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The Lost Refuge, also known as Cormyr's Lost Refuge, was the name given to a Cormyrean keep placed near the border of the Vast Swamp.[4][7] Its counterpart in the Plane of Shadow was the so-called Shadow Citadel standing in the Shadow Swamp.[8] Both were a center of operations for the church of Shar and their allies in the Shadowscale lizardfolk tribe and a band of shadar-kai in the early 1370s DR.[4]

LocationEdit

Cormyr - Eastern Plains

A map of Cormyr's Eastern Plains, showing the location of the Vast Swamp.

The Lost Refuge stood in the southwestern part of the Vast Swamp, roughly 10 miles (16 kilometers) by trail from its fringe, due east of the Skull Staff.[9]

StructureEdit

By and large, the keep was constructed of mortared stone, with walls 1 foot (0.3 meters) thick and exterior and supporting walls 5 feet (1.5 meters) thick. It had sturdy wooden doors, but many got stuck in the damp. Ceilings were generally 15 feet (4.6 meters) high and rooms were illuminated with hanging lanterns.[4]

By the mid-to-late 14th century DR, the keep was run down with crumbling walls and overgrown with vines. Various parts were strewn with rubble from collapsing walls or caved-in ceilings. Ponds of brackish water had formed under the outer walls.[5]

DefensesEdit

The keep was enclosed by a thick mortared stone wall, 5 feet (1.5 meters) thick and 15 feet (4.6 meters) high.[5]

The southeast corner held a gatehouse that permitted entrance via two rusting iron portcullises at opposite ends of a covered corridor. The gatehouse was lined with arrowslits facing both the outside and the corridor. The cultists kept two human guards, two Shadowscales, and a cooperative will-o'-wisp (which masqueraded as a torch) camping out here.[5]

Inside the defensive walls at the front was a main courtyard, but in the mid-to-late 14th century DR, it was sinking into the swamp. Boggy pools of water were leaking inside and ferns, shrubs, and vines had pushed up between the disturbed flagstones. A stone fountain in the courtyard was blanketed in a putrid yellow-green algae, leaking a slick green puddle across the ground.[2] There were walled-off side yards that had contained fields of mud and a rear garden gone wild, thick with bushes, vines, and weeds.[10]

InteriorEdit

Lost Refuge floorplan

A floorplan of the partially ruined Lost Refuge.

Inside, the entryway and adjoining rooms were thick with rubble from collapsing ceilings, pillars, or walls, making it seem quite precarious. The cultists had their dominated petitioners wait here in the "Rooms of Waiting": effectively a jail for the petitioners, but campsites for visiting cultists. Other rooms were claimed as dens by the Shadowscales, but they left these full of refuse (but including found trinkets like a hunk of obsidian, an oil of darkness vial, and an owl's wisdom potion). One of the other rooms was called the Hall of Shadows, mostly for being lit with shadowlight oil lanterns, casting it in dancing shadows. This was where Starweaver Bestra Mornscroll camped and did her work.[11]

The Great Hall was the main, central part of the keep, some 70 feet (21 meters) long and 50 feet (15 meters) wide. It was once quite grand, with elegant columns supporting a beautifully arching ceiling; however these had collapsed over time, leaving rubble across the floor and holes in the roof. Two walls were lined with four alcoves holding statues of Cormyrean royalty, with two more statues in the corners. This area became the headquarters for Thieraven and Ketsarra Shadowscale in overseeing cult operations at the Lost Refuge.[6]

The most significant thing in the Great Hall, however, was the Dusk Lord's Passage. Appearing as a large orb of swirling shadow, it stretched long black tendrils, writhing yet stationary, to all parts of the hall. This was a portal to the Plane of Shadow, leading to the matching point in the Shadow Citadel.[6]

The Great Tower composed the rest of the keep. Octagonal in shape, it stood 30 feet (9 meters) high so it looked over the outer walls, but it was completely windowless.[5] Inside, a rickety spiral staircase in the center linked two levels, but the floor of the upper level was already falling in. A room off the lower level served as a storeroom for the cult, holding preserved foods; cloaks, boots, and other clothes; blankets; casks of assassin vine wine; and other supplies. The upper level, lacking windows, was dark and dank; the cultists and their cronies used this room as a true dungeon, shackling lizardfolk prisoners to the walls.[10]

The Lost Refuge housed a good collection of 13th-century Cormyrean royal statuary, albeit damaged by conflict and defacement. There were statues of King Azoun III (headless) in the entry; Queen Enchara in the Hall of Shadows;[11] King Galaghard III, one of the King Bryntarths (it was undetermined which), King Boldovar the Mad, and King Palaghard I in the alcoves of the Great Hall; and King Dhalmass and Queen Jhalass (who'd both reigned and died the year the keep was built) stood on platforms in the corners.[6]

The statue of Queen Jhalass concealed a secret passage: a switch on the back caused the platform to rotate and expose the entrance to a hidden chamber linking the Great Hall and Great Tower. The Sharrans naturally installed a shrine to the goddess of secrets here: an altar, an unholy symbol, and a shadowlight lamp.[6]

HistoryEdit

The keep was built in the Year of the Wall, 1227 DR.[6] It supported a town around it as well. However, the ever-expanding Vast Swamp gradually encroached upon it, and the keep and the settlement steadily declined. Sometime after the mid-1270s DR,[note 1] an orc assault finally finished it off and the keep was abandoned. It was shortly thereafter conquered by hobgoblins and then by other tribes of the swamp. In time, the swamp itself overwhelmed it completely.[7][4]

