It just goes to show doesn’t it- that first impressions should not always be relied upon. As they were marched down the gentle slope, with weapons trained upon them by the strangely mutated people, they would be forgiven for thinking that all that was left of Providence, was the massive crater, kilometres across, that was gleaming with vitrified obsidian. What kind of temperatures had this colony experienced to turn rock into glass? There was only one method that he could think of- and the Geigercounter had confirmed it.
The undulating contours of the land was nothing more than a desolate wasteland. It was clear nothing would grow. A far cry from the rich agricultural land that had appeared in the maps and in the accounts of the refugees that had left Providence before the catastrophe had destroyed it.
They were guided to an escarpment in the natural rock and it wasn’t until they were a few metres away from the sheer rock that they noticed there was an entrance to a cave mouth. Their captors nodded that they should enter. Anders and Brigitte look to each other before plunging into the aperture. Towards the back of that shallow cave, surprisingly a door. It was a dark bluish color and it was clear that it had been made of lead. The three followed them in, there was a click, and the door opened independently, revealing a black featureless tunnel mouth.
“Enter” that female voice once more echoing through the mind of Anders.
They were plunged into darkness, but Anders could easily see the contours of that rock and once the door had been closed behind them- the mild fluorescence of what appeared to be algae growing up those walls and across the ceiling. The floor of that tunnel gently led them down into the bowels of the land. How long they had walked, Anders could not tell and any questions they asked their guardians were met with silence, but some time later, the tunnel opened up into a vast cavern, hung all about with festoons of spiders webbing. The algae produced light that was bright enough to see that there were many mouths of tunnels leading off from this massive space. Some at the level of the floor- more others high upon the walls of rock that formed it.
Here- there were beings gathered. They were alive and warm blooded, that much he could smell. But he also detected the strong scent of rodents, warm and musky. And what would be an overwhelming aroma of the strange must of spiders. But to look at the humanoids- what disaster had befallen this genome? There were a mix of great mutations. The twisted bodies of those effected by the radiation- all with the large luminous eyes developed by those that lived in semi darkness. Raised underground perhaps. A couple of giants, topping over seven feet tall. More still that seemed to move with an arachnoid quickness despite their disabilities.
Both Anders and Brigitte are pushed down the slope by the captors and they soon join the crowd of twisted creatures who all seemed to be gathered around a single figure. Above them- movement. Looking up, Anders would see those tunnels high in the walls and ceiling, allowing what appeared to be gigantic spiders to creep up into their spinnings. He was surprised to see that one or two were mounted, by more of the humanoid mutants, as though they were horses.
More still- gigantic rats, the size of carthorses, arrived to inspect the newcomers. Some of those too were mounted by the mutated population of this mysterious society. Spiders and rats in consort with the survivors? An interesting alliance. Anders thoughts race at the possibilities. But this was not the end. Walking from the tunnels at the caverns floor level, the smaller figures of something that Anders had not seen in years.
Black skin, white hair- with eyes that glow with a brilliant red or violet. Those long ears ending in a point. Well, at least now it was obvious who the go-between’s were for the spiders. These dark creatures of the Underdark worshipped that most unholy of chimeric Goddess’- Lloth. Well now- if the Drow were involved, they at least stood a fighting chance.
But it was too this single figure of authority, that Anders now turned, and in turn was beckoned forwards. He stepped up, and looking about at the other creatures that intently watched the exchange, he dropped to one knee and bowed his head respectfully to this figure. Brigitte did the same.
“So- you are this saviour your humans told us about.” Came the voice from within the dark swathes of a cloak that hid all but the clawed and misshapen hands that rested upon the arms of what looked like, a throne made from the long bones of Humans.
Anders returns to his feet and at the sound of this creatures voice, more movement above. In the dim light, Anders could discern woven and bound bundles, held by the spiders silk above his head, all of them commence a fevered wriggling. At least now he knew why his envoys hadn’t returned. And it seemed that the survivors, misshapen and mutated all of them, did not seem to consider themselves human despite the stink of Humanity being ever present in these caverns. This would be in his favour.
“That..” replies the wily Vampyre Blood God “…is entirely up to you” he replies. Brigitte stands beside him, silent but listening. What was Anders angle?
The cloaked figure leans forward from the throne of bones.
“Saviour!” It spits forth, rapping a hand angrily upon the nob of a thigh bone that makes up an arm rest. “Look about you! Is there anything here worth saving that you see?”
An odd comment considering he appeared to be a leader. Anders did look about him. But he did not see a defeated people. What he saw was the potential of a very advanced armed force. Drow, giant spiders and rats, mutants who, if the woman was any example, had at least psionic abilities, if not more.
