Monday, September 26, 2016

Local Lore of Eveningstar

Harsh winters are known as wolf winters, named for the wolves that come down the gorge from the Stonelands to hunt in Cormyr. All year long, their far-off, haunting howls can be heard by night.

Of old, when men were fewer and the rule of kings not so heavy of hand and long of reach, many mages dwelt near Eveningstar, in its woods or in small, nowruined towers or caves on the edge of the Stonelands. The spells and magics of these wizards are still sought by many hopeful adventurers, and at least one adventuring band arrives each summer to try its luck at gleaning treasures from the legendary Haunted Halls. (Notably fewer stalwarts arrive to explore the Halls in winter.)

Partway up the western side of the Eveningstar gorge is the entrance to the Halls. The Halls are actually a subterra-nean stronghold built by dwarves long ago for the human bandit lord Rivior, but since have become home to kobolds and worse. Rivior died some two hundred winters ago when Enchara, Warrior- Queen of the fledgling realm of Esparin (since absorbed by Cormyr), knowing Rivior ?s band to be short of food, tricked them out into the winter snows with a false food caravan and slew the bandits to the last man.

The deserted hold soon became home to monsters (lured in to discourage intruders, some say, by evil mages who took abode in the Halls), and was often visited by adventurers. The undead remains of some of these intrepid souls gave the former bandit hold its present name.

One of the most famous tales of the Halls is the titanic battle between the young, unproven Knights of Myth Drannor (exploring the Halls was their first foray) and the evil mage Whisper. Another tale is the explosive encounter in front of the Halls between The Company of the Unicorn and a circle of nine levitating, fireball- hurling, black-robed mages.

Despite continuing patrols, the Haunted Halls remain home to many dangerous beasts. Folks whisper that fell Zhentarim wizards dwell there, and it is their magic that lures or attracts (and heals, and trains) the monsters. There are also ongoing local problems with trolls, particularly to the east, in the caves known as The Caverns of the Claws.

Farther up the gorge from the subterranean Halls is a now-ruined keep that was Rivior?s first home. Most visitors miss the true Halls entirely, thinking this ruin to be the Haunted Halls instead. Rivior wanted them to think so, too. After abandoning this cold, drafty castle, he had the dwarven stonebuilders incorporate many nasty traps into its rooms and passages; most still await the unwary. Locals call this the Killing Keep, and the wind-torn bones of many would-be-rich treasure seekers, caught in its traps, grimly attest to the fitting nature of this name.

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