X'henvir - The City of Dreams

Deianaera's Journal (19)
Shadows in the Light

We were paid a visit by Merkaile, Keeper of the Soulreaper, Son of Graz’zt… His appearance definitely had an effect on Phaere, she was practically drooling. He informed us that the proverbial faecal matter was about to hit the rotatory oscillator. What ever that means. He was also so kind to inform us that our mother, the Matron of House Daervhaal was in bed with Giyali, the Matron of House Evlaren. Before we could act on it, something strange happened, a booming voice over the city, declaring itself Vhaeraun the son of Lolth and that he had mommy issues and was addressing it… by blowing up the Temple of Lolth and claiming the city for himself. This was going to be an interesting day.

As the house moved into action, I donned my armor and then made for the temple to see what was happening. The temple was gone, blown up not by fire it seems, but by shadow. The font under the temple was revealed and also now extinguished. My retinue and I investigated what we could, took notice that the north and south sides of the city were in conflict and open warfare. Shar’s forces were banging on the North Gate, and House Lanlaer put up a shadow barrier to protect the gate, their compound and the city itself from them. I’m sure the entire city was flabbergasted at the actions, everyone so sure that Lanlaer would turn on Lolth and join the Sharites or the Vhaeraunites. Once House Maladryn’s troops entered the fray I also joined in with them to put down the rebellion. Damn the Vhaeraunite Thin Blades and their psychotic leader.

Order was restored to the north side of the city but the south was still in chaos, with the forces of Shar battling the forces of Vhaeraun. We could see that the location of Chardath was protected by some kind of power dome, and fireballs were flying from the area into anyone daring to approach his shop. The same dome was seen in the area of our librarian friend as well, without the pyrotechnics though. Tarlyn made some pathetic speech about drow having free will and then disappeared. Coward. One might even pity the Thin Blades trapped on the north side of the city… not that any drow would. The North side of the city was contained and the noble houses victorious, but at a cost. The South was lost, but no one else had risen up to control it, it was still being contested by the powers of shadow. With all the crops essentially destroyed by the fighting and the fires, food was going to be the cities primary concern very shortly.

Once some order was maintain I returned to my House only find that my eldest sister was assassinated by Sephir and that Mother and Giyali had fled… again. It seems Phaere was now in charge of the house, being made Matron. Should be interesting. We plotted and discussed what we needed to do to elevate us even further. The ruling houses made some decisions at this point, elevating some houses in the aftermath. Our own house was placed in the the thirteenth location, and my actions of taking charge after the chaos of the temple being destroyed was noticed by House Maladryn. I was promoted to Deputy Inquisitor, second only to the High Inquisitor herself.

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Deianaera's Journal (18)
The Star Sapphire

We finally made our way to the location of the star sapphire that Xarn wanted so badly. Unfortunately, someone… and a large force managed to get there before us. We were surrounded and essentially forced to surrender peacefully. Those some-ones, frost elves believe it or not, decided not to do us harm and allowed us to witness what they had come to do. These frost elves used the star sapphire and their gods power to summon Xarn forth and… destroy him. At least it seemed like he was destroyed, but I’m not sure you can destroy an archon of a god. The frost elves took the star sapphire with them when they left, seeing as we did not need it any more to pay off our debt – our debt being cancelled due to the destruction of the debtor? We did manage to talk the frost elves into a secretive trade pact that would be used to jump start our new merchant outpost at the kobold den…

Once left to our own devices again, we searched the area and found a long lost secret treasure room. That it remained secret for so long after so many have picked through the ruins of the monastery, lead us to believe that it would be an excellent location for a shadow tether. Our work finally complete, we decided to head home.

Once home, we reported to our Mother. She was less that happy with the recounting of the tale. We kept the frost elves knowledge to ourselves and let innuendo lead our confessions. Sephir was sentenced to an inquisitorial torture session and I was also sent there as well. Unfortunately – or fortunately, the High Inquisitor did not share my mother’s desire for punishment, and in fact I was promoted to lieutenant and assigned a retinue of five inquisitors to seek out and destroy the enemies of Lolth. Sephir was… tortured. I’m not sure what would be worse for her, the torture of the knowledge that I was promoted to a position of power within the Inquisition.

