Cormyr: A Novel

Regarding Cormyr: A Novel, by Ed Greenwood and Jeff Grubb:

Initial planning for this book had it as “the fantasy version of a James Mitchner novel, where you get the history of Nebraska or some other landlocked state through the actions [of] its people.”

[[ Jeff Grubb. Creative Colleagues Roundtable: Heroic Fantasy Round 3. ]]


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Wizard’s Run

Wizard’s Run is the current name for a small, rebuilt keep with extensive underground cellars and a single tower rising up from its center, the tower standing twice as high as the keep’s walls. The knowledge of who built the keep, as well as its true name if ever it had one, has been lost to the passage of time.

The keep is set partially into a hillside and faces south, where it overlooks the village of Nesmyth some distance away. From the top of the tower one can see past the hill and partake of a splendid view of Cormyr’s rolling countryside to the north.

The keep and surrounding lands takes its name from the last days of a rarely seen wizard, known locally as Gardragath, who some time ago claimed the dilapidated, tumbledown keep for himself and soon after rebuilt and fortified its walls, adding a tower in its center.

It was rumored that Gardragath had discovered a formula for creating Helmed Horrors, and that his keep was filled with all manner of objects that the wizard could inhabit with his will and cause to move about, including animated, horseless wagons that would come into Nesmyth, through which Gardragath could speak and listen.

On the night that Wizard’s Run was to earn its name, a pair of war wizards who’d been assigned to keep watch on Gardragath’s doings spied a great green fire erupting from within the keep that surrounded the tower, followed by the opening of the keep’s large, iron-shod wooden doors, and the swift flight of a barefoot, bald, and wild-bearded man who came running out of them.

Not a moment later several suits of battle plate armor gave chase, wielding longswords and battle-axes, the eye slits in their helms glowing a vivid green.

The war wizards watched from a distance as the bald man, about to be overtaken, turned and shouted a word of magic that shattered the armor of his pursuers, the sound echoing through the night like a thunderclap.

The war wizards could see no remains of the dead; clearly the ruined suits of battle plate were empty and animated by magic. A moment later a towering gout of green flame shot up from the keep and the shards of plate armor rose up in a whirling maelstrom to rend and tear at the man.

Gardragath, or a man very similar to him, was slain that night, the body left in a bloody heap ere the wet, whirling remnants of battle plate spun away and returned to the keep, its iron-shod doors closing after them as the fire in the keep died away.

The war wizards set watch on the keep but did not enter. Two subsequent attempts by the Wizards of War and Purple Dragons to enter the keep met with swift death and dismemberment as animated swords, the doors to the keep and anything not made to be fixed and immovable worked to slay all who dared try and enter it.

The keep with its lone tower was isolated and travelers were warned to stay a safe distance from it lest “some animated thing rise up from Wizard’s Run to slay you before you can outrun it.”

Few incidents occurred near the keep and it was left unoccupied, much as it was long before Gardragath came.

Two decades later, the Company of the Singing Harp covertly entered Wizard’s Run. It is not known what danger they encountered and overcame within. Only the leader of the band (Aurbrand “Firebrand” Ambrival) survived, his efforts to put down the remnants of Gardragath’s magic winning him the reward of a noble title and the grant of land surrounding the keep.

Residents of Nesmyth and nearby lands whisper that the keep remains haunted, and that the fell magic that slew Gardragath has formed itself into a curse slowly killing off the Ambrival noble family. Farmers and travelers claim to have seen pieces of armor and a lone dagger or sword wreathed in green light flying low to the ground at night, and in one case a full suit of armor with green glowing eyes roaming about in the fields near the keep under the light of the moon.

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