Radiant Hold is the primary headquarters for the Covenant of Light and its chief military outpost. The faction’s greatest leaders and most prized treasures all rest within its grey stone walls, well shielded against the plots and weapons of those who would extinguish Xen’drik’s best hope for a bright future.
From the outside, Radiant Hold is something of an enigma. It appears to be a fortified citadel of classic Thrane architectural design, built entirely within the shell of a massive Xen’drik ruin. Eight ancient walls radiate from a central keep of crumbling rock, each one pointing in a cardinal direction. Though the outer husk of giantish construction looks as if it could fall apart at any moment, there is also a timelessness about the ruin suggesting that long after Radiant Hold itself is dust, the aged shale of its outer walls will still be standing.
There is only one readily accessible entrance to Radiant Hold, a gatehouse on the southern wall that links the new fortress with the ancient ruins surrounding it. A double portcullis controls passage in or out and heavily armored soldiers stations above the gate screen anyone seeking to enter the heart of the Covenant.
“Ho there! I’ll be needing to see your papers if you’ve business in the Hold this day. With all the traffic around here lately, we’ve got to keep a vigilant eye out for trouble. I’m sure you can understand.
“Ah, those’ll do nicely. Welcome to the Covenant, new recruit. Stormreach is sending you all here for orientation now, eh? Well, can’t say as I can blame them. Troubles with the churches have kept us from getting you lot all you need to know, or so’s I’m told. No troubles, no troubles. We’ll get you all tucked away. Let me see if’n I can’t beg off for a bit. I’ll show you around.”
1. Breach Gate: A solid gatehouse with crenellations all around its steel-sheathed roof, the Breach Gate features a mechanical double winch for raising and lowering both its portcullis. At any given time, six soldiers are stationed on its open upper battle platform while two stand guard in front of the gate to intercept traffic.
“Mind your footing in here. The cobbles are meant to break up close formations and make the Hold harder to storm en masse. Personally, I just find the uneven rocks hard to walk on but since no one ever has to do ground duty more than one day every six, I don’t complain. Much.”
2. Barracks and Hostel: One of two large keeps inside the walls of Radiant Hold, this westernmost construction has been set aside for housing, training and storage of common goods used by the brave men and women of the Covenant of Light. Part of the keep is dedicated to providing hospitality for travelers who come to the Keep in great need and good faith; this area often gets used in emergencies as extra bunking or combat triage.
“That’s where you’ll be staying. The officer on duty for the Barracks will assign you a bed and a trunk for your things. Don’t think that means you have to use them, of course. Lots of Scions like you stay in Stormreach or wherever else you might be comfortable. You’ll have a space assigned to you anyway; being Covenant means never going hungry and always having a roof over your head. Lady’s orders.”
3. Watchtowers: These four towers dominate the corners of the Hold. Each one has steel plating that armors its upper two floors and reflects light with the bright sheen of a polished mirror. Four guards are on duty at all times in these towers, equipped with horns, crossbows and hooded lanterns designed to allow them to pinpoint trouble with targeted beams of light for others to follow.
“You want to know the worst job in the Hold? That’s it right up there. Six hour shifts with the fate of the fortress resting on your shoulders. I hear tell guards assigned to the watchtowers are screened for good night vision and constantly tested by the Covenant’s rangers for reaction time.
“Several times a month, those tree walkers go out and try to see how close they can get to one of the towers before one of the sentries spots him with a lantern. If a ranger ever gets all the way to the tower and touches it, every watchtower guardian gets latrine and mess hall duty for a week.
“Me? I think I like working breach gate. Yes I do.”
4. Dais of the Starried Shard: This huge platform of old stone dominates the Hold’s inner courtyard and bears one of the faction’s most impressive and curious treasures – an amber colored dragonshard twenty feet tall. Inside the brightly glowing shard dozens of individual lights glimmer and dance, giving the massive crystal its name.
“Yeah, I was wondering when that would catch your eye. Rumor has it that was here when the Lady and Master Corvalis discovered this old ruin. The whole fort was built around that glittery thing. As pretty as it is, I don’t rightly know if it’s good for anything. All it ever does is hover and shine like a piece of the sun.
“Oh yeah, and it sings too. I know, you are not going to believe me; nobody believes me but I swear it’s true. Sometimes, late at night, when all’s quiet and the sky’s clear, I am telling you. That thing sings. It’s real quiet and it’s not like any music I’ve ever heard before but it does. You come around some night when the moons are high and the jungle’s hushed. You’ll hear it, just like me.”
5. Sovereign Keep: The eastern fortress is a fully defensible keep with solid bulwarks, a deployable steel entrance shield and numerous guard stations behind full cover. Inside, things are run in high military order; only the best and brightest of the Covenant’s forces are chosen for service inside Sovereign Keep. This building houses the faction’s library, wartime supplies and armory as well and providing accommodations for officers and important guests.
“Yeah, you just keep looking over there. If you are lucky, if you survive the coming times, maybe you’ll rank a bunk inside Sovereign Keep. The Lord o’ Radiant Hold is real particular about who he lets in there just for visits, much less who actually gets assigned a room inside. Still, you got a good air about you, Scion. Who knows? Maybe you’ll make it after all.”
6. Master’s Tower: The only exterior difference between Radiant Hold’s two main buildings is the addition of a square tower to the eastern side of Sovereign Keep. This tower is dedicated to the personal use of the fortress’ commander, housing private quarters, office, study and personal facilities. A balcony runs all the way around the top story of the Master’s Tower, allowing for a grand field of unobstructed vision.
