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Hinterlands, part X – Abyss

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Just SurvivingHinterlands, part X – AbyssCopyright © 2000 by Sheula Ralom'pa

4th Lady of RegulaWell, I'm heading out. Apparently, even those in the Gatehouse feel I wont be completely better till I've finished my sojourns across the Hinterlands. I'm writing this from a relatively safe inn in Plague-Mort. There's a bit of a riot in the streets right now, but that's sodding regular here.

4th Void of RegulaMy trip so far has been uneventful; there was nothing I didn't expect. Sure, I met some angry beasts, and the walk was tough. I stumbled a lot, critters bit me, must have thought I was some prey. Apart from that, nothing till today.

I came across a slightly decrepit looking castle. It is certainly inhabited, only poorly taken care of. There are many rooms with light visible, and humanoid figures and shapes moving around. Haven't I heard Tanar'ri are in their natural forms around each other? Maybe that's just screed, I don't know. I'm thinking about going into the castle. It seems safe, and I have some nice adjurations. I think I'll go in.

Well, it seems pretty safe so far. 13 women, of various races, except for Aasimar, inhabit the house. They seem normal enough, unaware that they are in the Hinterlands. They've given me a room, and I'm sitting on the bed as I'm writing. The house is in a very gothic style, with high archways and dark hallways. Every 30 feet or so, an orb enchanted with light or some other such spell hangs from the ceiling, providing illumination. My room has a bed with a high canopy. Most things in here are pink. Bedspread, floor, all the stuff. Too bright for a blood like me, but hey, I aint complaining.

1st Lady of AccordantI woke up in the middle of the night to a weird sensation. My right arm was completely covered in acid, and burning like hell, I screamed, and one of the women came in after what seemed like a cycle. She applied a compress from a drawer in the opposite section of the room. When I asked what it was, she seemed as bewildered as I was. I looked at a candle set on my nightstand, and I swore I could see a bit of acid on it.

As it was morning, I decided to get up. All thirteen of them were having breakfast at a large table. The offerings were disgusting - roast cranium rats, illithid brain, and other abhorrent cuisine. I did not want to be an offensive guest, so I said nothing. As I was walking down the hall back to my room - I had bought up a mint copy of the Factol's Manifesto, and wanted to read it - the barmiest thing happened. The floor beneath me felt soft and pliable. As I looked down to inspect it, I noticed my shoes had been completely burned through with acid. I screamed in pain - the hand I had put down on the floor had all its skin burned off, the acid was so sodding tough.

Another of the women rushed down when they heard me. She reached into a side pocket, and gave me a healing potion. "We can't have you dying on us now, can we?" she enunciated lightly. I frowned at her and scurried back to my room. Later that day, I heard two of them passing by.

"I simply don't get it. We can't scare her away. But what is going on?"

After that they passed along. I grew more suspicious. I've taken some abjuratory measures.

1st Market of AccordantEven stranger today. When I woke up, I could have sworn that my closet was pink, and oozing acid. When I rubbed my eyes again, it looked fine. Must be residual effects from Pandemonium. Last night I heard more noises, this time in the direction of another woman's room. I have a terrible headache. I'm not finding out anything. I think I'll go back to bed.

1st Guild of AccordantI feel a lot better today. I decided to take a walk about the house, and noticed all the women had nametags on their doors. Leale, Mouniss, Chabarar, Drystar, Rorence, Ermine, Jurnele, Aline, Thalia, Ondria, Geresa, Ciara, and Katunlana. It pikes me in the brain why they'd need tags. The door to Aline's room looked barmy - all twisted. So did Leale's and Drystar's. I wandered up to the attic to take a look outside, as I thought it was awful boring to be the Abyss hinterlands. They look dangerous, tho, and I won't want to tell em I was leaving. The windows were triangular, and convex in shape, and I noticed the castle was some distance from where I'd stumbled across it. The attic was rather big, but not dusty, as the stereotypical attic. There were neatly arranged bookshelves, and a sitting area. Just another area of the house, I gather.

