Rizz'zhak is a notorious troglodyte raid leader who's become the boogeyman of Hope. Many demonic ruins provide hidden entrances to Khyber, which Rizz'hak uses to navigate quickly and freely in the region. Wandslingers hoping to end his threat have all ended up lost and dead in the dark, wet tunnels below Q'barra.
Along a section of unregarded coastline in the southwestern Riedran province of Rhiavhaar, the remains of a Sarlonan port city rise from the churning waves. As with many such places abandoned in the upheaval of the Sundering, time and the elements have erased almost all sign of habitation here. However, this ancient site holds a secret known only to the dragon scholars who clandestinely study it. This inhospitable beachhead marks the place from which the Lhazaar expedition set out three thousand years before, bringing with it the first largescale migration of humans to Khorvaire.
The ruined city lies along a stretch of open shoreline easily accessible by water or air. The ruins just beneath the waves constantly lash the water to foam, but several clear channels (formerly broad avenues between nowsubmerged buildings) can be easily navigated to shore or a suitable mooring spot.
Overland, the harbor can be approached through a wide belt of marshland that follows the line of a slow-flowing river. Clandestine travel through Rhiavhaar is easier than in many other parts of Riedra, but it still presents a challenge. The province features a good number of dissidents (including the Dream Merchants smugglers) who might assist any who seek this ancient site.
The raging sea churns even more furiously than normal as it smashes against a rocky beach. A muddy river cuts a steep course through sandstone banks before being swallowed by white water. Shattered stone ruins jut up from breakers that crash loudly as they hit the shore. Across the beach, a cold wind tears at scattered stands of salt-stunted trees. No signs of life disturb the scene.
In the millennia since the Lhazaar expedition set forth, the relentless sea has carved away much of this area’s former coastline. The city that stood here has been forgotten, but its ruined foundations still stab upward like weathered bones from the sand.
The following features correspond to numbered areas on the map.
- Abandoned Lair: Where the river has cut its way through sandstone banks over the years, it has exposed an opening that must have once been concealed. A wide tunnel leads to a cavern showing signs of a former dragon’s lair, but the cave has not been inhabited for centuries.
- Unearthed Dragonstone: The tunnels around this area appear to have been excavated randomly, with many ending mere feet after they begin. After a complete exploration of the area, a character can make a DC 20 Knowledge (architecture and engineering) check. A success determines that all the diggings point to a central location: The various tunnels are attempts to find the easiest route through veins of soft sandstone to the central chamber. This area has been sealed off behind a wall of sandstone, but a successful DC 25 Search check reveals the blockage. Pushing through to the chamber takes appropriate magic or 8 hours of digging by four characters.
The sandstone cavern has been excavated around a massive slab of black onyx. Across the slab’s face gleam the twisting silver lines of a symbol resembling a dragonmark, reflecting any moonlight or sunlight that shines down a narrow shaft punched through the rock above.
- Shoreline Ruins: These battlements once formed the overland gateway to the ancient port town, but nearly thirty centuries of erosion have left their remains well below the waterline. The ruins are accessible only at low tide, requiring a wait of 1d12 hours (possibly attracting the attention of wandering creatures) for a chance to explore. Creatures able to breathe and see underwater can explore the area even at high tide, though the rough water is murky at all times (DMG 93). At low tide, the area is thick with algae and seaweed, requiring DC 10 Balance checks to move.
Within the ruins, signs of recent excavation and exploration can be found (Search DC 20). Both Huge and smaller creatures (draconic agents and their dragon prophet servants) have been at work here.
With a successful DC 15 Search check, a character discovers that one slab of algae-covered rock shows less erosion than the rest of the ruins. Further investigation reveals that it has been placed here recently. Beneath the slab is a hidden chamber, but the stone requires a DC 40 Strength check to shift it (up to six characters can attempt at once). If the attempt is made while the surging tide covers the stone, the water’s buoyancy grants a +5 bonus on the check.
The chamber contains a sealed trunk holding maps, notes, blank parchment, ink, pens, and four cloaks of the manta ray. The maps and notes speak of excavations ongoing beneath the footings of the ruined lighthouse (area 4). The dragon prophets who come here from time to time use the cloaks to enter the underwater ruins.
- Lighthouse Footings: The crumbled foundations of a ruined lighthouse rise from the silt of the ocean floor 10 feet beneath the surging waves at low tide. A DC 25 Search or Survival check is needed to find them. The rough water is murky at all times. Any number of breaches in the ancient stone give access to the ruined foundations. In the center of the ruins, a bubble of air marks the area of a permanent control water effect. Below it, a passageway has been carefully excavated.
- Prophecy Chamber: Some 50 feet below the lighthouse foundations (well belowground even when the port was a thriving city), a rough-hewn chamber has been carved from the living rock. A DC 15 Search check reveals the marks of claws and tools, signs that both dragons and humanoids have been active in the excavations here. Where the ceiling has weakened, it is supported by beams and stanchions, and sections of the walls appear to have been carefully cleaned of slime and debris.
This chamber is magically free of water, and the air, though slightly stale, is breathable on arrival. However, the air does not refresh itself. Each creature can stay here for a number of rounds equal to its Constitution score before the lack of oxygen begins to have an effect. After this time, it must hold its breath or begin to suffocate (DMG 304). The dragons and dragon prophets who work here use bottles of air to replenish themselves.
The chamber walls are engraved from top to bottom with Draconic runes. A successful DC 30 Knowledge (arcana) check confirms that this writing is notes, reflections, and meditations on the draconic Prophecy. Anyone who succeeds on a DC 25 Search check confirms that the engraving is thousands of years old. With a successful DC 20 Profession (scribe) or Knowledge (arcana) check, a character who reads Draconic can successfully copy a single page’s worth of runes. Copying a page takes 1 hour, and a character can scribe a maximum of 10 pages per point of Intelligence bonus. (The chamber itself contains much more lore; this number simply represents how much the limited understanding of a single character allows him to transcribe.) Each page can fetch 100 gp from a scholar or sage with an interest in the Prophecy, but PCs attempting to sell this knowledge might find themselves targets of the Chamber or the great wyrm Qataakhast (page 120).
- Shrine to Lhazaar: Beyond the Prophecy chamber is a smaller cavern similarly covered in Draconic runes. However, this text is a narrative: apparently a first-hand account of the preparations and departure of Lhazaar’s expedition from the city that once stood above. The text speaks of challenges from the Rhiavhaar pirates and slavers who controlled the Sea of Rage, and of Lhazaar’s dedication to a purpose whose meaning is not made clear. The narrative hints of a desperation underlying the dangerous journey east, and of some of the migrants in Lhazaar’s flotilla fleeing devastating wars in Sarlona’s western lands. In addition, the text suggests that both a dragon in human form and a rakshasa of the Lords of Dust might have accompanied Lhazaar’s expedition.
The writing in this chamber can be easily copied at a rate of 1 page per hour, to a total of 100 pages’ worth of information. A copy of this lore can fetch up to 10,000 gp from any Khorvairian scholar or sage but attracts the same attention from draconic agents as text copied from the Prophecy chamber.
Notes and diaries kept by the dragon prophets who have worked here hint that the engravings in both rooms date from the first century after the Lhazaar migration. The notes speak of Sarlona as being outside the draconic Prophecy, but they also tell of a group of dragons who understood how important Lhazaar’s expedition was to the unfolding of the Prophecy in Khorvaire.
At the center of the cavern rests a worn sandstone pedestal. On it sits an amulet that radiates magic. At the DM’s discretion, this might be a relic from Lhazaar’s own life, or a magic or psionic item placed here by draconic agents for safekeeping.