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Maldin's Greyhawk

Melkotia Castle

by Denis Tetreault
 Version 1.0

The Early Years

Looming over the southern entrance to Melkot Pass is the immense Melkotia Castle, perched high atop a dormant volcano. Its history is a long one, spanning almost 600 years. As wealth poured into the coffers of the Melkotia family from their highly successful gem mines, and as the city of Melkot continued to grow, the patriarch of the regional ruling family decided that Melkot Keep needed to be dedicated to city functions and that he would build a grand personal residence overlooking both the Pass and his land holdings around the city. The most spectacular vista was selected, and a road was carved up the mountain. Work on the castle began in 5530 SD (15 CY) and continued fairly continuously for the next 35 years. When major construction finally was complete, the castle consisted of 3 buildings: the Royal Residence, the Servants Quarters, and the Old Guard Tower and Barracks.

For several hundred years, a long line of mostly benevolent rulers performed only minor modifications of the Castle, choosing to either amass the family fortune, or spend their wealth on other things, such as the Melkot city walls (built over a 20 year period between 160 and 180 CY) and the city water system (constructed between 208 and 214 CY, after a terrible plague).

The Age of Renaissance

Lord Arabis Melkotia I added the first significant construction to the castle in over 400 years when he built the New Guard Tower at the base of the bridge to the Castle. The rise of the Sea Princes to the south had been causing the Lord great concern. After the Siege of Westkeep, to which Lord Arabis had contributed some troops and resources to the Keoish forces, he had become increasingly wary of the Sea Princes' increasingly aggressive behavior. In 460 CY, the Yeomanry declared independence. The next spring Lord Arabis began construction of the New Guard Tower, fearing that such political instability may prompt the Sea Princes into turning their attention to Melkot Pass. With the Castle separated from the city-proper by over 6 miles, the Lord felt he needed to enhance its defensive capabilities. The tower was a rather ingenius construction, with a heavily protected interior spiral ramp and liftbridge, and was completed in CY 463. At the time it did not have the infamous skull. Lord Arabis' grandson Marchanter would add that feature later.

In 472 CY Lord Arabis II became Lord of Melkotia Castle at the age of 30. Lord Arabis II was a master strategist, and had inherited his father's distrust of the Sea Princes. He began a concerted effort to safeguard his lands, and as such devoted much energy to information gathering and planning. As he learned more of the Sea Princes' plans, he became convinced that they would eventually see Melkot Pass as a path of weakness into the Yeomanry and the Keoish empire. First, Lord Arabis II concentrated on finding ways to strengthen the city against possible invasion, including funding the foundation of an unusual number of temples in Melkot and a major expansion of the Wizards' Guild. He also magically "hardened" many of the city's and castle's key weak points, such as the various gates. He was just in time.

In the fall of 476 CY, the Sea Princes marched northward through the Hool (thinking it would be unexpected) towards the Yeomanry, and towards Melkot Pass. Expecting the small town to fall quickly and without incident, the invaders would be in for a shock. The large force beseiged Melkot for nearly a year and a half, and the town never fell. An unprecedented amount of priestly and wizardly magic fortified a city of incredibly stubborn, and highly prepared defenders. Several attempts to storm Melkotia Castle were utterly defeated, and only served to further weaken the invading army. Eventually, the Sea Princes were forced to retreat across the mires back to their homeland, never having seen Yeomanry soil. The Seige of Melkot is one of the most important, and brilliant, military accomplishments of recent times, yet because of its relatively isolated location, is also one of the must unheralded events in the history of the Sheldomar Valley. That sits just fine with the fairly isolationist residents.

After events settled down, and knowing that the Sea Princes would not be caught unprepared again, Lord Arabis II began further improvements in Melkotia Castle's defensive capabilities, not the least of which was to greatly increase the castle's population, a large portion of that being troops, and the service people required to maintain a much larger population. Thus, in 490 CY Lord Arabis II began construction of the largest building yet, the Lord's Residence. The massive construction took 8 years to complete and greatly increased the holding capacity of the castle. The Sea Princes never considered Melkot Pass as a weak gateway into the Yeomanry again.

The Years of Dark Terror

In 511 CY, Marchanter killed his father and became Lord of Melkotia Castle at the age of 26, and the Years of Dark Terror began (see the main City of Melkot description). Among other things, Marchanter began a sustained program of building that would transform Melkotia Castle into one of the architectural wonders of the Flanaess. During 514-516 CY he built the Laboratory on an isolated pinnacle of the mountain top, and construction from 520-521 CY added the now infamous Skull to the New Guard Tower.

