Blackwater Keep

Part two of the Compendium of Lands Around Blackwater Lake, the gazetteer for the Northumbria campaign.


Strategic Location of the Keep

The Keep is a large stone fortress—one of the largest in Northumbria. Situated on the shores of Blackwater Lake, it commands the Narrows at the southern tip of the lake, as well as the wide stream called the Norbeck, which flows down from the hills and spills northwards into the Narrows and southwards into the Blackwater River. This means that the garrison at the Keep can control river traffic flowing between former Varangian lands in the north to the Frangian port of Yarrvik. Any power that wishes to control Northumbria needs to control the river traffic and thus the keep. At present, no single known state is in a position to do so. Thus, the Baron of Blackwater remains independent and highly desirable as an ally.

The Hierarchy of the Keep

Normally, Baron Blackwater resides in his walled mansion in the nearby Village of Lakesend. On his behalf, the castellan typically oversees the defense of the entire Keep, but he also specifically sees to the defenses of the High Castle, situated at the northern tip of the defenses. The yeomen of the guard form his personal bodyguard, and most stand guard in the High Castle.

Second-in-command of the keep is the greater bailiff, who specifically oversees the defense of the inner bailey and personally commands a number of guardsmen. He typically patrols the Middle Castle, the name for the central bastion.

Third-in-command is the lesser bailiff, who specifically oversees the outer bailey and also commands a number of guardsmen. His men typically go on extended patrols outside the Keep, providing critical intelligence and serving as a hidden picket of sorts. They form a first line of defense for the Keep.

Sergeants of the Guard normally serve as minor officers under the castellan and both bailiffs, helping them to control their troops.
Authorities at the Keep will not discuss the size of the garrison, but careful observation can yield a rough estimate. From the castellan down to the lowliest trooper, the Keep’s garrison seems to be 100-150 men-at-arms and artillerists, plus another two dozen or so servants and laborers. A best estimate of the breakdown is as follows:

Castellan, Lord Bors Blackwater (currently missing)
Personally leads 24 guardsmen (elite infantry):
2 Yeoman-Sergeant-of-the-Guard
22 Yeomen of the Guard

Greater Bailiff, Lord Balin Blackwater
Personally leads 24 guardsmen (heavy infantry):
2 Sergeants-of-the-Guard
22 Guardsmen
1 Master Artillerist and 16 Artillerists

Lesser Bailiff, Sir Uriens
Personally leads 37 guardsmen (heavy infantry):
1 Porter (Sir Agravaine)
1 Senior Sergeant of the Guard (Berenger)
3 Sergeants-of-the-Guard
33 Guardsmen
1 Master Artillerist and 16 Artillerists

The Baron organized the garrison into ‘troops’ of 12 men, each troop comprised of three longbowmen, three crossbowmen, three halberdiers, and three swordsmen. One of the swordsmen is typically the sergeant-of-the-guard in command of the troop. He likewise organized the yeomen-of-the-guard into ‘troops’ of 12 men, but they are homogeneous groups.

Sergeants of the Guard are all veteran soldiers. Other guardsmen appear to be either average soldiers or veterans. Most crossbowmen and longbowmen are clad in studded leather, while swordsmen and halberdiers typically wear chainmail.

Each master artillerist controls the crews for the siege engines in his bailey, and each engine crew has one senior artillerist to direct its fire.

It is common to find bands of local mercenaries at the Keep, as the Baron preferred not to needlessly erode his garrison of trained troops. Most of his men have been with him for several years, a fact that explains their relatively high experience for garrison troops.

Locations of Note Within the Keep

The Keep was built over many years, one section at a time. There are currently three separate baileys—Outer, Inner, and Innermost. A dry moat, 10’-20’ deep, surrounds the entire structure.

The following areas correspond to the accompanying sketch map of the Keep. Of course, this map is limited to what I could observe and what I could learn from others.

Outer Bailey

01 — Barbican Tower

The late Baron had one inflexible rule concerning the gate: “The gate is never opened between sunset and sunrise—ever. No exceptions.” Rather than casting this rule aside, Lord Balin has strictly enforced it. The guards admit no one after dark.

Locals report that eight guardsmen are typically here on duty at all times. In recent days, however, the number seems to be double or even triple that. The guards near the drawbridge, after asking cursory questions, will admit any humans that are obviously merchants, craftsmen, artisans, or peddlers. They will more carefully question everyone else, including pilgrims, mercenaries, prostitutes, and other vagrants. Typical questions pertain to one’s name, profession, business at the Keep, and either recent residence or business (within the last month). If anyone refuses to answer or gives suspicious answers, a guard will call for the porter.

02 — Main Gatehouse Tower

These two interconnected towers house several guards. All visitors must pass through a tunnel between the two towers, and this area features several loopholes and murder holes. These two towers, together with those of the barbican, form what most call the Low Castle.

03 — Entry Yard

This narrow area is a choke point through which all visitors must pass.

Sir Agravaine the Porter: This burly and barrel-chested knight, often clad in platemail, has a gruff and sour disposition. Suspicious by nature, he typically gives visitors an unusually hard time at the gate. Locals report that he loves mead, and one can often smell evidence of his drinking habits, even early in the morning. However unpleasant he may be, all agree that he has sufficient skill to backup his arrogant and often disdainful mannerisms. Many say that he is an accomplished jouster. One local warned that if he hears that someone has an enchanted blade, he will demand to see it, as he once lost one to theft. Another local suggested, however, that he lost it when drunk.