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The Kobold King and the Arena
Missed Session

Missed Session

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Deianaera's Journal (17)
Lost and Found

After agreeing to touch the key to the Shadow Keep, we were settling down and discussing what we were to do when a familiar face decided to show itself at our new home. How he found it, how he knew we were there… I am starting to think that my sister is correct in that he just needs to die. Preferably in a horrible and painful manner. His roguish charms and good looks only go so far to hide his contemptible attitude, and I am now certain he is a subject of Vhaeraun. This means that all his motives are questionable in the eyes of our Goddess.

Tarlyn came to offer us more information and knowledge and other wonderful and amazing things all for the price of owing him yet another favour. I turned him down and sent him on his merry way to annoy some other drow. I called in a favour… and got us transportation to the prime material plane. Hopefully my siblings do not think less of me for my… associations. As an added bonus, we were put in contact with Shessa the librarian, a somewhat curator of knowledge. She agreed to let us use her library and even so much as to help us research on not only how to get to the Duergar monastery and see about digging up some more information on the star sapphire the size of a titan’s head – which has some link to Drow past in that it may have belonged to an ancestor prior to our schism with the surface.

Shessa could be a valuable ally in the coming days, especially since we are cut off from the House for the time being. We did manage to permanently rent/lease accommodations in a boarding house in the high bazaar where we anchored a tether. We parted company at this point to conduct our own business before gathering again to head off towards the kobolds that Crayz so desperately wanted.

We arrived at the kobold tribe and when discussions yielded nothing, we agreed to an arena battle with the chieftains honour guard… of which some freaky bird demon was a part of… thanks Crayz… thanks a lot.

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Deianaera's Journal (16)
The Keep of Shadows

After our raid on the surface, we decided that we would attempt to claim the keep that Veleethri said was ours. As she opened a portal to our destination, it turned into a vortex, sucking in my siblings, but somehow I was able to resist. Veleethri was rather shocked and it was evident that she did not intend this to happen. With a choice left open to me to join my brothers and sisters or not, I chose the most un-drow choice and leapt in after them.

We arrived some place on the surface, outdoors and in some sort of audience chamber. The… things introduced themselves as avatars of various deities and they explained to us that we were to be judged. Lovely, just what ever drow wishes, other gods judging them. This audience was apparently for our transgressions against Sylvanus and his arcane font that we… consecrated to Lolth. The “trial” was a sham, as they guided us through it, only to judge Veleethri, their intended target all along. We were let go with a pat on the head.

We appeared where we once were in the Underdark, but Veleethri was conspicuously absent… in her place was some other being of shadow that was to send us to our destination… Veleethri was in hiding from the other avatars it seems. We travelled to the Shadow Keep and did battle with shadows… only that we could feel these shadows and eventually control them as they were part of our birthright. This obviously incensed the current owner, where he made his own appearance, a lich… After nearly killing Pal’Entyr with a fireball (it merely scratched me) we dispatched the lich and claimed the keep for our own… after a bit of hesitation from me.

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Deianaera's Journal (15)
Surface Playtime

Our time at the Font was… illuminating. I will not go further into that. We were invited to dinner by the Font’s priestess of Shar. She went to great lengths to cover things and explain things. I recall one of my instructors at Lolth’s academy, answering one of my questions about the types of power and repercussions of using them. She gave me some drivel about the source of the power is not important, but rather how you use the power. There might be some merit to that in a less than divine power, but when dealing with deific powers… you cannot help but become tainted by them. Our shadow powers are just that, tainted and powerful- but the more we use them, the more attuned we will become to the plane of shadow and it’s ruler: Shar.

We moved on after this, to raid another wild elf settlement on the surface. I argued against it, as it serves no purpose. We should be moving towards the gem to get Xarn out of our hair. Regardless, we went. We killed all by one of the heirs to the Wild Elf Kingdom, leaving the king with and even greater hatred of us. Not that I care, but it will make life more difficult should we decide to do any lengthy work on the surface.

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Deianaera's Journal (14)
Out of the Deeper Darkness and into the Blaspheming Frying Pan?

We mustered with our units at the Council Entrance, we were stationed inside a stalagmite, with a clear view down in front of the gate. The leader of the army showed herself (yes her) with her bodyguard and they were quite shadowy… and reinforced with the fact that she introduced herself as the Chosen of Shar. A warlock from House Lanlaer handled the initial parley, and eventually the Matron of House Maladryn arrived to conduct the rest of it. Their army waited outside our gates, out of view, but the Chosen of Shar and her bodyguard were allowed inside to conduct diplomatic… stuff. She also mentioned something about meeting the Chosen of Lolth… I’m not sure if we should be worried about Phaere or not.

