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The Geography of
Metamor Keep:
The castle and the valley
by Christian O'Kane
©2006 Christian O'Kane -- all rights reserved

Metamor Keep is a large story universe. Its well-documented background provides an admirable level of details on the Keep itself and the surrounding territory; in fact, the whole continent the Keep is on has been mapped fairly well too. Not all story universes are documented this well. For instance, the main focus of the TBP (Tales of the Blind Pig) universe is a bar in an un-named city located somewhere along the Eastern Seaboard.

Note that the details of Metamor's geography were not developed all at once. Rather, it accreted like a pearl over the course of many tales, each story adding its own small bits and pieces to what was already there. Like everything else about Metamor Keep, the geography was a group effort involving many, many authors.

Since the world of Metamor Keep is so detailed, I'll be breaking down my description of it into several articles. This article will cover the Keep itself and the valley it's in. Since most of the Metamor Keep stories take place in and around the Keep, this article is liable to be the largest!

Editor's note: The author was kind enough to provide a map of the whole valley, and a chart of the Keep proper, from which we derived the illustrations you see in this article. Feel free to check out the Metamor Valley map in full-size (796 x 2,037) or half-size (398 x 1,019) versions, or the Metamor Keep floorplan. These graphics will open up in a new window

Metamor Valley: Topographical Features

Metamor Pass -- This is the only land passage between the Giantdowns to the North and the rest of the continent. Countless times in the past, hordes of Lutins and other creatures have tried to sweep south into the warm and heavily populated southern lands. For centuries, Metamor Keep and its inhabitants have staved off those attacks. These attacks have hardened the Keepers and colored (some might say 'tainted') the landscape itself.

Metamor Pass

Metamor Pass -- This is the only land passage between the Giantdowns to the North and the rest of the continent. Countless times in the past, hordes of Lutins and other creatures have tried to sweep south into the warm and heavily populated southern lands. For centuries, Metamor Keep and its inhabitants have staved off those attacks. These attacks have hardened the Keepers and colored (some might say 'tainted') the landscape itself.

Forest of Ghosts

Forest of Ghosts -- This forest is reputed to be haunted, thus the name. There are countless stories of strange figures, sounds and lights witnessed in this area. In the center of the woods is a large ruin. What is known is that it was a Suielman fortress at one time, but a survey turned up evidence of history both younger and older than that. What is known is that in CR145, the fortress was overrun by Lutins and its whole garrison wiped out.

There has been discussion lately of rebuilding it and establishing another outpost, but nothing has happened yet. One fact has come to light recently: The rumors about it being haunted are true. The ruins are haunted by the spirits of those people who died there so long ago. Also other -- more powerful -- things are there as well. At least one shadow creature summoned by the Suielman just before the fortress fell is still in there. This entity still defends the place against all comers, just as it had been ordered to.

Glen Avery

Glen Avery -- Before Nasoj's invasion this small hamlet was a typical town, complete with wood and stone buildings. When the survivors returned afterward they found the entire town leveled to the ground. They decided to rebuild their town in a unique way. Now the town of Glen Avery is a series of tree houses and burrow homes. The town boasts a strong militia and a famous brewery. It is now the home of Charles Matthias and his wife and family.

Lord Barnhardt's Land and Castle

Lord Barnhardt's Castle -- One of the Valley's bigger castles. Lord Barnhardt has constructed a tower in the lake near his castle. The lower floor is flooded. Being a salamander, he needs to keep moist and this new tower is his preferred home.


Mycransburg -- After losing many people to Lutin raiders, this town's citizenry built themselves (with the Duke's help) a strong stone tower as a refuge. Most of the people here make a living from farming or timber cutting. It does have a rather large brewery famous for its beer. It is a matter of some little dispute whose ale is finer; that of Mycransburg, or that of Glen Avery.


Mallen -- This small town makes most of its living from farming. The recent discovery of several small veins of copper in the mountains is slowly changing that as miners move to the area.


