Specific regions of the Eastlands were declared by Syovar the Strong to be The Forbidden Lands between 945~949 GUE. These consisted of the entirety of the Gray Mountains Province, the Desert River Province, and most of the Forests of Famathria.

After Lucien Kaine interrupted a secret alchemical ritual in the Temple of Agrippa, that resulted the sacrifice of his lover Alexandria Wolfe and his murdering of the four conspirators (Erasmas Sartorius, Francois Malveaux, Sophia Hamilton, Thaddeus Kaine), and the great imbalance of the Empire, a curse cast its shadow. As the only survivor, the bitter Lucien wandered the Eastlands, manifesting his anger by tormenting the scattered enclaves of society that occupied the regions near the alchemists’ homes (Gray Mountains Asylum, Steppinthrax Monastery, Frigid River Branch Conservatory, Irondune). Almost at once, affairs in these regions soured as evil began to emanate from the land. Haunting and hallucinations began to sprout in various cavities of the former Empire. The Gray Mountains slipped into oblivion first, being plagued by magical storms and fires. The inhabitants of Frostham complained of horrible screams and an inescapable stench that pervaded the area. Reports came from the Desert River next. Merchants and trading caravans that still moved through the areas untouched by the war began to report nightmares and visions so powerful that they lingered for weeks in the minds of the victims, while chronic hallucinations haunted the natives along the borders. Travelers began to disappear. Soon the entire sky over that area became covered with distorted faces and figures. A strange figure called the Nemesis was placed at the center of these events.

King Syovar, who was already dwindling in power with his war against the Enchanters' Guild, was wary of the bizarre haunting taking place on the fringes of his domain. Fearing that the land was being controlled by his political and ever increasingly powerful opponents, the Enchanters, he was prompted to declare these lands “The Forbidden Lands.” (The circle of Enchanters also dubbed them the same.) All access was barred to the desolate Desert River and Gray Mountain provinces. Various penalties were imposed on those that trespassed, including the pain of death. Most of the refugees managed to make it out in time. Those who did not later died or wished they were dead.

When Bivotar ventured into the Desert River Province at the close of 947, he described the devastation firsthand:

Immense scars and patches of burnt land are visible with alarming frequency, as if the Implementors have tormented the province with an unceasing series of lightning strikes and fire storms. Giant corbies circle overhead menacingly, already waiting for me to collapse in exhaustion. This is no place for the living.

And again:

It is clear to me now that the Vice Regent’s order to make all of the eastern provinces outside of his control into forbidden territory was a wise decision. It is doubtful to me if even Syovar the Strong would be able to defeat the force that has taken control of this land. What that force might be, whether it truly is a curse, or simply the latest terrorist tactic of the Enchanters’ Guild, I still have no idea. Moreover, since the fall of the empire, all of these lands have been devastated by famine and barbarian invasions of the worst kind. It would be a wasted effort for Syovar to attempt to recapture these territories in hopes of restoring the Great Underground Empire… Civilized life will never again thrive in these territories, but the reasons are much deeper than we had ever feared. Some sort of evil spirit has come to reside…

While no one knew during those days that Lucien Kaine was the cause behind the devastation, many believed that the curses were signs of the Enchanters’ Guild gaining the upper hand against Syovar’s Kingdom of Zork:

Are the recently evacuated “Forbidden Lands” really cursed? Or is Regent Syovar simply becoming paranoid, now that the Enchanters’ Guild composes the first substantial challenge to his political supremacy? The theory of the curse seems legitimated by the dark series of earthquakes, draughts, missing persons, and general ill-humor of the inhabitants of the region following the Great Eclipse. Though the Guild denies responsibility for any black magic in the region, the disappearance of General Kaine from Irondune suggests political conspiracy. And since we all know the trolls, orcs, and gnomes of the Flathead Mountains are only waiting for the slightest hint of civil strife to stake their own claim to that corner of the Empire, the clock is ticking on the Forbidden Lands.

