The Shadow Path: A Portal Network
By James Wyatt
The Speaker: Male half-fiend/half-shield dwarf Ftr9; CR 11; Medium-size humanoid; HD 9d10+45; hp 99; Init +7; Spd 20 ft., fly 20 ft. (average); AC 24, touch 13, flat-footed 21; Atk +14 melee (1d6+5/19-20, bite) and +9 melee (1d4+2, 2 claws); SA spell-like abilities; SQ acid resistance 20, cold resistance 20, darkvision 60 ft., dwarf traits, electricity resistance 20, fire resistance 20, poison immunity; AL CE; SV Fort +11, Ref +6, Will +5; Str 20, Dex 16, Con 20, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 10.
Skills and Feats: Climb +13, Craft (metalworking) +3, Craft (stoneworking) +3, Jump +13, Listen +8; Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Critical (bite), Improved Initiative, Mobility, Power Attack, Spring Attack, Sunder.
Spell-like Abilities: 3/day -- darkness, poison; 1/day -- desecrate, unholy blight. Caster level 9th; save DC 10 + spell level.
Dwarf Traits: The Speaker has a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against orcs and goblinoids, a +2 racial bonus on saves against spells and spell-like abilities, a +2 racial bonus on Fortitude saves against all poisons, and a +4 dodge bonus against giants. He has darkvision (60-foot range) and stonecunning (+2 racial bonus on checks to notice unusual stonework; can make a check for unusual stonework as though actively searching when within 10 ft. and can use the Search skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can; intuit depth). The Speaker also has a +2 racial bonus on Appraise checks and Craft or Profession checks related to stone or metal (these bonuses are already figured into the statistics above).
Possessions: +2 scale mail, +2 large steel shield, gauntlets of ogre power (reflected in statistics above).
Three thousand years ago, a demon-worshiping cult of dwarves in ancient Ammarindar built their sanctum and a sprawling network of portals on the basis of a prophetic vision: Their leader saw a half-fiend dwarf, spawn of a vrock, arriving in a hall prepared for him and speaking words of power. The Speaker has at last arrived, but he has yet to speak words of power -- or any word at all. He listens well enough, as Durhgathu Maendrar prattles incessantly about doing the will of Baphomet and fulfilling his destiny. But he steadfastly refuses to open his mouth.
Born from the unholy union of a vrock and a shield dwarf adventurer from Citadel Adbar, the Speaker is a dwarf in shape and build: He stands 4 feet 6 inches tall and weighs some 180 pounds. His features are distinctly demonic, however, from the large feathered wings on his back to the claws on his hands and feet. His face is long and his features are sharp, strongly suggesting the face of a vulture or bird of prey. If he has a name other than the one ascribed to him by the prophecy of Balik Blackhand, he has not revealed it.
The Speaker is all too happy to accept the welcome he has received from the far-flung cult of Baphomet, particularly Durhgathu. He has always worshiped Baphomet himself, in a casual and wantonly destructive way, and even felt he had some sort of religious calling. He has been an outcast for his entire life and rather enjoys being bowed to on the rare occasions that other cultists visit him in the Unspoken Hall. They used to visit more often, thronging about him as they waited for him to speak the prophesied words, but they seem to have grown tired of waiting for him to break his silence. Still he does not speak, because he does not know what he is supposed to say, nor does he know what effect his words will have. He does not speak, because he is afraid he might say the wrong thing -- and even more afraid that he might say the right thing.
If the Speaker were to find himself on death's door, however, he would take the chance by opening his mouth and saying whatever came to mind. In such a case, the words he would speak would open a gate to Baphomet's residence on the Abyss, drawing the demon-god himself through to pursue his aims on Faerûn. The world would shudder and all its peoples tremble before him, or so the cult of Baphomet believes.