Out of the Abyss

Make the best of the worst

After tracking the escaped drow for several hours, finally the party had to give up the chase. The corpses of her fallen companions proved no help, no maps, no trinkets, only some clear viscus mucus that smelled awful. As the party made camp Ziggy looked concerned. Avi took him aside to see what was troubling him.

“What is it, my friend? Surely one drow cannot worry you so,” Avi invited him to tell his concerns to the group.

The party sat around a small campfire as the bard prepared to share his tale. The tail of fleeing through the dark, the tale of lost companions, the tale of constant harrowing escapes, and lost friends. The threat of their pursuers always on their minds. When the bard finished the epic tale, he began to sing…(song below).

When the Bard finished, the party was silent for a long time. Then Avi spoke, “so our prey will surely bring news to your pursuers. We do not know where we are, or where we are going. The solution seems to be to follow the tracks of our quarry as best we can, and be ready for the trap to spring. At the very least we should be able to ascertain where we are.”

“This is a bad idea, worst I’ve heard in a long time,” Ziggy said as he put his lute away. "But, I suppose it beats roaming around in the dark forever.

The dwarves nodded almost in unison. Ulfgar spoke, “We know the trap is coming, we will be ready.”

<<forgive>>
The Bard’s Song by Blind Guardian

Now you all know the bards and their songs
When hours have gone by, I’ll close my eyes
In a world far away we may meet again
But now hear my song about the dawn of the night
Let’s sing the bards’ song

Tomorrow will take us away far from home
No one will ever know our names but the bards’ songs will remain
Tomorrow will take it away the fear of today
It will be gone due to our magic songs

There’s only one song left in my mind
Tales of a brave man who lived far from here
Now the bards’ songs are over and it’s time to leave
No one should ask you for the name of the one
Who tells the story

Tomorrow will take us away far from home
No one will ever know our names but the bards’ songs will remain
Tomorrow all will be known and you’re not alone
So don’t be afraid of the dark and cold
‘Cause the bards’ songs will remain they all will remain

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_tORtmKIjE

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The Underground Grove

Avi awoke with a start. It was dark. It was always dark. She felt the familar presence of Laa’Mar, her wolf companion, as he watched nearby. The last few days in this place had taught her much. She guessed she was somewhere in the Underdark, all of her attempts to send Animal Messangers to her mentor had failed. She and ‘Mar had traveled for days without a hint of where they were going or where they were. She rose and felt Laa’Mar’s gaze fall upon her. His movements were almost imperceptible in the darkness but she felt his muzzle under her hand. She stroked his fur affectionately, “Well, I suppose we continue this way.” She shifted into “traveling” form, a tiger. The tiger’s natural predator eyesight popped her surroundings into view suddenly. As if knowing, ’Mar took off down the tunnel at what would seem breakneck speed. Avi kept pace along her longtime companion. She had raised him from a pup after a band of goblins had killed and skinned his parents and siblings. He was her friend. Something was changing with him down in this place, however. He was stronger, faster, and the drow scout they had encountered had been nearly torn in half by the ferocity of his attack. She let her mind wander as she instinctively followed ’Mar through the tunnels.

Something was wrong in this place. Avi had been born in a village near the Chondalwood, but the old Wood Elf druid Kevisak had come to their village and had seen something in her. He had declared her a child of the forest and took her as his new acolyte. The Chondalwood was old, home of Treants and elves hundreds of years old. The animals were a breed apart as well, she had seen bears the size of a small cottages and the great elk that towered 20 feet tall. These were animals ancient and unseen by most of the mortal world for centuries. Avi had seen much of the hidden natural world in her short years, but nothing like the dark colorless barren caverns she now trod. Something was just….wrong about this place. Kevisak had told her of the drow and their complete disregard for the life of others. He had warned her that sparing them was folly and trusting them was foolish. They had been twisted by the darkness and were beyond redemption. In a way his description fit the Underdark as a whole, cold, uncaring and without compassion. The animals she had encountered her were either like her and ’Mar, torn from their home and attempting to survive, or the natural inhabitants that were at home in the dark. Spiders and beetles ranging from the size of her fingernail to the size of a farmhouse and everything in between. For the most part the natural creatures either respected her presence or kept to themselves, but occasionally, one would strike out, almost as if seized by madness. The Balance was wrong in this place and she had to find out why.

’Mar stopped suddenly, his head cocking to the side. Avi smelled it as well, the stench of death. She nudged past ’Mar and took the lead into a tunnel that was worked stone. Something very old, and very unnatural was here, maybe a clue. They padded through the stone tunnel quietly. Two predators silently stalking unknown prey.

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A Letter Home

My beloved Tar’i,

Knowing you are safe has been my sustaining joy in this place. I only hope that somehow this letter finds you and you are well. I hope someday to rejoin you with honor, having completed my quest, kept to my duty, and earned your hand. Know that I have escaped the drow and am making my way through the Underdark as best we can. Know that I love you no matter the outcome of my quest.

