Chapter 60: The Depths of Darkhollow

To Loral Ciriclight, the Hand of Tunare, High Priest of Felwithe,

We have received your reports on the recent events in Nektulos Forest and have confirmed them with our own agents in the wilds. The explosion caused by Lanys T'Vil has opened up a gap at the base of the river along the eastern mountains of the forest. We hear whispers of discovery within the caverns below the mountains. Explore these caverns and report your findings to us.

May the Mother watch over you,

Councleman Dauleroun Alines
Chief Officer of the Wilds
Council of Felwithe


Loral stood on the edge of the cliff looking over the landscape of the Undershore. To his right, the waterfall of the Nektulos river roared down to the lake below. As he watched, a branch from the forest of Nektulos washed over the waterfall and fell into the basin below.

Loral imagined the journey that branch had made. He saw it flow from the forest of Nektulos under the branch's last glimpse of the night sky. It washed down into the fungus grove of Corathus Creep, through a natural water spout and down the rushing river of the subterranean glade. As Loral watched, it flowed through the rivers of the Undershore, past the fallen cities of old and over another great waterfall, the Stoneroot Falls, and finally into Lake Korlach. Within an hour, this single branch went through lands well known to the surface dwellers of Antonica and into kingdoms lost under the earth for centuries.

Loral looked up to the huge statue along the southern shores of the river. He stared at the strange tentacled face of the creature. The massive statue guarded an ornate wall of shale that formed one side of a vast city to the south. How wondrous their culture must have been, thought Loral, and how alien it would appear to Felwithe. From the appearance of the creature alone, it is likely Felwithe would deem them infidels of Tunare and declare war.

His time in the wilds had shown Loral honor and civilization in the most unlikely of appearances, however. For him, the discovery of this lost civilization was a treasure beyond count.

Loral took a final look at the statue before climbing down the cracked rock of the eastern pass.


"Welcome, Hand of Tunare!" Evanolas's harmonic voice proved a strange contrast to the brutal lands around him. The Elven swordsman stepped up and lent his hand to Loral as the priest skidded down the final steps of the path. "I just began eating a few minutes ago. Join me and let me tell you what I have found."

Loral smiled as Evanolas walked over to a small fire on the shore of the green lake. A rock outcropping dampened the roar of the waterfall.

A band of gold held Evanolas's black hair into a pony tail, common among his fellow wood elven brothers. Loral marveled at how much better the style worked for the free people of Kelethin than it did for the bureaucrats of Felwithe. Evanolas swept his worn cloak aside and pushed down the hilt of his sword to lift up the blade as he sat cross-legged next to the fire. Though donning armor of blue enchanted steel, the elf moved as though he wore clothes of silk and cotton. Loral was easily reminded that Evanolas was nearly one hundred years younger than the high priest.

The smell of seasoned sausages, bacon-wrapped poultry, and slices of salted steak made Loral's mouth water. He sat and Evanolas handed him a small tin plate and a fork with a sharpened serrated edge.

"We have stumbled into a whole new empire down here." Evanolas picked up a sausage and bit off the end without cutting. Oh, to be a wood elf, thought Loral. "I hardly know where to begin."

"The Shiliskins have the strongest roots in this land. They are ancient, nearly three thousand years old if the rumors hold true. Five emperors have ruled over the Shiliskin. That statue represents the first of them, the gladiator king Illsalin. They ruled from the city of Illsalin and another city of Xill off of Lake Korlach.

"Two tribes of werewolves live in these depths; the Ragepaws to the north and the Shadowmanes to the west off of Lake Korlach.

"And then there are the Drachnids." Loral lifted his eyes from his plate and saw Evanolas's own burning green eyes looking back. Evanolas continued. "About a hundred years ago, during a great war, the Drachnids overtook the city of Xill. They flooded in from caverns they had dug for decades and overtook the city in the middle of a great war. They infest the city to this day, led by a yet unknown force.

"The Shiliskin's with whom I have spoken, slavers mostly, talk of this war, the War of Four Crests they call it. The Drachnids and Shadowmanes fought the last emperor of the Shiliskin, Emperor Draygun, and the Rage Paws. The war went poorly for Draygun and he apparently fell into the use of necromancy to solve his woes. It went as well as you would expect. Now Illsalin is overrun with undead forces, reanimated Drachnids, humanoid zombies, and undead Shiliskin. Whatever dark magic he used was pure, these beasts are far more powerful than any we have seen above or even in the outer worlds. Some say they feed off of the outer worlds for their strength." Evanolas cut another piece of pork from a spit and munched on it.

"Tomorrow I will take you to one of the Shiliskin I have spoken to, a strange fellow named Kelliad. He knows of the city of Xill and if there is a threat to Norrath, that is where you will find it. I also want you to see what caused the war of Four Crests in the first place. I think you will find it interesting."

Loral looked to the swordsman for a long moment and then carefully cut another piece of sausage.