Heroes of the Dark

The Dearth

It was a time of poor plenty and anger. 

Houses squabbled over shortages and children did not grace the altars of the great temples.  There were collapses in a series of caverns used for major traverse and guards disappeared by the score in the deep tracking new routes for the traders.

"Frank" and Tomen Sorr had provided the people of Menzoberranzan with trade goods from the surface for several seasons now, but his time below had cost his livelihood on the surface, and now he needed a place to hide.  But he planned to find one last means of securing his worth, planning assaults on a series of Purple Dragon spies attempting to find their way to the City of Spiders.

Sel'rue found its way into the good graces of Arach Tinilith, and Melee Magthere, while Sorcere took advantage of all Elghinn's knowledge for a further two years as an instructor.  Granting each of them the protection of Baenre, the House enjoyed a series of windfalls, attempting to manipulate the market successfully for many months until they drew the ire of a neighboring House.

They would rise and fall quickly.


 

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Madness in the Hive

Goblins are prone to moments of impropriety, and Muck was happy to encourage their initiative.  The loss of his Matron, and the subsequent loss of Du'rran, the lizardfolk reincarnation of the Matron Diann Sel'rue, left him on the run.

Muck had fortified a position among a few score of goblins and other escaped slaves a few miles outside Menzoberranzan, but he had a feeling it wouldn't be far enough.  One of the escaped slave taskmasters had taken to advising on the closeness of the City of Spiders, enough that one of the orcs had threatened to pin his ears to his tongue if he spoke again.

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It was when Frank showed up that the guards started screaming.

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The Villian is the Hero of their Story
Q'Xorlarrin

Zeerith Xorlarrin had a bold plan, to retake the dwarven forge of Gauntlgrym.

The duergar and denizens of the Underdark commanded the land below, but it was Xorlarrin who commanded hundreds of goblin slaves and drider. 

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Eventually the holds of Gauntlgrym would begin to fall, and pushing inward one day after nightless next, the denizens of the Underdark fought for control over the Pit that lay at the heart of the dwarven home.

 

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Whispers in the Dark

The Xorlarrin are a warlike band of mystics.  Their psionic talents have made them powerful, exacting, and greedy—far greedier than perhaps Baenre or Barrison.  But something happened there, in the dark, when they suddenly struck out on their own and became a city-state unto themselves.

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The Fracture happened slowly.  In fact, it had taken a thousand years.  One of the most venerable houses, with a single matron since Menzoberranzan's founding, had lost their matron.  Not all at once… and not instantly, to be sure.

X.

It was the first of their name, not because they were mysterious, but because they had become a mystery.  The name of their forebears from the time of the Sundering was completely forgotten.  In this case, the "X" represented a name lost to time, which was unusual because the matron was so old she no longer remembered the time of her birth—the time before her skin was black.

The fact that she had died?  Had she?  was very troubling to her people.  Yet there she was, in the hive that had become their minds.

Combining faces and thoughts and names and intentions, until no lie, no opposition, no argument could survive.  Only the cold and pure fact of an eternity gone wrong.  She wandered between their minds, occasionally sifting the rarified fact or hidden knowledge that she desired, and she would take without asking.

She was the center of their world, their Link.  She was everything.  And now that the Link was complete, after a thousand years, it was time to ascend to godhood.  She would become Xorlarrin, the god of the mind.  A few voices failed to instantly agree, and were silenced.  A few more questioned, and were subsumed.  Now all was Xorlarrin, and her mind was cleared of any doubt.

Who were these people to enter her realm?  They were not of the Link.  They were… .Outsiders.  She would expel this cancer of question like a wound heals, until the withered scab fell away to be forgotten.

What was it they said?  "Start by talking about your intentions to attack us after we had done your bidding?"  …was that what I had done?  Very well.  No matter.

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Phlan Burning

The drow party makes its way into a Phlan under fire, recovering two swords but interrupting a war between orcs and fire giants.  Following into the catacombs they discovered an ancient tomb that the previous adventurers missed, and an ancient curse too powerful to ignore.

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Valhingen Unhinged
The Unrested Dead

Dead silence replaced by dead marching, and the coterie of the Underdark found themselves quickly surrounded by zombies led by a mummy.  Fortunately the powers of the clerics did not fail, and the undead were quickly turned away.

Not having a need for them, the party chose to destroy them and continue to the surface, where they found a city on fire as an orcish horde led by a human with siege equipment drove out the last vestiges of a civilized society.

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Finding the human leader bought them nothing, however, as the captured human parlayed for his release and promised to betray his ilk, but used the confusion of their next miscast volley from the catapults to quaff a potion of invisibility and beat a hasty retreat under cover of darkness.

They had a feeling they would see him again.

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Up to No Good
Somebody Burned Desert

The party had survived countless attacks and intrigues, and even wrested a powerful blademaster and mercenary from their respective nests, but now the Dark Lady of Spiders has demanded something else.

She was aware of the existence of something special in Phlan.  She had seen one of them, once before, twisted for a new and darker purpose.  Now, in the rise of something unexpected, she wanted them all.

The Dark Lady already had one of them, resting in the hands of her most powerful Selvetarm.  The others lay in wait across the Planes.  One, in the lower abyss, in the hands of a mortal enemy who perverted her own spiders against her.  Two, in the heart of the City of Phlan.  Another lay in the dragon horde of the fel drake Shimmergloom.  The last was lost to the hands of an adventurer and sent into the heart of the Undermountain.

