Gray Mountains Asylum, 949 GUE

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Built by Dr. Koepp in 680 GUE and dedicated in the same year by Duncanthrax, the Gray Mountains Asylum was located in the Gray Mountains Province in the midst of huge slabs of ice. Koepp's miniature model of the Asylum, which was able to control several functions upon the full-scale building, had a switch for turning off and on the giant fans at the bottom of the central shaft of the structure. He resolved major construction issues such as faulty foundations, weak support beams, and potential flood and slide zones by performing extensive testing on the miniature models. Dimwit Flathead later dedicated the Asylum to Lucretia, with a plaque stating, “Dedicated to my sister Lucretia, struck down by the madness of God.”

With the exodus of the alchemists from the Westlands in the late ninth/early tenth century, Erasmus Sartorius, one of their order, ended up at the Gray Mountains because of his connection to the previous custodian of the Asylum who entrusted it to his hand at his death (the previous custodian may have been his father Lewis Sartorius). There he became the Chief of Staff.

In the days of Sartorius (c. 919~949), the Asylum was described as such:

This enormous syringed-shaped cylindrical structure about 100 feet in diameter was thrust into a blue-white glacier. This 24-story behemoth (23 stories aboveground and one story below ground) was secured to the ice by means of enormous iron chains, which were, themselves, encased in blue-white ice. They prevented the Asylum from being toppled over in the vicious winds which howled around its exterior, powering its internal generators. There were continuously cracking of the enormous sheets of ice around the building and the whistle of frigid wind through the iron chains holding the stucture to the ice. The building had Piranesi qualities—a combination of industrial and medieval. A circular courtyard connected all the rooms on each level. The 23rd story, which was a floating platform, vibrated in the wind above the upper story of the structure. Huge steel balls floated gently in the column of air that rushed up from the fan in the floor (each floor had a ball numbered according to the floor). The unseen shaft of air flowing through the central tower kept the balls and the platform floating. Even from within, the sound of air could be heard rushing outside and clouds zipped by the structure at incredible speed.

Only the contents of the following floors are known:

Between 919 and 945, Dr. Erasmus Sartorius became one of the highest initiates into the secret rites belonging to this ancient society of alchemy. Prone to deception and torture, he spent his time alone in the Examination Room of the Asylum, which exposed his need for control over everything physical. He dedicated the alchemy lab on the 23rd floor to Ozmar (“One day, perhaps a great union will be formed between magic and science, and the final mysteries will be solved.”), and changed the non-profit organization’s Statement of Purpose: “To fill the darkest corners of the human mind with the sweet air of Reason. Although many of the devices herein may seem cruel, let us remember that this is done with the understanding that people may be cured. Man must never abandon his fellow man, even beyond the borders of the sane.” Within Sartorius executed his unconventional and suspect medical practices. Because of these strange experiments and theories, he was rejected by the medical establishment, whom he considered lazy, self-congratulatory, and fattened hypocrites. His membership from the Quendoran Medical Association was sequentially revoked and he was forbidden to practice. But Sartorius continued unhindered, creating a virgin woman from amongst his own patients in 925.

In 945 Dr. Erasmus Sartorius was murdered by Lucien Kaine. After his death, a curse cast its shadow when the bitter Lucien Kaine wandered the Eastlands, manifesting his anger by tormenting the scattered enclaves of society that occupied regions near the alchemists' homes. 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, including the the Gray Mountains Asylum. 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. The Desert River Province was next. A strange figure called the Nemesis (Lucien Kaine) was placed at the center of these events.

King Syovar, who was already dwindling in power, 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.” All access was barred to the Gray Mountains Province.

The hallucinations and other wicked effects brought much devastation upon the Asylum. The establishment was forced to close down in 947 after all the patients escaped (save for one) and was sequentially abandoned. When Bivotar explored the complex on Mage 17 of the following year, he found floor 2 through 19 to be completely deserted and ransacked. He describes the condition in his journal:

This esteemed Doctor Sartorius, who, from the testimonials I have discovered, has done such good for so many, has left his papers in some disarray. The place looks as if it has been ransacked. It is hard to visit this place and not walk away, for a time, shocked. Partly, the condition could be attributed to the withdrawal of government funding, as the Doctor’s papers attest. However, there is a great deal of blood, which suggests a familiar pattern—the work of the Nemesis.

When the curse of the Nemesis was annulled in 949 by an unknown pilgrim, the region was freed from the hallucinations and the disturbances, thus freeing Zork of the Forbidden Lands.

It appears that the Gray Mountains Asylum was left in its abandoned state. Thus during the Great Monster Uprising over a century later, massive hordes of fiends now free from persecution at the hands of the Magic Inquisition had no resistence when they claimed the enormous structure for their lairs. The Asylum seems to possibly have been reopened by unknown persons (or entities), as there were many escapees from this institution spotted during the Uprising. In those days, many adventurers voluntarily tread the Asylum grounds, seeking zorkmids and other riches rumored to be held in bondage by these wicked entities.