Ellingham -- A small farming community, typical of dozens of similar villages scattered throughout the valley. This one is home to about one hundred people, a blacksmith and small temple dedicated to no one particular Lightbringer god. It possesses a small inn and several small stores. The exact age of the village is unknown, but it does show on Seuliman maps created before the Valley fell to the Empire's legions. It is most famous at this moment as the home of Padraic, who recently joined the Long Scouts.

Iron Mine

Iron Mine -- Yes, that's the actual name of the town! These lands are held by Lord Christopher. Small in actual size, this territory's prime asset is the numerous iron mines in the area, thus the name. Some of the mines are quite large, but others employ no more than two or three people. In town there is a good sized iron smelter owned by Lord Christopher. It's run by a water wheel that uses a mountain stream for power. The smelter is an old Seuliman construct -- one of the few such Empire buildings to survive the centuries.

"The Castle"

Castle -- No real name yet. Located at the southern mouth of the Valley, it represents the southern limit of the Duke's control and of the curse. This outpost was recently (CR705) built as a counter to the open hostility and rising levels of warfare from the Baronies just outside the Valley. At the moment it is just a wooden tower on a low mound of earth surrounded by a wooden palisade. But with the growing hostility of people outside the valley (particularly Lasalle), there is talk of rebuilding it in stone.

The Keep is located in a pass between two impenetrable mountain ranges. At its widest, the Valley is about ten miles across; at its narrowest, it's less than one mile wide. The southern part of the Valley is filled with various farms, towns, villages and forests. North of the Keep, the Valley gets more and more desolate and wild, until at its northern end, it's totally wild and uninhabited. The Keep is located at the narrowest, one-mile-wide, part of the Valley.

Metamor River -- This narrow and swift-moving body of water starts at the lake near Lord Barnhardt's castle and flows south out of the Valley. It's strengthened by numerous small streams (too small to show on the map) and one tributary (that is on the map). The river itself is small and fast-moving, and during most of the year, it's too shallow to accomodate anything much larger than a canoe. But in the spring, with the river full of the spring melt, it's fairly navigable by barges and other shallow-draft vessels as far north as what used to be Loriod's Castle.

Metamor Valley: Artificial Features

Metamor Keep Outposts -- The Keep's primary defense against a northern assault is in the extensive patrols of the mountain pass and the surrounding lands. In order to assist with the patrols, a series of fortified positions and watchposts have been built within Metamor Valley. These buildings act as lookouts and signal towers, and provide defensible forward positions from which to combat an invading army. As well, they also provide support to the roving patrols in the form of rations, horses and a safe refuge in case of an attack by overwhelming numbers.

Most of the outposts were constructed after Nasoj's invasion in 699CR (the year of the Battle of the Three Gates). Duke Thomas ordered the construction and refurbishment of many of these outposts to provide a better defense against the Lutin hordes.

Outforts -- Surrounding the lands around Metamor Keep are approximately a dozen fortified buildings that act as a vanguard to oppose any force trying to take the Keep. Outposts located to the north focus mostly on hostile activity in the Giantdowns; forts to the south generally protect incoming travelers and merchants from banditry, and can also protect the Keep's flanks if needed.

For the most part, a fort is garrisoned by one of the Keep's regular companies, with units rotating between duty at a fort and duty at the Keep. These forts consist of stone towers that are leftover relics of the Suielman Empire, and have been refurbished after centuries of abandonment. These are small castles that usually consist of only a single tower surrounded by a small wall and a ditch.

Defenses at the towers are fairly simple, mostly consisting of ditches and walls. Only the very largest towers can support large weapons such as catapults, ballistas or trebuchets.

Signal Towers -- In order to allow for quick communications between outforts, patrols and Metamor Keep, a series of signal towers were built surrounding the Keep. Between the outforts and Metamor run lines of these towers, each within visual range of at least two towers or forts.

Each tower is made of wood; they are manned by a small crew (between 2 and 5 people), usually on a weekly rotation. This duty is often given to those who do not wish to serve Metamor by going on patrol, or to members of the Keep's military who are unfit for combat due to loss of a limb or some other injury. Duties at the towers include relaying messages from other towers, watching for large troop movements, collecting reports from passing patrols, and delivering new orders and updated intelligence to the patrols.

