Keep on the Shadowfell
THE SCHOLAR’S TALE
The people of Winterhaven avoid Shadowfell Keep. Some leave it alone because all ancient ruins have a disturbing feeling about them, a feeling composed of lingering memories and unknown mysteries. Some say the place is haunted. Others fear the rumours of goblinoids using the place as a lair. Whatever the reason behind its solitude, one fact is clear. Within two short decades after the collapse of the Rybanian Kingdom, Shadowfell Keep was abandoned and left to fall apart and decay.
It was on a grisly night about eighty years ago that the commander of the keep garrison, Sir Keegan, Lord Alaric’s Great-Uncle, put into motion the events that led to the Keep’s downfall. Perhaps the Shadow Rift’s malign influence is too strong to resist. Maybe Sir Keegan was an insane monster driven by demons we may never understand. Whatever the case, at the stroke of midnight on that fateful day, Sir Keegan 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 managed to drive the mad knight into the passages beneath the keep and finally dispatch him. The keep became notorious for a time. As one of the last bastions of the fallen empire, there was no one to order it back into service. So, it was abandoned, feared fora time, and eventually, more or less forgotten. An earthquake a few years later collapsed the upper towers and walls, and turned the place into a ruin of tumbled stone. Rumours persist of great treasures buried beneath the keep, yet few have dared explore the passages over the year. Sir Keegan’s ghost is said to roam the corridors beneath the ruins, wailing in grief over the tragedy of his life. The people of Winterhaven avoid the place, and the mere mention of Shadowfell Keep is considered bad luck by many of the farmers and villagers.
THE REAL STORY
The legends of the Keep on the Shadowfell, as described above, are known to only a handful of sages and scholars in this age of darkness. The truth is more tragic. Though the Shadow Rift remains sealed, the dark creatures on the other side still exert their evil influence. Sir Keegan was an honourable paladin, yet even his dedication slowly crumbled under the maddening whispers of Varika’s 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. He was not killed by the knights of the keep, however. Gravely wounded, he fled into the deep passages beneath the keep and hid. His senses returned while he rested and tended to his wounds.
Crushed with remorse, he lay within a secret tomb in the dungeons and, rather than live with his guilt, he drank a vial of poison. His spirit now awaits a champion to redeem his memory and complete his mission—to keep the seal in place and protected so that this passage into the Shadowfell remains closed forever.
Meanwhile, Kalwyn, and his hobgoblin and goblin followers have turned the dungeon into an armed camp. Although the goblins are too few to clear the entire complex, they have secured a path down into the depths, to the doorstep of the Shadow Rift. Now all that remains is for Kalwyn to complete his study of the ritual of unsealing so he can truly serve the Demon Queen Varika.