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Chaulssin is a drow city in the Underdark. To some people it is also known as the City of Wyrmshadows. Chaulssin lies beneath the northern Rauvin Mountains. It overhangs an extremely deep abyss and cold winds howl permanently through the city. It rests upon a great spar of stone. After it was conquered by shadow dragons and ruled by their descendants the city was partially brought into the Plane of Shadow. Tendrils of shadow-stuff wind all the time through the city and deadly shadow creatures haunt the streets. Sometimes whole quarters of the city vanish into the Plane of Shadow and reappear years later.[3]

Due to its remote location and its little known history Chaulssin is largely unknown to most inhabitants of the Underdark, let alone the World Above. This fact makes it a perfect stronghold for the secret brotherhood of the Jaezred Chaulssin.[2]

In the time of the War of the Spider Queen it was only a faint shadow of its former self. Most of the city stood empty and was only patrolled intermittently by tribes of Dark bears or claimed by small bands of Shadar-kai. The zekylyn lived alone in the upper reaches of the city's great galleries. There they trained under the watchful eyes of the Patron Fathers. The zar'thra'rin claimed the lesser tunnels of Chaulssin for their own, where they hunted the interlopers from the Plane of Shadow and the surrounding Underdark. They were organized in wolf packs, dominated by the strongest male.

The ilharen'quarthen dwelled in the heart of Chaulssin. They were the female concubines of the Patron Fathers and lived in lavish apartments surrounding the great lair of Patron Grandfather Mauzzkyl Jaezred. The other Patron Grandfathers visited their concubines in Chaulssin regularly, for each of them had only a handful of females with them in their respective cities.[4]

Today the city is the headquarter of the infamous Jaezred Chaulssin, an organization of powerful assassins and worshipers of Vhaeraun.[3]

HistoryEdit

Chaulssin

Panoramic of the city

Chaulssin was originally a drow city until -221 DR (Year of Shambling Shadows), when a clan of shadow dragons known as the Jaezred conquered it and enslaved the inhabitants. The title "City of Wyrmshadows" became one of the city’s names due to this event. For centuries, the Jaezred cruelly ruled Chaulssin, driving the drow nearly to extinction. They furthermore carried out magical experiments on the elves, twisting them into creatures of shadow, and even interbred with them. Out of these couplings came a race of half-drow, half-dragon creatures known as zekylyn. The Jaezred also attempted to shift the entire city itself onto their home plane, the Plane of Shadow.

However, while pretending to serve their dragon masters, the zekylyn were secretly studying powerful planar magic on their own. In 634 DR (Year of the Darkspawn), they launched a successful rebellion against the Jaezred, slaying and reanimating most of them as spectral creatures. One of the few who managed to escape was Haernivureem, who would later conquer the dwarven city of Mithral Hall, where he was known as Shimmergloom. The new rulers of Chaulssin, meanwhile, set about rebuilding it with the wealth the shadow dragons had hoarded over the years, which itself had been plundered from the zekylyn’s original drow ancestors. Around this time as well, missionaries of Lolth started arriving from the other drow cities of Ched Nasad, Menzoberranzan, and Jhachalkhyn. The leaders of the Chaulssinyr, though, who were mostly male, rebuffed them repeatedly.[5]

Exile in the Plane of ShadowEdit

In 734 DR (Year of Visions), Vhaeraun appeared to the leaders of Chaulssin and revealed to them that Lolth had decided to punish them for their defiance. Lolth instructed the ruling council of Menzoberranzan to dispatch a massive army to conquer the city. The patriarchs of the City of Wyrmshadows chose to withdraw rather than make a suicidal stand. They opened portals to the Plane of Shadow and left the city. When the drow arrived a few days later they found only an abandoned city wrapped in the coils of the Shadow Fringe. The monsters from the Plane of Shadow pressed on them and the Menzoberranzanyr suffered heavy losses. Since there was little to show for their expedition they decided to claim victory and retreated, believing the flight of the Chaulssinyr was due to the might of the Spider Queen. The former inhabitants of Chaulssin encountered all manner of dangerous creatures on the Plane of Shadow, but at least no hostile army intending to kill them. They walked for miles through the Plane of Shadow and reached the abandoned lairs of their draconic ancestors from the Jaezred Clan which they claimed as their own. Here they began to build a new city for themselves, named Chaul'mur'ssin. But times were hard until the inhabitants learned to adapt to the rigors of the Plane of Shadow. Over time, though, the people themselves changed and became more attuned to their environment, losing a large measure of their Prime Material nature. They gradually became stronger, becoming a threat to other planar interlopers, like the scions of Clan Malaug, and to a lesser extent the Shadovar of Thultanthur.[5]

