The Skulls were a collection of thirteen powerful flameskulls who dominated the city of Skullport, which was named for them. In the chaotic underground of Skullport, a city of thieves, murderers and slave-traders, the Skulls imposed some semblance of order when things got out of hand.
They were magically powerful floating skulls believed to be the spiritual embodiments of the arcanists who created the mythallar. The mythallar, or mantle, was a sentient and powerful arcane relic capable of generating nearly limitless power. The mythallar in Skullport was created to support the immense weight of the world surrounding it, but at some point it seemed that the magic had faltered, and Skullport was in danger of complete destruction. Only through the efforts of the arcanists did the caverns survive, but at the cost of their own lives. The thirteen most powerful were reborn shortly after as the Skulls, guardians of the mantle.
They, however, were bound to the mantle and couldn't move more than 300 feet beyond it. Over many centuries they lost their individual identities and started to act as a collective hive mind. Each Skull retained a few aspects of their original identity, but in objective and purpose they were really a single entity. Halaster Blackcloak, when he discovered the ruins of Sargauth Enclave and the Skulls, decided to avoid them and also prohibited his apprentices from entering the area. Only Shradin Mulophor decided to ignore the warning and, with the reluctant benediction of Halaster, reclaimed the ruins as his own and even made a pact with the Skulls. Unknown to all, the Skulls agreed to Shradin's request to create a free port, not for boredom or whimsy, but as part of a plan to escape from being bound to the mythallar. They tried to absorb chosen spellcasters into the mantle to replace them. The first success was in 1358, during the Time of Troubles, when Halaster's control over Undermountain's wards wavered and the Skulls were able to transform the Rag Mage into the Fourteenth Skull. Again, during the Halaster's Higharvestide of 1369, the Skulls subverted Shradin and repeated the process. So, they discovered that, of all fifteen entities bound to the mantle, two were able to move outside the bound.
They understood that they needed only to link to the mantle eleven more spellcasters, but their plan was ruined in 1373 by Vhostym, who, for his own plot, tapped into the mythallar with a powerful artifact, destroying four Skulls and transforming the remaining into true undead creatures, now once more bound to the mantle.
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