All of the larger outforts have a signaling tower. As well, there is a signal station located atop the central tower of the Duke's Castle. This allows for quick communications between field forces and the Commanders and the Duke back at Metamor.

Built on high ground such as a hill or ridge line, the signal towers are close to unfortified. They rely mostly on natural protection provided by the topography. If an invading army has moved close to a signal tower, the crew evacuates to the nearest outfort or the Keep proper.

Each tower consists of an elevated platform above the forest canopy. On the platform is a small building that acts as the crew's living area and work station. The shack has large windows and offers a uninterrupted view of the surrounding landscape. A smaller platform on the roof of the building holds a signaling lantern, mounted on a swivel and tripod.

A tower's minimal defenses consist of a small palisade around the base, and metal sheaths that prevent burning or cutting of the tower's support legs. In order to offer some additional security to the crew, the ladder can be pulled up to prevent people from sneaking inside.

The signaling lantern is a large shuttered lantern. A lever on the side operates the shutter, letting the light shine when open; the scholars of Metamor have long since worked out a 'light/no-light' code adequate to the needs of military strategy. For convenience and safety, the lanterns are fueled with a special oil that burns with a great deal more light than heat.

There are a number of alternative signal protocols for use during the day, when the lantern may be hard to see. These include smoke signals, bells and semaphore flags.

Major signal towers, such as those at the larger forts, may also have carrier pigeons. These birds are only useful for sending messages to and from Metamor Keep, since that is where the birds are bred, but can usually get a message through quicker and more securely then the signals.

Giants Dike -- During the waning days of the Suielman Empire with the many invasions coming south, the Emperor decided to block the north end of the Pass with a great wall. According to the ballads, this wall was made of stone, 80' high and 30' wide; towers 120' high were set along its length, and great keeps anchored the wall at either end; and a thousand soldiers walked along its battlements. So the bards said, but the truth was a little bit different. Far from being stone, it was an earthen bank, topped by a wooden palisade and fronted by a deep ditch. The towers were wooden platforms on top of the bank, and the great keeps were never built. Still, it worked and held back the tide for a time. Its downfall was politics. Pretenders to the throne would take troops from the wall and march south to claim the throne. Eventually too few soldiers were left to hold back the Lutins and the giants.

Time hasn't been kind to Giants Dike. The ditch has filled in, the bank worn down and the palisade and towers long since burnt to ashes. The only things left are a low bank and a shallow ditch, both overgrown with trees and brush. Most people have long since forgotten who really built it. Such a great earthwork could only have been dug by giants, was most people's thinking.

Outpost -- No official name for this place yet. This small castle was recently (in 702) built on the remains of a Suielman fortress. It consists of a tall round keep/tower and a curtain tower, and the whole affair is surrounded by a deep moat. Its job is two-fold:

1. To stop or slow down the constant attacks from the north. Any Lutin raiding party has to get past the outpost's patrols.

2. To act as an early warning system for Metamor Keep. An invading army from the north first has to go past the outpost. A messenger from there could give the Keep a full day's extra warning.

Garrison -- At any given time, about 40 soldiers and 40 cavalry are stationed here, with at least one mage as well. These troops are rotated from the regulars at the Keep, every month.

Other Castles -- Many of the larger castles in the valley are manor-houses for the various nobles. Castles owned by nobles are not manned by members of the Metamor army without the permission of both the Lord of the Castle and Duke Thomas. Instead, each Lord maintains a small private guard. These Lords are under the protection of Metamor and can call on the Duke for help when needed. In return, they must assist Metamor in patrol duties on their land, and stand with Duke Thomas in the event of an invasion from the Giantdowns.

Metamor Valley: Other Points of Interest

The Standing Stone -- Also called 'the Gray Column', and 'the Stone Sentry'. It is a dark gray column of stone over twenty feet tall. it stands in a small grove of trees in a park-like setting a mile or so from the Keep. The stone bears no writing or inscriptions, but shows clear signs of having been deliberately carved into its present shape and then erected there. It has no magic in it, other than a mild preservation spell that's regularly renewed by a mage from the Keep.

