At the edge of chaos: the beckoning darkness.

In-Character News, Laws, Announcements, Rumors, and Stories Relating to the Underdark

Moderators: Moderator, DM

Locked
User avatar
DM Strahd
Posts: 959
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:16 pm
Location: Ravenloft, Barovia

At the edge of chaos: the beckoning darkness.

Unread post by DM Strahd »

He caught the tray right before it fell. He could not afford another mistake, after the one of two cycles ago: malla Jabbress deservedly punished him for endless candlemarks after he spilled her goblet of wine. His wounds were still half open, and bleeding occasionally. He would not survive another session...
He cursed his unsteady nerves, as another scream came from the chamber...she was having fun with her new toy, apparently. Maybe she would not notice him then, he thought desperately...It was in such occasions he was almost grateful to be just a half-blood servant ... malla Jabbress would never even look upon the likes of him with lust, nor anything else but contempt.
In the last week, she had already killed two jaluken for her pleasure, and a third for "not showing the proper respect" to a member of the yath and new Conclave seat. He did not know the details of the last, and he did not want to...he was one of her personal attendants, slaves, even if nobody called them that (there was no need). Being this close to her, he had seen much more than he cared to...He had witnessed the jabbress slitting her last mate's throat right after she used him (and he suspected she did it while he entered to make him watch)...he had seen her licking his blood, then turning her evil grin towards him, her eyes burning like braziers in the total darkness. She had been so powerfully beautiful and terrible, that he had begun shaking uncontrollably, stricken by the turmoil of emotions like a kivvil by the slaver's cudgel. It had been then, that he dropped her wine...
Steeling himself as her victim screamed once more, or rather feebly attempted to, he walked into Yath'tallar Bel'iira Sshamath's room knowing that any small mistake could be his last.
He would have rather killed his own entire family than step through that door. He would have tortured his own children, or his own lovers...he would have cut off his own right hand, Lolth tlu malla! But for all his desperate terror, he knew he could not escape her, not even in death. That was why everyone knelt before her and did as she commanded: no one could. No one...
Somebody told me I should do what they told me...
But there's a hole in that plan, and I'm tearing it down...


User avatar
DM Strahd
Posts: 959
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:16 pm
Location: Ravenloft, Barovia

Re: At the edge of chaos: the beckoning darkness.

Unread post by DM Strahd »

The Patient Hunter


Shar-Malag'drin, the Cloaked Stalker, peered once more in the alley from under his black hood. No one. As expected, after all. As the situation after the war deteriorated, so did the ability of Charnag agents to control Sshamath and its surroundings. He objectively believed that, outside the city grounds and the closest Varalla's Passage's tunnels, even individuals with a fraction of his skills could realistically hope to perform an assassination and get away with it...which, of course, was also part of the reason why he was becoming rich...Back in the time when he was a young Qu'ellar Velg'larn, a dagger in the dark for his House, things were more complicated, the activity more scarce. These cycles, however, shady individuals like himself could amass a fortune rather quickly, provided they had the right skill set...

He had recently been asked to perform the widest array of deeds by several different contacts, belonging to both well established organizations and secret eversive movements (or supposedly secret...there were few secrets for him, or for those like him, he thought grinning), including infiltration, scouting, spreading information of certain kind, kidnapping and outright assassination. The fact that the Charnag was not even looking into his activities yet was a very clear picture of their current status: Weak. Ineffective. Inadequate. Not a concern of his anymore, not with the powers he had behind him now.

Two humanoid shapes walking towards his hiding spot brought him back to the current predicament. He knew it was his target. Before the whole war matter started, this cave was the main caravan route to the Spire, with merchant guards only having to worry about the occasional Umber Hulk attracted by the noise, and sometimes patrolled by Sshamath's Pathfinders for added safety. But now...Nobody would be so foolish to wander into that darkness with goods...not without an army, anyway, which would make the whole trip not so profitable...As the two figures advanced, his eyes made out the slim shape of the jalil that was his target, as well as the tall, muscular Tanarukk she used as a bodyguard. A smart choice, the Tanarukk...Very difficult to deceive, they could smell a threat long before actually seeing it. The potion he bought took care of that, of course...but they had lived all the cycles he had been waiting for it. This, however, was their last hour alive. Soon, they would feel the cold grip of the Masked Lord draining the life away from them...

