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Korizegy Keepby Victor Caminha
Hi. When I checked the references on the Poor Wizards Almanac and elsewhere, the mention of this haunted keep always made me wonder about its contents. When I read the contents on Karameikos - Kingdom of Adventure, I felt disappointed for the minimal contents and a good story being potentially wasted. So, I set to work out a version, more fleshed out. I always liked the idea of a haunted castle, filled with a historic background and scary scenes.
I also wanted a place which could be the one whispered in taverns in legends, in fear. A truly old story that could be an integral part of the country, containing part of its history and yet bearing a terrible and believable curse.
This KK has two thousand years old, already standing when the Alphatians made landfall. The fate of three Immortals is also connected to the keep. The decisions the trio made would affect their personalities (mostly for Petra ) and Ranivorus would not be immortal if he decided to stay until the end. The Keep is also the site that became the parting point for the gnoll invasion, for the killing of whole Traldar villages and the transference of some to the Hollow World, so great was the danger. The Keep also marked the end of the Invasion with the Traldar squashing the last of gnollish resistance. It bears the influence of two powerful immortals of Entropy and was trod by the feet of Traladara's most holy Immortals.
Thank you Marco, for your support and opinions :)
The Korizegy Keep (I will abbreviate as KK) as a haunted place is long whispered and feared, the clerics of Halav, Zirchev and especially Petra warn against anyone entering that forsaken place. The Thyatians of Karameikos, after so many hours of dread tales, have learned to leave it alone. The Traladarans, by oral tradition passed along the legend of KK. This is some of the stories told about it:
- KK is the site of a dormant gate to the Pyts (false)
- No one who worships Petra, Halav or Zirchev will receive their favours or powers (including turn undead and spells). They are on their own. (True)
- KK is a very ancient castle, centuries old perhaps a millennium. (half true)
- Judging its age, its hard to tell how it has such architecture, mixing ancient Traladara (in truth, Traldar) walls with another wholly foreign style(true)
- KK existed already when the Alphatians arrived (true)
- The Lord of all vampires and werewolves of Karameikos live in the keep. During a certain Full moon, once in a decade, all vampires and werewolves of the kingdom secretly migrate there to pay homage (false)
- The voices of the long dead still echo in KK, reminding of a harsh past, forced to expose everyone its gruesome deeds (true)
- KK was a stronghold against the gnoll invasion, long ago. Once destroyed, the dead soldiers still walk its walls defending against any intruder (false)
- A long-dead patriarch of Petra sought her aid and advise to band an army and destroy that cursed place once and for all. When he saw the statue of in the altar crying tears of blood, he took as a bad omen and gave up (true).
Synopsis of the history in BC 1000:
While the Alphatians were setting foot in Mystara, the Nithian Empire was at its peak, the gnolls were on migration and began invading the lands of Traldar.
In this land a strong willed woman defeated other pretenders to the throne of Krakatos and ascended as Queen Petra. Coupled to her beauty, many suitors were available. One of them was a ruthless and battle hardened warlord, but was rejected by his cruel and blood ways, choosing Halav to betrothal. The other Traldar nobles disliked him, giving little importance to his small domain in the far northwest. This man, Andrei Korizegy, so turned its shoulders to the council of nobles, vowing they one day would regret looking down on him. In his passioned cries for revenge, an immortal heard his souls and quietly told he could get his chance to ruin all those he hated if he embraced his ideals. Under his guidance, he grew even more strong, and his dedication crowned when at the end of a grand quest he found an artifact of its patron, the Fiery Brand of Masauwu. Masauwu told his follower to wait and let his army arrive, for his allies were coming. Combining with his power and the blessing of Masauwu in this artifact, he would be avenged and a part of Traldar would be his.
In ancient Nithia, a small army of renegades ran afoul from the Pharaoh's force. Each soul had a different origin from the stain that eventually blackened wholly their souls. The gnolls consisting the last remaining ones of the experiment of the Nithians sorcerers who tried to create a perfect slave race. The experiment was abandoned when they turned to be brutal and savage.
However, one of the templar magic-users (as in HW Kingdom of Nithia) of name Inherkhan, still persisted in experimenting, even when the clerics of Pflarr deemed this practice blaspheme, even when the other magic-users expulsed him from the order as a renegade for his foulness. It mattered little to him. for he was having great progress in the intelligence of these beings, especially in one of them who he treated as a near equal, giving the name of Ranivorus. The power of Inherkhan and the fear and respect he inspired, including on Ranivorus, let him accompany the last outcasts out of the empire.
