If it was a castle, it was the strangest one he had ever seen.
He of course saw the main tower - taller than anything he had seen outside of Stoneholt, the spire looked fragile and was topped by a glassed-in chamber.
The outer wall was so gently sloped that it would have only stopped a horde of hobbling old men, an able-bodied soldier could stride up to its crest with little effort. Within one saw a huge, nearly perfect bowl-shaped area with the base of the tower in the centre, covered in hundreds of mirrors.
This structure is a massive solar collector designed by the Wizard-King Aardwal in centuries past. He used the concentrated light in his investigations into the magic of light, and in the fashioning of flash crystals.
The runoff from Mount "Evil Volcano" has turned an area of small lakes below into a vision of hell. The mixture of acids in the lakes is of such strength that virtually any organic material touching is quickly dissolved. It is a melange of sulfuric, nitric and hydrochloric acids.
However, the place does harbor life, and its very strange, and very dangerous....
Cold Comfort is a long-sword of star-steel, its blade giving off a wan, blueish light. Its grip is wrapped tightly in snow-serpent hide, and its pommel bears a single opalescent gemstone.
This blade is enchanted in such a way, that whoever wields it, begins to fall completely and irrevocably "in love" with the weapon. This love does not manifest itself as the expected reverence and bond formed between any warrior and his weapon, but as a deeper, truer love, one has for a soul-mate of the same species! The longer the wielder carries Cold Comfort the stronger and more disturbing this love becomes, and only the most powerful of magicks can potentially break the sword's insidious spell. The blade's owner will even speak to and coo to the weapon, convinced that the sword understands and returns this epic love.
If the blade's wielder somehow loses the weapon or has it taken away, they will become inconsolable, and will predictably go to "ends of the earth and back" to retrieve it at any cost. Such is the weapon's curse that even separation from it does not damper the feelings the owner has for the sword. Legends tell of several distraught and mind-addled knights who even years after losing the blade, still wander the country-side searching for their lost love. And woe be to the "new lover" if and when they find him or her.