Chapter 1: Footholds
Establishing a foothold.
The first part of the Xen’drik Expeditions campaign saw each of the four factions working to establish a firm foothold within the continent of Xen’drik. The purpose of each faction’s presence in Xen’drik was clear: Gain access to as much of the Draconic Prophecy as possible and work to interpret their role in it. While each of the factions may have shared an initial purpose, the way in which they set about achieving it differed significantly.
The Blackwheel Company
The Blackwheel Company firmly entrenched itself in the hunt for relics and artifacts related to the Caldyn Fragments. From their base of operations, a titanic airship named the Glory Road, they began venturing out into the continent. They were successfully able to recover one of the Singing Swords of Tantamar, which was whisked back to House Cannith for immediate examination. Unfortunately, the recovery of this artifact came at the expense of potentially peaceful relations with the Covenant of Light. Unable to resolve the dispute of ownership regarding the relic, the Company applied force in place of diplomacy. Following up on their initial success, the Blackwheel Company attempted to unsuccessfully infiltrate the Crimson Codex. While they did rescue the heir to a powerful Codex member, and were able to stage a successful sabotage of one of their Xen'drik academic gatherings, they could not convince the young heir to turn against his father. The recovery of the Tome of Woe gave the Blackwheel Company the intelligence necessary to mount a more concerted exploration of the location known as the Well of Woe.
The exploration of the Well of Woe proved to be quite the trial for the Company. In their first open interaction with the other factions, they struggled to field the leadership necessary to execute their mission decisively. While they were able to destroy the flame's copper ring, their primary mission objective, the unnecessary friction resultant from their abrasive interactions with the other factions lead to a level of inefficiency unsatisfactory to Company brass. Fortunately for the Company, the experience at the Well of Woe managed to thin out the terminally unworthy. From among those that had proven themselves, the Blackwheel Company assembled a crack strike team to recover a downed Dragonmarked Heir and the psionic shard he carried. Though the magic-assisted, airship drop was brutal, and the fighting in the unhallowed catacombs more so, both Heir and shard were recovered. The price paid in blood and Blackwheel resources was steep, but the Company unknowingly ended up recovering a living piece of the Draconic Prophecy.
The Cabal of Shadows
The Cabal of Shadows were late-comers to Xen’drik and where they had thrived on Khorvaire they found it difficult at times to gain a meaningful foothold on the strange continent. So far four major events have occurred since their arrival in a place where they had few friends and fewer resources. In the first action seen by the Cabal on the soil of the forgotten continent, the Cabal made allies with a clan of sahuagin that prowl the waters near Stormreach by recovering an artifact stolen from them that was tied to the prophecy. In the process, Cabal agents encountered a Crimson Codex safehouse where the artifact was stored and slaughtered all present there while retrieving enough secret documentation to gain a rough understanding of the capabilities and goals of the Crimson Codex organization. Shortly thereafter agents of the Cabal discovered that the inside of the great fist statue in the center of Stormreach (see Secrets of Xendrik) was in fact a secret hold of a cloud giant clan abandoned since the last conjunction with Dal Quor. While exploring the long forgotten ruins, the Cabal encountered Deondag the Master of Rites, a cloud giant psion inhabiting a giant glowing glass brain. The Cabal formed an alliance with Deondag and made the Hand of Stalwart Reverie their secret base of operations.
Once they had a base of operations established, Cabal members worked alongside their sahuagin allies to recover a psionic shard from a group of aboleths that resided in the teeth of Shargon. Shortly thereafter, the Cabal organized a loyalty test for all members before they would be allowed entrance into the secret base. Before the test could be fully organized, the Cabal was waylaid by the Blackwheel Company who wanted the shard. The Company inflicted massive losses upon the Cabal in their surprise attack using two airships - the Stratagem and the Brilliant Flare. Though they suffered heavy losses, the combined cunning and skill of the assembled of the Council of the Obscured (the powerful ancient leaders that run the Cabal) and the luck of their Xen’drik-based operatives brought the Brilliant Flare crashing from the sky and drove off the Company. The Cabal had a shadowy presence in the expedition to the Well of Woe—preferring to observe and let the other factions handle the majority of the fighting. Of course, once the other factions had exhausted their resources and energy, the Cabal operatives stepped from the shadows to complete their mission. The Flame was slain, and the members of the Cabal returned victorious.
The Covenant of Light
The Covenant of Light’s inaugural crusade upon the shores of Xen’drik began with an inauspicious event. The unlucky warriors of light suffered the the loss of their most beloved ally within the Church of the Silver Flame: Flame Father Garris along with two of his young charges. This loss, precipitated by a psychic possession from an ancient Quori artifact and the opening of a dimensional rift into the realm of Nightmares, has resulted in significant tension between the Covenant and its more Silver Flame-oriented members. So controversial and tumultuous was this event, that a scattered few have even left the faction, looking to return to their church during this time of upheaval.
