Thieves & Kings
Caer Dragonscorn (“The Keep”) : Holdfast of the “Wolf Baron” : The village is dominated by the weathered battlements of Dragonscorn itself, which is usually simply called “…the Keep…” by locals. The castle is in poor repair, but is well sited on top of Brokenhelm Hill, with a commanding view of the surrounding valley. Thickets of dense briars ring the Keep’s walls and its hill, especially along its southern and western side cliffs. It is rumored that somewhere under these thorns, lies a crevice, that opens to the ancient Halls Under the Hill, the ancient cavern home of the goblins of the region. Among adventurers, they are better-known as the “Accursed Halls”.
The main gatehouse stands at the top of a winding causeway leading up from the town green. The stronghold is an improved stone castle, with a massive stone keep and an unusually thick curtain wall of stone. The gates themselves are wide enough to allow an oxcart or wagon to enter, and are covered in badly tarnished copper sheets to resist damage by fire. The castle troops typically close the gates at sundown and refuse to admit anyone after dark, unless a feast is declared. There is also a small postern gate on the northwest side of the wall, locked and barred from inside, but rarely guarded and hasn’t seen service in years. A faint, over-grown path leads down behind the castle to the north side of the hill, but is largely forgotten and unknown by most locals.
The stone curtain walls along the south and east sides of the castle enclose a bailey with numerous workshops and bonded craftsmen in the exclusive service of the castle. Frerin Wolfmantle (### $$$) is the castle smith, a tall, muscular and gruff man who performs the usual blacksmith tasks, but also maintains the garrison’s weapons and armor. He bears a magical battleaxe known as “Reaver”, a mithral and blue-steel relic of dwarven origins. His two apprentices are two local boys, Tan and Ken, who live in the village, and he is known to spend many nights drinking at the Green Forest Inn.
Other craftsmen bonded to the castle include; Gram and Talia Eldrmere (## $$), the ostlers, whose son Colm (9) acts as the ostler’s apprentice. Talia also serves in the castle kitchens as the alewife; Thoron Luthier (## $$), the woodworker, who also is a a somewhat talented harper and known for his finework and carvings, rather than his regular woodwork; Thorcall and Iska Riverwood (## $$), the castle clothiers whose children Cervui and Wilthri act as apprentices. They do some fur linings in rabbit and wolf.
A good-sized jail lies in the barracks cellars, and while a wealthy owner might be able to house more than a cohort (120 troops) within its walls, the Blackshield clan can barely garrison it with thirty mercenaries. Commander of the garrison is Ser Moireach Spearbearer, a shifty, gray-haired warrior who is rumored to be involved in the local black market. Ragnar, the lead sergeant, is a capable soldier, but homely and without ambition; his companion sergeants have since proven to be werewolves, and have been slain. About twenty (20) mercenaries protect the outer defenses of the keep, armed with iron breastplates, light crossbows, longswords and shields. All wear the livery of the clan, and have been in the Blackshield’s personal service for many years; some are even closely related.
The barracks also serves as the administrative center of the realm. The realm’s two clerks maintain the town’s records and taxes from a small, cluttered office in the cellars. The senior clerk is the wizened and old Master Gavrin, who is hopelessly out of touch with the realities of the lawlessness of the realm. His junior clerk, Jendra Rushkettle, a young, idealistic halfling, however, is well aware of the corruption riddling the realm, but recognizes saying anything to anyone will just get her killed. She is brutally competent, and fills-in for many of her senior clerk’s failures.
The old stone tower keep of Dragonscorn is the heart of the castle, and home to the Blackshield clan and their servants. A short flight of steps leads up to the sturdy iron plate door in the second level. This level boasts a good-sized hall where the clan holds court and entertains their guests on the rare occasion they actually hosts a guest. The kitchen and servant’s quarters are below the halls on the “ground” level, while the Castellan Ser Kranstin Shearwater, and other personal retainers live on the third level above. The Keep is overseen by Lady Ivis, on behalf of Baroness Neria and her son Master Halst, who live on the highest (fourth) level.
In addition to a handful of guards on regular duty, several servants dwell within the keep and serve the Blackshields; Kalarmi Redcliff and her younger sister Faradi serve in the kitchens, the younger as the baker; Fwen serves the “lower halls” as a maid, but most know she is the guard captain’s lover; Larista Farburrow, the halfling maid serves Baroness Blackshield personally, and Veruka Sunsbright acts as the lead servant, and the Baroness’ personal scribe. The Lady Ivis has taken a new personal maid into her service, a young local girl named Fiona, from a minor clan. The clan also hires local villagers as servants from time to time, when duties and improved protocol are required, particularly during feasts. Since the Night of Teeth, Captain Arianna Redfern and a hand of her troops have taken over defense of the main tower keep itself.
Thornkeep’s demesne farm is small, roughly 800 acres, with 400 acres of scattered woodland being actively worked, and 400 acres of poor summer pasture, used both for summer grazing and winter fodder by the clan’s mounts and handful of livestock. The fief’s two-dozen cottagers are employed in maintaining this livestock and harvesting nuts, meat and herbs from the woodlands, but primarily maintain the fief’s pastures, a task for which they work six months of every year to maintain. Several large barns are needed to store the food to feed the Baron’s hungry mounts and troops through the winter.
In mid-Shorn, TR 1049, the manor proper burned down, though the great mothalla and nearby barracks were completely destroyed. The barns were also later destroyed, with all the manor stocks moved into the deep castle cellars themselves.. The loss of Bailiff Setrew in the events prior to the burning, has forced Lady Ivis Blackshield to step in as the acting Bailiff, until a new officer can be hired in the spring.
By early-Uktar, the manor was abandoned, in fear of a growing threat of wolves stalking the site. The herds were moved into the castle commons of Caer Dragonscorn, which made the castle a smelly, crowded place for the first half of the winter, but a needed evil until matters could be sorted. Most of the livestock was sold-off by mid-Winter, with only enough retained to be slain over the season, and have sufficient to start the herds again in the spring. Stocks of fresh fodder were acquired from the markets in Mornhaven, at great cost and with great difficulty.
With the arrival of spring in mid-Kelen, TR 1050, the departure of the town’s first caravan was viewed with great hope for the castle and Blackshield clan itself. They had shipped a great load of furs, glassware, raw iron and charcoal to Mornhaven, believed to be essential for their expenses over the coming seasons. The first moot of the spring is rumored to be a great moot of the town’s council regarding activities for the new year.