There was a murmuring dissent around the vast cavern as the folk of this underground network, closeted and hidden from the worst of the world, make it clear they do not agree. The Vampyre Blood God would take a look at those beings closest to the leader, and what he saw was barely disguised loathing upon their tumour ridden faces for that cloaked character, who weakly wheezed with each breath and clearly did not have the mettle to lead them.
Anders looked to Brigitte, who gave him a small nod. She knew what to do. He knew what to do.
The Vampyre Blood God spreads his arms wide and casts his arms wide and raises his voices so that all can hear him, his voice projecting through the vast network of tunnels and caverns that make up the city beneath the land.
“Why….everything!” he says with dramatic flare. “I see a people that have tamed and allied beasts about them. I see a horde of survivors who have lived on nothing but wits and guile and scratched life from death.” He can tell there is a shift in the mood.
“I see a people that were tricked…DUPED…by their corrupt leaders to leave their homes and start anew, only to be destroyed by those very same leaders in an unholy war and then forgotten!” At this moment, he was pointing at the cloaked figure- a byproduct of this corrupt leadership.
That statement caused a definite stir amongst the many hundreds who were listening and their number increasing as more came through tunnels to investigate the source of these words of truth.
“I see a society that received no help from anyone. That relies upon it’s strength, loyalty to their brethren beneath the ground, that has survived DESPITE every attempt to destroy them by the usurpers of the Sun” pointing now directly upwards and indicating those above ground.
This caused a cheer to echo about the cavernous space, mainly from the Drow who knew, in their hearts that the land above them rightfully belong to them, but the clicking of spiders mandibles joined them as these alarmingly intelligent creatures agreed that there was more meat above ground than there was below- all they required was a chance to get at it.
“I see not a broken society- but proud and vital and seeking REVENGE!”
The cavern erupted now into a cry that was most definitely supportive of any creature who would give them the opportunity to claw back the dignity that had been ripped from them. The time was ripe- the time was now.
“I see EVERYTHING worth saving” calls the voice of Anders who had whipped these folk into a frenzy with his equivalent of a Shakespearean St. Crispin’s day speech but murmured the last of his words to the cloaked figure as Anders steps up to that throne.
“Everything accept you.”
Then suddenly, the two Vampyres were gone from view but a great wind whipped about the cavern, increasing in strength. Tearing great holes in the webbing that hung from ceiling and stalactite. Tossing the eccoutrement of those folk about the dark. A tumultuous tornado that blinded all with the dust that was whipped up and as it cleared the folk, still clutching their eyes and blinking in the dark to clear those sensory organs of sight, saw those two Vampyres and something else.
They saw that the envoys had been cut down, released from their bindings and stood, beside their Master. The carcasses of two spiders and two giant rats were stacked in a pile beside that throne, causing both groups to squeal and click in outrage respectively, but cautious of the being that had done this to their comrades without them even being seen. Every single one of the folk present had been disarmed and the weapons stacked next to the carcasses in a massive pile of bows, spears, blades and firearms. All had been achieved in a matter of seconds.
But singularly and most importantly, the cloaked figure slowly tilting from the throne to fall from it, dismembered and decapitated. The misshapen head of that unpopular leader clutched in the raised hand of the pale coloured God, who kicks aside those useless remains and leaps up, to stand upon the throne so all can see that cancerous skull, hanging by the few threads of hair it had left, clutched in Anders’ fist.
There was silence as all regarding this sight with disbelief, wonder, fear, loathing but all of them to a letter- with RESPECT. He remained standing there for several seconds while all could assimilate the information and cogitate on just what this creature was capable of.
He kicks the head into the darkness like a football where it is gathered up and crunched upon by a hungry rodent. Silence but for the sound of that feasting.
“ANY…FUCKING…QUESTIONS?” demanded the Vampyre Blood God in a roar that would lead everyone to believe that any questions would be met with a quick death that they wouldn’t even see coming.
All of them, rat, spider, Drow and mutated Human alike slowly sunk to their knees before the pale figure of Anders who remained, standing upon the throne, having wrested it in less than 30 seconds from the previous leader. They knew that standing before them was a superior being that, not only emanated strength of character, guile and evil intent- but had just promised them a revenge that had been a generation in the making.
Anders thuds down from the throne, using the body of the hapless former leader as a step. He moves to Brigitte, sliding an arm about her waist and bringing her in close for what would be a triumphant and passionate kiss and signalling to all others that she was his second.
“Well..” he mutters to his dear sister once the kiss was over and she was smirking with the glorious success of his plan. “That was easy. Now all we have to do is give them what they want- a leader who believes in them and a chance to prove themselves and I think we will have a rather passable force.”
And with a smirk, he adopts a position upon that throne of bones, and reaches for one of his Human envoys to feed.
With special thanks to Fwuf and Magicia.