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The Demon King

Chapter Text

Far to the west of Whitespire, on the other side of the desert, a wall of mountains rises to the sky, their peaks lost to the clouds. The starags who make their homes on the cliffs say it is possible to scale the summits, but only by those with blessed with wings.

For those whose feet much touch the ground, there are old roads winding through the valleys between the slopes. The route is long and treacherous, and none still live who might serve as guides. It is far easier to bypass the mountains by following the rivers that twine around the edges of the desert as they roll and pitch toward the sea.

There is another way through the mountains, but only the most desperate and foolhardy would attempt it. It is said that, long ago, in an age now lost to memory, there were tunnels blasted through the mountain, the work of an ancient race whose names are as lost to us as the labors of their terrible hands.

Those who have ventured into the shadowed bowels of the mountain tunnels hesitate to speak of what they have seen. If their tongues are loosened by drink, they may be persuaded to whisper of size, and scale, and vastness; of oceans of darkness, of gale winds that howl across immeasurable distances, of caverns as large as the dome of stars stretching across the night sky.

And then, in voices that tremble with the horrible weight of memory, they may speak of cyclopean columns and pillars, of silent tombs and the fearsome statues guarding them, of endless steps blasted into the unyielding rock and uncannily straight passages with deep grooves in their cradles. If such erstwhile adventurers have nothing left and nothing to lose, they will speak of the bridges. All they can say – all anyone can say – is that they go down and down and down; they go down forever, deep into the darkness where the earth falls away and even echoes cannot escape.

Still there remains something of which no one would dare speak – as terrible as the stygian bridges may be, they are not without light, but what casts the light is even more dangerous than the darkness.