The Caves Of Mystery

While helping out the two scribes residing in the outer bailey of the Keep, Gerold & Jake, Artharill hears of the legend of the Caves of Mystery. The two scrawny scribes, deep in their cups of honey-wine, vehemently testify that the BEST treasure around the Keep has to be contained within the Caves of Mystery. While the caves of chaos undoubtedly contain various coins and jewels, The Caves of Mystery contain stores of magical knowledge and goods. They explain thusly:

Many decades ago, there was a powerful wizard by the name of Podakar, who moved out to the Borderlands from his vaunted position within the Great Empire. He came to the wild borderlands to build a manse, escape nobles from pestering him with stupid questions, and devote himself to magical research. He found the perfect spot, not far from where the Keep stands now, at a location known for it's mysterious underground complex of natural caves. Some say that these caves are simple natural underground grottoes that would give Podakar piece of mind while he considered the cosmos, others say that the caves go down to the very core of the earth and that he could use them to speak to devils in hell. Whatever the case, Podakar knew the place was rich with magical energies and designed his keep to sit directly above the caves so that he could have access to them for research purposes. He began construction right away with his loyal magic-using assistants, bands of strange foreign workmen, and it is said, bound elementals to carve and shape the stone.

Once this great block of a wizard's fortress was complete, Podakar invited the Castellan and the trusted banner-men of the Keep to feast with the wizard. Podakar wanted one last taste of civilization before he gave the rest of his ancient life over to his research. The swordsmen that ate at the fortress that night brought back tales of wonder and delight in the meal, dancing desserts were served by beautiful dryads, and displays of flashing lights accompanied by the song of ghostly bards. It was a fantastic evening that none had ever seen and none would ever see again as long as they lived. At the conclusion of the feast, the Wizard Podakar bid the Castellan farewell and as the knights looked back at the fortress in their departing, they saw it shimmer and disappear. Podakar wished to be truly alone and cast a grand illusion on his fortress so that he would never be found.

And so that was the last that anyone had seen or heard from Podakar for many years. Infrequently a strange traveler or two would pass through the keep and travel into the foothills where it was said the magical fortress once stood, but nothing was known about the goings on except for the occasional colorful flash on the horizon. That is, until one night fifteen years ago. During the night watch on the Keep's walls, there was a terrible crash and rending sound far off in the hills as if the earth itself was being torn apart. The entire sky filled with swirling purple and gold lights and great bolts of lightning arced and raced through the countryside. The rumbling and clamor lasted for many hours until it slowly faded away before dawn.

The next day, a bedraggled man in fine clothing threw himself at the gates of the Keep and insisted that he had a right to sanctuary within the keeps wall's. He was Podakar's valet and he screamed that the mage was taken from the mortal realm for his transgressions. The wizard's fortress had been leveled in the night by unseen forces and the place was a ruin. He stayed in the keep for a short time, thanks to the Castellan's generosity and pity, but this man who served Podakar was crazed. He gnashed his teeth at random people around him, and muttered to himself continuously. His periods of peace an sanity were interrupted by violent outbursts. After a time, he was cast out of the keep and forbidden from returning. At first we though he had fled back to the Empire, but this man can still be seen lurking along the Keep Road at odd times. He has never left the region in those 15 years, he just has become wilder and wilder as time goes by.

So, if you find this odd-looking wild-man outside the keep, you may want to ask him about the Caves of Mystery, or how to find them. There has to be some great treasure left within those caverns.

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