Although the column's exact age is unknown, it does predate the Suielman Empire. Some say it's as old as the Keep itself. Most likely it was erected by the tribesmen who lived in the valley for millennia before the Suielman arrived.

The local farmers consider the Stone to be sacred and tend it carefully. On the spring equinox, people gather around the column for a day of singing and dancing. Nowadays this event is simply a festival for the hard-working locals to relax and enjoy themselves, but in the far past it was probably a serious religious festival.

Various ruins -- A close look at the map will show many ruins scattered about. The Valley has a long history of war and invasion. Most of the ruins were created that way. Under the Suielman, Metamor Valley was a lot more heavily populated than it is now; most of the ruins date from their era. But some are older, far older.

Various villages -- The Valley holds numerous small villages and towns, certainly more than are depicted on the map. These hamlets doubtless have their own names and histories, but (unlike Ellingham) they simply haven't yet shown up in any story. South of Metamor Keep, the Valley is fairly densely populated with many towns and villages.

Metamor Valley: An Overview of Loriod's Territory

Loriod's Land and Castle

This territory is the heart of the Duke's domain. Often called the breadbasket of the Valley, as it holds the best farmland and the largest farms, its ruler is second in power only to the Duke himself. Until recently this area was ruled by Loriod, a corrupt, inept, and evil person. His serfs were bled dry by overtaxing and cruelly repressed by the thugs and hoodlums who worked for the Lord.

With Loriod's death, Phil was made the ruler, although he was called 'protector' instead of 'Lord'. Under his benevolent and capable rule, the badly-hit area started to recover, but given the magnitude of Loriod's depredations, it will take many years to restore the place to normalcy. Now that Phil has gone to Whales, the territory has been taken over by Maccabee.

Loriod's Castle had formerly been a simple noble's castle; during his reign, the corrupt Lord coverted it into a nightmarish assemblage of towers, walls and turrets that was completely indefensible. Rebuilding it back into a proper castle has just started and will probably take years.

Metamor Keep, Proper

The Keep proper

Metamor Keep itself is roughly twelve miles south of the Valley's northern end, located on a ridge that runs more-or-less down the center of the whole Valley.

The ridge itself rises at a shallow angle with the highest point being on the north end. On that high point is located the Duke's palace and the lower Keep. There is a large curtain wall about fifty yards up the slope that runs around the perimeter of the top of the ridge. It encloses the Duke's palace; the Lower Keep; the Outer Ward; and the Killing Ground (details below). The slopes below the curtain wall are very steep and almost impossible to climb with a rope. Also, nothing is allowed to grow taller than ankle height. Any higher and it could provide concealment for would-be attackers.

Metamor Keep is divided into several different courtyards, or wards, by cross walls that run completely across from east to west. Each wall has only one gate in it, restricting the flow of traffic and making it that much harder for an attacker.

The Middle Curtain Wall and Middle Gate -- This Wall and Gate, located higher on the ridge than the Outer Gate, overlooks the Killing Ground and the other gate. The Middle Gate is just as massive and well protected as the Outer Gate.

The Killing Ground -- After passing through the Outer Gate, a traveler finds themselves in a small courtyard. This area is bare of everything except the flag stones underfoot. This is deliberate as this area was meant to be a killing zone; a place where any enemy making past the Outer Gate would find themselves out in the open, with no place to hide. That would make them easy targets for the soldiers in the Middle gate and the curtain wall it's in. This is not a friendly place; most people hustle through it as fast as possible.

The Outer Gate -- This is the single gate in the curtain wall, and the only publicly-known entrance to the entire castle. There is at least one secret tunnel out of the Keep (doesn't every self-respecting castle have a secret tunnel?) and perhaps others that are still unknown.

Two massive towers flank an equally massive gatehouse with countless doors, its portcullises all strongly built and well-protected. This place was meant to withstand a long and bitter struggle and would be tough for any army to reduce.

The Outer Ward -- Sometimes called 'the Town Ward', or just 'the town'. This ward is jam-packed with buildings and really is a small town unto itself. In here you will find countless homes and shops.

