The Frozen City
Nobles’ Quarter King’s Road (#6, B4)
Considering its reputation for strange events and stranger residents, almost everyone in Ptolus has heard of Castle Shard. Its current lord and lady are Lord Zavere”rumored to have once been a blackguard of the highest order, now reformed”and Lady Rill, said to be a fallen paladin turned sorceress. But the castle is far older than its current residents.
The central portion of the castle was built in the original city of Ptolus approximately ten thousand years ago. The keep served as the seat of power for a noble dynasty of powerful wizards. These wizards spent years on a magical working that eventually drew a huge violet crystal from another plane into the central hall of their tower. The gem, which measured forty feet high and thirty feet across, was embedded fifteen feet into the earth. As the years wore on, the castle grew around the central chamber and eventually took its name from this crystalline shard. When the old city fell into ruin, the mis- tress of the castle, an extraordinarily powerful mage named Ethylassir, used the power of the crystal to detach the castle from the time-stream itself, which effectively sealed the castle and hid it from sight. Time passed much more slowly within its walls than outside.
Not until the reign of Ghul the Skull-King did anyone interact with Castle Shard again. A dark naga leading an elite cadre of ogres, creatures of Ghul’s own sorcerous creation, discovered the castle and managed to enter it, which stabilized the place within the normal flow of time. Ethylassir, still alive, defended her home valiantly, but the breach had caught her entirely unprepared. The evil creatures overcame her and she died, the last of her line.
When the dark naga attempted to access the power of the shard, the crystal immediately drew the ghost of Ethylassir to it. As a spirit, she was able to do what she could not as a living creature: She slew the intruders. Next, Ethylassir took it upon herself to find a living, corporeal lord for Castle Shard to keep the powerful gem out of the
wrong hands. She found a human named Alchestrin living nearby and tutored him in the arts of magic. Alchestrin proved to be a poor choice”his new power corrupted him and made him a wicked master for the castle. However, one of his own ogre servants betrayed and killed him before he ever got to cast it.
Since that time, Ethylassir has chosen the lords of Castle Shard more carefully. Never again has the shard been used for purely evil ends, nor has the castle itself fallen into the hands of unwanted intruders. The ghost mage inhabits the shard itself, having fused her essence with its power forever.
The Power of the Shard
Originally summoned from a far distant plane, the huge purple shard contains vast amounts of self-renewing magical energy. What’s more, because the energy is alien to this plane, it inter- acts with the world in strange ways. In theory, if something were to happen and the power of magic were to be suppressed throughout Praemal, the power of the shard would continue. When it first came to this world, it was just an energy source. However, since its fusion with Ethylassir, it has become much more.
Ethylassir’s spirit remains still very much alive and aware within the castle. She chooses the mas- ters of the castle based on her own capricious whims. After she has learned all that she can about these individuals using the magic of the crystal for research and spying, she contacts them telepathi- cally. Her choices frequently seem strange to those aware of the process (a very few, to say the least), but they have always proven to be the right ones.
There is always more than one lord of Castle Shard”usually two, but sometimes three or even four. Once chosen, the lords of the castle gain powers from a connection to the shard itself. They enjoy a constant +5 insight bonus to Armor Class and SR 11 + their level.