History of the Underdark
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History of the Underdark
Creation and the Underdark
Long ago when the planet was formed, great torrents of magma formed tubes under the surface of the planet, which still persist to this day. Since that time, these tubes have been expanded, altered, and deepened by various forces and races who have passed through them. In fact, it is through these very passages that the nine original warriors of old fled from the terrible force of the newly deified Negerai, and it is far down in these passages where the heroes uncovered the secrets set there by the Supreme itself, which resulted in their ascensions.
Though it is not widely known, these tunnels and lava tubes played an important role in the evolution of Avlis, and in its continued existence to this day as we know it. Long ago, when the newly ascended heroes were battling the evil Negerai, a mysterious and lowly minion of the Abyss stumbled upon a great artifact there. This wretched and disgusting Dretch would go on to shape the history of Avlis upon finding this artifact: the Black Dagger. Upon finding this object and wielding it, Kimonictinus, a lowly Tanar'ri, transformed himself into a powerful destructive force, and immediately involved himself in the battle raging above him.
The stalemate waged between the nine gods fighting on the side of The Supreme and the devious and malicious Negerai deity could not be broken due to the inability of a god to slay another god of equal stature. As all the participants in the battle were of equal stature, no progress could be made until a deciding factor entered the fray: the Black Dagger. Kimonictinus somehow knew this. Whether he was counseled (or even threatened) by The Supreme is not known, but what is known is that Kimonictinus turned the awesome destructive power of the Black Dagger on the Negerai god, destroying him utterly. The events immediately following this decisive blow are not known precisely, however it is deduced that he halted his attacks once the Negerai was vanquished, and somehow lost possession of the artifact. Many scholars presume that the very last intervention of The Supreme on Avlis was to remove the Black Dagger from Kimonictinus, hiding it once more where it will not be found.
However, the saga of Avlis' creation myth did not end there. It continued. Though Kimonictinus was a demon and therefore immortal, using such a powerful destructive item caused great changes to him. He was no longer a weakling Dretch, or a groveling slimy lackey. He was something more. The power exhibited by the Dretch after wielding the Black Dagger was staggering, but not impossible to overcome, and some of the more goodly gods of Avlis contemplated destroying Kimonictinus. As the new gods were creating the necessary minions and races to do the job, Mikon chased the altered Dretch down deep below the surface of Avlis in order to clear the way for the new lives to come. It was during this episode of containing the Dretch's power that Mikon discovered a terrible secret. The essence of Kimonictinus was joined with the Black Dagger. It seemed that by using the artifact, the demon became integrally connected to it. Though the artifact itself was indestructible, Kimonictinus was not. Destroying him would be akin to destroying the Black Dagger itself, which was an integral part of the universe where the planet existed. This destruction would not only mean the end of the world, but also the end of the gods themselves, so soon after they were just created.
Deeply distressed, Mikon brought this information to his eight counterparts. They could not allow Kimonictinus to roam free, nor could they allow themselves to be destroyed. With these two points in mind, the nine gods attempted to transform Kimonictinus into a deity in order that he would be harder to destroy. They failed. The creature's essence was not amenable to godhood, for it was composed of a higher essence than godhood. Then Toran, purveyor of Law and Order, came up with another proposition. He suggested that they create guardians to watch over Kimonictinus instead. These guardians would have to be either numerous or powerful, maybe even divine. Valok pointed out that creating more gods was what started their whole predicament in the first place, and making even more of them after that was not the way to solve it. The wise and goodly deity named Gorethar agreed with Valok's sentiment, and proposed that each god take some of their mortal creations and set them down below the ground to guard Kimonictinus, but none of the other deities were willing to create versions of their races to live underground as Gorethar's dwarves did innately, except Mikon. He decreed that this idea would go into effect, and he moved some of his newly created Romini-folk to the vicinity south of Kimonictinus's Underdark lands, charging them to guard the creature from harm for eternity. Gorethar did the same with his dwarven-folk. He set a number of them to guard Kimonictinus from the north, and the matter was considered settled.