In the Desert River Province, the forces of Ellron, which had been engaged against the armies of Thaddeus Kaine fell utterly out of his control during the winter of 946~7. Every last man once under his authority fell prey to the sickness that pervaded the Forbidden Lands, from his highest generals to the lowest foot-soldiers. The first mutinies began in the last weeks of 946. By Estuary of 947, General Frobblemarre quelled three different riots in his ranks by executing one out of every twenty men that took part.

At the start of 947, with both the Desert River and Famathria Provinces lawless, these troops succeeded in overrunning them entirely. Kaine’s castle was besieged by the marauding armies, a vain assault that in 949 would finally be turned away. Over the next year and a half following the beginning of the siege, large numbers of soldiers would break away from the main invading army. Roving brigades would fall upon one random village after the next like packs of wild wolves, ignoring all orders and communication with the outside world. These hordes were driven by a force almost outside of themselves, moving in directions and committing atrocities that even they did not understand. A few of the older veterans showed enough strength to leave these guerillas, but those that did seemed to lose their sanity in the attempt, wandering the hillsides aimlessly, mumbling to themselves. What inhabitants remained in the region kept hidden behind their boarded-up doors, terribly frightened. This bloody aftermath would weave its course across the southern provinces until the removal of the Nemesis.

Bivotar, who treaded the Forbidden Lands, provides further details in his Estuary 27, 948 journal entry:

…At any rate, these drifting criminals are hardly in worse condition than what is left of Ellron's army. I doubt that any of the men under Frobblemarre are sane enough at this point to attempt to make any contact with Ellron. Perhaps this is why Ellron has seemed so distracted lately: he does not know the fate or whereabouts of thousands once under his command. Now it seems that the few reports we had heard in Aragain were true. Ellron's armies have pushed what is left of the resistance all the way to the southern reaches of Famathria, across the southern branch of the Frigid River, and within sight of Kaine’s ancestral castle. No one here knows what was the final goal of that insane and rebellious army, nor exactly what the siege of Kaine’s castle will accomplish. Still, the black smoke of battle grows thicker each day.

The murders of the four alchemists, interwoven with the hallucinations and other wicked effects transpiring around their homelands, brought much devastation upon their establishments. Sartorius’ asylum was forced to close down after all the patients escaped (save for one) and was sequentially abandoned.

The Frigid River Branch Conservatory, located in no-man’s land halfway between Irondune and Syovar’s strongest positions, was closed down due to a lack of students and funds and suffered much desolation at the hands of Ellron’s rampaging hordes. When later visited by Bivotar in 948 GUE, he would describe the dilapidation of Conservatory:

The atmosphere of that imposing structure hung heavy and still, and I saw that it had fallen into disrepair, since the disappearance of its ruling Madame. I felt strangely sympathetic to her, as if being in her rare, cultured world could show me something of her refined presence, or teach me something of her expert knowledge. If I stood for a moment listening, it was almost if I could hear lingering melodies from years ago. I felt for her, a moment, a strange sadness. I believe time is not so fixed in this place as elsewhere—though I know here, as everywhere, the old must eventually be replaced with the new...

The Steppinthrax Monastery was overtaken and closed by the Grand Inquisitor in Syovar’s name in the third month of 947 after claims of demonic infestations. The monastery was then abandoned to two insane monks who refused to leave. These two had gone mad from the evil and demons they testified to that were everywhere around, especially in the master’s room.

