At roughly the middle of the Bloody Age, in the forgotten kingdom of Tulakaia, which now lies in northern Parakonia, there was a great sensation. The villages and the capitol of Rishamaina were filled with whispers of a fantastic nature, wonderful whispers, golden whispers.
For just over the mountains, in the barren and chilly canyons where dwell the Nelus barbarians, gold had been discovered. Gold by the cartload, spoke the whispers, marvelous gold, soft and cold gold, gold that could be hacked from great walls of it open to the air, or gold that could be wrested from the heathen Nelus, who fought like sheep with weapons made from gold!
People by the thousands flocked across the mountains to Nelus, so many people that it was nearly a cultural migration- thousands flooded into Nelusia, in vast hordes or in wagons which split and shattered with the cold of peaks. Bands of tough adventurers went with them, and priests to proselytize to the meek barbarians.
Meanwhile, back in Rishmaina, Tokolutes, King of Tulukaia, began the construction of an immense and ambitious project. The young king’s mind buzzed, filled with the images of his advisors, who puffed him up with images of vast piles and loads of gold, enough to fill the royal coffers by fives. Among the nobility it was rumored that Tokolutes would soon send every nobleman, whether prince of the blood or petty hedge-baron, a cartload of gold. It was immediately decided that not even if the ancient royal vaults were used would there be enough space for all the revenue.
To the end of keeping all of this treasure, and containing the kingdom’s new swelling coffers, Tokolutes began the construction of what he called "the Grand Fortress of the Imperial Revenue". In the north of the capitol, among the rocky hills of Dratham, upon a large tor with a commanding view of the surrounding countryside, crews of straining slaves began the construction of a vast and sprawling fortress. It began with seven wings and four great vaults, but as the advisors raised and raised their glittering estimations, it expanded wildly, ten wings, eight vaults, twenty great towers, four huge walled gardens, and a palatial king’s suite of thirty rooms, and then, it expanded, more, and more, and more, and more. Envisioned as a fortress, a palace for the king, and a vault for the royal treasure, it would be the greatest citadel that the world had ever seen, greater, even, than Ur-Belut the Great Fortress.
Then, the money dried up.
The hordes who flooded into Nelusia did not find what they expected. Hundreds died in the first weeks, felled by cold, or by wild troll-cats and stranger things which dwelt in those parts, or by the Nelus, who did not, indeed, prove to be sheep at heart, but wild lions of men.
And there was little gold. Very little. In fact, there was less gold in the savage wilds of Nelusia than ever there had been in Tulakaia. The kingdom was left nearly deserted, the fields fallow, the soldiers mutineed when their expectations of huge pay disappointed. The nobles rebelled, decrying the lack of pay-offs for the venture and the massive "meantime" taxes that King Tokolutes had imposed.
There was no sadder man in all of Parakonia on the day that Tulakaia fell apart than Tokolutes.
It is said that he sat forlorn in the dusty corner of one of the vast empty vaults and wept, and as his ministers cried out for his help, he went to the great iron portal and shut it.
That portal has never opened again. Centuries later, the whole unfinished project lies tumbling in vast ruin upon the hill that is still called King’s Hill. Around King’s Hill there is cropland, where Parakonian peasants grow wheat and other grains; all the rocks have been cleared away, and a little town lies in the crook of the hill’s curve.
The people still call the great ruin above them the Treasure House, though they have no idea of the irony of this statement, nor any concept of what history has taken place there. The closest legend they have is the tale of an old king who angered a sorceror- this sorceror made him be buried beneath a great ton of gold in the mysterious sealed hall of the palace.
Most of the place lies abandoned. The roofs have caved in and the pillars have toppled. The masonry is scattered. What remains of the fine carved marble which was to face most of the halls and walls lies in piles in the grass outside of the ruins; some has been scavenged by the villagers, along with stones from the structure, which there is no dearth of, to be sure.
The ruin is a favorite play-place of the local children, as well as a place where village teenagers go to escape moral restrictions. Many of the abandoned galleries of the citadel are heavily carved, not with adornment, but with centuries of graffiti.
On certain nights of the year, groups of village men gather in parts of the citadel to gamble, grouse, bet on fights and wrestling matches, and pass about whores who are hired from a burg which lies several miles away.
But there is a dark side to the Treasure House. On moonless nights and rainy days, the famous and mysterious Iron-Doored Vault which lies in the northern part of it hosts a horrible guardian- a hungry ghost, that of Tokolutes, unable to rest and filled with rage. He takes the form of a squatting mass of shadow wearing dusty and crumbling royal robes, and his burning yellow eyes pierce any who look into them. He has a reputation for tearing apart and devouring any who come near the Iron-Doored Vault while he waits there; it has become a popular game among teenagers to go to and touch the Iron Portal, but they do not dare to do such a thing when the ghost is about.
Every once in a while, curiosity will be aroused, and adventurers will penetrate the ruins looking for gold which is rumored to be there. There is little to find other than that which may have been dropped there by careless villagers.