Westguard is the westernmost settlement on the border of Dyvers. Located near the Velverdyva and upon the River Road, Westguard keep overlooks the Kingdom of Furyondy to the north, the Gnarley Forest to the southwest, and Low Town and High Town to west and east. The population of Westguard and its surrounding villages is about 1000 people.
History: Elves have considered the Westguard site mystical from a time predating the Keep and human settlement. They would often stop there on trips between the then elvish City of Verbobonc, and the now lost elvish city of Lochdrathnaii.
The keep itself originated as a simple hill fort built in 65 CY by Legate Ashrand of the Aerdi province of Ferrond, from his seat in Dyvers. It served to keep watch for humanoid incursions from the Gnarley Forest. In 100 CY, when Velerked Desier was crowned Viceroy of Ferrond, Overking Manshen Rax began withdrawing Imperial troops from small outposts like the fort. The last soldiers left the fort in 114 CY, and none returned until 134 CY when the Lord Rovland Grandhearth moved into the Westlands area. Rovland drove out bandit barbarians that had taken up residence in the fort, and refurbished it to serve as an outpost. The settlement grew as a caravan stopover and the site of a seasonal tribal moot where Ferrond merchants exchanged their civilized goods for the furs and raw materials of local barbarians.
Westguard Keep was built and garrisoned upon the hill fort site in 260 CY by order of Thrommel I, King of Furyondy. In 304 CY the trade war with Veluna broke out, and the Keep forces were bolstered to collect outrageous tariffs from all trade on the River Road. The Keep forces were ordered to turn a blind-eye towards “wandering” bandits who attacked those who refused or were unable to pay the tariffs.
In 345 CY, the noble Knights of the Hart returned from battling the Relentless Horde in northern Furyondy. King Avras I of Furyondy recognized the growing threat of Keoland’s designs on Veluna and possibly Furyondy. He appointed the Knights to restore and strengthen Westguard Keep. The keep was heavily garrisoned just in time for Keoland to annex Veluna in 350 CY. King Avras I protested the move, but sent no aid to Veluna. Ninety years later, when Keoland finally made moves towards Furyondy, large forces passed through Westguard Keep for the Small War (also called the Short War) in 438 CY. Keoland was driven from Veluna within months and the Knights drove on to Bissel and Gran March. Furyondy annexed those countries with ease. Trade along the River Road expanded, and so did Westguard Keep and its caravan stop.
In 477 CY, Margrave Rollo of Bissel saved King Hugh III of Furyondy from a jebli horde, and Bissel was returned its sovereignty out of gratitude. In 480 CY, the new menace of Iuz began threatening Furyondy’s northern counties and the Knights of the Hart expanded its membership during the battles. In 488 CY, Westguard Keep underwent a period of restoration that lasted for the next 10 years. The bas-relief stonework depicting Heironeon moral lessons and achievements of the day still adorn much of the keep proper. The revival heralded the era of courtly virtues, a time for Westguard in which many heroes of renown governed in succession as Knight Commanders. The noble Knights championed Westguard against threats of invasion, pirates, and the beasts of the Gnarley Wood.
The most notable of these Knight Commanders was Eriador Grandhearth. After earning his rank battling Iuz in Northern Furyondy, he was appointed Knight-Commander of Westguard in 506 CY. Over the next few years, Eriador aided Celene against the humanoids in the most bitter battles of the Hateful Wars. His virtue in these combats forged the link between Westguard and Celene. The Hateful Wars ended in 510 CY. Eriador married Ayhntressa, a minor elven noble of the Celenian court, in 530 CY. Ayhntressa died giving birth to daughter Cassia in 534 CY.
The death of Eriador’s first wife prompted his self-imposed exile into the fading lands of the Fey Court, where his exploits earned him the fabled cloak of Eriador, a gift from the Fey King. Eriador emerged from his self-imposed exile to counter the growing threat of Elemental Evil and the machinations of the pretender Maldreth, steward to the Knight-Commandership of Westguard in Eriador’s absence. Eriador’s leadership turned the battle of the Host of Arnt in favor of the forces of Verbobonc, aiding in the route of the evil hordes at Emridy Meadow in 569 CY. Eriador disappeared shortly thereafter. Rumors of his death by minions of Vampire Lord Gulthias persist, though without evidence. His marriage to his second wife during his time in exile bore him a son, Enruhl, who was fostered by the Grandhearth’s of Caltaran. Enruhl became a childhood friend of Klabbert Grandhearth, maintaining his close relationship long after his departure from Caltaran and his inheritance of Eriador’s lands at Leardyn Manor.
