Category:Castle Anwyn creatures
Perched on an island just off the shore of Lough Ne'Halin, Castle Anwyn breaks through the mists with an eerie silence. The castle has many battlements, enough to have been a major stronghold in even the greatest wars. Time, however, seems to have been its greatest enemy as the only inhabitants of now abandoned castle are the undead.
Behind the Scenes
Castle Anwyn is a reference to Annwn, the Welsh word for the Celtic Otherworld, which is a folklore root of Arthurian legends regarding the Holy Grail. It is often interpreted to be a fortress on an island. The English word for the same place is the Isle of Avalon. The King of Annwn happens to also be the king of the faeries, which relates to the fairy lore that is implicit in Shadow Valley. In Welsh this is Gwyn ap Nudd of the Tylwyth Teg, son of Nodens, who leads the Wild Hunt with the pagan precursors of hell hounds. In Irish these are the Aos Si, or even earlier, the Tuath(a) dé Danann which was a term conflated by monks with the Israelites. Danann refers to Danu as the mother of the Irish gods, and attempts have been made to equate this with the Hindu Danu, the mother of the serpent demon Vritra. Nodens is master of the night-gaunts of Lovecraft's Dreamlands, which correspond to the lesser vruul in The Broken Lands. Shakespeare's name for the fairy king, Oberon, descends from the earlier name Alberich.
Alberich is the fairy dwarf who guards the magic ring in the Nibelungliend which is taken by Siegfried. The Prince of Anwyn, Terate Niebelun of the Vvrael quest, is the son of a sorcerous elven queen. This is implied to correspond to Morgan le Fay who healed the mortally wounded Arthur at Avalon after the Battle of Camlann, possibly relevant to visions of Terate being rejuvenated by dark power on his ivory throne, where Morgan derives from morgens (water spirits) and the goddess Morrigan who was the first bainsidhe (banshee). Bainsidhe and hell hounds were invasion creatures at the end of the "Demon Queen" storyline about his mother, where the castle almost faded out of existence, which may be influenced by stories of Averoigne in medieval France by the Lovecraft Circle author Clark Ashton Smith. However, the situation of a disappearing castle while sleeping is common in Grail knight stories, which is usually Percival (originally Gawain and later Galahad) with the castle of the Fisher or Grail King. The mixture of Gothic architecture around a Norman keep over a Roman chamber leading into a Druidic cavern probably comes Lovecraft's "The Rats in the Walls", related to his "The Dreams in the Witch House", where the cavern under Exham Priory has been argued to be based on St. Patrick's Purgatory. The chair may allude to Lia Fail, conflated with the Stone of Scone, and so the Stone of Jacob.
The symbolic features of Castle Anwyn center around Glastonbury Tor, which was the supposed abode of Gwyn ap Nudd and the entrance to Annwn. The monks of Glastonbury Abbey asserted that it is the Isle of Avalon, and etymological arguments have been made that its name alludes to the enchanted tomb of Merlin. The crypt of Castle Anwyn is a very direct reference to the bodies of King Arthur and Guenevere fraudulently found under the chapel at Glastonbury Abbey, which were moved to a marble tomb by Edward I. The third body is probably an allusion to the dead knight on the bier in some Grail knight stories, where it is actually the knight who suffers the "Dolorous Stroke" and the Grail King suffers instead from old age. The chair of bones, bone chapel, and the otherworld where Terate's mother resided correspond to the Siege Perilous, Chapel Perilous, and Vale Perilous respectively. The entrance appears to be based on Caernarfon Castle built by Edward I, which was based on another Welsh story, where the Roman Emperor Maximus has a dream vision sending thirteen messengers to the highest mountain in the world. His daughter allegedly married King Vortigern, providing Roman/Arthurian descent.
Most notably, the castle engages in the same kind of esoteric word play as the "purgatory" section of The Graveyard, regarding archaic words for castle features. Anwyn's keep is a wine cellar instead of a military fortification, playing off "kype" meaning "cask", and its dungeon refers to keeps originally being called "donjons." The casks are large enough for a giantman, possibly alluding to the burial of Arthur by oak trunk or thus even the "holy blood" conspiracy, and might refer to the casks of the "old hag" containing healing balm. The bower plays on other meanings of the word, particularly the private boudoir of the lady of a castle, like the cabinet in The Graveyard. (Titania the fairy queen sleeps in a bower in Midsummer Night's Dream.) Similarly, the tower is strange in that it extends deep into its mound, where the implication is fairy mounds represented by its even older classical depictions of nymphs. Nymphs are often equated with faeries, and an ambient messaging refers to naiads, the fresh water nymphs. This is likely related to Jessie Weston's view of the Grail story originating in the fertility cult of Frazer's "The Golden Bough", and the Vvrael scroll found there may allude to the satyr scroll of the nymph Nycea.
Glastonbury Abbey was founded by Joseph of Arimathea, the first Grail keeper, who wrote the Phoenician Aramaic writing on the wall in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail". This is arguably reflected by the mezuzah in the castle barracks, where the knights have been chased away. It was also the final residence of St. Patrick. The broader layout refers to St. Patrick's Purgatory which is a cave under an island in Lough Derg, which the Grail scholar Jessie Weston speculated is really related to the Grail quest and the Chapel Perilous. It was supposedly related to initiation rites in the mystery religions of the classical period, which is reflected by the nymphs and satyrs portrayed outside the cavern. Weston is most known for her translation of Wolfram von Eschanbach's "Parzifal" where the holy grail is a "wondrous stone" that fell from heaven in the fall of Lucifer. This phrase is used on the loresong of Terate's void blade to describe the first Stone of Virtue, found in Anwyn's cavern, who was also once heard saying "it is like fighting ourselves", which quotes Perceval who is destined to find the grail and become the Grail King (a figure thought by Celticists to be based on Bran the Blessed but whom Weston traces back to Adonis.)
Weston argued that Perceval and Siegfried specifically were descended from a single Indo-Aryan hero with a broken sword, and that the wasteland of the Grail King originated in the Vedic story of Vritra. The unifying theme is the wasteland of drought, where the corresponding faerie lore refers to water spirits, and playing off the flooding in the Book of Revelation. Vritra is most likely the base word for the Vvrael. Shadow Valley was seemingly also based on the story of Vritra with the horses representing fey water spirit "demon horses" called kelpies. Etymologically speaking, the "mor" in Morrigan (the water-spirits / banshee queen), possibly meaning "terror/phantom", is cognate to the "mares" of nightmare monsters, and this word modifier was used later. In the Wicked Times storyline the banaltra are caretakers of the feithidmór eggs, which are akin to cicadas that are dormant for thousands of years and destroy everything. Banaltra is "nurse" and feithid is "repulsive beast" in Irish, where mór modifies it to mean "big repulsive beast."