In happier times, the Thelwood marked the source of the northwestern tributary of the Thelly River and contained numerous unremarkable logging settlements under its eves. All this changed overnight in 583 CY when almost four-fifths of the wood became corrupted by an unidentified evil. The trees ossified into gnarled, twisted bone, the plants withered to dust and all manner of skeletal creatures drove the native Thellymen from their homes. The voadkyn, olves and woodsmen of the Thelwood remain displaced to this day, and the corruption now encompasses the entire forest, much to the dismay of the city fathers of nearby Rel Deven. Nothing remains for the Thellymen to subsist on, and they dwell now in miserable shanties under the walls of Rel Deven.
There have been numerous attempts to explore and understand the evil of the Bonewood (as the forest is now called). Sages and scholars from the Lycaeum of Rel Deven study samples gathered by sellswords, while Ahlissan patrols “discourage” unauthorized groups from entering. However, some slip through the net by stealth or force, and whispered tales of the horrors of the forest find their way into the repertoire of bards.
There has been talk of a mad woodsman living on the edge of the Bonewood, seemingly unaffected by its transformation and collecting scalps of foolhardy travellers. The mortally wounded survivor of an ill-fated voadkyn patrol spoke of how his company nearly penetrated the center of this evil place. He whimpered of trees bearing the animated heads of Thellymen and of the terrible seeds they implanted in their victims to create more of their fell breed. His remains were quietly (and quickly) cremated outside of Beory’s Gardens.
“By the Powers, I could have looted millions of gold if that fool of an overking had let me besiege the place!"
– General Levialen of Innspa.
The capital of Almor, Chathold was once a bastion of culture, housing the Basilica of Faiths from where the Prelate, chosen from one of Almor’s churches, ruled over the peace-loving nation.
Now the Basilica is nothing but a charred shell; a legacy of Ivid V’s madness, which became manifest on the 17th day of Goodmonth, 584 CY. Known as the Day of Dust, this was the day that Chathold and Almor were razed from the face of the Flanaess – a day when Ivid unleashed sorcerous and fiendish magics the like of which had not been seen since the Invoked Devastation. In one day over 5,000 innocents were slain as the sky rained fire, acid and lightning down upon the city. This holocaust has irrevocably corrupted the character of the area and affects all who tarry near the devastation.
Since its fall, fiends, orcs and undead have roamed the Chathold’s ruins. 586 CY however, saw the Flight of Fiends and the subsequent disappearance of the undead claimant of Almor, Duke Szeffrin. With the Duke and his fiendish allies removed, anarchy reigned in Chathold. Savage fighting broke out between the orcs and undead, with the undead all but annihilating the unhinged euroz. Eventually equilibrium was restored, but since 586 CY sightings of fiends have been rare. This brief carnage increased Chathold’s standing as a holy place by degenerate followers of Nerull who have subsequently begun to be seen in the ruins with increasing frequency.
In 587 CY Marquis Karn Serrand (LG male human Pal13 – Rao) was given the swath of land comprising the Ahlissan half of Almor known as the Marchland of Chathold. This event had been foreshadowed in the ambiguous prophecies of the storm giantess Hierranea. These same prophesies also imply that Chathold will sink beneath Relmor Bay and that Serrand’s citadel, Goldbolt, shall stand by the sea.
Serrand’s duties involve dissuading would-be Ahlissan and Nyrondal adventurers from exploring the ruined city, while attempting to regain control over as much of the devastated region as possible. Chathold still holds many items of interest that would attract many a freesword. Somewhere within Chathold lies the Banner of Almor – said to ensure any true defender of Almor will be undefeated in battle. Dropped by Osson at the Battle of the Great Confluence, it was returned by a lieutenant to the despairing Prelate Kevont on the eve of Chathold’s destruction. Kevont’s severed and defiled head is also lost within the ruins and Almorian patriots seek it to bring rest to his tortured shade, which wanders the city, wailing in despair.
Serrand’s men often clash with the undead and euroz of the ruins. In the past year or so the frequency of undead attacks has diminished, which worries the marquis, as the numbers his men have slain are insignificant compared to those that remain. A powerful nalfashnee has been spotted within the ruins by Ahlissan and Nyrondese scouts, but its purpose remains unknown.
DM’s Notes: Karn Serrand was accidentally listed as a cleric of Rao in the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (page 22); he is in fact a paladin (see Ivid the Undying).
All necromantic spells from an evil caster gain a +4 to the DC when cast within Almor. Additionally in Chathold, inflict spells yield maximum damage and all undead receive a +6 circumstance bonus to their turn resistance.