I looked at some of the books. Most were in a tongue I could not decipher, but it gave me a strange feeling, just looking at it. A few books were on Necromancy, Conjuration, Invoking, Transmutation, and a few other schools of magic. Strangely, both Law and Wild Magic were among the books. Ciara stumbled upon me up there, and looked surprised. Within a second, she calmed down, and told me that the Gentleman of the house, a Mr. Heltir had arrived.

He was a very tall man, perhaps six feet, and 5 inches. He wore a suit of the latest Sigilian fashion, starch black, with a green dragon collar. He proceeded to speak in hushed tones with several of the women, while Katunlana and Ondria went to make dinner. After dinner - I had my own rations, Heltir was visibly displeased - my back had started to hurt uncontrollably, and I started the walk to my room. Rorence caught up with me, saying that if I was having woman's activities [she put it much more bluntly], she had several remedies. I refused, politely, as that is not the case. I have the feeling I won' t be getting much rest tonight. On the plus side, I did read more of the Manifesto. Fascinating work.

1st Clerk of AccordantHeard some more noises yesterday. Passing Rorence's room, her door was warped too. That's four warped doors. I don't feel particularly well, so no more writing for now.

1st Void of AccordantI've been feeling better, but I don't look as good. My skin seems to have gotten darker, and my hair has gotten some purple streaks. None of the others noticed when I asked, Heltir even smiled, I assume at my perceived ignorance. More doors warped, seven now.

2nd Guild of AccordantThere are 9 warped doors now, so I'm getting a bit suspicious. They have been very cordial, though. I plan to pack up and leave soon, probably tomorrow morning.

2nd Clerk of AccordantWell, I told those bloods about my plan to leave, and they seemed mighty fine with it. On my way out, though, I fell down. When inspecting the wound, I noticed more acid marks around my whole sodding body. They were a few days old, like I didn't even notice them happening. Heltir insisted I stay and heal. Looks like I have no other choice. I plan to sneak out during the night.

2nd Low of AccordantBig entry now. While I was trying to sneak out, I heard chanting - it was the noise I had heard the nights before, but it was clearer, probably because I'd not been out of the pink room to hear it before. My bubber's curiosity got the better of me, and I went to look. I couldn't believe my eyes. There, in a circle, were the 13 women, and in the middle of the circle sat a Yugoloth wearing the clothes of Heltir. I screamed, and blinked, to make sure my eyes weren't peeling me. He stood up, the women not even noticing, repeating their chanting.

It was:Ert Gruntch. Risont HektatNe Eibdnt, eqiamb, sumamb, somambAmb kelvitz htl ot yuet lsachecGlaztem lam qiuiloVeek paskut nimaptrVeek paskut fhtopRisont er gntioDipmne sngr plox *

At that instant, I looked about me again, and instead of the grand room, I saw the belly of a beast. Acid was dripping all over the walls, and I looked down and saw my entire body covered in it. I looked strange too; I had a foot-long tail, and smallish horns coming out of my forehead. I felt them both at once. It was excruciating - my back continued to hurt, and I became terrified of what might happen. The 14 of them were still there, the women chanting. By sheer chance, I looked in a direction where I saw a white streak, an opening perhaps. I swam for it, as I became increasingly aware of the acid. I looked back but once, and I saw fourteen Yugoloths smiling at me with a frighteningly knowing look. I swam as far as I could swim, until I no longer could tell where I was, what I was.

A time later, I woke up, realizing that I could breathe. Looking around, I found myself at the same spot where I had originally found the castle, but there was nothing in the surroundings to even suggest it had been there. I headed back to Plague-Mort, quite barmy and confused. Once I got there, I asked the date, thinking it could have been a dream, or some freakish manifestation. I was told it was the 2nd Hive of Accordant, on the Sigilian Calendar. Two weeks lost? Yet I am not starved, my rations are almost complete, and I have my clothing with me, intact and all. No acid burns, no 'loth tails, but I do have these two tiny bumps on my head. May have been from a fall, I don't know. I need another vacation. Sadly, my copy of the Manifesto is nowhere to be found.

* A translation would carry the following meaning:You are animal. Bring out your heritage.Do not lie to us. We are true to you, we are like you.You are like us.We are dogs in full bloom, and so is the moon. Yell.Blind to your self, embrace itLet the true being come out.Let the purity emergeMeet us in all your mightPurge the impure blood.

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