the stuff of legends and nightmares.The Crucible’s custodian, a deranged pit fiend named Rithzalgor, still reigns here. The twisted, palsied devil towers over everything around him. His thick, dragon-choking hands are strong enough to shape adamantine since he has spent thousands of years of smithing in the dark. Bound for eternity to serve House Zolfura as the master smith of Hellforge, the pit fiend’s mind buckled under the strain of millennia trapped beneath crushing ash and the ongoing task of repairing the Crucible’s Hellforge, which was obliterated in the cataclysm that consumed the city. Far more terrifying than an insane pit fiend (if such a thing can be imagined) is the fact that after thousands of years Rithzalgor and his minions might be on the brink of a breakthrough. If the warped pit fiend can stir the soul-embers of the Hellforge to life again, the world will witness the terrors of Bael Turath’s warmachine once more. With the Hellforge active, who knows what terrible juggernauts or world-ending weapons Rithzalgor can produce from its searing fires of creation. Rumors of his progress have reached the ears of several kings, and now mutterings of a crusade to quell the Hellforge once and for all have begun in the surrounding kingdoms. Such an endeavor might destroy an entire generation of able-bodied warriors.If no brave adventurers step up to the challenge of ending Rithzalgor soon, the world might weep rivers of smoking blood. 1

Other Notable Locations of Vor KragalEdit

The once majestic metropolis of the tieflings is now a fractured field of devastation. Still, shades of its former glory and timeless terrors created by the Houses of Vor Kragal still prowl her darkened streets and broken edifices. Many believe the scions of Vor Kragal’s three greatest houses perished in the apocalyptic event that turned the city into a tomb ages past, but infernal overseers of history’s most powerful empire do not die easy. Evil slumbering for thousands of years now begins to stir. A few adventurers have dared venture to the newly risen Vor Kragal with the hope of plundering its lost treasures, but the soul-shredding terrors that await them are loath to part with the relics of their more gloried age. From certain vantage points surrounding the broken city, one can take in the entirety of its sprawling wasteland. The Charspire juts from a pit of ash at its center, and running from the eastern rim of the city’s crater is the treacherous Vein Maze. The unnatural glow of the Hellforge Crucible casts a red gleam on the Pyramid of Lost Tales even on the blackest of nights. Most of the city still has layers of ash covering it, like a majestic metropolis swathed in the aftermath of a gray blizzard. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions rocked this place thousands of years ago, so whole majestic districts of manors and keeps long ago fell to rubble, broke apart, and were ground to dust. The Upper City is a plateau to the north of the crater, and it rises on a gentle slope of volcanic shelves. The Tower of the Mirror King is the only major edifice remaining on its windswept heights—the sunlight and moonlight cause it to scintillate like a diamond the size of a great mountain. 1

Pool of BronzeEdit

Not all devils bound by the three houses were easy to control. Some had to be dealt with in terrible ways.The Pool of Bronze, a superheated lake of molten bronze, was infused with powerful spells of unmaking. Devils that proved troublesome to the rulers of Vor Kragal were not merely banished, but rather smelted down torturously in this pool of molten slag, and their evil souls dissolved along with their bodies. However, unruly hellions are not so easily dispatched. The pool soon took on a rancorous life of its own, and it claimed more than a few victims when it escaped its confines and flooded the streets of Lower Kragal in a deluge of devil-driven liquid fire and bronze. The entire Council of Darkness and all their warlocks toiled for days to herd the living lake back to its containment pool. Rumor purports puddles of the hell-infused substance persisted through the city for years afterward and occasionally preyed on unsuspecting citizens and vagrants in the lower districts. The dormant pool now only roils gently in its heavily warded pit deep in the bowels of the crater city. As one of the biggest lures in the area, the pool draws an occasional curious and ambitious explorer. Rumor has it that anyone who falls into the pool emerges glazed in hell-bronze and is granted fell powers beyond mortal ken. Some adventurers probe the dangerous reaches of Vor Kragal not in search for gold or magic, but rather in hopes of immersing themselves in this pool, so they might rise up from its fiery depths more powerful than anyone could ever imagine. The only adventurer known to have made it to the Pool of Bronze and returned to tell the tale is Gharl Braktharn, a tiefling warlord of great power who lost his right arm to a giant’s axe years before. Although he did not immerse his entire body in the pool, he did dip the stump of his upper arm in, and when he pulled it forth, an arm of living bronze sprouted from it. Gharl’s new arm could punch through solid adamantine and shield him from dragon’s breath, but its boon came with a price. He claimed to hear sibilant whispers night and day that echoed from the bronze appendage—he purportedly muttered something about the fevered voices of a chorus of devils. Poor Gharl eventually went mad, before wrapping his bronze fingers around his own throat and choking himself to death. The arm was rumored to hang in a private collection at one point, but it disappeared after some would-be thieves were found dismembered near its gore-soaked display case. 1