Sergeant Berenger, Senior Sergeant of the Guard: This veteran sergeant, often clad in chainmail, sports a nasty scar that runs the length of his face. He is typically dour, uptight, and bitter, especially concerning non-residents that he does not recognize. No one is entirely sure of the cause, though some locals report that something unseemly happened to his daughter years ago. She no longer lives in the northlands. Locals tend to have a much better view of the sergeant, though they admit that he has an explosive temper at times. When he is off-duty, one can often find him fishing.

04 — Common Stable

This narrow stone building contains the mounts and draft animals of all visitors, though this seems impossible after watching the area for much of a day. The building appears to be too small for the task, but it may contain an underground level with many additional stables.

05 — Common Warehouse

This long stone building houses the equipment of all visitors, from individual weapons to cargo-laden wagons. A scribe or two, assisted by a few guards, properly record everything brought within. They return all gear to the visitors upon their departure. They seem most efficient, as one must only wait a few minutes before they return with one’s possessions.

06 — Scribe’s Apartment

One of the scribes—perhaps the chief scribe—goes to and from this building daily. It is otherwise unremarkable.

07 — Porter’s Apartment

The porter goes to and from this small building each day. It is otherwise unremarkable.

08 — Lakesend Bastion

This round stone tower sits on the northwestern corner of the Keep. The Lesser Bailiff may dwell here, have an office here, or both, as he comes and goes from this building each day.

Sir Uriens, Lesser Bailiff: This battle-hardened Frangian knight is a veteran of many campaigns. Guardsmen describe him as fearless and brash—in many ways, a typical Frangian knight. A few locals quietly suggest that his weaknesses are ambition and rage.

09 — Waterside Bastion

This is actually a series of three, small, semi-circular, stone turrets, commonly called ‘The Fates.’ Together, they overlook the two small harbors at the foot of the Keep. A ballista is clearly visible atop each of the turrets. Some guardsmen seem to dwell in each turret as well.

10 — Senior Sergeant’s Apartment

This building is unremarkable, save that the abrasive porter dwells here. As this is within shouting distance of the front gate, he is usually ready for duty.

11 — Storage Shed

There are two such stone storage sheds adjacent to the outer west wall. I cannot tell who owns them or what is stored here.

12 — Blackwater Mercantile Warehouse

This small building contains bulk merchandise that the provisioner has obtained from traveling merchants and which is for sale.

13 — Storage Building

This small, stone, storage building may belong to the armorer, but I cannot be certain.

14 — Armory

This stone building is a noisy workshop, where an armorer and his several assistants manufacture armor, mainly chainmail and helms. In a peaceful time, he might produce armor for paying customers, but lately much of his time seems to be dedicated to repair work and making armor for new recruits. Still, there are a few trade-ins available for purchase. The second floor likely contains crowded living quarters.

Master Farin Fireforge, Armorer: This burly dwarf has gray-red hair and a matching beard, which is often plaited and tucked into his shirt to protect it from embers. He has steel grey eyes. This prestigious dwarf, held in awe by most of the garrison, is a master of his craft. No one quite knows his age, but locals say that he has been a servant of Baron Blackwater for decades. He once hailed from the Iron Hills to the north, but he has been at the Keep for many years. He rarely socializes with commoners, for he is either absorbed in his work or in the High Castle, dining with the Blackwater family. All agree that he can turn out masterwork-quality armor, but there is debate as to whether he can produce enchanted pieces.

15 — Weaponer’s Shop

This small stone building is a workshop, where the weaponer and his assistants produce specific weaponry, notably that used by the garrison, such as spears, bolt heads, arrowheads, halberds, daggers, and longswords. In times of peace, he makes items to order, but like the armorer, he is currently stocking the arsenal in preparation for a siege. The second floor likely contains crowded living quarters.

Master Gervaise, Weaponer: This elderly Frangian craftsman has gray-white curly hair that reaches to his shoulders and a matching beard. Many agree that the weaponer is often grumpy. Though no longer in his prime, he is certainly able to perform his duties, especially as the weapons required by the garrison are rather standard. There is no indication that he can produce masterwork quality blades. Some suggest that his grumpiness is due to rumors that the Blackwater family is looking to recruit a gifted dwarven smith to churn out quality blades for the garrison. The truth of this rumor is unknown.

16 — Blacksmith’s Shop

This small stone building is a workshop, where the blacksmith and his assistants provide simple services, such as making shoes, nails, chains, etc. The second floor likely contains crowded living quarters.

Master Sager, Blacksmith: This jovial Zeelander is tall and trim. In the prime of his life, he is not yet middle-aged. He has straight blonde hair that falls to his shoulders, a clean-shaven chin, and pale blue eyes. Locals tell that he acquired his position just a few years ago, when his master died in the night. As chief journeyman, he was the natural choice. His job is far less demanding than that of the armorer or weaponer, but he keeps busy. After hours, one can often find him in the tavern, where he likes to drink challengers under the table.

17 — Blackwater Mercantile

This large wooden building seems to be newly constructed. Overlapping wooden tiles cover a steeply pitched roof. Large double wooden doors form an entrance. A brightly whitewashed wooden placard hanging beside the doors reads simply, “Blackwater Mercantile.”

This place deals in all tools and large quantities of goods such as salt, spices, cloth, rare woods, etc. Every two weeks, an assortment of previously ordered goods arrives from the south on merchant wagons or on a small ship. Hunters, traders, and furriers from all over the northlands come here to sell their wares. Prices given in parentheses below are the inflated rates that are common in the lake region.

