Friday, 7 December 2012

The Drow of Xen'drik (part 4)

These posts are copies of the summary emails I write for our DnD group. The current mini-adventure is an Eberron tale, set in the jungles of Xen'drik, where the party are taking the roles of drow (and one dwarf). Whilst I take great effort to follow Eberron canon, there are undoubtedly bits where my story strays or contradicts stuff. I'm aware, this is my story, and we're not playing to create new canon, but to have fun. So, read on and enjoy!


The Ancient City

The ancient white dragon (it was still going nameless, not deeming the party as worthy of sharing its name with) flew the group across many miles of jungle, and deposited them on the outskirts of the city.  It refused to go nearer than the tree-line, haunted memories of their war with the giants keeping it at bay.  Still, it nodded to Ryltar, and bid them good fortune on their quest.  Then, it took to the air, and went to collect the Curra, Kami and the others.

D'Jhudi'it took the lead, as usual, as they moved into the ruined city.  The buildings, ranging from mud and stone huts to more extravagant structures, were all old and untouched for many years, if not centuries.  The jungle had slowly encroached on the land, but the giants' magic still held much of it at bay - as it held many of the structures in as good a condition as when they had been inhabited, 40,000 years ago.  The main structure - the Azure Tower, which rose 1,000 feet above the ground - was an example of their ability with magic.

But first, they had to travel through the outer huts, many of which were barely large enough to fit Ryltar within.  Many millennia ago, their ancestors may have lived in such dwellings.  As slaves, they would have been forced to dwell in them.  But at the moment, they were empty.  Apart, unfortunately, from the mind flayer, and his troops.

Shadows within Shadows

The first of the shadow-infused quicklings leapt forward and struck at Quayanorl and Ryltar.  The beasts were barely the size of goblins, but they seemed to meld with the shadows, darting forth to flank and bring great pain, before withdrawing again into cover.  Along with Ryltar's controlling presence, the combined elemental might of Quay, Brenna and Bel'Tarayne held back the tide.  That was, until the two assassins showed. 

Much like the party, the drow assassins had ebony skin, sharp eyes, and a tendency for clouds of darkness.  However, what they didn't have was a set of legs.  Where most of the others had two legs, they had a vaporous mass of smoke, which drifted and merged with the shadows about them.  They moved easily over the ground, barely bobbing as their torsos floated unnaturally towards their prey. 

Bel' and Quay had heard rumours of this before - Umbragen drow who had given themselves so deeply over to the shadowy presence they followed that parts of their body had actually become shadows.  Usually, such words were dismissed as folklore, but after seeing it themselves, they could no longer doubt.  Brenna especially found their foe to be a nasty enemy, as their poison spread and infected her very vision, causing her eyes themselves to go dark.  She eventually overcame the blindness, but not before Ryltar faced, and was temporarily dominated by, a mind flayer. 

Cleaning Crew and Observation Deck

Further search into the city brought mixed results.  The large canals cut through the streets proved a minor inconvenience, allowing Quay to reveal another of his abilities.  The ancient gelatinous cubes that were bred to clean the canals tried to collect the party, but they decided to leave them be, and continued on to the observation deck.

The platform hovered roughly 300 feet above the ground, supported purely by magic.  Three large metal discs reacted to weight, and rose from the ground to the platform.  However, not all the magic was still intact.  The platform slanted at almost 45 degrees, making movement most difficult.  Ryltar skittered about the area, but it was D'Jhudi'it who recognised the pattern of crystal stones in the floor as matching constellations in the sky above.  Sadly, the sights once given from the platform were no longer viewable, due to its deterioration and dangerous slope.

The Azure Tower

The Azure Tower itself was a mighty structure, with walls thicker than some of the mud huts, and rooms large enough to fit an entire house inside.  Four lifts sat in the eastern wall, though three had fallen, their magic waning over the years, and each in turn crashing to the basement below.  The final lift was till working, and was strangely cheerful.  Happy to have people to converse with after so long alone, the lift carried them through the various levels of the tower, pointing out the interesting locations, such as the observation deck and dining hall; the workshop; and the conservatory. 

The dining hall's security system was still active, so the party first needed to find a crystal card to allow them access past the enchantments.  The first guess was the workshop, but the only thing there, aside from a number of old rituals and giant books, was an angry Iron Golem sentry.  So to the conservatory they travelled!

There, overrunning the entire floor and creeping into those above and below, was an overly large intelligent vine - and it was hungry for meat.  D'Jhudi'it and Ryltar came close to being snacked upon, whilst Bel' and Quay fought off swarms of stirges who sought out their scrumptious skin.  Once the gardening was complete, the vines parted, and some back-burning performed, the ancient skeleton of one of the botanists was found.  His crystalline pass-card was retrieved, and the group finally made it into the top floor.

A View of the Finale

Aside from the ancient kitchen, and tables scattered to allow patrons to enjoy the impressive view, there were stands complete with far-seeing divination spells, allowing for intense scrutiny of distant locations.  Some were free to move and roam about the jungle or the eastern coast, others were set up to look at areas of the distant mountainside.  One of these was aimed at another tower, on a small plateau over halfway up a mountain.  The tower was a strange, twisting display of stone and earth, quite alien to the designs of both the drow and giants of old.  Unlike most of the other locations, there was activity here, a dozen or so individuals scurrying about and performing some sort of preparations.

When the site was shown to Curra, she gasped.  The seeker recognised the site only too well, for it was the tower of her dreams.  It was not an eladrin fey spire, as previously though, but rather, a thing of Quori origin.  This tower was left over from when the Quori had invaded Eberron so many millenia ago.  And it looked like someone intended to start that invasion over again...

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