History as told to the group by Kordo Vas on their trip east to Kendall Keep.
The Keep was founded some thirty years ago by Macsen Wledig, a former member of The Company of the Bronze Lions, who decided to retire and build his own stronghold with the proceeds of his exploits. He chose an area in a no-man's land between Cormyr and Sembia, and built on a readily defensible spot atop a low flat hill, not far from what he hoped would become an important trade route. He planned to drive all the monsters from the land, save for a few which he intended to allow to skulk in odd corners, feeling the occasional monster-hunt might prove good sport when he began to miss the old days of dungeon delving and deeds of valor. Soon peasants and freemen were attracted by the protection of the fortress, and within a few years he had numerous farms and fields, the beginnings of his own barony.
In the coming years, Macsen found that retirement agreed with him. He devoted all his time to managing the affairs of his garrison and the Keep, leaving the region beyond untouched save for a few patrols of the outlying farms, but even these grew less frequent as the years passed. It was left to others, aspiring adventurers, to clean out the humaniods when they came to live in the nearby Caves of Chaos, raid the lizard men of the swamp, and eliminate any other threats to his little settlement. Eventually the decimated lizard men became so few that they were shy and rarely met with, the emptied caves offered neither treasure nor glory to explorers, and would-be-heroes out to make a name for themselves moved on to other regions.
Thus things remained for many years, until a call to war reached the Keep. Orcs were savagely attacking the settlements of the Sword Coast, and Mascen Wledig could not stand by and watch his homeland far to the west be destroyed, not while he was still hale enough to wield a blade. Gathering most of his troops, leaving a few behind to man the Keep, he marched westward and was never seen in the east again. When peace came at last, word of their lord's fall was sent to the Keep. The castellan long held out hope that the rumors were false, but at last had to admit that his master (and friend) along with his former comrades were all dead.
Fortunately, Macsen had chosen his castellan well. Devereau was also a former Bronze Lion, an archer who only remained behind because of a crippling wound received in an early adventure; had he been able to march alongside his lord he would have died with the rest of his friends. A more ambitious man might have declared himself the new Lord; a less deliberate one would have recruited new troops and thus brought in strangers, forever changing the original settlement. Devereau did neither. After calling a meeting attended by every man, woman, and child in the Keep and outlying farms, he discussed their situation and put before them three options: to abandon the Keep and each return to his or her homeland, dividing the remaining treasury equally; to invite a new lord or lady to come and to obey his or her will as they had Macsen's; or to appoint a new leader from among their number. Following much debate, they chose the last of these, asking Devereau to continue on as castellan and see them through the difficult times ahead, renewing his appointment at a town meeting at the end of each year.
In the years since, the Keep has slowly rebuilt its strength. The professional garrison of the past has been replaced by a milita, with every farmer and craftsman(and -woman) serving a stint of guard duty in rotation. The parade ground has been transformed into a vegetable garden, and the barracks was converted into a Guild House, catering to caravan masters and their guards. The wisdom of this policy has been tested and proven. Three times the Keep has been attacked or besieged by humaniods or bandits, and each time it has held out and overcome its foes. Today it is a small but thriving community once more, less populous than of old but warded by people who have invested years of hard work into making this their home and willing to defend it to the bitter end.
Recently there have been troubles rearing their ugly heads that farmers and merchant guards are incapable of dealing with. Monsters, organized bandits, and even an evil cult have come to the area. Devereau has reached out to The Company of the Bronze Lions, knowing that what troubles like these need is a few brave adventurers thrown at them.
Even from the road, the Keep is an impressive sight: a mighty castle perched on a flat-topped hill, with a path climbing steeply up beneath frowning guard towers until it reaches the main gate. Crenellated battlements line the walls, offering plenty of cover for archers to attack any foe coming up the exposed path. As you draw near, a clanging as of a great gong goes up from one of the towers that overlooks the path - clearly your approach has been noticed. You continue on your way, your back itching as you try not to think about deadly arrows suddenly being launched in your direction. Following the curve of the path around to the side, you come to the great gate - a drawbridge flanked by thirty-foot-high watchtowers. As you approach, the guard on one of the towers hails you.
Soon you are let into the keep and your wagons move through what feels like a small town, to an open area with a fountain bubbling in the center.
"Welcome to your new home,"
Kordo Vas says as he walks among the wagons and your large group gathers outside what looks like an inn and tavern. The sign shows a sleeping cat with one open eye, "The One-Eyed Cat"
As you gather around the front of the inn two retainers set up a ladder and start to remove the sign. "Since this is our new home, it needs a new name."
the old cleric says with a grin. "Something fitting."
And as the retainers move they gather a new piece of worked wood and start to hang it from the post.
"Welcome to... The Lion's Den!"