Chapter 1: Dark Whisperings
The Underworld of Perim is a vast and imposing place, devoid of sky and lit instead with countless fires. Great pillars of wood, iron, jade, and stone stand scattered about, supporting the ceiling of this vast subterranean warren, which is also the soil of the Overworld, shared between the other three tribes: Overworlders, Danians, and Mipedians. Forges work nonstop and lava flows like rivers. In the background, the enraged howls, miserable sighs, and pleas of innocence of those imprisoned in the pits for crimes large and small echo endlessly, deepening the gloom. All are guilty until proven innocent in the underworld they say, and that has proven true.
Underworld City stands tall, fringed by junk heaps and towering cavern walls, with the great palace of it's leader, Chaor, standing like a colossus amid insects. On the edge of the city rises the legendary underworld coliseum, where all disputes are settled by the ultimate rule of the underworld, might makes right. However, this story does not begin in underworld city, but in a place far more sinister and evil, a place wrapped in shadow and bathed in the unholy perfume of terror.
Gothos Tower, once the home of the evil Lord Van Bloot, arch-rival to Chaor and one of the most cunning and underhanded beings in Perim. Many schemes had this villian attempted to play in a wicked thirst for control over the underworld, and indeed all of Perim, but all had been thwarted by the valiant efforts of the Overworld, Underworld, and of brave chaotic players like Tom Majors. However, even Van Bloot could not escape justice forever, and in his final scheme, he attempted to use the Draknis Threshold to travel into the distant past of Perim and rewrite history, forever putting it under his control. This daunting and deadly scheme was thwarted by the combined efforts of Tom Majors, Najarin, and others from all the tribes of Perim. In the process, Draknis Threshold was utterly destroyed and Van Bloot lost with it. Or was he?
Krekk was miserable, as usual. He'd been called to Gothos Tower by Skithia, and that witch always brought him out in hives. She may have been Lord Bloot's closest adviser, but that didn't matter with Lord Bloot lost in the Draknis Threshold fiasco and his forces gone underground. Still, if it wasn't for her seizing a sort of logistical command, Atrapol would have run the remainder of Bloot's once vast military into the ground. He couldn't fault her for that, even if she was downright sneaky and more apt to stab you in the back then anyone else he knew.
Still, calling the chief of the phalanx guard to assist her with something was a waste of his abilities. Most likely she just wanted to annoy him or make his life more miserable then it already is. Then again, if she wanted to do that, she could have simply scheduled him for a sparring match with Zamool, Bloot's former enforcer. Even Atrapol feared him.
That thought caused him to shudder. Blast it what was that murderous female up too? What could she be hiding in that twisted mind of her's? Krekk wondered as he flew towards the imposing artifice of the Tower, ignoring the horrible shadows cast by the wicked gargoyles adorning it's roof. It was a familiar site to him. While some might find them monstrous, to him it was simply home.
Not to say that Krekk was a homely, kind soul by any account. A hulking cyclopian figure with bat wings and a penchant for torture and destruction is hardly someone you can call 'homely' by any means, but still, it could be worse. Krekk merely did his job and played the lackey to survive. It didn't matter to him who he followed really, although Bloot had proven himself to be more ambitious then the current ruler of the underworld, that massive red hulk Chaor. Krekk respected Bloot's ambition, and had hoped that one day it would reach fruition and land him a position of real power, but that was before Van Bloot vanished with the destruction of the Dranaknis Threshold, leaving Krekk, Skithia, Atrapol, and all his other followers vying for power and watching for his return.
Truth be told, Krekk had gotten tired of it. Waiting and watching for someone that obviously either died in the destruction of the threshold itself, or ended up hurled into the distant prehistory of the world by the magical ruin's interrupted activation made no sense to him. His lord was either dead in the past, vaporized, or too far to be reached. Why bother brooding about it? It seemed a waste of time to stand watchful in light of all that, and even a mentally dim mass of bone and sinew could figure that out. Still, at least if he pretended to loyally watch for Bloot, he could avoid the majority of the power struggles between their leader's former lieutenants. With luck, maybe they'd even kill each other off and leave him with everything after all. Now wouldn't that be a hoot? Krekk chuckled at that thought, for it was one of the few fantasies he allowed himself anymore. Who knows? It could happen.
With that, Krekk alighted on the great balcony on top of Gothos Tower, and entered the former chambers of Bloot. The late Bloot's master spy and de facto second in command, the witch known as Skitha, said she'd meet him. Sure enough, the pale she-fiend was there all right, sipping some of Lord Bloot's best wine and in unusually high spirits. He was immediately on alert. Caution and sensible discretion were a lifesavers in the Underworld, as much as lying through your teeth was. If Skithia was genuine then something big must have happened, but if she wasn't, she was trying to trap him. The second was more plausible, if anything. The likelihood of her calling him, of all people, to tell first about something important was practically non-existent, and if she'd told anyone else first he'd have already heard about it. A coward he may be, but not a stupid one. Information was another vital commodity down here. It paid in gold, quite literally, to have eyes on events both inside and and outside the Underworld, and of all the underworld, Gothos Tower took this to heart. Information and the trade of secrets and lies was as much a part of life here as air and water, and you'd be just as dead as you would be without them if you lacked it. He'd learned that lesson well.
"Ah finally. I wondered how long you would keep me waiting Krekk." Skithia whispered smugly.
Krekk was as alert as was physically possible. Skithia, being nice? She was only nice when she was toying with someone.
"Oh come on Krekk, don't just stand there sit down! I have to speak with you." She barked, motioning to the chair on the opposite side of the table. Krekk nodded, but warily checked the chair before joining her. His single eye slits.
"Alright Skithia, what's the deal? Why'd call me in from the guard?" He demanded, figuring it would be best to be blunt.
He was right. A predatory smile flashed across her visage for a brief moment, then she sighed, and kept her voice low as she replied: "Classical Krekk eh? Heavy handed and straight to the point. I knew I could at least expect you to be blunt. Good."
If Krekk was off-put by any of this, he didn't show it, although inside he was running as many scenarios through his head as possible, seeking the best possible response to her statement. Seeing his reluctance, Skithia continued "What's this? Surely you aren't wary of me? Why Krekk, surely you know that if I wanted to cause you misery or difficulty, I could have done so without calling you back to Gothos."
Krekk nodded. "Maybe, but until I know what you are planning I prefer to avoid stepping in anything I can't get off my feet." Skithia was silent for a long moment, then, she stood. This time, her voice was distinctly different.
"A coward, but not a stupid one eh Krekk? Good. You want to know why I called you of all people to a private meeting in Lord Bloot's own chambers? Then you shall."
She rose slowly from her chair, and an unholy light filled her eyes. Krekk froze in his seat, as motionless as a well hewn stone. When she spoke, the entire room almost shuddered in anticipation. Shadows danced like living things and their very lord's mad laughter seemed to echo after her, as if applauding them.
"I've found a way to bring back Lord Bloot."