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History of the Underdark of Southern Avlis: Part 4

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History of the Underdark of Southern Avlis: Part 4

PostAuthor: Orleron » Thu Apr 08, 2004 5:38 am

For many seasons, life in the underdark settled down into a steady interplay of cat and mouse between the remaining offspring of Alifanitax and the other Demon Lords. Two centuries after the great explosion on the surface nearly devastated the entire planet, the world below had gained many new local vasharan and kharakuro kings. Some were loyal to one of the demon lords, while others were striking it out on their own to pursue dreams of absolute power.

At this time, the cruel and twisted balance of the underdark was nearly rent to pieces by some new additions to the dance.

The Legend of the Mind-Bender and the Eye Beast

No one is certain of the validity of this tale, but it starts out beyond the stars where races unseen by any on Avlis partake of
their own struggles for survival and conquest. Out there, a war was raging between two powerful kinds of creatures. It is said that one damp evening, a cleric of Yustriciana, one of Alifanitax's powerful remaining daughters, was journeying through a large cavern on a pilgrimage to pay homage to her matron personally. According to the account of this cleric, the cavern had a very high ceiling, which she could not see when standing on the stalagmite-ridden floor. It was up in this giant expanse of blackness that a blinding flash of light appeared, and shortly after that, an explosion. Dropping out of the tumult were two large shapes made of some mixture of wood, metal, and materials which the priestess had no clue about. One shape was roughly spherical, and about the diameter of a nobleman's sleeping chamber. The other shape was smooth with tendril-like appendages concentrated mostly near the front of the object. It too was mostly comprised of wood and metal, with yet some other weird and unidentifiable substances. As they streaked out of the explosion, it could be seen that both objects appeared to be on fire, and they seemed as if they might be entangled with one another. Taking cover behind an especially large stalagmite, the priestess braced herself against the damp lichen-covered rock as best she could and prepared for a nearby impact. Almost instantly after that, the two objects hit the ground, spraying bits of rock and debris everywhere as they further entangled with one another and skidded to a stop among a pile of broken rock formations.

Though the light from the fire hurt her eyes. the priestess could see that the objects were some sort of vessel, and that there appeared to be one creature exiting each one. The first creature was hideous to her eyes. It was tall and lean, with sickly grey skin and tenticles where its mouth should be. This individual was badly burnt and stumbling slightly as it emerged. From the second vessell, an even more grotesque creature alighted... or rather floated to a position closer to the ground and away from its vessell. The creature had many eyes. Some were on stalks that protruded out of its purplish sphere-like body. One large eye was in the center, just above a mouth full of razor sharp teeth. This creature seemed a little less wounded, but the expression in its eyes, if she could accurately tell, was exhausted.

Not knowing what to do, the priestess checked to make sure she was well hidden. She thought about asking for Yustriciana's aide to make her invisible, but something told her not to try. It was probably safer to just remain where she was. So she turned her attention back to these curiously hideous lifeforms before her.

It was immediatley recognizable that the two creatures were not allies. In fact, upon exiting their vessels, they appeared to engage in combat among the smoldering metal and burning wood debris. Many kinds of powerful magics flew from the eye beast. The tentacled one was quick on his feat, and he had some sort of power of his own that had some kind of strange impact on the eye beast, but the priestess could not identify it. Before long, the battle was at a standstill. It was not clear which creature would vanquish the other. About that time, there was a noise from across the cavern. It sounded like the scraping of metal boots on stone as they walked in unison. The fighting creatures heard it too, but by the time they figured out what it might be, it was too late. From the very side tunnel which the priestess was supposed to pass through on her way to her matron emerged a troop of kharakuro. They were very obviously a patrol from the local city militia which was sent to check out the noise. When they saw the two creatures, their squad took a step back, once again in unison. The eye beast and the tentacled one stopped fighting and turned to the kharakuro defensively. Tentacles and eyestalked twitched. Fingers brushed drawn weapons. The situation was tense.

