Strands of light penetrated the darkness of the entry chamber. As Pinch looked back from deep within its recesses, his yellow eyes shone with a feral wildness. The goblin was in his element. Manishtu and Victor followed, taking care to silence their footsetps. Manishtu helt his arm out. A bright light briefly exploded from his hand, revealing the contents of the chamber. Victor quickly raised his sword and assumed a defensive stance when he saw the other occupants of the room.
The walls were lined with corpses. Long dead remains of human and dwarven soldiers in rusty armor sat staring into space. Their weapons were still in their hands, as if they had died suddenly while on watch.
The light abruptly went out.
"We stay in the dark," Pinch howled as he covered Manishtu's glowing hand with his own. "The dead should not be disturbed here." Pinch's tone was grave and serious, and the look on his face was urgent. "We go now."
Manishtu deactivated the light and left the room once again shrouded in black. He followed Pinch's lead and continued deeper into the abandoned complex. Victor took up the rear, looking back at the entrance. The crack in the doorway faded from view as they ventured forward.
The entryway chamber gave way to a long and winding passage that continued for hours. Its floor was riddled with rubble and debris. Manishtu and Victor were hard pressed to keep up with Pinch as he expertly navigated his way deeper and deeper along the passage. The hallway sloped ever downward. After a time the air became dank and oppresive.
Long buried memories began to rise from the depths of Manishtu's psyche as they progressed into the ruins. The energy of the place had a way of bringing disturbing things to the mind's forefront. Memory became reality and eventually transmuted itself into sensory experience. Soon Manishtu was immersed in the events surrounding his troubled birth.
"The Chained Lord, the Holy Elemental Eye awakens," proclaimed a low, droning voice. A choris answered and repeated the words in a similarly droning chant. Fires and turbulent winds circled around the earthmote. Massive streaks of lightning spiderwebbed the black and orange sky. They were deep within the Elemental Chaos, a plane of constant upheaval and primordial force that existed beneath the foundations of the material world.
"In this shard lives Tharizdun, revered one of the Abyss," the voice continued. A gaunt human in black and red robes threw up his arms in time for a brilliant flash to erupt from the ground. Crimson flames flew out from the center of the ritual circle and consumed all who were present.
Lava churned in the vast expanse below the earthmote. On the cusp of the Abyss, the Elemental Chaos was a place of constant change and violent instability. It had existed long before the world and housed the primal forces responsible for creation and destruction. But it was also home to the Abyss, a yawning chasm in the fabric of reality. Here, demons lived their brutal and insane lives. Here, darkness took on a new meaning.
For eons, the Elemental Eye had been imprisoned here. Piece by piece he strove to leave his infernal confines and wreak havoc on the world. The ritual that had been peformed sealed yet another part of his life force into an unfortunate vessel.
Manishtu rose from the ground. The tiny shardling surveyed his surroundings with fresh eyes, alone and unaware that he contained within himself a latent spark of the Chained God's essence.
Pinch finally led his companions out of the winding passage. They came upon a grand chamber that was overgrown with fungus and phosphorescent lichens. At the center of the chamber was a carved pool that was halfway filled with clear water. Pinch stopped and looked back as the other two emerged from the tunnel. An alien glow filled the room.
"We rest here," the goblin said. "We safe here. But danger waits ahead."
Victor took up a position watching the several entrances that led into and out of the chamber. There he stood while Pinch made camp and prepared to sleep.