Friday, August 2, 2013

Inspiring Illustration - At One Stride Comes the Dark

33). At One Stride Comes the Dark

NOTE: These are adventure seeds and setting work for my own Hyperborea campaign inspired by the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerors of Hyperborea Gazetteer

There are terrible things beneath the streets of Khromarium. A world exists deeper than the catacombs where the dead reside. The bowels of the earth do not hold this realm though it can be reached all too easily. The great darkened towers of Khromarium where past generations built upon the foundations of races and beings older than humanity reach down into these dark realms. Tunnels, stairs, pits beslimed with horrific use descend past the corridors of priest and tombs, down and down till the stone gives way to textures that are smooth and warm with the fires of the earth and not of this earth, some passages constrict the body first into a crouch, then a crawl, then a twisting as if a great wyrm had shaped the passage to no bigger than its flesh could fit. Deeper still, whether narrowing tunnel or broad stairs with steps wide and steeper than the breadth a man could lift foot to tread, the passage twists, it twists the souls of men, twists their bodies inside out, twists their minds until each step is a scream, a nightmare that eats at them, gnaws their bones, crawls among their fears, deeper, deeper into the dark.

And when no more can be born to those who have not turned away or lost themselves, body, mind and soul along this narrow twisting way, those who have survived, they step into the darkness, a wall, a pool a great suffocating cloud deep in the earth and out onto a plain of silver grass and starlight. The land of Evening.  A dark road cuts through the silver grass and the guardians of thought line the way. Their bodies seem no more than thin pedestals of black rock, armless with wide eyes and skulls stretched above. But as you approach their bodies seem filled with stars, their eyes filled with light, their bodies glow softly in the semi-darkness.