Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Keep on the Shadowfell II (Valthruns Histories)

Valthrun the Prescient invites Zahig into his tower. The top three floors of this tall building have been given over to a magnificent study. The first floor contains a huge desk of rich mahogony, a large sumptuous leather sofa, numerous matching arm chairs, and a couple of chaise-longues. As Zahig looks up he can see that the second and third floors consist only of balconies following the inside line of the walls which are full completely of bookshelves. Light filters down through the center of the atrium from a large skylight in the ceiling.

The shelves are crammed full of historical tomes and parchments. It seems to Zahig that the answer to every question ever devised could be found in such a collection - though little does he know that this study would have fitted a hundred times over within the library at Febril. His mouth agape, he sinks slowly into the large sofa as the servant hands him a glass of deep red wine and Valthrun begins to speak.

"Ah, my dear boy, the very picture of curiosity - I welcome your safe return. While I can shed no light on the identity of this 'Kalarel' you mention, your discovery of the Orcus cult idol is... unsurprising. I was not forthcoming when first we met. I shall redress that balance now.

"All that Parle was able to tell you about the Keep and the Netheril empire was, no doubt, true in general terms. The Keep was indeed a stalwart outpost designed to keep Winterhaven safe during the reign of the empire. I doubt he was able to tell you from what we were saved, however...

"You see, the veil to the Shadowfell has always been thin around Winterhaven - which might go some way to explain why it remains so cold even in summer, but I digress. Around two hundred years ago, a cult of the demon prince Orcus raised an army of undead - skeletons, zombies, and worse - and led them through a rift into our world. So powerful was the cultist army that the Netharil leaders were forced to despatch their best legionnaires to combat them. Eventually, at a cost of many thousands of souls, the legionnaires finally succeeded in turning back the undead and blockading the rift. The empires greatest mages were then sent to seal the rift with their most powerful magics and finally the Keep was built to guard over the seal itself."

"So that explains the Orcus idol we found!", Zahig exclaims.

"Indeed so, young man - the discovery and location themselves are not surprising. Especially once one digs a little deeper into the Keep's more recent history. Despite the importance of the Keep, two short decades after the fall of the Netheril empire it had become abandoned. Sir Keegan was the last knight-commander of the Keep and his story plays testament to the evil lurking beneath the surface - pressing to re-open the rift once more.

"Sir Keegan was an honorable paladin, yet even his dedication slowly crumbled under the maddening whispers of Orcus’ minions from the Shadowfell. When his mind snapped, he suffered paranoid delusions that the people of the keep were all spies plotting to open the rift and he began to systematically slaughter every resident of the keep. His own wife and children were first to fall to his blade, then his trusted advisors, and finally many of the soldiers under his command. Sir Keegan was too skilled for any one soldier to defeat, yet eventually the garrison managed to respond with an organized defense. Although many brave soldiers died, they were able to drive the mad knight into the passages beneath the keep and finally dispatch him."


  1. *Feel free to ask any further questions of Valthrun and/or the other inhabitants of Winterhaven*

  2. Oddly I'm picturing Sir Keegan with a perm.

  3. You swine!
    I hadn't even thought of that!

  4. "I'd love it if we beat them, love it!"

    I wonder if Sir Kevin was indeed dispatched or is waiting for us below the keep?

    Zahig asks Valthrun if there is anything he has that may help us to defeat and drive back undead, and indeed help make good the seal below the keep.

    (BTW, Nicely told story Scott ;)

  5. Good question, but a better question is:
    What's in it for me?
    I mean 'us'.

  6. Valthrun replies to Zahig:
    "As a scholar I am afraid that the extent of my assistance is knowledge. I am led to believe that holy water is particularly effective, however - perhaps our town's priest is able to bless some vials for you?

    "As for sealing the rift I am affeared that the seal may simply have degraded naturally as the Netheril magic wears thin and only a group of powerful wizardswould be able to renew it. If you can bring me evidence of recent cult activity - proof that the seal is in danger of being broken - I may be able to persuade Lord Padraig to petition for such mages to help us seal the rift and protect the world once more."

  7. To Kirk:
    What's in it for you?
    Well, I guess the world wouldn't be filled with rampaging nightmarish undead who revel in slaughter and the worship of an unholy demon prince...
    But maybe you'd like that? :-p

  8. I'd rather destroy the Kobold nest.

  9. Ah - heading straight for the seat of the repotred Cult actvity?

    There's a brave man for you...

  10. 'Brave' or 'indestructible'?!