His most amazing accomplishment was yet to come, however. Construction on the Twin Towers began in 526 CY. In the same length of time that it took to construct the relatively small Laboratory building, the massive 600' seamless basalt towers were completed by late 528 CY. By that time, Marchanter had achieved such a high level of arcane power as a mage, he could easily command large numbers of other-worldly creatures, and it was mostly elementals, and not human or dwarven stonemasons, that constructed the towers from molten materials brought up from deep inside the dormant volcano. To distant observers in the town below, it looked as if the towers grew from the mountain on their own accord, the upper edges glowing bright orange in the night as they seemed to rise from the volcano summit at Marchanter's command. Fear permeated the city like a fog... a fog that would continue to hang over the city until Marchanter's mysterious disappearance in 548 CY. Over those 20 years, Marchanter turned his attention to more arcane interests, and the Castle was to remain physically unchanged til the present. What the archmage accomplished those two decades cannot even be guessed at. The immense Melkotia Castle must certainly contain great secrets, both wondrous and horrifying.

For a more detailed timeline, with CY years also converted into SD, see the Melkot Timeline page.

Melkotia Castle Front

To the left is a view of the front of Melkotia Castle, the most prominent features being the stone skull attached to the New Guard Tower, and the immense 600' high black basalt Twin Towers in the background. A group of individuals both on horseback (with pennants) and on foot (with polearms) are approaching the New Guard Tower (for scale). Below is a view from behind Melkotia Castle, from some point above Melkot Pass. In the distance to the south lies the City of Melkot and adjacent farm lands, with the beginnings of the Hool expanse on the horizon.

Melkotia Castle back

Melkotia Castle Today

When Marchanter disappeared, the Castle was abandoned in a single day. Stories are still told of that day by many of the survivors; guards, servants, cooks, even apprentices and scribes. Whatever happened in the bowels of the castle, it was suddenly overrun by large numbers of outer planar creatures. Most of the castle occupants never made it out, as the creatures rampaged throughout the castle complex. Except for periodic attempts to explore the castle by passing adventurers, none of whom ever returned, the castle has remained abandoned ever since. Or so people think.

In 572 CY the Sons' of Marchanter took the New Guard Tower with a fairly strong force, and began sending exploratory teams across the bridge into the New Guard Tower. What they discovered was that the Castle was still occupied by large numbers of outer planar creatures. Interestingly, while by far most of the creatures are from the lower planes, there are representatives from all of the planes, including rare individuals from the upper planes. In 578 CY, the Sons mounted a major offensive on the denizens of the castle, and managed to clear and take the Old Guard Tower and Barracks, setting up a barricade in the tunnel leading to the Servants' Building. As such, most of the Sons' defensive efforts are concentrated inwards, towards the interior of the castle in an attempt to hold the Old Guard Tower and Barracks. Several attempts to penetrate deeper into the castle have failed, however the Sons hope to continue reclaiming Melkotia Castle one building at a time. The cost in lives has been great. Success would reap incredible rewards.

So why haven't these creatures descended upon the City of Melkot? The most bizarre discovery the Sons have yet made, is that any non-prime creatures that enter the castle cannot leave. None can physically exit the castle, even through open gates, doors and windows. The creatures cannot cross outdoor bridges, and thus could not occupy the New Guard Tower. All forms of teleportation, plane travel, and plane shifting, whether item, spell or innate ability, do not function within the interior of Melkotia Castle. Even special other-planar familiars that enter with their masters find that they cannot leave the castle, their way barred by an impenetrable force while their masters simply walk out the gate. Extradimensional spaces and spells do not function, nor can priests contact their deities (preventing them from gaining back spells above 3rd level). Creatures or spell affects that enable sight into the ethereal or astral are blinded. Whatever magic is responsible for this effect must indeed be great, and was not present before the day Marchanter disappeared.

What has been learned from the few creatures that have been interrogated is that deep within Melkotia Castle is a interplanar gate complex through which creatures can enter the castle, but are somehow barred from leaving. Only constant deadly conflict between the creatures keeps the population at a fairly constant level. Upper planar creatures tend to be quickly set upon by the larger numbers of lower planars, who then generally turn on themselves. Because its essence or spirit cannot return to its plane of origin, any creature killed within the castle is destroyed utterly unless its spirit can somehow take over another being or is protected by spell or magic item such as magic jar or an amulet of life protection.

One thing is certain, the deepest mysteries of Melkotia Castle are yet to be discovered.

Below is an aerial view of Melkotia Castle as it sits on the rim of the extinct volcano, with the various buildings labeled.

Melkotia Castle aerial view

Details of the New Guard Tower, along with interior maps can be found here. In the future, more of Melkotia Castle will be detailed here, including a building-by-building description complete with interior maps.

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This page last modified on December 19, 2004