With the immediate threat subsided, but not dissipated, we returned to our house only to be summoned by our own Matron Mother to account for our conduct earlier with Shelria of House Evlaren. Suffice to say Mother was not pleased, but then again, we were not too pleased with Mother in keeping us in the dark. Poor Sephir just had to say things that she shouldn’t have and paid the price in blood. Mother did not want us in the city with the new visitor. I think she wanted to keep us secret a bit longer, and if we could “smell” the taint of shadow, then so could others imbued with shadow. Mother did emphatically kick us out.

We discussed some other things amongst ourselves after, including the interesting tidbit that Sephir dropped on us regarding other priests in the city besides the usual suspects… So along with Eilistraee and Vhaeraun we also had Talos and Tempus. With Shar’s chosen entering the city, and Orcus down the hall, and of course the rumour of the font of shadow beneath the Grand Temple… The city being a primed powder keg was now clearly an understatement. Veleethri made her appearance as a what could only be described as a wandering hobo, I suppose even avatars of shadow could attempt humour.

Veleethri said we would be seeing many sights along the way to the Duergar monastery that apparently housed the star gem Xarn wanted us to obtain for him. One of those sights was the Font, a mystical temple of sorts to all the gods in the universe. One would think that would be a constant war zone, but Veleethri says the temple is under some sort of protection from unknown beings and that starting a conflict would essentially end one’s life. Veleethri was also entertaining Crayz rather insane idea of enslaving the orcus kobolds we encountered – I refused to ask why. A surface raid was also added to the agenda as was creating a pocket dimension of shadow by first appropriating it from a shadow wizard. Intriguing to say the least.

We arrived at the font, escorted to individual private rooms and given non-descript robes and masks to hide our appearance to allow us to traverse the font essentially undetected. This would be an interesting visit I think…

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Deianaera's Journal (13)
Into Deeper Darkness

Into the Deeper Darkness
The party was good, at least I think it was good. Mr. Imp, and sometimes Mr. Deep-Throat, that mysterious voice in my head, said things much along the same lines. Veleethri would have enjoyed it I think. I spent many an hour there, partaking in festivities and frivolities to get my mind off the things we have learned recently. An interesting fact that I discovered was that Mr. Imp wasn’t nearly as talkative the more inebriated I was – something I took note of. And something Mr. Imp is telling me I should not be taking note of.

I took a break from the party to get some sleep (these parties tend to last two days, sometimes more), and returned to the party at it’s end as that is when the fun stuff tends to happen. Our party’s finale was none other than Veleethri tearing a hole through reality to appear near death, bleeding shadowy blood, and literally smoking. I do not think I have ever seen her disheveled. And something Mr. Imp says I shouldn’t bring up to her in the future. I attempted to cure her… but it seems it needed the reverse, would have been helpful to know this before hand, but at least I know this now for the future. She took her leave of us and the party shortly after her appearance with the ominous warning that we should begin our preparations and plans for our side of the bargain. Drow party finales were always great.

The next morning, as we all gathered up for breakfast and to begin our plans for obtain the star gem, we received an interesting visitor. It seems the consort of House Evlaren was paying us a visit – us in us, not House Daervhaal… There was a lot of talking and diplomacy things going on, and even Mr. Imp says I’m right not to dwell on it, but the gist of it is that Shelria was quite concerned about her lover Giyali (House Evlaren’s matron mother), so concerned in fact that she was sure that we had information about her lover and our mother that we would be willing to share in order for her to get to the bottom of things. We agreed to a ten year truce in exchange for knowledge: we learned of a font of Shar under the grand temple and Shelria learned many things that I bet she didn’t want to learn.

More intriguing was the fact that Veleethri made her presence known, introduced herself and after Shelria had left, had a frank chat with us about our heritage and Shar. Some very scary thinks about Shar and us. I think even Mr. Imp was a bit rattled, although he vehemently denies it.

