Out of the Abyss

Prisoners of the Drow
Session 1

The Party
Ashiln – Human Ranger looking for her father
Jailyn – Human Bard looking for a way out of here
Anankee – Dragonborn Fighter looking for a way to prove herself
Finn – Half Elf Sorcerer looking for someone to betray him
Sudimon – Human Paladin looking for vengeance
Zinnia – Human Walock(?) looking for herself(?)

The party members find themselves prisoners of a band of drow slavers — unified in their imprisonment, hard labor, exploration of the underground outpost, and shared desire to escape.

Each member has had to face down Ront upon their arrival, and each of them acquiesced to his demands for a portion of their food until the arrival of Anankee the dragonborn warrior who after a brutal scuffle put the halforc in his place.
Befriended by the Derro Buppido who gives them a brief lay of the land, or at least the slave pen, the party are able to settle into a routine of hard labour, weak food, and restless sleep.

Members of the group talk with

Prince Derendil, a hulking quaggoth who claims to be a polymorphed gold elf prince
Eldeth Feldrun, a shield dwarf scout from Gauntlgrym who seems to think that if you can’t stand up for yourself then maybe you should just sit down.
Sarith Kzekarit, a sullen drow who rebuffs attempts at conversation
Stool, a youthful mushroom creature who doesn’t seem to need to speak to communicate
Shuushar the Kuo Toa monk who shares his meager food with everyone
Jimjar the Deep Gnome gambler
Topsy and Turvy Deep Gnome twins, a brother and sister who seem very close

The prisoners work daily work shifts of eight hours, most recently in the main hall, where drow and quaggoth (underbears) gather to eat and drink. They are fed twice a day, a thin mushroom and root vegetable gruel.

Overhearing conversations, and speaking with fellow prisoners, the party has learned a little about the slaver band, their prison cell, and the power structure among the drow.
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Father must be so upset

It was bad enough when Kalil kidnapped me but I didn’t realize he was so angry. Drow slavers? In the middle of Oghma-only-knows-where? I am never getting back to Memnon! Father must be furious. I wonder if he has figured out who was responsible or what happened? I do hope no one has gotten hurt.

Admittedly, the situation could be worse. Although I am locked up with a quaggoth, an orc, and several other underdark denizens, no one has tried to kill anyone else… Well, I’m not sure if you count Ront and Ananke, or maybe Ront and Finn… Okay so no one has actually killed anyone else. And they feed us. And they let us sleep. And when Ananke knocked Ront out, they came in to make sure he didn’t die.

Ananke and some of the others keep talking about escape, which sounds like a great idea in theory, but I have some serious doubts as to whether we would be able to pull it off. I mean, I did clean up a bloody smear off the inside of the drow lady’s room. And there’s the problem of the locked door and the guards outside…

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Well that was terrifying

One of the drow apparently decided he was fed up with something and decided he would free us. He left the door unlocked and then created a big distraction, summoning up a swarm of demons, so all the guards left and we escaped the pen and ran into a nearby guard tower where I grabbed some armor and a sword, not that I know what to do with either of them.

The next problem, of course, was where to go next? To the right, the quaggoths had gotten out and were fighting demons, and to the left, the drow were fighting demons. The only option seemed to be to escape by jumping down a waterfall (great idea).

Luckily, everyone except Jimjar made it to the shore, and I didn’t even swallow too much water.

But we had no time to rest. The drow seemed to have resolved their demon problem and started coming after us, so all we could do was run.

