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The Craver

by LoZompatore

I really like the idea of having the Aidaria captured by some evil power at the beginning of its voyage, thus explaining why the Seekers never managed to find the magical plant.
Here is a suggestion which links the Aidaria with Priallus'/Klath's foundation. It also introduces a unique, very powerful monster in the lost sewer system of the ancient Varellyan city.

The Craver was a very powerful, magic, amphibian creature who roamed the Addakian Sound around the time the Aidaria abandoned the city of Qurizas. The Craver detected the strong magical power radiated by the Aidaria's bud, and wanted it for itself. It also understood that such a magic power was somehow latent, ready to flourish again once the plant would have been stranded on firm ground. Such a latent phase was optimal for exploiting the plant's magic without fearing retaliation from it. A very accomplished user of water elemental magic, the Craver slowly redirected Aidaria's drift toward the swampy outlet of Kenaron River. There it built a pool whose magic currents would prevent the bud to ever reach the shores, and then its lair around the pool.
Century after century the Craver drained the Aidaria of its power, using it to increase its lifespan, health and personal power. The Aidaria was not truly powerless, anyway: as a gift of friendship, it was able to increase creatures' willingness to work together and establish peaceful relationships. The plant subtly increased local population, attracting people to the place and encouraging the establishment of a settlement just within its magical sphere of influence. Aidaria's hope was that someone would have found her soon or later, freeing her from the Craver and breaking the spell which prevented her flourishing.
The Craver never suspected Aidaria's influence in the increasing population. It drove away the first scattered settlers but, when their numbers became too high, it just built a subterranean amphibian dwelling below a mud mound and continued on its self-centered business of improving itself. The sparse settlements soon became a village, then a town called Priallus, then the dark city of Abb-H’zoth and finally the settlement of Klath T'zarth. The Craver magically masked its lair with a tricky submerged labyrinth of shifting currents. The Craver systematically killed every intruder who managed to pass the traps and reach the Aidaria. During this time the Craver moved its lair just once when, during the last days of Priallus, it establish itself in the dwindling, abandoned sewer system of city, which enabled it to increase the size of its flooded labyrinth. After millennia of self improvement enhanced by Aidaria's magic, the Craver is a dreadful opponent, both physically and magically speaking. It is also crazed by its own lust for personal power and also mute by its very long insulation (it cannot use spells which involve verbal components, although it managed to develop its own mute versions of a few of them).

Among the explorers who ventured inside the flooded complex a few of them are remarkable:

Kejbr'ufw and his three servants: they are the sole "survivors" of a larger Carnifex expedition led by Vaalkh'm, a scholar who sensed the magic auras of the Craver and the Aidaria and went to investigate. The whole expedition was slaughtered by the Craver: Kejbr'ufw the carnifex - a low level apprentice of Vaalkh'm - and three servants troglodytes (Lukacik, Noblol and Fesf'dth) were turned to stone somewhere in the complex and then forgotten by the Craver. Kejbr'ufw is maybe one of the last carnifexes still "alive" on Mystara and, while just and apprentice, he is much more powerful then most accomplished mages and warriors. Should he be turned again into flesh, he will never accept submission to “inferior” races, and every collaboration with such people will last just until he has an advantage from it. Lukacik was a member of the unsatisfied troglodytes faction in old Abb-H’zoth and among those who contacted the approaching lizard men (the invasion happened just after the disappearing of Vaalkh’m’s party, that’s why nobody in Abb-H’zoth cared about rescuing them). Lukacik is still wanting to rebel against her carnifex masters, and will betray Kejbr’ufw as soon she has any chance to survive from retaliation.

Noziniel of the Red Feather Company: At least a party of Seeker actually managed to track the true position of the Aidaria and tried to claim it back. Unluckily, nobody survived to spread this information. In BC 130 Nozinel was the clever leader of a very determined Seeker’s group who collected enough clues to figure out why the Aidaria was never found and where the relic could have been kept. His party was slaughtered until the last Halfling, and even Noziniel - a hardened veteran from dozen of searches across the Addakian Sound – was a match for the unnatural power of the Craver: he was killed in a dead end corridor while exhausted from the long fight against the monster. He died not very far from Aidaria’s pool, which detected the dried log of the old relic the halfling always brought with him. In another attempt to free herself Aidaria was able to link Nozinel’s soul to the log; the halfling was resurrected as a harmless spirit, able to roam the labyrinth not too far from the relic searching for explorers to advise. The Craver is not able to turn or dispel Nozinel spectre but, given the limited radius of the area where the soul is free to move, it just made such an area impossible to be trespassed by explorers, filling it with traps and magical currents which lead away from the Aidaria’s pool. Noziniel is a very honorable spirit, proud of having been chosen by the magical tree to send her distress call to foreigners.

Lurr-kiv the Estranged: lost somewhere inside the labyrinth there are the ancient remnants of a group of lizard men rogues. They took shelter in the ancient sewer system after having robbed the mansion of renowned lizard man mage Lurr-kiv in Klath T’zarth around AC690. The mage was not in the mansion but the robbers, fearing retaliation, fled in the unknown underground complex they discovered a few days before, only to be slaughtered by the Craver. Unbeknown to them – and to the Craver – Lurr-kiv accidentally trapped himself inside a large crystal he was enchanting in his mansion. The robbers thought the crystal to be a precious gem and brought it with them in the underground complex. Lurr-kiv is somehow sleepy; she will partially awaken only if the crystal is touched by some high-intelligence folk (15 at least) and will randomly attempt to mentally communicate with it in order to be freed (she must be brought back in the ruins of her mansion – in the exact place where she accidentally entered the crystal - in order to do so). Lurr-kiv is not an evil being, but she is eager to return back to her studies and she will not care about the whole Aidaria/Craver matter unless it is a matter of life or death (or of being freed).