Sul, 23 Sypheros, 998 YK
From: "Iokaste," Droaam Redstone Envoy
To: "Kalistos," Droaam Redstone Principle
archival reference code 5308-A: delivered ink-on-vellum, encoded, scroll case seal intact; courier unknown; principal and envoy pseudonyms preserved
It is done.
I trust you have arranged for my payment. Our mutual friend in Sharn will be attending to the transaction with House Kundarak. You requested a detailed account of the proceedings, and so I shall set to paper here my account of the relevant events.
After commissioning a coastal skiff from a village south of Breland's Shadowlock Keep, I made landfall on Droaam's rocky, southern shores three nights ago. Traveling in Orcish guise, I moved by night into the lands of the Daughters of Sora Kell. By dawn I had arrived at the gates of Vralkek.
This is indeed the Land of Monsters, and I have never seen the like. Filthy shanties ringed the perimeter of the town proper with thousands of goblins and orcs squatting amongst rock mounds and tents. Bands of gnolls appeared to be patrolling these warrens, harnessing vicious worgs and other dire beasts. Outside the gates, a crew of several hundred ogres labored among newly constructed fortifications, employing monstrous draft horses and laying a stone road headed north along the Scar River.
Within the gates, a vision I shall not soon forget. A bustling coastal town, spilling over with commerce and industry -- and not a single representative of the common races in sight. Ogre smiths bartering with bugbear soldiers, uniformed minotaurs drinking with brightly-dressed harpies and medusae. And worse -- shambling, squamous things moving about the shadows, fiendish shapes circling overhead.
I also observed several detachments of troll infantry moving purposefully through the city. To my eyes, Vralkek serves as evidence enough that the Daughters are succeeding in their efforts to unite the monstrous denizens of all the Barrens. If their reach has encompassed this southernmost port, I tremble at the thought of what is being wrought in the strongholds of Graywall and the Great Crag. The sister hags command a great power indeed if truly they rule this nation of monsters. Perhaps they should have been invited to parley at the Thronehold Accords after all.
In any event, you may inform your superiors in Flamekeep that their suspicions are confirmed -- Vralkek appears firmly in the control of the Daughters of Sora Kell. As to our other bit of business ...
I rendezvoused with the fire giant warlord Gorodan(1) at the meeting place you specified. He arrived with a retinue of three rather clannish-looking ogres, who promptly (and predictably) attempted to extort by force and intimidation the materials with which I came to barter. I restrained myself, and it's likely all three will recover enough to walk again at some point. Gorodan was reasonable after that little dance, and we made the exchange with no further unpleasantness.
Indeed, he seemed very pleased at the trophies you had secreted in the haversack. He's really rather bitter about his banishment from Xen'drik, you know. I assume the severed heads he pulled forth once belonged to those who had wronged him. That gift was an inspired touch, Kalistos -- Gorodan became quite friendly after that. We bartered in peace, he and I, and even shared a mulchmead sinister(2) before we parted.
Included here are the maps Gorodan provided. The first details a concealed route into the territories of the Battalion of the Basalt Towers(3) in Xen'drik. I'm told Gorodan enjoyed an intimate affiliation with these fiend-worshippers before his exile to Droaam. I suspect this map will fetch a premium in Stormreach.
The second is a map to the seasonal gathering point, in southern Droaam, of the Dark Pack lycanthropes your Thrane patrons wish to hunt. As you are aware, I disagree with passing this information to the Thranes. If the Silver Flame wants to continue its war against the shapeshifters, let them do so openly. I am uncomfortable with abetting clandestine race murder. Nevertheless, I pass this information to you as per our agreement. I can only hope you have another purpose in mind. Otherwise, the burden is upon you.
(1) For more on the exiled Xen'drik fire giant Gorodan, see the Droaam entry in the Eberron Campaign Sourcebook.
(2) The potent brew called mulchmead sinister can be found primarily in the monstrous cities of Droaam, where it earned a reputation as one of Khorvaire's most unique and potent spirits. Fermented from a blotchy, purplish fungus native to Droaam soil, mulchmead sinister is a syrupy, brown liquid with black swirls and a strong, smoky flavor. Consumed in excess, mulchmead sinister induces mild visual and aural hallucinations in which fiendish images and sounds seem to encroach upon reality. Many of Droaam's monstrous citizens find the effect to be pleasant.
(3) Giant Factions of Xen'drik (from Secrets of Xen'drik, page 60) --
The giants of Xen'drik form factions based not only on racial lines but also on ideologies. Sometimes these distinctions match up, but groups of giants from disparate tribes occasionally band together for specific purposes. Three of the largest factions are described below.
Battalion of the Basalt Towers: This organization of fire giants seeks to dominate Xen'drik by forging alliances with fiends. The fire giants revere an ancient hero named Adaxus who supposedly used a demonic alliance to crown himself the so-called Fire Prince. Members of the Battalion of the Basalt Towers consider it a great honor to be possessed by a fiend.
Dominion of Purity: Giants of all races support the Dominion of Purity, an organization bent on regaining the former glory of the giant race. The Dominion of Purity aggressively recruits new members. The group has many goals, the most pressing being to reacquire the giants' escaped drow slaves.
Scriveners of the Sky: This alliance of cloud giants and storm giants seeks the lost lore of the giant empire. Unlike the Dominion of Purity, these giants do not wish to reclaim their history but only to preserve it. Scriveners of the Sky explore ancient ruins in search of old documents and relics to add to their archives.
About the Author
Glenn McDonald is a freelance writer and game designer in lovely Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He writes about games, film, technology, pop culture, shady characters, conflicted heroes, strange and terrible magic, and shadowy fantasy noir intrigue. Not all at the same time.