After an hour or two of twisty turny dark passages, I was well and truly lost, but then we came to a cave-in. Ront and Derendil and Ananke started digging but weren’t fast enough and then suddenly there were these crossbow bolts coming out of the dark and then Ront drops to the ground and everyone’s screaming and Sarith is yelling for a sword and I have a sword so I run over to him but then he gets shot and falls to the ground and then Sudeiman comes over with his shield and does something magical but Sarith just lies there and then these quaggoths come out of the darkness and Sudeiman tells me to hide behind his shield and then he charges out to fight them. And then here I am standing over Sarith who’s not moving and I have this shield and this sword and everyone’s dying and I don’t know what to do and then this other quaggoth appears out of nowhere and takes a swing at me and he knocks the shield out of my hand and my arm twists and I hear a pop and it hurts so bad and I try to swing my sword at him but it doesn’t even do anything, and I yell for help but no one hears me and he’s swinging at me again and his claws are so sharp and he’s so big and then I must have hit my head and it all goes hazy and there’s just so much pain…

…but then I start to feel cold and there’s a man there, kind of hazy with but with these black eyes that somehow glowed, and I ask him to help me and he holds out his hand and I take it but it’s so cold and he helps me to my feet, and then he sort of, I don’t know how to describe it, showed me what I could do. And then I started to feel warm, even though my arms were covered in frost, and he filled me up with this energy and all I had to do was just let it out and it was the easiest thing in the world…

…and then the quaggoths were dead and the drow were running and I could see them running off in the dark and then I sent a bolt of energy after one of them and he fell and I knew he was dead and somehow, I felt better…

…and then the danger was over and Derendil was freaking out and everyone was trying to make sure no one was dead and nobody was paying attention to me anymore and we weren’t in trouble and then it hit me.

I killed someone.

And at the time, I felt good about it.

What have I done?

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Waterfall Aftermath
Fleeing the Drow

Ananke looked around at the rest of the party as they gathered their wits after their fall, preparing to continue their escape from the Drow.

She was thankful so many had escaped alive, but mourned JimJar’s senseless loss. Quietly, Ananke prayed that the Gods would see him safely into the realms beyond.

As she whipped her tail about, trying to shake off excess water, Ananke considered the utterly heinous, unspoken threat that the Drow leader had conveyed before Ananke had jumped into the waterfall.

Looking around again at her fellow comrades with a deep sense of foreboding, Ananke wondered if they would ever be able run fast enough and far enough to escape that Drow’s fury.

Ananke looked to Ront, who was still shaken from the fall, and her eyes softened. She remembered that night in the pit, the care and concern he shown her – and when he flanked her in the days following, she welcomed his presence.

But she also remembered the dream, and Ront’s words to her – ‘Ront knows’. Despite Ront’s limited grasp of the common tongue, Ananke couldn’t help but wonder at the layered meanings behind his words. Had he also suffered such nightmares? Of a darkness so profoundly insidious that it came alive under his touch? In all her life, Ananke had never dreamed such things.

Slowly, she walked up to Ront – taking care to make her approach known, so as to not catch him off guard. His eyes, tired, dazed, and pained, met hers, and a corner of his mouth twitched upwards in a sheepish, almost smile.

With a level tone that belied her overall sense of unease, Ananke asked him, ‘Are you alright?’

Ront gave a curt nod and low grunt, but said nothing else. He kept his eyes on the ground.

Ananke hazarded a hand on his shoulder to draw his gaze, ‘I don’t know how much farther we have to go before it’s safe enough to sleep – but when we do, this time I’ll keep watch.’

Ront’s eyes widen sharply, and he drew a breath in protest – but Ananke cut him off.

‘And when you’re ready, I want you to tell me about the dreams.’

Ront went still as he looked down and away. Ananke could tell he was warring with himself, and wondered at the outcome – until he gave a quick nod before stepping in line with the others.

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Dungeons and Dragonborns

Ananke hadn’t expected the voice that echoed through her mind – hadn’t expected proof that Finn wasn’t victim of a raging madness, and that she hadn’t cursed her fellow companions for nothing.

She also wasn’t expecting to find the source of that voice under a desecrated corpse – which she’d careless thrown over her shoulder at the wretched wraith behind her – and certainly hadn’t expected the source to be a sword that came to life in her hand.