With the secession of the Free and Independent City of Dyvers in 526 CY, the Knights of the Hart pledged the loyalty of the order to Dyvers. The Heironeons were allowed to retain Westguard as a protectorship, with each successive Heironeon Knight-Commander swearing fealty to Dyvers. In 582 CY, the Greyhawk Wars began, and most of the Knights left Westguard for the frontlines against Iuz. In 584 CY, at the end of the Greyhawk Wars, the growing tension with the Furyondian Knights of the Hart and the Dyvers populace ignited with the suggestion by certain Knights that the city of Dyvers be annexed to the greater glory of King Belvor IV of Furyondy. When Magister Margus passed by the issue without comment, the outcry from the city was of such intensity that Margus was ousted in favor of the young Army officer, Larissa Hunter. The newly appointed Dyvers Magister, fearing rebellion, removed the protectorship of Westguard from the Knights of the Hart, stationing in its place the Dyvers Free Army. In a face–saving gesture, Larissa retained Sir Robil Kelso, Knight of the Hart and relation of the Grandhearths by marriage to Enruhl’s sister, as Knight Commander of the garrison. A Heironeon Paladin, Robil has served Larissa Hunter with irreproachable loyalty to this day.
Notable Locations in Westguard:
The Keep of Westguard: The Keep is on a 20-foot high limestone formation that was just an oddly shaped hill when Legate Ashrand chose it to build his fort. Over the years, laborers dug the sides and quarried the stone to make the cliffs that are there today. It has changed slightly following the ferocious attack in 592 CY that prompted the approval of Westguard’s latest writ of crenellation. A 10-foot high wall was built across the bailey to form an upper and lower bailey. The buildings that open on the upper bailey include the Keep, Stables, Stores, Officers Barracks, Armorer/Weaponsmith, and South Guardpost. Opening on the lower bailey are the Barbican, Chapel of Heironeous, Men-at-Arms Barracks, Blacksmith/Carpenter, and North Guardpost.
Three stories tall, and 50 feet x 80 feet, this stone bastion is decorated in carvings that are over a century old, depicting Heironeon moral lessons and virtues. Its first floor is the main hall, dining area, servants quarters, armory and privy. The second floor holds bedrooms, study, bath, library, and guest chambers. The small third floor holds the master bedroom suite, bath, vault, and private study. There are two levels of basements and cellars. The first holds the lower hall, food stores, general storage, prison cell, wine cellar and the dusty archives. The lower hall is a large room carved with stories of heroic events. The entrance to the lower hall is a metal door, which, like the floors, walls and ceiling, has been heavily magicked to prevent unauthorized entry and exit. There are two secret doors in the basement. One leads from the archives to an escape tunnel that opens across the Gladden Brook beneath shrubs on the hillside of Ehlenstra’s grove. The other is in the lower hall and leads to the secret level of the basement—the catacombs.
The Catacombs: The catacombs are a huge maze with the bones of prior occupants.
The Treen Circle: This pristine wooded grove is a sacred site of Ehlonna, called Ehlenestra by the Celenian elves who use the circle during trade festivals and for religious ceremony. The wooded grove is maintained by Asherlund of Vale, an 8th-level druid. The hunting of game and felling of timber within the grove is forbidden by decree of the Knight Commander of Westguard.
Slatter Hill Manor: This manor was once the residence of a wealthy family that moved from Hardby in 514 CY, about the time the Merchants Alliance took control in Hardby. Lady Nelle Slatter, called Widow Slatter because she had no husband, lived here with seven daughters. Nelle died in 565 CY, and all of her daughters have died except for one. Jakva Slatter took a foreign husband in 570 CY, and bore a daughter, Hrodyn, at the unnatural age of 45. The man died, and now the widow and her daughter live alone, rarely coming to town. Interestingly, a strangely-dressed foreign man was seen visiting the Manor a few months ago.
Caravansary: This large open square is where caravans pitch camp, whether passing through or setting up trade booths. The River Road doesn’t accommodate wheeled vehicles, so these are groups of pack animals. Harnesses and pack supports can be repaired and new animals purchased. The locals always frequent the square. Animal pens are available, as is a hotel, tavern, and general store.
Three Bells Inn: With the help of brave adventurers, this inn survived the attack of 592 CY. Unfortunately, the owner died several months later. Olis of One Oak bought the inn which has become well known for its food, but not for the tidiest of rooms
River Spirits Tavern: A typical roadhouse tavern. Plenty of good food, drinks, travelers, and people who are interested in travelers. Jenson (he gets irritated with people confusing his name with Jens Felgoot) Dolikan is the main bartender. He is very dexterous when pouring drinks and performs slight-of-hand tricks to dazzle the women. He is a good dancer, and might jump up on his own bar if the music is good and crowds large. The locals always ask him what he is doing here when he could make so much more in the big city of Dyvers, and he always mysteriously answers that he can’t right now, without explaining why.
High Town: Home to the artisans, merchants, and freemen of Westguard, High Town is the center of trade activity. Markets open at dawn and close at dusk each day.
Low Town: Peasants live on the west side of the Gladden Brook in multi-family houses. Two or more families share quarters and fields, and all work on land owned by the Lord of Westguard and the Leardyns.