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Dark secrets of Ieronyx (Koskatep Level 5)by Francesco Defferrari from Threshold Magazine issue 7
Dark secrets of Ieronyx
by Francesco Defferrari (Sturm)
Beloved prince of the Lady of the Night, Lord Keiros, ruled over Ieronyx, the sacred city he had reclaimed for the Promise to be fulfilled, because Ieronyx had another name in the Powerful Age. It was the city of Kosmoteiros, where the Lady herself had inscribed The Signs. It was the treasure chest of the most sacred gift the Lady ever made for us, the Starlake. When we’ll finally be strong enough to defeat the Evil which now defiles the sacred city, an ancient prophecy says Lord Keiros will return from a long slumber, to rebuild Ieronyx once again. Because He who hopes in the Darkness of The Lady will not forever die.
From “The Legend of the Darkness”, sacred text of the Church of Nyx, compiled at unknown date.
The army of the Light banished the Darkness in the name of Pflarr and Ra, blessed be their names, and the city of the undead was buried, its passages closed, its abominations destroyed, so that the dead could rest, and the Sun could shine.
From “Chronicles of Hutaaka”, compiled around 1300 BC
A powerful chief Hyvrok was a red orc, as big as an ogre he was, and he defeated the dogmen -no pup the dogmen weren’t common gnolls, they were powerful, magical beasts - and Hyvrok slew the humans who served them, and he bathed in their blood and ate their hearts and on their city he built the greatest orcish city that ever was, and he named it Rak. And from there the red orcs ruled over a hundred miles, and everyone bowed to us. Yes pup, the giants too.
The red orc Hyvrok of the Rotting Snakes clan, Western Karameikos, telling a bedtime story to his sons to explain the origin of his own name.
And as the orcs were an unending nuisance on the eastern border of the Glittering Realm, Loktal sent Wyrlum to destroy them. And because he ended them quickly and with few losses, Loktal granted him the city of the orcs, and he renamed it Karrast, and proceeded in cleaning it from orc filth and built statues and houses. And he found an ancient city below, once the home of unknown people. Wyrlum however sealed it, and ordered not to ever open the lower levels again, because ancient evils dwelt in the hungry darkness.
From “Annals of the Glittering Realm”, compiled around 920 BC
Secrets of Koskatep, Level 5
This level can be reached going down from room 21 or 31 of Level 4 (Karrast, dwarven gold, published in Issue 6 of Threshold magazine). The PCs will find themselves in Level 5, Ieronyx, a city inhabited by followers of Nyx that later became part of the hutaakan city of Ranekek and the red orc city of Rak.
The text below repeats the original description of this level in issue 1 of Threshold Magazine (Mirror of Eternal Night article). Read on to discover more on this level of Koskatep!
Level FIVE, ORCS AND NOSFERATU
This level was a short living orc city around 1000 BC. What’s left of it now are some scratches and signs crudely drawn on the walls. Before that, it was part of the hutaakan settlement, mostly cellars, and before that it was a city built by followers of Nyx and nosferatu. A small host of undead orcs infest the level.
The secret: Under an altar in this level there is a sleeping nosferatu, Lord Keiros, more than 2500 years old. When the hutaakans seized the place he was wounded and forced to hide. He will not automatically be hostile and knows much about this level and the others below, yet he is aligned with Nyx and wants the place for his goddess. Lord Keiros is very powerful and could be the only one strong enough to confront the ancient evil hidden in level 10 (see below)
Two Darker priests of Nyx, Lord Kivid and Lady Ilena - husband and wife from Specularum - will free Keiros if PCs do not do it before, and will later inhabit this level with him and five apprentices, two male and three female
Relevant history (expanded from issue 1 of Threshold)1
1777 BC: To prevent Kosmoteiros from falling into the hands of Thanatos, the priests of Nyx destroy the city with a terrible earthquake. Thousands die and the place is abandoned for many years as seismic activity increases in the area.
1664 BC: After the destruction of Taymora, fairies of the Unseelie court take possession of the place and try to use the Starlake, but do not know of the hidden temple of Ixion below.
1597 BC: Lord Keiros, a Tal nosferatu and follower of Nyx, conquers Koskatep from the dark fairies. Keiros rebuild the city as Ieronyx (sacred to Nyx). Vampiric followers of Thanatos attack several times but are defeated.