As the sword blazed, wreathed in fire and light, Ananke felt renewed with strength and purpose – as elated to have found the sword, as the sword was to have been found. She knew she held in her hand the power to cut down the wraith that threatened them, and didn’t hesitate to attack.

Though her specialty had always been two-handed weapons, the weight of the sword felt nonetheless familiar, and Ananke wielded it with unerring accuracy. She dealt the wraith several powerful blows – but at a price. The wraith struck back in ferocious fury, slicing through Ananke’s core with deadly magical force.

The pain was blinding – Ananke’s whole body burned with cold; her limbs shook beyond her control; her diaphragm spasmed, making it impossible to draw breath; the edges of her vision started to go dark…

She saw the wraith surge forward to attack once more, and in that moment Ananke knew death was coming – knew she’d let down her companions, and her clan. She felt sick with shame and remorse – for not being better, stronger, faster. But she was determined to meet death head on, and stared the wraith down as it came screaming upon her.

Then there was a light – and for a moment, everything stood still. Ananke watched as Finn flung himself between her and the wraith, summoned his power, and held the wraith at bay. From what seemed so far away, Ananke heard the wraith scream in abject fury, tearing and clawing at the shield Finn had summoned.

Finn – the Elfborn who had been so flippantly despondent – was standing between her and certain death. Trying to save her, when all other sense and reason would say not to. Had Ront’s kindness not been proof enough, it was in this moment Ananke knew with certainty that one need not be family to be clan. But she also knew there were limits to Finn’s power, knew that the sword needed to be someone else’s burden to bear if the rest were to make it out alive.

It was then that she saw him, waivering in the corner of her ever-blurring vision – Sudeiman; a truly divine warrior for whom Ananke had great respect. She knew, with his divine might, Sudeiman could wield the sword and kill the wraith.

He called to her, but she couldn’t make out his words over the roaring in her head – though she guessed at his intent well enough; and praying to whichever Gods may have been watching, threw the sword to him with what little strength and coordination she had left.

And in that moment, Finn’s shield fell, and Ananke collapsed.

Everything went dark, and it was everything for Ananke to simply breath in… breath out…

Sounds swirled around her – some reminding her of home, her forge, her clan – others distinct to pain, and misery, and death.

She struggled to focus her eyes, and with a great tightening in her chest, recognized the un-moving form in front of her as Sudeiman. The wraith had struck him down, and was turning its focus to the one left holding the sword… Ash.

Panic filled Ananke, enough that she was almost able to overcome the pain and the cold and the blackness, was almost able to stand up, to draw the wraith’s attention away from the small girl, to tell Ash to run… but Ananke’s body failed her. She collapsed in a crumbled heap next to Sudeiman’s prone, seemingly lifeless form.

Ananke’s gut twisted painfully at the sight of Ash – an incredibly passionate free-spirit, with so much energy and gumption – Ananke wanted nothing more than to spirit her away from here, to where Ash would be safe. Instead, much to Ananke’s terrible shame, Ash stood alone, holding onto the sword for dear life – but, she was standing her ground, determined to see through to the end the destiny that had quite literally been thrust upon her.

Grasping Sudeiman’s frigidly cold hand, Ananke prayed, ‘Divines, don’t leave us yet…’

And in that moment, Ash drew the sword high above her and attacked the wraith with deadly precision. The room exploded in bright white light, the wraith screamed an ungodly scream that devolved into a shock wave that tore the wraith apart, and sent anything still standing to the ground.

Ananke focused what little of her sight remained on the bent, and heavily breathing form of Ash. Ananke smiled, what little she could, with great fondness and respect – Ash was unharmed, and rightfully exhilarated with what she’d accomplished. And she still held the sword. Ash, and the rest of the companions were safe.

Ananke stopped fighting the tremors running through her body and laid her head on the ground next to Sudeiman’s, still holding his hand.

‘Divines willing, Sudeiman – stay with us,’ Ananke breathed.

