The Hole Uncovered: History Repeats Vol. I-III
Ognit Eznertob, Dabner Drednever and Dagda Icefury had spent the last several days spelunking in the Hole and the ruins of the old city of Paineel. The ruins were an eerie, dusty and dark place. Strange and terrifying sounds echoed throughout the once splendorous city, like wails of torment from souls suffering in eternal agony. Though Ognit seemed unfazed by the atmosphere, Dabner and Dagda were very skittish about their journey down into the Hole.
Dabner swore that the sounds were none other than the ghosts of Erudites slain during the great war that destroyed the old city years ago. Ognit hypothesized that the strange noises were caused by undercurrents of wind wafting from the surface above and were nothing to be concerned about. Dagda knew not the cause of the sounds but she was sure that the three of them should not be in that place.
After spending some time exploring the ruins and wandering deeper into the cavern, the three came across the very thingfor which Ognit had been searching. Before them stood The Hatch and the wall of Living Stone. The Living Stone is an artifact of great power created by Brell Serilis the purpose of which was to stop the creatures from the Plane of the Underfoot from entering into the world. The residents of the old city once conducted experiments on the Living Stone, attempting to find a way to harness its power. The experiment damaged the wall of Living Stone and creatures began to breach the wall and threatened the city. The Erudites constructed The Hatch, a sort of life suppport system that kept the Living Stone strong after the earthen Lord Yael escaped and threatened their destruction with his army of elementals.
Ognit sought to study both The Hatch and the wall of Living Stone. He felt that the Erudites were simply not qualified for that sort of study and indeed it would take the delicate adn careful touch of a gnome to properly study the artifact and perhaps find a way to harness its power. History has a way of repeating itself.
Ognit considered the first of his experiments successful. He found that the wall of Living Stone was able to release enormous amounts of power, as evidenced by the tremendous earthquakes he was able to cause simply by infusing the Hatch with just a small amount of magical energy. Indeed, it seemed the two worked together like a transformer, turning small amounts of energy into tremendous surges of power. Though he had no idea how one could harness the released energy, he was impressed with the results nonetheless.
Dagda was terrified and believed that the gnome was tinkering with powers beyond his comprehension. She threatened to leave them both down there, particularly when the experiments began to cause earthquakes of greater and greater magnitude. Against her better judgement, she stayed.
Ognit saw the greater earthquakes as a sign that his experiments were going well. He was getting even better power output for the same amount of energy. Dabner eventually began to become frightened too and started to side with Dagda, urging the wizard to abandon the experiment. Ognit was incensed and no amount of convincing would deter him from his experimentation.
Finally, the inevitable happened. Ognit channeled just a small amount of energy into the Hatch. It wasn't much, not even enoughto kill a moss snake. However this time, the Living Wall began to shudder spasmodically and took on a pale, sickly color. The earthquake that resulted was truly terrifying. Chunks of stone began falling from the ceiling and the ground itself began to be ripped apart. From the huge gashes in the earth, the three saw terrifying creatures emerge. All about them were sounds of shrieking, crying and bellowing. The noises were both of exclamations of excitement for finally being freed and rage for being imprisoned for such a long time. The three began to flee the hole in terror as the creatures began to swarm around them, their ears ringing from the unholy screams.
As they made haste toward the surface, they came across a figure that looked to be an Erudite. The Erudite was walking slowly and limping slightly. He was filthy, covered with dirt and soot. His skin was pallid, as one who had not stood under the glare of harsh sunlight for ages. He wore a robe that was a splotchy brownish color. It was difficult to tell if this was the robe's original color or if it was the result of the filth that covered it. He turned quickly and upon seeing them, he spoke. "Gnomes,and a barbarian woman of all things! I don't know whether I should thank you or draw the full sum of the life-force from your bodies right here and now!"
Dagda pushed her way past the two gnomes, putting herself between them and the Erudite. Facing the strange man she asked, "Who are you?"
He folded his arms across his chest and smiled slightly. He raised an eyebrow as he spoke, "My name is Dartain of the Dark Truth. I don't suppose you have any idea of what you have just done? Or perhaps I should say undone, do you?"
He seemed to stare through their souls with eyes fierce yet lined with weariness. "Your meddling has caused the Wall of Living Stone to weaken once again. Though your actions have finally allowed me to break free after being trapped for so many a year, you have also allowed many of the denizens that were imprisoned behind that wall to escape into the world again as well."
Even in the dim light, Ognit's face became visibly paled. Dartain continued, "The Hatch is still unharmed and appears to be functioning as it should. I believe the wall will repair itself again in time. While the breach remains however, there will be a steady flow of creatures escaping from the underfoot. I suggest you make haste out of htis place and take warning to those above, so that they may prepare themselves."
As he finished speaking, murky shadows made their way from the floor and encircled the dirty robes the strange man wore. As he disappear from view he softly muttered, "Finally I am free."
The trio said not a word to each other, and continued at a dead sprint toward the surface as the sound of an army of creatures rumbled directly behind them. Reaching the top of the ruins, they held their breath as they jumped into the cold water and wriggled their way with panicked speed through the rocky underwater cavern that lead into the new city of Paineel.
After emerging from the water,the first breath they took was used to issue forth a scream of terror. All around them, terrible creatures of rock and stone wandered in the open throughout the streets of the new city of Paineel. Already, cries of alarm could be heard being raised from deep within the bowels of the city. Even more alarming was the fact that the earth still seemed to be shaking, even after all this time.
Dagda in an effort to warn the Heretics of the impending danger shouted, "Horrible creatures from the earth have broken loose! Run for your lives!"
Dabner exclaimed, "Brell Serilis help us all! They are everywhere!"
Dagda gave both gnomes a shove forward and yelled, "Go! Run!" The three began at a dead run once again. She kept behind the gnomes to make sure they were both still alive and running. As he ran, Ognit smacked himself in the forhead screaming, "Oh gods! What have I done! Just keep running everyone!"
Guard Menbuknar and Heridion stood near the entrance to the new city of Paineel. The pair of skeletal sentries stood staring out over the grassy alcove through hollow eye sockets that were long without flesh or blood watching over the new city of Paineel in eternal service to their Heretic masters.
"Nooiiissseey," Menbuknar said with a quiet disembodied voice like sandpaper in response to the sudden shouts.
Guard Heridion took several steps forward and pointed, "Rooockssss." Hefting their swords above their head, the two skeletal guards shambled clumsily out into the courtyard and began to fight against the intruding earth elementals.
As he swung away against the creatures made from earth itself, Menbuknar sniffed the air with a nose that wasn't there and rasped, Gnoommmessss."