Built high atop Mount Bewerigend innumerable years ago, the fortress of the Keepers (simply known as the Keepers’ Keep) maintains the flame of knowledge in a world where darkest ignorance closes in. The legend states that one of the great libraries was burned to the ground in a particularly gruesome barbarian attack and a group of monks dedicated their lives to gathering, preserving, and protecting the knowledge of the world in perpetuity. Such devotion soon attracted the eye of the god Djehuty (Thoth), a watcher of the universe known to cherish knowledge himself. The Keepers are protected by Djehuty’s grace in their mission to find every last book in the world.
The Keepers’ Keep is usually shrouded in clouds, but is accessible by traversing Rudyard Pass high into the Bookcliff Mountains in the summer when the pass is open. While they are physically able, the younger Keepers will go on a one-year pilgrimage to find and return a book to the collection at Bewerigend. The older Keepers work to maintain the vaults, treating each work with care, and copying those books that are too brittle to be handled regularly.
For you see, the books the Keepers save aren’t locked away forever. They are to be shared. To rekindle the love of discovery and creativity, they actively recruit scholars and teachers, wizards and clerics, and anyone seeking enlightenment of the written word. Some come, donate to Djehuty, and only spend a few hours or days seeking the knowledge they need before they leave again. Others devote years to the Keep before returning to the world. And many of the seekers never leave at all.
There are a few secrets, to be sure. No outsider has seen the source of the food that sustains the nearly 200 Keepers at the keep. With travel impossible much of the year, there are rumors of underground gardens that many can’t believe are true. Many others believe that the Keepers’ godly patron provides what they need in return for some pact struck long ago. Most are content to leave that secret be so they may enjoy the wonders on shelves throughout the fortress.
And there are those who would see the Keepers fail in their mission. Occasionally a barbarian horde or bandit leader will choose to attack during the summer months. None have ever succeeded in getting beyond the walls. During some of these misguided attempts, the Keepers will recruit bodyguards to ensure the safety of the Keepers leaving and returning with their precious cargo. But usually the pass remains clear of such troubles.
Characters you might encounter at the Keep include:
Abbot Walmsley, though ancient, has a clear heart and mind and still holds sway over the Keep. Now blind and helped from place to place by his staff, he will carefully listen to all sides of an issue before coming to a decision. Sometimes his lack of swift action bothers other members of the leadership, but love and respect keeps disagreements to a minimum.
- Prior Gerber runs most of the daily activity throughout the facility. He is next in line to become the Abbot, but has been friends with Walmsley his entire career with the Keepers. He is a practical man tempered by the heart of a priest. Where Walmsley is warm and kind, Gerber comes across as gruff and uncaring, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
- Brother Jim works as the scholar in charge of the copying of books in need. He and the other brothers in the scriptorium work diligently by candlelight and magic to faithfully reproduce every page.
- Sister Margaret tends to the wounded, the sick, and the infirm using the wealth of healing knowledge contained in the library. She and her cadre of sisters seem to perform miracles, keeping many of the ancient brothers alive and healing those deemed not savable by other means.
- Layman Thadeus handles all of the maintenance of the facility with his group of volunteers. All have sought knowledge from the Keepers and many are working to become full members of the brotherhood. Thadeus used to be a mercenary and has also trained a small group of ex-military and mercenaries to protect the Keep should it come to that.
- The Abbot has asked for help from local folks to find and rescue a missing Keeper.
- Layman Thadeus is trying to locate a book borrowed by a visitor that may have left the Keep.
- A Keeper entreats your aid in acquiring a book for the Keep’s collection.
- You come across a wounded traveler on the road who is a Keeper in transit. His valuable cargo stolen, would you help him and help him retrieve it and return it to the Keep?
- During a particular mission it is discovered that a book with information vital to the cause may exist in the Keepers’ collection.
- A group of barbarians or mercenaries has stolen certain books from the library and burned the library to the ground. Scholars worldwide have asked for justice.