Furs

Type Pelt Trimming Cape/Jacket Coat
Beaver 4 gp 40 gp 400 gp 800 gp
Ermine 8 gp 240 gp 7,200 gp 14,400 gp
Fox 6 gp 60 gp 600 gp 1,200 gp
Marten 8 gp 80 gp 800 gp 1,600 gp
Mink 6 gp 180 gp 5,400 gp 10,800 gp
Muskrat 2 gp 20 gp 200 gp 400 gp
Sable 10 gp 300 gp 9,000 gp 18,000 gp
Wolf 20 gp 200 gp 2,000 gp 4,000 gp

 

Brocade, square yard 15 gp
Incense, common, 1 stick 5 gp / (15 gp)
Incense, rare, 1 stick 20 gp / (60 gp)
Ivory, 1 pound 6 gp / (396 sp)
Parchment, 1 sheet 4 gp / (264 sp)
Perfume, rare, 1 dram 3 gp / (198 sp)
Raisins, 1 pound 2 sp
Salt, 1 pound 1 sp
Silk, bolt 10 gp
Spice, Cinnamon, dry ounce 6 gp / (396 sp)
Spice, Pepper, dry ounce 1 gp / (66 sp)
Spice, Saffron, dry ounce 40 gp / (132 gp)
Tapestry, three square yards 30 gp / (99 gp)
Vellum, 1 sheet 8 gp / (176 sp)
Wine, good, imported, barrel 70 gp
Wool, fine-spun, undyed, bolt 7 gp

Liam Wainwright, Provisioner: He stands over 6’ tall and seems to weigh only 170 pounds or so.  He is slightly balding, with a high forehead and close-cropped and stringy brown hair.  He wears an apron most of the time.  He has cool blue eyes and is clean-shaven.  The locals report that he is honest and friendly to most folks.  They say he is a family man, avoiding the tavern and attending services at the Shrine of St. Cuthbert each morning.

18 — Green Man Tavern

The place is a hub of activity within the Keep. The three-story, L-shaped building has a ground floor made of stone, two half-timbered upper floors, and a mossy thatched roof. Beside a set of stout wooden double-doors, hangs a sign that reads, “The Green Man Tavern.” For those unable to read, a wooden pitcher hangs above the doors, suspended by a wrought-iron hook. Above the doors hangs a large, freshly painted terra-cotta likeness of the mythical Green Man, a humanoid face made of sprouting leaves.

Locals say that the owner has remodeled the place several times over the years. As a tavern, it has no rooms for rent, but one can purchase food until sundown and drinks until the guardsmen change shifts at midnight. Locals agree that the food and drink are above average. Having a steady customer base in the garrison enables the owner to pay for quality.

Brom Butterman, Tavern Keeper: This middle-aged mountain of a man was a former solider-of-fortune and adventurer. He is now bald with a clean-shaven chin and bright green eyes (some say that the name of the tavern is a reference to his eyes). He has a gold front tooth (“Gold as butter,” he likes to say). He often wears a simple leather apron over a loose linen shirt and black linen breeches. He usually stoops down to talk to people. Though denizens of the Keep do not love him, they certainly respect him. They say that he is courteous, professional, and tough. He rarely looses his temper, but when he does, people go running. If he has a weakness, it may be greed, as he is an avid collector of all kinds of valuables. Given the coin he must make each week, he certainly has enough to fund his hobby.

The man is a veritable storehouse of information on the lake region, for he has collected stories and tidbits from every passerby. He loves to tell stories so one can often obtain free information. Yet he is long-winded and loose with details at times.

19 — Storage

This small, stone, storage building seems to belong to the blacksmith, as I have seen him access this place a few times.

20 — Storage

This small, stone, storage building seems to belong to the weaponer, as his assistants have often brought boxes from his shop to this place.

21 — Fountain Square

This small plaza, featuring a gushing natural fountain, is in a sense the beating heart of the Keep. Members of the garrison say that long ago, the builders of the Keep tapped into an underground spring and directed the water to this fountain, which provides fresh drinking water for everyone within the walls. If this were true, then the fountain would be doubly useful to the garrison. Such a natural spring would be much more difficult to poison than a typical well. Still, it is general knowledge that the guards will immediately execute anyone caught (or even suspected of) poisoning the fountain.

For a few hours each day, usually from sunrise to noon, a handful of mercenaries congregate here to find employment. After noon, most will make their way to the tavern, while some will leave the Keep to adventure, and others will go beneath the outer walls to practice and hopefully to impress the guards. Those approached for hire generally ask to retire to the Green Man tavern to discuss terms.

On holidays, local farmers, tradesmen, and wandering peddlers set up small booths to sell their goods in this square.

 

22 — Money Changer

This small stone building in the fountain square has three stories with a steeply pitched, slate roof. A brightly painted sign over the door proclaims that the shop enjoys the direct protection of the Baron. Furthermore, a lanky but alert mercenary swordsman stands guard just outside the doorway. Inside, the moneychanger, assisted by a bony old clerk, provides loans and stores valuables. Obviously, members of the garrison are his primary customers. Loan rates and storage fees are reasonable and low.

Master Cedric, Moneychanger: This short man has green eyes, short, curly, brown hair, and a matching goatee. He has a thin voice and a shrewd look.  He wears several gold rings and does not hide the fact that he loves gold. He tends to get excited when speaking about it.  He obviously has no experience with arms, but he has no need, as almost every guardsman would rush to his call for help, if only to keep in his good graces. Despite his presumed greed and arrogance, he has a reputation for honesty.

