Out of the Abyss
The Visions of Gravenhollow
A cavern of peculiar beauty opens up before you, with lights of every color shining from the pure essence of life, diffused and amplified by the glow of faerzress. The glow pulses, and you can feel the life in the cavern rotting away, bursting with infection. A mushroom grows in the center of the cave, even larger and taller, pustules forming and seeping as its stem thickens and its cap reaches to the cavern’s ceiling, forming a vast fungal tower.
Two myconids approach the site in awe, not minding the carpet of rot under their feet. You sense their minds come alive in wonder, and as they kneel in worship, you know they are doomed. A voice sounds out within clouds of spores that fall like snow. The voice tells the myconids to prepare for a gift unlike any they have ever known.
In the heart of an alien cavern glistening with slime, scores of mind flayers gather around an enormous brain resting in a pool. The brain is dead. You can hear the illithids’ incomprehensible thoughts as they mourn its passing. One word echoes louder than the others: Cyrog.
Suddenly, faerzress bathes the dark and twisted hall in purplish light. A rift opens, and a hulking, horned figure that reeks of putrescence steps out. It raises a skull-tipped wand and points it at the dead elder brain. The elder brain begins to pulsate, and you see intermittent flashes of purple light under its rotting flesh. The mind flayers are aghast as the elder brain speaks to them once more, telling them at Orcus has saved Cyrog, and commanding them to follow it into undeath.
You see a circle of small hooded figures, their forms hunched and emaciated. Their gestures and movements are jerky, indicative of the madness possessing them. They are chanting, swaying to their own words. And then they stop as the glow of faerzress rises around them whispering to them in unintelligible sounds. The derro cackle and dance, their hands glowing with a power that isn’t theirs. The vision shifts, and suddenly gray dwarves stare down at the red-hot metal on their anvils. They constant rhythm of their hammering falters. Suddenly, brother turns against brother as minds turn inward upon themselves. Sparks fly and a city burns.
A deep gnome spurned by others of his kind weeps as he wanders the dark tunnels, talking to the things that crawl and seep from the walls. You see him adopt two slick patches of ooze, sensing his innate power over them. He plays with them as if they were children, chasing them through the gloomy depths.
Something changes, and the oozes flow away. The deep gnome runs after them, fearful of being alone once again. You feel a great hunger seize him. He experiences visions that pass into your vision, showing what appears as a paradise to him but an oozing nightmare for all others. The great hunger speaks to him, his already broken mind a shield against the hunger’s shattering power. That power seems to recognize and acknowledge something in the gnome that will serve it well.
The great hunger has a name – Juiblex. And its power… oh, such great and terrible power! It grants the gnome the ability to command the little hungers – his children – so that they can return to the place that casts them out and devour it all.
A rift formed by faerzress opens wide, illuminating a dark tunnel. The rift spits out a black gem that clatters as it tumbles across the tunnel floor, a dull, green light pulsating within. The gem is picked up by a gray-skinned dwarf, who inspects it closely.
The vision shifts to a brightly lit cavern full of crude merchant stalls, where the duergar hands the gem to a sivrfneblin for appraisal. The gnome refuses to return the gem, instead giving it to one of her svirfneblin apprentices. The young apprentice skulks away with the gem in his clutches, but is ambushed by a gargoyle. The gargoyle snatches the gem, flies away, and gives it to a female drow. The drow gazes into the gemstone and sees a hideous demonic face looking back at her. Thoughts of murder and carnage fill her thoughts as she hides the gemstone on her person, draws her shortsword, and coats the blade with poison.
You behold the true form of the Demon Queen of Spiders – that of a black, bloated arachnid with the head of a female drow. Nestled in the webs all around her are thousands upon thousands of gray eggs. Lolth knows she is being scried, her fury tangible as her mind reaches out to find you. Her shriek of rage as she’s shut out by the powerful wards of Gravenhollow echoes in your mind as the vision is suddenly torn away by darkness.
The smell of blood fills your nostrils as you wander a maze of Underdark tunnels, moving with purposes as your giant hooves crush tones underfoot. faerzress light reveals that your shadow is monstrous, suggesting a hulking beast with a crown of horns. With your bloody glaive, you carve a swath through a forest of towering zurkhwood mushrooms that stands in your way. The tunnels beyond would confuse an ordinary mind, but you instinctively know the path you must walk. Every step brings you closer to a magma-filled chasm, lodged in which is an enormous contraption of metal and stone – a weapon capable of reshaping the Underdark itself.
A hunched and rotting creature with the head of a fiendish hyena swings a triple-headed flail at a beholder, crushing it. As the eye tyrant falls to the floor, a pack of hyenas leap onto the corpse and tears off its eyestalks while the demon lord licks the gore off her weapon. As the hyenas feed, they transform into slavering, cackling gnolls before your eyes.
An imperious drow archwizard in spider-silk robes cast a mighty conjuration spell. As the ritual draws towards its conclusion, a web of faerzress energy expands outward. The wizard seems alarmed by this, his efforts to complete the spell growing more crazed as he realizes he’s lost control.
And then, madness! Rifts open in the web of energy around him. These cracks stretch and widen, and through them come horrific fiends that scream, shriek, and howl as they are wrenched from the Abyss and cast into the Underdark.
A woman’s deep, dark laugh echoes in your mind as the drow wizard shrinks away from the demonic hordes he has unwittingly unleashed.
You see a kuo-toa swimming in the gloomy depths of a dark, subterranean lake, uncertain. It turns left and right, trying to find something, even as it is surrounded by fanged creatures resembling manta rays. The kuo-toa smiles, its needle teeth gleaming even in the darkness. It has seen something. It understands a new secret, and its already unhinged mind plunges further into madness.
The kuo-toa curls in on itself, arms extended in worship. Then from the circle of rays, two tentacles emerge – followed by two howling baboon heads.