The group became stronger when they were joined by Auridaman, a former patriarch of Pflarr, who fell when he was spurned by a minor cleric of Isiris, fell when he killed her consort - a Horoni- and was caught when his immortal abandoned him to his fate. Auridaman was sentenced to the mines, but escaped by the hands of a hairy man who later guided him to a long escape, all the while making him fuel his emotions and channelling his hatred for Pflarr, when he committed the final act - the desecration and defilement of a tomb which contained the remains of a faithful high cleric of Pflarr, he heard a laughter, almost animalistic, and then heard a voice in his mind. "You failed when you choose the Black Prince instead of redeeming yourself in my eyes. NOW LEAVE! And have the reward from your Master". When he awoke, his feet were hooves as a goat's. The later nights, he received visions from his now eager patron, who called himself Master of the Dead, all the while denying he was Thanatos. As this other Master was the Reaper, he was the Goat. After committing himself to this new, more dedicated patron, he received an omen to join a band of other people who also were cast down because of Pflarr. So, he met Inherkhan, Ranivorus and his gnolls. The appearance of Auridaman impressed then, and soon the gnolls began treating the Patriarch with almost religious reverence (Ranivorus included, but later he abandoned all of them when he foresaw the doom). This, however, did not endear the Patriarch to Inherkhan, who saw Auridaman as a challenge to his rule.
When they were in the lands outside the empire, they encountered a large army of gnolls form the Broken Lands. After a quick clash with the leaders of the Horde, with Auridaman killing the Gnoll Leader, the other gnolls accepted surrender and being led by the Cleric, now an enormous force. Inherkhan now was left out of the command, and secretly raged inside. Auridaman guided the army south to the lands of Traldar, after dreaming a small castle in the woods that would become his seat of power.
The days passed in Andrei Kodydzegy small keep when rumours of an army of monsters were on their way. As he was told by his patron, this was his chance to brought the nobles of Traldar on his heels. Although he was surprised to see an army consisted by hyena-headed humanoids, he did not hesitated and, for the horror of his troops, he threw open the gates in welcome and invited their leaders to talk. The few of his man who dared question his orders were slaughtered. Aurimadan talked to Korizegy haltingly (as he was not exactly proficient in an ancient Traladara) with Inherkhan as his adviser. One of the first tasks was to expand his stronghold to a mighty castle. With the supervision and magical aid of the Templar magic-user, added to a mass of gnolls under their command, KK grew to a enormous size, second to none in all Traldar and still a very respectable fortress in the current time (My statistics came to a 200X200 wall plus 90X90 keep). With some expert architecture from the Nithian magic-user revamping the previous petty dwelling of Traldar design, it brought wonder to all who did not recognise the Nithian architecture. Also, a lair for Korizegy's great mount, Smoulder (a large red dragon he subdued in his last years; both it and his rider became later had their reputations spread like wildfire for their might).
So, the gnoll invasion began. Initially, some small groups pouring through the woods, then in full force. Only when Korizegy received word form the council of Traldar nobles he entered into action. He met a force of 150 footmen which would supposedly group with his forces. He, armed with his torch (Masauwu fiery brand) and his mount, appeared in front of then and began the slaughter, butchering everyone, leaving just one survivor to limp back to relate his meaning for those who disregarded him so.
Even with the Traldar troops' superior knowledge of the terrain, the forces of Auridaman and Korizegy were more organised and the mere of the Flame-Bearer (as Korizegy became known to the common folk) and his mount were enough to cause panic. The nobles, wisely reasoned that they were steadily progressing to a doomed war unless they took urgent measures. So, they arranged an ambush (disguised as a parley) with Korizegy while someone could sneak into that suddenly impregnable fortress to discover their weakness. To the surprise, none other than Petra, Queen of Krakatos and exalted cleric of Vanya volunteered to this mission, in company with Halav and a skilful but squalid magic-user known as Zirchev. While they infiltrated the keep, the 500 men force sent to dispatch Korizegy could have better luck; they had gambled upon his arrogance to meet then without his steed.
And so Korizegy, the Flame-Bearer and scourge of Traldar went to meet the petty nobles who now would cower before his might. In a certain clearing on the woods he met with two of the younger (and brave) nobles. When they got assured he was alone, with only two guards as token escort they silently signalled to the army hidden in the woods. For a moment Korizegy and his guards were being surrounded by archers and lancers.
"TREACHERY!" He cried! And instead of admitting surrender he marched straight to the barrier of spears waving his torch, clashing when his guards fell. While he was certainly outrageously outnumbered and with no escape to escape, her eyes burned with a passion and lust for their blood. Answering this emotion, the Brand grow even hotter, a bonfire in his hand. And from the flame surged the effect the Traldar so feared : several huge balls of molten rock from the torch, exploding and killing all who were near. Nevertheless, this army new the risks and the meaning of their sacrifice.