23 — Barber

This large stone building in the fountain square has three stories with a steeply pitched, slate roof. The first floor features a barbershop, which seems to be a popular gathering place for soldiers, mercenaries, wandering peddlers, and pilgrims alike. The upper floors likely contain living quarters, though rumors suggest that a certain individual uses an upper floor for taboo medical procedures, such as dissections and surgery. In the shop, the barber provides a range of services, including a haircut, a shave, the lancing of a boil or blister, treatment of foot rot, and treating minor cuts (namely with antiseptic, salves or poultices). Prices are reasonable, as the barber likely relies on a steady volume of customers.

Several locals assert that certain men in the Keep have knowledge of taboo medical practices. The names most often cited are Galien the Physician; Father Godfrey the Vicar; Brothers Martin, Brock, and Hugh from the Shrine of St. Cuthbert, and Hardwin the Barber.

Hardwin the Barber: This young man, thin and somewhat lanky, has brown wavy hair and soft brown eyes. Locals describe him as levelheaded, pragmatic, optimistic, idealistic, and kind. He is friend to both Father Godfrey the Vicar and Galien the Physician. Many describe Hardwin as incredibly intelligent. Some suggest that he has magical powers, but this is unproven.

24 — Barracks

This large wooden building features two stories with a slate-tiled roof. It appears to be a barracks of some sort, perhaps for the Keep’s artillerists. I estimate that 20-30 men could lodge here.

25 — Master Artillerist’s Apartment

This small apartment is part of the barracks structure, but it has a separate entrance. Only the senior artillerists seem to enter and exit so it stands to reason that this contains living quarters for them.

26 — Steward’s Office/Apartment

This is a rather unremarkable stone building save that it has a second floor. The Baronial steward has an office on the ground floor, while his living quarters are on the second floor.

Master Adelard the Steward: This tall, thin man has white hair, a matching well-trimmed beard, and striking blue eyes. Locals say that he is soft-spoken, shrewd, kind, and attentive to detail. Some say that he is a real power behind the Baronial throne, the Baron’s chief advisor. All locals speak of his love of chess, and one can often find him playing outside his office in the fountain square. Some say that if you beat him in chess, you will have his ear whenever you need it. He also seems to enjoy people watching, and he always seems to have his finger on the pulse of the garrison. He is always thinking, and he rubs his chin a lot. Though his work is at the Keep, he spends much time in the village, and many say that he is a close friend of the innkeeper at the Welcome Wench. If he has a weakness, some say it is good food.

27 — Master Carpenter’s Apartment

Other than determining who dwells here, I have found little about this place.

28 — Master Mason’s Apartment

Other than determining who dwells here, I have found little about this place.

29 — Herald’s Apartment

Other than determining who dwells here, I have found little about this place.

30 — Chamberlain’s Apartment

Other than determining who dwells here, I have found little about this place.

31 — Butler’s Apartment

Other than determining who dwells here, I have found little about this place.

32 — Bakery

This two-story building features a bottom floor of stone and an upper floor of wattle and daub. The place is a favorite among the denizens of the Keep, and the pleasant aroma coming from it fills the fountain square. The entrance leads to a small storefront, where customers can purchase small loaves of bread for a few coppers. However, most of the bread goes to the barracks and to the tavern. The head baker regularly oversees about one dozen assistants, who scurry about to follow his orders, baking, kneading dough, and making deliveries.

Edern, Head Baker: This plump, balding, middle-aged man is frequently out of breath. He typically wears an apron over simple linen clothes, often dusted with stray flour. Locals say that he is a simple man, who enjoys wine and bread. Some say that he is actively involved with the rituals of the local druids.

33 — Head Cook’s Apartment

Other than determining who dwells here, I have found little about this place.

34 — Head Baker’s Apartment

Other than determining who dwells here, I have found little about this place.

35 — Mill

Located in the fountain square, this two-story building features a bottom floor of stone and an upper floor of wattle and daub. The only people that regularly enter or exit are the bakers from the nearby bakery, usually picking up sacks of flour. A quick peek inside reveals a stone mill on the ground floor. The contents of the second floor are unknown.

36 — Head Gardener’s Apartment

Other than determining who dwells here, I have found little about this place.

37 — Storage

This small stone shed is adjacent to the mill, but I cannot tell who owns it or what is stored here.

38 — Miller’s Apartment

Other than determining who dwells here, I have found little about this place.

39 — Secretary’s Apartment

Other than determining who dwells here, I have found little about this place.

40 — Guild Office

This is the western half of the Guild Hall, a three-story, stand-alone structure, featuring a ground floor of stone and two upper floors of wood. In this office, Guild representatives conduct their business, tallying dock fees and tariffs, reviewing memberships, tracking ships along the waterways, dispatching explorers, commissioning the manufacture of new ships, scheduling the repair of damaged ones, arranging for imports and exports, etc.

Master Edern, Master of the Guild: This robust mountain of a man has a large nose, short-cropped brown hair, and pale blue eyes. Though he is not particularly muscular, his sheer size often intimidates others. He dressed the part of a Guild Master, often wearing fashionable clothing befitting a nobleman, accented by one or two tasteful pieces of jewelry. Guildsmen and locals alike hold him in high regard. Those that have done business with him describe him as soft-spoken, industrious, meticulous, ambitious, and assertive. Many wonder what he plans to do next, having already reached the pinnacle of his profession here. If he is as ambitious as some suggest, he will need to find a new way to advance in social rank and status.