Still, by 947, the Forbidden Lands were largely a mystery to all who lived under King Syovar. All attempts to reach Thaddeus Kaine over the last three years had ended in complete failure. Thus Syovar had no alternative but to send a spy to scout out the lands to discover the fate of the general. The most truest and earnest companion of his was still his beloved Bivotar. And so, as a fully authorized agent and representative of the Vice-Regent Syovar, Karlok Bivotar was entrusted with this challenging assignment and sent out to the Forbidden Lands hoping to shed light on the chaotic power-vacuum that had existed in those realms for almost three years:

  1. To determine the whereabouts of the Four Missing Citizens of Prominence (General Thaddeus Kaine, Doctor Erasmus Sartorius, Father Malveaux, Madame Sophia Hamilton)
  2. To substantiate the alleged curse of the so-declared Forbidden Lands.
  3. To investigate rumors of unauthorized magic, black or otherwise, in the region.
Bivotar remarks at the time of his entrance into the Forbidden Lands (the northern border of the Desert River Province) on Dismembur 17, 947, that the border crossing into the territory was well-guarded. Even with the scroll bearing Syovar’s signature, the royal militia was reluctant to let him across.

Bivotar later writes:

My fellow wayfarers—of the unimpressive yet customary sort that you find along the Great Underground Highways of this land—attribute the curse to some dark figure they will only call the “Nemesis.” The name has surfaced two or three times now, and with the same dark respect a child attributes to the boogey-man. But these are mawkish, superstitious folks, with not the insight of a brogmoid between them.

I know not what to say, Your Highness. All is not well here. Those are the lucid ones, the ones still sane enough to form coherent thoughts, the ones not afraid enough to run from me at first sight. I have tried to infiltrate a few of these roving bands of madmen, but I have had no success. They know almost immediately that I am not one of them, that I do not see the things that they see. I cannot help but wonder why it is that I have been spared. The sickness that pervades this place has passed me over. I fear that perhaps it is only a matter of time.

He tried to enlist the fearful inhabitants in the region, but they were all too frightened. The only survivors he could provoke into conversation were some of the older veterans who had deserted the chaotic hordes, as well as most of their sanity. Most of what they said made little sense, and what was coherent painted a very ugly picture:

The Implementors speak to me at night. They come to me as angels, four of them, and they teach me the true things. But the others around me do not understand. They yell and scream and fight, and talk to other voices that I cannot hear. The General was a good man. A family man. If he knew what was his own land, with his own people. It’s a bloody shame. Spooks or not, the old empire has fallen, fallen... but I come to this place and find immortality! Why, then, why help the lady that torments us with that horrible, aching music? (F.B. Punketah, Zylonika)


Since the Nemesis began to visit us, I no longer fear the devil. Blood runs in the streets where he goes. The madness begins later. It’s hard, so very hard. And the hallucinations—I can’t remember which came first, the hallucinations or the killings. The pain… it started at night, in our dreams. The four would come to us, begging, pleading. Unspeakable atrocities, written in the dunes, the dirt, the skies… we would see these things and scream out afraid. The first one to die was skinned alive by his own tent-mate, as he screamed about the lady and her lover. We can’t ever escape those two…ever. Please. That’s all. (Andrew Brog,  Port Foozle)

I love the skies here at night. You see such beautiful things. That woman is the most stunning sight I have ever seen. But the Darkness. It stalks her. I witness her murder again and again, every time I dream. In the morning, my pillow is wet with her blood. No human should be allowed. None! I wonder why they do this to us. Have we done something wrong? Is there nothing you can do to save her? (Ariela Comnena, Frigid River Valley)

When a lone female pilgrim resurrected the four alchemists, defeated them, and then restored both Lucien Kaine and Alexandria Wolfe to their flesh, the curse of the Nemesis vanished. Although documentation of their juxtapositions have been lost to us, Syovar’s war against the Enchanter’s Guild reached its immediate conclusion following the dispersal of the curse. The controversy between Ellron and Kaine was resolved and the Forbidden Lands were reopened.

With the conclusion of an agreement between the Second Dungeon Master and the Flathead successor-king Syovar, the Great Underground Empire seemed poised to rise again. The magical boundaries sealing shut the massive caverns in the east were reopened, and the bulk of the reacquired territory was once again open for settlement. A craze of treasure-hunting quickly swept through the remnants of the Great Underground Empire.