THE PENDANT OF ASHABA

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The Pendant of Ashaba was created by Ashaba, the first lord of Shadowdale. This pendant is worn by the lord or lady of the dale (currently Addee Ulphor). On command, it speaks the phrase “The bearer of the token be the one and true lord of Shadowdale.”

The pendant is silver and shaped like a crescent moon with its two horns pointing upward. It hangs from a fine silver chain. Lady Ulphor keeps the pendant secured in the upper levels of the Twisted Tower. This structure was created by the drow when they controlled Shadowdale. After the town was freed, it was renamed the Twisted Tower of Ashaba in honor of the realm’s first lord. Not everyone realizes that the pendant reinforces powerful magical wards when worn by the lord or lady of Shadowdale.

In particular, Lady Ulphor seems unaware of this, since she keeps the pendant in the tower. She has been manipulated by one of Valan Jaelre’s spies, who has convinced Lady Ulphor that the amulet is best put away for safekeeping rather than worn. The spy, Maedra, appears to be a human but is a doppelganger on the Jaelre payroll. The pendant can be activated through other means, albeit ones that are more difficult than simply having the lord or lady wear it. The most important ward lies under the Tower of Ashaba, where it seals underground passages that connect to the cellars beneath the tower. The Drow used these tunnels when they occupied Shadowdale, and Valan has long been planning to attack through them.

Few know that there are two pendants. The first was lost during the Time of Troubles. It looked differently than the other, being made of gold and shaped like a clockwork pocket watch.  Although none knew where it was hidden, it revealed itself during the Year of the Scarlet Witch, found by the Ones Who Walk who used it to return Elminster and Mystra to life since their divine spark was contained within the Savras Scepter.

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CATALYST: THE DREAD CITY OF LACC

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As it is written: “At Winter Solstice within the Year of the Scarlet Witch wise men shall gather to stand between Darkness and Light.”

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Our heroes infiltrated the City of Lacc and entered the Broken Tower to recover the Havoc Staff. The Staff had been hurled to the Plane of Shadows by AO during the Time of Troubles, and had been guarded by a faithful paladin of Helm since that time. He was empowered by a Pool of Radiance that held the Staff.

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Our heroes rested by the Pool, regaining their strength. When the time came, they reconnoitered the Clock Tower, finding that it was being attacked by a host of paladins from the Eternal Golden Flame Temple. The heroes had been at the Temple only a few weeks ago, observed as they departed for Gauntlegrym by the High Priest Adon Cordell.

The heroes decided that the battle was beyond their mettle, and that they would allow the forces of Light and Darkness to clash. Essentially, they were going to let them kill each other and then sort it out later. Instead, they decided to explore the city.

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Their exploration brought them to the understanding that each building in the city was a representation of one of the countless worlds that had been consumed by Lacc. They found that most of the remaining residents of the city were oblivious to the current state of their situation, sequestered by some kind of powerful enchantments within each of the structures.

After spending about four hours exploring the city fully, they discovered that there was an entire complex of tunnels within the earthmote foundation of Lacc, a miniature version of the Underdark. It was likely that this was where they would discover Lolth’s lair and the command center of Lacc.

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Returning to the Clock Tower, they discovered that the battle was over. Many warriors from both sides littered the interior of the Tower. Dark Elf slaves were carrying off the bodies, taking somewhere out of the tower and into the city. At the top of the tower they discovered a strange device: a spider-like clockwork warmachine called an Apparatus of Kwalish. It took them a little time to decipher how the device worked, but soon they were able to operate it effectively.

So now with the battle on the surface of Lacc complete, our heroes are faced with the nagging enigma of exactly what they should do next …

CATALYST: DREAD CITY OF LACC

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By thought alone, Nezznar the Black Spider watched the City come into view. That’s how it worked within the Shadowfell: mere thought could move a traveler from one place to another in a matter of moments.

He watched at the city approached him, or perhaps he approached it, a huge shard of rock floating in midair. Lacc had no city wall, it needed none. His eyes focused on the huge tower of black stone. He knew this to be the Nightspire, Lolth’s stronghold in Lacc. It was set apart from the rest of the city. The thing was taller than any man-made structure that the Drow had ever seen, and its surface was decorated with terrifying effigies too small to be recognized from this distance.

“This is the Grand City, gentlemen,” he said to the black-clad Dragon Cult assassins who accompanied him. “My Dark Queen awaits our arrival.”

The assassin’s glanced at each other, and then to The Black Spider. It was clear that they were in awe of the city in front of them. After all, Lacc had destroyed the suns of seven different worlds. Foo, however, seemed unimpressed.

Foo kicked his pony into a trot. “Let’s go inside,” the monk bodyguard mumbled. “I tire of this place.”  The others followed, their warhorses picking up dust on the blasted, cracked plains of the Shadowfell.

The Drow called forward to his monk bodyguard. “If you like, Foo, we could go into the city so you can meet with the Soul Spiders and partake of their temple. You may find that their temple is not so foreboding as described by other Orders.”

Foo said nothing. He simply scowled at Nezznar.

“Very well,” sighed the Drow. “We shall go directly to the Lift. From there we will make an offering to the Queen of Spiders, and then enter the -“

Foo laughed, cutting Nezznar off mid-sentence. “Look,” he said, pointing ahead. “I think that you will not have to go by way of the Lift after all.”

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They approached a centaur-like creature who appeared from thin air some sixty feet away from them. Appearing as Drow from the waist up, with their lower portions replaced by the abdomen and legs of immense spiders, the creature was easily recognizable as a Drider. A small collection of dust, rocks, leaves, twigs, and other small items swirled around the creature’s feet, and a faint blue seemed to follow behind it. As the riders drew closer, they could see that the Drider was using some kind of odd device akin to a Priestess’s Floating Disc.

“Hello,” growled the Drider in as monstrous tone. “My mistress sends her greetings.” He extended his left hand, making a traditional Drow sign of greeting.  “We must go now, as the battle has already begun.”

Nezznar glanced at Foo, for a moment, then back at the Drider. “Already the battle is joined?”

The Drider growled again. “The Battle of Darkness and Light is under way, Lord Nezznar. Do you wish to keep my Mistress waiting?”

And with that, The Black Spider and his men entered the City of Lacc.

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CATALYST: DARKNESS AND LIGHT

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It all began with a story of love.  Corellon Larethian lusted after Araushnee. He coveted her from afar for centuries, finally taking her as his lover in secret. Despite the fact that Corellon was already wed to Sehanine, the affair continued unbidden and resulted Araushnee’s pregnancy. Unable to hide his affair any longer, Corellon was challenged with dissolution by his wife. Fear of dishonor and banishment struck the Elven god at the core of his being, and he instead turned on his lover. He banished Araushnee from the Fey, renaming her Lolth and banishing her to the Abyss … forever.

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