(Nate, Age of Worms)
Oread ranger 3
Strength 16, Dexterity 14, Constitution 10,
Intelligence 10, Wisdom 16, Charisma 8
It was another beautiful day at the Cave Cavern. Me and the other mushroom gatherers went to the fungus fields and started harvesting. They had grown even better than they had last year. Next week’s feast would be delicious. People say mushroom-picking is a boring job, but there are a lot of cool things hiding in mushroom fields. For example, I found this cute purple beetle nesting in the roots. It buzzed, flew to the cavern roof, and continued eating fungi.
We all came back to the Cave Cavern, our barrels overflowing with mushrooms. The village had gotten worried because we didn’t arrive on time, but that was just due to picking so many more mushrooms than usual. Our work was done, and now we could relax as the feast was prepared. On a magical night like this, what could possibly go wrong?
We were all sitting at the great table and I was about to take my first bite when the ground rumbled beneath our feet. And above our feet. One of the walls of the Cave Cavern caved in, and a squadron of drow emerged from the rubble.
“Well, look at what we have here,” said the leader, who was clearly a magic-person. “a cave full of oreads that’s been isolated from us for centuries. And look at all these gems!” She pointed a clawed finger at us. “Quarry them.” Each drow drew a pickaxe made of this smooth purple metal, and ran toward us.
It was armageddon. Everyone was slowly hacked to pieces, their precious minerals mined from them. The only oread that wasn’t trying to flee in panic was Older Elder A’po’s’tr’oph’e, who was sitting in his chair, at peace with himself. Surely he had some way to fix this disaster. I ran toward him.
“What’s going on? Why do those purple things want to kill us?” I asked frantically. A’po’s’tr’oph’e took a deep breath, nodded to himself a few times, then answered.
“The drow… are reclaiming… their domain.” he uttered weakly. “Seven hundred years ago… I tried… to escape their clutches. I sealed… this cavern… so my tribe could… live in freedom. It has worked, and we have thrived… until now.” His eyes glazed over the quarry scene. “I promised myself… I would never… serve the drow… ever again. I plan… to keep that… promise. My time in this world… is coming to an end. I want you… to bury me… in the stones of our fathers… before the drow can-”
A bolt of purple energy erupted from a purple staff that an elderly drow was holding. It hit A’po’s’tr’oph’e and turned him into this shriveled spider thing. The spider started jumping on to other oreads and killing them with one bite.
The elderly drow cackled with delight. “My mummy always said that we would catch A’po’s’tr’oph’e one day.” More cackling, then she pointed at the mushroom-pickers, who were trying to evacuate people into a nearby cave. “You use your hands for a living. You would make great miners. Seize them.”
All the mushroom-pickers, including me, were tied up to the wall. We watched helplessly has the drow massacred our people in the most gruesome way possible. When the murders had ended, we were taught to hack away the stones in the caves, which we shared the spirit of in flesh and soul, and chip out the shiny bits to give to the drow.
We found many other enclaves like ours, but populated with deep gnomes, or svirfneblin, as they called themselves. There were many battles, but with the aid of the creepy purple spider that was once A’po’s’tr’oph’e, the drow won them all.
One day, as the elder drow stood with the spider perched on her shoulder, viewing a deep crevasse sparkling with sapphire, the ceiling caved in. They were drilling into unstable caverns where one must erect support pillars to prevent collapse, but of course we weren’t going to tell her that. A’po’s’tr’oph’e did get buried with the stones of our fathers, in a way. The rest of us barely escaped with our lives, but we escaped.
After that, all I can remember is running, trying to escape the awful place we once called home. We encountered many other drow nests, and some of us got recaptured. A lucky few found their way to the surface, or in the case of the deep gnomes, to another enclave.
I lay exhausted on the floor of a passageway. I could run no longer, but it didn’t matter. I saw sunlight for the first time in my life. A human miner found me and pulled me out of the mine shaft. He let me rest and replenish at their mining camp. The humans were not as comforting as my fellow oreads, and not as insightful as the svirfneblin, but they were kind, and they were not the drow. I could definitely come to like them.
I earned a living in the human town, called Diamond Lake, as a mine shaft digger. I also learned how to fend off the local vermin. This new world was promising. Maybe, one day, I could call it home.