The humans and dwarves created by Mikon and Gorethar to guard Kimonictinus's life for the safety of all Avlis quickly settled into an underground stewardship routine. Though the earlier members of these peoples were not particularly grateful for the task they had been given, they accepted it duly as the will of their creators. Over time, as the generations progressed, the task was taken for granted, as was the lifestyle, and they complained no longer. In fact, the two peoples began to develop their own special relationship with Kimonictinus. Though they were charged with guarding him, their gods never accounted for the fact that they might also benefit from his existence, and benefit they did. Kimonictinus taught these human and dwarven inhabitants about the culture of the Tanar'ri, and of the lust for power and glory. He slowly seduced them to take over more lands within the Underdark not for their own population needs, but for his pleasure alone. This seduction became complete within no more than ten human generations, and by that time, Mikon and Gorethar were completely forgotten by these peoples. They no longer guarded Kimonictinus because of an order from a god they no longer knew, but out of love and fear for their new patriarch and leader. Though Gorethar and Mikon were saddened by this development, they decided that the task was still being performed adequately and they would leave their creations alone to their own devices. However, around the same time of this abandonment another problem arose.
The Demonspawn Wars
(300 years before the end of The Great War)
When any Tanar'ri is summoned to the Prime Material Plane, they often possess the ability to gate in some companions to accompany them in their mischief. Those companions are then able to gate in more companions who are in turn able to do the same, and so on. Entire worlds and planes of existence have been overrun with Tanar'ri in this matter, just as Avlis had been back in the days of the Negerai.
Kimonictinus was no longer an average Tanar'ri. Not only was he now extremely powerful, but he was also no longer a denizen of the Outer Planes. His interaction with the Black Dagger rendered him tied to the Prime Material Plane forever, and specifically to Avlis. For a demon, this is an advantage because it means it no longer suffers the detriments of an outsider, and Kimonictinus used this fact to his full advantage. Soon after taking up residency permanently on Avlis through his earlier defeat of the Negerai, the new demon lord brought in three lieutenants for himself from the Abyss. They were glabrezou demons of moderate power named Sharistracterus, Alifanitax, and Kuthos.
These lieutenants acted as liaisons between Kimonictinus and his newly attained human and dwarven followers. They also created the first waves of newly imported demons from the Abyss to populate the nearby Underdark. In all respects, these three were vital to Kimonictinus's plans, and he took special measures to ensure their power, safety, and effectiveness under his control. With the help of some of his human mage followers, Kimonictinus concocted a way to extract a tiny amount of his Black Dagger essence and inject it into his three lieutenants, thereby rendering them with the same prime material planar residential status which he possessed. These lieutenants now formed a powerbase in concert with the mortal followers that 'guarded' him, and the newly gated in Tanar'ri which were being brought in by the hundreds each night.
As Kimonictinus's might increased, so did his ambitions. The first group to fall victim to his cruel onslaught were an ancient group of dwarves living in Southern Galdos, just beyond the borders of what was becoming the nation of T'Nanshi. The sheer volume of the attack coming from the amassed group of human, dwarf, and demon contingents quickly overwhelmed the unsuspecting galdokin, crushing them to dust. The momentum of that charge left Kimonictinus with most of southern Galdos under his control before the dwarven nation could mount a coherent response. Only the brave actions of a very young dwarven hero named Fegall stopped them in their tracks on that front. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of the Tanar'ri's advance was great, for he used this battle as a diversion for his second onslaught against the rapidly coalescing tribes of humans in the south. The evil human followers of Kimonictinus were very different from their surface counterparts by now. They had not lived under the sun in generations, and there were occasional incidents of inbreeding with the Tanar'ri along the way. These humans, who called themselves the Adomkuros, were more cruel and less compassionate than their Romini ancestors. When they attacked the humans in the southlands, a great confusion erupted around the battle, which the Adomkuros capitalized on to slaughter many of them and secured many areas of the future nation of M'Chek.
This war raged above ground and below ground for 75 years. The gods Mikon and Gorethar brought some of their agents into the fray for aid. The celestial archons of Gorethar and the Mikonators of Mikon were eventually able to turn the tide of the battle before it became unstoppable. Many human and dwarven tribes were wiped out in this war, and by the end of it, there were few left in the southlands to rebuild. However, eventually, Kimonictinus and his lieutenants were chased back down into the planet's underbelly where they remain to this day.
As a final measure, Mikon imbued several groups of commandos with the power to find Kimonictinus and his lieutenants and remove their ability to bring in more denizens from the Abyss to this plane. The rest of the work of cleaning up the remaining loose Tanar'ri leftovers would continue for some time afterward.
Middle History of the Underdark
After his startling defeat, Kimonictinus retreated back into the Underdark to rebuild his holdings. His Adomkuro and dwarven contingents were stung by the blows inflicted on them by their surface counterparts, and some of them slowly grew bitter over the outcome of the battle. They were not the only ones. The lieutenants of Kimonictinus were also pointing their fingers (and claws) of blame at him. For years, the tensions between them and their cohorts simmered, but it was Kuthos who struck first.
