THE LEGEND OF THE KEEP'S HEART
BY GEAN FIREFEET


The Tale of the Keep's Heart is an ancient legend dating back to the time when the Tharian King Santhros the Wise united the southern Sarvonian Kingdoms. When he arrived in Thalambath, at the largest city in southern Sarvonia, it is told that the Stratanians demanded from him to prove that he was worthy - and so he enter the dungeons below the castle of Thalambath, once home of a notorious wizard...


t is told that the famous Tharian king Santhros the Wise traveled to all provinces to unite them under his supreme reign. So he arrived one day at the capitol of the Stratanian province, Thalambath. However, the Thalambathian government would not pay hommage to him, not until he had shown to be worthy: Santhros had to go into the dungeons to fulfill the ancient words said by the notorious wizard Thalambath himself (or so the legend says):

"Only he, who is wise and strong enough
to bring peace over all the lands,
may take this precious treasure,
this diamond from my hands."

 

The dungeons beneath Thalambath

View picture in full size Picture description. The dungeons beneath Thalambath. into which Santhros decended in order to retrieve the Keep's Heart. Image drawn by Faugar.

Santhros had no choice but to go into the dungeon and recover the diamond if he wanted to solve the problem peacefully. He then chose four of his most loyal warriors from his guard to join him and set out into the dark.

Carrying torches they carefully made their way through the various chambers, pathways and stairs. Deeper and deeper they went, but never did they encounter anything more dangerous then a random crypt rat, who fled quickly upon hearing footsteps. Nothing but their own breathing disturbed the silence that was inside, an unnatural tranquility that lay heavy upon the musty and stuffy air.

They reached another flight of stairs, and another. The trip into the deepest catacombs seemed endless and time passed by them unnoticed, but at last there was a gloomy green light ahead, the first light they had seen since they had left the surface hours ago, except for their torches. All five felt that this was the end of their adventure, and carefully, step by step they crept closer, until they entered the room from where the light came from.

The silence was complete upon their entry, all of them held their breath. And breathtaking the sight was indeed: The room they had entered was filled with a strange, magical light from an unknown source. From the walls it seemed to come, and then again not. But they didn't look at the dull black walls. It was the object in the middle of the room that had caught their attention. There a large tomb lay, closed by a large slab of black stone. Upon the tomb the statue of a man was carved, clad in a wide cloak, a cap over the head. A dark beard ran down the body to his middle. There the hands lay, holding... the diamond. It was large, larger than any stone of value they had ever seen, a perfect round shape emitting the strange light like the rest of the room.

Then Santhros stepped forward and as he moved deeper into the room four sentences formed upon the tombe, in the common tongue, the same four sentences he had heard before his quest:

"Only he, who is wise and strong enough
to bring peace over all the lands,
may take this precious treasure,
this diamond from my hands."

He stepped again forward, his face set stern, and gripped the stone with both hands. He lifted it with ease from the tomb. But he had only taken the stone and a deep dark voice, serene and terrifying at the same time, echoed through the room, making the ground shake beneath his feet, and small pieces of stone fell from the ceiling as shivers ran down his spine. The green light darkened. Only the eyes of the statue lit up for a moment as the voice shook the foundation of the keep.

"Peace at last."

The words floated like a wind through the room, making their torches flicker, and a spirit seemed to leave everything. The walls, the floor, the ceiling, everything collapsed. The spirit of Thalambath had left the structure, and centuries of decay now suddenly ran through the whole building as the power left his home. It seemed that the words of Thalambath had a twofold meaning: He had found peace, and the lands above had found peace as well.

But Santhros and his four comrades couldn't care less for the moment. As the collapse began the four warriors ran into the room and dragged the king out to make their way up, back to the surface. It is said that two were hit by stones of various sizes on the way up, and that there was no way of rescuing them, as more stones covered their bodies within seconds.

And now the creatures did appear. If it had been that Thalambath had held them because he had recognised Santhros as his saviour we'll never know, but they now fled the chaos as well. The two left turned and faced the creatures behind them. Santhros ran for his life, still carrying the diamond, continuing up and up. As he reached the surface, the stairs behind him crumbled, blocking the path down, the other two of his loyal men captured inside forever.

So the legend was fulfilled, the stone taken by the true unificator, and Thalambath subdued to the might of Santhros. The legendary stone was never seen afterwards and some harsh voices even claim that the legend around it was purely invented in order to build a myth around Santhros' person. The others who believe in it's existence say that it was simply too big to fit in any sort of jewel but a giant's necklace and therefore never made it into a crown of some sort for the king. But only the treasurer knows if it still exists. And about the magical powers still said to be contained within the gem nobody really knows...
 

Story written by Gean Firefeet View Profile