Welcome to the Depths of Khyber!
The Daelkyr War
The Daelkyr War decimated the western reaches of Khorvaire when nine thousand years ago Xoriat, the Plane of Madness, became coterminous with Eberron and the daelkyr lords and their terrible armies of aberrations—mind flayers, beholders, neogi, dolgrims and dolgaunts—invaded the world. Determined to refashion Eberron into another nightmare version of their native Xoriat, the daelkyr and their aberrations passed through a planar portal to arrive in western Khorvaire. Their army was met by the legions of the Dhakaani Empire and the conflict between the two forces raged for millennia. In the course of the war, the Dhakaani Empire was brought nearly to ruin as the powerful fleshshapers and their hideous minions proved more than a match for the Dhakaani’s finest bugbear warriors and hobgoblin samurai.
The daelkyr would have succeeded in their insane plan to begin reshaping the natural order of Eberron into an extension of the Plane of Madness if not for the intervention of the orcish druids of the Gatekeeper sect. The druids lured the main thrust of the daelkyr invasion into the Shadow Marches of western Khorvaire and unleashed the full, primal fury of Eberron upon the foul lords of Xoriat and their aberrations. The six daelkyr lords known to have survived the onslaught were then locked by the mightiest of the Gatekeepers’ Great Druids deep below ground in Khyber with their surviving aberrations. The power of the Gatekeepers’ druidic wards kept the daelkyr from setting foot on the surface of Eberron again, though their foul servants could still come up from the depths at will to spread fear and death. The daelkyr were not immobilized in Khyber like the fiendish Overlords but could move around at will through the Dragon Below. The Gatekeepers’ wards also shifted Xoriat in its orbit around the world so that it would not again become coterminous with Eberron until these arcane seals were destroyed.
In time, the daelkyr’s contained but subterranean influence led to the development of the Cults of the Dragon Below, foul religious organizations dedicating to worshiping Khyber and her servants, the daelkyr and the fiendish Lords of Dust, in the hopes of bringing on the end of the world and releasing Khyber from her planetary prison. In contrast, the orcs of the Gatekeeper sect remained ever vigilant for signs that their wards on Khyber were weakening or that another planar incursion from Xoriat was imminent. In the orcish druids’ view, the daelkyr and all magical aberrations presented the greatest threat to the natural order of Eberron that they were sworn to uphold since they were inherently not part of the workings of the natural world, much like the undead, and sought to destroy the delicate balance between the three draconic Progenitors that sustained all life. The daelkyr were the lords of the plane of Xoriat, the Realm of Madness. A daelkyr resembled a perfectly formed athletic human male, possessing unearthly beauty and pupiless white eyes. Despite this outward appearance, daelkyr were actually sexless and did not reproduce, since they were formed from the chaotic fabric of the plane of Xoriat itself.
A daelkyr’s horrible touch caused disease and biological corruption, and its very presence could trigger madness and confusion. At least six daelkyr (possibly more) inhabit Eberron in the present day. The surviving commanders of the daelkyr army that invaded Khorvaire, they were sealed deep in Khyber and cut off from their home plane. For millennia, the daelkyr have boded their time in the depths of Khyber, waiting for Xoriat to become coterminous with Eberron once more. The daelkyr are immortal and endlessly patient, and their manner of thinking is almost impossible for mortals (or even other outsiders) to understand. For the daelkyr, destroying worlds appears to be a form of art, and until Xoriat and Eberron are again coterminous, the daelkyr are indulging their other sordid escapades. Some are poets, musicians, or sculptors, although their works are invariably bizarre and alien to human senses. Their preferred canvas is flesh, for they are the makers of monsters. Dolgrims, dolgaunts, beholders, mind flayers, neogi, tsochar and other hideous aberrations are the legacy of the daelkyr—living weapons created expressly to destroy life. The subterranean citadel of a daelkyr lord usually supports a garrison of dolgrims, dolgaunt lieutenants, and illithid commanders. Each daelkyr also has its personal biological creations, reflecting its own aesthetic tastes. One might have a preference for oozes. Another breeds psionic vermin, while a third crafts hideous and deadly carnivorous plants. Their experiments—creating new races by twisting existing creatures into new forms—take time. A daelkyr can polymorph a creature into something else easily enough; however, creating a new species of aberration such as the dolgrim and dolgaunts (created from Dhakaani hobgoblins captured during the Daelkyr War) or neogi (fleshcrafted from the dwarves of the Ironroot Mountains) takes years to accomplish.
The ancient seals placed by the Gatekeepers trap the daelkyr beneath Eberron and keep Xoriat from becoming coterminous with the world again, but the daelkyr have not made a concerted effort to destroy these seals. Their motives are inscrutable—above all things, the daelkyr are the lords of the Realm of Madness. Insanity and corruption are the currency they deal in.
The Lord of Eyes
They are the lords of Xoriat, a realm so utterly alien that mortal minds can’t survive even the briefest exposure. In ages past, they came to Eberron from the Realm of Madness and shaped the world to their whims. At their touch, life becomes corrupt; dreams become nightmares, and reality warp, its laws and patterns forgotten.
They are the daelkyr, and though the doors to Xoriat have long since been sealed, a few remained behind. Although they are trapped in the dark corridors of Khyber by the magic of the Gatekeepers, their influence reaches into the light of day.
Legend has it that six daelkyr yet walk in Khyber, although this number is impossible to confirm. Each of them is immortal, each schemes endlessly, and each is possessed of nigh-godlike power. Perhaps the most infamous and active of them, although not necessarily the greatest, is foul Belashyrra, the Lord of Eyes.
From his Citadel of Lidless Eyes, Belashyrra is said to be able to see through the eyes of any living being. He touches the dreams of cultists who pray in his name and commands foulspawn, mind flayers, aboleths, and, of course, his personal and favorite creation, beholders.
Like most daelkyr, Belashyrra appears in the form of a male human. Yet he wears his human features like a mask, his expressions failing utterly to match the emotional content of his words and body language. When any creature looks into Belashyrra’s face, its own eyes stare back at it.
And what does he want? To what purpose does he send arcane knowledge to his cultists and burning ambitions to his aberrant soldiers? As far as any mortal mind can comprehend, Belashyrra sees himself as an artist and all of Eberron and its people as his canvas. When Belashyrra is done, the entire world will be a testament to his talents and beautiful to his eyes alone—and those eyes will be everywhere, so that he might look upon his entire work and smile.