Barrik’s Keep is a squat stone keep with two square towers. It was built long ago by the “mad” wizard Barrik. Barrik was rumored to be living there with his apprentices and carrying out strange magical experimentation.
The locals in Torlynn gave the keep a wide berth knowing well that they should not meddle in a wizard’s affairs. Eventually the locals noticed that Barrik no longer showed himself outside of his keep, and that the keep itself had fallen still. Some locals were sent to investigate and the horrified survivors returned with tales that the keep was now haunted by the wizard’s ghost.
The keep fell into disuse and the locals continued to avoid it. It became a frightening tale told to children at night, and they were warned to keep clear of the keep lest some terrible misfortune befall them. Still, many reckless youths would venture near to the keep, and it was not an uncommon dare to spend the night in Barrik’s Keep. Though many have claimed to have done so, none have been believed.
Life went on for the locals and Barrik’s Keep slid from their thoughts. Occasional misfortunes would be blamed on the influence of the angry ghost. Several woodsmen claimed that they had seen eerie lights in the ruins of the keep and bizarre ratlike creatures dwelling there. Burgomaster Gustovan took action and sent a group of elves from Gauntlin Forest to investigate the keep, but they never returned. The town believed they had succumb to ghost’s wrath. Then the town was brought under the curse of an unnatural winter. For over a year the town of Torlynn was covered in a thick blanket of snow, and the townsfolk were quick to blame the wizard’s ghost for this blight.
In reality, the ghost of Barrik was not to blame. A clan of ratlings led by their wererat master, Keshute, had taken residence in the keep. The ratlings claimed to have been led to this keep from the Shadowfell. Keshute would be giving them a new home there, and they would then come to dominate the entire Torlynn region. Keshute had little magical knowledge, but he attempted to follow Barrik’s work and carry out experiments. When the elves came to investigate, they were captured after a bloody struggle and made one by one to do battle with Keshute’s pet White Widow.
Using the White Widow’s blood, the elven leader’s silver sword, and the alchemical supplies in Barrik’s Lab, Keshute attempted to create an ice golem, the first of what he thought would be his new army. Keshute failed to create the golem, but instead summoned a Spirit of Winter. This elemental creature sought only the keep the land plunged into an eternal winter. While not Keshute’s original plan, he was quick to capitalize on it for his own gain; waiting as the winter drove all of the people out of Torlynn so he could claim it as his own.
Keshute’s plans were spoiled by a band of adventures sent by the Burgomaster to end the curse of eternal winter. They bested Keshute, destroyed the Spirit of Winter, lifted the curse, and slayed the White Widow. The remaining ratlings were driven from the keep to parts unknown. The adventurers were even able to rescue the elves who had been kept prisoner there, led by none other than the elven prince Ilsyria alDuona.
As the adventurers departed, they were visited by the ghost of the wizard Barrik who revealed that he had been the guardian of a powerful artifact known as the Torc of Eternity. He had spent the waning years of his life searching for a successor to bear the burden of protecting the torc. However, his apprentices were overwhelmed and corrupted by the torc’s power; turning them into undead horrors. Barrik’s ghost thus lingered on after death waiting for worthy souls to come along. Having chosen the adventurers, he revealed the torc’s hiding place to them, and made them its guardians. With that, Barrik’s ghost departed for the afterlife and the keep crumbled to a pile of rubble.