The Sunless Sea
Nearly complete, but not quite:
“How long did you say it has been? It seems like years since I last saw the sun. The orcs found my campsite after I was two days out from Milbourne. If I has pushed it, I could have made it Kuiper’s farm, but it was such a autumn day … so warm and pleasant … I decided to take a quick dip in the creek I was going to camp beside. I had a simple dinner and fell asleep listening to the crickets and the brook.
“They made sure to wake me before they closed in. They didn’t know my Alarm spell had woken me, but they were making no effort to conceal their pressence. they were talking to one another in their ugly language and breaking branches as they surrounded me. I took a couple of them down before they finally closed and subdued me.
“When I came to, we were traveling along a brook, headed north. I figured they were taking me to the Rock Vale, to eat or keep as a slave. I head a terrible headache and a bump where they had last hit me. And there was a void in my mind where my familiar’s consciousness had once been. After another day of travel, we turned west within sight of the Vale. We passed north of the active mines and ended up in the old abandoned mines where the orcs met with some human bandits. For a brief time, I feared my fate would be worse than death, forced to be a concubine for these miscreants, but alas, I was destined for still worse.
“We stayed a few days. More human bandits were supposed to be arriving in the next day or so. They did with a surly dwarf and boy no older than 14. Shortly after tehy arrived, the orcs packed their things and tied us all together and headed further into the mine and deeper into the earth. After a few days travel, we came to a cave complex that functioned as the warrens of these Bloodskull villians. Twice i tried to get away. Once down a side passage, and once running forward along the cave. The side corrider ended only 300 feet further on and once I was 60 feet from the orc camp, I could no longer see. They found me easily that time. The second time, we had camped near a mushroom grove. They were not bright, but a few of the fungi gave off a faint light. It was better than nothing and I ran further along the corrider hoping to find another route to the surface. I knew they would expect me to try to go back, and besides, there was the band of outlaws to consider. I hadn’t counted on being so close to the orc warrens though and after about two hours of running along the cavern, I was discovered by scouts from the main orc force.
“I could not tell you how much time I have spent in each place since then. It is in those warrens I lost all track of time. Eventually a group of the largest orcs collected most of us prisoners and took us still deeper underground where they met with a mindflayer with its bodyguards. They seemed to be some odd sort of mole-man. They took us through a terrible feeling passage, some of the prisoners screaming as they were dragged through, others beaten into unconsciousness to be carried through.
“Then began the eterinty in the damned city of fish, never knowing when they would come for one of us. Not knowing if you were to be sacrificed or taken by the illithids even further into the ground and away from the sun. Oh, the precious sun. Does it still shine?
“Eventually they came for me and I passed below the great Dome and through to the Fish-King where his illithid councelor told him I must go on deeper still. The King reluctantly agreed and I was escorted out of the city.
“I had moved past scared weeks before. I was numb to what was going on around me. The only thing on my mind was survival. I had been picking up whatever skills I could from my fellow prisoners and waited for my opportunity. I found several. At least I thought I had. Each attempt of mine to flee failed. Once or twice, I could almost taste my freedom, only to have stolen from my grip by those damned squid faced villians and their mind shocks.
“Finally we reached the most vast cavern I have ever been in. It felt almost as large as the night on the surface. The shore alone was miles, but then we reached the Sunless Sea and my spirit nearly broke from the shear immensity and blackness of the water beneath the blackness of the cavern. Nearly.
“The boat sat on the shore, more illithid waiting beside it and the water teaming with more of those ugly magic-using rays. We climbed into the boat with the new illithids and shoved off. Most of my companions were charmed and I was pretending to be. We were not being dragged so much as herded and once in the boat, we were merely weight to be prpoerly distributed.
“And then my opportunity came in the most unlikely of forms. A huge tenticle reached out of the water and grabbed one of the rays. Then a second came for another and a thrid came up and grabbed the boat. I saw a beak bight into the first ray and somehow knew this was going to be my last chance. One of the mind flayers had been knocked to the deck of the boat and I grabbed at the knife at its belt and dove into the wet blackness.
“I never stopped to think or look back. I just kept swimming. Even after the splashing and screaming was gone from my ears. Even when my arms ached so badly I thought they might fall off. i kept swimming until I could feel myself sinking lower in the water with each stroke and when I had finally given up and knew I could swim no further, my head drifted below the surface of the Sea and my knees hit the rock at the bottom. I was at the shore.
“I fled away from the cave I knew led back to the surface. I just needed a place to lay down and rest and I knew if I went back that way, they would find me. That is where they would look. that is where they would expect me to go. So now that my arms were so numb, they would not function, it was my legs turn. I had no light but for some