The town square -- Not really square in shape, nevertheless this is still called 'the square'. Always a busy place even in the worst of weather. In good weather there are many venders selling things here. And anyone wanting to enter the Keep's Inner Ward must stop here to be inspected before being allowed entrance. There is a well located here (one of several in the ward) and a small fountain that provides drinking water to many.

The mill and mill tower -- The only mill in the town is located here and is used to grind grain and corn grown by the local farmers.

Other important places in the Outer Ward are:

The Bakery run by Gregor -- A full bakery, and a major source of the bread, pastries and other baked goods that the Keep's inhabitants eat.

The Jewelry shop of Will Hardy -- A two-story post and timber building. Over the door is a sign that reads "Will Hardy Jeweler to the Duke." Will Hardy and his daughter Caroline live here.

A granary -- There is at least one such building in the ward and is used to store grain for long periods of time. The Duke always keeps this place full in case of another attack by Nasoj. It is kept locked and closely guarded at all times.

The Greenhouses -- Metamor has something very rare in this world -- greenhouses. These glass structures are tucked into several different corners of the ward. They are kept heated in winter and used to grow a variety of plants that usually don't survive the valley's harsh winters very well. Built at great expense by a previous Duke who loved plants, they have since become an integral part of the Keep and are open to the public.

The Inner Ward -- This area holds the Keep, but there are a lot of other things located here as well. They include a very large and lavish garden that surrounds the Duke's Palace, stables, a parade/drilling ground and an archer range.

The Lower Keep -- This place holds such things as the Armory tower, barracks, and several mess-halls. It is a collection of towers, halls and buildings, all connected in one great, grand, brooding, rambling mass. For a good idea of what this place looks like, imagine any one of the countless dark and creepy castles that have been featured in many movies.

The Inner Gate -- If the Outer and Middle Gates were impressive to a visitor, this gate would inspire awe. Larger, taller and even more massive than the other two, this structure was meant to be as close to invincible as possible.

There are three main gates in the Lower Keep, and these figured prominently in the Battle of the Three Gates. I have labeled these gates A, B & C. Each gate presumably has its own individual name, but that has not been set into a story yet. Each of these gates is associated with one part of the three part curse (TG, AR and animal). It was these gates that were being attacked when the great curse was cast on the Keep. There are numerous smaller doors in the Lower Keep but those are not as well known as those three. All can be barred against assault.

The Deaf Mule -- This is the only pub in the Keep itself. There are a few in Euper and the Town Ward, but this is the only one in the Inner Ward. It is not actually a part of The Keep but is a large wooden building attached to an outer wall.

Mess Hall -- There are several in the Lower Keep and the Duke's palace. Each is different and varies in size and shape but all have the same function -- feeding people. They consist of a kitchen and storage area where the food is prepared and a large dining room. The smaller ones might close after the evening meal, but most are open all the time feeding the Keep's large population.

The Arsenal tower -- There are a few small storerooms scattered through The Keep, but this is the main arsenal for the entire castle. When a character talks about "the arsenal", this is the one they're usually talking about. The arsenal itself is two floors in height and holds enough weapons and armor to equip an army -- literally! The number of swords, spears and bows here number in the thousands. You can find an example of almost every weapon, armor or shield ever designed or made here. Also in the tower or close to it are the workshops of weapon smiths, armor makers, bowyers, fletchers who are needed to make or repairs the contents of the armory. If you cannot find a weapon or armor in the armory it can be quickly made for you.

The Baths -- The Keep houses a large public bath reminiscent of those built by the Romans. It has a large central bath used by the general public which is crowded with people at all hours. There are also smaller ones that are divided by gender and for those who don't like to be naked in front of the Keep's entire population. This is a place for people to bathe (surprised?) and get clean but it's also a place to relax and be with friends. Besides the bathing pools there is a sauna, a gymnasium and several locker rooms. Also there are usually several venders wandering about selling things food and drinks. For an idea of what this place looks like, think of the Roman baths put up by Caracala in Rome or of Grand Central Station in New York City. Of all the places in Metamor, this holds the most reminders of the days when the Seuliman empire ruled this part of the world.

