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.