1412 BC: After the time of the Nosferatu Kings ended with the Traldar crusades against the undead, hutaakans took the city from the powerful nosferatu Lord Keiros, exterminating his followers, and renaming the city Ranekek (Light over the Darkness). hutaakans and Traldar settle the city, which over four centuries establishes peaceful relations with nearby giants and fairies. Trade relations are established with the newly-arrived Hin of Faerdinel2, as well as the Nithian empire. The hutaakans build over Ieronyx, using the original city of Lord Keiros as storage and treasury, and are unable to locate his hiding place.
1257 BC: Wogar’s red orcs conquer and enslave the people of the Atruaghin Clans, as well as several cities in the area of modern Darokin. Their raids also endanger Hin and hutaakan lands, and some orcs occupy the Western Cruth mountains and hills.
1147 BC Alik Rokov of Corescon, a nosferatu follower of Nyx, leads a rebellion against the hutaakans and lays siege to Pflarkhepet (Achelos) and Ranenek, but is eventually defeated.
1095 BC Hutaakans and Traldars establish peaceful relations with the men of Minroth who have colonised the southern islands.
1021 BC: The red orcs sack and conquer Ranekek, renaming it Rak. Several hutaakan priests survive by hiding in the lower levels. They eventually become additional guardians of the hidden temple of Ixion (Level 13). The orcs make the former storage and treasury of the temple of Pflarr their main city.
1018 BC: An attempt by the hutaakans to reconquer Ranekek from the orcs fails.
1000 BC: Gnoll invasion, Pflarkhepet is sacked and hutaakans and humans are enslaved. The red orcs of Rak ally with the gnolls and maintain rulership of the city.
954 BC: Despite the successful campaign of the Traldars against the gnolls, the west is still in their hands and orcs still rule the city of Rak. In these years a large dwarven expedition reaches the Cruth Mountains. After several battles, a dwarven army defeats the red orcs and conquers Koskatep-Rak, renaming it Karrast. The dwarves are soon in constant warfare with the gnolls that rule over the region. Level 5 is sealed by the dwarves who are unable to completely eradicate the undead orcs that infest it.
The Random Critters table of level 2B (in issue 3 of Threshold magazine) and the Wandering Parties table may apply here if the DM wishes so. In this case there is a 1% chance in each room that a Wandering Party will be encountered.
The Followers of The Last One encounter table of level 1 (in issue 2 of Threshold magazine, page 122), can also still be used here if the DM wishes so. One such follower could try to join the PCs to explore this level. Any Follower of the Last One will likely be allied with the undead orcs that infest the level, and will lead the PCs into a trap or will try to capture and bring them in the presence of The Last One himself (in Level 7). After the Darkers take control (see issue 1) any Follower of The Last One will obviously keep a much lower profile and maybe even aid the party against the Darkers to use them or lead them to their deaths.
The initial layout of this level was the city of Ieronyx that lord Keiros built. Level 6 below (the dark fairies level) was too strange to use as a normal city, and so he used it as storage areas and laboratories. He also proceeded in restoring Level 7, which contains the Starlake. After the hutaakan occupation this level was sealed, but when the orcs conquered Ranekek they used it as the centre of their city, the abode of the Orc king, his chiefs, shamans and most of his forces. The dwarves, unable to clear it from the infestation of undead orcs, eventually decided to seal it. After them, the gnolls and the priests of Thanatos and Ranivorus among them obtained from the undead orcs permission to cross this level to reach and study The Starlake in Level 7. Many undead orcs were killed here during the attack of the Church of Nyx in 841 BC, and were almost exterminated in 603 BC when the Ogre king Kulfan and the church of Nyx conquered Koskatep. Some of the undead orcs however were able to escape and hide in the many forgotten tombs of this level. More undead orcs were destroyed by the priests of Ixion after 95 AC, yet some survived until 227 AC, when The Last One arrived. He fully restored this level to them, giving them magic and powers to use them as guardians against intruders that could try to reach Level 7, where he now dwells.
The layout of this level is mostly unchanged from Lord Keiros’ times, because the orcs decorated it extensively with objects and paintings but didn’t alter the structure. The hutaakans used it mostly as treasury and storage, while the orc city of Rak was centered on this level and therefore many orcish common objects still lay around in this level, even if most of them are half decayed and hardly recognizable.
