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Dark Arrow Keep was the central stronghold for the orcish Kingdom of Many-Arrows and seat of power for King Obould XVII in the 15th century DR. It was the political and industrial center of Many-arrows - a sprawling and chaotic city enclosed by a palisade resting on earthworks and rubble.
It was tradition for the Obould dynasty to make their home within Dark Arrow Keep, the political center of the kingdom. They had done so from its founding by King Obould I in the mid-14th century DR, until the Second Sundering, when King Obould XVII fought off all other factions in a civil war to reclaim the throne. The Citadel was stocked with provisions and weaponry to survive a lengthy siege, not just from non-orc opponents, but also from the various native political factions.
In addition to the central chamber of the fortress, the keep featured a maze of corridors and blind alleyways that were overlooked by arrow slits within the walls. Although the city was chaotically laid out, the irregular-shaped buildings and walls inside made it hard to get lost. A vast majority of the residents lived in simple tents along twisting, nameless roads. The orcs that didn't live in the settlement instead chose to dwell in caverns and mountain villages nearby.
The Keep was located 3 miles (4.8 km) from the banks of the River Surbrin, around 40 miles (64.4) north of Mithral Hall. Known for its metal workers, Dark Arrow Keep was the industrial centre of the kingdom.
The citadel was the largest structure in the city. Made of stone, wood and iron it was constructed to be a "fortress within a fortress" with a large host of royal guards to defend the King's family. The citadel was built around the throne room, the largest open area in the keep. Though it was better laid out than the rest of the city, it still appeared dark and cramped to outsiders.
The Pit was a small underground arena used as a punishment for law breakers, political opponents and any others identified as dangerous individuals. The arena housed monsters that were deliberately mistreated and set loose upon lightly armed opponents. Either party or both might even find themselves poisoned before the competition by political factions or the King's subjects. The winners of fights within the pit were set free, but such occasions were rare; the ogres, hill giants and other exotic monsters within typically dispensed crude and brutal orc justice.
The only punishable crimes in the kingdom were those perpetrated against powerful figures such as chieftains or the King. The King, however, had the final decision on whether transgressors found themselves in the Pit and what they would face when they got there. The Pit was also used to settle disputes among citizens and these contests were invariably fought to the death.
During the five months from Mirtul to Marpenoth each year, the Bazaar blossomed with caravans owned by humans, elves and dwarves from Silverymoon and Sundabar trading resources directly with the orcs for useful items. The Bazaar was located in the shadow of the keep itself, formed around a central marketplace. The tent community generally looked in better shape than the ragged assortment found within the keep. The area contained no permanent structures and had no permanent residents.
As the industrial centre of the kingdom, with dozens of forges and iron ore mined from the Spine of the world, Dark Arrow Keep traded mainly in orc weapons, which were functional and lacked elegance.
The keep that would be known as Dark Arrow was originally raised, and eventually abandoned, by slave-driving orcs many years before it received its designation. Some time later it was inhabited by a group of giants.
The Dark Arrow was founded, in name and function, as the capital of the new Kingdom of Many Arrows by Obould I, after his defeat by Emerus Warcrown and the signing of the Treaty of Garumn's Gorge.
Over the years, both the keep and the citadel had seen many battles, with invasions and uprisings occurring almost every generation. The location and foreboding look of the fortress was chosen to make neighbouring countries hesitate to try removing the orcs from their new homeland.
- Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. Edited by Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 149. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- Ed Greenwood and Jason Carl (July 2002). Silver Marches. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 34. ISBN 0-7869-2835-2.
- Ed Greenwood and Jason Carl (July 2002). Silver Marches. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 33. ISBN 0-7869-2835-2.
- R.A. Salvatore (November 2013). “History Check:Dark Arrow Keep”. In Steve Winter ed. Dragon #429 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 4–9.