The following day, Lakshmi returned and asked them if they were still willing to help her. She had found the location of an ancient Quori outpost in the jungle, and wanted to explore it for clues to the ancient denizens of the Plane of Dreams. However, the ruins were said to be guarded by a tribe of giants, and Lakshmi knew she could not manage the journey alone. The group agreed that they had time to help her, and they set out into the jungle once again.
They traveled in a somewhat haphazard fashion, Lakshmi leading the way under the guidance of shared memories with her Kalashtar sisters, each descended from the same ancient spirit. Some of the group, notably Ral, did not fully trust her. One even, she sat down to explain to them more about the Path of Light, and the secret history of the Kalashtar people.
The plane of Dal Quor, she explained, was a cyclical place that ebbed and flowed with the changing of the epochs. Each time a great age came to an end of Eberron, Dal Quor collapsed in on itself, and then was reborn anew. Whether Eberron affected Dal Quor or Dal Quor’s changes brought upheaval on Eberron, no one knew. The patterns became obvious to the immortal Quori, who encountered evidence of interplanar contact on Eberron that no Quori who currently lived were aware of when examining the dreams of mortals from the material plane. They also did not know what had happened during the Giant-Quori Wars, or even what sparked the conflict. It was an answer each Quori deeply desired to know.
The current incarnation of Dal Quor was that of a living nightmare. The current Quori spirits were servants of a new power at the heart of the plane, known as “il-lashtavar”. The Quori had become slowly aware of the connection between Eberron and Dal Quor, and through endless examination of the dreams of mortals became once again aware of the cyclical nature of the connection between Eberron and Dal Quor. This terrified the current Quori, who feared the death that this change would bring them. Rather than submit to their fate, they decided to act on the Material Plane, to make sure another change would never come to pass.
Slowly, over the centuries, they manipulated the dreams of mortals, changing the destiny of the land known as Sarlona. They masterfully manipulated bloodlines to create races that would host their spirits in the material world, allowing them to take direct action. Over the course of hundreds of years, they manipulated events to create the totalitarian society of Reidra, ruled by the Inspired – those humanoid vessels specially bred to serve as the perfect hosts for their Quori masters. The Inspired had one overriding goal – to create a new world order on Eberron, one which would allow no change, and which would ensure in turn that Dal Quor never changed. The servants of il-lashtavar, “The Darkness That Dreams”, became known as The Dreaming Dark on Eberron.
However, some Quori did not agree with this path, and felt that the actions taken by the Dreaming Dark were wrong. For their temerity, they were hunted down and destroyed on Dal Quor, and the survivors fled to Eberron. There, they met with a group of ascetic monks in the mountains of Adar, and told them of the terrible actions of the Inspired. The monks agreed to allow themselves to be hosts to the renegade Quori spirits, who subsumed their power and their personalities into the bloodline of the monks, and created the race known as the kalashtar. Each kalashtar is descended from one of those monks, and each bears a fragment of the soul of one of those renegade spirits.
Ral found all this very difficult to believe, as it was in direct conflict with what he had learned from the Inspired as he had grown up. Lakshmi, however, continued to explain that the Quori still punished renegade spirits by trapping them in mortal forms, like his. Ral knew he was a prison for an “evil spirit”, so this was no surprise to him. However, Lakshmi explained, some spirits were too powerful for just one mortal form to contain, and had to be split into more than one. When this was done, the two mortal forms were put as far from each other as possible, because if they were to meet, the spirit could regain some of it’s potency. As she said this, she looked meaningfully at Storm, who glared impassively back at her.
