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The Stronghold was a small keep that once was used as a monastery and a hidden temple of Bhaal, abandoned during the Time of Troubles and later gifted to the Hero of Daggerford in 1372 DR.[1]

The populace is generally friendly, and adventurers are well received, especially those that contribute something to the community. All in all, you could have ended up inheriting a stronghold in many worse places.

Location

The so-called Stronghold was built across the Trade Way from the town of Liam's Hold.[1]

Structure

The keep's structure was roughly a rectangular area of carved stone with tall windowless walls. The monastery appeared more like an imposing stronghold than a religious site that could weather a siege. The main entrance was locked with a singular key, and the door was gated by a large slab of stone, pulled up by a pulley mechanism once unlocked. One could access a gorgeous view of the valley from the keep's top. A secret tunnel allowed discrete entry to the agents and monks who inhabited the site; however, it was collapsed and unusable by 1372 DR.[1]

Interior

The floor carving in the Stronghold's tower.

Look, a colorful floor pattern. Ohh... it's a skull... of blood... with tears... Um, let's not step on it...

Past the entrance gate laid a huge candle-lit hall. Several monk quarters were adjacent to the main hall and a spiral staircase that let up and down. Each level of the staircase housed many old bookshelves and eventually led to the monastery's rooftop. The structure had a deep underground hall used as the temple by the monks and agents of the evil deity - Bhaal. The altar was carved out of a single slab of metal. A thin sharp-taloned grasping hand stretched out of the altar as if an unknown beast was trapped within the shrine.[1]

The shrine held a secret passage locked by the key that belonged to the temple's head priest. Once unlocked, it led to a long hall with two heavy metallic gates on each side. This hidden area was the temple's vault, filled with the keep's valuables, magic items, gems, and spell scrolls.[1]

The single tower of the monastery led directly to a round library room with the carving of Bhaal's holy symbol on the floor. The library had a single wooden door that led to the bedroom of the monastery's head priest.[1]

History

The shrine to Bhaal with undead Xatuum standing guard.

When a Bhaalist sect used the monastery, very few outsiders knew of the place's true nature. Monks were seemingly peaceful and traded with the farmers of Liam's Hold, all while the locals knew better than to pry too closely into the neighbors who paid well for the hamlet's produce.[1]

The sect that occupied the monastery followed the holy text of the Treatise of Suffering. Guided by the book, Bhaalist performed heinous acts of torture and cruelty. On the 13th of Ches, 1358 DR, the monks stoked hate and fear among the inhabitants of Liam's Hold, leading them to burn a woman on a stake in the middle of the town. The Bhaalists manipulated the locals into believing the woman was a witch, while her deathly sufferings brought joy to the Lord of Murder. On the 15th of Ches, 1358 DR, the High Priest Xatuum culled the number of his followers after rumors of spies spread throughout the Stronghold. The monks refilled the basement shrine's blood pools with the help of those slain. On the 4th of Tarsakh, the Bhaalists captured five children who were tortured to death to please their deity.[1]

Shortly before the Time of Troubles, on the 16th of Eleint, a small force of druids and elves, led by Maerovyna of the Harvest House, stormed the walls of the temple of Bhaal. The monks successfully repelled the assault with minimal losses and minimum damage to the Stronghold's walls.[1]

During the Time of Troubles, when gods walked on Toril, the Bhaalist agents and monks who resided in the temple mysteriously disappeared. The truth of the priests' disappearance was grim indeed. The worshipers were sacrificed in a futile attempt to reach their deity when gods walked the Realms.[1]

A bard adventurer from Waterdeep discovered the monastery's dark secret and left the only key to the keep with Mayor Wilsey for safekeeping.[1]

Yes, this place would have had potential as a quiet hideout. But now that people know you're here, I'm sure they'll be turning up to your doorstep asking for help... Or worse, selling you things!
— Purfbin Doogrick to the Hero of Daggerford[1]

The structure remained abandoned until 1372 DR when the Mayor offered the Stronghold to a capable adventurer and their companions. The Hero of Daggerford was entrusted with the key to the keep after they investigated a case of disappearing cattle and drove Jethro Munroe and his bandit family away from the peaceful hamlet. Upon unsealing the abandoned temple, it was in a state of disrepair, evidence of a battle long passed, crumbling walls, boulders, old skeletons.[1]

The Hero, the companions, and a Lords' Alliance agent Astriel Shalyn made a home in the old temple while they were investigating the "death" of Duke Pwyll Daggerford and defending the neighboring city of Daggerford from Zhentarim agents and hellish armies of the devil Gorgomorz.[1]

Soon after calming the Stronghold, Astriel Shalyn noticed an eery feel of the place, radiating evil from the keep's basement level, where the shrine to Bhaal was hidden. It was believed that the Hero ventured into the undercroft and confronted Xatuum, the undead high priest of Bhaal, sealed inside the temple since the Time of Troubles along with a small crowd of Bhaalists, sacrificed to the dark deity. Some said that the Hero slew the undead creature; others claimed that the Hero performed an ungodly task for Xatuum - killing Maerovyna of the Harvest House; and some said that the Hero agreed to kill the priestess but brought back a heart of a boar.[1]

Inhabitants

One of the undead Bhaalist worshipers.

The priests of Bhaal who lived in the monastery were returned to a semblance of life as yellowed decrepit undead skeletons after sacrificing themselves during the Time of Troubles. The undead creatures were scattered across the basement temple, ready to be reanimated by dark magics and attack any blasphemous this defiling the old temple. The undead were led by Xatuum, an undead gaunt intelligent creature who revered his evil god even after death.[1]

Another cleric of note was Niaal Sortan, the cruel wielder of the Black Hammer.[1]

The hidden vault, behind the undercroft's altar of Bhaal was guarded by three gargoyles that were ready to rend any looter.[1]

Appendix

Appearances

Video Games
Neverwinter Nights: Darkness over Daggerford

References

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