’You’re not gone yet… stay with us.’

And then the world went dark.

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A Life for a Life
R.I.P. Sudeimon

After travelling through the underdark for some time, we had sat down to take a bit of a breather when Finn began hearing voices. He wasn’t the only one though, apparently Prince Derendil and Ront both heard it to some extent as well. Finn said that it was a woman’s voice, asking Finn to help her. The weird thing is, I believed that he was hearing it, because when I tried to listen to what he was hearing, I could hear it too.

Anyways, Finn insisted that we follow the voice, and we did, and came to a chasm in the underdark in this room full of glowing moss, with a tower literally floating in the middle of the chasm. It was a ten-foot gap from where we were to the tower. The moss, however, seemed useful and Ananke smeared some on her scales and armor so she could bring some light with her and I think Jailin brought some to use in her spells.

We debated whether it was a trap (which it probably was, I mean, I’ve heard all kinds of stories of travelers lost in the desert that think they hear sounds of civilization or a woman or child and when they follow the voice, they get eaten by sand worms or worse). But since Finn was insistent, we decided it would be safest if we all went and checked it out together, I mean, some of us couldn’t hear the voice so if it was some sort of mind control some of us would be okay, right?

So into the tower we went. Sudeiman said that it was a Netheril tower, which is a civilization that fell thousands of years ago. There were tapestries depicting a elven-looking sorcerer, which Derendil insisted was a half-breed.

We followed a spiral staircase downwards until Eldeth announced that we were at least a hundred feet below the bottom of the tower, which was patently impossible.

But then we got to a few rooms. One of them had a shrine that had been defaced, pretty recently I might guess. And the room had claw marks and things were shredded. Which was all weird because the tower otherwise had dust and hadn’t been disturbed for, let’s go with thousands of years. There was a room that had a really nice looking sarcophagus, and another room with four less ornate sarcophagi.

We looked around and I sure couldn’t see any woman being held captive, but Finn said he was still hearing her and she said we were close and that she needed help.

He thought we should open the sarcophagus but this whole thing did NOT feel right to me at all. I told everyone I thought it must be a trap and I had a really bad feeling about it but the only one to listen was Jailin. The rest decided to open the sarcophagus so Jailin and I left and went back upstairs.

Then there was screaming and magic being used and maybe we should have gone back, I don’t know, but I mean, I’m just a girl, what could I do to help? What difference could I possibly make? I knew that the room was not safe and what sane people do in that situation is they leave, instead of poking it because there’s a mysterious voice in your head.

Anyways, after what felt like forever, they came back upstairs and Ash was blue and carrying a glowing sword, and Ananke was really beat up, and Derendil was carrying Sudeimon. And Sudeimon was dead.

And Finn was freaking out and he asked Jailin if she could heal Sudeimon but he was pretty dead and I could tell she felt really bad about it and even though she tried to heal him there weren’t even any wounds to heal, it was like the life had just been drained from him. So Jailin said she couldn’t do anything to help him and then Finn turned to me and asked me to help. I don’t know what he was expecting but I guess some inexplicable things have happened around me, so maybe I don’t know, he thought I could make miracles happen.

So I closed my eyes and I tried to make contact, praying for Sudeimon to be saved, but all I got was a picture of Sudeimon in a sarcophagus. “What does that mean?” I asked. “Does that mean that he’s dead and there’s nothing that can be done? Or does it mean that the sarcophagus will heal him?” But I didn’t get a response.

So I said that I thought we should lay him in the sarcophagus, and something might happen, but even if it didn’t, he would be in a place for dead people and maybe he’d be laid to rest or something. We put him in the fancy sarcophagus below, and I prayed as hard as I could, but nothing happened. So we closed the lid and said some blessings and left the tower.