Resources are scarce and I must be brief. There is a matter of urgent importance I need to relay to our people and anyone else who the message can be sent to. During our escaped from captivity we encounted a great evil living in the Underdark in place the inhabitants call “The Dark Lake.” It is a creature of nightmares and palpable evil that is changing the very nature of the environment. The Koa-Toa who apparently summoned the creature call it Lemagoogoo thought I fear it has slaughtered all who have seen it save our small group that escaped. It is towering two-headed demon of fur and tentacles that exudes a miasma of madness. We were forced to flee lest we be slain as well. Such a creature cannot be allowed to remain in our world. I know it is part of my duty to find a way to defeat this creature, though I do not have the means now. I will continue to seek while I see to the safe return of those currently in my care. Seek the wisdom of the Elders and send word to the scholars of Candle Keep and Waterdeep. Perhaps with their wisdom and knowledge this creature can be vanquished should I fail.

The light of your memory continues to light my soul.

Amin A’mael,

Decius

Decius carefully folded the letter and placed it in his pack, re-energized by putting his quest and motivation to paper. He reexamined his gear, his makeshift smithing tools, and the groups’ provisions. It would have to do for now. He rejoined Topsy and Turvy on their watch. Topsy handed him a cloth cowl that had been darkened somehow, Decius thought better than ask. “We can see you from a mile away. Cover that pasty skin of yours.”

Decius chuckled, “I hope you made enough for everyone.” Topsy smiled and pointed to a pile of likewise sew garments. It gave Decius a moment to reflect on the scarcity of resources in the Underdark. It was little wonder that the inhabitants down here lived a live-and-let-die attitude, at best. The armor and scant provisions of the orcs that had ambushed them yesterday had all been re-purposed, used to repair damaged items, create backpacks and sacks, and any left over parts had been carefully stored for future need. Topsy was sewing an overshirt for KrisAnne from the supplies taken from the orcs. The needle she was using looked like it was made of bone. “I’m sure KrisAnne will love the smell of orc on that thing.”

“If she wants to live, she’ll get used to it,” Topsy said matter-of-factly. “You surfacers are too concerned with where things come from. You need to get over that or you are going to get yourself and, more importantly, me killed.”

“On the contrary, my little friend,” Decius said sitting down next to the svirfneblin. “Remembering where we come from is what keeps us going when we feel like giving up.”

Turvy gave a grunt of disagreement from an outcropping a few feet away and Topsy just rolled her eyes and continued working. “Humans, so odd.”

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"Down the Rabbit Hole"

Gordan sat up on the rock outcropping overlooking the rest of the escaped slaves – and the half-elf they had met in the dark tunnels of the Underdark – passing the time on watch just sitting there quietly. All the while, he watched Eldeth working quietly polishing one of the gemstones that she had received from their fallen comrade. She seemed to be quite content just sitting quietly working, and Gordan sat seemingly lost in thought looking down the tall tunnel until Eldeth finally stood up.

“Well, if you’re not gonna answer me, I guess I will leave you to your thoughts. I’m going to check on the others and make certain they are okay.” She didn’t seem upset, just resigned as she strode over to the knotted rope draped down the rock and climbed down. The second her feet hit the floor, Gordan pulled out a stoppered flask from his webbed pack and snapped the wax stopper out.

“No time like the present, I guess,” he mused to himself quietly. “Sorry about this everyone; but I just gotta know.” With that, he upended the flask and drank the contents in a single gulp. All at once his body felt diffused with warmth and things started to take on a strange, almost misty hue about him as he focused his gaze on Eldeth’s retreating back. As he felt himself almost physically pulled towards her as he realized that his mind was beginning to touch hers, he whispered,

“I just hope everyone understands why.”

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A Paladin in the Underdark

“He was defenseless!”

“Which is the perfect time to strike,” Turvey said as he finished cleaning his blade. “They turned on us and we killed them, that is the way of things.”

“I cannot accept that, there are rules of engagement, tenets of honor,” Decius said shaking his head.

“Honor has no place here, surfacer,” Topsy said agreeing with her brother. “Your enemy will exploit it, twist it, and use it as a weapon against you, just as these ones did. They waited till we were weak, then they struck.” She continued to look through the belongings of the humans without looking up at him.

Decius was quiet as he contemplated. Finally he gathered the group and addressed them, “I have sworn an Oath to the Ancients to value life, uphold the light, and to bring it to dark places. I will uphold my Oath, especially in this place. You killed those who did not value your life and sought to take it. That makes them agents of the darkness. The only reason he yielded was because of my Command. Forgive my outbursts earlier.”

The group looked at each other like he was speaking another language and all shrugged and mumbled.

“To be clear, if an enemy surrenders we will show mercy,” Decius said as he turned from the group to give last rights the dead.

“Sometimes mercy is a quick death, paladin,” Prince Derendil said somberly.

Decius looked back over his shoulder, “If that is the case, we will leave it to them to decide what form our mercy takes.”

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Out of the Abyss -Intro

Deep beneath the surface of the world lies the Underdark. a realm of endless labyrinthine tunnels and caverns where the sun never shines. The Underdark is filled with races and creatures too numerous to count or list, and the foremost among these are the dark elves – the drow. Hated and feared even by their fellow dwellers in the darkness, the drow raid other settlements in the Underdark as well as the surface world, taking prisoners back with them. Rendered unconscious. with drow poison, then collared and shackled, these prisoners are eventually sold as slaves or entertainment in the dark elves’ subterranean cities. You all have had the misfortune of falling to such a fate.

Captured by the drow, you are prisoners at one of the dark elves’ outposts, awaiting transportation to Menzoberranzan, the City of Spiders. Whether you came into the Underdark seeking knowledge or fortune, or were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, you were ripe prey for a drow raid and now you are awaiting your fate.

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