Long House -- Not actually a separate structure, but a self-contained complex of rooms with the Keep itself. It has only one (very well guarded) entrance. Its central hub is a large and ornate hall called Long Hall. There are also countless storerooms, pantries, barracks, kitchens, dining rooms, and other chambers scattered about. There is even a small bath house, an armory, training room and even a small archery range! Every member of the Long Scouts has an apartment here including Matthias even though he now lives in Glen Avery. There are also several rooms devoted solely to Sondecki training and once used by Matthias. This unusual complex was discovered by Matthias and Misha about a year ago. It seemed ready-made for the Longs, and has been used by them ever since.

The armory located in Long House is small, but surprisingly well-equipped even by Metamor's standards. It does have a very large collection of odd and unusual weapons and armor not seen anywhere else. No one knows exactly why this is, but Misha believes it's a sort of museum that Kyia has created to house items she wants to preserve.

Attached to Long Hall is a small room that Misha uses as the official offices of the Long Scouts. This chamber holds an impressive array of maps.

The Duke's Palace -- Located about 20' higher than the Lower Keep is the Duke's Palace. This is made up of a number of spires surrounding a central spire (the Duke's own spire). The towers are connected by bridges and promenades (both covered and open) some high in the air. The image that comes to mind is of the castle built by Mad Ludwig of Bavaria -- the one which inspired the castle at Disney World. Both give you a good idea of what this part of The Keep feels like.

Important locations within the Palace are:

Duke's apartments -- This area contains a bedroom, a study/office, private bath and a small room called a solarium that the Duke uses as a den. Surprisingly modestly decorated for a Duke's quarters, these rooms are Thomas' private space. Only close friends are invited here.

The Duke's audience chamber -- Actually a small conference room with wooden tables and chairs that can hold ten people. The Duke uses this room for private meetings.

The Duke's throne room -- This room is used for official state business and holds a throne and is lavishly decorated with mosaics, tapestries and carpeting.

Steward Thalberg's apartment -- No details are given but it can be safely assumed to be close to the Duke's apartments and the throne room.

The Dungeons -- No self-respecting castle would be complete without dungeons and secret tunnels! Running under the castle are uncounted miles of cellars, dungeons, tunnels, and caves. The long-forgotten parts of Metamor's past are also down here. Layers of the Keep's past long ago buried and forgotten. There is even a throne room that is believed to have been built by the elves in the distant past when they once lived in Metamor. Also there is at least one tunnel that actually runs outside the castle and exits in the valley miles away.

Euper -- Technically not really part of the castle, but worth mentioning anyway. This large town is located at the base of the southern end of the ridge that the castle rests upon. The road leading to the castle and the Outer Gate runs through Euper.

This town has a large marketplace and several inns. This is the place where most visitors and traders wind up who won't or can't get into the castle. The Keep marketplace is here. Wandering merchants aren't usually trusted enough to be allowed into the castle so they trade here. And most visitors to Metamor stay here, too frightened of the curse to get any closer to The Keep.

It is an important enough place to have its own curtain walls which connect to the castle's curtain wall. Euper is an independent town with its own mayor and militia, unlike the Outer Ward, which is considered just a part of the castle itself.

Places with no set location within the Keep

There are some places in the castle whose locations haven't been pinned down; given the Keep's 'variable geometry' (see below for details), physical position isn't necessarily important anyway. Here they are in no particular order:

Gardens -- Besides the gardens in the Inner Ward and the Duke's Palace, there are many small gardens and parks scattered throughout the Outer Ward and Euper.

Library -- this place contains lots of books, scrolls and other writings (surprised?). It is one of the world's biggest and best-equipped libraries. Also it is unique in the Metamor world, in that it is open to the general public; anybody can come in and read and even borrow books. Only a small number of books are restricted, those few being mostly magical tomes of one kind or another, some of which are physically dangerous to touch. No book is restricted simply because its contents offend someone or supports an idea the Duke doesn't like. A visitor could find a book on Followers sitting on a shelf next to one about Lightbringers. The library is also the home of Fox Cutter, the Keep librarian.

