Darroch Castle

“In the Dreamlands, I entered the mouth of the great fossilized bat atop the caldera and found myself swallowed by complete darkness. Stepping forward, I found myself flinching a little as if expecting to bump my head, but instead, the very shadows grabbed me into their dark embrace. Cold hands pulled me along a tunnel whose floor, walls, and ceiling are composed of leathery, undulating wings. With a flurry of flapping and a whiff of ammonia, the darkness released me and I found myself in the Feywild standing in the mouth of a great cave.

Piercing gold and silver light from the mouth of the cave made me squint. The light poured inward from an irregular natural-looking cave mouth. Through it, I could see a verdant mountain meadow whose vivid colors stole away my breath with rich scents of wildflowers that brought tears to my eyes. I spent a moment to relish the beauty before I returned to the dark of the cave.

I walked further into the cave, the gold and silver light from the cave mouth slowly falling to purples, blues, and shadowy black. Over the span of a few hundred feet, the dim illumination was transformed to a dreary radiance of hopelessness. The last glimmers of light were enough to reveal a vast castle, one whose mortar was black and whose bricks were immense blocks of void. A central spire rose above the walls, so high it brushed the vaults stalactite-toothed ceiling. Immense wings stretched out from either side of the spire, rapacious and dragon-like in their span, like hunger itself made manifest.

The ceiling churned and chittered. It is thick with roosting bats of every variety ranging from the tiny to the monstrous. The floor is covered with stalagmites of guano and a grove of dark purple mushroom caps, each the size of a dinner plate.

I continued through the gates of Castle Darroch and down a long entry gauntlet. Creeping, wrinkled, grey-skinned guardian homunculi scurried out of shadowy holes in the side walls, but then backed away seeming to know I was invited by their master, the Lord of Bats.

I reached the foyer, which is lit by countless candelabras burning with green flames. A wide, but shallow pool of dark water half flooded the space, and long, pale forms dart beneath its surface. Past the pool is a four flights of stairs, with busts of enigmatic, slender humanoids on each landing, perhaps fey or arch-fey.

Finally, I came to the top of the stairs and entered the Grand Study. Paintings of surreal landscapes, sculptures of fantastic beings, and objects to strange for mortal classification were displayed behind glass. The collection must span centuries and even worlds. The nearest painting seems to be a spray of orange and yellow; a desert scape in the grip of a storm. The hint of some vast tower or statue is just visible behind the haze of blowing sand. Comfortable furniture decorated the room, as does a small bar with several bottles. A corner bookshelf housed many ancient tomes and a few more recent efforts.

A balcony overlooks the Grand Study. A narrow stair on the wall allows access to the balcony. The high space is bare but for an iron door. A creature resembling a cross between a man and a bat exited that door and bowed to me before inviting me within…"

My meeting with an Arch-Fey – Glabbro Zekkis, Bard of Darakeene

Darroch Castle

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