Smiling evilly, excited at the very thought of watching them in the eyes as they realised it was their time to die, he gripped his two short blades, darkened with poison, and moved silently towards them, unseen and unheard...
Somebody told me I should do what they told me...
But there's a hole in that plan, and I'm tearing it down...


User avatar
DM Strahd
Posts: 959
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:16 pm
Location: Ravenloft, Barovia

Re: At the edge of chaos: the beckoning darkness.

Unread post by DM Strahd »

Spreading the Disease


"Let pain be as pleasure, for life and death are in balance, but death is the more powerful and should be paid proper homage and respect. Death is the true power, the great equalizer, and the lesson that waits for all. If it falls to you to drive home the point with the tip of a dagger, so be it. The Mother of All Plagues works upon you from within, and weakness and wasting is her strength. Talona's breath is forever and always with you, whomever you or the rest of the world believes in or serves. Let all living things learn respect from Talona and pay homage to her in goods and in fervent worship. If they do so, intercede for them so that Talona will not claim them - this time. Go and work in Talona's name and let your doings be subtle or spectacular, but make them known as the will of the Mistress of Disease."

As he finished chanting, the hooded figure slowly stood up from his kneeling position, unsteadily leaning on his gnarled walking stick. He was old. Old even for a Drow. He had served the Mistress of Disease for a long, long time...centuries of faithful, loyal service...The Goddess was pleased with him, and it was evident: despite the nature of his tasks, he had not been touched by any kind of sickness for years, no, centuries...as a matter of fact, he could not recallthe last time he had been ill.
He turned away from the altar, and started to walk the petrified maze of the Darkwoods at a confident pace. A maze it might be, but he knew it like the pockets of his cloak...no one, not even the reclusive shadow worshippers at the Tower of the Masked Mage, his silent allies, knew this forest like he did. And certainly, this had its advantages...
The Lady of Poison had spoken to him clearly: their moment had finally arrived. Already the dissention and eversion were seeping through the City like a deadly illness, silent and unchecked. And like some of the diseases he himself had created as a sign of his devotion, the first sign of it would show with the victim well beyond any hope of salvation.
Suddenly, the old jaluk stopped and straightened his curved back with a loud crack, a twisted smile on his worn, dry lips. After pronouncing a command word in a low tone, a hidden passageway opened out of the very petrified wood right in front of him. He hurried inside towards his destination, as the secret passage closed behind him.
Somebody told me I should do what they told me...
But there's a hole in that plan, and I'm tearing it down...


User avatar
DM Strahd
Posts: 959
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:16 pm
Location: Ravenloft, Barovia

Re: At the edge of chaos: the beckoning darkness.

Unread post by DM Strahd »

Spinning the Web



She kept watching right in front of her, respectfully keeping her eyes averted from her betters. She had been sent just to serve the Envoy in case of need: nothing else. Not a word, not a stare, and not a move. But she was listening attentively: what was being discussed this cycle would change the future of the City of Dark Weavings, shake the pillars upon which these godless males had founded their power for so long...too long.

A new era was beginning, where the Yath would finally receive what it deserved by right, when the Spider Queen would once again shroud these arrogant faernen in the shadow of her terror. She shifted almost imperceptibly, right before realising what was happening and catching herself. Cold sweat rolled down the silky, ebony skin of her back...this could have costed her very dearly. She mentally took note to bleed on the altar of Malla Lolth for atonement when back to her rooms, as she focused once more on the meeting.

As she realised the implications of the Envoy's proposal, and the deal subsequently struck, her lips curled into a brief, cruel smile: the web was being spun, and the Spider, in its wisdom, would patiently wait for its prey to end up tangled in it, and keep spinning...Victory was inevitable. Lolth Tlu Malla!
Somebody told me I should do what they told me...
But there's a hole in that plan, and I'm tearing it down...


User avatar
DM Strahd
Posts: 959
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:16 pm
Location: Ravenloft, Barovia

Re: At the edge of chaos: the beckoning darkness.

Unread post by DM Strahd »

The Dark Project


He looked at them and smiled inwardly, as the conversation was drawing to its end. He indeed expected more to come, but they were only four. Perhaps he underestimated them. It was a very smart idea not to bring numbers in the Darkwoods, but very few knew that...he was beginning to understand what his masters were seeing in them. And why they were so keen on having them as allies.

