Home of the Ashen
The Home of the Ashen is a cursed land where memories are lost and colors are taken away. It's true name has been lost since the "Day of Great Devastation" and, instead, has gained alternate names over the years such as: Land of the Dead, The Forgotten Lands, and Graveyard. The oldest name on record is Forget-Me-Not, but the gray southern territory of the Monochrome region is commonly known as the Home of the Ashen. Both Celestia and I'lil Spitze Qejyu claim the land as their own, but do not truly rule it. If one wants to stay out of trouble, it is best to receive permission from both sides before entering the land of gray.
The Home of the Ashen is an isolated valley --with some forests, rivers, and a lake-- that is mostly surrounded by the uninhabited portion of the gigantic Heavenly Mountains. The only non-rock climbing route to enter the secluded land is south where the thick White Forest and Black Swamp block the only area that has no steep mountains.
This valley is a gloomy place where it is always chilly and the sun never shines. There is no change of seasons here. It will rain, snow, and most notably rain ash despite having no volcano near the area.
The landscape is colored in a monochrome palette: a majority of what is seen is white, black, and or gray… even its inhabitants. Whatever is conceived within the lands are born either completely white/black or a mixture if white and black. Anything that is gray is something/someone that was imported/immigrated from outside the land and had stayed too long in the valley. The longer something/someone stays its/their color starts desaturate. If the immigrants leave and stay away from the land long enough, their colors will return. Those who are white and or black are considered to be the "natives" of the land and are called the Ashen. Those who have immigrated and stayed long enough to become gray are called the Gray-Ashen. "Ashen" can also point to a very specific illness which is commonly seen in the inhabitants of the Home of the Ashen.
The Ashen are considered to be fragile things. No normal mirror is capable of reflecting their appearance and no writing they write or picture they draw is visible to non-Ashen. Their names and faces, for some odd reason, are hard to remember yet easy to forget. Gray-Ashen do suffer from the same "fragility", but is easily remedied by staying away from the Home of Ashen long enough to have their color return to them. When an Ashen dies, they turn into ash regardless of how they died, however, all Ashen have a sickness which gradually turns the person/living thing into ash over time. There are individual differences to how fast or slow they turn into ash, but in the end, all Ashen turn into ash. There is no cure for pure Ashen, but Gray-Ashen can escape this fate by, again, simply leaving the lands.
The population is few in number and the demographic is also limited in variety. There are the merchants, scholars, and adventures who come and go; exiles, criminals, and the homeless who have no where to go; the Ashen; and the undead that seem to find comfort in the Ashen lands. There is no wild life, only domesticated animals/plants that were imported. Despite its gloomy appearance farming is possible and the food does taste like food. One would think that food (which was once a living thing) would simply turn into ash. Those who think that would be correct, all food does turn into ash… however, the ash that come from this land is no ordinary ash.
There are only two exports that the Home of the Ashen are famous and popular for: ash and diamonds. The ashes from this land is nutritious and has the ability to heal wounds and cure various diseases. The diamonds are the most beautiful stones seen and, more importantly, at least has one spirit bound to it already. The Celestians often use the diamonds here for their halo and to power their magic dependent objects. Although both the Celestians and Qeji go to the Ashen lands to acquire the ash and diamonds, they try to limit the amount of visits to the Ashen lands. They both allow other country's people to enter the Ashen lands in exchange for some of the profit, but also give a warning: Those who enter the Home of the Ashen risk loosing their memory.
Although loosing your color can be an inconvenience, it is not why the people of the Monochrome region consider the Home of the Ashen to be cursed. There is always the risk of loosing a memory when entering the land of the Ashen. The longer a person stays, more memories of their past life is lost, while at the same time, retaining their memory of their time spent in the Ashen land. The degree to which the person wants to loose a memory or how weak one's mental state is, can accelerate the process. Generally speaking, the more desaturated one's color's become, the more likely that person has lost more memories of their past. When one becomes gray enough to be considered a Gray-Ashen, the possibility of recovering their lost memory is extremely low, though not impossible. If there is any benefits to being an Ashen, it is that they will never loose their memory. The Gray-Ashen will also not loose their memory as long as they are "gray enough", but if they do start to recover their colors, they will begin to forget their time in the Home of the Ashen and will become susceptible to loosing their memories again if they re-enter the gray valley. As long as one does not stay long enough to turn gray, the person will retain their memory of their visit to the Home of the Ashen even after leaving the valley. It is strongly advised to stay no longer than 3 days. Magical intervention can lessen the risks and prolong the person's stay.
The Celestians and Qeji also gain profits by accepting (foreign and local) criminals and exiles to enter (and keeping them in) the Home of the Ashen. Due to it's mysterious curse, the gray valley is a wonderful place to send "inconvenient" individuals to. The criminals are used as labor to gather ash and diamonds. Usually a deal is proposed: the criminals would be freed if they work in the Ashen lands for some time. The criminals that take the deal and are sent to the valley will gradually forget "why" they were gathering ash and diamonds, but since they know no other life and are in a peaceful environment, the criminals turn into Gray-Ashen and stay in the only place they know as home.
The land of ash is quite bland in many aspects. The only notable structure is at the ruin of what used to be a tall tower. If this valley was one part of the Holy Celestian Empire, then the tower most likely was ridiculously tall. There also seems to be an underground lair, but the door that leads down is sealed shut. Every so often, something below the tower stirs and "sings". Whenever the thing "sings", balls of light emerge from the ground and float into the air, disappearing into the clouds above. Recent research from scholars suggest that these lights are actually spirits found often in Ashen diamonds. Every month when the night has no moon and the thing below the earth "sings", it is said that a person can witness the events of the past. What past they witness depends on who/what is close by to provide the memory.