Perilous Gateways

Strongholds of Undeath Portals

By Ramon Arjona

The Illithid Gate

Among those Zzarka counted as her peer was an ancient alhoon known to posterity as Korid Takazz. Though an infinitely patient being, Zzarka still craves amusement and stimulation of her prodigious intellect. Many years after becoming a lich, human and humanoid intelligence came to bore her since she had long ago learned all of their petty games and trivial observations. Simply put, Zzarka had already thought all of the thoughts a human mind could think, and she yearned for more.

It is not clear how Zzarka came to meet Korid Takazz, but in the undead mind flayer's alien intelligence she found the novelty she so desperately sought. Korid, himself bored after a near eternity of undeath, also came to enjoy Zzarka's company. In his lair, hidden so deep in the Underdark that neither drow nor duergar nor living illithid would willingly come near, amid the undulating fungi and strange fetid oozes that cling to life in the eternal darkness, Korid shared with Zzarka some of the most mind-warping and horrible secrets of his race. It is rumored that under Korid's tutelage, Zzarka even developed a taste for humanoid brains. It is certain that the two liches valued one another's company greatly, as if partners in a perverse and unholy marriage.

So greatly did Zzarka come to value the alhoon's company that she created a portal to join their lairs so that they could talk more frequently without troubling themselves with teleport spells. Like her other portals, the Illithid Gate is keyed so that only undead spell casters can open it. Korid visited Zzarka nearly as often as she visited him, and the two took turns playing host. Once the portal is open, it remains open for 1 round. Any other being that touches the portal during this time is transported to the opposite side.

One side of the portal is in Zzarka's ruined laboratory in her tower in Thay. This is not the same portal that leads from Thay to the High Ice. While Zzarka enjoyed her conversations with the alhoon, she did not want to expose all of her secrets to him. The opposite side of the portal leads to a cavern complex in the deepest regions of the Underdark, where the alhoon once made his lair. The cave walls curve and twist at strange angles, as if shaped by the wandering of an insane hand. Adventurers unfortunate enough to find themselves here will likely stumble across tremendous oozes and huge carnivorous fungi, as well as the alien artifacts left over from the illithid's habitation.

Zzarka's relationship with Korid was destined to end tragically. Satisfied, finally, that she had learned all she could from the undead mind flayer, she grew bored with him. Their visits became less frequent, and she became hostile toward him. Finally, Zzarka destroyed him. Some say she even devoured his shriveled, undead brain before crushing his phylactery. Torin Zsan, who was outside her door that night, tries not to think about the strange slurping sounds he could hear emanating from her chamber.

How to Incorporate the Illithid Gate Into Your Campaign:

Strongholds of Undeath Portals