Hunger, lord of seven hells
Wherein the single Serpent dwells,
With volumes drawn from pit to pit
Through fire and darkness infinite —
Hunger, sun of nether skies,
Thine ancient evil never dies,
For aye thy somber fulgors flame
On sunken worlds that have no name,
Man’s heart enthrones thee, still supreme,
Though the false sorcerers blaspheme.
Stepping carefully, Hours Len Braidpath, Driemz Darkblade, Ares, and Geth Corvine entered the fanged cave, muttering amongst themselves at the sudden inexcusable absence of Igby the Bard, whose attention had been diverted by a passing sparrow. The explorers’ steps were echoed by the faint droning chant that seemed to drift upon the night air. Ahead, red light could be seen, a light that upon investigation of the twisting passage proved to be a hall of eerie glyphs that scrawled across the walls as in constant uncertain movement.
A swirling mass of burning crimson lines covered the floor. The patterns slithered and shifted like a nest of vipers, and as they gazed upon this eldritch sight, they could hear strange whispers in the backs of their minds, voices cajoling, pleadings, warning… all manner of emotion intense and disconnected. It required a certain amount of concentration and self possession to sort through this psychic chaff, even to prevent it from overwhelming an overwrought brain, and Ares was unable to do so, for his religious mind was too vulnerable to the horrid implications of this place. For indeed, these glyphs represented all that remained of hundreds of people who had fallen victim to the insatiable Hunger that plagued this land, not even left with souls but mere echoes of an existence that was now nearly as if it had never been.
Where the kneeling villagers’ clothes have been stripped off, all bear extra inhuman eyes embedded in their flesh. As the cultists moan and chant, each waves a curved, glittering blade chipped from volcanic glass.
A vicious battle ensued, ending with [[:geth]making a flying leap into the ichor bleeding baleful eye and burying his full blade within it, showering himself with gore. A narrow and sheer passage like a gullet was discovered within the stone socket of the baleful eye.
Clambering along the rough, narrow passage seemed unpleasantly akin to climbing down the throat of some great beast. The walls were studded with glowing crystal shards. The intruders were forced to walk single file, and in some places to squeeze through narrow gaps. The shaft twisted and turned, but always it descended—and the farther they went, the stranger it became. There was felt a terrible chill, although breath dis not freeze in the air. Whispers twisted —mad voices that faded as soon as the words were heard. The stone of walls and floor grew soft and spongy. This narrow twisting path was lit by pale lumps of glowing crystal. The floor became a strange thing, mottled and soft, sticky even, more flesh than stone. Then, as Geth stepped too closely, the treacherous floor suddenly gaped wide, a maw filled with crystalline teeth snapped at his legs! It was only after some brave leaping that the delvers came to a sudden opening of stone.
There, Torraash, Reeve of Blackroot awaited his foes, flanked by minions, holding the helpless form of Dorik the Mad as hostage, and guarded by a floating orb: one large eye over a gaping slavering maw, framed by tentacles each with its own blinking eye. A small beholder!The battle was joined! The eyes of the beholder were as terrifying as legend had told, even this stunted specimen, for Geth and Driemz were driven to attack their friends and sent fleeing in terror, back across the crystalline maws in the corridor behind. The beholder slavered cruelly as it did its work, protected by the mighty iron fists of Torraash, who was protected by the Coat of Eyes. The brave explorers of an hour before became desperate fighters, praying for survival.
Emerging from the mountain of madness to face a lightening sky, the party wasted no time in heading south, avoiding the village and making their way by most direct route to Gate Pass. Unfortunately, an early frost and icy slowed their travel, and it was a long four weeks later, in the month of Winter’s Finding that the road weary group straggled into Gate Pass. The travelers felt lucky to be home, for tidings of war rode swift upon the wings of rumor.
...the story continues on the occasion of the Festival of Dreams a midwinter celebration that marks the beginning of the Free City’s independence.