Even by the carnage caused by the flames and the rocks, they carried on, with scores of soldiers burning when they close on too near Korizegy. Even the Flame-Bearer was singed by the flames he wield for he was fighting in a cramped condition. He raged by this pain and even more that they continue to advance regardless. So he decided to augment its power even more. Suddenly, the flame on the torch became blinding white, and so became the new shower of rocks that emerged from the torch. Aghast, the soldiers began to fall even more quickly as the power of that unholy weapon became greater by the minute, in the hands of an enraged warrior. Their number have dropped to half when a breach on their ranks became exposed. Blind to his rage, Korizegy ignored the possibility of escape, decided to reduce all of them to cinders. The soldiers, however began to retreat in terror for they never saw a greater display of destruction, even compared to the earlier demonstration of the torch. But the as they began to retreat, the irate Flame-bearer didn't let they leave at least. Once more the white flames, explosion and rocks flowed into his hands. In a berserk fury he wielded the torch unaware that the white flames began to cover his hands and body. The last surviving soldiers saw a Korizegy wholly covered in white flame attacking their ranks, oblivious he was being consumed. And the killing frenzy continued until there was nothing visible in his body except white flame. Then, in a final explosion of white flames, Korizegy and his torch vanished as consumed by this inferno. From the initial 500 men, only 25 survived, most at the deaths door or dying, a few able to walk. These remaining men returned to the their lord to tell the happening, as was a hidden agent of Aurimadan, who galloped at full speed back to the Keep to warn of their rulers death.
An explanation: As you have noted, the main immortals involved in this conflict are :
-Masauwu : who saw the humanoid migration as an perfect opportunity to cause ruin and misery coupled with his job of finding more suitable candidates for the Entropy. A Task that Korizegy failed in his eyes for not controlling his passion). (PS: Masauwu IMC is much older than his Minrothaddan origin written in WotI)
- Orcus: A Patron of humanoids much more stronger in that time, before Atzanteotl became more prominent and with the still weak (in any) influence of the immortal humanoids of that time. Answering the prayers of his followers for conquest and mass destruction, he was only too happy to combine his plot with Masauwu. In Master Set, he is confounded with Masauwu and their joining of forces between Korizegy and Aurimadan could be the explanation to this.
The Fiery Brand of Masauwu (from the Master set, for your convenience:)
Legend: The Legendary Guardian of Death, Masauwu (possibly another name for Orcus) is greatly feared. Its rumoured he walks across the entire earth every night, appearing as a dark-skinned giant clad in animal skins and carrying a flaming torch. This device is sometimes left for others to use, especially if they will further his causes. It has horrible and awesome powers, but if the user impresses Masauwu by employing it often and with diligence, he may grant even greater ones.
Description: This is a club-like torch, 4 feet long. Its not normally burning when found. If lit, it can be only extinguished by water.
Magnitude: greater Artifact
Power limits: 4/A, 3/B, 3/C, 4/D
Sphere: Entropy (Death)
Suggested powers: (PP 450)
A1 Meteor Swarm 100
A1 Obliterate 90
A4 Turn as CL36 95
A5 Spell damage bonus 1,2,3 = 4 80
B2 Detect invisible 35
B3 Teleport 50
Activation: The artifact is active when found. each time the user slays another creature by using this item, knowledge of 1 power is granted (maximum 2 per day) The artifact may be wielded as a club. Powers are revealed in order of PP cost.
Use of powers: The artifact must be lit for any powers to function, issuing forth from the flames, on command.
Suggested Handicaps (3)
1- When the first power is used: constitution score drops 5 points (minimum score of 3)
2- When turn undead is first used: user loses 3 levels
3- When spell damage bonus is first used to augment meteor swarm: Doom is sent. User and artifact will utterly vanish, but leave all equipment carried, either when user is next struck by any undead creature, or when spell damage bonus is applied to the meteor swarm a third time. (this is what happened to Korizegy. His body and soul and artifact were carried away .. it's ironic that the haunted keep is NOT haunted by the one who named it:)
Suggested penalties (5)
1- Cause critical wounds, cast at user, saving throw applies
2- Attract undead: if adventuring underground or outdoors after dark, 2-8 undead arrive in 1-6 rounds. All are off one type. Roll 1d12 to find Hit Dice type
3- Operational cost. User loses 20% of all treasure owned, not counting magic
4- Die* : user drops dead instantly, no saving throw (can be normally raised)
5- Poison Gas: Artifact releases 20.000 cubic feet of purple gas. Each victim within it must make a saving throw vs poison at -2 or die. User is not affected by the gas!
