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Black castle Russian Shadows Linger 1997 by Kirill Garin

The black castle dwarfs two men, presumably Marron Shed (left) and Raven (right). Artwork by Kirill Garin from the 1997 Russian edition of Shadows Linger (Тени сгущаются) released by АСТ (AST) and Terra Fantastica.

On the north ridge stands an incomplete fortress called, simply, the black castle. Its architecture is alien. Grotesque monsters leer from its battlements. Serpents writhe in frozen agonies upon its walls. There are no joints in the obsidian-like material. And the place is growing.

The black castle was a mysterious fortress which loomed above the city of Juniper and was a central location during the events of Shadows Linger. The frightening edifice with its "monstrous decoration", sitting atop the northern arm of the Wolander Mountains, was shunned and ignored by the distracted, struggling population for generations. It turned out to be the key to a centuries-old escape plot orchestrated by the Dominator. It was inhabited by the castle creatures, who purchased human bodies from sellers like Raven and used evil sorcery to incorporate them in the structure, causing its physical growth.

Before Croaker's Annals[]

At some point during the Rebellion which threatened to topple his empire, the Dominator realized he would be defeated by his archenemy, the White Rose. He foresaw his imprisonment in the Barrowland so he initiated a plot involving evil sorcery for his eventual escape. He sent a faithful follower clear across the northern continent to the western seaboard, into Juniper in the frozen north. The follower carried a "seed" which would slowly grow into the structure observed in Shadows Linger if human remains were supplied to it. Upon completion, it would contain a portal that could free the Dominator.

As the castle was intended to grow quickly, it was meant to be a relatively quick escape route, and the Dominator did not plan to wait for centuries. He was unaware how difficult it would be to move corpses around in Juniper, which had a unique cult of the dead. The city tightly controlled human remains, storing them in the sacred Catacombs beneath a place called the Enclosure. The city's leaders maintained a dedicated bureaucracy of Custodians, a police force of Inquisitors, and the mysterious sentinels called Guardians within the Catacombs itself to enforce their cult of the dead. As such, the castle creatures were forced to bide their time over many generations to grow the hideous structure.

Shadows Linger[]

Shadows Linger black castle 1 by Vladislav Asadullin

A fanciful interpretation of the castle creatures with their black castle in the background. Art by Vladislav Asadullin, from the interior of the 1993 unauthorized/pirated translation of the Shadows Linger (Огненная тень)

The black castle is the Dominator's escape hole. When it reaches a certain size and certain set of circumstances, the creatures who live there, who are his creatures, heart and soul, will conjure him out of the Great Barrow. Here.

Whisper, Shadows Linger, ch. 20

After many generations of very limited growth, the black castle experienced an unprecedented period of rapid expansion after the arrival of Raven in the city. Duke Zimerlan, the ruler of Juniper, noticed the sudden growth of the black castle from his observation point in Duretile, his palace across the Port River sitting atop the southern arm of the Wolander Mountains. The Duke notified the Lady, a renowned sorceress, for her advice about the structure, which led to the Black Company's arrival to the city.

Though Raven delivered the highest volume of corpses by far for the purpose of funding the creation of his stout ship, a handful of others also sold bodies there. These included a pair of unidentified Rebel refugees from the Lady's Empire (members of the "Crater crowd"), Marron Shed, and on Shed's last trip, Lisa Daele Bowalk. The two Rebels were later arrested by the Black Company and were interrogated by the new Taken.

The structure was besieged by the Lady with the help of the Limper and her three new Taken (Whisper, Feather, and Journey) at the Battle of Juniper. During this event, the Black Company suffered hundreds of fatalities. The castle creatures defended it ferociously but were overcome, and it was destroyed.

The Meadenvil proto-castle and "castle seeds"[]

A great black lump stood out there. It was the size of a house already. Shed stared at faces frozen in screams of terror and agony.Shadows Linger, chapter 42

The Dominator's surviving castle creatures managed to spread seeds for other castles through amulets given to several people, including Raven and Marron Shed. The amulets kill their hosts unexpectedly and begin growing a new black castle.

A much smaller proto-castle in the wild country outside Meadenvil was also planted and in the process of growing. Its location was discovered by Bullock, who was tracking Raven. Marron Shed shared Bullock's information with Croaker. The Annalist, Hagop, and Kingpin killed a pair of castle creatures here, which were frozen in mid-step by One-Eye, then fled. This proto-castle, about the size of a house, was reported by Croaker to the Lady, who had it destroyed later. The last remaining "castle seed" amulets were stuffed by Croaker into the mouth of the barely-living Limper, for the Lady to find and destroy as well.

After the black castle threat was foiled, the Dominator switched to a new plan: re-routing the Great Tragic River to flood the Barrowland. This new threat set in motion the events of The White Rose.