Later that night, we’re resting and Ananke is having the worst dream ever and she’s flailing around and yelling and we try to wake her up, and when she does wake up she says we have to go back for Sudeiman. Which sounded a bit like denial to me, so we all are trying to tell her that he’s dead and we laid him to rest and then after that we walked for like five hours and we might not even be able to find our way back to the tower, and even if we could we would be going towards the drow that were chasing us, but she insists. She says that we could go on without her but she was going back for him.

What choice did we have? If we split up now, we would never see her again, and we couldn’t just leave her to die in the underdark alone. I mean, the sane thing would have been to leave her behind but she would have come with me if it was the other way around. She’s kind of like that. She does the right thing.

So we went back and traveled for a few hours, hustling as fast as we could, when there’s this demon-looking thing murdering a drow and he turns and sees us and charges over, but Ananke realizes it’s Sudeimon and she steps forward and calls his name, and then he sees her and they just look at each other.

Except that Sudeimon’s skin is really dark now and his veins seem to glow blue underneath his skin…

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A Blade in the Night
R.I.P. Shuushar

We traveled some days through the underdark until we got to a river. This was a good sign since Sloobludop was our destination which was on the Dark Lake so a river would probably lead there.

After travelling for a little while, we came across a few kua-toa fishermen who were nothing like Shuushar. But he was able to trade with them for what he called food but was more like fish guts. It was kind of edible, but Ananke couldn’t stomach it, and Eldeth and Sarith both flatly refused, saying they would rather starve then eat that.

Anyways, feeling somewhat confident in Shuushar’s abilities to negotiate, we proceeded. He said we were probably a few days’ travel from Sloobludop.

The next morning, though, we woke up and Shuushar didn’t. He wasn’t moving and when Ananke tried to wake him, she discovered that he had been sliced open. It looked to me like he had been stabbed in the throat by a narrow, sharp implement (like a crossbow bolt, or maybe a dagger or stiletto), and also sliced open from neck to… whatever the kua toa equivalent of a bellybutton is. By a really sharp blade.

But we were on watch all night, and no one saw anything. So what could have possibly happened?

  1. Finn was the one who was loudly saying how much he didn’t trust Shuushar (when it suited him. He was more than happy to let Shuushar heal him when he needed it. I mean seriously, the kid has issues. He said if anything happened to him someone needed to bring his body back to civilization, and then when Shuushar promised to do so, he said no thanks. I mean who asks these things, and then refuses when someone agrees?), and he has a dagger
  2. The sword Ash has, Dawnbringer, is the sharpest blade any of us have, it would be the most likely murder weapon. And the sword is intelligent and talks to people. Maybe it convinced someone to pick it up and do the deed.
  3. Sarith is a drow, and a murderer. Maybe he is really just a plant, and trying to subtly thwart us. Shuushar was the most useful to us at the moment, and without a translator we are going to have some problems in Sloobludop
  4. Of course, it’s possible that someone infiltrated the camp while we were sleeping (maybe invisibly?) without anyone noticing, but if that’s the case, why is no one else dead?
  5. Sudeimon is clearly different. Maybe whatever happened to him… changed him?
  6. Ananke has been having bad dreams, so maybe she could have done it and not realized?
  7. And then, not that anyone has brought it up, but what if it was me?
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The Journal of Sorndar Abala
Third Blade of of House Mizzrym

Day 3 of the escape
The Slaves continue to elude us and if they do so for much longer Ilvara is likely to put another of us on the altar before the cycle is out. Fortunately when they do leave a spoor it is had to miss. The bloated corpse of that deep gnome at least gave us a direction, though why they woulkd head into the The Long Chasm only Lloth could fathom, but then they doubled back and either through sheer luck or that traitor Sarith, they managed to avoid us.
If only Shoor hadn’t split the search parties, we could have taken them all at the base of the waterfall. That’s what Jorlan wanted, but Shoor is to spiteful to listen to him. Instead we had to waste time going around the long way giving those bastards time to slaughter Urrlok and the others. I’m guessing they let that freak loose on them to make such a mess. As to what killed Urrlok I cannot say. His body frozen like ice even though he’d been dead hours or more, and that look on his face, I’ve seen it before on slaves as the priests dagger plunges into them on the altar and Lloth rips their soul away to be devoured.

