Tremors in the Deeps

How the Mighty Fall
Dealings with Duergars, Dragons and Doors in the Depths

LAST TIME, IN THE UNDERDARK… the adventurers went down the dark tunnel in search of the caravan.
THIS TIME, IN THE UNDERDARK… We find our adventurers traveling down the Southern King’s Highway. They travel for a few days, encountering fewer and fewer people as they go until they see no one at all on the third day. There are smaller tunnels occasionally diverging from the main path, some of which go toward the surface and others downwards into darkness. The Highway is straight, and an endless darkness seems to stretch in both directions, while the small stream of rust-colored liquid gurgles over the rocks along the edges of the tunnel and makes the only sounds other than those of the adventurers themselves. At the end of the third day, they begin to feel small tremors in the earth below them, and the shaking gradually grows as they travel onwards. Up ahead of them they see what looks like a wall blocking the Highway, and upon further investigation they perceive that there was a cave-in. Despite Moostoron’s grandest efforts, he only succeeds in hurting his hand when he tries to move the obstruction. Giving up hope, the party turns back, looking in vain for another path to follow. Immediately the earth shudders violently, and they can hear small pebbles clattering to the floor as a small hole opens in the wall just to the right of the blockage. Peering in, Diedrich sees a path, and showing considerable strength, Torment and Moostoron gradually carve out an opening large enough for the party to pass through. The group goes down the passage single-file. Up ahead they can see a faint glow, and those at the front of the party tentatively step out into a large cavern spotted with large rocks jutting from the ground. What they see there, however, gives them pause. Several stocky men with vicious-looking beards, who the party recognizes to be duergar, are rifling through the pockets of several dead men wearing scarlet regalia, Lord Sebastian’s color. At the far side of the cavern lies the remnants of carts and the draft animals used to pull them. Although Moostoron gracefully kept Iados from falling on his face, Diedrich wasn’t so lucky and fell, attracting the attention of the pillagers. With a mighty roar, the duergars sped towards the intruders, and the battle began. Moostoron held fast in the center of the room, keeping all enemy eyes trained on him as Iados and Edger crept around the room shrouded in darkness, stabbing their enemies and blinding them with dark magic. Zazenna and Diedrich occupied other enemies near the opening of the cavern, and the party slowly but surely whittled away their opponents’ numbers. In the middle of the battle, a small red drake crept from behind some rocks, occasionally screeching at the combatants as if to say ‘keep it down!’ as he fed on the remnants of the caravan. Perceiving no threat from the beast, the group fought on until one duergar remained, at which time the earth suddenly began to shake violently. Giant holes grew in the floor as the earth crumbled into the depths below and rocks rained from the ceiling, luckily missing the adventurers. The last duergar’s face registered unadulterated panic, and he turned to run just as a maw made from the earth itself came out of the rock, swallowing him whole. The fanged mouth slowly rose from the ground, also showing a long neck, thick body, strong legs and a whip-like tail all made from stone and shimmering with small streams of lava running over its form. Large wings made from rock with obsidian touches swept the room, and the group found itself facing a large, hungry-looking adult Earthquake Dragon. The small drake immediately fled in terror, hiding behind one of the remaining rocks. The group was able to perceive that this was the creature that had caused the cave-in, as well as the tremors that had been plaguing the Highway. Torment, conscious of the group’s weariness after fighting the duergars, attempted to speak to the dragon. In a remarkable bluff, Torment convinced the dragon that another, larger group of travelers was not far off, and with his remarkable diplomatic skills Torment also suggested that the dragon’s energy would be better used hunting them. Considering the tiefling’s words, the dragon finally agreed to go off in search of this other group, if the party would be willing to give it one thousand gold pieces for its trouble. Diedrich came forward, paying the majority of the sum while the others chipped in. Satisfied, the dragon burrowed into the earth, which immediately set the ground to shaking again. This time, however, the ground continued to shudder more and more violently, and the entire group found themselves pitched downwards, falling into the seemingly endless darkness below. After falling for some time, and with the ground fast approaching, the group seemed to feel almost a web of energy catch them, slowing their descent and preventing their immediate demise. The impact caused all of them to lose consciousness, even their new drake companion, but when they all awoke much later they found themselves lying on a pile of rubble, deep below the cavern they had fought in. The room, though obviously in a state of disuse, featured a white-and-black tiled floor and an ornate set of doors and pillars, making it feel like it had once been a place of great power. While the others explored the room, Edger found small bits of the former caravan to feed to the drake, whom the group dubbed ‘Sparky.’ The others, looking around their room, encountered grotesque and disturbing statues and paintings adorning the walls. Visions of torture, pain, and lasciviousness were portrayed on every surface, and the statues showed contorted men and women torn between agony and ecstasy. The entire group could feel the air resting heavily, and knew that they were the first ones to find it in many years. They could also sense strong waves of arcane and religious energy coming from the sole door in the room in waves. Going through this door, they found themselves in a wide hallway which ended in a giant obsidian door marked with a symbol looking somewhat like a T with an O at the bottom of it. Looking at the walls, they again depicted atrocities, but of a more graphic nature. The smell of blood grew stronger as they reached the end of the hall, the paintings gradually turning to a cracked, dark brown surface. The group stood in front of the door, wary of the situation and debating what to do. Edger, seizing the initiative, attempted to teleport through the door when Moostoron’s strength failed to move it. He disappeared from sight, and the group could hear a brutal roar of agony rip through space itself as Edger was hurled back into their plane of existence, surrounded by crackling blue light as he flew backwards twenty feet, landing on his back. The group opted for a different approach. Utilizing their knowledge of arcana, religion, and dungeoneering, the group managed to open the large obsidian doors. They found themselves in a large, square room seemingly without a ceiling. Oddly enough, torches were burning all along the edges of the room, and a dais stood in the center, shrouded in darkness but with a small scrap of paper distinctly sitting on its surface. The air in the room was stale and sour, and the once-grand pillars that extended ever-upwards were crumbling and sections of the floor had given way to rubble. While they searched the room, Moostoron found himself gravitating ever-closer to the dais. Although Iados and Edger also showed interest, they could not seem to read any of what was written on the paper. Edger tried burning it, but the flames licked at its surface without damaging it. Moostoron, curious about the nature of the document, went to pick it up. As soon as his fingers grazed the parchment, the entire room was plunged into darkness, the torches suddenly extinguished, leaving the group entirely in the dark. The only sound that could be heard was Moostoron’s pained bellow, and the few who could see watched him fall to his knees, clawing at his head and face as four figures swathed in shadows fell from the ceiling, grinning at the shocked adventurers.

