Wages of Sin
The Keep by the River
The Keep by the River, also known later as Astym Keep, is one of the primary holdings of the House Astym of Absalom. Currently occupied and held by the Lord Conrad Astym, the Keep by the River has a long and storied history.
The Keep is named for its proximity to the River Shouhn, and occupies a strategic position upon a large rock out-cropping that overlooks a narrow stretch of the river. Originally no more than a small garrison meant to secure goods and travelers from Diobel to Absalom, the importance of this small clearing became apparent as more and more merchants forwent higher and higher fees within Absalom Harbor for the less expensive and more lenient harbor at Diobel, thus increasing merchant traffic between the two cities. As commerce overland grew, so became emboldened the pirates and raiders who frequently preyed on the road between Diobel and Absalom. It became apparent that a full-time garrison of men-at-arms and rangers would be required to patrol the road. The natural place for garrison was the fjord where the river Shauhn and the road crossed.
Construction on the Keep by the River began in 4615, with the retaining wall, ramp, and palisade completed in 4618. The internal structures were not completed until the following year, and the garrison was not fully occupied until 4620. However, the garrison was reduced to one quarter strength during the first Mendevian Crusade in 4622.
As the taxes and fees placed upon merchants rose and fell, so to did the necessity of the Keep by the River. During times of war or unrest, the Keep was garrisoned and well-maintained. Conversely, the keep remained largely empty during times of peace and prosperity, as merchants were less reliant on the road between Diobel and Absalom.
While always property of the Primarch of Absalom, the Keep has exchanged hands a few times, between sitting pirates and brigands and the Primarch’s soldiers. Obviously the Keep has been sacked multiple times, the most recent being after the exchange of ownership from the Primarch to House Astym.
After the most recent sacking (4683, see the Massacre of Totra), which left the Keep mostly burned and in ruins, House Astym rebuilt the Keep by the River, making many structural and defensive improvements. Most notably among them the erection of a stone and concrete curtain wall, removal of the entrance ramp and the construction of a tower and hoist system that renders ineffective almost all means of entrance, and the construction of a proper stone stables, garrison, boarding house, and mill/inn.
The importance of the keep has grown since its reconstruction, and its influence can be seen in the reduction of the number of shipments seized by pirates and raiders in the last ten years.
House Astym has recently come under pressure from the Primarch Council to open the land surround the keep for commerce and settlement.