Coming from area 21 and 31 in Level 4, this level can be entered through stairs that arrive at the left and right-hand sides of the warehouses (area 7). The right-hand stairs of area 7 go deeper to Level 6 too. In area 13 there is also a hidden staircase leading directly to Level 7, thus permitting one to avoid Level 6 entirely. Not even The Last One and his minions know of this passage, but Lord Keiros (buried in area 12) does. Indeed when the Darkers invade Koskatep he’ll lead them to fight the Last One using the hidden staircase (see the Battle on this level at the end of the article).
Spells that provide magical transportation, such as teleport, passwall, dimensional door, magic door, travel, gate and spells such as clairvoyance and find the path do not work on this level and those below due to powerful wards placed by The Last One and others before him. The DM could decide to apply the same rule to the levels above, at least from Level 2 and below, particularly if the PCs are of high level.
Depicted in grey on the map is solid stone which is very difficult to dig. In white are the open areas. “Open” should be considered a relative term as much of the terrain is rugged and full of debris. The area is completely dark if PCs do not bring light. If they do bring light, of course, it makes the party quite visible.
The undead orcs of this level
The exact number and power of undead orcs in this level will not be specified and will be left to each DM’s choice, to be adjusted depending on PCs level. The description of each room will include a random die to generate the number of orcs, and some “special” orcs and other characters will be described.
All the undescribed orcs are red orcs, usually dressed in the style of Atruaghin tribes with feathers, beads and war paintings. Most of them will have appropriate weapons, like bows and stone hatchets, even if some, as incorporeal undead, will not really need them. The undescribed undead orcs could be of any type of undead, from skeletons to vampires, as The Last One raised them over and over again, even after some were destroyed in the past by enemies and adventurers.
Map of Karrast, Level 5
1 - The Entrance.
This area of about 40x80 meters was the entrance of the city in Keiros’ times, and a great statue of Nyx dominated it. Destroyed by the hutaakans, it was replaced with a mound made of hundreds of skulls and bones by the orcs. The mound was destroyed or decayed during the centuries, but lately the undead orcs have rebuilt it with the remains of dead adventurers. 1d10+3 undead orcs usually roam this area, under the command of Evra, a large undead female orc (nosferatu, shaman 9) that has 2 hellhounds (HD5) as pets. Evra is loyal to The Last One and will fight to the death.
1 - There are some ancient carved wooden red orcs figurines in Evra’s hut, that she managed to preserve and restore through the centuries. She has also hid around 700 coins from various nations of 1000-960 BC, which now will have a great value.
The Darkers will clear this area of orcs and orc trophies, but it will take time before Lord Keiros and his new companions (see Area 12 below) could put this area to a new use.
2 - The Workshops.
This area once had workshops and stores of jewellers, leatherworkers, potters and many other artisans that inhabited the city in Lord Keiros’ times. The hutaakans abandoned it but the orcs used the area again with the same purpose. Many common objects can still be found in the area, even if most of them are almost completely decayed.
Adud, a hutaakan wraith (HD6), roams this area. The Last One has ordered the orcs to leave him be in his sad state. Adud is almost mad with loneliness and despair and will probably attack any intruder, but patient PCs could manage to communicate with him.
2 - There is a huge chest of treasure hidden in this area, including a potion of invulnerability and 2000 coins from various times. The chest is quite hard to find.
The Darkers will try to communicate with Adud, promising him a new body and a new purpose. The wraith could accept their offer, unless the PCs have succeeded in bringing him to their side before.
3 - The City palace.
This palace was the seat of the city government and public offices. Abandoned in hutaakan times, it was used by orcs as the house of females and children. Crude orc toys still litter the area. The other undead orcs avoid this place as it’s haunted by a Vision (HD12) of dozens of orc females and children, burned here by the dwarves when they took the orc city. The Vision does not immediately attack intruders but cries (with the power of a banshee’s wail) and, after that, can also attack physically with the powers of a poltergeist. The orcs avoid this area because of the sadness and fear it causes in them.
The Darkers will disarm the trap and give final rest to the orc females and children. Some of them (1d6+1) will then start working here to clean and renovate the place, but it will take months, or even years to bring the palace to a new use.
4 - The Market.