Lightbringers' Temple. This is the Keep's main place of worship for Lightbringers. It has a small entry hall with storage chambers adjoining it. The main Temple with an altar has chambers for Raven and the acolytes of the Lightbringer order on either side. Below are several floors of a very large library which contains all manner of books and items. Considered to be the most complete religious library on the entire continent. It contains some powerful items and books and is perhaps the most heavily warded and protected place in the entire castle. Location: third or forth story of The Keep with windows facing north.

Postern Gate -- Located in one of the curtain wall towers on the north end is a postern. This door is very well hidden and heavily guarded. It allows a person to exit the Inner Ward and the castle entirely without going through the town and outer gate. The door is very small, barely large enough for a human to pass through. Its location is known to only a few people.

Cathedral -- A beautiful cathedral complete with stained glass windows. Follower house of worship of impressive size. For an idea of what it looks like, think of one of the cathedrals of Europe. Father Hough presides here. No set location, other than that it's in the Keep itself (probably the Duke's Palace, but that is just a geuss).

Pascal's Apartments -- Two rooms. A small bedroom with a window, and a large, well-equipped laboratory. No other details known.

Toilets -- Scattered through the castle are numerous toilets equipped with running water.

Cisterns -- Used to store water in case of a siege. Countless cisterns are present throughout the whole castle.

Parade Ground / training area -- Used for marching, and training. There are several in the castle. The Killing Ground and the courtyard of the lower keep are used the most.

Oren's Tower -- Not located in the castle proper, but very close by in the valley. It looks like a lighthouse and it even has a room at the top that houses a beacon. It was built by Oren shortly after his arrival and is home to a small community. It has its own assembly hall, called a 'Fellowship hall', and a small armory. Most of the residents here are refugees from Hippocc who came here after that town was destroyed.

A few notes on the Keep proper

There are a few terms that apply to the various parts of Metamor Keep. People who are new to the Keep may find these terms confusing, so I'm going to explain them here.

Metamor Castle -- This refers to everything inside the main curtain wall. Namely, the Inner Ward, the Lower Keep, the Outer Ward, and the Killing Ground.

Metamor Keep -- This is the Metamor Keep, the Keep proper. It consists of the Duke's Palace and the Lower Keep. I have described those two constructions separately, but they are less than 20 feet apart and are interconnected by countless walls, bridges, promenades, corridors and rooms. They are one structure, and both have the variable geometry that features in so many MK stories. A person can pass from one to the other and not realize it until they find a door or window and look out. They are two parts of one building.

Most MK characters seem to live in the Keep proper, but a few of them inhabit the Outer Ward. Misha lives in the Lower Keep, which is in The Keep proper, but Will Hardy and his daughter live in the Lower Ward which is Metamor Castle.

The Keep proper is the truly magical part of the castle, an amazing and incredible place. The entire structure has what some call 'variable geometry'. What does that mean? The interior of the Keep is an ever-changing place, whose walls, floors, corridors and staircases move about seemingly at random. And the exterior walls are no limit to the size of the interior. The interior of the Keep is vastly larger than its outside.

Things are constantly moving about the Keep, and the travel time between two points may or may not have something to do with the distance between them. A person can open a door in the Lower Keep and actually step into a room in the Duke's Palace. Walking down a corridor a person could turn around and find the corridor gone, replaced by a blank, stone wall or a doorway leading to the Library. Sometimes that walk can be long and involve going up and down stairs, or it could be as easy as opening a door in the Library and stepping through into the Duke's throne room. What exactly happens depends on Kyia, the Spirit of the Keep, and what she wants. She is the only thing that can control the Keep and the movements of all its parts.

You might think all of this could make traveling about the Keep rather difficult, but in reality it's easy. As a person walks, the corridors and rooms shift about to get the person where they want to go. They don't have to consciously think about what turns to take or whether to go up or down, they just need to think about where they want to go. Of course this might take a new arrival some time to figure out, and could lead to considerable wandering. And Kyia does seem to enjoy playing the occasional prank on newcomers.

