The Price of Immortality
Almost 200 years ago…
When the land that was to become Nirmathas was still a vassal of the empire of Cheliax, the northern reaches of the Fangwood were a wild and untamed place. The crusades that laid low the Whispering Tyrant to the north were a distant memory, and those who remained were intent upon keeping the orcs of Belkzen and the remaining undead from Ustalav in check. As a result, the great forest was full of danger, from marauding orcs to deadly predators, making it unsafe for merchants hoping to trade with the growing community of Skelt in the foothills of the Mindspin Mountains to the west.
Ekat Kassen was a crusader and fortune seeker who came to serve Lastwall in the year 4515. While he fought with distinction, he soon realized that he wanted more from life and left the Lastwall military to find his fortune elsewhere. His travels took him all over the region around Lake Encarthan, and he decided to settle down in 4522 after a very profitable adventure. Using a sizable portion of his fortune, he set out to tame a small area of the Fangwood on the banks of the Tourondel River, making it a natural stopover for those traveling up and down the river to Skelt. For the next 10 years, the town, which was then known as Kassen’s Hold, grew and prospered.
All that changed when Asar Vergas came to Kassen’s Hold with a host of mercenaries under his command. Asar was an old companion of Ekat, and the two had traveled together for some time before splitting up just a$er Ekat’s last adventure. Over the years, Asar became sure that Ekat had cheated him after that adventure. Promising great wealth to his mercenaries, Asar raided the town relentlessly for 2 months. Finally, the townsfolk managed to locate Asar’s camp in an ancient crypt deep in the forest, and Ekat himself went out to deal with his old companion. The battle was terribly bloody, with only a few townsfolk coming back to tell the tale. In the end, Asar was slain and his mercenaries scattered, but Ekat suffered a mortal wound. He died 2 days later, on the 11th day of Neth, 4535. In honor of their beloved founder, the townsfolk buried Kassen in the ancient crypt, interring his bones in a place of honor, above the simple sarcophagi used to inter Asar, his mercenaries, and the townsfolk that lost their lives in the bitter struggle. They placed an eternal flame above Kassen’s final resting place, so that all who visited might find warmth in the wilderness.
Over the years, the Crypt of the Everflame has become an important part of the history of the town, now simply called Kassen. The townsfolk view the crypt as a memorial to those difficult first years of the town’s history. Every autumn, a few of the townsfolk make a pilgrimage to the crypt to light a lantern from the flame and bring it back to town, where it is preserved all winter, a symbol of the town’s resilience. Most years, the town mayor and a group of dignitaries perform this quest. Every few years, however, a handful of younger townsfolk are given the honor of lighting the lantern. Many see this as a passage into adulthood, a taste of adventure before settling down to work and marriage. The quest starts out as a solemn ceremony in town, where the townsfolk gather to wish the adventurers luck, just as it was when Kassen himself left to fight the mercenaries. When the adventurers return a few days later, the town holds a great celebration in their honor. This also marks the final harvest celebration before the long winter.