Bloodstone and Beyond, 1371
What is known is that Zhengyi, a powerful lich, arrived in Vaasa one night in 1347, and raised Castle Perilous, the seat of his unholy power, from the stones of a lonely crag in a single night. With his sorcerous might, he gathered together the goblinkin, giants, and other monsters of the Vaasan bogs into a mighty army.
Also at his command were a large cult of the goat-headed priests of Orcus. Zhengyi had enacted a plan to override the Overgod Ao‘s banishment of the demon god of the undead, and gathered the absent fiend’s followers underneath him to that end. Through these priests, Zhengyi made a pact with Orcus, and in exchange for his vow to bring the demon god back into the Realms, he received support in the form of demonic magics and fiendish troops for his army.
With all the power at his command, the Witch-King swooped down over Damara, and with equal parts military might and treachery, brought all of the Bloodstone Lands under his power within the next ten years.
The Time of Troubles marked the beginning of Zhengyi’s downfall, as much of his control over his army was disrupted with Mystra‘s death and the subsequent chaos in the Weave. Orcus’s influence on his followers was cut off abruptly, and his demonic host was stranded in the Realms. Without direct ties to their master, the demons soon gave into their chaotic tendencies and infighting was common within Zhengyi’s armies. The goblinkin and giants, no longer bound by Zhengyi’s sorcery, acted similarly, and became an uncontrollable mob. Their depredations on the people of Damara drove those poor souls, who had suffered so much with the coming of Zhengyi, over the edge. The seeds of revolution began to germinate.
It is said that the sudden absence of Orcus drove Zhengyi insane. What is confirmed is that the Witch-King was not seen or heard from in Damara or Vaasa for nearly a year. Where he went and why remains a mystery, though popular theory among the sages speculates that his madness drove him deeper and deeper into the Underdark to try to re-establish contact with his demonic patron.
When the Time of Troubles ended and the Witch-King returned, it was already too late. The wheels had begun to turn in Damara, and under the leadership of those like Gareth Dragonsbane and his Seven, Damara slowly began to shake off the oppression of Zhengyi.
By the end of 1359, Zhengyi’s Castle Perilous was under assault by Bloodstone forces, his armies shattered. Zhengyi himself was destroyed by Hannibal Kane, a monk of Ilmater and companion of Gareth Dragonsbane, and his plans to return Orcus to the Realms were foiled by Gareth and the Seven.
Despite his death, Zhengyi’s shadow has never fully receded from the Bloodstone Lands. Castle Perilous still stands in central Vaasa, a grim reminder of darker times in the history of the Bloodstone Lands. From time to time, relics that are rumored to have been created by Zhengyi surface in the Bloodstone Lands, and in the ensuing carnage, the people of Damara and Vaasa are shown once again that the Witch-King’s influence is not totally dead.