*I would not count this effect having ever appeared, by a stroke of luck :)
More details from the ambush and the characters:
So, the original ruler of KK vanished form the land, along with his torch. But how he originally got into the trap is not yet fully explained. Here it is:
When Orcus and Masauwu agreed in cooperating with one another in this little plot, The Goat didn't trust at the least in his ally. So he decided to send a spy to the keep, to watch more closer on Korizegy and the others. He summoned one of his minions, Zhivorag, a howling demon (not just fiend) who failed in an important mission to his master sometime ago and was awaiting punishment. So the Black Prince declared he would be sent to a keep in the Prime Plane as a Ulzaq Homunculus to serve a mortal while watching the affairs, especially attentive to any plots that his "ally" could be scheming through Korizegy. With no choice and eager to please Orcus, Zhivorag accepted. Homunculus (as described in Creature catalogue, I can put the statistics later if you wish) are a forced mortal form taken by Immortals who are sent to the prime plane to serve a magic-user or cleric as form of punishment. So, Zhivorag was sent to KK, not to serve Aurimadan, but Inherkhan the templar. Orcus reasoned that the appearance of this new servant to the Patriarch would be obvious to Masauwu that was an envoy of his Patron. Instead, the Ulzaq appeared to the disgruntled wizard who wanted badly the rulership but was barred to a position of mere adviser for both Aurimadan and Korizegy were the acknowledged rulers. Zhivorag explained that he long listened to the anger and his unfulfilled lust for the throne and he was willing to help as his "familiar". After proving his utility showing great knowledge on arcane and the suggestion of a plan to put him as the rightful ruler, Inherkhan gladly accepted. The ulzaq explained that Korizegy was a hard and suspicious man and far more dangerous because his torch. Zhivorag also proposed that he would appear to Aurimadan as his familiar. However, in order to build the confidence of the patriarch in him, it was necessary to implant a lie. So the homunculus was to tell the Patriarch that he was in truth a supposed minion of his Patron and he was there to watch over, the guise of Inherkhan's servant was just a cover, for it would be much more difficult to spy if it became clear that he was the servant of Aurimadan. Occasionally he would report to the patriarch any news from the Keep and from his enemies. The demon told so clearly and bluntly to the former templar that he didn't realise how true it was.
All of the story above agreeable to Orcus move, to watch for any treachery or threat to his plot and followers. However, it was the howling demon own ideas that led to the eventual doom of KK and perhaps the cause of victory for Halav and his allies. Zhivorag reasoned that his master would be much more satisfied if Masauwu suffered a little stroke and left the scene. As his main pawn was Korizegy, his death could strengthen and consolidate Aurimadan in power as the sole ruler of the Keep and eventually all Traldar. So, he spent nights first feeding the old wizard paranoia to the warrior, then began plotting with him of its destruction (without the knowledge of Aurimadan or his patron). Zhivorag knew about the Doom effect of the Fiery Brand, so he gambled at the warriors overconfidence and bloodlust if he was put in a do-or-die situation. As the warrior had already augmented the power of the meteor swarm before, a third time would mean his destruction and Masauwu would blame the warriors incompetence and foolishness with his artifact rather than accusing Orcus. Then, after the situation was stabilised and the conquest of Traldar restarted, the demon would arrange for the death of Inherkhan (as he was just a pawn and not to an possible obstacle in Aurimadan's rule).
So, he sent an anonymous message to the Traldar Council of Nobles telling how to defeat Korizegy. All they had to do was to assemble a huge force to ambush him under the pretext of there were some nobles who wanted peace and parley and wanted to negotiate in secret. If Korizegy agreed, their forces would be his to control. However, secrecy was to be absolute and they would not risk that a large red dragon flying would be discreet at all. So they pleaded to Korizegy to appear in more conventional ways, bringing whatever army he wants. Even alone they wouldn't dare to move against the Flame-Bearer (Zhivorag rationalised that if the warrior came mounted on his dragon he could very well fly above and just toast with the steed's breath). When the Council received the letter, they became very suspicious of a traitor in the rank of someone's clearly winning the war but, desperate for a plan, agreed although they sent a respectable but not so huge force (500 men). When a message for parley arrived in KK, Inherkhan produced a very detailed report about it to make certain that Aurimadan would be convinced by the validity of it. With the Patriarch's help, Korizegy was still suspicious but agreed on the terms.
Infiltration and sabotage of the three Heroes - The Shame of Petra
While the warrior was riding to his doom, a trio of adventurers disguised as soldiers entered the Keep. This was the second part of Zhivorag's plan. In the same message he proposed the death of Korizegy to the Council he also offered that it could be arranged an entrance to the keep, disguised as Korizegy's man. This could wield precious information about the keep and the logistics of their plans. So, once the spies were inside and the death of Korizegy became known, Zhivorag would make certain that they would be caught and executed by Auridaman (warned by the ulzaq). What the demon didn't count that the trio of spies were the Queen of Krakatos and his consort along with a skilled mage. Their power enabled to foil their uncovering long enough to escape and wreak havoc in the keep.
