Nezznar The Black Spider walked confidently across the Astral Plane, his feet echoing throughout the deserted blasted landscape. He was followed by his personal bodyguard, a monk named Foo, and six black-clad Cult of the Dragon warriors. A silvery cord extended from between the shoulder blades of each of them, trailing behind and fading into invisibility after a few feet. Thunderous storm clouds still rolled across the skies, only illuminated by streaks of crackling purple lightning. Nezzar had been to the Gray Wastes before, seeking knowledge from the souls of the dead.
He smiled at the memory. It had only been a few short years since that time. The rise of Tiamat had served Nezznar well, allowing him to grow in power, position, and strength. Nezznar was aware that his current station had much to owe to the Cult of the Dragon. And that was part of the reason why they had projected to the Astral Plane, seeking the ruins of Pluton…
The small company walked across the wasted hills in silence. Rubble of ice and rock laid strewn across the layers of ash, which the shrieking wind picked up into a gray haze that lay as a funeral shroud over the landscape. They passed remains of ancient groves, filled with twisted olive trees, poplar and willows, their leaves dead and clinging to black branches, like dying hands grasping after life. Some doomed souls, laboring at tasks they would never complete, all gazed at them as they passed by. Slowly but surely, they made their way towards a huge tower carved of black, glittering ice.
They entered the dark ruins, and stood in what was once a great hall. As his companions spread out within the ruins, Nezznar stood in the center and raised the ram’s head staff that he carried with him. The onyx gems within the ram’s head glowed changing from jet black to blood red. The Drow wizard raised the staff slowly with his left hand, shouting out the words of the spell.
“I call upon you Nerull, God of the Dead, Hater of Life, Reaper of Flesh, I command you to unlife, I command you to service. Because I am an Exarch of the Mother of All Magic, and you are her servant! Lolth commands you to rise!” his voice rang out and the ground trembled.
Silence … a long time of silence. Time passed slowly. But then, an answer, no higher than a whisper, no higher than the sound of butterfly wings on a calm breeze. “I listen, and I serve. What do you seek?” it said. The whisper sounded like the snapping of bones.
“I seek the Well of Souls. I must find it to appease The Mother of All Magic. I must find it to forge a weapon that is fit to slay a god. Tell me where it lies.”
Suddenly the crackling sound of the voice grew in strength and anger, “The Well of Souls!” The voice continued to repeat itself. “The Well of Souls!” “The Well of Souls!”
Nezzar trembled with anticipation. Blood oozed from the astral cord, dripping on the ground below him. Darkness gathered around him like a cloud of bats. The glowing eyes of the staff flard even brighter. “Tell me where to find it!” he shouted. “Tell me where to find the Well of Souls!”
The voice chuckled, ”I would, and it would be with pleasure. But you must make me a promise. You must grant me a boon.”
Nezznar laughed, his white hair flying wildly around his face. “What is it that a dead god could desire?”
“Revenge,” said the voice grimly. “Revenge.” There was a short pause. “When you forge the weapon, you must also use it to kill the Raven Queen.”
“Yes, that I promise you, Old Master.” Nezznar cracked a delirious grin. “Now tell me!”
“The Land of Nod,” whispered the voice. “Within the ruins of the First City. That is where the Well of Souls is hidden.”
Nezznar cackled like a madman. His companions looked at him, wondering if the wizard was losing a grip on his sanity. Foo stepped forward, glancing around for any appear enemy or danger. The Drow closed his eyes as if in ecstasy, and howled:
“Lolth, my Queen, Mother of All Magic, Spider Queen of the Demonwe Pits, Queen of Spiders, Queen of the Dark Abyss, Weaver of Chaos, Mother of Lust, Dark Mother of All Drow, Lady of Spiders …. hear me!
“There is something else…” whispered the voice, interrupting.
Nezznar turned back, anger rising. “What?!”
“Somebody else came and asked the same question as you.”
“Who?” The Drow’s mind was racing. Was someone else seeking to appease Lolth? Was there someone trying to prevent him from accomplishing his goal?
“The Keeper of Secrets…sent his Exarch.” whispered the voice.
Nezznar stood silent for a second. “It doesn’t matter. Let him have his secrets. While he guards them, I act upon them”, the Drow said with a powerful voice that made the ground tremble. With that, Nezznar ended the spell.
And then suddenly they were gone from the Gray Wastes. For a moment there was silence, and then the voice spoke one last time.
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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