The rift brought with it another problem - the release of a nightmare beast that fled into the heart of the Xen'drik jungle. A massive black dragon, summoned by the arrival of the beast, gave chase in an attempt to slay the creature before its mad, corrupting presence could wreak further harm. Neither has been seen up to this point, though reports from a treant tender of the Druid's grove where this incident occurred indicated that no great battle has yet taken place. It is likely the dragon is still in pursuit or that the beast spontaneously returned to the realms of Nightmares from whence it came. In either case, the Covenant of Light has reason to suspect travel in the deep jungle is now even more dangerous than it was previously.
The expedition to the Well of Woe sponsored by the Covenant was a rousing success though it brought with it even greater cause for concern. The primary mission to the Well was accomplished handily but, during its commission, other groups were observed on-site following their own objectives. The Covenant had suspected a group of intellectuals and scholars were operating as a united whole in Stormreach for some time; this mission provided proof of its existence. The Crimson Codex is now firmly on the Covenant's charts as a potential ally... or additional enemy. Only time will tell.
The Crimson Codex
The Crimson Codex is an organization that wields a great deal of power and influence on Khorvaire. As such, the group’s goals in Xen’drik are also very much Khorvaire-centric. In that regard, their operations have a somewhat colonial aspect about them: the operatives in Stormreach are expected to mine Xen’drik for anything useful to the goals of Codex leadership and operations on Khorvaire. Of course, the efforts of the few doing the difficult tasks in Xen’drik are hardly given just compensation by their distant leaders. Numerous secret meetings have taken place both with outside forces and with forces within the Crimson Codex that want to focus more on happenings in Xen’drik and less on the affairs of Khorvaire.
The Crimson Codex operatives have gained an ally in Stormreach in the form of Stormrider, a bard who almost never reveals himself and writes the annual Stormrider’s Chapbook. Members of the Codex have come to realize that Stormrider has the potential to becoming an extremely powerful ally, but his motives seem enigmatic, at best.
Finally, it seems that some force known as Virulence, with a close association with aberrations from Khyber, has taken an interest not just in the actions of the Crimson Codex, but in the members of the Codex as well. This interest is not a pleasant thing, and the Codex has been forced into defending itself from this unwanted attention. Recent raids on Codex interests, as well as the disappearances of several Codex operatives, including the individual in charge of all Codex operations in Xen’drik, has driven the organization to a state of near-panic. No one is quite sure what is going on, or who is behind the seemingly constant siege against the Crimson Codex.
A glimpse into the future:
The Crimson Codex: The future of the Crimson Codex in Xen’drik appears quite bleak at the moment. The organization appears to be falling apart and they are going to rely heavily on the action of individual members to pull themselves out of the mess. Not only are tough battles going to have to be fought, but also tough choices are going to have to be made regarding the future of the organization itself on Xen’drik. Despite all this, the tests that the Serpents of the Crimson Codex in Xen’drik are going to face are going to be as much mental as physical. The ability to think, and think quickly, may spell the difference between success and failure.
The Covenant of Light: Internal struggles within the Covenant of Light threaten to tear asunder the fragile cooperation that exists between its membership of many faiths. While the Covenant espouses the path of good and righteousness, there are those within the Covenant that would see their mission carried out by any means. Members of the Covenant will face tough times ahead as they evaluate the goals and motives of their own leadership, while preserving the combined purpose of their individual faiths.
The Cabal of Shadows: Forces within the Cabal threaten to heap insurmountable tension upon its already fractious existence. Leadership within and between Obscura will be challenged, and some may fall from power (and the realm of the living) entirely. With leadership firmly in place, and a stronghold to venture forth from, the time for gathering more allies to the cause has come. With favors to cash in, and resources to expend, it is time for the other factions in Xen’drik to acutely feel the presence of the Cabal of Shadows.
The Blackwheel Company: There is a storm brewing within the Blackwheel Company. After overextending their resources and launching offensive after offensive, a rift has been revealed in Company leadership. A small segment within the Company feels they would be better off without the over-controlling hand and smothering gaze of the Dragonmarked Houses: The Company has the resources to stand on its own as a fully functional military outfit. The majority of Company leadership, including the Company’s leader Mackinnon Maceck, are loyal to the Dragonmarked Houses and their original contract, but recruits are being approached by dissenters within mid- and upper-mid-level leadership to join the cause for an independent Blackwheel Company. As the Company turns its attention to this internal schism it leaves itself and Xen'drik more vulnerable to the influence of the other factions. Certainly if any offensive attempt were to be made against them, this would prove the opportune time.
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