A new vision revealed to the priesthood of Vhaeraun in 792 DR (Year of the Crimson Thorn) that the leadership of the Chaulssinyr had been infiltrated by the malaugrym. Only at the cost of many lives and the collapse of the city's patriarchy were the shapeshifters finally unmasked and put to sword. In response the Church of Vhaeraun assumed power and founded House Jaezred, an elite brotherhood of assassins trained to ferret out and kill shapeshifters. Through this the conflict between Clan Malaug and the Chaulssinyr waxed and waned, with neither gaining permanent advantage. But the zekylyn learned from their enemies how to split their dual natures and alternate their forms between drow and dragon, in so doing becoming the first drow-dragons. House Jaezred earned the respect of all Chaulssinyr due to this, and the leaders of the house threatened to eclipse the authority of the ruling Vhaeraunite priesthood.[6]

Return of the ShadowkinEdit

There was now internal strife between the brotherhood of House Jaezred and the clergy of Vhaeraun, with the clergy still nominally in charge. To avoid civil strife the patriarchs of House Jaezred agreed to return to Faerûn. There they would hold dear the debt of the Chaulssinyr to the Masked Lord and work to undermine the rule of Lolth. But this was also the start of an effort to distance themselves from the Masked Lord and his followers. In 1136 DR (Year of Shadowkin Return) House Jaezred returned to Chaulssin, where they established the House of Hidden Masters in its heart. There they started to call themselves Jaezred Chaulssin. The City of Wyrmshadows was a perfect place as a base of operations for the House leadership, but it was deemed to be too dangerous to raise the next generation of assassins. The patron fathers therefore decided to establish fosterages in the guise of minor noble houses in seven drow cities ruled by followers of the Spider Queen. This should have happened in Ched Nasad, Eryndlyn, Karsoluthiyl, Jhachalkhyn, Maerimydra. Sschindylryn and Menzoberranzan. But Menzoberranzan proved to be resistant to infiltration and so Dusklyngh was chosen instead as the seventh fosterage. Jaezred Chaulssin also established half a dozen smaller fosterages throughout the Underdark where Lolth's power was minor but drow could walk openly, like in Skullport or Sshamath(the monastery Vhaidra Uoswiir attacks might have been one of these).[6]

Threat from the ShapeshiftersEdit

During the Harpstar Wars (1182 DR – 1222 DR) the shapeshifters of Clan Malaug captured a spy of the Harpers. This spy had previously explored Chaulssin and so Clan Malaug learned of the return of their enemy to Faerûn. Only their own losses in the war prevented them from attacking the City of Wyrmshadows and they needed time until 1241 DR (Year of the Lost Lady) to become strong enough. In this year a raiding party of malaugrym managed to kidnap a pregnant concubine of the Patron Grandfather. The assassins of Jaezred Chaulssin tracked them down and killed the interlopers before they reached Castle Malaug, but the concubine vanished during the fight.[6]

The War of the Spider QueenEdit

After centuries of secret activities and infiltration of the seven drow cities ruled by Lolth's followers the year 1372 DR (Year of Wild Magic) promised to be the most important one for the plans of Jaezred Chaulssin. Now they saw the opportunity to strike several Lolth-ruled cities at once. They had their hands in the plot which brought stone fire bombs to Ched Nasad and caused the destruction of the whole city. In Eryndlyn they brought the followers of Vhaeraun and Ghaunadaur together against the church of Lolth and decimated the ranks of her followers drastically. Smaller strikes in Dusklyngh, Jhachalkhyn and Karsoluthiyl weakened the hold of the ruling Matron Mothers and helped the male-dominated merchant houses to gain influence. However in Maerimydra their plots crossed with Kiaransalee's, and her followers won out and claimed the city for their own. In Menzoberranzan, the invasion of the duergar armies of Gracklstugh and the tanarukk of the Sceptered Legion failed. Since the end of this war the patron fathers have begun to cement their control over the ruins of Ched Nasad and their influence on the factions of Eryndlyn. They also receive tribute from the merchant houses under their control in Dusklyngh, Karsoluthiyl and Jhachalkhyn.[7]

Vhaeraun is killed by his sister Eilistraee (Nightal 20, 1375 DR[8]), when he attempted to enter her realm and assassinate her. His portfolio was taken by her at that time.[9] What has happened to Chaul’mur’ssin is unknown.

1379 DR [10] His sister Eilistraee, while inhabiting the body of Qilué Veladorn, was killed by Halisstra Melarn using the Crescent Blade.

Areas of InterestEdit

Galleries of ShadowEdit

The Galleries of Shadow encompass the lesser halls and chambers of the city linked by tunnels. They are not considered part of the House of Hidden Masters. Packs of Zar'ihtra'rin, companies of Dark bears and small bands of Shadar-kai consider it home. Interlopers from the Plane of Shadow are not uncommon where the Shadow Fringe is close.[7]

Howling AbyssEdit

Chaulssin rests on a huge spar of stone at the edge of a great chasm in the earth. It is known as the Howling Abyss which extends at least three miles above the city and more than seventeen miles into the depths. Winds with the force of Hurricanes buffet the city of Chaulssin relentlessly, threatening to sweep away anyone that dares to show his face on the city's battlements or attempts to fly through the chasm. The Howling Abyss is home to dangerous creatures, like Belkers and voidwraiths. The spectral-shadow dragons, reanimated undead of the former rulers of Clan Jaezred roam through the city they once ruled and defend it against interlopers.[7]

