Monday, February 11, 2013

The Well of Swords

The Well of Swords lies four days west of the reclaimed city of Shalanholt, south of the High Hills and due west of the Hags' Mere, within the bounds of fallen Asavar. The terrain around the Well is flat and fertile, covered in a mature forest of oak, elm, chestnut, and beech. No other notable ruins or hamlets lie within a half-day's walk; the Well's proximity to the fell Hags' Mere deterred settlement even in Asavar's safest years.

The Well is a circular pit thirty feet in diameter and approximately eighty feet deep. A narrow staircase spirals down the wall of the Well, terminating at a stone ledge at the well's bottom. Quite a few stones are missing from the stair, and those that remained are slick with moisture, rot, and mold. A foul-smelling pool fills the bottom of the Well, and the layer of scum that tops it occasionally ripples as though something large was moving underneath.

Three narrow doorways can be reached from the stairs, marking the first three levels. The fourth level is accessed from the stone ledge at the bottom. Several stairs are trapped, and the uppermost doorways as well.

The first and third levels of the Well are relatively small, while the second and fourth (the "working" levels) are more extensive. The primary connection between levels is the well stair. Lenki inhabits the bottom-most level, and the other three levels have a variety of opportunistic inhabitants.

First Masters of The Well

417-446 AR - Enwald of Barin 
The Well of Swords was begun in 417 AR (Amerite Reckoning) by Enwald of Barin, a former soldier forced to change professions after the loss of his right leg and several fingers to dragonacid. Enwald oversaw the excavation of the first two levels of the Well (now known as the Guardrooms and the Testing Grounds), choosing to dig out his stronghold after having seen too many castles fall to siege in his earlier years to be comfortable living in one. Enwald adopted as his sigil a fan of maces.

446-498 AR - Hivuar, Smith of Swords 
A longtime companion of Enwald's, Hivuar lived with him in the Well for many years. Hivuar's elven blood ultimately extended his life well past his friend's, and he became Master of the Well after Enwald's death (446 AR). Hivuar dug down further, adding the third level (the Suite) to the Well of Swords for himself and his wife. Hivuar's sigil was a fan of swords, a motif retained by all following masters of the Well.

498 AR - Nindalia, Lady of Swords  

Nindalia was Hivuar's wife in his later years. She added her command of magic to Hivuar's forgecraft, and together created a great many enchanted weapons. She is believed to have crafted the blade traps that guard access to the Well. She inherited mastery of the Well after Hivuar's death (498 AR), but died later the same year. Her symbol was a circular rune above a fan of swords.

The Apprentice Masters

498-517 AR - Tardel Throwingstone 
 Tardel was the first apprentice in the Well to become Master of the Well of Swords. Although his true apprenticeship was long completed, he never took a journeyman's journey, preferring to remain in the Well as an assistant to Hivuar.  There was much strife in Asavar during Tardel's tenure in the Well, and Tardel and two of his apprentices, Ashun Wier and Muar Tenshoulders, were killed when the Well was besieged by a lizardman force from the Mere. Tardel's sigil was a hammer above a fan of swords.

517-601 AR - Gwaylar Finla-Gormadoc'son  

Gwaylar was the first, last, and most proficient of Tardel's apprentices, and it seemed appropriate he become Master of the Well after Tardel's death (in 517 AR). During his tenure the Well was sunk to its current depth of eighty feet, and the fourth level (the Forge Halls) were added. War flourished throughout Gwaylar's time, and the Well of Swords was a reliable source of quality weapons and armor for gnomes, half-elves, and humans of the Sunrising Kingdoms as they battled lizardfolk, goblins, dopplegangers, and the dark clans of gnomes tempted and transformed by the Crone Goddess. Gwaylar's symbol was a spear above a fan of swords. Gwaylar's exact ending is unclear; he purportedly died in 601 AR, in Asavar's final collapse, but careful investigation revealed the body interred in the crypts of the Well to be an illusion. If the gnome has, in fact, not died, he would be no more than middle-aged now.

601-614 AR - Varalon, Smith of Kings 

Varalon was of royal blood, one of Sieriven's princely sons. With the fall of that kingdom to shapechangers and the wilderness, Valaron chose to remain in the Well with Gwaylar, and later, after the gnome's death (601 AR), as Master. He retained contact with the Hundred Kingdoms in the west, and crafted a great many enchanted crowns and other regalia for the myriad princelings and petty lords in those hotly contested lands. His symbol was a crown above a fan of swords.

The Forgotten Masters

614-638 AR - Andrella, Lady of the Well 
Andrella apprenticed with Varalon and inherited the Well when he departed for a civilized retirement in the Hundred Kingdoms (614 AR). Andrella herself preferred the wild and dangerous place the lands about the Well had become, spending weeks adventuring in the High Hills or the ruins of Asavar. Her symbol was a morningstar above a fan of swords.

638-642 AR - Hildurn the Smith 

Hildurn was the last true runesmith and Master of the Well of Swords. He apprenticed to Andrella and inherited the Well from her (638 AR). The Lady of the Well had not bothered to retain more than the most tenuous connections to the civilized lands, and Hildurn found himself master of a smithy-stronghold nearly forgotten. Nevertheless, he created a number of powerful magical items before he was betrayed and slain by one of his own apprentices, the dwarf Lenki. His symbol was a broadsword above a fan of swords.

The Current Master of the Well of Swords

642 AR - current - Lenki Ashbones 
Lenki, the current Master of the Well, fell prey to foul temptation and forged a pact with a dark god (likely the Crone Goddess). He slew his master Hildurn (642 AR), and interred the corpse in a crypt with Lenki's two fellow apprentices, Red-Hair and Yorn, alive. Lenki, however, found himself sadly lacking in the runelore he craved, and spent many years trying to puzzle out the secrets of the runes, slipping into undeath as he did so. Most of the Well of Swords was abandoned (at least by Lenki; many other creatures moved in) as the mad dwarf toiled at the forge, slowly unlocking the secrets he craved. He has assembled an armory of tainted weapons, and contacted many forces of woe in the Shadowend as buyers. Lenki's symbol is a skull above a fan of swords.

Lenki Ashbones; male moulder dwarf wight (runesmith 4); AC 16; Save 14; HD 4; dam 1d6+2 (heavy pick +1); hit only by silver or magical weapons; level drain (1)

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