Heroes of Khemer
An ancient dragon who rampaged through the area near Oakhurst 1400 years ago.
Ashardalon resembles an ancient red dragon in its prime, but certain odd features stand out. She has a demonic visage, and on her chest is a gruesome scar in the shape of a large winged humanoid: a Balor. The dragon’s eyes are twin beams of burning fire, and tiny bolts of lightning constantly play between her claws and fangs.
Ashardalon was perhaps the single most powerful wyrm in the history of Khemer, creating the lifeless landmark known as the Ashen Plain. At the time, the dragon was revered and had temples built in her honor. One such temple fell into the earth in an unknown cataclysm and is now known as the Sunless Citadel. She is known by many names, including the Red Queen, the Dark Queen, and the Great Wyrm. Ashardalon’s reign was held up not only by the physical power of her and her armies, but also by her mastery of the arcane. Her control of magic rivalled that of the mightiest archmages.
All accounts of Ashardalon agree on one thing: in the last three or four centuries of her life, the weight of time drove her completely insane. It is likely that this madness is the only reason she does not still reign today. The rumors and stories about Ashardalon suggest that the following is as close to a true account of her death as we are likely to get:
In her later years, Ashardalon grew tired of this life and yearned for something greater, for an existence which would lift her beyond the press and weight of time and age. That is to say, she sought apotheosis. Her researches in this direction led her into deep and dark mysteries, mysteries which even her great mind were not meant to penetrate. A cult sprung up about her, wildly popular among certain elven clans of the time, eager to reap the benefits of what must have seemed the inevitable rise to godhood of the mighty dragon. The cultists built temples to the Red Queen in various places throughout Khemer. The reasons behind the locations of these temples remains a mystery, but it is clear that there was some purpose behind their placement.
As Ashardalon diverted more and more of her forces and attention to excavating ancient sites of dark power and to the construction of these temples, her hold on her empire crumbled. As the years wore on, and more and more of Khemer was liberated from her control. Ashardalon retreated into near-solitary madness, deep into an inner sanctum (believed to be located in what are now known as the Knobby Hills). Even as her empire collapsed about her, she remained focused on whatever scheme she had uncovered to lift her to divinity. In time, it became apparent to the powers of the day that she would soon succeed.
This could not be tolerated. The details of the final conflict have been lost to history, but in the end Ashardalon was defeated. Some say that Crystal Tower mages focused the same powers which were later to be used in the Mage Purge directly upon the Red Queen. Others say that the Creator himself rode down from the heavens to deliver the killing blow. Still others whisper that when the army arrived at her inner sanctum, they found the Red Queen immobilized but still living, interred in a strange state of unlife-but-undeath (scribbled in the margins here is the note “Cocoon? Stasis prior to metamorphosis?”). At any rate, she had already become too powerful to destroy outright, and her soul was imprisoned in the first of the powerful Orbs of Dragonkind.