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The Adventurers Meet
Exploring Kavitha and the Shallows
Hundreds of years ago, an explosion in the sky laid waste to the earth, rending the sun in two and driving what little populations remained from the various races underground, to the Underdark. Although a few managed to make a living in the wasteland above, turning to banditry and scavenging, most found the cities beneath the earth much more hospitable. One of these cities is the thriving metropolis of Kavitha, which is completely contained within a large cavern lit by crystals growing out of the walls, ever-lit and simulating sunlight. The city has thrived in the shallows, drawing those seeking security from the desolation above and the terror below. Living in fear and walking a constant knife’s edge of survival, the population still speaks of the gods, who disappeared from mortal perceptions with the blast. In Kavitha, the people have learned to take care of themselves, and they serve as laborers or shopkeepers, with a fair share of artisans and merchants mixed in. Although there is no real governing body, for everyone has rallied together in their time of need, several individuals have claimed the titles of nobles due to their wealth and influence with the population. These men and women are for the most part either adored or feared. A favorite of the city is the up-and-coming Lord Sebastian, known for his eccentricity, infectious laugh, and generosity. It was he who called our six adventurers together at the Lazy Gnome, a tavern, one afternoon: Torment, a troubled Tiefling Bard and his son Iados, a conniving Rogue; Edger, a Kenku Warlock and one of the last of his kind; Diedrich, a helpful Human Ardent; Moostoron, a Minotaur Warden with a mission; and Zazenna, a militant carnivore and a Wilden Psion. Lord Sebastian had heard of their skill and their past pursuits, and despite their less-than reputable nature he believed that they had the power to help him. He had gotten his wealth through organizing a trading network with Kavitha, the Wastes, and several other locations around the Underdark. However, in the past few weeks, his caravans filled with goods hadn’t been reaching the city. As he stroked the small drake sleeping peacefully in his lap, he explained his worries concerning the well-being of his men and the location of his goods. He offered each of the individuals one thousand gold should they find his men, and gave each of them three healing potions to aid them on their mission. Although there was brief debate amongst the adventurers (Moostoron in particular, who had taken to drink), they agreed due to the large sum of money and promise of future favors. After thoroughly exploring their hometown, they set out to the southern King’s Road, where a local weapon dealer told them of the mysterious goings-on that had been occurring for the past month. Although the King’s Roads, said to have been carved by the gods and covered in blood that should have dried long ago, were always dangerous places, fewer and fewer adventurers seemed to be returning as of late. Some lucky men who had made it back spoke of the earth shaking along with screams and roars that echoed through stone. Not knowing what they were to encounter, the adventurers set off down the Southern King’s Road, searching for the lost caravan.
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Violence and Visions
Facing Off Against Heaven and Hell

LAST TIME, IN THE UNDERDARK… The group fell through the ceiling of a mysterious underground temple, where Moostoron found a mysterious document that violated him mentally while the group was left facing four vicious-looking figures.
THIS TIME, IN THE UNDERDARK… With Moostoron writhing on the ground, the group was forced to focus their attention on the four horrific figures that had just descended from the ceiling. Two looked like tiny devils covered in spikes, and the other two had the forms of once-tall, strong men, now covered in lacerations, scars, and body modifications. Their teeth were filed to points, their wings ripped and plucked, and their eyes sightless and covered by bandages. Most unfortunately, each had a sword on his hip and a scythe literally embedded into the flesh of their backs. Iados shot forward, attempting secrecy. When his blows landed, the first angel seemed to gasp in pleasure, moving closer to the young Tiefling. Torment and Edgar quickly rushed to aid him, and Zazenna and Diedrich were left alone in the doorway. A few moments after the battle had begun, a dark, blanket-like creature fell from the ceiling, grabbing Zazenna with its many tentacles. Weakening her little by little, despite Diedrich’s aid, the creature eventually carried her unconscious form up into the darkness where the Party could not see her. Meanwhile, Moostoron continued to shriek and convulse, visions of a fallen god and unbearable agony ripping through his mind. After Iados, Torment, Edger, and Diedrich finished off the angels and devils, the Darkmantle returned with Zazenna, this time finding a corner where he could eat his prey. In a moment of rage, Iados seized the torch that had previously guarded Moostoron from the darkness, throwing it near the Darkmantle and causing it to drop Zazenna before fleeing into the darkness above. With Moostoron now awake and greatly shaken, the group was given a few moments of respite to heal themselves before the Darkmantle returned, this time attempting to seize Torment. Not long after the group finally brought the beast down, and were left shaken and bloody in the temple, with the sound of something grinding faintly coming through the far wall.

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The Chosen
Meeting the Cringe, Losing Sebastian, and a Changed City

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.

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