House of Hidden MastersEdit

At the heart of Chaulssin lies the House of Hidden Masters. It is the chapterhouse of the Jaezred Chaulssin and resides in what was once the city's largest temple to Lolth. In the center of the temple lies the opulent lair of Patron Grandfather Mauzzkyl Jaezred (as of 1372 DR). The walls hang with tapestries of woven shadowstuff that depict distorted images of scenes long forgotten. The floor is piled high with tarnished coins of varying mintage and design. Glistening onyx embedded with beljurils form the arched ceiling. The lair of the old dragon is surrounded by lavish apartments of the concubines (known as ilharen'qarthen). Each of them resembles a small version of the main lair and is heavily guarded, for the Patron Fathers do not trust each other to steal a rival favored concubine. The inhabitants of each harem largely govern themselves when the masters are absent. But if worship of other gods is unearthed it will be ruthlessly stomped out.[11]

Shadow FringeEdit

The City of Wyrmshadows exists partially in the Plane of Shadow. Tendrils of shadowstuff constantly wind through its ruins, ebbing and flowing with the pull of some erratic, unseen moon. With this deadly creatures of the Plane of Shadow cross the planar borders and haunt the streets. From time to time whole quarters vanish into the gloom entirely and reappear years later.[12]

Groups of Power in ChaulssinEdit

Chaulssin is dominated by the Jaezred Chaulssin, but there do exist other power factions within the city.

Church of VhaeraunEdit

Most Chaulssinyr give at least token obeisance to the sworn enemy of the Spider Queen. The church of Vhaeraun is led by Patron Father Xorthaul of Jachalkhyn and his clerics hold many influential positions among the Jaezred Chaulssin. However the other patron fathers subtly work against making the brotherhood into the sword arm of the church. When Lolth finally awoke after her silence they have moved to further distance themselves from the hierarchy of the Masked Lord, because they do not want to be between Lolth and her son in case of open warfare.[12]

Dark BearsEdit

After their civilization collapsed at the end of the Deepbear Battles (-1803 DR to -1350 DR), the quaggoths of the Northdark reverted to a barbaric tribal society. The Deepkingdom declined and many quaggoth tribes fell under the domination of more powerful races, like the drow of Chaulssin. When the inhabitants of the city fled to the Plane of Shadow, they brought tribes of deep bear mercenaries with them. After the return of House Jaezred they brought descendants of these deep bears back to Faerûn. Now they were transformed into creatures of shadow, known as dark bears. They are organized in large tribes working as mercenary companies as front line defenders of the City of Wyrmshadows and patrol the surrounding Underdark.[12]

Shadar-kaiEdit

Small clans of Shadar-kai are found in cities across Faerûn, where they try to find a way against their grim fate. In the near past many members of this fey race came to Chaulssin, willingly exchanging their immediate freedom in exchange for magical aid in delaying their fate. Elite shadar-kai serve the Jaezred Chaulssin as spies, observing Lolth-worshipers in the Northdark. Most serve in teams of three or more under the command of a velve.[12]

Spider-kissersEdit

Spider kisser is an epithet reserved among the Chaulssinyr for those suspected of worshiping Lolth. Most of them are slaves but it is also said that the Spider Queen has a handful of devotees among the Zar'ihtra'rin.[12]

Ilharen'qarthenEdit

Ilharen'qarthen means commanding mothers and they are the harems of the Patron Fathers. They are exclusively female and serve the patron fathers for breeding. Most of them are Zar'ihtra but one in five is a female drow slave of another city. All Ilharen'qarthen rank above the other slave population of Chaulssin. Within the ranks of the harem exists another kind of hierarchy, one in which a female of dragon blood is placed above their full drow-blooded counterparts. Most of the Ilharen'qarthen give birth to males, known as zekyl. The rare female child is slain at birth.[12]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Eric L. Boyd (2007-04-25). City of Wyrmshadows (Zipped PDF) p. 6. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2009-10-07.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Eric L. Boyd (2007-04-25). City of Wyrmshadows (Zipped PDF) p. 1. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2009-10-07.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bruce R. Cordell, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Jeff Quick (October 2003). Underdark. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 133. ISBN 0-7869-3053-5.
  4. Eric L. Boyd (2007-04-25). City of Wyrmshadows (Zipped PDF) p. 1-2. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2009-10-07.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Eric L. Boyd (2007-04-25). City of Wyrmshadows (Zipped PDF) p. 2. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2009-10-07.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Eric L. Boyd (2007-04-25). City of Wyrmshadows (Zipped PDF) p. 3. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2009-10-07.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Eric L. Boyd (2007-04-25). City of Wyrmshadows (Zipped PDF) p. 4. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2009-10-07.
  8. Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 158. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  9. Lisa Smedman (January 2007). Sacrifice of the Widow. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-4250-9.
  10. Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 19. ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
  11. Eric L. Boyd (2007-04-25). City of Wyrmshadows (Zipped PDF) p. 4-5. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2009-10-07.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Eric L. Boyd (2007-04-25). City of Wyrmshadows (Zipped PDF) p. 5. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2009-10-07.

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