Cormyreans subsequently forgot all about the place by the mid–14th century DR, recorded, it seemed, only as a few notes on old tax ledgers stored in Suzail.[7] It was not marked on common maps[1] and certainly no one in Wheloon could guess where or what "Cormyr's Lost Refuge" might be.[12]

In the early 1370s DR, as a key part of the plans of Esvele Graycastle, the black dragon Despayr sought to dominate much of the Vast Swamp. Their goal was to tear a hole in the Weave of magic and so form a dead-magic zone over all the Vast Swamp. It was to be a powerbase for the followers of Shar and an earthly homeland for their shadar-kai allies.[13][14] In the Year of Lightning Storms, 1374 DR, at Despayr's behest, the Shadowscale tribe warred against the other tribes of the Vast Swamp, when he discovered the Dusk Lord's Passage in the Lost Refuge. Sent by Esvele, the shadar-kai kithlord Thieraven arrived with the secret of opening the portal, which he did with Despayr's aid. The Sharrans made their base there, and Despayr moved his lair into the Plane of Shadow.[13][4] The Lost Refuge became a waystation for the cult's activities in Cormyr, for clerics traveling to and from the Plane of Shadow,[4] for the kidnapping operation at the false Temple of Mystra in Wheloon,[1] and for lizardfolk captives to add to the undead Shadowscales' numbers.[15]

Finally, in early Eleint, a group of adventurers in service to Mystra investigating the false temple and Sharrans' activities followed the petitioners to the Vast Swamp. Met by an alliance of lizardfolk, their leader Kessessek aided and enlisted the adventurers to deal with the Shadowscales at the Lost Refuge.[15] The adventurers assaulted the Lost Refuge, defeating its Sharran defenders. They then went into the Plane of Shadow to end the Shadowscale and Sharran threats.[5][2][11][6][10] Afterward, the Sharptooth lizardfolk tribe took over and guarded the Lost Refuge.[10]

When they returned, the Sharptooths controlling the Lost Refuge feted them as heroes. In the following weeks, after War Wizards investigated the Lost Refuge, the kingdom of Cormyr made an alliance and limited trade with the Sharptooth tribe.[14]

InhabitantsEdit

Ketsarra & Thieraven

Thieraven and Ketsarra in the Great Hall, standing before the Dusk Lord's Passage.

When occupied by the Sharran cult, the regular inhabitants and defenders of the Lost Refuge included two regular human guards; the priestess Starweaver Bestra Mornscroll; seven Shadowscale lizardfolk and their chief, Ketsarra Shadowscale; and ten shadar-kai and their leaders Kithguard Maurran and Kithlord Thieraven. More unusual creatures included a will-o'-wisp (persuaded to cooperate, which masqueraded as a torch flame), a shadow mastiff (whose howl alerted the defenders to intruders), and a khumat (forced by the shadar-kai to serve as a jailer, which it did gladly).[5][2][11][6][10] The ghirrash Jherremor and four more Shadowscales stood guard on the Shadow Citadel side.[16]

Following the defeat of the Sharrans, the Lost Refuge was in the clutches of the Sharptooth tribe of lizardfolk.[10][14]

ActivitiesEdit

Thanks to the Dusk Lord's Passage, the Lost Refuge was a useful waystation for the cult of Shar, offering convenient travel between the Plane of Shadow and their nefarious activities in Cormyr, especially in Wheloon. Irregularly, Sharran clerics travelled between Wheloon and the Black Rift, passing through the Lost Refuge.[4]

It was also a primary stop along the route of the Sharrans' kidnapping operation. Once a month, from the Temple of Mystra in Wheloon, the boatman Mhair transported mentally dominated petitioners across the Wyvernflow and gave them a map and orders to travel as quickly as they could to the Lost Refuge in the Vast Swamp and to meet with Bestra.[1][4] The trail to the Lost Refuge took them past the Skull Staff.[15] The petitioners were kept in the Rooms of Waiting until it was time for them to travel through the Dusk Lord's Passage and ultimately to the Monastery of the Ebon Dome.[11]

With the Dusk Lord's Passage easily linking the Lost Refuge to the Shadow Citadel, its dark reflection on the Plane of Shadow, cult activities took place on either side, but preferred the somewhat more intact version of the Material Plane, so they kept only a few sentries on the other side. The portal permitted any shadar-kai afflicted by the shadow curse to seek respite or a cure in the other plane.[6][16]

Rumors & LegendsEdit

Legend had it that the Dusk Lord of Sessrendale, after fleeing from his fallen homeland in 1232 DR, took refuge in the Vast Swamp, and thereafter journeyed into the Plane of Shadow at the end of an unnaturally long life. Finding the portal in this keep to be a planar rift to the Plane of Shadow, the Sharran cultists dubbed it the "Dusk Lord's Passage" based on the legend, but this attribution is unproven. Believing it had once been used by the Dusk Lord, they estimated it had been closed over a century before.[4][5][17][note 2]

AppendixEdit

NotesEdit

  1. This is "nearly 100 years ago" from 1374 DR.
  2. Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave page 50 says the portal was "closed over a century ago" (before 1274 DR), but that the keep fell "nearly 100 years ago" (after 1274 DR). This suggests the keep was occupied when the portal was opened and when the Dusk Lord is believed to have arrived.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 19–21. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 51,53,62–63. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  3. Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 157. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 4,50. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 51,58–61. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 55–56,66–67. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 151. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  8. Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 72. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  9. Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 37,38,152,157. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 56–57,68–71. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 53–55,64–65. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  12. Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 36. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 56, 89, 112, 158. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 119. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 38–41. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 73–77,90,92–93. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.
  17. Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 153. ISBN 07-8694-119-7.

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