Master Gavin of the Guild: This active merchant, though baby-faced, is mature and energetic enough to be the guild master’s right hand. His looks are rather nondescript, for he is of average height and weight, has brown hair, close-cropped brown eyes, and has no facial hair. His dress, likewise nondescript, is that of a simple merchant. Yet, guildsmen describe him as upbeat, energetic, helpful, friendly, funny, and cautious. He is long-winded and loves to talk so most people know that his interest lie in history, politics, and administration. They say that he is very good at organization, paperwork, and bookkeeping. Everyone knows of and jokes about his long lists. He fears snakes, but he seems devoid of most vices. If he has a weakness in this area, it is cheap comfort food at the Green man or the Welcome Wench.

41 — Guild Dormitory

This is the eastern half of the Guild Hall, a three-story, stand-alone structure, featuring a ground floor of stone and two upper floors of wood. It seems that any passing Guildsman may dorm here. On average, there may be four to eight such merchants lodging here on any given night. One merchant noted that the quarters provided are sparse but sufficiently clean and comfortable.

42 — Treasurer’s Office

Other than determining who works here, I have found little about this place.

Edmund, Baronial Treasurer: I have found little about this man at this time.

43 — Treasurer’s Apartment

Other than determining who dwells here, I have found little about this place.

44 — Alchemist’s Apartment

Other than determining who dwells here, I have found little about this place.

45 — Alchemist’s Workshop

Other than determining who works here, I have found little about this place.

Master Smauragdus, Alchemist: I have found little about this man at this time.

 

Inner Bailey

Toward the southern end of the keep, the inner bailey sits upon a rocky plateau that is about 10’ higher than the outer bailey. Though the walls themselves are 20’ high, as are the outer walls, they are effectively 10’ higher because they sit on the plateau.

46 — Middle Gatehouse (Middle Castle)

This sizable, fortified, stone building has three stories and guards the entrance to the inner bailey. Most denizens of the Keep know that a troop of the Baron’s elite Yeoman-of-the-Guard dwell here. The building rests on top of the rocky plateau that forms the inner bailey. Thus, one entering the gate here passes into a stone tunnel that leads upwards to the inner bailey. At least one iron-reinforced portcullis bars the way through this building.

47 — Middle Courtyard

The open space in the inner bailey, known to locals as the middle courtyard, is a parade ground, where the Baronial troops train under the watchful eye of Holgrim the Swordsman. From sunrise to sunset, one can usually find a troop of guardsmen drilling here, rain or shine. The clash of steel and the shouts of the drillmaster are commonplace. The ground here is the natural rock of the plateau, and footing is treacherous in the rain or snow. Often, servants throw down fresh straw to improve footing.

Master Holgrim the Swordsman: This middle-aged weapons master is one of the most highly visible men in the Keep, for one can often find him outdoors drilling with the soldiers. He is in great physical shape, though he is of average build. He has soft blue eyes, gray close-cropped hair, and a matching full beard. He always has a vine cane, which he uses as walking stick, pointer, rod, riding crop. He usually dresses simply, wearing a beat-up, brown, leather jerkin over a linen shirt, with a longsword and dagger. He sometimes wears a helm when sparring or drilling the men. Those that have trained with him note that he often seems mildly amused, usually by someone’s foolishness. They say that he seldom raises his voice and that he can move like a cat. People describe him as professional, mild-mannered, perfectionist, somewhat aloof, even-tempered, and brave. On duty, he is energetic. Aside from swordsmanship, his interests lie in poetry and whores (he frequents the brothel in the village often). One local added that Holgrim’s employment at the Keep is temporary, though he would like a long-term arrangement.

48 — Norbeck Bastion

This bastion received its name because it overlooks the bend in the nearby Norbeck River, which flows southeast into the Narrows. Artillery atop the tower can strike boats in that river. This U-shaped, three-story, fortified tower is home to the Greater Bailiff and his family. Though Lord Balin has been acting as castellan or even Baron, his family still resides here, I presume. The tower has one strange feature, which is either an advantage to the defender or a fatal flaw. It has an access door leading out into the outer bailey. In theory, it allows a sally against anyone attacking the Middle Castle, and it allows fleeing defenders to fall back to the inner bailey easier. Yet, if an enemy forced the door, it seems that they could bypass the Middle Castle. Perhaps there are special defenses against this, but they are not visible.

Master Paulus, Secretary to the Greater Bailiff: I have found little about this man at this time, save that he may be a Magus. he may also have a rivalry with another Magus, Master Percard, the secretary to Lord Morgon.

49 — Narrows Bastion

This small, three-story, stone tower overlooks the Narrows, hence its name. A catapult atop this tower, spotted by a friend, could easily strike ships in the Narrows. I suspect that this tower houses a troop of guardsmen, for they come and go at all hours of the day and night. Its close proximity to the Middle Castle enables guardsmen to assist defenders there.

50 — Tower of the Chain

This round, three-story turret overlooks the mouth of the small Norbeck River. No one could tell me why this tower bears its distinctive name, but I suspect that there may be a way to draw a thick iron chain across the Norbeck (or perhaps there once existed such a chain). As guardsmen seem to come and go at all hours of the night and day, I surmise that a troop of guardsmen dwell here. Any artillery atop the tower could easily strike craft on the Norbeck or even the Narrows.

51 — Lord’s Stable

A friend noted that this small stone building is a stable, though it seems impossibly small for this use. As if the case with the common stable, it might possibly contain a ramp or tunnel leading down to an underground level, carved out of the solid rock of the plateau. If this is the case, there may be dozens of mounts kept here. Though I have no proof, I lean towards this theory because there are no other visible stables large enough to hold horses for even a small contingent of cavalry.

52 — Vicar’s Apartment

Other than determining who dwells here, I have found little about this place.