As this Master Arkentlar, their leader, finished speaking, he heard a noise coming from the thick mist on his left side. No one else did, but his senses were quite sharp..."I guess we overstayed our welcome...I will leave now. Fortunately, you seem capable enough to handle trouble..." he whispered smiling, as he stepped back and vanished in the shadows. And from those very shadows, he watched briefly as one of the two supernaturally beautiful Drow females began glowing of a bright blue light as she cut down the first assailant, while the other dodged one attacker, shouldered another away and sliced a third one's throat with her short blade, laughing as he began suffocating right before her. All the while, the demonkin jalil accompanying them rained death upon the assailants with a storm of arcane weaves, as their leader himself kept giving orders in a calm, controlled voice, occasionally dispatching approaching enemies with few words of power.

Oh, xas, he thought grinning as he turned away from them and waded calmly through the mists of the petrified forest, away from the raging battle: he could definitelysee why they sent him here...
Somebody told me I should do what they told me...
But there's a hole in that plan, and I'm tearing it down...


User avatar
DM Strahd
Posts: 959
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:16 pm
Location: Ravenloft, Barovia

Re: At the edge of chaos: the beckoning darkness.

Unread post by DM Strahd »

All According to the Plan


He straightened his back with an effort, as his old bones cracked. Sometimes, he could not even remember his youth anymore...sometimes, he had the feeling he had always been old...sometimes, he felt as old as time itself.
His plan was working perfectly, the virus was spreading. His allies, in their secret base, were making sure it was proceeding at a steady pace, without delays. The foolish Lolthites and the pitiful Circle members, with all their division and petty squabbles, were like an organism fighting itself, instead of the sickness within it, letting the disease consuming the body and turning it into a contagious, rotting carcass...
He hid his wrinkled face deeper into the shadows of his hood, and began walking away from the fighting scene at a slow pace, leaning heavily on his gnarled staff. The assault had failed, and soon the survivors would start to look around. He was not very fast anymore, he chuckled...time to relocate.
He started towards the inner Varalla's under the protection of an invisibility shroud, a grin on his cracked lips. He had lived long, and would live long enough to see the Mistress of Disease triumph... he was sure of it, now...
Somebody told me I should do what they told me...
But there's a hole in that plan, and I'm tearing it down...


User avatar
DM Strahd
Posts: 959
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:16 pm
Location: Ravenloft, Barovia

Re: At the edge of chaos: the beckoning darkness.

Unread post by DM Strahd »

Dark Weavings



Rogal Li'Veh, captain of the personal guard of malla Ulath'tallar Bel'iira Sshamath, Conclave Seat and Handmaiden of Lolth, kept reading the report the jaluk delivered to him with an intent stare. With the corner of his eye, he could still see the soldier in front of him, sweating. He could smell his fear. And his fear was utterly justified, for there are no innocents in the face of failure.

Apparently, a Yath'Sargtlin had gone mad and had first captured one of the servants of the Handmaiden herself, and then attacked Yath'abban Valaklith Sshamath, who was investigating the matter. Obviously, the jabbress proved the superiority of a true servant of the Spider Queen over just about everyone else, and defeated the crazed warrior unassisted, despite the surprise. But he had not reached his leading position by chance, and he could see the matter was far from solved.

First of all, the record: Rhiona, the dead Sargtlin, had a flawless one. The jalil participated in several missions before, never a mistake nor a sign of insubordination...not even a recorded suspect of it (and those were extremely common, of course...better to wrongly accuse than to let heresy proliferate). Nothing ever slipped past her guard, and she even fought victoriously against remaining splinters of the Alhoon forces after the battle of Varalla's passage.
Second: the modality. She could have killed the servant before...she could have attacked jabbress Valaklith in even more favourable circumstances...opportunities a seasoned killer like her would not have let slip away.
Third: the motive. The jalil had a glorious path ahead of her in the shadow of malla Lolth and Her Temple, and had proven her faith every cycle of her life...her betrayal was just absurd. Even complete chaos has a logic, but this?

The traces of magic found on her...a dark weaving controlling her mind, perhaps...too many questions, when his life would depend on answers he did not have...He kept reading, as the tense jaluk in front of him was all but forgotten.
Somebody told me I should do what they told me...
But there's a hole in that plan, and I'm tearing it down...