While Korizegy was leaving a pair of three soldiers were entering the bastion of the gnoll invasion. Disguised with the armour and cloaks they found at the place their contact (the homunculus) told. So, the three began to discover and make a report about the enemies conditions. Petra, as cleric of Vanya***, Halav as a great warrior and weaponsmith and their magic-user friend Zirchev. They began surveying the troops, the supplies. Halav controlled his anger for walking in the midst of "beastmen", all of then watched nervously the great pit, a 60'x60'pit that connected below to the chamber of Korizegy's pet, Smoulder (a large red Dragon). Zirchev suggested that the disguises could not be enough, so periodically he arranged proper invisibility spells, which just saved then for it made Zhivorag lose track of then, just when a messenger arrived announcing the death of Andrei Korydzegy.
With the momentous turmoil, Petra and Zirchev wanted to leave as their mission were done. However, Halav convinced both that staying for one night in a secure chamber could yield more benefits as they could inflict more damage upon the armies that blasted Cleric and wizard. While sabotage was not at all impossible, Petra were still reluctant, but finally acquitted.
While they were resting in a chamber created by Zirchev (disintegrating a section of wall and using a stoneform/wall of stone then) Halav discussed about poisoning the food supplies of the army, greatly weakening their position, not giving time to recover after their leaders death. When Petra heard this she was appalled by the suggestion, one that only her former suitor (Korizegy) could suggest. While protesting, Halav argued "This is WAR! A war we're losing badly if urgent measures are not taken. So what to poison the watering hole of this vile hyenas? Once they conquer Traldar they would do much worse than that. I feel comfort in your compassion, dear Queen, but in this situation is Worthless! I want to expect now the words form the brave woman who conquered the throne of Krakatos and always followed the dictates of her Immortal, not the gentle actions from the woman I love. We must act!" . After some minutes of harsh words, Petra grew FURIOUS, not for her betrothed but for she knew it was truth and it was an act she would ever regret. She callously agreed and sneaked ,managing to poison at night the supplies. "It is done"- she said in a cold tone, then letting tears of anger and pity for herself fall.
In the day after, they left the chamber, and strolled around the courtyard looking for a discreet leave. When they were near the Pit, Zhivorag saw the trio and in bat form began to scream aloud for the gnolls (as Aurimadan was sill locked in his quarters meditating and asking WHAT have gone wrong to lose Korizegy in this manner). As Ranivorus and his company appeared, Petra arranged a less subtle distraction. He cast an Earthquake on the Pit. the nearer gnolls of the opposite side fell, and while the Pit was collapsing on itself, they could see the from the bottom the form of smoulder flying against the debris, trying to leave before the pt closed. His efforts almost succeeded and while his head were beginning to appear, the rest of the pit collapsed, and it fell all the way down under the weight of the stones, crushing it to death. While this was happening, Zirchev ended his magic door on the wall of the Keep and the trio escaped.
*** There is none a reference about Petra worshiping Vanya but I decided because Petra in her earlier days were more fired with determination in ascending the throne and convincing the more patriarchal Traldar that she was a fit ruler and because Vanya later became her Sponsor. During the war her heart was torn between compassioned justice and the necessity of win the war at any cost. When she was forced to take the actions described she was filled with guilt, ashamed for what she did. Thereafter her character moved to the aspect she later became known: defender, protector of besieged cities and those in need. Until this event, while compassionate she was still enrolled in the spirit of "victory seeker" that the clergy of Vanya had.
The Fall of KK:
After the death of Korizegy and Smoulder and the poisoning of the supplies the things began to change for in the army of Gnolls they were suffering from a lack of morale for the losses, and Aurimadan panicked dedicating more and more time to meditation and prayer for guidance than actually leading the invasion. The Gnolls were both afraid and still respectful from the "blessed patriarch" to take action, but Ranivorus began to lose his patience as they began to lose ground when well coordinated attacks by the council (now ready and with better conditions in the beginning of the war). In this chaos, Inherkhan, as adviser of Aurimadan, didn't do the least to convince the Patriarch to lead then. For the wizard, there could not be a better chance to become the ruler of invasion. Zhivorag was panicked for the state of chaos he provoked and fearing the full wrath of his Master if the situation grew worse he daily pleaded to Aurimadan to get out of his throne and take charge, nut the cleric did not hear the ulzaq - he was lost in thought trying to commune with his patron to know what happened and why he abandoned him.
When Inherkhan tried to lead, he saw that he did not inspired faith or morale in the troops and the defeats were becoming more and more serious. When the situation became worse, Ranivorus confronted him, demanding either to lead or to convince Aurimadan to take action. Inherkhan in presumptuous pride refused to take order from his creation. With this insult he attacked the magic-user and after a desperate battle he managed to wound him mortally. Leaving the wizard to die, the gnoll concluded there was not a unified presence now that could restart the offensive against the humans. Foreseeing the carnage and destruction that would reach the Keep, he told the gnolls that he would not fight without proper leadership in this war and was leaving, to sack the other lands, perhaps again in the north. A band of gnolls joined him, but most decided to stay under the leadership of a hardy gnoll that called Ranivorus as a coward for fearing the humans (this hardy gnoll became "the king of beastmen" told by the Legend of Halav in Traladara). Ranivorus didn't flinched to the insult, smiling inside that the staying gnolls would pay the price for a leaderless keep against the human horde.