As if we hadn’t enough to deal with… the horns of the house began to sounds and we could hear the horns of the city sounding. We’ve all be called to arms…

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Deianaera's Journal (12)
Monsters Among the Masses

I know, it is an odd title for this entry. I am sitting here contemplating it, trying to make sense of things now that I am a Monster. Oh, I wasn’t transformed into one, I suppose I have been a monster all along, only I did not know this fact. But I suppose that really is not the case is it? I always was a monster, I am a Drow after all, what ever revelations occurred to call myself a monster are rather mute when one thinks about that. Yes I am a monster, albeit more of the prettier variety. What I really am, is still rather shrouded in mystery, but I am being told I am getting ahead of myself or so the incessant annoying voice in my head is telling me. Despite its annoying qualities it is correct.

We left off with a frightful teleport back to the Underdark, fleeing the Avatar of Sylvanus on the surface. At this point, we discussed the ways on which we could subdue the Illithid; which we decided on drugging it with some sleep poison mixed with our city’s fine mushrooms. It would certainly give the mindflayer an interesting trip. During our preparations, Veleethri referred to us as “children of shadow” on at least two occasions. I found this revelation rather disturbing: if our father was somehow a shadow denizen… what would that make us? Are we part of the shadow realm or just infused with it? The thought process of this was bound to lead in annoying logic and I could already start to feel the headache’s arrival. I tried to push it from my mind and concentrate more on the present as we were about to head into battle.

Showtime was when Veleethri decided that we should meet the mindflayer where it was rather than wait for it to come to us… I suppose we had a quorum since the Illithid had stopped and was no longer trying to reach us. When we teleported to the lowerdark and the mindflayer, Veleethri kindly informed us that she would again be absent due to the presence of the Avatar of Sylvanus also arriving at our location. To be honest, I would rather have Veleethri deal with that wooden dragon than us. with some ominous words of our demise coming from the “mouth” (do they even have mouths?) of the illithid which then decided to just project the communication into our minds…

The illithid was on a platform that could only be reached by running some two hundred feet or flying over the magma to it. Surprisingly, Sephir decided to simply teleport behind the Illithid and stab it. Crayz not willing to pass up an opportunity, also shot it with a bolt. With a terrified and horrific scream – mentally and audibly – the Illithid crumpled to the ground in the worst acid-sleepy trip of its life… probably also it’s first time experimenting with drugs.

While I trussed up the package to get home, the others decided to mess with things that they shouldn’t have. As if we didn’t have enough problems with wells of water, they decided to open something… and out popped an Illithid that really wanted to claim his brother and eat us. Not really part of the deal, so we eventually told it to get lost. While this was happening I discovered, or perhaps felt, the weakening of the fabric of reality around me… us. The boundary between the Plane of Shadow and the Prime Material Plane was really weak here. I tried to poke at it, but without any training or knowledge, I did not get far – but Pal’Entyr did once I told him about it.

This is when we began to piece together things, Sephir’s teleport was some kind of shadow teleport and after some prodding and threatening stares, Sephir told us that there was a voice in her head that told her how to do it. I truly hope I had not lost another sister to insanity.

While we tried to figure out what to do, something coughed behind us… rather behind our heads… minds. Whatever it was, was either part of us, or around us. Regardless this impish presence was somewhat pleased about our “awakening”. This was the voice that Sephir was talking about. The voice that is now also in my head – until I learn how to mute it that is.

While Pal’Entyr tried to negotiate with the shadow imp in our heads, I had to remind him that shadow imps would eat us if they could. Our negotiations were finally brought to a halt when a portal opened and our long lost guide appeared. No, not Veleethri, but Gyi’drak. And new negotiations began: about favours this time. Obviously not content with the pace of the negotiations, Gyi’draks boss decided to make an appearance to help speed things along. We had to spend more effort to convince Crayz and even more effort to stop Phaere from incinerating Tarlyn (and us) in a mass of fireballs.

Finally home, only to have mother come greet us at the gates. Odd, but I suppose her love for us is that grand. Try not to choke on the sarcasm there. With some pleasantries and notifications about the Orcus cult or kobolds so close to us and our tea ceremony with Antharis Slamari.

Party in our honor (again). This time, I will have a drink or five…

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Deianaera's Journal (11)
New Friends

I think this is the first time I have seen a dragon. It was… smaller than I imagined. I suppose dragons need to grow up just as us drow do, it was just odd seeing it. We fought, all of us that is – I certainly did not kill the dragon by myself… but I am getting ahead again. We battled the dragon and I seemed to take the brunt of its melee attacks while dear pyromaniac sister and her twin along with Ryltranzar took the effects of its breath weapon. Being bitten by a dragon is not unlike being bitten by a lizardman I suppose. I ended the battle decisively, cleanly decapitating the copper beast – I think it looked shocked that it’s head was separated from it’s body.