Day 7 of the escape
We found the markers left by Sengo and Belzen, they lead to an old floating tower that Ilvara said had been there for centuries, held aloft by the Faerzress that infuses this chasm. She and Asha conferred while we searched for more signs of the slaves passage. It was Second Sword Xunril Deduis who found Sengo’s crossbow on a ledge just over the lip of the chasm, and a half dozen bolts lying about, some bloodied, some broken.
Ilvara announced that the tower was poisoned, to much time in the Faerzress, she said, and we took up the trail again.

Day 8 of the escape
We found Sengo and Belzen. Butchered like the others, but both of them stabbed in the back, repeatedly. Ilvara named them both cowards and instructed us to leave them to rot.

Day 9
Saw the strangest thing today. The bloated corpse of that toad Shuushar lazily floating down the river. We pulled him out and examined the body. Mistress Asha thinks that hunger has finally got to them and they murdered the pacifist for some food, but lost their nerve before they got to far along. They gutted him good though, and it was probably a trick of how the river treated him, I’m sure he was grinning.
They’re headed for Sloobludop so why they murder him and not the myconoid speaks to a level of barbarism that led Ilvara and Asha to think that the Surfacer’s are in charge. We can’t follow them into the Toad city, the treaties with them never hold and they outnumber us greatly. We just have to wait and hope we pick the right spot for them to exit, Jorlan has some good ideas, but Shoor is still being an ass.

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Yuk Yuk and Spiderbait
Surfing the web

“Well, well, wouldn’t you look at that my good Spiderbait. Thing of beauty that was…thing of beauty.” Yuk Yuk leapt to the dangling web and slid down to the corpse that was now stuck in the webs below.
The smaller goblin, Spiderbait, agilely followed, bounding from web to web in a downward crisscrossing pattern.
“Never seen its like have I not,” Yuk Yuk continued, “Not like to again. With all that magic flingin’ about, spiders freezin’, wizards gigglin’, and all sorts of eldritch energies illuminatin’ the place.”
All about the dead carcass of the hulking spider other forms twitched and wriggled in the webs bound tightly in its sticky embrace.
Spiderbait moved to one of the largest cocoon’s and started slicing away at the webs with a small razor.
“Right you are my friend,” Yuk Yuk called from where here similarly cut the webs away from another bundle form, “That blade of light was truly impressive, though a trifle hard on the eyes for my liking.”
Spiderbait managed to expose the sizable scaled arm of the dragonborn and deftly dodged aside as the warrior started ripping at the webs herself.
“But no, I do not think they would part with it,” Yuk Yuk added as he managed to free the hand holding the sword in question. once free of the webs and still in the hand of it’s wielder the blade shone with intense light forcing Yuk Yuk to shield his eyes and mumble to himself, "Nope, not practical at all.
They moved from party member to party member freeing each one until all were accounted for except two.
“Where’s Sudeiman?” Aishlyn asked eyeing the two goblins suspiciously.
“And Derendil?” Ananke echoed.
The Spider twitched, then heaved.
Swords were drawn and spells were readied, and then a have jutted out from beneath the bulk of the spider. A hand with now familiar blue veins, pulsing dimly in the shadow of the dead spider. Quickly after it cam the furred claw of Prince Derendil.
“There they be my good folk, and none the worse for wear,” Yuk Yuk smiled, "Though it may take some elbow grease to get them out of their hidy-hole.Krull_Spider.jpg

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The Dragonborn with the Iron Fist

Ananke didn’t know where she and her companions were anymore; she only knew that it was cooler there than it had been before – and that had to mean safety.

She stood to the side, listless, as the others set up camp for the night. She knew she should help; knew she should be working with the surviving members of the companions to start putting their group back together again, and rallying for tomorrow.