Then the gates of the planes of evil opened up figuratively as the kharakuro sprung to attack. According to the priestess, it was a messy ordeal. Some of the soldiers froze in place, turned to stone. Some died on the spot with no visible wounds. Others were pierced by powerful evocation magics. Some just broke down and cried before being cut down or eaten by the tentacled one. In fact, most of the ones that were crying and becoming dazed were the ones nearest to the tentacled creature. The priestess surmised that he must have power over the mind, judging by these effects.

The battle seemed like it raged for hours, but in reality it was no more than a couple minutes. All the soldiers were dead, and the two creatures looked slighly more battered than when they landed. As they turned back to face each other, the scenario repeated itself almost as from a dream. Through another exit tunnel, another troop of kharakuro soldiers poured in to the sounds of scraping metal boots. Upon seeing their dead comrades there was much confused grumbling which quickly turned into blind berserking rage, and once again the battle was on. Figthing alongside one another, the two creatures dispatched this group as well, but this time it was obvious that the fight had taken a toll on them. Speaking to the mind-bender, the eye beast conveyed some message which the priestess had no comprehension. The mind bender nodded, and the two beings walked off together through another tunnel to the east.

Years later, the priestess had nearly forgotten the ordeal after she reported her account to her superiors. The blissfull forgetfullness of the incident was broken, however,during a campaign her city was waging against the local followers of Kimonictinus in a nearby city. In one particularly ugly battle, the priestess was asked to remain behind to guard her home temple while the fighting was underway not more than a few leagues from her location. Though she did not admit it freely, the priestess counted herself lucky, for it meant that she would get to live another easy day without being asked to risk her life in a war. This was her error however. During the second quiet night of the campaign, the western side tunnel was suddenly aglow with the pulse of magic. The guards stationed at the post were immediately incinerated, as tens of eye beasts began to pour out of the opening. The priestess was horrified. The one had become many, or perhaps had summoned his friends. Such a concept was not unknown to her. Taking up her weapon from the sacrificial altar, the priestess resigned herself to fight these intruders to her city as ordered. However, as soon as the temple guard was mounting up to fight, another horror poured from the opposite tunnel entrance. Her heart sunk as she hoped that it was not what she thought, but the hope died instantly. Mind benders by the score were coming out of that tunnel, and in front of them were the city's own soldiers, which gave her some relief.

That relief was also short-lived, for she noticed that the soldiers had their backs to the mind benders and they began to attack the gate guards!

The account of what happened after that is not complete. It was quickly apparent that the eye beasts and the mind benders were fighting over the city. Each race meant to take it for themselves.
This meant disaster for all who were not aligned with one of them, which was everyone in the settlement. The priestess survived the ordeal by fleeing through a secret tunnel below the temple just as the two armies of creatures converged on it, but before she left she could have sworn she got a glimpse of two enemies, one eye beast and one mind bender, facing each other across the atrium of the temple for a brief moment before turning away from one another to go fight in another part of the city.

The Invader Period:

This tale marked the beginning of a time in the underdark where the illithids and beholders began to make their mark. Though there were never many of them present, it was apparent that at least one or two garrissons of the things were occupying pieces of the underdark as part of some unkown conflict between them. The native denizens struck quite a few victories against them once they learned to adapt to their fighting techniques, but each time their numbers would be depleted, they would suddenly surge again. To this day, the mystery remains unsolved, but the denizens fight on.

For the next 1800 years, the underdark is full of tales depicting the minor (and some major) skirmishes between all of these factions. For the large part, the grand scheme did not change. Some offspring of Alifanitax would be killed. Some new cambions, vasharans, kharakuros, or other planar denizens would gain small holdings and underground kingdoms, only to have them ripped apart. Through it all, there was little change in the status quo until the beginning of the T'Nanshi-M'Chek War. It was at this time that the Sereg'wethrin moved down into the underdark. Through their breeding programs andtraining, they quickly carved out a strong underground fortress, and as their population quickly expanded over the next 50 years, they created three new cities. These cities served strategic functions to guard against the other races of the underdark, but they also served as trading posts. Once the sereg'wethring were "betrayed" by the Nanshilae, they needed to find a new source of sustenance and commerce, and the races of the underdark were able to provide this, and still do to this day.
"Truth has no form."
--Idries Shah

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