53 — Shrine of St. Cuthbert

For such an influential part of the Keep, this stone building is rather small. It features three stories and a steeply pitched slate roof. The building rises above the adjacent wall, making it vulnerable to enemy fire during a siege. Perhaps they have some precautions against fire, or perhaps they do not imagine that it would be an important target. The eastern wall-facing the courtyard, has large, impressive, stained glass windows with pointed arches. A row of buttresses and flying buttresses support that wall.

For any unaccustomed to the traditions of St. Cuthbert, I should note that public services are rare, so shrines and temples require little interior space. When the vicar provides blessings or sermons to the garrison, he usually does it in the courtyard, though he also visits the various gatehouses and bastions.

One set of doors leads to a visiting area, where petitioners make donations and request prayers from the vicar and his clerics. The other set of doors, near the vicar’s apartment, leads to a small chapel. I have heard of an underground sacristy, as well as underground crypts, though I have seen no evidence.

Father Godfrey, Vicar of the Shrine of St. Cuthbert: This middle-aged to elderly man has disheveled, graying, blonde hair that falls to his neck in the back and to his ears on the sides. He usually has the stubble of a full beard. His eyes are a soft blue. He walks with a slight but distinctive limp. In formal situations, he wears a white robe, over which is a green chasuble with the silver cross of St. Cuthbert. Around the Keep, he more often wears just a simple dark-green cassock, tight-fitted around the waist, but loose at the bottom. With it, he wears a matching hood with the silver cross of St. Cuthbert (the silver showing his rank as equal to an abbot).
Everyone that I have interviewed considers Father Godfrey to be a pillar of the local community. In fact, the only person of note that seems to disagree is Father Talbot, the Curate of the Temple in Lakensed. Everyone else describes Godfrey as calm, deliberate, caring, compassionate, intelligent, brave, and scrupulously honest.

Many say that he has led the effort to bring harmony (or keep peace) between the brothers, Lord Balin and Lord Melias, who had something of a rivalry while growing up. Aside from theology, Father Godfrey has an active interest in anatomy, surgery, and teaching. If he has a weakness, it is allergies, which he tries to offset with herbal teas.

54 — Gardening Shed

A local pointed out that this small, stone, storage building holds many of the gardener’s tools.

55 — Greenhouse

This small, stone building, featuring very large windows of blown glass, houses a range of special plants, though I no nothing of their type or use.

Hammond, Baronial Chief Gardener: I have found little about this man at this time.

56 — Physician’s Apartment

This long and narrow stone building has three stories and two entrances. Locals report that the physician dwells on one side in modest living quarters. The other side contains a small office, where he can examine or treat patients. Above this office are a few rooms that comprise a small infirmary.

Master Galien, Chief Physician: This handsome and mature man has aquiline features, wavy blonde hair (often worn in a pony tail), and green eyes. He is clean-shaven, and often smiling. He often dresses in simple white linen tunics or robes, sometimes covered with a leather apron. Locals describe him as calm, charming, courteous, witty, and even brilliant. He does not hide the fact that his goal is to revolutionize medicine, especially as it pertains to anatomy and surgery. He throws himself into his work. He is often seen with Hardwin the Barber and Father Godfrey.

57 — Granary

This large, two-story stone building houses scores of sacks and barrels, each containing grain collected by baronial officers from farmers in the region. Each morning, bakers come here to bring a wheelbarrow or two of grain to the bakery. A Baronial guardsman stands guard here at all times to safeguard the grain.

 

Innermost Bailey

In the southeastern corner of the Keep is another small natural plateau, about 10’ higher than that of the middle bailey. The walls here rise a good 40’ above the ground here, making them roughly 60’ above the ground outside the Keep.

58 — Upper Gatehouse (High Castle)

This small stone building sits upon the tiny plateau that forms the innermost bailey. The building is only one story high, and the wall that it guards is higher. Thus, when one approaches the gate to enter the innermost bailey, one sees guardsmen atop this High Castle. Above them are additional guardsmen atop the wall itself. When one passes into the structure, one enters a narrow stone tunnel that leads up to the plateau. Murder holes line the ceiling and arrow loops riddle the masonry on each side. An iron-reinforced wooden portcullis at the far end can trap attackers within the structure, where defenders can kill them with ease. When one passes into the innermost bailey, one can see guardsmen atop this structure on the other side, and above them are guards upon the wall. Even an amateur can see that penetrating this structure would be bloody business. As far as I can tell, there is no other entrance.

59 — High Courtyard

This small courtyard contains the residence of the Baron and his immediate family, as well as a few outbuildings. Interestingly, the plateau is made of natural rock so the ground is not made of cobblestones. Yet it has the appearance of cobblestones because masons have chiseled the rock so. One guardsman said that this helped with traction, for the rock was treacherous when slick from rain or snow.

Surrounding the main buildings are several gardens, featuring an array of aromatic flowers and shrubs. In one area is a sizable vegetable garden, supposedly planted by the local druid himself.

60 — Yeoman’s Tower

This small four-story stone tower receives its name from the fact that it houses a troop of the Baron’s elite guardsmen, the Yeomen of the Guard. Like the walls surrounding this bailey, the structure is 40’ higher than the ground here. I do not know if any siege engines sit atop this tower, but it would make sense, as n engine here could strike ships in the Narrows, as well as attackers along the eastern walls on the Keep.

