Scars of the Underdark

Prisoners of the Drow

The drow outpost is located high in a cavern, built 100 feet above the rocky floor. The outpost consists of a series of small caves in the cavern walls and four “hanging towers” – hollowed-out stalactites connected by walkways, stairs, and rope bridges. The towers are concealed by the thick webs of giant spiders stretched below them, so that only the lowermost parts of the stalactites are visible from the cavern floor.

With the small amount of dim light used in the outpost shielded from the cavern floor below, one might walk the entire length of the cleft without becoming aware of the outpost overhead, hidden in the darkness above the range of torches and lanterns. The giant spiders also serve as guards, dropping down on their web strands to prey upon creatures that find their way into the cavern. Similarly, drow warriors can drop to the cave floor on lines of spider silk to ambush enemies.

Three caves and tow hanging towers surrounding a platform make up the main part of the outpost for the drow warriors. The largest of the hanging towers is reserved for the priestesses and the shrine of Lolth, while the other is a guard tower opposite the cave used to hold slaves. North of the slave pen is the den of the outpost’s quaggoth servants. Watch posts lie at either end of the outpost, near the northern and southern entrances to the cavern.

Captured by the drow! You wouldn’t wish this fate upon anyone, yet here you are – locked in a dark ave, the cold, heavy weight of metal tight around your throat and wrists. You are not alone. Other prisoners are trapped in here with you, in an underground outpost far from the light of the sun.

The Drow guards like to impress there will  and remind you that your life now belongs to them. “Accept your fate, learn to obey, and you may survive.” Their words echo in your memory, even a you plot your escape.

Over the next few days, you and your fellow prisoners managed to scavenge a few items while doing hard labor around the prison camp that may be helpful in your escape attempt – a gold coin, a piece of rope, a flint dagger, and a crossbow bolt coated in drow poison.

The Sky Underground

Derendil stood on the ledge below the troglodyte stronghold, ripping, tearing, and throwing anything that got too close. They were outnumbered, but at this point, he hardly cared.  He barely felt the attacks that rained down on him from all sides.  Then everything went dark.  For a brief moment, he felt as if he were flying, being carried back to his ancestors on the back of a regal griffon.

But then he awoke in the darkness.  

He groaned, feeling the all-too-familiar sway of the keelboat beneath him.  He pushed himself to a sitting position with a slight grunt and looked around, trying to figure out what had happened.  Everyone was yelling, pointing, and arguing.  And rowing.  

Derendil turned his attention to match that of his companions and saw one of the most beautiful things he'd ever seen.  A glittering dragon, wreathed in sunlight was headed straight toward them.  She was as green as the forest just before rain, and it made his heart sing.  Even better was that she seemed to be delivering the sun to them!  

Until suddenly she wasn't.  

The lithe beast shrieked in anger and dove beneath the black waves of the underwater sea, dousing the magnificent light it carried.  Cursing, the team leapt to action.  Someone conjured a thick mist, while the rest – himself included – grabbed the oars and began pulling harder and more in unison than they ever had.  The keelboat lurched and seemed to skip across the inky surface of that terrible liquid void.  By some divine miracle, they managed to outrun the wyrm, despite all odds, and gain a few precious moments of respite before coming to an intriguing island.

Had some of the more faint-hearted members of the party not already retreated or been lost, perhaps they would not have stopped to investigate.  Derendil, for one, was glad that they did decide to stop and explore.

At the center of the small island stood a shimmering ziggurat.  An ancient temple covered in elven runes.  Mesmerized, Derendil approached the temple doors, whispering aloud as he read the runes.  

One of the others - one of the small, annoying ones – cautioned that this was a flying temple belonging to a powerful sorceress from ancient times.  Of course, Derendil already knew this, having read it in the runes.  Not only was she powerful, but she was an elf.  He silenced the small thing with the large nose and closed the gap to the entrance.  A woman's voice, soft and pure, beckoned him forward.  Completely enamored, Derendil placed a furry claw against the door, simultaneously caressing it and searching for a way to open it.

And suddenly, he was flying again.

He soared among the clouds, between magnificent cities floating on the inverted caps of mountains, removed and enchanted by powerful magicks that could only have been devised by ones as timeless and pure as the elves.  Shifting his weight, he spun and dove, weaving through a flock of eagles.  A bliss unlike any he had ever known vibrated through his entire being as he beheld the burning, golden glow of the rising sun on the horizon.

With a twist, he began a backward arc; arms spread, eyes closed.  He concentrated on the feeling in this moment, holding on to it.  But something was wrong. He started to lose control, and was no longer flying – he was falling.  Faster and faster he fell, through the layers of clouds, toward the courtyard of one of the flying fortresses.  Faster than he would have thought, he slammed into the flat stones of the courtyard.

But when he opened his eyes, Derendil did not see some wondrous city.  He saw a ruined temple, profaned by hideous creatures attacking his friends; defiling this beautiful place.  A rage welled up within him.  His breath quickened, each exhale accompanied by an increasingly intense growl, until finally he unleashed a roar and charged the beast.  He circled behind and tore at it with his claws, needing to dismember this abomination and cleanse the temple, as was the noble thing to do.

The Sword and The Elf

I felt the presence of a powerful elven lord, and called out.  I did not know if my cry would be heard or heeded, but I had to try.  Long have I been hidden away.  Guarded by the twisted abominations spawned from the perversion of my mistress and her servants.  I do not know which of her many enemies it was who warped the enchantments – Jealousy is a wound which evil infects and festers, and there were so many who envied her.

But now I am free – we are free – and together will bring light to this darkness and cut a path to our rightful place aboveground.  The pitiful, sunless creatures who reside here will flee from me – from us – in terror.  When the searing light of righteousness casts out every shadow, and they have no places left to hide, we shall feast on the remains of those who are not quick, or intelligent enough to flee farther.  

Come now, my cursed prince.  You have vanquished the lingering shadows of my Netherese masters, rightfully claiming me as your own.  You have proven your worth, your might, and your lineage.  Take me up and cut now through these foes before you.  I shall sever the limbs from this aquatic troll and see how well he swims then!

Derendil held the golden sword hilt aloft, and a brilliant beam of searing, white sunlight sprang forth.  The beam formed into the shape of a blade, energy crackling and spitting from its surface.  With a cry of rage, he brought the magical sword to bear against the troll that was pulling their boat under and tearing the timbers from her ribbing.  

Though he did not vanquish the vile creature alone, he credited himself no less.  Making landfall on a strange island covered in mushrooms of various sizes, shapes, and colors, he feared another week of fungal rations.  That was, until, one of them walked over and began speaking!  It was a funny little fungoid that seemed to be wearing a turtle shell and carrying a walking stick.

"It's a walking mushroom.  Should we kill it?" Derendil asked himself silently.

"Is it threatening us?  Is it in our way?" Came the silky, feminine voice's reply in his mind.

"No.  But it can talk.  We should probably kill it."

There was a long silence before the voice returned.  "Would it be proper for any elf, let alone one so noble as you, to cut down a tree that didn't fit in?  Even one that walked and talked?"

Derendil thought for a long moment, before replying – this time in elvish.  "No, of course not."  He tucked the gleaming hilt back into his belt with a sigh. Letting go of the weapon, even feeling that it was firmly pressed to his side, caused him a bit of anxiety.  This sword was an elven artifact that could see through his curse.  He would not be letting her go any time soon.


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