This area of about 30x30 meters, once adorned by statues and columns, was the main market of the city during Lord Keiros’ times. The hutaakans used it for storage, and the orcs for weapons practice. Five large gray oozes (HD4) have been placed here by the Juvur (see Area 5 below) to hinder intruders.
4 - There is a shelf full of jars in bottom right corner of this area, a collection of clerical potions of almost any kind created by Juvur (see Area 5 below). None of them however is curative, being that all the orcs are undead.
The Darkers will keep and occasionally feed the gray oozes, finding them useful as possible guardians against intruders. They will also collect all Juvur’s potions.
5 - The Temple.
This was the main temple of Nyx in Lord Keiros’ times. The hutaakans desecrated it but did not rededicate it to Pflarr, rather using it as storage and treasury. The orcs however dedicated it to their dark immortals during their time. The Darkers, the ogres and the priests of Ixion that reached this level later desecrated the temple again, but in the last centuries The Last One rededicated it to Thanatos. Now a great statue of the entropic immortal dominates it and Juvur (C16 of Thanatos, nosferatu) ministers in it with four orc apprentices (C5-10 all nosferatu). Juvur also has 3 hellhounds, always kept in the temple as guardians. The walls are now decorated with more images of Thanatos.
5 - Juvur has a secret stash of scrolls, 2000 coins, semiprecious and precious stones, jewels and several silver objects. This treasure is hidden in a secret compartment of the southern wall of the temple and not even the apprentices know of it. The apprentices have some coins and jewels in their quarters below the staircase on the western side of the area. Juvur’s room is located in the same area too.
The Darkers will destroy Juvur and his apprentices, along with the hellhounds. Juvur may be able to escape to Level 6, when he’ll join The Last One. The Temple will eventually be dedicated by Lord Keiros to Nyx, and all Thanatos’ objects will be destroyed. Yuri, a C7 priest of Nyx, will always be here with 4 acolytes (C1-3), repairing and renovating the temple.
6 - The Theatre.
This area was the city theatre during Lord Keiros’ times, the hutaakans abandoned it and the red orcs utilized it as a fighting arena.
A group of incorporeal minions of The Last One usually dwell here, this group may include any number of wraiths (HD5), spectres (HD7), phantoms (HD10) and ghosts (HD14) depending on the PCs levels3. Hikros, a orc werewolf and cleric of Thanatos (C13) is in charge of the incorporeal undead in this area, and his job is also to try to weaken the magical ward between this level and the one above. He has two pet undead giant scorpions (HD4 with ghoul touch).
6 - Hikros has a treasure of coins, gems, a potion of fire resistance, potion of levitation, wand of enlarge person with 7 charges. He’ll probably use the wand and the potion of levitation in a difficult fight.
The Darkers will kill Hikros, his pets and minions, unless he’s able to escape down to Level 6.
7 - The Warehouses.
This great area has many warehouses that were used as storage during Lord Keiros’, hutaakan, and orc times. The orcs have stored their treasures here, mostly equipment taken from the corpses of invaders and adventurers they killed. Depending on the DM’s generosity, several normal and magical objects can be found here, along with coins and other valuables, and precious books and diaries of ages past.
In the north right corner of the area a great staircase comes down from area 21 of Level 4, and in the north left corner another, smaller one, comes down from area 31 of Level 4. Both are guarded by undead orcs and possibly other minions of The Last One, who endlessly try to invade the level above from here. The north right staircase has 1d10+2 undead orcs guards, while the north left staircase, closed and much less used, has only 1d4+2.
The overseer of this whole area is Tharb, a revenant orc (15 HD) who dwells here with 4 orc spectres and 2 orc ghouls, his servants. If a fight with the orcs that guard the staircases last more than 10 rounds, Tharb will join it with 3 spectres and 2 ghouls, and will send the other spectre to call for reinforcement in area 8. After 5 more rounds, group of undead orcs will start to arrive too.
The north right staircase goes further down, directly to Level 6, inhabited by the dark fairies. Eerie sounds and a thin mist seem to come from below. The orcs have left this stair open as they have a sort of alliance with the dark fairies, or at least they were forced to keep the peace with them by the power of The Last One.
7 - The diary of Nuf, priest of Ssu-ma4, is stored here along with a bunch of other diaries and books that do not interest the orcs very much. There are also amulets and many other red orc objects, some of which can be magical if the DM wishes.
