Breath of Zehir

Breathless: Behind the Scenes

The villains' secrets revealed.

Until recently the astral dominion of Tytherion existed in an uneasy truce between the two gods that shared it: Tiamat and Zehir. The god of serpents and poison intends to defeat the goddess of avarice, and bring dragonkind into his domain alongside all reptiles. To this end he elevated the green dragon Ghuladonkaranamis to the status of demigod, and promised a quick path to power for any dragons that converted. Turning away from the long, slow politics of Tiamat’s court, soon the green dragons joined the serpent god, with black dragons not far behind. The Night War is now in full swing with both gods vying for the loyalty of their followers.

In the distant astral sea float the corpses of dead gods. Upon one petrified body is built the greatest Githyanki city in any dimension: Tu’narath. Legend has it that Gith, saviour of her people from the mind flayers, made a pact with Tiamat and brokered by Dispater, to enlist the aid of the red dragons and protect her people. Tiamat’s red exarch Ephelomon is acting as the goddess’ ambassador to the lich-queen Vlaakith, now seeking the assistance of the Githyanki in her war against Zehir.

Enter Lady Osterneth. The demilich makes a counter-offer to Vlaakith and in a surprise betrayal, the ancient red dragon is murdered by his host and her ally. In a horrific ritual, Osterneth replaces the dying dragon’s heart with Ghuladon’s Blackened Heart and Ephelomon dies in agony. His scales turn a dull gray, the skin shrivels to the bone, and Ghuladonkaranamis is reborn in the exarch’s shell, more powerful than ever before.

Thus empowered, Ghuladon returns to Tytherion, the dark dominion shared by Zehir and Tiamat. In her fortress, the Towers of Night, she holds council with her own five exarchs, each promised dominion over a plane of existence.

Against all odds, the EDGE faced down Lady Osterneth in Sigil and survived the encounter. The archlich has regenerated thanks to her phylactery, held by the shadow dragon Faluzure in his fortress in the Shadowfell. Agents of Vecna have engineered an incursion by the demon prince Orcus into the Raven Queen’s domain, and her influence is significantly weakened. Sensing a lost cause and offered clemency, Tiamat’s white exarch Chillreave, has abandoned his charge and pledged himself to the Raven Queen. While the Demon Prince of the Undead and the Goddess of Winter struggle, Faluzure has quietly seized influence over vast territories and armies of the plane of shadow. At his command are armies of undead and forces of darkness, ready to join Ghuladon.

The ancient gray dragon Zebukiel, cursed for betrayal of his kind, has been given dominion over the Elemental Chaos. Negotiating with the ancient enemies of Tiamat, including catastrophic dragons and the salamanders, he has schemed and plotted his way into the highest echelons of power within the City of Brass. This city is one of the largest in the cosmos, on a par with Sigil or Hestavar, and Zebukiel plots to infuse Ghuladon’s armies with resistance to the elemental forces of fire, ice, and lightning that Tiamat’s dragons still command. Tiamat’s blue exarch, Namissi, now lays siege to the City of Brass.

With Tiamat’s most powerful exarchs slain or betrayed, the path is clear for a direct assault on the Dragon Queen’s own astral dominion. Dragotha, the first dracolich, leads the war in the astral sea, summoning metallic dragon knight-errants, legions of the undead, countless faithful of Zehir, and even mercenary bands of devils. The few remaining faithful of Tiamat desperately hold her lair of Azharul, or petition the other gods for aid.

The black dragon Gulgolossote, awarded the Feywild, is absent from the council: defeated by the EDGE, the same party of mortals that has thwarted Ghuladon’s plots. Enraged, Ghuladon demands her green dragon exarch Malifaxaghast eliminate the EDGE once and for all. Malifax’s success in elevating worship of Zehir among the mortals passes almost unnoticed, as Ghuladon’s vengeance takes top priority. Thus charged, Malifax gathers allies and prepares to strike at the EDGE in the mortal world…

Up next week: Harold’s adventure, and Adilisia’s epic destiny.

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