Never does a star grace this land with a poets light of twinkling mysteries, nor does the sun send to here its rays of warmth and life. This is the Underdark, the secret world beneath the bustling surface of the Forgotten Realms, whose sky is a ceiling of heartless stone and whose walls show the gray blandness of deadth in the forchlight of the foolish surface-dwellers that stumble here. This is not their world, not the world of light.
|2||Most who come here uninvited does not return.
Those who do escape to the safety of their surface homes return changed. Their eyes ave seen the shadow and the gloom, the inevitable doom of the Underdark.
Dark corridors meander thoughout the dark realm in winding courses, connectubg caverns great and small, with ceilings high and low. Mounds of stone as pointed as the teeth of a sleeping dragon leer down in silent threat or rise up to block the way of intruders.
|3||There is a silence here, profound and forboding, the crouched hush of a predator at work. Too often the only sound, the only reminder to travelers in the underdark that they have not lost their sense of hearing altogether, is a distant and echoing drip of water, beating like the heart of a beast, slipping through silent stones to the deep Underdark pools of chilled water. What lies beneath the still onyx surface of these pools once can only guess.|
|4||What secrets await the brave, what horrors await the foolish, only the imagination can reveal - until the stillness is disturbed.
This is the Underdark.
There are pockets of life here, cities as great as those on the surface. Around any of the countless bends and turns in the gray stone a traveler might stumble suddenly into the perimeter of such a city, a stark contrast to the emptiness of the corridors.
|5||These places are not havens, though; only the foolish traveler would assume so. They are the homes of the most evil races in all the Realms, most notably the duergar, the kuotoa, and the drow.
In one such cavern, two miles wide and a thousand feet high, looms Menzoberranzan, a monument to the other worldly and — ultimately — deadly grace that marks the race of drow elves.
Menzoberranzan is not a large city by drow standards; only twenty thousand dark elves reside there.
|6||Where, in ages past, there had been an empty cavern of roughly shaped stalactites and stalagmites now stands artistry, row after row of carved castles thrumming in a quiet glow of magic.
The city is perfection of form, where not a stone has been left to its natural shape. This sense of order and control, however, is but a cruel facade, a deception hiding the chaos and vileness that rule the dark elves' hearts.
|7||Like their cities, they are a beautiful, slender, and delicate people, with features sharp and haunting.
Yet the drow are the rulers of this unruled world, the deadliest of the deadly, and all other races take cautious note of their passing. Beauty itself pales at the end of a dark elf's sword. The drow are the survivors, and this is the Underdark, the valley of death — the land of nameless nightmares.
In all the world of the drow, there is no more important word. It is the calling of their - of our - religion, the incessant pulling of hungering heartstrings. Ambition overrides good sense and compassion is thrown away in its face, all in the name of Lolth, the Spider Queen. Ascension to power in drow society is a simple process of assassination. The Spider Queen is a deity of chaos, and she and her high priestesses, the true rulers of the drow world, do not look with ill favor upon ambitious individuals wielding poisoned daggers.
|9||Of course, there are rules of behavior; every society must boast of these. To openly commit murder or wage war invites the pretense of justice, and penalties exacted in the name of drow justice are merciless. To stick a dagger in the back of a rival during the chaos of a larger battle or in the quiet shadows of an alley, however, is quite acceptable even applauded. Investigation is not the forte of drow justice.|
|10||No one cares enough to bother.
Station is the way of Lolth, the ambition she bestows to further the chaos, to keep her drow «children» along their appointed course of self-imprisonment. Children? Pawns, more likely, dancing dolls for the Spider Queen, puppets on the imperceptible but impervious strands of her web. All climb the Spider Queen's ladders, all hunt for her pleasure, and all fall to the hunters of her pleasure.