61 — Castellan’s Tower

This wide, circular stone tower dopes not sit atop the rocky plateau that forms the innermost bailey. Instead, it butts up against it. Thus, while it rises to the same height of 40’ above the ground there, it probably has additional dungeon levels below the surface level of the rocky plateau. A talkative guardsman reported that there is a ballista atop the tower, which can strike ships in the Narrows. There could be another engine too, but he mentioned only the ballista. This tower contains mainly living quarters for the Castellan, his family, and his secretary.

Sorlons, Castellan’s Secretary: This youthful secretary, the younger son of a landless knight, has short-cropped blonde hair, blue eyes, and a clean-shaven chin. Though not overly muscular, he has a warrior’s physique, despite his profession. For a mere secretary, he wears fashionable and finely tailored clothes. Though occasionally he is very serious, he typically wears a broad smile on his face. He is almost too warm and welcoming for comfort. Though he gives no obvious reason to dislike him, many locals seem to avoid him. Master Adelard the steward does not hide his scorn for the man. On a positive note, most people describe Sorlons as cheerful, charming, energetic, funny, and devoted to his master, Lord Bors (before he disappeared). His critics are quick to suggest that he is too deferential and sycophantic, while others suggest that he is overly ambitious, manipulative, and even cowardly.

62 — Lord’s Kitchen

Detached from the other buildings as a precaution against fire, this small stone building is in almost constant use. Servants enter and exit with regularity, gathering ingredients for the cooks or delivering platters of food. Locals mentioned a stone tunnel that supposedly connects the kitchen to the Baron’s private dining hall, allowing cooks to deliver food without being drenched with rain or snow.

63 — Lord’s Cellar

This small stone building supposedly holds cask of wine and other spirits, which the servants could easily roll into the dining hall. The building seems small for this purpose, though there may always be a lower level cut into the rock of the plateau.

64 — Servants’ Quarters

This small stone structure, which lies between the Sage’s Tower and the Lord’s Tower, has three stories and a steeply pitched slate roof. The lowest floor simply forms an interior walkway between the tower larger towers. The upper floors contain storage rooms, a small dining hall, a calefactory, and living quarters for the servants on duty at the time.

65 — Sage’s Tower

This small, crenellated, square tower rises a full 60’ or more, looming over the surrounding walls. Its set of oversized oaken doors, commissioned by Lord Morgon, is a work of art unto itself, engraved and adorned with plates of burnished bronze. According to a few locals, the tower supposedly contains living quarters for Lord Morgon and his servants, as well as a private library, and a laboratory.

Lord Morgon, Magus and Resident Sage: This youngest son of the late baron is a slight man with a small head on a long neck. He has dark brown eyes, close-cropped curly brown hair, and a neatly trimmed goatee of matching brown hair. He is not fair of face. Unlike his brothers, he wears the scholarly robes of a Magus, though these seem to be of very good quality. Though young, he often walks with a staff, though more for appearance than function, I imagine. Locals seem to have little interaction with Lord Morgon, but some say only that he shies away from physical labor. They do report that he is very intelligent, which seems fitting for Magus. He is a known bibliophile, though few know of his main areas of study. Some note that he has an academic interest in medicine, though he does not seem to participate in the questionable medical practices that occur within the Keep. If Lord Morgon has a weakness, it may be comely lasses. Unfortunately, he lacks both charisma and looks, but his noble status does seem to offset these deficiencies to some degree.

Master Percard, Secretary to Lord Morgon: This middle-aged bald man has brown eyes, a clean-shaven chin, a melodious voice, and infectious charm. He appears very elegant and well bred. Many in the Keep claim that he is very intelligent and astute. They say that he is a Magus, much like his master, Lord Morgon. Thy say that when he is not busy assisting his master, he even tutors pupils of his own. One servant related that there is some friction and rivalry between Master Percard and yet another resident Magus, Master Paulus, who serves as secretary to Lord Balin.

66 — Lord’s Tower

This large, square, crenellated, stone tower rises a full 80’ above the ground, towering over the surrounding walls. Four small corner turrets rise another 10’ above the main structure. The tower has a main gate on the second floor, accessed by a wooden staircase that soldiers can remove in time of crisis. A portcullis bolsters the gate defenses. The tower contains living quarters for the Baron, his family, and a few immediate servants and advisors.

Heinrich, Baronial Chamberlain: I have found little about this man at this time.

Hugh, Baronial Herald: I have found little about this man at this time.

Simon, Baronial Butler/Cellarer: I have found little about this man at this time.

Lady Matilda: This youngest child of the late Baron is full-figured and somewhat thick. She is of average height, with a square-shaped face and thick facial features. She has soft brown eyes and long thick curly brown hair. She is often smiling and giggling. In short, she is not very attractive, and some say that she is a bit masculine. She also has an appetite for food and drink that matches most men. Furthermore, she has an unfortunate habit of snorting when she laughs.

If she lacks grace and beauty, she dresses well. Her clothes are often very stylish and richly made. To her credit, most inhabitants of the Keep speak highly of her. They describe her as cheerful, generous, friendly, honest—sometimes to a fault, and extremely bright for a woman. Some add that she has a scholar’s mind, suggesting that she found in books what she lacks in feminine charms. This is not to say that she lacks the skills of a noblewoman, for she dances, sews, and sings with great skill.

It is not secret that her father sought to marry her. She reached childbearing age years ago, but goblyn incursions, Pictish raids, and other pressing matters have delayed marriage arrangements for some time.