While Zhivorag was pacing the keep, enraged by Aurimadan inaction he saw the dying, semi-conscious body of Inherkhan. Deciding to discount his frustrations in the wizard, the ulzaq taunted him, asking what he was going to do as neither the Nithian Immortals would receive him in the underworld neither the ones who promoted the War was interested in a pitiful creature such as him. The wizard ordered Zhivorag to save him, and the Demon laughed, as he was never bound to Inherkhan and his life was at its hands. So, to save him he would want some compensation - the demon wanted the guarantee that his spirit would be his to feast but he would never attempt to harm his body in anyway. Inherkhan laughed, coughing blood, saying that he knew enough of necromancy to not be tricked into trade for an immortal undead form. Zhivorag replied that if he turned into an undead, someone could shatter his spirit and not be any scrap for his feast. He proposed that he possessed knowledge to make him undying and unaging but not undead in anyway.
At the death's door, and failing to see the hidden trick, he accepted. Them, Zhivorag arranged a plaster to help close his wounds ... a very crude bandaged that would hold death only for some hours ... then he arranged the necessary ingredients and began chanting arcane words that Inherkhan repeated each time...by the eve of the sunset it was finished and the ulzaq tore the bandaged apart, reopening the wound. As the blood spilled, the wizard felt his life seeping from his body. As he glared to Zhivorag, the homunculus sneered: "No, I didn't break my promise. You will live, not as undead but as a magical spirit which I channelled using your magic. You will no longer use any but the weakest magical power but I am certain that your eternal life as a magical, immaterial and impotent phantom will compensate that. Oh, by the way, I told I would never harm your body. I will extract my payment in the due time" After that, the homunculus departed and the body of Inherkhan died. Now, he was doomed to live in a magical non-corporeal form, as a lesser Phantom (see Creature Catalogue). Inherkhan fled the company of the others, ever in fear the ulzaq appeared to devour him (in truth, he could only do that in true Demon form), seeking to live in the walls of the Keep.
So, under the leadership of the one who became known as "The king of the Beastmen), the Traldar clashed in a bloody warm, but now with the possibility of victory. And finally, after a decisive battle between the Gnoll leader and Halav where both died (but the later was raised by Petra then) it began the offensive against the centre of the invasion. Making the gnoll army retreat to the keep, the Traldar besieged it and finally stormed into it, killing to the last when finally they confronted Aurimadan, lost in thought. The Traldar, excepting the trio of heroes, never saw him in combat or leading the armies, but recognising as one of the leader dispatched him with a single blow in the chest. And so enraged and bloodlust they continue to raze the keep, finally deciding to set it afire, sealing the doors of the main keep doors with stone to ensure that none of the survivors (if any) could escape the flames.
Orcus became enraged by the defeat of their followers, and refused to answer the troubled questions of Aurimadan until the end. When all was over, he cursed the ones who failed him with undeath, all the gnolls, men and creature that once lived and died on the castle. In the depths of the collapsed pit, Smoulder awakened by the Curse, now as an undead red dragon. Aurimadan continued lost in thought in his throne, as a grey philosopher. Zombies, skeletons, even ghouls and a weakened Vision now inhabited its lair. The only ones who were spared were Zhivorag (who died in the flames only to return later to the keep in ulzaq form in permanent banishment for his actions) and Inherkhan who continue to roam the halls with fear and frustration as a magical lesser phantom.
The years passed from the victory and gradually some of the victorious nobles tried to claim the land and its castle. Most of then had not returned and those who did reported a stronghold filled with undead, ghosts and death. Hearing this, the council of nobles declared that area forbidden and unsafe. The later attempts resulted only in more death, even if their own score managed to destroy large members of the undead. Centuries later, the clerics of the three repeated that the keep is a place forsaken by the immortals, a ground not safe for mortals to walk.
