Zhengyi the Witch-King was once a Red Wizard of Thay, but later became an enormously powerful lich,[citation needed] and servant of the demon prince Orcus.[1] In the far north of Vaasa in northeast Faerûn, Zhengyi created Castle Perilous in just one night in 1347 DR, and summoned the various goblins, giants and orcs of the lands to him.[2]

History[edit | edit source]

Zhengyi was born in the second half of the 900s DR, and became a Red Wizard of Thay before becoming a lich with the help of his patron, Orcus.[citation needed]

Zhengyi's first known appearance on Faerûn was when he created Castle Perilous in a single night in 1347 DR. He immediately set about winning the favor of the goblins, giants and orcs in the area.[2] He gained support from priests of Orcus, allowing him control of many undead creatures, and enlisted the help of the Grandfather of Assassins.[3]

A year later, in 1348 DR, Zhengyi attacked Damara. He began by occupying Bloodstone Pass, isolating a lot of mining operations crucial to Damara's prosperity. The armies invaded Damara itself, massacring at every opportunity. Damara fought back, and the war continued for almost a decade, until in 1357 DR, a stalemate between the armies was reached across the Ford of Goliad on the Goliad River.[3] Zhengyi broke this stalemate by convincing the leader of the opposing army, King Virdin, that a magic wand could give him the ability to get his army safely across the river. In Damara it is believed that Virdin's chief lieutenant, Felix, was persuaded to defect and aid Zhengyi, who waited until the Damaran army was helpless in the river before making his move.[4]

Zhengyi brought about peace in Damara, splitting the region into six baronies which had independent rulers, but taxed them heavily, inducing great hardships as a result, which led to large-scale emigration from Damara to the south. He also appointed the Grandfather of Assassins in charge of the Galena Mountains. Zhengyi then disappeared for a while, leaving Damara in a state of disarray and strife.[4] When he returned, he found the inhabitants of Damara had united under Gareth Dragonsbane and formed a formidable army. Zhengyi sent his army after them, and another stalemate occurred at the Ford of Goliad, the location of the first stalemate. Zhengyi lost his power when Dragonsbane and his company banished Orcus by stealing his wand. Zhengyi's undead army disintegrated along with Castle Perilous and the Witch-King was defeated.[5]

Zhengyi's relics[edit | edit source]

The Witch-King had hoarded many magical items during its existence, and after its destruction many items were discovered by determined looters. Some rumor that after the defeat of the Witch-King, remnants of himself or his spirit were scattered across the lands.[6] The items were often cursed and quite powerful, plaguing the lands of Vaasa and Damara for years afterward.

Dragon Statue[edit | edit source]

Once a grand dragon statue was discovered in the bog north of Darmshall. It grew to enormous proportions before finally sinking into the bog.[7]

Accessories[edit | edit source]

A young man found a plain gray stone with a gem-studded belt wrapped around it on the norther slopes of the Galenas. He carelessly threw aside the stone after strapping on the belt, not knowing that the stone actually was the magical trigger for the 25 fireball-enchanted rubies to enact their devastating magic - obliterating the young man in the wake.[7]

Books of Creation[edit | edit source]

Zhengyi conserved his knowledge by writing it down - several of his books have been found, most often with devastating results. These books are said to even rival Zhengyi's greatest accomplishment - his lichdom. A living being triggers the "unreading" of a book. The book then starts to read itself, enacting the magic Zhengyi placed within its pages.[8] Runes appearing in the air above the book and falling into it are translations of life energy, drawn from a spirit caught in a crystal phylactery concealed within the book. That energy fuels the construction. It serves as the living source of power in animating the defense of the construction - undead soldiers, causes the gargoyles of the castle to regenerate on their porches and brings life to flesh and iron golems.[9]

One tome was discovered by a human wizard, called Herminicle Duperdas from Heliogabalus. He was considered to be but a middling magic-user, even considered a novice among his own guild. The mage found the book and read it. But he underestimated the power of Zhengyi's legacy and found himself being consumed by the tome - the book taking his magic and his life-force as its own, using it to create a tower. The mage's essence was then bound to the tower, as the tower bound itself to the mage, leaving Duperdas in the form of a lich guarding the tower and the book. The human assassin Artemis Entreri and his drow companion Jarlaxle went to retrieve the book, killing the lich by destroying the tome itself. Jarlaxle kept a component of the book for himself though: a small jewel human skull that was embedded in the book.[10] When attuning his sensibilities to the skull, a non-human owner can enter the nether-world, sensing long dead human bodies, that would raise to the stone's bidding[11].

Another tome was discovered by the half-orc Wingham, who gave it to his niece Arrayan for study. This tome was bound in rich black leather with designs of curling and rearing dragons etched onto the spine and cover of the book.[12]. Arrayan started to read the book, unleashing its power and thus binding her own life-force to the book. The structure created by Arrayan's book seems a replica of Castle Perilous itself. The true power behind the unleashing power though was the life force of a dracolich concealed within the book.[13]

Appendix[edit | edit source]

Appearances[edit | edit source]


References[edit | edit source]

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