The looting began in earnest: wings, scales, blood, eyes… you’d think we were in a butcher’s shop. When that was handled Veleethri decided to make her entrance, it seems she got bored of her dream state. She informed us that the next room was to be more difficult and that we needed to be at our best and she needed to go ahead of us to prepare… as what we were facing was too much for us to handle. If one keeps a copper dragon like a hound, then I tend to agree, something more powerful must be ahead.

Once Veleethri departed, Ryltranzar thought it would be an appropriate time to insinuate an insult to Phaere… not the wisest of moves. I contained the situation as best as possible, but Ryltranzar got his whipping. Its infuriating… I need my so-called siblings alive – at least for now…

We rested in some sort of pocket dimension: a rope trick. Once we were rested, we proceeded to the next area. This time the area was not empty. Our goal was in sight, the magical pool… along with a quartet of druids keeping Veleethri imprisoned in what seemed to me some sort of magic circle. We were unnoticed, so we sneaked in further, taking up positions as we best thought. Sephir and Crayz would disrupt the circle and then we would pounce. While they slowly moved into position the rest of us took in the lay of the area, noticing some sort of creature at the far end, a big creature. I stared at it, something was coming back to me from my early days, something the priestess said rather than taught. With a flood of memories I knew what I saw and yet I didn’t.

What was at the end of the room was a god.

How did I know? I knew. I suppose this is the difference between being smart and being wise: what ever my wisdom was telling me was that it was Sylvanus manifested on this plane and my intelligence was telling me to get the 666 abysses out of here.

Veleethri looked bored, I think she actually was grooming her nails, but perhaps I was just seeing things. Sephir broke the circle, and then an explosion of air knocked the druids, Crayz and Sephir back several feet. The Avatar of Sylvanus started to stir. Veleethri shot up skywards, tackling a druid, that we had obviously overlooked, and then dragging him towards the wooden dragon through the air. She created a portal to the shadow realms and dragged them both through it. We killed the druids in short order.

This left us time to inspect the pool. Some initial analysis lead us to believe that it was the pool. And by us, I mean the finger-waggly types of arcane knowledge. Further analysis disproved that and that the pool was actually a portal. A one-way portal. Seeing as we didn’t want to wait around in the area for the god to return… we decided to take a plunge.

With the popping of ears and wet clothing we arrived in a cave. Cooler… was that a breeze? And pale light from a shaft… the moon. We were on the surface again. While the others discussed and analyzed I took a moment to sit and gaze up the shaft to the moon and the stars. Once it was decided that this was the pool and that we needed to undo the consecration and defile it… only we seemed to be lacking a living sacrifice at the moment.

As if on cue, Veleethri arrived from her plane of shadow and deposited the druid she had tackled in front of us… still alive. She looked a bit worse for wear, tangling with an avatar of a god seems to have taken its toll… barely. I need to re-examine this Veleethri, perhaps a closer watch should be kept on her…

Phaera managed to complete the sacrificial ceremony, although I had to correct her several times so she wouldn’t botch it. Lolth would not be pleased. The pool was defiled and we needed to go. The shaft in the ceiling of the cave as the only exit, so with some levitation and some flight for some others we exited the cave to the surface. The celestial tapestry in the sky was still there, we were not any where near the place we were before – no, I did no read the stars for that, the trees were completely different and it was colder. An arrow thudded into a tree, inches from Phaere’s head – I’m not sure whether that is a blessing or a curse.

A moon elf appeared from the shadows of the trees to… greet us. There were others hiding in the shadows still, with bows trained on us certainly. This elf called himself Antharis Slamari, and if the stories were true, he was a companion, or at least an adventuring partner of Szordrin Xorlarrin. Most interesting. We, appearantly, would all be dead by now had we not been in the presence of Veleethri. Regardless, he has sworn to kill us for defiling the Pool of Ferdaul. I suppose we cannot win them all.

With that pleasantry aside, we prepared to leave through another rift into the plane of shadow. Only Veleethri said we needed to wait until we were marked. While we waited and attempted to determine how we were supposed to be marked… a creature of immense power found us… and breathed on us… and we quickly departed back to the underdark.

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