Explanation why KK is still haunted after 2000 years:
So, when the keep fell and became a cursed place it remained so even when the three ascended to Immortality. Petra is still ashamed for what she did (not so Halav and Zirchev) so she decided that neither she nor the other two would ever take a hand in dismantling the Curse. the other two were taken aback for her proposal, but she insisted that such was the price for the winning of the war. So, the curse and the haunting still exists because:
a) The main clerics of Traldar/Traladara/Karameikos were from the three. And each who entered KK was unable to turn and cast spells. And entering a haunted place without clerical help is suicide. The few hot headed clerics and warriors who entered died. They inflicted losses on the undead there ... mostly skeletons and zombies of the gnoll and human guards that still patrolled. the few who ventured further became dead.
b) Because of the stripping of clerical powers of this place, no seasoned cleric of Petra, Halav or Zirchev would EVER approve its entering ... The Keep as a place forsaken for the immortals and so must remain in that way.
c) The best chance someone have in dispelling the curse is a party which contains a cleric not of the three. There are some immortals that could send their agents there, but Petra made I clear that if the Curse were ever to be lifted, it would be due to mortals, just the way the keep fell.
d) Of course, most entropic immortals find extremely amusing the way the Three assume the Keep as their responsibility. Ranivorus sometimes watch the keep with a sly smile on his face, satisfied for leaving before its destruction. If he did not resolve that, he would never reach immortality. Masauwu know what happened and the treachery of the Howling demon, thinking his punishment as very proper.
Even if it wasn't, he became much more disgusted by the failure of Korizegy than the treachery of Zhivorag, so he doesn't pays attention to KK today. Orcus, as the bringer of the Curse, wants it stays this way. He also punished Zhivorag to stay in homunculus form as long the keep existed. If the Ulzaq got killed by the hands of Adventurers, he would return to his home plane, then Orcus would recreate a new homunculus body and throw him back (this takes from a month to several years, depending on Orcus' agenda). If Zhivorag committed suicide to escape the place, Orcus would kill him - permanently. The same happened if the homunculus take an active hand in destroy the Keep or leave the place. So, even after millennia, Zhivorag is desperate to leave, but not risk its destruction. At most he will give clues in a most indirect way. In fact, if the adventurers capture him and threaten to kill him, he will be glad for it is an excusable way to tip then more directly.
So, the Keep became a haunted site, powered by an Immortal Curse. How the Curse works?
Orcus laid the Curse for punishment to those who failed in his eyes. The Focus of the curse is cantered on Aurimadan, now a grey philosopher, lost forever in thought. As long he exists the curse will not be broken. While he ignores any attack upon him, it wont be that easy to accomplish as each century he ponders it creates 2d4 malices (both described in Creature catalogue ... I can describe them later if you wish). By now, Two thousand years have passed, so there are 40d4 malices created, most confined in the throne room with him! By the intrusion of adventurers and nobles (most fallen by the undead skeletons and zombies in the courtyard) there were some losses, but you can judge there are still about 100 malices roaming. The Curse prevents the decaying of the Keep. That's why many wonder about its alien (Nithian Traldar) architecture and it appears that the Keep is not older than 100-200 years. It bears the marks of the siege and the burning the Traldar committed (especially in the main keep); but there is not a sign that a 2000 year erosion occurred. The only damage visible was done by the siege or by intruders after its fall. Should anyone kill Aurimadan, the curse will be broken and in 1 turn, starting gradually, the keep will suffer the age of 2000 years in minutes, turning its stone walls to dust, its metals to rust and any non-magical objects the adventurers bring will suffer a similar fate. Finally, the only remains of the castle will be a huge pile of rock dust and debris. The only items except to this aging effects are the magical items found in the fortress or items possessed by victims killed after the curse (their objects suffered the effects of time normally however). Also, when the Curse is lifted, Zhivorag will assume his manifestation (Howling demon) form at last, taking the phantom of Inherkhan (if still "living") with him to his home plane(debts are never forgotten).
The Hauntings and inhabitants:
One of the aspects (another effect of the curse) that made KK famous is that the actions of the past still echo within the walls, which is called "phenomena". Conversations, arguments, especially the ones that link to the history of the Keep and its inhabitants. When someone walks in any location within the keep these "phenomena" may happen. The living then experiment a heavy sense of disorientation, then they become the unseeing spectators of a scene of the past. They cannot be seen nor they can interact with the "phenomena". Some actions taken in the past, especially those linked to the doomed fate of the keep, are so strong that may be revisited whenever someone steps in the specific place. Such examples are the created chamber of Zirchev, while the trio was resting and planning for the sabotage of the keep. Another is a conversation of Korizegy with Aurimadan about the meeting with the supposed Traldar nobles. These are just examples (I still need to create then ... not with much time to work on this right now) but any reasonable and conceivable within the story presented in the last messages that occurred in the keep could be arranged by the DM to be visited by the party as a "phenomena".
One of the sites of these "phenomena" (the one above describing Aurimadan and Korizegy discussing plans) is also filled with a danger. One of the few creatures transformed but not turned into an undead is a garden of white roses (actually dormant vampire roses that can sense the presence of warm-blooded creatures and slowly creep into any caught by the phenomena) which originally were red - a garden once tended by Aurimadan as recording to the cleric of Isiris he once fell in love)
Also, one of these scenes are not a "phenomena", but a ghostly horde (see creature catalogue).
