Tales from the Sword Coast
his citadel of learning stands on a volcanic crag overlooking the sea at the end of the Way of the Lion, a road joining it to the Coast Way trade road. Candlekeep is a many-towered fortress, once home of the famous seer Alaundo, and it preserves the seer’s prediction among its huge library of the writings of Faerûn.
The price for any traveler to enter the keep is merely a book. Those wishing to examine a work in the keep’s library must gift Candlekeep with a new tome, valued by the shrewd gatekeepers of Candlekeep at no less than 1,000 gp. The monks of Candlekeep, who call themselves the Avowed, also purchase certain books brought to them and secretly commission agents to procure writings they desire.
The keep is ruled by the Keeper of the Tomes, who is assisted by the First Read—second in authority and traditionally the most learned sage of the monastery. Up to eight Great Readers are governed by these two offices. These in turn are assisted by the Chanter, who leads the endless chant of Alaundo’s prophecies, the Guide (in charge of teaching acolytes), and the gatewarden, who deals with visitors, security, and supplies for the community. Clergy are regarded as honored guests but are not part of the monastery’s hierarchy.
The citadel bears mighty, many-layered wards that prevent anything from burning except wicks and wax. No paper can ignite anywhere in the keep. These wards also block teleportation magic and destructive spells, kill all molds and insects, and have other secret properties. An additional ward prohibits entry into the Inner Rooms to all who do not bear a special token, only a handful of which exist. In the Inner Rooms are kept the most powerful magical tomes. Normally, only the Great Readers may enter, but others are admitted in the company of the Keeper of the First Reader.
The central tower of the keep is surrounded by beautiful grounds that descend to a ring of buildings along the inside of the massive outer walls: guest houses, stables, granaries, a warehouse, an infirmary, a temple to Oghma, and shrines to Deneir, Gond, and Milil. Order is kept by the Gatewarden’s five underofficers: four Watchers, who take turns patrolling the monastery and watching land and sea from its tallest towers, and the Keeper of the Portal, each of whom has twelve monks (all experienced warriors) as assistants. These underofficers wield magic rods and rings to enforce their will.
No visitor can remain in Candlekeep for more than a tenday at a time, or reenter the monastery less than a month after leaving it. Visitors are forbidden to write in the library, but the monks scribe copies for visitors in good standing. Copying costs 100 gp per text, or 10,000 gp for spellbooks or any texts containing spells, magical formulae, or details for rituals, wards, command words, and the like.
The current Keeper of the Tomes is Ulraunt, a proud and haughty wizard. It is well not to cross him. All petitioners who enter the central keep must sit at Ulraunt’s left shoulder for a least one evening meal and endure his searching questions. Candlekeep has but one absolute rule: “He who destroys knowledge, with ink, fire, or sword, is himself destroyed. Here, books are more valuable than lives.”