The Darkers will destroy all the undead orcs who refuse to join them. Tharb could be able to escape to Level 6 to warn The Last One and stand there with him. The Darkers will place here temporary dwellings for the guards in area 8, five of them (Four F1-4 and One C3), will always be here resting.
8 - The Central Court.
This area of about 40x100 meters was the largest open space of the ancient city, and now there are always 3d20+5 undead orcs here, from ghouls to vampires, ready to defend their city should invaders arrive. Bruk, (F9, nosferatu) is their brutal commander.
The remains of Elren (male, fighter, deceased) and the wood elf, Yipki (male, cleric, deceased), part of a group of Minrothaddan adventurers5 have been hanged at the centre of the court, with armor, weapons and possessions below them, and some ghouls eating their flesh.
8 - Bruk has chain mail +2 and a scroll of protection from magic, that he’ll probably use in a fight if he has the chance. He also has several gems he carries in his clothes.
The Darkers will defeat Bruk and his orcs, but he may be able to retreat to Level 6 when the battle goes badly for his minions. Five Darker guards (Four F1-4 and One C3) will always be posted here afterwards.
9 - The Low city.
Here were the quarters of the common people of the city during Lord Keiros’ times. The district extended much more to the west and the south of this area, but is now partially buried under the earth. The hutaakans didn’t use this area of the city, but the orcs inhabited the houses again. Most of the objects still laying around here are therefore of red orc craftsmanship.
There are three trap pits filled with acid in the area, constructed by the orcs as the area is difficult to navigate and they cannot patrol it properly. Some wraiths also dwell here, once humans of Lord Keiros’ city, raised in the last centuries by The Last One. Most of them are not fully aware of their condition and it’s difficult to communicate with them.
9 - There are several underground tombs in this area, as during Lord Keiros’ times it was customary to bury the dead under the house. Some of them could still be intact, have treasure and possible human bodies that can be raised or will rise from the dead if disturbed, as the DM prefers.
The Darkers will explore this area extensively, trying to recruit any undead into their fold. As most of the undead in this area were probably followers of Nyx in their past life, they could find several new recruits here. After their takeover, at least 1d6+1 Darkers (Any class Level 2-4) will always be here, along with 1d10+1 Uncorporeals6.
10 - The Beast market.
This irregular area of about 20x40 meters was once the market for animals and many more common objects, abandoned during hutaakan times and used again as market by the orcs. Dugoth and Vorokh, two brothers, both nosferatu and F8 keep 7 undead trolls (HD6 and mummy powers) the The Last One gave them as troops. They will come in aid of the other orcs in area 8 in 1d4+5 rounds if called.
10 - There are the remains of some orcs and ogres in this area that look recently deceased, and partially eaten by the trolls. They were adventurers sent by the ogres on Level 1. Golbag (See Level 1, Area 9 in Issue #2 of Threshold magazine) will be interested in hearing of their fate and any other information on this level and the ones above.
The Darkers will destroy Dugoth, Vorokh and the trolls along with other minions of The Last One, unless they surrender or escape to Level 6.
11 - The Garden.
This area was the beautiful garden of Lord Keiros’ palace during his time. The hutaakans abandoned it, while the orcs used it as a pen for dangerous beasts. Now it’s just an open space of grey dust, hardly recognizable as the former garden. Hakrag (nosferatu, F12), the orc pet master at the time, has been revived by The Last One and recently has received a giant undead Caecilia (HD10, plus mummy’s touch) as a gift. He has also 2 undead orc apprentices (nosferatu, F5-6) and is now working on reviving some remains of rust monsters.
He hates Dugoth and Vorokh of area 10. Sometimes he pits his monsters against the trolls of the two brothers for the amusement of the king and the other orcs.
11 - There are remains of several other creatures in the north east corner of this area, where Hakrag has a hut where he keeps remains of creatures he wishes to revive, someday. Hakrag also has coins, jewels, several weapons and pieces of armor and a bow with three arrows of slaying and more normal arrows. He’ll use the arrows if menaced.
The Darkers will destroy Hakrag, his apprentices and monsters. Eventually Lord Keiros will rebuild the garden, planting in it magical plants that can live in the dark or in dim magical light.
12 - The Palace.
