The Time of Shadows
Once the Dragon War was ended, rulers in the humanoid alliances recognized the heroes that did the most to cement that hard won victory. Bailen was one such hero. During the war he had shown a keen mind for tactics and bravely led the charge beside small troops of soldiers. He became best known for stepping into a fallen generals boots in a lopsided battle. He was able to pull victory from the jaws of defeat through solid defenses and clever counter attacks.
Bailen was granted a title and lands, along with a Keep from which to govern. He requested that the Keep be built in the mountains north of what is now Fallen Oak, his place of birth. Bailen adapted well to life at court and caught the eye of the King’s second cousin, Lady Deliala. Their courtship was encouraged, for the King was happy with the idea that one of his favorite cousins would wed a hero of the Dragon War. Bailen and Deliala would hold parties at the Keep seasonally which were well attended by those familiar with Bailen and the nobility hoping to earn Deliala’s favor, who was close to the King.
Several years passed and Deliala became seriously ill. Bailen offers a sizable reward to any that could provide a cure, but of the many who came, none could save Deliala. Until eventually, a shaman was able to bring the Lady from death’s grip. This Shaman was named Cecil and she turned down the monetary reward in favor of a place at court. Bailen relayed her request to the King who was all too happy to grant it to the one that saved his cousin. Cecil stayed at Bailen’s Keep but kept out of center stage at any of the parties they held.
Over the next few years, Bailen and his wife enjoyed a resurgence of their popularity holding their galas and parties. Though as time moved on, Bailen and Deliala became more withdrawn and reclusive. Deliala fell out of favor with the King over harsh words and harsher letters to some of his vassals. Bailen started neglecting his duties to his title and land, handing down harsh punishments or just ignoring his stewardship altogether. The court wondered what could cause such a change in these two loved and admired figures, but none would learn the truth, for Bailen suddenly cut ties at court and barred his Keeps gates. Long-time friends would entreat entrance and receive no reply from within the Keep. The Keep had occupants, but none inside would react to a visitor’s call. Most people gave up after months. The King visited personally even though he was not happy with his cousin, he was not without concern for her. Rumors of his visit were the best gossip for weeks; He was turned away like all the rest! His cousin dumped rotten food upon him from the ramparts! He was allowed in, but when he came out, he was ashen-faced and shaking! Bailen opened the gates and challenged him to a duel! When he arrived at the Keep, the doors were open wide but there were no people inside!
All people do know is that the King arrived at the Keep and left very shortly after. When he returned to court, he stripped Bailen of his title and lands along with the titles from his cousin. The governing of Bailen’s lands was given to another Lord, who sought to evict those who were in Bailen’s Keep. Every attempt to breach the Keep was thwarted and the Lord gave up on it. Months and years would take the shine from courts’ speculation and Bailen and Deliala were eventually, mostly, forgotten. The Keep became an idle curiosity for the nobility bordering on a cautionary tale with whatever flavor the Lord or Lady using it wished to spin it with. Outside the nobility it was a tempting target for ambitious thieves, for everyone knew that Bailen was wealthy from his War spoils and from his wife’s dowry. Though many scoundrels and adventurers have entered the Keep, none have returned with any loot. So the Keep became an idle curiosity for thieves bordering on a cautionary tale with whatever flavor the cut-purse or explorer using it wanted to spin it with.