Melkhor Goldseeker had a deal with the Blackdagger Bandits: they would leave his mines alone, and in return he would pay them a hefty portion of his profits. After all, the bandits had no interest in mining, so the mines themselves were useless to them without Melkhor's operation. That all changed when Melkhor discovered the ancient ruins in Angelhead Mine.
Smelling treasure, the Blackdaggers betrayed their agreement with Melkhor. They sent Krag Foultooth, the brutal leader of the gnolls who had joined with the Blackdaggers, to attack Angelhead Mine and to capture and enslave the miners working there. In order to keep Melkhor quiet and cooperative, Foultooth also took his niece and forewoman of Angelhead Mine, Mira Thamros, hostage.
Once, the keep of the famed Cragmire noble house stood along the High Road. When it was discovered that the Cragmires were using necromancy to plot against the city, the keep was attacked and mostly destroyed by the Neverwinter army. For over a century, through the Spellplague and the cataclysm, the ruins of Cragmire Keep lay untouched.
Then the Blackdagger Bandits came along and started to rebuild it, using it as their base of operations for all of their raiding and looting along the High Road. If the patrols along the road had been unable to stop the Blackdaggers before, they certainly will have no success in stopping them when the bandits can retreat to a veritable fortress.
The Sword Coast is notorious for its rocky coastline and the lack of safe merchant port. Few places exemplify this better than Raven Cliff beach, where the Spellplague and the cataclysm have made the waters so treacherous that the city of Neverwinter set up beacons on the shoreline to warn unwary ships off the rocks.
Unwilling to pass up any opportunity, the Blackdagger Bandits attacked the beacon towers and extinguished the warning flames. The plan was that ships would wreck on the rocky coastline and spill their treasures into the bandits' clutches. Unfortunately for many merchant sailors, this venture has met with great success.
Near Blackdagger Keep lies an ancient barrow. A faded inscription near the barrow reads:
"Here lie the last of the once-noble House of Cragmire, brought low by their own meddling in the dark and necromantic arts, 1328 DR, Year of the Adder."
The Cragmire noble house was once allied with the throne of Neverwinter. In the early 1300s, however, it was discovered that the Cragmires were leading a necromantic cult and raising an undead army to threaten Neverwinter and the Sword Coast. Neverwinter's army attacked Cragmire Keep, reducing much of it to ruins and wiping out the cult, along with the Cragmire line. The crypts below the keep were infested with undead and sealed with a powerful enchantment.
After Cragmire Keep was destroyed by Neverwinter and the necromantic cult shattered, the commanders turned their attention to the extensive crypts beneath the ruins where the cult had conducted most of their dark rituals. Soldiers and priests entered the crypts to purify or destroy the horrors that awaited, but few returned, and those that did spoke of an entire army of undead.
Rather than risk further loss of life, the Neverwinter forces decided to seal the Cragmire Crypts with a powerful enchantment that would ensure that no trace of the cult's work would escape. While the enchantment somehow survived the Spellplague, it was weakened substantially. A wizard named Kallos Tam, working with Traven and Malus Blackdagger, was able to break it and gain entry.
The Ghostwise are the most reclusive and insular of the Halfling tribes. Although they were the aggressors in the Ghostwar that tore apart the ancient Halfling nation of Luiren, modern ghostwise (sic) have freed themselves from sinister influence.
Eschewing the company of other races, the Ghostwise chose to live isolated in the wilds. Living in the wilderness lends a certain roughness to the demeanor of these adaptive halflings, but at heart they are as kind and generous as their kin.
Marion Hexbane's journal is filled with bitter vitriol against everyone from her victims to her fellow bandits. She seems to especially hate the fact that she is spellscarred, despite the fact that it has apparently enhanced her abilities. The only people she appears to respect are the Blackdagger brothers, because they "are willing to set their sights on so high a target". However there is no explanation as to what precisely she means by that.
The last few entries mention a new plan involving a merchant named Melkhor Goldseeker. She mentions ordering some of her men to go to the Broken Crown Inn and confront Goldseeker, and to "apply our new leverage to him".
This appears to be a note containing orders from Traven Blackdagger:
Now that we've finished rebuilding the keep, it's time to begin the next stage of our plan. Kallos Tam tells me that he's found some of the artifacts he's been looking for in the crypts below Cragmire Keep. Not only that, but he claims the undead army that the Cragmires raised all those years ago is still there too, as well as the means to control it.
So, you know what that means. I'm going to take some o four best fighters and head into the crypts with Tam. I'll be gone for a while, and my brother is overseeing the fortress' defense and making preparations for the attack on Neverwinter. That means you're in charge of our raiding operations until I get back. All you need to do is keep the Blackdaggers going like nothing is wrong, Jareth, so no one gets suspicious. I'll be back, and I'll have an army when I do.
An agent of Thay sent to the Neverwinter region, Kallos Tam arrived with dark intentions. When he discovered the Blackdagger Bandits operating along the High Road near the ruins of Cragmire Keep, he saw an opportunity. Traven and Malus Blackdagger were receptive to his offer to help them unearth and control the undead army within the crypts.
Of course, Kallos Tam had no intention of putting the army fully at the command of the Blackdagger brothers. He intended to keep control of it himself, ensuring that he would hold the real power in the joint venture between himself and the Blackdagger brothers.
Location: Find Traven Blackdagger in Cragmire Crypts dungeon.
The Blackdagger Army
The Blackdagger brothers can be accused of many things, but not lack of ambition. When the Thayan wizard Kallos Tam offered them an undead army, the only question was whether Tam could actually deliver on his promises. When it became apparent that he could, the brothers began planning their attack on Neverwinter. Their goal was to take control of the city and insinuate themselves as the lords of the surrounding lands.
While Malus planned the attack, Traven followed Kallos Tam into the crypts to keep an eye on the Thayan. After all, it was clear that Tam intended to keep control of the army for himself. Traven would learn all he could about how to control the army from observing Tam, and then kill the wizard. With an army of undead at his and his brother's command, no force in Neverwinter could stand against them.
Traven and Malus Blackdagger are the most successful raiders operating along the High Road in recent memory. As two penniless brothers from Luskan, they began their bandit careers with only a handful of men, but their ruthlessness and keen eye for opportunity earned them great success. The Blackdagger Bandits, as they were now called, gained some measure of fame, and criminals flocked to join them.
With the rebuilding of Neverwinter and the subsequent increase in trade, the Blackdagger Bandits have seen an even larger increase both to their income and to their ranks. They have become such a problem along the High Road that Neverember has announced a bounty for the heads of Traven and Malus.
Strangely, soon after this bounty was announced, the two brothers dropped out of sight and have not been seen since, and rumors persist that someone new now leads the Blackdagger Bandits. Despite this, the raiders' presence on the High Road is as string as ever. Why would Neverember's announcement cause the brothers to disappear? Do they still lead the Blackdagger Bandits? If not, then who does?
The High Road between Neverwinter and Luskan has served both as thoroughfare of commerce and as a battlefield in the numerous conflicts between the two cities. The High Road fell into disrepair after the disasters that befell the two cities nearly ended commerce completely.
Neverwinter's reconstruction has brought trade back to the region, but the routes are still dangerous. Patrols are few and far between, monsters prowl through dark forests, bandits raid the roads, and pirates attack on the seas.
Still, the profits to be made are extraordinary for the merchant brave or foolhardy enough to take the risk.