Darkhold, originally called The Keep of the Fallen Hills, was the western stronghold of the Zhentarim, located near the Sunset Mountains in the Western Heartlands.[citation needed]


In 1372 DR, Darkhold was led by the Pereghost, who commanded its 800 warriors, and Dhamir Ercals, who led the resident clerics of Cyric. Though both leaders were servants of Cyric and were preparing for the inevitable holy war against the Banites, the hatred between them was such that more time was spent on assassination plots than their Zhentarim duties.[1]

By 1489 DR, the Pereghost (or a new ruler wearing his armor) was publically acknowledged as the sole master of Darkhold, though the Beholder Manxam also appeared to be a member of the stronghold's senior leadership. In addition to the fluctuating ranks of Zhentarim agents using the castle as a base of operations, Darkhold maintained two war units (one of heavy infantry and one of archers) and an aerie of trained wyverns.[2]


Darkhold was built to suit giant-sized humanoids.[3] Some said that the looming castle was built a millennium prior to 1370 DR by giants as a summer capital for the Giant Empires.[citation needed]Othlong Blackhelm, also known as the "Robber Lord", made the keep his home. Angarn Surfyst slew Othlong via treachery and used the keep as a base for his brigands. Known only to history via his self-proclaimed title, the Wolf Knight was a follower of Angarn until he slew him and took his place.[3]

Sarunn Thoon, who was best described in the ballad The Witch of the Far Cold Hill, was originally a captive of the Wolf Knight until she slew him in his bedchamber and took over the helm of the brigands. Mind flayers killed Sarunn and held the brigands in service until they died, but the white dragon Cryomantipelica crushed the mind flayers and laired here until killed by Harristor Thunderswing.[4]

Slaying the monsters inside, an adventuring company called the Wildmen of the North and Brundar Tigerbane renamed the keep "Wild Hold" and refortified it. Brundar and his followers later fell in battle.[4]

Over the next 200 years, the keep was held by a succession of petty rulers known by a variety of names, including the Lord Knight of the Far Hills and the Duke of Sunset Vale. The castle eventually became Darkhold when it was conquered and settled by the lich-queen Varalla.[4]

In 1312 DR, the Zhentarim invaded and destroyed Varalla, gaining a base from which to expand their organization westward. Darkhold was ruled by the wizard Sememmon until 1372 DR, when he and his consort Ashemmi vanished in response to the consolidation of Zhentarim power in the east by rival Fzoul Chembryl.[citation needed]

Following a series of disasters for the Zhentarim that left both Zhentil Keep and the Citadel of the Ravens destroyed, Darkhold emerged as the only major stronghold of the Black Network still standing. As of 1489 DR, it was the primary headquarters of the reformed Zhentarim.[5]



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