After several days travel, they finally approached the area Lakshmi knew the ruins to be in. While traveling, they found themselves being stalked by a group of jungle giants, who leapt from the canopy and attacked. While the others beat back the giant’s attack, Malaxder managed to charm one of them, and ordered the giant to protect him. When the fight was over, Mal asked his new “friend” to guide them to the ruins. The giant did so reluctantly, but when they drew near he said he could not approach because those who entered the ruins often came back “not themselves”, seeming to imply possession of some kind. After much discussion, the group decided to talk to the leader of the jungle tribe, a female named Alda. Alda was fairly reasonable, but also insisted that the group not enter the ruins for the same reason. She said her tribe was sworn to protect the rest of the world from whatever lurked in the ruins, and if she found that the group had entered the ruins, she and her people would fight to the death to keep them from leaving again. Malaxder assured her they would not enter the ruins, and left the Giantish camp in peace.
In the meantime, the group headed as stealthily as possible into the ruins, hoping to avoid being noticed by the giants who were no doubt following them. Entering the area, they found ancient astral constructs still functioning, some formed into artistic shapes like decorations, while others were lit from within like torches in a sconce. Approaching the entrance, they were suddenly ambushed by yuan-ti, who struck from the shadows with psionics and arrows. After a brief fight, they drove them back as much as they could, and headed into the ruins.
Inside, they found a huge seal on the ground which radiated magic. In addition, the walls had mysterious grooves cut into them, seeming at first to be decorative geometric patterns. While Malaxder examined the seal, Ral studied the grooves and found that some of them contained what seemed to be psionically-charged ectoplasm. The entire structure was cracked and damaged by some massive force, and the connections between the walls were broken. Mal, meanwhile, discovered that the seal was in fact a permanent gate, most likely to the plane of Dal Quor. The gate was non-functional because of whatever epic magic the ancient giants had used to block travel to and from Dal Quor.
Exploring deeper within, they encountered a patrol of what seemed to be giant-sized Warforged, each with a mysterious cavity in their chests. The Warforged attacked suddenly, and the group defended themselves as best they could against the gigantic constructs. Ral noted when one of them fell, it’s chest cavity was filled with the charged ectoplasm. As it lost function, the ectoplasm evaporated back into the astral plane.
Moving even deeper, they finally came across what seemed to be the control room for the structure. This room was very badly damaged by what Ral guessed was probably an earthquake, sometime in the distant past. In the room was another group of the giant Warforged, although they seemed to be dormant, and four large pillars, pulsing with energy. All around the room, the ectoplasm-filled grooves came to a point at a central dais, where a small round orb seemed to have been knocked out of it’s place. As Malaxder approached the dais to try putting it back again, the yuan-ti attacked again, determined to take control of the ruins for themselves. Malaxder was dealt a vicious blow, but Baph managed to get the drop on the leader and destroyed him with his powerful psychic abilities.
After the battle, Malaxder examined the orb a bit more and found that it was a docent, a powerful Warforged component. Inserting the docent into the Warforged present, it quickly took over the warforged’s functions and spoke to the group, introducing itself as Warden. It explained that the ruins were originally a Quori outpost on Eberron, but were captured during the war and used by the giants as a prison of sorts for the invading Quori. Warden’s role was to keep the Quori prisoners trapped in the pillars around the room. However, he noted that the prisons had slowly weakened over the years, and the Quori within were likely to try and escape if they had the chance.
Lakshmi wanted to try and contact the trapped Quori, to fulfill her goal of learning about the ancient history of her race. However, Warden warned that the only method of contact available would also open her to possession by the Quori, who would then try to escape by any means. Despite these warnings, and before anyone could stop him, Baph reached out and touched one of the pillars and was immediately possessed by one of the now-insane Quori. The Quori lashed out with Baph’s psychic powers, attempting to shatter the other prisons, but Malaxder acted quickly to drive the spirit from Baph and back into the pillar where it came, before too much damage was done.
With more time and care, the group gleaned as much knowledge as they could from the trapped spirits, which was not much. In the end, they decided to return Warden to his spot on the dais and allow him to take control of the facility back. When the time came to leave, they decided it would be more prudent to teleport back to Stormreach, rather than face down the tribe of giants that was no doubt waiting for them to return.