This was the palace of Lord Keiros at the height of Ieronyx. The hutaakans used it for magic items storage, then the orcs made it the abode of their king Hyvrok. The king was slain here with his shamans and bodyguards by the dwarves of Wyrlum Lokar, but just a few days after he returned from death as a spirit and began to infest the area. Hyvrok was defeated two more times, but he didn’t find eternal rest and finally The Last One brought him back from death again. Now he rules again over Rak with a court of undead orc minions (3d10+10 undead orcs from ghouls to vampires are always here, including at least two nosferatu orc shamans, level 9). Hyvrok is a HD20 Spirit that can fight as a revenant but also leave his body to escape or try to possess a victim (save at -1). He’ll wait for intruders to sit on his throne, surrounded by his warriors. Hyvrok has a ring of protection +2, a ring of counterspell with three charges left and a wand of fireballs with 2 charges left. He’ll try to hit enemies from afar and will escape if he sees that the battles goes bad for his side, trying to reach more orcs in Area 8 and from there the staircase leading down in Area 7.
Once Ieronyx had towers, but now only here in the palace a second floor survives. It now contains the sarcophagus and treasures of Hyvrok, who has accumulated over the centuries a formidable stash of weapons, armors, magical objects, gold, jewels and much more. There are several traps protecting the treasure, and 3 cockatrices (HD5) in the first room up the stairs.
12 - There is a hidden door in the southern right room, very hard to spot. Nevertheless, the room was discovered by the undead orcs, who didn’t touch its content much as they haven’t any use for it. Flesh and blood visitors however would be much more interested in the coins, jewels, works of art and magical objects that were the personal treasure of Lord Keiros. What no one knows is that under an elaborate and surprisingly well preserved, heavy chest of drawers there is another hidden hatch, leading to the hidden tomb of Lord Keiros (C25 of Nyx).
The tomb is an underground chamber of 5x5 meters, with a massive stone sarcophagus in the centre. Inside the sarcophagus, Lord Keiros has slept for more than 2400 years. Mortally burned by the hutaakans who attacked Ieronyx in 1412 BC, he was able to hide here but couldn’t regenerate his wounds and fell into a long stasis. That happened because the hutaakans blessed and purified Koskatep, yet their magic didn’t destroy him completely. Inside the sarcophagus, Lord Keiros appears as a man of indefinite age, with black hair and a grey tunic reaching his ankles. A black obsidian half moon rests on his chest. Lord Keiros will awake only if a drop of blood is shed on him. A cleric of Nyx or a faithful of the goddess will hear the voice of the immortal herself, telling him or her to do so.
Once awake, Lord Keiros will ask what happened during his sleep, and he’ll be thoughtful for the long time passed, but not daunted. He’ll aid any followers of Nyx to the extent of his capabilities. Should he be awaken by common adventurers or followers of other faiths, Lord Keiros will not be hostile, but will calmly explain his convictions. If PCs cannot be persuaded to join him and Nyx, he’ll let them go, pointing out that he’ll not resort to violence, unless he’s forced to7.
The Darkers will defeat Hyvrok and his minions (but he may be able to escape to Level 6), then they’ll proceed to explore the palace, searching for the tomb of Lord Keiros.
The Darkers in fact have gathered some clues about the location of Lord Keiros tomb, during the centuries, so they’ll be able to find and revive him. Lord Keiros will immediately aid them to reach Level 7 (see area 13 below) once he’s brought up to date with the occupation of Koskatep by The Last One. He’ll aid the Darkers in the fight and, after their (temporary) victory8, he’ll inhabit the Palace again, together with two Darker priests of Nyx, Lord Kivid (C12 of Nyx) and Lady Ilena (C15 of Nyx), husband and wife from Specularum, and five apprentices, two male and three female (C 1-6 of Nyx)
13 - The Hill.
This steep hill once housed the most important people of Ieronyx, but was abandoned in hutaakan times and later became an area inhabited by common orcs. The beautiful wall paintings that once decorated the houses were mostly ruined by the orcs, who put on their decorations, now mostly crumbled to dust. 2d10+3 undead orcs always dwell in this area.
