Hammer 9: Through many perils fought Diamond Cascade and his noble companions, for the Underdark is a vile and wicked place where only the foulest of creatures dwell, those that cannot bear the light above, or have been driven to this place for there is no place above that will abide them. Through all these our valiant heroes fought, for no foe stood taller than they, and no danger could overwhelm their brave hearts and noble purpose…
Blah-blah, blah-blah blah-blah. There are a few reasons why not much of this is going to make it into the epic tales of Diamond Cascade and his heroic deeds. At least there’s a reason why there won’t be any detail. Can you guess? It’s because it’s all pissing dark down here. Have you tried wandering around an endless bunch of caves with nothing but a few lanterns? Can I see anything? No. Mostly what I see it rock, a few feet from my face. Don’t mind small cramped spaces, but this is like living in a coffin. Then there’s the constant tripping over stuff I don’t notice, banging my head, bashing my elbow. Yes, I got some light armour on which probably saves me from a concussion every few hours, but by the end of the first day I’m black and blue from bruises and quivering. I want out, back out. I want out bad. It’s fine for the mad dwarf and The Gnome, who can see in the dark and are used to living in holes in the ground. As for the rest of us, though… I’m surprised Wolfgirl hasn’t gone completely mad.
And then there’s the critters who live down here. The first lot we run into are a gang of dark dwarves trying to bring down a huge bear. Don’t know why. Don’t know what the bear is doing down here either. Looking for a place to hibernate? Largely we stand around and watch while the bear makes a mess of the dwarves (yes, it’s a seriously big bear). When it’s done. Wolfgirl makes friends with it and fixes it up. From that point on, half the time what I can see ahead of me is bear butt. Woo-hoo.
Then there was the half-cat half-octopus thing that seemed to shift about. In the dark. Which we could barely see in the first place. I don’t think half of us even had a clue there was something there, just lots of screaming. I saw a shadow or a flicker of movement and swung a sword at it. Not sure I hit anything at all. In the end, the bear sat on it, which made a right mess. Displacer Beast, I think. Heard of those back in North Horn Ridge. We take its skin. Which stinks and probably lures out every scavenger down here. At some point I think we ran into a couple of goblins, but the psychotic dwarf had them smeared across the stones before I even knew they were there.
About the only place where I can actually see my hand in front of my face without having seizures from all the lights bobbing about the place is some cavern full of glowing crystals. The dwarf gets all twitchy about moving on and not picking anything up, which is a red rag to a bull if ever I saw one, and anyway, it’s light enough I can see for once, so I hang around. True, there are piles of skeletons about the place, so maybe he had a point. Anyway, there are all these glowing crystals and some of them are broken, and so I figure, whatever lives here, it probably doesn’t care too much about the broken stuff, so I pick one up and mend it, figuring I might walk off with it, and that a glowing crystal might be a handy thing to have in a place that’s pitch black. Certainly doesn’t make my eyes sting as much as one of the lovely smoke-machines we call torches (and I think we might be running out by now). The next thing you know there’s this monstrous crystal creature rising up out of the earth and we’re all pissing our pants. Apparently I did a good thing, though, since it doesn’t smash us into pieces, so as soon as I recover my wits, I ramble on at it about our noble quest to save the underdark from crystal-smashing despoilers. It might have bought this, it might not, but it doesn’t seem to mind me helping myself to a rather nice-looking silver comb. It has some protracted conversation with The Gnome. Surprisingly, the result isn’t a dead gnome.