But what use was she to them now? Ananke looked down at her rock-encrusted hand.

She recognized that she should be in excruciating pain – and that the fact that she wasn’t, should be of concern – but all she felt was a white-hot numbness that burned in her chest. As the memory of Ront’s smile swam before her eyes, Ananke slowly sank to her knees in silent anguish, cradling what was left of her arm.

As her knees touched stone, as the surrounding shadows swallowed her and hid her from view, Ananke heard a scream – a curdling death scream, that gurgled with blood. Ananke whipped her head around, looking back into the darkness from where they came… but there was nothing. As she continued to peer into the blackness, she felt a reverberation up her arms, as if she was running someone through with her sword.

The Halfling.

Ananke curled into herself; the sickness and revulsion rolling through her in waves. She had never taken an innocent life – not in all her time on the surface, or her time lost in the Underdark – not until the Halfling…

That night in Yuk Yuk and Spider-bait’s lair, Ananke had laid awake staring up at the ceiling – eyes no longer seeing, ears no longer hearing – as she relived that terrible moment over, and over again in her mind. She shouldn’t have acted so rashly; she should have carefully cut into that writhing mass of webs to check first… she should have known that the creatures therein would have needed some kind of sustenance… She should have known better. She should have done better.

But she hadn’t; instead, she had murdered the Halfling. She asked no forgiveness of her Gods, for there was no forgiveness to be given for such a heinous act. So she prayed, with everything there was in her to pray; she prayed that the Gods would welcome the Halfling into their fold, and speed him safely into the next realms. She prayed he would find peace.

But clearly the Gods were unsatisfied with Ananke’s penance. Clearly, they had felt more punishment was needed.

From her place in the shadows, Ananke looked over at the group – every one of whom was wounded, and suffering; or, dead. Her actions had wrought this; she was sure of it. Ront, the first being in this gods-forsaken place to show her true kindness, was dead because of her. The Gods had seen fit to lash out at Ananke in a most insidious way: by attacking her companions… her clan. She should have been the one to die; not Ront. She should have read the warning signs faster, should have anticipated the danger… should have gotten Ront out of the way before any harm could come to him.

Instead, she watched as lava enveloped him; felt as lava dissolved him away, wrenching him out of her grasp.

She looked down at her hand, and knew that THIS is what the Gods considered suitable penance for the life she took; knew that now she would be nothing but a burden to her companions; knew that if ever she made it out of this eternal darkness, her days as an Armorer were over. But she would continue on, because she didn’t deserve death. She deserved to suffer, and she would bear it with as much grace and dignity as she could muster.

Slowly, Ananke lowered the rest of her body to the cavern’s floor to sleep; though, she knew sleep wouldn’t come: only fits of waking dreams, where the dead would haunt her for her sins.

As she lay, yet again, staring up at the ceiling, Ananke realized that she could no longer imagine a time when they would be free of this place; where they would escape from the darkness into the light, and return to the lives they had left behind. All that stretched before her, and all that stretched behind her, was blackness and death. And all the while, unbeknownst to her, that darkness had been etching away at her soul; causing parts of her to whither up and slough off, like scales during a summer molt.

Now, laying there, tracing the remnants of her left hand, Ananke recognized that the darkness had already won: even if they made it out of the Underdark alive, there wasn’t enough left of her to return to her previous life.

The darkness, and demons, and death had already won.


At some point in the night, sleep took Ananke; but it was fitful. Terrible screams and gruesome smiles filled her dreams.

But then, those smiles and screams morphed into a pulsing blue darkness that enveloped her. It swarmed, slithered, and oozed into her body; and as it moved through her, the pain that Ananke had been waiting for finally came. The nerves in her hands were alive with heat and light and pain.

In her dream, Ananke threw her head back to scream; but no sound escaped. There was an immense pressure on her chest, drowning out her screams, making it almost impossible to breathe…

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