13 - There is a staircase leading up to a group of ruined houses, once the abode of the most important clerics and wizards of Ieronyx. At the top of the staircase, behind a ruined bas relief that orcs covered with crude inscriptions and feather decorations now decayed, there is a secret door, very hard to find, that leads to a hidden staircase. This passage lead directly to Level 7 and no one knows of it anymore, except for Lord Keiros.
The Darkers will find Lord Keiros and so they’ll know of the hidden staircase. They will indeed use it to avoid Level 6 entirely and directly attack The Last One on Level 7, guided by Lord Keiros himself.
14 - The Warrior’s houses.
This area was dedicated to the houses of Ieronyx warriors at the height of the city. The orcs used it more or less for the same purpose and in the area there are still weapons and armor tracing back to two thousand years ago, some in surprisingly good condition. Several wraiths and wights dwell in this area, humans, hutaakans and orcs randomly revived by The Last One in recent centuries, or former adventurers from the past 4000 years of Koskatep history (the DM could randomly choose the origin of an undead rolling 1d20 and picking a date from Timeline of Koskatep in issue #1 of Threshold magazine, from 3525 BC (Azcan) to 912 AC (Traladaran freedom fighters). If the PCs are able to communicate with such undead (most of them are angry and confused, so patience and creative solutions could be needed) they could discover many interesting facts about the history of the ruins.
14 - There are several magical weapons and armor in this area, that could be randomly decided by the DM if the PCs spend at least one hour searching. There is a 20% chance for every hour passed here that 1d6 wights or wraiths will attack the PCs.
The Darkers will try to bring to their side every undead still active in this area. Depending on each undead background, some could accept their offer. At least 1d10+2 wraiths and wights will be here, loyal to the Darkers and ready to warn Lord Keiros of any intruder roaming the area.
THE BATTLE ON THIS LEVEL
When the Darkers attack, they’ll probably come from the north right staircase in area 7, destroying Tharb and all the other orcs, unless some of them surrender and join Nyx’s faith. During the battle more orcs will probably arrive from area 5, 6 and 8 (Juvur, Hikros and Bruk), and eventually also Dugoth and Vorokh from area 10 with their trolls. The Darkers however will be strong enough to defeat them, and they’ll proceed to the palace (area 12) where King Hyvrok will make his last stands with his guards, the undead orcs from area 13 and Hakrag from area 11. Evra from area 1 could join this last stand or try to escape in the confusion. As the Darkers will block the staircase in area 7, however, escaping down to Level 6 could be unlikely, if not outright impossible, for the undead orcs. While The Last One will expect an attack from the staircase and through Level 6, the Darkers will instead arrive directly on Level 7, thanks to the Lord Keiros’ aid in finding the lost passage in area 13. The Last One will be surprised and defeated, also because the Dark Fairies of Level 6 will not come to his aid. He’ll not however be completely destroyed, and will hide on Level 10, as explained in issue #1 of Threshold magazine. When he strikes back he may be able to raise more undead orcs in this level to fight Lord Keiros, his apprentices and the other Darkers that will be here.
1Several details of this history come from my History of Traladara (http://pandius.com/tralhist.html). Other histories may differ, as the one presented in issue 1 of Threshold magazine did (History of Karameikos by Simone Neri, page 37), but this timeline could easily fit into them too.
2Modern Five Shires, see Gaz 08 The Five Shires by Ed Greenwood.
3This group could be the same present in Level 4, Area 17 in issue #6 of Threshold magazine, or a back up party ready to join those above. Hikros could have succeeded in weakening the magic ward between this level and the one above, thus gaining another access to Level 4. An access that can be used however only by incorporeal creatures.
4See Level 4, Area 3 in issue #6 of Threshold magazine.
5See Level 4, Area 10 in issue #6 of Threshold magazine.
6The Uncorporeal are special Nyx ghosts who can possess the bodies of any living people or dead bodies (an unwilling victim will obviously be allowed a saving throw), as explained in issue #1 of Threshold magazine, in “Mirror of Eternal Night” article.
7Lord Keiros should indeed supply a crucial moral dilemma to the PCs, as he’s not evil, but he’s the servant of an entropic immortal, Nyx, who has a specific goal that would change the world of the living forever.
8See Mirror of Eternal Night in issue #1 of Threshold magazine and previous levels of Koskatep, the Darkers will be able to defeat The Last One but he’ll not be destroyed as they think, but he’ll hide in Level 10, waiting for the right time to strike back.