The Lance of Marduk
Keegan was barely a corporal when the small town Winterhaven made a name for itself. Keegan was stationed in the major city of Fallcrest during the investigation in the region, and therefore knew relatively little about the nature of the cult of Orcus that was operating in the area. He and his battalion were dispatched to the north as soon as the severity of the threat to the empire became apparent. By the time they arrived, all that was left to do was to crush the last pockets of the cult’s resistance, which they did with little effort. Keegan’s unit specifically was assigned to sweep the nearby catacombs, where they got more than their fair share of experience with the cult’s undead minions. By the time the cult had been destroyed, they had seen more combat than almost any other unit on the scene. After the rout, most of the troops were reassigned to other areas of the empire where they were more needed. Keegan’s battalion was quickly moved to the eastern border of the empire, in what is now Rouran. After a number of small engagements along the frontier, they were relocated to the capital in the Dawnforge Mountains. After some fifteen years serving across Nerath, the new promoted Knight Commander was assigned back to an old haunt, this time as a commanding officer. In the years of his absence, a fortress had been erected over the site of the cult’s operation, and their portal to the Shadowfell had been sealed off beneath it.
Ser Keegan quickly assumed command of the garrison at Shadowfell Keep. His captains informed him of all that had happened since Keegan had last been in Winterhaven. On the whole, the area had been relatively quiet in the intervening years. Aside from goblin marauders, which had plagued the area on and off for decades; the garrison of the Keep had seen very little action. After two years of overseeing the sleepy town and the fortress, Keegan brought his wife and cildren – a boy named Drystan and a girl named Ceinwein – to live at Shadowfell Keep with him.
Despite the uneventful appearance of the keep, the cult’s actions had not ceased as completely as most believed. Though sealed, the planar rift beneath the keep was far from benign. Even locked away behind layers of spells and stone, the dark magic of the rift worked its way into the world, into the keep, and ultimately, into the mind of Ser Keegan. It whispered madness in his ears; secrets of darkness and pain, of death and suffering. Many things that are unspoken in the realms of life and light, and best kept that way. At first, Keegan kept the whispers to himself, fearing that his men would believe him insane. Keegan found himself taking long hours away from the keep to hide his slipping sanity from others.
Eventually, even his best efforts could not hide his madness. He retreated to his commander’s quarters, away from his men and from his family. But even his isolation was not enough. The dark voices had corrupted his mind beyond help, and finally reached the breaking point. He called his captains to his side, only to slay them all before they could react. From there he moved outward, slaughtering anyone who got in his way. Keegan’s wife and children fled to the lower levels of the keep in an attempt to barricade themselves in until he came to his senses, but he cut them down in his madness. When he regained his mind and realized what he had done, he was overcome with guilt. He sealed himself within the catacombs and awaited his own death. The remaining troops posted a guard on the crypt for weeks afterward.
Eventually Nerath fell, and the keep was abandoned. Although Winterhaven survived the fall, few of the townspeople ever knew the true purpose of the fortress. It was regarded as a remnant of the old order, and with no soldiers to man the fort, it fell into disrepair. Centuries later, a group of adventurers (who would later become The Lance of Marduk investigated a resurgence of cult activity within the keep, and came across the tomb of Ser Keegan. He had been preserved as a skeletal guardian of the keep by Bahamut, as a last defense. Though he was bound to his crypt, he bestowed his sword, Aecris, to the adventurers in the hopes that the blade would help them against the cultists. His final task accomplished, his soul left the keep once and for all.