User avatar
DM Strahd
Posts: 959
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:16 pm
Location: Ravenloft, Barovia

Re: At the edge of chaos: the beckoning darkness.

Unread post by DM Strahd »

Tasks


Shar-Malag'drin, the Cloaked Stalker, smiled inwardly as he watched the scene. So...these were some of his new assignments. The very thought was amusing. They hardly seemed worth his time. He longed for something more challenging, to make full use of his considerable expertise in the art of killing...time spent without killing was wasted, in his view.

They did not even bother to conceal their movements. Not much, anyway...He knew who this tree-hugger was, and his organization...they had bloodlust on their side, he would give them that, but they could use some more subtlety. None of his concern, anyway.
He recognized the high ranked members of the Yath present, the newly appointed Yath'tallar and the First Daughter of House Sshamath among others...well, well...getting more and more interesting...

He quickly lowered his eyes and bowed his head, as the Spider Kissers passed by. He felt their eyes burning holes in his hood, but what could they do, in the end? He was just a customer at the bazaar, showing the proper respect, with Charnag everywhere...they could not risk making him suffer just because he was a jaluk (and he was sure, they would have very much liked to do so...). He picked this place of observation exactly for that. As they disappeared in the Spider's Kiss, he purchased one of Ithic's trinkets, and headed towards the Gloura's Wings, vanishing into a dark alley on his way to the tavern...
Somebody told me I should do what they told me...
But there's a hole in that plan, and I'm tearing it down...


User avatar
DM Strahd
Posts: 959
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:16 pm
Location: Ravenloft, Barovia

Re: At the edge of chaos: the beckoning darkness.

Unread post by DM Strahd »

Endgame



He slowly, almost painfully moved through the darkness, a darkness not even his Drow Infravision could pierce, a darkness he knew, that had become a trusted ally and a confidant for his secrets. So...they were all, more or less, aligning against his masterplan. Even those that he expected to consider siding with him, even those that should have known better than opposing him, and the forces in play. Heretics. All of them. Disrespectful trolls, all of them...his hand would not stop, and the Lady would swat them like flies when the time comes...Yes, insects...and like insects, they would be after all important: they would be carriers. Vehicles of the Lady's victory. He would watch them die, suffering, struggling for just one more breath...

He cackled at the thought, as he whispered to the shadows: "Yssraim...Oloth...Elghinn...voen'llyl ussta lar!"
For the time had come to serve the Great Queen, and all the False Believers and Heretics were to be purged and be instruments of Her Holy will...

Turning a corner, he casually whispered a brief prayer and the Myconid inhabitants of the Mushroom Forest stopped their charge towards him, assuming instead a defensive perimeter all around, and fending off the occasional Goblin raiders too stupid to realise they should hide, while the Beetles opened before him like a grand court of nobles before their sovereign. He smiled. "Jal Falduna Malla Talona...ji tlu ol", he chanted, as he disappeared in a hidden passage carved out of the very rock.
Somebody told me I should do what they told me...
But there's a hole in that plan, and I'm tearing it down...


User avatar
DM Strahd
Posts: 959
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:16 pm
Location: Ravenloft, Barovia

Re: At the edge of chaos: the beckoning darkness.

Unread post by DM Strahd »

In the End...

Shar-Malag'drin, the Cloaked Stalker, observed the battered, battle weary group heading out of the Oghrann Halls (or what was left of them...), wading through the now dissipating mist. He never liked that mist...nor what it brought. A jaluk in his line of work could never like the Walking Dead too much. How can you earn gold with the Undead around, when you deal in blood?

He chuckled softly, as the heroes of Sshamath traveled back employing magical or more traditional means. The stupid Druid should have paid him more..."Shade" tripled that offer, and well, could not hurt business to work for the Conclave, once in a while...

With one last glance towards the departing group from his vantage position over a ruined building's rooftop, he uncorked his special wine bottle and took a sip. To heroes, and easy money. Where there is one, the other shall follow. A few candlemarks after, with the surroundings finally quiet and the mist completely gone, he headed for the smoking Halls himself: time to plunder. Easier money to add to the easy money he already pocketed. One with the shadows, he smiled, silent like a ghost of flesh and blood moving towards what had now become a tomb.
Somebody told me I should do what they told me...
But there's a hole in that plan, and I'm tearing it down...


Locked