Tower of the Mirror KingEdit

A thorn in the side of the three families, Sharvast the Mirror King stood aloof from their eldritch-handed rule for centuries. His stronghold, a majestic mirrored tower, stands on the northern tier of Vor Kragal, where it pompously overlooks the rest of city proper and sits over the three houses’ centers of power. Within its silvered halls, the Mirror King kept no minions and no servants. He led a life of quiet solitude while experimenting in strange elements of the universe better left unmentioned. Rumor purports that Sharvast was originally a younger scion of one of the three houses. Reports contradict each other as to which specific one, and a few scholars claim he was the union of an illicit affair between the matron of Barikdral and a young Bloodlord of Kahlir. Others claim he was no tiefling at all, but instead he came from a distant alien realm, and his own kind sent him into among their lessers. Whatever mystery spawned him, Sharvast chose Vor Kragal as his sanctuary, and his Mirrored Tower appeared one night on the ridge above the city, where Keep Pallencast once stood. The legion of devils and their warlock master at Pallencast vanished along with the stronghold, never to be heard from again.The houses began plotting against this fearsome newcomer since they feared he was determined to usurp their control of the city. No doubt they also wished to steal whatever secrets of power Sharvast brought with him from the great beyond. Their plots did not bear fruit. After dozens of assassination attempts and equally violent reprisals by Sharvast, they all acquiesced to an unspoken truce. Sharvast experimented with transdimensional magic of sanity-shredding power, creating mirrors that not only look into far-off realms, but also allow instant travel to and from them. The problems arose when Sharvast’s mirrors began to focus on one particular dimension—a cold barren place of crystal and wind, seemingly empty of life. Sharvast did not know it at first, but strange eyes peered back from this wasteland and bore into his soul. He became an agent of these unknown beings, supposedly constructing other mirrored towers the world over, through which these aliens might peer into the world and spread like locusts. No one knows the truth of this insidious the threat, and some scholars discovered evidence that the destruction of Vor Kragal might have had little to do with the dragonborn and everything to do with Sharvast’s mirrored tower.The tower’s mirrors are broken now, rent by the cataclysmic fury that brought all Vor Kragal low, but those few adventurers who have wandered close to Sharvast’s stronghold and lived to tell the tale are mostly insane, muttering over and over again about the cracked eyes still gazing out from the shattered surfaces of the Tower of the Mirror King. 1

The Pyramid of Lost TruthsEdit

This giant edifice of sandstone, inset with several thousand fist-sized tiger eye gems, is covered with inscriptions in hundreds of languages. These bizarre writings are said to document not only the history of Vor Kragal and the tiefling empire of Bael Turath, but also tales of deeds, kings, heroes, and gods dating back to time immemorial. The pyramid’s interior is likewise a testament to knowledge and history, filled with level upon level of standing stone tablets bearing the forgotten verses of time’s lonely song. Many of the inscriptions bear tales from the time after Vor Kragal’s fall. It is unknown whether chroniclers kept to their task buried below the ash, somehow learning of surface events, or whether the custodians of this pyramid were masters of divination who looked into the future as easily as a mortal might gaze out a window.
Lobosaht

