Thousands of years ago, when the Middle Kingdoms were yet peaceful, certain women across the land banded together because they found that they possessed a strange gift - the ability to see hints of the future. Those who accepted this gift welcomed the visions, hoping to spare mankind from his most dire actions. So, when these women, the so-called Daughters of Kesthoriver, after the god of knowledge, foresaw a brutal and destructive war, they acted.
For three centuries, they prepared for devastation, struggling to preserve the knowledge that man would likely lose in the violence. And to this end, they built Kesthor, an enormous, secret library, hidden in the caverns and tunnels which sprawled below the continent. Millions of books and scrolls were stored here, annals of history and literature were painstakingly copied, so that they might escape destruction. Records were made of the deeds and names of kings, both living and dead. Prayerbooks and copied down verbatiom, that religions might not die.
And yet, the war came before everything could be saved, and vast stores of knowledge were lost as the armies of Prithora marched across the continent, bringing death and chaos where they walked. But eventually, after centuries of violence, the wars ended, and peace was accomplished at last. The Daughters spread their knowledge, keeping the books themselves in their library for safekeeping. Enlightenment was restored, to a degree. For now, kings and emperors knew the power of armies and war, and dueled for power and wealth, seeking to spread their ideals across the world.
And as a knowledge of the future was very useful for a monarch, these god-men took Daughters to serve them, granting them visions of how their time might be limited, and how well their armies would battle. And during this time, the Daughters took great care of the Library, for they had learned that their Sight was simply the ability to read what would be in the Library a given time in the future.
Until eventually, the visions began to grow weaker and rarer. The Daughters no longer were able to summon up knowledge of what was to come at will. Having no use for Sightless seers, monarchs cast aside their Daughters, forcing them to live amongst the commonfolk, who had long feared their powers. Fearing for the lives of their own daughters, the Daughters slowly began to send their children down different paths. Many became wizards, for the power of magic was strong in their veins. But within only a few hundred years, the descendants of the Daughters, now Daughters themselves, no longer had visions, or remembered the Library.
War came again, and it brought disasters with it. Earthquakes ravaged the lands as much as did armies, and tunnels collapsed. Without Daughters to clear the rubble, countless centuries of priceless knowledge were sealed off from the world, locked in airtight chambers. Slowly, most of Kesthor collapsed upon itself.
Eventually, those portions of it which remained accessible became simply more ruins to be plundered and adventured in. The Daughters disappeared, and the most priceless of Kesthor’s treasures were lost.
Until, only a few centuries ago, the Daughters returned. But now, they were different. A sinister coven of witches and sorceresses, the Daughters now spread death and chaos throughout the land. It often seems that they work to no specific ends, but for an organization as secretive and powerful as the Daughters, this most likely means that they simply keep their secrets far too well.
Across the land, those few scholars who know the ancient tales of the Daughters wonder of this change. And yet, wondering does nothing to stop the damage dealt by these insane magi. For that, adventurers are needed.
Fairly recently, a band of adventurers, seeking forbidden knowledge, launched an expedition into a portion of the Library. Although they did not find what they sought, they did locate a ritual for a summoning. Hoping that the summoned creature would be able to answer their thirst for dark knowledge, they conjured it, lost control, and were slain. Since then, the demon has wandered the halls and rooms of the library, using its innate powers to make passages where there are none. It has learned of the Daughters, and their connection to the Library, and it has found in them something to amuse itself.
The Demon began to write, penning tomes of darkness and writing them in blood. When placed upon the shelves, this new work gradually worked its way into the minds of the descendants of the Daughters. Since then, the Demon has penned countless librams and manuals, which plague those with the proper blood with horrific nightmares and visions, gradually driving them insane. By carefully selecting what to write, the Demon is then able to control the poor seers, driving them to commit deeds they would not previously have done. Now, they are at his command, as are their daughters, for it is within their very blood to see the Library.
The Library now lies in ruins, its many wings, chambers, and halls cut off from each other by cave-ins and monsters which have since moved into the wrecked rooms. The books remain in surprisingly good condition, for many efforts were made to preserve them. The lavish decorations once spread across the library now lie in tatters, for the gold and silver in them proved too tempting to treasure-hunters. Yet, where these treasures were inaccessible, glorious statues and tapestries hang, relics of an ancient past.
The Demon has successfully cleared many tunnels, although he occasionally seals them back up after himself. He no longer can be easily reached from the surface, for he has ventured deep into the Atheneum, planting traps and cave-ins to discourage those who might happen upon him. The intelligent beings which have made homes within the ruins fear him, frequently migrating, just to stay out of his way. Occasionally, he brings a Daughter down to the Library to serve him, but this is rare - he far prefers to work his havok from afar.
Of course, the real treasure here is the books. The collection of knowledge spread throughout the caves is essentially priceless, if one can find the book he needs.
1. A giant, underground ruin full of treasure and monsters is just begging for adventurers to come clean it out. Since almost nobody knows of the true size of the Library, however, it may take awhile for the PCs to realize all the ruins they’ve been excavating are part of the same complex.
2. The Daughters are now basically an evil cult, perfect for use as a nemesis. Since the women are actually good people driven insane, however, the PCs may hope for a way to stop them without killing them all. Of course, a quest to hunt down the demon controlling them could be just what the doctor ordered.
3. The PCs could need some specific bit of knowledge, which now lurks only within the dark halls of the Atheneum. While they’re there, they’d best watch out for the Demon.