In the battlements, courtyard and more exposed parts of the keep are the remaining bodies of zombies and ghouls that were destroyed by intruders in these millennia(as their bodies do not decay, its interesting to note that there are no undead skeletons). Very rarely, a corpse form one of the trespassers can be found(but the trespassers who die in the keep will NOT being turned into an undead just for their deaths). But these undead still exists in less explored areas (in the dungeons for examples, there are chained ones who in life were Korizegy men who were not freed by the Traldar). In these dungeons there are the corpses tortured and killed before the coming of the Traldar. Most were discovered and buried but a few remain and so a Lesser Haunt (see creature catalogue) roam its cell.
At the bottom of the pit, Smoulder - now an undead dragon- exists, mostly a savage and almost mindless beast that have two concern: to kill any trespasser and to recollect his buried treasure. This last was not met with much success as most of the hoard is buried under tons of rock and dirt and it doesn't want to create a cave-inn, so the digging for his treasure yielded only part of his original hoard. The dragon has a absolute hatred to any female, from it confound with the cleric (Petra) who caused the collapse of its lair.
When the Pit collapsed, there were some tunnels connecting to the keep, some of which were destroyed or blockaded. One tunnel was being crossed by a group of soldiers who were leaving smoulder lair after bringing food supplies. They became trapped when the earthquake was cast and they died of hunger and disease, not before one killed after another, resorting to cannibalism for survival. This group became ghouls and the most savage and voracious of them became an Elder Ghoul (See creature Catalogue).
In the Food Supplies building, the Curse affects any food/water and potion spoiling, just as an spirit aura does. This is a reflection of the poisoning Petra made here.
In the main Keep, its walls are covered with soot and ash a heavy scent of burning is present, as if the building burned to the ground. In one, once blockaded chamber now thoroughly burned was former occupied by a group of soldiers who died in agony. When the curse struck they returned as a weaker form of a Vision (turned as Spectre, its crying power affects only once; the victims who save at first time will not need to save the following rounds).
In the Guards' Captain room, it lays its body and his undead form - a wraith. This evil man suicided with a dagger rather to fall under the hands of the Traldar.
In the Chapel (dedicated to Orcus) there are still some ceremonial trappings and relics dedicated to the Black Prince. If someone tampers with it, the Statue of his image will move to attack the defilers (treat as a Guardian Warrior from Creature Catalogue, but without a horse)
In Inherkhans Room lies his body, and the Phantom takes a extreme caution to maintain it safe from harm (much to the amusing of Zhivorag). He hopes that a high-level cleric could raise himself back to his body (which is impossible due to its transformation. It would need a Wish to do that). Cowardly and spiteful, he tries to watch any movement within KK. Finding the PCs he will first convince them he was a poor soldier/adventurer who died by the hands of the gnolls before the Traldar came. Then he will lead then to a "safe route to end the Curse" leading then right to Smoulder Lair. He will disappear and watch if the party can destroy the dragon (the few who got so far haven't). If they manage to do that, he will reason that they could be powerful enough to raise him ... so he will appear later in another visage to try to convince raising his body, offering anything any information or reward he thinks he could give (or deceive the party he has). At this moment Zhivorag would appear to show how pathetic he is, before defiling his body with his claws, much to Inherkhans grief.
Its important to say that, because the Spell of Oblivion on Nithia, Inherkhan will be most amnesiac about anything that connects to Nithia. He will remember about meeting Aurimadan and building the Keep, but will not remember where he came from, etc.
Zhivorag: If the party seems capable to destroy Aurimadan while surviving the malices (its not so difficult as it seems) he will appear to then, trying to cooperate to get their help (although his aid will be in the most indirect way, through hints not direct clues, because Orcus forbid him against that). If attacked he will immediately flee, for every time it dies he returned to the Home Plane of Orcus, is tortured and punished then returned to the Prime Plane. He also promises to reveal to the PCs about the location of the Keeps treasure in a hidden vault, near the dungeons of the Keep if they succeed killing Aurimadan and thus break the curse (the vault exists but was thoroughly looted when Traldars stormed KK) - a malicious plot of his to kill greedy PCs searching for a nonexistent treasure while the keep collapses upon then. If they leave immediately, they will see Korizegy Keep falling at last. Then, the Ulzaq will appear next to then in the ground and in pain ... telling that their rewards would indeed great...he goes on speaking laboriously for some minutes when finally his transformation takes place and he finally sheds of the homunculus mortal form turning back to a Full Howling Demons. Then waving his arms and claws menacingly to the party he bellows "RUN FOR YOUR LIVES" while using a Fear aura attack upon then (Any PC saving would be advised to run, even if Zhivorag will not attack them because the Codex forbids it) and then will catch with his claw the cowering Inherkhan from the ground and travels back to the outer plane saying maliciously "The Feast will finally begin".