Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What Lies Beneath, being Part 1 of The Outcast Rising

You think alleys are dark? You think you know dark? This tale is for all those who have never been beneath the city. It is time for you to know. It was little over 5 years ago that I first slipped beneath the surface of Chapel Hill. It all began as I passed through the woods behind Emyn Muil casually looking for birds, scouting my freshman territory. But as I balanced myself on an ancient pipeline I came across a gaping mouth carved into the hillside. Beneath it sat a forbidden pool. Despite knowing that to enter a forbidden pool bears the penalty of death, I peered closer. This is what I saw that day:

Startled as I was of this discovery, I performed quick reconnaissance on the area, and, being one of the Mindaloo Rangers of the East, I came across several troubling signs of habitation, including used needles, cigarette butts, and empty bottles. Signs of warriors. Upon further investigation, there were several scouting towers scattered discreetly along the hillside. Though they were all vacant at the time, the stale scent of human bodies still lingered, and the walls around me were covered in crude writings and symbols, signs of the Pagan uprising that had settled into this region. I slipped away undetected, and as I looked back I saw a glint deep in the entrance. Gold. I would return soon with my band of outcasts.

Skip forward to February 12th, 2005 in the Gregorian calendar. Under the veil of darkness I returned. Equipped with mag-lights and a thirst for a territorial advantage, I and a crew of fellow rangers of the North slipped down the hillside.

Under council of Merthel the Wise we made sure to avoid all contact with the treacherous water that passed in bronzy rivulets beneath our feet. It spoke in fell whispers as it cascaded into the forbidden pool. We continued on, the water quickly penetrated our elvish moccasins, but the coldness of it seemed to have little effect on our spirits as we continued. Thankfully we were significantly blunted for this foray.

Here is Eothain the Red in the entrance tunnel at its widest girth. A crude drawing on the right can be seen.

Other than the animals that had taken up residence in the tunnels, there was little other sign of habitation. In every cranny there lay the dense, senseless strands of Black Widows, and out in front dispersed rats of varying sizes, all muttering to themselves as they surely fled to inform others of our movements. But our eyes continued to lust over the golden flow beneath us, the metallic scent was irresistable as we continued deeper, deeper.

As the tunnels continued to split, fears of never seeing the light of day again built in all of us.

But the lust controlled our judgment as we pushed deeper. Meanwhile the tunnels got narrower and narrower.

The lust in my eyes.

At this point, our party had become fragmented. The females turned back, escorted by two of our men. Would we ever see them again? The group was down to three. As the water approached our calves in depth, I sensed that we were getting closer to the source of water. Suddenly I sensed an opening to the left, and redirecting the flashlight I discovered a passage upwards. A surge of excitement and trepidation filled Samuel, Matthew, and I as we clambered up the ladder, corroded in its disuse.

What luck we found! The trapdoor at the top of the ladder was unlocked. I felt the magnitude of the situation as we entered the unknown above us. Lo and behold! We found ourselves in the courtyard of Dingbat the Dark's mighty fortress. As we crouched in hiding we could see the glowing signs of propaganda all around us and the lush grass of his fertilizing fields.

It looked like we were in the armoury, for a pile of aluminum clubs sat stacked beside us, and ivory balls of death lay scattered about the floor. An unknown entrance into hell itself! What could we do but allow a moment to celebrate? We snapped a few photographs to document our quality, not to mention for use in the warroom.

Quietly we slipped back into the tunnel. In the revelry of our newest discovery our judgment became a bit clearer. The golden hue of the tunnel bottom seemed a little less important, most likely it was nothing more than rusting metal seeping from the castle smelters above. Our backs aching, we each took a swig of the tonic given to us by Galinda Blanton of the Wood.

We then turned back towards the entrance of the tunnel, but as we slipped out into the still, dark atmosphere we saw glowing lights around the forbidden pool. Around it sat living corpses drinking in silence, inhaling smoke like reversed chimneys. This wasn't a warrior hideout after all, it was an outcast meeting place, outcasts like us. We discussed our discovery with them. Eagerness glinted in their eyes as we forged plans to forge ahead, weaponless as we were.

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