Castle Succession: History and Rumors

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Well, dear book, things have settled out finally. His Lordship Rael has returned to Prantz and most of his entourage with him. I think he was surprised perhaps at how unsurprised we were with his retainers. Well, I've seen worst at least. For all that, his manners were appropriate. I hope they have come to an agreement; certainly Thibalt and I would like to know. Poor Anouk was driven mad trying to keep all the special diets apart, and with my dearest Zarhail in the condition she's in and Genevieve on holiday in Lakeside, I'm afraid it was only Anouk to run things. Agitha would not come (as usual).

We've retained two of his Deep dwarven guards for security measures, and they are certainly well-trained. Ah! I believe I am called to a meeting, secret journal, so I close your soft leather cover and am off to be appraised of what the powers that be have decided for us. No sarcasm intended, of course.

- From the daily notes of Count Roland Lef'Chamet of the Liegess of Emfall, dated Jular 1405

The castle began life as a stone-and-wood manor house for the Lady Emfall. Occasional parties, a rare adventuresome orc or gnoll, and herds of deer at sunset were the norm for the 30-plus years it was in the Emfall family's hands. For the most part, days were peaceful and languid. And it was just such a peaceful summer day in 1116 in the halfling town of Gardiner when word came on screaming lips that the manor was burning and bodies were being flung, impaled, from the third-story windows. By the time a rescue party was mounted and reached the castle, the fires had cooled and the vultures were already fat. All the evidence pointed to a goblin assault as there were several bodies of the creatures scattered about and the torn flag of a mountain clan left near the foothills. However, notes found in the Gardiner morgue in 1331 indicate that the goblins may have been dead before the attack. Sadly, the morgue was lost when a savage orc attack burned it down and the records with it; only the aging undertaker, a halfling by the name of Ferri Treblecleft, remembers reading about it.

Count Pierre Bordraix immediately offered to regent in the wake of the total loss of the Emfall line. For the 6 years until Noel Lef'Chamet became count, the barony was renamed the Liegess of Emfall but not much else seems to have happened. The castle was rebuilt, living quarters added on the left and right at a slight angle to the main administrative building, and a cemetery added behind to house the family's remains. Later, it was discovered that an extensive dungeon had been added, and this has been the main jail for anyone found guilty of a high crime since. Rumors have circulated for centuries that the dungeons are three to four times as deep as the lowest level a guest is shown, connected to the cemetery, full of wailing and moaning at night, unusually dangerous for prisoners as a good half of them seem to die there during their sentence, roamed by ghosts of past royalty, and many other things that the family dismisses as the fears of an unsophisticated servant or slave. The official word is they are two levels deep, the first containing a recreation room and dining hall for prisoners and the second containing the cells. No definitive proof of anything else has ever been offered up.

The Lef'Chamets and their kin live well here. In addition to sumptuous living quarters in the right wing and dedicated maids and servants, a rather large town now exists just to cater to the whims and needs of the royal family. Those who have long jail sentences may opt to sign themselves over as slaves to the family for a slightly-lessened term and accept a mage's mark on their body that is a mark of death tied to the mage applying it. Most of those choosing slavery to imprisonment say they were unconscious when the mark was applied and none have ever seen the face of the mage that marked them. It is widely known that there is no upper range on the mark, as several slaves have run as far as Tilmar or deep on Belinara and still died dramatically and without reason, the mark burning bright at the moment of their demise. For the most part, the townsfolk of Castle Succession are left alone so long as things are quiet and no problems arise. When queried, they seem resigned rather than happy but not miserable and have only one complaint: the number of unliving that can be seen at night and the strangely intelligent way these walking dead move. Further questioning makes the townsfolk nervous, and that is all that will be said.