The Shadow Path: A Portal Network
By James Wyatt
the lowest depths of the Underdark, beneath the Shining Plains and somewhere
between the surface cities of Lheshayl and Ormath, the City of Loretakers
broods in unremitting darkness. Oryndoll is a city populated by mind flayers
and their thralls, and it is known for its residents' insatiable thirst
traders -- primarily slave traders -- from Sshamath, Szith Morcane, and
distant Maerimydra make their way through miles of tunnels to the City
of Loretakers, while both drow and duergar from the northeast occasionally
make use of the portal in the Labyrinth
to reach the
illithid city. The portal leads to an unremarkable tunnel about
a mile north of the city, with no markings indicating in which direction
Oryndoll lies. Though no guards are posted at the portal's destination
point, the illithids of the city are aware of its location and keep it
under constant surveillance by means of clairaudience.
first glance, Oryndoll appears as nothing more than a sprawling network
of troglodyte warrens, and few nonillithids ever see more of the city
than that relatively fair façade. Mind flayers who choose to engage these
merchants in trade do so in one of these upper caverns, amid the stench
of troglodyte thralls. The rulers of the city dwell below, in caverns
arranged around tubular ring-shaped tunnels connected to the thrall caverns
above by well-hidden spiral staircases. Below even these ring caverns,
and accessible only through teleportation magic, ethereal travel, or similar
means, are the Undervaults where the city's Elder Brain resides and where
its stores of knowledge are kept.
south of the thrall caverns, not linked by any tunnels or other physical
connections, is a small network of natural caverns where the Shadow Path
continues. The caverns lie only 30 feet south of a large thrall cavern,
so it is easy for those who know its location to reach it ethereally or
via a passwall spell. Several of those illithids who use the secret
caverns regularly have access to teleport or dimension door
abilities, as well, and they have made themselves intimately familiar
with the site's features. For visitors who do not know its location, of
course, it is practically impossible to find.
mind flayers who use the secret caverns are members of an order of assassins
known as the Life Eaters.
Like the baphitaurs in the Labyrinth, they are devoted to the demon lord
Baphomet, which makes them a chaotic anomaly among the illithids of Oryndoll.
The main cavern (area 1) contains a statue of their Abyssal patron on
a platform above a pool of briny water. A narrow tunnels winds south from
this cavern into a series of small cave hideaways, including the home
of the Life Eaters' leader, a mind flayer named Wiirlan
(area 5). This
tunnel ends in a small chamber (area 6) that contains another portal.
The presence of the portal is marked only by four black gems set
into the natural stone wall at the south end of the cavern, and it can
be triggered only by placing a hand within the portal and saying
the phrase, "The horned god shall rule Iltkazar." The dwarven
city of Iltkazar is the portal's destination.
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