The Legend of Kyuss
“Thousands of years ago, in or about the year -2995 YK, an elven mystic named Kyuss, gifted with an unusually strong Mark of Death, rises to prominence in Aerenal. But, he is exhiled from Aerenal for practicing obscene acts of necromancy and using his puissant dragonmark to pervert the dead in ways deemed blasphemous by the Undying Court. His assembly of like-minded social outcasts follow him and they make a pilgrimage to the eastern jungles of Xen’drik. In the tropical jungles of the former giant empire, the Kyussians found a humble city among the monoliths and vine-snared tombs of the continent’s former masters. They call their new home Long Shadows. Kyuss preaches his mysterious visions of metal plates foretelling the collapse of civilization. Eager to exact revenge on their brethren in Aeranal, his beguiled followers scour the dark jungles in search of the plates. They also continue their grim experiments under Kyuss’ direction, giving rise to many new species of undead and other abominations. Eventually, in the bowels of an ancient demon lord’s tomb, Kyussians discover a set of brass plates engraved with a long-forgotten script that confirm Kyuss’ apocalyptic premonitions.
The metal plates contain a fragment of the apocalypse myth of the long-vanquished culture of the Age of Demons – a dark time when Khyber’s fiendish children ruled the world; a time when dromoj and other winged horrors swarmed in the skies, before their civilization crumbled under the might of the dragons. The plates speak of an era of doom and decay, a return of the former time of chaos and melancholy, a new time of terror known as the Age of Worms. It was but a sliver of a much broader extinct liturgy, but to Kyuss, it still held promise. In his sweltering jungle enclave, the charismatic madman vowed to bring about this frightening new epoch. As hundreds of his followers sacrifice themselves for the glory of his vision, the twisted prophet declares himself the Harbinger of the Age of Worms.
To amass greater and greater power, Kyuss binds himself to a dragonshard monolith dragged many miles from just outside The Ring of Storms. The monolith is housed in a looming edifice known as the Spire of Long Shadows. The massive dragonshard thrums with energy, and poisoned whispers from its inner void beckon Kyuss to join them in oblivion, revealing hidden pathways and temptations within the placid surface of the monolith. With many of his followers consumed with madness, slain by drow, or otherwise dead at his feet, Kyuss enters the immense shard of otherworldly stone. In so doing, he becomes more than mortal, but his essence is trapped in a horrific demiplane slaved to the shard. In the centuries that follow, the jungle swallows Kyuss’ abominable home, leaving only the forlorn Spire of Long Shadows to peek above the lush tropical canopy.
Hundreds of years later, in or around the year –2700 YK, a powerful red dragon named Dragotha roosts on the Spire’s lofty pinnacle, surveying the crumbling ruins of Kyuss’ realm. Dragotha learned of the potent necromantic monolith from his studies in the annals of The Chamber. Dragotha had left Argonnessen a couple of centuries earlier, frustrated at the silly talk of prophecy, moderation and restraint. The red dragon sought a means to rise to power to bring the dragons and all other races to their knees before him. To this end, Dragotha pries the dragonshard monolith from its moorings and carries it far to the north, across the Thunder Sea, to his lair in the Demon Wastes. Kyuss, trapped within some planar nether-realm connected to the monolith, whispers words of confidence to Dragotha. “Release me,” he asks, “and you shall live forever and have power over your detractors.” Dragotha conducts the required rituals, and Kyuss returns to Eberron.
Shortly thereafter, in the twenty-seventh century before the Year of the Kingdom, Kyuss’ native House of Vol is exterminated in Aerenal, as are any bearers of the Mark of Death. Only Erandis d’Vol and Kyuss survive. The former goes into hiding and Kyuss has been long forgotten, but Dragotha is not. A flight of dragons from The Chamber finds the lone red and destroys him in the canyons of The Labyrinth. Yet, true to his word, Kyuss restores Dragotha to life as a powerful dracolich, fusing a part of his own essence into the bones of his rescuer. Kyuss follows the letter of their agreement, if not the spirit, and the process virtually enslaves Dragotha to the elf’s will. Together the two build an army of undead monstrosities using the practices from Kyuss’ mortal life and the twisted powers he gained while trapped in the monolith.
Several hundred years later the great undead dragon stands at the vanguard of an army of Kyuss’ spawn, which savage the native cliffdwelling folk of The Labyrinth and takes the first steps toward a new empire of evil. But, at the same time the dragonmarked houses begin their crusade against aberrant and mixed dragonmarks. Whispering about the ancient myth regarding an “Age of Worms,” is drowned out by calls to eradicate the aberrants. The few that know of Kyuss’ history in the southern jungles do not recognize that this menace has resurfaced. The dragonmarked houses marshal their forces and, misunderstanding their enemy, consider Kyuss and his thralls another aberrant threat in the War of the Mark, not even contemplating the true nature of this power from the northwest.
While the armies of the dragonmarked houses fall upon Kyuss’ spawn, a party of heroes seeks the source of the undead threat. The group, consisting of druidic Gatekeepers, rangers from Eldeen Reaches, and the Maruk Gaash’kala, inheritors of their own ancient legacies, conceive a daring plan to weaken the undead army. They manage to steal Dragotha’s phylactery, spiriting it far from the Wormcrawl Fissure and hiding it in an unknown location. Dragotha’s sense of self-preservation at last overwhelms his compulsion to serve Kyuss, and the dracolich quits the field of battle. Bolstered by their victory, the party pushes Kyuss back to the Wormcrawl Fissure and bind him once more into the monolith – this time, they hope, forever.
Within a few hundred years, Kyuss and Dragotha fade again from history. New threats and challenges push memories of elven-master and dragon-slave to the peripheries of history. Dragotha never finds his phylactery and retreats to a life of seclusion in the frozen north. But the dragon does not remain idle. With his life essence forever bound to that of the trapped Kyuss, Dragotha cannot abide his master’s imprisonment. Over the course of centuries the dracolich stitches together a secret network of agents poised to release Kyuss once again into the world. As a group of unlikely heroes gathers in the mining town of Diamond Lake, Dragotha’s plan is reaching its final stages.
The Age of Worms is nigh.