The Path of Light. The Dreaming Dark. The struggle between the kalashtar and the Inspired. What lies at the heart of this epic conflict? The war between the kalashtar and the Inspired has little to do with Eberron. It is actually a struggle to determine the fate of Dal Quor, the Plane of Dreams. Dal Quor is a mutable plane. When the mortals of Eberron dream, they mold their own pockets of reality along its fringes. The heart of the plane is shaped by a force greater than any mortal soul, a collective force that can be seen only in the reality that it creates. This is the Quor Tarai, the collective consciousness of Dal Quor that represents the spirit of the age, and the age it has currently created is a nightmare. The quori are the children of the Quor Tarai, and they call their creator il-Lashtavar (the “Darkness that Dreams” in Quori, or the Dreaming Dark in Common).
The nightmarish immortal spirits of the Plane of Dreams known as the quori (“Heartless” in the language of the Prophecy) have a strict caste system, with each caste serving a specific role in Dal Quor and on Eberron. A quori that finds favor in the many eyes of the Dreaming Dark might be physically transformed into a member of a higher caste. Although the quori put the goals of the Dark before everything else, they always look for opportunities for personal advancement. Most quori are cruel but sophisticated, preferring psychological torment to physical conflict. As immortals, they are endlessly patient, willing to wait for decades to take vengeance or bring a plan to fruition. Most quori want to control every aspect of a battle. If caught by surprise, a quori might flee from an inferior foe, returning when it has the upper hand.
Kalaraq quori guide the quori race, and the Devourer of Dreams — the personal emissary of the Dreaming Dark to the rest of his race—is of this caste. Although the kalaraqs never fight one another overtly, each has its own agenda, and each hopes to someday seize the throne of the Devourer of Dreams. Because of this internal conflict, it is very unusual for a kalaraq to leave Dal Quor to inhabit a mortal vessel.
Hashalaq quori are the loremasters of Dal Quor. Even those hashalaqs who do not have Inspired vessels devote a great deal of time to studying Eberron and the other planes, and they are one of the few quori castes that understand the ways of arcane magic. In Dal Quor, the hashalaqs are typically found as advisers to the kalaraqs. They also serve as judges, policing the quori and ensuring that the rivalries of the tsucora never threaten the greater plans of the Dreaming Dark.
The burning tendrils of du’ulora sentinels serve as the brawn to the hashalaqs’ brains. In times of battle, the du’uloras fight in the vanguard, watching dispassionately as their enemies turn on one another. But while du’uloras psychically feed on the rage of others, they are cold and calculating. Du’uloras are content to serve the Dreaming Dark. Battle defines their existence, and these creatures spend their lives eagerly awaiting the next opportunity to match wits with a cunning foe.
Usvapnas, also known as dream masters, are the assassins and spies of Dal Quor. They serve the hashalaqs, and they revel in destroying any threat to the Dreaming Dark’s plans. The dream masters also sow discontent and worse in mortal minds and have been responsible for much havoc in the mortal world.
Tsucora quori form the masses of Dal Quor. Constantly jockeying for position, tsucoras hope to be reincarnated as a more powerful servant of the Dark in a higher quori caste. Their plans are as often for the ruination of a competitor as they are for the furthering of the il-Lashtavar’s plans. None want to return to life as a lowly tsoreva.
Tsoreva quori serve as expendable troops in any battle on Dal Quor or as Inspired shock troopers on Eberron. These quori relish battle. They serve as the infantry under a du’ulora’s command. Every tsoreva wants only to die well, returning as an honored soldier to the Dreaming Dark. Not all is evil within the Plane of Dreams, however. The ancestors of the kalashtar were the largest group of rebel quori ever known, counting even the kalaraq Taratai among them. Amid the incarnations of conformity and hatred on Dal Quor, a few free thinkers still hide.
The organization known as the Dreaming Dark is composed of the personal agents of il-Lashtavar. Quori are immortal, yet they do not know their entire history. They have no recollection of events that occurred before the Age of Monsters on Eberron. Studying this, quori sages concluded that Dal Quor itself undergoes cataclysmic cycles. When the cycle turns, the plane implodes and then explodes. The Quor Tarai is transformed and reborn, as are all the spirits tied to the plane. Dal Quor and the quori will always exist in some form, but the quori of the future might have nothing in common with the quori of the present. In fact, evidence suggested that the next age could be radically different. One of the wisest of the quori was the kalaraq named Taratai, and she claimed that il-Lashtavar would be replaced by il-Yannah—a great light that would banish the nightmare at the heart of the realm. The raw energy of the quori might survive the turn of the age, but personality and memory—everything that defined them—would be destroyed.
For a race of immortals, this was a truly terrifying prospect, and it galvanized the quori to action. They were determined to find a way to stop the turn of the cycle, to preserve the darkness forever. A few quori disagreed, saying that the cycle must be allowed to run its course; chief among these was Taratai. Those loyal to il-Lashtavar hunted these heretics until the spirits were finally forced to flee Dal Quor, in time becoming the kalashtar. Even after hounding the heretics from their plane, the quori continued to study the problem, finally coming to the conclusion that the answer must lie in Eberron itself.
One of the few things the quori know about the previous age of Dal Quor, the age of the Dreaming Heart, is that as it came to a close, the quori entered Eberron and came into conflict with the giants of Xen’drik during the Quori-Giant War. The kalaraq lords of the Dreaming Dark believe that control over the mortals of Eberron might allow them to control the destiny of Dal Quor. Opinions differ as to how this can be accomplished. The dominant belief is that two steps are required. The first is to realign Dal Quor with Eberron, repairing the damage done at the end of the Age of Giants by the Moon Breaker. The second is to gain control of mortal society and, more importantly, mortal dreams. Every night, the dreams of the sentient beings of Eberron shape Dal Quor. The lords of the Dreaming Dark believe that if all mortals can be forced to dream one dream, Dal Quor will never change.
It is this secret philosophy that shapes the nation of Riedra. The Inspired do not conquer for the sake of riches or even power; most quori far prefer the nightmare realm of Dal Quor to Eberron. Serving as one of the Inspired is a chore most would just as soon avoid. They do so to preserve the Quor Tarai and thus themselves. The Inspired provide their Riedran subjects with food, shelter, and security. The price for all that is their freedom. If the Lords of Dust or the daelkyr achieve their goals, they will tear the world apart. By comparison, a world under Inspired rule would be safe and stable, but utterly without freedom.
The kalashtar are the spiritual descendants of Taratai and her allies. They believe that the Quor Tarai must turn. Furthermore, they feel that the nature of the Quor Tarai reflects on Eberron, and that if they can transform darkness into light, they can bring a new age of enlightenment to Eberron. They have believed that they do not need to defeat the Inspired to attain victory. For most kalashtar, prayer, meditation, and simple survival keeps the world moving on the Path of Light. Recently, however, doubt has begun to rise. Many young kalashtar think that their people must be more active in the world, taking the battle directly to the Inspired.