Lord Balin, Greater Bailiff: In his late twenties, this trim and fit man has dark brown eyes and close-cropped, dark brown hair. He has a neatly trimmed beard and mustache to match. What he lacks in distinguishing looks he makes up for with energy, intensity, and charisma. Lord Balin ‘fills the room’, as the locals say. His eyes are frequently wide with excitement, and he tends to wrap his arm around someone whom he is addressing. As the acting lord of House Blackwater, he dressed appropriately noble. He often wears black cotton leggings, a black undertunic, a green doublet of fine embroidered silk, a black leather belt adorned with gold plates shaped like flora, a finely-worked gold chain, a leather belt pouch, and a green wool cloak.

Most people speak very highly of Lord Balin, even candidly. They describe him as passionate, gregarious, friendly, generous, jovial, sarcastic, flirtatious, and sometimes very serious. In battle, some guardsmen say that he is very brave, almost fearless.

Several locals note that Lord Balin enjoys falconry and fine swords. If he has a weakness, it may be for fair ladies. Yet, anyone that touches on the subject will say no more. Those that know him best say that Lord Balin does not seek title or power, though they add that he is astute when it comes to politics. They claim that his greatest personal desire is to build a mansion-retreat on the lake for his immediate family.

 

Rumors Related to the Keep

1. There is a spy somewhere in the Keep. I cannot say who he is or whom he reports to, but he is certainly up to no good!

2. The Castellan did not die in some boar-hunting mishap a week ago. He is a prisoner in the dungeon of the Keep, held hostage by his own ambitious brothers. If the goblyns discover this, they will immediately attack the keep en mass. Authorities at the keep will stop at nothing to keep this secret.

3. Cedric the Moneychanger is a good fellow. If you are in desperate need of coin, he might loan you enough to get you on your feet.

4. The Village Reeve, Lord Melias, has a beautiful young daughter that yearns to escape the Keep and travel to civilization in the south. She will handsomely reward anyone that takes her away from this place. He father is very protective and possessive.

5. A passing adventurer once raped the daughter of the senior sergeant of the guard named Berenger. He loathes all adventurers and mercenaries.

6. The Castellan’s primary standing order is this: “The gates to the Keep are never to be opened between sunset and sunrise. Never. No exceptions.”

7. The Castellan’s advisor is a famous chess master, renowned throughout the land. If you can actually beat him, you can gain his respect and his ear.

8. Sergeant Harald is addicted to mountain lotus.

9. The Keep is very liberal by the standards of the civilized world. Its inhabitants have a very “live and let live” attitude and turn a blind eye towards things that are simply not tolerated in the outside world.

10. Because of its remote location, the Keep has sometimes gone years with a cleric. As a result, there is a surprisingly advanced tradition of medicine and surgery at the Keep. The vicar, physician, and guild master are all accomplished physicians. They can provide care to wounded persons.

11. Most soldiers now serving in the Keep once served under Lord Bors in a free company led by Lord Darras. When Darras proved to be a tyrannical brute, Bors left and took half the men with him. Darras swore vengeance on Bors and his family.

12. Beneath the shrine of St. Cuthbert in the Keep is a crypt, where the chaplain has his apartment. Also, in the crypt are the tombs of past chaplains, and a small shrine. If a pure man kisses the statue in the shrine, it will heal him of any ailment.

13. The Porter, Sir Agravaine, is a functioning drunk, who prefers honey mead.

14. Sergeant Giles, who works in the inner ward, is an obsessive gambler. Some months ago, he lost a great deal to Sir Uriens. He did not repay him, but Sir Uriens forgave the debt.

15. Lord Balin has been active in improving the Keep’s defenses, but his building efforts have frequently run short on coin, causing delays and infuriating Balin.

16. Baron Berold Blackwater had been sickly for over two months before he finally died. Still, his death came as a surprise to many, for he had been lively, even when sick.

17. Many inhabitants of the Keep are wanted criminals who have fled here, to the edge of human civilization, to start new lives far from the law. It is part of the ‘unwritten rules’ of the Keep that nobody ever asks questions about a newcomer’s past or cooperates in any way with bounty hunters. One denizen put it this way: “Out here, we need every man we can get.”

18. Many inhabitants of the Keep are black sheep or bastard children from noble families, stashed out here at the Kingdom’s farthest edge to avoid scandal or to keep them out of the way. In the Keep, even a lowly maid or dishwasher might be of gentle birth.

19. The Keep needs every single man at the barricades that it can muster so traditional punishments, like jailing or hanging, are not practical. By tradition, the Castellan often punishes crimes by enforced silence: A minor offense such as insubordination might result in losing your right to speak for days or weeks, a more serious crime like thievery or beating up a prostitute might be months or years, and a very serious infraction like manslaughter might result in a sentence of silence for life. The men of the Keep take this tradition very seriously, and those lawbreakers who violate their sentences have their tongues ripped out and are thrown from the walls of the Keep. The Keep’s soldiers have compensated by developing over the centuries their own complex language of hand signals, used nowhere else in the world. About one in six of the men of the Keep is under such a sentence at any given time.

20. Each month, the merchant guild ships about 35 pounds of celestial iron to the south for sale, making a profit of about 30 gold pieces per ounce. That totals 12,000 gold pieces per month! Overhead costs are not nearly this much, so it stands to figure that the guild master is hiding a hefty treasure somewhere.

21. The castellan’s wife, Lady Matilda, is not only barren, but she is also sleeping with Master Sorions, the castellan’s secretary. She plots with him, though their plans are unknown.

22. Lord Balin’s wife, Lady Isabella, is aware of her husband’s wandering eye, but she is supportive of him for the sake of the children. He has three young teenage girls.

23. Sir Urien’s wife, Lady Juliana, hardly speaks. She seems afraid of her own shadow. Though naturally shy and introverted, she is also aware of several plots within the keep, and these have terrified into silence.

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