In the largest Underdark upheaval of its time, the glabrezou lieutenant named Kuthos suddenly rose up in his deep Underdark city of Demon's Teeth and sent his followers to unseat the ruling underlings of Kimonictinus. Within a day, the city was under his control and the followers of Kimonictinus were decimated in that area. From his stronghold and resident city of Ka-Kimon, Kimonictinus immediately launched an attack to liberate his lost holding, however, once blood is spilled, the sharks in the area always exploit the weakness. Sharistracterus and Alifanitax immediately revolted in their own cities, turning them upside down. This left Kimonictinus in a bad position.
The resulting battles between the demon and his lieutenants lasted for more than twenty years. As the Great War was reaching its climax on the surface, so too was the battle of the brethren ending. In its wake, Kimonictinus was forced to retreat back to Ka-Kimon, though he had scored a victory in killing one lieutenant, Alifanitax, and taking back his Black Dagger essence from him in the process. The other two lieutenants were now lords of their own dominions.
An uneasy peace settled below the ground, though it was punctuated by constant feints and bids for power. As the gods of the surface multiplied above, the demon lords below also began to gather followers. Their exploits turned to legend, as the deeds of the powerful often do. The dwarven folk, now called the Kharakuro, began to construct stone temples to their demon lord kings, and the Adomkuros began to bestow offerings to these kings within these temples. Slowly, as the respective societies coalesced under each living demon king, they began to grow in power more than ever before... but they were not able to attain godhood. This puzzled them for ages, and some scholars of the underworld finally construed that it was their Black Dagger essence that prevented their ascensions. Though they were not gods, these demon kings were still god-like. They were immortal in every sense, and more. As their worshippers grew, they were able to bestow spells on their clerics, much as a god would. It is rumored that occasionally they could even split their presence and do two tasks at once, as a god can. But as they were about to find out, they were not completely deific in every sense.
The Spawn of Alifanitax
Of all the lieutenants, Alifanitax was the most hedonistic. He reveled in physical pleasures much more than his counterparts. Among his holdings were harems holding thousands of women from both the Adomkuro and Kharakuro races. Hapless adventurers of still other races were also found among his keep. Because of this, Alifanitax begot many minor children, many of whom he devoured soon after birth, though there were many that survived.
Quite a few of his cambion offspring managed to carve out small kingdoms of their own deep in the Underdark. They pieced together societies made up of whatever inhabitants they could find. Most were of Adomkuro and Kharakuro origin, though others were made up of goblinoid and even a few orcish races, and mixtures thereof. One cambion in particular rose to a level of power where he believed he may be able to avenge his father and steal the essence of Kimonictinus for himself. His name was Galatanix. It was well known that the more essence a demon king possesses, the more power he is able to convey on his followers, and the more magic he is able to wield himself. He knew very well that he could not challenge Kimonictinus directly, but he did discover a secret which he believed the demon king did not know: the offspring of Alifanitax possess small amounts of essense of their own, passed down from their father. Ironically, Galatanix believed that the very reason why his father lost his battle to Kimonictinus was because he unwittingly diluted his essence by having so many offspring. It was his undoing. Galatanix was determined to use what little essence he had to gain more and eventually unseat Kimonictinus and take his place. Through the murdering of his kin, Galatanix gathered essence slowly over time to the point where he too became a figure to contend with. His followers regaled him with temples and offerings, and soon enough, he too was granting spells to his loyal faithful.
The battle that ensued was fierce, but fruitless. Galatanix was summarily killed by Kimonictinus for his affront, and instead of taking essence from the high demon king, the reverse happened. Kimonictinus's position was strengthened, and Galatanix's clerics were disempowered. Still, it was not enough power for him to completely unseat his two remaining foes, and as time went on, the sweetness of his victory became less, as other contenders challenged him.
And so the Underdark of Avlis settled down into a steady din of inter-demon-king intrigue and war which would last a thousand years.
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 Adomkuro 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.
See also: The Spawn of Alifanitax.
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 tentacles where its mouth should be. This individual was badly burnt and stumbling slightly as it emerged. From the second vessel, an even more grotesque creature alighted... or rather floated to a position closer to the ground and away from its vessel. 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 immediately 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 eyestalks 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 of 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. Fighting 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 blissful forgetfulness 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 garrisons of the things were occupying pieces of the underdark as part of some unknown 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, Adomkuros, 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 and training, they quickly carved out a strong underground fortress, and as their population quickly expanded over the next fifty 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'wethrin 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.