LAST TIME, IN THE UNDERDARK: The group faced off against angels and devils, while Moostoron relived a god’s pain.
THIS TIME, IN THE UNDERDARK: After the eventual defeat of the Darkmantle, the group enjoyed their moment of brief respite to heal themselves and discuss what had just happened. Although the faint grinding coming from the back wall persisted, and seemed to be getting closer, the group was trapped and could only wait. Moostoron chose to tell the group of his vision, explaining that two gods had viciously fought thousands of years ago, falling into the earth and carving out the tunnels known as the King’s Highways. Eventually the god by the name of Torog pinned his foe to the ground, beating him to death. Unfortunately the dying god used the rest of his power to cause Torog to never heal from his wounds, and never be able to leave the Underdark. Although Torog was victorious, he was eternally in pain and trapped beneath the earth. While Moostoron was explaining all of this Iados snuck up and snatched the ancient paper from his hands. He did not experience the same effect as Moostoron, and could not see anything written on the document. Throughout their discussion, the grinding from the wall grew louder and louder, until what looked like a small hole appeared in the stone. All of the rock around this initial hole seemed to melt away, eventually leaving a large space in the stone facade, where a tall but stooped grizzled old man stepped through. Clutching his odd, glowing green lantern, he smiled broadly at the group. “Hello.” The group asked who he was, and he told them that he was The Cringe in a very excited tone. While the group was introducing themselves to this new figure, Edger slowly crept forward and made a snatch for the lantern. With a flick of his wrist, The Cringe sent Edger flying backwards into the far wall before picking up his conversation with the party. He told them that he was the servant of Torog, the King Who Crawls, and that the group had proven themselves and were to become Torog’s ‘Chosen.’ The Cringe promised them fame, fortune, and a place of power in Torog’s new world order, for who would choose to serve in Heaven when they could rule in Hell? Torment and Iados were the first to step forward for Torog’s cause, pledging themselves to his service. The Cringe stepped forward, placing his hand gently on Torment’s left shoulder, and the tiefling felt pain akin to a knife carving Torog’s symbol into his left shoulder. A moment later the pain faded, and Torment was left with a vicious scar. Immediately Torment felt stronger, but also felt the weight of shackles descend on his wrists, invisible but present. Iados was next, receiving the same mark of his father, followed by Edger, whose palm was marked, and Zazenna, who chose her lower back. Moostoron and Deidrich were suspicious, however, and chose to abstain. The Cringe smiled kindly at them, suggesting that he understood. Having chosen their paths, the party followed The Cringe back through the hole he had come from, making their way through the narrow passage until they emerged into a large cavern extending indefinitely in both directions. They had found themselves int he King’s Highway again, but much deeper than any of them had ever been. The Cringe noted that if the group sought more information, they should find Torog’s sunken city. From the air, flow of blood, and slope of the earth, the group could tell that the path to the left would take them closer to the surface, and therefore to their origin city of Kavitha. The left led further into the Deeps, and therefore the unknown. Opting for an extended rest, the group settled down for a couple hours. While they were resting, the Cringe seemed distracted, and after a few hours he slowly wandered off to the right, in the direction of Kavitha. He left his lantern behind, which Edger eagerly seized, although he could not figure out how it worked. A faint whispering sound coming from it and there was a distinct aura of arcane and divine energy resonating from its core. When their rest ended, the group debated which direction to follow, and although all but Zazenna wished to continue to the sunken city, the group eventually agreed to return to Kavitha to seek out The Cringe, with whom Torment had deeply bonded. The group traveled for another few days, getting closer and closer to the surface until they began to recognize the paths they followed before they fought the dragon. As they got closer to Kavitha, they began to notice that they had not passed anyone for awhile, and that the ever-burning torches lining the path were not lit, something that had never happened in living memory. Soon enough they could hear the din of the city, but it was punctuated by wailing and weeping. Fog covered the path as they reached the city, and seemed to form shapes and faces. The streets were almost barren, and everyone left moved quickly, as if desperately seeking shelter. The group decided to stop in a store and ask what was going on, and they found a family cowering behind the counter. They found out that the fog had set in a few days ago, and there was talk of monsters carrying people off. Iados, keen to make a quick buck, offered to protect the family for whatever gold they had on them. Upon receiving three gold pieces, Iados informed them that it was pitiful and they were all going to die anyway. Edger helped with the matter by sending his voice behind the group and whispering “run,” at which one woman shrieked and sprinted from the building. Realizing that something was seriously wrong, the group decided to seek out Lord Sebastian for answers. Deciding to bypass the bar that the eccentric noble frequented, they went straight for his house, which Edger was very well-acquainted with for whatever reason. They found a three-story stone house with a nice garden in the center of the city, and discovering that the door was unlocked they decided to enter. They found a fell-decorated though very formal parlor, and Iados almost immediately discovered a rare sword beneath an ornate scarlet couch. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, they continued to the second and then the third floor, where they were greeted by the faint sound of sobbing. Pushing open a nearby door, they encountered what looked like a serving woman weeping over a bit of scarlet fabric. When asked, she told the group that the monsters had carried Lord Sebastian away, though she herself had not seen it happen. The group all wandered off, each of them finding treasures throughout the house. Torment, searching the library, discovered a document that used the same writing seen briefly on the parchment that they’d found in the destroyed temple, and Edger noticed that a fine layer of dust coated the entirety of what was supposedly Lord Sebastian’s room. When the group went back to question the woman, she was gone, and they realized that the only dust disturbed in the room was from their own footsteps. Thoroughly spooked, the group opted to leave in search of Lord Sebastian, and their search sent them down the Eastern King’s Highway.