|The Dark Escarpment|
Designed by Ymris
Medium Groups: 25-31
Large Groups: 22-31
Keros urged his horse-drawn wagon slightly faster up the road as he saw the sun dipping towards the horizon. He wanted to get his freight to the city of Medievia before nightfall. He had just escaped a band of kobolds and didnít relish the thought of meeting the Demon Lord and his hounds outside the city walls after dark.
Without warning, the ground bucked beneath his feet, sending him sprawling across the ground. His horse whinnied in fear and strained against his harness. The ground rolled under him like the sea; trees swayed at the edge of the road and birds took flight. The road fell out from under him and he crashed back to the ground with a grunt, feeling ribs break against the stones. The sky darkened as though even the sun were shaken from itís heavenly track to fall off the edge of the world.
After what seemed an eternity, the world calmed, and was silent. Kerosí ears roared and his eyes burned with dust. He rolled over onto his back and crawled gingerly to where his griffon-hide backpack had fallen. He fished a bottle of green liquid from the back, worked off the seal and drank deeply. His sides itched where his ribs knitted back together. He rested a moment, letting the final effects of the potion work on his body, returning him to health.
Keros stood slowly, leaning against his wagon. He checked his freight in the premature dusk, making sure he had not lost his valuable cargo. He looked up from his wagon and froze. He now saw the cause of the early dusk. Not far away, where before there was only trees and the sun setting in an open sky, there now stood a towering wall, a sheer cliff rising hundreds of feet in the air. Keros stared in awe at the new face of the world, watching as rivulets of loose stone and earth trickled down the face of the wall.
Never one to pass a mystery, Keros knew he had to see what the world had cast up from its depths. His freight forgotten, Keros removed his sturdy trading gear, replacing them with more protective armor and enchanted talismans. He left his freight on the road and picked his way over the fallen trees and corpses of crushed animals.
In a moment he was scrabbling up the loose stone and earth at the foot of the wall. Twenty feet up the slope of debris there was a cave, a tunnel leading into the depths of the wall. Keros held his black steel torch high, peering into the depths of the tunnel. A fetid odor streamed from the opening on a cold wind. Eerie creaks and moans rode the breeze. The foul air of the deeps settled out over the trees, wilting their leaves and bowing their branches.
Keros edged forward into the gloom. He laid his hand against the wall to steady himself as the rocks shifted under his feet. He pulled his hand back and gasped in pain. Acid burns covered his palm. He held the light up to the wall and saw a silvery, slimy trail across the tunnel wall, leading further into the deeps.
Keros wandered through a maze of tunnels and caves, finding dead ends before backtracking. He wandered out through vast caverns with rolling hills of sand and rock, squeezing through narrow crevices in the rock walls into other tunnels. As he went deeper into the tunnels, short, squat creatures with boar tusks attacked him, forcing him to flee deeper into the catacombs before he could take a stand and fight them. Snakes wound around his legs, causing him to stumble, shimmering figures blasted him with shock waves of energy, and ghastly moans and shouts accosted his ears.
Keros began to run low on the life-preserving green drafts he carried in his pack. He decided he had had enough exploring and should return to his freight. But in the fighting and fleeing, he had lost his orientation. He made his way through tunnel after tunnel, across dry underground lakebeds, through rifts and past dead ends. At last he came to a high arched doorway, flanked by two vaguely humanoid forms, carved in bass relief into the rock wall.
Keros set his weight against the ironbound door and pushed. The door grated opened revealing a wide hall lit by great fires. At the far end of the hall, on a raised dais sat...
The walls shuddered and the carvings pulled themselves from the wall, advancing on Keros.
* * *
A lone trader urged his horse-drawn wagon slightly faster up the road as he saw the sun dipping towards the horizon. As he walked, he gazed on the sheer face of the Wall. He reigned his horse to a halt beside another covered wagon, left in the middle of the road. Looking around and seeing no owner, the trader brushed the road dust from the saddlebag and saw that the name was too worn away to be read.
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