[From the book History and Geography of the Carvil Valley, published A.R. 1154]
The legends of King Marandur are great and many, but though he united Murkintsen, Magramland, and the Barroughthens to create the Kingdom of the Southlands, there is little tangible that still remains of his legacy now, nearly one-thousand years after his death, save for sections of the magnificent road system paved under his reign. The location of his famed fortress, the original Castle Carviliet, is one of these lost victims of time.
After he died in battle in the desert land now known as Vailee (A.R. 203), Marandur’s body was returned to the Carvil Valley to lie forevermore in the vaults of his castle. The land of the valley, as well as the Castle Carviliet, he left to his sister’s son, Edmund Simeon the Younger, who thus became the first Lord of Carvil. His descendants, the families Edmund and Mantoux, have owned that coveted—and some say cursed—title ever since.
Initially, Edmund Simeon resided with his family in Marandur’s Castle Carviliet, but records have it that it was a dismal existence. The grandeur of the building, it seemed, had died with its architect, and it fell into a gloom befitting of the tomb it had become. This very darkness is credited with causing the violent death of the lord’s first-born child, the mysterious loss of valuable heirlooms, and the frequent fits of madness said to come over his otherwise healthy twin sons. He soon set about building a castle of his own, some ten miles distant from the first. It, too, was to be called Carviliet, and it was modeled very closely after its namesake. Edmund Simeon, however, was never to see his dream realized, for a year before his project’s completion, the first lord of Carvil was murdered by his own twin sons.
By the year A.R. 253, the family Edmund had entirely relocated to the new Castle Carviliet. Within ten years, the forest had entirely consumed the road leading to the original castle. All records of its location were destroyed, and although many have searched for it since, no one has found it and lived to tell the tale.
As building technologies improved and a long period of peace rendered drafty castle strongholds unnecessary, the Edmund family built themselves a manor house in an open field some ways northwest of their castle. Completed in the year 788, it was used as a winter home until the ninth century, after the decline of feudalism, when, their income significantly reduced by the loss of tenant farmers, many of whom had moved from Edmund Manor into the growing towns and cities, the Edmunds relocated permanently to their manor house and sold their castle to the Magical Authority of the Southlands. The Castle Carviliet has been home to every mage holding the office of Alt-Mage of Murkintsen from that day forward.
* * *
Seoc closed his eyes, setting the book, face-down and open, on the bed. He had read the whole thing before, of course—that was how it had gotten into his bookcase in the first place—but he couldn’t recall ever being unsettled by it previous to this occasion. Perhaps it was affecting him so on this particular night because he had already been significantly unsettled by the events of the evening.
Abruptly, he got up and made the rounds again, checking every potential hiding place for intruders and making certain that every possible entrance was secured. His head, though, was not entirely in the activity. The book had betrayed him. It had promised comfort, and then forced him to think of eerie things, things like the mad, patricidal Edmund twins that had lived a thousand years before, and the strange and terrible way in which that history echoed in the present day.
He stopped then, returning to the bed. Something had caught his eye. Something on the back cover of the book, of the same stuff as the golden lettering that made up the title. A drawing of single eye with a slit pupil. It looked strangely familiar.
Of course. It was the same eye that he had seen carved into the bark of all those trees in the Waelyngar Forest. The eye left by the Watchers of the Woods. The Dead Ones.
It was then that Seoc became aware that he was not, despite all his precautions, alone in the room. He felt cold terror seize his organs once again as he slowly looked up.
The candle at his bedside flickered in a nonexistent breeze, and somewhere, a bell rang, low and deep, three times.