Lord Soth

Evil, pure evil. The one name that signifies corruption and evil is Lord Soth of Dargaard Keep, the Knight of the Black Rose.

Such was not always the case. Once, in years before the gods punished mortals with the cataclysm that shook these lands to the core, Lord Soth was a great and noble soldier for Good, a member of the renowned Knights of Solemnia. In that most famed of famed brotherhoods, Soth attained their highest honor, the Order of the Rose. For a time, he fought for justice and freedom. His heart remained pure then, his soul unspotted. When it came to resemble the symbol of his order - the flawless red rose.

Yet it was not long after Soth married and brought his wife to Dargaard Keep that darkness settled upon his life, a darkness so profound he has never escaped it, a corruption so complete it made the once-proud knight a willing agent of Takhisis, The Queen of Darkness.

Some claim that pride undermined Soth's will to do good, others say lust, and still others greed. Of those who still walk beneath the triple moons of Krynn, only Soth himself knows for certain the cause of his own doom. The world is left to construe what it will from the skeletal bits of history. Soth's wife befitted a man of his station and potential. A noble's daughter and only child, she offered the young knight much in the way of worldly goods. That love had little traffic in Dargaard in those days was apparent to all that visited the keep, if they found Soth there at all. The lord of the castle spent much of his time traversing the Solamnic countryside in search of suitable wrongs to right, accompanied by thirteen knights loyal to him above all others.

The summons to Palanthas, most beautiful of all cities, came to Soth early in the spring. He and his retainers set off for the Knights' Council to be held in that unconquered city, but before they reached its perfectly planned streets, temptation bested the Knight of the Rose. He and his men came across a mob of ogres attacking a small band of elven women. The knights easily defeated the brutes, save one who had snatched up an elfmaid and dashed off into the woods. Lord Soth himself battled and conquered this, the strongest of ogres. The women he saved, a young elfmaid on her way to take her vows as a Revered Daughter of Paladine, dazzled him with her innocent beauty.

Soon after, they became secret lovers, though in doing so Soth broke both his sacred marriage vows and the Code of the Knights of Solamnia. It seemed as if the lord of Dargaard Keep believed this blot on his soul would remain hidden forever, for he went to the Knights' Council as if nothing had transpired between him and the elfmaid. Yet two things conspired to bring Rose Knight's shame to the pure light of Kyrnn's sun. The first was the news that Soth's wife had disappeared from Dargaard Keep. The blood found in her chambers cried foul play, and the nobleman's almost casual reaction to this shocking news made many in his order wonder for the first time if they had judged Soth too highly. The second incident that shouted Soth's guilt to those gathered at the Knight's Council was the elfmaid's sudden illness.

When it was discovered she was with child, many suspected Soth, for he had kept company with her even before his wife's disappearance. The other elven women who had been rescued by the Rose Knight and his followers that faithful day confirmed those suspicions and revealed Soth's faithlessness. The minutes at Soth's trial are recorded elsewhere in history. Here I will note only that he was found guilty of many crimes, sentenced to death, and dragged through the streets of Palanthas in shame. Death would have been a kinder fate than the one eventually claimed by the fallen knight.

The nobleman's thirteen loyal followers rescued him from his prison on the night before his planned execution. Accompanied by the elfmaid, the disgraced band slunk from the walls of the city and made their way to Dargaard Keep. The true Knights of Solamnia pursued the renegades, but Soth reached the safety of his castle before they could capture him. In the months that followed, the lord of Dargaard attempted to build a new life within the walls of his besieged castle. He married the elfmaid and went through the motions of honoring his order's rituals.

Though none who stayed within Dargaard's walls for long lived to tell the tale, legend has it Soth grew moody and violent. Not even his wife, heavy with child, was spared the disgraced knight's mailed fist. The gods granted Soth enough self-knowledge to see how he'd fallen, and the realization fanned the few sparks of honor left in the weave of his besotted soul. In Dargaard's long-unused chapel, Soth prayed to Paladine, Father of All Good, and his elfmaid bride offered her hopes to Mishakal, the Light Bringer. Again the gods favored Soth with the ability to see; thought this time it was a vision of the king priest of Istar, who some named prophet and others labelled madman. Paladine himself charged Soth with a sacred task: prevent the king priest from demanding power from the deities who oversaw Krynn.

Had Soth succeeded in this quest, Ansalon - nay, all of Krynn - would be a very much different place today. Yet the fallen knight never reached the city of Istar. The elven women he had once rescued now poisoned his mind with intimations of his wife's infidelity, and Lord Soth returned to his castle before his quest was done. Raging like a lunatic, he confronted his elfmaid bride, mother of his newborn child, with the imagined transgressions of their vows; at that very same moment, the king priest raised his voice to the heavens, demanding the power to eradicate all evil on Krynn, ordering the gods to bow down and serve those mortals who offered them worship.

In their fury at this affront, the gods hurled a mountain at the prideful city of Istar. The destruction wrought by that most terrible of heavenly messengers is known as the Cataclysm. Yet few who know how that catastrophe twisted the land realize the manner in which it altered Lord Soth's destiny, as well. As a flaming mountain struck Istar, a fire engulfed Dargaard Keep. Soth's elfmaid bride, trapped in the blaze and dying, held out her infant for the fallen knight to rescue. Still possessed by jealous rage, he turned away. For failing in his quest, for letting his own child burn to death before his eyes, Soth's elfmaid bride called a curse down upon the once-noble knight. "You will die this night in fire," she wailed, "even as your son and I die. But you will live for every life your folly has brought to an end!"

Some say the elfmaid's curse still echoes throughout the mountains around the castle. Others claim Lord Soth repeats the words to fill the silence of his long and sleepless nights. The flames took Soth's life that night, but he did not die. Blackened and burned, he was reborn as an unliving, undead creature of evil. He still wears the charred armor of a Knight of Solamnia, but the rose emblem that once told of his honor was scorched and twisted by the fire. It is by this corrupted symbol - the black rose - that many know Soth; and for more than three hundred years he has walked the earth, doing the bidding of the most evil of evil deities, Takhisis, Queen of Darkness.

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