“See that tower past the keep? That’s where Lord Corvalis lives. He hardly ever leaves it these days, not since his wife disappeared some two… well, we aren’t really supposed to talk about that. Forget I said anything.
“One thing I can tell you though, if you ever get assigned roof duty on the Master’s Tower, forget toting along your weapons. Bring a shovel instead. The entire top of the tower is a big roost for the Lord’s mount. Have you ever seen a griffon up close? Have you ever seen the size of a griffon’s leavings?
“Well, let’s hope you never have to find out.”
7. The Sunder: A strange geographical feature that provides Radiant Hold with an odd form of moat, the Sunder is a rift in the ground that seems to “skip” the ancient giant-built ruins around the fortress. The rift is more than a thousand feet deep but does not exist under the Hold at all; several tunnels that connect Radiant Hold’s two keeps attest to this fact.
“You couldn’t have missed the big crack in the ground outside, right? Well, let’s hope you miss it walking out, eh? If you fall in there, I hear tell you never land. It just goes down all the way to the Dragon Below and that’s not a trip I’d ever wish to take.”
8. Shyyr-dahna’s Perch: The land around Radiant Hold is special for a number of reasons, none of which are more spectacular than the ruin’s occasional visitor – a couatl named Shyyr-dahna. This winged serpent is not very sociable and rarely speaks to anyone aside from the Lady of Light and Lord Corvalis; even so, she is known to be a staunch ally of the Covenant of Light. When Shyyr-dahna comes to the Hold, she typically lands on the farthest end of the ruin’s eastern wall and waits for an audience before departing again into the dark, mysterious depths of the Sunder.
“Say, you didn’t happen to see a snake with wings the colors of all the rainbow out on the east point, did you? No? Well, can’t say I’m surprised. Since our recent troubles with the Church of the Silver Flame began, no one’s seen scale nor feather of it.”
“That’s a bad omen, I tell you. A bad omen.”
9. Crystavar Spring: A natural pool of clear water fed by several small hot springs, Crystavar is Radiant Hold’s primary source of water and a favorite attraction for those the Covenant calls friends. A small collection of wooden and metal tubs on the spring’s northern bank allow for bathing in the spring’s mineral rich waters, an invigorating way to relax after a hard day in service to the Light.
“Want to know what keeps me here, doing this work for the Covenant? The pay’s good and the accommodations are nice but what really makes this a job I could never give up is the bathing. A warm tub once a month was the best I ever got before. Now that I’m here, I get one a week and it’s the best I’ve ever had. I don’t even mind that it’s mandatory; I’d do it even if it weren’t!”
10. Sunderfang Falls: The waters of Crystavar Springs flow south to this point on the Sunder and tumbles down into the darkness between a pair of cragged stone pillars. The long years of erosion have given these pillars the appearance of rough tusks, constantly bathed in the foam and sheen of a raging waterfall.
“Ain’t nobody here can say what those big stone teeth used to be but there’s one thing for sure. This old ruin used to be a lot more than one building. No way to know why the giants built it or what got it so beat up before we got here. All I know is Sunderfang’s been spitting water into that trench for centuries and it hasn’t filled up so far as I can see. What’s that tell you?”
11. Wilds of Xen’drik: The presence of Radiant Hold does not seem to have deterred the wildlife of the Xen’drik jungle from approaching within sight of its walls. Giant spiders, scorpion men, and even the occasional curious dark elf have been seen as close as the cleared tree line. Sometimes these visitors are hostile but more often then not, the sight of the grey and silver fortress has convinced such creatures to turn around and seek easier hunting elsewhere.
“Some of the men around here talk about how they wish they could be out there fighting the good fight with you Scions. Glory and honor and all that mess, you know? Me, I like my role here. I do my part to keep home safe and waiting for you while the Scions go fight all manner of monsters and beasts in the deep green out there.
“Yes indeed; that seems like a good trade to me.”
12. Abandoned Grove: This was once a thriving druidic grove with standing stones, animal protectors and even a fir tree transplanted from the distant lands of the Eldeen. It has been abandoned for nearly two years, left to lie fallow in the shadow of Radiant Hold for reasons unknown. The fir tree is nearly dead, no natural animal willingly approaches the site and the circle of stones is succumbing to the elements at an alarming rate. Nature seems to have abandoned this place completely.
“What? The stones? Oh, yeah. A bunch o’ druids came with the Lord and Lady of this place back when it was first being built. No, not the Lady of Light. That’s Lirashana. She’s an archon. I’m talking about Lady… well, not really sure about her name. She was Lord Corvalis’ wife and she was gone before I signed on. You could ask around about her but I wouldn’t. Nobody talks about her much.
“All you need to know is that after she left us, the druids packed up and went back home. They just left their grove to rot. Things happen there at night, or so I’m told. If I were you, I’d keep away from it.
“Scions deal with danger every day, right? Well, there ain’t no sense adding to it, my friend. No sense at all.”
Xen’drik Expeditions Campaign Notes
All Covenant of Light PCs are called Scions, a rank in the faction that grants them constant access to Radiant Hold. They may stay in the fortress as long as they remain members of the Covenant and will always be welcome inside its walls. There are no ranks within the Scions; Lady Lirashana is very clear that among the faithful, all are one.
Radiant Hold provides a number of benefits to Scions, not the least of which is room and board at no cost (living expenses are not normally tracked in the Xen'drik Expeditions campaign; Radiant Hold exists as an in-game reason for this for members of the Covenant). In addition:
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