Lobosaht - Undead Tyrant of The Pyramid of Lost Tales

 Nowadays the pyramid’s interior is prowled by an undead eye tyrant of unthinkable power named Lobosaht. This beholder lich lairs in the Hall of Lost Heroes, where statues of some of history’s mightiest champions stand sentinel over the pyramid’s coveted rune tablets. The hall is peopled by hundreds of statues of august minotaur kings, great giant warlords, skilled human warriors, dragonborn champions, dwarf kings, and orc chieftains. Some sages believe these statues are no simple renderings but rather true heroes of a hundred ages, turned to stone forever and now stoic golems under Lobosaht’s command. 1

BlissEdit

Once a gigantic domed arboretum filled with wonders of the natural world, Bliss was a retreat for the city’s wealthiest and most powerful citizens during Vor Kragal’s heyday. Titanic primeval animals and stranger beasts roamed free inside this five-mile-diameter domed jungle. Quartered-off garden villas showed off thousands of varieties of wild flowers and mystical specimens long since lost to the world—roses whose scent bewitched anyone into thinking the next person they laid eyes on was the love of his life, purple flowers from which a tea can be brewed that causes the drinker to grow to a titan’s size, herbs whose bitter taste turns the imbiber to a wraithlike being for all eternity. When calamity struck the city, the dome of magic glass shattered and the wild inhabitants ran through the streets, trampling and goring all in their path. Now the wild tangle of exotic plant life has spread, overtaking the entire district surrounding Bliss. Only tenacious and lethal plants survived the cataclysm—horrid weeds that crush a person to paste and absorb their vital juices, or burrow into their skulls and nourish themselves on brains. Some spread fungus through a person’s bone marrow, turning the victim into spongy monstrosities. At the center of the ruined arboretum, a fungal tyrant holds court with poisonous trees and fields of carnivorous weeds. This tyrant is the size of a great wyrm and its touch melts any living creature to fetid mulch. 1

Yazadoun’s FollyEdit

A few hundred years ago, a tiefling warlock named Yazadoun boldly erected a fortress of marble with solid adamantine gates overlooking the cataclysm-wracked fields of ash and ruin that once were Vor Kragal, as if daring the desolate city to oppose him. The evening after Yazadoun’s stone giant slaves put the last titanic block of marble in place, the fortress was utterly obliterated by a fiery meteorite that fell from the night’s sky. The site was named Yazadoun’s Folly, and the ruined crater, surrounded by a husk of marble sprinkled with meteorite fragments, is now a favored launch point or base camp for adventurers planning to brave Vor Kragal’s terrors. Those camping here for a night sleep fitfully, if at all, since their gaze is almost compelled to look to the heavens while they remain in the area. In recent years, though, those brave enough to head to Vor Kragal and who intend to camp in or around the crater have come to depend on Shakrath Levora, a gaunt tiefling with jaundiced yellow skin and a penchant for pungent perfumes, who has set up a small, but permanent encampment in the area. For a small price, he offers those visiting the area a bag of dried herbs to brew into a tea of sorts. By drinking the tea, those camping within the crater’s unsettling presence lose the urge to look upward, though many claim to feel irritable after they rest. The mystery of why Shakrath chooses to stay in the area himself has not yet been solved, but perhaps one day someonewill draw it out of him. 1

Legendary Treasures of Vor KragalEdit

What attracts some hearty (or foolhardy) souls to squander their lives in the hell-stench and burning caress of Vor Kragal’s ruinous craters and ashen fields? Glory draws some, and most perish in search of treasures whose sparkle could spur even the oldest and most jaded dragon’s eye to gleam with wanton greed. Examples of such treasure incude The Shattered Spear of Myrdroon and The Black Tongue of Mabberaj. 1

Map of Vor KragalEdit

Vor Kragal Map

A detailed map of the ruins of Vor Kragal - City of Ash

ReferencesEdit

  1. Vor Kragal - Dragon 364 (Wizards of The Coast - 2008) - Vor Kragal, City of Ash' by: Nicolas

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