The fabulous Baneblades of Demron, suitably twisted to her purpose, would be a powerful force for her people—and she had just created the perfect lure.  Meanwhile, the City of Phlan was already wreathed in flame.

<dl>

Evaelathil 

A green-glowing blade, usable only by halflings

Mhaorathil 

An orange-glowing short sword, only usable by dwarves

Morvian 

A greatsword that glows with a yellow sun-like light, intended to be used by humans

Faervian 

A longsword that glows deep purple

Dragathil 

A medium-sized rapier that glows red and can hold people in place

Keryvian 

A broadsword wielded by Fflar Starbrow Melruth

 

 

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With little regard for reason.
Time has passed...

Nothing in Menzoberranzan stays the same for long, the same is true for servants and matrons alike. House Sel'rue found itself at the end of a bitter fight, one they had though already won. Fate often has other ideas. Chul'sin, once a populous city was laid to waste, after what appears to be a plague. Only eight hundred of the many survive and all swear loyalty to House Sel'rue as their saviors. 

The consort Teth was cleared of all wrong doing by High Priestess Saus'um'tou Banrae - likely the price of achieving what it was she wanted, her daughter as Matron Banrae.  Though, despite all her various platitudes, the twins were dismayed to learn she had no intention on dealing with the growing cult headed by her own son… 

Following this, a celebration that rivaled any held in the upper third. Their consorts, old and new were well received and sisters welcomed back to the city with open arms. Though, these were nothing compared to the goddess herself walking among them. For two days she held their company, Aunrae and Valan'rae had thought it was only moments, but time moves differently in the presence of a god. 

They were well treated, and even blessed, though Loth is not one for waiting on times of ceremonies, and nearly as soon as she returned them, both matrons found themselves in labor. Within a matter of days, four red-haired children were born to them, one girl and three boys. Fathers beaming, the house settled into its place as fifteenth, and prepared to raise their children. 

More children would come over the next five years. Business would grow, and what was only starting has become an empire. Whores, Rothe, Mushrooms, surface foods by the wagon-full, and no one would dare challenge the house whose children are born with hair the color of blood. Lolth's favored, chosen, but for what and how long? 

The swords are their quest, and time is running out to achieve it. 

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Personal and secret journals of Aunrae Sel'rue - 7
Some things never change...

I woke this morning with the intention to handle an issue that has been growing, and a dwindling list of people that I could trust. The same is true I would imagine, now. Dyan'ette had been controlled by the lizard that remembers being our mother. The protections I built into him help his blade from us, but not from the rest of the city. It was only when he could not refute the evidence that he came forward. I asked, no in all truth I begged Teth to rebuild his mind, and fix what she had done to him.

I was rewarded with a repaired brother, and then punished with a broken friend. That is the only word I can think of for him. He is a confidant, and someone I trust my life to when I am sleeping. He shares our beds and is taken with Dyan'ette in a way that perhaps I cannot grasp, so he is important. Even Valan did not hesitate when we decided to take him to Xorlorin for help. There was nothing that the Priestess of the academy could do for him but cover up the murders, and declare Dyan'ette innocent, which was no small feat in itself… though her price is high. 

As high, if not more so than the price of Matron Xorlorin.  The house above us, house sixteen is doomed in the morning, if we are not ourselves, only Lolth knows. We attack at dawn, and for a house that has risen so far, I have to hold to hope that Lolth still stands with us, otherwise tonight may be our last night. This is why we hold our Consorts close, we drink our best wine and we spend the night exactly how we would, because if it is our last it should be the best. 

After this, because I must hold that there is an after, we are to host the city for a celebration, welcoming our sister Arkonia to our fold and showing her what we live for.  

There is a growing concern in my mind, something that nags at me, every time I consider telling others that I have taken a consort; it is as if I know that it will be short-lived so I hesitate doing it at all. Add to that, he does not remember all that has happened to him, if he is not the man that I would take to consort, then I would not have him tied to me when he could be of more use somewhere else. This is something I can speak of to no one, so I am left with only this outlet. 

Valan grows cross that she was forced to take Teth as a consort, and I regret perhaps that I did not, to spare myself the looks and complaints that she must have about Dyan'ette. I am too soft with him. I have not challenged him when perhaps I should have, but is it wrong to appreciate his input, even if I do not agree?  No, but what is wrong is allowing that to occur where anyone else can see. 

Perhaps it is too late for that and the only one I am sparing by not making it public is myself. Nothing can help that, I know something is coming. Indeed it may be why I am so sure we will defeat A'lavallier, because there can be no future for me if we fail. 

 

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Larry, Frank, and Gris
Surface Thoughts

Griswald the merchant from Silverymoon continued to exalt their good fortune as the trio rounded the bend out of the city and started to two mile ascent toward the World Above.  He couldn't get over the payload they were carrying with them.  "Can you imagine what we're going to make out of this, boys?" he asked.

Frank, the beholder, scratched at his third eyestalk with the grooming tool he guided from his mouth and his primary stalk.  Through his broken common, he intoned in a deep, resonating voice, "Are you sure you shouldn't just take the money and run?"

The bugbear clapped him on the back and chuckled.

"Don't touch me, Larry," the beholder warned.

"Aw, c'mon, I was agreeing with you," Larry replied.  "Don't be a fret."

It was Gris who broke the tepid silence.  "If they are willing to send us up with this much treasure, do you honestly think they can't find it?"  He thought a moment, and the thought chilled him.  "Any idea what they would do to us?"  He shook his head. "No, boys, this is the tip of the iceberg.  You'll see!"

"Or the edge of it," the beholder replied.


The rest of the journey was strangely silent.

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