If Kyia doesn't want someone to get to a particular place, no amount of walking or persistence will get them there. That person could wander the halls of the Keep endlessly until she decides otherwise. Also if she wants someone to go to a particular place, they will wind up there, whether they want to or not.

There are only two exceptions to these rules. The first is Long House. There is only one way into or out of Long House. No amount of desire on a person part can get them into Long House without getting past that single door -- and the guards and spells protecting it. Only one entity knows why this is: Kyia, and she has never revealed why. What most people believe is that Long House is meant to protect something of great value and that the Long Scouts are merely the guards. There is a very old legend at Metamor that says that God himself created Metamor to protect something from the Daedra and other evils and that Long House is where that thing rests. As to what 'it' might be, no one knows. But Misha and many of the Long Scouts take this legend seriously. One odd confirmation of that idea came during the recent Winter Assault. The attacking Lutins ignored several other important targets and concentrated on trying to take Long House.

The second exception to the rules is a key. This key was given to Kee by Kyia herself. He used the Key for a long time before passing it along to Raven who keeps it safe in the Lightbringer temple. The key allows the users to mentally control where they go and what happens around them. If they wanted to go to the baths they could simply hold the key and imagine a doorway that leads to the baths. A door would then suddenly appear in the wall next to them. If there was no wall next to them then a wall would appear with a door in it. Opening the door that person would find that it leads directly to the baths.

Why is the Keep divided in two parts, you might be asking? (Go ahead! Ask! I won't mind!) The main cause was the already published stories described two different types of Keep; one massive and brooding, and the other light and airy. I resolved those differences as best I could. Another reason was feedback. After talking to several people the layout seemed to just evolve. Another (personal) reason is the contrast between the two different elements sounds great. It gives the Keep a unique feeling. Besides, I think it's cool!

Random comments

What's the difference between the town in the castle (i.e., the Outer Ward) and Euper, the town outside the Keep's own curtain wall? The Outer Ward is involved with the castle's upkeep. The Keep's bakery, the Duke's Jeweler, the Mill, the blacksmith, all these things (and many others) are located here. Also, many of the Duke's married soldiers live here. Euper is an independent town (with a mayor) that grew up around the marketplace. Life here is a lot less controlled than in the castle, but at a cost: Protection. To get to the Keep, an attacker must go through Euper. And being on level ground, it doesn't have the defensive advantages that the castle has. This town was almost completely leveled during the siege leading up to the battle of the Three Gates. It wasn't the first time that had happened. The present town of Euper was built upon the ruins of the Seuliman town of Elupertius, which was built on the ruins of Coritani town of Cavsennae.

Castle defenses

Metamor Keep is many things: A town, the seat of the Duke's power, a place of great magic, and perhaps the resting place of something of immense power. But Metamor is first and foremost a castle -- a fortified military installation.

The castle has a long history of being attacked in various ways. Defending the castle from attack and infiltration is a difficult task, one that is ongoing and never easy. The walls, towers, corridors and streets of the castle are constantly patrolled and in each tower are archers and infantry.

Ditch -- The castle's first line of defense is located at the base of the ridge running all the way around it. This ditch is 50' deep and 30' wide and has been cut into the rock of the ridge itself. The walls and bottom have been polished smooth to make climbing difficult, if not impossible.

The ridge -- The ridge itself presents the next line of defense. At most places it is very steep, making climbing difficult. The area between the ditch and the curtain wall has been cut and shaped smooth like the ditch walls, making it even harder to scale the ridge.

The curtain wall -- The curtain wall is located on the top of the ridge which is roughly some fifty feet above the ditch at the ridge's lowest point, and over two hundred feet at the highest. The wall itself is fifty feet high and is interspersed at intervals with towers that are seventy feet tall.

Communication and time keeping

The great bell -- This instrument is used to mark the changing of the guard, breakfast lunch and dinner being served, and important events. It's also used to sound the alarm in times of emergency. Its tolling can be heard almost everywhere in the castle. The emergency alarm (continuous ringing) is guaranteed to bring everybody running.

Well, that's a short overview of the Keep and valley. I hope you enjoyed it. Next time: The world of Metamor at large!

Feel free to send any comments and questions to me, Christian O'Kane.

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