The rakshasa manipulating Karkillian and the Grey Mantle is affecting a secret plan to try and overthrow Droaam, attempting to bend a piece of the draconic prophecy to the will of the Lords of Dust.
Uncovered in an ancient codex, the Lords of Dust found an ancient prophecy mark which seemed to say -
If the wilds in the west fall to the Lords of Khyber, the Bear in east will surely follow
The servants of the Overlords took this to mean that seizing power in Droaam would be the first step to taking Breland. As such, the rakshasa, named Ravanna, has been plotting how he could take out the hags authority in Droaam and stage a coup. He plans to use the Ashen Blades to do this, pawning them off as traitors and keeping Xorchlic’s Flayer Guard on their trail instead of his.
Ravanna’s plan is to cause chaos across the nation in the hope that its fragile state of balance will just tip over the edge into anarchy. He has deduced what he sees as four points where he can induce this chaos and plans to use his pawn Karkillian to affect this choas through the Ashen Blades-
The first is to target the lands of the Znir pact. Thousands of years ago, toward the end of the Age of Demons, some of the ancestors of the gnolls of Khorvaire came together in Znir and threw down the statues of their demon overlords. The gnolls of the Znir Pact no longer worship gods or demons, but honor their ancestors and their decision by raising cairns in their memory. Droaam has the largest gnoll population in Khorvaire, but these gnolls are not led by a warlord. Instead, the gnoll communities offer mercenary services to other power groups, reasoning that they will then be on the side of whoever wins in the ongoing power struggle. Gnoll rangers work for both Tharashk and Deneith. Because of their neutrality and fighting skills, gnolls are a stabilizing force in Droaam. Ravanna is aware that to take down the entire Gnoll fraternity would be folly. Instead, he wants to create a cascade – trigger one small event which will break the Gnolls tentaitve allegiance to the Daughters of Sora Kell. He has calculated that trigger to be stealing an artefact from the Dagnyr clan; a small clan of guardian gnolls about 30 miles outside of Znir. It is said that their artefact was blessed by the ancestors of the Znir and that it holds the power to predict or even control the weather. Ravanna thinks that having this stolen by humans who are famously supported throughout Graywall and wider Droaam will suggest to the Gnolls that the Daughters of Sora Kell have betrayed their monstrous servants in favour of the civil. More than that, Ravanna wishes to suggest that the Ashen Blades think themselves the true force in Droaam – more important than any gnoll or ilithid. When the time is right, he intends to spread propaganda from a completely dreamt up group called the ‘Sons of Droaam’ – a group purporting to be the heirs apparent to the Daughters of Sora Kell and a group who will not sleep until every monstrous inhabitant of the land is subjugated beneath their yoke.
This is a simple enough task for Karkillian to get the Ashen Blades to complete. He simply informs the group that a buyer has paid good money for this artefact and the mercenaries excercise his will.
The second goal is to attack an Orc enclave deep in the Graywall mountains about 50 miles from Graywall as the crow flies. Known locally as The Deep Dwellings, this seems to be nothing more than a civil, peaceful collectivised group of orcs. On closer inspection, however, the orcs of the Deep Dwellings guard an ancient gate to Khyber. The Ashen Blades are curious as to why anyone would want to wage war against the Deep Dwellings but Kariliian explains this simply by suggesting that the Orcs harbour a deep secret within the Graywall mountains and that someone, again, has paid a high price to ahve them taken out of play.
The Deep Dwellings is, in fact, a clan of Gatekeeper Druids. Members of the Gatekeepers, a druid sect dedicated to protecting nature from the unnatural, spend their lives fighting aberrations and guarding against extraplanar invasion and the release of ancient evils. The Gatekeepers maintain the oldest druidic tradition on Khorvaire. Over fifteen thousand years ago, the green dragon Vvaraak came to the Shadow Marches and gathered followers around her. She had foreseen a cataclysm that only the younger races would be able to avert, and so she taught the orcs how to work with earth and wood, and how to read the future in the movements of the Ring of Siberys. She charged her students to watch for the signs of the great disaster, and always seek to preserve the balance of nature against those forces that would corrupt it. It was over seven thousand years before the Gatekeepers faced the first real threat to Khorvaire: the coming of the daelkyr. Leading armies of illithids, beholders, and other aberrations, these fiends sought to remake Khorvaire. The war that followed shattered the hobgoblin empire and left terrible scars across the continent, but Vvaraak’s students ultimately prevailed—the gates to Xoriat were sealed, and the daelkyr who remained were driven into the depths of Khyber.
The Ashen Blades, unaware of this at the time, attack the village and kill the Gatekeeper Druid of the Deep Dwellings. While not entirely aware of what they have done, the Ashen Blades are aware that the Gatekeeper was supporting wards of some kind. Little do they know that they have set in motion a chain of events which may well result in Khyber being unleashed first into the Graywall mountains and then into Droaam and Breland.
Ravanna’s third goal is to attack the lands of a minor ogre warlord. The lands of Skarutz lie only 40 or so miles outside Graywall and the ogre and his mercenaries are responsible for many of the border skirmishes with Breland. An attack on Skarutz’s lands and even Skarutz himself will make it look as if the Sons of Droaam harbour a desire to prevent the attacks on Brelands – further suggesting that they intend to bring Droaam under human control again. Ravanna has a second reason for attacking Skarutz. The warlord is a minor player in the political scene in Graywall and he suspects treachery from within. Somehow he has come upon evidence of backhanded deals between unnamed factions vying for power in Droaam. He planned to take his findings to Xorchylic which could have outed Karkillian’s involvement in Ravanna’s treason plot. Skarutz’s death or at least discrediting should take care of that.
The Ashen Blades take it upon themselves to disgace Skarutz but humiliating his forces in the Graywall coloseum. Making the warlord’s forces seem weak there has the knock on effect of several other minor players around Skarutz’s land challenging his power and ultimately ousting him.
The fourth and final goal of the Lords of Dust is to unleash a terror of darker days into the lands of Droaam. Long ago in the foothills of the Byeshk mountains, a gatekeeper druid sealed away a Daelkyr horror of Xoriat. Ravanna wants to unleash this power into Droaam to quickly terrorise and halt the Byeshk mining process which is so crucial to Droaams economy. Aal’drash was a hobgoblin prince who ruled the fertile plains of what is now northern Breland during the Age of Monsters. Not content with his kingdom of wheat, Aal’drash betrayed the Dhakaani to side with the daelkyr invaders, who promised him an empire of lamentation. He rode with his honor guard of five tentacled monstrosities, the Hand of Corruption, and slaughtered many orcs and goblins before the Gatekeepers sealed the six here in Aal’drash’s former stronghold. His prison bears a warning to any who draw near -
“Here lies the Aal’drash, sealed in Vvaraak’s name.”
The Ashen Blades never made it to Aal’drash’s stronghold – Karkillian acted in haste and ruined the plans of the Rakshasa who was subtly manipulating him. Under pressure from Xorchylic, who had received reports of the initial disturbances caused by the Ashen Blades, Karkillian dispatched the Third Watch of the Gray Mantle – the Sere Blades to hunt down the Ashen Blades.